Noodle Pudding (Grandma Gloria’s Noodle Kugel)

Noodle PuddingFor Rosh Hashanah, Nik and Zach hosted a delicious dinner with a delicious sweet, noodle kugel on the menu.  After eating it, I had a craving for my grandma’s noodle pudding, a sweet combination of egg noodles, raisins and mandarin oranges.  Much to my surprise, it wasn’t on my blog yet!  I whipped up a batch (literally it takes about 15 minutes to prep, and half an hour to cook), and satisfied my craving.  I hope you love this as much as we do.

Here’s what you need:

12-16 oz egg noodles (as Grandma says, yolk free OK)

1 stick margarine + a little more for the top

2 eggs (or 3 egg whites)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup matzo meal (or plain breadcrumbs)

1 tsp cinnamon + a little more for the top

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup golden raisins (my grandma makes my sisters a raisin-free version, but I think even if you aren’t a raisin lover, it’s better to add them and pick them out because they add great sweetness)

1 11-oz can mandarin oranges, drained

Here’s what you do:

1.  Cook the egg noodles according to the package.  Drain and return to the pot.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ square baking pan with nonstick spray.

3.  Add the stick of margarine and allow it to melt into the warm noodles.  Then add the eggs, sugar, mazto meal, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins and mix to combine.

4.  Add the mandarin oranges to the mixture and gently stir to combine.

5.  Pour the noodle mixture into the pan.  Add a little more margarine to the top if you want, and sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on the top if you want.

6.  Bake the noodle dish for about 30 minutes.  (If you want the top to stay extra soft, cover with foil before baking.)


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Zucchini, Burrata, and Basil Pasta Salad

Pasta SaladFirst and foremost, apologies for the significant time between posts.  As many of you know, I’m pregnant, and being pregnant has reverted me back to child-like eating and little desire for cooking (it doesn’t help that just standing in the kitchen makes my back hurt).  However, thanks to Labor Day weekend, my sister and I cooked one simple, but amazingly delicious dish.

Now to the cooking part – We were lucky enough to get to spend another lazy Sunday afternoon in the backyard of the Dude Ranch with our cousins from New York.  They came bearing amazing gifts; this year, for Patrick and me, a copy of Plenty by Ottolenghi.  I’ve heard about the book, perused it, and funny enough, recently contemplated a recipe on Smitten Kitchen adopting a recipe from the book (but refer to point 1 for the reason I hadn’t made it yet).  But with this beautiful, new colorful cookbook from my beautiful family, Ashley and I were determined to try our first recipe.  For Labor Day, along with meat for the boys and ice cream for dessert, we whipped up this pasta salad, which is delicious on its own as a meal, hot or cold, and was a lot easier to make than I expected.  I hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Here’s what you need:

1 pound pasta of your choice (we did a shape that was a mixture between rigatoni and penne – just make sure you pick something that allows the sauces to stick)

5 medium zucchini, cut into quarter-inch rounds

enough vegetable oil to fill the bottom of a non-stick skillet about 1/4 inch deep

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cups basil leaves

1/3 cup + a little more parsley leaves

1/3 cup + a little more olive oil

salt & pepper

1 cup cooked, shelled edamame (we bought ours pre-cooked)

zest of one lemon + its juice

2 tablespoons capers

8-10 ounces burrata (or about 10 ounces fresh mozzerella, or just leave out the cheese if you want to go vegan)

more salt + pepper

Here’s what you do:

1.  Cook the pasta until al dente.  That means, look at the box, see what the time for al dente is, and only cook it that long.  After you toss it with all the toppings, it will soak some up and get a little softer.  Cooking al dente keeps it from getting mushy.  Once the pasta is cooked, run under cold water, put in a giant bowl, and set aside.

(NOTE:  If you bought frozen or fresh edamame that need to be cooked, now is the time.  Cook according to directions on the package.)

2.  Fry the zucchini:  Add the oil to a pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot (after about 3-5 minutes, test it by throwing in a zucchini round and see if it gets pretty bubbly), add the first round (of two) of zucchini to the oil.  Cook for three minutes, flip, and cook for another three minutes on the other side.  They will come out brown.  Place in a colander and allow the oil to drain, and finish with the second half of the zucchini.

