The Secrets Behind Israeli Street Food


December 10th 2014

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Who hasn’t eaten a delicious dish at a restaurant or fast food counter and tried to replicate it at home?

When it comes to the replication of a dish from an elite restaurant, it is actually not as complicated as you might expect. Yes, it involves much preparation, buying special ingredients, but the cooking techniques, even if they look complicated, can be learned at any cooking school, through books, and even through online videos. Sometimes, chefs generously provide a pretty accurate recipe.

Street food, however, is an entirely different story.

Preparation skills are passed on from father to son and are really threatened to become extinct from the world.  Secret spices especially are a lot of the mystery.

This is where I come in.

I love to cook, love to eat. Everything. But mostly I love street food.

But if there is something that really brings me satisfaction it is to crack the secret behind street stalls everyone pilgrimages to, the one that immortal dishes have entered the Israeli Pantheon of food.

So before we get into the thick of things, I want to reveal the greatest secret. Yes, yes right away.

Think Cheap!

I know that with all the progress in food culture and cooking in this country, we have started to get used to using ingredients of the best quality we can achieve, vinegar Jerez from Spain, Atlantic salt collected by old French maids only during a full moon, and amazing flour imported through no man’s land from the land of the boot and sold for antique pennies.

So no, I’m not saying buy tomatoes that have seen better days, but I can assure you that if the guy from the Sabich, the tasty one, is debating between buying fresh black peppercorns, and using standard ground black pepper, the price will decide and the answer is obvious.

So yes, it will be expressed in the taste, but for the better, because I promise you that it will taste exactly the same as the street vendor’s. The taste you long to return to time and time again, the same flavor you’re trying to achieve at home.

So start to think cheap.

Let’s talk a moment about burekas.

Why burekas, you’re probably asking?

Why not to crack the immortal hummus or the secrets to the falafel or the fresh pita?  Do not worry friends, even their secrets we will reveal, but on the way we will debunk some myths and mistakes that have taken root.

As a child, my father used to take me to downtown Haifa, to the sailors, to buy counterfeit jeans for pennies. I tried on the jeans behind a curtained booth in the middle of the busy street. A rather dubious experience, but what didn’t we do to wear brand names.  To sweeten the experience we would go to the Burekas stand next door. There, on a heated plate on coals, lay wonderful burekas. Not made from store-bought phyllo dough or puff pastry, God forbid, but authentic Turkish dough stretched by hand into almost transparent leaves, a skill passed from generation to generation.

Later I found out this wonderful dough goes by the name of YUFKA. The seller would break off a golden bureka and serve it on paper with a hard boiled egg and pickles next to it. A bite here, a bite there, the pickles were always finished before the burekas, but I was ashamed to ask for more. Later there were competitors to that original burekas cart, all good, but that downtown burekas cart will always have a soft spot in my heart.

When I grew up, in my “wild” days, after a night of playing Snooker, I would go to the burekas cart at the Kiryat Ata intersection, savoring the meat burekast, but mostly watching the same Turkish guy, who did not know a word of Hebrew, but amazingly stretched the ball of dough, as he swung it in the air, until it became a transparent mat, and folded, filled, and sent it to the oven. Every time I would look at him and wait for the magic to happen. Watching and studying the movements, counting the number and type of folds, waiting with him for the smell to envelope the place and the toasty burekas to come out of the oven.

For twenty years I’ve been trying to recreate that unforgettable memory in my home kitchen. Tried and failed, replaced dough, oils, and types of filling. Only the technique has remained the same. At first I tried to get fancy. I’ll make Burekas filled with regular ground beef? Only the best for me! Only Lamb shoulder, ground once, a coarse grinding. Add a bit of pistachios, freshly ground black pepper, even a little cardamom … we’ll bring the burekas to new heights, the original burekas vendor didn’t even dream of. So… no. And do not get me wrong, it always came out good, but simplicity always wins. Regular ground beef from the supermarket, regular ground black pepper that gives a different spiciness than coarsely ground pepper and LOTS of onion. That’s about it. Have we mentioned you should think cheaply?

