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Hanukkah in Our New Home

18 Dec

happyhanukkah

It’s been some time.. ok years, since I have blogged. Life has been crazy. Moving 2 times with 3 kids in tow, opening new stores, starting new business ideas. All in the span of 10 months. I’m seriously ready to relax a bit. Our new home is a blessing. We are close to the business, we live in a quite calm neighborhood, kids love their new school. The balance of life is coming back to us all. What way to kick it off and celebrate then with Hanukkah and donuts?  About 12 years ago when I was visiting Israel I was introduced to Sfenj.

Definition: Moroccan doughnuts made by deep frying a sticky, unsweetened yeast dough. They can be purchased from street vendors, who use skewers to remove the freshly made sjenj from the oil. Sfenj should be eaten warm, either plain or dusted with sugar, for breakfast or tea time.

I took the recipe down, from a friends Safta (Grandmother). She didn’t speak English but all I needed was to observe her technique and jot down the ingredients. 12 years later, Trial and error … I think I make some pretty yummy Sfenj.

Lets do it!

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • ——————————-
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • sugar, for garnish (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside.

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and yeast mixture, and stir vigorously with your hand or a spoon until smooth. The dough should be too sticky to knead or shape, almost like a batter.

Cover the bowl, and leave the dough to rise for three to four hours, until double or triple in bulk.

In a wide pot, heat an inch or more of Canola oil until hot. Dip your hands in water, and pull off a piece of dough about the size of a small plum. Use your fingers to make a hole in the ball of dough, stretch the hole wide to make a ring, and place the dough in the hot oil. You will need a good amount of water for each sfenj to prevent it from sticking to your hands.

Repeat with the remaining dough, wetting your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking as you work with it.

Fry the sfenj until golden brown, turning once or twice. Remove the cooked sfenj to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Serve the sfenj hot. If desired, dip the sfenj in sugar to sweeten them.
Serve right away with honey, Nutella, Maple Syrup, Jam & a big pot of Nana Tea! (Mint Tea)

Bon Appetit & Happy Holidays!

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Shabbat Shalom – Peaceful Sabbath

30 Mar

No matter how crazy our week gets..with work, an online business, kids schedules, errands..whatever it may be…we always pause and take a break on Friday night (technically, 18 minutes before sundown) Our kids look forward to this time, as my daughter watches me getting ready, I hear “Shabbat is coming?”  She usually repeats it maybe 37 times.. but she’s just checking. This Shabbat I kept it simple… I usually go semi overboard and make 50 salads, a meat dish a fish dish, potatoes, rice…I just keep going. But once in a while I will just do one large main dish..so this time around was a beef stew on the stove top (not my crock pot for a change) & white rice. It’s a really easy simple recipe.. if you read my blog you see that is my trend. I do like  complicated dishes but recently I just haven’t had the time to make Coq au Vin.

Here is the recipe:

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 pounds Stew Meat- They sell pre-chooped stew meat at most stores
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can Beer, 12 Ounce Can Or Bottled- I used Stella
4 cups Beef Stock- basicly 1 box
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon Sugar
4 whole Carrots, sliced
4 whole New Potatoes, Quartered

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat, setting aside on a plate when brown. Cut pieces in half. Set aside.

Add diced onions to the pot. Stir and cook for two or three minutes until softened, then add garlic for another minute. Pour in beer and beef stock, then add Worcestershire, tomato paste, paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add beef back into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Add carrots and potatoes, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. (If stew gets dry, just add a cup of hot water at a time to replenish the liquid.) Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

This is the starting process… everything added in and now needs to simmer away for a bit. This pan was actually my Mother’s… it’s a bit rustic but has some magic…

 

 

Sous-Chef  Ori… I told you he is a total Mama’s Boy

 

 

This is the completed dish with white rice.

 

 

Decanter with wine… always makes a Friday meal better…

 
My wine… don’t be mad all you wine connoisseurs..yes, I like it with ice! and Limeaid! Try it!

 

And this is what happens at my house after we finish eating and start singing… things get a little out of control..

