RSVP For The #ChosenCandy Twitter Chat and Win


October 8th 2013

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You’re invited to join our  Twitter chat!
Hosted by @JoyofKosher and sponsored by Mike and Ike and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews

On the agenda

Fun questions and lots of Prizes – Win 1 of 5 copies of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine for Hanukkah just by RSVPing below, then Retweet during the chat to win 1 of 2 $25 candy prize packages and 1 of 2 copies of the new Joy of Kosher Cookbook.

We will be talking about our favorite ChosenCandy!!  Reminiscing about Peanut Chews, discussing the Mike and Ike breakup and return with new flavors.  Bring your sweet tooth and get ready to talk candy.  Recipe suggestions, crafting and gift ideas to come too.


Thursday October 10 from 1-2pm EST


@JoyofKosher @Bitayavon @KosherFoodBloggers @KitchenTested

Moderator @TamarGenger

How to participate
Use hashtag #ChosenCandy
Use Twubs for easy chatting.

Anyone can participate, but you must be following @JoyofKosher and RSVP before the chat in order to win!

Follow us here


Let us know you are coming to the party in the comments below to be entered to win 1 of 5 copies of the Hanukkah issue of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine, make sure to include your twitter handle.


The Joy of Kosher Cookbook, It’s Personal…...


October 8th 2013

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You’ll hear people say my new Joy of Kosher is not exactly a cookbook – what they really mean is it’s not just a cookbook with the yummiest most delicious, most glorious food – it’s a book about life, my life.  Literally. I ripped pages out of my diary and swiped pictures of my family and put them into this book.  Nearly 400 pages of food, family, life and love.

You’ll want to hug this book.  I do.  I really wrote it for you ‘cuz I want to hug you.  You have no way of knowing how YOU keep me going, keep me writing, keep me honest and keep me cooking.  Without your cheering and support I would have thrown in the towel a long, long, long time ago.

I revel in the applause, comments like “my kids started saying, ‘more please, Mommy’”; “I cried all through your aliyah video”; “Thank you for this brisket recipe: it changed my life.”  And believe me if anyone knows, I know just how, exactly, a brisket can change one’s life!

This book is my most deeply felt, heart-baring, honest collection of recipes and stories.  I cook the way I do because of who I am: my background (didn’t grow up kosher); my journey (pampered kid, TV producer, workaholic); my evolving story (becoming religious); my mom (allergic to the kitchen but my biggest fan); my husband (a kitchen natural with an incredible sense of humor); my grandparents (gourmet chefs who loved us to pieces with food instead of words); my kids (my absolute life and the inexplicable cause of all those happy tears); and, of course, my kitchen (so I don’t have a dishwasher yet, I’ll manage).

This book is where all that love, life and laughter converge. Not to mention the food. Mmm, that fabulous food. It’s one, precious, happy, deliciously big book. ENJOY! I wrote it with every fiber of my being for you – yes you!

So please, please, please if you haven’t already done so pre-order your copies of the book NOW for just $18 so you have them in time for Chanukah and before the first printing sells out!

And to celebrate all this goodness we have a giveaway from one of my favorite condiments and book party sponsor French’s (click here for more recipes using French’s) ! In my new book I use mustard, mustard and more mustard. Dijon, Honey Dijon, Spicy Brown, Yellow – I use ’em all! So French’s has graciously offered a HUMUNGO prize package valued at $125 just for JoK readers featuring:

A French’s Prize Pack Valued at $125

  • 5-piece stainless steel grilling tool kit
  • 2 French’s pot holder mitts
  • Aan assortment of French’s mustard certified OU Kosher (Classic Yellow, Spicy Brown, Honey, Honey Dijon, Horseradish, Dijon with Chardonnay Wine)

Here’s How To Enter To Win

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Make a Healthier Pot Pie


October 7th 2013

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Hi, I’m Rena! I recently started blogging over at my No Way That’s Healthy! where I give ideas on how to live a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing time and taste. I’m all about easy and delicious foods. We shouldn’t have to deprive ourselves of the foods we once loved. We just need to make healthier versions which can be enjoyed without the guilt. With a husband who is your typical “meat and potatoes” type of guy and kids who we all know can be picky, I need to be sure the food is good. Luckily, they all seem to love what I make and don’t ask for anything else. On my blog I also share tips to making healthy eating easier and ways to make exercise doable for our busy lives.

