Menu: Week of January 5

The fruits of my busy Saturday night cooking binge

The fruits of my busy Saturday night cooking binge

After two week of Winter Break, we were all looking forward to getting back to our regularly scheduled program but nature had a different idea.  It is now -12 degrees (but feels like -37…because -12 wasn’t bad enough!) and every parent I know is now praying for school at least on Wednesday.  Since we knew it was going to be cold, I hit three grocery stores in one afternoon so I wouldn’t have to leave the house unless absolutely necessary once it got cold.  Then on Saturday night I used my biggest pot  to make my mother’s vegetable soup and then made a small pot of Cream of Mushroom Soup.  The rest of the week is all about warm, comfort food.


  • Homemade Fish Nuggets with Tartar Sauce
  • Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  • Banana Strawberry Bread (My Banana Bread calls for Plain Greek Yogurt but I only had strawberry.  It was extra delicious!)
  • TIP: I used frozen Cod Nuggets from Trader Joe’s but next time I’ll buy the whole piece of fish.  The nuggets have too many little pieces that aren’t worth dipping and breading; and I’ll make twice as much.  The fish went faster than the macaroni did!


  • Vegetable Soup
  • Sloppy Joe’s on Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns (or lettuce for the adults)
  • Broccoli Slaw – I buy the bag of Broccoli Slaw (better than the bagged cole slaw) and use a white vinegar, oil, sugar, dry mustard dressing.  It ads a nice crunch to the Sloppy Joe’s and it’s really good on cold cuts.


  • Baked Ziti (made a few weeks ago and put in the freezer)
  • Carrots and cucumbers
  • Salad



  • Leftover Night

Friday – This Friday our son has a sleepover at our shul so I picked one of our favorite meals that he used to love.  I look forward to not having to beg him to eat it.

  • Challah
  • Black Bean Soup – a favorite of my daughter’s so I make it without the jalapeños
  • Fish Tacos
  • Corn, Avocado, Tomato Salad
  • Creamy Cilantro Dressing
  • Sauteed Spinach
  • Chocolate Chip, Cranberry, Oatmeal Cookies

Happy cooking and stay warm out there!


New Year’s Eve

depositphotos_12843664-Happy-New-Year-2014Not sure how I missed it but it truly seems like 2013 just started.  Where has the time gone?!  The kids are taller and older, we’re in a new house, the jobs have changed, our hair is grayer (although not mine anymore since my latest trip to the salon). But it seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year.

With three kids (9, 7 and 3) and lots of friends with young kids, New Year’s Eve has become a family affair that ends by 10:30pm.  It is our turn to host this year and due to some travel plans, we’re down to 6 adults and 9 kids.  No worries, we’ll have plenty of food and fun to keep us going.  And since I’m big on planning ahead, it’s 9:30 the night before and almost everything is done.  Here’s our simple dinner party menu:

The plan is to have enough food that we will be eating leftovers for several days.  While the kids might be off from school, the adults are still working and I’m not in a huge cooking mood these days; maybe it’s all the snow on the ground.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

Menu: Week of December 8

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup

We had another hectic week filed with study sessions, board meetings and guitar lessons so I made our menu this week pretty easy and prepped each meal the night before.


  • Shabbes Dinner Leftovers
  • TIP: There’s something really great about starting the week off by pulling leftovers out of the fridge and throwing them in the microwave!


  • Carrots and Dip
  • Steamed Green Beans
  • Pizza
  • TIP: While I usually make my own pizza, we had a change of plans on Monday so I picked up a few frozen pizzas at the grocery store in the morning and added my own toppings before putting them in the oven.  It’s a nice combo of store-bought and homemade.


  • Hot and Sour Soup
  • Eggrolls
  • Brown Rice
  • Beef and Broccoli (also had spinach, water chestnuts, button mushrooms and cilantro)
  • TIP: All prepped even before sitting down to dinner on Monday so it was all ready when I walk in the door on Tuesday at 4:00.


  • Baked Potatoes
  • Madras Lentils
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Chives
  • TIP: Such a simple and easy dinner and great on a cold and snowy night.  I even put the potatoes, wrapped in foil, in the oven before I left for work and set the timer to go on at 5:00.  When we walked in the house at 5:45, all I had to do was set the table and put out the sides.  It was beautiful!


