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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

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
Juice of half a lime
Handful of cilantro. Chopped
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Before the toppings

Before the toppings


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.

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


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


25 Feb

Self-care can be a tricky thing. It can be a tricky thing but I believe in it so much. As a new mom, a wife, a full-time school counselor and taking on cooking 3 meals a week for someone, I can leave “me” behind from time to time. Even this blog, which I love so much, can become just one more thing I “HAVE” to do. People continuously say, “You have to learn to find a balance.” I get that, I do, but ummmm, how does one do that and how does one know when you’ve reach ‘balance’ because, and I don’t know, this might be a new idea for ya, but life changes—constantly. As a result of this awesome constant change, it seems like once you find a balance something new comes along and you gotta start looking for that balance again. So the balance and the change? That stuff I can’t really control but boundaries. Oh man, I loooove me some boundaries. I still get excited when I pass into a new state and you see the, “You’re Now Leaving . . . ” and then immediately afterwards, “Welcome to . . . .! We’re happy to have you!” so of course I’m gonna love personal boundaries! I like making them and I certainly like keeping them. Thank Gd because I think my personal boundaries are the only reason I can function in society, much less function as a wife, mother, friend, school counselor, daughter, etc.

I’m very strict when it comes to boundaries and do a pretty good job of keeping work at work but of course, there are those nights when I’m on my iPhone checking email and dang it, I reply! NO!! Oy. I actually pride myself on not saying , ‘how high?’ when my supervisor or a parent says, ‘jump’ and I kinda feel like it’s part of my job to set up those boundaries because if you’ve ever worked at a private school, you know that pushing boundaries is a constant, every second occurrence happens sometimes. I say all of this because last week I was feeling like my cup runneth over with well, everything. I got sick for the third time in 6 weeks and I NEVER get sick that much. Yes, we have day care germs running rampant in this apartment and it’s possible that that’s why I keep getting sick. But I’ve also decided that I keep getting sick for another reason; actually 2 reasons. Now, I’m no medical doctor but I’m thinking I keep getting sick because a) my gossiping is out of control and I need to keep that in check more and b) stress. It’s ridiculous how the body holds onto stress in ways we aren’t cognizant of and how that stress can manifest itself in the body in pretty negative ways. So last Monday I made two decisions; 1) to cut out the gossiping or at least keep it to a very respectable minimum and 2) make an appointment with your therapist. I did both and saw my therapist 2 days later (I also got on antibiotics, but whatever) and I’ve felt a lot better this past week. I feel less pissed off and feel like I’m able to connect to my husband and daughter on a much more loving basis. I mean things aren’t perfect but they’re getting there. It’s a balance 😉

So this happened this past Purim--she's either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We're still not sure

So this happened this past Purim–she’s either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We’re still not sure

And then this -- Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2.  I'm a really really good mom.

And then this — Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2. I’m a really really good mom.

OK, since we’re on the topic of balance there really is no other way to showcase balance in cooking besides soup (in my humble opinion). Soup used to be incredibly intimidating to me and then one day, when my husband and I were first falling in love in Jerusalem, he made me chicken soup. He used the freshest ingredients available at the shuk, added a dash of love and the result was the greatest chicken soup I’ve ever tasted. Now, I’m not gonna post that recipe but I am gonna post a roasted eggplant and tomato soup that made my heart sing when we ate it. I hope you find it delicious as well.

Delicious food porn

Delicious food porn



Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup


2 eggplants cut in half4 tomatoes – varied is your option but plums could be nice
4 large garlic cloves
1 medium onion , chopped
Coconut oil
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt
Sour cream
Italian parsley, chopped

How’s That Now!?

Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut the eggplants length-wise. Spread coconut oil over eggplants and place face down on a baking pan. Cut tomatoes length-wise as well and put to the side. Put eggplant in oven for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, put tomatoes and garlic on the same baking pan and place back in the oven for another 25 – 30 minutes keeping an eye on the garlic that it doesn’t burn. After a total of about 45 minutes, pull the baking pan out of the oven and let cool. Using a pair of tongues, flip the eggplants over and scoop the meat out of the middle until on the skin is left. Pour about 3 tbsp of coconut oil in a large stock pot and heat for a minute. Once hot enough, sautee the onions in the coconut oil until translucent. Add the eggplant meat, tomatoes and garlic to the pot and sautee for another few minutes. Add the vegetable broth and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take pot off the heat. Using our favorite immersion hand blender, blend all the ingredients together until smoother. Top with a dollop of sour cream, parmesan and the parsley. Enjoy!

