Mom’s Passover Brisket

Each year without fail, the day before Passover, I make a call to my mom. Not to wish her a happy Passover. I call for cooking advice and to ask how she managed to accomplish Passover for all of these years. For the past few years, I have been making Passover at home and each year I am more and more appreciative and amazed by the amount of work she puts in to each of the holidays.

This year, like years past, I put in that call. The call where I ask my mom for her Passover brisket recipe. It’s been emailed multiple times, but instead of searching for the email, I get lazy and want to hear her voice, so I call her. I decided to finally put it down somewhere where I know it can be found quickly and easily. This brisket is always amazing. When cooked at a low heat for a long time, the brisket comes out amazingly moist and soft. So full of flavor. This brisket has pulled me from my mostly vegetarian diet several times over the past years. My mom’s brisket is what I craved when I was pregnant with my daughter.

Passover Brisket (recipe from my dear mom, Lili G.)

1 – 6 lb (or so) brisket
2 onions, sliced
1 bunch celery, sliced
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
10 cloves of garlic, smashed

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup ketchup or other kind of tomato based sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar or honey (you could also use some wine or marmalade in place of the sugar or honey)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 sprigs of chopped rosemary and thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Note: This brisket yields a lot of a gravy. So good!


Combine marinade ingredients


Place brisket over chopped vegetables.

raw brisket

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Mix marinade in a small mixing bowl.

Pour marinade over brisket and cover with foil. Allow to marinade for at least 4 hours.

marinade on brisket

If you refrigerate, remove and let it come to room temperature.

Set oven to 275.

Bake overnight – around 6 to 8 hours.

Refrigerate. When cold, remove fat and slice brisket thinly while still cold.

sliced brisket

Place brisket slices back in sauce and warm in oven at a low heat.


Black Bean Burgers and Homemade Hamburger Buns

When I think of summer, I think about backyard barbecues. The weather is usually just right at this time of year. It’s not too hot and humid yet. You can still enjoy the outdoors. Of course the day I pick for BBQ, is the day it pours all day.

When there are barbecues, there are burgers. In the past, I have just grilled some Morningstar Farms Grillers. I get annoyed with the cost, and how they are lacking in flavor. I have played with a variety of homemade veggie burgers. One version that was a success with some of my toughest critics, is a black bean burger.

I normally pair a black bean burger with a simple tortilla  – only because I have always have them around the house. As I was thinking about burgers though, I had juicy burgers on soft buns pictured in my head. As I strolled through my local store though, all I could find were some really pathetic looking, chemical filled, shelf-stable buns. Not what I wanted. As I walked home dejected, it occurred to me – how hard could it be to make my own homemade buns? It’s just a simple enriched dough.

I was right, it was easy – and totally worth the smidgen of effort.

Hamburger Buns (adapted from Taste of Home)

2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. warm soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
3 3/4 cup flour
1 egg for egg wash
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425.

Dissolve yeast in warm water and milk. Add the sugar.

Let it sit for a few minutes.

Add the oil, egg, salt and half of the flour. Stir until it forms a loose dough

Turn dough on to a floured surface.

Knead more flour in to the dough until the dough becomes elastic. Dough should be smooth and shouldn’t be so sticky.

With a dough cutter, cut dough in to 12 pieces.

Spray 2 baking sheets with oil spray.

Shape each piece of dough in to a ball and place on baking sheets.

Let the dough balls rest for ten minutes – covered with a towel.

Brush the dough with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven for around 10-12 minutes. Remove buns from baking sheet and transfer to cooling rack.


Black Bean Veggie Burgers

2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 container of baby bellas, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
2 eggs
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
1 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground pepper

Place the beans in a large mixing bowl. Mash most of the beans with a potato masher. Keep some of the beans whole.


Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix well.


Form in to patties.

Grill on a barbecue or pan fry in a small amount of oil.


Enjoy with as many or as few fixings as you’d like.


Homemade Spaghettios

My daughter loves to get me to reminisce about the past. When I try to get her to eat certain things, she brings up my past food transgressions. As in, “Savta said you loved Kraft Dinner when you were my age..” or lovely tidbits like, “Savta said that you always refused to eat meat.” Well….

I can’t complain about my past.  We were raised well and fed even better.  Those Kraft Dinners were at our pleading and probably only served between the ages of 5 and 6. One of those forbidden foods that I remember well were Spaghettios. That ring shaped pasta from a can. It probably would taste awful to me now, but I do remember being a little twerp and enjoying it. Sprinkled with “parmesean” from a can – we gobbled that stuff up.

While wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s a while back, I spotted some anelletti (ring-shaped) pasta. I knew I had to try making a copycat recipe of the spaghettios…well at least make it better. I vaguely remember Spaghettios being gloopy and had a somewhat sweet & tinny tomato taste. I didn’t want to recreate that part, but wanted to just recreate that warm comfort food aspect I remember. I wish I had my parent’s white vintage Denby bowls with the green leafs. That would really bring the dish home.

Here is what I came up with….nothing gourmet…just an attempt.

Homemade Spaghettios

Anelletti Pasta – about 1/2 lb.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2.5 cups of tomato sauce (I used a roasted garlic marinara sauce)
3 tbsp. half & half
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and mozarella)
2 tsp. italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water according to the directions on the package. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente.

In a pot, heat the olive oil and the butter together.

Saute the onion and garlic in the pot. Once soft, add in the tomato sauce. Slowly stir in the rest of the ingredients. Taste test the sauce.  Stir in the pasta.  Serve the pasta with a sprinkling of parmesean.  Enjoy!


Homemade Kit Kat Bar Awesomeness

If a recipe includes two sticks of butter and a huge amount of sugar, it’s a sure bet it’s going to taste pretty good. Even one stick of butter is pretty indulgent in this household.

A couple of weeks ago, the most amazing treat possible popped up in my blog reader. Paula Deen, the Butter Queen, concocted homemade kit kat bars. Whodathunkit?!

The rundown of ingredients seemed easy enough. No oven was involved either. Almost too easy! And so good!

You must make these bars. Alas, they taste nothing like a kit kat bar – which is probably a good thing. These treats are way better than anything in the candy aisle. I beg of you – make these bars!

P.S. Thank you to my in-house guinea pigs for tasting these treats to make sure they aren’t poisonous, and thank you to my dear colleagues for letting me bring my creations in to the office and eating these fattening treats so I don’t have to pig out on the whole pan myself.

Homemade Kit-Kat Bars
adapted from Paula Deen (and all around the blogosphere as well)

75 club crackers
2 sticks of butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chip
1/2 cup butterscotch chips


Line a 9 x 13 inch foil pan with one layer of club crackers. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add graham cracker crumbs, dark brown sugar, milk, and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour half of the mixture over crackers in pan evenly. Arrange another layer of club crackers over the mixture, then cover that layer with the other half of the butter mixture. Arrange a final layer of club crackers on top. Now lick that buttery, caramelly spoon. You’ll be glad you did. It’s that good.
Combine peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips in a small saucepan. Melt the chocolate mixture. Stir it and stir it some more so that it doesn’t burn. Once melted – spread the chocolate goodness over the crackers.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. It needs a good few hours. Cut the bars to desired size and enjoy!

Pad See Ew for You!

I love Vietnamese food first and foremost, but good Vietnamese is not as prevalent on the East Coast (surprise, surprise) as it is back home in Minnesota. So I have moved over to Thai food. Thai food is abundant in my corner of the world, and a good meal along with a good deal can be found fairly easily around these parts. One of my favorite noodle dishes at Thai restaurants is Pad See Ew. It is one of those dishes, that in my opinion, is the test factor as to whether or not the restaurant is worthy of my business. That dish more so than the Pad Thai. It is really basic comfort food, tastes great, and is very easy to make.
Pad See Ew

vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 eggs
1 container extra firm tofu, or seitan
2 tablespoons dark/black soy sauce
1 bunch Chinese broccoli, chopped
1 pound wide rice noodles
fish sauce

scallions for garnish

Make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go, as this dish cooks fast.

In a bowl, pour boiling water over the rice noodles. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large skiller. Add a drop of the oil. Beat some eggs into the hot oil. Scramble and set aside.

In the same pan, toss in your garlic. Add a drop more oil. Toss in your protein – tofu/seitan/dead animal option.

Toss in the Chinese Broccoli. Cook, stirring to get all the veggies cooked and in there. Strain your noodles and add to the pan. Stir and stir some more. Stir in the dark soy sauce. Stir in a tablespoon or so of the fish sauce. Stir in the scrambled eggs. Stir some more. See a theme?

Portion some onto a plate. Dress with a few chopped scallions. Enjoy!

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