Leftover Thanksgiving Chicky Tacos

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So Thanksgiving is over, but my mini vacation wasn’t. As much as I could, I tried to plan my meals to match up with what the rest of the family. That way I don’t end up salivating over all their great smelling food, instead I can enjoy my own kosher versions :).

Well anyway, motzei Shabbos was Taco night. As my sister fried up some ground beef and prepared all sorts of yummy toppings for my extended family of 19?20? I kind of lost count. I snagged a couple of taco shells (before anyone else could get to the box), an avocado and checked some fresh romaine lettuce. I pulled my crock pot back out and made myself some SUPER AWESOME tacos…Afterwards my only regret was that I hadn’t snagged more taco shells…

Ingredients:

  • Leftover Thanksgiving poultry, shredded or cut up small
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa- I went with a medium heat level
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Taco Shells
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Tomato? Faux sour cream? Guacamole? Non-dairy cheese? Whatever else you like to put on your tacos…

Directions:

  1. Shred your leftover turkey, chicken, cornish game hens, whatever, in to your crock pot. Add the salsa and mix well. Heat on high heat for about 30-40 minutes, until it has warmed up.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lime on the heated poultry and mix well.
  3. Wash and cut/prepare any taco toppings
  4. Assemble your tacos…

 

Its as easy as that, and let me tell you, this thing was SOOO FLAVORFUL! Good thing I have more left over chicky…I get to have these tacos again tomorrow!

 

The Little Chicky That Could

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In the past, I’ve made myself all sorts of different foods for Thanksgiving. I’ve done Turkey meatballs, St. Tropez Chicken… basically any kind of poultry I was in the mood for. Since Turkey was never really my favorite, I was never so into preparing something to match up so neatly with what everyone else was eating. This year was different. From the first day in November I was CRAVING a nice roasted piece of turkey… or rather poultry.

I decided then and there, this year would be a basic ‘roasted’ little chiky (as my sister and I call it)… AKA Cornish Game Hen. For me, Cornish Game Hens are one of the few types of poultry sold at my local kosher grocery under the hashgacha I eat. This made getting ahold of the bird… or should I say birds… (they are pretty small so I buy them in 2 packs) pretty easy. If you don’t have Cornish Game Hens, this recipe would go great with a whole regular sized chicken too. This recipe was so easy I was was able to set up my little crock pot and basically forget about it until dinner time.  In the meantime I went on a hike with my extended family, played card games, even learned how to play “Settler’s of Catan…”

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cornish Game Hens- Frozen or Defrosted… either way
  • 1/2 bottle of beer- I used Blue Moon
  • Poultry seasoning (I made my own with a bit of salt, paprika, oregano, and rosemary…no real measurements- as my dad would call it, I used the “shitalach method” meaning a bit of this and a bit of that… no idea if we are saying that right…)
  • Prepared roasted vegetables of your choice… I did sweet potato, green beans, and brussel sprouts.

Directions:

  1. Set up your crock pot an place your 2 cornish game hens inside. Add half a beer and try to coat the chickys with the beer.
  2. Rub the chickys with the seasoning mix. *Careful on the salt here… since kosher meat is soaked and salted, it already has salt flavor and doesn’t need much more*
  3. Turn your crock pot on high for about 4-6 hours until the cornish game hens are cooked through. At this point you can turn off your crock pot if its still too early for your meal. Just be sure to turn it back on a good 1-2 hours before you want to eat so everything will be nice and hot.
  4. About 1-2 hours before you are going to eat, add your prepared roasted vegetables. I roasted them in my oven at home and brought them in a ziplock that I could add to the chicken. I did it this way because I really wanted each of the vegetables to maintain their individual tastes and textures. By cooking them before and only adding them toward the end, my crock pot meal didn’t become another form of cholent… not that there is anything wrong with cholent… 🙂

 

Check out my little cornish game chickys all cooked and ready for some veggies!unnamed-2.jpg

Now if you end up with leftovers… let me tell you, my Leftover Thanksgiving Chicky Tacos were OUTSTANDING in my very humble opinion.

 

 

 

Channukah Food Gifts…

On my father’s side of the family we started giving each other food gifts for Channukah. As the oldest cousin, and the only one keeping kosher, I decided to show them that there are actually some really good kosher foods out there… This year I decided to make some easy & delicious desserts paired with a really great food find.

