Camembert Mac and Cheese

 One of my favorite Passover treats growing up was a square matzah smeared with apricot jam and topped with slivers of Camembert cheese. I’d look forward to it just as much as matzah with chocolate spread, and that says a lot. I still enjoy this cheese with bread or crackers, the optimal way to let its distinct taste shine through. But Camembert adds a little something special to cooked dishes as well. I’ve partnered up with Natural and Kosher to bring you this Camembert Mac and Cheese.
This mac and cheese comes together quickly in a skillet and makes a great weeknight dinner. The Camembert balances out the other cheeses and gives much depth and dimension to the otherwise humble yet venerable mac and cheese. The addition of Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper make it even more interesting. It’s definitely rich and creamy, as the comfort of cheesy noodles should be. A must try family dinner that can be enjoyed by the spoonfuls and hearty appetites. 

not too sweet, toffee-topped chocolate brownies

I have these happy mama moments sporadically throughout my day. A pocket of time where I’m with my children and we’re totally engaged and present. It’s those moments that make my heart swell with happiness. We’ll be playing legos, or reading books, or even cutting a salad together. The atmosphere is calm and pleasant and I might even say perfect. Internally, I’m beaming with gratitude and love and as much as I know it’s a temporary state, I try to feel the moment, bottle it up and keep it safe in a corner of my brain. Conveniently so I can revisit it when inevitable craziness ensues.

Some days I even try to create these moments, rather than hope they’ll emerge serendipitously. I’ll get a special book or bring out a forlorn toy box. But the kids’ favorite is when I invite them into the kitchen. I love this special bonding time. Some times it’s as involved as rolling out their own pizza dough and leaving a carpet of flour on the floor. Other days it’s sprinkling colorful stars over the cake they watched me prepare. It all depends on how mentally prepared I am.

Somewhere in their cookbook lineup, Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek came out with a Kids Cooking Made Easy. My kids and I had so much fun looking through the recipes together, picking out our favorites and planning which ones we’ll make together. The cauliflower poppers (p.72) were addicting, we’re still eyeing the chocolate bonbons (p.116) and the grilled chicken sticks (p.38) are a perfect weeknight meal.

The book features so many great, family friendly recipes, all brightly photographed and very approachable. My favorite feature is the blurbs on the side with tips, tricks and explanations that are very beneficial to little learners (and big ones, too).

Side note: this book also makes an excellent gift, I've given it a few times.

Let’s talk about this Toffee-Topped Brownie Cake (p.96). It’s at once dense like a brownie, yet light as a cake. I halved the sugar from the original recipe (standard practice for me), and the balance of sweetness was just right. My favorite part is that it bakes in a half sheet, a perfect size when serving a crowd.

strawberry salad & goodbye summer & link up

Everyone is posting about pumpkin spice and here I am with a humble summery Strawberry Salad. Like many recipes living on my hard drive, I didn't have a chance to share when it was actually summer. To my credit, it still feels like summer in LA despite what the calendar says. So if you happen to source a pint of strawberries from some farmer at the farmer's market or if better yet you purchase some in a clear plastic box from --gasp-- the supermarket that sources them from Chile, be sure to keep this green wonderfulness in mind.

The theme of this month's link-up from the Kosher Connection is "The one food you'd want if you were stranded on an island." The answer would be that I truly don't have a clue. I love lots of different things but can't isolate one that would be at the forefront of my mind. But I really would love a big bowl of this salad. It would be truly refreshing on an island.

Couscous Roast Chicken

I am slowly submerging from the holiday marathon and the unavoidable food overdose. There were so many meals shared and so many lasting memories, but it's also nice to be back to the humdrum of daily life, countless laundry loads and all.

I kept my holiday menu very simple but I did peak into a few cookbooks for inspiration. I mentioned in the previous post about The Monday Morning Cooking Club and their first book, which I used for the honey cake. I also got this Couscous Roast Chicken from there.
Since I don't eat red meat, chicken makes copious appearances at our meals. I cook chicken in so many ways, with so many different flavors, using so many techniques. I don't tire of it at all, but sometimes there is a recipe that stands out and that I keep close by. This is one of them. The first time I made it, I had many guests over and they all loved it, the compliments were pouring in. The sincere kind, not the perfunctory "it's so good", but the ones said wholeheartedly due to sheer enjoyment.

The meat comes out tender and juicy and the stuffing is part savory, part citrus-y, part sweet and has a great crunch from the pistachios. It's truly a wonderful one pan meal that comes together nicely with minimal mess (a major bonus in my eyes).

The Monday Morning Cooking Club boasts many more amazing recipes, some of which I have yet to try like their Pear Tarte Tatin. But my favorite part of this cookbook and of their newer cookbook The Feast Goes On, is the blurbs to each recipe from the contributor. I love the memories they share, the glimpse into different cultures and the emotional connection to each recipe. It's adds depth and joy in the kitchen, a delightful companion this cookbook is. Thanks Debbi for this chicken recipe.

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