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Great News + Cauliflower Tomato Bake with Basil & Parmesan

22 Jan

Cauliflower-tomato-parmesan-Jewhungry-kosher-blog

Good morning!  I hope ya’ll are doing wonderfully.  I am currently enjoying the decadence that is a chocolate croissant from Aroma Espresso Bar so obviously, I’m doing great. Sure, I have a cold and deadlines and I missed work yesterday and I’m under a bit of stress but, did I mention the chocolate croissant!? Sometimes a delicious chocolate croissant really does make it all better.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as I am THIS close to unveiling the new Jewhungry redesign so needed to take a break from posting new content so as not to interfere with the unveiling.  However, a few exciting things happened this week in my world o’ blogging and food and I just couldn’t NOT share, Jew know?

le creuset- jewhungry-blog

 

First things first, I received the most beautiful, HUGE, ruby red Le Creuset Dutch oven (see above) yesterday as a result of winning This American Bite’s Most Inspiring Recipe of 2013.  I was so dang excited when the UPS guy dropped it off that I gave him several freshly baked cookies that had just come out of the oven.  I honestly would have hugged him but I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression.  Yesterday also brought a feature of Jewhungry on My Jewish Learning’s site, The Nosher (see the full interview here).  And today brings the accompanying recipe to the interview.  Here are a few pictures to get you drooling so make sure you head on over to The Nosher for the full recipe.

See you at the Redesign Unveiling, I hope!

xo

cauliflower-tomato-parmesan-bake-jewhungry-blog

tomato-cauliflower-parmesan-bake-jewhungry

Sweet Potato + Black Bean {Beer} Chili

12 Jan

sweet potato black bean chili jewhungry blog

I’m writing this post from several thousand feet in the air as I am on a plane bound for LA, my family’s future home. This is just one of many little incidences that are screaming, “Sh*t’s getting real! Pay attention!” We are T minus 6 months away from our big family change and I’m really starting to feel it. I notice when I’m hanging with close friends or dear colleagues here in Miami, that I keep telling myself to soak it all in; pay attention to them as well and keep building these relationships. I tell myself that, no matter how overwhelmed or busy I might become once the move happens, I will need these faces and these friendships more than ever. It’s so hard to attempt to be present when half of me is already 8 months in the future wondering how I’m gonna do this.

So here I am, on a flight, which I’ve paid WAY too much money for internet usage on but I’m only 2 hours in with 3.5 hours to go so that $7 for one hour of Internet seemed worth it. Have I mentioned I hate flying? I LOVE travel. I hate flying. Maybe one day I’ll open that wound and talk about why I hate flying but for now I’m feeling way too vulnerable. Therefore, I will instead tryto focus on finding my “happy place”. I do this on every flight. If I can’t sleep or get lost in a book or there’s no movie playing, then it’s up to me to take my mind off the fact that I’m in the air, which , after ALL the dang travel I’ve done you’d think I’d be used to by now but I’m not. I once sobbed like a wee baby out of pure fear while flying over the Alps on my way to Italy (did I mention I was 19 at the time?). I’ve been known to grab onto the hands/arms of complete strangers while going through rough turbulence as my fear is that intense. For several days before a flight, I get into a bit of a dark place as my fear and anxiety start to take over a little bit. But, I’m proud to say, that even with all this fear of flying, I still get on the G. D. plane. What gets me through is a lot of praying and a lot of “happy” list making. My “happy” list is exactly as it sounds; a list of things, big or small, that make me happy. I don’t usually include the obvious things like my beloved daughter and husband because, well, if it’s not obvious by now that they are number one on that list I got some ‘splainin’ to do.

So here’s my latest list of the most recent top 6 items making it to my “happy” list. I hope y’all have a great week. Sending love and Bloody Mary’s from 10,000 feet. xox

Happy List:

1. Le Creuser/This American Bite/My first win – If you follow Jewhungry on Facebook, you might have seen that I won the 2013 Most Inspiring Recipe contest being hosted by Yosef over at This American Bite. I’m not sure who nominated me but it shockingly wasn’t myself and even more shocking? I won! I’ve never won anything before so that fact that I won a recipe contest still blows my mind PLUS the fact that I won a 5 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven! I’m still so grateful/excited I could pee a little.

2. The hubby and I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on my last day of winter break. We were exhausted and a little vulnerable due to the fact that the kiddo had a bout of sleep-regression, which I’m happy to report is no longer an issue. We were hoping to see a “feel good” movie and this one absolutely fulfilled our expectations. Go see it. You will not regret it.

3. It dipped down into the 40s last week in Miami. I made potato leek soup. We pulled out the down comforter, put on a movie and snuggled on a school night. ‘Twas awesome.

