Tag Archives: avocado

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.

I Miss Vacation

7 Aug

The husband and I finally went on our honeymoon.  We’ve been married almost a year and due to moving to Miami and spending all our savings in renting an apartment and financing a car, our plans for a honeymoon had to be put off for a bit.  But, luckily for tax returns and very generous father-in-laws with plenty of frequent flyer miles, we were able to finally take a honeymoon to Costa Rica. It was heaven.

I’ve been known to have exceedingly high expectations that get my in trouble from time to time.  Having incredibly high expectations on a regular basis can result in one being disappointed on a regular basis but can sometimes be good when those expectations are transferred to expectations of yourself.  Anyway, the reason I am self-disclosing is because this time, the expectations were not only met they were exceeded.  Let me just take a break for spouting the glory of kosher cooking to spout the glory of Costa Rica.  If you are privileged enough to take vacations GO TO COSTA RICA.  The people are friendly, the coffee is delicious (I’ll get to that in a later post) and the beaches are beautiful.  What is difficult about going on an amazing vacation is coming home from an amazing vacation.  Sure, we live in Miami but man, my vacation glow lasted for a solid 24 hours before I got disgruntled.  I missed vacation. I missed spending 24/7 with my bestest friend in the whole world and I certainly missed waking up, getting dressed, walking out to the nearest palapa and having fresh fruit and coffee waiting for me.  ‘Twas amazing.  Even more amazing? Not having to do the dishes for 10 days (it’s the little things in life).  I digress.  We returned on Sunday and the next day was the start of the 9 days —  a higher level of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temple and culminates in the Fast of Av (Av is the Hebrew month we are in now and the first of the month started the 9 days of increased mourning).  To say that I didn’t have to dig too deep to feel sadness is an understatement.  We returned later Sunday afternoon and were at work on Monday morning.  I’m starting a new job and granted, I started in in mid-June but I’m working at a Jewish day school so as we near the start of school it’s really feeling like a new job and all the head-trips I play on myself (you know, ‘Am I doing a good job? Do I have enough Jewish knowledge to be in charge of student life at a Jewish day school? Does it matter?).  I mean, that much self-doubting is enough it cause even the most normally confident person to go into a tailspin of sadness.

So here’s what’s what—-I decided to have my mourning period.  As a Jew, I feel the sadness of not having a great Temple.  As a Jew in a larger community, I feel the sadness of a disjointed community who always finds ways to alienated each other and whose constant inability to accept the differences of one another results in a community that isn’t ready for a Temple.   I also feel the sadness of being in Miami, which I don’t really love–being so far away from family and close friends.  BUT, I’m thinking that after the fast on Tuesday, I will refocus on the good stuff–the blessings.  I gotta not be so lazy.  I mean when school starts it’s on.  It’ll be a 180 day  marathon so I gotta make sure I carve out time for spiritual growth and ways to keep connected as well as ways to try to like South Florida (at least enough to get us through the next 5 years).

Oy, this is a super long post.  Getting to the point, part of the mourning during the 9 days is to not eat meat of any kind (meat being a symbol of celebration and joy).  BUT, because shabbat trumps all mourning (except for Yom Kippur), we had Meat Fest 2011.  And because I love a good shabbarbecue and a theme, the lunch I made for shabbat had a barbecue theme to it.  I kinda made up a potato salad recipe sans mayonnaise (I know, as a Southern that’s a bit of a shunda) and it was delicious.  Meat Fest 2011 also included Miami Friend Fest 2011.  All in all, I’m hoping the fast coupled with this past shabbat could be a beginning . . . of what, I’m not sure.  But a beginning nonetheless.

Shabbarbecue Menu:

Sweet & Spicy Chicken (from my new obsession, The Pioneer Woman)

Avocado & Jalapeno Potato Salad (adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Cilatro-Avocado Potato Salad)

Corn on the Cobb

Black Bean Salad (adapted from Simply Recipes)

Sweet & Spicy Chicken

What?!

  • 1 cup Apricot Preserves
  • ½ cups Ketchup
  • ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Hot Pepper Sauce – naturally, I used Frank’s Red Hot
  • 3 pounds Drumsticks (about 12)

How ?!

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, combine preserves, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until preserves are melted.

Arrange drumsticks in a single layer on a 13 x 9″ baking pan. Pour sauce over drumsticks, turning to coat. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is done, spooning sauce over drumsticks while baking. Serves 6.

Chicken Kitchen

Mmm . . . garlic

Avocado & Jalapeno Potato Salad

What!?

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, small diced, and cooked in boiling salted water until tender, drained
  • 1/3 cup finely minced red onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 1 (1-ounce) package cilantro, leaves picked and finely chopped

Whit’s Guacamole

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1/2 Lime juice
  • 1/2 of a small onion, minced red onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • LOTS of cilantro

Mash avocado in a small bowl.  Add lime juice to avocado and keep mashing/mixing until creamy.  Add onion, a dash of garlic power and kosher salt.  Add until to suit to your tastes.  Add cilantro at the end.

How?!

Combine potatoes, onions, and garlic in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 turns pepper. Add olive oil, tossing to coat. Add guacamole and mix.  Add the avocados, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro, and toss well to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Black Bean Salad

What!?

  • 1 15-oz can black bans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

How!?

1 In a large bowl, mix the beans, green pepper, onion, parsley and rosemary.

2 In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.

3 Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

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