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As my previous post mentioned, we are at the home stretch of Passover planning and you know what that means . . . carb-loading!!!! HOLLER!!!!

While I’m no athlete, and if I wasn’t completely morally opposed to it, I think I’d be an amazing competitive eater. How do I know this? Because roughly every year at this time, I’m carb-loading in the name of cleaning out my cupboard for Passover. I mean, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it and why not let that someone be me?

So, in the name of cleaning out my cupboard (and, you know, the Rabbis require it), I made the following recipe for you. It’s as decadent as it looks. It’s also as delicious as it looks. You can find the recipe on Interfaithfamily.com. I hope you enjoy it and Happy Passover!

 

Me carb-loading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you read my Valentine’s Day post, you’ll know already that I recently attended an amazing conference centered on the topic of how to help adolescents thrive as they transition into adulthood. You’ll also know that the headliner of this conference was Jane Fonda. What you might not know is that this conference was one of the best professional/personal development experiences of my career as a school counselor. Not only for the sheer fact that I was in a room of committed individuals who were also passionately engaged in trying to be an ally for youth in an increasingly difficult world, but also because I left with actual, tangible resources that I can implement in my every day life.

 

One of the best directly relates to the images you have previously seen on this blog and my various social media handles — that of images of my kiddos. When I first started out in the blogging game, I filled my posts with images of my family. I wanted a blog that was not only delicious to look at but that also gave readers a glimpse into my personal life. Here’s the thing though: My girls are growing up and, please Gd, they will continue to grow up. They’re going to grow up and become adolescents themselves and could quite possibly Google themselves, as Dr. Devorah Heitner so lovingly pointed out at this conference. I want to make sure that when that times comes, they don’t feel like their journey to adulthood was chronicled at every turn without their permission. In addition, and this is what really struck me, I don’t want my kids feeling like they always have to be ‘on’ because you never know when mom might be recording this for her blog/Instagram/Facebook. So, in an effort to give them more anonymity and to create a culture of consent in our family, I will now be ASKING their permission to take and subsequently publish their image (the baby is a bit too young for this so instead, I’ll just be more mindful of how much of her life I’m putting in front of strangers).

 

 

So what does this have to do with Purim and hamantaschen? Mostly nothing but I wanted to make mention of a change in what you’ll be seeing on this here blog for the future. Instead of the delicious faces of my kiddos, I’ll be sharing more delicious pictures of food. How ’bout them apples?!

And about these hamantaschen? Welcome to your new fancy ‘taschen. I have ALWAYS wanted to work with blood orange and black sesame. The flavors of each are delicious on their own but once combined with the yumminess of Joan Nathan’s hamantaschen dough recipe as featured in her book, Jewish Cooking in America, well, magic happens. And, I mean, come on, anytime I can make something naturally pink, I’m on it. While there are many steps to this hamantaschen recipe, most of them can be done days in advance. In fact, all of it can be done days in advance. Also, note that the black sesame does look and taste like poppy seeds so if you can’t find black sesame seeds (I found mine in Whole Foods), you could easily sub in poppy seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Sesame Hamantaschen with Blood Orange Glaze

Dough Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg (+ 1 egg for glaze)

1 tablespoon blood orange zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp of salt

Black Sesame Filling

1/2 cup roasted black sesame seeds

1/4 cup almond milk (or regular)

1/4 cup honey

1 tbsp zest of blood orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tbsp butter

Blood Orange Glaze

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

Dough Instructions:

Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and blood orange zest and continue creaming until smooth.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt to a separate medium-sized bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until a ball of dough is formed (if not using a stand mixer, do this step not with the hand-held mixer but with a wood spoon). Shape dough into a disk, wrap in saran wrap and chill for AT LEAST 3 hours (I chill mine overnight).

Filling Instructions:

Lightly grind the black sesame seeds in a food processor using the “pulse” function for roughly 30 seconds.

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and honey over low heat, stirring until the honey dissolves into the milk. Then add the ground sesame seeds and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. While it’s simmering, add the blood orange zest and vanilla.

