Kid-friendly recipes

Fan Potatoes and Family Memories

fan potatoes.jpg

When I was young, I vividly remember my mother preparing fan potatoes.  She did not serve them often.  They were a rare treat.

I can picture in my mind how the potatoes fanned out and how delicious they were: crisp on the outside. soft and buttery on the inside.  The fins of each fan potato created pockets of crispy caramelized deliciousness.  They were simple and perfectly salted.

After I had my own children, I asked my mother for the fan potatoes recipe.  My mother returned my request with a blank stare.

How did she not remember preparing or serving them?  They conjured such fond memories for me.  How could she not recall?  Worse yet, how could she not find the recipe?

Now that I have my own kitchen, I understand.  There are countless recipes that I made for a time and then forgot about.  Some of those for-a-time recipes were even shared with friends and they have found a permanent place in their homes.  How many times does someone mention that they still prepare my cranberry mold or my chocolate mousse cake and I have no recollection of preparing it, serving it or sharing the recipe?

A few years ago, one of my friends shared a cranberry-oatmeal souffle recipe with me.  I later found the same recipe that I had written in my own handwriting thirty years ago!

Despite it all, I was determined to recreate those fan potatoes of my childhood.  It is one those truly simple to wow recipes.  It has become part of my own family’s memory bank…and it is a here-to-stay recipe.

Yields 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS

Potatoes, scrubbed or peeled
Kosher or pink Himalayan salt salt
fresh garlic or minced garlic  (optional)
Olive oil or cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Grease/spray cookie sheet or line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Half potatoes lengthwise. Place potato halves flat side down on cookie sheet.  Cut slits in each potato half starting at the round side but not cutting all the way through to the flat bottom.  If using garlic, coarsely chop and place between potato slits.

Drizzle lightly or spray generously with oil.  Sprinkle salt over the tops of the potatoes.

Roast in the oven for 45-65 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Potatoes should be golden brown when ready.

NOTES

These fan potatoes are best when eaten right away.  I usually prepare them late Friday afternoon and set them on the counter.  Most of them are devoured before Shabbos even begins.  The few that are left are still delicious for Friday night dinner, served hot.

Potatoes may be peeled or just scrubbed for this recipe.  Scrubbed potatoes will achieve a more rustic looking result, while the peeled potatoes will achieve a more refined result. They are delicious both ways!

Any potatoes may be used, but the results will differ.  Let your taste buds decide which type of potato is your favorite for this recipe.  Higher starch potatoes like Idaho or Russet will yield a firmer and mealier inside texture.  Lower starch potatoes like Red or Yukon Gold will yield a softer and creamier inside texture.

I have also served this recipe as an hors d’oeuvre using small potatoes and interesting toothpicks. It is simply delicious and beautiful both ways!

Kaitlyn’s Simple and Delicious Chili Recipe

Kaitlyn loves to make chili for her family.    Her husband, Aaron, has some Texas roots and that may account for her family’s penchant for chili.

Aaron loves his chili with plenty of cayenne pepper and Avigail and Yehuda don’t seem to mind the heat in their chili, either.

Kaitlyn refers to their chili as cholent (traditional beef stew served on Shabbos) and the kids devour it.    After all cholent is a beef casserole and so is chili.  Perhaps we can even consider cholent to be a Shabbos chili.

If  prefer milder chili, you can easily adjust or eliminate the hot pepper, chili seasoning and cayenne pepper to accommodate your heat index.

This recipe has become of of my favorites because it is simple to prepare and can be served in so many ways.  Best of all, it freezes well.

chili-up-close

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Passover Meat Muffins

meat muffins

During the past March snowstorm, I began cooking for Pesach.

One of my favorite shortcuts is to prepare one batter and then use it to prepare a host of different menu items.  This time, I prepared one ground beef batter and used it to prepare baked meatballs, stuffed cabbage and these delicious and adorable meat muffins,

Meat muffins are just individual meatloaves prepared in round ramekins and topped with mashed potato or sweet potato icing.  They are whimsical enough to entice the children and delicious enough for even the adults to try.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 Passover crumbs
1-2 onions, grated or diced small
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons minced or granulated garlic
1 small can of tomato sauce or paste
1 squirt of ketchup

Mashed Potato Icing

4 large potatoes or sweet potatoes
½ cup vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

SUPPLIES

Piping Set for Icing
Disposable Ramekins
Wilton Large Piping Tip Set
Heavy Duty 16″ Disposable Piping Bags
Wood and Silicone Spatula
jumbo zipper bags

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large mixing bowl or extra large ziploc bag, combine all ingredients, kneading until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

Using a Wood and Silicone Spatula, press meat batter into individual ramekins or disposable round ramekins.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until meat muffins are no longer pink in center.  Pour grease off of each ramekin right after removing from the oven.

Cool to room temperature before icing.

Mashed Potato Icing

Peel and dice potatoes or sweet potatoes.   Steam or boil until soft.  Drain, then add oil and liquid.

Mash until smooth and creamy but stiff enough to spread or pipe onto the Meat Cupcakes. To pipe, fill piping bag fitted with tip or large ziploc bag with one cut corner.

NOTES

You can use any combination of ground veal, ground lamb, ground chicken and/or ground turkey.

TIPS

Double or triple the meatball batter and use to make meatloaf, stuffed cabbage and baked meatballs.

Mixing the meatball batter by hand is best, but if you would rather not, use a jumbo zipper bag instead.  Just place all ingredients inside bag and close zipper, releasing any air.  Knead batter from the outside of the bag.