  • Nicoise Salad with Steelhead (We like our nicoise salad with hard boiled eggs, steamed green beans, tomatoes and boiled small red potatoes.  The salad dressing is lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper.)
  • Israeli Couscous Soup


  • Challah and Homemade Hummus
  • Winter Vegetable Soup (We’ve had the soup many times at the home of close friends, but I decided it was time to make it myself.  I doubled the amount of veggies, switched the escarole for kale and quadrupled the liquid.  I made the soup on Thursday and left it out on my porch to chill for the night – gotta love winters in Cleveland when your sunporch becomes your fridge!)
  • Turkey Schnitzel
  • Sauteed Spinach
  • Kale Chips
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Chips, Walnuts and Cherries

Thanks for following!  Stay warm and happy cooking!

Friday Night Dinner in New Jersey

Chicken Before Chicken AfterWhile I do loving getting away for the holidays, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers in your fridge the next morning.  When you cross state lines to attend Thanksgiving dinner, leftover are a little harder to come by.  This year, I called ahead and requested the leftover turkey bones and carcass from my husband’s cousins for our Shabbes Dinner in Jersey.  For the first time in 13-years, my mother-in-law handed over the reins of her kitchen to me and I cooked dinner from start to finish for 11 of us (2 grandparents, 1 aunt, 1 uncle and 2 cousins plus the 5 of us).  My kids loved sharing our Shabbes traditions with the rest of the family.  Here’s what we feasted on:

  • Whole Wheat and Regular Challah
  • Leftover Turkey Soup with Whole Wheat Egg Noodles
  • Roasted Brussel Spouts, Zucchini and Squash (all sprinkled with olive oil and garlic salt and roasted on 375 for about 30 minutes)
  • Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bananas and Honey – sooooo easy and sooooo good!
  • Honey Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon
  • TIP: This is one of my all-time favorite chicken dishes.  It is super easy, so delicious and so juicy!  I prepared the lemon-tarragon margarine and the honey/oil drizzle in Cleveland before we left which cut my prep-time in Jersey in half.
  • Pumpkin Pie

Dinner was delicious, I really didn’t spend too much time in the kitchen and everyone seemed to enjoy spending another night with the family.

Happy cooking!

Shabbes Lunch

Happy Birthday Craig!

Happy Birthday Craig!

Last Shabbes, our synagogue’s Rabbinical Intern was spending the weekend with us and my husband had the day off from grad school so we thought it was a great opportunity to have friends over for Shabbes lunch.  With the snow falling outside, we sat down with 8 adults in the dining room and 8 kids in the kitchen (the only time I think we’ve ever had the same number of adults as kids and only because I didn’t count the 6-week old sleeping in the corner!).  Here was our menu:

  • Homemade Hummus – I’ve been asked for my recipe several times and I don’t really have one but here’s how I put it together: 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed), 1 clove of garlic, tahini, olive oil, kosher salt and the juice of 2 lemons.  I put everything in my blender and pulse until it has the right consistency and taste I’m looking for.  If needed, I add a little more salt and olive oil.
  • Challah (I cheated and went with store bought…don’t tell anyone)
  • Carrots, celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Rolls on whole wheat bread for the kids table
  • Butternut Squash Soup – a new recipe that will be posted shortly under Soups We Love
  • Baked Steelhead – it costs less than Salmon, has a less-fishy taste and the kids gobbled it up.  I sprinkle it with olive oil and seasoned salt and bake on 350.
  • Pineapple Kugel (my mother-in-law’s recipe)
  • Corn, cilantro, tomato, hearts of palm salad
  • Roasted Mushrooms with Garlic
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Red Velvet two-layer birthday cake for a dear friend and lunch guest

While it may seem like a lot of work, almost all of the food was made by Thursday so that come Saturday, all I needed to do was warm it up.  For me, the up until 11:30 a couple nights in a row cooking is all worth it when I sit down in my dining room with great friends and family.

Happy Cooking!

Week of November 10

Homemade Cod Fish Nuggets with Homemade Tartar Sauce…so good!

Homemade Cod Fish Nuggets with Homemade Tartar Sauce…so good!

While my chocolate chip cookies are in the oven for Saturday, I thought I’d sit down and blog about our menu last week.  It was a quiet week for me at home, just work and the usual kid activities, but no evening meetings so I took the opportunity to cook every night and stock the fridge for the usual Thursday left-over night.  This week is exactly the opposite with me out each night!


