Tag Archives: Family

Crockpot to the Rescue! BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich w/Zucchini Slaw

16 Dec

bbq-chicken-sandwich-jewhungry-crockpot 2 (1)

This month’s Kosher Connection round-up was all about comfort food. I feel as though I jumped the gun a bit with my last post, which was dedicated to that siren of temptation and comfort—Macaroni n’ Cheese. So since I already have that box checked, I went for more specific and that’s comfort food, Southern Shabbat-style.

As a full-time working mom, I struggle daily with trying to get all I need to get done. As much as I love blogging and cooking, I’d say the number one thing that keeps me up at night are thoughts like, “When am I going to have time to get this done?!” Grocery shopping and cooking for Shabbat have kept me for roughly a week, if you combined all those hours laying awake trying to concoct a plan for getting it all done. As a side gig (because I have SO much time), I’ve taken on doing some personal cooking for a family of 9 in conjunction with my regular client, whom I still cook 3 Paleo meals a week for. So, by the time I’m done with cooking for all my clients, including my own family, I’m in no mood to cook for Shabbat.

It happens every Thursday evening. I finally sit down after a loooooong day at school where I spend an hour or so trying to convince my daughter to eat dinner then followed by everyone’s favorite pastime, the bedtime routine. By the time it’s all done, I cannot be bothered to spend the next couple hours cooking for Shabbat. There are a few occasions when I can trick myself into actually cooking but that usually involves copious amounts of coffee from earlier in the day and not sitting down AT ALL. That’s usually when all goes to hell—sitting down. The minute I do, it’s all over cause mama is not getting up for no one once I finally allow myself to relax (unless, of course, it’s to get more wine or some chocolate. Mama’s gotta take care of mama, am I right?). So because I wait until the last-minute to cook anything for Shabbat, I am forced to break out that holy grail of suburban living, the crockpot. Sure, I could go cholent, but we live in Miami and when it’s 80 degrees outside, the last thing we want to eat is cholent. Therefore, as long as I have chicken breasts on hand, we will be having BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches with zucchini slaw. It’s delicious, it’s easy and it’s messy but, whether you’re crunched for time or you just love a nice, sloppy sandwich, this recipe never disappoints. Enjoy y’all (and don’t forget your wet-naps).

Set it and forget it.

Set it and forget it.

Oh, before I forget, my latest piece for the Huffington Post was posted last Friday!  You can find it here.  The feedback has been humbling and nicely overwhelming.  I was nervous about putting it all out there but, thank Gd, the crazies kept at bay . . . this time. Thanks y’all and enjoy your sandwiches!

A lone sandwich.

A lone sandwich.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches w/Zucchini Slaw

Ingredients for Chicken:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 purple onion cut into thin rounds
1 cup barbecue sauce (a flavor you like)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Ingredients for Zucchini Slaw:

2 medium zucchinis
Kosher salt
1 small purple onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro plus stems, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise (warning: I like mine slaw SUPER mayonnaise-y so start with 1/4 cup and add if you want more)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Dash of celery salt
Garlic powder

How to – Chicken:

1. After washing and rinsing your chicken, place it in the slow cooker and top it with your purple onion rounds.  Top your chicken and onions with the ingredients for the BBQ sauce. Set it for 6-8 hours, tasting along the way (after chicken is cooked).  Add spices if need be.

2. Once chicken is ready, remove the chicken to a cutting board.  Using two forks,  shred the chicken into small shreds. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir. Add additional barbecue sauce if more sauce is needed or desired. Cover and continue cooking on low for 45 minutes.

How to – Zucchini Slaw:

1. Using a knife, food processor or julienne peeler, cut the unpeeled zucchini into thin matchstick-sized pieces, though perfection is not necessary here. Place the julienned zucchini into a container, toss with the salt and refrigerate for an hour.

2. Drain off the excess liquid, and then place the julienned zucchini in a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT FOR CELERY SALT AND GARLIC. Stir until they are well-combined. Add a pinch of garlic powder and salt to taste.

The Final Step:

Once all is prepared, scoop some chicken on one side of the bun (we used mini challah rolls) and some slaw on the other.  If you’re feeling extra spicy, add some pickles in there too.  Put them together, put a bib on and enjoy!

Upclose, messy and amazing.

Upclose, messy and amazing.

15 Delicious + Decadent Mac n’ Cheese Recipes

12 Dec

PicMonkey Collage

 

Shalom.  My name is Whitney and I am a cheese-aholic.  I love cheese so much.  I love it cold, melted, on a sandwich, smothered over fries, shredded over a salad and/or sprinkled (heavily) over some delicious pasta. I’ll eat American “cheese” too. Really, I’m no cheese snob. My love of cheese knows no bounds. When I decided to start keeping kosher, I realized there would be meal decisions in which I was faced with making a choice between meat or cheese (come on, it’s no contest. Cheese wins every time). I had to reckon with the fact that there would even be times when these types of decisions would be made for me by whomever’s house I was visiting for a meal and if they decided to go meat, well, I would have to say “good bye” to my beloved cheese for at least 6 hours (read why here).

