Monthly Archives: November 2013

Hanukkah Latkes

It’s Hanukkah – time for latkes!

Potato latkes, Spinach latkes, Noodle latkes we love latkes!

The perfect one for this Thanksgivnukkah year is Mashed Potato Latkes – yummy with some leftover cranberry sauce.


There are the traditional Potato Latkes, which we only eat with applesauce


or as a dinner with a fried egg…


One of my new favorites is Spinach, Potato and Feta Latkessplatkes11

And if you get desperate for yet another latke – you can use make Leftover Pasta Latkes

pasta pancake5

So…fry up some latkes, light the candles, spin the dreidl, and have a very Happy Hanukkah!

Categories: Hanukah, Kosher, Spinach, Vegetarian | 4 Comments

Uncle Jack’s Mandel Bread

As a child, I so looked forward to when my Uncle Jack would come to our house…he often had a loaf of mandel bread with him.  Those days were a special treat, Uncle Jack’s mandel bread was pretty much my favorite food in the world, second only to…..Twizzlers.  Orange juice dough, candied cherries, almonds and raisins – a whole lot of yumminess!  The best was when a slice was cut in a way that a whole cherry was included…I can still feel the excitement I felt then.


I associate mandel bread with his visits in the summer, but for my family, mandel bread has become part of our Hanukah tradition.  It has also become my most-requested Christmas gift from my Christian friends.  Everyone loves mandel bread!


This is one of those wonderful family recipes without too many details.  I have attempted to quantify and explain as best I can what is typically needed.  I have made numerous variations over the years, wetter dough, drier dough longer cooking, shorter cooking.  Honestly, they had all tasted great, so a lot of this is preference.  Use this recipe as a guide and adjust to your own tastes.


Making mandel bread is a long affair, mostly because I make a lot when I make them.  So, there are several things to consider before you start:

1.  Make sure you have at least 2 – 3 hours

2. If you do not have an extra large mixing bowl, halve the recipe

3. This takes A LOT of flour.  This batch used about 12 cups of flour!


A great thing about mandel bread, it freezes very well.  In fact, it doesn’t actually freeze, so we tend to keep ours in the freezer and eat it directly from there.


My Uncle Jack is now in his late 90’s; sadly, his Alzheimer’s has probably taken away all his memories of his making mandel bread and the joy it brought us all.  But we remember…

So, once you are set to bake, enjoy the process and enjoy the mandel bread!

Uncle Jack’s Mandel Bread

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (canola)

3 cups sugar

6 eggs (locally hatched)

6 level tsp baking powder

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup orange juice

juice of 1 1/2 lemons

2 tsp vanilla

1 box raisins (I use 1/2 black and 1/2 golden)

1 container candied cherries (size of the container depends upon your preference)

2 packages whole almonds

1 level tsp salt

flour, enough to make stiff (this can vary from 8 to 12 cups)

1/4 cup cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar


Heat oven to 375F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a VERY LARGE bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs. baking powder, water, orange juice and lemon juice.


Add vanilla, mix well.


Stir in raisins, cherries, almonds and salt.


Stir in flour, start with 3 cups, mix well then add 2 cups at a time, stirring each time until the dough is very stiff and fairly dry.  If the dough is still sticky but very stiff, you can add in a touch of flour each time you are forming a loaf.  This process will suffice for your arm workout for the day.


Shape into loaves about 1-inch thick.  The loaves can be big or small.  Bigger loaves just take a little longer to bake.  I tend to make a mix of large and small loaves (but bake the large and small loaves separately).  Place on lined cookie sheets.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Sprinkle on the top of the loaves.



Bake each tray of loaves for 20 – 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown.  Note:  I have had loaves take as little as 15 minutes and as long as 1/2 hour.  Just be careful not to burn them (not the darker loaves from when I forgot to set the timer for the last 3 minutes that turned into 10 minutes – they didn’t burn, thank goodness).


Slice horizontally into  ~1″ thick slices.




Makes about a dozen loaves, plus or minus.

Categories: Dessert, Hanukah, Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato Casserole

Every year the sweet potato casserole is a subject of debate – pecan crumble or marshmallows.  We are fairly split – everyone else wants marshmallows, I want pecan crumble.  Since I am cooking, this time I win, and it is pecan crumble (last time it was marshmallows).  One thing does stay the same – I use the sweet potatoes from my garden, that makes me very happy.

I did try out a new recipe – Ree Drummond’s Soul Sweet Taters.  They were AMAZING!  This will be my go-to recipe from now on.