Once the mixture has thickened considerably — or as desired, stir in the butter until it melts, cooking it for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. You can make this a day ahead, when you first make the dough, and cover and store in the fridge.

Putting it all Together:

Once chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the center. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. With a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, or wide-rimmed drinking class, cut out circles; place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps, chill while previous cookies are baking, and repeat with your roll-out and cutting until all dough is used.

Whisk together remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water in a bowl. Brush circle edges with egg wash; pinch seams together. Bake cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 – 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding filling.

For Blood Orange Glaze:

Whisk together the ingredients until combined and smooth. Once cookies have cooled completely, drizzle on top until it’s perfectly covered in pink.

 

 

Hello from Dallas, Texas! I’m blogging at you from the BBYO International Conference. Yes, that makes two blog posts from conferences so clearly, I clearly pay close attention to presentations and am not distracted at all when you invite me to a conference.

Anyway, It’s an honor to be here for so many reasons! First, I love teenagers! They’re inspiring and motivating and hilarious and loud and sometimes smelly but I love them anyway. Second, I got to speak on using social media and blogging as a means to build understanding for issues that I’m passionate about, like food justice and mindful living. But, most importantly, it’s an honor because on Shabbat, I get to speak in partnership with the one and only Amy Kritzer from What Jew Wanna Eat! After years and years of being Internet friends and even co-authoring a e-cookbook together, we finally got to meet in person! Amazing! We met at the airport upon arrival into Dallas and have only paused from each other’s side to sleep and do our presentations. I’m tellin’ ya folks, if loveliness exists in this world it is house within Amy.What an amazing individual! This lady is so amazing for tons of reasons but the thing I honestly love the most about her is her willingness to support other bloggers — competition be damned! She sees the success of other Jewish bloggers as a success of her community and gosh darn it, that is beautiful!

 

 

So aside from gushing about Amy, I’m here to write about one of my favorite subjects — PASTA! If you’ve met me you’ll know already that carbs and I are besties. If I could, I’d eat pasta every single night. Back in my younger years when I was living in Chicago, my favorite dinner for myself was a giant bowl of spaghetti, dripping in sauce with layers and layers of cheese on it (most specifically, American cheese but, whatever). Because I no longer have the metabolism of a 24 year-old, I don’t eat like that anymore. However, as a working parent in her late 30s with two young children, pasta certainly visits our dinner table at least once a week. In order to assuage some of my guilt of eating pasta, I like to mix in healthier, easy proteins and vegetables. Two of my favorites are frozen kale and canned beans. This is a dish I often throw together on those later evenings when I leave work later than normal and don’t have as much time to cook dinner. Feel free to omit the cream but I like the tanginess it brings to the dinner. And, if you’re like me and you are looking for little more nuttiness to your pasta, go ahead and top it with mounds of Parmesan cheese. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

 

My squad in Malibu.

 

Me and my soul-sista, Amy from What Jew Wanna Eat

One-Pot Creamy Kale + White Bean Pasta

1 box whole wheat spaghetti
5 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup frozen blue curly kale
1 can, Cannellini bean, rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half
1 tbsp kosher salt + more for final dusting before serving
1/2 tbsp coarse ground pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried fennel seed

Using a large stock pot, cook pasta as indicated on the back of the package. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Set both pasta and cooking liquid (separately) aside.

Wipe down stop pot. Add olive oil to pot and place back on stove over a medium-high heat. Once smoking just a bit, add diced onions, garlic and kosher salt. Saute for roughly 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add pepper, basil and fennel seed to the onion and garlic mixture and saute for another minute. Next, add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, mix and bring to a boil. Turn he down to low and let mixture simmer for about 5 – 7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary depending on your flavor preference. After mixture has simmered for a bit, using a handheld immersion blender, blend tomato and onion mixture until semi-smooth (I like to leave mixture a bit chunky but this is my personal preference). Add in the whipping cream and stir until combined.

Next, add the beans, kale and about 3/4 of your cooked pasta back to the pot. Mix until almost combined. Add in about half of your reserved cooking liquid to help coat the pasta and allow for sauce to adhere to the pasta. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve hot!

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