3.  When all the zucchini is fried, put in a bowl, pour the red wine vinegar on top, toss, and allow it to sit.

4.  Make the basil sauce:  In a blender or food processor, combine half of the basil leaves, the parsley, the olive oil, and some salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth.

5.  Prepare the rest of the basil:  Either by hand or in the same blender or food processor, chop the remaining basil leaves.

5.  Mix the salad together:  In large bowl, add the basil sauce, the edamame, the lemon zest and juice, and the capers to the pasta.  Stir to combine.  Next, roughly chop up the zucchini (unless you are happy with the circles of squash as they are), and add them, along with any residual juices in their bowl, to the pasta.  Stir again to combine.  Next, add the burrata.  Chop up the burrata into bite-sized pieces, and add it to the pasta.  Stir and allow the creamy part to coat the noodles.  Finally, add the remaining basil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to sit (on the counter or in the fridge) for about thirty minutes to let the flavors mix together.

Then grab a fork, and enjoy!


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Tomato and Fennel Stewed Italian Turkey Sausages

Stewed SausagesThe first time I made this recipe was a few months back.  It was sooo good, and when I went to find it on my blog to replicate it, I realized I had never posted it!  Alas, here it is.  This stew is great as is, over rice, or over quinoa.  Also, once you have eaten all the sausages out of it, just throw the remaining sauce in a Ziplock and freeze it for the next time you make a pot of pasta and need something delicious to mix in.  This was adapted from a recipe in Food & Wine.  My second time making it I added kale, and thought it added a lot of yum to the stew so I included it here.  Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have it or want it, or replace it with another sturdy green, leafy veggie that holds up to cooking.

(Note – sorry for the subpar photos these past two posts.  My sister “borrowed” our camera and has yet to, ahem, return it.  No, just kidding.  She really did borrow it one week ago, but we haven’t seen each other yet so she is still taking care of it.)

Here’s what you need:

12-15 Italian turkey sausages (you can do sweet or hot depending on your preference; I have always done Jennie-O turkey sausages, but you could do pork or chicken if you prefer)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced

3 bulbs fennel, greens trimmed, washed and chopped into large chunks

1 28-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 cup white wine

3 dried chiles de arbol (or you can skip this if you don’t want any heat)

1 jar or can of prepared tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s arrabiatta is really good in here)

2-4 large handfuls chopped Tuscan kale, ribs removed

(Oh, and did I mention this is a pretty easy, and flavorful recipe?)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot (I used my large Le Creuset).  Brown all the sausages and transfer to a plate.  (You may have to do them in batches, and they definitely won’t be cooked through yet.)

2.  Add the fennel to the pot and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Then, add the onion and garlic (and a little more olive oil if needed) and continue to cook until the onion softens.

3.  Add the San Marzano tomatoes by squishing them with your hands into the pot.  Pour in the liquid from the can.  Add the fennel seeds, wine and chiles.  Stir it all together.

4.  Nestle the sausages into the tomato/fennel mixture, then pour the other can/jar of sauce on top.  Press the kale on top of that and cover the pot.  Cook for about 45 minutes at a medium simmer covered (moving the sausages around occasionally if you want).  Remove the lid, cook another 5-10 minutes, and eat.

Enjoy!Stewed Sausages

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Indian Spinach Saag

Spinach Saag Patrick and I are on a healthy eating kick, so I’ve been trying to put together a couple of tasty dishes on Sundays that we can eat throughout the week.  Spinach has been a popular, repeat ingredient.  Last weekend I made a spinach pie, which was tasty, but was nowhere near as good as the spinach dish Arava Talve made for Passover that I was trying to emulate.  Alas, it won’t make the blog.  This week, Indian food sounded good, so I made Spinach Saag, a flavorful dish of chopped spinach.  It’s usually made with chunks of paneer, an Indian cheese, but I made mine simple and filled it out with some plain yogurt.  Here’s the recipe!