Soul Sweet Taters

from Ree Drummond

  • 1 3/4 lb sweet potatoes (about 4 medium or more smaller ones) (from the garden)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs (from Farmer Kim)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put the sweet potatoes on the oven rack and bake until fork-tender, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are finished cooking, let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Slice them open lengthwise and scrape out the flesh with a fork into a large bowl.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F.

Add the sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt to the the sweet potatoes. Mash the mixture with a potato masher until combined and slightly lumpy-you don’t want it to be perfectly smooth.

In a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined. The mixture should resemble a crumble.  Spread the sweet potato mixture in a baking dish (I used a tart pan) and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

10 servings

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Sweet Potatoes | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Turkey – All-Natural Free-Range

I am very lucky to have a wonderful free-range turkey farm less than 10 miles from my house – TA Farms.  It has taken some adjustment to cooking these birds, and I am still figuring out the best approach.  Last year I tried a form of dry brining suggested Ina Garten in her “Accidental Turkey”.  It was the best turkey I ever made, so I highly recommend it!

I arrived at the turkey farm just as the sun was setting on Tuesday night; what a beautiful way to start Thanksgiving!

To my surprise, and some dismay, I ended up with a 19.57 pound bird!  I have never cooked a turkey that big, so I was quite nervous as I started the process and adjusting for the large size of my bird.  It threw my whole time planning for Thursday into disarray.  The name “Accidental Turkey” really started to apply.  I also started hoping for more people to show up and eat all this turkey with us!

Once I made it and it turned out so delicious, I was glad for all the leftovers!

Accidental Turkey

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe due to accommodate the large bird

16-20 lb free-range, all-natural turkey

4 Tbsp Kosher salt

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (from the garden)

Zest from 1 lemon

1 onion, cut in eigths

8 sprigs of fresh thyme (from the garden)

1 lemon, cut in quarters

5 Tbsp butter, melted


Wash the turkey, inside and out, dry well with paper towels. Place in a shallow dish to catch drippings (I used the roasting pan).

Mix together the salt, rosemary and lemon zest. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the mixture into the cavity of the bird.  Rub the rest all over the outside of the turkey, getting under the legs and wings.   Then wrap the turkey and pan tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

Remove from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Return to the fridge for another day.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Place the turkey in the roasting pan, stuff the onion, lemon and thyme into the cavity.  Brush with melted butter. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.

Brush the turkey with the butter in the pan and reduce heat to 325F.  Cook until the turkey is fully cooked, brushing with butter/pan juices every 15 minutes (the 19.5 Lb bird took 3 3/4 hours overall)

Remove from the oven and let the turkey rest for 1/2 hour.

Carve, serve and enjoy!

Categories: Main Dish, Recipe | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cavatappi with Lemony Brussels Sprouts and Lima Beans

Brussels sprouts and lima beans, the two vegetables that make most of America groan and kids run to hide.  We are so accustomed to steamed, over-cooked, stinky, frozen Brussels sprouts and dried or frozen lima beans cooked until they are bland and mushy.  But once you have tasted these vegetable prepared fresh, in manners that highlight their sweetness, the reaction changes.  In my house, it is a happy day when fresh versions of either of these vegetables appear.  Putting the two together in one dish makes for a very happy day indeed.


My lima beans had finished producing, so the produce came from the farms at the University of Pennsylvania farmers market.  The garlic, as always, came from my garden.

This dish was inspired by a recipe I saw in Cooking Light magazine, Cavatappi with Browned Brussels Sprouts and Buttery Breadcrumbs (November 2012).  I really like the texture of cavatappi with the Brussels sprouts and lima beans, but other tube-shaped pasta may work well.


One last note on this…I made extra and I have to admit that the leftovers tasted even better than the original.  So, go ahead, make more than you need!

Cavatappi with Lemony Brussels Sprouts and Lima Beans

1 lb cavatappi pasta

2 tsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup panko or home-made breadcrumbs

1 1/2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 lb Brussels sprouts

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup shelled fresh lima beans

2 cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)

1 cup chicken broth (organic, if possible)

1 tsp lemon zest

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

2 oz Parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated


Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise into 4 slices each.  Set aside.


Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat, swirl to coat.  Add breadcrumbs to the pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes.


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil, swirl to coat.  Add Brussels sprouts, cook 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add onion, garlic and lima beans, cook 2 – 3 minutes, until the Brussels spouts are lightly browned and the onion is tender.


