Posted in Jewish Parenting, Jewish Technology for Kids, Passover

Five Jewish Youtube Channels to Subscribe To!

Good morning everyone!

I hope you  all are having a wonderful day. In my home, I incorporate technology a lot to enhance learning. In other words, I’m fine if my child is face down on the ipad as long as it’s something educational. So it’s no surprise that such a young age, my daughter is able to navigate Youtube For Kids and has her favorite channels. That got me thinking about my favorite channels for Jewish learning. Youtube can be an excellent source for much more then just music. You can find episodes from “Shalom Sesame”, Hebrew alphabet videos, you name it! With a plethora of Jewish links and resources at our fingertips I wanted to share with you my top 5 favorite Jewish Youtube channels that I think are definitely worth subscribing to. Enjoy the list everyone and have a wonderful day!

  • Shalom Sesame – It doesn’t get much better then this folks! Sesame street as we know it in America gets turned on it’s head with this Israeli version in Shalom Sesame. If you need a fun, upbeat, music-filled video to teach your child all about the Jewish holidays, or core Jewish values, then Shalom Sesame is the place to subscribe. I have used their videos countless times to visually show my daughter how children in Israel celebrate the holidays. It’s fantastic and never gets boring.
  • Shaboom! – Created by the wonderfully creative people over at BimBam (formerly G-dcast) this Jewish animated kids show is a fun, cartoon show that teaches core Jewish values. So before your child sits down to cartoon network, try swapping out those cartoons for Shaboom! The whole family will be happy watching Gabi and Rafael go on their adventures.
  • Rebbetzin Tap- I absolutely love Rebbetzin Tap’s music and videos for the holidays. She has a DVD available for purchase on Amazon, but most of the clips for the holidays are available for FREE on her Youtube channel! Her warm personality and creative use of props and set design is sure to keep your little ones entertained.
  • My Jewish Learning– Not only is their website a “must” for all things educational or recipes, (I definitely scope our their site often), but their channel offers wonderful educational videos for older teens and adults to enjoy. You can hear the sounds of the shofar, and learn how to put on tefillin. So go ahead and dive on in!
  • Kveller- I admit that I browse the kveller site daily because I thoroughly love reading the guest blogger articles. Reading the perspectives of different Jewish parents over a wide range of topics is absolutely fascinating, so it’s only natural that I show some love for their Youtube channel.
Posted in Hanukkah

Preparing For the December “Battle”: 31 Things to Do Outside of Christmas Stuff

It’s the most wonderful time of the— wait a minute, not that song again. Have yourself a— no, no, no! I don’t celebrate… Jingle Bell Jingle Bell Jingle rock! (Okay, now I admit that I like the do-wop catchy tune of that song).

Yes, it is that time of year again when every non-Christmas celebrating family is bombarded by a never-ending flow of jingles, baubles, and cookies galore. Coming from an interfaith background I grew up with both Christmas and Hanukkah. So I know all about ho-ho-ho, and nun, gimel, hay, and shin. I have had my gelt and eaten plenty of gingerbread. However, now I am a mom. I am a mother to a beautiful, inquisitive child who is learning all about the world. With each holiday season I often found myself internally conflicted. No doubt throughout the rest of the year I could celebrate the Jewish holidays with ease. (There isn’t much “competition” really. Even Easter doesn’t stack up to Purim). But Christmas is the Babe Ruth of holidays. And Hanukkah… well it gets pushed to the back aisle of every store. Or worse, we must order our things online! But I digress.

This year I made it my mission to tackle December and embrace the holidays in a whole new way. Hanukkah lasts 8 nights. For those 8 nights we will be flipping latkes, eating sugary delicious treats, and having schmaltz run through our veins. But what about the rest of the month? Our kids will see lights, Santa, and frosty on every corner. How do we keep them entertained? I compiled a list of 31 things to do once a day to beat the December holiday “battle”. What you’ll notice about this list is that once Hanukkah is over, try to embrace Winter as a whole! There are a ton of things to do during winter that don’t require sitting on Santa’s lap. Enjoy the list and have a wonderful day!❤

December FREE Activity List!