Here’s what you need:

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter, divided

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons ginger, minced

1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and garam masala

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can do lowfat – I did full fat because that’s what I had)

1 teaspoon salt

Here’s what you do:

A tip:  I’m not usually one to cut up and measure out all of my ingredients beforehand.  I usually chop as I go.  But with this recipe, and the short amounts of time the various ingredients end up in the pan, it made more sense to prep everything except the spinach before I turned on the heat.

1.  Melt one tablespoon butter in a heavy pot (I used my Le Creuset).  Add the onion and cook until softened over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes.

2.  Add another half tablespoon butter and the garlic.  Cook until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant, another 3-5 minutes.

3.  Add the rest of the butter, the minced ginger and the spices.  Stir into a paste and allow the flavors to meld and the ginger to cook, about 3 minutes.

4.  Working on batches, add handfuls of the chopped spinach to the pot and allow it to wilt.  I did this by adding a few handfuls, putting on the lid, waiting a couple of minutes, then adding a couple more handfuls and stirring the cooked stuff to the top.

5.  Once all the spinach is cooked, uncover and cook another 5 minutes to let all the flavors meld.

6.  Remove from the heat.  Mix in the yogurt and salt.  Enjoy today or let it sit overnight and allow the flavors to marinate!Spinach Saag


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Easy Shrimp Scampi

Simple Shrimp ScampiFor Valentine’s Day, Patrick and I asked Grandma and Grandpa if they were “free” for dinner.  Grandma said of course, and could we please incorporate shrimp or fish into anything we ate – regardless of the cuisine – at Grandpa’s request.

Grandpa’s response was too good to paraphrase, so here it is:We are not free, but we are reasonableWith that said, I knew I had to make a meal to remember.  I had never cooked shrimp before, so I pulled out my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, did some research, and learned the ways to make shrimp taste the best.  This required Patrick and I to take a trip to the Santa Monica Seafood Market and to peel and de-vein 2 pounds of shrimp.  Despite the bit of work, the outcome was so delicious, and Grandpa liked the shrimp so much I wasn’t sure he would even share with my Dad, his own son.Simple Shrimp Scampi

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds extra large shrimp (about 21-25/pound), with their shells on, either frozen, or fresh/thawed at a place you trust

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter, divided into 1 and 2 tablespoon pats

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Here’s what you do:

1.  First, a few tips on what I learned in my shrimp research.

(a) Shrimp is almost never sold “fresh.”  Rather it is caught, frozen, and then sold frozen or defrosted.  If the market isn’t known for fish, buy them frozen and defrost yourself.  If it’s a trustworthy place (e.g., Whole Foods, a fish market), then buying pre-defrosted is fine.

(b) Shrimp frozen with the shells on fare better than shrimp frozen without the shells.  Apparently it affects the texture.  That’s not to say that frozen, shelled shrimp wouldn’t be great, but if you want creme-de-la-crustacean, get them with shells on.

(c) When de-veining shrimp, you are actually just removing their intestines.  But they are small, so it isn’t too gross.  You will find these on the shrimps’ backs.  Simply cut a shallow slit in the back, put the knife under the vein, and pull out.  Patrick and I also actually removed the vein running through the belly of the shrimp too, using the same technique.  Not sure this was necessary, but we did it anyway.  To see how it’s done, I recommend watching a YouTube video on shelling and de-veining shrimp.

(d) Apparently stores use all different names for different types of shrimp.  Large, jumbo, extra large, etc.  So, the key to what to buy isn’t the name of the shrimp, but how many there are in a pound.  This recipe called for extra large shrimp, which, by Cook’s Illustrated standards, meant 21-25 per pound.  So best to figure out the number of shrimp per pound and go from there.

2.  Okay, let’s get cooking.  First, you need to prepare your shrimp.  If they aren’t defrosted, defrost them.  Then, remove the shells, the tails, and de-vein your shrimp.  Set them aside when you are done.

