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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

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.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

27 Oct

image (1)

I am so tired. Oy. Vey. It has been a week. I think it’s been like two weeks in one, no? You ever have that feeling? I don’t even really have the energy to write anything witty. I am, however, so excited about this recipe so I’ll spare you the usual exceptionally long post and share a few short things:

1. My first blog post for The Huffington Post was published on Friday. I am very proud of the work it took to get there, much less the post itself, and the amazing feedback I’ve gotten from friends and strangers. Thank you to all who posted it on various social media outlets and most especially, to those who actually read it! I am so grateful. Find the post here.

2. Buzzfeed stole my picture! So there I was coming back online from a restful (slept 10 hours Friday night and took two naps on Shabbat. HOLLER!) and quiet Shabbat when I notice that I’ve got 20 text messages waiting for me. And then I notice that I have an exceptional amount of notifications on Facebook too. Well, turns out Buzzfeed posted a hilarious round up of 50 Things Only 90s Girls Would Understand and they used a picture of me from my high school days (circa 1996) I had posted on a blog post I wrote way back in March. Yep. Just me and Drew Barrymore and all our choker-wearing glory. My friend, Ali, thinks I “won the Internet”. Well, if winning the Internet means having your non-professionally edited and enhanced Sophomore (?) yearbook picture splashed right next to an uber-vamped Drew Barrymore, well, I’d like to ‘lose’ the Internet next time. please. Oh, and to top it off, they dubbed me “WordPress”. No name. No permission asked for usage. Just a picture of me from almost 20 years ago with “WordPress” on it. Awesome.

3. Decisions have been made. The next step is upon us. More to come.

In the meantime, I had this recipe in my head for quite a while but knew it needed something. And then my girl, Samantha, from The Little Ferraro Kitchen posted her delicious sweet potato pie with coconut milk whipped cream and I thought, “That’s it!” Since we are exactly one month away from Thanksgiving and my kosher-eating self will need a parve (a.k.a vegan) dessert on hand (plus a grain-free dessert for my grain-free family members who I hope will be visiting us again for Thanksgiving this year), I wanted to adapt my versatile grain-free brownie recipe into a fresh and delicious pie. The recipe turned out to be so delicious and so easy. It has a little bit of sugar in it but other than that, it’s a pretty healthy dessert. I let my 14 month-old go nuts on some of the ‘crust’ mixture with minimal guilt and that’s saying something!

If you do decide to try this recipe, and I hope you do, the trick with the whipped cream is to chill EVERYTHING before whipping. EVERYTHING. Take that can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Grab your mixing bowl and your mixing attachments and put them in the refrigerator as well. It will be the difference between actual whipped cream and frothy coconut milk. There are further instructions where the recipe is listed so make sure you read through before starting.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie 'crusts'.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie ‘crusts’.

Tiny pie crust - No grain, all glory.

Tiny pie crust – No grain, all glory.

Bring on the color.

Bring on the color.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

One last look at the yumminess.

One last look at the yumminess.

Mini Pie of Deliciousness

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Ingredients for Crust:

Adapted from my own recipe for Raw Brownie Bites (Make sure to omit the oats for a grain-free version. Keep them if you don’t mind a grain or two).

  • 2 Cups of dates, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oats (I used gluten free)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp milled flaxseed
  • 3 Heaping TBSP of vegan cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp organic maple syrup (depending upon your taste—start with 1 and if you make it again, up to 2 if it wasn’t sweet enough for you)

**Extra cocoa for rolling the bites in afterwards if want an extra chocolate punch.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (Recipe straight from my girl, Samantha, at The Little Ferraro Kitchen)

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Mixed Berry Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup Strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Blackberries, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Raspberries, chopped
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Demerara Sugar

Crust How-To:

I used regular-sized muffin tins to shape the crusts but a ramekin will work just as well.

Cut pieces of parchment paper into squares about 8 in. by 8 in. or large enough that when placed into the muffin tins there is an excess of paper sticking out.

