Category: Appetizer

Tunisian-Style Tuna Nicoise Salad

Early followers of my blog will remember my South Beach Diet days, and if you’ve been following for the last few years, my Whole30 phase. Yes, I’ve been dieting my entire life, I can write a book on it (oh wait, I did!).

Since I had my last baby, over two years ago, it’s been about food freedom for me – and for a few reasons. Firstly, I decided I didn’t want to live my life on a diet anymore, and I wanted to be able to enjoy food and be OK with it. I did put on some weight, which is what will happen if you’re in my industry and you just let yourself go – but I accepted it and decided that I would learn to love my body at any size.

From a recipe testing perspective, because I was working on my cookbook, I didn’t want my palate to be off, which is what will happen if you’re on a diet that restricts sugars or carbs. After a few rounds of Whole30, everything tasted cloyingly sweet to me and if you’re developing recipes for a cookbook, that can be a problem. I remember testing this recipe during my Whole30 (tasting it and spitting it out!) and when I made it several months later for a Shavuot cooking class, I found that it really needed more sweetener (recipe has been adjusted!). If you’re testing recipes for a living, you need to appeal to the average palette, so a diet can really throw things off. That’s another reason I decided to let myself go and not be restrictive.

I started following a lot of body-positive Instagram accounts and really tried to work on being comfortable in my larger size, but if I’m being honest, I just didn’t feel like myself. I was self conscious, uncomfortable behind the camera, and going shopping left me feeling totally depressed. Physically, I felt tired, lacked energy and just wasn’t motivated to make a change.

This year, on my 38th birthday, I looked in the mirror and decided it was time to make a change. Either accept and love myself at any size, or change that size to one that would make me more comfortable in my skin. I was done with the yo yo eating, and I just wanted to gain back control. For me personally, I don’t do well with intuitive eating or mindfulness, I need a strict regimen otherwise I don’t keep to it. So the day after Chanukah, I took the diet plunge and went keto. No excuses, no back and forth on which diet to choose, just jumping right in without thinking, and it’s the best thing I could have done. I shared it on Instagram so that I would hold myself accountable, and I’ve been going strong for two weeks (although it already feels like months!). It’s amazing how long a day can feel when you’re watching everything you put in your mouth!!

It scary to put yourself out there today. Someone recently told me that we live in the “offended” generation and it’s so true. It’s like we’re all tiptoeing around each other because we might say the wrong thing. Well to all the diet-shamers out there who aren’t OK with people going on a diet, here’s what I believe and I’m sticking to it: I reserve the right to feel comfortable in my own skin, and it’s no one elses right to tell me if I should lose weight, or if I should accept my body the way it is. It is MY body and it is MY right to make that choice. Yes, I’ve gone keto – because I want to feel healthy again and be healthy again and I want to be able to like what I see in the mirror, and there’s no shame in that.¬† This, to me, is true¬†food freedom. The freedom to make your own choices about the foods you eat, and weighing those choices in a conscious way.

I’m so excited to share this delicious recipe that I came up with last week for my keto-approved lunch. I went a little overboard with the tomatoes, but I’ll get there!

Related Recipes:

harissa roasted chicken
harissa whipped feta with za’atar eggplant chips
cauliflower nachos with harissa cheddar sauce
Greek salad with feta croutons

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Pizza En Croute

Happy Chanukah!!!!! The holiday of donuts, latkes, fried food, gelt and cheeeeeeesssseeee is here! Does it get any better?

Of course we don’t count calories on Chanukah, because we celebrate the miracle of the oil where a small jug miraculously lasted for 8 whole days and the story of Yehudit who bravely lured a Greek general with wine & cheese and them chopped off his head in his drunken slumber. I mean how can we not honor our history and tradition by filling up on goodies??! You don’t have to ask me twice!

Of course Chanukah is also special to me because I was born on the fifth night, and 16 years ago, I got married on my birthday. I made that choice because I knew that the day held so much blessing and power, and I held onto the belief that it would carry me through my married life with lots of good vibes and the power to illuminate.


I never imagined that life would take me on this unexpected journey. That I would one day become a food writer, and that I would be blessed to carve out this humble space for myself on the web, and on your bookshelf. I feel especially grateful this Chanukah for all the miraculous blessings of the past year. For more success than I could have ever imagined. My heart is so full and I don’t even know how to thank you. So I’ll just keep cooking and sharing what I love, because that’s the only way I know how.

So I made pizza en croute. Because pizza has my heart. And I’m sure it has yours too. I used Makabi’s mini balls because it’s Chanukah after all, and because they’re the perfect size to take the place of brie – as a riff on the classic “brie en croute”.

I top ’em off with whatever I have en hand, and that’s really the best part about these – they’re so easily adaptable. Top the cheese with marinara, ketchup, pesto or olive tapenade and you’ve got yourself a party appetizer that will fly off the table!

Wishing you a CHEESY holiday!!

This post was sponsored by Makabi Cheese, all opinions are my own!

Related Recipes:

dried fruit brie bites
parmesan lasagna chips with pizza hummus
broccoli Parmesan poppers
zucchini parmesan chips
3-cheese pull apart buns

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Crispy Rice Latkes

Call ’em crispy rice latkes, call ’em snap crackle and pop cakes, call ’em crispy crack or even tahdig – just do yourself a favor and make them, ok??

These leftover sushi rice cakes were a total afterthought the morning after a make-your-own-sushi-roll for dinner night. I usually just stir fry my leftover rice and top it with a runny egg for breakfast the next morning but this time, I decided to crisp it up into what basically turned into a crack cake. It’s tahdig on steroids and solves the soggy latke problem, because even hours later, the latkes remained super crispy.

