Before you go ahead and close your browser, no you did not make your way onto a treif blog, everything on here is still kosher! I can’t get over how real those shrimp look, can you?
So to be honest, I’m not really one for kosherizing treif dishes. Like I don’t do cheeseburgers with fake cheese or buttermilk fried chicken with soy milk. It’s just not my thing. But when I saw a package of grits at Shoprite last week, I just had to buy it. I’m a big fan of farina (the wheat version of grits, which are made from corn) and I love all things corn, so I was intrigued. I also mistakenly bought a package of mock shrimp instead of mock crab (we are obsessed with this kani salad in this house) so that’s how this kosher version of shrimp and grits came to be.
Now shrimp and grits is real Southern comfort food, and definitely more of a winter dish than a summer one – so I incorporated some fresh corn and a basil pistou to cut through the heaviness and lighten things up. A squeeze of lime in the creamy cheddar grits also goes a long way.
So, for an anti-tofu, real-food person, I have to be honest and say that the shrimp tasted amazing, but was definitely on the rubbery side. When I made this in my Instagram story, many readers suggested butterflying the shrimp by cutting it in half lengthwise, so I’ve made that suggestion below. But honestly, when I make this again, I’m just going to use kani (mock crab) since we are huge fans of that in this house (and ironically one of my readers messaged me that her dad, who is not religious, ate kani at her house and said it tasted just like shrimp!).
I’m stoked that I managed to plate this up all pretty for a blog post for you guys, its been great having a break, but I’ve missed posting!
Kosher Shrimp & Grits
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
10.5oz. pkg surimi shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
kosher salt, to taste
Heat the butter over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant. Add the shrimp and spices and saute until coated and heated through.
VARIATION: You may use kani (mock crab) or firm white fish, such as cod or halibut instead of the shrimp. For cod, dice into chunks and saute until cooked through.
1 tbsp butter
Corn from 3 cobs
salt and pepper, to taste
Melt butter over medium heat and add the corn. Saute until tender and season with salt and pepper.
1 bunch basil
1/3 c olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
1 c quick 5 minute grits
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c half and half or heavy cream
Juice of half lime
Prepare the grits last, right before serving. Bring the stock up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and and slowly stir in the grits. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, cheddar and lime juice. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
To assemble the shrimp and grits, divide the grits between 6 bowls and top with fresh corn, basil pistou and shrimp. Serve immediately.
Bedtime. Every mom knows hows loaded that word can be. Especially when I’ve got five kids under ten to tuck in at night. Why won’t kids just go to bed? Aren’t they tired?
It was 10:00 last night and the house was quiet. I sat on the couch and took a deep breath. Finally, some peace. I could put my feet up and relax. So I did what any mommy blogger would do…I went live on Instagram. 2 minutes in, and only 30 minutes after finally falling asleep, my baby wakes up. Because I’m a mom. And that’s just how life works. So I struggle though this “show” of sorts, taking 1 minute commercial breaks to calm my kid and get her latched without showing 6000 people more than they came for. That’s mommy blogger life right there.
Did I mention my husband was away since Friday and I’ve been holding down the fort through the longest Shabbos on planet earth all on my own? Yes. Life with kids and a CEO husband is hard. So when said husband encouraged me to go on a health and wellness retreat last week, I frantically packed my bags before he could change his mind and ran out the door (OK that’s not true, I argued with him about the what, when, where for each kid and the logistics of leaving a 9 month old who’s nursing around the clock and a 9 year old who’s out of school for weeks because her teachers are on a strike that seems like it will never end. And then I sorted and arranged three days worth of clothes for each kid, prepared a menu for the week, filled the house with all the essentials, restocked prescriptions for everyone who needed and bought enough bottles and pacifiers and sippy cups to last us for months. Then I broke down and cried about leaving my kids. And then I picked myself up and walked out the door).
I went live last night to discuss this wellness retreat because I got so many messages while I was away asking me about it. But Instagram Live is just that – live – and there is so much going on, so many comments and questions happening while my baby is kvetching and I just don’t know if I got the whole picture across. So I decided to write about it. That’s the good thing about having a blog.
