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Zoodle Bolognese + Spaghetti Sloppy Joes
and How I Mastered Dinner

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

This might seem hard to believe considering that I run a food blog, give cooking class, develop recipes for brands and raise my brood of five, but the truth is, I’m pretty unorganized. Especially when it comes to dinner. I don’t have a monthly eating plan, let alone a weekly one. I pretty much look into the fridge and freezer in the morning and decide what to make. If there aren’t really options, I go to the store. And that happens more often than I’d like to admit. Until recently.

I might not be the type of person to plan my menus in advance, but I finally realized that just because I don’t plan exactly what I’m making, it doesn’t mean that I can’t create a framework to help me narrow down the choices. A lot of mom’s get overwhelmed by the thought of making dinner, but that’s because there are a gazillion things you can make, so it’s just so hard to choose. Should you make meat or chicken? What type of meat or chicken? What about side dishes? And picky kids? I get it, believe me I do. And I FINALLY figured it out.

For starters, I created a basic guideline for the week, and it goes something like this:

Leftover Sunday: leftovers! If there are none, BBQ or eat out.
Meatless Monday: vegan or vegetarian dishes.
Beef (Taco) Tuesday: easy beef tacos or any beef recipe.
Chicken Wednesday: any recipe using boneless or bone-in chicken.
Dairy Thursday: the kids favorite day of the week!
Friday: Shabbat Dinner (always changing but I repeat a few basic staples)
Sandwich Saturday: kids choice of sandwiches or wraps

This general guideline helped me narrow down the choices so that instead of there being a gazillion ideas to choose from, I stick to a specific structure for each day. Of course nothing is set in stone, so if we decide to take the kids out to eat on Sunday, we’ll have leftovers on Monday, or if I make a vegetarian taco skillet (we love Trader Joes soy beef crumbles) on Monday, I’ll switch up chicken Wednesdays with taco Tuesdays. The point is to balance out the days so you have enough variety without being overwhelmed with options.

To narrow things down further, here are some options for each day to give you some ideas. Obviously this is based on what my kids like (they are not big on vegetables!), but I always try to serve a protein, carb and veggie. Many times that veggie is Israeli salad, because that’s their favorite, but I always put some veggies on the table, even if it’s just my hubby and I who end up eating it.

As a food blogger and recipe developer, I’m constantly working on new recipes which I feed to my family. You can follow my stories on Instagram for lots of exciting ideas.

MEATLESS MONDAYS:

Make your own sushi, sushi rice bowls, sushi burritos or sushi salad. Baked salmon, seared tuna or ceviche on the side.
fish tacos
fried fish sandwiches
tuna pasta salad or salmon pasta salad and fruit smoothies
vegan taco skillet
falafel with all the fixings
soup and salad
tofu stir fry with pasta
lentil sloppy joes
chickpea curry
vegetarian chili with cornbread

BEEF (TACO) TUESDAYS:

beef tacos (with Ortega seasoning packet or my homemade mix)
beef fajitas
beef noodle stir fry
pepper steak in plum sauce
Mongolian beef (recipe coming soon)
meaty soup with fresh pita or baguettes (Bubby’s cabbage soup, smoked turkey split pea, fire roasted tomato rice stoup, crockpot mushroom barley soup)
london broil and mashed potatoes
meatballs and rice
spaghetti sloppy joes and zoodle bolognese for adults
kofta kebabs
pulled beef tacos or sandwiches

CHICKEN WEDNESDAYS:

pineapple chicken and rice
spicy garlic chicken and rice vermicelli
breaded honey chicken with Israeli couscous
grilled chicken shawarma bar
Pad Thai
chicken fajitas
pargiot bowls
shnitzel salad or sandwiches
bundt pan rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes
Asian chicken soup with ramen

DAIRY THURSDAYS: (usually served with fruit smoothies and/or Caesar salad)

lasagna
baked ziti
breakfast for dinner (pancakes, french toast or waffles with yogurt, granola and fruit)
ravioli in pink sauce
cheesy minestrone
stuffed shells
cheesy pull apart buns
pita pizza

