Category: Passover

#YesWeCanChag Yom Tov on a Budget!

Times are tough. With rising food costs and growing expenses, shopping and preparing for countless meals and guests for the holidays is more difficult than ever. I’m on a mission to help! Together, with some pre-planning, smart thinking and budgeting, YES. WE. CAN. CHAG. L’chaim!

I started the hashtag #YesWeCanChag over on Instagram as a community initiative to help us all create delicious and holiday-worthy dishes this Chag on a budget. I believe that the High Holidays should be a time of reflection, introspection, joy and love. They shouldn’t have to be a time of stress – and it all starts with perspective. Why are we here? We’re here to bring our family and friends around the table to celebrate our traditions and heritage. It doesn’t matter what we serve, so much as how we serve it. Set a beautiful table. Set a beautiful tone (relax!). Make everyone comfortable. The food is secondary. Yes. You read that right.

So, realistically, how can one budget when there is meal after meal, night after night?

For starters, my fellow bloggers and I have put together a menu of budget-friendly recipes which you can download here!

sushi nachos, Millennial Kosher, page 68

COMPOSE A BALANCED MENU

First things first, do away with the 3-4 course meals. No one can eat that much. It’s costly. It’s hard on the cook….There are so many reasons to scale back. Instead of a three course dinner with fish, multiple salads and dips, assorted proteins and sides and then dessert, serve a balanced meal without the fuss. To do this, imagine you’re in a restaurant – you order an appetizer – one or two at most, and then your main, which comes with a protein and two sides – then dessert. This is how you serve! So lets plan a holiday meal:

APPETIZER (choose 1-2): salad, assorted dips, hummus with toppings, sushi/tartare/crudo, nachos, tacos

ENTREE (choose 1 main, 1 starch and 1 vegetable or 1 main, 2 vegetables) : main (fish, chicken, meat), starch (rice, pasta, potatoes, couscous, farro), vegetable (cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, salad)

DESSERT: (choose 1) mousse, cake, cookies, fruit, sorbet, ice cream

fall harvest roast, Millennial Kosher, page 182

CHOOSE BUDGET FRIENDLY CUTS OF MEAT

Instead of following a recipe for a specific cut of meat, shop what’s on sale. Many cuts are interchangeable! The important thing to understand about how to cook meat is whether you DRY ROAST or BRAISE it. Tough cuts of meat require low and slow cooking in a braising liquid to help tenderize the meat, until it’s soft and falls apart. More tender cuts are cooked at high temperatures for a shorter period of time to firm up the muscles fibers. They’re usually served rare or medium rare, with a pink interior and a chewy texture. Therefore, if you are following a recipe for a braised brisket, but brisket is $21.99/lb., you can substitute a chuck eye roast at $15.99/lb. for any braised recipe. When it comes to braised meat – the simple rule to follow is that it’s ready when it’s fork tender – so put your fork in it and if it feels soft as butter, then it’s ready! If it’s still tough, keep cooking it for another hour, and check again. If you’re a meat novice, you’re definitely safer going with a braising cut, whereas dry roasted meat need more precision so as not to overcook (and a meat thermometer is recommended). It’s hard to overcook braised beef – 325 degrees for 3 hours is a good rule of thumb for a 3 lb. roast. Tougher cuts like 2nd cut brisket can sometimes use an additional hour or two.

Read my Guide to Purchasing and Preparing Kosher Meat for more information about different cuts of kosher meat. If you are unsure, ask your butcher if it’s a “braising” or “dry-roasting” cut.

Another great way to make the most of cheaper cuts of meat is to cook it in an instant pot/pressure cooker or to cook it sous vide – which tenderizes cheaper cuts.

Aside for purchasing budget friendly cuts, you can also get more bang for your buck by braising meat until pull-apart tender and then serving it in tacos, on a flatbread, or over nachos to stretch a small roast to serve many!

Additionally, you can get creative with the most budget-friendly cut – ground beef – and turn it into a festive appetizer or entrée. Some holiday-worthy ideas include: meatballs, single-serve empanadas or meat knishes with a mushroom sauce, spaghetti Bolognese, stuffed cabbage, shepherd’s pie, kofta kebabs, beef flatbread, moussaka.

sukkah onigiri

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX (OR BARN!)

