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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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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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Refried Bean Tacos

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I hope you all had an amazing Passover, it feels like a lifetime ago! We spent the holiday in New Hampshire at the Arlington Hotel Passover Program. It was a wonderful experience filled with new friends, great food and beautiful scenery. I had never been to New Hampshire before and the small towns filled with old barns, antiques and mountainous terrain were a feast for the eyes. It was truly a magical holiday.


What was not truly magical was the number on the scale I saw when I got back! With three (sometimes four!) heavy meals a day and a 24 hour tea-room, Passover programs are not exactly figure friendly. Add matzo to that and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain [see what I did there? ;)].

Even more than the weight though, I just felt heavy and gross from eating so much animal protein. When you have Chateaubriand for dinner one night, rack of veal for the next, and brisket the next, it definitely catches up with you! So I decided to take a little break from all that and go vegetarian – if only for one week. It’s not really sustainable longer because with five little mouths to feed, I definitely need to be able to serve chicken and meat.

Our week of vegetarian fare has almost come to an end. I cooked up some of these amazing refried bean tacos, Moroccan salmon, Asian lettuce cups made from soy beef crumbles, lentil bolognese, spinach spaghetti lasagna and tonight we’re having falafel. I have to admit that all these legume-based recipes are still quite heavy and I can honestly say ready for a good steak! So it’s back to regular programming next week!

In the meantime, these refried bean tacos were definitely our favorite from our vegetarian week, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Related Recipes:

fish tacos
taco skillet
chicken fajita tacos
plantain tacos

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Nish Nosh Salmon

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

If you’re familiar with Nish Nosh salad, you’re probably doing the happy dance right now. Nish Noshim are these buttery sour cream and onion crackers that are made in Israel and the dish gets it’s name because it’s smothered in these addictive crackers. The salad is as popular for it’s crackers as it is for it’s dressing, which includes soy sauce, mustard and garlic for a rich savory flavor. The dressing is so delicious in it’s own right that it’s been packaged and sold in stories under the name Nish Nosh dressing.

Of course Nish Nosh salad has made an appearance on my Shabbat table, and it always gets finished to the last drop. The salad itself includes romaine lettuce, red cabbage and grape tomatoes, along with the crackers and salad dressing. Being the blogger that I am, I decided to turn the dish into an entree using salmon! I even roasted the cabbage and tomatoes for a full baking sheet dinner that is light, simple and pretty healthy if you don’t eat the whole bag of crackers while you’re prepping ;)

Roasted cabbage has become a healthy staple for me thanks to my friend Mel who makes it regularly. I love that you can dress it up with different spices (most recently I used Montreal Steak Seasoning) and it’s super quick and easy. The cabbage takes on a great texture, and if you cook it long enough, it starts to brown and caramelize. My only caveat: don’t use the prepackaged shredded cabbage. You’ll definitely want to use a fresh head and slice it yourself (no need to use a machine for this, just your trusty old kitchen knife).

We’re not that big into fish in my house since my kids don’t like it, but I’m definitely trying to work it in to the weekly rotation. Baked salmon is really the easiest way to go, and throwing it on a sheet pan with all the other ingredients make it a super quick dinner. You can serve this with some quinoa if you want to bulk up the dish, or treat yourself to a healthy and delicious lunch. Of course it works great for Shabbat too!

If you want to serve it up buffet style for a party, here’s a great idea: Roast the cabbage and tomatoes on their own sheet tray. Cut the salmon into cubes and coat them fully in the mayo and crumbs. Bake the salmon until opaque (about 10 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes) and roast the cabbage and tomatoes until they start to caramelize. Spread the cabbage out onto a platter and top with the salmon cubes. Then stand back and enjoy the compliments!

Related Recipes:

sweet chili salmon with wasabi crust
pesto baked salmon
teriyaki salmon
snacker-crusted salmon cakes

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas, 5 Ways

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

I have been waiting to post this recipe for months! I kept trying different variations,  cooking temps and times until I found the easiest and most delicious version. I love this dinner because of how simple it is (duh) and because there is just so much you can do with it. I think the chicken fajita bowls are my favorite (because I’m obsessed with food in bowls right now), but the nachos are pretty addictive too.

A lot of thought went into this recipe, including what type of chicken to use. I’m not a fan of skinless roasted chicken breast because it’s just. so. dry. Chicken thighs, on the other hand, are pretty impossible to mess up. Even if you overcook them a little, their fat content keeps them super moist. I also decided to keep these whole for roasting, because cutting them into strips would dry them out. Like I said, lots of thought people, lots of thought.

I’ve also tested this recipe with store bought fajita seasoning (which has added cornstarch, soybeans and wheat) and my homemade version won by a landslide. I love that this recipe is “clean” so if you choose to trash it up with homemade tortilla chips, no one is judging you :)

Related Recipes:

bunless fajita dogs
tortilla crusted chicken fingers
grilled chicken shawarma salad
grilled chicken salad with jalapeno honey mustard dressing

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Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

I’ve been loving playing around with Instagram stories these days. It lets me post a step by step cooking tutorial and it’s just. so. fun! Last night I made Asian soup bowls with a richly flavored broth and a variety of vegetables for a make-you-own bowl dinner. I posted a play by play on my stories and the feedback was amazing!