4. I signed on the dotted line and hired a real life designer, Sara Bee Jensen, to upgrade the blog. She’s super talented and inspiring. I “met” her through my girl Maggie over at The Rural Roost. Sara redesigned Maggie’s site and the work was so beautiful I knew I needed to get over myself and hire her. For inspiration, Sara asked me to make a board on Pinterest of colors, fonts, textures, styles that inspire me. I had so much fun with that I can’t even describe it. It was like a creativity high. It also is very clear to me that I shouldn’t fight it anymore, I love neon pink. Thank you Miami.

5. Collaborations are coming. More cooking. More opportunities. It’s such an honor and such a privilege. Gets me giddy just thinking about it.

6. Beer in food.

sweet potato black bean chili

Sweet potato black bean chili Jewhungry blog

sweet potato black bean chili jewhungry blog

Sweet Potato + Black Bean {Beer} Chili

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp of olive oil
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped small
1 Medium purple onion, chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, diced
1 Orange, yellow or red pepper, chopped
1 Bottle of beer
2 Cans of diced tomatoes
1 Can of black beans
1/2 a Cup of frozen corn
2 Tbsp Cumin
Kosher salt
Pepper
Sriracha
Juice of half a lime
Handful of cilantro. Chopped
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Before the toppings

Before the toppings

How

Place oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Place onions in pot and sauté for about 3 -4 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Next, add the peppers and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, cumin, salt and pepper and sauté for roughly 5 – 6 minutes or until sweet potatoes start to turn a bit golden.

Once you’ve sautéed your veggies and spices together and they’ve become nice and fragrant, add the entire contents of the beer (aside from the obvious sips you’ve taken to “test” it out. If you don’t want to include beer, feel free to deglaze with 2 cups of veggie broth instead). Stir the veggies and beer and let sit for a minute. Next, add your canned tomatoes and beans. I do not strain my beans but that’s up to you. Mix all together. If you want more of a “soupy” chili, add a cup of water. Let the chili simmer on low for about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure to taste along the way to adjust seasoning to your liking. After 10 – 12 minutes, add your frozen corn and a hit of Sriracha, stir and continue to let simmer over low heat for another 10 – 12 minutes. After a total of 20 – 25 minutes of simmer time, check your sweet potatoes for softness. If potatoes are still a bit hard, let sit another 5 minutes or so until desired softness. This will vary depending on how small you chopped your potatoes.

Once chili is almost done, go ahead and squeeze the juice of half a lime in there to give it a hit of acid. Scoop completed chili into bowl and top with your favorite fixin’s (or “toppings” for you Yankees), which is my favorite part of chili.

Ahh yes, the fixin's.

Ahh yes, the fixin’s.

The Gospel of Curry Garbanzo Fries w/Cilantro Lime Yogurt

5 Jan

fries title

Let’s talk for a minute about gospel choir. I love gospel music. I love hip hop, soul, funk, R&B, and basically anything that played on V103 in the 90s (Atlanta folks, you know what I’m talking about). I didn’t discover gospel music though until I went to college, which I get is a weird place for a Jewish girl to pick up gospel music, considering the fact that I went to a private, Presbyterian liberal arts college located in the middle of Amish country, Ohio. But pick up gospel music I did. Just how much did I pick it up? So much that I ended up getting a solo during my freshman year called, Near the Cross.

Now, before you start hurling knishes at me in the name of blasphemy, let’s back up a minute or two to dissect how it is a Jewish girl finds herself singing about Jesus in a large church auditorium in front of hundreds of people.

I grew up loving music. As a children of the 80s, my brother and I listened to everything from Run DMC and the Beastie boys to Michael Jackson and Madonna. However, we also were raised by a Jewish mother and if you think we went through life without listening to Barbra Streissand’s The Broadway album, you’d be crazy wrong. A direct result of listening to this album on repeat during the 7 hour car ride from Atlanta to Louisville, KY where our grandparents lived (there was also some Neil Diamond and Dan Fogelberg thrown in there to spice things up), was my undying love for show tunes and of course, Stephen Sondheim. When it was discovered that I had a decent voice and I loved singing, my mom started me with piano lessons and eventually voice lessons. The piano didn’t stick but I loved my vocal coach, who looked a lot like Annie Potts’ character from Ghostbusters, Janine Melnitz. My coach also happened lived in what can only be described as a gingerbread house that was shrunk in the wash and had an affinity for Yorkshire Terriers so visiting her once a week was a trip. It was like visiting your weird Aunt that never had kids and spent all her money on crap from the Home Shopping Network (before it was dubbed, HSN) and portraits of her dog dressed as various historical figures but who also just happened to be crazy talented too. She taught me amazing technique and to appreciate my alto voice, which led me to gospel music.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

Nowadays I relegate my singing to Israeli karaoke bars and the shower.

