Passover Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

It’s Passover season again. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I like the seder service, the story of escape and freedom, and gathering around a table with friends and family sharing in a centuries-long tradition. What I don’t like is the dessert options! Traditionally, Passover desserts are a major let down. While I like macaroons, I get sick of them during the weeklong holiday.

But pastry chef’s have really upped the ante in the past few years and have created some really excellent Passover dessert recipes. I found this Bon Appetit recipe for a chocolate tort with berry coulis (I actually replace the blackberry coulis with a raspberry sauce) a few years ago and it has been a major hit around the seder table.

Then last year my boyfriend’s Mom gave me a cookbook called Passover by Design by Susie Fishbein. In it I found this amazing recipe for Passover chocolate chip cheesecake. The crust is made with ground up chocolate macaroons (I use Manischewitz brand), which is just brilliant! You probably can use this crust for any of your favorite tarts or pies in order to make is Pesach appropriate. Chocolate chip and regular macaroons would probably also make a great crust. This recipe is also perfect if you are gluten-free, year round.


Nonstick cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can chocolate macaroons (about 28 small macaroons)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8-ounce) bars cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (not fat-free, reduced fat is fine though)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.    Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2.    Spray a 9-inch nonstick springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3.    Place the macaroons into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until it forms crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl. Mix in the melted butter. Press the crumbs into the prepared pan. Set aside.

4.    In the bowl of a stand mixer (can also use a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the sugar and eggs, beating until smooth. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

5.    Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter onto the prepared crust.

6.    Bake on the center rack, uncovered, for 1 hour. Turn over off and leave the cake in the oven for an additional oven. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until ready to serve.

7.    Run a small knife or metal spatula around rim of the cake to loosen it. Release the sides of the springform pan.

Makes 12 servings


A Taste of Southern Florida

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a week long vacation in Southern Florida (Boca Raton, Key West, and Miami to be exact). This vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. I had just had a jam-packed month at work and the cold, long winter weather was beginning to take it’s wear on me. Having a chance to get out in to the sunshine, wear shorts, spend time with my boyfriend, and eat some delicious, eclectic food was wonderful!

Instead of writing up reviews of the many restaurants we visited, I thought it would be best for you to see some of the best dishes of the trip. We certainly were living La Vida Loca!

Soul Mama Seafood Soup at Nine One Five

Shredded garlic chicken at Uncle Tai's

Warm Figs Brulee Salad at Bin18

Stone crabs from Joe's Stone Crab

Pan con Bistec at Ola

Key lime pie at The Fish House

Cuban food from Ana's Cuban Cafe

Cocktails at Ola

Lasagnette at Michael's Genuine

Best dish of the trip! Snapper with an avocado mash and a whole lotta goodness from Louie's Backyard

* Nine One Five- 915 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040 305-296-0669

* Uncle Tai’s- 5250 Town Center Circle Boca Raton, FL 33486 561-368-8806

*Bin18- 1800 Biscane Blvd., Miami, FL 33132 786-235-7575

*Joe’s Stone Crab- 11 Washington Avenue Miami, FL 33139 800-780-CRAB

*Ola- 1745 James Street Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-695-9125

*The Fish House- 102401 Overseas Highway Key Largo, FL 33037 305-451-HOOK

*Ana’s Cuba Cafe- 1222 White Street, Key West, FL 33040 305-296-4707

*Michael’s Genuine–  130 Northeast 40th Street Miami, FL 33137 305-573-5550

*Louie’s Backyard- 700 Waddell Ave., Key West, FL 305-294-1061

Dining Out for Life 2011

March 10th marks the 15th annual Capitol Area Dining Out for Life. This is a wonderful one-day event where area restaurants pledge to contribute anywhere from 100%-25% of their nightly earnings to Food and Friends.

Food and Friends is one of my favorite local organizations. It is the only organization in the Washington Metropolitan area that provides home-delivered meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses free of charge.