Today, I decided to share with you a classic American comfort dish, but this recipe comes without any guilt.

Chicken pot pie is one of those recipes that I call “comfort food.” But it is usually packed with more calories than an average person should eat in a whole day.  This version has been changed to give you the comfort and yummy taste you want, but without the heavy feeling and unhealthy ingredients.

I have two options for the cream sauce and lots of recommendations, but the choice is yours to make it your own.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the long recipe, it’s just to give you lots of options and it is really very quick to pull off. You’ll be glad you made it!

Here’s my recipe for a Healthy Chicken Pot Pie.



An Early Fall Menu


October 4th 2013

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Now that the craziness of the holidays are behind us and Summer is officially over, it is time to get back to normal, every day life.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop planning and cooking and celebrating with food.  I know you all like to browse through my interesting menu ideas and so here is one specially made for you to use right now.  Whether you use it for Shabbat or maybe you are having the girls over for a fun night in, this menu is seasonal, flavorful and ready to be savored and enjoyed by family or friends.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

When I think of October, I think of pumpkin.  I mean everyone is doing it, have you seen those new Dunkin’ Donuts commercials?  We don’t need them to get our pumpkin on.  Pumpkin is filled with vitamins and a great source of fiber too.  Let’s leave out the sugar and enjoy this quick to make, hearty Pumpkin Black Bean Soup.


Pan Seared Salmon with Soy Sour Cream and Zaatar

I like to keep my main courses simple, with fresh and high quality ingredients and nothing does it better than salmon.  If you are not a fish person, try my simple Rosemary Balsamic Chicken.

Garlicky Kale

All my kids eat kale these days, so it has become our go to side.  Have you tried it?

You could serve anything as a starchy side here, a simple pasta, some orzo or rice, but when possible it is best to get in some whole grains.  I would suggest this Bulgur with Carrots, Nuts and Dates and if you don’t like dates or don’t have any, just substitute to make it your way.

Healthy Apple Pecan Crisp

Comfort Me With Apples is not just the name of one of my favorite books by Ruth Reichl, but is also how this dish will make you feel.  We didn’t use any pumpkin spice up in the soup, so let’s get some of those fall flavors in this apple crisp.  Serve this dessert piping hot and feel the comfort.

Have a fantastic fall!!


Surprising Dishes with Pomegranates


October 4th 2013

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Did you know that pomegranate seeds can complement so many dishes? You’ll find it surprising that just 2 spoons of pomegranate seeds will enrich even a simple Israeli salad.

When it comes to Israel, especially at this time of year, New-Year pomegranates flood the markets with their beautiful shapes and colors.  So, before I share some recipes from my ‘Cook in Israel’ cookbook  I’d like to share with you a little more about these wonderful fruits.

Do you know that there are about 400 types of pomegranates around the world?

They differ in color, size and taste.  Some are very sweet, while others are sweet and sour or just sour and tart. Sometimes you find the pale seeds are actually sweeter and the dark red end up sour. In Carmel market in Tel Aviv, where I feel at home and host all my guests, you can taste the seeds before buying them or sometimes just trust your vendor as I do :) .

Along our food tours of the markets in Israel we find several species of these amazing fruits. Having a pomegranate turned into fresh squeezed juice right in front of us is one of the highlights of my food tour in Israel.

Pomegranates symbolize abundance and I assure you that by adding pomegranate seeds to your food you will enrich it and make it look amazing on the table.

Cauliflower with Tahini and Silan

The cauliflower with tahini and silan (recipe from ‘Cook in Israel’ cookbook p.84) is one of the very popular dishes in my cooking classes. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious. It is always a successful dish, see what Ada Beth wrote me: “I think the cauliflower with pomegranate seeds is a good one (big hit at RH lunch)”.

