Not Weird Butternut Squash Soup

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So I was just visiting my dear friend Chai and her family. Since I’m back on the whole 30 bit she was a little nervous about what in the world I would eat while there so she just bought out all the veggies at the store and we had a bit of fun in the kitchen 🙂

For dinner she thought we could make a butternut squash soup so I said, what if we add ground beef to it. She in no uncertain terms told me I was crazy, but it didn’t matter to me… I was sure this was going to be good… and so it was. So here you go… Enjoy this super delicious, super filling NOT WEIRD Butternut Squash Soup with Ground beef and Jerusalem Artichokes… come on, basic was definitely not going to cut it if I wanted to impress my friend… but fancy doesn’t have to mean complicated either 🙂 and this soup is really easy to make!

Ingredients :

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 onion- diced
  • Butternut Squash
  • Soup stock
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Optional: Maple Syrup to add sweetness

“Optional” Garnish that makes this soup awesome…

Directions:

  1. Lightly caramelize the diced onion with a bit of salt in olive oil in a deep pan or soup pot.
  2. Prepare the butternut squash… Now there are 2 ways to do this…
    1. You can either cut the squash in half, take out the seeds brush with a little oil and bake it face down on a lined pan at 350F until its soft – approximately 45min-1hour. This could also be done in a double wrapped pan if your oven is not kosher.
    2. You can *peel and cut your squash* and add it to the sauteed onions and let it cook in the broth.
  3. Add the squash to the onions along with enough soup stock to cover the squash. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the butternut squash is thoroughly cooked through or for 30 minutes if you pre-cooked the squash in the oven.
  4. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth and give it a taste. Add any cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper etc needed to bring out the flavor. **Just remember it is supposed to be a sweeter soup** – you can even add a dash of maple syrup!
  5. If you like your soup thicker you can cook it down a bit longer, if you like it thinner you can add a bit of water. This is a VERY flexible soup!

    Optional, but not really optional:

  6. Just before you are ready to serve, take the Jerusalem artichokes and process them in a food processor until it is in very small pieces. Put a little olive oil in the pan and add the processed Jerusalem Artichokes. Cook over a medium flame and when you start to see the oil sizzle a bit put the ground beef on top.
  7. Brown the meat with the artichokes and use to garnish the soup.

If you’ve got picky eaters, start with the meat on the side, but if your friends or kids are anything like mine, they’ll end up adding the meat to the soup and won’t look back! The mix of sweet and savory is just too good!

*Peeling and cutting squash is NOT my favorite thing to do, if you are going to do it, I’d suggest wearing gloves as the squash can often dry out the skin on your hands… Alternatively, you can see if one of your local stores caries a peeled and cut squash with a good hechsher, if you have a Harris Teeter nearby you may be in luck 🙂

Cranberry Sauce

I don’t like cranberry sauce. I’ve been pretty happy without cranberry sauce. But tonight, my mom made her cranberry sauce and something came over me, so I decided to add one more crazy thing to the to -do list. This is more or less what she told me to do… minus the canned pineapple and mandarin oranges… but if pineapple and mandarin oranges are your thing, then totally go for it! 🙂unnamed-16.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime

Directions:

  • Bring water, sugar and salt to a boil. Add the cranberries and cook until they begin to come apart. Mix well and add a squeeze of lime juice. Let cool and store in a tupperware or jar.

Interestingly, the sauce actually congealed a bit as it cooled… kind of reminded me of the canned stuff… so maybe it will be good? I’ll keep you posted. It tasted good when I tried a tiny bit tonight!

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.