  1. Candied Pecans… This recipe is super easy and tastes great! I just made it for my school pot luck too! The left over sugar stuck to the parchment paper is pretty amazing so this time I saved it and used it in my #2 recipe…unnamed-15.jpg
  2. Toasted coconut bark… First cover your baking sheet with parchment paper, then toast shredded sweetened coconut in a 350*F oven until it begins to brown. Mix  to prevent it from burning. It is done when most of it is golden brown. Move the toasted coconut to another container, then cover the pan with mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is the best one- 3 bags was perfect to cover my cookie sheet). Place in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate chips are melted. Take out of the oven and mix/smooth with a fork or spoon. Sprinkle the leftover sugar crumbs from the candied pecans. Then sprinkle the toasted coconut and a dash of cinnamon and a light dash of salt. Be liberal with the coconut and with another piece of parchment paper, press it in to the chocolate. Leave it out overnight  until it is solid. Then break it up & wrap it up really pretty 🙂
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  3. Since I live in the great state of MD, I was fortunate enough to find these DELICIOUS salted caramels, that are CHOLOV YISROEL, in my local grocery store when they were advertising some new local products. Needless to say, I bought all 4 of the remaining packages…Shays_6ozCaramelPouch_SeaSalt.jpg

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I am with family, especially for a food centered gathering like Thanksgiving, I always try to bring a few foods that I can share with everyone else. This cake is one of my FAVORITES. Also… just so you know, Coffee cake is a cake eaten with coffee, NOT necessarily a cake made with coffee…

Ingredients:

  • 8 TBSP butter (or earth balance)- room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8th tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter (or earth balance)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until well combined.
  • Pour half the cake batter in a baking pan then sprinkle with half the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  • Spoon the remaining cake batter on top of the cinnamon sugar layer then finish it off by sprinkling more of the cinnamon sugar layer on top.
  • Bake at 350*F for 35-40 minutes until cooked through.

This one is on my to do list for tomorrow night so I’ll post the picture then 🙂

Double Wrapped Vegetable Lasagna

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Growing up my father made the VERY BEST vegetable lasagna. It was such a staple in our house that I was genuinely shocked, and already 20 years old, when I found out that traditional lasagna was actually made with meat. My dad still makes the best lasagna and that’s what’s on the menu for Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Since everyone will be enjoying lasagna, I don’t want to miss out so I’m going to be enjoying my own single serving lasagna too. But since I’ve already got a TON to do, I’m going super easy with this lasagna… I’ll assemble it before I leave and then throw it in an oven double wrapped in foil once I get to the cabin.

Ingredients:

  • Oven ready lasagna noodles (mine were spinach flavor hence the green in the picture)
  • Your favorite tomato sauce
  • Zucchini- sliced thinly
  • Big handful of spinach
  • Sweet Potato thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded cheese- I used munster, mozzarella would have been good too

Directions:

  • Soak the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (mine said to soak in warm water for 1 minute)
  • Put a spoonful or two of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan and place one layer of noodles on top – I used a small disposable aluminum pan
  • Chop or rip the spinach and mix with the feta cheese and sour cream ( I mixed it in a ziplock bag… I told you I love this trick!) You could also add some tofu into this mix if you are looking for more protein. Spread the creamy spinach & feta mixture on top of the first layer of lasagna noodles.
  • Add a little sauce on top and add the next layer of lasagna noodles. Put a spoonful or two of sauce and sour cream then add a layer of zucchini with more sauce.
  • Add the last layer of lasagna noodles and some more sauce and shredded cheese. Wrap with foil, and then wrap with a second layer of foil. Then bake in a 350*F pre-heated oven for 45minutes if you like your veg & noodles ‘al dente’ or for 1 hour for softer lasagna.

Alternative… you could thinly slice sweet potatoes for another layer!- Be sure to bake for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours if you do use sweet potatoes to give them a chance to really cook.

I’m not gonna lie, my dad’s lasagna is still better, but at least I have a good enough substitute :)…

*EDIT*

After making it for my pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday night meal, I edited the recipe to include sour cream in the mix… I had some extra after the sour cream cake so I decided it couldn’t hurt. Let me tell you, not only did it not hurt, but it totally took this lasagna from ‘okay enough’ to WOW WOW WOW!!! I’ve still got some sour cream left so you can bet I am going to prepare a few more of these to store in the freezer for another make shift meal 🙂

Aunt Jill’s Cinnamon Rolls in the CROCK POT!!!

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My aunt Jill has a knack for finding great easy recipes. This cinnamon roll recipe totally won our hearts a few years back and I’ve been super obsessed with them ever since. This year, when researching recipes for Thanksgiving, I came across a cookbook of all sorts of crazy things you can make in a crock pot. It turns out, you can make cinnamon rolls in a crock pot! Who knew! And let me tell you, these things are awesome! They are also going to be the perfect home cooked breakfast over my mini Thanksgiving vacation 🙂

So you can use your favorite cinnamon roll recipe and throw it in your crock pot (lined with parchment paper), or you can join my family and try out my Aunt Jill’s cinnamon rolls 🙂

This recipe includes 2 tips & tricks… 1) I’m making the dry mix before I go and packing it in a ziplock bag, that way when I’m ready to make them, all I have to do is add the wet ingredients and roll them out, which brings me to … 2) Don’t have a rolling pin? Use some parchment paper & a wine bottle to roll it out just as thin as you like!

