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Mini Pumpkin Pies for a Crowd

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

I’m really not much of a freezer person, but there is one recipe that I make every year for the holidays and it’s this one. These mini pumpkin pies are so festive and seasonal, and they’re great to have in the freezer as a pretty and delicious side dish. I always have them on hand for last minute company and they are so kid-friendly too.

What I love about this pie is that it’s very adaptable. If you are nut free, use oats in the streusel in place of nuts. You can make large or mini pies and swap in different types of milk or oils. You can make your own pie dough or pumpkin puree, if you’re so inclined, or go for the easy store-bought variety. In short, stock your freezer and you can thank me later!

Related Recipes:

cookie butter pumpkin pie
pumpkin banana souffle
pumpkin cake

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Salmon En Croute with Creamed Leeks

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Salmon en croute is one of my favorite dishes to serve for the holidays. It plates up beautifully, it’s so festive and it’s a winning dish all around! I mean who doesn’t love anything wrapped in buttery, flaky dough, amiright?

I usually go with a simple mustard and brown sugar mixture over the salmon, but I decided to take things up a notch using some of the traditional symbolic foods of the holiday, like honey and leeks. I love that you can incorporate more of those foods into the plated dish as well, and I went with pomegranate seeds and chioggia beets, ‘cuz could you just look at them?

Just call this Simanim Salmon En Croute ‘cuz it’s not only tasty, but so fitting in every way. And if you need a recap on the symoblic foods of the holiday, read this. I’ve also got a handy simanim recipe roundup from a couple of years back and then of course there are my other great simanim dishes like this couscous, this angel hair pasta, this beautiful appetizer and this holiday salad.

Growing up, Rosh Hashanah was a serious holiday and we always kept things intimate with just the family and a simple, traditional holiday meal. It’s that one time of the year to really focus on self introspection and prayer and I like to follow suite without complicating my menu. I don’t go all out with a bunch of different salads and desserts – I just keep my meal well-rounded with an appetizer (round challah with honey, fish and salad), entree (meat or chicken, tzimmes and roasted vegetables, beautifully plated) and a slice of honey cake with caramelized apples to finish the meal. Then I wrap things up and open my tehillim, because there is oh so much to pray for.

I find that there’s no need to overdo your menu when you learn to serve composed dishes that complement each other. Sometimes, when you make too much food, the beauty and flavor gets lost because there is just too much to go around. When I was in culinary school, my teacher gave the example of a woman wearing a simple pearl necklace versus someone who in dripping in lots of (too much) jewelry. Which one makes a better statement? Sometimes clean and simple is the better way to go.

Related Recipes:

smashed potatoes with leeks
simanim fritto misto
honey fig roasted salmon
honey mustard salmon

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Cranberry Apple Braised Chicken

Thursday, September 7th, 2017


And just like that, summer is over. I’m starting to smell that fresh, crisp fall air and the nights have that slight chill that wraps me like a warm sweater. If I’m honest, I don’t hate the winter at all, but I’ll sure miss the carefree spirit of summer and the smell of freshly cut grass.

I’m excited for the fall flavors that are making their way into the supermarkets. Pumpkins, persimmon and pomegranates are just a few of my favorite things and I can’t wait to see the seasonal produce on the shelves!

It’s a bit early for cranberry season, but you can easily use frozen cranberries in this recipe. The tartness of the berries are a great contrast to the sweetness of the apples and honey, and they make for the most luscious sauce that you’ll want to smother all over rice or noodles. Considering the popularity of my tart pomegranate roast, I think this chicken will be a winner as well!

Serve with a side of sweet tzimmes and braised leeks and you’ve got a simanim-filled entree worthy of your holiday table.

Related Recipes:

turkey meatballs with red wine cranberry marinara
cranberry sriracha green beans
honey roasted za’atar chicken with dried fruit
duchesse sweet potato apples

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Breakfast Cones

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

I think it’s about time I share my secret to making it through the summer without giving in to my ice cream craving each time the ice cream truck comes around (that’s about 6 times a day here in the bungalow colony!). It’s also how I get my kids to stop asking for money every time they hear “Come and make a bracha, the kosher ice cream truck is here!”. (Who am I kidding? they still ask for money every time they hear it!).

My secret to ice cream without the guilt? BREAKFAST CONES. Yup. Ice cream cones for breakfast. And why do I not feel guilty about this stroke of genius might you ask? Because when I considered the fact that my kids would eat leben (pure sugar), frosted flakes (also pure sugar), pancakes (pure sugar when you count the amount of maple syrup they pour over it) or a chocolate protein bar (pure sugar + bits of protein) for breakfast, I figured a sugar cone filled with fruit and yogurt was just as bad, if not better, than all those options.