 

 

Oven Baked Rice

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Cooking in a non-kosher kitchen has it’s challenges. While it is ideal to kasher ovens or stovetops, sometimes that isn’t possible due to timing or family tensions. That’s where this handy trick comes in. If all you have available to you is a non-kosher oven, you may be able to double wrap your food in foil and then bake it- ask your local Orthodox Rabbi for more information. 🙂

This rice recipe is really easy and the rice comes out really nice and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of a rice of your choice (I used brown rice)
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. Oil an aluminum pan and add rice and water according to the proportions listed on the rice package. Wrap the bottom of the aluminum pan with a layer of aluminum foil and wrap the top with two layers making sure to completely seal the pan. Put in the oven and bake for about an hour- mine was done in an hour and 10 minutes. If you want to check on the rice lift the pan and tilt it to feel if there is still water loose in the pan. If you do open the foil and the rice is not done yet, be careful to fully double wrap it before returning it to the oven. Once the rice is done open it and fluff it with a fork and enjoy!

Top 5 Kosher Desserts in your Grocery

I am always super excited and surprised when I find great kosher food finds in my local grocery stores… Going home can be stressful, dessert does a nice job of mediating that stress… not to mention going for any amount of time without dessert makes me sad so here goes my top 5 totally findable desserts. They also happen to be gluten free so there is no issue with Pas Yisroel for those who are particular 🙂

  1. Glutino Gluten Free WafersGlutino-Gluten-Free-Wafers-Chocolate-Covered-678523010402-650x650.jpgThese things are pretty much the greatest chocolate fix… ever and thanks to the frequency of gluten free diets, they are pretty much in every grocery store I’ve been in lately. Even better- they are Cholov Yisrael!
  2. Hail Merry Miracle Tartshailmerrytartxl.jpg
    These are certified by the Star K and while they taste like cheesecake, they are parve- made with cashews! I’ve found these all over the states (including Maui!) usually in health food stores. You can check their website to find a store near you. You can also order online 🙂 https://www.hailmerry.com/
  3. Liz Lovely Ginger Snapdragons & Chocolate Moose Dragonsliz lovely cookie.jpg
    This is a recent find and a new favorite. These cookies are a dream. Delicious, parve, gluten free, and certified by the Chof K! They sold them at my local organic market. Here is their website for more info http://lizlovely.com/
  4. Enjoy Life Snickerdoodles
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    Enjoy life brand is really great and allergy friendly in general. These cookies are soft and really good- the kind that you wouldn’t guess are gluten free and are certified by the CRC! Best part is you can find them in most regular grocery stores! Woot woot!
  5. Hail Merry Macaroons3.5_macs_6flavors_set.jpg
    These are not your standard passover macaroons. These are flavor filled, parve and certified by the Star K… In my family we give foodie food find gifts for channukah and this one was a big hit! My favorites are strawberry and the chocolate chip cookie flavors… salted caramel is pretty fantastic too! *Heads up, they are not kosher for passover

My first courageous conversation

It was the end of my Junior year of college and it was the first day of our annual family vacation. It was also the day I decided to start keeping kosher. I woke up that morning like any other. I had been thinking about kashrus more and more. Keeping a ‘kosher style’ apartment with my roommate had opened my eyes to how easy keeping kosher could be. So on the first day of our vacation, with no food, and no plan, I decided to ‘take the plunge,’ I was going to start being more particular about kosher.

We drove for 6 hours before anyone in the car found out about my new decision. We stopped off at a fast food restaurant. I stared at all the options trying to decide what to say, what to do. My father saw how I deliberated over what should have been an easy decision. I just couldn’t eat anything there. My father was flabbergasted and fully confused, “What is it? I will buy you whatever you want, just tell me.” I looked down, I couldn’t meet his eyes. I mumbled, “um, well you see, the thing is… I decided to keep kosher.” There. I said it. Whew. I could breath again… but my family, well that’s another story. Truth is, my family is amazing. They drove around and around until I found something I could actually eat. That vacation was weird, but it set the tone for all that would come. I would spring something on my parents, they would swallow their pride, and we would make it work.

This cookbook & blog is dedicated to my parents and sister, who no matter what, have always been there supporting me each and every step of the way. Not only is this cookbook dedicated to them, but its also inspired by them and all that they taught me about coming home kosher, to a not so kosher kitchen, and maintaining and strengthening the ties I have with my loved ones. Mom, Dad, Caryn, this is for you.

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