Tips and Shortcuts

Davida’s Awesome Potato Kugel

It is so wonderful to have Davida back from Israel.  The house is a more joyful abode and Davida and her friends fill our house with laughter, music and good food.  No matter how chaotic things are, Davida seems to have just the right lighthearted joke and is always willing and able to prepare delicious food for all.

Whatever Davida prepares is not only delicious, but perfectly executed, as well.   Her challahs are beautifully braided, her salads are impeccably tossed and her food just begs to be enjoyed.

When we visited Israel for Pesach (Passover),  Davida prepared this delicious kugel for us.  This past winter, Davida first tried this recipe when she prepared a Shabbos in Jerusalem  for Michelle, Scotty and their gluten-free guests.

The original recipe is from Susie Fischbein’s Pesach cookbook.   Davida tweaked and simplified it just a bit.   It contains a small amount of sugar and when I scoffed at that, Davida admitted that she tried it without the sugar and it just wasn’t the same.

This past Shabbos, Davida prepared this potato kugel again and it was another winner.

Welcome home, Davida!

davidas awesome potato kugel

SUPPLIES

food processor
2 pyrex pie plates

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup  oil
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
5 large eggs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F degrees.

Using the metal s-blade of the food processor,  shred the onions and then place in a large mixing bowl.  I like to use the stainless steel mixing bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer, since it is a large, sturdy bowl with a handle for pouring,

Using the metal s-blade of the food processor,  shred the peeled potato chunks until almost smooth.  Add the potatoes to the mixing bowl

Add the salt, pepper, and sugar to the potato-onion mixture and then add the eggs.  Stir until completely combined.

Coat each pyrex pie plate with 1/4 cup of oil and place in preheated oven. When the oil sizzles, carefully remove each pyrex pie plate from oven and spoon some of the sizzling oil into the waiting potato mixture to add fluffiness to the kugel.  Incorporate the sizzling oil into the mixture until well combined.   Pour the mixture into the 2 pyrex pie plates and bake uncovered for one hour.

Enjoy this delicious kugel with music and laughter!

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

A Vinegar Pantry Tutorial

Vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients. It is characterized by its acidic taste and is known best for the pungent flavor it imparts to salads.   For centuries, vinegar has been valued for its health benefits.  Vinegar comes in many different tastes and colors and has a wide variety of uses beyond the salad bowl.

vinegar tutorial 1

Adding a splash of an acidic ingredient like vinegar is an excellent way to brighten all types of salads and other dishes.  There are so many varieties and each one has a distinct personality and flavor.

I reserve the standard white variety for cleaning uses, since it boasts a very pungent and sharp taste that can be overly assertive.  It can be used for weed control and cleaning purposes.

My go-to vinegar is cider vinegar since it imparts a medium acidic taste while still tasting fruity and fresh.

Different vinegars impart a variety of  flavors and can change the way that you prepare and enjoy your food.   Feel free to experiment with different vinegars to find the ones that you enjoy most.

My pantry boasts a large variety of vinegars and here are some of my favorites:

 

Cider vinegar: Cider vinegar is fashioned from apples.  This brownish clear vinegar stands up well to hardy salads and is the go-to ingredient in marinades.  It is perfect for recipes like: Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad,  Cowboy Caviar: A Simple and Hearty Salad with Attitude and Simply the Best Marinade: A Science Lesson

White vinegar: White vinegar is assertive and clear.  It is distilled from grain and can be used with sturdy greens.  It has a very assertive flavor that sticks to the back of my throat, so I tend to reserve it for cleaning (When Crayons Must Learn Boundaries: Simple Ways to Clean Crayon Marks on Walls) and garden tasks like (At War with Weeds: A Homemade Non-Toxic Weed-Killer)

Wine vinegar:  Wine vinegar comes in red and white varieties.  Heinz manufactures an assortment of delicious wine vinegars that carry the o-u-p (kosher for Passover) certification year-round.  This type of vinegar is light and delicious and can be used in dressings for a variety of light and pungent salads.   Typically, wine vinegar comes in a shaker bottle and should be shaken sparingly directly on salad.   Wine vinegar is perfect for recipes like Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds and Etty’s Simple Basil-Dijon Vinaigrette

