Archive | March, 2013

Passing Through Passover

29 Mar

Happy Passover y’all! How’s everyone’s holiday going? How were your sedarim?  I survived my first Seder.  I not only survived hosting my first Seder but I also really enjoyed it. Our first night didn’t go as originally planned and it ended up just being my wonderful husband and I, so we enjoyed our cups of wine and we may have even rapped the Four Questions so even though we were by ourselves the first night, we still nailed it.  Our second night was pretty awesome as well.  We hosted lab mates from my husband’s PhD program (he’s a marine biologist).  No one was Jewish but it didn’t matter.  There was wonderful conversation, folks participated, I printed our visual aids for the order of the Seder and the 10 plagues, and I gotta say, it was really a lovely night.  I made WAY too much food and actually ended up sending folks home with goodie bags of meatballs and charoset, which is definitely normal, right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want a goodie bag of meatballs and charoset?  I’m thinking of giving that out as party favors for the kid’s first birthday in a couple of months.  You know, something for the kids.

Anyway, I’m currently in Atlanta visiting my brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful kids.  I flew solo with the baby, which was an Exodus in its own right (read: people do NOT like babies when flying.  People do not like you AND your baby when flying. It does not matter that your baby slept the whole time and didn’t make a peep, you will be ostracized from your plane-community and glared at for deeming to leave the comforts of the ground and flying with your baby.  And it’s Passover so there is no enjoying a coffee during my 8AM flight with the baby nor is there any enjoying a Bloody Mary either . . . which I would definitely not drink with the baby.  Definitely not. ).  But anyway, I digress.  We’re in Atlanta, I miss my amazing husband but I feel like I passed through a mom-hurtle with this solo traveling with baby and I’m gonna pat myself on the back for that.

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Solo Flight Success

This week’s recipes once again feature the deliciousness that is Temp Tee.  When organizing the menu for our Passover week I tried really hard to only include fresh vegetables and fruit and lay off the starches.  I wanted to go light in the afternoon knowing that dinners would be a little more filling.  I also wanted to save money because Passover, though a favorite holiday of mine, is draining on the wallet.  As a result, I settled on a gravlax and herb cream cheese recipe that could be eaten for several breakfasts/brunches as well as an eggplant and baby portobella mushroom saute with an avocado and Temp Tee crema.  Recipes can be viewed on the Joy of Kosher website.  Simply click on the recipe titles below (Gravlax can be found after eggplant pictures) and enjoy!  Chag Sameach and Happy Easter to our readers who celebrate!

*This blog post is sponsored by the fine folks at Temp Tee, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

Eggplant and Portobella Saute with Temp Tee and Avocado Sauce

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Getting Ready to Make Some Magic

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The Flavors of Miami

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The Flavors of Miami Meet the Flavors of Passover!

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Everything is Better with Sauce

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The Final Product. Delicious!

Gravlax with Herbed Cream Cheese

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Fresh Herbs

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Fresh Herbs and Temp Tee = Partners in Tasty Heaven

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Fresh Fish, Herbed Cream Cheese — What More Could You Ask For?

Monday Round-Up: Desserts! Egg Cream Popsicles w/Chocolate Chips

18 Mar

Hey gang.  This month’s Kosher Connection round-up theme is Passover-friendly desserts.  This initially intimidated the crap outta me.  I tried (and failed) at cashew/almond brittle but then it hit me.  While most of the Jews of these great United States will be celebrating Passover in frigid temperatures, us Miami Jews will be living it up in this balmy spring/summer weather.  And what’s better than a cool, delicious popsicle in this Miami heat!?  And of course, nothing (to me, at least) says “Jew” and “Passover” much like an egg cream.  That classic combination of chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer—-all of which have nothing to do with eggs or cream (OK, maybe the milk is kinda like cream).  Plus, and let’s be honest, I’m overwhelmed and can’t imagine baking desserts on top of all the cooking I have to do for my very first Seder! That’s right y’all, I’m hosting my first Seder.  Heck, I’m hosting two Sedarim and a lunch!  I’m overwhelmed.  I may or may not have cried a little last night trying to think about how to figure out to cook, clean, take care of my little one and go to work full-time.  So, rather than get into a story from the week or some new neurosis I’m working on I’m asking YOU for stories and advice.  HELP! What advice do you have for a first-time Seder hostess? What have you learned through your own experiences?  What made a Seder memorable for you (positively or negatively)?  Tell! Tell!  Please feel free to leave stories, advice, etc. in the comments section of this post.  It’s appreciated.  Yours,

Whit

Ahhh, the union of chocolate, milk and seltzer.

