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Well we did it.  We moved to Los Angeles.  We live in Los Angeles.  I can’t honestly believe it.  The last month has been some of the loveliest time of our family’s life.  I’d say the only thing keeping us from calling it ‘pure bliss’ is the fact that my beloved grandmother, and last living grandparent, passed away a week and a half ago and the fact that the world is hating on Jews right now (I mean, more so than normal).  As result of the increase in the world’s hate of Jews, myself, along with some fellow kosher foodies, have experienced some serious anti-Semitism over the last weeks for no other reason but for being Jewish and/or using the word, “Israeli” in a recipe post.  So, you know, not quite ‘pure bliss’.

chicken 2

So, OK, aside from the fact that I’m scared for my people and I miss my grandmother, July 2014 has been amazing.  We left Miami on July 1 at the crack of dawn.  We were stressed.  We were emotional.  The kid had a tantrum in the middle of the Fort Lauderdale airport at 6 am, the likes of which I had never seen before.  You could see the fear in our fellow passengers’ eyes, “Please don’t let that screaming kid sit next to me.  Please don’t let that screaming kid sit next to me.” Luckily, after 20 minutes of pure rage, she got out what she needed to and went back to being herself though we were on edge for the first two hours of the flight. So yes, leaving was rough. At one point, after boarding and before take off, I locked myself in one of the bathrooms on the plane, called 3 of my closest girl friends and just let it all out—the fear, the anxiety, the stress. I guess you could say I had my own little tantrum, though mine was in the privacy of a tiny airplane restroom. By the time we landed at LAX and realized we could step outside and not immediately break out into a sweat (so long Miami), things started looking up.  All of our stuff, including our car, arrived the day we landed.  Within 48 hours of landing, we were unpacked. Our goal was to create as much order in the chaos as possible in as quick of a process as possible so that the kiddo could feel some peace. And then of course, we could find some peace. I think it worked. At least it worked for the time being until her dad goes back to Miami for 2 months and we go right back to another transition.

But let’s get to the part about how awesome July 2014 has been.  We took a break from life.  The hubs, the kid and I just took a break.  After all the planning and the stress of the move we took the last 3 and a half weeks to enjoy life.  We ate ice cream . . . a lot.  We took long walks and went on road trips and explored new beaches, drank good wine (OK, the kid didn’t but she had some lovely water), saw whales and slept. Oh, did we sleep.  I don’t know if it’s because our new place has a lot more shade (unlike our old place in Miami, which had so much direct sunlight beaming into our windows it felt as though we were, in fact, LIVING on the sun) or what, but the kid sleeps later here. I mean, there was one day when we slept to 8:15am. Did you hear me? I’m a mother of an almost 2 year-old and I slept in until 8:15! I’m telling you, the 3 of us, this little family of mine, we were on vacation.

chicken 6

And yet, with less than a week before my husband goes back to Miami for a couple months, leaving his ladies to continue on in Los Angeles without his silliness and comfort, the real world seems to be creeping in.  I’ve been dreading this for so long it’s almost to the point where I just need to rip the band-aid and get it over with. Thank Gd, we’ve already started to make friends here.  I must have done something right in this life because we got blessed with some amazing neighbors.  Just two floors up is the sweetest family with a young daughter just 6 months older than my kiddo.  Siona is officially obsessed with her and I’ll be cooking our first family/neighbor Shabbat dinner for them this coming Friday.  Lord have mercy, I gotta start menu planning.

The chicken recipe below is something I cooked up last Shabbat dinner. Since going kosher, I have missed my fair share of creamy chicken dishes and casseroles.  But then the fine folks in the health food industry created dairy alternatives and some of them are actually good.  For this recipe I used good ol’ fashion Tofutti sour cream. To be honest, Tofutti doesn’t have much flavor, which is kinda a good thing for this recipe.  It does, however, provide a lovely texture and creaminess. I like to break out this recipe to impress folks (and by folks, I mean my husband).  Works every time.

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 (Scenes from a Pacific Coast Highway road trip)

 

Live from L.A. – Creamy Chicken with White Wine + Mushrooms!

