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Meal Planning Tips for When Your Are Busy

meal planninh

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Live Global Telecast on Passover Cooking with Executive Chef Nir Elkayam of Inbal Hotel

What are you making for Passover? Do you need a little help?

The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel is set to share its legendary and eclectic holiday recipes with the world, in the first-ever live Passover cooking broadcast, hosted by award-winning Executive Chef Nir Elkayam. The  cooking session will be broadcasted live from the Inbal’s kitchen onTuesday, March 24 at 18.00 IST, with people around the world able tune in and ask questions via a live chat on the following link:

The menu: American-style corned beef sandwich made of a unique kosher for  Passover flatbread with green and red salsa, an array of eccentric knaidlach (matza ball) soup selections that will completely change opinions of the traditionally bland dish, with fired onion and parsley, Moroccon spicy and sweet chocolate soup choices. Last year’s favorite, the lox and cream cheese bagel, complete with a hard crust and fluffy inside also makes this year’s menu, which is rounded off with a delicious apple crumble dessert created by the hotel’s talented pastry chef, Doron Gruner.

inbal hotel

The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel is an award-winning, five-star deluxe hotel situated in the heart of Jerusalem overlooking the Old City walls, and minutes away from all the major cultural and historical sites. With its Jerusalem stone exterior, the 283-room hotel is known for its intimate authentic Jerusalem character and impeccable world-class service. The hotel was recently voted the most luxurious hotel in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, as well as the best hotel in Israel and fourth best hotel in the entire Middle East by readers of the influential Conde Nast Traveler magazine. More information here.

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How to Plan a Pirate Birthday Party

This year for our son’s 6th birthday, we decided to throw an awesome party. We met at a local park and there were around 30 kids, many from his class and their siblings  too.  We made a list of activities a few weeks before and every day, we planned a bit at a time. Since there were a lot of kids, we divided them into 4 groups and had all the family members help out with the activities. We also had help from our family, babysitters and some of the older siblings.


The little brother in his pirate hat.


Activity List and Party Plan

Activity 1: The Treasure Map 

The kids got maps.pirate hats, eye patches and necklaces. Each kid got a flashlight to help search. They  also got empty goody bags so they could collect prizes at each station. We told them a story about a hidden treasure and we needed their help. We handed each kid a map, that we had made more authentic looking by burning around the edges. We followed the map as a group and stopped for treats at each of the different x’s on the map.


Activity 2: Paper Shredder Treasures

We made a list of treasures and hid them in shredded paper. The kids were divided into 4 groups. Each group had to read the list and find the treasures.There was 5 rings, 5 erasers, 6 sharpeners, some silly putty and more.  Next year, we will do it with leaves so it will be easier to clean up. It took a while to clean up but the kids helped with that too.


Activity 3:  Pin the Patch on the Pirate.

We printed out a huge pirate and used stickers to stick on the pirate’e eye. We needed 4 for the amount of kids so we also bought two games at a party store.

Activity 4: Cupcake Decorating

This was the highlight of the party. We brought out all the candies, icings and little pirate cupcake flags and spread them on the tables that we made of upside down boxes.  The kids had a blast decorating the cupcakes and were really excited to eat their creations. I used the Martha Stewart Cupcake recipe here and baked the cupcakes the night before.



Activity 5: Robot Making Marshmallows

I couldn’t get photos because I was busy helping but here is the post that showed us how to do it. We used edible markers to draw on them too.



Activity 6:  Find the treasure

I bought tiny jars at the dollar store and we filled them letters that made up the word, T-R-E-A-S-U-R-E. We hid them before the party and the kids had to run around and find them with their little flashlights. At the end, when they found the word, we hid a huge bottle filled with coins and we told them we found the treasure.

Activity 7: Pinatas

The last activity was the homemade pinatas that we made of papier mache. SONY DSC







Overall the birthday boy had a blast and so did all of his friends! Even the younger kids were able to enjoy the activities because they all appealed to a wide range of ages.

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Bertie, Tel Aviv.

When I talk about Tel Aviv, my eyes light up. It will always be my first love. It is the place where I worked my first real job, had my first alcoholic drink, my first night club outing  and the place for many other firsts that I just  won’t mention here. There are always people everywhere, the bars are always full , the beaches are crowded with beautiful people and the cafes alive at odd hours of the night.  My favorite thing to do is grab a Tel -O-Fun Bike and cruise through the streets, dropping off the bike at different stops, shopping at my favorite food stores and then ending my ride at a restaurant that looks nice from the outside.

Tel Aviv And Beach Along The Coast


I have to share one of my favorite places in Tel Aviv, it is called Bertie.   Bertie is located in the heart of Tel Aviv, just a couple blocks from Dizengoff on Ha Melekch King George ( Ha Melech King George 88). For some reason, it doesn’t look as busy as  many other restaurants from outside  (on the days that I have been)  but once you go in there, you feel like you have unlocked a hidden treasure. The style is Mediterranean, like a sweet Greek restaurant with a touch of romance, a quiet but classy feel with staff that are genuinely sweet and welcoming.

