Friday, April 29, 2011

Meatless Friday?

With Passover behind us, Shabbat is once again all about the carbs! And all about taking a break from meat. I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason over Passover I eat a lot more meat than any other time of year. So now that it has come and gone, a meatless Shabbat is in order.

Check out our menu for tonight. I am so excited, I can't wait!!!!

Setting up the dining room table with all of our new, fun dishes and serving pieces is always fun. I love how nice our white dishes look on the red table cloth. We are expecting a very special friend for dinner and I had a blast choosing which pieces to go with the dinner. Hey, I have a lot to aspire to, my mom and aunt are the best hostesses on the planet.

Since we are serving tofu, we have the opportunity to use our tofu press. This kitchen tool never gets old. It makes our tofu taste so much better and easier to work with. Plus, seeing how much water comes out of the tofu is pretty cool.


We are serving tofu parm as our main dish. I love eating this meal. It has so much appeal, is easy to make, and tastes great. It is the perfect combo of comfort food and a fancy feast. 

We are going to serve the tofu parm on pasta, well because that's how you serve it. It is a little funny to serve pasta on Shabbat because we will also be serving challah, but you can't mess with tradition on both accounts.

I can't wait for dinner tonight! YUM!!!

Aside from the tofu parm and pasta we are planning on serving salad, steamed broccoli, challah and wine. I know Josh and I are looking forward to dinner. I just really hope our friend likes her meal!

And her super sweet dessert! Pudding pie :) Delicious.

Have a great Shabbat and wonderful weekend!

Royal Wedding Madness

What were you doing at 4am? I was in bed, comfortably watching the Royal Wedding!!!

What can I say? I got swept away by it all. The fairytale, the love affair, the hype. Weddings are wonderful no matter who is getting married, but a Prince marrying his Princess, this had to be seen.

I admit that I am a bit obsessed intrigued fascinated by it all. I'm not a Royal Watcher by any means but I do love a good gossip mag every now and again. I loved 'watching' Prince William grow up at the same time I did. I loved 'watching' him meet Kate. Their love affair, complete with ups and downs, was a mainstay on The Today Show, E, and Perez. It was enough to keep my interest more than I would normally admit. And the specials, they were enough to make me swoon. It is amazing what Lifetime can do to an already fairytale-esc story. And TLC too. What can I say? I'm hooked!

Oh yeah, and my awesome dad brought me back my very own William and Kate china tea cup from England. So of course I had to get up and watch this amazing historical event. How could I miss it?

In case you were not crazy like me did not get up at 4am to watch the festivities, you truly missed out! It was spectacular and everything I could ever dream it would be.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't Forget the Forgotten

6 years is a long time to wait for your house to be rebuilt. It is a long time to be disconnected from your community. It is longer than I’ve known Samantha, and it seems like we’ve known each other forever. However, that is how long some people have been waiting to move back into their homes in New Orleans.

Since Hurricane Katrina the world has seen a number of disasters. The immediate relief efforts are fierce. We drop what we are doing to help out those in need. But then a few weeks, months, and years pass and we forget. We forget the pictures we saw. We forget the stories we heard. We forget the faces of the people and their suffering. In the wake of the Tsunami and Nuclear crisis in Japan I can’t help but wonder about their future and what Japan will be like 6 years from now. I also can't help but wonder how and why our country seems to have forgotten its own people still in need.

New Orleans is a city like none other and the people there are unlike anyone you will ever meet. There is a soul to New Orleans that touches you in ways you cannot understand unless you’ve spent significant time there. The music, the food, the people all move to a rhythm so different from what most of us experience. Once you get a taste of the Crescent City it moves you and stays with you forever. 

Sadly, these wonderful characteristics of this great city are not all that have stuck with me. I, and so many others who are involved in the rebuilding effort, are left with the same shared gut wrenching scene that is all too familiar in New Orleans: the staircase to nowhere- the concrete slab that represents where a house used to stand. 

While you rush off to help those who are in immediate need, please don’t forget about the people that are often forgotten. Join up with groups like St. Bernard Project,, or one of the many other volunteer groups in the city. Because 6 years later, they still need your help, your support, and most importantly, your awareness of just how much is still left to be done in New Orleans.


