Avocado Deviled Eggs

Last Sunday, I spent the day helping my mom prepare for our family’s Passover Seder. She was expecting 30 guests and had been working hard for a week to make all the traditional foods. I was helping by making this delicious Dark Chocolate Torte, always a hit, and a salad (because if I don’t make it, no one will eat anything green), and by keeping her company in the kitchen.

As we worked on our various dishes, one thing remained constant: my mom kept making batches upon batches of hard-boiled eggs. It’s a traditional food that goes on the Seder plate, and my family loves them so she makes dozens extra.

This led to the same discussion we have every year – why can’t I make some of those 60+ hardboiled eggs deviled? And better yet, if I’m making deviled eggs, why not make them with avocado?

As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons why, but unfortunately I didn’t know most of this until it was too late. Two main ingredients in many deviled egg recipes are mayonnaise and mustard, both of which present a bit of a problem. As it turns out, most store-bought mayos are made from soybean oil, a Passover no-no (soybeans are a legume). To get around this hurdle, use Kosher for Passover mayo or make your own from scratch.

The mustard presents a more difficult obstacle, and one I don’t really have a solution to. As I found out on Friday, five days too late, mustard is also a no-no because it comes from mustard seeds, and you can’t have seeds for Passover. Oops.

I know I’m writing this like I didn’t know those things, but that’s because I didn’t. This knowledge came from many calls and texts to friends over the past week. I even tried searching for a Kosher for Passover app for my iPhone and couldn’t find one – come on developers, I’m counting on this for next year!

Despite all the challenges, I did make the deviled eggs and they really were fantastic! A friend had recommended trying an avocado deviled egg, and I figured, why not? It adds more creaminess and fat to the filling that’s already made from of egg yolks and mayonnaise (which is made from more egg yolks and oil). Not to mention, the subtle flavor of the avocado is really rather refreshing, and it was amusing watching my non-adventurous extended family hesitate before trying the green eggs, then dig in and ask for another.

I used this recipe as a guide as I didn’t measure most of the ingredients, but rather adjusted and added by taste. For 18 eggs, I used two avocados, a nice amount of mayo, probably a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1 small onion and 2 small celery stalks. I also added in fresh lemon juice and topped some of the eggs with a pinch of chili powder.

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Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Even if your favorite team isn’t in the Super Bowl this year (that’s right, Bears, I’m talking about you), it’s still fun to get together with friends to watch the big game – and the big commercials!

Always a great calorie fest with everything from guacamole to Lou Malnati’s pizzas, I try to have some fun with what I bring to the Super Bowl table. Last year it was these delicious Savory French Toast Bites and the year before it was the Homemade Hostess Cupcakes, which are always a huge hit. This year it’s Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, which I first made just over a month ago for a New Years Eve party and knew instantly it would need to make a game day reappearance.

The recipe is actually quite simple, it just takes a few steps to make individual parts before it all comes together. But in the end, you have a crunchy, sweet and salty treat with the subtle flavor of bourbon. Try it and you’ll see how addicting this popcorn is!

Tell me what you made for your game day celebration or your favorite snack to enjoy as you watch the new commercials!

Here’s the recipe for Bourbon Caramel Popcorn:

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Apple-Pomegranate Salad, and a Last Minute Fix

I’ve been so busy with work lately that this blog, and cooking in general, have been seriously neglected. Yes, I got to spend a week running around New York City attending fashion shows – which was hilarious in and of itself considering I spent the last few years primarily wearing polyester chef whites – but the highlight was a delicious meal at Del Posto.

All the food was amazing, but during that meal I had my first bite of winter squash this season in the form of pumpkin ravioli. Those few bites awoke a fierce squash craving that usually comes on pretty strong once the leaves start turning, so when it came time to think of a vegetable dish (my assignment) for Yom Kippur break the fast, that was the first ingredient that came to mind.

