More Sweet Things

I am constantly, CONSTANTLY, thinking that I need to cut back on sugar.  Not candy, so much, as I am able to resist that but cookies, cakes, brownies, bars, ice cream, etc.  So every few weeks, I decide I am done and I stop eating desserts.  Which lasts between two hours and two days.  Then I remember that I am over 40, I work out almost daily and I will never be thin.  Therefore, why should I deny myself the yumminess?

So, in the last few months, I’ve made a bunch of different sweet things.  I managed to photograph the final product but not usually the process.

First were these divine cookie dough bars.  They taste like raw cookie dough but have no eggs in them so they are safe to eat.  I have to say, I found them very, very sweet and rich and had to cut them into smaller pieces.  But, so good.  Note: the chocolate topping has peanut butter in it but I suspect could be left out if you so desired.

The kids and I made a vanilla chocolate chip cake with milk chocolate ganache frosting, just because.  It, too, was delicious.  But I can’t remember what recipe I used.  I do remember facetiming my math friend to help me figure out the ratio for the ganache.  (Insert eye roll here, for me not being able to do fractions on my own).

I attended an event at a friend’s that was titled “My Drunken Neighbor Totoro Night”.  We watched this wonderful, beloved movie and, well, drank.  Or at least they did.  I know my limits, and as the oldest person in the room by at least 20 years, I stuck to water.  But Micah and I made Totoro cookies for the occasion.  They were a pretty good first attempt but I am sure I can do better.  Micah, on the other hand, is a master cookie cutter outer.  We used this sugar cookie dough and glazed them with the chocolate ganache.

Finally, we just celebrated Purim.  In our house that means we read the Purim story (which is way darker than I remember!) and make hamanaschen.  We used this recipe and then were a little…. creative…. with our filling.  We had traditional strawberry and blueberry.  But we also used mini reeses cups, milk duds (SO GOOD), Israeli chocolate spread and caramel chips.

See? Why give up sweet things?  All in moderation, right?

Authentic NY Egg Cream

If you are from Massachusetts, and you are of a certain age, and you enjoy ice cream,  I can name a few places that will surely bring nostalgia to your hearts.  Friendly’s, Brigham’s, Bailey’s, Steve’s and Herrell’s.  There are probably countless others.  All of these are ice cream stores/parlors that have closed or have dwindled down to just one or two in the area.  But these are the ice cream places of my youth.  Bailey’s used to have sundaes that were so messy that the toppings dripped over the sides of the metal fluted cup, falling into the metal saucer placed there for just that purpose (The only place that comes close to this today is Cabot’s in Newton, which I highly recommend).   Friendly’s was where I got my peanut butter sauce fix.  Steve and, later,  Herrell’s was where we “smooshed in” toppings into the ice cream.  Brigham’s was the place where my mother would double park, hand me $2.10 and send me in for two cones, mocha almond for her, usually m&m chocolate for me.

If you’re from Massachusetts or really, New England, then you already know that ice cream is a year round necessity, not saved just for summer.  But in the summer?  For me, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cream soda.  Perhaps you’re not familiar? According to Wikipedia (that trusted source), ice cream sodas also go by the name ice cream float.  To me those are completely different things but Wikipedia says, “it is a beverage that consists of ice cream in either a soft drink or in a mixture of flavored syrup and carbonated water.”

If you’re from New York, you probably know what an egg cream is, right?  Chocolate or vanilla milk, with carbonation from seltzer.  New Yorkers get very particular about their egg creams- very specific about the brand of chocolate syrup, about the type of seltzer, about the milk.  For me, an ice cream soda is an egg cream with ice cream on top.  The perfect blend of Boston and New York.  It’s refreshing, sweet and not too filling.  When you’re hot and thirsty, the best part is definitely the cold, not too carbonated, creamy soda part.

I was recently taught how to make an authentic New York egg cream by a native New Yorker.  And when I say taught, I mean that I watched while he made it for me.  He narrated the whole process and I will do my best to offer that narration as I document it here.

