Tag: rosh hashanah

Duchesse Sweet Potato Apples

I was less than a week into culinary school (at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts), when we dedicated an entire day to potatoes. An entire day. Let’s just say that if I was stranded on a dessert island, potatoes is all I would need.

One of the things we learned to make is duchesse potatoes. In culinary arts, duchesse refers to a classic French recipe for puréed potatoes that includes butter, egg yolks, nutmeg, salt and pepper. We piped the filling into scooped-out potato halves, formed some of it into crispy fried potato croquettes and experimented with the extra filling to make fried pear shapes. When I saw my culinary instructor stick a bay leaf and clove into the crispy breaded mound of potatoes, a light switch went off in my head and I knew I’d be making THESE for Rosh Hashanah.

And by these I mean the adorable duchesse sweet potato “apples” that you see here. Duchesse sweet potatoes are not as popular as their russet cousins, but they are just as delicious. One of the tricks I learned is to add instant mashed potato flakes to the filling to help it firm up and hold it’s shape. To stay true to the classic duchess recipe, I added a pinch of nutmeg, and subbed coconut oil for the butter, complementing the sweet potato flavor (and keeping it pareve). The addition of honey and sliced apple makes these the perfect dish to serve at your Rosh Hashanah meal.

Now since The Kosher Connection (a group of kosher food bloggers that I belong to) is so generous, they decided to do a link-up of APPLE recipes in honor of Rosh Hashanah. Below, you’ll find links to countless sweet apple recipes that are perfect to start off the New Year.

You can also check out these other BIB recipes that are perfect for Rosh Hashanah:

Cinnamon Infused Honey
Apple & Honey Tart
Pomegranate Coleslaw
Hassleback Sweet Potatoes with Apples
Honey Challah with Sweet Toppings
Rosh Hashanah Roast
Honey Cake with Caramelized Apples

Sending you all best wishes for a happy and healthy sweet New Year!


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New Year, New Resolutions + A Power Breakfast

I’m not one of those mother’s who stands at their son’s bris, just 8 days after giving birth, looking like they’ve just run a marathon (I mean that in the skinny sense, not in the just-been-through-labor sense). I squeezed myself into control top pantyhose, and my feet were so swollen, I could not fit them into a single pair of shoes. I still remember sending my brother to Macy’s the night before the bris to get me a pair in the next size. Alas, they did not fit on my feet either, and there I stood, dressed in my finest, with Crocs on my feet. Thankfully, I decided to make a last ditch effort and try on a pair of short boots that I had, and with a little nudging, they made it.

My son is now nearly 2 years old, and the swelling has by far subsided. But I put on a lot of weight. Unfortunately, I belong to that small percentage of women who actually gain weight while nursing, and gain weight, I did. It also didn’t help that I started my blog sometime around then, so the pounds just piled on. Yet here I am, coming on my 2 year blogoversary, and I’m proud to say that I’ve lost it – 35 lbs. and counting! I am half of the dress size I once was, and I’ve never felt better!

It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. I’ve done this a few times before. In fact, I’ve done it after every baby. But as I get older, it gets harder, and the pounds become more and more stubborn. I may not be as thin as I was before I had my kids, but I’m more fit than ever, thanks to a strict exercise regimen. When I started out my weight loss journey (if you follow my blog, you may recall this post) I was so out of shape that I started physical therapy for the pain in my knees and ankles. I tried to start walking but I could barely get through one block before my knees buckled. All that extra weight on my petite frame was just too much for my body to take. I started off going to a personal trainer, who began our sessions with low impact exercise to minimize the strain on my knees and ankles. As time went on, she upped the ante, pushing me to my limit, and not allowing me to give up when the going got tough. I hated going to those sessions, I really did. I dreaded them like a high schooler dreads a math test, but I persevered and boy am I thankful to Esther (my trainer) for pushing me.

