Tag Archives: miami

Flourless Chunky Monkey Brownie Cookies – Bring. It.

29 Jan

cookies 9

There’s an understanding in the general outside world that Jews don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Rather, religiously observant Jews don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.  And this is true though, again, I’m speaking in general.  My husband and I aren’t big on it.  What with the whole “St.” Valentine thing and whatnot, it’s just generally accepted as something the ‘goyim’ do.  However, I grew up ‘celebrating’ and loving Valentine’s Day and to be honest, I still do.  I have rather fond memories from elementary school that have all kind of become jumbled in my head as one big heart-shaped, pink doily.  By the time I reached high school, being a nerd and all, I’m pretty sure Valentine’s Day was spent with my beloved girls friends.  We probably went to our local Chili’s and drowned our love-sorrows in sweet tea and queso dip all the while saying how we didn’t need a boyfriend but secretly wishing we could at least experience ONE Valentine’s Day with a boy.  I do have vivid memories of a Valentine’s Day spent during my senior year with my dear friend, Allison.  I believe we had dinner at La Madeleine (Do those still exist?!) followed by a romantic viewing of Lethal Weapon 4 (I had a thing for Mel Gibson in high school all thanks to a kilt, a Scottish accent and some blue face paint—shalom, Braveheart. Of course that crush was quickly squelched after the whole Passion of the Christ incident). What can I say? We lived large.

flourless brownie cookies kosher jewhungry

As high school came and went and I entered college, Valentine’s Day got kicked up a notch.  There was this one Valentine’s Day my Freshman year when I went to a fancy restaurant with a very sweet guy who proceeded to shower me with gifts so obviously I dropped him the next day.  Dating ineptitude-aside, I honestly have to say that my favorite Valentine’s Day memory involves my first real boyfriend.  We were together for 3 years and our first Valentine’s Day together he got me the usual–roses, chocolate, etc. But the piece de resistance came in the form of a homemade card that had pictures of my favorite neo-soul/hip-hop artists from that time on it (read: D’Angelo and Q-Tip) wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day.  I mean, he nailed it with that one.

flourless brownie cookies kosher jewhungry

But my husband didn’t grow up with Valentine’s Day and so we just don’t get on the Valentine’s Day-train.  Now, that being said, it doesn’t mean I still don’t love the hearts, the doilies and, of course, the fact that food plays a very big role in the celebration of the day.  It also doesn’t mean that, one day, if my beloved husband decided he wanted to come home with roses or, you know, diamonds on Valentine’s Day I’d turn them away.  It just means that we share our love for one another each and every day (OK, maybe not EACH and every day) and if it happens to be on a day dedicated to St. Valentine, then so be it.

Presto, change-o: 15 minutes later you have yumminess

Presto, change-o: 15 minutes later you have yumminess

flourless brownie cookies kosher jewhungry

Try them with some milk, perhaps?

Ok, this recipe. This recipe! It’s quick.  It’s flourless.  It’s easy.  That being said, because it’s flourless, they do become a bit crumbly over time so do try to eat them within a few days of baking, which shouldn’t be a problem because they are that good.

Just so we’re clear . . .

Flourless Chunky Monkey Brownie Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar (use gluten-free if you need)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup banana chips

How:

1) Preheat to 350°. Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in egg whites and egg; fold in chocolate chips, banana chips, and walnuts. Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.

2) Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, 14–16 minutes.

3)Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they’ll firm up).

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.

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

Shakshuka: Meal of my heart.

24 Dec

shakshuka title

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

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

punk-jewhungry-blog

Watch out, she’ll get ya.

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

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

Not quite tall enough, but almost there.

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

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

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

A perfect pair.

A perfect pair.

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

It’s about to get egg-y in here.

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

Step 1

Step 1

Step Two

Step Two

Step Three

Step Three

Almost There

Almost There

So Close

So Close

Nailed It.

Nailed It.

Shakshuka with Feta and Cilantro

Ingredients:

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

How’s That Now?

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

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

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

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

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Pretty, pretty shakshuka

Finally, we can eat.

Finally, we can eat.

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.

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?

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.