Authentic New York Egg Cream


Whole milk

Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup (no other brand will do)

Fox’s U-Bet Coffee Syrup (again, only this brand, lest you be mocked by true New Yorkers)

Plain, unflavored seltzer (we used the local kind, from Polar)


Gather your ingredients, along with a tall glass and a long spoon.  Make sure that your milk and seltzer are very cold.


Now, there were no measurements for this.  My New Yorker was able to do this all by sight/feel/taste.  Bear with me, we can figure this out.

Mix some chocolate and coffee syrup in the bottom of your glass.  Should be way more chocolate than coffee.


I was told that the coffee syrup enhances the chocolate flavor (I do this with coffee powder in chocolate cake so I was completely in agreement).  Add a little bit of milk (maybe 1/4 of the glass?) so that you can mix it all together.


Once it’s mixed, add about 1/4-1/3 cup more– enough to be a little more than half the glass.  Mix it well.


Now it’s time to add the seltzer.  Apparently, you are supposed to hold a spoon in one hand, and sort of pour the seltzer down, over the spoon.   Sort of like when you pour a black and tan except instead of having the spoon upside down, it’s right side up.  So, do this and pour in enough seltzer to fill the rest of the glass.  (Shhh!  Don’t tell NY man but I’ve done this without the spoon trick and it’s JUST AS GOOD.)


Once you’ve added the seltzer, give it a quick stir- but not too much, as you don’t want to flatten the carbonation- just enough to combine it.  Then?  Drink away.


Sweet, bubbly, creamy and cold.  Just the thing for a sweet treat.  But as a true Boston girl?  I’d have to add a scoop of ice cream on top, perched on the side of the glass.

But?  You do you.  Yummy, regardless of how you do.




So Sorry… or What I’ve Been Up To for, oh, seven months…

Hi There.


Remember me? I used to cook and blog about it here.  You know, before kids.  Before lots of work.  Before, well, this life I have found myself in for the last few years.  I love it, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t leave a bunch of time for blogging.

So, I’m still faithfully taking photos.  I just can’t quite seem to get around to posting them with accompanying text.  I’m going to post a bunch here and try to write up a few others with recipes…  Wish me luck!

I’ve traveled a bit over the last seven months.  I ate really well during a long weekend in Portsmouth, NH.


My ever-present extremely dirty martini.


An outstanding breakfast sandwich from Popover’s On the Square.


Which was followed by delicious key lime tart since my traveling companion for that trip loves key lime pie. And what’s breakfast without dessert?


We had so much fun wandering Portsmouth, eating and drinking and looking in shops.

We sampled egg creams from Fezziwigs:


We also ate delicious Mexican food at Agave, and had delicate, sweet french cookies from La Maison Navarre, which allowed my traveling companion to impress me by speaking fluent French with the sweet bakery counter service woman.


I also met a friend in Denmark  a few weeks ago and ate so much good food.  I can’t recommend enough that if you go to Copenhagen, that you should go to two places.  Copenhagen Street Food which is a big warehouse space filled with food trucks and stands from all over the world.  Cozy fires to sit by, big tables to share.  It was so good, we went twice and really tried to eat everything (impossible).  The other place not to miss is a bit out of the way but was across from the houseboat on which we were staying (yes, a houseboat.  SO COOL!), La Banchina.  It’s a tiny, maybe 10 table, place with the smallest kitchen ever.  Seriously, it was the size of my living room and the food was outstanding.

My favorite meals in Denmark were actually at my friend’s house and on the houseboat.  Of course, these are the ones I didn’t bother to photograph.  I got one, of the last night, where we were using up all the food.


Finally, Valentine’s Day happened and in the spirit of posting food from outside my kitchen (as this post has been), I was gifted these adorable creatures of chocolate from L.A. Burdick’s.  Almost too cute to eat.  Almost.



Stay tuned.  I’m hoping to use this snowy, at home day to catch up a bit on posts.  And you know, get some work done…

Rosh Hashanah 2016/5777

In some ways, this year’s dinner was exactly the same as previous years.  Many of the same foods, same faces and same amount of love and laughter.  In some ways, it was different.  Different foods, different faces and different conversations.  As always, I remain grateful for and humbled by the diverse group of family, family-by-choice and friends that have surrounded me.  The discussion topics that I heard included educational reform, mindfulness and the role of self-care and train engines.  These people are lawyers, doctors, teachers, administrators, consultants, doctoral students, craftsmen, mathematicians and playmakers.  I am in awe at the good that is put into the world by this group of people.  We are all so lucky to have them and I am the luckiest- they are my support system.


