I’m currently sitting in bed. I’m sitting in bed and I’m trying to take care of myself. It hasn’t been easy lately. Every since having our second baby, I feel like I’m in a constant game of catch-up. I know this sounds crazy, but I’m not sure why having the second kiddo destroyed me as much as it did. OK, “destroyed me” is a little dramatic, but I can’t seem to stay awake past 9pm, which means I average a decent night sleep. And, thank Gd, my kids are pretty decent sleepers. So why am I so tired?

I’ve decided there are tons of answers to this question. Maybe it’s the fact that I over-schedule my day, just like most every other person I know. It also probably has to do with not exercising as much as I should but mostly I think it has to do with the amount of stuff I have reeling around in my head. I appreciate the feminist movement and I consider myself a feminist but I’m not sure the feminist movement of the 70s knew what it was getting into when it rallied for fair and equal employment opportunities for women. But, I am grateful. I used to work in a school whose administration over-valued stress and exhaustion. People were heralded for working long hours; the bags under their eyes their little red badges of courage. Now I work for a school where taking a ‘mental health day’ is understood. I have a boss who openly talks about why she doesn’t want us answering texts and phone calls after working hours — the boundary of work and life firmly in tact and celebrated. But still, I get home after picking up the girls and I still struggle with balancing all my responsibilities. When beloved friend and co-author, Sarah at The Patchke Princess started her Sheet-Pan Dinners Instagram handle, I started following immediately. She’s a lot braver than me when it comes with experimenting with sheet-pan dinners, but nevertheless, she has inspired the recipe in this post. We eat meat at least once a week, aside from Shabbat, and being able to throw it on a sheet pan, combine it with roasted vegetables and the perfect seasoning without having to clean anything else makes me so happy. I mean seriously, it is the little things and no additional cleaning is to be celebrated as a big ‘little thing’. Consider this sheet pan chicken a blank slate for which to experiment for further dinners. I hope you enjoy.

 


 

 

Sheet Pan Chicken

Ingredients:

2 chicken leg quarters, cut at bone and separated

3 carrots, skinned and cut into 1/4-inch rounds

5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered

1 medium onion, quartered

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, diced

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp parve Ranch dressing mix powder

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tbsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Place a large 9 x 13″ rimmed baking sheet in the oven while the oven is heating. While that’s heating, combine Ranch dressing mix, mayonnaise, kosher salt and black pepper into a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Clean chicken and dry well. Using a spatula or spoon, coat the chicken in the Ranch mayonnaise mixture. Place the chicken skin-side down on the pre-heated baking sheet. Let that cook for about 10 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, combine all the vegetables into a large bowl. Add olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl and stir until well-combined. Once the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes, add the vegetable mixture to the sheet-pan, making sure that none of the vegetables overlap, and cook for another 20 – 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

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!

 

 

Before arriving in Los Angeles, I heavily researched the city in order to figure out what part of the city we’d live in. And by research I of course mean that I watched old episodes of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and poured over the most recent Bon Appetit at the time that had a lovely spread about hipster hangout, “Sqirl” (so hipster, in fact, that the ‘u’, ‘r’, and ‘e’ are apparently not necessary). In the article, they mentioned a sorrel pesto bowl that is the restaurant’s number one seller. At the time I was absolutely not interested in trying a savory bowl of sorrel for breakfast. Why in the world would I want brown rice when I could have cinnamon rolls or sticky buns or brioche toast!?!? I mean, come on!!

 

 

 

 

So when we arrived in Los Angeles in the summer of 2014, my patient husband and even more patient daughter let me drag them to the Mecca of hipsterville, Silverlake, to stand in line with every other sucker and wait for breakfast. And let me tell you, it was one of the greatest culinary decisions I’ve ever made (and not only because within my first 24 hours in LA I got to see the high Jewess of the world, Natalie Portman, who was also eating at Sqirl). This meal was so. friggin’. YUMMY. I was feeling adventurous and also feeling that there was no way my husband was going to be up for shlepping all the way to Silverlake from the Westside again so I went ahead and passed by all the brioche options and ordered the brown rice pesto bowl. When our meal arrived, I looked at my husband’s brioche toast topped with chocolate ganache and thought, “I have made the greatest mistake in the world”. But then I took my first bite of the pesto bowl, all mixed in with lacto-fermented hot sauce (still have no idea what that means), feta cheese and a perfectly cooked poached egg and I knew I was forever changed. Let me tell you. Putting pesto in brown rice and topping with a poached egg, feta, radishes and hot sauce is THE GREATEST IDEA EVER. Therefore, I went ahead and copied it as much as possible. This has become my go-to Sunday morning breakfast ever since that fateful day in Silverlake.

 

 

Brown Rice Pesto Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients for Bowl:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup pesto (see below)
2 eggs (or more, depending on how much you love eggs), poached
1/4 cups feta cheese
3 radishes sliced thin
Optional: Sriracha

Ingredients for Pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (can omit and use 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast to make it vegan)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

Cook brown rice according to package. Remember that brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook so make sure you plan according. Once done, transfer rice to a large mixing bowl and leave about 3 – 5 minutes.

For the pesto. If you want to be kind to yourself and your time, you can please feel free to buy pre-made pesto. If you want to make your own pesto, place the basil leaves and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times. Add the garlic and cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in some salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the poached egg: I learned how to poach an egg via The Kitchn’s tutorial so I’m sending you there for this recipe. Come back and read on when you’re done. 🙂

Once brown rice has somewhat cooled, add 1/2 cup of the pesto to your brown rice and combine. Top with 1 poached egg, feta, and sliced up radish. Serve hot.

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