Putting all the breakfast things into a sugar cone is also a great way to bribe the kids to get ready for camp every morning. Hurry up and get dressed and I’ll feed you ice cream for breakfast! Does this make me the best mom ever? Or the smartest? I think both!

It all started with my fruity yogurt parfaits that I couldn’t get enough of this summer. The amazing seasonal berries and delicious fruit were so refreshing, especially when topped off with some plain yogurt, a bit of raw farm fresh honey and granola. It was the perfect breakfast, lunch, or light dinner, and I loaded up on it.

When I wanted something a bit more ice-creamy, I’d just stick a yogurt in the freezer for an hour or two, until it got kinda frozen, and load it up with fresh fruit. Once, when I ran out of granola, I crushed up some leftover sugar cones (cuz they are my absolute fave!) and put them on top. And voila! The fruit yogurt cone was born.

When you consider the fact that a single sugar cone has just 50 calories and 3g of sugar, it’s a lot healthier choice than a cup of orange juice (110 calories, 22g sugar per cup) or store bought granola (260 calories, 11g sugar per half cup). And lets not even get started on some of the cereals we are feeding our kids! So, when you do the math…. a sugar cone filled with yogurt, some fresh fruit and a spoonful of cereal is definitely a reasonable breakfast that is great for kids. And you can make it as healthful as you like – go with plain yogurt and nuts and seeds for a healthier version, or fruity yogurt with cereal for a more indulgent one.

Related Recipes:

ice cream sundae cookies
corn flake crunch ice cream
ice cream clowns

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Funfetti Rose Cake Smash!

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my baby girl was born, it went by so fast, how do we stop the clock?! It’s baby #5 for us, so it hasn’t been the easiest transition, but I was surprised and excited to still have those “first baby” feelings, even though I’ve been through this stage so many times. Maybe it’s because she came after two boys, but I couldn’t wait to put all the headbands and frilly things on her, and I still relish dressing her up each and every morning.

I’ve been dreaming about her cake smash for months, pinning for inspiration and changing my mind a million times about the style and theme of the shoot. I knew I wanted to do it all on my own, especially the cake – even though I dread making layered cakes ‘cuz I suck at it! Most of the cake smash shoots I found had a clear color scheme and were done indoors, but I wanted something unique and whimsical, so I went outdoors.

It’s funny how the cake really brought the whimsy I was looking for – because it kinda happened by mistake. I mean, I basically screwed up the whole first layer of marzipan, and I needed to cover it up with something, so I decided to make a skirt. I had originally wanted to do a smooth layer of marzipan and spread the roses around the cake, but I’m so in love with this accidental design because it’s everything I never knew I even wanted!

I knew I wanted funfetti inside, ‘cuz baby cake just needs sprinkles, so I went with my easy no-fail, no-mixture recipe, ‘cuz that how I do cake. Or should I say, how I don’t do cake? Layered cakes literally give me nightmares – and for good reason. I won’t even try to explain the mess of me trimming the layers down, but let me just say – THANK GOD FOR MARZIPAN. And thank you Molly Yeh for teaching me that you can use the most delicious paste instead of bland fondant to decorate cake. It’s basically like working with playdough, and it can do miracles to destroyed crumbly layers. Especially when those crumbly layers are doomed to be smashed by little hands.

Let me just say that I know these photos make it look easy, but here’s the thing – photographers can’t photograph their own kids. It’s just too stressful. Thank G-d I brought my 11 year old with me to the shoot  – her help was indispensible, especially when she jumped up and down, making funny faces so my daughter would stop crying and actually smile. There were a lot more tears than smiles at that shoot (and I’m not talking about the baby…just kidding…I didn’t actually CRY!).


I don’t know who invented cake smashes, or how long they’ve been around, but I don’t remember it being a thing with my older kids. I love that I have these beautiful momentos of my daughter’s first birthday, and that I had an excuse to play around with marzipan. I’d never go back to boring fondant again, and I look forward to getting over my fear of layered cakes and making some more intentional designs!


If you’ve got a baby birthday coming up, I hope my cake smash inspired you to think outside the box and create your own!


Cake Smash Deets:

Wreath: Amazon
Outfit: Etsy
Shoes: Century21
Carpet: Homegoods
Stool: Homegoods
Balloons: Family Dollar
Lanterns: Michael’s
Cake Banner: Homemade (craft paper, bakery twine and skewers)
Location: Liberty Municipal Park

3 layer rainbow cookie cake

blogoversary funfetti cake
it’s a girl!