3.  Prepare the rest of your ingredients because the cooking part goes really fast and the shrimp will literally be ready to eat in minutes.  Mince your garlic, squeeze your lemon and add the vermouth to the juice, chop your parsley.

4.  Now, cooking the shrimp.  Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet until smoking.  Add half of the shrimp, cook until just opaque, about 1-2 minutes, and remove from the heat.  Repeat with the second pound of shrimp and another tablespoon of olive oil, and add to the bowl with the other cooked shrimp.

5.  Return empty skillet to medium-low heat.  Melt one tablespoon butter and add the garlic.  Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

6.  Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and vermouth, and stir well.  Turn the heat back to low, add last two tablespoons butter and chopped parsley, and stir well to combine and melt.

7.  Return cooked shrimp to the pan, and allow to cook in the juice for another minute or two.  Serve immediately and enjoy!Simple Shrimp Scampi

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2-Bean Chili Mac & Cheese

Baked Chili Mac & CheeseDoesn’t the title just sound like heaven in a bowl?  What’s better than some tasty chili or a creamy bowl of mac and cheese?  How about both put together!

This week, Britt and I decided to cook dinner for the family (although for a number of reasons, I ended up cooking with my sous chef, Freddy Lamb Lowenstein, who was essential in the tasting part of the process).

We thumbed through the newest Mollie Katzen book and stumbled upon a series of mac and cheese recipes.  One was called chili mac and cheese, and seemed like the perfect combination of protein and deliciousness.  The following recipe is adapted from The Heart Of The Plate.  I wasn’t cooking in my own kitchen, so the pictures are all Instagrammed.  They should convey the amazingness.Chili Mac

Here’s what you need:

1 pound macaroni (or other similar, small shape of pasta, like mini shells)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large brown onion (or red or white), diced

2 chili peppers (I did one pasilla and one anaheim), diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely diced

3-4 scallions, cut small

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

3 tablespoons chili powder

3 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

4 cups milk (I used 2%, but you could do 1% or whole)

3 tablespoons unbleached flour

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

12 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

1 cup shredded or grated Parmesan

5 teaspoons salt

Here’s what you do:

1.  Boil water and cook the pasta until just al dente (I used the lower range of cooking time on the box).  Drain the pasta, toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking and set aside.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large baking dish (about 9 x 13) with cooking spray.  (If you don’t have a large pan, you can do two smaller ones – that’s what we did.)

3.  Prep the ingredients:  Get all of your veggies ready, and grate your cheese.  Put the onions in one bowl.  Put the garlic, chili peppers, scallion, corn and spices (excluding salt) in another bowl.  Measure out your flour.  Microwave your milk until hot and steaming.  Mine took about 4 minutes.

4.  Add two tablespoons olive oil to a large pot (I used the one we cooked the pasta in).  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the veggie/spice bowl of stuff and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the veggies soften.

5.  Turn the heat to low, add the flour and stir until you get a paste, about 15 seconds.  Drizzle in the hot milk, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring the mixture until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes.

6.  Add half of the cheddar and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan to the milk mixture.  Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth.

7.  Remove the cheese mixture from the heat, and gently stir in the pasta.  Add the beans and salt, and stir just to combine.

8.  Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining shredded cheddar and Parmesan.

9.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.  You can finish it under the broiler for a minute or two if you want it a little crispy on top.  Serve immediately.  (We had ours with Italian turkey sausages for the meat eaters, sliced into pieces and sprinkled on top, and it was delicious.)  The pasta will serve 4-6 for a full meal.

Enjoy!Bowl of Chili Mac with Sausage

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Rugelach PinwheelsBelow is a recipe for the most delicious cookies you will ever taste.  I have to admit, they take a bit of work.  But even though the first time I made them, I told Patrick I wasn’t sure the effort was worth it, everyone proved me wrong.Making Rugelach

Grandma said they were amazing.  She also stopped eating the ones I gave her because Grandpa liked them so much she didn’t want to take them away.  Ashley couldn’t walk away from her fridge without eating two or three.  Patrick was obsessed with them – raw, cooked, hot, cold.  Nicki and Matt separately texted me to say they were so good.