You don’t need to make meat the star of every meal! Consider serving a dairy meal with shakshuka, frittata, quiche and a cheese board or serve a classic chicken paprikash with dumplings! You can do falafel or sushi in the sukkah. Themed meals are super fun over the course of the holiday.

ramen bowls, Millennial Kosher, page 182

MAKE IT A ONE-DISH-MEAL

With so many holiday meals, you don’t have to be so formal. Consider a one-dish-meal one night in the sukkah – like build your own ramen bowls (you can even use leftovers here!),  Yemenite chicken soup with freshly warmed pita, some schug and hummus, Unstuffed cabbage with little meatballs or a hearty mushroom barley soup.

leftover chicken soup pot pie

REPURPOSE YOUR LEFTOVERS

With meal after meal during the Chagim, waste not! use leftovers to your advantage. Here are some ideas:

•leftover roast can become: nachos, tacos, bourekas, pulled beef pizza/flatbread, shepherd’s pie, pulled beef sandwiches, eggrolls, wontons

•leftover chicken can become: chicken pot pie, chicken tortilla soup, chicken tacos, ramen bowls, chicken Caesar salad, Pad Thai, chicken wraps

•leftover fish can become: sushi salad, fish patties, fish tacos, fish nachos, salmon pasta salad, summer rolls

•leftover rice can become: fried rice, rice pancakes, arancini, risotto, tomato rice soup, bibimbap

•leftover pasta can become: pasta salad, kugel, minestrone soup, Asian noodles
•leftover mashed potatoes can become: shepherd’s pie, bourekas, gnocchi

USE THIS NOT THAT

Remember that recipes are just guidelines, you don’t need to follow them to a T (unless you’re baking, then it’s another story!). Substitute cheaper ingredients when you can. For instance, instead of getting sushi grade tuna for sushi salad, consider using kani (mock crab sticks). Use barley instead of farro or apples instead of figs and sliced almonds instead of pine nuts.

SHOP ON SALE

Be flexible with your menu and buy what’s on special. Most types of white fish are interchangeable in recipes, and as mentioned above, you can substitute many cuts of meat in a recipe as well.

drunken figs

BUY SEASONAL PRODUCE

Seasonal produce is cheaper because it’s abundant and more local  (when produce is out of season, they need to ship it in from tropical climates, making it more expensive).

HOST A POTLUCK

Invite over some neighbors or friends and have them bring a dish or two! Everybody wins!

Got more ideas for cooking Yom Tov on a budget? Comment with them below!

Mitzrayim Mule

Lets be honest, we all need a drink these days! And with Passover coming, vodka was always out of the question because it’s made from grain (traditionally rye), rendering it chometz. Until, that is, Sauvage, is a farm distillery in Upstate New York, create an all natural, gluten free vodka made from apples! Hallelujah!!

To celebrate, we’re doing a Passover riff on the Moscow mule, because no one is a fan of Russia these days! The Mitzrayim Mule! Mitzrayim is hebrew for Egypt and we are celebrating the exodus with a homemade ginger simple syrup mixed with lime and Upstate Vodka’s Kosher for Passover spirit! As a native New Yorker, I love that this vodka is handmade in New York from apples, and it has a sweeter finish and less of a burn than traditional vodka.

L’chaim, to life and to freedom – from our personal Egypt, our struggles, limitations and boundaries. Happy Passover!

This post is sponsored by Upstate Vodka.

Related Recipes:

amba bloody Harry
whiskey cider

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Marzipan Butter Cups

It’s so weird to be posting post COVID-19. It’s like there was life before the Carona virus and life after the Carona virus and they just aren’t the same.

And I don’t mean just because we are quarantined, and our kids are being homeschooled, and we’re all juggling this new reality of social distancing, nonstop cooking, cleaning and keeping the kids busy. By now, that seems like regular life.

Having been hit with a really bad case of the virus, over 2 weeks of nausea, vomiting, fever and body aches, and 6 days in the hospital, I feel SO LUCKY TO BE ALIVE! Every day that I wake up and I’m breathing, I am so thankful and emotional that I get to live this life – even if it’s hard, and every day feels like a challenge.

The love that I received from this amazing community that we’ve built here is truly beyond words. The messages, the prayers, the GREATEST HUG that held me tight is something that I will never forget and I am so grateful for. I’ve often called the BusyInBrooklyn community my “instafam” but I never realized just how great it really is until I fell ill. I am so thankful for each and every one of you, and your support through this time has meant the world to me.