In choral music, the alto is rarely going to get a solo. It’s not quite high enough and most popular choral arrangements are written to showcase the soprano or highest female vocal range. When I entered college and wanted to fill my need for singing, I joined the regular ol’ choir. It was nice enough. We sang traditional hymns and the like but it just wasn’t doing it for me. Then a friend told me about the gospel choir and I figured I was already singing hymns in the regular choir and neither we’re going to take me up on my offer to try out “Light One Candle” or even Barbra’s version of Jingle Bells so what does it matter? Might as well give gospel choir a shot. Well my friends, let me tell you, even the warm-ups during gospel choir rehearsal were soul-shattering. I mean the first time I heard all of our voices in that soulful harmony I gotta admit, I got a little teary-eyed. This was exactly what I was looking for. And, to top things off, by the fifth or sixth rehearsal, our Director asked me to audition for a solo that required an alto. When she told me the name of the song I hesitated a bit and then decided to quietly mention that I am, in fact, Jewish and would she mind that. Well, of course she didn’t mind that because yes, the song was about Jesus but more than anything, the song was about faith, which led her to ask me if I felt comfortable singing a song about faith. That, I did not have a problem with. Of course, I was a little concerned that folks might think I had converted. I also, quite inexplicably, felt very strongly that somehow, my childhood rabbi would find out about this and haul me back to Sunday School so I wore the biggest Star of David necklace I could find come performance day, you know, just to be clear about things.

Garbanzo fries, a close up

Garbanzo fries, a close up

I don’t really remember what happened to the gospel choir or why I stopped attending rehearsals after my freshman year but that solo was to be my one and only foray I to gospel music stardom. I have no real connection between my need to tell you the story of my onetime solo except that lately, I’ve been thinking about all those little incidences of life that add up to make the person we are today.  I think about the person I was in college or in high school or even in my twenties and the person I am today and I can see some stark differences—-mainly in the fact that I have a child, I’m married and I have a bit more confidence/sense of self—-but there are also a lot of similarities.  I would still get up on a stage and belt out a song about faith that just so happened to also be about Jesus.  I’m just not sure I’d do it at synagogue . . . or at the Jewish Day School I work at . . . or my kid’s Jewish day care center . . . or Shabbat dinner . . .

Garbanzo flour and water

Garbanzo flour and water

The mixture should be thick like cement.

The mixture should be thick like cement.

Curry Garganzo Fries with Cilantro Lime Yogurt

(Adapted from a Colicchio & Sons recipe)

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 1/2 Cups chickpea flour
1 Tsp. kosher salt, plus more
4 Cups low-sodium veggie broth
1 Garlic clove, finely grated
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1/2 Tsp. Ground coriander
1 Tsp. Sriracha
Vegetable oil (for frying, about 1  1/2 cups)

How:

1.  Lightly coat a 13×9″ baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk chickpea flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl, breaking up any clumps in flour. Make a well in the center and gradually pour broth into well, whisking to incorporate dry ingredients; add garlic, spices and Sriracha and whisk until batter is smooth.

2. Transfer mixture to a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until bubbling and very thick (you will be able to see bottom of pan when whisking), 8–10 minutes.

3. Pour chickpea mixture into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill until firm, at least 3 hours.

4.  Turn chickpea mixture out onto a cutting board and cut into 3x½” pieces. Pour oil into a large skillet, preferably cast iron, to a depth of ¼” and heat over medium-high heat until oil bubbles immediately when a small piece of chickpea mixture is added. Working in batches, fry until fries are deep golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.

DO AHEAD: Chickpea mixture can be made and poured into baking dish 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

See below for yogurt recipe

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

Using his brute-force to press down the mixture.

One more shot just cause.

One more shot just cause.

For Yogurt Sauce:

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup, Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp,  Lime juice
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped

How:

Place all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together until well-combined.  Add addition lime or cilantro per taste.

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

Curry and Greek yogurt = yum!