  1. Watch “Eight Crazy Nights” by Adam Sandler

  2. Make Sufganiyot

  3. Cook potato pancakes (latkes!)

  4. Light the menorah

  5. Read the story of hanukkah as a family

  6. Watch “Frozen” as a family

  7. Watch “Rugrats Chanukah” movie

  8. Make a winter craft

  9. Play dreidal with gelt

  10. Take a horse and carriage ride

  11. See the holiday lights

  12. Make hot cocoa and watch Jack Frost

  13. Bake Winter cookies

  14. Have a slumber party as a family

  15. Make new year’s resolutions

  16. Donate to the local food bank

  17. Decorate the house for the holidays

  18. Go ice skating

  19. Sing along to a hanukkah playlist

  20. Read Hanukkah books

  21. Send out holiday e-cards

  22. Make homemade fudge

  23. Cook churros and chocolate

  24. Make rice crispie treats

  25. Eat Chinese food on Christmas Day! (Lol)

  26. Watch Disney’s “Brave”

  27. Make gingerbread cookies

  28. Cook kugel and brisket

  29. Roast s’mores by a fire

  30. Take a winter nature walk

  31. Go to a local parade

Posted in Uncategorized

Momofuku Milk Bar’s Banana Cream Pie

Two nights ago I sat awake in my chair and frowned with worry. Long has it been that I feared a complicated recipe but this banana cream pie recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar had me questioning my sanity. I read numerous blogs about this specific banana cream pie, created by Chef Christina Tosi. Before I go into the nuances about the pie itself, the process of making it, and how it all fared, let me share with you the bottom line:

This banana cream pie is a journey, but it is one worth taking. It takes about 4 hours to make but it will be the best banana cream pie you will ever have.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s get down and dirty… literally! I can promise you that by the time your pie is fully chilled and ready to eat your kitchen will be destroyed and you will have cocoa powder somewhere on your clothes. But never fear, because like I said… it is totally worth it. You will begin by making a brownie-like crust that bakes against the pie plate, and then is filled with the most luscious, fluffy banana-packed cream filling that is a perfect blend of bananas and cream. It is simply divine. Ready to learn how to make this pie? Okay, let’s go!

Ingredients: 

Chocolate Crumb: 

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup of sugar

2/3 cup of good-quality cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

 

Chocolate Crust:

1 batch of the chocolate crumb recipes (above)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

 

Banana Cream Filling:

2 very ripe (black) bananas

1/3 cup of heavy cream

1/4 cup of whole milk (I used 2% and it was fine)

1/2 cup of caster sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 egg yolks

3 gelatin sheets (or 2 1/4 teaspoons of powdered gelatin)

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar)

1 ripe (dark yellow) banana, sliced

 

Step-by-Step Picture Instructions: 

*For step by step instructions please see the recipe I followed, here.* 

1. Begin by making your brownie crumble. Combine the ingredients and place on a cookie sheet to cook. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Mix your chocolate crumble ingredients together.
Mix your chocolate crumble ingredients together.
After it is baked it will look like this.
After it is baked it will look like this.

2. Next begin to make the banana portion of the banana cream filling. Combine the 2 black bananas, heavy cream, and milk in a blender and whirl. add in the caster sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Blend until smooth.

Blend the banana portion of the cream in a blender.
Blend the banana portion of the cream in a blender.

3. Pour into a medium sauce pan and whisk vigorously on medium-low heat until it bubbles and the starch is cooked through. This should be about 5 minutes.

Whisk in a pan until the cornstarch is cooked through. About 5 minutes.
Whisk in a pan until the cornstarch is cooked through. About 5 minutes.

** Clean out your blender and prepare it to use shortly. Also, take your gelatin (most likely powder) and put it into a small bowl with 1/4 cup of cold water. Allow it to soften for 5 minutes while you are whisking the banana pudding. ** 

4. Pour your banana cream filling back into your clean blender and add the gelatin and several drops of yellow food coloring. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a heatproof dish and place in the refrigerator to cool while you finish the crust and whipped cream.

Pour back into the blender with your gelatin and yellow food coloring.
Pour back into the blender with your gelatin and yellow food coloring.

5. Your brownie-like crumble should be done baking. Allow it to cool before you then carefully put it into a food processor along with the 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter and pulse until it is ground down into a fine, sticky crumble. Take your pie plate and a pair of rubber gloves, and slowly begin to mold the crumble against the pie plate. You will notice that it feels and looks like thin play-dough. This is good. Evenly spread it around the plate and then place the pie plate to cool in the refrigerator.

