Beating the Winter Food Doldrums Usually at this time of year I go into a cooking rut. The skies are gloomy and stay gray all day long. My creativity and motivation goes downhill fast. I long for summer months, blue skies, and my annual trip to the beach. That is until this year. Thanks to the abundance of food blogs and websites and great thinkers running them, I am exposed to new food ideas everyday. Lately for shabbos I have been trying one or two recipes that I find on the sites each week. And while the new food I’m cooking isn’t new to most of you, it’s new to me, and in my case that’s all that counts. So instead of a new recipe, I leave you with my ideas for fighting the winter food doldrums. I hope that by Purim, my ambition to cook perks up with the warming winter and blueing skies. 1. Cook comfort food. In our family that includes rice and beans, cranberry chicken, and salmon stew. 2. Repeat the same meal many times over the month if need be. I think this week will be the 3rd time I’m making cranberry chicken for shabbos in the last two months. 3. Change up meat, pareve, and dairy so you don’t feel like you’re eating the same meal every night. 4. Buy one or two prepared items for each shabbos if available to you. 5. Do look at all the food blogs, sites, and groups available and don’t be afraid to try out others ideas. They could become your family’s new go to dish.

Family Meals and Memories. Today two fellow food bloggers wrote about either the importance of eating as a family or passing down recipes from generation to generation. Many memories of mine came from preparing food and around the dinner table. Now I let my kids look at food books and magazines and allow them to choose one dish for Shabbos. Earlier I noted that food is the universal language. If you are not dining as a family, then there are no food memories to pass down. I would love to hear your take on this.

Levantamuertos Soup Its January and that means a lot of people are fighting colds. Chicken soup is known as natural penicillin so I’d like to share my version from my husband’s homeland El Salvador. This soup is a normal Sunday midday delight and if served as an all-in-one meal with a glass of vitamin-c packed orange juice is sure to cure the winter ails. Place the following ingredients in a large pot. Peel and chop vegetables first unless noted. 1 chicken cut up 1/2 cup rice 2 yucca roots- found in Hispanic and produce markets 2 plantain bananas (do not peel this!) 2 small yellow potatoes 1 onion 2 carrots 2 stalks celery 1 zucchini 1 yellow squash 2 garlic cloves minced salt to your taste Next add enough water not only to cover the ingredients but more as well. Bring to a boil. Add 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Let the soup simmer for one hour or until the vegetables are cooked. Wishing everyone healthy winter months ahead.

Spanish Meatballs Over the summer I spend two weeks at my parents’ and I always peruse my mother’s Mediterranean cookbook. Shabbos there is a mish mosh of entrees from countries in the region. This time I found a cut out from the newspaper- smoked turkey paprika meatballs. Like most recipes, I tweak to fit the needs of my family. This week in one of my cooking groups a member asked for meatballs without sugar so I posted this recipe. Today two other members are trying and another is considering to cook up this delight this week. Here is the most asked for meatballs. Spanish meatballs 3-4 lbs ground beef rolled into balls 4 garlic cloves minced 1 onion chopped 1/2 cup grape juice and a splash of dry wine 28 oz tomato juice salt and paprika to your taste Place meatballs in the sauce and simmer for 2 hours. Serve over rice. Enjoy.

Homemade pizza tonight but first a trip to the zoo with the kids. How are you spending your Sunday?

Chicken Tortilla Soup. During the winter months people are always asking what to serve for Shabbos lunch instead of cholent. My family loves this soup on either Shabbos day or a week night. Just put these ingredients in a crock pot and serve with rice or crumbled tortilla chips. Enjoy and Good Shabbos. 4 frozen chicken breasts 1 chopped onion 2 cans red beans 1 can corn 1 can tomato sauce 1 can tomatoes and green chilis 1 packet taco seasoning 8 cups chicken broth (I use osem powder and water) Salt and garlic to your taste

Noodles and Purple Cabbage A few weeks ago a neighbor brought noodles mixed with purple cabbage to a woman’s gathering at my home. We had some leftover so I added marinara sauce and reheated it the next time for supper for my kids. This week a cooking group that I’m a part of discussed the very same dish. I decided to try for Shabbos and it tasted amazing. Here is the easy recipe for noodles and purple cabbage. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2012! 1 lb box linguine, spaghetti, or angel hair pasta 1/2 purple cabbage head chopped up 1 onion chopped salt and garlic to your taste Boil pasta. In the meantime saute the cabbage, onion, salt and garlic in oil. When the pasta is cooked, add to frying pan. Cook another 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature.