A Final Note on Passover

Even though Passover ended last Tuesday night, I still have a few more recipes and dishes I want to share from the holiday. I already posted about matzah granola, charoset, brisket and tsimmes. Here a few more delicious recipes to round out the holiday…

Spaghetti Squash Kugel

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I used this recipe and it was delicious! This side dish takes a little extra time because you have to bake the spaghetti squash first, but with a little planning ahead it’s quite simple.

Matzah Pizza

A Passover classic, matzah pizza is quick, simple, and the pie with the crunchiest crust (harhar).

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Our matzah pizza used a very light layer of marinara, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh sliced mozzarella.

Matzah Pie

Another classic, matzah pie is pretty much like matzah lasagna. I found inspiration for the recipe from this great cookbook I discovered last year through Noah’s mom:

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Like lasagna, you can stuff matzah pie with pretty much whatever you want. The cookbook had a recipe for a spinach and tomato matzah pie, but I modified and made something with dandelion greens, onion, tomato, tuna, and havarti cheese.
*full recipe below

First, take 3 slices of matzah and soak in warm water for three minutes. While the matzah soaks, saute 1/2 onion with 2 cloves minced garlic, half bunch dandelion greens, one can diced tomatoes, and one can tuna.

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When the matzah has soaked, remove it from the water and pat it dry. Then beat two eggs and dip a piece of matzah into the eggs (similar to french toast).

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Lay the egg-dipped matzah in the bottom of a casserole pan:

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Layer the vegetable and tuna mixture on top followed by shredded havarti cheese (you will need 6oz. shredded in total):

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Repeat this process again, ending with a final layer of matzah and cheese. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted:

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Tuna Vegetable Matzah Pie, serves 4-6
Ingredients
 - three pieces matzah
 - two eggs
 - 6 oz. havarti cheese, shredded
 - 1/2 onion
 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
 - 1, 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
 - 1/2 bunch dandelion greens
 - 1, 6oz. can tuna
 Method
 - soak the matzah in warm water for three minutes. Then set on a plate over
 paper towels to dry
 - saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil
 - when onion starts to color, add chopped dandelion greens, tomatoes (with sauce),
 and drained tuna
 - cook until greens wilt
 - beat the eggs and dip a piece of matzah into the egg, coating on both sides
 - place the egg-dipped matzah piece on the bottom of a casserole dish
 - layer half of the vegetable-tuna mixture on top of the matzah and 1/3 of the cheese
 - repeat this step and then finish with the final piece of matzah and 1/3 of the cheese
 - bake for 30 minutes at 350º

Matzah Toffee

And finally, what’s Passover without some sort of dessert?! Like the granola recipe, this toffee came from Martha Stewart.

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The toffee was crunchy, chocolatey, and delicious…although perhaps a bit heavy on the butter. Nonetheless, it was a big hit with friends I had over for a Passover dinner.

Which brings me to the final point…Passover food can be yummy, but it is best enjoyed in the company of others. 🙂

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Passover Essentials: Brisket and Tsimmes

In addition to foods that are an integral part of the Passover seder, there are other dishes that have no literal significance for the holiday’s celebration but are customary dishes for the occasion. This is the turkey on Thanksgiving. No, you don’t NEED it…but what would the holiday be without?!

Two examples of such gotta-have-it dishes on Passover are brisket and tsimmes. Brisket is standard fare even outside the world of Jewish holiday observance, and anyone who doesn’t love melt-in-your-mouth, moisture filled, slow cooked beef has got to be a little nutty. Or vegetarian. Tsimmes is a traditional Ashkenazi dish made with sweet potatoes, carrots, and dried fruit. There are, surprise!, several varieties.

I made my brisket this year in my trusty slow cooker and borrowed the recipe from the trusty Smitten Kitchen blog. The recipe was stellar, although if you read the full original post I will comment that many non-orthodox Jews (myself included) avoid corn syrup during the holiday. This full recipe for this is HUGE, so I made only 2 lbs of meat and reduced everything else in the recipe to about 1/3 of the original quantity.

Here’s the rundown of the brisket magic from my kitchen. 

Cook the onions with oil, garlic and spices:

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Prepare the sauce with beef broth, ketchup, chili sauce (corn syrup free!!) and brown sugar. I didn’t put very much sugar in…maybe a 1/4 cup.