Now that it’s been a solid 4 years since deciding to go “kosher”, the things or situations I was initially concerned about are no longer on my mind. Kosher is so ingrained in our everyday life that I don’t miss cheeseburgers or cheesesteaks (too much . . . and neither does my cholesterol level). But, the one meal in which I miss my cheese is the Thanksgiving meal. In true Southern style, my dad’s family used to have the turkey, the dressing, the dinner rolls and a table completely dedicated to casseroles all scattered, covered and smothered in cheese. Gd bless my Southern family. Every year I would haul over to that casserole table and set up camp for hours. So since there is no cheese-laden table at my kosher Thanksgiving feast, I’ve decided to start dedicating Christmas Eve to that dish that is so revered in my mind . . . Macaroni and cheese. Macaroni and cheese represents all that is good and holy about casseroles, in my mind, so as a late Chanukkah/early Christmas gift, I bring to you an ooey, gooey, macaroni and cheese recipe round-up. Break out your Tums y’all, it’s going to be a glorious night.

 

 

Jeanette's Healthy Living

Jeanette’s Healthy Living

1. Creamy Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese Recipe {Gluten-Free} 

Alida's Kitchen

Alida’s Kitchen

2.  Lighter Stove-top Mac and Cheese

i heart eating

i heart eating

3. {Secret Ingredient} Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Nosh and Nourishment

Nosh and Nourishment

4.  Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Kitchen Treaty

Kitchen Treaty

5. Southwest Mac & Cheese with Optional Chicken

Diethood

Diethood

6.  Oven Baked Macaroni and Feta Cheese

What Jew Wanna Eat

What Jew Wanna Eat

7.  Kale and Mushroom Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Jewhungry

Jewhungry

8. Decadent White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese

Julie's Eats & Treats

Julie’s Eats & Treats

9.  Crock Pot Mac & Cheese

This American Bite

This American Bite

10. Dairy-Free Mac n’ Cheese (w/cashew cream sauce)

 

The Noble Pig

The Noble Pig

11. Food Truck Mac n’ Kim-Cheese

A Cedar Spoon

A Cedar Spoon

12. Baked Mac & Cheese with Panko Breadcrumbs

Putting It All on the Table

Putting It All on the Table

13.  Grown Up Mac n’ Cheese

Persnickety Plates

Persnickety Plates

14. Pepperjack Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Jenni Field's Pastry Chef Online

Jenni Field’s Pastry Chef Online

15.   Grand Ewe with Pine Nuts, Golden Raisins and Macaroni

Turkey Kabobs w/Chimichurri + Cranberry Aioli: A Very Miami Thanksgiving with KOL Foods

3 Dec

kol title

I can’t remember the exact day, but some time right after our wedding, my new husband and I were driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan and I remember looking at him and saying, “I have everything I need.  I feel so complete; so thankful”.  It was an awesome feeling and I meant it.  I really did.   But shortly thereafter, maybe, I don’t know, like 48 hours later, the feeling vanished and was quickly replaced with the ever present feeling of , “want”.  What is it about being thankful and satisfied with what you have that is so difficult — at least for us “First World” folks?  It’s hard being thankful.  It’s really really hard.

I’ve been working on my ‘thankfulness’ ever since Oprah told me to start keeping a gratitude journal way back in 1996, when I had moved on from watching reruns of Saved by the Bell to watching Oprah when I came home from school.  That extremely wealthy and powerful sage of a woman had an episode, or several episodes, centered around the idea of creating gratitude in your life and dang it, I was 16 years-old and that sounded like a good idea.  I was on a path to existential goodness and Oprah was leading my journey.  Oprah told me (yes, JUST me) to start keeping a gratitude journal; leave it by my bedside table and every night I should write down 3 – 5 things that I’m thankful for.  Except, I didn’t actually write down anything I was grateful for as Oprah had suggested.  Instead, in my nightly prayers which I had been saying since I was 10, I started adding a mental list of 3 – 5 people or ideas or things that I was grateful for that day (i.e. Thank you Gd for the ability to work, have relationships, my best friend, my new car, etc., etc.).  I’ve been keeping my mental gratitude list for the past 17 years now.  I’m not sure my nightly list has necessarily changed my way of thinking or helped in maintaining a certain level of gratitude because, truly, I find it extremely difficult to fight that human urge to just want more. I do mental check lists sometimes and I say to myself, “Ok Whit, this is it. This is everything you’ve ever wanted.”  And then I drive into the parking lot at work that the faculty shares with our super privileged students, do a little car comparison and suddenly I start wishing I could afford to buy a new car. Or,  I visit a friend’s new apartment and think to myself, “Oh man, I’d LOVE a kitchen like this.”  Whatever that situation or circumstance, there are times when the whole “being thankful” thing is hard.  I know, I know, poor little privileged white girl.  But my point is this, I still try.  I acknowledge that it’s hard.  But, it’s like I tell my students, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.  But really, I’d still love a KitchenAid . . . or a new car . . . or a pair of Ray-Bans. Dang it, I’m doing it again.  🙂