Add broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Cover and cook 2 – 4 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are just tender.  Add red pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning.


Add vegetables to the pasta, toss well.  Top with cheese and bread crumbs.


Serve and  Enjoy!


Serves 5 – 6.

Categories: Kosher, Lima Beans, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe | Tags: | Leave a comment

Spicy Southwestern Fish Bowl

This is the time of year when I use the “lasts” in my garden.  This “last” is my sweet peppers.  I still have poblano and jalapeno waiting to be used, but these were the last of the sweet peppers I harvested before the frosts.


This recipe is from, the only change I made was to use my peppers instead of the red pepper the recipe called for.  It was really tasty and quite a healthy meal.  Basically…happy food.


Spicy Southwestern Fish Bowl


1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 – 4 Tilapia fillets

1 – 2 cloves minced garlic (from the garden)

1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels

1 red onion, diced (from Beechwood Orchards)

1 red pepper, diced (I used a variety of peppers from the garden)

1 can black beans, drained

cooked brown rice (I used Basmati)

fresh avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa or pico de gallo for topping


Mix the spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over both sides of the fish fillets.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 – 2 minutes.  Add the fish fillets to the pan.


Cook the fish on each side for several minutes, checking the middle for doneness (fish should be completely white and flake apart easily).  Remove the fillets and set asid (flake apart).


Add corn, peppers, and onions to the pan with no additional oil.  Heat over high heat for several minutes WITHOUT stirring to get a roasted look on the outside.  Repeat for several minutes (stir, wait, stir, wait) until the peppers and onions are tender-crisp.


Add the black beans and heat through.


Layer rice, corn/pepper mixture, and fish in a bowl – or mix everything together in the skillet.


Top with any of the toppings, and serve.  Enjoy!


Serves 4 (mixed together version is below)


Categories: Green Peppers, Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli Rabe, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes & Walnuts

Tonight was fun.

I have never cooked broccoli rabe before, but I have wanted to for a while, so I bought some at the market.  I started off knowing that I wanted to make a pasta dish with roasted broccoli rabe.  I also wanted to use my sun-dried tomatoes.  Of course there would be garlic.  But what else?  I  decided to add some yellow and red grape tomatoes I had picked up at the farmers market.  But I thought it also needed the flavor and crunch of toasted walnuts.  For the herb, I would use some oregano I dried from my garden.  I used some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to add a deeper flavor to the sauce.  Then I would add the saltiness of parmegiano reggiano.


It was fun to stand in my kitchen and decide what flavors I wanted to add together.  And to my great pleasure, and a little surprise, it came out delicious.  I mean, there was not-one-bit-of-anything-leftover delicious.

As more and more meals are this time of year, it was a mix of basics from my garden (garlic, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes), produce from the farmers market (grape tomatoes), and items from the grocery store (broccoli rabe, pasta, walnuts, olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper).

This recipe serves three; it can easily be doubled to serve six.

Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli Rabe, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Grape Tomatoes & Walnuts

1 lb. broccoli rabe

2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling on broccoli rabe (can use some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)

8 oz Rigatoni

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips (from the garden)

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

2 cloves garlic, minced (from the garden)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmegiano reggiano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 375F.

Lay the broccoli rabe in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with  salt and pepper.


Roast for 15 – 20 minutes, until wilted and starting to brown.  Set aside to cool.


Heat of large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop the walnuts and toast in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for 2 – 3 minutes, set aside.

Cut the broccoli rabe in half.


Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minutes.  Add grape tomatoes and oregano, cook 3 – 4 minutes.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts and remove from heat.  Season with salt and pepper.


Drain the pasta.  Combine the pasta, broccoli rabe and sauce in a large bowl.  Mix well.


Serve with grated cheese.  Enjoy!


Serves 3.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Apricot-Onion Chicken

There are some recipes that stay with you for a very long time.  Tonight’s dinner was a chicken dish that a friend’s mother had made when I was in my teens.  I was a very picky eater then, or perhaps I should say, INCREDIBLY picky eater.  Getting me to even taste a new food was near impossible.  But there was something about this chicken, I tried it.  It was so tasty, I asked for the recipe to give to my mother to make.

A few years ago, I went through  my mother’s recipe box, I found the recipe – on  the original paper I wrote it on over 30 years ago….


Nothing particularly local about this, other than that the chicken was grown fairly locally.  Otherwise, I am simply sharing it because it is a good dish to have in the recipe box if you have picky eaters, and even if you don’t.