To fill mashed potato icing most easily and without making much of a mess, cuff bag over tall jar or glass.  Use a stiff rubber spatula to load puree into piping bag or zipper bag.

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Passover Baked Meatballs

The Pesach (Passover) marathon has begun!

Now that Purim is behind us, the supermarkets have started to stock Kosher for Passover meats and ingredients.  To add another element of excitement, right before Purim we were advised that a Nor’easter was due to hit the Northeast two days after Purim.

Most people ran out to stock up on food supplies, snow equipment and salt.

I stocked up on Kosher for Passover meat and staples, instead.  After all, a Nor’easter would mean that I could cook all day in my pajamas with no deliveries, meetings or other responsibilities.

I cooked eleven large roasts, 48 stuffed cabbage, 16 meat cupcakes and 80 baked meatballs. Best part was that I had the most beautiful backdrop of white snow to gaze at as I was cooking, slicing and packaging everything for the freezer.

baked-meatballs

And, I finished just in time to get the snowblower out of the garage to clear the 18 inches of snow that had fallen while I was cooking for Passover.

Sure hope that spring arrives soon!

For this Pesach cooking marathon, I tripled this recipe.   From this basic batch, I made Passover meat cupcakes and stuffed cabbage with only minor modifications.  Stay tuned for these Passover recipes, too.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup Passover crumbs
1-2 onions, grated or diced small
2-3 garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons minced or granulated garlic
1 small can of tomato sauce or paste
1 squirt of ketchup

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In large mixing bowl or extra large ziploc bag, combine all ingredients, kneading until just combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

Form into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter and place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center. Skim meatballs off of the pan, leaving grease behind.

Cool and use with your favorite sauce recipe.

NOTES

You can use any combination of ground veal, ground lamb, ground chicken and/or ground turkey.

These meatballs freeze well.  Just place in zipper freezer bags and freeze.  Add sauce after removing from freezer.  Bake frozen meatballs with sauce at 375 degrees F for at least 45 minutes.

TIPS

Double or triple the meatball batter and use to make meatloaf, stuffed cabbage and meat muffins.

Mixing the meatball batter by hand is best, but if you would rather not, use a jumbo zipper bag instead.  Just place all ingredients inside bag and close zipper, releasing any air.  Knead batter from the outside of the bag.

PASSOVER SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Serve over a bed of quinoa, prepared in rice cooker with salt pepper and garlic.

Serve over a bed of raw or quickly sauteed spiralized zucchini, turnips, kohlrabi  or beets.

Serve over a bed of spaghetti squash “noodles”.  Scrub and cut spaghetti squash in half. Place cut-side down on greased foil-lined pan or on parchment-lined pan.  Bake at 400 degrees F for one hour.  Carefully remove seeds and scrape out spaghetti squash noodles with a fork.  Discard spaghetti squash skin.

 

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Simplest Sesame Noodles

sesame-noodlesWhen looking for a pareve and delicious pasta dish, this is my go-to recipe.  It started out as a Kosher by Design recipe and I have adapted and simplified it over the years.  It is still a winner and  the perfect pasta dish.  To upgrade this dish in the simplest way, I use interesting pasta shapes like trumpet-shaped Gigli or hollow Bucatini strands.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of pasta
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
2-3 crushed garlic cloves or 2 tablespoons garlic
drizzle of honey or agave syrup
sprinkle of sesame seeds
3-4 scallions or red onions, sliced or diced(optional)

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the pasta al dente.  Drizzle and sprinkle soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and honey or agave right on top of pasta.  Toss well.   Sprinkle  sesame seeds and scallions on top before serving.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cupcake Toppers

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-unbaked

Sweet potato is a simple and versatile ingredient that is available year-round. Even the humble sweet potato can be easily dressed up. Its gorgeous orange color, its sweet flavor and its creamy smooth texture make this recipe a masterpiece.

I have called this recipe “sweet potato cupcake toppers” because the mashed sweet potato pipes so beautifully that it looks ready to top a cupcake. The elegance of the star-tip piping makes such a beautifully presented side-dish.

But, don’t let the beautiful color and presentation of these toppers fool you.

The elegance of this dish is paralleled only by the impressive taste and texture. The natural sweetness and of the sweet potato is intensified by roasting the raw sweet potato and then adding honey or agave syrup. The baking of these piped cupcake toppers create a light and crispy ouer shell, while the inside retains a soft, creamy texture.

These sweet potato toppers add a touch of elegance to any meal, but are actually simple to prepare. I have used a large star tip to pipe them, but they can be easily piped from a zipper bag with the corner cut, as well.

This recipe will wow your guests and only you will know how simple they were to prepare.

INGREDIENTS
4-5 sweet potatoes

1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
dash of salt and pepper

 

SUPPLIES

Cuisinart Stainless 14 cup Food Processor

Wilton Large Piping Tip Set

Heavy Duty 16″ Disposable Piping Bags

Wood and Silicone Spatula

 

DIRECTIONS

Roast sweet potatoes at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Sweet potatoes are ready when the outside is soft and there is a gap between the peel and the inside pulp. Allow to cool and then carefully peel away the skin.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-roasted-sweet-potatoes

Using the s-blade in the food processor, pulse sweet potato pulp, egg, olive oil, syrup or honey and salt until puree is smooth and creamy.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-puree-in-food-processor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a large piping bag fitted with a star tip or a zipper bag with sweet potato puree.  To do this most easily and without making much of a mess, cuff bag over tall jar or glass.  Use a stiff rubber spatula to load puree into piping or zipper bag.