Ahhh, the union of chocolate, milk and seltzer.

Egg Cream Popsicles (the recipe is based on how many popsicle holders you have use of—just make sure that there’s a little less seltzer than milk as seltzer needs diluting in order to freeze).

WHAT!?

~4 Popsicles

* 1/2 Cup seltzer
* 1 Cup Milk

* 3 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup

* Handful of Chocolate Chips

How’s That Now!?

Pour 1/2 inch of cold milk into a tall soda glass.

Add seltzer or club soda to within 1 inch of the top of a 2 cup glass measuring cup with a spout; stir vigorously with a long spoon (this will cause it to foam/bubble, which you want!).  Very gently pour 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup slowly down the inside of the glass; briskly stir with a long spoon only at the bottom of the glass where the chocolate sits. The resulting drink should have a dark brown bottom and a 1-inch high pure white foam top.  When assembling in popsicle holders — put chocolate chips in first (about 1/4 in full) then add liquid up to the top.  Freeze and enjoy!

We're getting serious now

We’re getting serious now

This is very serious business :)

This is very serious business 🙂

**Please excuse no finished product picture. It’s dark and the light in the apartment stinks so I’m just not doing it. 🙂

Beet You Up Real Good

15 Mar

ImageSo I had a moment with Girl Scout Cookies recently.  By moment I mean…a friend of mine back home in Arkansas was selling them for her daughter.  So what.  Everybody is selling Girl Scout Cookies.  Well, my moment consisted of typing these words:  I’ll take a case  of Samoas.

A case, y’all.  That’s like 24 boxes, I think?  A case.  I couldn’t just be a normal person and say, “I’d like 3 boxes.”  No.  I’ll go ahead and have my waist line commit suicide and take as many cookies as I can get in one easy to manage giant box.  I know what you’re thinking.  Give them away.  Sell them.  Put them in the freezer.  What I’m saying is…I don’t share Girl Scout Cookies, selling them would be like having a baby and then leaving it on someone’s door step and putting cookies in a freezer is wrong because cookies don’t wear coats.  I love Samoas.  They are my favorite cookie.  So, whatever, y’all.  Tikkun Olam.

And then they attacked me.  One day after I ordered the cookies I actually had 2 boxes of them for dinner.  I had a box for breakfast.  I ate a couple of boxes of Samoas while watching GIRLS.  I was spiraling out of control.  Cookies for breakfast.  Cookies for a mid morning snack.  Cookies in the car.  I was a mess.  I noticed that my cute little corduroy pants weren’t fitting so well.  I kinda freaked. 

Then I went into “captain of the Titanic mode.”  What’s that you say?  That’s when you see that a giant ship is going down and you grab your tiny little bucket and start scooping water and throwing it over the side of the boat.  That consists of me trying to cut sugar out of my life, refusing soda, trying to cook things that are good for me and making better choices if I go to restaurants.  We’ll see what happens.  At least maybe I’ll feel better, like I’m doing something for myself.  Let’s hope I wake up 20 pounds lighter.

Anywho, one of the things I’m trying to do is to cook whole foods that I’ve never tried before.  This week I went to the store and got my usual Tilapia fillets.  I wanted to pick a vegetable to go with them that I’d not cooked in it’s natural form, that is…I wanted to cook something that didn’t come from a can.  After staring at the produce for about 10 minutes, I decided to go with Beets.  That seemed like a pretty easy choice.  I googled “Ina Garten Beet Recipe” and decided I was up for the challenge.