Prep

Prep

OK team, brace yourselves because I am so excited for this post.  I’m excited not only because I’m somewhat obsessed with that picture of the turkey meat marinating in all that delicious goodness, but also because I was asked to participate in a ‘cook off’ of sorts where YOU, dear reader, could be a winner.  How is that possible?  Well, this post was brought you in partnership with KOL Foods.  KOL Foods selected eight kosher food bloggers to create eight Thanksgivukkah recipes and, lucky for me, I was chosen as one of those kosher food bloggers. Your job as the reader is to decide which one of us bloggers whipped up the most delicious creation by voting in this forum. A vote enters you to win a $200 KOL Foods gift certificate.   So go vote for my recipe, errr, I mean your favorite recipe, starting December 9th!  And while you’re voting for me, you should check out the rest of the turkey offerings that KOL Foods has for sale, including the most enormous turkey wings, turkey chops and smoked turkey sausage. I love KOL Foods for their customer service, convenience and the high quality of their grass-fed meats. In fact, KOL Foods is the only source for domestic, 100% grass-fed, kosher beef and organic, pastured, kosher chicken, turkey and duck.

The cast of characters

The cast of characters

kol 2

Now, about this meat.  When I first received the delivery of turkey stew meat I thought to myself, “What the h*ll am I gonna do with turkey stew meat? It’s 1000 degrees outside in Miami right now. I’m not making no stew.”  But then I opened the package and realized that turkey stew meat is basically another version of my beloved pargiyot, which is essentially the Hebrew word for “young chicken meat”.  It’s dark meat that’s juicy and full of flavor.  And what do I love to do with pargiyot? Put that thing on the grill! So, while most of America is bundling up and drinking hot pumpkin lattes and roasting chestnuts on an open fire, I decided to fire up the grill.  This recipe is 100% inspired by the colors and flavors of Miami and is now one of my all time favorites and I’m so thankful to KOL Foods for allowing me this creative opportunity.  Plus, the good news is that it’s really 3 recipes in one—- you’ve got the kabobs, the chimichurri and the cranberry aioli.  So even if you’re not breaking out your grill any time soon but you’d like a little extra ‘something’ to add some flavor to a regular dish, the chimichurri and cranberry aioli could be just the thing you’re looking for.

Bread added for picture - I took the bread off for the first 10 minutes of grilling & added it at on for the last 3 - 5 minutes.

Bread added for picture – I took the bread off for the first 10 minutes of grilling & added it at on for the last 3 – 5 minutes.

For the chimichurri

For the chimichurri

Well, good luck on winning your KOL Foods gift certificate. I also wanted to let you know that I included a few pictures from our very Miami Thanksgivukkah. And, if anyone’s got some suggestions on what works for them when it comes to keeping a thankful mind and soul, I’m all ears so leave your comment below.

My sweet man & me.

My sweet man & me.

If not sleeping, I'm usually in the kitchen doing my thing.

If not sleeping, I’m usually in the kitchen doing my thing.

Fun with menorah shadows.

Fun with menorah shadows.

Turkey Kabobs w/Cranberry Aioli & Chimichurri

Ingredients for Kabob:

1 package KOL Foods turkey stew meat
2 zucchinis, peeled and cubed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 purple onion, cubed
1 loaf of challah or sourdough bread (can be regular or with add-ins – I used cranberry walnut sourdough)
Kabob sticks
Olive oil for brushing before grilling

Ingredients for Marinade:

Fresh thyme
Fresh sage
1/2 olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
Garlic powder

Ingredients for Chimichurri:

1 clove garlic
3/4 cup of lightly packed parsley, feel free to use stems (this is the base of the sauce so you will use more of this than any other herb)
1/4 cup of lightly packed cilantro, feel free to use stems
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
6 – 8 sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Pepper

Ingredients of Cranberry Aioli:

2 tbsp cranberry jelly
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 tbsp hot water

Kabob + chimichurri

Kabob + chimichurri

How – Marinade & Kabobs:

Wash and dry your turkey meat and set aside.  

Finely chop the sage so that it’s leaves are the size of the thyme leaves.  Using a medium sized bowl, combine the herbs and olive oil and whisk together until well-combined.  Add kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder and whisk again.  Dump the meat into the bowl of the marinade and stir so that meat is fully covered with marinade.  Cover with saran wrap or transfer into a Tupperware container and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Place cubed sweet potatoes into a small, microwavable bowl.  Microwave the sweet potato for roughly 2 – 3 minutes so that it is just soft enough to put on the kabob stick.  Once finished, set aside and let cool.

