Monday, March 26, 2012

The Pesach Dilemma

picture source

As I embark on Pesach cleaning, I find myself faced with the same dilemma I have every year: The balance between what I need to do and what I feel I SHOULD do.

My husband is anti-chumra on Pesach. He insists that Pesach cleaning should be bare minimum to avoid shalom bayis issues.

I grew up putting away toiletries and scrubbing every inch of the home. My husband says I don't even have to vacuum. (If you wouldn't pick up the chometz and eat it, he says, it's not substantial chometz. Unless it's an actual chunk of chometz, it doesn't matter.)

Every year, I try to adhere to his Pesach rules, and I end up feeling anxious and guilty, like I've for sure missed something important because I didn't have a nervous breakdown and shout obscenities at anyone. Isn't that what Pesach cleaning is all about?

So, okay, I get where he's coming from. It makes sense. I'm sure he's right. But isn't Pesach a time where we're supposed to go l'chumra? Shouldn't I be going that extra mile in my service to Hashem on the holiday that celebrates what may be His greatest chessed (kindness) to the Jewish people, the exodus from Egypt?

I mean, there we were, on the bottom rung, the absolute lowest level of tumah (spiritual impurity) that we could possibly achieve, and Hashem came along and saved us from slavery anyway. He redeemed us from the lowest of the low. Shouldn't we acknowledge that by raising ourselves up as high as we can?

I guess the real question is, which is more important: Shalom Bayis or ridding your home of chometz?

If going above and beyond the call of duty in Pesach cleaning will result in misery, screaming, anger, and an all around negative environment which will cause you and everyone in your household to dread the coming holiday, are we truly honoring Hashem and elevating this experience to a holy place? Are we cleansing ourselves of tuma and geivah (haughtiness)? Or are we sinking even lower into the pit of Mitzrayim?

Food for thought. (Hopefully non-chometzdik food)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Break-fast and Shaloch Manos

It's Purim! Can you guess what my daughter is dressed as? A bunny, of course! So is her cousin. :)

Today was Ta'anis Esther (the Fast of Esther) and as it happens, I have a little tradition about fasts. I always, with very few exceptions, break my fasts on mac & cheese. Sometimes it's the boxed stuff (gotta love it!), sometimes it's just pasta with cheese melted on it. This time, I still had some of that spinach left in the fridge, and I had a craving for fettuccine alfredo, so I decided to try making my own cheese sauce with spinach.

It was pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.

After dinner, I had to run to megillah reading, and when I got back at almost 10PM, I remembered that I had wanted to bake some cupcakes tonight. I could just do it tomorrow, but then I'd have to do it with my dear daughter screaming in my ear. So I went ahead and baked them.

And took a few pictures.

And experimented with staging my shots to get them the way I want them.

I came pretty close. I'm proud.

Now for the recipe.

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Sauce


  • 1 Box of Pasta, cooked according to package directions

  • 2-3 Tbsp butter

  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic

  • 1-2 Cups fresh spinach, ripped

  • 1/4 Cup flour

  • 1.5 Cups milk

  • 1/2-1 Cup shredded cheese, whatever variety suits you


  1. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan.

  2. Add garlic to butter, saute until fragrant

  3. Add in spinach, continue to saute until wilted

  4. Remove the spinach and garlic from the pan and set aside

  5. Put remaining butter into pan and melt.

  6. Slowly add flour, mixing until well combined after each addition, until the butter is thick.

  7. Add milk and cook on medium heat until milk is hot.

  8. Add cheese and mix until melted.

  9. Mix sauce with pasta and serve


One note: The sauce was tasty, but not as flavorful as I'd hoped. Try adding salt and pepper and maybe some onion powder.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Pesto Pasta and Spinach Squash Pizza

Last night, I was thinking about dinner and the very small amount of chicken left in the fridge from shabbos. I knew it wasn't enough for both myself and my husband, but I really didn't want it to go to waste either.

A while back, I'd found a recipe for pesto chicken pasta. Pesto + chicken + sliced black olives + pasta. I made it once using leftover grilled chicken, and haven't made it since. But it's a really yummy recipe, and I don't make it nearly often enough.
So I made it last night. It was SUPERB and easy.

Then tonight, I thought briefly about making rice and beans, which is one of our staple dinners, but then I remembered it was the night before a fast, and I had fresh spinach in the veggie drawer that I wanted to use.

And it's been so long since I made pizza.

So pizza it was.

With spinach and mushrooms and butternut squash (which was also hanging out in the veggie drawer for a while) and light sprinkling of mozzarella.

The gooey shot. :)



For my pizza crust recipe, see here.