Also, try my President’s Salad made with pomegranate seeds and pictured above.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on pomegranates.



Photos by Katherine martinelli


8 Ways to Enjoy Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews ...


October 3rd 2013

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I’m a Philly girl – born and raised.  But y’all know that already.  What you didn’t know is that Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews are from Philly too. At the time, I didn’t know that they were being made in my backyard.

Peanut Chews were developed by the Goldenberg Candy Company, which was founded by Romanian immigrant, David Goldenberg in 1890.  My parents are also Romanian immigrants.  (Oooooh the plot thickens!)  That peanut-molasses chocolate-coated delight is a major throwback to my childhood – a real old school thing!

I thought this revelation (about how we’re both from Philly, and both children of Romanian immigrants, aren’t you listening?) was kinda cute and funky, so I decided to celebrate this little-known factoid by fessing up to 8 ways I like to eat my GPCs.  (That’s shorthand for Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. I feel like I can call them GPCs since we’re practically like twins separated at birth).  Why 8? ‘Cause there are 8 peanut chews in a package and I wear a size 8. Um, wore a size 8, once, I think.

Anyway here are 8 ways to enjoy ‘em:

  1. Standing at the kitchen counter prepping dinner
  2. Curled up on the couch with a good book
  3. One at a time
  4. All 8 at once
  5. When the kids are asleep and I don’t have to share
  6. When the kids catch me and I do have to share
  7. Dipped in warm milk
  8. Baked into Peanut Chew Vanilla Cake made by my friend Amy.  If you don’t know Amy, you can bake your own.

I’m gonna share Amy’s top secret recipe with you now ‘cause that’s what you do with sweet treats – you spread the love, share the wealth, bake up a batch and put a smile on someone’s face.   Ok, so it’s not really top secret. I just like saying that. But it is an important recipe that I know you’ll treasure.  So we’ll call it Amy’s (formerly) Top Secret Famous Peanut Chew Vanilla Cake.  I think it takes longer to say it than to make it.

***Giveaway*** Win a $25 Mike and Ike and Goldenberg’s Prize Package to satisfy all your sweeties!!  Share any of your memories with peanut chews and how you enjoy them.  Enter below with rafflecopter.

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KosherFeast Honors Chef Laura Frankel


October 2nd 2013

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The third annual kosher social media dinner that precedes Kosherfest will be held on October 28th at the J Soho restaurant.  Tons of food bloggers, writers and personalities head to NY for Kosherfest.  The dinner is a time for them to get together, socialize and learn about some of the new products even before the show.  It follows our day long, Kosher Food Bloggers Conference, an event for food bloggers and professionals to openly discus, learn and network together.  This year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kosherfest, they are honoring some of the kosher food pioneers, Susie Fishbein, Chef Laura Frankel, Norene Gilletz, Gil Marks, Levana Kirschenbaum, Menachem Lubinsky, Joan Nathan and several more.

Chef Laura contributes regularly to our site (click here to see all her article and recipes) and our magazine and we are so happy for her recognition along with so many other of our talented foodie friends, all of whom have paved the way for the rest of us.

A little bit about Chef Laura: LAURA FRANKEL is the Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish studies in Chicago. She is the author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons (Wiley) and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes (Wiley).  Chef Laura is an avid farmer’s market supporter, giving demos and teaching classes all over the country featuring market produce.  Chef Laura is the former chef and founder of the Shallots restaurants. She has training and extensive experience in both savory and pastry kitchens. After Frankel had a family and began maintaining a kosher home she found that there was nowhere in Chicago serving the quality of food that she knew she could offer. She opened her first restaurant in 1999, offering kosher fine dining with a produce-driven menu. Frankel opened Shallots NY in 2000 in midtown Manhattan. In 2004, she moved her Chicago restaurant to Skokie, (a suburb with a large Jewish population outside of Chicago) and created Shallots Bistro.