Of course to all of my amazing friends who sent over dinners, toys for my kids, gifts and flowers, how can I ever thank you? Even though you were juggling your own crazy quarantine life, you made it happen and I am so lucky to have you in my life!

I’m taking things slow these days, one step at a time. Of course Pesach is coming and like much of the world, I’m making Passover for the first time, but I’m keeping things sans-pressure. We will get through it, we will manage and it will be beautiful no matter what!

As we celebrate the Exodus from Egypt this year, I’m reminded that although we are quarantined in our homes and it somehow feels like we’re in exile, I have truly never been more free! Our freedom is a state of mind that we get to choose every day. It is a realization that our circumstances don’t get to define how we allow ourselves to feel. If there is life and health, there is hope. Everything else is just details.

To me, nothing is more reminiscent of Passover than the taste of marzipan! All the Pesach desserts were always scented with the essence of almond, and I couldn’t love it more. My kids are big on rainbow-cookie-flavored desserts, so I came up with this easy and delicious way to enjoy it! Making homemade marzipan is super easy, and when it’s enrobed in my favorite kosher for Passover chocolate chips, made by California Gourmet, it just takes it over the top.

Wishing you and yours a kosher and happy and safe Passover!

 

Related Kosher for Passover Recipes:

chunky monkey marzipan nice cream
marzipan date truffles
apple crisp with marzipan crumble

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Pastelon Shepherd’s Pie

Yes, it’s true – plantains and I are having a moment. Ok fine, not a moment, a year. Or three. Or four.

I’ve basically been a fan of plantains ever since my first Whole30 back in 2014. I didn’t even know what they were back then, but when I found Whole30-approved plantain chips in Trader Joes, I was all in. I started noticing the plantains at my local Caribbean grocery, and I learned to make my own chips as well as tostones (twice fried plantains) which I devoured with guacamole and tuna tartare (OK I’m hungry now).

I realized that plantains could make an amazing stand-in for the overused potato on Pesach, so I started to experiment further with different recipes. My plantain nachos were a big hit, and I heard from some readers who started to make my sweet and savory plantain tortillas all year long!

And then there was that summer when I discovered plantains at my local Shoprite in upstate New York and I ate my fair share of maduros – fried ripe plantains with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a squeeze of lime. Better than ice cream.

Plantains, like bananas, change color as they ripen – although unlike bananas, they can be eaten at any stage, so long as they are cooked. Green plantains are very starchy, while yellow and black ones are sweeter and a bit easier to peel. When plantains are fully ripened and black – they only look scary on the outside, but on the inside the plantains are still quite firm. It’s at this point that you can fry them in oil for maduros, or boil them up for mash.

I recently happened upon a recipe for Pastelon – a Peurto Rican lasagna that uses plantains instead of lasagna noodles. It made me think of using mashed plantains instead of potatoes for Shepherd’s Pie and that’s how this recipe was born! It makes a great one pot meal for Chol Hamoed, and can even be prepared and frozen in advance.

Wishing you and yours and Kosher & Happy Passover!

Related Recipes:

plantain nachos
fish tacos with savory plantain tortillas
nutella crepes with sweet plantain tortillas

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Ratatouille Roast Chicken

Y’all know I’m not really one for traditional dishes, but if there’s any time where tradition plays an essential role, it’s Passover, or Pesach. The Passover seder is all about the rituals that we observe each year – from preparing our homes and making them chometz-free (free of any leavened grains), to eating matza and morror (bitter herbs), drinking four cups of wine, hiding the afikomen and reciting the Haggadah. It’s all about, as Fiddler-on-the-Roof used to say, TRADISHUN!

Because this holiday has always been about creating special memories with family, I’m all about the simple kosher-for-Passover foods that my mom prepared each year. On the eve of Passover, we would all wash up with soap, put on some aprons and get to work peeling and chopping veggies for her classic Pesach dishes.

We’d fill mason jars with ratatouille, mock chopped liver, cucumber salad and vinaigrette (a salad of cooked beets, carrots, potatoes and red onion) and each meal over Passover, we’d dig a little deeper into the jars, until they were finished. Somehow, we never got bored of eating the same dishes over and over again because that’s what the holiday was all about.

This ratatouille dish is not quite the same as my mom used to make (since she did not use any processed ingredients like spices or tomato paste!), but it’s definitely inspired by the Passover dish of my youth.

Related Recipes:

chimicken
pulled pesto chicken with fire roasted tomato jam
harissa roasted chicken

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