Category Archives: sesame seeds

Carrot Tahini Muffins


I have a carrot fan in my house. Ever since his teeth came in, my son has been obsessed with carrots. We visited Rome, Italy when he was just over a year old and tried to introduce him to McDonald’s french fries. Much to my husband’s display the fry was discarded in favor of a carrot. A year later on an epic road trip he ate so many carrots that crunching became the soundtrack for our trip and I began to see an orange tinge on his skin. (Maybe it was my imagination but given the amount of carrots he consumed I’m not so sure). At school he is known as the kid who loves carrots and will opt for the crunchy orange vegetable over a sweet treat any day. And carrots have become a staple on my weekly trip to the market; not having them in the house can cause chaos to ensue. But really, I’m not complaining because what mom doesn’t want her children to like healthy foods.

So in my quest to keep things fresh on the carrot front I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that include this favored vegetable. So when I came across this SmittenKitchen recipe for carrot muffins, I knew I had to give them a shot. I loved the fact that they aren’t filled with a lot of sugar and butter, instead relying on olive oil, buttermilk and a tahini for their moistness and flavor. Yes, tahini; the sesame paste most often associated with hummus and other Middle Eastern treats. Plus the afore mentioned carrots.

And the results? Absolutely delicious. They were a hit in my house and will be making regular appearances on my breakfast menus.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup packed coarsely grated carrots

Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Whisk the olive oil, tahini and brown sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Whisk in the eggs, then the buttermilk and vanilla.
  • Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a spoon or flexible spatula and stir in flour, then carrots, mixing just until combined.
  • Coat a standard sized 12-cup muffin tin  with a nonstick spray.
  • Fill each about 3/4 of the way with batter then sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
  • Bake muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out batter-free.
  • Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.

Yields: 12 muffins

Twenty-Five Days of Cookies: Orange Sesame & Honey Cookies


Christmas is twenty two days (gulp) away and what better way is there to countdown to the big event than to feature a cookie recipe each day? Think of it as a cookie recipe advent calendar. And to fill that advent calendar I’m featuring twenty five of my favorite holiday cookie recipes that are sure to fill your holidays with cheer. Bake them to fill your cookie trays, bring them to a cookie swap or eat them yourself; they are guaranteed to bring about holiday joy. And if you love baking as much as I do, making them is a fun filled gift unto itself. Enjoy!

I’m a fan of nuts but when I’m baking for friends with allergies sometimes it just isn’t possible to use them. So how do you make a special cookie with all of the richness and flavor of nuts without, well, the nuts? Use sesame seeds of course and this recipe from Cooking Light is just the answer. Sesame seeds are often thought of as belonging in savory dishes but I love them in sweets as well. When toasted they provide all of the nutiness of nut. Paired with the sweetness of honey and the brightness of orange, these cookies are the perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray.


1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy then add the egg, beating again until just blended.
  • Beat in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Turn the beaters to low and mix in 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds, 2 table­spoons honey, and the grated orange rind into cookie dough.
  • Place 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds in a shallow bowl.
  • Scooping the dough by tablespoonfuls, use your hands to form balls then roll the balls in the sesame seeds.
  • Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  • Bake 10 to 12 minutes then remove from the oven, allowing to cool for 3 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Combine orange juice and 1 tablespoon honey in a bowl; drizzle mixture over cooled cookies.

Yields: 4 dozen cookies


Sesame Crusted Chicken Cutlets w/ Vietnamese Caramel Sauce


Chicken cutlets are a hurried cook’s best friend. They cook up quickly, are versatile, and can serve as a blank palate for whatever flavors you want to add. But the biggest danger to cooking thin filets is over cooking them; in a matter of seconds they can go from perfectly cooked to over done leaving you with meat that is dry and rubbery.

So how do you make sure your filets are perfectly cooked? I like to bread mine with a crispy coating first which helps seal in the juices. This recipe, from Cuisine at Home, yields perfectly cooked chicken cutlets that are crispy, juicing and thanks to the spicy caramel sauce that accompanies them, full of flavor. The triple coating of bread, egg and panko crumbs infused with toasty sesame seeds results in a delicious outer layer that seals in all of the juices. You can make the caramel sauce while the chicken cooks, leaving in the solids as I do or straining them out if you prefer a smooth sauce. I like to keep them in because they add texture and interest. Either way, your results are sure to please. Serve the chicken alongside rice or noodles so you can enjoy every last drop of the caramel sauce.