The final plate

Vanilla Almond Frappuccino {Dairy-free}

1 Jan

vanilla-almond-frappuccino-jewhungry-blog

Winter break is almost over.  It’s Wednesday and just the fact that I’ve been feeling this since Monday means I’m not doing so well with ‘living in the moment’.  I needed this break.  I’m not sure there’s a single person on the school campus I work at who didn’t need this break.  I think the day we all had our lock-down procedure run-through (oh yes, because schools have now become a dangerous place to work, we all need to know where to go on campus in case an active shooter is on the premises) the faculty and staff of our school gave a collective sigh and thought, “How much longer until Winter Break!?” I capitalize “Winter Break” on purpose.  It’s very much a proper now in my book.  I need it.  I never thought I’d work at a school.  Heck, I never thought I’d be a school counselor.  Technically, I do not have a counseling degree.  I have my Master’s in Social Work and was originally hired to be a co-director of student life, which meant that I was hired to plan all the events on a private Jewish campus that make it feel a little bit like camp.  I was not 2 weeks into that job when I walked into a meeting that I thought was going to be about working with the kosher food bank but turned into a meeting about the possibility of transitioning into a position as a full-time middle school counselor.  Two years and a half years later, I can confidently say that saying ‘yes’ to that offer was one of the best decisions I ever made.

So now, here I am, in the middle of my third year working at a school in a job I was only semi-educated for and I’m realizing that the end of this Winter Break means the beginning of second semester and facing the reality that I’ll be moving on soon.  I gave myself a break from really thinking about the impending move to LA and start of my position as the Director of School Counselor for a very prestigious private Jewish day school.  It’s intimidating as h*ll.  But, I’m realizing that its time to face the facts that 2014 will be a massive year of challenges and change and boy, don’t I just LOVE challenges and change! (I don’t.  I don’t like either of those things at all).

And yet, it’s Wednesday and dang it, I still have half a week to live this Winter Break OUT LOUD! I’m pretty proud of the hubby and I for doing the majority of the things we said we were going to do during this time off.  We went to the Miami Zoo on Christmas day which, as it turns out, every other Jew in Miami decided to do.  We went to the new Perez Museum of Modern Art .  We also had some epic play dates with a dear friend from work and her insanely adorable daughters.  Mama did a little shopping, an activity that netted everyone some new threads, including mama and got to hang out with the one and only Jeremy Ashley, my co-creator of Jewhungry.  And, of course, I did A TON of cooking.  I also did a ton of coffee-drinking as our sweet little kiddo has decided to start participating in some serious sleep regression. YAY! I mean, who needs sleep, right? What a waste of time! Why would we be sleeping when we could be staring at the clock at 1:45 in the morning and praying to the sleep gds to please return our good sleeper.  Seriously, give. Her. Back.

The recipe below is one I based off a delicious iced coffee drink my local Whole Foods used to feature in the summer.  But since it’s Miami and it’s kinda always summer, I’m curious as to why it’s off the menu.  And since I’m doing a lot of coffee-drinking I figured I do some coffee-drink-making.  It seems like everyone’s got a coffee/chocolate combo but lately, I’ve been really digging on almond-flavored stuff thus, almond-flavored coffee. I hope you enjoy and if you do end up making this recipe, send a little ‘l’chaim’ up my way.

Coffee filtration system from Costa Rica.  It's HIGHLY sophisticated.  :)

Coffee filtration system from Costa Rica. It’s HIGHLY sophisticated. 🙂

Top with sliced almonds if you've got them.  It'll impress all your friends!

Top with sliced almonds if you’ve got them. It’ll impress all your friends!

A photo-montage of Winter Break.  Enjoy.

hair

We hung out at home a lot. The ultimate stay-cation

Who wants to look at gorillas when you can stop for a belly-button search?

Who wants to look at gorillas when you can stop for a belly-button search?

We got new shoes! She got slippers and mama got super-unnecessary-but-definitely-awesome-motorcycle-boots.

We got new shoes! She got slippers and mama got super-unnecessary-but-definitely-awesome-motorcycle-boots.

My little family

My little family

After her bout with food poisoning -- a drive in the car to help induce napping.  She would NOT let go of those pretzels.

After her bout with food poisoning — a drive in the car to help induce napping. She would NOT let go of those pretzels.

The morning-after food poisoning drive that took us to Wynwood.  The kiddo slept while we roamed the streets checking out the street art.

The morning-after food poisoning drive that took us to Wynwood. The kiddo slept while we roamed the streets checking out the street art.

Met up with this incredible guy.  That's right, it's Jeremy, part of the original Jewhungry team. We like to go to outlet malls and pose hipster-like with alligators dressed up like Wonder Woman.  What? You don't?

Met up with this incredible guy. That’s right, it’s Jeremy, part of the original Jewhungry team. We like to go to outlet malls and pose hipster-like with alligators dressed up like Wonder Woman. What? You don’t?

Checking out the new Perez Art Museum Miami

Checking out the new Perez Art Museum Miami

Our NYE ritual -- homemade sushi, Prosecco, an air mattress, all the pillows we have. the balcony + a movie on the laptop.

Our NYE ritual — homemade sushi, Prosecco, an air mattress, all the pillows we have. the balcony + a movie on the laptop.

