Having little helpers in the kitchen means spending quality time with little ones while teaching them so many things. There’s math – if half a cup is called for, but I can only find the one-cup measuring cup, how much do we need? How do we double a recipe, etc.? There’s real-life responsibility – oops, I dropped the peanuts all over the floor, how do we clean that up? There’s real-life problem solving – I don’t have any black beans, what can we do? (Use red beans? Leave it out? Ask a neighbor?) And one of the most important lessons in my mind – hey, I really like you and want to spend some time with you (and I think you’re clever and important and can help me figure this stuff out). (Disclaimer: there might be a tad bit more of a mess to clean up.)
I am very excited about Pesach – so many fun dishes to be made! With lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and meat available, it’s going to be a cooking extravaganza! Pesach isn’t a scary time, and it certainly doesn’t have to be only potatoes. The farmers’ markets, H Mart (Asian grocery in Catonsville), and Whole Foods all have an appealing variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. These can be used to elevate the very holy time of Passover to a food sensation as well as a spiritually uplift.
Most vegetables are delicious when they are grilled with a little salt and pepper. I have found you can hardly ever go wrong. And what could you top these grilled vegetables with? Onion and roasted garlic jam, I say! A friend of mine took me to Serengeti for the first time. We ordered the smoked pulled brisket with onion jam, and, well, that onion jam was delicious. So I thought, what could be even better? Adding some roasted garlic. Make a lot, and it will last the entire Pesach. Make it pareve, and you can use it with cheese and matza or with chicken, meat, lamb – just about everything. Be warned, you might just start slathering it on everything. It takes a little bit of time to cook it, but it’s worth it!
Baked Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Appetizer
These appetizers are delicious, fun, and gorgeous. You can put them out on the plates as a first course.
10 oz. frozen spinach (defrosted)
1 sheet pastry dough (12x8 rectangle)
6 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and dried
1 c. diced onions
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Shabbos descends with alarming (and thrilling) speed in the winter. With candle-lighting as early as 4:30 p.m., not only do you need delicious food that will keep your children full and warm through bedtime, but the meal also needs to be cooked in advance, or require very little prep time, so as to insure that the cook can welcome Shabbos in a calm, happy, and mindful state.
Winter Shabbos meals practically demand the right soup, and below is a recipe for a heart-warming chicken soup that will get your meal started off right. Chicken soup is delicious, has been proven to fight the common cold (when the broth is made from the bones), and is the only soup one of my children will eat. This soup can be made in advance and frozen, or put up on Thursday night. (If you decide to freeze it in advance, remove the vegetables and freeze them separately.)
First and foremost, you are about to host a sheva brachos, which means you will inevitably be organizing, arranging invites, and managing a to-do list the length of your arm. The friends and family gathering to share in the simcha are planning to enjoy themselves and want you to enjoy yourself as well. Remember that a sheva brachos, like any simcha, is not intended to drive you crazy. Rather, it presents an opportunity to build relationships, enjoy the moment, and allow your family and friends to share in a happy occasion. So no matter which centerpieces you select, which dishware you use, and whether or not you’ve found a dress for the event, enjoy it. Your friends and family love you and are just happy to be with you.