Chef Laura has cooked for many dignitaries, including: Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Joseph and Hadassah Lieberman, Presidential Candidate Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Steven Spielberg, Senator Hillary Clinton, Ivanka Trump, and many more.

Before committing herself to her culinary passion, she played and taught both alto and baritone saxophones professionally. Frankel has three children: Zachary (24), Ari (21) and Jonah (17), who all love to cook and eat great food.

Her website is Follow her on Twitter: @cheflaura1

The KosherFeast dinner is brought to us by Esti Berkowitz ( and Roberta Scher from And a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a kosher food bank.



How To Cook and Eat an Artichoke


October 2nd 2013

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Growing up in the 70’s, my mom always tried new dishes, from, sweet breads, tongue, calf’s heart, caviar, and liver. My family had a sophisticated palate. I on the other hand would complain if I tasted pepper. Although, my taste buds were not as sophisticated as the rest of my family, I was pretty sure I was exposed to a cultivated selection of food choice.

I was wrong!

Fast forward a bunch of years – I met my husband, a native Californian, 4 years my senior. After dating for a year, he invited me to come to sunny California to show me his turf.

I was a nervous young 20 year old girl who had never been to the West Coast. After stepping off the plane and being thrilled by the huge palm trees and luxurious homes. I settled in at my future in laws modest house. Looking out their dining room window, beyond their pool, was the view from LA LAW.

My future husband gave me a tour of his house and his backyard. Besides, the standard California pool, there were orange, lemon and fig trees, Birds of Paradise and stunning tropical flowers. As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.” That is exactly what I was feeling; this was not the Atlantic Seaboard.

That week, I was your typical tourist, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studio, NBC Studio, Disney Land, Hollywood Stars, you name it.

Yet, what made me realize, that I was not as savvy as I thought, was not the avant-garde attitude of the West Coast, but what my future mother in law served at dinner, sitting on my plate was this bulky green flower. I had never seen this green pedaled bowl of food before. Everyone started peeling the leaves, dipping, scraping and discarding what appeared to be the whole piece. What was this leafy dish? My new prospective family was stunned that I had never eaten an artichoke before. I felt like the unsophisticated girl from the other side of the country. The Irony was that these people were the ones eating like animals. They were eating their food with their fingers and chucking their leftovers on their plate. And picking what appeared to be hair out of the bottom of the vegetable, and then proceeding to eat the base. Yet, I was the one to feel inexperienced and unrefined. What was going on?

27 Years ago, it was almost impossible to find artichokes at a super market on the East Coast. Before visiting California, I never had seen such a food. I came back home, and told my family and many others about this exotic vegetable native to the Mediterranean. Hardly anyone had heard or tasted it before. It is amazing how something so rare, over time has now become a weekly staple at our Shabbat table.

It took years for the artichoke to arrive in Maryland. When it finally did, one could only purchase this expensive edible bud in May at certain health food markets. In more recent years, artichokes are found at almost all super markets, at reasonable prices. I purchase them year round at Trader Joes for $2.99 for 4 artichokes. Although, it is a popular food in our home, I still find myself teaching many of our guests how to eat this thorny vegetable.

I am so thankful that 27 years ago I was introduced to this green plant. It is one of my favorite foods to eat. I am always trying new dips and usually go back to old favorites. Sophisticated or not, I found my prized fare on the pacific coast.

How to cook an artichoke

  1. Slice ¼ inch to ½ inch off top of artichoke.
  2. Wash artichoke well.
  3. Fill a large pot with 4-5 inches of water.
  4. Squeeze lemon over artichokes and water.
  5. Place a small plate over the artichokes, so the artichokes will stand up straight, cover pot.
  6. Cook for 25-45 minutes until outside leaf is easy to pull off. Remove from water.

Favorite dips:

  1. Mayonnaise, soy sauce, pickle juice, lemon juice and mustard.
  2. Sour cream and a bit of salt.
  3. Melted butter and salt

When was the first time you had an artichoke?