Props to my girl, Tara, for the awesome W mug.  Also, yes, I know what that filter looks like.

Props to my girl, Tara, for the awesome W mug. Also, yes, I know what that filter looks like.

Vanilla Almond Frappuccino

Ingredients:
Recipe will make 3 – 4 drinks

1 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 – 3/4 Cup extra strength coffee (double up on your typical brewing scoop amount but maintain same water amount)
1 Tbsp granulated vanilla sugar (or regular sugar will do)
OR
Instant coffee works here as well – again, double up on what the directions call for in terms of coffee/water ratio
CHILL COFFEE BEFORE USING
1.5 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp almond extract
Chia shot – (just to feel a little better about drinking a frappuccino)
2 Cups of ice
Pinch of salt
Sliced almonds for topping

How:

Make double-strength coffee by brewing with twice the coffee required by your coffee maker(that should be 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per each cup of coffee). Chill before using.

Once coffee is properly chilled, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high-speed until ice is crushed and drink is smooth.

Pour into tall glass and marvel at how you just created a delicious, full-flavored coffee beverage for a fraction of the price.  Pat yourself on the back.

vanilla-almond-frappuccino-jewhungry-blog

Kale & Butternut Squash Quesadilla? Yay! New Years? Meh.

29 Dec

quesadilla-kale-butternut-squash-jewhungry-blog

 

For the passed several years, New Years has been a weird time for me. It’s not for the regular, semi-cliched reasons either. I don’t get sad when I reflect and let it sink in that yet another year has come and gone, though I do get blown away by how quickly time truly does go by. Nope. New Years has become a weird, confusing time for me lately because, well, I already did New Years.

As observant Jews, my husband and I celebrate the new year in the Fall during Rosh Hashanah, known to the world as “Jewish New Year”. That’s the time of year that I get a bit more reflective and/or contemplative. That’s the time of year that I seek to change negative behaviors I see in myself while maintaining the good stuff I see in myself. It’s during this “New Years” that I reach out to old friends to tell them how much I miss them and to make promises to be in contact more often, though we both know it’s probably not going to happen. And because we read the same portion from the Torah every Rosh Hashanah, it’s so much easier to remember just where I was the year before, both spiritually and physically.

I’ll never forget Rosh Hashanah from three years ago. I sat in synagogue listening to the haftorah story of Hannah and her desperate want/pleads to have a child. I sat in that service and so identified with her. My husband and I desperately wanted to be pregnant. I don’t think I ever prayed so hard as I did that new year—begging Hashem to bless us with a child and asking Gd if he/she wouldn’t mind glossing over some questionable behaviors from my early 20s and maybe focusing more on my recent work to help up the blessing ‘ante’. Sure enough, one year later, we brought our 6 week-old baby with us to the very same synagogue to listen to the very same Torah portion and I truly never felt more grateful (or tired. She was only 6 weeks old, after all).

So, you see, this whole December 31st/January 1st thing isn’t such a big deal over here. Now, I’ll take any excuse to by champagne on sale and I do love the glitter that comes with this New Years (mental note: Find way to bring more glitter into Rosh Hashanah), but we already had our New Years’ time of intense reflection. We still do a little count down because we are citizens of this Earth and I do LOVE watching the ball drop from Time’s Square (mental note: Find way to bring a giant ball drop in Time’s Square into Rosh Hashanah) but we don’t go all out for New Years. Last year we started a little tradition of making homemade sushi and setting up the air mattress on the balcony for dinner and a movie al fresco but chances are, I’ll be asleep by 11.

Happy New Year.

There's no "i" in "Team", but there is kale.

There’s no “i” in “Team”, but there is kale.

 

Ok, I made this recipe last Tuesday and I have to say, it’s one of my new favorites. The crispness of a lightly buttered and fried tortilla mingled with the soft, sweetness of butternut squash and Monterrey Jack cheese just does good things to me. You don’t need a lot of spice to this recipe because the natural flavors of the veggies and cheese do it for you. Make sure your kale is chopped small so you can easily get a good bite out of it once it’s in the tortilla and enjoy!

As you can see by the pan, I really do cook these here recipes.

As you can see by the pan, I really do cook these here recipes.

 

Nerd alert: I honestly do pay close attention to what goes in which layer when I make a quesadilla.

Nerd alert: I honestly do pay close attention to what goes in which layer when I make a quesadilla.

 

 

Cheese: It's the glue that holds us (and this quesadilla) together.

Cheese: It’s the glue that holds us (and this quesadilla) together.

 

When it comes to quesadillas, it really is ALL about what's inside.

When it comes to quesadillas, it really is ALL about what’s inside.