FRIDAY NIGHT STAPLES (SHABBAT DINNER):
Shabbat dinner changes weekly, depending on guests etc., but here are some weekly staples

baked gefilte fish with breadcrumbs or fried patties
Israeli salad
hummus and tahini
chicken soup (or spinach matza ball minestrone, or Asian chicken soup)
bundt pan rotisserie chicken (our favorite basic, but we often change this up)
deli roll

SANDWICH SATURDAYS:

tuna sandwiches
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
turkey sandwiches
hummus sandwiches
mayo and tomato sandwiches
cream cheese sandwiches
grilled cheese sandwiches
quesadillas

I hope this basic guideline helps you manage your dinner schedule, and I plan to fill in the links that are missing as I post them! Feel free to write up your own favorite options for each day of the week, to make things easier for you. If you have any kid-friendly recipes that are a staple in your family, please share in the comments so we can add it our rotation too!

This bolognese recipe is a staple in my house, because I can serve the kids their kid-friendly version with spaghetti sloppy joes, and serve my husband the lightened up version with zoodles. I eat a bit of both! ;) The zoodle version makes the perfect Chol Hamoed dinner for Pesach, so make sure to add it to your menu!

#eatingfortheinsta!

Related Recipes:

stuffed cabbage bolognese
veal marsala bolognese with turnip noodles
spaghetti squash bolognese 
cheesy zoodle marinara
zoodle shakshuka

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Charoset London Broil

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I recently spent a couple of days in Miami. Aside from my (almost) daily breakfast at Zak the Baker, I made sure to head to Sarah’s Tent, a kosher grocery in Aventura. Sarah’s Tent is a well stocked market with a great deli, but that’s not what I went for. I went for the Israeli imports, specifically, kosher Lotus Biscoff spread, also known as speculoos or cookie butter.

If you fly Delta, you may notice that they give out individually wrapped biscuit cookies made by Lotus, but sadly, I always pass on them and go for the kosher pretzels. El Al, however, offers up the Israeli-manufactured version of the biscuit, which is, in fact, kosher. I went through my kosher speculoos phase a little while back when my local kosher supermarket carried the biscuits (which I turned into these buns, these pancakes and this party mix), but I’ve since moved on to the spread – which is the most decadent cookie butter of your dreams – and is pretty hard to get your hands on with a kosher certification. I once made my husband travel all around Jerusalem to bring me home a prized jar, and I savored that butter like no ones business, one spoon at a time!

BUT – back to the recipe at hand. As I was strolling through the aisles of Sarah’s Tent, I noticed a jar of Israeli-made charoset and I was intrigued. As an Ashkenazi, I had never tasted the “real” stuff, made with dates, apples, walnuts and wine. I brought home a jar and sadly, I was quite disappointed with the flavor. It was sitting in my fridge last week as I rummaged through, looking for ingredients to make my london broil – and then it hit me. Why not marinate my meat in it, with some red wine, and make a Charoset london broil. Alas, the beef came out of the oven smelling divine, but I did not like the flavor. Putting a condiment that I did not like on it’s own on beef, only made the beef taste like the jarred stuff – and well, it was just off. But the idea was a strike of genius! I had posted a photo of the meat on Instagram (if you don’t follow my Friday food fests, you must!), and requests for the recipe started pouring in! So, I decided to come up with a homemade variation on the Charoset London Broil idea, and the results couldn’t have been better!

The meat marinates in a mixture of traditional charoset ingredients of red wine, walnut oil (in place of walnuts), silan or date honey (in place of dates), some grated apple and a pinch of cinnamon. After I cook up the meat perfectly medium-rare, the marinade gets cooked up thickened and tastes just like – you guessed it – charoset! This delicious Passover dish is a must, whether your Sephardic or Ashkenazi (like me!). Give it a try!