(This was one of those cooking experiences where the soup finished right before shabbat so there is no picture of the final outcome but trust when I say, ’twas delicious).

Pasta What?

6 Jan


Each year, at some point around Winter Break, my husband and I make a Moses like pilgrimage to Southern Florida.  I like to call it our trip to the Promised Land.  When you live in Chicago there is no clearer way to see evidence of Gd than to leave a 3 degree place and arrive in a 75 degree place, so there is no better name for our trip.  No we aren’t independently wealthy.  We’re just incredibly lucky.  My man’s parents have a time share and each year the entire family rushes down for a few days of sitting by the pool, marathon movie trips and eating like we’re in a contest at the county fair.  Each year I end up finding something that I’m newly obsessed with food wise.  For the last several years it has been garlic rolls.  Weird, right?  This year though something new happened.  I accidentally tried Pasta e Fagioli.

I’m sorry, what did you call me?

Pasta e Fagioli.  It’s pronounced (at least in the States) Pasta Vadjool.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup.  Have you heard of it?  It means Pasta and Beans.  Wikipedia tells me that it’s an old Italian peasant dish.  You guys, that is my very favorite thing.  Poor folks are resourceful.  I mean, aren’t we??  They make delicious and easy food.  Especially poor folks from the past, who also happened to be Italian.  Like, dang, give me a break.

Anywho.  I had the soup a couple times at different Italian restaurants in the Promised Land (ie Southern Florida).  I decided that my goal when I got back to Chicago would be to figure out how to make this magical soup so that I could share it with you…and my little family.

I’m going to take a moment and brag.  I’m getting pretty good at improvising recipes.  I’m at least getting a little brave.  When I looked up the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli Soup in various recipes in books and online what I saw made me tired.  Fry bacon fat?  No.  Fry fat back and mash it into a mush.  NO!  What follows is my improvised version of a Mario Batali recipe.


2 medium Spanish Onions

3 teaspoons of minced Garlic

1 6 oz can Tomato Paste

2 quarts Chicken Stock (8 cups…or if you’re me…4 regular sized cans)

2 cans White Beans (I’m not fancy I use cans)

1 can Red Kidney Beans

1 can Rotel (y’all know I’m Southern, right?)

2 cups of cooked pasta (I used Ditalini)


Chop the onions small or large depending on how you prefer onion in your soup and fry with a little Olive Oil in a Dutch Oven.  Don’t freak about the amount of oil here.  You want to make sure that all of this onion will cook and not burn so add more as needed but don’t get crazy.  Fry the onion until it’s tender and translucent.  This will take 8 – 10 minutes.  Give a dash or 5 of Salt and Pepper to flavor the onion.  While your pan is still hot add the can of Tomato Paste and stir around in the onion until the pasted is mixed throughout.  Cook this for 3 or 4 minutes.  Toss in the garlic and let that cook with the tomato and onion mixture for a few minutes more (3-5).  Your house should be smelling incredible at this point.  Add your chicken stock and beans and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally so that your beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.  Now, with the pasta you have two options.  You can cook it separately and add it in to the soup for a wetter soup or you can toss the dry pasta in to your pot and let it cook with everything else for a thicker consistency.  Either way is fine.  Since I’m Southern and I add Rotel to just about everything I tossed in a can of Rotel to add a tiny bit of spice to the mix.  I also threw in a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning.

This soup will freak you out it’s so good.  I hope you enjoy!