Grind the chocolate brownie crumble in a food processor before molding to your pie plate.
Grind the chocolate brownie crumble in a food processor before molding to your pie plate.

6. Meanwhile, go back to your stand mixer. It is now time to make the whipped cream part of the banana cream filling. Add the 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Whip together in a stand mixer until medium-stiff peaks form. Then turn down the mixer to low and slowly add in the chilled banana filling mixture. Mix together until evenly distributed.

Make the whipped cream portion of the banana filling.
Make the whipped cream portion of the banana filling.
Then add the chilled banana portion to the whipped cream and mix evenly.
Then add the chilled banana portion to the whipped cream and mix evenly.

 

7. Now it is time to assemble the pie!! Get your chilled pie shell and carefully fill the pie to halfway. Place pieces of the sliced, ripe banana on top of the banana cream. Then top the sliced bananas with the rest of the cream filling. Tada! You made the Momofuku Milk Bar’s Banana Cream Pie! Chill for at least 2 hours BEFORE eating!

Assemble the pie and voila! you have your pie!! Chill for at least 2 hours before eating.
Assemble the pie and voila! you have your pie!! Chill for at least 2 hours before eating.

 

8. Enjoy!

Eat and enjoy!
Eat and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #49: Do a Somersault

There is a moment right before you do something that is scary where everything in you becomes still. Linger there too long and the feeling turns to fear. Fear that can paralyze you and make you second guess yourself. Sometimes you just have to let go… 

Back when I was in middle school there was a portion of gym class that was devoted to gymnastics. I hated it. As the fat girl in class I always feared injuring myself because I was unable to be as limber and graceful as all of the other girls. I have never been able to do a cartwheel. I never figured out why anyone would want to do a backhand spring. But there was one thing I could do: a somersault. There is that rush of adrenaline as you prepare yourself for the feeling of flipping upside down for a moment. You propel your body forward while pressing against the ground for support. Back then we had these flimsy mats that we tumbled across the hard gym floor.

rol_voorwaarts_gehoekt1

Fast forward to today. I am a bit older and the thought of tumbling across a hard gym floor makes my muscles want to retreat. But I wanted to relive that feeling again. That feeling of just letting go of fears and worries and just… roll. I wanted the feeling of tumbling over and over, in a safe manner of course, and landing on my feet. So I planned it out. I was definitely going to protect my muscles and joints so I dragged a mattress out into the living room. The springy coils would provide enough cushion and bounce to allow my body to tumble and fall without fear of injury.

Yet still as I crouched down on the mattress my mind began to race a bit. What if I get injured? What if I panic and forget to press my hands against the mattress? What if in some freakish way I land on my head and suffer a neck injury??? Internally I was freaking out a bit. But then I took a deep breath and just threw myself forward. Tumbling feet over head I rolled and landed comfortably on the edge of the mattress, feet on the ground, and a huge grin on my face. I was totally fine! I was better then fine! I had somersaulted again! What I had completely forgotten over all these years was how much fun somersaulting was. After that first roll I did several more before getting my family involved.

How special and unique it was to relive something like that from my childhood. We all have those little moments in our youth where we feel happiness. We can recapture that again in our adulthood if only we were to slow down a bit and give it a try. Doing a somersault reminded me that you’re never too old to feel a bit of unconventional fun. Yes you might need to make some modifications, but that doesn’t mean you are permanently on the bench. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Get out there and relive something special from your own childhood. Have a wonderful day everyone.❤

Posted in Frugal Recipes, Sustainable Living

Homemade Butter and Strawberry Jam [RECIPE]

I love Costco. I mean, how can you not, right? You wander into this members-only warehouse that is full of everything you can think of. As you meander through the giant aisles you are offered free samples of cooked meats, noodles, and fresh toast. What’s not to love? I am absolutely not getting paid for anything or a spokesperson when I say I have found the. best. sandwich bread on the planet! Y’all I am not even kidding. There I was pushing my cart, going down my grocery list when all of a sudden my family veers off to grab a sample. I think nothing of it and continue shopping. Moments later my husband is shoving a piece of toast in my face saying, “try this!” so reluctantly I did. Wow…. it was absolutely fantastic! I present to you: Alpine Valley Bread. This Super Grains bread has chia seeds, quinoa, Teff, and Kamut in it. Not only is it extremely healthy but all the fibers make you actually feel full without all the sugar. Buy it… I promise you will enjoy it🙂

