Monday, November 26, 2012

Saying Thank You with Breakfast Nachos

Being a grown up takes some getting used to.

It seems like everything comes down to four letter words: work, rent, bill(s).

I vividly remember thinking it would be soooo much fun! Now, I feel like some old lady, when I can't help but look at my toddler class while they are doing whatever they can to avoid nap time, as I sit there thinking, "I would give just about ANYTHING for someone to include a two hour nap in the middle of my daily itinerary."

Then again... it isn't all bad.

The pro of being an adult can basically be summarized in two, very significant words.

Breakfast. Nachos.

As in, nachos for breakfast.

As in sheer brilliance.

I may have a mild obsession with Joy the Baker. You know how there's that random "dinner party" question... if you could invite any celebrities to a meal who would they be? Well my answer is simple:

Joy the Baker

Paul Rudd

Jason Segal

Yes. In my book Joy the Baker is a legit celebrity.

I am currently going through a phase where I'm baking and cooking just about everything on her website. Then M surprised me with her cookbook. Because he's awesome like that.

And how do you repay awesomeness?

With Breakfast Nachos, that's how.

M & I have had quite the adventurous month. In mid-October we travelled into Toronto for a simcha in honor of my niece, only to find out that my Uncle had just gotten engaged!

Then came the real adventure. Being Canadian and from Montreal more specifically, I really didn't put too much thought into how Hurricane Sandy would affect me. I mean a couple of weeks ago we had a super minor earthquake, if you can even call it that, and it was in the news for days. A storm of this magnitude just wasn't on the radar. Until I realized the date it was set to hit. October 31st. The date of our closest friend's wedding. In New York City.

I've only been to New York once before, and it was right after Hurricane Irene. Like right after. Like the two times I've ever been to New York have both been for less than 24 hours in total and no more than 2 days after a Hurricane (note to self: I don't think New York is the place for me...).

We were set to fly out of Vermont (yes, our journey began with the drive from Montreal to Vermont) and after incessantly checking flight schedules for days, and being assured they were still scheduled, the inevitable happened: on our way into Vermont, the notification on my phone alerted me to the fact that our flight had just been cancelled. We knew we couldn't miss this wedding. They aren't just our friends, we truly consider them our family. The "brother-in-law" and new "sister-in-law" I had always wanted. So we kept driving. The endless "this is closed," "it's too dangerous" messages came in, but M & I kept going. I can't even explain the sheer joy when the bridge we needed to get into town was open as we drove up to it. Ecstatic doesn't even cover it.

The spontaneous road trip in a hurricane wasn't over yet though. Not until a parking debacle, getting lost a few dozen times and then showing up to the hall four hours before anyone else was there! The wedding was such an absolutely beautiful event and really epitomized what a community, friends, family and love can accomplish in just a couple of days. Regardless of the fact that there had been venue changes, traveling issues and chaos, you wouldn't have known it when you walked in and felt the sheer happiness. It was one of the most beautiful, inspiring evenings we've had in a long time and it felt so amazing to be surrounded by family.

I should probably mention I can't drive. So basically M made sure we got there and back, all within 48 hours and that's no small feat with a hurricane in front of him and a total chaotic mess in the passenger seat... i.e. "LOOK at that cloud!!! That's a scary cloud!! Should we pull over?"

I'm fun.

So back to repaying awesomeness with Breakfast Nachos...

After going through all that, I knew Joy could help me find the perfect way to say, "thank you for not leaving me on the side of the road when I started screaming about scary clouds." And what could be a better answer than Breakfast Nachos?!

My version is inspired by Joy's, mixed in with whatever I had in the pantry/ fridge... because y'know when you come across a fantastic idea and you just HAVE to make it right away, even if you don't have all the ingredients and you've got no way to get a grocery store?

Just me... Oh, okay...

Here's to successful, awesome adventures and the best way to say thank you for being one big chaotic mess! Enjoy!

Breakfast Nachos (served 2... don't judge us...)
Inspired by Joy the Baker's Breakfast Nachos 

1 bag of corn tortilla chips (I used grilled red pepper and tomato salsa tortilla chips. AH-MAZING and totally kicked these nachos up a notch!)
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of mixed beans, drained
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup of sliced black olives
2 cups of salsa
2 sunny side up eggs
Shredded "pizza" cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Place the tortilla chips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle cheese overtop, add another layer of chips and sprinkle more cheese.
Add the corn and beans and sprinkle cheese overtop.
Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. While in oven, prepare eggs.
Remove and add sliced avocado, eggs, olives and extra cheese.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November Kosher Connection: Stuffing!

As Robin from How I Met Your Mother so eloquently put it, "Thanksgiving in November. Weird."


As a Canadian, I say... Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in October, in the midst of the Chaggim. As a food blogger, all I can say is, "YAY for American Thanksgiving!" Another chance, a month later, all on its own, for baking sweet potato pies, turkey and stuffing all in the name of recipe development!


I couldn't have been happier with the selected theme for this month's Kosher Connection. When it comes to Chaggim I don't have classic family recipes. I don't have any special honey cake recipes for Rosh Hashana or classic latke recipes for Chanukah. That isn't to say that I haven't been able to incorporate my Mom and grandmother's fantastic recipes into these meals! Being the first to celebrate all of the Chaggim, I've worked to fit my families classic recipes into my new traditions!

Thanksgiving is different. It's quite possibly, one of my favorite days of the year. It's the holiday where my family is able to come around the table together, and share in a "holiday" as one. Truthfully, I'm very lucky in the sense that minus the turkey and trimmings, any Sunday dinner has the same festive atmosphere!

