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.

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

S’mores Brownies

Yield:
6-8 servings

It’s no great secret that I hate pareve desserts. Or perhaps I should more accurately say: I hate bad pareve desserts. Some might even say I have made it my mission in life to dream up pareve desserts that don’t suck. And this brownie recipe is one of those.

While I generally prefer boxed brownie mixes (gasp!), this brownie recipe is nearly a match. But if you would rather use a boxed mix in this recipe, you can and should. No one will know you didn’t whip it up from scratch. If you do make it from scratch, you will be surprised how easy this recipe is to throw together, even at the very last minute.

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I love enjoying these brownies with a relaxing cup of tea after dinner, with a glass of milk as an indulgent afternoon treat and they are especially delicious if you store them in the fridge so they are cool and fudgy. Did I mention these brownies are great when made nondairy? Your guests won’t even know they are pareve.

This recipe is based on Martha Stewart’s recipe for Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

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S'mores Brownies

Posted on October 14, 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

Sweet Potatoes and Carrots with Apple Cider and Thyme

Yield:
4 servings

Next to pumpkin, apple cider might be one of my favorite flavors of fall. I like it hot and spicy, spiked with bourbon or just plain out of the container on a cool and sunny autumn day.

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But I also love cooking with it. For the past few years I have been making a fall favorite apple cider beef stew which is perfect for Sunday supper or Shabbat dinner. But I am always looking for savory recipes to use this beloved ingredient.

This past week I came across this recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots made with orange juice and herbs among other flavors. I thought, if you could roast root vegetables with orange juice, why not apple cider?

I tested it out, and it was a hit. This is a perfect side dish for any kind of dinner this time of year.

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Sweet Potatoes and Carrots with Apple Cider and Thyme

Posted on October 13, 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

Break-the-fast Menu Ideas

Whereas Rosh Hashanah is my favorite Jewish holiday of the year, Yom Kippur is one of my least favorite, only second to Passover when my beloved carbs are rudely snatched away from me for an entire week. Ah, the things we do for our heritage.

Not eating for 25 hours is hard. It sucks. And I am not good at it, despite the meaningful role I believe it occupies in observing such an important, reflective holiday.

But the one thing that makes it better? Breaking the fast of course. So get creative with your break-the-fast menu and try some new dishes this year. Here are some menu suggestions to make that fast a little easier.

break-fast-recipes

Dips and Salads

Homemade Labne

Black Bean Hummus

Israeli Salad

Mollie Katzen’s Grilled Bread and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Figs

Bagel and Lox Salad

Tri-Color Melon Salad with Mint Syrup

Pomegranate Apple Salad with Parmesan Dressing from Dairy Made Easy

Pomegrante&AppleSalad-1

Kugels

Cheese Noodle Kugel

Apple Pear Cranberry Kugel

Cinnamon Noodle Kugel

Apple Noodle Kugel Crumble Cake

apple-noodle-kugel-cake-4

Savory Bites

Homemade gravlax from Vered Meir

Borekas

Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche with Herb Butter Crust

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Quich from Amy Kritzer

breakfast-quiche-1

Gluten-free 

Gluten-free Apple Kugel from Rella Kaplowitz

Gluten-free Blintzes from Vered Meir

Strawberry Almond Flour Mini Muffins from Whitney Fish

Gluten-free Challah from Vered Meir

A pinch of challah

Sweet Treats

Pumpkin Spice Babka

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake from Sheri Silver

Pumpkin Bread from Paula Shoyer

Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake from Jennifer Stempel

Pineapple-Coconut-Coffee-Ca

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Posted on September 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

Pumpkin Spice Babka

Yield:
3 babka loaves

pumpkin babka

Everyone loves pumpkin these days, eh? Every cafe carries their own version of a pumpkin latte and pumpkin-themed candies overflow on supermarket shelves this time of year. ‘Tis truly the season of pumpkin, and I am not really complaining.

I love finding news ways to cook and bake with pumpkin including white pumpkin cheddar ale soup, pumpkin pizza and pumpkin corn ricotta enchiladas, which is a perfect dish this time of year when pumpkin is first coming into season and fresh corn is still in abundance at local farmers markets. Some other fun pumpkin recipes to try? Pumpkin Flan, pumpkin challah and of course some classic pumpkin bread.

pumpkin babka

As with many recipes I dream up, I was merely staring in my fridge when a leftover can of pumpkin puree sparked the idea: pumpkin babka!