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Marzipan Biscotti

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017


I don’t know what took me so long to blog about my love of Molly Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range. Well, actually I do. It’s been a crazy hectic year since baby #5 was born and I’ve been trying to keep my head above water and maintain my sanity while I manage food (blogging) and family. It’s been months since I fangirled Molly at her book release party and I’ve read her book cover to cover and tried quite a number of her cookbook recipes since!
**GIVEAWAY DETAILS BELOW**

Molly’s blog, mynameisyeh, has been a huge inspiration to me as a blogger. First off, her beautiful photography always pushed me to take my own photography to the next level, and the way that she elevates Middle Eastern food is everything to me. We share a love of tahini and marzipan and I secretly dream about the day that I will open a bread and breakfast on my own little farm in Upstate New York (I may have even called a couple of places that had a for sale sign up this summer!).

Every time I think about the urge to redesign my blog (“because that’s what bloggers do”), I’m reminded that Molly became one of the most popular bloggers on the web without ever redesigning hers. You don’t need a fancy lifestyle blog with a gazillion sections to be successful. You just need delicious food, beautiful photography, and a really awesome personality (which is why I actually READ Molly’s entire cookbook cover to cover, instead of just looking at the pictures like I normally do).

I love how Molly on the Range is part autobiography, part cookbook. It’s an awesome and hysterical journey of a true foodie finding love in both the kitchen and her personal life. In true Molly style, she sent out review copies along with her own sprinkle mix, adorable tatoos and a handwritten note. And she put some of that panache in the book too – with a coloring page, shnitzel costume instructions and fun illustrations throughout the book.

The recipes range from Midwestern favorites like hot dishes to popular Middle Eastern foods like bourekas, hummus and malabi. Molly shares recipes from both her Asian and Jewish heritage, including matzo brei, latkes and fusion dishes like shnitzel bao buns and scallion pancake challah. Of course I’ve marked all the Israeli dishes in the book, especially the tahini and marzipan ones, including this delicious biscotti/mandel bread.

The idea of folding in chunks of store bought marzipan is a brilliant one, and not the least bit overwhelming. The almond flavor is surprisingly subtle, and when I served these up for my daughters birthday recently, everyone loved them, marzipan lovers and haters alike.

Speaking of my daughter’s birthday, I attempted my very first marzipan covered cake for her cake smash recently and it was a huge success! I’ve been drooling over Molly’s marzipan coated cakes for the longest time and I was so excited to work with it.  I can’t wait to share the results in an upcoming post.

I’m also super excited to be giving away a copy of Molly on the Range to one lucky reader! To enter to win the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment below letting me know which BIB recipe you’ve been enjoying this summer.
2. For an extra entry, tag a friend on the giveaway post on Facebook or Instagram.

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents (for international entries, prize can only be shipped in the U.S.). Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Sunday, August 13th, 2017.

Other Marzipan Recipes:

marzipan date truffles
marzipan apple crisp
3-layer rainbow cookie cake
date and almond hamantaschen

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Kosher Shrimp & Grits

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Before you go ahead and close your browser, no you did not make your way onto a treif blog, everything on here is still kosher! I can’t get over how real those shrimp look, can you?

So to be honest, I’m not really one for kosherizing treif dishes. Like I don’t do cheeseburgers with fake cheese or buttermilk fried chicken with soy milk. It’s just not my thing. But when I saw a package of grits at Shoprite last week, I just had to buy it. I’m a big fan of farina (the wheat version of grits, which are made from corn) and I love all things corn, so I was intrigued. I also mistakenly bought a package of mock shrimp instead of mock crab (we are obsessed with this kani salad in this house) so that’s how this kosher version of shrimp and grits came to be.

Now shrimp and grits is real Southern comfort food, and definitely more of a winter dish than a summer one – so I incorporated some fresh corn and a basil pistou to cut through the heaviness and lighten things up. A squeeze of lime in the creamy cheddar grits also goes a long way.

So, for an anti-tofu, real-food person, I have to be honest and say that the shrimp tasted amazing, but was definitely on the rubbery side. When I made this in my Instagram story, many readers suggested butterflying the shrimp by cutting it in half lengthwise, so I’ve made that suggestion below. But honestly, when I make this again, I’m just going to use kani (mock crab) since we are huge fans of that in this house (and ironically one of my readers messaged me that her dad, who is not religious, ate kani at her house and said it tasted just like shrimp!).

I’m stoked that I managed to plate this up all pretty for a blog post for you guys, its been great having a break, but I’ve missed posting!

 

Other Fish Dishes:

kani salad
spicy tuna melt twice baked potatoes
tuna pasta salad
fish tacos

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Summer has officially begun! Last week, we made the 3  hour trek to the Catskills in Upstate New York where we spend our summer. I’m more of a city gal myself, but the city heat is unbearable, so I welcome the cool mountain air, rolling hills, grass and trees (something we majorly lack in Brooklyn)! The ten weeks we spend here fill my kids with vitality like a tank fills with gas. The long summer days spent carefree in the the outdoors are life’s best medicine, and I’m so thankful I get to give it to them.

