Monday, August 20, 2012

Could these be any cuter?

 I sound like Chandler Bing.  Or maybe Jerry Seinfeld.  But really.

Are these not so cute you could scream?

I mean seriously, the blue, the pink, the bears, the duckies.

So cute, you could just eat them up (pun intended)!

And if you think the cookies are cute, you should see the babies!!

Mazal tov to all the parents and grandparents on their new additions - have lots of nachat!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dijon and Thyme Grilled Chicken - Kosher Recipe Linkup

What is a grilled chicken recipe doing on a baking blog?  Well, man can not live on cookies and buttercream alone, and a home baking business can not survive without a strong support system, so read on...

It’s true confession time, boys and girls.  Here’s my big, guilty secret.

I don’t know how to use a grill.

Seriously.  I don’t even know how to turn our gas grill on.  When my husband left on his first trip to the States, he gave me a quick lesson on how to use the grill, which I immediately put out of my mind, as I had many other things to think about, like how to get everything in the house done as a (temporarily) single parent without killing the children I was supposed to be caring for.  I see my girlfriends grilling outdoors and I admire them, but I am truly happy to leave the heavy lifting to my DH and stick to the prep work in the kitchen.

So when the Kosher Connection theme for the very month I joined the group turned out to be "Grilled,” I was a bit taken aback.  Sugar, eggs, frosting, those are food themes I can easily get behind.  And no, I was not about to bake a cake on the grill, or even grill sliced pound cake or nectarines on my very besari (meaty, or fleishig) grill.  So this challenge led me to conclude that I would need some help from my dear grilling husband.  Which made me think that I have to make another true confession:

I would not be able to make Shabbat without help from my husband and children, especially my two older daughters.

Seriously.  People tend to think I am organized and on top of things, able to get everything done and make it look effortless. Hah! Just ask my family. Erev Shabbat in our house is chaos.  Between cooking for Shabbat, baking fresh challah, wrapping cookie platters, and decorating cakes, there is about 24 hours worth of work to be done, but only about 10-12 hours to do it in.  We have worked up a couple of strategies, including finding a few recipes for each family member to master and be in charge of each week.  The other strategy is getting some of the cooking moved out of doors to free up oven space.  With our great weather here in Israel, we can grill pretty much year-round, especially for Shabbat.  And since I don’t know how to work the grill, I am off the hook for any grilled items.  Recipes like this one, they help me stay sane. Woohoo! 

So with many thanks to my wonderful husband, I share with you one of our favorite grilled chicken recipes.  It is so flavorful – even with a relatively short marinating time – and delicious fresh off the grill, or even room temperature or reheated the next day.  You probably have all the ingredients in your fridge and pantry already, a real bonus.  It’s also super  versatile, as you can use this marinade on boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but also it’s also unbelievable on pargiyot – boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which are so rich and luxurious tasting that you will feel you have died and gone to culinary heaven.  You can also cube up your chicken before marinating and put it on skewers along with a variety of vegetables, like onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms that have also taken a bath in the delectable marinade.  Don’t forget to soak your wooden skewers in cold water for about 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill.  And if you are useless with a grill like I am, an indoor grill pan works well, too.

And now, with no further ado, here is our family contribution to the August Kosher Connection:

The cast of characters, minus the chicken -
and yes, that is a lemon.
Welcome to Israel in August.
Dijon and Thyme Grilled Chicken
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup Dijon mustard (if you prefer a little more mustard kick, use whole grain Dijon for part of the amount; I used smooth only)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best, of course, but in a pinch or a rush, bottled is fine, too!)
8 turns of the pepper grinder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from a couple of sprigs, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (here, fresh is much more delicious - go for it!  And save the rest for the best French onion soup you will ever make...)
¼ cup olive oil
1 kilo (about 2 pounds) boneless skinless chicken – breasts or thighs, trimmed and cleaned