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until well combined—to about the count of 30 or until the ingredients have a dough-like consistency. If you feel like it’s a bit dry due to too many walnuts or oats, just add a bit of water, about 1 tbsp at a time, until you get that doughy consistency. Once you’ve attained your desired consistency, scoop out enough ‘dough’ to form a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Gently press the dough ball into the parchment paper-lined muffin tin and shape to the entirety of the tin so that a ‘crust’ forms. Your crust should be thick enough to hold the filling but thin enough so that it doesn’t take over the pie flavor. Do this until you run out of ‘dough’. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream:

If you haven’t already, open the coconut milk can and pour out the water in a separate bowl (Save it and use for smoothies, soups, etc). If you’ve been chilling your coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours in prep for this recipe, the watery part of the coconut milk will be at the bottom of the can so pour slowly and make sure to omit the watery part at the end.

Pour the thicker coconut milk in your chilled mixer and begin to whip starting on low and gradually moving to medium-high setting. As soon as it begins to thicken, add powdered sugar and continue to beat. Check every so often for desired consistency.

Fruit Filling:

Place all your chopped fruit into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix until well combined.

Assembly:

Once your crusts have refrigerated, scoop fruit filling into each pie; enough so that the is a ‘mound’ of fruit filling. Top with a dollop or two (or three) of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Pancakes and Problems: Things get spiced . . . vanilla chai-spiced.

16 Oct

Hello!  It has been AGES since my last post and if you follow this blog, you might be wondering to yourself, “Ummmm, Whit, didn’t you like, make a big deal about unveiling a new and improved, self-hosted blog?”  Yes! I sure did.  Here’s the long of the short of it:  I hired a designer via Etsy.  The designer was less than awesome.  I got my buddy, Yosef from This American Bite on the case but he’s super swamped and I’m anxious to get back to blogging, especially with Thanksgivukkah just around the corner so I made an executive decision to take a step back and hold off until after the holiday season.  Here’s hoping . . .

In the meantime, I’m back to posting and it feels so right.  Since I last posted to this blog, a lot of fun things have happened.  I was asked to become a permanent blogger for the Times of Israel (posts can be found here and here).  I also had another post over at Kveller.com (find it here), was interviewed by the Huffington Post for an article on meditation (that can be found here) and I’ve been asked to do my very first cooking demo for a synagogue here in North Miami Beach (details to follow).  I’ve also been swamped at work, took the family and went to LA for 3 days and hosted our very first Simchat Torah Wing Ding (9 lbs. of wings, 4 different kinds of flavors, and lots of hungry friends.  It’s how we Southern Jews celebrate the completion of reading the Torah).  Life has been lovely and chaotic, to say the least.

In all the time since I last posted, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and of course, a lot of thinking.  Before I stepped off-line for a bit, I wrote a post that sparked a lot of debate/comments/criticism/assumptions.  I had been having a lot of mixed feelings and confusion over my voice as a writer as well as my place on the blogosphere.  The post (found here) was supposed to be about just that–reflections on where I fit in as a blogger as well as a space to vent some frustrations about what can happen when folks make assumptions on the choices other people make or rather, the assumption that other people even HAVE a choice.  Of course, the irony is that it was completely misread as a judgement piece on other people’s choices as well as a knock to mothers who stay at home.  It was celebrated by mama’s who work out of the home and ripped apart by mama’s who work in the home. I was accused of being ‘intense’ (as if that’s a bad thing?).  I was accused of judging people’s choices (an act of which is against everything I believe to be whole and true, both as a social worker and a human being, though I do not claim to be void of the fault of judgement from time to time).  It was rough y’all.