If not using a tip, cut corner of bag. Squeeze air out of the top of the bag and twist top of bag shut.  Push puree to tip or cut corner.  Pipe sweet potato puree  onto parchment paper.

sweet-potato-cupcake-toppers-unbaked

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Sweet Potato toppers should be slightly firm and dry on top when ready.

Voila!

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Onion Mac and Cheese with Crumb Topping

Mac and Cheese is real comfort food and is always welcome in our home.  Last Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night, lit. Shabbos exit), I prepared this delicious macaroni and cheese dish for ourselves and our favorite Shabbos guest, James.

On Saturday nights, we enjoy a Melave Malka meal as we escort the regal Shabbos out of our homes.    Motzei Shabbas is a time when we transition from the holiness of Shabbos into the more mundane everyday spirit of the week.  The Melave Malka (lit: escorting the queen) meal helps us bid farewell to the Shabbos queen and lets us hold on to the last  bit of Shabbos as we welcome the new week. 

The Melave Malka is typically a dairy meal after the heavier meat meals that we enjoy during the Shabbos.  Davida and Aaron have been our Melave Malka cooks. Aaron would prepare delicious homemade pizza and pastas.  Davida’s Simple Cheesy Zucchini Logs, Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sauce and Cheese and Davida’s Easy and Delicious Calzones have become legendary Melave Malka dishes.   Both Davida and Aaron are studying in Israel this year, so we now have to fend for ourselves on Saturday nights.

Recently, Don has been suffering from heartburn after eating tomato-based pasta sauces. Therefore, I have been on the lookout for new delicious pasta dishes that are hearty but without tomato sauce.  This is one of those wonderfully creamy mac and cheese dishes that has no heartburn after-effect.  It can be baked in a large baking dish or in individual ramekins.

It has that oh, so creamy texture on the inside with the crunchiness of the breadcrumbs on the outside.

We hope that this recipe becomes one of your favorites, too!

mac-n-cheese-in-ramekin

INGREDIENTS

1 pound pasta
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic or garlic powder
1-2 bunches scallions
drizzle of olive oil
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese (I used muenster)
panko or breadcrumbs

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare al dente pasta according to package directions. Drain.

mac-n-cheese-pots

While pasta is cooking, saute onion, garlic and scallions in olive oil.

mac-n-cheese-onions-and-scallions

Add flour and salt, mixing with a wooden spoon. Add milk, stirring well until thick. Add cheese and stir until mixture is thick and creamy.

mac-n-cheese-sauce

Add pasta and stir until well-combined.

In a bag or separate bowl, toss breadcrumbs or panko with olive oil until moist and crumbly.

Ladle pasta mixture into a casserole or individual ramekins. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until mac and cheese is golden brown.

mac-n-cheese-all-done

Glazed Butternut Squash with Shallots and Grapes

glazed-butternut-squash-with-shallots-and-grapes

Leah recently spent Shabbos at her friend’s house and came back with this amazing recipe.  I simplified the preparation and have prepared this dish over and over again.  It is the perfect combination of smooth butternut squash, shallot rings and grapes that just pop in your mouth.  It is one of those new recipes that you will really enjoy.

Butternut squash is a flavorful winter squash shaped like a bottle.  The seeds are stored in the bottom part of the squash.  Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tan-orange hard skin and fleshy orange pulp.  It is an excellent source of  fiber, Vitamins A, C and E as well as potassium and magnesium.

Many people are intimidated by the shape of this squash and the toughness of the peel.   For this recipe, it is not necessary to peel the butternut squash.  When sliced, the stem portion of the butternut squash yields firm disks and the bottom portion yields rings filled with seeds.  I choose butternut squash with a long stem portion, as the disks that are sliced from the stem do not contain any seeds.

The glaze is applied by just drizzling and sprinkling the glaze ingredients directly over the butternut squash.

The simplicity, texture and sensational flavor of this recipe will wow you!

INGREDIENTS

1 large butternut squash
3-4 shallots, cut into rings
handful of green or red grapes, whole or halved

3-4 tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup
kosher salt
pepper

scallions (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Scrub butternut squash.  Using a large knife, cut unpeeled butternut squash crosswise into 1/3 inch to 1/2 inch disks.  Remove seeds from rings at bottom of squash.

Peel shallots and slice into rings.  Clean grapes and if they are large, cut into half.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place butternut squash disks in a single layer on lined baking sheet.

Scatter shallots and grapes among butternut squash disks and filling the butternut rings cut from the bottom of the butternut squash with shallots and grapes, too.

Lightly drizzle oil and honey, agave or maple syrup over vegetables.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast uncovered for 45-50 minutes.  Optionally, sprinkle with scallions within the last 10 minutes of roasting.  Butternut squash should be soft and just beginning to caramelize. Shallots and grapes should be browned and soft.

butternut-squash-with-shallots-and-grapes

 

Savta’s Sweet Potato Latkes

sweet-potato-latkes

 

Savta loves to make latkes and kugels.  I vividly remember how delicious they were when we were growing up and Savta’s kugel and latkes have become a real delicacy for my children.

This is Savta’s sweet potato latke recipe.  It is perfect.

INGREDIENTS

4 medium red potatoes, peeled
1-2 onions, peeled
1 sweet potato
3  eggs
4 tablespoons  flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade of the food processor, process 2 potatoes with the onions, eggs, flour and seasonings. Using the shredder blade of the food processor, shred the remaining potatoes and sweet potatoes. Gently combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Spoon a ladle-size amount  of  potato mixture into the oil and fry for 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and fry for 2 minutes more.  Latkes should be crispy on the outside and golden brown.