Once your meat has marinaded for an hour, take out of fridge and pour out the marinade so that no liquid remains.  Assemble your kabob in any way that you choose — I went purple onion, turkey, zucchini, sweet potato, and turkey.  As shown in the picture above, I did not put the bread on the stick until the last  3 – 5 minutes of grilling so as to keep the bread from burning.

Brush each assembled kabob stick with olive oil before putting on the grill.  We have a small hibatchi grill so we grilled each side for roughly 10 – 15 minutes, covered (which prevents it from burning).  Add the bread during the last 3 minutes of grilling and leave uncovered.

How – Chimichurri

In a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely chopped. Add the parsley, cilantro, thyme, sage and crushed red pepper and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse to blend. Add the vinegar and pulse to blend. Season with salt and pepper and transfer the chimichurri to a smaller bowl.

How – Cranberry aioli

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT for the water into a small bowl and whisk until combined.  Your mixture will be somewhat thick, which is where the water comes in.  For a more smooth, ‘sauce-like’ aioli, add water, one tablespoon at a time.  If you are looking for more of a dip, feel free to omit the water.

Sauce. I LOVE sauce.

Sauce. I LOVE sauce.

Kosher Connection Round-Up: Two Ultimate Thanksgivukkah Latke Sandwiches

17 Nov
Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

Traditions.  I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately.  My husband and I don’t really have a lot of traditions.  We’ve been together for five years and married for three and I feel strongly that that’s long enough to have some actual traditions but we just don’t have any.  I would assume that part of the reason for this is because in the 5 years we have been together and 3 years of marriage, we’ve lived in a number of cities (Jerusalem, Ann Arbor, and Miami).  We haven’t actually been anywhere long enough to set up shop and cultivate some serious traditions.  I often read or hear about families who have long-standing traditions of this or that and it sounds really, really nice.  I’d like to get me some of those traditions, if you please?

Kids: The eat for 2 minutes and play for 2 hours.

Kids: The eat for 2 minutes and play for 2 hours.

One tradition we won't drop: Mommy and Siona photo shoot on Thanksgiving (this was last year's).

One tradition we won’t drop: Mommy and Siona photo shoot on Thanksgiving (this was last year’s).

Six adults and one child ate all that delicious, homemade grub.

Six adults and one child ate all that delicious, homemade grub.

The closest thing my husband and I have come to an actual tradition is hosting Thanksgiving.  We have hosted every Thanksgiving we’ve had since moving to Miami in December of 2010; all two of them.  Each year we’ve had our dear friends (and fellow food-lovers), Adam and Francine (check out her yummy food blog here) and their son, Matan come for dinner and this year is no exception.  I have such amazingly fond memories of our Miami Thanksgivings that now, with this impending LA move on the horizon, I feel that what was to become a tradition will be bittersweet this year.  Our Miami Thanksgiving is precious.  It’s ballsy to say, but no grandparents are allowed.  It’s just my our urban family and, now that my husband’s brother and his family have moved here, siblings.  But that’s it.  We drink beers, we eat A LOT and let the kids run wild.  I have no doubts that this year will not disappoint.

Composing the Masterpiece

Composing the Masterpiece

Who needs bread?

Who needs bread?

Well folks, I think it’s safe to say that the “Thanksgivukkah” horse is dead.  It is so very, very dead.  But just in case it isn’t quite dead yet, I went ahead and accepted my own challenge of creating the ultimate Thanksgivukkah sandwich.  Actually, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I made TWO Thanksgivukkah sandwiches; one to be created using all those glorious leftovers from your Thanksgiving dinner and the other as a beautiful dessert/breakfast/side dish.  I had posted the question on the Jewhungry Facebook page of whether or not a sandwich with latkes as the ‘bun’ was too much but, come on, if you like Jewhungry on Facebook chances are, you are all in favor of a sandwich that has latkes for a bun (and chances are, we would get along swimmingly).

For the sake of my own sanity, I did not roast an entire turkey from scratch nor did I make a batch of my mom’s stuffing recipe.  Instead, I used turkey tenderloin and organic, kosher instant stuffing.  The savory sandwich was, in a word, ridconulous.  It tasted so so good.  And because I started making them at 7am on Sunday morning, my husband, baby daughter and I ate them for brunch at 11am.  This was a true labor of love.  This month’s Kosher Connection round-up theme was “Thanksgivukkah” and well, what better way to mash-up your Thanksgiving turkey and your Chanukkah latke than an actual mash-up . . . on your plate and in your belly.  Enjoy!

Just in case you need help breaking it down.

Just in case you need help breaking it down.

I think cranberry aioli is really really pretty.

I think cranberry aioli is really really pretty.

Savory Sweet + Russet Potato Thanksgivukkah Sandwich

Ingredients:

Tradition latke recipe found here
Turkey tenderloins
3 Tbsp olive oil
Rubbed sage
Garlic powder
Thyme
Pepper
Stuffing – either homemade or instant will work (you decide)
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp Canned jellied cranberry sauce w/whole cranberry chunks
1/2  lemon, juiced
Green leaf lettuce
Gravy (for the sake of my sanity and this recipe, I used instant vegetarian gravy)

How?