Rice vinegar:  Rice vinegar is an excellent alternative to cider or white vinegar.  I used it in a variety of Asian-inspired dishes.  It combines perfectly with soy sauce and sesame oil.  Try it is dishes like Individual Sushi Salads and Asian Red Cabbage Salad…Simple and Wow

Balsamic vinegar:  Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorites, too.  It is dark brown in color and imparts a sweet, syrupy flavor.  Balsamic vinegar is not a tye of wine vinegar, but is rather made from grape pressings that have not been allowed to ferment.  This vinegar imparts a very distinctive flavor and should be used sparingly, often just dotted onto salads, vegetable and protein dishes and fruit.  This vinegar is delicious in Simple, Creamy and Perfect Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette and Roasted Rainbow Skewers.

 

Individual Sushi Salads

 

individual sushi salad 1

My kids all love sushi.   To them, having sushi as an appetizer Shabbos lunch is a real luxury.  While sushi is a fan favorite, I don’t feel that it has enough nutritional value as it is mostly rice.  Furthermore, sushi rolls do not stay fresh enough from Friday until Shabbos lunch to make for an appetizing appetizer.

So, I have been preparing individual sushi salads as a Shabbos lunch appetizer, instead.

And, sushi salads eliminate most of  the fussiness of rolling sushi.  I can choose the proportions of each element in the sushi salad, favoring more vegetables and fish than rice and nori.  The elements of the sushi salad can all be prepared in advance.   Furthermore, they are all simple ingredients that I can use in different ways for the Friday night Shabbos dinner.  And,  best of all, once assembled on Shabbos morning, the individual sushi salad ingredients stay perfectly fresh, simply delicious and gorgeous until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sushi rice (I favor brown sushi rice) prepared in rice cooker

1/4 cup rice vinegar

baked or roasted salmon fillet, cubed or shredded

nori, cut into thin strips

1 medium avocado

1-2 zucchini or cucumber, diced or grated

1-2 Carrots, grated (optional)

Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo

 

DIRECTIONS

Prepare sushi rice in a rice cooker, using 1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water.   Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar to prepared sushi rice.

Prepare salmon fillet.  Cube or shred.

Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

Grate cucumber, zucchini and/or carrots.

Gently roll nori sheets and cut thin strips with scissors.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori drizzle of spicy mayo.

TIPS

For Shabbos lunch, prepare salmon, rice and grated vegetables before Shabbos.  Store each ingredient separately in a zipper bag.  Prepare Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo and store in 16-oz wide-mouth squeeze bottles or 24-oz wide mouth squeeze bottles.

Before assembling, mix sushi rice with rice vinegar.  Cut or shred salmon.  Cube avocado and place in a solution of 1 cup water with juice of one lemon.

In a clear glass or plastic bowl, layer cooked rice, salmon, nori, avocado, cucumber and carrot.  Drizzle spicy mayo on top and garnish with thin strips of nori and drizzle of spicy mayo.

 

VARIATIONS

For Pesach, substitute quinoa for the sushi rice and cider vinegar for the rice vinegar.

 

PLATING TIPS

Use clear glass or plastic bowl and overlap thin strips of nori on top, creating an x or star for an impressive presentation.

 

individual sushi salad

Perfectly Moist Baked Stuffed Chicken

baked stuffed chicken cut in half

For the Purim seuda (feast) this year, Don did almost all of the shopping for ingredients. My mother had emergency surgery shortly before Purim and I spent the week with her in Cleveland.  That meant that I would not have the time to shop and fully prepare for the seuda.  Don offered to help by doing the shopping for me.

Don did an awesome job shopping for the meat and chicken.  He bought thin sliced chicken cutlets for me to grill as one of the main dishes.   When I saw how thin the cutlets were, I was nervous that they would overcook easily.   So, I decided to develop a recipe that would accommodate cutlets that were butterflied and very thin.

I also had a bagful of frozen rice from a previous dinner party and lots of leftover frozen bread.  Keeping in mind that Pesach (Passover) was around the corner, I was eager to create a stuffing recipe that would use my leftover rice and bread.

And, so this stuffed chicken recipe was developed.