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom! Peace & Happiness to you and your family!

 

 

Easy Fast Dinner- STAT!

28 Mar

Here is what I made for dinner tonight. I make this maybe 2 times a month, simple-quick-easy and go.
What you’ll need:
-Chicken Thighs, drumsticks, legs- whatever your family will eat
-Root Vegetables Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Garlic = I usually throw in whatever I want to get rid of..
-Soy Sauce- Maple Syrup- Onion Soup Powder or Chicken Soup Powder- Olive Oil-Salt- Pepper
-Roasting Bag

Throw all of the above ingredients into the roasting bag, seal with tie- roll/shake the bag a few times to coat the ingredients.
Put on a rimmed tray or pyrex dish to catch drippings. Pierce a few holes to release the stream, cook at 350′ for 2 hours.. I sometimes let it cook for longer.. I don’t mind having crispy pieces.

This is how it looks before cooked… the chicken is under the Veggies…I added scallions, zucchini and purple potatoes.

This is the completed meal.. It looks way better in real life.. I need to up my Food Photography.. But no matter what, It’s yummy! Serve with rice or by itself. My kids eat it with mashed potatoes..

Random Thoughts

27 Mar

Occasionally I have a post with an array of topics. It’s when I have one of those do everything days. That’s today. I don’t know if it’s the 2 cups of iced coffee or the gospel music playing…. yeeeah… sometimes that happens… AMEN KIRK FRANKLIN! (I’m serious.. if you need some Redbull just listen to Gospel= same effect, Just don’t let your Jewish husband catch you singing “Ohhhh Jesus!”)  So enjoy my home organizing, cooking, muffin making, book loving, puzzle reviewing, explosion called Tuesday. wait.. It’s Tuesday right?

This is during breakfast- Peanut Butter Face

Making Pesto Pasta with Cherry Tomatos… boil…

Add Olive Oil to Pesto Powder.. few spoons.. to your liking..

Chop your tomatoes…

Toss. It’s super simple. Super easy, healthy and my Husband loves it. ❤

Also made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins with a Wilton Heart Pan.. when you flip the hearts over you have this perfect place for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was a request from the Man of the House…

2 Books I am obsessing over right now.  I just discovered The Pioneer Woman‘s blog which saved my life (& wallet) with a homemade Iced Coffee recipe- AMAZING. Love her book, full of colorful photos & goes with you step by step so you visually see. Cake Pops is from another blogger Bakerella— Thanks Sis! It was a birthday present and I love this one as well. I love baking and decorating cakes so this is super cute. Lots of ideas for upcoming holidays and birthdays.

My kids were fighting over a Melissa & Doug puzzle non stop so I had to hide it until I bought another one.. Now life is good. They are latch puzzles, they love opening each little door and placing the magnetic puzzle pieces in. My son is 1 and my daughter is 2.5 so this is great for all age ranges.

Moroccan Meatball Tagine Recipe

8 Feb

I just made my favorite meatball recipe and I though why not share the goodness? Sooooo, here we go 🙂

It’s pretty simple and If you don’t own a Tagine you can use a deep dish saute pan…but I prefer the Tagine. Mine is cast iron from Le Creuset and is pretty seasoned by now… same idea as a cast iron skillet and ‘seasoning’.

=Quick info on Cast Iron Pans, skillet, Tagines, etc. There are several reasons that people rave about their cast iron pans and cast iron skillets. Besides being an ideal heat conductor, cast iron cookware heats evenly and consistently, it is inexpensive and will last a lifetime (actually several lifetimes) with proper care, and it is an old-fashioned way to cook fat-free. The first most common mistake of why people do not like cast iron is that they say everything sticks. If food sticks to your cast iron pan, your pan is NOT seasoned right and you need to re-season it. Cast iron is a natural non-stick surface and if your pan is seasoned correctly it WILL NOT stick! To season a cast iron pan means to create a slick and glassy coating by baking on multiple thin coats of oil. This will protect the cast iron pan from getting rusted and makes for a non-stick cooking surface.

