Onion Kugelettes

Onion Kugelettes

I am continuing to explore creative ways to use up leftover bread. This recipe is another adaption of my challah kugel. Somehow, once I start something, I keep pursuing it until I master the concept.

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity: it has minimal ingredients, and also very little sugar. Somehow, when it’s not too sweet, it feels healthier.

I really like my mother’s suggestion to bake them as cupcakes. Cupcakes cook more quickly, require less fuss when eating and improve portion control. Plus, with cupcake liners, it’s easier to clean up the pan afterwards as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

This recipe is also very accomodating. Since I am time challenged, I find it helpful to prepare the kugel in the morning and then bake it once I get home from work in the evening.

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, try substituting crushed matzah or rice instead of bread.

3 cups water

3 onions (or more) diced, about 2 cups

3 eggs

4 tablespoons oil

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste

½ – 1 teaspoon onion powder, or to taste

½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar, to taste

Optional: 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds

Please note: The amount of spices depends on the bread. Since challah is relatively sweet, less sugar is required.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350* F.

Saute onions until caramelized. Crumble or break up challah (or matzah or rice) into small pieces into bowl.

Combine water and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sauteing the onions.

Adding the cubed bread.

This time I added poppy seeds.

mixing the bread, onions and water.

Ready to be put in the oven.

Fresh and hot right out of the oven!

 

Even though it has onions, and they are not very sweet, Yaffa and Raizel have been known to  eat them for breakfast too! Simple and good!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Challah Kugel

I’m back!

The picture of the adorable cat above, is the latest addition to our family.

At the end of this post, I will share more about him.

Stay tuned!

I have missed blogging, but, for some reason, I uncharacteristically found myself with nothing to say for the past year.

I hope that I have found my voice again, and this is a new beginning!

Part of my inspiration to renew this blog was an off the cuff comment by one of my patients.

During one of my groups at work this week, “Walter,” said, “Carol doesn’t look like someone who likes to cook.”

At first, I thought his comment was completely off base, and I felt slightly offended. To me, he was making an unsubstantiated assumption.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me: perhaps “Walter” was really trying to communicate something else?

Is it possible that “Walter” was really expressing his disappointment that this year there is no funding available to have a holiday party?

Maybe what he really wanted to say was: “does Carol care enough about us that she would make us a party and do all the cooking?”

I am still thinking about the incident, as you can tell.

The upside of his comment is that it reminded me how much I really do miss blogging.

And just in case his comment could really be taken at face value, I was motivated to actually sit down and write a new post on my sorely neglected blog.

My motives might be a little immature, but, I really do have so many recipes to share on juggling special diets, special needs and time challenges!

Chocolate Challah Kugel 

This recipe is really a recent adaption of my challah kugel. I am trying to come up with creative ways to use up leftover bread.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

1/2 cup cocoa

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup white

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl.

Add chocolate chips.

Combine water, milk, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, salt and oil and whisk until smooth and well-blended.

The sugars can be added to the bread and chocolate chips, or to the liquids. This time, I did both. The white sugar I added to the bread, and the brown sugar was added to the liquids. I think it might be better to add the sugar to the liquids so it can dissolve more easily and be more evenly distributed. This recipe is very flexible!

Pour liquid over challah and chocolate chips.

Mix until challah is soft.

Pour into a parchment lined pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, I wonder if this would be good with crushed matzah instead of bread?

Alternatively it might even be made with rice too. Depending on the desired texture, it might be better to lightly blend the rice mixture with an immersion blender before adding the chocolate chips. The goal is to have the mixture slightly smooth but not mushy.

Now that I see how adaptable this recipe can be, I am hoping to explore other variations too.

Here are the pictures:

Bread, chocolate chips and white sugar.

Whisking the sugar, cocoa, eggs, liquid and vanilla

mixing wet and dry ingredients.

The last few pieces. I forgot to take a picture when it was first done.

Enjoy!

As promised, here is the story of our new cat.

Last spring we acquired an outdoor cat, Ari.

I love cats, but, my husband, unfortunately is very allergic to them. So, when we met, I sadly had to give my 2 cats away.

Over the years, I would frequently remind Jay of the tremendous sacrifice I made to marry him. My husband would always joke, “What’s better, having a husband or 2 cats?” He would then add: “Don’t answer that!”

When we first married, I used to be able to find a local stray cat to befriend and share a “Positive Cat Experience.” Over the years, however, that changed. It seems as though there were no longer any stray cats around.

So, as an act of true love, Jay suggested that perhaps I could have a cat again, with the stipulation that the cat was not allowed to come in the house.

It was a tall order, but, with the help of Google, I discovered that there is a local program by the SPCA called “Back Yard Buddies.”