When All Else Fails . . . Soup

26 Nov

Yesterday the hubs and I went to our first kids birthday party with our baby.  It was filled with the usual—an insane amount of sugar, 4 year-olds running around with foam pirate swords, more sugar—-it wasn’t so bad.  It was actually a beautiful day and I could relax in the fact that since my kid is too young to eat solids, I didn’t have to deal with the bargaining and tears that come with trying to temper your child’s sugar intake at a birthday party.  At some point I swear I was in a Judd Apatow movie when I overheard a father ask his 18 month old, “Is that poop I smell? Did you poop your pants?”  All in all, it was a lovely day.  Then I got home and received word that my beloved dog, Teddy, isn’t doing so well and the end might be near.  Before there was hubby, before there was baby, it was just Teddy and me.  As a twenty-something in Chicago, Teddy was my buddy.  Every Saturday morning, when the weather allowed us, we would take incredibly long walks around the city.  Sometimes I would stop in our favorite coffee shop, Central Bark, and I’d get a latte and he’d have a biscuit; it was really lovely.  That little man went everywhere with me.  When my grandfather unexpectedly passed away a few days before Thanksgiving, my cousin, his then fiancée (now wife), Teddy and I  jumped in the car and drove to Louisville in a blizzard.  At one point on that drive he ate dinner with us in a Burger King, B. K. (Before Kosher) as it was too cold to leave him in the car for a few minutes and too snowy and dangerous to drive while eating.  He just sat there eating chicken fries (sorry PETA and other concerned pet-lovers.  At least it was food. He was fine. Calm down.), happy as can be.  He was truly my little buddy and I will be forever grateful for his companionship.  When it came time for me to move myself to Israel for the year Teddy moved into my mom’s place in Asheville, NC and lived the life of a retiree in the mountains and he’s been there ever since.  He complained, he went on long walks, he slept a lot, he was happy.  Now he’s dealing with some yucky cancer and we’re not sure how much longer it’s going to be.  Mom took him to the emergency vet yesterday in the evening and while I waited to hear the news of his condition I made soup.  What else are you supposed to do when you need to be busy while waiting to hear about your furry friend?  The soup decided upon was a roasted cauliflower soup.  I found the recipe on Pinterest and tweaked/added a few things and I really feel the result was the taste and comfort I was looking for.   The original recipe did not call for smoked paprika or dill but I really felt like the paprika and the dill would compliment the cheddar nicely while not over powering each other.  However, the paprika is definitely more of an ‘ingredient’ while the dill is more a garnish, if that makes sense.  Also, it’s important to taste and taste often with a heavy recipe.  I ended up adding the squeeze of lemon at the end because it just needed a bit of acid to balance that cream.  Anyway, I hope you find the soup just as comforting as I did while making it under happier circumstances.

Ted with some awesome friends the day after my wedding.

Oh! Before I write out the ingredients/how-to I wanted to list all of Ted’s nicknames given to him by myself and various friends throughout the years.  You know, one last time.
1. Tedward
2. J. Tedgar Poover
3. Tedgar Allen Poo
4.  Theo
5.  Teddy Ruxpin
6. Teddykins

Ted and I in Chicago keeping each other warm.

  • 1  head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups aged white cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • juice of half a lemon
  • A few sprigs of fresh dill for garnish
How’s That Now?
  1. Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil along with the salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  2. Roast the cauliflower in a preheated 400F oven until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  6. Add the broth and cauliflower, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  7. Puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency with an immersion blender.
  8. Mix in the cheese, let it melt and season with paprika.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Mix in the milk and remove from heat — MAKE SURE TO TASTE AGAIN
  11. Add squeeze of half a lemon to balance out the heaviness of the soup.
  12. Garnish with dill.

Bottom of the delicious, delicious soup pot

I ain’t scared

14 Oct

I am not a brave person.  Need an example?  For the longest time I was afraid of thunderstorms.  Not just afraid.  Petrified.  I’d burst into tears when hearing thunder and run around unplugging things like a crazy old lady.  I’m not sure why I would unplug things or what that had to do with my personal safety…but whatever.  Maybe my behavior had something to do with the fact that my childhood babysitter would make us huddle in the bathroom and prepare for a tornado any time it rained.  I know.  Crazy, right?  Believe it or not I slowly learned that rain clouds and even the occasional thunderstorm are not to be feared.  My point is that fear is a learned behavior.  One of my favorite places to push the boundaries of anxiety is in the kitchen. Surely if I can stop crying when I hear the thunder roll, I can be fearless and do things like make up a soup recipe.  Right?

Last week while exploring the World Wide Web (I think I’m funny) I came across something called pumpkin chowder.  I was like…what?  Canned pumpkin can be a part of something that doesn’t involve a pie or some sort of decorating contest?  As I was reading the ingredients list I became annoyed.  Things like cooking sherry, fennel and chopped peppers were listed.  Now, I know that I don’t have a precious little baby like my friend Whitney, but my time cannot be spent chopping peppers and looking for cooking sherry at the grocery store.  I’ve got a whole mess of New York Housewives episodes to catch up with on the DVR.  My cooking these days involves being as quick and easy as possible.  So I reviewed the list of ingredients.  Decided that what I was looking at resembled a vegetable stew (with canned pumpkin) and decided to be brave and figure it out in the store.

