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One of the most exciting parts of travel is immersing yourself in the local culture.  And, one of the best ways to do that is with food. Whether you are thinking about your bucket list trip or want to reminisce about a trip you’ve already taken, preparing that local flavor at home can really hit the spot.  Here in Italy, this is classic Italian street food – la piadina!

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.

Sugar, Spice and Everything in Between

Do you like sweet, spicy or salty? Whatever your go-to crave is, a piadina has got it covered……literally!  A piadina is a thin, rustic Italian flatbread sandwich, made of some of the most basic ingredients, which you likely always have on hand.  Originating from the Emilia Romagna region, “la piadina” is  one of the traditional regional foods in this area of northern Italy, world famous for its food and wine. I’ve spent a great deal of time in this region’s capital, Bologna. It’s where my husband grew up and where my mother-in-law and I have spent countless hours going through old family recipes.

rolling out dough for a piadina
Rolling out dough for the classic Italian street food: la piadina

Any time you visit Italy

Nowadays, any time you visit Italy, and in whichever of the 20 regions of Italy you may find yourself, you’ll find the piadina.  Venice is in Veneto, the region just north of Emilia Romagna.  When you walk into gam gam goodies, our kosher bakery/pizzeria a few doors down from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant, you’ll often hear someone ordering a piadina. Read on to find out what what you eat in a piadina! Similar to a wrap or tortilla, you can fill a piadina with whatever suits your tastes.  Here are three of my favorite piadina fillings:

Piadina Pizza

Making a Piadina Pizza is super easy.  Choose your favorite sauce and cheese.  Then, spread them on a baked piadina.  Add seasonings like fresh basil and oregano, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Heat this open-faced piadina in an oven or in a pan on the stove top until the cheese is melted. 

Piadina with Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries 

Whether you choose white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, you can’t go wrong.  You can use a ready make creamy chocolate spread or make your own. My Best Ever Chocolate Mousse is perfect for this.  You can get that recipe here: https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/best-ever-chocolate-mousse/

Using a large spoon or spatula, spread a generous portion of chocolate on a piadina. Then add fresh cut strawberries on top. Like the piadina pizza, this can be eaten open-faced, or folded in half.  Feel free to add a mix of fruits, such as peaches, forest berries, pear or whichever are the seasonal fruits in your area. 

Veggie Piadina

If you want to step up your vegetable intake, the Veggie Piadina is a delicious way!  Choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Then, in a sauté pan, cook your favorite combination of vegetables, such as red & yellow pepper strips, zucchini, Roma tomato halves, mushrooms, onions, carrot ribbons or eggplant.

Load your veggies in a horizontal line on the piadina, add seasonings and extra virgin olive oil to your liking.  To create a barrier to prevent the vegetables from falling out, fold in the left and right sides of the piadina just a bit.  Then, from the side closest to you, begin to fold the piadina  over the vegetables.  Halfway, tighten the roll if necessary.  Continue rolling until the piadina is completely closed.

Here’s my four ingredient recipe for homemade piadina.  https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/4-ingredient-recipe-for-homemade-flour-tortilla-wraps-in-just-30-minutes/

Tip: If you are packing this in a lunchbox or to take on a trip, wrap a napkin around the piadina first, then wrap well with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  This will prevent the piadina from getting soggy.

The Italian region of Emilia Romagna is famous for agriculture, cuisine, wine and Italian street food, like the piadina.

Are you ready for some Italian Street Food? Which of your favorite fillings would you put in a piadina? I can’t wait to read your comments below!

Just wait until you try this 3-ingredient olive dip.  Isn’t it amazing how sometimes it’s the easiest things to do, that are the most impressionable.  I have found this all across the board: in business, guest service, family fun and even (and maybe especially) in cooking. After decades running GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant, we’ve hosted hundreds of thousands of guests. Some of the easiest dishes have become the favorites that people can’t seem to get enough of.  This easy olive appetizer is one such recipe. 

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks! 

Olive Dip is Perfect for Shabbat or Weekdays

Those who have been around our Shabbat table know that I love salads and always make many of them.  Guests come from all over the world and I want to make sure there is something to suit everyone’s taste.  I’m careful to switch it up a bit. I make some different salads for Shabbat lunch, that weren’t served during Friday night dinner.  Some standards, like humus, are served for both meals due to popular request. And they are amongst the most simple to prepare. You can check out my humus recipe here. Another uncomplicated salad is coleslaw.  It’s a real crowd pleaser.

But there is one salad that is amongst the absolute easiest in my recipe box: 3 Ingredient Olive Dip.  There is something about olive dip that is so elegant.  Perhaps it’s the knowledge of how very special olives are. Did you know that olives are one of the seven foods that the Land of Israel is blessed with?  We even say a longer blessing than usual after we eat them.


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The Olive Through The Ages

Olive oil has always been important in the world at large and the Jewish world in particular.  Noah sent the dove to see if the flood waters had receeded.  It came back with the leaf of an olive tree in its mouth.  The Kohen Gadol (high priest) was annointed with olive oil in the days of the Temple (Beit HaMikdash) in Jerusalem. The Beit HaMikdash was where the Western Wall, the remaining outer border wall, still stands today.  The menorah in the Beit HaMikdash was lit daily with olive oil. Many have the custom to light the Hanukkah menorah each year with olive oil as well.

It’s by Divine Providence that the weekly Torah portion at the time of publication of this article is Tetzaveh. It begins with the commandment to take the purest olive oil found in the first drop when the olive is crushed.  We are taught that we need to live with the times. In other words, to see how everything in the Torah portion holds a relevant lesson to our daily lives.  Just like the olive, when we are under pressure, our finest attributes come out as well.  