Kale and Butternut Squash Quesadilla:

(Makes 3 – 4 Quesadillas)

What:

1 Cup of kale, destemmed and chopped small
1 Cup of roasted butternut squash (see roasting direction here)
2 Cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 Tbsp cumin
Salt
Pepper
3 Tbsp of oil – Coconut or olive works nicely
Flour or whole wheat tortillas
Butter – for pan
1/2 – 3/4 Cup shredded cheese (I recommend Monterrey Jack or white cheddar)

How:

Break out a sauté pan, turn the stove to medium, and put your oil of choice in the pan (coconut or olive are my go-to). Thrown in your kale and sauté for just 1 minute. Next, throw in the garlic and sauté for another minute or so or until kale is bright green. Remove for heat immediately, place in separate bowl and set aside.

Next, wipe the pan down with a paper towel and put a little bit of butter in it. Turn the heat to medium low and place one tortilla in the pan followed but a layer of shredded cheese. Next, add your sautéed kale/garlic mixture and top that with a heaping scoop of butternut squash. Smush the squash down a bit so it’s evenly spread out in the center of the tortilla. Next, add another layer of shredded cheese and the other tortilla. Once that final tortilla top is on, give the quesadilla a nice final smush so that everything gets nicely “stuck” together. Let tortilla sit on the heat for 2-3 minutes, checking a few times to make sure it’s not burning. The secret to the perfect golden and melted quesadilla is too cook it slow and low (heat). After you’ve checked and the bottom tortilla looks good and golden, carefully flip quesadilla over using a wide spatula. If you feel it necessary, and I ALWAYS feel it’s necessary, add a bit more butter to the pan and make sure it gets under the new bottom tortilla. Let sit another 2-3 minutes, checking for perfect golden-ness. Once done, remove and serve hot with favorite toppings (my go-to are sour cream, Sriracha and cilantro).

Shakshuka: Meal of my heart.

24 Dec

shakshuka title

So last night we had a heavy metal vomit party. What’s a heavy metal vomit party, you ask? A heavy metal vomit party is a party in which people drink a lot, listen to heavy metal, maybe they punch each other just for fun, etc. It’s what I picture an Anthrax after-party would look like. Only, we didn’t have any heavy metal and there were no dudes in leather and chains punching each other just for funsies,. We did, however, have lots of vomit as the kiddo had a bout of food poisoning. Why oh why are you talking about this on a food blog, you might find yourself asking? Because I’m in a weird place that can only be described as halfway between delirium and the twilight zone. Last night, I slept from 8:30 – 9:30pm, and then again from 12:30 – 1:30am. The rest of the time was spent snuggling with the kiddo and feeding her sips of water, of which she only calls ‘agua’, thank you Miami life and our Spanish-speaking daycare providers. I finally called in the big guns, a.k.a. Dada, at about 5:15 so that I could sleep for a few hours. It was such a shame because yesterday was the first day of my winter break and we had such a wonderful day with my husband’s parents. We drove the 45 minutes to the Bubbe-capitol of the world, also known as Boca Raton, Florida. We went to a science museum, rode a beautiful carousel and had overall joy and merriment. And then, in a classic parenting moment, things switched to disaster on a dime. We were not 5 minutes in the car for our 45 minute drive home when the kiddo let us have it (“it”being everything she had eaten for the past 3 hours). And then, because I’m the world’s greatest mom, when I finally calmed her down and was putting her back into her carseat, I pinched her tiny thigh skin with the seat buckle. That only escalated the crying and general discomfort of our poor kid. This discomfort and vomit continued for roughly 6 more hours from that point. Good times.

And so, at 2:30am, when I was begging for sleep that couldn’t come because I was sharing a bed with a sweaty, uncomfortable toddler, I started thinking about the things you don’t realize you’re going to need when you agree to marry someone. Now bear with me, this has a connection. While I was snuggling with the above-mentioned sweaty toddler, my husband was in our room sleeping. We had agreed that he would sleep during the night and then he would cover me during the day so that I could sleep. When things went to hell earlier in the day, we went back and forth between cracking each other up over the ridiculousness of cleaning vomit off a carseat on the side of a highway off-ramp to biting at each other when she vomited for the 4th time in 3 hours and we had reached our new-parent point of ‘WHAT THE @#$* DO WE DO NOW!?”. But, we never once felt alone in our worried-parent ineptitude because we had each other. When my husband proposed to me in 2009 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I immediately said ‘yes’. I had known I wanted to marry him from the moment we met. But a person has no idea what they’re going to need when they’re down in the fox-hole of food poisoning h*ll because you can’t possibly understand what that foxhole will be like. Heck, you don’t even know that foxhole exists. You just know you’re in love and you’ve really enjoyed life together so far so let’s keep this thing going. Therefore, at 2:30 in the morning, when I was feeding the little one her sips of water, I was thinking about my husband in the other room and how there would be no way in h*ll I would be able to get through any of it without him. Food poisoning comes and goes and it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. However, the way we work together in these situations is a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure of anyone else who could have me laughing like he did at 11pm last night when we knew we had a looooooong sleepless night ahead of us. What I am sure of is that, thank Gd, the food poisoning seems to have come and gone from our home at this point while we remain, lovingly, whole (copious amounts of coffee helps too).

punk-jewhungry-blog

Watch out, she’ll get ya.