  • Homemade Pizzas (dough from Alesci’s) – the girls in our family like our pizza covered with veggies – eggplant, red onions, black olives, while the boys like plain with cheese
  • Salad
  • Carrot strips


  • Fish Sticks from Scratch with homemade tartar sauce
  • Macaroni Casserole
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  • TIP: Somewhere in my office is an exact recipe for my mother’s macaroni casserole.  Over the years, I’ve changed up the cheese sauce a few times and this version seems to be my new favorite.  I melt half a stick of butter in a pot and add enough whole wheat flour to make a thick rue.  Once that’s toasted I add about a cup of milk (any kind will do) and wisk until it starts to thicken.  From there, I add a bag of velveeta shredded cheese and a cubed block of extra sharp cheddar cheese.  Once all of that gooey cheese is melted, I add about a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard (my new obsession is the dijon mustard from Trader Joe’s).  If the sauce is too thick, add more milk.  Once nice and creamy, pour the sauce over your favorite pasta (I use a box of whole wheat elbow macaroni) and bake on 350 degrees uncovered for about an hour.  Feel free to add a little more shredded cheddar cheese on top before baking.  It’s so delicious but not the healthiest thing I make so this recipe comes out every once in awhile but it’s always a big hit!


  • Cornflake Chicken Strips
  • BBQ and Duck Dipping Sauces
  • Vegetable Soup (I filled my soup pot to the top and now have 7 quart size containers of soup in my freezer…it’s starting to fill up again!)
  • Sauteed Zucchini
  • TIP: I cube the zucchini and sauté it on medium high with olive oil, garlic salt and dried onions.  The girls love it…the boys have extra helpings of soup.

Wednesday – While it was absolutely freezing and there was snow covering our deck, I made my husband stand outside in the cold and BBQ…it was my birthday after all!  Thanks babe!

  • Hamburgers and Hot Dogs for the kids
  • Birthday Steak for me!
  • Homemade Bake Beans
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • And my surprise dessert…Tofutti Cuties with a candle


  • I was out of town for the night but the rest of my family had plenty of leftovers to keep them from going hungry.

Friday – While I didn’t cook dinner (since I didn’t arrive home until after 4pm), we went to good friends for Shabbat dinner and it was so good that is was worth blogging about.  Not only was the food delicious, but her table was so beautifully set; I’m only sorry I didn’t take a picture of it.  The table was set with a black tablecloth and then had a red and white checkered runner going down the middle.  Between the gorgeous tall candlesticks was a dozen red roses.  Each place setting had silverwear wrapped in red napkins with the most adorable napkin rings of Italian chefs and wine corks.  One of these days, I’d love to be able to set a beautiful table like that.

After standing in their kitchen and feasting on pita chips and hummus, olives, pickles, veggies and great wine, we sat down to enjoy a delicious meal…

  • Salad that was plated with the vegetables in rows…perfect for company so everyone can create their own salad
  • Fussilli Pasta for the kids
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Garlic Bread
  • Cornflake Baked Chicken Breasts
  • Dessert was a beautiful fruit plate, parve pumpkin pie and zucchini chocolate chip bread

It was a great week filled with good food, great friends and even a 24-hour stint out of town!  Happy eating everyone!

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Waffle Bar

Waffle Bar

It has been forever since I sat down and updated my blog.  One of these days, I will fill you all in on my fantastic summer away.  But for now, I’ll just dive right back in to my menu planning.

Today was my daughter’s 7th Birthday Party.  We had 9 – 6/7 year olds, 1 – 4-year old and 3 – 3 year olds at our home for a pajama party.  I’d love to take credit for this fantastic birthday party idea but none of it was mine.  The credit all goes to a very dear friend of mine who helped me plan the whole thing, down to the menu and activity, and then helped me with the execution.  Love you Sho!

The party started Saturday night in my kitchen with my borrowed, dueling-waffle machines cooking Belgian Waffles simultaneously.  Then, the girls arrived Sunday morning in their favorite pajamas and started the morning off with a dance party in my living room.  Once everyone had danced some energy out, the arts and crafts portion of the party was under way.  With my kitchen table covered in a plastic tablecloth, each girl was given a clay pot, a sponge brush and acrylic paint.  They really had a great time painting their pots and each one was different and just as beautiful as their friend’s.  After they were cleaned up (leaving my bathroom sink very colorful), we moved into the dining room that was covered in princess pink and headed to the waffle bar.  My daughter requested the following toppings for her party: bananas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, maraschino cherries, sprinkles (we had two different kinds), chocolate sauce and whipped cream (of course).  My friends that stayed to help and I found it all very interested that the older girls skipped the fruit and went straight for the whipped cream, sprinkles and chocolate while the younger girls had a little bit of everything!  Once breakfast was done and the girls moved on to coloring and playing, the moms and I filled each pot with dirt and planted cute succulent plants for everyone to take home.

photo copy

My daughter’s creation

An hour an a half later, everyone went home with their projects, their bellies full and the opening of presents lasted longer than the cleanup; just the way it should be!  All in all, I think it was a very successful party and I would do it all over again!