(I’m assuming you already having stuffing ready for sandwich-making.  This recipe does not include a stuffing recipe but there are PLENTY out there so feel free to Google).

Before you start with the latkes, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.  Wash and dry your turkey tenderloins. Lay side-by-side on the tin foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the tenderloins with olive oil and the dry spices listed above.  Using a basting brush, brush the olive oil and spices so that they are evenly dispersed on the turkey.  Put in oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  Once finished, set aside.

Find the method for the traditional savory latke recipe here.

Once you have completed making all your latkes, set to the side an start mixing your cranberry aioli.  Combine mayonnaise, cranberry jelly and lemon juice into a bowl and whisk until well combined.  Add more cranberry or mayo for your liking.

For assembly:  My husband and I are big believers in the even-spread and the importance of the art of layering a sandwich (have i mentioned that we are of nerd-like quality?).  Therefore, I recommend the following for composing your latke sandwich:

Latke Side One:  Cranberry aioli and stuffing
Latke Side Two:  Small leaf of lettuce, turkey, gravy

Lay side one onto side two and go. To. Town.

And just in case you have room for dessert . . .

And just in case you have room for dessert . . .

Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Apple Latke Sandwich with Chocolate Gelt and Coconut Milk Whipped Cream {Latke recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen}

Ingredients:

Find coconut milk whipped cream ingredients and method here.

(Makes 8 – 10 latkes)

3 Medium sweet potatoes
2 large, tart, and firm apples such as Granny Smiths
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
Sunflower oil
Dark chocolate gelt

How:

First, set up a large bowl of ice water in the sink.  You will pour the shredded sweet potatoes and apples in the ice bath immediately after shredding.

Peel and core apples and sweet potatoes.  Using the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor, shred the apples and sweet potatoes (they can be done in the same bowl). Transfer to the ice bath so as to prevent browning.  Let soak for a few minutes while you clean out your food processor.  Next, transfer to a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth sling and wring out as much juice as you can.

Transfer grated sweet potato and apple mixture to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder and toss with the sweet potatoes and apples, coating them evenly. Whisk eggs in this small dish until lightly beaten and stir into sweet potato-apple-lemon-flour mixture.

Add sunflower oil to a large frying pan that reaches a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. Scoop mixture out with large kitchen spoon (usually I loose the spoon after a while and just get in there with my hands). Squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid. (If you squeezed the potatoes out thoroughly in the cloth, you may not have much excess liquid to squeeze out).  Shape the sweet potato/apple mixture into a tightly compacted disk.

Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the “feel” for it.

The oil should sizzle, but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.

Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 2 tablespoons of mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that – don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Remove the latkes from the frying pan and let oil soak on paper towel.

For Assembly of Sandwich:

Place a chocolate gelt coin on each latke.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and either eat separately or place one on top of the other and, I don’t mean to be redundant, go. To. Town.

Why eat them separately?

Why eat them separately?

Wait for it . . .

Wait for it . . .

When you can make it a sandwich?

When you can make it a sandwich?

August Love Stories: Love Goes Gluten-Free

19 Aug
Getting goofy with my Misty Dawn.

Getting goofy with my Misty Dawn.

The third guest post in our August Love Stories comes from my beloved sister-in-law, Misty.  I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when Misty wasn’t there.  She’s been in my brother’s life since he was about 22 and I was 19.  She’s a constant in my life; I rely on her for every piece of advice I could ever need.  She’s my first call when I have a baby question.  I think I must have texted her about 20 times a week when my 1 year-old was first born.  Lucky for her, that’s gone down to at least five or six times a week now.  Her relationship with my brother was the first healthy relationship I ever really had the privilege of watching grow and mature.  Truth be told, I looked up to the relationship Misty shared with my big brother as something to aspire to.  It’s a relationship filled with love, communication, respect and loads of laughter.  Also, my brother is an entire foot taller than Misty.  Now that’s just too dang cute.

From Misty  . . .

I never said yes when he proposed.  I didn’t go wedding dress shopping.  Not even one time.   I was 24 years-old when my husband proposed and although we had been dating for three years at the time and I KNEW he was the ONE, it felt surreal.  I had just turned 21 when we met.  We had a very tumultuous dating relationship.  Now, if you go to “Uncle Google” you’ll see the definition of tumultuous is exciting, confusing, disorderly.  I can guarantee you our relationship was all three of those adjectives with a whole lot of love in between.