Olives, Health and Nutrition in the Torah

The Talmud is the Oral Law of the Torah.  It was originally taught to Moses on Mount Sinai. Then, it continued to be taught orally in a continuous chain from teacher to student for centuries. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, born after the destruction of the Second Temple, foresaw that the Jews would be scattered throughout the world. He feared they would forget the Oral Law.  So, he compiled the Mishnah (law details), and later, Ravina and Rabbi Ashi compiled the Gemara (law discussions). Together it is called the Talmud.  

In the Talmud, whose details cover every aspect of life, it’s mentioned that olive oil is beneficial for our health. It specifically details that olive oil supports and sharpens memory.  Nearly 1,900 years after the Talmud was compiled, the advantages of olive oil have been recognized by the medical world. Now, it’s commonplace to read about the proven benefits of olive oil and how it is helpful for our well-being. 

Give It That Extra (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, That Is) 

It is indeed worthwhile to incorporate olive oil into our meals. In particular, extra virgin olive oil is even healthier because of the way it is produced.  The process is done without heat or chemicals involved.  Science now recognizes the good fats from the unhealthy ones.  It’s been proven that even cooking with extra virgin olive oil is beneficial. The antioxidants don’t break down under the heat and are instead absorbed by the food.

Olives have many varieties and have a unique taste.  That being said, let’s jump right into this recipe. The olive lovers amongst your family and guests are sure to delight in it.  Those who may have never tasted an olive or imagined that they would enjoy it, are in for a treat!

Watch: 3 Ingredient Olive Dip

3 Ingredient Olive Dip – Easy Olive Appetizer

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 142

Ingredients

  • 1 can Green Pitted Olives (plain, not spicy)
  • 1 clove Fresh Garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to your taste)

Instructions 

  • Drain the liquid from the olives and place them in a bowl or in the food processor.
  • Add fresh garlic to taste. I use one clove per can of olives.
  • Pour on some extra virgin olive oil.
  • Blend with an immersion blender or in the food processor. Think pesto with olives!
Calories: 142kcal
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Kosher, Mediterranean
Keyword: appetizer, ChoppedOliveDip, dips, easy, kosher recipes, NondairyOliveDipRecipe, OliveDipWithoutMayo, olives, vegan

Nutrition

Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1517mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 383IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

What is your favorite dip or appetizer? I can’t wait to read your comments below!

“How do you make the perfect Italian coffee at home,” you wonder? Well, I’ll tell you!  As you may already know, I am passionate about coffee. When I go to sleep at night, I am already excited to wake up and have my morning coffee. Anyone else?  There are several ways and types of coffee that I enjoy, but there is a wonderful way to make coffee that is a deep part of Italian culture, and that is the Moka.  Not to be confused with mocha, the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, but moka, with a “K.”

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

To make this coffee and bring some of this Italian coffee culture into your home, you must begin with a moka pot.  Interestingly, the word “Moka” actually comes from a port city in Yemen, where coffee was exported.

Delicious Coffee to Start the Day

There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning.  Just the mere thought of the smell, the taste, can make you jump out of bed.  A pot of good coffee is a way to bring everyone together.  Sitting over hot coffee with a friend is one of my favorite things to do.  And, there are so many ways and types of coffee, but today I’m going to tell you all about preparing and drinking a moka.  

Coffee the Italian Way

Torrefazione Cannaregio – My favorite coffee shop!

Fortunately, not far from where I live, there is one of my most favorite places in all of Venice. It is a coffee house called Torrefazione Cannaregio.  Torrefazione refers to a coffee bean roaster. It was started in 1930, and was located on the main street, Strada Nuova.  It was a unique place. The door opened and you were hit with the most incredible aroma of coffee.  The floor was lined with enormous sacks of coffee beans and you could even get a glimpse of an enormous round coffee roaster in the back.  It was always packed, but the line moved fast. Some would take their coffee “da portare via” (to go) and others would drink at the counter, as there was only bar service.

It’s since changed ownership and now it is located right near the Jewish Ghetto, on the Fondamenta Ormesini.  Combining the look of a quaint coffee house with the beautiful glass containers of coffee lining the walls, you can sit inside and look out at the Venetian canal and watch gondolas go by. Although you may hear many languages from around the world at one of their canal-side tables, if you stand and drink right at the bar, you can often hear Venetian, the unique Italian dialect of the lagoon city. 

Know Your Coffee

The staff is well-versed in every type of coffee they sell and how exactly to make it.  Each coffee bean produces a different taste, and the staff is kind and patient to explain the details.  Some coffee beans are more fruity, while others are more earthy. At Torrefazione Cannaregio, they will even blend coffee for you with your choice of ingredients such as anise, black pepper, cinnamon and more. In Italy, people genuinely savor and enjoy the flavor of the coffee.  A typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a “cornetto,” a croissant, either plain, dusted with powered sugar or chocolate-filled. 

The Moka Coffee Grind

Perfect Moka Italian Coffee Grind

If you will be buying coffee beans to be ground on the premises, you will be asked whether you would like them ground for espresso or moka.  The grind for a moka machine is a bit more course than that of an espresso machine. Once you have your perfect grind and blend, you are (almost) all set.  

An Italian Coffee Classic

With these easy steps, I will share with you how you can make the perfect moka Italian coffee at home, just like the Italians do. I That’s a coffee with a smooth, rich taste, and not bitter. But first, you must have a moka machine.  My preference is a Bialetti, which is the most well-known brand.  With a Bialetti, you know what are getting.  It is a high-quality coffee maker, named after it’s inventor, Alfonso Bialetti.  The story goes that in the early part of the 20th century, Mr. Bialetti had a workshop where he produced aluminum products.  In the 30’s, he designed what would become the iconic moka pot, which has enhanced the way people drink coffee around the world.