I cooked for about a day and a half.  I had company and multiple sous-chefs.


Although one sous-chef failed at one task, due to timing, but made up for it by helping with clean up at the end of the night.  This sous-chef also provided a beautiful cake.


I made all the usual dishes:  mashed potatoes, brisket, squash soup, steamed green beans with butter, roasted carrots, chicken with Israeli spices, fancy salad, buttered noodles.

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I tried something new this year- I made knishes.  Knish?  Is there an actual plural?  I’ve never made them but The Hungry Hippo did and blogged about it here.  I used roasted sweet potato, garlic and caramelized onion for the filling.


The dough was pretty simple.

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The end result was tasty but strange-looking.  I need to learn how to fold them better.

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My honey cake was also a bit of a disaster.  My daughter was with me and said, “oh no!  But that’s okay Mumma.  People will still like it because it’s yummy.”  The next day she told me, “See, Mumma, I told you!  Everybody ate your cake!”


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We had other cake, as well.


It, too, was delicious.

The next day, the kids, my mum and I went for haircuts and the other food of our people at Joyful Garden.

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Last night, I made butternut squash mac and cheese, using the squash soup as the base.  Wasn’t cheesy enough but it was still good.


I hope that the coming year is a sweet one.  I expect mine to be- as always- a mix.  But as a wise friend told me recently, “The deeper the bowl is carved and hollowed, the greater its capacity to be filled.”  I am trying to live by that these days.  So, may your bowls be deeply carved and filled to the brim with joy, laughter, happiness and good food.

Summer Wrap Up

So, I just wandered over here to find a recipe for a birthday cake and realized that my last post was at the end of June.  An entire summer has gone by!  A summer in which I swam, cooked, ate, traveled and took photos.  Not a summer in which I posted here.


Rather than offer you recipes now, I’m going to give you a gigantic photo dump of my summer.  I’ll notate what’s what and if there’s a recipe, I’ll direct you to it as best I can.  Coming up next?  Rosh Hashanah!  5777 baby!

My summer started with stuffed cookies.  I continued that experiment over the next few weeks.  Here’s an example:

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My summer also included a go-to breakfast:  avocado toast.  Which is easy.  Toast your favorite bread, mash up a ripe avocado, spread it on the toast (maybe top with tomato, if you’re feeling fancy) and finish with a sprinkle of salt.  So good.

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Because in summer, those tomatoes…  so beautiful.

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Traditional summer foods also happened:

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The husband and I managed a one night get-away together to NYC before we both went on longer, separate trips.  While in NYC we saw Eddie Izzard (a long-standing tradition for us) and ate at Red Farm which was delicious. The husband humored me since he’s not a huge fan of Asian food but I am.  When we were done, he enthusiastically stated that it was a fantastic meal.  I mean, come on!  It included a Pac-Man potato and dumpling ghosts!

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The biggest trip this summer was to Israel.  Where we ate ALL the food.  I can’t even begin to describe the excellent food we ate in our family’s homes and in restaurants.  Everything is so fresh and flavorful, ranging from simple to complex.  It was just excellent.

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Coming home from that food was a bit of a let-down.  So I made myself feel better by eating some fresh comfort food found on Smitten Kitchen: Broccoli Melts.  I must have made this six or seven times this summer.  Easy, quick and so very flavorful and comforting.

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So there you go.  The last two months in food.  It’s about to be a new year (for us Jews anyway), so I’m off to cook for that.  Hopefully photos next week…


Stuff Yourself*

I suppose I’ve posted here about November Project before.  I mean, I think I have.  If I haven’t, oh, man, there just isn’t enough space.  Go to the website, read it and get back to me.  It will 100% change your life for the better.  Aside from the fitness, the best part about NP is the people and the community.  I’ve met so many amazing, wonderful people and I’m so lucky to be able to call a number of them friends.