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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.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

DIY Passover French Baked Onions

french fried onions for pesach

So many of my simple and moist recipes rely on french fried onions.  They add moisture and pizazz to even the simplest and leanest of fish, meats and poultry.  Recipes such as Onion-Battered Baked TilapiaSimple Onion Baked Chicken Cutlets and Low and Slow Oven Brisket require this as a key ingredient.

Year-round, this is a readily available ingredient with so many kosher brands to choose from.  For some reason the smaller packages of French’s do not carry an o-u kosher certification while the 26.5 ounce package of Family size french fried onions is available on Amazon with a reliable o-u certification.

Since these products have flour listed on the ingredient list, I understood that they would not acceptable for Passover use.    However, I was hoping to find a similar product this year that would be kosher for Passover.   Alas, I was unsuccessful.

That meant that I needed to develop a recipe for french fried onions similar enough to the store-bought ones.  I also wanted a recipe that would not require frying.  There is just too much to be done before Pesach (Passover) for me to be frying onions in small batches.

This recipe is good.  It is not as dry and crunchy as the original.  But, it does serve as a good replacement for these recipes.  And, it is simple.

I would love to hear your comments, especially if you found this recipe to be simple to wow.

INGREDIENTS

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup Passover crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil or cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.

Separate thinly sliced onion rings into individual rings. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat the onion rings.

Place the onion rings ton the baking sheet and drizzle olive oil or generously spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, frequently checking that the onions do not burn.  When ready, these onions should be just starting to turn golden brown.

Allow onions to come to room temperature before using.

Passover Stuffed Cabbage

passover stuffed cabbage

Last week, I began cooking and freezing for Pesach (Passover).  With the furious and beautiful backdrop of a March snowstorm, I prepared most of my main dishes for the week of Passover.

It may sound a bit compulsive, but this just helps me manage the fury and beauty of the Passover holiday.

We travel to Israel for the holiday where we have a tiny kitchen and doll-sized appliances. The smallness of the food preparation facilities stand in direct contrast to the number of guests and family members that join us for the Passover seder and meals.

I have discovered that cooking the main dishes in advance really takes the edge off of the frenzy of Erev Pesach (Passover eve) and helps our family enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Jerusalem with some measure of serenity.

It certainly helps me appreciate the purity of the holiday and the freshness of the spring season.  It allows me to focus on the theme of this holiday that is so central to Judaism.  I can savor the beautiful traditions of Pesach, all to remind us of the birth of the Jewish nation as we miraculously left Egypt so many centuries ago.

Many women note that they feel enslaved by the enormity and difficulty of Passover cooking and that reminds them more than anything at the seder of the bondage of Jewish nation in Egypt.  I would rather celebrate the freedom from slavery by planning ahead and leaving time and energy to enjoy the traditions and themes of Passover.  It makes for a better me and it allows me to enjoy this wonderful spring holiday.

I have been making stuffed cabbage for many, many years.  Traditionally, rice is used as a filler.  Jews of Ashkenazic (Eastern European)  origin do not eat rice on Passover while those of  Sephardic (originally from Iberian Peninsula) background eat certain types of rice during the holiday.  For this use, you can either substitute quinoa for the rice or skip the rice altogether.

Last year, I did not prepare my cooktop for Passover advance cooking so I was unable to boil the heads of cabbage.  Instead, I froze the heads of cabbage and found it to be a simpler way to prepare the cabbage leaves for stuffing.  Best of all, it meant one less pot to clean at the end.  So, this year I wouldn’t prepare my cabbage leaves any other way.

Stuffed cabbage is one of those menu items that takes some time, but makes enough for many meals.  This year’s stuffed cabbage made enough for two Passover meals with some extras to deliver to some of my friends for their Passover meals.

Stuffed cabbage freezes so well.  The cabbage rolls can be frozen either with or without the suace.  I freeze the cabbage rolls in freezer bags and just take out as many as needed for the next meal.

INGREDIENTS

2 heads of cabbage

2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 Passover crumbs
1 cup quinoa (optional)
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

sweet and sour sauce

2 cans tomato sauce
2/3 cup sugar or honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup raisins or craisins (optional)

SUPPLIES

Wood and Silicone Spatula
jumbo zipper bags

DIRECTIONS

Carefully remove the first 4-6 leaves of the cabbage and freeze the cabbage for at least 12 hours.