Moka machines comes in a range of sizes.  At home, I have a six cup moka, which is a perfect size for just us or for when we are having some company. If that’s too big for you, you can get a small moka that makes two cups.  I’ve seen a much larger 18 cup moka, as well. And now, on to the actual brewing process.

                                                              

How to Make a Moka Coffee

Making a moka is actually very easy.  Familiarize yourself with the parts of the stove-top machine.  The base get filled with water.  The little filter cup gets the coffee.  On the underside of the top of the moka machine, you will see two parts: a little filter and a rubber ring holding it in place.  It’s all quite basic.  But there are some tricks of the trade that will make your moka coffee taste just perfect.

Step 1

Put some water up to boil, because starting with boiling water is one of the keys to making a delicious moka.  By beginning with water that is already hot, the coffee in the moka machine won’t be exposed to the direct heat of the flame any longer than necessary. This will eliminate that bitter taste that’s commonly associated with coffee that is prepared incorrectly in a moka.  

Step 2

Next, take a look inside the bottom container.  You will see a little valve.  That’s where you fill your boiled water to. Keep in mind that once you fill the base of the machine with the boiling water, it will be hot.  So, work with a dish towel when you need to pick it up. You can also preheat the coffee cups you’ll be using with some of the remaining boiled water.

Step 3

Now it’s time to fill the filter cup with coffee.  Fill it to the top of the cup, without pressing the coffee down. You can give it a gentle swipe to even it out, but it shouldn’t be packed.  Insert the cup into the water-filled base.

Step 4

Next, take your dish towel to hold the base still while you place the top of the moka machine on and carefully twist it closed.  And now, you are just a few minutes from having some of the most delicious coffee you will ever taste.

Step 5

Place the moka machine on the stove and turn the flame on to medium-low heat.  Regardless of the size of your moka pot, be sure that the stove flame does not extend outward and up the sides of the moka pot.  Soon, the coffee magic will begin. You’ll start to hear the coffee boil upward through the internal mechanism into the top container.  It’s doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it. 

Your kitchen will smell so delicious.  All the coffee lovers in the house will come running.  Carefully pour, serve, sip and enjoy.  I always say that coffee is like a vacation in a cup.  And a moka is like when you get an upgrade. To make it even better, you can pair it with these delicious Bisse Italian Biscotti.

A Virtual Shopping Experience in Venice

When you do come and visit Venice, you can buy a bag of beans to take home for yourself or to give as a gift.  What an amazing souvenir for a coffee lover.  But, why wait! This is one of the places I love to take people on my virtual personal shopping tours. Would you like me to pick some up for you? Let me know! You can set up a virtual personal shopping experience in Venice with me, from the comfort of you own home.  For more info, email me at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com

What’s your favorite flavor or type of coffee? Let me know in the comments. I’m so excited to hear from you!

Many are surprised when I tell them that I am in my 50’s.  Although we can all improve our self-care, one thing that I have been consistent about is my skin care routine.  And it’s never too early or too late to start. When I was a teenager, an older woman told me to be sure to use a face cream every day.  In my early twenties, another told me to be sure to moisturize my neck as well.  And yet another added, don’t forget your décolletage.

🤍 Over the years, many of you have asked which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

Perhaps you have dry skin, oily skin or combination skin.  Some more serious situations call for going to a dermatologist or skin care salon to speak with a skin care specialist who can do a complete analysis.  

Here are my top five tips for all skin types to make your skin glow.


1. Skin Care Starts With A Clean Slate

Start your morning fresh by washing your face with a gentle purifying cleanser.  Even before a shower, washing your face removes any result of perspiration or residue that may have accumulated during sleep.  It also helps you wake up and feel more ready to take charge of your day.

2. Create an Oasis for Your Skin

Moisturizing your skin is one of the most important things you can do for your skin health.  And nowadays, there are more specialized products on the market than ever before. It’s worth the time and attention to do a little research and find a moisturizer with many positive reviews, whether online or by asking friends what skin care products they love.  

Choose a moisturizer with SPF.  Even many makeup companies have recognized the importance of daily SPF use and have incorporated sun protection into their makeup.  It’s also important to choose a moisturizer made specifically for your skin’s particular needs.  If you have oily or sensitive skin, be sure to choose accordingly.

Another important factor is to choose a moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores.  Think of your skin’s pores as little helpers that get rid of sweat and natural oils that your skin releases.  When we aren’t careful to clean our face and neck properly each day, our pores can get clogged.  Adding moistuizer on top of clogged pores not only clogs them further, but doesn’t allow the moisturizer to do its job since it can’t penetrate the skin deeply.  It’s important to be especially careful of areas that tend to get neglected, such as between the eyebrows and around the nostrils. A good toner and exfoliator can also help.   

Aside from choosing the best daytime face cream within your budget, using an eye cream can also be very beneficial.  The skin around the eyes is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face.  For this reason, eye creams are made without ingredients that can irritate, such as fragrances and are made with lesser amounts of retinol.

                       

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3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

This can not be said enough.  Hydrating is one of the best things you can do for your body.  Every morning, even before my coffee, I drink a cup of water.  And no, I am usually not in the mood nor do I have “a taste” to drink water.  But it has become a habit and now I do it without too much thought.  Do you want to know what helped me make drinking water first thing in the morning a daily ritual?  It began with a daily visualization as I drank.  