So there it is, the big secret of the meat burekas from the burekas cart. And as a bonus, attached is a recipe for pickles with a taste of the past, ones that together with a boiled egg and a little freshly grated tomato, will accompany the Burekas and bring tears of joy to your eyes. Guaranteed.

Try my recipe for Homemade Authentic Borekas and Pickles From Saba.

Article and recipes translated by Yael Davidovics.


The Best Chanukah Recipe That Is Not A Latke *WIN*


December 9th 2014

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This year try something new and different for your Chanukah party or even just one of your eight nights at home with the family.   Sure we are big latke fans over here on Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller, have you seen the new issue of the magazine with a cover full of latkes? Or have you browsed our collection of over 90 Laktes right here on the site? Once you are done with all those come back here and try something new.

Most people have only ever had these at a bar or restaurant, often they come from the freezer.  Some people shy away completely for fear that they will be to spicy.  If you give them a shot, even the spice averse will find that homemade Jalapeño poppers are worth a fry (try).  When you remove the seeds from a Jalapeño you remove most of the spice and then when you cook it, you tame it more and finally when you stuff it with cheese and cover in bread crumbs, all you get is crispy, cheesy perfection!!

What better way to celebrate Chanukah, a holiday of oil and frying and a holiday of dairy, then to combine them both in these Jalapeño poppers and dip them in a mildly spicy Wasabi mayo sauce from Gold’s.  In this recipe, Sina combines feta, cheddar and cream cheese for a real unique flavor combination.  But you can fill these peppers with anything you want, just make sure cheese is involved and that you save some Gold’s for dipping.

Get the full recipe for Jalapeño Poppers and Wasabi Dipping Sauce here.


Now you can get a whole set of Gold’s sauces, just enter to WIN with Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post and giveaway is sponsored by Gold’s.


Israeli Inspired Sufganiot


December 8th 2014

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Nothing says Chanukah in Israel like sufganiot. About 15 minutes after the completion of the sukkot holiday bakeries all over the country start getting ready for Chanukah, more than a month and a half away, flooding their store fronts, print adds, and Internet sights with mouthwatering samples of their gorgeously crafted and oft uniquely flavoured seasonal treats. Gone are the days of raspberry jam filled, powdered sugar covered sufganiot. The classic has evolved into gourmet offerings ranging from caramel cream and chocolate filled, to specialty confections featuring halva, pistachio, espresso, and other high end pastry creams. Over the past few years some bakeries developed the ingenious system of incorporating small infusion bottles filled with sweet liquors into their treats, making the whole sufgania experience into one Israelis and visitors alike anxiously look forward to.

As a family we definitely enjoy sampling the bakery treats early in the holiday. But nothing quite compares to homemade sufganiot warm and soft prepared with love at home. Here is a unique take on a favourite Israeli coffee house confection. An easy to prepare homemade sufgania filled with a no bake mousse like cheesecake filling, topped with a simple glaze and covered with a home-made crumble topping. Perfectly balanced and not over the top sweet, a perfect dairy dessert in the spirit of Chanukah in Israel.

Here’s my recipe for Israeli Sufganiyot.

Photos by: Photoli Photography by Andrea Brownstein -


Strawberry Jalapeño BBQ Chicken Wings


December 5th 2014

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Posted 12/05/2014 by Melinda Strauss
Instead of just marinating your chicken wings in plain barbecue sauce, jazz it up by adding chopped jalapeno and strawberries for a sweet and spicy kick. I use Gold's Barbecue Sauce for the perfect semi-homemade marinade.

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Day In Jerusalem: Hanukkah


December 5th 2014

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The holiday feeling is in the air in Jerusalem. The local bakeries have started to compete with their gourmet sufganiyot flavors. You can find traditional donuts in the following flavors; banana cotte, Irish crème, pistachio, Crème Brule, biscotella and more. It’s worth a trip to Israel for Hanukkah just to see all the gourmet options.