Cats adopted through this program are feral cats that have been spayed/neutered, given their shots, and microchipped. They are not supposed to be indoor cats, and the SPCA gives you all the equipment one needs to train the cat that you will be his/her new feeding source.

It seemed like a win-win for everyone!

My brother was very skeptical when he heard about it. Dov said, “It sounds like taking on a charity project.” I suppose on one level it is.  But, the cat we received is the friendliest feral cat one could ever hope for.

Naturally, life is never how one expects.

Although I am the one who takes care of Ari, ironically, my husband is his chosen person. Ari greets my husband, spontaneously hops up on his lap, and otherwise in general seeks him out.

It is truly very funny.

One of my friends suggested that I sue for alienation of affection, or get another cat who will be MY cat. So far, my husband has vetoed that option.

I am truly enjoying this cat. It is so nice to have a Positive Cat Experience on a daily basis. I just had to share!

Challah Kugel

Challah Kugel 


ואל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

It is written in Perkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): Do not say, “When I have leisure time, I will study,” for you may never have leisure. (2:4)

According to the commentaries, this means that “one must consciously set aside time for study and spiritual growth.”

Now, I would not like to imply that blogging is on the same spiritual level as learning Torah.

But, with respect to blogging, I have extrapolated the above quote to mean: If I wait for things to calm down to blog, I will never blog.

As I shared in May, I am a big believer in the importance of rigorous self-care. As the primary caregiver for my family, I find blogging to be a fun and wonderfully creative outlet. Since blogging helps me cope, it’s time to post!

Challah kugel is a great way to use up leftover challah. Kugel in general is one of Yaffa’s favorite dishes, and this kugel in particular is especially yummy.

Challah Kugel

Ingredients:

16 oz challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½  cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use apple or orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

4 eggs

1/2 – 1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oil

Optional: ½ to 1 cup raisins, crushed pineapple or sliced apples

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl. Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Variations: This recipe is really my basic formula for any sweet kugel. During Passover, I used crushed matzah instead of bread. To make it gluten free, I use rice, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

All the ingredients mixed in the pot.

 

In the pan, ready to bake.

Final outcome.

 

I consider this to be one of my signature kugel recipes. It is always a hit!

Enjoy!

 

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts 

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Every year we go to visit my sister for Chanukah. My sister, Raizel, is really a lot of fun. Aside from my mother, and my Aunt Perel (A”H), my sister is also one of the best cooks I know.

By training, Raizel is actually a chef. However, once she got married, she transferred her cooking skills to being a “Baal Chessed.” For those who may not already know, “chessed” translates as “loving kindness.” It is an action, as well as a character trait. So, if someone is a “Baal Chessed,” they are a charitable person who is constantly engaged in acts of kindness.  That is my sister, to a “T.”

In addition, my sister is also a Baal Hachnasat Orchim.”  “Hachnasat Orchim,” is the Hebrew word for “hospitality” or “welcoming guests.”  This mitzvah, in its purest form, consists of hosting and serving the needs of those who are destitute and have no place to eat or sleep.

My sister and her husband used to host up to 20 people per meal for Shabbat and holiday meals. All of their guests were treated to homemade, all natural, healthy, kosher food. Many of them  were people who genuinely needed a place to eat.

It was a delicate balancing act. Yet, my sister and her husband excelled at this mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), all while raising 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom are now married. One of my wonderful nieces, Eli, shared this recipe for doughnuts.

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

Alternative: use water, coconut or nut milk instead

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Alternative: use coconut oil or palm shortening instead

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoons salt

2 3/4 cup flour

Instructions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water. Add the milk (or substitute), butter, egg, sugar and salt. Blend this until its smooth.

Add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise, until the dough has doubled, about 1/2 – 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and roll out a half inch thick.

Using a cup or biscuit cutter (or even a dry empty can to cut out the doughnuts. If you want to make the doughnuts with the traditional hole in the middle, use a shot glass or similar sized object to cut out the holes. (The holes will later become doughnut holes)

Place these on cookie sheets and let them rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.

Heat oil in a pot, and then fry the doughnuts, approximately, 30 seconds on each side. Once the oil becomes hot, this process is very quick.

The trick is to have the oil hot, but not too hot. Our friend, Judith, said that in the days before there were thermometers, you knew the oil was hot enough when it would take 1 minute to cook a piece of bread. I thought that was a nice trick!

My sister simply put in one of the doughnut holes, and waited until it started to brown nicely.

Regulating the temperature correctly is critical to making doughnuts successfully. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn but the inside will be too raw. If that happens, bake the doughnuts in the oven so that they will cook nicely.

Remove from oil and place in pot of sugar syrup and coat on each side.