Oh, I finally had another post up on The Times of Israel. You can find it here. It’s about growing up and experiencing Christmas with my dad and his family, who just happen to not be Jewish (that should seem obvious, I hope). The following recipe, which was enjoyed yesterday before Food Poisoning 2013, is my interpretation of shakshuka, eggs poached in a delicious, spicy tomato sauce. I first had shakshuka in 2001 when I was studying abroad at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. I went over to a friend’s place for lunch and there she was, cracking eggs directly into what I thought was spaghetti sauce but what I later realized was so much more. Shakshuka can be intimidating if you’ve never had it before but truly, it does not require a lot of skill in the kitchen (this is according to me, at least). It does require patience though as the tomatoes and the peppers need time to get all sugary and flavorful as they sit on a low heat.

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

You can add anything you want to liven up your shakshuka but for me, I just can’t seem to depart from the addition of feta and cilantro. The flavors compliment each other so nicely. If you are looking for a healthy and flavorful dish for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, this is it. Heck, some might think it’s even a nice dish for Christmas morning? Maybe?

One might say this would be a perfect Christmas morning breakfast, might one?

One might say this would be a perfect Christmas morning breakfast, might one?

A perfect pair.

A perfect pair.

It's about to get egg-y in here.

It’s about to get egg-y in here.

The following is a completely unnecessary but completely awesome action shot of the first egg being dropped into the shakshuka. Make sure you dig a little hole out for the egg to nestle into before cracking. Mad props to my hubby, who is also my hand model, for indulging me in this one.

Step 1

Step 1

Step Two

Step Two

Step Three

Step Three

Almost There

Almost There

So Close

So Close

Nailed It.

Nailed It.

Shakshuka with Feta and Cilantro

Ingredients:

5 tbsp Olive or Coconut Oil
1 Medium onion, diced
4 Cloves of garlic, diced
1 Red pepper, chopped
1 Green pepper, chopped
1 Can of whole tomatoes
1 Can of diced tomatoes
5 eggs
Kosher salt + pepper to taste
1 tsp, Cumin
Sriracha
Handful of cilantro leaves and stems, diced
Feta cheese (to your discretion)

How’s That Now?

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begin to become a little translucent. Add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin to the onions and stir. Finally, add the garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant. Next, add the bell peppers and continue sauteeing for another 6 – 8 minutes or until peppers are starting to brown.

Add both cans of tomatoes to pan, stir till blended. Throw in a bit more of the cumin and add some Sriracha to the pan of vegetables. Stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 6 – 8 minutes (you can break apart some of the whole tomatoes at this point too — just push down with a spoon to break them apart a bit). At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.

Before cracking each egg into the pan, make a little divot in sauce for egg to go into. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. It’s common shakshuka practice to place 4 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “over easy” style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover your pan and allow to cook on a simmer for an addition 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an on the eggs to make sure that the yolks remain ‘over easy’ to ‘over medium’. Add the feta, if using, halfway through your last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking. Once done, garnish with cilantro. Enjoy with a big piece of crusty bread.

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Finally, we can eat.

Finally, we can eat.

No Fear: Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

10 Nov

squash 3

I do a lot of things even though I’m scared of them. I ride airplanes, even though I’m terrified of flying. I write this food blog even though I’m terrified of being judged negatively by my food. I got married even though I was terrified of marriage. I had a baby even though I was terrified of being tired all the time. On the other hand, I rarely drink because I have a fear of being out of control. I don’t break the rules because I have a fear of getting in trouble. But how much do we let fear manage what we do or don’t do?