Once you have tasted your perfect choice, it’s time to plan your activity itinerary. Instead of our traditional daily itinerary we would like to offer you lots of great suggestions for Hanukka activities in Jerusalem.

  • Candle Lit Scavenger Hunt:  Race through the back alleyways of the Old City or Nachlaot and enjoy this interactive game with your kids as you learn about the history of the neighborhood. As a bonus on Hanukka you will be able to see all of the neighborhood Hanukiyot lite up the night sky.
  • Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Game: Come and see the new Jerusalem Arena located next to Teddy Stadium. The arena hosts the local Jerusalem basketball team, Hapoel and they will be playing over Hanukka. Nothing compares to sitting in the bleachers and hearing the crowd scream a “Go Jerusalem” chant. They even have VIP Bar Mitzva experiences where you can sit in a special box where you are served a kosher dinner, meet the players and play with Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan.”
  • VIP Movie for Kids: So you might wonder what is a VIP movie for kids? At Cinema City Jerusalem a VIP ticket includes a full dairy “kid friendly” buffet meal, all you can eat ice cream, popcorn and drinks. The seats in the theater are extra comfy with massage features and this Hanukka you can enjoy a special showing of “Night at the Museum” in English with a VIP ticket on Sunday December 21.
  • Origami Workshops at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory: This is a hidden gem in Jerusalem located on a hilltop next to the Knesset. Learn about the birds who migrate through Israel and how to create origami birds.
  • Bambu:This incredible unique exhibit at the Israel Museum has been extended till April. Visitors (ages 6+) climb through the interactive art installation in the Sculpture Garden. Made entirely of Bamboo and climbing rope this exhibit was created by the Starn brothers and allows you to climb up the steps and the paths and view the Jerusalem Hills and the top of the Israel Museum.

I can’t possibly list all of the activities over Hanukkah because there are so many.  Candlelighting ceremonies, children’s shows, concerts, museum events, hikes, and so much more.  I hope this blog post has given you the inspiration to spend your next Hanukkha in Jerusalem, especially with your family.

For more ideas of activities and events in Jerusalem for your family, contact [email protected], and I would be happy to give you some personalized recommendations.

To see my other ideas for a Day In Jerusalem click here.


Cooking With Joy: Asian Roasted Chicken


December 4th 2014

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When I first saw this picture, I was like “yah right” I am not going to even attempt to patchke and make those beautiful little sushi style chicken rolls. So making the dressed down version was an easy decision.

Our weeknight dinners need to be super quick to prepare. Whenever possible I like to have them prepared before I leave to work so I can pop it in the oven when I get home with the kids. I marinated the chicken and vegetables all day in the fridge. The marinade smelled delicious and I was really looking forward to dinner.

Sesame Chicken “Sushi” with Hoisin Garlic Sauce page 155
DRESS IT DOWN Asian Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

I got home and cooked the chicken according to the recipe. Considering it had been marinating all day I was really surprised at how little flavor it had. Garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil are such fragrant flavorful things, I was pretty frustrated.

The kids ate it happily with mustard and Hubs ate happily since there was plenty of it. I really don’t know what went wrong, this was the first recipe that I was totally expecting to love and came away unhappy. I am sure next time will be better.


Italian Chanukah Party


December 3rd 2014

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Chanukah is just around the corner, I can’t believe it!  I’m still going strong with my post-Tishrei diet which excludes dairy and, as of two days ago, gluten.  So let’s just say I’m living vicariously by compiling these recipes, and boy do they look good.  In addition to latkes and doughnuts, having a dairy meal is another Chanukah tradition.  The dairy meal is connected to women in particular because it was Yehudis who helped win the war against the Greeks by feeding their commander salty cheese and copious amounts of wine before killing him and sending the Greek army into chaos.  Just a little food for thought!  The Italian Chanukah party is a great way to pay homage to the strong women in your life and is a festive way to participate in the traditional Chanukah dairy meal.




Pizza Table: Make multiple mini pizzas to satisfy everyone’s preferred topping and create a WOW-worthy reaction.  Make things easier by making the same pizza base (Margherita, for example) and vary the different toppings.  And if you choose (no judgement here!) buy prepared dough for 2 minute pizza prep.