Food for Thought in New Orleans

I have a secret place in the French Quarter of New Orleans. When everyone else is flocking to get a beignet at Cafe Du Monde, I head to Croissant D'Or Patisserie. 

Sure if a beignet is what you seek, then head to Cafe Du Monde. However, Croissant D'Or is a hidden gem in the city. The authentic French bakery has some of the best food around. Just thinking about their menu has my mouth watering and I can taste the croissant dissolve in my mouth. Words simply can't describe the deliciousness of the food and coffees at this small cafe.

When it is time for lunch or dinner, it is common knowledge that if you go to New Orleans there are certain types of foods you need to try: Gumbo, Jambalaya, Muffuleta, Crawfish, and for the adventurous you can find alligator on a stick (like beef teriyaki) in a flea market in the French Quarter.

Eating authentic Louisiana cuisine is difficult when you keep kosher. Luckily Kosher Cajun is up to the task. Sure, like any good kosher deli, you can get a  sandwich, but why bother when you can try their Jambalaya! This year I put them to the test and gave a helping to a friend from down south. He was blown away with how authentic they were able to get the Jambalaya- it's not an easy task when the main ingredients are sausage and crawfish. So if you are down in the New Orleans area you should definitely check out this family run business.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May I Have This Dance?

Dancing is a huge part of our lives. I've written many, many times about how important it is to both Josh and I. Every where we go we are always the first ones on the floor, dancing loud and proud. Seriously, I'm not kidding. See for yourself!

What can I say? We love to dance. It is hands down our favorite past time. Leading up to our wedding Josh and I would practice dancing together for hours and hours. Now, as life goes, we don't always have enough hours in our week to dance as much as we would like. And while we are never short on weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs to dance at, our Saturday night dancing dates are becoming fewer and farther between.

But we don't let that get us down. Tonight we are going to our weekly zumba class. Sure it's not exactly ballroom dancing, but for one hour a week we get to shake it with the best of them and laugh hysterically while doing it. Life doesn't get any better than that. And this week in particular, we need all of the practice we can get. We have a family bar mitzvah and need to be in dancing shape. 

I guess we could move the coffee table out of the way to practice our smooth moves for old times sake. What do you say Josh: "May I have this dance?"

Bread, Bread, and More Bread

After a whole week of avoiding bread and bread like products, did you wonder how Josh and I broke Passover?

With pizza of course.

Lots and lots of pizza.

And more pizza.

And some more pizza. What can I say? We really like pizza.

Handyman Strikes Again

Apparently in our house we have 2 seasons, snow shoveling and building. Now that the shoveling is behind us (thank goodness!) it is on to building.

When we bought our house last year, we were thrilled. There is so much about it that we love. And a few quirky things that we couldn't wait to get our hands on. This summer, now that we are finally moved in and know what we need to change vs. what we want to change, Josh's project list will be a long one. Just one of the many perks of being married to a teacher :)

On our ever growing to do list is:

  1. Replacing our front screen door
  2. Insulating a few of the interior walls
  3. Installing crown molding in the living room and dining room
  4. Installing beadboard paneling on our front porch
Obviously all of these projects will not be accomplished this year, but over time we would like to make these upgrades, in the order in which they appear.

The one project that we have already accomplished is finding a solution to our storage issue. For an old house in our area, we have a lot of closet space. But one closet that we are missing is a hall closet or coat closet. Until now we had been using one of the closets in our sunroom as a coat closet. While it was very functional, it wasn't so practical.

9 times out of 10 Josh and I use our backdoor. We park our cars in the back of the house and it is an easier way to get in and out of the house. Since our sunroom is in the front of the house and we use the back door, it was impractical to keep our jackets and gloves and boots in the front of the house. Also, with any house, we could always use more storage.

On a recent trip to Ikea we found the perfect solution to our current problem. An open air coat/shoe rack with storage boxes. It is the perfect size for our mud room and holds everything we need it to, while leaving a lot space for future purchases. I could not have asked for a more perfect organizational storage unit.