Lazy Sundays

Lazy Sundays

I’ve been reflecting on this piece off and on since I posted it all those months ago.  I take full responsibility for my part in it’s misinterpretation and have been questioning how it was written ever since–was I inarticulate? Could I have been more clear in defining ‘privilege’ as I see it? Should I have even used that word?  And while I was trying to find clarity in the piece by owning it and moving forward, I read two blog posts from two separate bloggers that I felt brought me right back to square one.  The first was from fellow Kveller.com writer, Tamara Reese entitled, “Tell a Friend: You’re a Good Mama” (found here) and “You’re a stay-at-home mom? What do you DO all day?” by Matt Walsh (found here).  The first post was a gorgeous and emotional story about the author’s observations of new parents and how she looked at the mother, who was apologizing to folks in a restaurant for the fact that her newborn was crying, and told her “You’re a good mom”.  Tamara goes on to tell the story of how someone did that for her once and it was all she could do to not break down when she heard it; not realizing she needed to hear it so badly.   Matt Walsh on the other hand, wrote a post proclaiming his love and admiration for his wife, who works in the home as a stay-at-home-mom.  His tone was harsh (that’s OK, it’s his blog. He gets to do that) in that he supports the hell outta his wife and in making the statement that as an employee,we are all just a number.  I don’t disagree with him.  It’s harsh, but I completely agree.  I feel that daily.  But that’s beside the point.  Both of these bloggers mentioned ‘mommy wars’.  Both of these bloggers felt the need to uplift mamas.  They put themselves out there to speak on behalf of an entire population of people who, on the day-to-day basis, feel completely vulnerable and I thought to myself, well, why? Not, ‘Why do women feel vulnerable’.  I get that.  I completely get that.  But why are there ‘mommy wars’ (man, that term makes me want to vomit)?  Why do so many of us bloggers feel the need to go on a rant (me included and yes, I get the irony of this post)? Why do so many of us bloggers feel the need to support or to criticize in the name of mommyhood?  And then I wondered if it was all a vicious cycle. By blogging about parenting and our own experiences with it, in an effort to connect to like-minded parents, do we run the risk of alienating other parents who feel like they don’t fit in line to exactly what it is you’re blogging about.  Meaning, if I blog as a mom who has a full-time job outside of the home as well, is it assumed that I don’t support moms who work full-time inside the home?  Am I aligning myself I didn’t even know it?

I HIGHLY doubt that when my mom was raising two kids in the 80s and 90s she gave two poops about what style of parenting she ascribed to or whether or not she would be ridiculed if she bottle-fed or if co-slept with her baby or not.  Her network of moms were not online but in her community or within her family and when she had a question about something baby-related, she didn’t type it into ‘Google’ and have a million and one confusing and potentially alienating ‘answers’ or blogs pop up touting the benefits of this sleep method or this parenting style.  She was just trying to do the best she could and survive. Dude, that’s what we’re all trying to do, right?

They take self-portraits

They take self-portraits

I worry that, as a blogger, I might be part of the problem.  I might be putting something out there that’s causing the escalation of vulnerability do to the assumption that I know what the hell I’m doing.  I blog about my family and the trials and tribulations I go through as a parent who works outside the home because it’s an outlet but I realize that I have not been clear, and I mean CRYSTAL clear, about one thing—I am not an expert at parenting nor do I claim to be.  I studied early childhood development in social work school but I promise you this, the only thing I’m remotely close to being an expert in when it comes to parenting is parenting my own child and I’m fairly certain that I’m only about 70% expert on that.  I worry that all us bloggers, well, we might be exacerbating an already vulnerable situation—parenting.  I post pictures of my child on Instagram and those pictures are generally of her smiling and being happy.  I don’t post pictures of her when she’s awake at 2AM with a fever or when she’s having a meltdown for some reason because well, a) I don’t have that kind of time and b) I don’t want to post pictures of her in that state.  And yet, I do worry that by only posting us in the golden sunlight of Miami or hipster-ed out in our local coffee shop, I might be exacerbating that thing that might be sparking all these rants or  ‘mommy wars’—- that I’ve got it right and you should be me or that you should at least strive to be as seemingly cool, calm and collected as I am as a parent.

And thus, back to the original point and post.  Folks knee-jerk reacted to that first post.  Folks assumed because I write through one lens that I must be attacking or at least ridiculing the other.  I can’t promise I don’t have a little bit more sympathy for working moms because I can relate more and I don’t fault anyone for assuming that because it’s true and that’s OK. I think we all have junk.  I think we all have guilt; such nasty, nasty guilt, and it makes us vulnerable and it makes us feel like we have to defend our choices.  I also think we are all just trying to do what’s best for the ones we love and are trying to survive.

Sometimes we do a little better than survive :)

Sometimes we do a little better than survive 🙂

Whole Wheat Chai-Spiced Vanilla Pancakes

The players

The players

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey (you can also use regular ol’ sugar)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp (and a bit) of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½  Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground all spice
Hello lovers

Hello lovers

How:

Whisk together flour, honey, baking powder, salt  and spices in a small bowl.   Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together almond milk, oil, vanilla and egg.  Add flour mixture to liquid mixture and stir just to moisten.  It’s OK if there are a few lumps.  Scoop out pancake batter using an ice scream scoop and pour out onto griddle or large frying pan.  Cook pancakes on a griddle over medium heat.  Pancakes are ready to flip once they start to bubble on top.  Serve hot with big slap of butter.

