Sunday, January 03, 2016

Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher

There are cookbooks that you simply cook from, return to the shelf, and then go about enjoying your meal.

And then there are cookbooks that leave a lasting impact, whether it's a new technique, flavour combination or piece of knowledge, that carries on. 


Mia Adler Ozair's cookbook, Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher is definitely the latter. It nourishes more than just your appetite. While it offers recipes to satisfy both Ashkenazic and Sephardic cuisine, it also satisfies a thirst for knowledge and insight into Judaism itself. It's multi-dimensional, in the sense that it is a cookbook, with a layer of in depth Torah thought, as well as Mia's very own insights and personal story.

I love that our initial approach to cooking was very similar! She had her favorite dishes and her Mom's recipes and while she knew the basics, didn't venture out too much - until she met her husband! I can definitely relate! Seriously, I hadn't even tried an avocado before meeting M! I love that the cookbook is another example of how her and her husband joined forces, since it was he who helped to incorporate the, "golden nuggets of Torah," found throughout the book.

This isn't just a kosher cookbook for meal planning purposes. As the subtitle makes clear, it's a cookbook for the soul. If you're looking to pick up a book to flip through and find a recipe here or there, this isn't it. If you're looking for a cookbook that is brimming with Torah and recipes from a variety of traditions, infused with history and meaning, than look no further. The detail included to connect the spirituality of taking part in a meal, and how eating helps to elevate our connection with Gd, with recipes to encourage you to do so, is intricate and in depth. The book is brimming with discussions around, "Food and the Neshama," "Food and Mussar," Kashrus and more. Again, it is as much a spiritual journey as a culinary one! 

I will admit that the layout at first, wasn't what I'd usually expect from a cookbook. The recipes are split into two columns on most pages, with pages often having titles, which makes it easy to sometimes miss the recipe you're looking for if you're quickly flipping through (i.e the Pumpkin Bread recipe is found in the Dessert section but the title on the page is, "Coffee And..." with the recipe listed below).

The recipes vary with different cuisines and cultures infused into their ingredients and presentation. They all however, have a common thread tying them together. They are simple, flavorful and require ingredients you most likely already have. Having access to recipes that are simple with familiar ingredients, when preparing Shabbos with two under two, is definitely a win!

The simplicity in terms of both preparation and ingredients, urges you to want to try everything! I'll be honest, I usually skip right over the salad recipes in most cookbooks. Unless it's hummus or a caesar salad I'm generally not that interested. It doesn't help that I have little luck making dressings and that raw veggies are hit and miss! 

So, when I tell you that not only did I make two salads from this cookbook, but that they're basically Shabbos staples now, you know there's something big here!

The cucumber salad is simple, flavorful and refreshing! It took barely any time or ingredients and was a great addition to our first course!

The corn salad is now one of my favorites and a staple on our menu! The ingredients are basic and friendly to even the pickiest of veggie eaters! It takes little effort to make, is a colorful addition to the table and a perfect combination of sweet and tart! I love it with the fish course, but it also fits in seamlessly throughout the rest of the meal!

If you're looking for a cookbook that will inspire you both in Torah thought as well as trying recipes you'd previously skim over before, Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher is the perfect resource!

Simple Corn Salad
Serves 4 to 6 (Cook, Pray, Eat Kosher page 130)

1 can sweet corn, drained
3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
2 or 3 large pickles (sweet or sour as desired), chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve chilled and stir just prior to serving.

This cookbook was generously provided for this review, however all thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Recipe has been reproduced with permission. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Celebrate. Joy. Hope.

There's something magical about New Year's Eve. I mean once you get past the stress of making plans, having no plans and ending up in your pjs on the couch eating a box of chocolates, watching Taylor Swift perform a song you're pretty sure is brand new but in reality is probably two years old...

Just me?


Anyway, New Years Eve... And yes, while I'm aware that Rosh HaShanah marks the beginning of the new year, there is something powerful and moving about December 31st. The world seems full of hope, full of promise, full of ambition for the coming year. And whether that carries well into the year or ends at 12:01, it doesn't matter.

2015 was hard for our family. Like really hard. There were challenges and obstacles around almost every corner. From pregnancy complications to the NICU, medical emergencies, surgery and working diagnoses for both of our boys, it was real and harsh and raw. We did our best to keep things as positive and normal, as we could, for the boys. We had a first birthday party, went to the zoo and play places. We had pj days and Paw Patrol days, running in the park, cuddles, laughs and smiles. And it got us through. 

But today. Today is December 31st. And tomorrow this year will be gone. It'll be another chapter in our lives. A chapter that broke us down a little so that we could become even stronger.