Have you ever had a houseplant that didn’t seem like it was going to make it?  Perhaps you had gone on vacation or just forgot about it, and it was dry, limp and withered. Then, by what seemed like a miracle after one watering, the plant suddenly has been brought back to life, standing erect and full of shine!  Well, one day I realized that was exactly how my skin felt.  So as I drink that cup of water each morning, I would visualize my skin and my body being rejuvenated and energized by the water. And it works………literally!

But keeping your skin hydrated doesn’t only depend on your water intake.  It also depends on your sun intake.  Whether direct or indirect exposure, the sun can be your friend or your foe.  Here too, a little research goes a long way.  It’s important to understand how much sun and which rays are beneficial.  And learning about how sunlight affects cholesterol to produce vitamin D is quite fascinating. 

There is also much to learn about how we can, not only help our skin from the outside, but also from the inside.  Various nutrients can help our skin.  There is an interesting correlation between vitamin c and our bodies natural collagen production.  Collagen is a protein that is found naturally in our skin and that supports connective tissue.  Our connective tissue is crucial to our body health in that it supports and protects our body tissue and organs. Foods rich in vitamin C also offer our bodies help in increasing its hyaluronic acid, its natural form of lubrication. A better understanding of how our amazing bodies work will encourage you to take better care of yourself and help you be your body’s protector.  

                       

4. Finish Off Strong!

An evening skin care regimen can be considered just as important as your morning skin care routine. I often say, “A great day starts the night before.”  You work hard all day and so does your skin. To see the best results from your daytime efforts, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to go to bed with a clean and moisturized face. Adding a soothing lip balm and moisturizing your hands before bed is a quick action that will make you feel luxurious and accomplished before you doze off from a day spent mostly taking care of others.

                       

5. Recovery Mode is Real for Skin Care

Two of the best things you can do for your anti aging skin care is to get adequate amounts of sleep and exercise.  Your skin is working hard by day to protect itself from the elements.  Help your skin recover and your skin’s cells rejuevnate during the night while you sleep.  

Use these precious hours at rest to help your skin cells as your body’s blood flow increases during sleep. I mentioned how helpful it is to moisturize before bed as well as during the start of your day.  You can use the same cream you use during your morning skin care routine, but there are night face creams with added ingredients to help your skin restore and renew its elasticity while you sleep. 

With a little research you can choose the skin care products that are best for you and your budget.  Although nature will take its course, we can and should do our best to take care of ourselves.  These simple self care practices will help us live more mindfully.  And the added benefits will not only be skin so soft and reduced wrinkles, but an increase in positive thinking and healthy emotions that emanate from proper self care and lower stress levels.

As it is taught, a physical body protects the soul, so do your best to keep your body in good shape by starting with improving your skin health!

What can you start doing for yourself today to improve your skin care routine? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you wrote!

This article is currently featured on AvinaSeating.com

As a restaurant owner in Venice, Italy, where our streets are canals, we deal with certain aspects of the business that most entrepreneurs would never think about.  Whether it’s renting a refrigerated boat to transport product or closing our outdoor seating because of high tides, there are an array of complexities to deal with.  But, one thing that is standard regardless of location, is choosing the best chairs for your food establishment.

I’m always on the lookout for great products to enhance my guests’ time in GAM GAM.  When people think about where they would like to go out to eat, the things they usually consider are: the food, atmosphere, guest service, location and price.  These priorities stand out in the minds of any restaurant guest.  However, seating is not usually something given much thought.

Atmosphere – Setting the Tone and Mood in a Restaurant

Eating out is relaxing, takes one’s mind off daily challenges and is a great way to step out of the usual and connect with family or friends.  Guests save time cooking and cleaning and are able to reinvest that time with those whom they care about.  

Sometimes, people choose a meal out to celebrate.  We’ve hosted everything from birthday parties to graduations and wedding proposals to 50th anniversaries. We know that as a team, we are providing more than just a meal.  We hope to contribute to an atmosphere that will help create beautiful memories for years to come. Often, guests are trusting us with some of the most special moments of their lives. 

Especially now, as the world struggles to contain the Coronavirus, going out to a restaurant is almost deemed as a luxury.  The time spent at a restaurant is more valued by the guests, and restaurant staff are happier than ever to see their usual clients come back for a visit.

There are also the things that enhance the atmosphere and the guest experience that are more subconscious. One of those things is the seating. Imagine your favorite restaurant. What words would you use to describe the feeling when you are there?  That is the atmosphere.  And before you even think about what type of chairs you need, you have to decide what kind of atmosphere you want to create.

GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant at the main entrance of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy

Style is for More than Clothing

High back, low back, fancy and formal, there is so much to choose from.   Knowing the environment you want for your guests, will help you determine in which style you should invest.  Some style concepts to consider are: casual, chic, rustic, elegant, contemporary, artsy, modern and fabrics such as upholstery, leather and plastic.

Another aspect to consider is the chair frame.  There are many types such as wood, metal, plastic or aluminum lightweight material.

Choosing a specific style of chair goes further than the aesthetics. The design and style allows the guests to sit closer or further apart.  Some chairs inhibit leaning forward.  Keep in mind that part of enjoying a meal out is that it provides a way for your guests to connect with one another.  

Other style factors to consider are the flexibility of moving chairs when necessary.  In facilities with a high guest turn-over rate, chairs shouldn’t be too heavy for the staff who will have to move them during cleaning.   Chairs should also be easy to move around when rearranging the composition of tables to adjust for larger parties.  And, if you have busier seasons where you’ll need more chairs than usual, consider stackable chairs to maximize storage space. 