The health and wellness retreat was put together by Beth Warren, a local Brooklyn nutritionist and author of “Living a Real Life with Real Food” with a focus on eating healthy, exercise and practicing self-care. Just what I needed. There were about 15 of us in total and we carpooled to our destination in Lenox, MA, also known as The Berkshires. We arrived at Brook Farm Inn, a Victorian home in a historic town with lush trees and quaint shops. We carried our luggage to our rooms (no elevator in this vintage Inn!) and gathered for lunch of a make-your-own-salad bar. Then we went off for a tour of Ventfort Hall – a historic mansion that was built by Sarah Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. Next up was a circuit training workout at Lenox Fit, a snack of crudites with homemade hummus, and finally, a much-needed 15-minute massage back at the inn. Still in our exercise gear, we stretched and centered ourselves with a yoga class and then showered for dinner in pajamas (my fave!). Dinner was a light and healthy baked salmon with black rice, green beans and vegetable soup. We finished off the day with a talk on self-care and a quick demo on stuffed dates for an after-dinner snack. Lights out!
The next day, we woke up early, donned our exercise gear and headed to Kripalu, a yoga school and center for health, just a few minutes away from the Inn. The place was huge, with 4 floors and lush grounds in a beautiful mountain setting. Kripalu is a serious yoga retreat with ongoing classes, hiking trails, a spa and more. With our daily passes, we were free to explore the programs of our choice (I chose a deep-tissue massage ‘cuz G-d knows I’m no yogi!) and then meet up mid-day for lunch and a hike. Salads of black bean burgers were prepped for us , so we lunched on the patio with breathtaking views and then geared up for a hike around the property. After we headed back, we had a bit more time at Kripalu, but I went to explore Tanglewood, a popular Berkshires attraction, with some of the ladies. Tanglewood is a summer hot-spot with music festivals and shopping, so we walked around the mostly-empty town, exploring some of the fun shops around. After making a few purchases (we’re ladies after all!), we headed back to the Inn for a post-hike yoga class and dinner of chicken breast, roasted vegetables and sweet potato fries. Beth gave us an inspiring nutrition talk during dinner and we finished off the long day with a healthy baking class and an essential oil workshop. Lights out!
Wednesday morning we wrapped up with another yoga class and a breakfast parfait bar filled with oatmeal, chia seed pudding, yogurt, fruit and toppings. We packed up some leftovers for lunch and we were off. Two jam-packed days behind us, and lots of fuel to get back to the daily grind of mommyhood.
I, for one, needed that fuel. I spent the early morning hours whispering into the phone as my son back home was having an asthma attack. I was helpless and worried and felt so. far. away. I had my mom go to the house to take care of the kids while my husband rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. It was every mother’s worst nightmare, being away during such an emergency, but my husband reassured me over and over that everything was ok, and skyped me from the hospital so I could see for myself. My three-year-old spent the next two days in the pediatric ICU and I was so thankful that I had taken that break so I could be there for him, my family, and myself, fully and healthy.
Going away was hard (I had to pump every four hours on the road!) but it’s something I didn’t even know I needed. Taking a break from the daily grind allows you to regroup, center yourself and feed your soul. It reminded me that being a mom doesn’t just mean taking care of others, it means taking care of myself – and that neglecting that need doesn’t make me a martyr, it makes me resentful and unhappy. I needed that wake-up call because every day is a nonstop marathon of giving and feeding and caring for others and it’s hard. G-d is it hard. And every night as I go to bed, I pray that tomorrow will be easier – but it’s not. Because being a mom is a full time job that will never end. Going away inspired me to learn to take time for myself – to nourish my body with healthy food and exercise and nourish my soul with a good book and a relaxing massage. I’m making an effort to do something for me, and it’s ok.
The retreat really gave me the kickstart I needed to start eating healthy again. It’s been a while. I’ve put on a whopping 20 lbs. since I had my baby, 9 months ago (I always put on weight when I nurse!) and it’s finally time to lose it the healthy way – with diet and exercise. I whipped up these delicious low-carb portobello tuna melts last week, and I’m super excited to share the recipe with you! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be about deprivation, especially when you get creative and think outside the box.
This one is for all the Mom’s out there. I salute you.