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And now for the recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 4 TBSP earth balance
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (to add at the end if you like your cinnamon rolls gooey)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Drop of almond milk

Directions:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & baking soda. Add the oil and almond milk and mix until a dough forms.
  • Roll out the dough to make it as long and thin as possible without ripping (about 1/4-1/2 inch).
  • Spread the earth balance evenly across the dough
  • Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle all over the the dough.
  • Roll the dough up long ways so you end up with a long snake, then slice in 1 1/2 inch slices.
  • Line your crock pot with parchment paper and place the cinnamon rolls on top. Cook on the high setting for about an hour and a half. You will likely see steam cover the inner lid of your crock pot. This happens more as the cinnamon buns are almost done. Just use a paper towel to wipe the lid periodically.
  • When the cinnamon rolls are done, you can either mix powdered sugar with a drop of almond milk to make a frosting to drizzle on top, or you can pour some almond milk on top all the rolls to make them nice and gooey, or you can do both!

*If you’d rather go the traditional cooking route, you can also bake these in your oven at 400*F for 15-20 minutes

Enjoy! And if you need more of a step-by-step here are some pictures to help you out 🙂

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After mixing the dough, roll it out… no rolling pin? No problem as long as you have wine 🙂 When I am not in a kosher kitchen, or when I don’t have kosher counter tops, I roll my dough out on a flexible cutting board and use parchment paper as a barrier between the bottle and the dough. This keeps the bottle mostly clean 🙂

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After rolling out the dough, spread the earth balance and sprinkle the cinnamon & brown sugar.

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Roll the dough up length-wise then…

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Slice the rolls and …

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Place in your crock-pot lined with parchment paper and heat on high for 1 1/2 hours

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If your crock pot gets steamy, wipe the lid and let the cinnamon rolls keep on cooking

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When they are done drizzle with frosting/glaze and enjoy! These are great hot, but they are also great cold so really, there is no going wrong here 🙂 Enjoy!

Thanksgiving is Coming…

Thanksgiving is one of my families favorite holidays and each year we alternate between my mother’s side of the family and my father’s side. Since I’ve become Frum, Thanksgiving definitely has some new considerations and every year is a bit different but in the end it is always time well spent with family. So to help you plan for your Thanksgiving feasts this year I’m going to post a whole bunch of stuff I’ve one over the years and then the breakdown for this year. Here goes…

My mother’s parents live in New York and are very familiar with the whole kosher scene. They know all about kosher butchers and separate dishes, not to mention glatt kosher caterers.

One year my grandparents had the whole thing brought in by a local kosher caterer. This was nice because everything was kosher and certified and required minimal work on our part. The only down side was that they were not our recipes and when you don’t work for something (or in this case, cook it yourself), it just isn’t the same.

Another year, I came early and kashered my grandparents oven and stove top. They had a new set of pots and pans and we made the whole thing together. Everything was going really well until about 5 minutes before we ate when someone took the wrong knife, cut a lemon and squeezed it on the green beans in the oven with everything else… It was a frantic phone call to my LOR and I remember I was still able to eat certain foods that had been cooked before, but it was a funny end after a lot of hard work. Another funny part of that year was that I decided to check all the lettuce, you know, for bugs. Well my 13 year old cousin got really in to it and was really excited any time he found a questionable speck. We spent over an hour checking lettuce and in the end there was so much talk about bugs that no one would go near the salad…I guess some things are left better unsaid… whoops!

When we go to my father’s side of the family we have either been in Illinois/Indiana, or more recently in a rented cabin in Ohio. When I would fly to Illinois I was limited in what I could bring on the flight so I remember thinking about what Thanksgiving foods I liked best. It was always the dairy stuff… you know, green bean casserole, candied yams, cheesy potatoes. So one year, thats what I prepared in advance, and I also brought a mini cheesecake from Crown Heights. That year, I was really newly frum, it might have even been my first kosher Thanksgiving… my strongest memory was missing out on turkey, and freaking out when my cousins kept passing the gravy over my plate… That was the last year that I intentionally sat in the middle of the table, now I run for a table end 🙂

In more recent years, we’ve rented a cabin in Ohio, “halfway” away from everyone. Between us and my aunt’s and uncle’s families we all make a list of what we are bringing and then we drive out and cook all together. Kashering is not an option there so I end up having to get creative. Another added complexity is that we are there Wed-Sunday and I stay at the cabin for shabbos. Its a whole bunch of extra meals with more consideration needed… On those Thanksgivings my crockpot is key. In the past I’ve pre-made my food and used the crock pot to re-heat it. Sometimes I make turkey meatballs, green bean casserole, and some sort of sweet potatoes and throw it all in the crock pot to re-heat. I use the leftovers for shabbos and throw in a few extras. Since being in the middle of nowhere in Ohio, with a bunch of self-proclaimed foodies all showing off their food, I always try to bring food that everyone else can have too, but it makes me a bit anxious that I will run out of food for me, so I always go overboard.

But then again, that’s what you do for family. You go overboard, you push beyond your boundaries, you allow yourself to be less comfortable, because you love them, and they love you and at the end of the day, they are the one constant in an ever changing world. To all my family, on both sides, I love you all dearly, and look forward to our Thanksgiving dinners, this year and next.