We ate it with couscous and tempura green beans (now, those are from my garden).20131013-185253.jpg

I have made a few changes to the recipe, simply because I like boneless chicken and because I have not been able to find red russian dressing in many years.

Apricot-Onion Chicken

1 bottle catalina dressing

12 oz jar apricot preserves

1 envelope onion soup mix

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lbs boneless chicken pieces (breasts and/or thighs)


Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix together the dressing, preserves and soup mix.20131013-185219.jpg

Place the chicken pieces in a square or rectangular glass baking pan.20131013-185227.jpg

Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.


Bake for 45 minutes.  Turn the pieces and bake for another 45 minutes.20131013-185246.jpg

Serve with rice or another grain. Enjoy!


Serves 4 to 8 depending upon how much chicken is made.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Recipe | Tags: | Leave a comment

Flatbread Pizza from the Garden

Sometimes my plans for dinner get changed at the last minute.  While I had planned to make a roasted brussels sprouts pasta dish tonight, Cam (who has been sick and barely eating) begged for pizza.  I realized that I had some flatbread in the freezer, so, instead of bringing in pizza, we had individual flatbread pizzas loaded with goodies from the garden.


The tomatoes and garlic were sitting on the counter waiting for a job.  I rummaged through the fridge and found green pepper and jalapeno (it is amazing how long the veggies from the garden last in the fridge, makes me wonder how old the stuff is we buy at the store).  I also had red onion from Beechwood Orchards.  The non-local items included baby spinach, Hebrew National salami, mozzarella, and crushed red pepper and seasoning.


Cam wanted a simple cheese and tomato pizza; Ali had a salami pizza with tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and spinach.  Mine was pure veggie with all the veggies thrown on.


The sliced garlic was the secret weapon, they imparted a great flavor. The jalapeno and crushed red pepper added some gentle heat.  This thrown-together, last minute dinner (ready in less than 15 from start to finish) ended up being a surprising taste treat. And a whole lot healthier than if we had brought in from the pizzeria.

Flatbread Pizza from the Garden

1 flatbread per person


Shredded Mozzarella or whatever cheese you prefer

Heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced (from the garden – Brandywine and Green Zebra)

Garlic clove per flatbread, thinly sliced (from the garden)

Green pepper, thinly sliced (from the garden)

Jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (from the garden)

Red onion, thinly sliced

Baby spinach

Crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Other toppings, such as salami, olives, or whatever else strikes your fancy


Preheat the oven to 350F.

If frozen, defrost the flatbread for a few minutes.  Pre bake per package directions.  Set aside while you prep the toppings.


Top the flatbread with cheese, then garlic, selected toppings, and finally with tomatoes.


Bake on a middle rack for 3 – 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and cook another 3 to 4 minutes.  Watch closely so you do not burn the flatbread.


Season with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Categories: Green Peppers, Main Dish, Recipe, Spinach, Tomatoes | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Pasta with Pan-Seared Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage and Tomato

Ah, fall, time again for broccoli and cauliflower – two of my favorite vegetables.  I did not get a chance to plant them in August, but there are plenty of locally grown broccoli and cauliflower to be found.

When you have nice, fresh vegetables, sometimes the best thing to do is a simple pan-sear with garlic and some tomatoes, tossed with pasta, yum!  I happened to have some red cabbage left over from another dinner, so I pan-seared that and tossed it in as well.  It added such a nice flavor and color it will become a regular addition.


I used a tagliatelle as my pasta, but any pasta you like would work well.  This is 3 large servings, you can easily double the recipe for a larger group.

Pasta with Pan-Seared Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage and Tomato

1/2 head cauliflower, sliced about 1/4″ thick

1 head broccoli, cut into small heads, stems sliced about 1/4″ thick

1/4 – 1/2 head red cabbage, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 large tomato, sliced 1/2″ thick (from the garden)

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (from the garden)

Kosher salt, to taste

3 – 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces pasta


Bring a large pot of salted to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Working in batches Add vegetables and some of the garlic  in 1 layer, so each piece comes in contact with the cooking surface.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt to taste.


Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, once the vegetables have a nice sear on them, turn them over and cook on the other side for another 4-5 minutes, until sear-ed and cooked through.


Place in a large bowl while working on the remaining batches.


When the pasta is done, mix in with the vegetables.


Adjust seasoning, serve and enjoy!


Serves 3 with large servings.

Categories: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: | 3 Comments

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