Quick & Kosher Cooking

 

Southwestern Turkey Breast with Green Chile...

 

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I’m starting our grand Thanksgiving feast recipes with its star… the bird. Everyone and their Grandma will be doing a BIG bird and we have tons of recipes for BIG birdies here on our site. But I figured that since we all fight over the white meat (at least in my family), I devised a quick-prep, quick-cook, easy boneless, skinless, turkey breast recipe: Southwestern Turkey Breast with Green Chile Stuffing. Southwestern cuisine is a fusion of Spanish colonial, cowboy, Native American and Mexican style food – a “melting pot” concoction that is true Americana. It’s a cool flavor profile to introduce to your friends, family and T-day table.

Of course, if you want to make the biggest bird on the block, you can still use this southwestern spice rub; you just need to convert the measurements. For a 10-pound whole turkey, use 2 teaspoons each of chili powder, mustard powder, kosher salt, dried oregano, and ground coriander; and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste). The cayenne is optional, depending on how much heat you can handle. For every additional 2 pounds of turkey, increase the spices by a ½ teaspoon and the cayenne by a ¼ teaspoon (or to taste). Bake whole turkeys according to this how to roast a perfect kosher turkey chart.


 

One-Skillet Recipe: Vegetarian Quinoa Dish

 

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The Big Q – What is Quinoa?

Everyone wants to know: Is it a grain? How do you use it? How do you pronounce it? Is it good for you? Is it kosher for Passover?


 

One-Skillet Recipe: Steak

 

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I once thought skirt steak got its name because it was favored by chicks, like mushy movies. Ladies will love it, guys will fall asleep. Apparently, I wasn’t far off. Turns out, skirt steak comes from around the cow’s belly, the place where a skirt would be worn (if cows wore skirts, that is). A boneless, relatively inexpensive cut, it’s prized more for its flavor than tenderness. To minimize toughness, it can be marinated and/or grilled, or pan seared very quickly (think stir-fry) or braised very slowly. Slice thinly against the grain to maximize tenderness.

“Slice against the grain.” You see that instruction all the time and nobody bothers to explain it. I hear you. So let me translate this bit of chef lingo. Skirt steak (much like brisket and London broil) has long fibers running through it. You will see these distinct lines in the meat: these babies are tough. When you use your knife, instead of your teeth, to cut through those fibers, eating goes from “oy” to “ah.” So we cut “against” or “across” the grain: that means don’t slice parallel to those lines, but rather across those lines, ideally at a 45 degree angle. You’re cutting those long fibers into short ones to make it easier to chew. You don’t have to be a super chef to notice that cutting against the grain or cutting along the fibers spells the difference between meat that melts in your mouth and meat that’s tougher than your high school physics teacher. By the way, you can slice these meats before or after cooking, but if you cut after cooking, let the meat rest a bit. Everything behaves better when it’s rested.


 

One-Skillet Recipe: Chicken

 

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The all-purpose (extra-large if you need it) stovetop to oven skillet is a kitchen essential. Mine works overtime and never lets me down. My skillet and a pair of tongs (which I would take with me if I was stranded on a dessert island – assuming that dessert island had a cooktop) turn out delicious dinners for my family. In the upcoming Chanukah issue of Joy of Kosher Magazine I have a week’s worth of 1-Skillet Meals in Minutes and this week at JoK.com I am sharing 3 special skillet suppers with you all.

Today we have Chicken Thighs with Roasted Winter Fruit. The wonderful thing about skillet chicken is the crisp golden brown skin you get when searing for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then finishing off in the oven. Searing also lock in those juices so you have nice, moist, flavorful, did I say moist! chicken.


 

Let Them Eat Cake – Contest Winner!!

 

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Anybody out there who doesn’t love cake?

I don’t believe you. Well, if it’s true, I guess you’re lucky ‘cuz you’ll never hear a cake calling you into the kitchen in the middle of the night. I think I can speak for the other 99% of humanity when I say that if there’s a really good cake, I can eat the whole thing myself. Even a not so good cake. I don’t need anyone else at my one-woman party – I actually prefer it that way. I can cut a slice, and another and one more sliver, without eyebrows going up all around me.