Feel Comfortable – Make Yourself at Home

A chair can actually affect how a person feels while they are dining.  An uncomfortable chair can be likened to having a small pebble in your shoe while you are walking.  It can make or break the entire experience, especially if the meal is a longer one.

It’s one of those things that you don’t give too much thought to until you are seated in a chair that is uncomfortable.  Have you have been seated in “the broken chair?” Or, where you can feel the inner parts of the chair itself because the cushioning is too worn.

Diners come to relax and you want them to be comfortable, but not that guests will linger unnecessarily. An important factor to consider is how long your guest will be seated.  If you have a food establishment with a low-cost menu, it is likely that you rely on having a high turn-over of tables. If your guests are going to have a quick coffee and a croissant, then a barstool may be a good choice.  Not only because this matches the more informal style of a coffee house, but it also lends itself to that sort of quick food service.  On the other hand, if you run a more formal establishment, diners will likely take their time to enjoy a longer meal. Here, a more comfortable chair with proper cushioning will be more suitable.

Proper spacing is an important consideration as well.  Guests should be able to comfortably walk between tables without banging into those currently dining.  This is even more important to think about if your restaurant is located in a tourist area or in a shopping zone where guests may come in with their shopping bags. Or, in the Winter, if you don’t have a coat room or rack, your guests will need space to put their coats on the back of their chairs.

Adequate spacing is also important for waitstaff who need to safely transport food while moving easily and quickly. Your choice of chair size will help staff avoid frustration and help ensure they can provide quick service.

GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant in Venice, Italy offers seating with a view of the Cannaregio Canal

Durability is Key

When it comes to durability, there is a difference between commercial vs. residential grade chairs. Use from the sheer number of guests coming in to a food establishment far outweighs the typical wear and tear that a chair built for home use can withstand.  Restaurants need chairs that are specifically built to tolerate this kind of use. Chairs are an investment in the restaurant. It’s not the part where you want to take the cheap route.  Having to replace chairs more often than you should will end up costing you more in the long run.

Another factor for durability is the fabric.  It can make all the difference.  

Whether an elegant fabric or a faux leather, it should be easy to clean, especially if you have a family restaurant where there will be children dining.  Consider chairs that can be cleaned using a light damp cloth to both eliminate dust and to easily and thoroughly remove food crumbs in the cracks and crevices where it can accumulate.

Hygiene is More Important than Ever

Restaurants are struggling to find ways to make their guests as comfortable as possible during this difficult time while abiding by the increase of health regulations because of the Coronavirus.  Many restaurants have limited hours and reduced seating capacity as a result of having to remove some tables.

Here are some best practices during this challenging time:

Print signs for employees and guests reminding them to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Hand sanitizer should be readily available in all public areas, such as at the entrance, restrooms, coat racks and the bar area.

Provide clear pathways for your guests to walk.  Proper signage helps guests know where to enter and exit.  Signs should also assist guests as to where to walk within the restaurant as to avoid, or at least minimize, direct contact with others as much as possible.

Menus are some of the most handled items in a restaurant.  Just as it’s an obligation to maintain proper food handling practices in the kitchen, we train our staff to maintain health standards in the service areas as well.  This includes proper maintenance of menus, which should be wiped down often.  During these particular times of Coronavirus, we are using temporary menus that are disposed of after each use.

Soon we will be introducing a more permanent solution.  Guests will be able to scan a QR code on the table and pull up the menu directly on their cell phone.

By taking these 5 essentials for choosing the best restaurant chairs into account, you will be able to enhance your guests’ experience in your food establishment.  You’ll be able to create a great atmosphere and your guests will come back again and again, because they will know they can dine in a clean and stylish place with efficient service.

Have the taste of GAM GAM at home with GAM GAM’s Hummus recipe!

Budgeting should be simple.  In theory, it is.  Subtract your expenses from your income, and voila!  But often, we get sidetracked or overwhelmed when trying to budget. Are you looking for a good way to organize your expenses?  One of the most important things you can do is to set up a budgeting system.  With these practical budgeting tips, it will be easier than you think. Plus, there’s a free instant download to help you, so keep reading!

When is it Too Late to Start Using a Budget?

Whether you are just starting out at your first paying job or if you are nearing retirement, a budget can help you get your finances under control by giving you a plan of action.  Not only does a budget help you with your hard-earned savings, but it can also help you minimize your expenses.  A budget helps put you in charge of your money.  Read on to discover how you can take control of your finances once and for all.

Practical Budgeting Tips
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But I’ve Tried to Budget Before

When it comes to budgeting, most people fall into one of these categories:

  • Those who don’t know where to begin.
  • Those who won’t begin because they keep everything in their heads.
  • Those who spend so long trying to make a budgeting template that they get frustrated and quit.
  • Those who spend hours (or days) making such an in-depth budget template that they made it too challenging to use or are too tired to even look at it again.

Have no fear, you are already halfway there.  I’ve made a budget template for you to start using right away.  We’ll get to that in a moment.  Let’s focus a minute on the “Why.”

Why Should I Use a Budget?

Having an organized budgeting system can help you acheive your goals. One of the first things you will discover is that aside from having more organized finances, you can set up goals for yourself, your family and your future.  Most of us are so busy working day to day, that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to plan for the future. But a little bit of planning goes a long way. When we set specific goals, then we have something to strive for. Budgeting goals will help us be more aware of our spending decisions in general, as well as careful with our day to day choices.

Having a budgeting system in place also helps encourage you.  It puts things in perspective and makes you see what you are doing right and helps you improve on what needs to be done better.  Once you get things down on paper, it is easier to see how you can be more efficient.


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Other Budgeting Tips that Work

Open a Separate Savings Account

This is an important step to insure that you don’t “borrow” from your savings.  An even better step is to open a savings account in a separate banking institution.  