You season a cast iron pan by rubbing it with a relatively thin coat of neutral food-grade oil (I stress a light coat of oil). Rub the oil off with paper towels or a cotton cloth. The pan will look like there is no oil left on the surface, but there is as the oil is just very thin (the pan will look dry, not glistening with oil). Place the cast iron pan, upside down, in the oven, with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips. Heat the pan for 30 minutes in a 450 to 500 degree F. oven. Once done, turn off the oven, and let the pan cool to room temperature in the oven. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger “seasoning” bond. I usually do this process 3 to 4 times.=

Ok back to the recipe….Everyone loves meatballs, and these tasty little morsels are steamed in a fragrant tomato sauce. For a more filling dish, add some eggs. Just drop 2-3 eggs atop the meatballs in the sauce and cover. Let the eggs cook until the egg whites are set. Serve the meat balls over couscous or even plain spaghetti.

Serves 4-

MEATBALLS:


1 Lb ground beef-not too lean

1 Small Onion very finely chopped

2 Teaspoons cumin seeds ground

1 Tablespoon sweet paprika

1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1.5 Teaspoon salt or as needed

1 Egg

Olive Oil for browning

To make meatballs: In a bowl, combine the beef, onion, cumin, paprika, blk pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, parsley, cilantro, salt and egg. Form the mixture into 1 inch balls. Set aside.

SAUCE:

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Medium onions chopped

4 Garlic cloves minced

2 Teaspoons cumin ground

1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 Cup chopped fresh parsley,cilantro or mint- your choice

2 Cups tomato sauce

1 Cup beef broth

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan or your tagine. Add the onions and cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper and parsley and cook for 5 more minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in the tomato sauce and beef broth and bring to a simmer. If you started in a saute pan, transfer to your tagine.

You can brown the meatballs, if you like in a skillet or sauce pan in olive oil over high heat. Or simply add them to the sauce uncooked and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, 20 minutes if you did not brown them first. I just plop the uncooked meatballs right into the simmering sauce cook for a good 20 minutes and then right before I serve a crack 2-3 eggs on top until they are set.

Serve with Couscous, spaghetti, or just by themself!

Good Luck and Healthy Dining!

You Tube Obsessions

23 Dec

I love You Tube tutorials! I could be in the middle of cooking… and not know how to… say… quarter a chicken, haha! It’s true it happens to me. So I just grab my iPad and watch a You Tube Vid, and viola!  I have a few subscriptions on You Tube that I always check for new videos, because they are so helpful, and they are actually good quality! (There is allot of crap on You Tube)

Here are a few of my favs.. from all different categories:

Make Up Tutorials:
Michelle Phan– She’s the bomb! I can’t see myself doing some of the makeup that She does.. like Sailor Moon.. yeah not so much my everyday look, but it’s still nice to watch.. She makes great videos and there are a few that are super useful! She got me into Sigma brushes.. and stippling! Check her out.
Michelle Phan You Tube

Cooking Tutorials:
Cooking with Alia– Moroccan cooking at it’s best! If your interested in cooking with a Tagine, middle eastern spices etc.. check her out.. I have made a few of her dishes, it’s really not hard at all! And her Grandmother is awesome! I love when She brings her on 🙂
Alia You Tube

Dede Med– Mediterranean cooking..Falafel, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Hummus and more.. I made a bunch of her stuff, and sometimes add my own twist.
Dede Med You Tube

There is a ton more that I’m addicted to! I will add more soon and send me any Channels worth checking out!

Cooking Class Round 2!

14 Nov

So I headed to another cooking class, this time with my Mother and Sister. It was a class called ‘Tres Amigos: Tacos, Burritos, y Enchiladas’.
L
ocated in Brooklyn, the same place I took my last cooking class- Ger Nis. I definitely am not a beginner in the kitchen and have been practicing my craft for a few years now… But I am always open to learn and try new cuisines and techniques. The more your open to learn the better you will become! So I am open-minded and go as if I am a beginner.