Some wonderful restaurants are involved in this year’s event including Posto (donating 100%), Bistro du Coin (50%), Dino (35%), Bistro La Bonne (35%), BlackSalt (25%), Hank’s Oyster Bar (25%), Ray’s the Classics (25%), Urbana (25%), and Firefly (25%).

Last year my girlfriends and I had a great Dining Out For Life dinner at Commonwealth (RIP!). We even ran into a Member of Congress and his entire staff (hint, hint Capitol Hill…while you’re avoiding a government shutdown, do some good for the DC community.)

So make a reservation, grab a group, enjoy some delicious food, and donate to a very worthy cause!

P.S. Food and Friends are still looking for volunteers to work as Restaurant Ambassadors on March 10th. If you are interested go here.

Central….To Go!

You’ve had a long day at work. When the lunch bell rings you in no way, shape, or form want another boring chopped salad or the frozen solid “emergency” Lean Cuisine you keep in the office fridge.  What you would really like is a bucket of chicken and all the appropriate sides, but you couldn’t bear the thought of going the fast food route.

Instead head over to Central, one of the most popular restaurants in D.C. The more casual yet stylized bistro of James Beard Award winning chef Michel Richard just launched a gourmet take-out menu. One of the highlights is Michel’s Fried Chicken Bucket. For $29.95 you get six pieces (three breasts and three thighs) of deliciously fried chicken, along with 10 chicken nuggets, Central’s house-made Dijonnaisse sauce and an order of mashed potatoes. Now THAT is finger lickin’ good.

Also on the menu you can find Chef Richard’s famous cheeseburger, a goat cheese Caesar salad, crab cake sandwich, Brussel sprouts with bacon, and the to-die-for chocolate bar.

Photo by Len Depas

Central is one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. This is likely the closest I’ll ever get to having Chef Richard cooking in my teeny, tiny kitchen….but for now this is good enough for me!

The Take-Out menu is available at Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:30pm. Carry-out available Lunch Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:30pm and Dinner Monday-Saturday 5:30pm-10:30pm. Call 202-626-0015

Photo by Moshe Zusman

White House State Dinner with China

Tonight the White House held their third State Dinner, honoring China’s President Hu Jintao. Despite a controversial visit filled with a day of tough talks, President and First Lady Obama (in Alexander McQueen!) spiffed up for a night of food, music, and dignitaries.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Joining His Excellency Jintao were 200 guests including two former U.S. Presidents (Carter and Clinton), fashion designer Vera Wang, reporter Christiane Amanpour, actor Jackie Chan, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, cellist Yo Yo Ma (“Yo-Yo Ma Rules!”), and Queen of Amazingness Barbra Streisand.

For the past two State Dinners, the Obamas brought in guest chefs and celebrated the cuisine of the country being honored, mixed with American ingredients. This time the First Couple decided to keep the cooking in-house with the extremely capable White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses. And instead of opting for Asian flavors they highlighted the classic American meal: steak, potatoes, and apple pie! The full menu is below:

D’Anjou Pear Salad with Farmstead Goat Cheese, Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic

Poached Maine Lobster with Orange Glazed Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Lemon Sorbet

Dry-Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions, Double Stuffed Potatoes, and Creamed Spinach

Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Just like in past State Dinners, ingredients from the White House garden were used, along with vegetables from the Huron, OH-based The Chef’s Garden. Wine pairings from American-vineyards were also served.

Table setting in the Red Room. The Red, Blue, and State Dining Rooms were used. Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

After dinner, attendees will enjoy a musical performance from Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, and other musicians from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

The official program for the State Dinner can be found here.

The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

A few months ago my friend Dede Lahman and her husband Chef Neil Kleinberg came out with a fabulous cookbook revealing all the secrets of their New York award-winning restaurant, The Clinton St. Baking Company. If you haven’t made a trip to the Clinton St. Baking Company, it’s certainly worth putting on your list

Photo courtesy of Dennis Yang

the next time you are in New York City. CSBC is the perfect neighborhood restaurant. It specializes in food that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and is fully equipped with a comfortable environment and friendly staff. Numerous magazines and newspapers have touted their pancakes, biscuits, and brunch specials.