Note: Many halachic authorities do not allow the consumption of fresh artichokes due to the difficulty in checking for bugs.  Please speak to your local Rabbi if you have any questions in this matter.  If you don’t eat fresh artichokes you can buy frozen artichoke bottoms and here you can browse through artichoke recipes.


Joy of Kosher by Jamie Geller Cookbook Trailer


October 1st 2013

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Order my new cookbook on Amazon.


You’re Invited To The Joy of Kosher Cookbook...


October 1st 2013

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The Joy of Kosher Cookbook Launch Party is currently SOLD OUT. If you would like to be added to a wait list, please email

Joy of Kosher Cookbook Launch Party

Monday, October 21, 2013

7:00-9:00 pm

Millesime Brasserie

The Carlton Hotel, 92 Madison Avenue (29th street), located on the mezzanine level

Catering by Gemstone with Star K Kosher Supervision

All tickets include a copy of the Joy of Kosher Cookbook . Limited early bird registration  available through October 7, for only $54.  Use Discount Code EARLYBIRD.

The Joy of Kosher Cookbook Launch Party is currently SOLD OUT. If you would like to be added to a wait list, please email

We are celebrating the release of the NEW Joy of Kosher Cookbook (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2013)!!!  Join us for an exclusive evening of food and wine, fun and swag.  Have your book signed and be the first to taste Jamie’s new favorite recipes.

Ari White from Gemstone Catering (also known for Got Cholent and the Wandering Que) will be cooking up a selection of Jamie’s favorite recipes pulled straight from the pages of the NEW Joy of Kosher Cookbook.  Enjoy the show as Ari and his talented team of chefs work magic in the open kitchen at Millesime Brasserie.

This is an exclusive tasting experience that will include at least 10 different pass around hors d’ouvres, sampling stations, desserts, wine and a special Joy of Kosher cocktail (sponsored by Royal Wine Corp.).  Start drooling over…

  • Cilantro Corn Cakes with Avocado Aioli
  • Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Skewers with Herbed Curry Mustard
  • Blackened Tilapia Wraps with Cumin Avocado Sauce and Apple Cabbage Slaw
  • Latkes with Caviar and “Cream”
  • Toasted Marshmallow Nutty Caramel Brownies

Included in the ticket price you will be going home with a bag full of goodies, your own copy of the NEW Joy of Kosher Cookbook plus the Hanukkah issue of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine.  In addition to fabulous products from our sponsors, Mike and Ike, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, French’s, Sabra, Gefen, Shibolim and more.

Meet Jamie, take pictures together and have her sign and personalize your new cookbook.

A night out with friends and loved ones- not to be missed.  We can’t wait to see you there.  
get your tickets now!

Can’t attend? Pre-order your copy of the book for just $18.

Use Discount Code EARLYBIRD and get your tickets for just $54!! The early bird special is only available through October 7.  Don’t forget to bring your friends.

 Meet Our Sponsors



Rethink Your Salad with These Creative Fall Salad...


September 30th 2013

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Salads refer to a whole category of dishes that include raw vegetables but can also include: cold, cooked vegetables, including grains and pasta; ones which add cold meat or seafood; sweet dishes made of cut-up fruit; and even warm dishes. Though the prototypical salad is light, a dinner salad can constitute a complete meal. These dishes are served dressed with vinaigrette.

Vinaigrettes are an emulsion of oils and vinegar sometimes flavored with herbs, spices and commonly used as a salad dressing or cold sauce. Salads are complex and vexing for most chefs who write menus. In America, the salad starts the meal and as a chef, I want my first impression to be a good one. In Europe, a salad ends the meal and the last impression should also be a good one. A salad can be exciting and palate stimulating. I urge all home cooks to rethink their salads. This can be a make-or break course and can become the course that everyone looks forward to.