So the question is…what can you challenge yourself to make without a recipe?  How can you have your own version of Iron Chef at home?  Please know that I understand that making up a soup recipe is a lot different than making up some crazy souffle or coming up with a new way to roast a chicken.  Baby steps, y’all.  Baby. Steps.  I apologize for not taking pictures of my delicious stew, but I was scared it might be ugly with the addition of pumpkin.  By the time I realized it was gonna be alright it was too late.  Just trust me.  It’s deliciously fall-tastic.

Here’s what I did.  You can add or leave out whatever you want.  F’real y’all.  It’s not rocket science, especially with a bunch of vegetables.

1 onion (chopped)

1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (carrots, green beans etc…)

2 cans of black beans

1 can of kidney beans

1 can of Rotel Original (google it)

2 small cans of diced green chillies

2 cans sliced stewed tomatoes

1 can vegetable stock

1 can pureed pumpkin

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste.

Fry that chopped onion.  Girl, you know that nothing in the kitchen should star without a fried onion.  Once the onion has softened add your cumin.  I like to let the onions simmer in the cumin for a bit, it gives them a nice flavor.  Begin to haphazardly add the other ingredients as you will.  You want to stir them in as you go.  Save the vegetable stock for last.  The pumpkin.  I know.  It’s weird.  Scoop it out of that can and stir it in.  It basically dissolves into your soup.  It’ll add a slight earthy flavor to your soup and give you a lot of extra fiber.  You know fiber is good, so just put it in there!  Once you’ve added all of the other ingredients toss in the veggie stock, stir everything around a bit and bring to a boil.  Once you’re bubbling up for a minute or two bring the temperature down to low and let your soup simmer for about 30 minutes or so.  You’re ready to eat.

I love making soup.  I can’t lie.  I mostly like making soup because its one pot and you throw a bunch of things in and hope for the best.  I’m going to dig around a bit and see if I can’t find a better way to eat canned pumpkin.  Now, I know I could get crazy and cook an actual pumpkin, but I don’t think I have the energy or the counter space for that.  There must be a delicious pumpkin soup out there.  There must be.  I’m gonna find it, y’all.  I promise.




Soup in Summer

1 Jul

Ready for Devouring

I know what you’re thinking.  This crazy woman lives in Miami.  What the “H” is she doing making soup in June in Miami!?!?!?!  Has all that new hair-coveringbeen constricting the common sense the good Lord gave her!?  Well no.  Here’s the thing.  Folks in South Florida (and the majority of the South) over air condition their environments during the summer.  I mean I do not leave the house without a sweater or hoodie of some sort because guaranteed, when I leave my house, whatever my destination is it will be completely freezing for the entirety of my stay at said destination.  Even though I was born and raised in air-conditioned Hotlanta, I am just not used to all this AC.  And then, as fate would have it, a giant box of organic fruits of vegetables came into my possession.  I thought I was inquiring about a CSA share but as it turns out, I was buying into an organic shoppers club and 5 minutes after my inquiry I was walking away with a giant box of fruits and veggies.  Inside that giant box were two leeks.


At the time, I must confess, I had no idea what they were.  Heck, the guy who I bought the box from told me it was celery root.  But, as it turns out, it was leek! And wouldn’t you know it, my husband has randomly been craving potato leek soup so with a combination of the cravings of a husband, the surprise of leeks and the onset of a cold due to an intense use of AC, I made a pot of potato leek soup.  But not just any potato leek soup, I made the best pot of soup we have ever eaten.  I mean, it was delicious.  So, it may be summer but I’m telling you, if you come in contact with a leek, grab some potatoes and a giant pot and get cooking!


I ended up halving the recipe and we still had leftovers so the recipe below will serve 4.  This is a very hearty soup.  My recommendation is to serve with a nice arugula salad with some parmesan shavings and a nice lemon/olive oil dressing.

  • potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly chopped pieces
  • 3 leeks, whites only, thoroughly washed
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shaved parmasen for serving
  • Chopped green onions for serving

Before the Blending


In a large pot, place potatoes, 2 of the leeks (reserving the rest), celery, regular onion, bay leaf and chicken stock and bring to a boil, about 15-20 minutes. Continue to boil until potatoes are very soft. Whisk flour and butter in small bowl with a fork to make a roux for thickening the soup. Add the remaining leeks, roux, cream, fresh thyme, and salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend soup until smooth. Pour into a medium pot and simmer for 5 – 8 more minutes until soup has thickened.  Serve with parmasen and green onion on top.

Back to Life

5 May

Well friends, it’s been several weeks since this jewhungry author wrote anything on this here blog so it’s about time I got to it.

