Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Leftover Latkes

11 Dec
Fourth Night Chanukah

Fourth Night Chanukah

I need creativity in my life. When I was growing up I was exposed to various forms of the arts—from art camp in downtown Atlanta to spending 8 years playing the viola and longer than that in musical theater. I was that right-brained child who couldn’t take an open-note Pre-Algebra test and pass but could memorize all my lines as the lead in a show. If it wasn’t obviously creative, than I wasn’t interested in it. This kind of creative world hit a peak in college when all of a sudden I was exposed to music of all sorts (shalom Ani DiFranco! What can I say, it was the late 90s and I was in a liberal arts college), plays, writers, musicians, and goth kids who turned the word ‘gargoyle’ into a verb. It was so exciting. However, as time has gone on and I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to work extra hard to be that immersed in creativity. In my 20s I was too busy moving around from city to city and from job to job in an attempt to ‘find’ myself to have that kind of all-consuming creativeness in my life. I had long put the viola down once I got a theater scholarship to college and was told I had to be in a show a quarter so there was no time to rehearse for a show and orchestra. When it came time to move to Israel in 2008, I made the devastating decision to actually sell that beautiful instrument (I die a little inside every time I think about it). And though that Israel trip led me to my incredible husband and subsequent child, I still have regrets. I’m haunted by dreams that I’m still in my beloved high school orchestra even to this day. I think it’s my subconscious trying to make me feel guilty for selling my viola and can I just say, it’s working.

Siona and me chanukah

By the time I started preparing for my Israel trip, so we’re talking around 2007, I was working at a non-profit in Chicago by day and working at a bar by night and with the ever busy social life of a 20-something in Chicago, there wasn’t any time for a true creative outlet. Aside from a few open-mic nights here and there, I was creatively starved. By the time I made it to Israel and found myself 5 minutes from the shuk, I had decided cooking would be my creative outlet and my new boyfriend (now husband) was my unwitting guinea pig. Now please keep in mind, my diet as a single, broke, lifetime Jewish communal non-profit employee ranged from veggie hot dogs, spaghetti, and salad to anything Trader Joe’s had in their ready-made freezer section. If that doesn’t help paint the picture of my cooking ineptitude then can I just tell you that the first time I attempted to make potato salad I didn’t realize you had to boil the potatoes first so I just cut up raw potatoes, added mayonnaise and wondered to myself, “Hmm, these potatoes seem kind of difficult to chew.” Now I actually consider myself a smart woman, but clearly, when it came to food, I was an absolute moron.

So, there I was living in Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from the largest selection of the freshest food I’ve ever been around, I got this cute new boyfriend and a new found thing called Shabbat in my life and all were begging for me to pick up the saucepan and start cooking. The first thing I cooked for new boyfriend/now husband was an omelette. He likes to tell how it was so incredibly doused in oil it could have greased an entire car engine so that was it for eggs. I tried making quiche in ready-made crusts but didn’t realize that maybe I shouldn’t use the ready-made graham cracker crusts and I DEFINITELY shouldn’t put them in the oven. You get the picture. Inept.

Grapes in the Shuk in Jerusalem

Grapes in the Shuk in Jerusalem

Olives in the Shuk

Olives in the Shuk

I tell you all this because where I’ve come in the kitchen makes me proud of me. I went in stubborn and terrified thinking soup is nearly impossible to make from scratch and now I’m in there with no recipes; only a hand mixer, some veggie broth and anything I can find in my fridge. I’ve truly come a long way and today’s Chanukah recipe is an example of my kitchen growth. It’s what happened when I discovered an insane amount of leftover cooked brown rice, some homemade cilantro sauce and a few other leftovers from this passed Shabbat. Most importantly, it’s the result of sitting at a stop light on the way back from work thinking, “I can do this. I can make up a recipe”. Of course any one can make up a recipe, but can you make one up that results in now husband exclaiming over and over again how good it is? I think not.

Southwestern Brown Rice Latkes with Cilantro Cream Sauce

Brown Rice Latkes

What?!