Related Recipes:

“everything” london broil with red wine reduction
French roast with dried fruit
Kosher meat guide: cuts and cooking methods

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Apple Crisp with Gluten-Free Marzipan Crumble

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

This right here has been on my mind since forever. An apple crisp with marzipan just seems like the perfect combo, so I finally decided to make it gluten free!

The smell of marzipan transports me to the kosher-for-Passover bakery aisle, with rainbow cake, leaf cookies and all sorts of gluten-free treats that smell of almond extract. The truth is, I used to hate the stuff, but like many foods, it’s grown on me over the years and now I actually like it! My husband is a huge fan (hence this birthday cake!) and my kids have hopped on the marzipan train too (which is why I came up with these).

I’ve got a huge stash of marzipan inspired recipes on my to-do list, but I have to admit, it’s not one of those ingredients that everyone loves, which is why I don’t like to blog about it too much. It’s really one of those love it or hate it ingredients (like halva!), and I kinda like my recipes to appeal to everyone. But since marzipan, for me, is so reminiscent of Passover, I figured I’d just bite the bullet, or, er, the marzipan.

Making your own marzipan is a breeze, by the way, and since all the ingredients are kosher for Passover, you can whip up a double batch and use it in so many ways! My only caveat here is that I used pure almond extract to test the recipe and I’m not 100% sure that it’s available kosher for Passover. I know the imitation stuff is, so you can use that. Just take caution since it might have a stronger flavor.

The absolute best part about this recipe, is that the crumble can be made on it’s own, and it makes the most fantastic Kosher-for-Passover non-gebroks topping for ice cream, yogurt and fruit. It’s even great on it’s own as a brittle-style snack!

Related Recipes:

3-layer rainbow cookie cake
gluten-free date and almond hamantaschen
Passover sugared almonds

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Parmesan Roasted Almonds

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Somebody pinch me. Is Pesach really in less than a month? Ahhhhhhhhh

That’s not to say I’m making Pesach this year, because I plan to avoid that catastrophic monster of a gluten free cookfest for as long as I can. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind helping in the kitchen at all, in fact, I enjoy coming up with original dishes as a result of our strict Passover restrictions. But the thought of actually hosting meal after meal for eight days straight is not exactly appealing to me.


So, I’ll be helping out in my mom’s kitchen this year. And I plan to do a lot of spiralizing. We’ll be eating plenty of zoodles and sweet potato rice – a healthier alternative to the overused spud.

Meals are not that much of an issue – we always have my mom’s Passover gefilte fish, mason jars filled with pickled cucumber salad, beet “vinaigrette”, ratatouille and mock chopped liver. There are also the traditional Pesach dishes like scrambled hard boiled eggs, orange chicken and sweet nut omelettes. But snacks? other than bananas and the occasional piece of dark chocolate, we’re out of options.

Last year, I made these sugared almonds, but as my palate has taken a turn for the savory, I came up with an even tastier version, minus the sugar. Parmesan roasted almonds are completely addictive, and they make the most amazing croutons over lettuce! If you make your own mayo, a Passover Caesar salad can now be on the menu, without losing out on the crunchy crouton goodness.

Making these croutons the other day was an admission that Pesach is coming, whether we like it or not. But it was also a realization that it can be oh. so. delicious.

More fun and innovative Passover recipes recipes are coming your way soon, so stay tuned!



This post was sponsored by Natural & Kosher Cheese. Follow them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, or via their Blog

Related Recipes:

gluten free broccoli parmesan poppers
gluten free roasted eggplant parmesan
gluten free pesto zucchini fries
pesto baked salmon

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Scrambled Hard-Boiled Eggs

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I guess that’s how this recipe came to be. I mean, you can’t say you’ve really tried every type of egg dish over Passover until you’ve tried scrambled hard-boiled eggs, right?

My mother has been making these on Passover for as long as I can remember. She learned to make them from my grandmother, who learned to make them from her mother. I’m not sure if this is a traditional Hungarian dish, or if my great-grandmother invented it. I imagine there wasn’t much else to eat back in Europe besides for eggs and potatoes, with a little chicken or meat on the side, if they were lucky. So creativity with eggs and potatoes was a must. How else can you explain adding hard boiled eggs to runny scrambled ones?

