Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Teriyaki Salmon and Raves by a Five Year Old

Tonight I made a quick dinner of teriyaki salmon, basmati rice and steamed spinach (I had shredded carrots for the kids). Here was J's reaction - "I LOVE Salmon Mommy! This is delicious! Thank you for making such a wonderful dinner for us! I am only going to eat the salmon, rice and carrots - but I LOVE it!"

Yes, it was a little over the top and dramatic - but what do you want - he is five. And drama tends to run in our family!

So what was this terrific salmon? Try this one - it is easy and terrific. Of course, get the best salmon you can. I always buy fresh fish from Whole Foods or a fish market - just is better.

1 lb of salmon (I used 1 side)
1 cup or so of your favorite teriyaki sauce (I use the San-J organic.)

1. Place salmon on tray with high sides, skin side down. Pour teriyaki sauce over so it is covered. Take a piece of saran wrap and tightly cover the salmon. "Marinate" for 30 minutes.

2. While salmon is marinating, preheat oven to 350.

3. Remove saran wrap (a key step...).

4. Put tray with salmon and marinade in oven. Roast for 8-12 minutes depending on thickness, until salmon is flaky.


reheat oven to 350.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Of Whole Wheat Penne and Paper Mache Volcanos

Yes -

I am one of those parents. This past weekend, while it was absolutely gorgeous out and we did TONS of stuff outside.... (big plug here for the David Brooks' Big Bugs sculpture exhibit at the Morton Arboreteum - it is amazing and if it comes to your town - go see it!) J and I also did a project. We made a volcano. Yes, you heard me right - a paper mache volcano.

We made the form and used plaster gauze to cover it - it took about 1 1/2 days to dry, then J painted it brown and red.... Then tonight - we Exploded it!!! Chemistry 101... 1 tsp of baking soda - a bit of food coloring - and 1 Tbsp of vinegar - and Voila! A volcano -

It was a "blast" (no pun intended). J loved it - as did A - and everyone cheered when it spilled over bubbles of colored "lava."

This of course, was after dinner.... Whole Wheat Pasta with Tofu and Spinach Sauce.

Confession here - Since it is technically the beginning of the week, dinner as always ran a bit late. I just can't seem to get it together for dinner the first day of the week. So, I used a jarred Indian Punjabi Spinach Sauce from Trader Joe's as the basis of this meal. A and the hubby both loved the tofu and sauce over the pasta. J (as always) shied away - but was VERY happy to help out with his new chore for which he receives an allowance each week - clearing the table and helping mommy fill the dishwasher!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Tofu and Spinach Sauce

1 jar Indian Punjabi Spinach Sauce (or your favorite veggie based simmering sauce)
1 package firm tofu (I like the Mori-Na Organic Firm)
1 package Whole Wheat Penne
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher Salt

1. Bring water to a boil for the pasta - salt the water when it is boiling and cook pasta as directed.

2. Cut the tofu into 1 inch or so cubes.

3. Heat saute pan (one with high sides preferably) and the olive oil. Lower heat and gently saute the tofu until it is slightly browned and coated with the olive oil (I just did this to give extra flavor - you can skip this step if you want.)

4. Pour jar of Punjabi sauce into pan. Mix gently with tofu. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pasta is done.

5. Drain pasta. Pour pasta into pan with sauce and tofu - mix together and serve!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Unethical in Iowa

Dear friends -

While I have not created this blog to comment on politics or world events, I feel it is my duty as a "food" blogger to share with you our Rabbi's recent thoughts on the unethical treatment of workers in a facility that produces kosher meat and chicken. There are hundreds of undocumented workers that are being held after a raid on the facility and there are allegations of mistreatment and abuse of these workers.

I absolutely agree with everything that the Rabbi has to say and for sure I will not be purchasing items produced by this company until this is fully resolved and there are assurances that abuse is not taking place. For those of you that are not aware of what has been happening, I am attaching the comments and article....(this was sent to my e-mail from my synagogue Anshe Emet in Chicago.)

Dear Friends:

I am sure that all of us have been following the terrible events in Postville, Iowa in these past weeks. The sight of hundreds of undocumented workers being held, many separated from their families is difficult to witness. Add to this the allegations reported in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the situation becomes all that more chilling. Because this is taking place in a Kosher meat plant, what is happening in Postville is a poor reflection on the time honored tradition of Kashrut and the Jewish people at large!

The Hekhsher Tzedek Commission, of which I am proud to serve as national co-chair, in an effort to ensure that Kosher products are produced in an ethical way, has spearheaded an active response. This statement is going out to the entire Conservative Movement. The time is long overdue for us to make our voices heard. I hope that you will participate in this effort.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Michael S. Siegel

Deuteronomy 24:14

A Statement by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly Regarding Rubashkin's Meat Products

New York, NY (May 22, 2008) - In light of continuing disturbing allegations of unacceptable worker conditions at the Agriprocessors Plant in Postville, Iowa, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly is united in calling for a thorough evaluation by kosher consumers of the appropriateness of purchasing and consuming meat products produced by the Rubashkin's label.

