Creamy Brussels Sprouts Soup

All of this rain has put me in the mood for some hot and creamy soup.  I know it’s still hot outside, but this is a great recipe for snuggling indoors and pretending it’s already autumn.  This recipe is also jam-packed full of calcium between the Brussels sprouts, the cheese, and the milk.

What  you need:

2 cups Brussels sprouts (frozen works fine)

1/2 cup water

1 cup whole milk or half and half

1/4 cup finely shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

1/8 tsp. Hungarian hot paprika

1/2 tsp. kosher sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. chopped parsley

1/8 tsp. garlic powder (garlic cloves would be too chunky and overpowering I think)

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and then add the Brussels sprouts.  Boil until sprouts are tender.  Pour water and sprouts into a food processor and pulse to desired consistency – about 30 seconds will yield a creamy soup with still a little tasty texture.  Return the Brussels sprouts purée to the saucepan and add milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.  Once the soup is hot, remove from the heat and melt in the cheese.  Garnish with parsley.

Green, calcium-rich, and belly-warming.


Stick-to-your-ribs Mac’n’Cheese

I made this the other night and my husband didn’t even miss not having meat at dinner since this mac’n’cheese is so substantial.  It’s a great opportunity for a vegetarian dinner or you could even mix in some faux meat and still keep things kosher.  I mixed grilled bell peppers into ours and served it with crusty whole grain garlic bread.  (Clearly, this is not kosher for Pesach!)

What you need:

1lb. box of elbow macaroni (if you use whole grain, you will have to boil it slightly longer)

1/3 cup kosher unsalted butter (I like to control the salt in my food)

2tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. kosher sea salt

1tsp. hot Hungarian paprika (optional – regular paprika also works well and gives a nice colour)

5 cups whole milk (just do it!)

1/4 cup flour

2tbsp. cream cheese

2 cups grated extra sharp white Cheddar cheese

2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and follow the instructions for boiling your macaroni, except that you will want to pull it out and drain it a minute or two earlier than the package says (about 7-8 minutes at a good boil).  In the meantime, melt your butter in a large saucepan.  Once the butter has melted, sprinkle in the flour and mix well with the butter (this part is called “making a roux”).  Cook the mixture until it’s just a golden blonde colour (DO NOT WALK AWAY WHILE YOUR ROUX IS COOKING!!!!  People who say a roux is hard to make are people who walked away and burnt theirs.).  Add the milk and start whisking vigorously.  Keep on whisking until all of the roux is dissolved in the milk.  Whisk some more (but not quite as vigorously) until the mixture has thickened into a gravy-like texture (Mazel tov!  You’ve made a béchamel!).  Season with salt, pepper, and optional paprika.  Melt in the cream cheese.  Begin adding the white Cheddar about 1/4 cup at the time.  Make sure each time that the cheese you’ve added is melted before you add more or you’ll end up with a big stringy ball.  Next, add 1 cup of the regular Cheddar 1/4 cup at the time and then add the Parmesan.  Once all the cheese has melted into the sauce, combine your drained pasta, cheese sauce, and any mix-ins (veggies, fake meat, real meat, etc.) together in a large casserole dish.  Top with the remaining 1 cup of Cheddar cheese.  Bake until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly (about 20-25 minutes – longer if you have mix-ins that need to heat up, just cover it with foil to keep the cheese from burning).  Let cool slightly before serving because it will be like molten lava when it comes out of the oven.  Enjoy!

So yummy! (Yes, I know I need a food stylist.)


Cold Borscht? It’s better than it sounds…

It’s hot here – like really, really, really hot.  It’s too hot to slave in the kitchen all day for a hot Shabbat evening meal.  I found a recipe for cold borscht on Haaretz and thought what a great alternative to the gazpachos everyone goes crazy for in the summer (especially since I have yet to be convinced that there’s a difference between gazpacho and a really good salsa).  I’ve tweaked it a little since the original recipe was a little plain.  You could serve this with some some grilled white fish and grilled potatoes/veggies for a complete meal.  And did I mention that beets are good for you?

Here’s what you need:

5-6 medium beets, peeled

4 cups water

1tsp kosher salt

1/4tsp Hungarian hot paprika (I can’t say enough how much I love this stuff, and it’s packed with Vitamin C)

1tbsp sugar

1tbsp kosher balsamic vinegar

1tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp black pepper

In a pot arrange the peeled beets in water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the beets are fork-tender.  Remove the beets and purée.  Add black pepper and lemon zest to the beets and freeze into ice cubes.  Vigorously blend the salt, sugar, paprika, vinegar, and lemon juice into the remaining beet juice.  Chill for at least 4 hours and serve cold.  I recommend serving it in a fancy glass with the beet ice cubes mentioned above and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Healthy, pretty, and great in soup!