After a few months of personal training and dieting, I wanted to change up my routine so I began taking Pilates. The Pilates instructer actually taught me french for 3 years in high school. I had met her a few months before, but she could not seem to place me. I reminded her my maiden name, and some of the classmates I was with, but she just did not remember me. When I stepped into her Pilates class, quite a number of pounds less, she immediately realized who I was. I could not believe that I had gained so much weight that it rendered me unrecognizable. Of course it became our little joke, as she teased me for being the one to kickstart my weight loss.

Pilates was, and is, a lifeline for me. It’s low impact, so I can do it even after a long day, yet it’s rewards are so much greater than the effort it requires. Pilates has helped me strengthen my core, improve my posture, and gives me a sense of overall confidence. But being a low impact exercise, it wasn’t enough to keep up with my weight loss, so I joined a running group. My running instructor, Shaina Sara, uses the pose running method, which is extremely difficult at first. That first month of running was practically torture for me and I wanted nothing more than to back out of the group. But I’m no quitter, so I pushed myself and kept going at it. I’m still a work in progress, but I have come to enjoy every run, even while it taxes my body. Running makes me feel powerful and strong, and the endorphins it releases put me in the best mood.

Following my weight loss journey, my husband finally decided to join the diet bandwagon with his facebook “run for likes” campaign. The same husband who could not wake up for anything short of a fire, is now jumping out of bed at 6 AM to pound the pavement. His determination has inspired me to keep going, even as I get tired and lazy to go for my runs.

I am sharing my journey with you because I want all of you to know that it’s never too late to get healthy and fit. I’m a food blogger, no-one loves good food more than me. If I did it, you can to! Exercising has breathed new life into me. I used to feel tired and lethargic, unable to keep up with my kids. But now I’m full of energy and I feel so strong. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, or what size you are, you can always bump up your fitness routine and get on track to a healthier you. With the New Year upon us, I’m renewing my commitment to stay healthy and not fall back into my old ways. It’s so easy to revert back to our bad habits, but I’m going to push myself to continue to stay healthy and strong, and I hope you will too!

1 year ago: couscous with thyme & honey roasted carrots, parsnips and beets

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Couscous with Thyme & Honey Roasted Root Vegetables

I came up with this dish when thinking of how to incorporate some simanim as well as fall vegetables like beets, carrots and parsnips into the Rosh Hashana meal. These root vegetables complement each other really well, and the addition of honey and thyme really rounds out the dish. If you’d like, you can leave out the couscous altogether, but I like the texture and how it turns purple from the beets. In fact, my kids call this “purple couscous” and they eat it by the bowlful.

This salad incorporates 3 simanim, beets, carrots, and honey. Serve it with fish or meat.

>Beets are called Silka, which is similar to Siluk, meaning removal. We ask Hashem that our adversaries be removed.

>Carrots have a dual meaning. In Yiddish, they are called Meren, meaning to increase. We ask Hashem to increase our merits.

>In Hebrew, carrots are Gezer,  meaning decree. We ask Hashem to judge us positively.

>Honey (as well as carrots) is eaten because of its sweetness. We ask Hashem to bless us with a sweet new year.

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World’s Best Honey Cake

Trust me. This.is.the.best.honey.cake.you.will.ever.eat.

I could just let the picture do all the talking, or, I can tell you why.

Did you ever taste the classic Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe? You know the one that is super moist and decadent? Almost fudgy? You know how no matter how many chocolate cakes you make, they can never measure up to that recipe? Well let me tell you a little secret. If you look at the recipe, you’ll see that it calls for a cup of boiling water to be stirred in at the very end. That water makes the cake almost pudding-like. It becomes super moist and incredibly delicious.

Why am I talking about Hershey’s chocolate cake in my honey cake post? Well…When my sister sent me this recipe last year, I thought I already had the best honey cake recipe. But when I saw the addition of boiling water at the end, it had me intrigued. It turns out that this is now my best honey cake recipe. And it will be yours too.

A few years ago, I made Martha Stewart’s honey cake with caramelized pears. The pears made for a beautiful presentation. But let me be honest. This honey cake is way better! I decided to take a cue from the queen of domesticity and top it off with caramelized apples, in lieu of pears, for that “apple dipped in honey” finish. Drizzle some more honey over the top and you’ll be in honey heaven! Talk about a sweet new year!

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