The past 2 weeks have been a blur–a messy, difficult, exhausting but still with shades of sunshine and love blur.  My Papa  (Grandpa) passed away on Tuesday, April 26th, at 5:30 am.  After a few days in the hospital followed by about 5 days in hospice, my beloved Papa passed away.  He was 87 years of age at the time of his death and to some, it wouldn’t seem shocking to have a grandfather pass at that age but for our family, his passing really was a shock.  The reality of our parents’ and grandparents’ true age is, at times rationally understood, but generally, not full comprehended.  Though logically, I understood my Papa to be an elderly man–it’s why we insisted our traditional, Orthodox Jewish wedding take place in the Southern Appalachian town they live in rather than have the ease of a kosher wedding in Teaneck, NJ.  However, it wasn’t until we arrived at my Papa’s bedside the Friday of  chol hamoed that I realize just how old my Papa was.  But I have to tell ya, even with the memories of the devastating and heartbreaking final days spent by his side, I will always remember my Papa as being larger than life in every possible way.  He loved to tell stories (most notably, one about the best corn beef sandwich he ever had (corn beef being one of his last coherent requests, which my brother and sister-in-law brought up from Atlanta, before entering hospice) and his love of music and theater was passed down into every one of us grandkids.   I don’t know the type of man my Papa was when he was my age but as a grandfather, he was loving and kind and attentive and truly enjoyed spending every second he could with us and I will always be grateful for that blessing.

Now, the stress of watching a beloved family member die is really enough for any one person but add the stress of trying to keep kosher during Pesach in a household that doesn’t necessarily keep the same type of kosher and well, you got yourself a really obnoxious pickle.  Confession time:  Until my husband and I have the space and kids, we plan to spend every Pesach with his parents in Jersey.  It’s just easier.  It is by no means a value judgement on my side of the family.  It’s just easier and I think this past Pesach proved that it’s not just easier on us but on EVERYONE.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I didn’t decide to keep kosher to alienate my family and friends but decided to keep kosher to live a more spiritually fulfilling life.  I want everyone who walks into our house to feel like they can eat at our table.  So, with that decision came tougher decisions—where to spend Pesach? It was a difficult phone call, having to tell Mom that Pesach would be a Jersey holiday for us, but to her credit, she got it and was supportive and I will always be grateful for that.  However, here we were, not 6 months after that phone call, having to figure out how to feed everyone in Mom’s kitchen during Pesach.  And to my mom’s credit, in the middle of everything else she was dealing with, the woman kashered her kitchen, brought out the plastic-ware and we did this thing.

It wasn’t all hunky dory, don’t get it twisted.  It was frustrating at times.  I mean, how much kosher for Passover bag n’ bake chicken can one person eat?  But it was my genius friend, Jackie, who made a point that completely allowed that frustration fly out the window.  The morning of my Papa’s death, as I was running errands for mom, I’m on the phone with my Jackie, just venting like we do, when she says to me, “Whit, how amazing is it that in spite of that difficult conversation about not spending Pesach in Asheville or Atlanta, here is your Grandfather, bringing your entire family together and showing all of you that you can do this.  What a gift.”  Well if that didn’t just verbally slap me in the face with glory than I don’t know what will.  My Jackie is a genius.  And she was right.  We had 5 days of Pesach, including one shabbat, with all my crazy family members in Asheville and we did it.  Hell, My sister-in-law and I even created an amazing new soup using a Vitamix and every tomato in Asheville and it was damn good.  There was a kosher for Passover mashed potato bar one night and even a quinoa pilaf (quinoa from Bolivia, thank you very much)!  I mean, I don’t mean to brag, but we nailed Passover 2011.  A fete I never would have thought possible.  Thanks Papa.

Papa and Grandma dancing at my wedding - Aug. 15, 2010

Vitamix, Vitadelicious Tomato and Kale Soup


10 whole tomatoes, stemmed

a bunch of kale

1 large onion, diced

Olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, diced

4 cups of water

1 large russet potato, peeled



Shredded mozzarella

Italian parsley


Clean tomatoes and place into Vitamix in 2 groups of 5.  Press on and watch it do its thang.  Put aside.

Meanwhile, turn stove to medium high and heat 4 table spoons of olive oil  in the bottom of a large stock pot.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.  Next, add the kale.  Sautee kale for 2 to 3 minutes.  Next, add all those tomatoes and the four cups of water.  Bring the entire thing to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until kale is good and soft.  During the last 10 minutes of simmer time, add your peeled potato.  The starch of the potato will help thicken the soup.  Add seasonings as needed.  Once done, serve hot (leave potato in the soup but don’t serve it) and garnish with cheese and parsley.