Classic Margherita Mozzarella Pizza

Beet Pepperoni Pizza

Savory Mini Pizza Doughnuts

Butternut Squash and Arugula Pizza with Salad (unique pizza, great simple salad for large crowd!)

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Onion Lovers Pizza



Pecorino Baked Penne

Pasta Table: Pizza and Pasta, what more could a carb-aholic like me ask for?  The Pasta table is a great opportunity to experiment with quality ingredients to dress up the pasta, but will still keep the budget down because you can use relatively small amounts of each. Trust me, a small crumble of high quality cheese or a sprinkling of fresh herbs goes a long way.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Goat Cheese Crumble

Tofutti Fettuccine Alfredo

Brigitte’s Spaghetti Squash

Arugula Pesto

Creamy Ziti

Penne, Broccoli and Pecorino Bake



Caprese Latke

Vegetable Table:  Show case in season vegetables and break the carb monotony with crispy fresh salads.  And showcase the irresistible Caprese Latkes!

Eggplant Tomato Stacks

Caramelized Turnips with Crispy Brussels

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Caprese Latkes

Greek Yogurt Caesar Salad

Fresh Fig, Carrot, Fennel and Kale Salad



Pesach Almond Snaps

Dessert Table: Chanukah, that one time a year when you can use religion as an excuse to eat a doughnut.  For this dessert table channel the Italian art of creating something simple yet delicious. The papanash make use of the dough from the doughnuts’ center, while the zeppoles show how a simple dusting of sugar elevates an easy dessert.

Papanash: Cheese Doughnuts

Spiced Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Kosher Berry Brûlée Recipe

Gelato Di Cioccolata with Nutty Chocolate Sauce


Check out more Chanukah recipes here!


Celebrate With Greek Food


December 3rd 2014

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Greece and the Greek isles are one of the popular destinations for Israelis in the summer months. Greek food is characterized by fresh Mediterranean ingredients (just like here in Israel), along with pickled vegetables, fresh fish and souvlaki or steaming shwarma.

You can find a preparatory course for pretty much anything, so we travelled to Raanana to Pardes Meshutaf St. to a place called Makom BaLev (the restaurant is not kosher but the recipes we learned are), to take a crash course in the Greek kitchen. You travel on the main Raanana streets, but one small turn to a side-street leads you to a hidden garden, rich in beautifully manicured greenery, and you are no longer in the city, but rather in a beautiful cozy corner. When you arrive at Makom BaLev you will hear Greek music and smell the scent of ouzo and souvlaki in the air.

We shared a bottle of Ouzo with Chef Amzaleg who spoiled us with salads and many Greek flavors. If you prepare these dishes it will be as if you went through a short course in Greek food for your yearly vacation in Greece, without even breaking a plate!

Chicken Gyros
At first it might seem that this is a familiar dish, but if you follow the stages of preparation you will see that there is a simple sophistication to it, which makes the Gyros a nutritious dish which is not just another pargiot (fillet of the dark meat of the chicken) dish.

Souvlaki is a classic Greek dish consisting of skewered meat and sometimes vegetables usually serve in a large flat pita bread.

This Lentil Salad is prepared simply with the flavors of Greece.  It is an easy tasty, filling side dish.

Recipes and article translated by Rebecca Linzer.


Having Fun With The Mensch on a Bench *Giveaway*


December 2nd 2014

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What started as a small Kickstarter campaign has become the latest popular holiday gift for Jewish and interfaith families this holiday season.  The Mensch on a Bench, a 12” plush doll with an accompanying hardcover storybook, is the brainchild of Neal Hoffman, a former toy marketing executive turned entrepreneur.  The purpose is to introduce children to the story and traditions of Hanukkah, from the viewpoint of “Moshe” the Mensch.

In Hoffman’s fictional story, Moshe the Mensch, volunteered to watch over the Menorah in the Temple after the Maccabees victory.  During each of the eight nights, Moshe is inspired to continue to serve and witness the Hanukkah miracle.