So, an NP friend came over today to help us bake cookies.  We’ve been discussing them since we decided to try it, looking at recipes, debating pros and cons.  We landed on peanut butter cup stuffed chocolate chip cookies.  And, oh, am I glad we did.  I used this recipe from The Kitchen Magpie and it was perfect for, well, stuffing.  The Kitchen Magpie points out that these cookies do not really spread and that they are substantial enough to hold the peanut butter cups in place.  It has something to do with the butter amount being less than in traditional cookies.  She suggests using the snack size peanut butter cups but we used minis which worked just as well.  We also found that making the cookies bigger helped.

Finally, we have also decided that this is the summer to experiment with stuffed cookies.  We’re thinking rolos or buncha crunch, maybe?  What are your thoughts?  What would you use to stuff your cookie?


2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (one stick) butter (unsalted)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 bag mini peanut butter cups


Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) together in a small bowl.   In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Pour in the flour mixture and combine.  Add the chocolate chips.


Now for the fun part.  Stuffing.  Start with a walnut to golf ball size of dough.


Place the peanut butter cup in the middle.


Wrap the dough up around it, sealing it in tightly.


Repeat until you have a full cookie sheet.  Don’t worry too much about placement as these cookies don’t spread as much as traditional cookies.


Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size.


Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes and then move them to a rack to cool completely.



The verdict?  These are good.  Really good.


Sweet, crunchy and chewy and a lovely peanut butter surprise in the middle.


So, go ahead. Get stuffed.

*Oh yes.  So many, many innuendos and dirty jokes throughout.  What can I say?  It’s summer.




Summer Summer Time!

So, summer is here!  We’ve officially been on vacation for about two days and I can already feel myself relaxing.  I mean, I slept until 6am yesterday!  Can you imagine?!

Summer foodwise around here means more fruit and vegetables, more grilling and way more desserts because I finally have the time to bake.  It’s what summer has always been to me, way back to the days of camp grandma, when my two cousins and I would go to the farmer’s market with my grandmother and then bake up a storm when we got home.

We made cookies the other day to kick off our summer and I had a few leftover (again, can you imagine?  Leftover cookies?!) so I decided to make ice cream sandwiches for the kids last night.  I’ve made serious ice cream sandwiches before (see here) but these were the spur of the moment, throw them together kind.  So, no recipe, just steps.


Cookies (you need an even number)

Ice cream

sprinkles, nuts or mini-chocolate chips


Take your ice cream out of the freezer so it will soften and be easier to scoop.  Pair your cookies.  They should be roughly the same size.


Turn them over so they’re ready for ice cream.


Scoop some ice cream on top and then try to flatten it a bit with your fingers so that it’s evenly spread.  The more even it is, the easier it is to add sprinkles to the edges.  Don’t push too hard because then your cookie will crack.  Go ahead, ask me how i know.


Put the other cookie on top and press gently.


Pour your sprinkles, nuts, mini chips, whatever, into a bowl that’s wide enough to fit the entire width of the cookie sandwich.  Make an even layer.


Then, you’re going to sort of roll the edges of the cookie sandwich around in the sprinkles.


Try to coat it evenly.  I did not win in this regard.  It looks like I did but that’s just angles.


Wrap them up in foil and freeze them until you’re ready to eat.  When you are, it’s best to surprise unsuspecting kids.


I need to point out that in the photo below, she was eating her second helping of broccoli before she got her dessert, per her request.  It may never happen again but it’s here, documented!



I expect to be doing some baking on Thursday with a good friend so stay tuned!

Passover 2016/5776

So, another Passover Seder done.  A small one this year, which was lovely.  We needed the extra table but we were all at the same one, in the same room.


All the usual foods were present: matzo ball soupbrisket, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, roasted asparagus and cauliflower, charoset (which I made up, using one apple, some pecans, some walnuts, some dates, some manischewitz, honey and cinnamon),  and chocolate caramel matzo.