 

Needless to say I picked up several loaves and brought them home. Over the past week I have noticed that those leftovers from meals or fruit snacks keep getting pushed farther and farther into the back of my fridge. One of those items was a huge crate of strawberries. Costco sells produce for excellent prices but sometimes I just can’t eat the fruit fast enough before it begins to turn. My strawberries were no exception. So I began to wonder, “What can I do with these strawberries before they go rotten?”. It was then that I decided to make several jars of strawberry jam! I followed this simple recipe for Strawberry Jam and my little and I made a lovely batch of fresh jam. Our PB & J sandwiches are set for quite some time!

Homemade Strawberry Jam
Homemade Strawberry Jam

Then I woke up this morning and peered into my refrigerator. The carton of heavy cream was right there on the top shelf from the Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks recipe I made the other night. This time I knew just what to do. It had been a while since I’d made homemade butter, but I was in the mood… and it would pair perfectly with my Alpine bread! Here is a simplified recipe of how to make homemade butter. I hope you all enjoy these recipes and use up your own leftovers in a fun way. Have a beautiful day everyone!❤

Ingredients for Homemade Butter
Ingredients for Homemade Butter

Ingredients:

– A stand mixer

– 1 carton of heavy whipping cream

– Sea salt

Directions:

1. Begin by pouring the cream into your stand mixer. If you have a lid for your stand mixer, attach it now. If not, you can always take several pieces of saran wrap or aluminum foil and make a makeshift cover. Both work just fine.

2. Begin whipping the cream on High (7 or 8 on the standard Kitchenaid mixer) and let it whip for 8-10 minutes. After about 5 minutes you will notice your heavy cream has turned into delicious whipped cream. Perfect for a pie topping! But keep going… those stiff peaks will break and begin to separate.

After 10 minutes the butter and milk will separate...
After 10 minutes the butter and milk will separate…

3. After 10 minutes turn off your mixer and strain out the buttermilk from the butter. Using a wire mesh colander works best for this step. 

4. Now here is the fun part. You get to decide what kind of butter you would like to have! I went with a cinnamon and honey butter, but you can also do rosemary butter, garlic butter, or traditional sea salt butter. Sprinkle a bit of salt and any other spices/herbs you desire into the butter. Pour the butter clumps into a mixing bowl and knead into one solid mixture. I used plastic medical gloves for this part. They are amazingly handy to have in the kitchen! 

5. Tada! You have your butter. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days. This butter does NOT have preservatives so you should plan to use it quickly.

Yay! Homemade Cinnamon-Honey Butter!
Yay! Homemade Cinnamon-Honey Butter!
Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #6: Dance in the Rain

I live in a temperate climate. In fact, you could probably count on two hands the number of times that it actually rains here. Growing up in the Deep South, rain was a normal part of life. Nothing was more soothing then to fall asleep with the window open and rain falling down over your roof. (Where do you think the country songs got those lyrics from?). But here it is totally different. When it does happen to rain, people simply forget how to drive. Instead they become mesmerized with these tiny water-like objects falling from the sky as they stare in shock and awe. But I digress.

As parents we often have to say “No” to our kids. No you may not have a second helping of dessert. No I will not buy you a toy in the store today. No you cannot have candy from the gumball machine. No you may not hit your brother. The list goes on and on. Which is why when we say “Yes” it makes it that much sweeter. Dancing in the rain. This one was purely chosen as an activity for me and my little mensch. She didn’t know it, of course. But in a world where I am reminding her to brush her teeth and brush her hair…. this one was the complete opposite. So I waited for it to rain…. and waited…… and waited! I was beginning to worry that the year would finish out before we got so much as a sprinkle, when all of a sudden the forecast called for showers. (Cue me fist pumping in the air!).