And now with their new cookbook and you can try to recreate the magic in your own kitchen. I have been a part of this cookbook from the beginning. Dede, an old camp friend of mine, reached out to my Mom and me and asked us to test some recipes. The whole process was a lot of fun (I tested the scones and my Mom tested the frittata) and the finished product is beautiful. The book has lots of pictures and stories behind each of the recipes, told in Dede’s unique voice. This is a must-have addition to any cook’s library.

Below you will find two of my favorite recipes from the cookbook so far. Clinton St. Baking Company is known for their fluffy pancakes. After seeing the recipe I finally realized what their secret is—separating the eggs and then whipping the

Photo courtesy of Clinton St. Baking Company

egg whites until they form soft peaks. These are then folded in, allowing the pancakes to almost have small soufflé-like spots. Incredible! The smoked salmon scramble is a great, quick weekend treat. You can either serve it as I describe below or pile it high on a bagel. Either way is delicious! Try out these recipes on your next lazy Sunday.

Clinton St. Baking Company Pancakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder, plus 1 teaspoon
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 teaspoons unmelted for the griddle
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of cinnamon sugar for dusting (if desired)

1.    Measure and sift all the dry ingredients into a large (preferably stainless-steel) mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt.
2.    In another bowl, whisk together the yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture. The result should be slightly lumpy, yet combined to form a batter.
3.    Whip the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl until they reach medium peaks (soft in the middle). You can either whip them by hand with a whisk, or put them in the bowl of an electric mixer to whip. Be careful, you don’t want to over-whip the egg whites.
4.    Gently mix half of the whipped whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula.  Then gently fold the remaining half into the batter. Remember: this batter should be slightly lumpy and have large parts of egg whites not fully incorporated. It should look like white caps in the ocean with foam on top. This batter will last a few hours in the fridge without deflating too much.
5.    Heat a griddle—either an electric griddle, a stovetop griddle, or a big flat pan to 350˚ to 375˚. Grease the hot griddle with the remaining butter. Drop ¼ cup (approximately 4 tablespoons) of pancake batter on the griddle and cook to set. (If you want add 1 tablespoon blueberries, chocolate chips, or other toppings before turning the pancakes. Never add the fruit to the mix; always add the fruit to the pancakes once they’re on the griddle). When you see bubbles start to form on top, lift the pancake halfway up to see if it’s golden brown and crispy on the edges. If ready, flip the pancakes.
6.    When the pancake is golden brown on both sides, remove with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining batter, cooking several pancakes at a time. Garnish with cinnamon sugar and serve with warm syrup.

Makes 18-20 3-inch pancakes.

Clinton St. Baking Company’s Smoked Salmon Scramble

4 slices of seven-grain (or multi-grain) bread
8 large eggs
Pinch of ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 slices (8 ounces) smoked salmon, Nova or Scottish (coarsely chopped in to bite-sized pieces)
6 Tablespoons cream cheese softened (Philadelphia preferred, not whipped)
½ cup minced scallions (green and white parts)
½ cup minced fresh chives

1.    Toast the bread, according to preference.
2.    Whisk together the eggs and pepper in a bowl until combined.
3.    In a 9 to 10 inch omelet pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is frothy, add the eggs. Gently scramble them in a circular motion with a heatproof spatula, starting from the center of the pan and moving outward. Shake the pan to distribute the uncooked eggs. Once the eggs begin to set, add the salmon, breaking it up with your spatula and distributing it throughout the egg mixture. Add the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to lightly scramble the eggs so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the scallions and remove the eggs from the heat.
4.    For each plate, serve the eggs with a slice of toast, sliced again on the diagonal. Sprinkle chives on top of the eggs.