Latkes are best served hot from the skillet.

Simply Perfect Sufganiot in a Zipper Bag

I like to stay close to the latest trends in cooking and design.  One trendy and helpful technique in preparing dough is to use a zipper bag for preparing and kneading the dough.  It is a great idea for most dough and really reduces the cleanup.  Best of all, since the zipper bag can be discarded after use, this simple dough technique virtually eliminates those nasty dough-covered utensils and sponges that are so difficult to clean.

The ziploc bag eliminates the dusty mess of flour and allows all the dough crumbles to remain in the disposable ziploc bags.  Since the sufganiot in this recipe are amorphous and just dropped into oil, the ziploc bag can even be used  to dispense the doughnuts right into the frying pan.

I have adapted my favorite sufganiot recipe to use the ziploc bag.  I have tried it and it is just perfect!

sufganiot-in-a-bag-in-oil

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 cup flour

1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
Olive oil, for frying

Powdered sugar (optional)

large zipper bag (1-2 gallon)

 

DIRECTIONS

In a ziploc bag, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  To do this easily, I fold top of zipper bag over a small pan so that bottom of zipper bag is at bottom of pan and top of bag is folded over sides of the pan.    This ensures that the liquid contents do not spill over.

sufganiot zipper bag in pan.jpg

Wait until yeast mixture becomes bubbly or foamy.  If the yeast mixture does not bubble and foam, the yeast is not active and you will have to redo this step, making sure that the water used is warm but not too hot to touch.

 

Carefully add salt and flour to the yeast mixture, kneading the bag until all the flour has been incorporated, for several minutes.   The dough should resemble a thick, sticky cake batter.

sufganiot-in-a-bag-yeast-dough-before-rising-2

 

Spray your hands with oil spray or rub oil on your hands.  With your oiled hands, carefully rub the oil all over the dough. making sure to coat all sides of the dough.  Rub or spray oil on the entire inside of the zipper bag, too.

Allow dough to rise for 3-4 hours in the bag.  Open zipper and gently let the excess air out of the bag.  Gently push down the dough by pressing on the outside of the bag.

In a pot or sauce pan with a large opening, over medium heat, heat 1-2 inches of olive oil until sizzling.

Cut a corner into the side of the zipper bag to allow dispensing of the dough directly from the zipper bag corner.

sufganiot-in-a-bag-after-risen

Squeeze donuts into the oil by pushing dough into corner of bag and squeezing out small pieces of odd-shaped dough out of the zipper bag.  You may have to coax and pull donuts out of the bag into the oil using oiled hands.

Repeat until you have filled the oil with donuts without crowding, as the sufganiot will puff up during the ferrying process.

 

sufganiot-in-a-bag-in-oil

 

Turn them over once the bottom is golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove each doughnut from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the doughnuts and enjoy!

Happy Chanukah!

Onion-Battered Baked Tilapia

My mother loves tilapia.  She has a difficult time finding kosher fresh tilapia in Cleveland, so it is something that she looks forward to enjoying when she visits.

Whenever she comes to visit, I try to prepare this favorite dish for her, battering it in breadcrumbs and frying it in a pan (Savta’s Favorite Breaded Tilapia).  It is one of those simply delicious main dishes that is flaky, satisfying and never disappoints.

My mother will be coming to visit next week as she prepares for hip revision surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery during Chanukah.

And, my mother’s visit makes me think of tilapia.

I love dishes that can be prepared and then placed in the oven, preferably on a timer.   This allows me to do other things while the food is being cooked.

Fry-pan breaded tilapia does not meet those qualifications. And, baked fish just doesn’t have the crunchy outside and soft inside of fried fish that would satisfy my mother.  So, I put my thinking cap on.

And, this is what I came up with….simple, satisfying and a delicious wow!

onion-crusted-tilapia-in-oven

INGREDIENTS

1 cup French Fried Onions

1/2 cup creamy dressing.  I used Simple, Creamy and Perfect Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

4-6 tilapia fillets

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet or pie plate with parchment paper.

Pulse french fried onions in the food processor using the S-blade or crush by rolling a rolling pin or pounding a mallet over zipper bag of french fried onions.

In a shallow dish or pie plate, coat each fillet with creamy dressing.   Dip each fillet into the crushed onions, making sure that the fillets are well coated.
Spread coated tilapia fillets on baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Tilapia should be golden brown on outside and soft and flaky on the inside.
Enjoy!
onion-crusted-tilapia

Lazy Weeknight Pulled Beef

I really am lazy about cooking during the week.  Just ask my family.

I have learned to take just about every shortcut to the dinner table and love to prepare weeknight dinners that require very few ingredients, very little time and a minimum of effort.

To justify my weekday laziness, I make sure that weeknight dinners are not fussy or complicated.  I still try to use fresh ingredients, but I really downgrade the effort.

I have a repertoire of tried and true simple and delicious weeknight dinner recipes.  All require very little prep time.  Some cook or roast quickly.  Others cook all day.

This one is prepared in the morning, just before I start my day.  It is made in the crockpot and once the ingredients are placed, it requires virtually no attention.  It cooks all day, so that it greets you at the end of the day with the wonderful aroma and taste of slow cooked pulled beef.

The pulled beef is best pulled or shredded an hour or two before eating and then returned to the sauce in the crockpot.  It can also be pulled or shredded and eaten right before serving, but will yield a slightly drier product.  It is up to your schedule and taste.