Rubashkin's produces kosher meat primarily under the Aaron and David label at the Agriprocessors facility. It is a major producer of kosher meat and poultry in the United States. The allegations about the terrible treatment of workers employed by Rubashkin's has shocked and appalled members of the Conservative Movement as well as all people of conscience. As Kashrut seeks to diminish animal suffering and offer a humane method of slaughter, it is bitterly ironic that a plant producing kosher meat be guilty of inflicting human suffering.

The Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism will immediately release an advisory to its members and constituents to evaluate the appropriateness of consuming Rubashkin products until the current situation is addressed. This advisory extends not only to products purchased on the retail level but to meat and poultry consumed in restaurants and at private functions, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.

As the month of Sivan approaches, Jews throughout the world are mindful of the Torah's message of the power of Kedushah, holiness as it applies to all aspects of our lives including the ethics of worker treatment and food production. It is hoped that Conservative synagogues, schools and summer camps engage in a study of this important topic in honor of the festival of Shavuot - which begins on the sixth day of Sivan -- which commemorates the giving of the Torah.

A valuable source for such study is the paper written by Rabbi Avraham Reisner, entitled Hekhsher Tzedek Al Pi Din. This paper is a companion to the Hekhsher Tzedek Policy Statement and Working Guidelines. The paper is available on the websites of the Rabbinical Assembly ( and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism ( By releasing this advisory, the Conservative Movement endorses the vision and guidance of the Hekhsher Tzedek commission. Hekhsher Tzedek is an initiative of the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue that seeks to create an ethical certification process for kosher food. Through its work, Hekhsher Tzedek seeks to strengthen the bond between Halakha and Social Justice.

The reports of unacceptable worker conditions at the Agriprocessors plant demonstrate the pressing need for the sort of ethical oversight which might be provided by Hekhsher Tzedek.

For further information about the advisory being released by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly, or to request an interview with any member of the Hekhsher Tzedek commission, the Rabbinical Assembly or United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism please call Shira Dicker at 212.663.4643 or by email at or call Steve Rabinowitz at 202.265.3000 or

Monday, May 19, 2008

$4.45 a gallon and soba noodles


Yes - that is right folks. On the way home with the kids in the car - I passed a gas station that was $4.45 per gallon for REGULAR!!!!

Wonderful to live in Chicago with the highest gas prices in the country.

So, needless to say, we are not going out to eat much. Which brings me to (what else) - dinner.

Mondays are always hectic for some reason - I can't seem to get it together enough to make anything remotely complicated. And, most often, Monday becomes pizza night. (J LOVES the Trader Joe's cheese pizzas. They are terrific - pretty low in calories - all organic - and they taste great - and are fast).

Tonight, however, I decided to do something slight different than the usual Monday night quick fix. So- I went for Soba Noodles (aka chocolate noodles to the kids) tossed with a couple of tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, steamed green beans and for Jay and me - some tilapia roasted at 450 with mustard and parmesan on top. The kids didn't want the tilipia, which is fine. They did, however, love those Soba noodles with teriyaki sauce. A definite do again (who can argue with buckwheat as healthy?) and good to know that we can venture into sushi with a fall back position.

Of course, in the 15 minutes it took me to prepare this, the kids had already had a slice of cheese each and some fruit... but such is the life of the working mom!

Have a great evening!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Garden and a Grilled Salad

Well, we did it!

J and I have planted our vegetable garden. Only time will tell how well it turns out, but I will let you all know!

So - onto dinner. I make lots of salad. Sometimes the kids eat it - J likes raw veggies - A only eats fruit and protein. Nary a green vegetable has passed her lips since she was able to fend for herself at the table. She loves all things dairy (as do most kids) and will eat lots and lots on any given day.

I am happy to say that J, while rejecting anything that "looks" like it might have sauce, is pretty open to veggies and fruit (of course). And, both kids love to stand in the kitchen while I am prepping fruit and ask for it as I go! (I cut everything up and put it into containers when I get home - easier this way - and more likely that we will eat it!)

Anyway - back to the salad...

I have been making this for years. IT seems odd to grill lettuce, but let me tell you - it is terrific! The first time I made it for a crowd, they all thought I was crazy. Once they had it - they asked for more - and it is Jay's favorite way to have salad.

Very easy to do - goes with everything - and you can throw in any type of grilled veggie as well.

Basic recipe for grilled salad:

1 head romaine or green lettuce
1 head radicchio
1-2 heads belgian endive
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat grill. (You can use an indoor grill pan too...)

