Author Archives: Shannon Sarna

Shannon Sarna

About Shannon Sarna

Shannon Sarna is an avid baker, blogger and all around food-lover. Born to an Italian mother who loved to bake, a Jewish father who loved to experiment, and a food chemist grandfather, loving and experimenting with diverse foods is simply in her blood. When she isn't tweeting, eating, or tweeting what she's eating, Shannon spends her time in Jersey City, NJ with her daughter, her husband, and her rescue dog, Otis.

Jeweled Veggie Orzo with Wheatberries

Yield:
6-8 servings

Oh, how I love pasta. Almost all of my favorite comfort foods involve pasta: egg noodles with cottage cheese (a childhood favorite); any kind of gnocchi smothered in just about any kind of sauce; and my pregnancy comfort food, spaghetti with butter and Parmesan.

But I have been trying to cut back on my pasta recently, adding in bulgur and even zucchini noodles as an alternate.

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For Thanksgiving though I really wanted to create (and eat) an orzo side dish. Orzo somehow seems like a compromise of carb: it looks like rice, but it’s actually pasta.  And to make it a little healthier than just some plain old pasta, I added some hearty wheatberries, an array of colorful vegetables and even some vitamin-rich pumpkin seeds into the mix.

The result is a scrumptious and satisfying side dish that can also serve as an entree for any vegetarian guests. Want to add some more protein into the mix? Add 1/2 cup cooked lentils or small white beans and you have a complete dish.

If you can’t find purple carrots at your local market, you can use a roasted beet instead to achieve the same color and texture. I also love this dish because you can prepare it a day ahead and either serve room temperature, or heat it back up to serve.

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Jeweled Veggie Orzo with Wheatberries

Posted on November 23, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Butternut Squash and Sage Challah

Butternut squash and sage are one of my favorite flavor pairings. It makes a wonderful soup, and who doesn’t want to smother butternut squash filled pasta in a sage butter sauce? I do, and I would happily eat it for breakfast.

Butternut Squash Challah Nosher3

Pumpkin challah I have made and conquered, and I have even seen recipes for sweet potato challah. Still, I wanted to try my hand at using butternut squash, which is why I was thrilled to write a guest post for my friend and fellow blogger Melinda of Kitchen-Tested based on this idea.

Let me assure you: the result was fantastic. The butternut squash blended incredibly well into the challah dough and the color was just so pretty: a subtle orange flecked with tiny bits of fresh sage.

If you are looking for something uniquely Jewish to add to your Thanksgiving table this challah is definitely the thing.

For the full recipe, head over to Kitchen-Tested.

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Posted on November 18, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Turkey Round-Up

The first time I made a turkey was actually for Passover, not Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but got lucky enough that my turkey came out well. I marinated the turkey overnight in a mixture of fresh oranges, lemons, herbs and pomegranate juice. I googled how long to cook the turkey, and somehow, it came out juicy. I was also lucky to have someone at the dinner who knew how to carve a turkey, because I certainly did not. In fact I still don’t know how to carve a turkey.

Thankfully (get it – thankfully!?), my family takes care of roasting the turkey, and I just show up with dessert and a side dish. But for all you folks out there prepping to roast a turkey next week, we wanted to pull together some of the best tips, tricks and recipe ideas the internet has to offer in order to make your turkey roasting a little easier and a little more delicious.

turkey dinner1

Are you trying to figure out how much turkey to buy for your guests? How long to roast it? What’s the difference between fresh or frozen? Then check out 20 Thanksgiving cooking Dilemmas Solved from Thanksgiving.com.

Have you decided that brining is the way you want to go to ensure a moist and flavorful turkey? Then check out Food and Wine’s 5 Best Brines for Thanksgiving Turkey.

How do I thaw a turkey? What equipment will I need to roast? These questions answered and more from The Kitchn’s How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Way.

Need some carving tips? Here’s a tutorial in How to Carve a Turkey from Pop Sugar.

No butter? No problem! I realize many turkey recipes call for butter, which can be frustrating when looking for cooking inspiration. But I have found replacing olive oil with butter works just fine in almost all poultry recipes, so peruse all the non-kosher recipes you like for inspiration, and then just swap out the butter for olive oil instead.

simple roast turkey

Go simple:

The Simplest Roast Turkey from Epicurious

Classic Roast Turkey from Joy of Kosher

Citrus and Herb Turkey from Martha Stewart

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

turkey w pear and sage

Go gourmet:

Roast Turkey with Pear and Sage from Adventures in Cooking

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Wild Rice and Cranberries from The Perfect Pantry

Roast Turkey with Pomegranate Gravy from Epicurious

Honey Roasted Turkey with Butternut-Shiitake Stuffing from Joy of Kosher

Cider Sage Gravy from Food52

thanksgiving dinner1

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Posted on November 16, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Curry Pumpkin Corn Soup

Yield:
4-6 servings

curry pumpkin corn soup

When you think of pumpkin and spices, your mind likely jumps to pumpkin pie spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. But did you know that pumpkin and curry also pair perfectly?