Don't be afraid to sprinkle that glorious stack of pancakes with a dash of cinnamon.

Don’t be afraid to sprinkle that glorious stack of pancakes with a dash of cinnamon.

Mexican Quinoa Salad: A Recipe for Love from a Non-Cook

9 Sep

Hello Dear Readers,

Shanah Tovah, happy new year and happy Monday.  I hope everyone is feeling well.  Today’s guest post in the Love Series comes from a tiny bundle of energy and talent all rolled up into a Sarah Jessica Parker look-alike package known to me as my cousin, Ayelet.   I have two cousins, many distant cousins, but two first cousins—-Ayelet and her brother, Michael.  Ayelet and Michael (known to the family as Micki) grew up in Israel and emigrated to the US in 1989 to live their American dreams, which at the time, consisted of listening to Billy Joel and Vanilla Ice on rotation while wearing an obscene amount of neon.  Ayelet is one of the most passionate people I know, who about 3 years ago, left everything she knew to fulfill her dreams of becoming a certified dog trainer.  Below is the story of how she met her partner, Alex, and how, thank Gd, they finally wised up to decide to share their lives together, which works out really nicely for me because now we have another incredibly talented musician in the family.  Enjoy. Love, Whit xoxo

P.S. For a sample of Alex’s music and for purchasing information after you fall in love with his music, go here.

My husband and I met in 2006, but the stars took a few years to finally align for us.

On Our Wedding Day

On Our Wedding Day

In 2006, Alex and I were cast opposite each other in a 10-minute, 2-person play as a couple who lived together. At the time I was in a serious relationship so I just thought of him as a sweet guy from London. Once the play ended we loosely kept in touch for a few months and because he only had a Visa to stay in New York for a year he eventually moved back home.

However, while he lived in London, he was always coming back to New York for visits, and about every 6 months I would run into him on the street in random places. It was as if [insert your preferred Higher Power here] kept putting him in my path saying “What about this guy?,” “Hey, remember this guy?,” “HELLO! THIS is the guy.” But I was still in that relationship and so would say a quick hello and keep walking, never giving it a second thought. The last time we happened to run into each other was in the fall of 2009 when I was with said boyfriend and he was with his producer. After introductions the conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: What are you up to these days?

Alex: I’m recording an album and playing a lot of shows in this neighborhood. You should come some time.

Me: Sure! We’d love to!

When we parted ways I said to my boyfriend “We’re not going to see his shows. Everyone’s a musician or an actor here. Between all of the friends I go to support and my own stuff I don’t have time to start supporting someone else.” It was callous, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I said that, but there it is. We did, however, become Facebook friends.

Loving Life

Loving Life

A few months after that I broke up with the boyfriend, moved out and starting living the proper single New York City life. A few weeks into my Singledom I got a Facebook invite from Alex to a benefit concert for Haiti Relief. Since it was a fundraiser I knew I should go and support the cause, but before confirming that I would come I decided to check out his music to make sure I wasn’t committing to a night of terrible music. I found his MySpace page (remember those days?) and was blown away. I felt like such an ass for not supporting his music before. His music was brilliant. I was transfixed. A few weeks later I showed up to the show and it was sold out! I was so disappointed. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. He had also invited me to his first record release show, which was a couple of weeks later, on Valentine’s Day. I got my dear friend Hannah to go with me and that’s when everything changed.

That night, as I was listening to him sing, I was blown away. Not just by his talent (of which there is an endless supply), but by his honesty. Besides my brother and father I had never met a man who was emotionally expressive. And here was Alex, pouring his heart out in the most beautiful way. It was like finding the holy grail y’all. Hannah looked at me, watching him perform, and she said “You like him!” to which I promptly and maturely answered “Shut up, no I don’t.” But she knew better and so did I.

That's my awesome cousin, smack in the middle, leading a flash mob at my wedding.

That’s my awesome cousin, smack in the middle, leading a flash mob at my wedding.

After the show we went to his after-party and briefly caught up. He asked me if I was married yet to which I said, “no, quite the opposite. I’m single.”

“In that case,” he said “I’ll be back in New York in October. We should go on a date then.” “Sounds good” I answered, totally blown away by the lack of games; and then late into the night, as I was leaving, he kissed me.

I was almost relieved he was leaving New York the next day because I was in no place to get into a relationship so soon after a serious one ended. The problem was, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Constantly. Being with him felt like I was home. I was so thrown by this that I actually started practicing yoga to find my center. (For those of you who don’t know me, I really don’t like yoga, but I was desperate).

