Category: The Nine Days

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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Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve got a thing for stuffing roasted eggplant halves. I’ve made it a bunch of different ways – in fact – I had so many variations that I wanted to put into my cookbook, Millennial Kosher, that I almost wanted to do a stuffed eggplant chapter! Alas, we had to nix this shakshuka recipe because I already had 2 other stuffed recipes in the book (fully loaded stuffed eggplants and lamb moussaka eggplant boats).

It was a hard decision because this recipe is just THAT good. But the great part about being a food blogger is that I knew I could eventually just post it on the blog, and this seems like the perfect week! With the Nine Days upon us (a period of mourning in which observant Jews abstain from eating meat), we’re all looking for light and healthy vegetarian fare, and this fits the bill.

If you’re a fan of shakshuka, I’ve got lots of other variations available on the blog too, like this Mexican Quinoa Shakshuka, the beet, kale and goat cheese version that WhatJewWannaEat guest posted for me when I was on maternity leave,  this fun zoodle version, one with garbanzo beans and labneh, another one with spaghetti squash and spinach, and even a stuffed portobello one. Can you tell I have a thing for runny eggs in spicy tomato sauce??

All the above versions are kinda great – but I’m partial to the ramen shakshuka in my cookbook, and this incredible variation. The silky fire roasted eggplant with the runny egg and the spicy tomato sauce marry so well together, it’s a wonder no one came up with this before!

If you’re a fan of stuffed roasted eggplants, you can also try these other ideas: roasted eggplant parmesan, roasted eggplant parmesan with fetastuffed roasted eggplant, and sous vide stuffed eggplant with dukkah and pomegranate.  I wasn’t kidding. I heart stuffed eggplant. Almost as much as shakshuka. Ok as much as shakshuka.

Related Recipes:

Mexican quinoa shakshuka,
beet, kale and goat cheese shakshuka
zoodle shakshuka,
garbanzo bean shakshuka with labneh
spaghetti squash shakshuka
stuffed portobello shakshuka

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Salmon En Croute with Creamed Leeks

Salmon en croute is one of my favorite dishes to serve for the holidays. It plates up beautifully, it’s so festive and it’s a winning dish all around! I mean who doesn’t love anything wrapped in buttery, flaky dough, amiright?

I usually go with a simple mustard and brown sugar mixture over the salmon, but I decided to take things up a notch using some of the traditional symbolic foods of the holiday, like honey and leeks. I love that you can incorporate more of those foods into the plated dish as well, and I went with pomegranate seeds and chioggia beets, ‘cuz could you just look at them?

Just call this Simanim Salmon En Croute ‘cuz it’s not only tasty, but so fitting in every way. And if you need a recap on the symoblic foods of the holiday, read this. I’ve also got a handy simanim recipe roundup from a couple of years back and then of course there are my other great simanim dishes like this couscous, this angel hair pasta, this beautiful appetizer and this holiday salad.

Growing up, Rosh Hashanah was a serious holiday and we always kept things intimate with just the family and a simple, traditional holiday meal. It’s that one time of the year to really focus on self introspection and prayer and I like to follow suite without complicating my menu. I don’t go all out with a bunch of different salads and desserts – I just keep my meal well-rounded with an appetizer (round challah with honey, fish and salad), entree (meat or chicken, tzimmes and roasted vegetables, beautifully plated) and a slice of honey cake with caramelized apples to finish the meal. Then I wrap things up and open my tehillim, because there is oh so much to pray for.

I find that there’s no need to overdo your menu when you learn to serve composed dishes that complement each other. Sometimes, when you make too much food, the beauty and flavor gets lost because there is just too much to go around. When I was in culinary school, my teacher gave the example of a woman wearing a simple pearl necklace versus someone who in dripping in lots of (too much) jewelry. Which one makes a better statement? Sometimes clean and simple is the better way to go.

Related Recipes:

smashed potatoes with leeks
simanim fritto misto
honey fig roasted salmon
honey mustard salmon

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Kosher Shrimp & Grits

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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Portobello Tuna Melts


Bedtime. Every mom knows hows loaded that word can be. Especially when I’ve got five kids under ten to tuck in at night. Why won’t kids just go to bed? Aren’t they tired?

It was 10:00 last night and the house was quiet. I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. Finally, some peace. I could put my feet up and relax. So I did what any mommy blogger would do…I went live on Instagram. 2 minutes in, and only 30 minutes after finally falling asleep, my baby wakes up. Because I’m a mom. And that’s just how life works. So I struggle though this “show” of sorts, taking 1 minute commercial breaks to calm my kid and get her latched without showing 6000 people more than they came for. That’s mommy blogger life right there.