Direct Deposit

Automate your savings with direct deposit from your employer. There are many benefits to direct deposit, including convenience, immediate availability of funds and reduction of paperwork.

Set Up an Emergency Fund

This will be one of the first goals.  After you set up your budget by itemizing your expenses and income, decide how much money you can put toward an emergency fund. 

Dave Ramsey suggests an emergency fund should have enough money to keep you going for two months.  Then should an emergency arise, such as loss of work, you will be in a better position until you find work. Begin with a goal of $1000.  Once you reach that, focus your energy on minimizing your debt, beginning with your smallest balance, not including a mortgage. 

Meanwhile, continue to add to the emergency fund until you reach your two month goal.  Whether it takes months or years, do everything in your power to pay off your debt. 

Itemizing your expenses will bring to light any expenses you can do without, at least temporarily.  Once you reach your emergency fund two month goal, you can then contribute solely to your savings account.

Meal Planning

This step can be a great way to reduce expenses.  It guides you to buy only what is actually needed at the grocery store, reducing extra expenses.  It also helps reduce any food waste, contributing to even greater savings.  It is also a time saver.  Spend 10 minutes once a week deciding what to prepare, instead of having to think about what to cook seven times a week when you come home tired from work.  You can download my Meal Planner by clicking here.

Overall Benefits of Using these Practical Budgeting Tips

Lastly, review your budget every six months and make any adjustments necessary. Often, people think that a budget is limiting, but ultimately, the opposite is true.  These practical budgeting tips will help you minimize stress, give you a sense of freedom and add to your overall quality of life and relationships.  

One of the best advantages is that with each year of budgeting, you become better at it. Just like a muscle that you use becomes stronger, the more you set healthy financial goals and boundaries, the easier it becomes.  It won’t be long before you will see the benefits and begin to enjoy them. And, this will lead you to want to be more organized in other parts of your life as well.

To help you get started, here is an Interactive Budget Template. It’s a free instant download.

Budget Template

What other templates will help you with organization? Let me know in the comments below. I’m excited to hear from you!

Whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or just want to begin again, check out my tools and tips for meal planning.

It’s so simple, and the best part is that once you start the system, it will grow, become more refined and make meal planning as easy as 1-2-3.

But that’s not all!  There are many benefits of using my guide to meal planning.

– Going to the supermarket becomes less of a chore.

– Think of all the time you’ll save while shopping.

– You only buy what you need, which means you’ll spend less money.

– You can budget better (and who doesn’t wish they had extra money in their pocket).  

– You’ll be able to coordinate foods to use in various meals throughout the week which will help minimize food spoilage.  That’s another big money saver!

With my system, you’ll end up making what everyone likes to eat, so as I always say, you can “Keep everyone around the table happy.”

What you want to do is print a blank calendar template.  And look! I’ve made one for you, and it’s a free download. Click here for my Free Meal Planning Calendar Template.

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The Beginner's Guide to Meal Planning - Instant Download

Here is how I started out and you can adjust this to suit your family’s tastes.

I started by choosing two evenings a week for meat/chicken meals. (We always have fish and meat/chicken on Friday night for Shabbat, so this is two meals in addition to that).  

Monday & Wednesday: meat/chicken

Sunday & Thursday: dairy

Tuesday: fish

Saturday night: pasta or pizza 

If you keep kosher, the advantage of choosing your meat days is that everyone in the family knows when the dairy days are and to not get fleishik by mistake).

It should look something like this:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
DAIRYMEAT/CHICKENFISHMEAT/CHICKENDAIRYMEAT/CHICKENPASTA/PIZZA





















Here I have one fish, two dairy, three meat/chicken.  It almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss book.  If you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, just fill out your calendar template accordingly.

Start by filling in meals that you know your family likes to eat.  Do a little research though rebbetzinunplugged.com for other recipes your family will enjoy, including starters and side dishes. Then add those to your new calendar template.  

You don’t have to fill out the entire month at once.  Even if you have just two weeks filled out, you can repeat those meals. 

As time goes by, add new meals that your family enjoyed and you can remove ones that didn’t go well. (Eventually, you will have three months worth of meals to choose from).

When you have about three weeks worth of meals, take a weekly calendar board like this one, and pick 7 meals from your filled out calendar.  Add a green vegetable and a starch and youre ready to go.

It’s as easy as that.  It takes about five minutes and you’re all done!  If you’d like to take a peek at my three months worth of meals, you can check that out here.

Chocolate lovers, you are in for the sweet treat of your life! Make no mistake, this is the best Chocolate Mousse recipe out there.

Tried, True and Tested on Thousands of My Restaurant Guests

This easy chocolate mousse recipe will have everyone asking for a second serving, and wishing for a third. This is, by far, one of the most requested desserts at GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant.

My chocolate mousse is light and airy, yet delicious and decadent. As one guest remarked, “Now this is chocolate mousse!” Everyone around the table will be feeling the love with each tasty spoonful. No one will believe how fast this chocolate dream can be made. They’ll think you prepared all day. We can keep it as our secret!

Start with a Delicious Chocolate

It’s important to use a chocolate that you also enjoy eating straight from the package. This is a perfect dessert to make anytime, but can make a special occasion even more memorable. Even more, this quick, easy recipe is great for parties and special events.

And, it can be made up to two days ahead and just sits in the fridge until you are ready to use it. This creamy mousse is also great as a filling for your multiple layer cakes. Serve it in individual ramakins or in mini trifle containers of your desired shape and size. Additionally, the mousse can be spooned in or you can create a swirled effect with frosting tip. Or, you can create a layered effect, alternating with layers of chocolate cake.