Tomato Soup for the Soul

24 Mar

So, I make a lot of soup.  What can I say?  I’m obsessed with single pot meals.  They’re easy to clean up and since I’m the wife in this relationship (ie head housekeeper) the easier to clean up the better!  I hate cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes!  Therefore?  Soup it is.  Though, I’ve got to tell you, this Chicago weather is zig-zagging from hot to cold so fast I can’t get out of my winter soup making phase.  Seriously.  Two days ago I was outside jogging in shorts.  Today?  Snow flurries.  Who can keep up with this mess?  It’s best to just pretend that the snow is here to stay (at least in the kitchen).  Say what you want about snow, it inspired me in the cooking department today.  Is there anything better than tomato soup?  Yes!  The grilled cheese, tomato and avocado sandwiches you make to go with it!

Today I got all fancy and pulled out my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for inspiration.  I found what looked to me to be a cure for my “why won’t the winter go away blues.”  She calles it pappa al pomodoro.  I call it the best damned tomato soup I’ve ever made.  Please give this one a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  It’s super simple and beyond delicious.  Besides who doesn’t want a soup made with bread?


1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)

1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1.5 cups)

4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)

3 cups diced ciabatta bread

2 28oz cans Italian plum tomatoes

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Cabernet)

1 cup chopped basil leaves


Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.  Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.  Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the vegetable stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1.5 teaspoons pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  Once the soup is nearing the 45 minute mark?  Get out your whisk and let out your frustrations.  Give her a good whisking.  You’ll break up some of the tomatoes and bread. I hope you have some parmesan handy because you’re going to want to sprinkle it generously in your bowl.

Seriously, y’all.  This one is a keeper.  As for your grilled cheese sandwiches?  You’re on your own!


It’s the end of the world…

1 Feb

You’ve probably been watching the weather reports the last couple of days.  Between the snow-mageddon reports and news on Egypt you really would think that we are in the midst of the end of the world as we know it.  It’s a lot to take in.  40 mile an hour winds and 20 inches of snow.  No more Mubarak.  What’s a guy to do?  Well, after my little prayer for Israel I started brainstorming.  What’s a super easy (I’m lazy) winter food?  What makes me feel all warm and snuggly when I hear the word thundersnow?  Well, honestly?  Nothing.  The thought of thundersnow gives me the panic, followed by inspiration to move to Miami.  Once I work through my panic?  All I can think about is chilli.

There are as many recipes for chilli as there are people.  Everybody has a chilli recipe.  A while back I went in search of a white chilli that wouldn’t take too long to make.  I found a great one that I’ve modified a little.  I’ve decided that the mark of a great cook is taking a recipe that you know and modifying it.  I don’t know how true that is, but it sure makes me feel better about making my own food.

One tiny little note to self:  don’t go to the grocery store 10 minutes before the weather man says a snowstorm is scheduled to hit.  I got the idea to make chicken chilli early today but the inspiration to get off of my couch didn’t hit until a few hours later.  My inspiration and the snowmageddon of 2011 apparently have the same timing.  I left thinking that the weather reports were out of control.  The store was CRAZY!  People were running around filling their shopping carts.  There were announcements every few minutes about new lanes opening up.  It was a little intense.  On the way home I realized that the weather man might have done some research.  The snow wast starting up pretty hardcore and the wind!  Oh my lord the wind!

So?  I’m making a little chicken chilli, a vodka gimlet and watching all the TV my little eyes can stand.  Maybe you should make a batch of chicken chilli for you and yours?  Yes!  You really should.


ground chicken (1-2 lbs)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a whole onion (large…any kind will do…whatever onion you love most)

ground cumin (1 tbsp)

one green pepper (or not if you hate them)

one can of green chillies

3 cans of white beans (I use great northern)

one can of green salsa (16oz)

one can or 2 cups of chicken broth

Cut up your onion as big or as small as you like.  I like a chunky onion so I just give it a rough chop.  Pour your oil into a large pot and warm.  Toss in the onion and cook until translucent.  When your onions are done sprinkle in your cumin.  Stir the onions around making sure that the cumin cooks in…this should only take a couple of minutes.  Add your ground chicken and brown with your onions.  Cut up your green pepper and toss that in.  Throw in your green chillies, beans, green salsa and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer for 20 or so minutes.

You will make this chilli all winter long.  I promise it’s amazing and delicious.

Shalom, Y’all!



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