Eggs on eggs might sound kind of weird. Ok, it does sound really weird, but trust me when I tell you that these scrambled hard-boiled eggs are incredibly delicous. Adding hard-boiled eggs to the scrambled ones make this dish substantial enough to serve for lunch, with a side of salad or matza and cheese.

Scrambled hard-boiled eggs is just one of the interesting recipes my family whips up with eggs over Pesach. There’s also our sweet nut omelette that we’d whip up for breakfast and the mock chopped liver that begins with some deeply caramelized onions.

Aside from eggs and potatoes, sauteed onions are the other quintessential Passover ingredient. Since we don’t use spices or processed ingredients over the holiday, sauteed onions are a crucial base for adding flavor to every dish. These scrambled hard-boiled eggs are no exception.

 

Related Recipes:

how to make perect hard-boiled eggs
Passover sweet nut omelette
Passover baked portobello shakshuka

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Rainbow Pommes Anna

Thursday, March 28th, 2013


The more I’ve been reading through Passover recipe books and surfing through recipes online, I realize just how strict my family’s customs are. On Pesach, we are truly down to the bare basics, using only vegetables that can be peeled and seasoning them simply with oil and salt. We don’t use herbs, spices or any processed ingredients like Kosher for Passover ketchup, brown sugar or sauces. My mom even makes simple syrup to use in place of sugar to sweeten dishes. Matza meal, of course, is out of the question, as we do no eat Gebroks (matza that has absorbed liquid).

Due to our stringent dietary restrictions on Pesach, we tend to make simpler, wholesome dishes that don’t require a lot of ingredients. Basics like mock chopped liver, chremslach, beet salad and orange chicken are staples in our home. When I thought about classic dishes I could reinvent for Passover, I took inspiration from Pommes Anna (also called Anna potatoes), a French dish of sliced, layered potatoes that are minimally seasoned with salt and pepper and brushed liberally with butter. Using traditional Passover ingredients of beets, sweet potatoes and russet potatoes creates a stunning rainbow effect and lends a touch of sweetness to the potato cake.

1 year ago: sweet pepper burgers
2 years ago: quick & easy shakshuka

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Chicken Pot Pie Passover Croquettes

Thursday, March 21st, 2013


Growing up, my mom would often prepare chremslach on Passover whenever there were leftover mashed potatoes. Some people refer to chremslach as matza fritters, but in our house, mashed potatoes were the ingredient of choice. They were held together with some egg, dipped in potato starch and fried. Nothing fancy, just another use for potatoes and a simple side for yet another meal.

I decided to spruce up my mom’s basic recipe with some leftover chicken, carrots and onions, for a take on chicken pot pie. If you eat kitniyot, peas would be the perfect addition! The patties are dredged in ground nuts for a crunchy Passover coating. Serve with a side of homemade ketchup, marinara or garlic aioli.

1 year ago: homemade raspberry sorbet
2 years ago: roasted beet & orange salad

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Nut Omelette

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

This is going to sound pretty ridiculous considering all the things I learned to make in culinary school, but the humble omelette is what really got me. It wasn’t so much the technique as much as flipping the thing. A well-made omelette is fluffy and moist, so when you’re ready to flip, it’s a jiggly mess. I can’t tell you how many omelettes I went through (actually I can, it was 5) until I was able to flip one properly on omelette day.

You can’t begin to imagine what the kitchen looked like after Hurricane Omelette came through. Even Chef Wiseman’s shoes were covered in scrambled eggs. The stovetop was a complete disaster, with bits and pieces of sticky eggs stuck to every crevice. And guess which lucky individual was assigned to clean it all? That would be ME. Miss-goofed-up-with-5-omelettes-till-she-got-it-right.
Nisht gut.