Sugar Glaze

The trick to making doughnuts taste completely awesome is to dip the doughnuts into the glaze right after they have been fried. Unfortunately, my sister is an intuitive cook, and she does not need to follow recipes. So, this an approximation of what she did.

Ingredients

Equal amounts of water and sugar, i.e. ½ water and ½ cup sugar.

Instructions:

To make a glaze using granulated sugar, place equal amounts of sugar and water to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.

If you want a thicker glaze, continue to cook the glaze and stir occasionally until it reduces to a thicker consistency, or add more sugar.

Once the doughnuts are cooked, quickly drop them into the simmering glaze, and turn to coat both sides and then remove and place on plate.

Decorate as desired.

Here are the pictures. My sister laughs at me that I need things explained so exactly. But, that is why I am writing this blog in the first place.  I am so grateful that I have her and my mother to learn from.

img_6120

First step.


img_6122

Kneaded into dough and read to rise.


img_6137

Cut into doughnut shape. The secret is to roll thin and use a good cookie cutter shape.


img_6142

First side cooking


img_6143

Flipping them over.


img_6141

Dipping into sugar glaze syrup.


img_6146

Final product. A work of art!

The final outcome was a work of art. The downside of doughnuts is that they are only good fresh. So, make sure you invite lots of people over to share them with you! You can tell them it’s a mitzvah.

My sister tells me that the reason why she is able to make these so well is that she is not afraid of making a mistake, and every year she keeps on trying to improve. So, now you know why she is not only an awesome cook, but an awesome person as well. She is truly our family tzedakis (righteous soul).

img_6186

 

Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways 

 

Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways  

 

Although Thanksgiving has passed, I still want to post my recipes from the holiday.

 

I seem to be having trouble with the formatting of my post, so I am afraid that my spacing of the paragraphs is off.

 

My mother in law (A’H) LOVED Thanksgiving. Nothing gave her more joy and a twinkle in her eye than this day.

 

She passed away on a Sunday after Thanksgiving when the girls were small. (I will not say how long ago as my mother in law was coy about her age.)We are convinced that she waited until after the holiday to celebrate one last time before leaving this world.

This year, we were fortunate to host my husband’s oldest sister and his nephew and his new wife joined us. (Readers may remember my posts on Sheva Brachot for them, https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/02/)

As we are aging, I appreciate these rare gatherings. Every celebration is a poignant opportunity to be cherished and savored.

This year, at my sister in law Hana’s request, we began our meal paying tribute to my mother in law, who loved this holiday so much. Everyone also shared what they were grateful for during this past year.

My gratitude was that everyone was such a good sport that the turkey took so long to cook. On Thanksgiving, I finally realized that an oven thermometer is critical to accurately gauge my oven’s temperature. My oven, it seems, is cooking challenged which contributes to my time challenges.

In my cooking frenzy, I made 3 different types of cranberry sauce.

I made my husband’s favorite traditional cranberry sauce, and 2 variations of cranberry relish.

Although these recipes are ubiquitous for Thanksgiving fare, I still wanted to post them here.


Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

 1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Optional: use orange juice instead of water

4 cups or 1 12-oz package fresh or frozen cranberries

Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

Instructions:

Rinse cranberries. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.Add cranberries. Return water to a boil and then gently simmer until the cranberries are cooked, and sauce is desired thickness.

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Orange Relish With Or Without Ginger

Ingredients

12 ounces cranberries

1 cup white sugar

1 orange, quartered

Optional: grated fresh ginger, lemon zest

Instructions: 

Place sugar, cranberries and orange in food processor. Gently pulse until coarsely chopped and desired texture. Add grated ginger or lemon zest.

Here are the pictures:

Cranberry, orange and sugar, chopped in the food processor.

Here is the cranberry relish. Visually, it is hard to distinguish between the one with ginger or without.

They were all a hit. However, after our guests left, I took the cranberry relish and made a fruit torte. I have been wanting to post on that for a few weeks, but, I had to post this one first.

Enjoy!

 
 

Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

This year, I thought I would try to make taiglach for the first time with Raizel. 

The word “taiglach” is Yiddish for “little pieces of dough” which are cooked in honey. 

Growing up, this was a very special holiday treat that we only enjoyed on Sukkot. Taiglach are traditionally served on holidays which emphasize sweetness and joy. Some people have the custom of eating them on Purim as well.

I have very fond memories of eating taiglach in the sukkah as a child. I looked forward to them every year! 

Raizel was very excited to try this. 

I was excited that she was excited. 

Aside from Mommy time, making this also gave Raizel an opportunity to practice using her hands and develop her fine finger dexterity. 

Since my oven is still not working well, there was the added incentive that taiglach can be made on top of the stove. No oven required! So, it’s a win-win!