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 bunch washed and chopped cilantro
1 bunch washed and chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
1/8 cup green chiles (optional)
3 large eggs – beaten
Panko bread crumbs
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Garlic Powder
Canola Oil
Avocado for garnish

How’s That Now?!

Places all ingredients except for canola oil in a bowl and mix well. Please note that I do not recommend a measurement for spices because spices are subject to taste when it comes to latkes. Additionally, I started out with a little bit and kept adding as it was clear after tasting my first latke that you can lose the flavor to the strength of the fried rice so really, the more, the merrier (though careful with that salt, ya’ll).

Bowl of pre-latke goodness

Bowl of pre-latke goodness

Green Stuff

Green Stuff

Heat gobs of canola oil in a saucepan. Do not start your frying until you know it’s good and hot. Once oil is ready, use a large table spoon to make a golf ball sized ball out of the mixture. Place in frying pan and gently pat down until about 1/2 inch thick. Your brown rice latke will not stay together unless the it’s good and thick. Let cook on each side until golden brown, at least 2 -3 minutes. Transfer to towel lined plate for oil soaking to commence. Repeat until all mixture is done. Garnish with sliced avocado.

Delicious Latkes Complete

Delicious Latkes Complete

Bonus points for plating

Bonus points for plating

Cilantro Cream Sauce

What?!

  • 1 (8oz) Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 (7oz) can tomatillo sauce or salsa (same thing, different companies label them different)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2-4 jalapenos, seeded (or leave the seeds in for extra heat)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • the juice of half a lime

How’s That Now?!

Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting seal, and refrigerate for up to 1-2 weeks. adapted from http://www.mrshappyhomemaker.com

Not Yo Mama’s Roasted Chicken

10 Apr

You ever get sick of eating? Sometimes, and this is weird because clearly I love LOVE love eating, I just get sick of eating.  I’ve decided that my occasional disinterest in food generally correlates to a lack of creative outlet in my life.  This is not rocket science, I realize that.  Right?  When we’re lacking in passion or creativity in one aspect of our lives it permeates the rest of our lives?  You ever notice that? At work, I find myself buried under paperwork and scheduling and emails and if I’m not careful, the lack of creativity that comes from that kind of work can just suck the life out of everything else (thus the reason for this blog).  I notice this the most around shabbat dinner prep time.  Usually, I start planning the menu around Wednesday so we can go shopping on Thursday evening.  But, those days when all I want to make is salad, roast a chicken and call it a day usually means the creative passion needs a good kick in the pants.  So, last shabbat, that kick in the pants was to liven up said roast chicken.

The husband and I recently made a trip out to Teaneck, NJ to visit the family and ended up stocking up on some of our most favorite items at Trader Joe’s (a wonderful grocery store with a surprising amount of kosher options).  Now granted, Miami has it’s fair share of kosher grocery stores but food is crazy expensive in Florida so a chance to stock up at TJ’s was not to be missed.  One of the items we purchased was their sun dried tomatoes.  Delicious.  So, when the following shabbat came around, armed with chicken and said sun dried tomatoes, I set out to make sundried tomato pesto roast chicken and damn, was it good.

Ready for the oven

Now, let’s keep it real, this is not the most difficult recipe in the world.  But, I figured, with Passover right around the corner and the daunting task of making food taste good and interesting without beans, wheat, corn, etc., I figured I’d share.  The secret to this recipe is freshness and the even spread.  When you’re spreading the sun dried tomato mixture into the chicken, you’re gonna have to get over yourself get in there–I mean get under that skin nice and good.

What?

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 (5-pound) whole chicken
  • How?

    1. In a food processor, pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper a few times until coarsely chopped. With processor running, slowly add olive oil until combined.
    2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
    3. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Completely cover with pesto, lifting skin on top of breast and rubbing underneath the skin as well. Loosely cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast for about 1 hour.***
    4. Carve into pieces and serve.

    ***I got in there and basted a little bit even though the recipe did not call for basting.  I have a very strong fear of dried out chicken (dried out chicken and heights–what are ya gonna do!?).  I’m not sure this is necessary but the chicken was super juicy and delicious.

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