Pasta Vongole

Growing up I would spend Christmas Eve with my good friend Anne-Marie and her big Italian Catholic family. It is one of my fondest childhood holiday memories. Anne-Marie’s family was big, loud, and boisterous…and they welcomed me in as if I was one of their own. They included me in all their Christmas Eve activities and even had a present for me under the tree. I never felt like a lonely Jew at Christmas.

And best of all was their Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast. Anne-Marie’s dad was a lobsterman and so we had a real bounty of seafood. I remember endless amounts of food coming out of the kitchen—all types of seafood: breaded cod, shrimp cocktail, calamari, pasta with clams, and best of all, pasta with a fiery red lobster sauce. It was incredible!!! All we did was eat, drink, talk, and laugh.

Now that I am an adult and I typically spend Christmas Eve in a more low-key fashion I miss the yearly celebration with my adopted Italian family. This year I decided to hold my own Feast of the Seven Fishes….only since I was dining alone, I had to cut it down to one fish. Pasta Vongole (or pasta with clams) is a recent obsession. Lately, if I see it on an Italian menu I tend to order it. One of my favorite versions can be found at Il Panino in Boston’s North End. But the version below is quite delicious and easy to make any time of year.

Pasta Vongole

1 pound spaghetti
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 ½ pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese (if desired for garnish)

1.    Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Add the spaghetti, and cook until slightly underdone, about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
2.    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili; cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the clams and white wine, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil; cover and cook, shaking occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, until the clams open. Stir in the parsley. Transfer the clams to a bowl and set aside.
3.    Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the reserved pasta water and lemon juice; reduce until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in the butter. Add the clam mixture and spaghetti. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4
Recipe inspired by The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics

Homemade Candy

There are only a few days left until Christmas and the malls are packed. Apparently there is even a Macy’s out in Tyson’s Corner that is open 24/7 up until Christmas Eve. If shopping for sweaters and coffee table books at 3a.m. doesn’t strike your fancy than perhaps you can follow my lead and give your friends, family, and co-workers a homemade gift.

Last year I spent the better part of a weekend making my friends and co-workers cookie boxes. This year I decided on homemade candy. The three recipes below are so much fun to make and are decadent and delicious. Even better a bunch of the recipes can be made days in advance, so you can make them tonight, sit down with a glass of eggnog, and then package them up right in time for St. Nick to arrive. Your loved ones will appreciate the personal touch—-and all the chocolate!

Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Truffles

16 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (or a combination), finely chopped
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Unsweetened cocoa powder and assorted crushed nuts, for rolling

1.    Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan heat cream until it begins to simmer; pour over chocolate. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand 10 minutes. Uncover and whisk chocolate mixture until smooth. Mix in vanilla and salt. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate and let cool 15 minutes. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until completely set, about 3 hours.
2.    With a melon baller or a teaspoon scoop out chocolate mixture and place on parchment paper. Coat hands with cocoa and roll truffles into balls; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. (To store, cover with plastic and refrigerate, up to 2 weeks). Roll in finely chopped nuts or more cocoa powder before serving or packing.

Makes 70 truffles
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Peanut Butter Cups

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter, preferably all natural
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
36 1 3/8-inch paper candy cups

1.    Combine sugar, peanut butter, and butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or electric mixer). Beat on medium-low speed until combined. Set aside.
2.    Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Keep melted chocolate over hot water near work area. Use a small spoon or small paintbrush to coat insides of the paper candy cups with the melted chocolate, making sure to cover the bottom and sides well. Transfer cups to a rimmed baking sheet or muffin tins (which will keep the cups from sliding around). Transfer to freezer until set, about 10 minutes.
3.    Remove cold chocolate cups from the freezer. Either using a pastry bag or a small spoon, pipe/spoon peanut butter filling into each cup until three-quarters full. Spoon melted chocolate into each cup to cover. Return to the freezer until set, 15 to 25 minutes. Peanut butter cups may be served right away or kept tightly sealed in the freezer for 2 to 3 days. To serve remove from freezer and serve, slightly cold.