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Place the brisket in a slow cooker and then cover with onions and sauce:

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Cook on low for 10 hours:

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When it’s done, transfer to a pan to marinate in the fridge for one day before reheating to serve:

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This brisket was great, and the sauce was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

And now moving on to tsimmes…

This is always a favorite dish of mine given my overwhelming adoration for both sweet potatoes and dried fruit. There are several types of tsimmes, some resembling something more like mashed sweet potatoes with mix-ins and others more like a roasted potato dish. I decided to go the roasted route this year and made something along the lines of this recipe with a few tweaks. To begin, I baked two thin-sliced sweet potatoes for 25 minutes at 450º.

While the potatoes cooked, I sauteed a 1/2 onion and two carrots:

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Once softened, I transferred the onions and carrots to a large bowl and added one chopped apple, prunes, apricots, cinnamon, ginger, and orange juice:

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When the potatoes finished baking I added those to the mix and stirred it all up:

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I spread the mixture on an oiled baking pan and baked for 45 minutes at 350º.

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Wow! This was world class delicious and went great with the brisket.

Having these dishes fulfilled my base level of Passover craving and left me open to do some experimentation during the rest of the week. Check back soon for some less-standard Passover dishes!

Passover Essential: Charoset

As I mentioned in my earlier Passover post, there are certain rituals or customs of the holiday that become essential to the sense of true celebration. The Passover seder (festive fifteen-step meal) includes several food that are themselves part of the dinner rituals. Examples of foods that are always part of every seder: parsley, salt water, hard boiled eggs, bitter herbs (horseradish), and charoset.

Charoset is a food that is intended to symbolize the mortar that Israelite slaves used to build bricks in Egypt. The food itself, however, tastes nothing like mortar. It is a sweet fruit dish intended to be spread on matzah or (if you’re me!) eating completely plain by the spoonful. Different regions of the world have different traditional ways to make the dish. For example, Sephardic Jews typically make the dish more like a spreadable paste with a date base. Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand, more traditionlly make a charoset with an apple base that is served chunky. There are too many wonderful and delicious kinds of charoset to try to make them all, so I settled on making a Sephardic style on this year.

I followed this charoset recipe pretty much step by step.

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After preparing the three essential food groups (nuts, dried fruit, and binder), I gradually mixed the ingredients in the food processor.

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The binder in this recipe was applesauce and orange juice, and I thought it gave the dish a great flavor! After a few minutes in the food processor, the charoset thickened into an even paste. I put the whole delicious mess into a tupperware to keep for the week and shmear on everything eat respectfully at meal times.

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What to eat for breakfast on Passover

Passover is an 8-day Jewish festival in the spring that commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. I’ll venture to guess that most people know the story…Moses, 10 plagues, God splits the Red Sea. The story goes that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they had to leave so quickly that there wasn’t any time to let their bread rise. Thus, the bread baked flat on their backs as they escaped. The ‘bread of affliction,’ known today as matzah, is a flat, relatively tasteless, cracker-like form of sustenance that constitutes essentially the only bread(esque) substance that Jews can eat during Passover. Matzah itself contains a simple list of ingredients: wheat and water. Some hippie-dippie types of matzah these days include things like unleavened spelt as well. No forms of leavened wheat, oats, rye, barley, or spelt can be consumed. To increase the complication, Ashkenazi Jews (those whose ancestors are from central or eastern Europe) don’t eat corn, rice, beans, or any other sort of legume (yes, this includes peanuts!). Take a walk around your grocery store and notice all the foods that contain corn syrup, and you will quickly see why these dietary restrictions can become a bit difficult to maintain for eight days.

BUT ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, Passover is a wonderful holiday that reminds us that we should all remember the story of the Exodus as though we ourselves were freed from Egypt, providing a reminder to combat oppression and injustice within our own time. In addition to a beautiful message, the celebration of Passover includes two seders (a fifteen-step extended dinner designed for families and perfect for large groups of friends and loved ones), and seder rituals are passed down through families, creating amazing memories and strong sentimentality.

PLUS – despite the dietary restrictions, there is some awesome food! (more on that coming soon in upcoming posts)

One of the biggest things I hear people struggle with during Passover is what to eat for breakfast?! No oatmeal, no cereal, no granola, no toast, no pancakes, no waffles, no muffins. What’s a hungry girl in the morning to do?!

The day before Passover started this year, I decided to tackle the problem head on and make some matzah granola. It worked out great! The inspiration for the recipe came from this Martha Stewart recipe.

I started by crumbling three pieces of matzah in a bowl.

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Next, I added a 1/2 of pecans, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mixed everything around.

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I spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cooked for 30 minutes at 300º. When the baking was done, I removed the baking sheet from the oven and immediately mixed in a 1/2 cup of currants:

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I’ve enjoyed the matzah granola with yogurt, milk, bananas, almond butter, and just on its own as a snack!