So, I got the beets, I followed the directions, I cooked them.  Easy.  Wonderful.  So delicious.  They were really wonderful.  Food that doesn’t come from a can really does taste better.  It feels like you’re a magician.  So amazing.

Then?  The beets hit my system.  Now, maybe I should zip it so that you experience this on your own someday, but I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut.  All food that isn’t in your produce section clearly goes through some sort of a process.  Even canned veggies.  I have eaten beats several times.  I love them.  I’ve added a little balsamic to them and tossed them with blue cheese.  I’ve eaten them right out of a can.  They’re delicious and good for you.  BUT.  I had never made them myself right from the produce section.

The morning after roasting the beets I got up to go to the bathroom as usual.  YOU GUYS.  I had the most gorgeous fuchsia urine the world has ever seen.  It took me a minute to get to appreciating it though.  When I first saw it I was sure that I was dying.  I stared into the toilet wondering what awful disease the Girl Scout Cookies had given me.  Then I realized what was going on.  It was the beets.  Later on my way to work I get this text message from my husband, “I have purple pee and poop, disturbing yet beautiful…”

So…consider yourself warned.

WHAT

12 beets
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
Juice of 1 large orange

HOW?

 
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths.)

Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the vinegar and orange juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Desperately Seeking Self

12 Mar

I used to care waaaaaay too much about what people thought of me. I went through so many identities as a high schooler you’d think Madonna got her whole “reinventing of self” thing from me. Now this was 1994-1998 so I hit all the happening 90s genres. I was alterna-Whitney (dressed in my dad’s sweaters from when he was a TODDLER, oy), faux hippie-Whitney (wore tie-dyed Dead shirts but wasn’t really clear on who exactly Jerry Garcia was), grunge-Whitney (complete with over-sized plaid flannels and Doc Martens), and my all time favorite, random shiny mini-skirts with knee-highs a la early 90s Kate Moss-Whitney. There was also a very brief stint with Goth but I didn’t really have the skin tone for all that dark lipstick. But you know, that kind of experimenting is pretty par for the course for an awkward, not-so-confident teenage girl.  It’s also not atypical for an adolescent to have so many feelings of judgement and neediness.  I was so confused about who I wanted to be I forgot to focus on who I was right then and there.  I’m sure if Facebook were around when I was a teenager I would have taken an exorbitant amount of self-portraits in a desperate attempt for someone to tell me I’m pretty or validate whatever image I had carved our for myself that month.  Thank Gd Facebook didn’t exist then. Yikes.

Ah yes, Goth Whit. Nice 90s choker and ill-cut bangs.

Ah yes, Goth Whit. Nice 90s choker and ill-cut bangs.

But something happened right around Junior or Senior year of college.  I’m not sure exactly what ‘it’ was.  I had traveled a bit, gotten out and seen some of the world and slowly I got to know myself and the next thing I knew, I wasn’t so concerned about what others thought about me but instead, about what I thought about me (and the occasional cute boy, but come on, nobody’s perfect).  It’s funny.  My mom used to try so hard to knock some confidence in me as a kid.  She used to tell me that I had to “walk around like your sh*t don’t stink” and as a 10 year-old, I had no idea what that meant. As an adult, I do and I’m hoping that’s not the message folks read when they tell me I appear to be very confident.  Regardless, it’s been a looooooooooooong time since I spent so much time wondering what others think about me but then I took this job at as a school counselor and then I had a daughter and bam! I’m all up in my own business again.

I recently had two conversations in one week with co-workers who told me that they assume I’ve always got my stuff together. Not only that, but that they are one of several who feel I give off a very ‘mother of the Earth’ vibe.  This was SHOCKING news to me. SHOCKING.  First off, though the following recipe is very vegan and might be filed under “Stuff hippies might eat”, I still have boxed mac n’ cheese in my house because you just never know when it’s going to be one of those nights.  Also?  There’s a skirt policy at school and I happen to like my skirts long and Anthropologie-like so don’t let the long, ethereal skirt fool you.  I’d be here in jeans if they let me.  And finally, and most shocking of all, is the assumption that I have my stuff together.  No comment needed. If you’ve read this blog before you know that not to be true. I try. It doesn’t always work. But I try.