Ingredients

  • 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
  • 1 medium white or sweet onion, diced
  • 4 bulbs of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 carton of button mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
  • 1/4 cup white cooking wine
  • 1/4 cup of veggie or chicken broth
  • 1 giant spoon full of vegan sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 Tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp of ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Using a Dutch oven or heavy pan with a lid, place 3 Tbsp of the margarine in Dutch oven and place on stove top on medium heat. Once melted, place the chicken thighs topside down and let them brown on each side for roughly 3 minutes, sprinkling salt and pepper on each side. You're not wanting the chicken to cook all the way at this point, just brown. Once brown, take out of Dutch oven and place on a plate lined with paper towel.
  2. Next, making sure the heat is still on medium, place another Tbsp of margarine in the Dutch oven.
  3. Place onions in the pan and stir for roughly one minute or until they are translucent.
  4. Next, add the mushrooms and garlic and saute for another 2 - 3 minutes.
  5. Add the white cooking wine and stir, making sure to get all that good crispy brown stuff that has cooked onto the bottom of the pan mixed into the wine. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for a few seconds.
  6. Put the chicken back into the Dutch oven (topside down) with the onions, garlic, mushroom and wine mixture. Pour the broth into the pan, make sure the heat is on low, stir the pan a little bit and cover, letting the mixture cook for roughly 10 - 15 minutes.
  7. Once chicken is cooked through, remove from heat and stir. There should be about an inch of liquid left over in the pan.
  8. Stir in the vegan sour cream into the Dutch oven with the chicken. Once all combined, taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Mix in the fresh herbs to the mixture. Serve over rice or Israeli couscous.
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chicken 5

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It’s taken me about 2 weeks to write this post. Two weeks plus boxes and grade books and calendars and everything else that gets in the way of me doing what I want to do rather than what I have to do.  But, of course, those are all excuses because if we really and truly want to get something done, we do it, right? So as I sit here trying to write this post, I realize that the reason it’s taken me so long to sit down and write it is because I just didn’t want to do it.

Three weeks ago I attended my first and only BlogHer Food Conference.  I took a day off work, paid $200, begged and cajoled to be allowed to purchase a one day ticket as Shabbat prevented me from attending the whole thing.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks–my first food blogger conference (cough, cough, geek, cough cough)! I envisioned all the fellow bloggers I’d meet (bloggers whose work I had admired for years) and hopefully connect with.  I envisioned the Instgramming that would occur and the freebies I’d get.  It was all very exciting, nerdy, but exciting.

Home from BlogHer, loaded with swag.

Home from BlogHer, loaded with swag.

And then the big day came. I got up VERY early in the morning. I put on my favorite little Anthropologie number, made extremely strong coffee and made the trek to downtown Miami. After spending what felt like hours trying to figure out how to get to the actual conference room, I found myself over caffeinated and seated at the front of the room closest to the stage and the presenters (I’ve always had that slight hint of Tracy Flick), eagerly awaiting the presenters.  Within 45 minutes of the first presentation, after the speaker asked for a show of hands of those in attendance who employed folks to help them run their blog, I realized this was not for me. What followed was about 3 hours of reflection and introspection and, finally, a realization.  The time has come to take a hiatus on the hustle of food blogging.  This realization is probably the exact opposite of what the creators of the BlogHer Food Conference wants for their attendees, but it is what it is.

I sit here writing this, 3 weeks from entering a highly anticipated and emotionally-charged next phase in my life and I’m allowing myself a little forgiveness; a little break.  I used to carve out time for blogging.  I’ve sacrificed entire Sunday afternoons with my family to create, style and photograph a recipe.  Then there were the 2-3 hours (at minimum) of editing and actual writing just to get one post done a week.  One time I actually asked a dear friend to come over with her daughter just so I’d have something for my kiddo to do while I spent hours slaving over a post. I was barely able to spend time with my beloved best friend and her family, who were in town from Chicago for one day only, just because I HAD to get  a post done.  No one was telling me I had to get the post done except for me. I did this to myself.

Just me and this crazy kid.

Just me and this crazy kid.

Over the past year this blog has seen incredible success and I have no shame in patting myself on the back for that. I co-authored a cookbook! I had posts appear on Cosmopolitan.com and recipes and photographs accepted by Tastespotting.com and Foodgawker.com. These are huge accomplishments for a girl who once made potato salad but forgot to boil the potatoes beforehand. I’ve been blessed to be able to connect with highly creative and inspiring people from all walks of life.  It’s been amazing.  But all of that has come at the expense of quality time with the people I love not to mention a certain level of self-imposed stress, exhaustion and anxiety.  And now, as I prepare to spend the next year in a new city, with a new job and raising my daughter without the constant support of my beloved  husband, who will still be in Miami finishing his PhD, I have to just own the fact that this blog will have to take a backseat.  This doesn’t mean that I’m leaving it entirely, but I’m certainly not going to see it as a second or even third job, as I have the past year and a half. I hope you’ll stick around and join me as I chronicle this next phase in my journey. Sometimes I’ll have recipes and sometimes I’ll just have pictures and updates.  We’ll probably be in LA when you hear from me next—living life as the real life Beverly Hillbillies.  Thanks for your support and come back soon.