Dolly from koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com graciously made this recipe at my request. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until after I made the version below. Happily, our versions are slightly different. Experiment with which one you like best.

According to Dolly, her family made them with raisins and almonds and piled the taiglach up in a mound. However, growing up, our taiglach were made in a single layer and made without raisins or nuts. Instead, they were sprinkled with coconut.

Please check out her blog and wonderful explanation on this delicious treat.

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/silver-chair-polygamy-and-mount-sinai/

Ingredients

Dough

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons oil

About 1 ¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla

Syrup

1 cup honey. (I think that this is 1 lbs of honey, but I only had 12 oz so I added more sugar instead.)

1 ½ cups sugar.

2 teaspoons ginger

Optional: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons boiling water. This is critical, because otherwise the syrup will become too stiff and hard when it cools.

Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, blanched almonds or hazelnuts

Optional: ½ cup coarsely raisins or minced candied fruit.

Optional: shredded coconut to sprinkle as desired.

Instructions:

To make the dough: Combine the eggs, vanilla (if using) and oil together until smooth. Add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and the salt. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft, workable dough. If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of cold water. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be soft, and not sticky.

Traditionally, the dough is divided into 4 and rolled into a rope until it is approximately .5 inches thick. Then the dough is cut into .5 inch pieces. Some people then tie them into loose knots and tuck the ends underneath. 

This dough, however, is very flexible. It can be cut into squares, or rolled into balls instead of twists. The pieces can even be baked or fried first for added crunch.

Since I am time challenged, I cut the dough into 36-40 pieces and then rolled them into balls. Some people like to add a few raisins inside the balls. Feel free to experiment. 

Syrup: Combine honey, sugar and spices in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.

To assemble: Drop the pieces of dough into the syrup one at a time. Reduce the heat to low, and let them rise for 2 minutes. Cover and simmer for 15-30 minutes, without stirring. Then, stir the dough pieces occasionally so that all the pieces will cook evenly. Simmer (up to 45 minutes) until golden brown and the dough sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

Add boiling water and remove from heat. Spoon onto lined cookie sheet or pan in a single layer to cool. If desired, roll in chopped nuts or sprinkle with coconut. Pour some of the honey syrup over the taiglach if you would like them to stick together.

Save the rest of the sauce for a recipe that calls for honey. I am planning on using it to make chicken.

When cool, place in a sealed container. Do not refrigerate. 

The taiglach can remain at room temperature for several weeks, but hopefully they will be gone before then.

I was only able to take a few pictures:

A few left in the saucepan.

Raizel rolling them in nuts.

All done and ready to eat.

 

Raizel and Yaffa LOVED them!

I was particularly overjoyed when Raizel said, “the only reason why these taste so good is because we davened (prayed) while we made them.”

That was the first time that she validated my beliefs that prayer and love are critical to successful cooking!

It was “Yiddishe nachas!”  For those who may not know, Yiddishe nachas is a term which refers to the inner warmth and pride one feels when one observes the transmission from one generation to the next of one’s spiritual values and traditions.

True bliss on so many levels.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rosh Hashanah – Pressing the Reset Button on Life

Rosh Hashanah – Pressing the Reset Button on Life

roshhashanahshofar

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year begins tonight. It is a 2 day holiday, rich with symbolism and meaning.

On this blog, I like to highlight the Jewish holidays in order to provide a larger context for the role of food within the Jewish culture and religion.  Naturally, I am only speaking from a personal perspective, based on my own understanding. I am not an expert!

On Rosh Hashanah, we do “teshuva” for any of the mistakes that we made during the year.

The word “teshuva” which is commonly translated as “repentance” literally means “return.”

On this holiday, we have an opportunity to reset our spiritual connection to God. We identify and attempt to correct our mistakes, and reconnect and return our souls back to their original and pure connection of our Source — God.

The analogy that I like to use is the “factory reset button” on a cell phone. The function of the “factory reset button” is to return your cell phone to its original pristine condition when you first bought it. This function enables us to remove any software errors that one may have acquired over the lifetime and use of the phone. We have an opportunity to start with a clean slate.

So too with us.

On this holiday, we have an opportunity to repent and seek to repair any of our errors, misjudgments or miscalculations. Through the process of teshuva, on Rosh Hashana we return and reconnect to our inner essence which is created in God’s image. We have the opportunity to transform ourselves into better people.

Just for fun, I thought I would post this video in honor of this auspicious time of year. I had another one, but unfortunately, I do not seem to be able to upload it.😕


If anyone would like to read more of my thoughts on this holiday, I wrote something on my other blog, coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com.  Here is the link:

https://coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/elulfeeling-believing-knowing/

May we all be inscribed in the book of life and be granted a year filled with health, happiness and positive growth.

With blessings,

Carol & family.

rosh-hashanah