For the chicken:

4- 3 ounce chicken filets

1 1/2 cup panko crumbs

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

  • Combine the panko crumbs and sesame seeds in a shallow dish.
  • Beat the egg in a separate shallow dish.
  • In a third shallow dish combine the flour, salt and pepper.
  • Dredge a chicken filet in the flour mixture then dip it into the beaten egg before coating with the panko mixture. Set aside on a plate and repeat.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the chicken filets and cook, flipping once, until brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  • While the chicken is cooking, place the sugar in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook the sugar until it has melted and is light brown in color.
  • Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and fish sauce in a small bowl then whisk it into the melted sugar.
  • Stir in the shallots, garlic, ginger and serrano chile.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thicken and reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Serves 4

Oriental Chicken Noodles

photo 2-267

I love Asian noodle dishes but the ones I find in restaurants are often covered in heavy, too sweet sauces with overcooked vegetables. Maybe I am just choosing the wrong restaurants but I usually leave feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. This dish is different and once again has convinced me that the best Asian food are the dishes I make at home.

Because the vegetables are stir fried in sesame oil over high heat, they emerge crispy and not mushy. The sauce is light with just a touch of sweetness. And the noodles….they absorb all of the yummy sauciness. If you don’t feel like using chicken you can easily substitute shrimp or pork. The result is a light dish that cooks up quickly. Enjoy!


9 ounces tagliatelle pasta

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 small chili pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

5 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

  • Place a large pot filled with salted water over high heat. When the water boils, add the tagliatelle and cook for 9-11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat a large steel wok over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the sesame seeds and toast until fragrant. Remove from the pan.
  • Add the sesame and vegetable oil to the skillet. When the skillet is hot, add the chili pepper, ginger and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken to the wok and cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally until it is browned on all sides.
  • Add the carrots, pepper and mushrooms and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-high.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce with the chicken broth. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and stir well.
  • Add the cooked tagliatelle to the wok and cook for an additional minute.
  • Divide the pasta between four warmed pasta bowls. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and cilantro and serve immediately.

Serves 4


Sesame Garlic Chicken

photo 2-178
It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
This recipe is adapted from and is easy, satisfying, and sure to please. This dish is essentially a more sophisticated version of sesame chicken and is so good that after tasting this you won’t be going back to the take out version again. And because the same skillet goes from stovetop to oven this recipe yields minimal clean up making for an even better meal. Serve the chicken over steamed rice with a vegetable, spicy green beans are really good, and dinner is ready.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized cubes
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of cinnamon
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
For the sauce:
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the flour, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a large Ziploc bag.
  • Add the chicken pieces and toss well to coat, ensuring that each piece of chicken is fully coated with the flour mixture.
  • In a large oven-proof skillet set over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly golden brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes total.
  • While the chicken is cooking, combine the garlic, chicken broth, remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and sherry in a small bowl.
  • When the chicken is evenly browned, remove the pan from the heat and and the sauce to the pan. Stir gently to combine.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top of the chicken.
  • Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Serve over rice.
Serves 4

Sesame Brittle

photo 2-65

When I was in first grade my class had a lesson on cooking.  Since we were a room full of six-year olds the lesson was pretty basic.  I don’t recall what, if anything, we actually made but I remember it inspiring me to go home and cook something all by myself and that dish I remember.  I made peanut brittle.  Or at least that was my intent.  Nut brittle isn’t hard to make but somewhere along the line the six-year-old chef in me went wrong and I ended up with a gooey mess that stuck to my mom’s favorite baking pan.

I’ve had my share of cooking mistakes since that first failed candy making attempt but fortunately they haven’t involved making brittle.  A simple sugar and butter syrup, when you use a candy thermometer making brittle is actually a pretty fool-proof endeavor.  Classic peanut brittle is the standard but other nuts are nice too.  For an unexpected twist you can stir in seeds or spices instead.  I love this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine; the combination of black and white sesame seeds imparts a toasted flavor that contrasts nicely with the sweet base.  It is sure to become a holiday tradition in my family.