The food is top notch. Everytime I go I order this dish.

photo (23)This has to be my idea of the perfect Shrimp dish. First of all, nice and large Crystal shrimp,  sitting atop of some roasted eggplant, tahini and just the right amount of cooked tomatoes and some salty feta cheese. It’s the combination of these taste of the sea and the taste of homemade, married in one dish. Bertie ‘s prices are reasonably priced especially for seafood in the area. Some other dishes we ordered and loved were the Fattoush salad, grilled chicken in orange and chili sauce and sea fish ceviche on a salad of cabbage with roasted almonds. If you like seafood, I highly recommend this hidden gem.

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This is a guest post by dietician, Ilanit Fananes.

An Easy Guide to Getting More Iron

Making sure we get enough iron in our diets isn’t always high on our list of priorities. Here is a quick explanation of everything you need to know about iron intake and how to easily incorporate more into your diet.

Why is iron so important? Iron is a component of hemoglobin – a protein which resides inside the red blood cells and carries oxygen to all the cells in the body. We need oxygen to live and so we need iron! Anaemia is classed as a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood. Signs include feeling weak, tired, dizzy and looking pale. Symptoms won’t show right away…only when our reserves get low. Therefore we want to try to keep ourselves topped up.

Who is at risk?

-Women that menstruate or are pregnant and lose blood or are required to produce a lot more and so need larger reserves.

-Vegans and vegetarians are also at risk because they don’t eat meat – the best supplier of iron.

Diet plays a part in iron levels for everyone, although this isn’t the only factor. It is, however, something that we have control over and can change.

Bowls with tahini paste and roasted sesame seeds

Meat sources

-It is well known that red meat is a very rich source of iron, and also well known that eating too much red meat is unhealthy for your heart. Treating yourself to a steak now and then is fine, but relying on red meat as a main source of iron is not a good idea!

-Other options such as turkey and fish are also high in iron but much healthier. Turkey can be easily added into a stir-fry or curry, and fish is great served simply with spinach and tomatoes.

Non-meat sources

-Vegetarians and vegans are able to receive all the iron that they need from non-meat sources. Legumes are a rich source (beans, lentils, pulses, peas).

-Nuts and seeds are great, although have high levels of fat and shouldn’t be consumed too much. Green leaves such as spinach, green cabbage and parsley are also high in iron. A great idea for vegetarians is to make a salad and mix greens with nuts and beans. Raw tahini is high in iron, low in fat, and great as a salad dressing.


Kitchenbug offers a huge collection of great iron rich recipes. Sign up to Kitchenbug now. You’ll love it. Just type iron in Kitchenbug’s search bar and you will get hundreds of iron rich recipes.

-Increase iron absorbency by ingesting vitamin C at the same time as the iron rich source! Simply add tomatoes or a splash of lemon or orange juice to your dish for a vitamin C boost.

-Ditch the caffeine! Tea, coffee, cocoa, cola….all disrupt the absorption of iron and so are best avoided.

Kitchenbug- unnamed recipes


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November 5, 2014 · 4:28 am

American Lamb Jam

I just wanted to share information about a really fun event happening next week.

photo credit:

photo credit:

From the press release:

American Lamb Jam.

On Sunday, November 2, 16 top Seattle chefs and more than 750 lamb ‘lovers will gather at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center for the Global Flavors Lamb Jam

Tour, the annual multi-city culinary cook-off where the people decide which chefs have earned their
“chops” by voting on inventive American lamb dishes.
Competing for the titles of “Best in Show,” “People’s Choice” and “Best Mediterranean, Asian, Latin and
Middle Eastern inspired dishes,” chefs will prepare and serve their most flavorful American lamb fare to
be voted on by lamb-loving attendees and judged by Seattle’s top food media. The Seattle victor will go
head-to-head with other winners representing cities from coast to coast, vying for the title of “Lamb Jam
Master” at the Lamb Jam finale in New York City in late 2015.
Seattle chefs include Manny Arce of Poquitos, Chris Opsata of Brass Tacks and Mike Wisenhunt of
Brimmer & Heeltap. Last year’s winner, Chef Sarah Lorenzen of Andaluca, took home two trophies,
including “Best in Show” and “Best in Ground” for her dish, Fresh Lamb Sausage Socce with
Pomegranate Tomato Jam and will be back this year to defend her titles.
Attend a “Curriculamb VIP Pre-Jam”
Get early access to the Lamb Jam starting at 1:30 pm with a VIP pass to the Curriculamb Class. Guests
will taste and learn about American lamb from Northwest shepherd Reed Anderson of Anderson
Ranches and Chef Holly Smith of Café Juanita. Together, chef and shepherd will offer a butchery demo,
prepare American lamb appetizers and provide home cooking tips and wine pairing recommendations.
Tickets to the VIP Curriculamb Class are $75 and must be purchased in advance. VIP tickets also provide
entry to the full competitive cook off event, plus an American lamb swag bag.
Join the Flock with a General Admission ticket
Lamb Jam general admission begins at 2:30 – 5 pm. Tickets are $60 and provide an opportunity to
sample 16 globally inspired lamb dishes, taste Washington’s best brews and wine, mingle with local
shepherds, visit the DIY spice rub station to mix a take-home tin of lamb rub, and vote for Lamb Jam
What: Sample globally-inspired lamb dishes from 16 of Seattle’s finest chefs. Visit for the complete lineup and to
purchase VIP and general admission tickets.
When: Sunday, November 2
VIP admission 1:00 – 2:30pm
Main Event 2:30 – 5:00pm
Where: Bell Harbor International Conference Center
2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66
Seattle, WA 98121
Organized by the American Lamb Board, a portion of the ticket sales will benefit the University District
Food Bank. Visit the Seattle Lamb Jam website and Facebook page for tickets and information. About the American Lamb Board
The American Lamb Board is an industry-funded research and promotions commodity board that
represents all sectors of the American Lamb industry including producers, feeders, seed stock producers
and processors. The Board, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is focused on increasing demand
by promoting the freshness, flavor, nutritional benefits, and culinary versatility of American Lamb. The
work of the American Lamb Board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the board’s
programs are supported and implemented by the staff in Denver, Colorado.
# # #