Five months before our engagement

Five months before our engagement

My husband, who also happens to be Whitney’s older brother, and I met in college.  But, of course we didn’t go to the same college.  That would be way too simple, and honestly we probably wouldn’t have stuck together if we did.  Our dating relationship was a long-distance one.  Our respective colleges were roughly a three-hour drive from one another.  This was also fourteen years ago, before the entire world thrived on cell phone usage and text messaging, so we actually had to really communicate with one another.  I would check my Hotmail account once a day praying an email from him would be there.  We would try and call each other as often as possible, but we were college students and long distance phone calls where you spent an hour on the phone weren’t cheap, ya’ll.  To say we had many ups and downs would be an understatement.  Long distance relationships are NOT easy, especially when you’re in college.  There were lots of road trips.   I honestly believe though, that because our relationship was long-distance and based on honest open communication while learning HOW to communicate with one another, we figured out some of the hardest parts of a partnership those first 3 years.

Eleven years later . . .

Eleven years later . . .

During one of those trips that he drove from Athens late at night, he started to run out of gas.  His car at the time constantly needed oil added, and he kept a case of oil in his trunk.  When he  realized he wasn’t going to make it all the way without adding fuel, he pulled in the gas station and quickly realized he didn’t have a single penny on him.  Luckily, he was in South Georgia and the gas station attendant let him trade the oil he had in the trunk of his car for gas!  When he finally arrived at my house, he retold the story with me laughing and feeling terrible all at the same time.  It was really late, even in college terms,  and we didn’t have a lot of food in the house. I knew he must have been hungry, so I went in the kitchen and made biscuits, he must have eaten four or five.

Our little family about 4 years ago (you can't see our baby girl.  She's strapped to my front).

Our little family about 4 years ago (you can’t see our baby girl. She’s strapped to my front).

When I graduated college I moved home to Atlanta and 5 months later he proposed.  We were engaged for exactly one year before we married.  Three years later we had a little boy, and two years after that a little girl.  Ten years of marriage and fourteen years after we met, life is wonderful, hard and busy.  Both of our kids have dietary restrictions, mainly gluten and dairy, so when it comes to cooking I have to get creative.  When we first went gluten free, the thought of not having biscuits terrified my husband.  One evening, I decided that we could have them and set out to make almond flour biscuits.  Now, these biscuits aren’t the biscuits my grandmother makes, but they are an amazing substitute for those with dietary restrictions and they are gluten and dairy free!  Every time I make biscuits, I think of my man and that long drive in the middle of the night.  It makes me smile and remember, just how far we’ve come.

Biscuits ready to be enjoyed

Biscuits ready to be enjoyed

Almond Flour Biscuits

adapted from Elana’s Pantry

What?

5 cups of blanched almond flour

1 tsp of celtic sea salt

1 tsp of baking soda

½ cup of Earth Balance natural buttery spread (soy free)

4 eggs

2 tbsp honey

How?

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium bowl combine almond flour, salt and baking soda.  In a large bowl combine Earth Balance, eggs and honey. I found it easier to mix the wet ingredients if I melted the earth balance a little.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a nice dough forms.  Line 2 baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper.  Proceed to drop biscuits onto baking sheets using a large spoon, mine are about 2 ½ inches wide and 1 ½ inches tall.  This gave me 17 biscuits total.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until biscuits are browned on the bottom edges.  Enjoy!

A biscuits best friend? Coconut-milk soaked fried chicken!

A biscuits best friend? Coconut-milk soaked fried chicken!

(Black-Eyed) Peas + Love

15 Aug
Wedding  light

Wedding
light

The third in the Jewhungry August Love Stories come courtesy of one of the blog’s co-founders, Jeremy. Jeremy is an amazing storyteller and an incredibly creative soul. I wish we were next-door neighbors. We’d probably get fired from our jobs because we’d be on our porch swings sipping spiked Arnold Palmers all day. Sounds like heaven. I dare you not to fall in love with him through his word.

It was the black-eyed peas. Isn’t that where all great Southern Romances start? They should. I guess that isn’t really where it started. But that is definitely when I knew my life was about to change. Those black-eyed peas made me open up my eyes a little wider; they made me take notice. I mean come on, y’all. A man who will hand you a bowl of black-eyed peas and a slice of cornbread when the rest of the world looks at you like you’ve lost your mind? That’s a man you need to pay attention to, that is a man you should keep. If I were Scarlett O’Hara I would have required a fainting couch. Instead I grabbed my bowl of peas, took in a deep breath, gave a wry-smile and went on my lunch break.

Love is Funny

Love is Funny

Whitney's Wedding Weekend (say that 10 times fast)

Whitney’s Wedding Weekend (say that 10 times fast)

I started working in a restaurant during graduate school because that’s what graduate acting students are supposed to do. Actors work in restaurants. I guess actors are really supposed to be waiters, but I am far too clumsy to jump in the deep end like that. Honestly, I’m as likely to fall down as I am to take another breath. Volunteering to carry a tray full of drinks would be disastrous for everyone involved. I needed to work up to something like that, so I started out in the shallow end as a host.

Being a host at a busy downtown Chicago restaurant is not as glamorous as it may sound. Aside from looking up and having Maya Angelou or some hot baseball player in my face, there wasn’t a lot to brag about. Why do people act like fools when they go out to eat? Working at that welcome desk was like working in a pressure cooker. There was always a new drama, someone was always upset and everyone was hungry. It was pretty miserable.

When I look back on that time in my life it’s pretty clear to me that I had “dropped my basket.” Why did I stand at that desk night after night after night organizing a dining room for $12 an hour? Oh, right. It was so I could avoid thinking about how my life was in the toilet. I had moved to Chicago to study theatre. Exciting! I had arrived with a boyfriend and a plan. By the time I got out of school I had no boyfriend and my only plan was to not end up back in Arkansas with my parents. Everything had changed and it was not necessarily for the better. I should probably have been doing something more productive with my time than handing out menus and putting asses in chairs, but I couldn’t. I was stuck.

By the time Andy arrived I had almost given up. This was it. I would just be a host for the rest of my life. There are worse things. There are far worse jobs. I wasn’t a garbage man. Being a garbage man is worse than being a host, right?

I noticed Andy on his first day of training because I had never seen a restaurant manager smile so much. He was like a little miniature Sun. He was glowing. When you’re training to be a manager in a restaurant they make you work in all of the different departments. It’s supposed to help you become acquainted with how everything works. It’s mostly just low level torture.

His first week of training was in the kitchen. There he was behind the line in his little chef’s outfit smiling like a dang crazy person. No one has ever looked so happy standing in front of 1400 degree charcoal grills. No. One.

I was on my lunch break and was super excited because we had a new special. It was pork medallions over a bed of greens and black eyed peas. The only trouble was I didn’t want the pork. I just wanted a huge bowl of those black eyed peas and a slice of cornbread. It reminded me of home. I was willing to pay whatever I had to for those peas. I placed my order and waited.

The Chef came over to me.

You want the pork special without the meat?

Yep. I just want the black eyed peas.

Just black eyed peas? That doesn’t make any sense.

I’m from the South. That’s how we do. Is it a problem?

No.

Thank you.

I waited. My order did not come up. Finally I took matters into my own hands. I walked over to the only friendly face in the kitchen. I explained my order to Andy and explained the situation. I had paid for the peas, I just needed somebody to make them happen.

You just want a bowl of black eyed peas?

Yes, please.

Ummm. Okay.

I watched as he walked over to where the peas were kept. He took a bowl, filled it and handed it to me. I smiled and walked away.

I smiled because in that moment I knew that I had just met my husband. I know it sounds goofy, but it’s true. I knew when he handed me those black eyed peas that it was done. There were years between this moment and our first date. Years. I was not ready to be dating someone and he was in a relationship. That was…almost 10 years ago?

I am always on a quest to add meaning to what is happening in my life. How did this happen? What does that mean? I really believe that Gd is sending us messages all the time. I’m constantly trying to figure out what they are. What is He trying to tell me? I ended up working in that restaurant for a lot of reasons. I met wonderful people, I had amazing experiences. I learned so much about myself and about how the world works. That restaurant helped me to become a grown up. When I really think about that place, what I know for sure is that it brought me my husband. Yeah. Gd works in mysterious ways.

Give Peas a Chance

Give Peas a Chance

Hoppin’s John

WHAT:

1 large yellow onion chopped (whatever kind of onion you love can be used)
3 carrots chopped
3 celery sticks chopped
2 15oz cans of black eyed peas
1 15oz can of whole kernel corn
2 10oz cans of Rotel (I’m from the South, ya’ll)
10 oz frozen Lima beans thawed (you can used canned if you like)
2 cups rice (I use brown rice because Dr. Oz says so…2 bags of Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice will do the trick)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

HOW:

Whisk olive oil and vinegar together in a small bowl and set aside.

Everything good starts with a fried onion, y’all. Fry the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil until tender. You don’t want these veggies crunch and you don’t want them mushy. It’s a delicate balance. Do what’s right for you. I don’t think this takes more than 5ish minutes.

Hot and Fresh

Hot and Fresh

I use a lot of canned veggies because I’m always in a hurry. You can use frozen veggies if that’s your thing. The measurements aren’t hard and fast rules. Don’t be scared to experiment with the amounts of stuff you’ve got. Mix your fried onion/carrot/celery goodness with the black eyed peas and other veggies. Combine everything until you’ve got a real good distribution of all of the ingredients. Toss in the oil & vinegar mixture. Stir that around until everything is coated. Add salt and black pepper to your liking. This makes a really great vegetarian dinner or side dish. Enjoy!

Flamingos + Pizza + Babies. Now That’s a Party

13 Aug
Someone was bound to get naked.  Oh, also celebrating one of the few pictures where I'm not DROWNING in sweat. Dang Miami.

Someone was bound to get naked. Oh, also celebrating one of the few pictures where I’m not DROWNING in sweat. Dang Miami.