Simple Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Tried this one out tonight and I think it passed the test kitchen approval process.  Granted, we really love mushrooms at our house.  It’s a pretty simple recipe, especially considering the store-bought add-ins.  (This recipe is kosher-dairy.)

What you need:

1lb rough chopped mushrooms (at least some of these should be a meatier variety like Baby Bellas)

3 tbsp kosher olive oil

1tsp kosher sea salt

1/2tsp black pepper

1/2tsp garlic powder

1tsp red pepper flakes

15oz jar of good Alfredo sauce (kosher or not)

12oz. package of lasagna noodles

10oz. chopped spinach, drained well

2 cups ricotta cheese

2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses (save time by buying the pre-shredded blend)

Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.  Next, parboil your lasagna noodles.  I’ve found that even the ones that say “oven ready” really aren’t, so I would recommend throwing them in some boiling water just for a few minutes (don’t completely cook them).  Drain your noodles when they’re done and set aside to cool so you can handle them in a minute.  In a large skillet, heat your olive oil and then add all of your rough-chopped mushrooms.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Let the mushrooms soften.  It should take about 15 minutes.  Once softened, add the Alfredo sauce and lower the heat just to keep the mixture warm.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, and red pepper flakes.  Be sure to stir well in order to evenly distribute the spinach throughout the cheese.

Time to assemble!  I used a 7×11″ glass baking dish, but I think this is probably flexible depending on how deep you want your lasagna and what you have handy (the glass does seem to keep the cheese from sticking better).  In the bottom of the pan, make your first layer of lasagna noodles (a 7×11″ pan will take 3 noodles laid length-wise for each layer).  Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles carefully.  Top with 1 cup of your shredded cheese blend.  Add your next layer of noodles.  Spread half of the mushroom and sauce mixture over this and top with another layer of noodles.  Repeat the cheese layer, add another layer of noodles, and spread on the remaining mushroom mixture.  Top with the final 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

I already snagged my piece…yum!

Bake for approximately 45 minutes.  I like the cheese on top crusty so I didn’t cover it, but if you wanted it less brown on top, you can cover the lasagna with aluminium foil for 30 minutes and remove it for the last 15.  Serve with garlic bread and a crisp white wine!

Pinot Grigio, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, and a 1/2 Bolillo roll turned into garlic bread


Vegetarian (Kosher!) Enchiladas

I love Tex-Mex food.  When I was growing up in California, it wasn’t a real party unless there was guacamole and enchiladas.  Birthday? Enchiladas.  Family reunion?  Enchiladas.  I have what you might call a family recipe since it began with my grandmother, was adapted by my mother, and now has been adapted here by me.  No matter what you call it, your guests will call it, “Mmmmm!”

What you need:

1 large casserole dish, sprayed lightly with cooking spray

8 large flour tortillas (burrito size)(you could use corn but the consistency will be different)

1 28oz can of mild green chile Old El Paso® enchilada sauce (trust me, get the green stuff)

1 cup shredded “fiesta” blend cheese (Monterrey jack, cheddar, queso fresco, etc.)

1 cup cremini mushroom caps cut into large chunks

1/2 cup pitted black olives

1 cup red and/or green bell peppers sliced thin

1/2 cup salsa (I use a medium salsa, but you could use mild or hot)

1tbsp olive oil

Okay, now prepare yourself.  These are probably the easiest enchiladas you will ever make and everyone will love them.  First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Then, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and then add the mushrooms.  Let them soften slightly and then add the sliced peppers.  Once everything has softened, add the salsa and cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from the heat.  Next, get a work space ready and spread a few tablespoons (just enough to coat) of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish.  Take a tortilla and make a line of the mushroom/pepper filling slightly to one side.  Add a few olives (you could slice or chop these, but I love biting into whole olives).  Sprinkle with some of the cheese (not too much).  Roll up beginning with the side with filling.  No need to tuck the sides while rolling unless you are using a narrow casserole dish.  Repeat for all 8 tortillas placing each one in the casserole dish perpendicular to the longer sides.  If it seems like they won’t all fit, cram them in.  Smashing them together actually makes them better.  Once all of the enchiladas are in the pan, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top (you may not use it all depending on the size of your pan, the dryness of your tortillas, etc…use your judgment).  Sprinkle liberally with remaining cheese and put in the oven.  All of the ingredients are cooked so you’re just waiting for the sauce to warm and the cheese to melt.  Twenty minutes should be fine unless you like your cheese a bit more brown.  Serve with sour cream, guacamole, black beans, and rice.

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