It can be served on a roll or over a bed of pasta or rice.  I like it best served alongside a shredded or spiralized salad.  Here I have served it with a side of rutabaga and edamame salad.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-plated

This recipe has the elements of a lazy dinner, but the taste of a most delicious and decadent weeknight dinner.

It is simple…and it truly infuses the lazy with wow.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-on-plate

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-ingredients

INGREDIENTS

small boneless roast to fit your crockpot (I use a london broil or small brisket)
2-3 onions and/or shallots, peeled and cut into wedges
4-5 cloves garlic (optional)
3-4 stalks celery, cut into 1-2 inch sections (optional)
1/2 cup water or broth
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2-3 tablespoons brandy (optional)

your favorite seasoning or rub (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Cut onions, shallots, celery and garlic and place on bottom of crockpot.  Place roast on top of vegetables.  If roast is larger than crockpot, just cut to fit and place in two layers, one on top of the other.  Dilute barbecue sauce with water or both.  Pour diluted barbecue sauce and brandy over roast.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot

Set crockpot to high or auto (see notes below) and cook for 6-8 hours.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-before-shredding

About an hour before serving, remove beef from crockpot.  Place two forks in the center of the roasts, tines against tines and pull toward edges of roast.  Keep pulling until the roast is shredded.  Return roast to crockpot, ladle some sauce over the shredded beef and set to low or auto until ready to serve.

pulled-beef-in-crockpot-cooked

NOTES

Know your crockpot and which settings to use.  I cook this recipe on the high setting of my six quart crockpot for 6-8 hours and only turn it down to low or auto once the beef has been pulled and the pulled beef has been returned to the sauce.  Your crockpot may need to be set to auto for the duration of the cooking. If you are not sure, start this recipe at high. Check on the recipe after 4 hours.  If it tastes ready, then turn it down to auto or low until serving. If not, cook for longer, checking every hour.

Simple Baked Potato Kugelatkes

 

kugelatkes-serving-suggestion

kugelatkes

Traditionally, we eat potato latkes (pancakes) on Chanukah.  We eat foods prepared with oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil in the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) once the Jews were victorious over the Greeks.  After the miraculous war, the Jews entered the desecrated Temple and only found enough pure olive oil to light the Menorah (candelabra) for one day.  The tiny  bit of oil lasted for an entire eight days, enough time for the Jews to get new pure oil to light the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash, so that the Menorah would be continuously lit.

While latkes are so traditionally linked to Chanukah, there are so many foods that contain olive oil that may just as well commemorate the oil miracle of the Temple.

Truth be told, I hate to fry latkes.

It just takes too much time, too much splatter and it is so hard to manage while entertaining a houseful of guests.

I usually make one batch of latkes just for the first night and find other make-in-advance olive oil alternatives when we entertain guests over Chanukah.

This year, I have adapted my favorite potato kugel recipe to make baked potato kugelatkes.  I made them in a bundt-shaped muffin tin, but they can easily be baked in a cupcake tin, as well.

They are simple to prepare, beautiful and delicious to behold, require no frying and can be prepared well in advance of the Chanukah meal.

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Baked French Fried Onion Fish

Last night, as I was preparing dinner, I thought: If everyone likes french fried onion chicken, why not use the same technique for baked fried fish?  It is such a simple and delicious way to prepare a main dish.

I had bought some fresh haddock and was in the mood of experimenting with a new recipe.  I brushed the fish with a light coating of mayonnaise and then french fried onions.

I baked it in a 375 degree F oven to 25 minutes.

It was a winner!

4 thin white fresh fish fillets (try flounder, tilapia, haddock or cod)

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup French Fried Onions

mayonnaise

4-6 white fish fillets

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush each fish fillet with a light coating of mayonnaise.
onion crusted cod with mayo.jpg
Dip each mayo-coated fish fillet into french fried onion crumbs.
onion-crusted-cod-before-cooking
Place onion-coated fillets onto parchment or foil-lined baking sheet.  Press extra onions on top.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until fish is fully cooked.
onion-crusted-cod

Enjoy!

NOTES

I did not crush the onions and they produced a more sparsely battered fish fillet.  If you like a thickly battered fish fillet, I would suggest crushing the onions in a ziploc bag first.

Lazy CrockPot Chicken with Dumplings

 

Now that the weather has started to get colder, my crockpot is busy most days.  I have been making soup, stews and all in one dinners in the crockpot.  Crockpot cooking is simple and requires very little attention during the cooking process. The only thing different about crockpot cooking is getting all the ingredients into the crock early in the day, so that they will have enough lazy time to cook and be ready in time for dinner.

This recipe for chicken with dumplings is one of those comfort dishes that never fails to impress.  It warms the soul on those cold, dark wintry evenings.  It is simple, but really packs a satisfying bite. The chicken can be cooked with the vegetables and served without the dumplings. The dumplings soak up much of the liquid and make this dish extra hearty.

 

INGREDIENTS

1-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, uncooked
2-3 cups chicken broth or water
1 onion
carrots
3-4 cloves garlic or garlic powder
4 stalks celery
mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Dumplings

1 eggs
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cups water
1 cup all-purpose flour

 

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in the crockpot and gently stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours.

chicken-and-dumplings

One to two hours before serving, prepare dumplings:
In a medium bowl, stir water, egg, oil, salt, and pepper. Gradually add flour, and stir until thick. Drop dumplings into the crockpot using a spoon or a fork. Do not stir until ready to serve. Gently ladle out portions.

chicken-and-dumplings-on-plate

NOTES
Know your crockpot and which settings to use. I cook my soup on the high setting of my six quart crockpot for about 6 hours and only turn it down to low or auto once the soup has been completed. Your crockpot may need to be set to auto for the duration of the cooking. If you are not sure, start your soup at high. Check on the soup after 3 hours. If it tastes ready, then turn it down to auto or low until serving. If not, cook the soup for longer, checking every hour.