There are three words I want to focus on this year. 




I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate everything. Every inch of progress our boys make. Every smile. Every milestone, big or small. I want to celebrate Monday and Wednesday and birthdays and good weather. I want a calendar filled with more than medical appointments and with more family fun days. I want to celebrate it all. I want to find the good and make happy memories and live.

I want our lives to be filled with hope. Hope for progress and therapies and that every day will be a good day, that everything will be okay. Will there be sleep regressions and teething, silly arguments over nothing and toddler tantrums? Yes, yes there will be. But there will be hope too. And if those are the worst things we'll have to face, then I welcome them with open arms.

Joy. I want there to be so much joy. The kind of joy that is all encompassing and overwhelming. The kind of joy that takes your breath away and leaves you awash in gratitude and wonder. The kind of joy when Y learns something new or N beats the odds. The kind of joy that melts mommy guilt and bickering and tantrums. Joy and laughter and smiles. Everyday. To find a reason for joy every. single. day.

Do we always get what we want? No, no we don't. But we can hope. We can be joyful through it all. And when we do get what we want? When we get what we so desperately need? We celebrate.

Happy 2016!

Friday, December 04, 2015

Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cakes!

Let's call life with two under two... busy.

In the past few months, "busy" has taken on a whole new dimension. Working through a few different diagnoses for both boys, has left our schedule overtaken by doctors appointments and hospital visits. As difficult as it has been, these two little boys are incredibly amazing. N is constantly smiling and Y is pretty much one of my favorite people to hang out with! They're the bravest, strongest boys and I could not be prouder to be their Mommy - or so I think! Everyday they impress me even more! (I mean let's be real, y'know between the infant sleep regressions and toddlerness, haha!).

But for now, on to blogging and happy thoughts of chocolate and cake and chocolate cake...

Speaking of chocolate cake, you know what makes even the tastiest desserts even better? When they're baked as miniature versions!!

With 2016 quickly approaching, I'm so excited to share with you a few of my favorite products from the past year! Today I'll start with bakeware and throughout the month will highlight cookbooks, kids items and more!

Nordic Ware has certainly taken the lead and enhanced our cooking and baking through innovative products this year. We use our Flare pan, multiple times a week. Yes it may just be a frying pan, but when we had to be out of our home for a few months, it was one of the first things we packed with us to bring to my parents house! Don't even get me started on our dutch oven! It's lightweight and beautiful features are only outdone by how well it cooks basically everything we've attempted in it so far.

But you guys know me, and if you follow my Instagram feed, you'll know that baking is my first love in the kitchen.

And that's where this pretty great pan comes in.

Like I said, life with two under two can get pretty busy, even without all the extras we have going on. So what's better than a cake pan, with a gorgeous design that makes your baking fancy without any effort? A cake pan that does that very same thing,  THIRTY times over. Yes THIRTY.

The Bundt Tea Cakes and Candies pan, makes 30 miniature classic Nordic Ware bundt cakes! Think of the endless possibilities. A cute platter of mini cakes for your hostess the next time you're out for Shabbos, perhaps? Or maybe a variety of flavors of mini cakes on cake stands displayed at your next event! An addition to your shalach manos - never too early to start planning! A tray of mini cakes sent to the office or packaged beautifully for a neighbor, teacher, new mom or housewarming gift? It's also perfect for a bake sale or last minute treats for an entire class! Or on a simpler level, if you're anything like me, mini bite size cakes as a treat to last the day, afternoon, week, when you're craving a baked good but don't want to go too crazy. Also, they're the perfect size for dessert for Y (although, like his Mama, he prefers two in a sitting...).

Thirty mini cakes in one shot! I can't get over it.

In true Nordic Ware fashion, the cast aluminum is sturdy and results in beautifully and evenly baked mini cakes. It's non stick surface ensures the cakes pop out beautifully, retaining their design. You can even use it to make mini candies, adding versatility to it's list of features including heirloom quality and a lifetime guarantee. It's basically a Mommy baker's ideal gift!

I've included a recipe below that's also super easy for the Mom on the go who wants a delicious and beautiful tray of desserts!

Excuse me, as I'm off to have thirty one mini cake, before bed!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (makes 60 mini cakes)

1 box of Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Mix until well combined.
Using a half tea spoon measurement, scoop batter into mini bundt cake form.
Bake at 350 for approximately 12-15 minutes (depending on your oven, you may have to check at the 10 minute mark to avoid over baking)
Allow to cool and remove from pan

This pan was generously provided by Nordic Ware. The thoughts and opinions expressed within this review are solely my own.