I’m glad I tried to make these twice, so I could give you way better direction on how to make these without getting as frustrated as I was the first time.  This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen.Nuts on Dough

Here’s what you need (and FYI – I like to make a double recipe, but you can of course just cut this in half):

For the doubled batch of dough:

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 8-oz packages cream cheese

1/2 cup (1/4 cup x 2) white sugar

4 cups (2 cups x 2) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (1/4 tsp x 2) salt

For the doubled filling:

1.5 jars of jam (I did half raspberry and half apricot the first time around, but ran out and threw some strawberry in the second time around – rasp and apricot are the most traditional flavors)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups dried fruit, finely chopped (I did currants and dates the first time, about half and half; second time I did raisins and dates, about 2/3 raisins and 1/3 dates – both combos were great – raisins are the most traditional filling)

2 cups finely chopped nuts (I did a combo of pecans and walnuts both times -those are the most traditional fillings)

Here’s what you do:

1.  The night before, or a few hours before you actually want to prepare and bake the cookies, prep the dough and the filling:

– For the dough:  Make one batch of dough at a time.

  • In a food processor, combine the 2 sticks of butter at room temperature cut into small pieces with one package of cream cheese until creamy.  Don’t worry that the combo will be pretty sticky at first.  Just pulse together, open the food processor, push the sticky cream cheese down, and continue in this fashion until smooth and creamy.
  • With the food processor running, slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until combined.
  • Open the food processor, add 2 cups of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Close, and pulse until a ball of dough forms.
  • Spread out two pieces of plastic wrap, and put half of the dough in each.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least two hours.
  • Repeat for the second batch of dough.

– For the filling:  Keep your food processor out and just rinse away and dough residue.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugars and cinnamon.  In the food processor, pulse the dried fruit until chopped up.  Add to the cinn/sugar mixture.  Again in the food processor, pulse the nuts until finely chopped.  Stir into the cinn/sugar/fruit mixture.  Cover and set aside until you are ready to assemble and bake the cookies.

2.  Prepping the cookie rolls:  Remove your dough from the fridge one at a time.  Flour a flat surface and place the dough on the surface.  Sprinkle a bit more flour on the top.  Then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a “rectangular” shape about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  I will say now this is the most frustrating part, so just go with it.  Keep flipping the dough.  Keep adding flour to prevent sticking.  If it cracks, just smash it back together.  If it doesn’t have nice edges, just grab a piece of dough, stick it on top and roll some more.Rugelach Dough

3.  Once the dough is rolled out, spread enough jam on the dough to cover it in a thin layer.  This probably takes about 1/2 a cup or so.  You can combine flavors or do one set one flavor and one set another.Jam Spread On Dough

4.  On top of the jam, sprinkle about one-fourth of the nut/fruit/sugar mixture.  Then, on the long end, roll the dough into a pinwheel as tightly as you can.  Wrap the log in the plastic wrap the dough was wrapped in (or a new piece) and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Repeat with the other three pieces of dough, jam, and filling.  Try to save some of the sugary residue of the filling for baking.Nut Mixture on Dough

5.  Baking the cookies:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a baking pan, spread out a sheet of parchment paper.  Spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Then sprinkle some of the remaining cinn/sugar onto the baking pan (or if you used it up, just a bit more sugar).

6.  One at a time, remove the logs from the fridge and cut into 1/4 inch circles.  Arrange on the pan with a bit of space between each cookie, and bake 15-25 minutes, until the tops/edges are slightly golden.  (The thinner the cookies, the less baking time needed – I recommend checking them at 17 mins to see if they need more time or not.)Cut Up Rugelach

7.  When the cookies are done, remove immediately to a nonstick sprayed cooling rack.  (If you wait to remove, they stick.  Don’t worry if they get a little misshapen when you remove.  The most important part is the taste.)  Repeat with the remaining logs until all cookies are baked.  Allow to cool (if you can) and then enjoy!  Store in airtight containers for up to two weeks, or freeze.  Rugelach


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Tequila-Lime Linguine (CPK-Style-ish)

Tequila Lime LinguineThe LA Times includes a great column in the food section called Culinary SOS.  People from Southern California write in about tasty dishes they ate at restaurants in California and elsewhere.  The LA Times then posts the recipes for all to try.  Since Patrick has been back, we have been cooking a lot, and this has always been one of those dishes I can’t stay away from.  In fact, Irene, my college roommate, turned me on to this dish as she used to work at CPK in high school and this was one of her favorites.  My recipe makes the dish a bit lighter, but still with a great flavor.