I made these stuffed acorn squashes last Friday, using some of my leftover bacon-wrapped turkey from Thanksgiving. I posted a story as I made them and I got lots of requests for a formal written recipe. I managed a quick photoshoot, even though it was a hectic Friday and do I even need an explanation? I mean just look at these?!

I really love the idea of making this after Thanksgiving with some leftover turkey, but if you don’t have any, just leave it out and keep it vegan. With or without the turkey, this is a beautiful side dish that’s perfect for the fall, winter, holidays or just a weeknight cozy dinner. I put a poached egg over some leftover rice and lemme tell you….sooooo good!


Related Recipes:

apple and sausage stuffed butternut squash
za’atar roasted kabocha squash with silan
turkey roulade with five minute stuffing
unstuffed mushrooms

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Farro Grain Bowl

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Life with five kids has thrown me for a loop. They always say #3 is hard, maybe #4 too. But #5? I’m ex.hau.sted. Baby girl is still 3 months old, so I know we’re still in that needy (ie. nursing every 3 hours) stage, but man, it’s tough! I still won’t give up blogging though, because after five years of creating and sharing, it’s become so much a part of me. You guys, are part of the family.

Thank G-d for some stored posts that never made it to blog like this farro grain bowl. I don’t know why it’s been sitting in my archived photos for so long because dang is it beautiful. And oh so tasty! I’m all about grain bowls right now. Ok I’m all about any food really (breastfeeding!!), but there’s something about being able to throw in a little of this and a little of that to create something so satisfying.

I’m a huge fan of grain bowls because there are endless options, and it’s basically just an excuse to throw a bunch of leftovers into a big dish and call it fancy! I’ve started to make them for lunch a lot, using whatever leftovers I have in the fridge. I can usually find some quinoa (I like to cook it up in the beginning of the week so I can add it to salads, yogurt and mains) or leftover rice and I pretty much always have some cooked chicken on hand. There’s also plenty of veggies to choose from, plus some hard boiled eggs, cheese, and roasted beets. So basically I’ve got my grain bowls made, I have to just make ’em!

So, how do you build a grain bowl? Well, you can try and stick to a specific cuisine (like this Middle Eastern inspired bowl) or you can keep things simple. Just follow this basic outline:

How to Build a Grain Bowl:

Grains (rice, farro, quinoa, couscous, barley, wheat berries, millet)
Raw or Cooked Veggies (carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers, beets, peppers, zucchini)
Raw or Sauteed Greens (spinach, arugula, kale, radicchio, cabbage)
Protein (tofu, edamame, chickpeas, surimi, chicken, poached egg, cheese)
Dressing (pesto, miso, tahini, salsa, peanut sauce, soy sauce)
Garnish (seaweed, avocado, nuts, pickled veggies, scallions, fresh herbs)

I probably would have added some sauteed beet greens to this bowl, if I had had them, but the flavors were amazing and went together really well. The chewy farro, sweet beets, smoky chicken, crispy chickpeas and crunchy pomegranate seeds really complemented each other – both in texture and flavor. Of course the tahini didn’t hurt either, and the pomegranate molasses just put it over the top.

Thinking about making your own grain bowl? Here are some other fun combinations!

// cauliflower rice + fajita spiced peppers + black beans + avocado + salsa dressing + fresh lime
// quinoa + roasted squash + sauteed kale + feta + pumpkin seeds + almond butter dressing
// couscous + roasted eggplant + tomato + red cabbage + hard boiled egg + harissa dressing
// sushi rice + carrots + cucumber + sushi grade tuna + edamame + fried egg + sriracha + soy sauce

Have you ever made a grain bowl, or seen one you like? Share the combo with me in the comments below! I love to get inspired with new combinations!


Related Recipes:

chicken shawarma
grilled chicken shawarma salad
za’atar roasted chickpeas

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Stuffed Cabbage Bolognese

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

A couple of months ago, the kosher culinary school that I attended sadly closed down. I remember bumping into another alumni and we shared our disappointment in the school’s closing. “Do you realize,” she said, “that our diplomas aren’t going to be worth anything anymore? Don’t you care?” I thought for a minute and realized, that no, I didn’t care, because it wasn’t really worth anything to me to begin with.

Being a Chef isn’t something you learn and file away in a drawer. It’s something you become, irregardless of schooling. A true chef never stops learning. They are constantly honing their skills, reading, watching and improving. I don’t need a piece of paper to show that I went to culinary school. The love that I put into my dishes, the effort that I put into my technique and the taste of the finished product is all a testament to my knowledge and understanding of food.

And still, I have a hard time calling myself a Chef. I have so much more to learn. I’ve never worked a restaurant kitchen. Never smoked a piece of meat. Never butchered anything. OK – never butchered anything correctly. Forgot how to break down a fish. Have yet to make a Thanksgiving turkey. Chef? I think not.