But these conversations led me to one I’ve been having with myself lately and that’s this over-arching question of, “I wonder what my daughter will think of me?”  Seriously, what’s that like? To see yourself through your child’s eyes?  And as a mom, through your daughter’s eyes?  Will she not only think I don’t have my sh*t together but wonder how in the world we managed to keep her alive and healthy all this time? Will she think me a confusing mess of  Southern Jewishness?  Ultimately, I think (hope) you become so busy being a mom, wife, sister, friend, employee, daughter, you forget to think about it and you just ‘be’ but at this stage of the game, when I’m rocking her to sleep, it’s on my mind.

Yep.  She'll eventually think I'm a crazy person

Yep. She’ll eventually think I’m a crazy person

OK, so this week’s recipe was made an hour ago and it was delicious!  I’d been reading a lot about the use of cashews instead of creamer and was first introduced to the idea by my fellow Kosher Connection blogger, Hindy, over at Confident Cook.  I was hesitant but then a dear friend at work, Ilana, said she tried the recipe and loved it so with cash in hand (seriously, cashews are not called ‘cashews’ for nothing. Those nuts are expensive, y’all), I purchased some in bulk and saddled up to make ‘cream’ of tomato and basil soup.  The result was surprising.  Even the hubby is a believer now and you should have seen his face when I told him what I was making.  “You’re making what now?”

The Final Product

The Final Product

“Cream” of Tomato and Basil Soup

What!?

2 Cups of cashews
2 Cups of water
2 Cups of vegetable broth
3 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 Onion, diced
7 Plum tomatoes, chopped roughly OR 2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 Cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 Cup of carrots, cut into thin rounds
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked Spanish paprika
Fresh basil

Floating Cashews

Floating Cashews

How’s That Now!?

In a blender (I used the Vitamix) blend the cashews and water until smooth.  Your mixture will appear to be ‘milky’. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut oil, and add the onion, carrots and sea salt. Cook slowly, partially covered. Stir occasionally. When onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add remaining spices and continue to cook another few minutes.  Add tomatoes and basil sautee 3 – 5 minutes.

Once tomatoes have boiled down, add the cashew milk, and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until soup begins to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.  At this point, if you feel like your soup is getting too thick or it’s starting to burn on the bottom, add your vegetable broth, about 1/4 cup at a time.  I found mine to be a bit thick for my taste so I added broth little by little until desired consistency.  Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender until soup is smooth. Return to pot, taste for seasoning. Reheat gently, watching carefully as it’s easy to scorch the bottom.  Top with fresh basil.

Before the Blend

Before the Blend

After the Blend

After the Blend

Temp Tee and Tempting

5 Mar
Don't buy that canned Kosher for Pesach stuff--it's WAY too expensive. Make your own sauce!

Don’t buy that canned Kosher for Pesach stuff–it’s WAY too expensive. Make your own sauce!

 

*I’d like to start this post by sending a heart-felt apology for an editing error in my last post. I mistakenly linked Maija’s Mommy Moments when commenting about an article I had read by another mommy-blogger lamenting those parents who post pictures of their children on Facebook or Instagram. In fact, it was another blog post by another blogger entirely. The situation went a little like this, “Ok. Where’s that post?” (starts Google search). “That’s not it. That’s not it. That’s not it. Wait, is that it? I think so”. (skim post. link post. publish post.) I received an incredibly classy and respectful email from Maija rightfully alerting me to my error and I just wanted to make sure you 5 readers out there who actually read this blog note my error but most importantly, that Maija hears my apology.