A quick google search for pumpkin curry will reveal an array of recipes such as pumpkin curry empanadas (does someone want to make these for me?), pumpkin curry with chickpeas and slow cooker vegan pumpkin curry.

And welcome to the scene my curry pumpkin corn soup. I dreamed up this soup while trying to recreate one of my favorite lunchtime soups I enjoy at a midtown NYC eatery called Dishes. They always have a creamy, pumpkin corn bisque this time of year, and so I wanted to recreate it, but with a bit of my own spin. I added some curry to the mix, and swapped out heavy cream for coconut milk and voila: a nondairy pumpkin curry soup perfect for a Shabbat starter, light lunch or even a dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

If you have never cooked with curry before, this is a great introduction, since it really combines the familiar flavors of pumpkin and corn with the slightly exotic taste of curry. You will wonder why it’s taken you so long to combine these delicious flavors.

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Curry Pumpkin Corn Soup

Posted on November 10, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

Yield:
6-8 servings

Like many other traditional Ashkenazi Jewish foods I didn’t really grow up eating stuffed cabbage. Italian meatballs and sauce on Sundays? Absolutely. But the stuffed cabbage my grandmother would make to serve perhaps at Rosh Hashanah or another holiday meal was a dish that was terrifying for me as a child. And so I never really ate it.

Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

 

Fast forward about 25 years: I was given the The 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook and decided to try out their recipe for stuffed cabbage. Barely having eaten the dish, never mind cooking it myself, I actually found it surprisingly easy. Since then, it has been the only recipe for this dish I have made, and the basis for the recipe below.

But as cooks will do, I wanted to give my own spin to the recipe. So recently I decided to experiment with the classic dish, and instead of stuffing it with ground meat and rice, I opted for some super tender, pulled brisket that I cooked in a similar sweet and sour sauce.I will freely admit: this was not the quickest recipe I have ever made. It requires a hefty time commitment, since you need to cook the brisket for 3-4 hours, and then cook the stuffed cabbage all together another few hours. Despite the time, the taste was worth the effort.

Brisket-Stuffed Cabbage

 

I know some of you are going to say there is too much sugar in this recipe: you are welcome and even encouraged to use whatever variation of a sweet and sour sauce you like. I also don’t advocate eating or making this kind of recipe every week; this is a “special occasion” sort of dish.

If stuffing cabbage leaves and rolling them up sounds daunting, check out Chanie Apflebaum’s step-by-step photos for Passover-friendly stuffed cabbage. Not a meat lover? Try out our recipe for a traditional but vegetarian stuffed cabbage or Amy Kritzer’s recipe for vegetarian stuffed cabbage with creamy beet sauce.

brisket-stuffed-cabbage-3

 

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Brisket Stuffed CAbbage

Posted on November 5, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Savory Za’atar Challah

Yield:
2 loaves

Za’atar is one of my favorite ingredients to use when cooking. I roast potatoes with it and chicken too. So it was only a matter of time until I found a way to make a za’atar flavored challah.

Zaatar

I don’t make my own za’atar, but rather buy it in bulk whenever I am in Israel. You can either buy za’atar at a Middle Eastern or specialty spice store, or also make your own. Za’atar is traditionally made with a mix of oregano, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. I actually chose to add extra sumac in this recipe because the za’atar mix I bought didn’t have a strong flavor, but you can leave that out if you prefer.

Zaatar Challah

This challah has a lovely, subtle flavor that is perfect with a savory meal. I would serve this challah with hummus, tahini and baba ganouj for a lovely start to Shabbat dinner.

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Za'atar Challah

Posted on October 30, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Favorite Fall Soups

It’s that time of year when soup reigns supreme. Fall vegetables really lend themselves to being roasted, pureed and blended with stock. Soup is warming, comforting and an easy meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner and even better as leftovers the next day. Not to mention, my daughter loves soup lately, which she calls “soupy.” So of course a Jewish mother is inclined to feed her kid whatever they ask for, within reason.

Last year I put together 9 satisfying soups, but I wanted to expand the list this year to give you even more delicious ideas for your fall soup consumption. Add your favorite recipes below!