Top it Off with Something Grand

Even more, each mousse cup can be finsihed off with a variety of toppings. From fruit like strawberries, blueberries or raspberry to a dollop of whipped cream with chocolate shavings, the possibilities are endless. Another great topping is chocolate designs you can easily make at home.

Perfect Chocolate Recipe For A Crowd

When served on a dessert table, these make a show stopping presentation. And, depending on the garnish you choose, you can add fun or elegance to your occasion. Create an exciting tablescape by using differnt sized container. Add strawberries to taller champagne glass style containers. Keep the taller containers toward the back of your serving tray. Top the middle medium height containers with whipped cream and chocolate shavings and the shorter containers up front can be topped with cherries.

This mousse is so irresistable! The only problem with this recipe is that it may turn your evening into a dessert before dinner event!

Best Ever Chocolate Mousse

No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Time to Set 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 32 mini containers
Calories 54

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs (separate yolks and whites, set aside one of the yolks)
  • 8 ounces/250 grams of good quality bittersweet chocolate (parve)
  • 1 ounce/25 grams margarine
  • 1 teaspoon coffee (dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • Separate five yolks and six whites into two bowls and set aside.
  • Melt chocolate and margarine together in a bain marie (water bath). Whisk briskly.
  • Tip: Remove chocolate mixture from heat when it is halfway melted. Keep whisking. The chocolate will continue to melt, but will achieve a tempered state. Tempering chocolate is easy and will result in a chocolate that maintains its color, shine without white streaks once it is served at room temperature. More than that, it will keep its consistency and not melt!
  • Add dissolved coffee, and keep whisking briskly.
  • Once the chocolate is completely melted, add the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.
  • Add one egg yolk at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.
  • Whip egg whites until you have soft peaks.
  • Gently fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until incorporated.
  • Pour in your container of choice and let set in the refrigerator at least one hour.

Notes

Actual number of servings depends on the size of your container of choice.  I easily filled at least 32 of the small containers pictured. (not including the taste testing!)
Calories: 54kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake filling, chocolate, dessert, mousse

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 49IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

What’s your favorite topping for chocolate mousse? I can’t wait to read your ideas below in the comments!

🎬 You will love these Bisse Italian Cookies. Watch the Cook & Connect with the Rebbetzin Unplugged to find out how fun they are to make.

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These Italian biscotti are likely the most well known of the typical desserts of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice. These are one of my family’s favorite cookies…..crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Their “S” shape makes them perfect for dipping in a glass of cold milk or your favorite hot drink.

They are as easy to make as they are delicious.  

One of the best things about these Bisse Italian cookies is that they are made from ingredients which you most likely always have in your kitchen and pantry anyway.

bright cheery kitchen envato

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They are inexpensive and the dough can be made ahead, as it stores very well in the refrigerator for a few days in a tight sealed or well-wrapped container. These cookies do not last long in my house. In fact, I usually have to make a double batch.

Try out this recipe and your friends and family will think you are a biscotti pro!

Bisse Italian Cookies

4.95 from 18 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 19 Cookies
Calories 181
These are the perfect Bisse cookie – crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 3 1/3 Cups Flour
  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions 

Prepare the Batter

  • Beat the eggs and sugar together until creamy
  • Next, add in the olive oil and the zest of one lemon.
  • The zest is the yellow. You want to avoid getting any of the pith, the white, in there. It’s bitter. We only want that delicious, fragrant yellow zest.
  • The easiest way to do this is with a mandoline.
  • Next, add a pinch of salt
  • Finally, add the 3 1/3 cups of flour in two parts.
  • This makes it easier to fold in the flour and ensures that we don’t have any lumps. Check down at the bottom to make sure all the flour has been incorporated.
  • Once mixed, you can put the dough in the fridge for about 1/2 hour to get a more workable consistency, but if you don’t have time, it's not necessary.

Shaping the Cookies

  • Now, flour your cooking paper and your fingers with a little bit of flour. And take a large spoonful of the cookie dough and roll it out like a stick, around 8 or 9 inches long (20-23 cm). I like to use the length of my hand as a guide to make uniform sized cookies, with the stick of dough extending a bit past my wrist and the tip of my middle finger.
  • You want to work the dough the least possible, because an overworked cookie dough leads to a tough cookie.
  • Now, I’ll tell you a trick to get a perfect "S" shape.
  • What you want to do is pick up the stick from each end and as you transfer the dough on to your baking sheet, and just before you put it down on the baking sheet, form the "S". Once down, you can adjust the shape a bit if necessary.
  • Try to get 2 rows of four cookies on the baking sheet.
  • In between batches, stick the dough in the fridge to keep it at a good consistency to work with.
  • Bake the cookies for 5 minutes at 425F. (202C)
  • Then lower the heat to 350F for around 14 minutes. (175C)
  • Cookies continue to bake if left on a hot baking sheet, so as soon as they come out of the oven, you want to carefully slide the baking paper onto a cooling rack.
  • Place a new sheet of baking paper on the baking sheet and continue shaping and baking the cookies.
Calories: 181kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: biscotti, bisse, Italian desserts, Jewish Ghetto, kosher, Venice Italy

Nutrition

Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

If you love these Bisse Italian Cookies and Italian cooking in general, then you’ll love my gnocchi recipe. Let me know in the comments what other Italian recipes you’d like to see on RebbetzinUnplugged.com

Spring is knocking on the door, so welcome her with these beautiful, easy and budget friendly spring decor ideas for every room in your home.  They will brighten your living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, home office and bathroom.