In this Mexican class we shed our preconceived notions about tacos, burritos, and enchiladas (likely rooted in the US) and made some authentic, Mexican varieties. We learned the differences between the two takes on this cuisine while defining what it means to be an authentic taco, burrito, and enchilada via flavors. Real Mexican tacos come with fillings wrapped in fresh corn, occasionally wheat, tortillas served soft or deep-fried to become what we call a hard taco. We learn where the burrito was born (small hint: burro meets taco) and what makes an enchilada (big hint: burrito + spicy tomato sauce). Experimented with different fillings using the freshest ingredients for the ideal end result. And let’s not forget the condiments, decadent and creamy to pungent, spicy and tangy flavored sauce and salsas were all crucial components that are vital to finishing any Mexican taco, enchilada or burrito.

All in all we had a great time together as a family, made ourselves a yummy Mexican dinner and learned a few things along the way! So Arrrriba!! The Mexican class was a success!

After we finished our cooking class in Brooklyn, we headed over to Soho to a cute shop called Vosges Haut Chocolate, know for their decadent hot chocolates, truffles, and ice cream. It was all truly amazing. Great for holiday gifts, they have posh purple boxes wrapped and ready for giving. So this was our ending to a Mexican dinner… yummy Mexican (Aztec) Haut Chocolat!

How to feed a Toddler.

11 Nov

With out losing your mind!

After my daughter graduated from the bottle to table food, I came to a point where I was frazzled with what to feed her.  Yes, at first its jared baby food, but slowly you introduce solids.. that’s when it can get tricky.
First… She’s a toddler, so that means she is picky and doesn’t always like what I try to feed her. Also at her age (15 months) she still can’t have everything under the sun.. and I want to be selective with what she eats, we all should with our children and ourselves! Mainly I stick with organic foods and snacks but I see myself getting into a weekly routine of the same old foods over and over, because I know that’s what she will eat.
Recently it’s been, Macaroni and Cheese, cereal,  yogurt, mashed banana, spaghetti, and these organic vanilla snacks. So It was a relief when I came across this site:  Weelicious

Which gives you ideas and tips for feeding the wee ones and making it fun in the process for them and less stress on you! Also they have some tips on healthy eating for yourself and making baby food!

My First Cooking Class!

5 Nov

I have been on a cooking kick lately, I have always enjoyed cooking & baking but never had much time. I was always was on the go, travelling, working, working out, and having fun… with all that who has time to cook! Well now that life is a bit different.. I can devote some of my time to cooking and perfecting my culinary skills. So I enrolled in a cooking class. Actually I won a class online, and since then have set up other classes. My upcoming class is next weekend with my Mom & Brother, I’ll be sure to post photos, It’s a Mexican inspired class!

The class I took last night was in Brooklyn at a Culinary and Herb Center called- Ger-Nis. The class was all about how to cook with Winter Squash. Something I never really cooked with, but the health benefits are amazing and it’s worth it to get to know some squash.

Some of the recipes that we made included; Delicata Squash with Garlic and Herbs, Ginger Squash Cake, & Acorn Squash Quesadilla.. and a few more. They were all pretty tasty and I was introduced to some fruits and veggies I normally would never cook with.. like Tomatillos! I never used them in cooking and we made a great Salsa from them.. It was AMAZING! So refreshing and not too spicy, really good.

If your interest in any of the recipes email me and I will be happy to share! The Acorn Squash Quesadillas with Tomatilla Salsa was out of this world.. I recommend you try!

Lunchskins!

30 Oct

For those of us who have kids, need to pack a lunch for ourselves or others, or just like to pack snacks in little plastic baggies, I found a better solution. Lunchskins.com
Reusable sandwich baggies and hoagie baggies…and they are supper cute! Check out the crabby baggie! You can wash the baggies in running water and let dry or throw in the dishwasher and your good to go!
They have been certified as lead, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate-free. Also helps reduce waste, saves you money in the long run, and they add a cute flair to your lunch!


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