Here’s what you need:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 pound linguine (or really whatever shape pasta you like or have on hand)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Several handfuls cilantro, finely chopped (divided)

6 cloves of garlic, minced (or at least finely chopped)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, finely chopped (FYI – this recipe is not spicy)

3 tablespoons butter (you could sub vegetable oil if you like) (divided)

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons gold tequila

2 tablespoons lime juice (from about two limes)

1 and a half bell peppers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fat free half and half AND 1/2 cup 2% milk (feel free to mix up this ratio any way you like, or go really decadent and use the 1 1/2 cups heavy cream the recipe called for)

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

lime wedges for garnish

Here’s what you do:

1.  Put the cut up chicken breasts in a bowl with the soy sauce.  Toss, and set aside to allow to marinate.

2.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package to al dente.  Drain, toss with the one tablespoon olive oil to keep from sticking, and set aside.

3.  Make the tequila-lime mixture:  In a medium saucepan, cook half of the cilantro, garlic and jalapeno with two tablespoons butter over medium heat until aromatic and garlic is turning slightly golden – about 5 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth, tequila and lime juice, bring to a boil, and cook until the sauce has thickened and most liquid is gone, about 10 minutes.Tequila Lime Mixture

4.  Heat the remaining tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan and add onion and bell peppers.  Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the veggies have softened.

5.  Add the chicken and soy sauce to the pan and toss.  Then add the tequila-lime mixture and the cream and milk, increase the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly (will thicken more the more fatty dairy you use), about 15 minutes.

6.  Turn down the heat and toss in the linguine, remaining cilantro and salt.  Mix well.

7.  Serve immediately with extra lime wedges and salt as needed.



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LatkesWhile Channukah is still a couple of weeks away, given our family members’ busy schedules, and the plan that we would be celebrating my birthday, we decided to roll Channukah in.  And of course, Channukah would not be complete without latkes.  For those of you new to this delicious food, latkes are fried potato/onion pancakes, enjoyed traditionally with applesauce and/or sour cream, and in our family, also ketchup.  I learned to make latkes from my Grandma Gloria, and have been working on the technique ever since.  Making latkes is a bit time consuming but well worth it in the end.  I recommend making latkes for your first time with someone that has done it before.  But if you can’t find a seasoned fryer, do not fear, I will provide as many tips as I can along the way.  This is adapted from a Molly Katzen recipe and serves 10+ (with other food).

Here’s what you need:

6 large russet potatoes (about 5 pounds)

1 very large brown onion (or two large brown onions)

3/4 cup matzo meal (or breadcrumbs, but this is Jewish food, so matzo meal is the best)

6 egg whites or 4 whole eggs (I did egg whites and was told these were delish)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

lots of vegetable oil (I used safflower oil, which has a higher smoke point than canola, meaning it can get hotter without burning and getting funky, but canola works just fine too)

applesauce, sour cream, and ketchup for serving

Here’s what you do:

1.  Make the latke mixture:

  • Peel and wash your potatoes.  Then, grate your potatoes.  If you have a food processer with a grating attachment, this is best and easiest.  If not, get those arms working, and grate on the side of your cheese grater that you would do cheddar on.  Put in a very large bowl.
  • Peel your onion and grate it the same way you did the potatoes.  Add to the bowl.
  • Stir the matzo meal, salt, pepper and eggs into the potato/onion mixture.
  • Mix well and allow to settle in the fridge, 20 minutes up to overnight.