Portobello Tuna Melts
4 portobello mushroom caps
2 tbsp olive oil
2 6oz. cans tuna, packed in water, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp pickle relish
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tomato, sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
2 slices Natural & Kosher chipotle meunster cheese
Gently clean the mushrooms with a dry paper towel and remove the stem and gills (the black stuff on the underside of the mushroom) by scraping with a spoon. Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, pickle relish, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Turn the mushrooms upside down and pat dry. Fill the mushroom caps with the tuna mixture and top with a slice of tomato and onion. Place the cheese on top and return the oven to bake until the cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately.
VARIATION: to serve as an appetizer, use baby bella mushrooms instead.
I hope you all had an amazing Passover, it feels like a lifetime ago! We spent the holiday in New Hampshire at the Arlington Hotel Passover Program. It was a wonderful experience filled with new friends, great food and beautiful scenery. I had never been to New Hampshire before and the small towns filled with old barns, antiques and mountainous terrain were a feast for the eyes. It was truly a magical holiday.
What was not truly magical was the number on the scale I saw when I got back! With three (sometimes four!) heavy meals a day and a 24 hour tea-room, Passover programs are not exactly figure friendly. Add matzo to that and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain [see what I did there? ;)].
Even more than the weight though, I just felt heavy and gross from eating so much animal protein. When you have Chateaubriand for dinner one night, rack of veal for the next, and brisket the next, it definitely catches up with you! So I decided to take a little break from all that and go vegetarian – if only for one week. It’s not really sustainable longer because with five little mouths to feed, I definitely need to be able to serve chicken and meat.
Our week of vegetarian fare has almost come to an end. I cooked up some of these amazing refried bean tacos, Moroccan salmon, Asian lettuce cups made from soy beef crumbles, lentil bolognese, spinach spaghetti lasagna and tonight we’re having falafel. I have to admit that all these legume-based recipes are still quite heavy and I can honestly say ready for a good steak! So it’s back to regular programming next week!
In the meantime, these refried bean tacos were definitely our favorite from our vegetarian week, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Refried Bean Tacos
2 15oz. cans pinto beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 cup vegetable stock
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package soft corn tortillas
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 head lettuce, thinly sliced
8oz shredded cheddar cheese
8oz. sour cream
1 cup salsa
Drain and rinse the beans in a colander. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Saute until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute until fragrant. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute until toasted and aromatic. Add the pinto beans and the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook the beans for a few minutes to soften and then mash with a potato masher until the beans are mostly smooth with some chunks of beans. Add the lime and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. For a smoother puree, blend the beans in a food processor or blender until desired consistency is reached.
To serve, heat the tortillas in a dry skillet (for a crispier taco, grease the skillet or for burnt edges, toast over an open flame) and fill with refried beans, sliced avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar, sour cream and salsa.
VARIATION: if you’d like to serve the tacos with melted cheese, place the corn tortilla in a the skillet for a minute so that it’s pliable but not toasted. Add refried beans and top with shredded cheese. Cover the skillet and cook until the tortilla is toasted and the cheese is melted. Add additional toppings and serve.
NOTE: if you make the refried beans in advance and they start to dry out, just add a bit more stock to make them creamy again.
I used to hate scrambled eggs. And I mean hate. When my husband would cook them in the morning, I literally had to leave the house because the smell was too much for me. Runny eggs were my thing, especially in shakshuka, or sunny-side-up with a side of hash browns. Until, that is, I learned to cook them.
Rubbery scrambled eggs are enough to turn you off for a very long time. But when you learn to keep those curds moist and creamy – not only will you want to eat them – you’ll also find that they don’t actually smell. Smelly eggs are a byproduct of eggs that are overdone. I learned that when I took over the egg cookery (and am reminded of it whenever I sleep in and my husband takes over!)
There’s something else that got me onto scrambled eggs, and that’s cheese! A small handful of mozzarella keeps the eggs super moist and adds a delicious gooey cheesiness that is pure breakfast glory. This has truly become my favorite breakfast.