As for me, some of my best memories are the ones I spent in the bungalow colony as a child. I love waking up to the smell of the mountains, and when I sit outside sipping my coffee and listening to the birds sing their song, it’s like pure heaven. But I can do without the endless laundry (they change like four times a day!), constant meals (all the swimming and biking makes them ravenous), and not seeing my husband the whole week (someone’s got to pay for all the food and laundry detergent we go through lol!).

I’m not really sure how much I’ll be able to keep up my blogging from here. I didn’t bring any props with me and I’m keeping things simple in the kitchen. But I did bring my camera and I loved the challenge of putting together a summer recipe without all of my fancy ingredients and food styling stuff. It’s also a learning experience working with different natural light, so I was happy to prepare these simple summer wraps and blog about them. Otherwise, I’ll be keeping things light around here, and probably blogging a lot less than usual. But I hope you’ll all be taking a break too!

Wishing you a light, healthy and refreshing summer!


Related Recipes:

quinoa pad thai
curried chicken lettuce wraps

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Tahini Frappuccino

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Living in New York, I feel like we spend all winter counting down the weeks till summer. The bone-chilling days seem to stretch on way past their intended season, and by the time the spring comes, we’re ready to rid our closets of all those layers. Except when spring comes, it’s not quite warm enough to do that. So we spend the season wearing our summer clothes, shivering in the chilly mornings, and then again in the almost-winter-again evenings. By the time summer comes, we’re so happy to let the hot sun warm our bones – for a day. Or two. And then we’re kvetching again, wishing winter would come cool us off!

OK maybe it’s not all New Yorkers, but it’s definitely ME. I cannot tolerate the heat. This week of 90+ degrees has been torture for me – I thought I’d melt onto the sidewalk! My only reprieve from the torturous weather is a giant cup of iced coffee. Iced coffee literally saves my sanity all summer long and it’s not even about the caffeine – I only drink decaf!

My biggest obstacle in my iced coffee making is the sweetener (and the fact that I suck at making coffee, but that’s another story!). I obviously don’t want to sweeten it with real sugar, ‘cuz calories :) And I don’t like using Splenda, because, chemicals. I’m not a fan of the natural stuff like Stevia, and I recently gave Monk fruit sugar a try, but also, gross. So what’s left?

When I did my Whole30 a while back (actually it was three rounds so make that Whole90), I used to sweeten my coffee with a single medjool date. I’d add coffee ice cubes, so they wouldn’t water my coffee down, and creamy full fat coconut milk because the cleanse is dairy-free (otherwise I’m all for half and half!). It was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had and it was Paleo approved.

My date-sweetened coffee got me thinking of how I could turn my favorite summer drink into a healthy frappuccino and of course I went in the tahini direction. I love using tahini in sweet applications – with the addition of silan, cinnamon and vanilla, it tastes like halva without all the added sugar. The result is a smooth and creamy coffee shake that’s refreshing and oh. so. delicious. Perfect for every season – but especially summer.

Stay cool out there!

Related Recipes:

tahini date smoothie
banana date milk & honey smoothie

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Mongolian Beef

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

It’s been hard getting back into the blogging groove lately. I surprised myself when I kept things going so consistently ever since baby #5 came last July, but those days of sleeping babies are long gone, and my little rascal is crawling around putting every last tiny speck and crumb into her mouth.


I also lost my cleaning help (of 6 years!)  recently, which any mom knows is the single most important thing to help us keep our sanity. I mean, who do you think did the dishes after every cookfest I had in the kitchen? I mean, I love to cook, but I don’t love to clean up after myself. ;) Yes, my friends. That is my dirty little secret.

People always ask me, “How do you do what you do?” and the truth is, I’d never be able to do it without help! I always say – somethings got to give. Having five kids is a full time job in and of itself, so how I manage recipe testing, blogging, cooking classes and photography work boils down to this – I can’t do it all. I’m not very active in the gazillion whatsapp groups I belong to. I went off Facebook. I cut down on volunteer work (and send a donation instead!) and I have, ahem – had, cleaning help.

Luckily, this recipe was photographed and tested months ago, and I love saving things like these in the archives for those stressful times when I don’t have time to work on new recipes. I had made it for dinner one night and it came together super fast with little fuss. Who doesn’t love recipes like that?!

With summer coming and school coming to an end, we all need those quick and easy stir fries that we can throw together at the last minute. I hope you all enjoy this one as much as we did!

Related Recipes:

pepper steak with plum sauce
soy and ginger glazed sugar snap peas

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