 

Seasoned Lamb Skewers with Couscous

 

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Confession time.  The Geller family is not big into lamb. But I know there are people out there who are,   so I developed this recipe for Seasoned Lamb Skewers with Couscous especially for you lamb lovers! It’s fun, fantastically seasoned, and it’s ready in under an hour. (Just between us, you can substitute beef for the lamb, which is what I do.)

If you plan to use wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before using.


 

Quick Dinners for Any Day of the Week

 

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Quick dinners, quick dinners, we desperately need quick dinners.  The best way for me to develop something for you is to think of what I need. We’re all in the same boat.

So I can’t get enough recipes for quick weeknight dinners. Of course, I could just make the same four or five dishes, rotating them on a weekly basis – but that’s so boring!  I love serving something new; an easy meal I can fix with my kids’ help, or just let them mill around me as they settle in from school. One minute we’re just chatting and throwing a few things together and then – abracadabra – something hot and fresh hits the table and we all dig in!  It’s not really magic, just a good, quick and easy recipe.


 

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

 

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Never enough creative chicken dinners in this world to satisfy my family.  I have to constantly reinvent my presentation of this bird because there are always leftovers or cutlets in the fridge. I seem to have an abundance of cutlets most of the time. Like there are always more than I bought last time. Does anybody know of scientific evidence that cutlets can reproduce right in your Frigidaire?

Anyway, if your people are anything like mine, try this quick dinner recipe for Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.  If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can bake, grill, sauté or cook your cutlets however you like best. Grab some fresh crusty bread or sandwich rolls, slather on some mayo and buffalo sauce, then top with butter lettuce (or whatever lettuce you fancy), sliced red onions, and tomatoes. Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches are now being served in the Main Dining Room.


 

Mexican Inspired Baked Potato

 

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To me, eating loaded baked potatoes for dinner are like a comforting hug from my mom.  Now you all know that she didn’t – doesn’t – and probably never will cook, but I have fond childhood memories of her taking us to the local diner for dinner and ordering up those yummy loaded potato skins.  I really miss ’em. So I created my own recipe, which, incidentally, has gotta be light years healthier than the stuff I ate as a kid. I call it Mexican Baked Potatoes.  You just load on sour cream (or lite sour cream), chunky salsa, some fresh cilantro, chopped (or mix a cube of the frozen cilantro into your sour cream) and top it off with a great Mexican blend of shredded cheddar (or other cheese).  If you want nice melty cheese, throw it in a broiler for a minute or two until it oozes.  If you want more of a potato skin style recipe (that’s not fried)  try this one, Zippy Potato Skins.

Divine.


 

Crispy Fish with Seasoned Tater Tots

 

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Who doesn’t love tater tots?  If you have a few borderline fish-eaters in the house, the tater tots are the perfect bribe to get them to eat their fish.

The seasoning on the taters – celery salt, dry mustard, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, & ground ginger – is a homemade version of “Old Bay” Seasoning. It’s delish with the fish.  I find that the cornmeal and flour crusted tilapia really goes over well and down easy, even for the non-fish lovers in our brood.  I think of battered and fried fish as a delicacy – even with tater tots, out of the bag, as a side.  Enjoy this recipe and if you are daring enough you can even try making your own tater tots.


 

A Cereal Bar Recipe with Sweet Peanut Butter

 

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There are few culinary pleasures in this world like enjoying a heaping spoonful of peanut butter while standing in your kitchen.  Not much can match it – except for the 2nd spoonful.  Given my ’druthers,  I’d joyfully  work peanut butter into most every dish – noodle recipes, salad dressings, tofu dishes, chocolate desserts – and serve it on every occasion.  But Hubby, ever so rightfully, cautions me against it in big crowd situations.  Lots of folks are allergic to peanuts, so we lose the peanut butter unless we know for a fact that everyone present can eat it. Can’t be too careful about that.

