Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Confession: sometimes I wish I didn't care what my children eat. I envy those oblivious mothers who hand out candies and cookies without batting an eye. They might uphold common restrictions like not eating too much before dinner, but for the most part they don't stress over their child's diet.

I, on the other hand, get irrational mental visions of decaying cells gasping for real nutrients when I see my kids eating junk, especially candy (sugar + food coloring, gasp!). I know what's good and what's bad for them. I know how it affects them. And I know that in today's society it's almost impossible for every food to be perfectly nutritious. There's always something wrong: it's GMO, it has sugar, look! the box says no high fructose corn syrup, oh but it has plain corn syrup, it's unhealthy fat (who eats cotton seeds?), there are 3 ingredients that have 9 letters that are unpronounceable, etc. Being so aware is at once discouraging and empowering. We have to make choices and lots of compromises.

Our family's diet isn't perfect (you'll find some pretty nutritiously questionable items in the pantry and freezer, of which the husband is to blame) but I've learned to focus on what I can control and to let go of what I can't. I aim to give my kids enough freedom to try things, but I do my best to educate them on what's good for our body and what isn't. You don't want to be behind us at the snack isle where you'll likely witness a crying toddler grasping some kind of flashy red sugary snack and the unfazed mother (moi) calmly switching it with a jumbo-sized Bamba bag. It's the little things.

But anyway let's talk about this bread. Or cake, I should say. I don't know who named this loaf zucchini bread, it really should be zucchini cake. Cake, cake, cake. This loaf of what I'll call Chocolate Zucchini Cake (despite what the title says) has a nice dense crumb. It's just sweet and healthy enough to call breakfast. I made it refined sugar-free and used whole wheat flour (I can imagine that substituting with gluten free flour or almond flour would also work, but it wouldn't have the same height), and best of all it has zucchini, a green vegetable. We can never have too many green vegetables.

Mediterranean Style Tilapia from The Modern Menu

For many years Moroccan Salmon was a Friday night Shabbat staple. I rarely strayed from this tradition because I always loved it, its flavors and smell trigger all the right feelings. I really need to share my recipe for it with you soon, it’s such a perfect food with its rich sauce and spicy undertones.

But sometimes, you need to liven things up. This Mediterranean-style Tilapia is an excellent choice, it comes together easily and bursts with flavor from the sundried tomatoes and capers. I made it for Shabbat dinner and it was the perfect first course everyone loved. I have Kim Kushner to thank and her cookbook The Modern Menu.

 I’ve had this gem of a cookbook for several months and I can always find something to put on my menu plan. The recipes are down-to-earth and practical, yet gourmet and novel. I love the flavor profile of every dish and how Kim draws inspiration from her Moroccan background, which speaks to me since I share many of those traditions. She’s taken classic dishes and modernized them in just the right way, like the Crispy Miso-Marinated Schnitzel, the  Salmon en Croute, and the Crunchy Curry Cauliflower with Tahini and Pomegranate.

The photography is modern and artistic, very different from the typical food photography that graces most contemporary cookbooks and a welcomed feast to the eyes.

Best of all, The Modern Menu holds true to its motto of “Simple. Beautiful. Kosher.” a poignant description of my own cooking style and one I seek to live by. If you don’t have it already, I’d definitely look into this book.

On another note, this tilapia would make a perfect meal for Tisha Beav (the Nine Days). You can serve it alongside these roasted carrots, like I did. Or even consider this or that.

I can’t write a blogpost without mentioning the heart-breaking situation in Israel. In light of that, we should pray and perform acts of kindness in any way, shape or form that we can. I’m disturbed and appalled by the amount of hate that’s flowing around, and though sometimes I feel hopeless with humanity, I do believe that positivity lights the darkness and that we should infuse our every day with more of that.

Mejadara / Lentil-Rice with Caramelized Onions and a Leben Cucumber Dip

Summer! Summer is here. Even though we spoiled LAers have sunny skies and warm rays all year long, the days between June and September are worthy of their own distinctive excitement. The long days, no school, beach tanning, BBQing, pool-hopping, park squatting marathon that is at once exhausting yet preciously rewarding is what I look forward to all year. But also for the sweeter-than-candy succulent summer fruits that we can’t help but enjoy raw, juices dripping from the chin and all. I heart summer.
This season beckons simple dinners. My favorites are one-pot options that are easily reheatable and sufficiently filling. If they turn into lunch, that’s an added benefit. This Mejadara fits right in and is one I love preparing and eating.
I was first introduced to mejadara when my father-in-law made it sometime after I got married. I was instantly hooked. There is so much to love about puffy rice and lentils laced with sweet caramelized onions. Lots of sweet caramelized onions. Four onions worth of fried onions. Then you top it with some cucumber leben and it all fits cozily in a bowl, ready to be enjoyed by the spoonfuls.

I hope you’re enjoying your bright summer days.

hello, again!

It’s funny how 6 weeks can turn into 6 months in what feels like 6 minutes. I had blogging somewhere on my schedule but I just kept on bumping it to the next day and the next. I also wanted to shift back to a slightly slower pace, where I could be more mindful and present and connected to my family, especially my kids. If the to do list wasn’t getting even one cross-off, I wouldn’t stress. It’s been amazing seeing the shift back to a more calm me.

I used to get frustrated at myself if I didn’t complete my mile-high to do list in a day’s time, and that frustration would pool into the next day and the next. So I stopped. I tuned into a “whatever, there’s always (Gd willing) tomorrow” attitude and it’s been great. I never strove to be supermom, I just naively thought that I really should somehow do it all or at least do a lot, i.e. cook, clean, bake, host, photograph, edit, blog, organize, shop, learn, socialize, breathe. All that with an infant who seems to thrive on little sleep, a 4 year old who loves to sing at the top her lungs when aforementioned infant finally closes her eyes in exhaustion, and a 3 year old boy who is so discreetly mischievous you’d be puzzled if you two met and I’d share with you his shenanigans.

So while this season of my life is blessedly full, I’m learning to prioritize. Responsibility makes me feel like I’ve crossed into “grown up” category and I feel like stomping my feet, reclaiming my hours and spending them languidly at the farmer’s market or the mall. But then again these little people are too cute and have captured my heart (understatement). I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

Talking about cake, I’ll recap a little to the past few weeks.

My little boy turned three! We chopped off his sleek golden locks as is customary in an upsherin/chalakeh and he donned his kippah and tzitzit for the very first time. yey!

I made this cake for him. He beamed when he saw the “chou chou” train.

I also had a few posts up on Joy of Kosher.

Strawberry Mozzarella with Balsamic-Thyme Sauce

I can imagine this to be the perfect appetizer for the upcoming Shavuot holiday, especially with the bountiful strawberries in season. Recipe here.

and this Classic Margherita Mozzarella Pizza

recipe here

there was also this Root Vegetable Chips sponsored by Sabra

you can find the recipe here

I have lots of goodies to come, thanks for sticking around. xo.

If I'm not back by then, Chag Shavuot Sameach!

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