I think my biggest problem was what to top them with but I solved it pretty fast because runny eggs are my jam, especially when they are jammy soft boiled ones. But honestly, the options are endless. Lox and creme fraiche if you’re feeling fancy. Caviar if you really want to take it over the top. Some tuna tartare if you want to go Asian, or some sesame pulled beef if you’re feeling meaty.

And if you really want to be fancy, mix the scallions INTO the rice before frying. Or add any fillings of your choice. ENDLESS. OPTIONS.

Chanukah has been so good to me. It gave me life (I was born on the 5th night), and it celebrates my Anniversary (I got married on my birthday). I’ve always felt a special connection to the holiday of fried food, donuts and wine + cheese and I secretly wonder if it’s one of the reasons I was born with the foodie gene!

This Chanukah is especially momentous because I get to share the holiday with so many of my fans and followers at my local book signings in Williams Sonoma and Bloomingdales! I could not be more excited to share some of my favorite Chanukah recipes in some of my favorite stores. I am feeling so. very. blessed. Thank you all for making this year so special to me!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Chanukah!

Other Latke Recipes:

salami potato latkes
sabich latkes
falatkes (falafel latkes)
poutine latkes
confetti latkes
butternut squash latkes
cheese latkes

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Bourbon Peach Meatballs

Is it just me or is time just getting away from us this year? Everything seems to be moving so fast – the somber days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are already behind us, and it’s party time!

Succos is one of my favorite holidays. I love the smell of autumn in the air, the sound of ruffling leaves as we sit outside to eat and the cool breeze that blows through our little hut as we gather to celebrate. What I don’t love, is the exorbitant amount of food that seems neverending as we roll from one meal to the next for eight days straight! No matter how much one loves cooking, we all get sick of prepping, and even eating, that much!

So…. here are some tips to help us all manage and get through the cookfest:

1. This seems pretty obvious but DON’T. COOK. SO. MUCH.! Let go of the stereotypical meal of fish with dips and salads + meat and/or chicken with several sides + dessert. Instead, lighten things up with a composed meal that consists of a small plated appetizer – fish, if you’re traditional, or something vegan, if you’re not. Then move onto the main course – a large salad, festive roast or chicken with one starchy side, one vegetable and something kid friendly. For dessert – spruce up some Duncan Hines brownies with some tahini, oreos, frozen cookie dough or whatever you wish and serve with ice cream.
2. Plan themed menus! This keeps things exciting instead of boring and repetitive. I love to do a Mexican, Israeli, or Asian meal over Succos. Check out this post for some ideas!
3. Reinvent leftovers! Instead of throwing out that leftover chicken soup, why not make chicken pot pie? Or repurpose your leftover roast into a Shepherd’s pie. If you think outside the box and try to repurpose your leftovers, you can make a whole new meal without having to cook much at all.
4. Cook once, use twice! When prepping for the first days of the Chag, prepare a double portion of things like pulled beef, grilled chicken or hummus and use them a bunch of different ways.


Here are some suggestions:

Pulled beef: scroll to the bottom of this post for my super easy pulled beef recipe. It freezes great so make a double portion and freeze for later – pull and freeze in the sauce.
Serving suggestions: pulled beef sliders, nachos, tacos, bourekas, Shepherd’s pie, serve over hummus or mashed potatoes.

Grilled chicken: prepare a large portion and wrap smaller portions and freeze.
Serving suggestions: chicken salad, chicken wraps, fried rice, lo mein, ramen bowls, summer rolls, eggrolls.
Recipes:
grilled chicken wedge salad with carrot ginger dressing
grilled chicken fattoush with za’atar ranch
grilled chicken salad with jalapeno honey mustard
grilled chicken shawarma salad
sheet pan chicken fajitas 5 ways
farro grain bowl
sesame linguini with grilled chicken
Asian chicken salad
curried chicken lettuce wraps

Hummus: make a large portion of hummus and repurpose with different toppings.
Serving suggestions: hummus bassar (you can also use baharat, taco seasoning, shawarma spice…), humshuka – hummus with shakshuka on top, hummus with shawarma chicken, hummus with falafel, hummus with chickpeas, hummus with beets, hummus with roasted eggplant and pomegranate seeds, hummus with olives…

Grains or Pasta: make a large batch of pasta or grains of choice like quinoa.
Serving suggestions: pasta salad, pasta bolognese, lo mein, baked ziti or quinoa salad, quinoa patties, quinoa chili, quinoa stuffing.


I hope these ideas helped you manage the cooking frenzy ahead! Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

Related Recipes:

bourbon apricot BBQ chicken
drunken hasselback salami
bourbon honey cake balls
turkey meatballs with red wine cranberry marinara
2 ingredient lazy meatballs

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Mom’s Potato Knishes

As a recipe developer, it’s not often that I make other peoples recipes, and when I do, it’s often ones that have been in my family for years. I usually find myself cooking my mom’s dishes around the High Holidays – there’s just something about the Days of Awe that makes me want to connect to my roots, and how more so than with food.

Mom’s potato knishes are a staple at every holiday meal, and it has always been my favorite, because, well… potatoes. It’s probably the only time you’ll see me using margarine – EVER – because coconut oil just doesn’t fly here and to keep the knishes pareve, I’ve got no other choice. Plus, puff pastry is basically 80% margarine anyway, so what’s a little more, amiright?

What I love about this recipe is that the filling makes enough to fill 3 whole rolls and they freeze great! And since they’re frozen unbaked, they taste like you just made them when you bake them up before serving. = a perfect recipe for long holidays like Succos coming up! If you have a custom to eat stuffed foods for the Harvest Holiday, I’ve got you covered there too!

Related Recipes:

cabbage bourekas
deli roll
spanakopita bourekas
salmon en croute with creamed leeks

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