This recipe can easily be made with bone-in chicken and can be adapted to incorporate your favorite vegetables.

TIPS

When I anticipate preparing something in the crockpot, but know that my morning will be hectic,  I prepare the ingredients (including seasonings and liquid) in the crock the night before.  I store the crock filled with ingredients in the refrigerator overnight.  To be safe, I usually keep the poultry ingredients separate until ready to cook.  Then, all I have to do is place the crock into the pot and plug in the next morning.  It eliminates the stressful morning rush and offers me a hearty cooked dinner several hours later. This recipe will require you to prepare the dumplings 1-2 hours before serving. The dumpling dough is very forgiving and can be prepared the night before and just added to the crock 1-2 hours before serving.

That Turkey! Baked Apple

turkey-baked-apple-on-glass-plate

 

I love warm baked apples.  There is something simple about the flavor and preparation, yet it is one of those recipes that never seems to get old.

For Thanksgiving, I decided to dress up my Simply Delicious Baked Apples and create a Thanksgiving-inspired baked apple turkey.

It really was simple.  Oh, and whimsical.  And, of course, delicious! (more…)

Baked Cranberry Salami Slinky

Baked salami is a real treat in our house.  It is one of those simple recipes that I prepare to serve in the afternoon before a festive meal.  It is a treat for Erev Shabbos (Friday afternoon)  and Erev Yom Tov (afternoon before a Jewish holiday).

I reasoned: why not dress the recipe up for Thanksgiving and serve it Erev Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving eve), too? (more…)

Simply Reliable One Pan Roast Chicken Dinner

Everyone has their go-to favorite roast chicken recipe.  It is that hearty meal that is simple, reliable and oh, so comforting.  This recipe is practically one of our favorite and certainly one of our most undemanding Shabbos guests.  Despite its simple preparation, it yields a delicious chicken dish with spicy flavored potato wedges on the side.

simply-reliable-chicken-on-platter

In our house, this is the roast chicken recipe that I prepare most every Erev Shabbos (Sabbath eve).  I prepare it in a  large oblong Pyrex baking dish using whole chicken or bone-in chicken parts.  It makes the house smell inviting and warm and lets everyone know that Shabbos is on its way.  I have prepared this chicken simply and reliably for nearly the past thirty years.  It is one of the few things in our home that needs no extra attention on Friday.

It is so reliable that I prepare it in the morning and place it in the oven on a two-hour automatic timer.  It is so forgiving that it does not require a preheated oven, but can be cooked in a preheated oven if it is following another recipe.  No matter what my Friday brings: heavy work, surprises or extra cleaning, it is ready and delicious just two hours later with no special attention.

Now, if only the rest of my Erev Shabbos was that simple and forgiving…

simply-reliable-chicken

INGREDIENTS (more…)

..In the Honey: Rosh Hoshana Honeycomb Cupcakes

 

beehive-cupcake

Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) is coming and our friend (and Davida’s superMom), Staci Segal, is sponsoring a pre-Rosh Hashana bake sale to benefit benefit Ohr Meir U’Bracha, The Terror Victims Support Center of Israel.

Last year, Davida baked delicious muffins for this bake sale.  This year Davida and Staci’s daughter, Chava, are  studying in Israel, so I offered to bake and send over some cupcakes for this important event.  Although Davida and Chava are the true masters in my kitchen, I felt that I needed to prove that I still had some kitchen prowess.

I decided to bake two sets of cupcakes to represent the important and symbolic tradition of dipping an apple in honey on Rosh Hashana.  The first set of cupcakes were Dip the Apple… Rosh Hashana Cupcakes.

 

Now, all we needed were the honey cupcakes.  For these, I decided to prepare cupcakes shaped like beehives, with edible chocolate honeycombs and adorable jelly bean bees.

We dip an apple into honey at our festive evening meals on Rosh Hashana to symbolize our hope and prayer for a “sweet” New Year.   Honey is one of the symbols for the Land of Israel as the Torah describes Israel as a land “flowing with milk and honey.”  It symbolizes the connection between G-d, the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel.

The honey referred to in the Torah is date honey.  Today,  date honey is sold in Israel, but most of the honey found is bee honey.  These cupcakes were shaped liked beehives to represent this sweet symbol.

 

These cupcakes are available for sale among other delicious desserts at the Segal Home this Sunday, September 25th, 2016 from 2-8 PM.  Their address is 475 FDR Drive #301 on the Lower East Side. For more information, please contact Staci at 917-295-7295 or stacisegal@aol.com

 

SUPPLIES

Cupcakes

Melting wafers (for honeycomb pieces)

Parchment or wax paper

Clean bubble wrap

White frosting

Chocolate frosting

Mini cup cones

Black and yellow jelly beans

Slivered almonds

 

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Bake your favorite cupcakes.

Melt chocolate wafers or chips.  I use the defrost feature on the microwave.  I spread the chocolate out on a microwave-safe dinner plate and place it on defrost for 6-8 minutes.