About a month after his departure I got a call from an international number. My family is all over the map so I thought it could be one of them. But the second I heard his voice say “hi” I knew it was him and my heart soared. He said he had been thinking about me. That was the first of many long conversations we’d have over the next year and a half.

He would come back to visit every now and then, but we both knew he didn’t have his Visa to stay, and we didn’t know when that would happen. Though we spoke a lot and we’d see each other when he was in New York, we both wanted totally different things. I was coming to the point where I was ready to date, settle down, and as I put it “find my person and make little people together.”

Alex was not there at all. On New Years Eve of 2010/2011 we had a frank conversation in which I told him it was clear we wanted different things, and that I would never ask him nor expect him to change, so we should call a spade and spade and stop pretending that this was going to be a relationship. I had joined J-Date to find the person I was going to marry and he was seeing someone casually back home because his plans were so up in the air, so why draw this out? I had no idea that being so bold, honest and willing to walk away would result in us actually becoming closer.

You know the whole “if you love someone let them go…” saying. Well I’m here to tell you it’s true. The phone calls started coming more frequently and the conversations became longer. I remained guarded and continued to date, but there was this inexplicable thing that was happening. It took a hold of me. Getting to know him was magical. He would listen and care about everything that was going on in my world. He would text me “Shabbat Shalom” on Fridays (something I discovered his mother does too, which I love so much). He loved his family and friends unabashedly. He was hilarious. He was honest.

It was a difficult balancing act: I couldn’t stop getting to know him, but I couldn’t allow myself to be drawn in if he didn’t want what I wanted. On his end, without my knowledge, he had been doing some serious soul-searching. He later told me that he wasn’t prepared to lose me and started talking to his friends in successful relationships to get advice. Then one late night he told me he loved me. I told him I loved him too.

A few months after that he came back to New York and we went on our first official date. That was October of 2011. In February of 2012 I went to London to meet his family. A few months later, in April, I went back again for another visit, during which time he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Seven months after that we were married.

Celebrating Alex's Album Release

Celebrating Alex’s Album Release

I wake up every day thanking G-d for bringing me the most caring, loving, kind, generous, understanding, supportive man I have ever met. I have no idea what I ever did to deserve such love but I am thankful for it with every breath I take. I had no idea that love could be this good and that true partnership was a real thing.

The recipe I’m sharing with you is the first dish I ever made for Alex. In February of 2012, I turned 30.  Alex knows I like a good party and he went all out. The entire weekend was full of celebrations and surprises. I had never felt more loved. As a “thank you”, I wanted to give him something extra special. I decided the most special things are the ones that take time, effort and thought. For me, that was cooking. From the beginning of our relationship I told him I don’t cook and never will. I am terrible at cooking and I don’t enjoy it. He said that was fine because he would cook but I could see a tiny light go out in his eyes. So as a special thank you, what better way to show my appreciation than going out on a limb and cooking?!

This recipe is SUPER easy and so delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Quinoa from the "non-cook".  Looks good to me!

Quinoa from the “non-cook”. Looks good to me!

Mexican Quinoa Salad (Vegan/Parve)

What:

1 cup quinoa (I use multi color or red or a combination of whatever is around)

2 cups water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 fresh limes (3 if they are small)

3/4 tsp cumin

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional – I don’t use them but it’s great for a kick)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters

5 green onions, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 avocado, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

The 'Players'

The ‘Players’

How:

Add quinoa to a saucepan with the water, cover, bring to boil and reduce to simmer – cook until all water is absorbed. 10-15 min.

Turn off the heat and leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. Remove lid, fluff with a fork and pour into a large bowl. Add black beans,tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and avocado. Separately, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, cumin and red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper. Toss dressing with quinoa mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

This salad can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two because the lime juice will preseve the avocado.

A Spicy Tofu Eggplant Stir-Fry: A Meat-Eater Meets his Match

30 Aug

You know, I should really make a holiday to celebrate my dear friend, Jessie.  Upon reflection, I realized that without Jessie, I may not have met some really important and incredible people in my life.  One of these incredible people, besides my husband, is Stef, the guest author of this post.  Stef is one of those people who is the full package — outrageously funny, kind, smart, and beautiful.  I remember asking her years ago how she met her husband (at the time, they were just dating) and I remember loving this love story.   I’m sure you will too.  Shabbat shalom, Whit xoxox

P.S.  Follow Stef and Matt’s journey as new Israelis here.