Passover Matzah Granola
 Ingredients
 - 3 pieces matzah
 - 1/2 cup pecans
 - 2 T brown sugar
 - 2 T honey
 - 2 T coconut oil
 - 1/2 cup currants
 Method
 - Crumble the matzah in a large bowl.
 - Add the pecans, sugar, honey, and coconut oil (melted)
 - Bake for 30 minutes at 300º
 - After removing from the oven, stir in currents and
 allow to cool

How to use your Pinterest Recipes

I have one purpose for using Pinterest and one purpose only. And that is storing recipes. I don’t use the social features, I don’t store craft projects for my future home or outfits for my future babies, I don’t mark the must-haves of this year’s summer or all the things that come in my favorite shade of teal. STRICTLY RECIPES. Okay, and a few workouts and inspirational messages.

I have a panoply of Pinterest recipes boards, including easy dinners, longer dinners, sides, desserts and snacks, things with protein powder, and, of course, breakfast.

Breakfast is often my favorite meal of the day, and I love trying variations of favorites (oatmeal or pancakes, yes please!) or simply having a big bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola. One of the best things about breakfast is that it’s easy to have all the essentials on hand and make a gajillion variations from that. As opposed to lunch and dinner that often recipe more specialized ingredients and I prepare ahead of time, the door to breakfast possibilities feels open to me every.single.morning.

So, my Pinterest breakfast board is bursting with delicious, easy, and quick recipes that I have all the ingredients to about 90% of all mornings. So why don’t I ever cook them (or hardly any recipes in my Pinterest for that matter)? Why?? Why?? WHY?? I don’t know, so it was high time to put an end to that. (breakfasts from my Pinterest found here, btw)

Last week was a great week for breakfast though. The Sunday before the week started, I sat down with my Pinterest and assigned recipes to each morning. I stored the direct link to each of the recipes on my desktop, and in the morning, I opened up that recipe and *boom* was away and cooking. THIS WAS AWESOME. Here are my highly success recipes from the week and the links to their sources.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal Smoothie from Edible Perspective
served in a bowl and topped with strawberries

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Five Minute Chocolate Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes from Healthy Recipes
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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 Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes from Minimalist Baker
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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Yes, there is a chocolate theme. And yes, I feel very proud of myself.

Breakfasts this week weren’t quite as exciting because my diet has been pretty limited due it being the holiday of Passover. But, I’ve still managed to have some pretty good food. More on that coming soon!

Almond Butter Bread

I love putting almond butter on bread, so why not try putting it in bread, right? I’ve never made a bread like this before, but I think it came out really well and will be particularly delicious with jam…it’s like a pb&j with only half the work!

Almond Butter Bread
*full recipe below

To begin, I combined 2/3 cup creamy almond butter with 1/4 cup sugar:

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In a separate bowl, I combined 1 and 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly, I alternatively added the flour mixture and almond milk (1.5 cups total) to the almond butter/sugar.

I had some extra dates in my kitchen leftover from hamantashen baking, so I chopped them up and threw them in the batter too. I imagine that almost any type of fruit or chocolate (ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE) would taste great as well.

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Once the dates were folded in, I poured the batter into a well-buttered bread pan:

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And baked for one hour at 350º and then had…

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Beautiful almond butter bread!

Almond Butter Bread
Ingredients
- 2/3 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup dates, fruit of choice, or chocolate
Method
- Combine the almond butter and sugar in a large bowl
- in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder,
and cinnamon
- alternate adding flour mixture and milk
to the almond butter/sugar, making sure to thoroughly
combine at all stages
- fold fruit or chocolate into the batter
- pour into a buttered bread pan and bake for one hour
at 350º

And, since the oven was hot, I threw in a batch of cottage cheese biscuits for good measure.

Musings in Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square is located in the bustling Uptown intersection of Hennepin, Lake, and Lagoon. It houses Dogwood Coffee, Kitchen Window, about a dozen other awesome stores/restaurants, and is often hosting some sort of celebration or fair. My gym, LA Fitness, is inside Calhoun Square, and on my way there yesterday morning I really noticed how much the shopping center has grown since I moved here three years ago.

I took an extra moment to notice all the glitz and glamor that has come into Calhoun Square, and this lead to a lot of wonderings.

Such as….

Were these eggs bought specifically for this shoe display?

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Was the full impact of this shirt understood during design?

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Would my life be better if I owned bejeweled capri pants?

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How many people own an angry birds phone case?

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Or proudly wear this Hello Kitty necklace?

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Are there any human beings that look better in this dress than this mannequin? 

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And, finally, would the world be a better place if we were constantly asking one another this question?

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Calhoun Square. Check it out. Learn about yourself.