Stay tuned this week for last week’s menu.  I tried out some new recipes and cooked 4 out of 5 nights.

Thanks for reading!

Why I LOVE to Entertain!

Corn, tomato and avocado salad...a favorite in our house!

Corn, tomato and avocado salad…a favorite in our house!

My mother-in-law joked with me when she found out we were having 18 people for dinner tonight, saying “That’s all?!”.  The truth is, I really do LOVE to entertain.  Not to mention that of the 18 people we had for dinner, 10 were kids.

Entertaining comes easy to me.  I remember going to my grandparents’ house for holidays and  Sunday night dinners and their house being full of family and friends.  My parents’ house has always been the same way so it seems normal to me to have a house full of people.

Several years ago we bought this extra large dining room table that easily seats 12 plus room for all the food.  As of three months ago, we finally have a house that not only fits our beautiful dining room table, but all of our friends.  Not to mention that moving back to Cleveland, we have made an incredible group of friends.  Who wouldn’t want to have them over all the time!

Yes, it’s extra work doing all the cooking and cleaning, but to me it’s all worth it!  In case you were wondering, here was tonight’s menu:

  • Vegetable Tray and Hummus
  • Homemade Guacamole, Salsa and Chips
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Turkey Burgers
  • Steelhead Trout on the Grill (olive oil and seasoned salt)
  • Tri-Colored Rotini Pasta (for our vegetarian kids)
  • Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Various Cakes for Dessert
  • TIP: The secret to my potato salad is 1/3 dijon mustard to 2/3 mayo.

Happy Eating!

Our Weekend at a Glance…from the kitchen, that is

My marinating chicken!

My marinating chicken!

This weekend is going to revolve around our dinners.  My mother-in-law is pretty good in the kitchen and we’re going to put her to work this weekend making all of our favorites!  Tonight we are 16 people, Saturday we’re only 7 and Sunday night we’re up to 8 of us for dinner.  Here goes…


  • Challah
  • Homemade Hummus and Guacamole (they were such a huge hit last week we decided to bring them back!)
  • Hard Boiled Eggs and Caramelized Onions (a favorite of the in-laws)
  • Salad with Applies, Mandarine Oranges and Candied Walnuts
  • Sushi Salad (thanks mom!)
  • Marbella Chicken
  • Sweet Noodle Kugel with Pecans
  • Sauteed Radishes and Mint
  • Vegetable and dessert is being brought by some of our guests
  • Fresh Fruit
  • TIP: When cooking for a big crowd, I like asking good friends to help with the meal.  If they’re newer friends, I usually just ask for fruit or wine.

Saturday – My mother-in-law has been waiting all week for this meal!

  • Hamburgers and Turkey Burgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Homemade Baked Beans
  • Salad with Fruit
  • Sliced Tomato, Onion and Pickles
  • Farfel and Mushrooms
  • Homemade Cake
  • Watermelon


  • Fish (my husband is at the West Side Market as we speak picking something good out)
  • Noodle Kugel with Cottage Cheese, Tomatoes and Broccoli
  • Salad
  • Green Beans
  • Ice Cream Pie (ridiculously good with chocolate covered Rice Krispie crust)
  • Fruit

Between all this eating, we have shul, nap time, birthday parties, park time, etc.  I’m looking forward to a beautiful weekend and hoping I don’t put on 10 pounds while I enjoy it!  Happy cooking!

Menu: Week of May 12

imagesWith the leftover from Friday night (see previous blog), dinner at friends on Saturday night (beyond delicious!) and out for dinner for Mother’s Day, it has been one crazy weekend.  And to add to the madness of our normal week, my in-laws are coming to stay with us Tuesday night for two weeks.  We are all excited to see them but I have a lot more unpacking, cleaning and prepping to do before they land.

My father-in-law eats only super healthy food and my mother-in-law loves nothing more than a big juicy hamburger.  Making everybody happy is going to be difficult but I’m going to give it a try.  Here goes…


  • Leftovers from Friday Night Dinner

Tuesday (something simple and easy that everyone likes to eat)

  • Pizza
  • Salad
  • Green Beans


  • Salad with Lox, Radishes and a Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Blintz Souffle (Cottage Cheese, Blueberry and Cherry)
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Strawberries


  • Turkey and Salami Sandwiches on Challah Bread
  • Coleslaw
  • Vegetarian Chili
  • Steamed and Roasted Green Beans


We are having 10 adults and 6 kids for Shabbat Dinner this week.  The challenging part of dinner is that we have 1 vegetarian, 1 lactose intolerant and 1 meat-o-sorious.  I have no clue what to make for dinner but I am open to suggestions.

Stay tuned!