I was determined to get that flipping action down, so for the next couple of days, my husband woke up to a fluffy 3-egg omelette for breakfast, and my kids got their choice of quesadillas for dinner. I was flippin’ paper clips, candy, and yes, I was flipping myself…out.

By the time our practical test came at the end of the semester, my omelette was spot on. I flipped it on the first try. Couldn’t be better. I wish you could have seen the smile on my face when I put that fluffy omelette on the plate. Priceless.

But I’ll share a little secret with you all. I’m not above another omelette flipping disaster. When I went to flip the dessert omelette in the photo, the yolk splattered all over me. I was covered in Passover nut omelette batter.
Nisht gut.

So now that I’ve shared my omelette hall of shame, I’d be happy to share some secrets to making the perfect fluffy American omelette (French omelettes are creamier and are not browned or flipped).

#1 Add a splash of milk to your eggs and season with salt and pepper.
#2 Whisk the mixture well to incorporate some air into the batter.
#3 Make sure your nonstick pan is greased and hot so you get a nice brown finish on the egg.
#4 As soon as your batter hits the pan, stir with a spatula from the inside out and quickly scrape down the sides. Repeat several times until the omelette is beginning to set.
#5 Sneak some butter or oil under the edge of the omelette and shake the pan to see if the omelette can slide. If not, add a bit more fat and test again. Once you are sure the omelette can slide on the pan, you’re ready to flip.
#6. Slide the omelette towards the sloped end of the pan and FLIP. Try not to get egg batter all over your face.
#7 This is where you would add your fillings of choice.
#8 Fold the omelette by one third, starting from the right side.
#9 Turn the pan towards you [like how someone might stab themselves (thanks to The Wise Man for that awful metaphor!)] and flip the pan over onto a plate, so that it sits seam-side-down.
#10 Garnish with fresh herbs or your garnish of choice.

The process sounds long, but it shouldn’t take more than 1 1/2-2 minutes total, from start to finish.

Now that I’ve given you some tips on making the perfect omelette, lets talk a little bit about nut omelettes. Huh? Yes, I said nut omelettes. Why would anyone want to eat a sweet omelette? Well, they might be on a strict no-carb diet. Or, it might be Passover, and they might not be fond of eating chocolate cake made out of potato starch for breakfast.

When I was growing up, my mom would scramble up this sweet nut omelette batter for us whenever we felt sick of the heavy Pesach food (which was pretty often). Last year, I even managed to convince my toddler that they were pancakes (she hates eggs!) and she gobbled them down.

So before you make a face at having a sweet omelette for breakfast, just imagine that you’re almost having a crepe – only fluffier. And you get to skip all the crepe-making. Which is a lot harder than it looks BTW. I should know, I went through a LOT of them on breakfast day.
Nisht gut.

For more Passover dessert ideas, check out the Kosher Connection Link-Up below!

1 year ago: tater tot chicken nuggets
2 years ago: orange chicken

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Passover Made Easy Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

There is so much I love about this cookbook that I don’t quite know where to start! So I’ll start at the beginning.

When you first set your eyes on Passover Made Easy, you’ll be struck by it’s beautiful design and styling. Rachel Adler did an impressive job laying out this cookbook with brilliant coloring, masterful layout, and gorgeous typography. I am literally blown away.

Aside from the graphics, the photographs and styling are also impeccable. As a blogger who photographs and styles her dishes, I can tell you firsthand that many, if not most, of the dishes in this cookbook are extremely difficult to photograph. And so many Pesach recipes lack eye-appeal. But not only have the dishes been masterfully plated, the authors also include many step-by-step plating guides to help you serve the dishes as beautifully as they are pictured.