Makes 36 cups
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Double Chocolate Bark

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces salted cocktail peanuts (about 1 ½ cups)

1.    Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat.
2.    Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Stir in peanuts. Spread on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, spreading peanuts in a single layer. Drop spoonfuls of white chocolate on top, and swirl chocolates with a skewer or chopstick. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Break bark into large pieces. Bark will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 ¼ pounds of bark
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

State Dinner’s Foodie Gift Guide for the Holidays

The holiday season has approached once again and if you are looking for that perfect gift to give to your favorite foodie you’ve come to the right place. My shelves are covered in cookbooks. I have well over 50 of them. I think cookbooks are the perfect gift for the food lover. They last a long time and provide learning and adventure in the kitchen.

I have put together a list of cookbooks for every type of chef. So head out to your local independent bookstore and pick up a gift for your favorite chef (and just maybe they will thank you with a delicious meal).

For the First Time Cook: The Joy of Cooking– My Mom has a tradition (passed down from her Mom) of giving me a cookbook every Valentine’s Day. The very first cookbook she gave me was The Joy of Cooking. This is the bible of all cookbooks. Whenever I am in doubt about something simple or basic I turn to TJOC. For new cooks it is perfect: it’s divided up in to clear cut sections, allows the cook to build on what they learn from previous recipes, and if you follow all the steps you are bound to have an end result that is delicious.

For the Food Politician: Food Matters by Mark Bittman– The food politics movement has taken off in recent years, starting with The Omnivores Dilemma. Mark Bittman’s book is perfect for those who care about how their food habits affect the world around them because not only does the book include Bittman’s argument on how to lead a more balanced, healthy life through food while helping the environment and economy, but it also includes great recipes.

For Someone Living Alone: The Pleasure of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Judith Jones is a legend in cookbook publishing because she is the woman who discovered Julia Child. I discovered this cookbook while on a trip to New York and immediately read it cover-to-cover. Jones wrote the book after her husband passed away. Her philosophy behind cooking for one is very inspiring. She doesn’t believe that you should skimp on delicious meals, just because you are the only one dining at the table. As someone who lives alone but still likes to cook every night I have found this to be the perfect cookbook. You don’t have to worry about having tons of leftovers and cutting the recipes in half….every recipe already is adapted to feed one person.

For the Home Cook With Limited Time: Every Day Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart. This is probably the one cookbook I use the most in my house. I have cooked almost every single recipe and they have all turned out delicious. Some of my favorites include the cashew chicken, butternut squash soup, and skirt steak with spicy green salsa. Most of the recipes can be prepared in under an hour and use easy to find ingredients. The book is broken down in to seasons, which I really appreciate since I like to shop at my farmers market and eat what is fresh and local. And every recipe has a beautiful picture to accompany it. Trust me….Martha will never steer you wrong.

This photo courtesy of ThisIsNaive

For People Who Love Brunch: Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg. The Clinton St. Baking Company is one of the hottest spots in New York City to find comfort food. Over and over again they are named the restaurant with the best biscuits, pancakes, brunch, and breakfast. Lines stretch around the corner just to get a taste of their blueberry pancakes. The place also just happens to be owned by a longtime friend Dede Lahman and her chef-husband Neil. All the hype about the restaurant is justified and now you can sample a little taste of their magic in your own home. I first learned about this cookbook over a year ago when Dede asked my Mom and I to test out some of the recipes (I tested out the scone recipe…yum!). It was very exciting to get my hands on the finished product. These recipes are delicious and run the gambit from Huevos Racheros to vanilla buttermilk waffles to red flannel hash. And yes Neil’s recipes for biscuits and pancakes are included.

For Those Mourning the Lose of Gourmet Magazine: The Gourmet Cookbook and Gourmet Today both by Ruth Reichl. Foodies worldwide took a major hit in the past few years when Gourmet Magazine suddenly shut down and stopped publishing. If you are anything like me, you grew up looking at the delicious pictures in your Mom’s monthly copy of Gourmet and then tried to spend your adulthood recreating these masterpieces. Lucky for us Ruth Reichl and her friends at Gourmet have put together two spectacular encyclopedic cookbooks to tide us over until the publishing world comes to their senses and brings us back our beloved magazine. These cookbooks are made up of years worth of Gourmet recipes and are a treasure trove for pretty much any situation you can find yourself in.