Finally, our back hall no longer looks messy like this:

But wonderfully put together like this:

Have a mentioned that I love being married to such a handyman?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Best of the Best

Of all of the Passover food in the entire world, there is none greater than the Manischewitz Extra Moist Coffee Cake Mix. I don't know what it is or how they do it, but this mix is the greatest in the world.

The coffee cake is one of the things I look forward to every year. I probably eat at least 3 of these over the 7 days, mostly for breakfast, but sometimes for a snack too.  They are that good.

All you have to do is mix all of the ingredients that come in the package into the provided pan with 2 eggs and some water and vegetable oil. Then just sprinkle on the topping (that also comes in the mix) and pop it in the oven. 55 minutes later you have the perfect Passover coffee cake.

Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water. YUM. Anytime I can eat coffee cake for breakfast I am a happy camper.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meatless Monday + Passover Plates: Squash Casserole

When Passover and Meatless Monday collide the results are delicious. Check out the kosher for Passover version of my mom's squash casserole.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and Josh's made us a beyond yummy squash pie. When I raved about it to my mom she told me that she too had a similar recipe. I was so excited! We decided to make it together for Passover. All we had to do was trade out the breadcrumbs for matzah meal. The whole thing was really easy to make and tasted great. I love how versatile meatless meals can be.

3 lbs of yellow summer squash
1 stick of margarine
1/2 cup of chopped onions
2 eggs
1 cup of matzah meal
1 tablespoon of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Slice and boil the summer squash until soft but firm.

Drain squash and mash it well.

Melt 1 stick of margarine.
Add half of the melted margarine, chopped onions, sugar, and egg to the squash
Season with salt and pepper to taste

Add in 1 cup of matzah meal (or bread crumbs if not for Passover) and mix well.
Add more matzah meal if necessary for proper consistency.

Put the entire mixture into a casserole dish for baking
Cover with the other half of the melted margarine and more matzah meal.
Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees

Serve and enjoy.

How did you go meatless over Passover?

Still Passover?

You bet! At least for another day.

Happy Passover! Hope you are having fun so far.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Passover Plates: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Paula Shoyer's The Kosher Baker has been serving me well lately and for that I am grateful. So when I asked my mom if I could make a Passover dessert for our seder and she said yes, I knew where to turn. Although I spent a lot of time cooking with my mom before the holiday, dessert was the one dish that I was going to make myself. It had to be perfect. So when I found a whole Passover section in my new favorite cookbook, choosing to make the Flourless Chocolate Cake was a no brainer.

As always, by following the recipe to the 'T' I was able to make the perfect flourless cake. I was surprised at how easy it was to make and how good it tasted. Have I mentioned that I love this cookbook?

16 ounces parve bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup parve margarine, plus extra for greasing pan
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon parve unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
(Fresh berries of your choice, to serve with cake. We did not do this, allergies and all that.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a 10-inch springform pan

(This part sounds hard, but is honestly the hardest part of the recipe and it makes a world of difference.)
Place a piece of parchment on the counter and trace a circle around the bottom of the pan.
Cut out the circle and set aside.
Place a piece of foil on top of the bottom of the pan and fold the excess foil under the pan.
Attach the sides of the pan and lock in place.
Wrap the extra foil from the bottom of the pan up the exterior sides of the pan.
Take another piece of foil and wrap around the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
This prevents any water from leaking into the cake as it bakes in a water bath.

Grease the top of the foil in the bottom of the pan.
Place the parchment circle on top of the foil.
This step makes it easy to slide the finished cake onto your serving plate.
Grease the parchment circle and the sides of the pan.

Use chocolate chips, or chopping up the chocolate will help it to melt easier.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water
Whisk often until melted.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add the egg yolks and cocoa.
Whisk until thick.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until stiff.
Turn the speed down to low and add sugar slowly.
Once the sugar is added, turn the speed up to high for 1 minute.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Place the pan in a larger roasting pan.
Add boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until set.
Remove the cake from the bath and let cool.
Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.

Open springform and serve.

When I served the cake it was room temperature and delicious. 
When I ate a second piece the next day (I couldn't resist) I heated it up and it was even more delicious than the previous night. 

Enjoy! We sure did!