Take out all your aggressions on your garlic, and chop very finely.  You can, of course, use a garlic press, but I prefer a large, sharp knife, both for therapeutic and flavor reasons.  Combine the garlic, mustard, honey, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and thyme in a small mixing bowl. 
Whisk in the olive oil. 
You can whisk with a fork, I won't tell!
Place the chicken in a gallon-sized plastic zipper storage bag or a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the trimmed chicken and mix to combine.  Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat your grill (that’s what my husband does, so it must be right!), then grill the chicken pieces about 5-7 minutes per side until you have beautiful grill marks and the chicken is cooked through, but not at all dried out.
Smoky grilling.  Thank you, honey!
Serving suggestion:
Serve alongside Joyce’s Dijon Roasted Potatoes, which echo the flavors in the marinade beautifully, and need very little attention once mixed together and thrown into the oven.  A green salad on the side, maybe even some grilled veggies if you want to carry the whole grilling theme through, and you have an unbelievably delicious meal.  B’tayavon!

Yes, the photography could be better, but my specialty is food, not cameras.
Please bear with us as we try to improve! In the meantime, take it on faith - it's delicious!!! 

Best Potato Recipe. Ever. Seriously.

I suppose I have a sexist view of barbequing, in that my husband – and now my son – do the grilling, while I do the prep in the house.  To the grillers go the glory, or something like that, but they also spend a lot of time out in the heat with the smoke pouring out on them, so you need to have some mercy on them.  I show my love and appreciation by making some of the side dishes indoors. Also, this way, everyone knows I participated in preparing the meal.  But I'm not manipulative or tricky or anything...
This recipe comes from my BF Joyce, who is a great cook, and a consummate cookbook collector.  We have enjoyed fabulous meals at her home, and I know that any recipes she gives me are going to be delicious.  I don't know where this recipe came from originally, but we all love it so much that I must warn you - make enough so that there is a little extra for everyone in the family who is going to snitch a freshly roasted potato - or two.  It's totally worth the burnt fingers!
The ingredients (potatoes are in their own
beauty shot!)
Joyce's Dijon Roasted Potatoes
3 lbs small red potatoes, scrubbed and halved (or any larger waxy potatoes, cut in 1 inch chunks)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary leaves

such cute little potatoes!
Directions:Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients besides potatoes.  Pour over potatoes and mix well.

Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 40-60 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside and tender inside.  Enjoy!
And make sure you serve these potatoes with Dijon and Thyme Grilled Chicken, our contribution to the August Kosher Connection Recipe Linkup, from Joy of Kosher. It's a perfect combination. Enjoy - you can thank me later! ;-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Houston, we have a problem

We have been home for two weeks now, happily returned to our home and real life. And yet, re-entry has been somewhat difficult. Four weeks away shouldn't feel like a lifetime, but it does. For whatever reason, my brain has not fully readjusted to being home, so functioning normally - as mom, wife, and baker - is something of a challenge.

Would it be so hard to fit this into a carry-on?!
For example, my grip on both of our primary languages has slipped.  I have no idea what we have and what we are missing in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.  My grocery lists are woefully incomplete. It's almost like the post-Pesach, need to restock on all the staples and not a few extras syndrome that takes time to complete.  Every time I get out of the car, I start stomping my left foot.  Why? Because our awesome rental car, a fully loaded Chrysler Town and Country, had a parking brake pedal.  My less awesome Mazda MPV, has a handle to pull up. And no automatic doors or seats, no satellite radio, no DVD player, no wireless headphone, and did I mention no automatic doors?!

And I spent a couple of days after I got back to work complaining that something was wrong with the hot water connection from the dud shemesh (solar hot water heater) to the kitchen sink.  I was getting scalding hot water in the shower, but just warm water in the kitchen sink.  Why?  Because I was turning the handle THE WRONG WAY!!! Six years experience in my kitchen was undone by four lousy weeks away. Maybe I should have taken my mom up on it when I asked her to show me where she keeeps the pareve knives and she answered, "You're only here for four weeks - don't worry about it..." Maybe if I had sat on a chair and let others serve me, coming home would be less confusing.  But it's not my style (see previous post!) and I will just have to muddle through.

All in all, though, I am happy to be home and back in my life.  I made these adorable cookies for a new baby girl, and got to make good use of my new onesie cookie cutter - so much fun! I now have blog posts to compose, recipes to create, cakes and cookies to design and execute, life to live and if I am lucky, a vacation to enjoy.

Shavua tov!

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