Spread the chocolate out on a piece of parchment or wax paper, keeping the chocolate thin but not translucent.    Press clean bubble wrap with bubble side down onto melted chocolate.

beehive-chocolate-with-bubble-wrap

Keep bubble wrap until chocolate has hardened and carefully peel off.  Break the chocolate into chards that resemble pieces of honeycombs.

beehive-shards

 

Place a mini cup cone upside down in the center of each cupcake, pressing down until it is set into place.

Fill a ziploc or piping bag with white or yellow frosting.  To do this neatly, place a bag in a tall glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass like a collar.  Using a spatula, fill the bag.  Cut corner of bag with an opening big enough to pipe thick frosting.  Squeeze frosting to corner carefully.

beehive-cupcakes-in-progress

Pipe frosting on each cupcake, surrounding upside down cone and piping to top of cone.

Place a chocolate honeycomb chard on the side of each cupcake.  Place one or two jellybeans on each cupcake.   Place slivered almonds on either side of each jellybean.

Fill two small ziploc or piping bags with chocolate and white frosting.  To do this neatly, place the bag in a tall glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass like a collar and fill with frosting.  Cut corner of bag with a tiny opening to pipe thin stripes on the jellybean bees.   Carefully squeeze frosting to corner.

beehive-cupcakes-decorating-ingredients-and-bags

Pipe stripes of white frosting on black jellybeans.  Pipe stripes of chocolate frosting on yellow jellybeans.

beehive-cupcakes-in-carrier

 

 

Wishing you all a Kesiva Ve’Chasma Tova (a positive inscription and seal for the upcoming year).

Dip the Apple… Rosh Hashana Cupcakes

Rosh Hashana is coming and our friend (and Davida’s superMom), Staci Segal, is sponsoring a pre-Rosh Hashana bake sale to benefit benefit Ohr Meir U’Bracha, The Terror Victims Support Center of Israel.

Last year, Davida baked glazed carrot muffins for this bake sale.  This year Davida and Staci’s daughter, Chava, are spending the year studying in Israel, so I offered to bake and send over some cupcakes for this important event.  I wanted to make sure that the Segal bake sale would have adequate Respler representation.

I sat down to think about what I could bake that would be unique and delicious.  It needed to be something easy to transport,  interesting and something appropriate for Rosh Hashanah.

The first thing that came to mind was an apple dessert.  The apple is such a strong symbol of Rosh Hashana.

During Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), we eat apples dipped in honey as a symbol for a sweet new year.   It is interesting that an apple is chosen as the fruit to dip.

One reason is that in King Solomon’s Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs), the nation of Israel is compared to an apple.  “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved (Israel) amongst the maidens (nations) of the world.”  Furthernore, an apple is symbolic of the love between the nation of Israel and G-d as we read in Shir Hashirim , “Beneath the apple tree I aroused you.”

We are taught that an apple tree sprouts the tiny core of each apple before the leaves surround and protect the young fruit.  In the same way, the young Jewish nation accepted the Torah before understanding the myriad of details within.  The famous acceptance of our nation was verbalized as “we will do and we will understand”.  We committed to the holy observance of Torah commandments even before we understood the full extent of what this commitment entailed.  Therefore, the apple has become a symbol and remembrance of the commitment to our faith and acceptance of Torah at Mount Sinai.  We recall this on Rosh Hashana when our mission is to proclaim G-d as our King.

I decided to prepare cupcakes designed to look like red apples.  I baked vanilla cupcakes for this recipe.  Perhaps, next time, I will prepare honey cupcakes to fully represent the Rosh Hashana tradition of “dipping the apple in the honey”.

apple-cupcakes-in-carrier

These cupcakes are available for sale among other delicious desserts at the Segal Home this Sunday, September 25th, 2016 from 2-8 PM.  Their address is 475 FDR Drive #301 on the Lower East Side. For more information, please contact Staci at 917-295-7295 or stacisegal@aol.com

apple-cupcakes

SUPPLIES

Cupcakes

White frosting

Red sanding sugar or sugar and red food coloring

Brown licorice, brown taffy or small pretzel nub

Green taffy or gum

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Bake your favorite cupcakes.

Cut pieces of brown licorice, taffy or pretzels to resemble stems.

spple-cupcake-embellishments

Flatten green gum or taffy and use knife to cut out leaf shapes.  Use blunt knife to form leaf veins.

apple-cupcakes-leaves

To make red sanding sugar, combine 1 cup of sugar with red food coloring, adding food coloring until the desired depth of color is reached.  I pulsed this in my food processor.  Alternatively, you can combine the sugar and color in a ziploc bag or in your mixer.

apple-cupcakes-sanding-sugar-ingredients

apple-cupcakes-sanding-sugar

 

Frost cupcakes generously with a small knife or spatula, heaping frosting to form a mounded top for each cupcake.

Using spoon, sprinkle sanding sugar on top of each cupcake until well coated.  Gently shake off excess sanding sugar.

apple-cupcakes-in-sugar

Insert brown stem and green leaf.

apple-cupcake

apple cupcakes in carrier.jpg

Wishing you all a Kesiva Ve’Chasma Tova (a positive inscription and seal for the upcoming year).

 

 

Low-Carb Zucchini Pizza

Zucchini is one of those fresh ingredients that I almost always have on hand in my refrigerator.  I use it in a myriad of ways:  in my Simply the best chicken soup…ever!, in Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds, in Simply the Best Low-Carb Zucchini Soup and a myriad of other recipes, many of which you will find on this blog.  Just about every member of the family likes zucchini.