 

 

When I asked my husband which food he thought most represented our love, he answered without hesitation: tofu.

On Our Wedding Day in Jerusalem

On Our Wedding Day in Jerusalem

Like Whitney, I met my husband, Matt, in the holy city of Jerusalem, but it took us a bit longer to realize we were meant to be. On my first day at the Pardes Institute in 2006, where I planned to study for 3 years, my closest friend turned to me and asked me who I thought was cute. I immediately picked out my future husband, despite the fact that he was wearing cut-off hospital pants, a “wife-beater” tank-top, and mismatched red and blue converse high tops. It took us a few weeks to actually have a conversation (although my husband doesn’t remember it) and a couple months until we became friends. Since he was in a relationship with someone else at the time and I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship myself, we continued to be just friends for the remainder of the year. In the first days of our friendship, Matt came over to my apartment for dinner. That year also happened to be the year I reintroduced meat into my diet after many year of vegetarianism. While I had begun eating some meat, I still preferred to (and generally still do) cook vegetarian. When Matt came over for dinner that night early on in our friendship, I told him I was making tofu. A look of uncertainty and fear washed over his face. He admitted to not having a lot of “experience” eating tofu and to not liking it so much, but agreed to try it nonetheless. I don’t think I could truthfully say that fell in love with tofu that night, but he did eat it and that’s a good first step.
At our LA Wedding Reception

At our LA Wedding Reception

Fast-forward to today: we have been married for four years and tofu is a still a staple part of our diet. How did that happen? The simple answer (to both the questions of marriage and tofu) is love.
After our year of friendship, Matt moved back to the US and I began my second year of school in Jerusalem. Now, with both of us available and thousands of miles between us, we decided it was the right time to start dating. This was confirmed the week I came back to the States for a friend’s wedding. We knew we wanted to see each other before committing to a long-distance relationship, so I planned a detour on my trip to meet him for a weekend. Unfortunately, the only time such a visit could be arranged was over the holiday of Yom Kippur, a 25-hour fast day where we are meant to focus on repentance and atonement. It would have to do. Even though we spent much of the visit davening (praying) in shul (synagogue) on separate sides of the mehitzah, it was enough for us to know that we were ready to do this. We survived the distance and the following year Matt got a job in Israel so we could spend my 3rd year of school together.
Finally in the same place, we began to share many more meals together and I began to learn about all the foods Matt did or did not like. On the list of “not-likes” was, you guessed it, tofu. To add insult to injury, he also claimed to not like spicy food, something that characterized almost everything I ate. Here’s where love comes into play. Despite his specific dislikes (those previously mentioned, among others), Matt always tried every single dish I cooked. And to both our surprise, he liked more things than he thought he did. If you ask him, Matt will still claim that anything I make with tofu would taste better with chicken, but he eats it and, dare I say, he enjoys it. At the end of my final year of school, we got married in Jerusalem (at a vegetarian restaurant) on Tu B’Av, the Jewish day of love, and the rest is history.
Falling in Love in Jerusalem

Falling in Love in Jerusalem

Over the course of our marriage, my husband has grown to like other previously disliked foods as well, including spicy food. I still prefer to cook vegetarian during the week (we save the meat for Shabbat) and this Spicy Tofu Eggplant Stir-fry is one of our go-to meals. If you don’t like spicy food, heads up, this is a real mouth burner.

Spicy Tofu Eggplant Stir-fry (adapted from a “learn to cook vegetarian” book I had in college)

What

2 Tbsp Cooking Oil (you can choose: canola, olive, coconut, etc.)
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (or more) Fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 Tbsp Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce (the hero of this dish)
1 block of Tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes, drained
1 small or 1/2 large Eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes, pre-steamed if you like softer eggplant
Any other vegetable of your choice: red pepper cut into strips, mushrooms, zucchinni, spinach, water chestnuts, etc.
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Corn Starch
1/2 cup water
2-3 Green Onions, diced

How

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add Chinese chili sauce (adjust for taste) and simmer for another minute. Add the drained tofu cubes and cook for a few minutes until the tofu absorbs the garlic mixture. Add the eggplant and stir-fry until cooked through.
Working with Tofu