2. Cut lettuces lengthwise keeping the stem/core in tact so the lettuce doesn't fall apart. (I usually half the romaine/green lettuce/endive and quarter the radiccio.

3. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

4. Place lettuces on grill and heat about 2-3 minutes per side. You are looking for some wilting and some nice grill marks. I usually let the radicchio go a bit longer, since it is thicker than the others. It is also nice if there is a bit of charring on the thin ends.

5. Remove from grill. Chop roughly and toss with balsamic vinegar a bit more olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Serve warm!

Tonight I didn't have any endive, but I did have some zucchini, scallions and bell peppers. So I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, cut the bottom of the scallions and quartered the red peppers. Threw those on the grill with the lettuces, chopped everything together - YUM!!!

Have a great week and grill that salad!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Planning to Garden

I have to admit that I have never been all that successful at growing plants indoors.

When we lived in a condo, every year I would go to the garden department and select plants for window boxes. Jay would always ask which plants I was going to sentence to death - and every year I would try like heck to keep them alive. Never worked.

Of course, we did have full southwestern exposure - leading to lots of frying of plants and flowers. The one year I had success, I watered everything once a day. We then went away for 5 days. I came back and yes, all the flowers had died.

But, I always wanted a beautiful garden - especially one for the kitchen - that had great flowers to cut, vegetables to harvest and just a joy to look at!

Since we now have a backyard, I have had much more success in achieving this goal! Last year, J and I selected a bunch of flowers (yellow lilys and some sort of blue something) as well as herbs (of course). I figured we would start small and see how it went. Not only did J love gardening and seeing things grow, but the garden actually grew beautifully!

And, this year, much of what we planted (to my great surprise) has started to come back!

In Chicago, planting before May 15th is generally not suggested since there is a great chance of frost. However, that hasn't stopped J and me from planning our garden! This year I am going all out! We are planting more herbs, some containers for outside that have baby eggplant and cherry tomatoes as well as lettuces for salad, and lots of different kinds of vegetables - chiogga beets, round orange carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans (yellow and green), cucumbers and - for the Fall - pumpkins - the kind that Cinderella's Fairy Godmother made into a carriage! And, we also got some blue morning glories (J's favorite flower) and pink mounding zinnias.

Yes, dear friends, I have gone garden crazy! But, if we are anywhere near the success we achieved last year, it should be a wonderful garden to enjoy through the Fall!

We plan on planting this weekend for Mother's Day - so I will let you know how it goes! And, possibly, post some pictures for everyone to see!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It is May!

Yes! I am back!

After a crazy Passover (with some incredibly delicious eating and beautiful weather) I am back. I also just finished a huge grant, so hopefully will have some more time to dedicate to this blog!

Anyway- because last week was Passover, and we do not eat out at all during the week, I did lots of cooking (and yes, there was also lots and lots of matzo and Temptee cream cheese.) We had quite a number of friends over Friday night for dinner - and everything was delicious.

One of the interesting things about Passover is that for Ashkenazi Jews (those of Eastern European descent mostly) there is no "kitneot" or legumes - no rice, beans, etc... In recent years, a terrific substitute has been used - Quinoa! Yes, it is apparently from a beet, and therefore, allowable during Passover.

I made a wonderful Quinoa dish for Shabbat, and I think it is going to take up permanent residence in my repertoire - I made brisket also, but what folks couldn't stop talking about - or eating for that matter - was the Quinoa. You can find Quinoa in Whole Foods and it is starting to show up in regular aisles. I took it for lunch a few days later - ate it cold - still delicious!

So - here it is:

Red Quinoa with dates, carrots, zucchini and toasted honey almonds

2 cups Red Quinoa (I think this kind is tastier than the other may need to rinse and drain the Quinoa - check the package)
4 cups Water
2 Tbsp chopped dates (pitted, of course) - chop them coursely
2 tbsp olive oil
3 Medium Carrots - diced
2 Medium Zucchini - diced
1 cup Sliced Almonds
1 Tbsp Honey
Kosher Salt

1. Put Quinoa, Water, Chopped Dates and 1 pinch of Kosher Salt in Pot on Stove. Bring to a boil and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

2. While Quinoa is cooking, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in pan and saute carrots and zucchini until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in pan.

3. In small saute pan, heat rest of olive oil and toast sliced almonds until light brown. Add Honey and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pinch of kosher salt. Continue to toast until golden brown. Set aside.

4. When Quinoa is done, mix together with veggies and almonds. Serve!

FYI - you don't have to use dates (they will lose their brownish color because the quinoa will absorb it - still taste terrific.) Other dried fruits - cranberries, currants, etc. would be terrific in this as would other types of veggies.

Even the kids liked it!

Enjoy -