Soups for Fall

White Cheddar Pumpkin Ale Soup

Parsnip and Carrot Soup with Tarragon from The New York Times

Cream of Carrot Soup with Roasted Jalapeno from Meredith Keltz

Pumpkin Red Pepper Soup with Challah Croutons from Leora Kimmel Greene

pumpkin soup with sage and challah croutons3

Hearty Lentil Soup from Liz Rueven

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Soup from Martha Stewart

French Onion Soup with Challah Toast and Munster Cheese

Curried Cauliflower Soup from Food52

curried cauliflower soup

Roasted Potato and Leek Soup with Jalapeno Oil from Whitney Fisch

Parsnip Pear Soup from The Food Yenta

Creamy Roasted Beet Soup

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Egg Drop Matzo Ball Soup from What Jew Wanna Eat

Chicken Soup with Dill

Vegetarian Chicken Soup from Leah Koenig

Cuban Matzo Ball Soup from Jennifer Stempel

Cuban Matzoh Ball Soup

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Posted on October 29, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Monster Cookies

Yield:
3 dozen cookies

Halloween is almost here, did you know? Hard not to notice with pumpkins, spiders and candy corn everywhere.

And Halloween actually falls on Shabbat later this week, which for some people, I know, will be problematic. Some Jews don’t think we should celebrate Halloween at all. And some Jews think American Jews can and should embrace the celebration.

Milk chocolate monster cookies

I fall into the camp of celebrating and I just love making fun treats, especially now that I have a daughter to share in the fun. And last week I made cookies that are equal parts fun for kids and delicious for adults. I brought a batch of these cookies to my share with family this past weekend, and by Sunday, they were totally gone; even all the skinny, dieting women in my family devoured them.

I love baking with dark chocolate usually, but these milk chocolate and butterscotch cookies are seriously delicious. The dark cocoa powder sets off the sweetness of the milk chocolate. I also like to add a pinch of thick sea salt before baking, which really elevates the flavor.

Want to add the candy eyes? They are made by Wilton and you can easily order them on Amazon. Another tip: I swear by using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder.

milk chocolate monster cookies

This recipe is based on Martha Stewat’s Milk Chocolate Cookie Recipe, which can be found in her cookbook Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Baking Treats to Bake and to Share

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Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Monster Cookies

Posted on October 27, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

An Easy Fall Shabbat

Every year when the Jewish holidays roll around, we expect the frenzy of excitement, cooking and never-ending meals. And yet by the end, I am still pretty tired of standing in my kitchen cooking and baking.

Now that it is Shabbat again, and time to prepare yet another meal, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in my kitchen cooking, but I still want to have something homemade that we will all enjoy.

What’s a tired cook to do? My solution is to roast. I make a roast chicken, roasted vegetables and not much else. No frying, sauteing, mixing or other excessive patchke-ing in the kitchen. The abundance of fresh fall vegetables makes this as delicious an option as it is easy.

roast chicken w herbs

If you haven’t tried my easy, delicious citrus herb roasted chicken, you will see why I call it my BEST roast chicken. You can also try this version of roast chicken which includes veggies and chicken all in one delicious dish.

These sweet potatoes and carrots with apple cider and thyme is simple and delicious. But if even that seems like too much work? Just throw a bunch of seasonal veggies into a baking dish with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for around 45-50 minutes until caramelized. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and even potatoes.

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Speaking of potatoes…roasted potatoes are an easy Shabbat dinner stable. You can try these classic roast potatoes or my za’atar roasted potatoes.

Last but certainly not least: dessert! I find it hard to enjoy any meal without a sweet finish. My s’mores brownies are so easy, you can whip them up in 5 minutes. Yes, there will be some stirring involved, but you only need one bowl and a pan.

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Next week I will get back into some more complicated cooking. Or maybe not. But for now I need a nice glass of wine and my couch for a little while.

Shabbat Shalom! Wishing you an easy, enjoyable Shabbat and weekend.

Posted on October 24, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Israeli Couscous Stuffed Acorn Squash

Yield:
4 servings

It’s autumn, and sure, we all love pumpkin. But there are also an array of other squash and seasonal veggies that are pretty exciting too, including the adorable acorn squash.

Growing up my dad would prepare acorn squash in a very simple way: cut in half and roasted with butter and maple syrup. Nothing bad about that.

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But I have been searching for other ways to prepare the cute squash. Finally a few weeks ago I came across this recipe for Orzo and Cheese Baked in Acorn Squash and I thought: ok, I have to make this! Not only is it cheesy and easy, but making a stuffed dish during Sukkot was also Jewishly appropriate.

I didn’t have orzo, but I did have Israeli couscous, a favorite ingredient. I also wanted to get in a little extra vegetables in this dish, so I added some onion and pepper. Want to make this healthier? You could substitute whole wheat couscous, quinoa and even add some lentils.

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Israeli Couscous Stuffed Acorn Squash

Posted on October 20, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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