 

 

I’m not sure why I’m doing this to myself. I’m watching the Kardashians. What the H*ll was I thinking!? It’s only 10 minutes left until the end of the episode and I’m not sure what possessed me to do it. Wait, that’s not true. I know EXACTLY why I did it. It’s the combination of not being able to look away from a shiny, shiny train wreck and the need to decompress, mom-style. I had a hard day. My boss called me ‘authoritative’ and for a second, I took that as an insult but then properly shook that off and realized, that’s awesome and then thought to myself, “would he say that if I was a dude?” It’s also the second week of the hubby’s nightly boating course. Yes, I said BOATING COURSE. Two days a week the hubby stays at work until 9PM to learn how to drive a boat for his job (he’s a real life marine scientist) and last night/this morning the baby started showcasing some separation anxiety which resulted in my own tears out of sheer frustration/heartache so when she went down without a hiccup I celebrated crazy mom-style—-I cracked open a beer, hopped on Facebook and turned on E! cause that’s how I roll. And now here I sit, watching real live people line up to attend Rob Kardashians sock line launch. I’m confused as to how anyone can talk about a sock line launch and keep a straight face but you know, that’s just me. I’m absolutely probably a little jealous because I’ve never launched anything before except for a free blog on WordPress. Oh, and that one time I launched myself off of my bike when I was 10 years old because I was riding down the big hill in the neighborhood too quickly and whooooooooooo . . . . I launched myself right over my handlebars. So, OK, I guess I have launched something. Go me! But anyway, I bring up the Kardashians because they’re on my TV and I’m watching it and I feel shame but also because in this same episode, Kim Kardashian just decided to treat her sister to a little surprise and bought her a house. A house! On Friday I decided to treat my dear friend, Dina, to a trenta-sized (that’s a real size by the way. It’s the bucket they keep behind the counter for those in the know) iced tea and I was worried if I could afford it this week but heck, I just went for it because we had a rough week last week and my girl deserve that $4 drink. And then I watched Kim Kardashian be able to buy a house for her sister and well, I felt the reality of my middle class status set in. Am I jealous? Not really. I really don’t want to be famous for the size of my tushy and I certainly am not jealous of a 72-day marriage, real or not, but who am I kidding? It’d be nice to have that kind of financial security. As the hubby and I work out our finances to see if we can actually take a family vacation this summer or not, it’d be cool to not have to think to ourselves, “Hmmmm, who’s got a vacation home we could commandeer for a week? Do we really need to eat dinner on vacation because that’s a solid $50 saved a day.” But you know, we gotta do what we gotta do. Thank Gd, we live in Miami so if we can’t afford a real vacation this year, at least we can take a nice little staycation with direct beach access so that’s certainly a lovely option. And as a full-time employed parent, vacation is really all about spending several days not cooking and not subsequently cleaning up after cooking. It also means no laundry and more importantly no work so I can spend unlimited time with my man and our kiddo, which is really the goal.

GIMME GIMME GIMME!

GIMME GIMME GIMME!

In the meantime, I’m not on vacation and Passover is on the way so menu-planning is on the brain (though, to be honest, menu-planning for something or the other is ALWAYS on the brain). I picked up some Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese and with my past spaghetti squash recipe in mind decided to enjoy that sweet, sweet potato vodka and whip up a batch of drunken spaghetti squash, a.k.a. spaghetti squash a la vodka. Usually I make my cream sauces with heavy whipping cream and some butter but I got all that creaminess from a hefty scoop of Temp Tee and the taste was beyond. I also cut out the butter and sauteed the shallots and garlic in coconut oil (which can be kosher for passover certified) and it gave the sauce an overall beautiful sweetness. And for a snack? Why some Temp Tee, raspberry preserve, chocolate chip, walnut apple sandwiches (say THAT ten times fast), of course!

Please find the recipes for the Spaghetti Squash and Apple Sandwiches by clicking on the recipe titles below:

Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce and Apple Sandwiches With Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese

*This blog post is sponsored by the fine folks at Temp Tee, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

 

Please enjoy the pictures. If these don’t tempt you into making the aforementioned meals, I don’t know what will.

Sauce is good. Sauce is very good.

Sauce is good. Sauce is very good.

Tomato Sauce and Temp Tee = BFF

Tomato Sauce and Temp Tee = BFF

Wha, what's that mom? I want to go to that.

Wha, what’s that mom? I want to go to that.

Temp Tee and Spaghetti Squash.  Yum.

Temp Tee and Spaghetti Squash. Yum.

Dessert, snack, dinner, it can be everything

Dessert, snack, dinner, it can be everything


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