2. Time to cook the latkes.  Let’s get set up:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees (to keep the latkes warm while you cook, unless people are eating all of them as you go).  Get a large baking dish, or a couple of cookie sheets.  Line with paper towels.
  • Set up two frying pans (to get all the latkes done in about 35-45 mins) or one frying pan (will probably take about an hour to an hour and a half) on your stove.  Put towels on the ground and the counter tops.  (See, I said I would provide tips).  Wear clothes you can wash in the machine – they will smell like oil.  Put your hair up.  Put on an apron.  Get your potato mixture out of the fridge.  (Don’t worry if it’s brown, that’s just the potatoes reacting to the air, and they will cook up beautifully.)

3.  Pour about 1/4 inch oil into each pan (be sure the pans are dry).  Turn the heat up high and allow the oil to heat up and start sizzling – about 3-5 minutes.  Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping a little potato mixture into the pan and making sure it sizzles all around.

4.  Using two spoons, take a large scoop of the potato mixture, squeezing off the excess liquid, and then drop it into the pan and pat it down into a flat pancake shape.  Continue until both pans are filled, allowing for space between each latke (about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch).  Allow the latkes to cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 2-4 minutes each.  When they are cooked, use a spatula to flip them over and brown on the other side.

5. When the second side is browned, transfer the latkes to the large baking pan lined with paper towels and put it in the oven.  (You will continue to add to the pan in the oven as you make more and more.)  Once you have a single layer of latkes on the paper towel, put another layer of paper towel on top and continue laying them in.Cooking the latkes

6.  It’s okay if the latkes in the pans cook at different speeds.  (In fact, it’s better, so you don’t burn all your latkes.)  Whenever one is ready to flip or is done, go for it.  And whenever a space opens up in a pan, add another latke to cook – no need to empty a pan before refilling.  And if the oil starts to get low (the bottom should always be fully coated) just add more and keep in mind that it needs to heat up a bit.  It’s okay to make some extra crispy and some a bit softer – your guests will all have different preferences.

7. Once you have finished cooking all the potato mixture, serve the latkes topped with applesauce, sour cream or ketchup.  (Also great with brisket juice.)

Enjoy!Latkes with Sour Cream and Apple Sauce

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Magic One-Pot Pasta

Magic PastaThanks to our friends Kate and Kei, and everyone’s friend – Ms. Martha Steward – Patrick and I were lucky enough to enjoy a delicious new pasta dish.  And it’s magical because the pasta cooks in one pot, with the other ingredients, and makes its own sauce.  The ingredients are simple, but the results are delicious.  I altered Martha’s recipe slightly since her instructions called for 12 oz of pasta and I am not much of a fan of having a quarter of a box of pasta left over uncooked, and to follow Kate and Kei’s genius idea of adding sausage – but feel free to leave it out to make this vegetarian.

Here’s what you need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1.25 pounds turkey sausage, casing removed

1 lb linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti or thick spaghetti (one box – or you can follow Martha and do 12 oz, cutting down the liquid later on)

16 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large sprig, or 2 smaller sprigs, basil, plus more for garnish

1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this adds a little heat, so feel free to turn it up or dial it down)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups broth (chicken or veggie – if you don’t have any, that’s okay, you can just use water and up the salt a little if needed)

3 1/2 cups water (if you only did 12 oz pasta, you should cut this down to 2 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Here’s what you do:

1.  Brown the sausage in a pan with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, breaking it up into bite sized pieces.  Cook until completely cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  (Alternatively, you can use pre-cooked sausage and skip this step, or do no sausage and make this vegetarian.)

2.  Add the sausage, pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil sprig, crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, broth, water, salt and 4 tablespoons Parmesan to a high side skillet or a pot.One Pan Pasta

3.  Bring the pasta mixture to a boil.  Allow to continue boiling and cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring every minute or so with tongs.  The package should tell you how long it takes to get to al dente – for my thick spaghetti it was 11-12 minutes, which cooked it perfectly.  At this point, the liquid will have boiled down to a thick sauce.  Remove the basil sprig and discard.

4.  Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then serve topped with basil garnish and additional Parmesan.


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