I survived my child’s first birthday. I survived and I thrived. And let’s be honest, the only reason it was a little bit stressed was me. I can’t do ‘simple’. I really can’t. It’s not in my DNA. Gd bless you if you can do simple. I admire and salute you but I just can’t do it. I mean, you should have seen my Bat Mitzvah. Of course there was a theme (Hollywood). Of course there was a color scheme (black, silver and magenta) and of course, there was a DJ who dressed up like Michael Jackson and did an entire choreographed dance to a medley of Michael Jackson through the years. I mean, this was THE Bat Mitzvah to end all Bat Mitzvahs. So you see, the daughter raised by a mother who bought life-size cut-outs of movie stars and a hot pink sequenced top hats and feather boas as decoration for her daughter’s Jewish coming-of-age party wasn’t going to grow up to tread lightly into her own child’s birthday parties. Oh no. Not a chance.

Grain-free peppermint chocolate chip brownies. One of my most requested recipes.

Grain-free peppermint chocolate chip brownies. One of my most requested recipes.

There was a theme (retro-Palm-Springs-tacky-chic). There was kind of a color scheme (pink, yellow, green). I had made all the decorations, from the “Happy Birthday” sign to gluing about 50 individual sea horse cut out onto toothpicks for cupcake toppers. Part of the reason I made everything is because I can’t in good conscience pay $10 for a happy birthday sign when I can pay less to make my own. Same goes with the cupcake toppers. Paying for things I can make hurts my insides a little so, of course I had to make that stuff. And of course, I made the food. Oh the food. The baking/cooking started at 8:45 on Saturday night and didn’t stop until 1:55 on Sunday afternoon (the party started at 2PM). My husband and I went back and forth with what to serve folks for a late afternoon party — I wanted to go dairy so that I could do dairy cupcakes. We settled on homemade pizzas of varying fun flavors coupled with your usual hummus, veggies, fruit, etc. I also made mini strawberry cupcakes using the Sprinkles Cupcakes recipe, which I highly recommend. And since we have a few loved ones with a grain-free diet, I ended up making mini grain-free pizzas using roasted eggplant and zucchinis as the ‘crust’ as well as grain-free, vegan peppermint chocolate chip brownie bites (I used my own brownie bites recipe, found here, and took out the oats and added a few drops of peppermint oil and vegan chocolate chips). All-in-all, I felt really proud of the party we created to celebrate the first year of life of our sweet girl. But honestly, I do love the planning and the arts and crafts and whatnot but that’s not why I do it all. I go through all this big planning because I also want to celebrate the people who helped make her first year of life so frikkin’ wonderful. Yes, I do love a good theme party and yes, I love cooking for people but more than anything, I love showing the people in our lives my ever-lasting appreciation through food and through taking care of them, even if it is for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. My hope is that they walked away knowing that I love them for loving our girl. And if they happened to take a few dozen extra mini cupcakes away with them as well, that’d be OK too.

Below is a photo journal of the party as well as a few recipes I created for our dear friends. I hope you enjoy!

Grain-free Pizzas

Ingredients:

1 large roasted eggplant OR 1 large, thick zucchini cut into 1.5 inch thick rounds
Marinara Sauce
Cheese of choice
Fresh basil
Oil for baking sheet

How:

Cut eggplants into 1.5 inch rounds and dust with coarse kosher salt. Leave on for an hour to draw out moisture. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Pat down with paper towel. Place on greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for roughly 30 minutes – keep eye out for over-browning. Once roasted, top with sauce and cheese — I used a standard marinara and topped some with sheep’s milk feta and some with mozzarella. Top with chopped fresh basil.

Out of the oven

Out of the oven

So. Much. Cooking.

So. Much. Cooking.

I made 3 different kinds of pizzas using puffed pastry dough as the crust — I couldn’t make the crust too. I wasn’t that much of a glutton for punishment. Anyway, the toppings were as follows:

1) Tomato sauce with mozzarella, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and fresh basil

2) Tomato sauce with mozzarella, sheep’s milk feta and corn

3) BBQ Sauce, black peppercorn Monterrey Jack with caramelized purple onions

Roasted eggplant and garlic pizza.

Roasted eggplant and garlic pizza.

My 1 year old

My 1 year old

We still have 30 of these in our refrigerator

We still have 30 of these in our refrigerator

My Queen

My Queen

Just a bunch of moms being awesome by the pool

Just a bunch of moms being awesome by the pool

They really have no clue what's going on

They really have no clue what’s going on

Ice-cold beverage, anyone?

Ice-cold beverage, anyone?

After an hour in the pool, she was ready to party.

After an hour in the pool, she was ready to party.

Aunt Misty was there too! I bet she didn't even know it.

Aunt Misty was there too! I bet she didn’t even know it.

Seriously, Uncle Mo, do my shades make me look too ironic?

Seriously, Uncle Mo, do my shades make me look too ironic?

Cupcake ecstasy

Cupcake ecstasy

I'm not sure what it is, maybe it's the beard, but Siona is captivated by Zak.

I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s the beard, but Siona is captivated by Zak.

One of those people I hope I can at least make half as happy as she makes me.

One of those people I hope I can at least make half as happy as she makes me.

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