Well, I whipped up a batch of babka dough, impatiently let it rise, and filled it with pumpkin puree, brown sugar and cinnamon. After 35 minutes of baking, my apartment smelled like a perfect piece of autumn heaven, and a new pumpkin recipe was born.

This babka is perfect to serve at your Yom Kippur break-fast, brunch gatherings or just with a cup of coffee for breakfast. Because you can use canned pumpkin, you can make this recipe year-round, so you can enjoy a little slice of pumpkin spice even when pumpkins aren’t in season.

How to roll babka

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Pumpkin Spice Babka

Posted on September 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

New Year Food Resolutions

I think everyone has their favorite holiday—you know, the holiday that gets you giddy and excited. And my favorite Jewish holiday is upon us: Rosh Hashanah.

My family didn’t always celebrate all the Jewish holidays growing up, but we always gathered at my grandmother’s house for Rosh Hashanah. The smell of chicken soup and the site of a beautifully set table always fills me with warmth.

New Year Food Resolutions

Aside from the family memories, I enjoy Rosh Hashanah because I love the idea of starting new: taking a breath, resetting and focusing for the coming year. I wouldn’t go so far to say I make resolutions each year, but I do try to set goals that are realistic and will better myself.

As my daughter gets older (she is now a little over 2 years old) it’s not so easy to pull a fast one on her. I need to curtail my cussing, for fear of scornful looks from her preschool teacher; I need to be diligent about things like bedtime and routine; and I have come to realize that when it comes to cooking and eating, I need to practice what I preach. She wants to do everything that mommy does, and that includes what mommy is eating.

How can I eat junk food or less-than-healthful foods around her, if I don’t want her to mimic that behavior? Well, I can’t. And I shouldn’t, not for her or myself either. As a result of this realization, one of my goals for the coming year is to make sure that I am modeling good eating behavior for my daughter. If I wouldn’t let her eat it, well then I shouldn’t eat it either.

picking fruits and veggies

One of the things I have been doing  quite regularly is bringing her to pick-your-own farms in New Jersey so we can pick fresh fruit and vegetables together. We both love this activity, and I have seen how it has impacted both of us: I spend more time cooking vegetables, and she absolutely loves eating fresh fruit right from the source. She has even been known to take a bite out of a whole pepper or eggplant.

The other thing we have done together is: cook. I have a step stool in my kitchen, which she has firmly claimed as her own, and she stands with me and serves as my “helper.” Sometimes it’s frustrating, most of the time it’s messy, but I can see how much she enjoys actively taking part in this process. And how can I not schep nachas that she wants to be just like me?

So the hardest part? Resisting the urge to order greasy take-out after a long day, and instead, make a colorful salad or roast some vegetables.  Here’s to a better, sweeter and healthier year for us all.

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Posted on September 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

Honey Whole Wheat Challah

Yield:
2 small loaves, or one large loaf

honey whole wheat challah

Dreaming up crazy flavors of challah like pastrami sandwich challah, balsamic apple date challah or gruyere and pesto stuffed challah is one of my greatest joys as a baker. But sometimes I do long for a simpler challah, and have even been known to make whole wheat challah. Yes, it’s true. I hope you were sitting for that.

challah-yum
I use a half whole wheat, half all-purpose unbleached flour ratio when making my whole wheat challah. Yes, you could try to use all whole wheat flour, but challah is supposed to be light and fluffy, and whole wheat flour is simply more dense. Because the whole wheat flour is denser, I make sure to be particularly patient when letting it rise: for the first rise I allow 4 hours, and for the second rise another 1 1/2 hours. It may seem like a lot, but the result is worth it. My mother-in-law even commented about this challah, “this is sinful.” Whole wheat challah? Sinful? Well, I will take it. And especially from my mother-in-law!

challah-yum2

I also like to add ground flax seed in the challah for a little extra dose of healthiness which is impossible to detect. And inspired by the beautiful, Israeli challot of Breads Bakery, I love to add pumpkin seeds, whole flax seeds, oats, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds and even sunflower seeds on top for a fun and healthy crunch.

multi

This honey whole wheat challah is perfect for Rosh Hashanah. And instead of a savory topping like the ones I just mentioned, you could add a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top for an extra sweet, and healthy, new year ahead.

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Honey Whole Wheat Challah

Posted on September 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