For Those Coming From A Melting Pot Family….Or Just Want to Cook Like One: The New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson. When you looked around your Thanksgiving table this year did it look a little bit like a meeting of the UN? If so than this is the perfect gift for the cook in your family. In celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new cookbook he draws inspiration from the melting pot that is the United States of America.  He has Fish Goulash that could delight your Hungarian Grandma, miso-rubbed rack of lamb for your Japanese cousin, and yellowtail ceviche for your South American wife. Each recipe includes a description and story behind his culinary and ethnic inspiration.

Photo courtesy of

Giving Back This Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rescue Mission

Throughout the year on State Dinner I celebrate food in abundance. I am blessed to be able to have a well-stocked kitchen to cook in every night and the ability to dine out at the area’s newest restaurants whenever I please. I try to count my blessings often. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, we collectively take stock of all the things we’ve been provided with throughout the year. Which quickly leads one to think about those who are doing without (and with the current economic situation, there are more families than ever that are struggling to make ends meet).

It has always been a tradition in my family to volunteer year round, but most importantly during the holiday season. My Mom donates a turkey every year to a local area food bank. And for the past few years I have either donated money or volunteered my time at DC-area charities. Below you will find a couple of  food-related ways you and your loved ones can volunteer your time this holiday season. Please remember that these organizations need your help year-round, so while it is important to help out needy families during the holiday season, please consider also stopping by in June as well.

Photo courtesy of the DCJCC


Everything But the Turkey November 22nd and 24th 6:30pm-8:30pm. 500 volunteers meet at the DCJCC (1529 16th Street, NW at the corner of 16th and Q Streets) to prepare 10,000 servings of food for people in need in the Metropolitan area. Over 100 social service agencies (part of DC Central Kitchen) benefit from the side dishes prepared during Everything But the Turkey. I volunteered here last year and had a great time preparing lots and lots of bread stuffing. EBTT is appropriate for all age groups as well, so feel free to bring the entire family!

Note: There is a requested $13 donation to cover some of the supplies used during the volunteer days.

Food and Friends

Food and Friends provides nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. I have been donating to Food and Friends for years because I find their mission particularly compelling. They don’t just provide food for those in ill-health but also provide companionship and company. There are a number of opportunities to assist Food and Friends during the holiday season:

  • Slice of Life is a holiday fundraising event where people in the DC area can buy pies and the money will be donated to Food and Friends. Fellow food blogger Dining in DC is selling pies in various flavors like sweet potato, pumpkin, and chocolate cheesecake. Consider helping out her efforts. In addition to buying a pie you can volunteer on November 23rd from 10:30am-8:30pm (various shifts are available) at one of the 22 pie pick-up locations through out the DC/MD/VA area.
  • Turkey Box delivery will take place November 22nd-24th. The Turkey Boxes include everything a family will need for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, side dishes, dessert). Flexible schedules are available and you will be given a couple of different addresses to deliver to.
  • On November 22nd-24 at 8am, 10am, 1pm, and 5pm, groups will be gathering to prepare food for Thanksgiving meals. Also on Thanksgiving Day you can volunteer to prepare and deliver meals.

Photo courtesy of creativeloafingdotcom

Bread for the City

Starting now through December 24th Bread for the City is welcoming volunteers in to their Northwest Center (1525 7th Street, NW) and Southeast Center (1640 Good Hope Road, SE) from 1-3pm, Monday-Thursday to help pack up turkey dinners (fully equipped with all the classic fixings). Bread for the City plans to distribute these meals to over 8,000 families in need.

There are also options for larger, corporate volunteer days, so consider gathering taking a half-day at the office and give back to your community.

If you know of more Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities in the DC area please feel free to list them below in the comments area.