Working with Tofu

Mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, corn starch and water in a separate bowl. At this point add any additional vegetables and then the sauce mixture to the pan. Cook until vegetables reach desired tenderness. In the last minute, add green onion.
DSCF2872
Serve over brown rice and enjoy!
Spicy Love

Spicy Love

Recipe Round-Up – 12 Gluten-Free Sides and Salads — Holiday Menu-Planning

27 Aug
Gluten-Free Holiday Menu-Planning

Gluten-Free Holiday Menu-Planning

So . . . don’t panic, but Rosh Hashanah is a week away! AHHH (insert panic here)!!! Thank Gd, we will be traveling to Asheville, NC to spend the week and the holiday with my mama. And, as a special treat, my brother and his family will be joining us as well. I’m so FRIKKIN’ excited. Anywho, my sweet nephew has been on a gluten-free diet for roughly a year now, give or take a few months. He was having some behavioral struggles that were uncommon for him so after doing analysis of his behavior, keeping food charts, and trying various diets, etc., what my sister-in-law and brother realized is that gluten was having a really negative effect on him. The results of taking gluten out of his diet has been pretty phenomenal and therefore, we want to accommodate this in our very first gluten-free Rosh Hashanah! So, since I was on the hunt for delicious gluten-free recipes that could either be made on the spot or defrosted for the holiday, I bring to you a gluten-free recipe round-up of salads and sides. You’ll find 12 delicious and drool-inducing recipes in the list below. Of course, these recipes could fill the menu for any occasion but in the meantime, I hope they help you in your own holiday menu-planning, for whatever that holiday may be. I wish you a L’shanah Tovah (Happy New Year), a happy Tuesday, and a happy week!!

Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Marinara from Jewhungry

Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Marinara from Jewhungry

Spaghetti Squash with Veggie Marinara

Apple Butter Nut Squash Gratin from Kitchen Treaty

Apple Butter Nut Squash Gratin from Kitchen Treaty

Apple, Butternut Squash, and Leek Gratin

Chutney-glazed Stuffed Acorn Squash by the Gluten-Free Doctor

Chutney-glazed Stuffed Acorn Squash by the Gluten-Free Doctor

Chutney-glazed Stuffed Acorn Squash

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Roasted Eggplant Salad from Wine and Glue

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Mango Lime Confetti Slaw

Mango Lime Confetti Slaw from Healthy Slow Cooking

Mango Lime Confetti Slaw

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad from Alida's Kitchen

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad from Alida’s Kitchen

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

Zucchini Tater Tots from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Zucchini Tater Tots from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

GlutenFree Zucchini Tater Tots

Red Quinoa and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios from What Jew Wanna Eat

Red Quinoa and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios from What Jew Wanna Eat

Red Quinoa and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

Grilled Cauliflower with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar from Everyday Maven

Grilled Cauliflower with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar from Everyday Maven

Grilled Cauliflower with Basil and White Balsamic Vinegar

Fennel, Orange & Avocado Salad with Carrot Dressing Recipe from The Hungry Goddess

Fennel, Orange & Avocado Salad with Carrot Dressing Recipe from The Hungry Goddess

Fennel, Orange & Avocado Salad with Carrot Dressing Recipe

Roasted Potato Salad with Crème Fraîche Sauce by Farm Fresh Feasts

Roasted Potato Salad with Crème Fraîche Sauce by Farm Fresh Feasts

Roasted Potato Salad with Crème Fraîche Sauce

Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes from The Overtime Cook

Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Tales of an Overtime Cook

Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Jewhungry

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Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

LALA LAND

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A blog by Elad Nehorai

The Little Ferraro Kitchen

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Food with a View

Mindful Cooking - Green Living

Take a Megabite

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Manu's Kitchen

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Foodie With Family

Life at the intersection of food, family, philosophy, frugality and fun!

The Rural Roost

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Love and Lemons

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Lea & Jay

(Gimlet, Mistletoe, Arwen)

Finger, Fork & Knife

I'm Kate and Finger, Fork and Knife is where I record the recipes that excite, nourish and inspire me. I focus on wholesome, high-nutrition, home-cooked food - recipes that satisfy and delight. Welcome!

The Joy of Caitlin

cooking, loving, life-ing!

iamthemilk

Every day I'm jugglin'.

I want that for dinner

Gluten-free, healthy, creative, and kosher cooking...with a comedic twist!

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