As night time set in I watched the clouds intently. My little one came over and stood at the big window with me. “Mama…. do you think it’s going to rain?” she asked quietly. “One can only hope”, I said trying really hard to not give the surprise away. “Why do you want it to rain?” she asked and looked up at me. “You’ll see…” I said, and smirked down at her. Her blue eyes lit up and she grinned from ear to ear. Seeing my mischievous smile she knew something fun was in store. Finally night came. The clouds grew dark, and that little plop! plop! sound began to hit the roof. I did a happy dance in my living room and turned to finally share the good news with my daughter: It’s time to dance in the rain! She looked at me puzzled for a moment. “What?” she said, bewildered. “Get on your jacket! We’re going to dance in the rain!” I said, and beamed happily. “But we’ll get wet!” she protested. “Yes… ” I said, and bent down before her, “But that’s the point. We are going to jump in puddles. Stomp our feet. Dance beneath the clouds and just have fun!”.

IMG_0789

 

You would have thought I said we won the lottery because she whooped and hollered with delight as she raced to grab her jacket. Stepping out into the night sky I stood shocked for a moment. It wasn’t just raining…. it was pouring! No Native American rain dance could have predicted this much good fortune. We were about to have an awesome time. Stepping into the rain I remembered how cold it was. Normally I would pull up my hood but instead I wanted to feel the rain against my skin so I took off my jacket. We danced along the sidewalk, singing our favorite tunes. We shimmied. We twirled, and we stomped in some ridiculously big puddles. Our sneakers were drenched but we were laughing and having an absolute blast. I looked down at my daughter and no amount of money could have given her the same satisfaction…. the same concrete experience of pure joy, like that of stomping in rain puddles.

Finally our hair stuck to our heads and my skin had goosebumps. It was time to come inside. In my child’s true fashion she said, “Awwww!” and reluctantly came inside to dry off. What an experience it was! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that stomping in puddles as a child would have been just as fun as stomping in them as an adult. But the best part was making memories with my little mensch. Those are things I will cherish for a lifetime. Take time to stomp in some puddles today. Have a wonderful day everyone!❤

Posted in Frugal Recipes

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

On weeknights I like to keep things simple. Come 5 PM my family is romping through the door hungry, tired, and in need of a nourishing meal. This pasta dish is so simple that even the cook who hates cooking can make it! I have to share with you a comical moment that happened this evening. Now I have made this dish countless times. I found it in the America’s Test Kitchen “7 Ingredients or Less” Magazine, and by now the pages have been dog-eared many, many times.

Anyway, there is a part in the recipe (which you can read below) where you pour in a cup of white wine and let it cook, covered, while the 2 salmon fillets cook in the pan with it. As I placed my salmon in the pan with my sauteed leeks and poured in my white wine I covered the pan. The aroma began to circulate through my kitchen and steamed up through the cervices in the lid. I peered over the pan and inhaled. Mmmmmm! My eye has a natural attention to detail when I’m cooking and I thought, perhaps, I should give the leeks a quick stir as it was cooking. Now mind you my gas flame was on high and I’m cooking white wine. All of a sudden I lifted the lid and my pan turned into a flambe! Now this is the part where I should have gone, “Oh gosh!” and freaked, right? But I didn’t. Instead I just blinked in surprise, and turned down the flame which extinguished the pan and the food was completely fine. Perhaps I was channeling my inner Chef Gordon Ramsey? (lol).

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks
Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

I hope you all love this simple, low-ingredient recipe as much as I do. Have a wonderful night everyone!❤

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

Recipe by: America’s Test Kitchen

(Serves 4 to 6 people)

Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets, 1 1/4 inches thick

1 cup dry white wine (I used a simple, Sauvignon Blanc)

3/4 cup of heavy cream

1 pound Farfalle (i.e. one box)

Directions: 

1. Trim and discard root and dark green leaves from leeks. Cut leeks lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Sautee leeks in a pan with the 2 tbsp. of butter until tender, about 7 minutes.

2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place into the skillet with the leeks. Add the white wine and cook covered until the salmon is just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove salmon and move to a plate to keep warm. Stir cream into skillet and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile cook the Farfalle according to direction, or until Al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and salmon and toss gently to combine. As the juices coat the noodles gently break apart the salmon into bite-sized pieces. season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

** I garnished with a bit of grated fresh, Parmesan Cheese to give extra flavor. **