Passover Made Easy is the brainchild of an unlikely pairing – Leah Schapira, the author of Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking and co-founder of CookKosher.com, as well as Victoria Dwek, the managing editor of Whisk Magazine. Leah is Ashkenazi, with Hungarian roots, while Victoria is Sephardi, with Syrian roots. How an Ashkenazi and a Sephardi came together to write a successful Passover cookbook is nothing short of a Pesach miracle. Leah and Victoria each offer their own unique perspective, striking the perfect balance of grebroks and non-gebroks recipes. The authors guide you along page after page in a playful and friendly manner. You almost feel as if you’re hanging out with them in the kitchen. Victoria shares her recipes for Syrian Charoset, tortillas, Matzaroni and Cheese, as well as many non-grebroks dishes. Leah offers up unique and tasty dishes like Meatballs in Blueberry Sauce, Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Soup, Apple-Jam Chicken Drumettes, and so much more.

Some of the other features that I enjoyed from this cookbook are the wine pairings and building block recipes like mayo, crepes, and Passover crumbs. There is also a nifty replacement index that helps guide those who avoid using processed ingredients and peels on Pesach. While the guide is helpful, I wish there were a few more recipes suited for the more stringent among us (me included!)

While I am unable to make most of these recipes on Passover, I look forward to trying many recipes throughout the year including the Mock Techineh (for my brother who is allergic to sesame seeds!), Butternut Squash Salad with Sugar ‘n Spice Nuts, Braised Short Ribs, Jalapeno-Lime & Ginger Salmon, Stuffed Onions, Vegetable Lo Mein (for my dieting days!), Espresso Macaroons with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cream, and Truffled Grapes.

Busy In Brooklyn is giving a copy of Passover Made Easy! To enter the giveaway, you must:

1. Share you favorite Passover memory in the comments below.
2. Like Busy In Brooklyn on Facebook.

Winner will be chosen at random on Monday, March 18th, 9:00 AM.

BONUS RECIPES FROM PASSOVER MADE EASY:

 

 

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The No-Potato Passover Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Friday, March 8th, 2013


The concept of a Passover without potatoes has been a long time in coming. I’m so glad that Aviva Kanoff has embraced it in her cookbook, The No-Potato Passover. Aviva takes us on a journey of food, travel and color, allowing us to think outside the spud with her internationally-inspired menus. Her recipes span the globe, from Jamaica to Morocco, Croatia to Hungary, and so many places in between. As an avid traveler, Ms. Kanoff takes us along on her travels through colorful pictures and unique recipes that are great for Pesach and all year long. With recipes like pesto chicken “pasta” and eggplant “lasagna” and desserts like chocolate chip biscotti and hazelnut cream cookies, you’ll almost forget you’re on the Passover diet!

Instead of the traditional carb-laden Pesach fare we are used to having, The No-Potato Passover cookbook focuses on healthy options, making use of quinoa, spaghetti squash, parsnips and other creative ingredients to give you original dishes that you will relish and enjoy. While Aviva’s recipes leave me truly inspired, I am personally unable to make most of them on Pesach due to my family’s dietary customs. Still, I look forward to making some of dishes throughout the year, including her heirloom tomato salad with honey basil vinaigrette, roasted garlic soup with flanken, stuffed zucchini blossoms, southwestern sweet ‘n spicy meatballs, strawberry glazed chicken, salmon croquettes with wild mushroom sauce, and coconut cream pie in a macaroon crust.

While The No-Potato Passover Cookbook is filled with colorful & vibrant imagery, I don’t feel that the design is up to par with today’s sophisticated & modern cookbooks. That aside, I think the recipes are truly unique and delicious. Many make use of hard-to-find Passover ingredients (like imitation soy sauce or mustard), however, they are easily adaptable during the year using readily-available ingredients.

The No-Potato Passover cookbook is the winner of The Gourmand Award for the Best Jewish Cuisine in 2012. It has been newly revised and edited just in time for Passover 2013.

As my Passover gift to you, Busy In Brooklyn is giving away a free copy of The No-Potato Passover Cookbook! To enter the giveaway, you must:

1. Share you favorite Passover recipe in the comments below.
2. Follow Busy In Brooklyn on Facebook.

Winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, March 13th at 10:00 PM.

FREE SAMPLE RECIPES FROM THE NO-POTATO PASSOVER COOKBOOK:

Related Recipes:

spinach matzo ball minestrone soup

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