Getting Started with Your Spring Guide

If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I decorate my living room for spring?” or “How do you decorate for spring on a budget?” you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got the tips, ideas and solutions for you. This is a collection of some of my favorite personal photography from Venice, Italy.  Read on to see how you can adapt it to take advantage of the fresh aspect of spring to add some joy and happiness to your home.  These decoration ideas are blooming with style. You’ll find something for every style from casual to elegant, to freshen up your home and your life.

Do It Yourself Spring Decor Ideas

Here is a simple and easy way to use the technology available to us, even to decorate. You can now choose what you like from the comfort of your home.  There is no shipping and no waiting. Just download the link to the high-quality photo that you like and have it printed locally right on the spot. CVS & Walgreens often offer printing within the hour. You can even print them from the comfort of home with an online service like Shutterfly, as you’ll see one of our guests did down below.

They are high-quality and can be printed on almost anything: canvas, coffee mugs, shopping bags, puzzles, wedding invitations, thank you cards, save the date cards, holiday cards, glass or photo paper. Our recent guest, Debbie ordered two pictures and wrote, “I decided to do something a little artsy and different! It’s printed on metal…kind of urban chic.”

Photos of Venice printed on metal.
My photos printed on metal!

Whether you’ve been to Italy in recent years or long ago, these additions to your spring decor will bring back great memories.  If you’ve only dreamt of coming, then this will be the inspiration to plan a trip at the right time.

How To Decorate Your Space

The Living Room, Bedrooms & Home Office

Start by picking a Venice scene that you like. Typically, spring decor is complemented with bright, joyful colors along with florals and greens denoting new life. In the living room, bedroom or home office, you can add throw pillows and an accent rug based on the colors in your newly framed picture of Venice. Or, you can print the picture directly on one of the throw pillows.  Then surround it with two other pillows with colors or patterns inspired by the picture.


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The Kitchen & Dining Room

Depending on the size of your space, a series of smaller prints can add a fresh perspective and brighten up any room.  Add in some colored glassware reminiscent of Murano, the famous smaller island of Venice.  For nearly 1000 years, families have passed down the mesmerizing skill of combining fire and colored glass to make some of the most unique blown glass pieces seen around the world.  

A stunning framed photo of Venice can be the perfect backdrop to a lace tablecloth inspired by the Venetian island of Burano.  Generations of mothers have created handmade lace tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs.

Sara, who hopes to come to Venice someday, adorned her wall with my Venice photography in a lovely grouping of four.

Bathroom or Laundry Room

Everywhere you go in Venice, the magical city has something beautiful to see.  There are palaces lining the Grand Canal and beautiful bridges of marble that have stood for centuries.  But, all throughout Venice, one of the most eye-catching things that brings a smile to all passers-by is the colorful clothing hanging from the clotheslines. Attached between the buildings, and very often hanging over the canals, clotheslines decorate the air with a variety of garments and attire. These sparks of color make the antique city come to life.  They are reminders that within these old walls, there are people with personal stories continuing today. 

Spring Symbolizes Rebirth, New Beginnings & Your Decor Can Too  

After the long cold winter, the sun shines and flowers bloom. Most Venice residents don’t have front lawns or backyards for landscaping.  Instead, beautiful flowers adorn the windows and balconies. There are gardens, but many are hidden behind the larger palaces. When I do come across a park or area with fresh cut grass, I take a moment to breathe in that refreshing and invigorating scent. 

Here’s a spring decor idea that is good for your health too! Spring is the perfect time to bring nature inside.  Choose some indoor plants from your garden or your local gardener. Ask about the best plants to improve the indoor air-quality of your home.  Often, these varieties require very little attention and are amongst the easiest to care for. 

Spring Gift Ideas for Holidays, Birthdays & Special Occasions

As Mother Nature comes alive and shares her gifts of the season, you can also share these gifts to enhance someone else’s space. This is the perfect way to make a unique and custom made gift that is personal, memorable and will leave a lasting impression. It’s fast, easy and convenient!  And you’ll pay a tenth of what one would pay for a framed piece of art in a gallery.  There is something for everyone’s budget.

The end of the school year will be here before we know it.  Do you have several teachers to thank? As the weather gets warmer, more outdoor parties and gatherings will be taking place.  This is the perfect opportunity to choose birthday gifts, a unique thank you gift for a host or appreciation gifts for everyone on your list.

What is the best gift for a newly married couple?

Spring is a popular wedding season. If you know someone planning a wedding in the spring, you can easily give a thoughtful wedding gift that will be cherished for years to come.

Even though there may be many spring weddings this year, many may not be able to travel.  What better way to send a beautiful gift for a new home. Not only is this a great gift idea, it is easy to ship and can even be done completely online from the comfort of your own home. Choose a photo, decide what you would like it printed on and have it shipped directly to the lucky gift recipient.

Spring Gift Ideas for Your Bridal Party

Are you the bride or groom? If you are looking for gift ideas on a budget, this is the solution for you. Those who have helped you organize your wedding have been there for you. What better way to show your best man, maid of honor or bride’s maids your gratitude than with a unique, custom or personalized gift from the City of Love.

These are so-well priced, they can even be wedding favors for your guests. Get creative and print smaller sizes to use as themed table decorations from the most romantic city in the world. 

Spring is Coming!

When spring arrives, you’ll be ready! The sun will be shining and so will your smile as you look around at the beautiful, easy and budget friendly ideas that you’ve turned into a decorating reality.  All that will be left to do is to create wonderful memories in your home and in your life. 

Which of these spring decor ideas is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to see what you wrote!

Be sure to check the ChaiStyle Shop often for new photos and more! 📸


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