Kids had fun with the Mensch as you will see below.


We also couldn’t resist wondering what trouble the Mensch would get into if he got lost in New York City…

Hoffman’s book includes the Hanukkah prayers and instructions on how to play dreidel.  There is even a page in the book for children to write down their favorite holiday memories.

If you’re looking for something cute for the holidays that are certain to put a smile on someone’s face, you will love The Mensch on a Bench.

The Mensch on a Bench is available for a limited time Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michaels, Barnes & Noble, Toys”R”Us, and more, but Joy of Kosher readers can enjoy a special 10% discount by using the coupon code OYVEY at checkout here.


Now you can win a mensch of your own!! We are giving away 3 dolls – enter with rafflecopter for your chance.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Clever Way To Turn Food Into Art


December 1st 2014

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When I was in Israel this Summer, Jamie and I had the most wonderful time meeting our new friend Meir Bulka.  Meir is one of those people who reminds you never to judge a book by it’s cover.  He is a big Israeli man probably in his late forties, married with grown kids and he is also the mastermind behind the new digital Israeli magazine, Itonochel.  When I first heard from Meir about his magazine I immediately thought I was talking (emailing) with a  woman.  When I saw his name I realized I must be wrong, so I figured he must be in his twenties.  When we met Meir he told us of a time when he was on a TV show for food bloggers he said, “when the producer asked me what my job was and I told him, he said he was sure that the person behind my blog and the magazine is none other than a young Tel Avivian girl, photographer and food freak. When he noticed that I was just the opposite (as is well known, I live in Samaria, I’m not a girl and I’m not so young), I saw his disappointment on his face but we both doubled over in laughter.” It turns out Meir has more tricks up his sleeve.

Meir started off his career as an X-ray technician, but some years back the industry was flooded and he decided to find something new.  While he was still working he began to take vacation time to take cooking classes and food photography classes and eventually changed careers and started ItonOchel, the first digital Hebrew food magazine. Now, through his work on the magazine and his work as a food photographer for Israeli chefs he learns a little something with each shoot.

In his first issue he also showed us how he has combined his x-ray skills with his food photography and I thought it was just amazing and wanted to showcase it here for all of you.

Here is what Meir has to say, “My food X-ray photography series, has been getting an amazing response and I really want to develop this technique to an unequaled high.  Following the publication of the photos in the magazine, I received a number of interesting offers to develop this technique in other directions but at this stage I focus only on food photography and I plan to do another series in the future to be even more exciting and more challenging to be presented in a large exhibition. I am currently looking for a sponsor who can help me in realizing this dream”.
I love the way Meir shows part of the food with the X-ray and part whole, so you can see the inside and the out in one shot .  Meir is graciously sharing many of the recipes from ItonOchel with us so over the next year as we work to translate them you will see many recipes from ItonOchel.  If you would like more information about Meir or are interested in ordering an X-ray photograph for yourself, go to


Week {5} Recipes


November 30th 2014

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Here are my options for week 5 for the Joy of Kosher #testers project!

Stuffed Collard Greens

The Post Thanksgiving Hand Pie

Pomegranate Poached Pears

Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Polenta Portobellos

Cheesy Fish

Grilled California Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Shaved Parmesan


There is one item I’ve been running into that I cannot acquire – Kosher Parmesan Cheese. Also – I could not find Kosher frozen Artichoke Bottoms {or any artichoke bottoms for that matter}  for one of last weeks recipes. So – there are some recipes that I have to alter because of the access that I have to kosher products. I can get a lot but not everything.


/RECIPE/ Persian Bean and Noodle Soup


November 30th 2014

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Go here for the recipe so you can make it!

This soup was amazing. And fun to make. I did end up using a short cut – canned beans. It was a great last minute supper adding the canned versus dry. I also cut out the Rice Flour and simply pulled the Rice Noodles out from the pot they were boiled in and then added the beans to that. Worked great!


I already love Dill, and this was a GREAT place for it to be used. The greens added a lot to the soup and I was originally worried they would turn out slimy. But they didn’t.


Between the noodles and seasonings the family pretty much liked it. There are some in my family who are not in love with beans, so it was not their favorite dish. But they still liked it. So its a winner just not as big of a winner as the Salmon was but it still is very good. However, I’m a bean fan so I LOVED IT!


Go ahead and try it, its a great recipe!


Prepare For Cyber Monday With Our Chanukah Gift...


November 30th 2014

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The timing of Chanukah every year really dictates which sales we are able to take advantage of. Last year with Thanksgivukkah the sales were not in our favor, but this year we have more than two weeks to go and still have Cyber Monday to enjoy tomorrow.  You can see my guide for last year’s Hanukkah gift guide here.  This year I have found some fun new foods that will make the perfect gift.

Instead of a bottle of wine, consider a bottle of Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur.  OU certified this liqueur will be appreciated by all.  I really love ginger and nothing is really strong enough for me, but this comes close.  It is sweet and flavorful and will elevate your bar.  Find more about Barrow’s here.

Over Rosh Hashanah I wanted to use Truffle Oil to enhance my polenta, but I couldn’t find anything near me.  I finally decided to search online and I found this truffle oil on Amazon certified by KLBD.  I have been warned that most truffle oil is just flavored and doesn’t really have truffles in it.  This brand actually has the truffles added to it and I want to bathe in it.  A little goes along way so the price isn’t that bad and it just makes everything taste amazing.  Get one as a gift and make sure to get one for yourself.  Order on Amazon here.

Now that I know how amazing truffles can be in home cooking I intend to get some of this Truffle Salt from Saltworks.  They also make kosher certified smoked salts, which add tremendous flavor to food. Find more about the OU certified salts from Salt Works here.

Looking for something cheaper, but still amazing!! Try the Sriracha Powder from the Spice House.  If you tell them you want your spices kosher they will send spices from their Milwaukee location which is certified by Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin.  I buy all my spices from them, they are amazingly fresh and flavorful.  Mostly I get plain ground spices, but this blend intrigued me and I have had the best popcorn and sea weed snacks since this came.  Learn more about The Spice House here.

I really like the idea of “x” of the month clubs for gifts.  You can usually do them for as little as month or for the full year.  You can get so many things this way, such as tea,wine, chocolate, coffee, flowers, and fruits.  Just search for your product of choice and find the perfect gift for everyone.

And of course you won’t want to miss out on the very best gift, our Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine and Joy of Kosher cookbook. Order 2 subscriptions and get the book free!!  Order Now.



Disclosure: I was not paid for mentioning any of the products on this page, but I did receive some complimentary from the company.  All opinions are my own.


RSVP #WinnDixieKosher Chanukah Twitter Party


November 28th 2014

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You’re invited to join our #WinnDixieKosher Twitter chat!
Hosted by @JoyofKosher and sponsored by @WinnDixie.

We are cleaning our fryers and menorahs and getting ready to #CelebrateDelicious this Chanukah with Winn-Dixie by our side.   Winn-Dixie has over 1,000 kosher products plus many kosher baked goods in most of their stores and Jamie will be in Orlando and Jacksonville sharing latkes donuts with everyone who visits.

We are having a party online so can everyone can come.  Join our party to talk Chanukah memories, get tips, tricks and recipes for latkes and doughnuts.  Ask questions, share your tips and invite your friends cause we have lots of fun and lots of giveaaways.


Wednesday December 3rd at 8pm EST


@JoyofKosher @JoyofKosherMag @KosherFoodBloggers @TamarGenger @JamieGeller


Moderator @MommyBlogExpert

How to participate
Use hashtag #WinnDixieKosher
Use Tweetchat for easy chatting.

Anyone can participate, but you must be following @JoyofKosher and @WinnDixie and RSVP here below to win prizes!

Follow us here


Let us know you are coming to the party in the comments below to be entered to win 1 of 5 Winn-Dixie Gift Baskets including a signed Joy of Kosher Cookbook.  Make sure to include your twitter handle.