I’d planned a delicious salad with pomegranate seeds and roasted butternut squash, among a few other key ingredients. In fact, the biggest problem I thought I was facing was cutting down the number of ingredients – sometimes I get a little carried away. It turns out that wasn’t the biggest problem, but rather it was that the damn butternut squash had NO flavor! None! Zilch! It was completely bland after roasting in the oven with salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary. I was fighting a bit of a cold so I had my sister taste to make sure, and she spit it out it was so bad!

Serious squash FAIL! There was no choice, it had to be trashed. I’ll admit I nearly shed a tear, I was just so disappointed. Plus, there wasn’t enough time to go back to the store before guests started arriving so I had to act fast and take stock of what was available in my parents’ kitchen, and quickly decided the only good option was to cut up a few Gala apples.

I tossed the apples with lemon juice to preserve the color, then with mixed greens, pomegranate seeds, toasted pecans, caramelized shallots (leftover from when I thought I was serving butternut squash), Manchego cheese, and my go-to balsamic vinaigrette. Shockingly, this somewhat last-minute salad was a HUGE hit, so much so that I actually got pulled away from my own dinner to mix up another batch. That NEVER happens with my family!

Here’s the recipe for this delicious fall salad:

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Roasted Fig Salad

Roasted Fig Salad

Roasted Fig Salad

There’s more to Rosh Hashana than round challah, brisket, kugel, and apples dipped in honey. It’s a celebration of the new year, a time to start fresh, and I couldn’t think of any better way to begin the holiday than at my sister’s apartment where she and her husband hosted their first grown-up dinner/family holiday meal. I’m not going to discuss the meal as a whole because I’m hoping to convince her to guest blog about the experience, but I will talk about one of my contributions: roasted fig salad.

One of the things I was asked to bring was the salad course and I knew almost immediately that I wanted it to include figs. For one thing, figs have been on my mind lately and I’ve been looking for an excuse to experiment with them a bit. Second, in general I like fruit in salads (it’s that whole sweet-savory palate thing) but in this case figs seemed extremely fitting for both seasonal and symbolic reasons.

Fig Salad0001 Fig Salad0002 Fig Salad0003

But, of course, there’s a twist: roasting the figs. This is very simple to do and requires no more effort than it takes to quarter a bunch of figs, chop some rosemary and cook those ingredients in the oven with olive oil. Roasting the figs deepens their flavors and infuses them with the savory elements of fresh rosemary.

After the figs have been roasted all that’s left is to toast the walnuts, whip up a quick balsamic vinaigrette and toss it all together with arugula and shaved manchego cheese. The bitter, astringent, peppery and tangy flavors of those ingredients work to balance the sweetness of the figs.

This recipe is great not only for Rosh Hashana, but for anytime you’re craving a filling and delicious salad, so long as fresh figs are available.

Here’s the recipe:

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5th of July = Recovering

Fireworks

July 3rd and 4th were dangerous. Not in terms of crime or scary illegal fireworks, but for my waistline.

I was lucky to get an amazing view of Chicago’s 3rd of July fireworks display from my sister’s in-laws new 37th floor condo. But of course the view came with delicious treats and drinks, not the least of which were the dozen mini cupcakes I picked up from More on my walk there.

But my favorite dessert was a flag sugar cookie decorated with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries and blueberries made by a very pregnant Emily (that’s her husband saluting her).

Emily's Flag Cake

Of course there was still the 4th to look forward to. The nasty rainy weather began just after I returned from the farmer’s market with my bag full of goodies. So I spent the afternoon making a scrumptious cherry crumble and fava bean egg salad (recipes will be posted this week).

Pat working the grill Lots of food!

Luckily, the rain cleared up just after I arrived at a friend’s house so we were able to go ahead with the rooftop BBQ as planned (Pat, one of the hosts is manning the grill), surrounded by mounds of food. All of it fantastic.

Plate of food (not mine, too healthy) Dessert plate

Highlights:

- Hotdogs, hamburgers and a lone black bean burger

- Chicken kabobs

- Caprese salad

- Salad and mixed fruit

- Fava bean egg salad

- Guacamole

- Two types of homemade salsa!

- Desserts: gooey chocolate cake, lemon cake and cherry crumble

Cherry Crumble Lemon Cake Gooey Chocolate Cake

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