My husband and I are also converted sourdough snobs, so spreading those creamy curds over some hearty toast with a dose of buttery avocado just can’t get any better. Of course I don’t eat these every day, because lets face it, I don’t eat breakfast every day. But I’d eat this if I did! I know this breakfast looks kinda fancy and intimidating here, but that’s just thanks to my good styling ;) , these toasts only take a couple of minutes to put together.
If you’re feeling up to taking your egg game to the next level, here’s the best advice I can give you: make you sure you use a nonstick skillet and a silicone spatula. If you want to get those deliciously moist and creamy curds, you’ve got to be able to sweep the eggs across the pan, and for that, you need the slippery nonstick surface.
I hope you give these a try! Let me know how it goes!
Avocado Toast with Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
2 slices sourdough bread
fresh squeezed lemon juice
handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
splash of whole milk or cream
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
pat of butter or cooking spray
fresh arugula, sauteed spinach or kale, or greens of choice
sriracha, for garnish
black sesame seeds, for garnish
Toast bread, if desired.
Mash the avocado with a fork and season, to taste, with lemon and salt. Spread the mashed avocado over the toast.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Add shredded cheese.
Heat a skillet over low-medium heat and add the butter or cooking spray. Pour in the eggs, and after giving it a few seconds to set, begin moving it around with a rubber spatula. Keep moving the eggs over the heat until they start to form curds, 1-2 minutes. Remove the eggs from the heat when they are still wet, as the heat of the pan will finish cooking them.
Divide the eggs between the toasts and top with sriracha and sesame seeds. Serve with greens of choice.
If you’re familiar with Nish Nosh salad, you’re probably doing the happy dance right now. Nish Noshim are these buttery sour cream and onion crackers that are made in Israel and the dish gets it’s name because it’s smothered in these addictive crackers. The salad is as popular for it’s crackers as it is for it’s dressing, which includes soy sauce, mustard and garlic for a rich savory flavor. The dressing is so delicious in it’s own right that it’s been packaged and sold in stories under the name Nish Nosh dressing.
Of course Nish Nosh salad has made an appearance on my Shabbat table, and it always gets finished to the last drop. The salad itself includes romaine lettuce, red cabbage and grape tomatoes, along with the crackers and salad dressing. Being the blogger that I am, I decided to turn the dish into an entree using salmon! I even roasted the cabbage and tomatoes for a full baking sheet dinner that is light, simple and pretty healthy if you don’t eat the whole bag of crackers while you’re prepping ;)
Roasted cabbage has become a healthy staple for me thanks to my friend Mel who makes it regularly. I love that you can dress it up with different spices (most recently I used Montreal Steak Seasoning) and it’s super quick and easy. The cabbage takes on a great texture, and if you cook it long enough, it starts to brown and caramelize. My only caveat: don’t use the prepackaged shredded cabbage. You’ll definitely want to use a fresh head and slice it yourself (no need to use a machine for this, just your trusty old kitchen knife).
We’re not that big into fish in my house since my kids don’t like it, but I’m definitely trying to work it in to the weekly rotation. Baked salmon is really the easiest way to go, and throwing it on a sheet pan with all the other ingredients make it a super quick dinner. You can serve this with some quinoa if you want to bulk up the dish, or treat yourself to a healthy and delicious lunch. Of course it works great for Shabbat too!
If you want to serve it up buffet style for a party, here’s a great idea: Roast the cabbage and tomatoes on their own sheet tray. Cut the salmon into cubes and coat them fully in the mayo and crumbs. Bake the salmon until opaque (about 10 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes) and roast the cabbage and tomatoes until they start to caramelize. Spread the cabbage out onto a platter and top with the salmon cubes. Then stand back and enjoy the compliments!
Nish Nosh Salmon
4 slices salmon fillet
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup Nishnosh sour cream and onion crackers, crushed
1/4 cabbage, shredded
1 pkg grape tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard and a pinch of black pepper.
Place the salmon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the cabbage and tomatoes around the salmon. Brush the salmon with the mayonnaise mixture and top with crushed Nishnosh crackers. Drizzle the cabbage with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
NOTE: If you’d like to roast the cabbage and tomatoes for longer, remove the salmon and continue cooking until desired doneness is reached.
VARIATION: If you don’t have Nish Nosh crackers, you may use flavored panko crumbs or French fried onions instead.