I so strongly believe this, that in the hundreds of cooking classes I’ve given around the country, I refuse to wear a Chef’s jacket and wear an apron instead. I feel like I’m a cook, just like my audience, and we’re learning together.

It’s this attitude that has allowed me to learn about interesting dishes and techniques, not necessarily from other Chef’s, but from average cooks. I’m always open to chatting about food and recipes, and hearing what’s cooking in other people’s kitchens. I’ve come home with amazing recipes from people I bump into in the supermarket, or on the train. I belong to lots of Facebook cooking groups and I love to browse through the Pages and see what’s cookin’ in other peoples kitchens.

Alas, and getting back on track here… that’s precisely how this recipe happened. I saw a recipe for an unstuffed cabbage with noodles made by Danielle Cooper Lader on the What’s for Supper Facebook page and it looked so amazing that I had to try my own version! I used my Bubby’s amazing cabbage & flanken soup recipe as my starting point and just went from there! It’s kind of a cross between lokshin and cabbage and stuffed cabbage, both popular Hungarian dishes that I grew up eating. And you know me and mashup recipes. This one is a winner!

In five years of blogging, this is my first time posting on a Saturday night, I just really wanted to get this up for you in time for the seconds days of the Chag! Soooo much easier than stuffed cabbage, and dare I say even more delicious. Chag Sameach!

Related Recipes:

Bubby’s cabbage soup with flanken
Passover stuffed cabbage
how to stuff cabbage
spaghetti squash bolognese
veal marsala bolognese

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Fish Tacos + 8 International Menus

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Yom Kippur is thankfully behind us, and Thank God I survived the most brutal of all fasts, fasting while nursing. Just barely. But I’m here and I’m thinking about food. Again. We’ve got an 8-day holiday ahead, and I love the idea of serving up different cuisines throughout the Chag to break up the monotony of it all, and to give us something to look forward to! I served up these amazing fish tacos for my Mexican Fiesta meal last year and I’m happy to share the recipe with you, plus 8 International menus for the 8 days of the Chag, including kid food! Enjoy and Chag Sameach!

MEXICAN
appetizer: fish tacos, tropical guacamole with plantain chips
entree: chorizo chocolate chili with pareve cornbread
for the kids: tortilla crusted chicken fingers with creamy salsa dipping sauce
dessert: mexican hot chocolate brownies

ISRAELI
appetizer: hummus with pita chips, stuffed eggplant, falafel cauliflower poppers
entree: pomegranate roast or za’atar chicken with dried fruit with rice vermicelli
for the kids: shnitzel and potato bourekas (fill with mashed potatoes)
dessert: halva krembos

ITALIAN
Dairy:
appetizer: salmon cakes with lemon caper yogurt, panzanella salad
entree: spinach pappardelle with feta or linguini lasagna and zucchini parmesan chips
for the kids: roasted tomato soup with muenster breadsticks (or grilled cheese)
dessert: torah cannoli

Meat:
appetizer: pesto salmon or corn beef arancini, spinach matzo ball minestrone soup
entree: chicken cacciatore or veal marsala bolognese or short rib ravioli
for the kids: lazy meatballs
dessert: tartufo (any colors work!)

ASIAN
appetizer: sushi salad or sushi burritos or sweet chili salmon, asian big bowl soup
entree: pepper steak with plum sauce, fried rice, teriyaki portobello mushrooms
for the kids: sweet and sour pineapple chicken
dessert: nutella banana wontons

AMERICAN
appetizer: gefilte crab cakes and BBQ potato salad
entree: burger bar or beer braised brisket with mashed potatoes and green beans or brussel sprouts
for the kids: hot dog eggrolls or corndog hamantaschen
dessert: oreo cheesecake

INDIAN
appetizer: tandoori fishmulligatawny soup with naan
entree: peanut chicken curry with coconut rice
for the kids: potato pea samosas
dessert: chai chocolate pots de creme

FRENCH
appetizer: salad nicoise, french onion soup
entree: boeuf Bourguignon or coq au vin, herb-roasted potatoes
for the kids: salami quiche
dessert: fig tarte tatin or apple tart

MOROCCAN
appetizer: Morrocan gefilte fish, carrot saladmatbucha, marinated olives, charmoula eggplant
entree: harrisa chicken or lamb chops and 6 spice morrocan stew with couscous
for the kids: lamb kebobs
dessert: apricot baklava or makroud

I’m not native to all these countries so feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments below!

Shout out to some of my family favorite Sukkot recipes not included above:

Bubby’s cabbage soup with flanken
mushroom barley stoup
cream of chicken soup in bread bowls
smoky split pea soup with thyme dumplings
pumpkin pot pie
meat and rice stuffed vegetables 
zucchini mechshie with tamarind and prunes
meat and rice stuffed baby eggplants
Levana’s chocolate espresso mousse (freezes great!)

Related Recipes:

red snapper fish tacos with broccoli slaw
coconut crusted fish tacos with savory plantain tortillas

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