So long Miami.  Thanks for the memories!

So long Miami. Thanks for the memories!

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kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

Well, it’s happening.  The kid is asking for pink.  She wants pink EVERYTHING.  She had a fit last week because the pants she wore for the day weren’t pink enough.  They were of a fabric that were light pink with dark pink hearts and THAT wasn’t pink enough!?  Good Lord.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

The all-in-one-kinda-goodness

 kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

After the blend

If you know me, you’ll know that I try to fight against gender roles.  I fight it so hard that I assigned my bestie, Jackie, the special task of making sure that if anyone wanted to generously give us a gift for the impending birth of our kid, that said gift should not, pretty please, have the words “princess”, “precious”, “cutie” or anything like that on it.  It should also not be pink. It’s not that I have anything against pink.  Heck, I like pink . . . a lot (have you SEEN this website?) it’s just that I don’t want to shove it down her throat, you know? But then she started daycare at 5 months of age and you can’t fight the 8 hours a day that she’s called “princessa” or told by her daycare employees that she’s cute or given purses and tiaras to play with.  You can try to balance that, but you can’t necessarily fight it.  I’m also tired and I’m not sure it’s a fight I’m willing to fight anymore.

Sometimes I feel like Bill Murray’s character in Rushmore.  His character, Herman Blume, is this serious intellectual.  He’s an educator and prides himself on his intellect.  There’s this great scene were he’s picking up his teenage twin sons.  Bill’s in the driver seat and the guys are coming back from wrestling practice, all sweaty and stereotypical ‘jock’-like, and they jump into the back of the car.  At one point Bill’s character kinda gives this roll of the eye like, “How’d my kids end up like this when I’m so that”.  I picture that scene every time Siona gives a “PINK!” request.  It’s not to say that if she should grow up to be the girliest of girly girls, I’d be annoyed.  I just want to give her every opportunity to like whatever you wants to like, as long as what she likes is healthy (like if she’s super into razor blades, I’d have an issue).  I want it to be her choice.

 

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

In social work school, I had this professor who taught my sex therapy class. She was/is extremely fascinating.  She had these friends who gave birth to a baby.  Both parents were social scientists and they were determined not to put gender roles onto their newborn.  They wanted to give their child and their family the opportunity to love their child and get to know him or her without that added layer of gender-based comments/assumptions.  You know, those instant comments folks say as soon as they see a baby boy, “Oh, he looks so strong”, or “What a prince!” Or for a baby girl, “She’s so beautiful”, or “What a little princess”.  They were so steadfast and determined in their experiment that they wouldn’t let anyone change the baby’s diaper expect for themselves.  Even their own parents didn’t know the gender of the baby.  But this kind of thing isn’t sustainable and by the time the child was 6 months old, they told their family the gender.  That story stuck with me on multiple levels but the thing I could never really stop thinking about is, well, how do you know? You have no basis of comparison, right?  Like, who knows who that child would have become if folks knew the gender.  It all fascinates the hell outta me (#nerdalert). But anyway, long story short, she’ll be 2 in August, my little girl. TWO! She’s quickly becoming her own person. She has likes and dislikes (and don’t think she’s not willing to tell what they are) and it’s blowing my mind.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

A kiss of lime.

One of her likes is sugar.  I mean, she is her father’s daughter.  I absolutely try to limit this kid’s sugar intake but, I’m a firm believer in balance so, she’s been known to meal on a cookie or cupcake from time-to-time.  One thing I’m gonna start doing this summer is make her healthy, but delicious homemade popsicles.  Basically a Kalicious on a stick.  But before we get to that uber-healthy thing, I wanted to inaugurate my super cute popsicle holders (they have tails. They’re so cute its bordering obnoxious) with a tasty Shavuot-friendly recipe so I made my favorite cheesecake, complete with butter graham cracker crust, into a convenient popsicle.  The best part about this recipe is that it’s just so stinkin’ easy.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

 

Key Lime Cheesecake Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 standard sized graham crackers
  • 4 tbs melted butter

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients from the cream cheese through the vanilla into a food processor and pulse to combine (until smooth). Clean for later use.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about 1 inch of the top empty for the crust.
  3. Tap the molds gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.
  4. Add the graham crackers to the food processor and process until only crumbs remain.
  5. While food processor is running, add the melted butter in a slow stream until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  6. Divide the crust evenly between the popsicles, press down gently to compact. Insert popsicle sticks, freeze for at least 8 hours (makes about 4 popsicles).
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