Defrost cabbage for several hours and/or microwave the frozen cabbage heads in 4 minute increments until leaves are soft and pliable enough to remove from head.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

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

Using a Wood and Silicone Spatula, press a golf ball size of meat batter into each cabbage leaf.  Roll soft cabbage leaf around meat, tucking ends under.  Place cabbage rolls seam side down in baking dish or pan.

Cut leftover cabbage into bite size pieces and toss among the cabbage rolls.

Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients and heating in sauce pan or microwave.   Pour sweet and sour sauce over cabbage rolls.

Bake tightly covered for 90 minutes.

 

 

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, meat muffins 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.

 

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad

For our annual Purim seuda (festive meal),  I decided to prepare a new salad.

This salad took inspiration from a delicious battata (sweet potato) salad that I enjoyed at Cafe Greg in Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee of Israel.  It combined the delicious colors, flavors and textures of roasted sweet potatoes, candied almonds and shredded fresh beets. All these were served atop a bed of arugula and baby kale and then tossed right before serving.

I prepared this salad as my feature salad, reserving my biggest salad bowl for this new recipe.

The only thing that took extra time was roasting the sweet potato cubes in advance.  It was well worth the effort.

It must have been delicious because it was the only item that I prepared for the seuda that was finished within the first hour.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups checked salad greens (see kosher notes)
2 cups roasted cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups shredded fresh beets
1/2 cup nuts
thinly sliced scallions
french fried onions (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil.

Peel sweet potato and cut into small cubes.  Place sweet potato cubes in a single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.

Roast for 35-55 minutes checking that sweet potato cubes are crisp on outside and soft on inside before removing from oven.  Cubes may be prepared in advance.  They may either be added to the salad warm or at room temperature.

Peel beets.  Using the shredder disk on the food processor, shred beets.

Combine, process or shake all dressing ingredients together.

Layer greens and shredded beets. Lightly drizzle dressing over the salad. Top with nuts, scallions and french fried onions.  Toss right before serving.

 

KOSHER NOTES

Kosher laws disallow the eating of  any whole insects and therefore most greens require a process of soaking, rinsing and in some cases, pureeing.  I have found that flat-leafed greens like baby spinach and flat-leaf  kale are much easier to check for insects than their curly-leaf counterparts.  Kashrut authorities differ on the proper checking of leafy vegetables and some disallow the use of spinach and kale altogether.  This blog was not designed to be your  kosher authority, so please consult your local rabbinic authority regarding using and preparing greens such as spinach and kale.

 

VARIATIONS

Cubed butternut squash or fresh pumpkin may be substituted for the sweet potatoes.

 

TIPS

When I prepare greens in advance, I place a few absorbent paper towels at the bottom of the bag or dish.  I then layer the greens over the paper towels.  These paper towels will absorb any extra moisture in the greens and will keep the green fresh. roasted sweet potato salad

 

A Special Day for Savta

Today is a wonderful day for my mother.

After finally getting the all-clear to start bearing full weight on her hip after surgery, my mother is finally coming home.  It has been over six grueling weeks since Savta’s hip-revision surgery.

Savta will be continue to receive physical therapy here until she returns home to Cleveland later next week.

And, we are rolling out the red carpet.

With the red carpet, of course, we will need a welcome home sign.  And, a welcome home party thrown by the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  And, so the celebration begins…

Just in case the kids don’t get the sign here before Savta’s arrival, I quickly drew a welcome home sign.  I used a large piece of white foam board and poster markers in black and red.  I finished the exclamation sign off with a cloth bandage.

Welcome home, Savta!

SUPPLIES

white foam board
thick markers
Band-Aids

TIP

Display welcome home sign  in window.  That way, no tape is needed and sign can be turned around to be viewed indoors, as well.

The Blessing and Renewal of Tu Beshvat

 

tu beshvat fruit salad with kiwi garnish.jpg

 

Tomorrow is Tu B’Shevat , ט״ו בשבט‎‎, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.   This special Jewish day commemorates the New Year of the Trees.

We are  taught that the trees are judged on this date for the fruit that will be produced in the next growing year.  In Israel, this is the beginning of fruit trees emerging from winter dormancy to begin a new fruit-bearing season.