Potato Latkes with Sriracha Cheddar Sauce

3 Nov

latke 9I love Shabbat.  I love it so much.  With a job that requires A LOT of giving and taking care of others, my need for ‘me’ time and being able to be with my hubby and daughter is invaluable.  As a result, I get a little selfish with my Shabbat.  I don’t like sharing my Shabbat time.  I want to be able to sleep when I want, eat when I want and relax on my time-table (well, the time-table that is Siona’s time-table, but whatever).  I get kind of sweaty when a proposal is made to go out for Shabbat, even if the invitation is from a loved-one.  I can’t help it.  My first thought is generally whether or not the host will have coffee and then that thought is quickly followed by a frantic search for my ear plugs in case there is some sort of noise-issue that I’ll need to cancel out (I’ve mentioned my anxiety before, right?) Anywho, a happy compromise of my own selfish need to NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE for one whole day has resulted in inviting our loved ones to us.  It works out perfectly.  I get to cook, sleep in my own bed and I KNOW there will be coffee. This Shabbat we hosted our dear friends, Zak and Batsheva (they happen to be bakers.  They happen to have brought AMAZING food with them).  It was a wonderful Shabbat.  I am so grateful.

Almost bedtime

This picture has no context within this post. I just love that face.

Adjustments.

Sand check.

And yet, here it is, 2pm on Sunday and all that rest from Shabbat has gone out the window.  Thanks to the awesomeness that is the ending of Daylight Savings Time, Siona woke up at ‘new’ 5:30.  Rather than wallowing in being awake WAY too early, we decided to make some delicious lemonade out of extremely tired lemons and hit the beach for a sunrise picnic breakfast.  So yes, it’s 2pm, I’ve already lost any remaining ‘restful’ feeling I may have had from this past Shabbat but I’m already in love with this weekend so much.  And if an amazing picnic breakfast wasn’t enough, we topped this off with an insanely decadent lunch of latkes with Sriracha cheddar sauce.  I’m sure I’ve written about my insane love of cheese fries before, right?  Just as a recap, I love them.  I love them so much. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well if you love them so much, why don’t you just marry them?”  I would.  I would so marry cheese fries.  It had been a while since I enjoyed a nice basket of cheese fry-glory and my craving was getting intense.  And then it hit me.  Holy crap.  Latkes.  Thanksgivukkah is just around the corner.  I need to get a latke recipe out there and latkes are basically Jewish French fries.  Might as well make some latkes and top them with a boat-load of cheddar sauce so, badda boom badda bing, latkes with cheddar sauce. And while I was on the subject, might as well throw some Sriracha in there and make it a party, right? Right.

Hello lemons, meet your lemonade.

Hello lemons, meet your lemonade.

And now for your latke-viewing pleasure . . .

The cold soak prevents browning -- it's a MUST.

The cold soak prevents browning — it’s a MUST.

Fried Friends

Fried Friends

Nothing left to say.

Nothing left to say.

latke 4

Bring it on.  Bring it ALL on.

Bring it on. Bring it ALL on.

We survived.  Let's get decadent.

We survived. Let’s get decadent.

Potato Latkes with Sriracha Cheddar Sauce (latke recipe adapted from The Shiksa )

Latke Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Sunflower oil for frying (about 1 1/2 cups)

Latke Directions:

Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes (small shreds). I really recommend using the food processor, it saves a ton of time and will help you avoid onion tears when grating the onion.  Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.

Meanwhile, grate the onion using the same grater or attachment you used for the potatoes (fine holes for small shreds).  Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.  Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.

Pour potato and onion into the clean dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.

Add oil to a large frying pan that reaches a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the matzo meal, , beaten eggs, Sriracha, garlic powder, salt and pepper into the potato and onion shreds. You can add more seasoning as you go.  I find the oil over powers so I add more seasoning as I go. You can also sprinkle on more salt to taste after cooking, if desired. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.

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 potato 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 potato 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. Note: If your latkes aren’t holding together, stir more matzo meal into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the batter “holds”. You can also add another egg, if needed.  Remove the latkes from the frying pan and let oil soak on paper towel.

Sriracha Cheddar Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (add more as needed)

How:

Melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; whisk continuously until smooth, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 3  minutes.

Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more.  Stir in the Sriracha until well combined.  Taste and add more Sriracha as needed.

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.

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