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A Trip Through Italy


This is a Guest post by Coral Sisk, author of Curious Appetite  a food blog of Italian travel and enogastronomy. Coral is currently in Seattle starting a business of Italian travel consults and gourmet tours. Thanks to the networking power of Foodportunity, she is now collaborating with the Pike Place Market this fall for a market tour and cooking demo in late October. This culinary event at the Pike Place Market will demonstrate farm-to-table cooking with Tuscan Gnudi while tasting though the Pike Place Market. You can connect with Coral on facebook as Curious Appetite and twitter as “Curious Appetite.”



How to make Italian Gnudi


Part of my job in Italy was to occasionally assist cooks during cooking classes and we made an array of traditional Tuscan recipes. As a result, one of the recipes I mastered was Tuscan Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi dumplings. Let me start by explaining what exactly are Gnudi. In Italian, nudo means naked. And in Tuscan, gnudo (pronounced like gnocchi) means naked as well. Gnudi are what I like to call “naked ravioli,” after all ricotta and spinach are a common filling for ravioli. Essentially- gnudi is a peasant food! Can you believe it? Velvety ricotta, nutty aged sheep’s milk cheese and spinach…poor man’s food? Why yes! Ri-cotta means “re-cooked.” It is the leftover whey from making more noble cheeses like mozzarella and fior di latte. This is part of the reason why the Italians are genius. They found delicious ways to sneak in every part of food so nothing would go to waste.


Gnudi are made by mixing various quantities of ricotta, grated sheep’s milk pecorino, chopped cooked spinach flour, egg (to glue it all together!) plus salt and pepper. The secret ingredient in this is: fresh, ground nutmeg. The mixture is portioned out in small rounds and rolled in flour to give it a protective coating for cooking.


Here are more details for a recipe:


Serves 6-8 people

  • 8oz (1 cup firmly packed) of cooked, chopped spinach
  • 16oz fresh sheep’s ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz (¼ cup) grated pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese
  • fresh, ground nutmeg
  • salt
  • ¼ cup “00” flour for both the mixture and additional for the coating

Gnudi Sage and Butter Sauce:

  • 12 sage leaves
  • 160g (5 3/4 oz)  butter

grated pecorino or parmesan cheese for final topping

How to:

  • Cook the spinach in lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes. OR thaw out some frozen chopped spinach. Drain spinach well and once cooled, chop spinach pretty finely.
  • Prepare a bowl to make the cheese mixture. Combine ricotta, parmesan, chopped (cooled) spinach, sifted “00” flour, eggs and some nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork. The mixture should be pretty smooth.
  • Sprinkle your work surface or a large plate with some flour and start to mold out some gnudi by hand! Make sure the rounds are about 2 tablespoons big- think goldilocks here. Not too big, not too small.
  • Prepare a pot of salted water and bring to boil. Lightly drop the gnudi into your pot. The gnudi need 5 minutes to cook. In the meantime, melt the butter in a small pan with the sage leaves. If overcooked, the butter will turn brown and the sage leaves will burn.
  • When your 5 minutes have passed, toss the cooked gnudi with the melted butter and sage sauce and add some grated pecorino cheese to each plate of gnudi. Gnudi are also tasty with your favorite tomato based sauce.


Gnudi are quite filling- don’t let the portion size mislead you! I would say about 4-6 gnudi a person is a good portion to aim for. Remember- these are pure cheese balls! If you are like me and believe that a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine, I recommend pairing gnudi with a light Tuscan Chianti red wine or a rich, dry Chardonnay, Viognier…otherwise a dry prosecco would also be just fine if you are also like me and look for any reason to sneak in bubbly.


If you will be in Seattle this Fall, I will be offering a Market Tour and cooking demo of Tuscan Gnudi at the Pike Place Market. In Late October, I will be taking folks to taste through the markets and meet its best purveyors of the Pacific Northwest bounty and follow up with a hands-on cooking demo (and light lunch) of these Tuscan Gnudi! Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets here: 10% of the ticket proceeds goes towards the Pike Place Market Foundation. Hope to cook and taste with you this Fall at the market!





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