To commemorate this special day, we enjoy fruit, especially fruits synonymous with the Land of Israel.  In the Torah, certain fruits are praised as the bounty of Israel and we make certain to enjoy these fruits on this day.  These fruits of mention are olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

Tu B’Shevat reminds us of the dormant potential in the trees and in each one of us.  Just as the trees and their seeds lie dormant during the harsh and cold winter months, often we have times of dormancy.  Our hope is that we recognize the potential in ourselves, our children and those around us, even in the harshest and most challenging of times. Precisely at this time, while it is still cold and unforgiving outside, the trees celebrate their New Year.

May each one of us celebrate this festival of potential, growth and blossoming in our gardens, our families and our hearts.

This fruit salad incorporates some new fruits and some of the fabulous fruits of Israel. We thank G-d when enjoying the vibrant colors, textures and flavors of fruit by reciting this blessing:

Hebrew:

Transliteration
Baruch atah A-donai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam Borei Pri Ha-aitz.

Translation
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

When we eat new fruits that we have not eaten for an entire season, we also bless G-d with this special blessing:

Hebrew:Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.

Transliteration
Baruch atah A-donai, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh

Translation
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season

This fruit salad incorporates so many of the fruits that I love to purchase at the Machene Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem open-air market) while we are in Israel.  I hope that it connects you to The Land, to G-d and to the potential that is Tu Beshvat, too.

Happy Tu Beshvat!

INGREDIENTS
dragon fruit
kiwi (see tips)
star fruit
watermelon
persimmon
Asian pears (see tips)
strawberries
dates
pomegranates

SPECIAL SUPPLIES
melon baller
scallop knife
peeler

DIRECTIONS
Was, dice, scoop and cut fruit into small pieces.  Gently toss and optionally garnish with Simple Kiwi Flower Garnish.

 

TIPS 

To keep fruits like Asian pears from oxidizing, place cut pieces in a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part of lemon juice r pineapple juice.

Peel kiwi with a vegetable peeler.  You will preserve more of the fruit.

Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

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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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.

Thanksgiving Quinoa Salad

Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the harvest.  Giving thanks is central to Judaism and offering thanks for agricultural success (Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister) is an important Jewish theme.  Traditionally, foods like cranberry, almonds and corn are included in the American Thanksgiving celebration.  This salad celebrates the breadth of so many delicious salad ingredients, some old, some new and some recreated.  The addition of pumpkin pie spice to the toasting of the seeds and nuts adds a familiar Thanksgiving taste and aroma to this salad. (more…)

Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds

A warm salad can both accommodate our low-carb diet and satisfy our hearty side dish craving in a way that a cold salad never can.   This salad starts with a cold base of chopped romaine lettuce and is topped with a warm saute of onions, zucchini, mushrooms, slivered almonds and sunflower seeds.  The combination of salad and saute, cold and warm, fresh and hearty is simply sensational.

It is easy to prepare the parts of this warm salad in advance.  Just make sure to assemble right before serving to keep the salad greens crisp and fresh.

Best of all, you can separate  some of the warm saute separate and save it for another meal.  It will refrigerate well and can be served the next day over a bed of warm rice or quinoa.

warm salad mushrooms zucchini nuts and seeds plated

 

INGREDIENTS

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced (see onion tip below)

1 box of mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and patted dry

1-2 zucchini, scrubbed, diced small  and patted dry

a sprinkle of slivered almonds

a sprinkle of shelled sunflower seeds

salt and pepper to taste
scant drizzle of balsamic or wine vinegar

1 cup romaine lettuce, soaked, rinsed and chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

Clean and chop romaine lettuce.  Place on plate or in salad bowl.

Lightly saute onion in olive oil until just starting to brown.  Add mushrooms and zucchini to saute pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Scantly drizzle balsamic vinegar over saute and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to saute pan.

Saute vegetable for a few minutes, just until soft and fragrant.  Add a light sprinkle of almonds and sunflower seeds.  Toss until just coated, for 1-2 minutes more.

warm salad mushrooms zucchini nuts and seeds.jpg

Spoon  vegetable saute over the romaine lettuce.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

ONION TIP

Lightly pierce and microwave onion for 30 seconds before chopping to avoid tears.The microwave heat denatures the onion enzymes that cause the release of sulphuric gas, which are the culprit for making us cry when cutting onions.