Many of our usual suspects were not present, sadly.  But we had a lovely cohort, nonetheless.  My dad joined us, as did a good friend and her sweet new (less than a month old!) baby.  Who I held.  For an hour.  Bliss.

The table was beautiful, place cards were made by Grace and everyone seemed to have a good time.


Plague masks were worn, happily.



Grace had her first shot at the four questions.


And, of course, we ate like kings, while leaning.



There was even enough brisket left over to make hash for breakfast the next day.


Chag Semach to all of you and happy spring!

So overdue….

I was in the habit, for a bit, of writing letters to my kids here. Then life caught up with me and like so many other things, I fell out of that habit.  But?!  I have a few minutes today.  So today, I’m writing them a combined letter.  Indulge me, won’t you?


Dear G. and M.,

Oh, my loves.  Do you have any idea how much I adore you?  How much joy you bring to my life?  How much I enjoy watching you grow and change?  You two really are so wonderful.  Every single day I wake up, excited to see what you’ll do that day.  Really.  As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true.

IMG_5909You both have so much joy, excitement and curiosity for and about the world around you.  You’re both adventurous enough that if I say, “hey, do you guys want to…?”  you almost always say “YES” before I can even finish my thought.


M., it’s so hard for me to believe that you are four now.  FOUR!  You are so joyful, so affectionate, so sweet and so loving that I feel lucky every time you smile at me.


You have learned so much since you’ve started daycare and even more since G. started Kindergarten.  Because you are now at daycare without G, you’re starting to develop your own opinions and ideas and sometimes you can be very, very adamant in those.  You have your own sense of style which ranges from tutus and sparkly red party shoes to spiderman bow ties.


You love to run, do puzzles, build legos and play with G.  You sing and dance at will and I’ll often find you singing or talking to yourself when you’re playing alone.  You love to help me cook and do other “jobs”.




You 100% adore your sister and if you could be with her all the time, you would.



Both you and G. are so active and enjoy running, burpees and hanging out with November Project.




G, my girl, my firstborn, my love.  How can you possibly be six?  SIX?!  You are just blowing me away every single day with your personality, joy and energy.  You are never still.  Ever.



Well, I guess that’s not true.  You do have your quiet, introspective times.


You are so protective of M.



I love watching you two together.  But, sweetie, I just love watching you.  You’re smart and funny and passionate.  So passionate.  You’ve jumped into public school life with both feet and every single day you come home with new stories and ideas and things you’ve learned.


And you are also affectionate and sweet.


Your imagination is amazing and you love to play pretend games with M. and your friends.


You love goofing around for the camera.


You also love to help me cook.


Sometimes you like to match me.  Sometimes I’m the last person you want to match.


My mother, OGWO, used to say to me that she loves me more than anything in the world.  I used to think that wasn’t possible but… I get it now.  If I had no one else but you two, that would be enough for me.  I very much think I was born to be your mumma and you two were meant to be my kids.



IMG_7015And while our family is far from perfect- we yell, a lot, and your dad and I often disagree- we are still a family and you two are at the center.  All that we do is to support you and help you grow.  Both of you are doing such good jobs at that!


Happy fourth and sixth birthday, my darlings.  I love you big, no matter what and to infinity and beyond.  Forever.



Healthy and Fast

Just a fast blog post to remind you

  1.  I’m still here.
  2. I’m still cooking.
  3.  It’s still hectic here.

My favorite thing to make on a Monday night, when I’m just exhausted from the weekend and the entire work week is looming, and I am dying for something green and healthy and easy is this:


I can’t take credit for the recipe.  It is 100% from Smitten Kitchen.  She calls them broccoli melts and they are simply divine.

You can click over there for her recipe but basically it’s broccoli mixed with cheese, lemon, red pepper, salt and garlic.


Then you toast some yummy bread.


Heap on the broccoli mixture….


…drape them in cheese and put them under the broiler and oh, it is so. good.  Really.  Even the husband, who isn’t a fan of vegetarian fare, ate his.  I encourage you to make this right now.  This second.  And then bring some over to me, because as I post this, these things occur to me:

  1.  It is Monday.
  2. The time change kicked my ass.
  3. I have nothing to make for dinner.

Come rescue me!