But, who knew that you could make a delicious pizza crust from zucchini?

zucchini pizza up close.jpg

(more…)

Simple 4-Ingredient Homemade New Pickles

New pickles are my favorite.  They still have the crispness of a raw kirby with just a hint of pickling.  Kirby cucumbers are in season.  They are plentiful, inexpensive and make wonderful pickles with just four simple ingredients and 1-2 days of refrigeration.

homemade pickles

INGREDIENTS

4-6 medium Kirby cucumbers
2 cups unchlorinated or bottled water
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
3-4 cloves Fresh garlic

your favorite herbs (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Fill a mason jar with unchlorinated or bottled water.

Dissolve salt in the unchlorinated or bottled water.

Tightly pack whole or half kirby cucumbers into a glass jar and add garlic cloves.

Fill the jar with the salt water, making sure the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jar and refrigerate for 1-2 days or more.

VARIATIONS

Add your favorite flavors to customize your new pickles.  Try slices of jalapeno, peppercorns, hot pepper flakes or your favorite herbs and seasoning.

Grilled Salami Slices: Netanel’s Simple and Humble Delicacy

A few weeks ago, my son, Aaron went fishing with his uncle, his cousins and two of his cousins’ friends.  Aaron loves to fish and wherever we go on vacation, Aaron usually schedules a fishing trip.  As a mother, I have learned that a fishing outing is so exhilarating when the fish are biting and so disappointing when the fishing crew comes home empty-handed.  More importantly, I have discovered that our fishermen love to catch fish, but are not as exuberant about preparing and eating the fish that were caught. Luckily, our fishermen did not come empty-handed and even more luckily, the fish that were caught were being saved for a future feast in Manhattan.

Now, I was under no obligation to prepare the fish and better yet, under no pressure to force them to eat the fish.  So, I offered to make an impromptu barbecue for the hungry fishermen.  I checked the refrigerator and I had some beef sliders, but no hot dogs.

I did have a couple rolls of salami.  My nephew’s friend, thirteen-year old Netanel, offered me his own recipe for grilled salami.  I was going to grill the salami whole, but Netanel insisted that we cut it into thick slices.

grilled salami sliced

I took Netanel’s lead and we slathered the salami slices with barbecue sauce.

The barbecued salami slices came off the grill caramelized and just perfect.  It was delicious served up with different types of mustard and dips.  It was such a hit that I told Netanel that I would now incorporate grilled salami as a part of our standard barbecue.

Tonight, I prepared this delicacy and dressed it up for its blog debut.  It did not disappoint.

grilled salami on grill

 

INGREDIENTS

grilled salami ingredients

Salami, cut into thick slices
Sauce: barbecue, pesto, spicy mayo, mustard and/or horseradish sauce
Sesame seeds or your favorite spices (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Cut salami into thick slices.  Coat with your favorite sauce and your favorite toppings.

Heat on grill for a few minutes, flipping over when golden brown and carmelized.

Serve immediately with your favorite topping and/or condiment.

grilled salami on platter

 

 

 

 

Leah’s Simple Pasta Saute

Leah prepared the most heavenly pasta dish last night.  It is one of those dishes that can be made pareve or with additional melted cheese for a dairy dinner.  It uses simple ingredients and creates a heavenly combination of pasta, onions, garlic and vegetables.

Leah prefers whole wheat pasta, but it can be made with any shape or type of pasta-your choice.  This recipe is simple and delicious.

Enjoy!

leah's pasta saute

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of pasta

1 onion, thinly sliced or diced

2-3 garlic cloves or granulated garlic

1 pint of small grape tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half

salt and pepper to taste

fresh herbs (optional)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the pasta according to package directions and drain.

Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add tomatoes and seasonings, stirring gently to combine.  Cook for several minutes.  Add pasta and combine all flavors. Saute for 1-2 minutes more.

Shut heat and add mozzarella cheese.  Cover until cheese is melted.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

 

RECIPE COURTESY OF LEAH RESPLER

 

When Pancakes Meet Sprinkles…

When Avigail and JuJu (the grandchildren) come to visit Bobby (that’s me), they  look forward to breakfast. Usually, I bring them downstairs and serve breakfast before Kaitlyn wakes up.  Avigail likes to watch the birds at the bird feeders eating “birdie food”.  JuJu just barks at the birds.

Both grandchildren’s favorite breakfast is pancakes.  When time is short, I just buy frozen pancakes, microwave them and then serve them with whipped cream and sprinkles.   When Davida is around, she makes delicious, fluffy pancakes from scratch.  She adds chocolate chips and sprinkles to make them sweet, colorful and irresistible.

Here is Davida’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour
dash salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

a few tablespoons chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and/or sprinkles

3 tablespoons butter or oil

DIRECTIONS

Pour flour, sugar, salt, sugar and baking powder in bowl and use a dry whisk to combine well.  Add milk and eggs until just combined, using a wooden spoon or heavy rubber spatula.  Do not overmix.  Gently stir in chocolate chips, chunks and/or sprinkles.

Heat butter or oil in large fry pan or spray griddle with cooking spray and preheat.  Reduce heat to medium and carefully ladle out pancake batter onto pan in small circles, leaving some room between pancakes.  Flip each pancake over when bubbles start to form.  Remove each pancake batch when both sides of the pancakes are golden-brown.

If making many batches, you may have to carefully wipe out the fry pan and refresh the butter/oil, so that the butter/oil does not burn.

 

VARIATIONS

You can substitute a ripe banana for some of the milk .  Just mash the banana well and use 3/4 cup of milk together with the banana in place of the full 1 1/2 cups of milk.

pancakes with sprinkles 2