So when it came to coming up with a recipe for stuffing, I thought it was best to stay within the traditional context, and started pulling all of the herbs I could find out of the spice rack. Given that it's the one traditional meal we celebrate together, I thought this was only appropriate!

Stuffing and cranberry sauce are my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. It's rare that I have them the rest of the year (although for years, I ALWAYS had to have cranberry sauce with chicken, to "fool" me into thinking it was turkey or else I wouldn't eat it... Yes I was a picky eater. And yes my parents are absolutely awesome!). While the stuffing that I love comes from a box, I did try to make my own last year - the first year I prepared my own part of the meal for M and I! I was so excited to show up with my kosher turkey and trimmings, especially my made from scratch stuffing. What a disaster! It was awful and all I could do was long for the mix my Mom had, infused with the gravy and shredded pieces from her turkey! I tried to replicate this the next year but it failed again. Something about stuffing just didn't seem to be working out for me... Until this year!

This year I decided to look at stuffing for what it really is. Bread crumbs mixed with all sorts of herbs and essentially pieces of the rest of the meal. So I got into the kitchen and started putting together the herbs I knew were quintessential to stuffing as well as a few veggies that scream autumn (and a few others, y'know just because!). Feel free to add shredded turkey, cranberry sauce or for an extra special touch, roast the veggies separately (i.e. butternut squash drizzled with maple syrup etc.) before adding them to the main dish.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that you have a chance to go through and incorporate the other Kosher Connection contributions to your Thanksgiving as well! Here's hoping that you and your friends and families have a wonderful Thanksgiving, that the sense of festivity and importance of family and appreciation continues long after the trimmings are put into their tupperware and that we're able to recognize and appreciate the incredible blessings we're given every single day!

Have a wonderful holiday (and an easy and calm prep!)

Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing (Serves 4, easily doubled)

1/2 cup chopped frozen broccoli, thawed*
1/4 cup chopped frozen cauliflower, thawed*
1/4 cup chopped frozen butternut squash
6 slices of day old Challah
olive oil for drizzling
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 - 1/4 tsp parsley
1/8 - 1/4 tsp basil
1/8 - 1/-4 tsp oregano
1/8- 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp dehydrated minced onion
dash nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup pareve chicken soup broth

* you need not necessarily purchase frozen vegetables, you can purchase fresh however if you'd like to prepare the stuffing for a kosher meal, ensure that you check the broccoli and cauliflower thoroughly.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F

Cut the Challah into 1" x 1" cubes. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the cubed Challah in a single layer.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder overtop.

Add the chopped vegetables to a dutch oven (if this isn't an option, a Corningware or covered baking dish works well, as well. Just be sure to increase the baking time!)

Sprinkle the parsley, basil, oregano, seasoning salt and dehydrated minced onion overtop of the vegetables

Add a dash of nutmeg and the bay leaf

Pour the chicken broth into the dish

Place the bread crumbs and the dutch oven (covered) into the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes

After 25 minutes, remove both from the oven and add the bread crumbs to the vegetable mixture. Combine and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Potato Salad

There are certain traits and quirks I possess that have, without a doubt, been handed down to me from my Mom.

For instance, I can't leave the apartment in the morning without checking every element, the oven, toaster oven and microwave to make sure they're all off - regardless of the fact that some of those appliances probably hadn't been used the night before anyway...

Or how I absolutely need bread in the house at all times. Bread and potatoes.

Or how there is no such thing as too many cake pans, yet definitely such thing as no drawer or cupboard that can house them all without testing your sanity when trying to remove just one.

The list does go on, but I don't want you to think I'm crazy to bore you, so I'll skip right ahead.

This week M came into the apartment, erev Shabbos, right before the last dish was removed from the oven and gave me quite possibly the best compliment ever:

"It's just like your parent's house in here, so warm... and it smells like olive oil!"

While the olive oil resonated from the cauliflower I was preparing (for the first time!) I did have another surprise waiting that was also a reminder of my parent's house.

I spent Thursday evening texting my Mom asking for her potato salad recipe, and then asking a few more questions until I felt more comfortable that I would be able to replicate it. M frequently asks for this potato salad or my Mom's macaroni salad and I thought this would be the perfect week to try it out. After a couple of tumultuous weeks, I thought a homey surprise would be welcome! ...More to come about that in the next post!

I'm not sure if the majority of people need a recipe for potato salad the way I did, but as the itsy bitsy balebusta, and learning more about cooking and baking every time I step into the kitchen, it's nice to have the basics down for reference sometimes.

I think potato salad and salads in general - wait is it bad that I put potato salad in the same category as leafy salads? Well, you want me to eat a salad, a surefire way is to put some potato in it!... anyway as I was saying, I think potato salad and salads in general, are a very personal thing. Essentially, you add what you want, eliminate what you don't and toss!

So here's to the basics, to recipes sent via texts from incredible Mommy's, to comfort food and to always having enough potatoes around to make a happy home! A trait I'm happy to have inherited!

Potato Salad

5 medium sized yellow potatoes
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 stalk of celery
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper
1 tsp of salt
dash of pepper
dash of onion powder
dash of garlic power
optional 1 boiled egg, mashed (in the same style as if you were making an egg salad)

Chop potatoes into medium sized cubes
Bring water to a rolling boil and add potatoes
(If you wish to add the boiled egg, prepare it at this point)
Boil for 10 minutes
Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes
Meanwhile, chop celery and red pepper into small cubes
Finely chop the onion
Add potatoes to a large bowl (if you wish to include the boiled egg, add it at this point)
Add celery, onion and red pepper
Add salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder
Add mayonnaise and lightly toss to coat
Refrigerate before serving