Category: Shavuous

#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!

Halloumi Fries

Well it’s been just about 8 weeks since my last pre-Passover blog post, which means the holiday of dairy delights, Shavuot, is upon us. I’ve traveled to Prague, Berlin and London in that time and while I was able to put many feathers in my traveling cap, I am tired.

In between traveling, I’ve been editing and re-editing the manuscript for my upcoming cookbook, so when it comes to cooking, I’m a bit burnt out creatively! I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from my trips, like these Halloumi Fries which they sold in Camden Market in London, and I was determined to try them.

Halloumi is like a cross between feta and mozzarella, and the benefit of this cheese is that you can fry it! It’s delicious doused in all types of sauces (I had an amazing honey sriracha version at Kanteen in London) – but this Middle Eastern take really appealed to my tastes.

I don’t know what I loved better about making these – getting back behind the camera, and styling the shot or getting to eat it for lunch! I miss blogging and wish I had more time for it these days – but thank you for always coming back here and supporting BIB, I appreciate you!

Wishing you a Chag Sameach! XOXO

Related Recipes:

halloumi waffles with tomato jam and balsamic syrup
Greek salad with feta croutons
camembert en croute salad
brie marsala pizza

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Pan Fried Everything Bagel Brie with Sundried Tomato & Dill Tapenade

It’s that time of year, when we celebrate with cheese and wine, lasagna and blintzes and Torah’s all around.

But lets be real. Life is not easy these days and the state of the world is sad. Every day seems to bring on another challenge and most of us just aren’t feeling it. ((HUGS)) all around.

So I’m here to say this: food is comfort. Especially cheese. And bring on all the comfort food because WE NEED IT. And that’s ok.

This Shavuot, think about what brings you joy. Decorate your house in flowers, pour yourself some Rose’ and DISCONNECT. Focus on the people you love and the things that make you happy.

I’m on a pickle binge so what makes me happy right now is all the sour, crunchy and spicy elements I can plate up with some savory Everything Bagel Brie. It makes a great starter to balance out all that cheesecake!

Wishing you all a Chag Sameach. 

Related Recipes

camembert en croute salad
honey hasselback apples with brie and pecans
brie marsala pizza
dried fruit brie bites

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Whipped Strawberry Frosé

Oh.
My.
Gawd.

Blame it on quarantine but we’ve all got cocktails on our minds, AmIright?! I mean, I may or may have not been sneaking some Frangelico into my iced coffee in the morning, and I’ve been known to kick back a glass (or two) of red in the evenings. But THIS? This is something else.

Inspired by the whipped coffee trend that has taken the internet by storm, this WHIPPED STRAWBERRY Frosé turns the classic on it’s head by folding the strawberry and lemon into whipped cream, and leaving the Rosé to shine on it’s own in all it’s glory. Which also means, lets prep and more drinking time!

So step aside Dalgona coffee, there’s a new whipped drink in town! L’chaim!

Related Recipes:

passion fruit colada
sangria
amaretto affogato

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Cheese Babka Straws


Babka straws were the surprise one hit wonder (ok there was more than one!) from my cookbook Millennial Kosher, and they never get old. It’s that back pocket recipe we all need for a last minute dessert, a Shabbat morning treat or a food gift for a new neighbor.


I’ll never forget happening upon a bakery stand at a Farmer’s Market in upstate New York last summer to find my babka straws being sold! I don’t know who was more excited, me or the lady who had prepared them from my book. It was so thrilling.


And of course the weekly photos that slide into my DMs every Friday of freshly baked babka straws remind me that this recipe is a keeper. And for good reason. They’re super easy, thanks to store bought puff pastry, and they come together in no time. Even your kids can make them!


In honor of the holiday of Shavuot, I decided to put a cheesy twist (pun intended!) on the classic recipe, and I may even like them better than the original.


Wishing you and yours a happy holiday!

Related Recipes:

raspberry palmiers
apple and honey tart
quick and easy rugelach

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