Did I mention my husband was away since Friday and I’ve been holding down the fort through the longest Shabbos on planet earth all on my own? Yes. Life with kids and a CEO husband is hard. So when said husband encouraged me to go on a health and wellness retreat last week, I frantically packed my bags before he could change his mind and ran out the door (OK that’s not true, I argued with him about the what, when, where for each kid and the logistics of leaving a 9 month old who’s nursing around the clock and a 9 year old who’s out of school for weeks because her teachers are on a strike that seems like it will never end. And then I sorted and arranged three days worth of clothes for each kid, prepared a menu for the week, filled the house with all the essentials, restocked prescriptions for everyone who needed and bought enough bottles and pacifiers and sippy cups to last us for months. Then I broke down and cried about leaving my kids. And then I picked myself up and walked out the door).

I went live last night to discuss this wellness retreat because I got so many messages while I was away asking me about it. But Instagram Live is just that – live – and there is so much going on, so many comments and questions happening while my baby is kvetching and I just don’t know if I got the whole picture across. So I decided to write about it. That’s the good thing about having a blog.

The health and wellness retreat was put together by Beth Warren, a local Brooklyn nutritionist and author of “Living a Real Life with Real Food” with a focus on eating healthy, exercise and practicing self-care. Just what I needed. There were about 15 of us in total and we carpooled to our destination in Lenox, MA, also known as The Berkshires. We arrived at Brook Farm Inn, a Victorian home in a historic town with lush trees and quaint shops. We carried our luggage to our rooms (no elevator in this vintage Inn!) and gathered for lunch of a make-your-own-salad bar. Then we went off for a tour of Ventfort Hall – a historic mansion that was built by Sarah Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. Next up was a circuit training workout at Lenox Fit, a snack of crudites with homemade hummus, and finally, a much-needed 15-minute massage back at the inn. Still in our exercise gear, we stretched and centered ourselves with a yoga class and then showered for dinner in pajamas (my fave!). Dinner was a light and healthy baked salmon with black rice, green beans and vegetable soup. We finished off the day with a talk on self-care and a quick demo on stuffed dates for an after-dinner snack. Lights out!

The next day, we woke up early, donned our exercise gear and headed to Kripalu, a yoga school and center for health, just a few minutes away from the Inn. The place was huge, with 4 floors and lush grounds in a beautiful mountain setting. Kripalu is a serious yoga retreat with ongoing classes, hiking trails, a spa and more. With our daily passes, we were free to explore the programs of our choice (I chose a deep-tissue massage ‘cuz G-d knows I’m no yogi!) and then meet up mid-day for lunch and a hike. Salads of black bean burgers were prepped for us , so we lunched on the patio with breathtaking views and then geared up for a hike around the property. After we headed back, we had a bit more time at Kripalu, but I went to explore Tanglewood, a popular Berkshires attraction, with some of the ladies. Tanglewood is a summer hot-spot with music festivals and shopping, so we walked around the mostly-empty town, exploring some of the fun shops around. After making a few purchases (we’re ladies after all!), we headed back to the Inn for a post-hike yoga class and dinner of chicken breast, roasted vegetables and sweet potato fries. Beth gave us an inspiring nutrition talk during dinner and we finished off the long day with a healthy baking class and an essential oil workshop. Lights out!

Wednesday morning we wrapped up with another yoga class and a breakfast parfait bar filled with oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, fruit and toppings. We packed up some leftovers for lunch and we were off. Two jam-packed days behind us, and lots of fuel to get back to the daily grind of mommyhood.

I, for one, needed that fuel. I spent the early morning hours whispering into the phone as my son back home was having an asthma attack. I was helpless and worried and felt so. far. away. I had my mom go to the house to take care of the kids while my husband rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. It was every mother’s worst nightmare, being away during such an emergency, but my husband reassured me over and over that everything was ok, and skyped me from the hospital so I could see for myself. My three-year-old spent the next two days in the pediatric ICU and I was so thankful that I had taken that break so I could be there for him, my family, and myself, fully and healthy.

Going away was hard (I had to pump every four hours on the road!) but it’s something I didn’t even know I needed. Taking a break from the daily grind allows you to regroup, center yourself and feed your soul. It reminded me that being a mom doesn’t just mean taking care of others, it means taking care of myself – and that neglecting that need doesn’t make me a martyr, it makes me resentful and unhappy. I needed that wake-up call because every day is a nonstop marathon of giving and feeding and caring for others and it’s hard. G-d is it hard. And every night as I go to bed, I pray that tomorrow will be easier – but it’s not. Because being a mom is a full time job that will never end. Going away inspired me to learn to take time for myself – to nourish my body with healthy food and exercise and nourish my soul with a good book and a relaxing massage. I’m making an effort to do something for me, and it’s ok.

The retreat really gave me the kickstart I needed to start eating healthy again. It’s been a while. I’ve put on a whopping 20 lbs. since I had my baby, 9 months ago (I always put on weight when I nurse!) and it’s finally time to lose it the healthy way – with diet and exercise. I whipped up these delicious low-carb portobello tuna melts last week, and I’m super excited to share the recipe with you! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be about deprivation, especially when you get creative and think outside the box.

This one is for all the Mom’s out there. I salute you.


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

Related Recipes:

spicy tuna melt twice baked potatoes
baked portobello shakshuka
portobello pizza

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