So entertaining with peanut butter is somewhat of a lost art these days, but if there are no in-house peanut allergies you’re safe to indulge at home.  This is the perfect, crispy, homemade Sweet Peanut Butter Cereal Bar recipe for your kids (and you!)  You probably have all of the ingredients on hand, assuming you stock Chex and Honey Nut Cheerios.  Ok, maybe you’ll need to make a special trip to the store for the sunflower seeds, but in my opinion, they’re worth it.  Their mild nutty taste and soft texture go a long way. And you’ll need honey (a great compliment to peanut butter) but who doesn’t have plenty of that around right now? You’ll also need brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and of course –the glue that holds it all together – the hero of our cereal bars… smooth, creamy peanut butter.  And I won’t tell if you help yourself to a spoonful or two while you’re preparing this.


 

Homemade Granola

 

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I remember the first time I realized that granola ain’t exactly a low cal diet food.  SO disappointed!  I mean, it just screams healthy, doesn’t it?  Shouldn’t a girl be able to eat all she wants of the stuff and go on losing pounds & inches? But I got over it. In an incredible feat of denial, I decided granola shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure.  I still categorize it in the “good-for-me” food group.  Hey, better granola than Godiva.

My recipe for Homemade Granola includes flaky light coconut chips and is sweetened with brown sugar, maple syrup (with its rich, earthy flavor) and raisins.  You can swap in an equal measure of craisins or chopped apricots, or pineapple, or any dried fruit of your choice in place of the raisins.


 

Back to School with Quick & Kosher Trail Mix...

 

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Trail mixes are so satisfying.  My mom loves them and so do I. It’s a DNA thing.   We’re similar in so many ways (more ways than I care to admit), especially when it comes to food.  We are the type that will run in to those little groceries in the highway gas stations and buy a bag of trail mix instead of a package of Ring Dings. Just blows Hubby away. It’s so beyond him, buying nuts & dried fruit when you can have sweet fluffy chocolate cake with cream inside. Well, it seems to me that I’m in good company ’cause I’ve noticed that all those snack food places carry tons of trail mixes.  Somebody’s buying  ’em – probably mothers.

That’s why the annual “Back to School” mindset means that moms are stocking up on trail mix. No real clue as to why or how this turned into a fall kiddie treat, as trail mixes are not “kid food” per se.  I guess all kids love small munchy, crunchy things.  And trail mix doesn’t spoil, fall apart, or get squished in a lunch box. Anyway, I decided to honor Back to School season with a couple simple do-it-yourself trail mix recipes, one Sweet Trail Mix and the other a Savory Snack Mix.  Why choose between sweet and salty? You can have both!


 

4 Simanim Inspired Quick & Kosher Holiday...

 

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So this is where it all comes together.  All the thought. All the planning. The testing. The tasting, the tasting, and the tasting. (That’s the best part).  A simanim-inspired menu brings added challenges, but also adds a level of meaning to your Rosh Hashanah meal.  I have been doing this for the past few years, using the opportunity as a Rosh Hashanah conversation starter with my kids during our cooking and prep time together. My guests, my kids, my guests’ kids – everybody loves identifying which simanim are on the table openly or “hidden” as an ingredient. Our discussion takes on a special Yuntif energy that only comes with Rosh Hashanah.

I hope you enjoy preparing and eating these simanim-inspired dishes and menus as much as I did creating them.


 

Carrot Apple Cupcakes with Parve Cream Cheese...

 

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So call me crazy –but one of my absolute all-time favorite dessert is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  It’s one of those inborn tastes, literally. My mom ate it incessantly when she was pregnant with me, so I was born craving the stuff.  She also swears that a glass of fresh-squeezed, cold carrot juice is better than ice cream. Try selling that to my six-year-old daughter! I mean she adores her Tavi (our version of “Savta” – don’t ask) but doesn’t buy the carrot juice thing.

Anyway, back to the cake.