2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 1/2 cups toasted sesame seeds, black, white or a combination of the two

  • Line a 10 x 15 inch rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and 2/3 cup of water in a large saucepan.  Stir until all of the sugar is wet.
  • Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook the mixture over medium-high heat without stirring until the thermometer registers 310 degrees and is tan around the edges. It should take between 12 and 16 minutes to reach this point.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and quickly remove the candy thermometer.  Stir in baking soda then the salt.  (The mixture will foam).
  • Quickly whisk in the seeds.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, tilting the pan to evenly distribute the candy mixture before it cools.****
  • Allow the candy to sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours or until it has completely set.
  • Invert the brittle onto a cutting board and use a meat mallet to break the candy into medium to small-sized pieces.
  • Store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Yields:  6 cups

**** Cook’s tip:  The remnants of the candy mixture will quickly adhere to the pan and the candy thermometer as the mixture cools.  Simply add a cup or two of water to the empty pan, cover and bring to a boil. The heat and steam will loosen the mixture and make it easy to scrape down the sides and remove the stuck on candy.  Once the mixture boils place the candy thermometer in the pan and the stuck on candy will slip right off.

A Trio Of Sauces: Honey Mustard, Chimichurri, & Ginger-Soy

Top to bottom:  Honey Mustard, Chimmichuri, Sesame Soy

Top to bottom: Honey Mustard, Chimichurri, Sesame Soy

I’m a condiment fanatic.  Our refrigerator door is always crammed with bottles and jars of sauces, dips, and pickled items that can take ordinary foods to a whole new level.  One type of mustard or vinegar is never enough for me since each has its own flavor profile that makes all the difference in their respective dishes.  Because of my love of discovering new condiments, our nomadic lifestyle is a mixed blessing for me.  While our travels allow me to discover new sauces and condiments that enhance my culinary repertoire, having to pack up and move–and therefore empty our refrigerator– every couple of years is hard.  Leaving behind wonderful the wonderful sauces and such is just so upsetting.

But not all condiments need to be purchased; in fact the best ones are those that are whipped up by hand in my own kitchen.  Combine a little of this and a dash of that and you have magic in a bowl in minutes.  This trio of sauces highlights just how versatile condiments can be.  All three take just minutes to make and while they can be used immediately, taste better after they sit for an hour or so.  The ingredient ratios are just suggestions as you can add more or less of an ingredient depending upon your own preferences.  If you love garlic, add more. If you aren’t a fan of Dijon mustard, substitute a stone ground one instead.  Experiment with different combinations of fresh herbs.  Dip cooked meats or vegetables into the sauces a al fondue style to bring a variety of flavors to the table that will be sure to please all palates.  Chicken or pork is particularly good when dipped in the ginger soy and honey mustard sauces.  Or marinate a flank steak in the chimichurri sauce before grilling.  The combinations and possibilities are endless so let your imagination go wild………….


1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Allow to sit for 1/2 hour before using.

Yield 1/2 cup


1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

3 tablespoons cilantro

8 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Roughly chop the parsley and cilantro.
  • Place in shallow bowl and using a stick blender puree until combined.
  • Add the garlic and continue to puree until smooth.
  • Add the remaining ingredients puree until combined.
  • Allow the sauce to sit for at least 1/2 hour before using. Adjust the salt and pepper before serving.

Yield 1 cup


1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

5 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons warm water

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon Sriacha

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl until well blended.
  • Allow to sit for at least one hour before serving.

The sauce can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Return to room temperature before using.

Yields 3/4 cup


Sesame Chicken


It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This chicken is deceptively fast and easy to make; it only tastes complicated and time consuming.   Serve it with steamed jasmine rice and garlic broccoli and you have a satisfying and balanced dinner.  If you plan ahead and have more time whip up a batch of scallion pancakes.  They are perfect for absorbing the extra sauce.  Make this tonight and you will have dinner on the table in less time than it would take to get it delivered.

This is so good you probably won’t have any leftovers.  But if you do, use them to make an Asian style pizza the next day.  Simply use the sauce from the chicken as a base, add caramelized onions, cut up pieces of leftover chicken, and top with shredded cheddar cheese instead of goat cheese.  Its yummy and you get two dinners from the effort of one.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup water

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons corn starch

3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon Sriracha

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

  • Place 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a large bowl and add the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until the pieces are browned on all sides and no longer pink, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the next 11 ingredients (through the red pepper flakes) in a medium-sized bowl. Stir well to make sure the corn starch is dissolved.
  • Add the sauce mixture to the skillet with the chicken.
  • Cook until the sauce thickens slightly.  If the sauce is too thick you can dilute it with additional sherry or water.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken.
  • Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes.

Serves 4

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