So this thing happened about 6 weeks ago and it was/is a big thing. I’ve been keeping it to myself for a while but when the tech guy at school, who I’m not sure even knows my daughter’s name, came up to me to confirm the rumor of this big thing that happened 6 weeks ago, I think it’s safe to say that the ‘jig is up’. Six weeks ago, a professional opportunity dropped into my lap and I couldn’t ignore it. Try as I might, I just couldn’t ignore it. I wasn’t looking for a job. I have a job. I have a job I like that I think I’m pretty good at. I get to work with people I generally really like; who make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. But then I got a call offering me a huge professional opportunity, which would have been a no-brainer except for this one very big hiccup—the job is in LA. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ll know my family and I live in Miami. We are here because my husband is in the middle of getting his PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Miami. We’ve been here almost 3 years. I like it enough. We’ve always said we didn’t want this to be our permanent place. Miami is nice and all but it’s not where we want to raise our children. Before this call, the only guarantee we had once my husband finished his PhD is that there is no guarantee. In the back of our minds, we always thought that we would go anywhere he got a post-doc or a job; be it Australia, Israel Hawaii or North Carolina. But we’re nearly 3 years into a 4.5 year PhD so we didn’t REALLY think about it but then this thing landed in my lap and then we were forced to think about it.

The job has all the things a person looks for in a job–prestigious school, giant promotion, room for growth, resources and is located in sunny LA. But there’s just this one thing. My husband can’t leave his PhD program. So the question came to be: How much are we willing to sacrifice for a job? How much are we willing to sacrifice for our family’s future? If I said ‘yes’, that meant that I would be in LA with Siona for a year without my partner; my love. If I said ‘no’, that meant that I was passing up a major opportunity for myself and also, a guaranteed future for my family. How does a person make that kind of decision?

First, you take a trip to LA. Who wouldn’t want to say ‘yes’ after an all-expense paid 4 days in Beverly Hills? Then you talk . . . and you talk . . . and you talk. Then you come to realize that the only reason you and your husband can come up with for NOT taking this opportunity is fear and damn it, I will not miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime because of fear. I refuse to live like that.

What will Shabbatot (shabbats) be like without my best friend for roughly a year? What will it be like in a new city and a new job without my partner? How will I be a ‘single’ parent for roughly a year? How will I do it? I’ve been asked these questions MULTIPLE times by MULTIPLE people and I don’t have any answer except, “It will be hard. It will be so. very. hard. But then, Gd willing, it won’t be. But in the meantime, I will need your support. I will need everything you’re willing to give.” I am terrified to start this new chapter without my partner standing beside me but the really incredible good news is that we will still be together, we just won’t be together all the time. I will need to remind myself of this on a constant basis.

So, in roughly 8 months time, at the end of June, we will pack up our Miami life, keep some of it here and ship some of it to LA. Then, we will load ourselves into an RV and drive across the country to LA (yes, we are driving cross-country to LA in an RV. Dreams really do come true. Those will be some fun posts, I hope.) because what the hell are we doing with this life if we’re not going to live it up, right?

Morning rituals with Dada.

Morning rituals with Dada.

Siona and JFK on our trip to LA (I did not mean for that to rhyme).

Siona and JFK on our trip to LA (I did not mean for that to rhyme).

So, with all that being said, life is going to get interesting and a bit tough around this time next year. I probably won’t have the time to make mini grain-free pies with mixed berries or Sriracha cheddar sauce but I will have time to make salads. I will probably live on salads. Why make life harder than it needs to be, right? Back in my single days, I lived on salads so I might need to bring out the old repertoire. But, I have to admit, the salads of my 20s were pretty boring and certainly would NEVER have contained roasted butternut squash or anything having to do with fruit. I also NEVER made my own salad dressings but now that I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my cooking skills, a salad dressing is a piece of cake.

Imperfect yet perfect

Imperfect yet perfect

After the roast.

After the roast.

Getting everyone on board.

Getting everyone on board.

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Reading for a healthy feast.

Reading for a healthy feast.

Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Salad Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 medium butternut squash, roasted and cubbed
1/2 small purple onion, diced small
1/2 honey crisp apple, diced small
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
Walnuts

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette:

1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

Roasted Squash How To:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, cut butternut squash in half. Use a peeler to peel the skin from the squash. Scoop out innards of squash and throw away (or save seeds to roast later). Drizzle olive oil or coconut oil onto the inside flesh of the squash. Place squash flesh side down onto the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes (give or take). You’ll know it’s done when you stick a fork into the flesh and it meets no resistance (see picture above for post-roast squash). Let squash cool while you make the vinaigrette.

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette How-To:

Place maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, mustard and dashes of the sea salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl while whisking so that all ingredients combine. Taste and add additional seasoning to suit your taste buds.

Salad:

Once roasted squash is cool, cut into 1 inch thick horizontal strips leaving the ends for using in a soup or sauce for later. Cut the strips into cubes. Assemble all ingredients except walnuts into a bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and crumble walnuts on top before serving.

Enjoy!

*PS – You’ll noticed the pictures don’t include the purple onions. In my Sunday Funday mom-haze, I completely forgot to put them on the salad until AFTER I took the pictures. I took the hit.

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