6 different types of salads:

  • Green salads are salads consisting mainly of leaves and vinaigrette.
  • Vegetable salads are made of vegetables and some or no leaves.
  • Bound salad consists of ingredients held together by a thick dressing such as aioli (mayonnaise).
  • Main course salads are also called entrée salads and often include a protein such as beef, fish or chicken and for vegetarians, tofu or seitan.
  • Fruit salads are made of one or several different fruits.
  • Dessert salads rarely contain leaves and are often sweet and can contain fruit purees, jellies and whipped cream.

Chef’s hint for vinaigrettes: 

Salt your vinaigrette before adding the oil. Once the oil has been added, the salt will not dissolve and your salad will not be evenly seasoned.

Try these new salad recipes this Fall with flavorful salad dressing recipes that will make everyone scream for salad.

Apple, Fennel & Roasted Beets with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Poached Pear, Pickled Shallots, Baby Spinach, Popped Wild Rice & Cranberry Vinaigrette

Grilled Plums with Chopped Kale & Warm Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette


As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Fall 2012 – Subscribe Now.


DIY Grilled Cheese Bar


September 25th 2013

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Ahh grilled cheese. The perfect meal for Fall, that’s easy and makes you feel like a kid again. I recently went back to work and unfortunately my classroom is “nut free”. I usually am a PB & J kind of girl, so I needed a new work sandwich and I found that you can have so much fun with grilled cheese!

For a fun Yom Tov meal or any time for kids or adults you can try a grilled cheese bar.   All you need is a griddle or large frying pan ready to go.  Set out plates filled with a selection of different breads, cheeses and other fillings.  Fillings can include anything from fried eggplant to grilled veggies to fake bacon.  You can also offer a variety of spreads, like sweet preserves, spicy mustard, pesto or tapenade.  Then let everyone create their own!!  Maybe serve a few salads and pickled veggies and your done.  Have fun and let your guests play chef.

For every day, here are some of my favorite combos:

Avocado and White American Cheese Melt

This sandwich works best with over ripe avocados- which is how I created it! I was trying to think of something to make using my last, super ripe avocado and this was delicious!

Veggie Bacon and American Grilled Cheese

I love Morning Star fake bacon!  Once upon a time when I was on weight watchers,I discovered that two strips was only 1 point! I felt that I had to incorporate these yummy strips into one of my grilled cheese creations.

Grilled Cheese Pizza Bites

All I can say is..yum! These bites were a happy accident.  I meant to experiment with cheese and pita bread, but I had given my son the last piece of pita. I DID have one small package of pizza dough, thawing in the oven and decided to have fun with it! These grilled cheese bites were so easy to make, and were gobbled up in under 5 minutes.

What is your favorite way to make a grilled cheese?

Don’t miss this guide to grilled cheese gadgets.


Best Grilled Cheese Gadgets


September 24th 2013

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The classic grilled cheese sandwich has saved many a harried person of all ages.  It is my go to lunch for busy days when the kids are home.  College kids practically live on them and now there are even restaurants popping up that pay tribute to them.  Everyone always has cheese and bread on hand and now you can even make them easier or better with these great grilled cheese gadgets.   Grilled Cheese Toaster Bags

I discovered this neat little tool at the Fancy Food Show.  It is not something I would have ever though to buy especially since I have a toaster oven, but since I got the sample, I let my son try it out.  My toaster oven has a nasty habit of burning things, but using this little bag, the grilled cheese came out perfectly crisp with a gooey center and not burnt.  It worked so well and was so easy for kids to use especially if you have a regular toaster.  Saves on mess too!!

Remember these? Maybe you have one already, the classic sandwich makers (click to see a few at Amazon).  The perfect addition to any college dorm room.  Great for kids learning to cook.  You can really make any warm sandwich in there too and doesn’t everyone love to eat little triangles.

Take your sandwich maker up a notch and opt for a Panini Press, instead of little triangles you can get grill lines.  Use any bread and any fillings and enjoy it hot.

I have also read that you can use a waffle maker to make grilled cheese, albeit a funny looking one, so a better option is this Big Boss Grill, which comes with removable inserts so that you can use it as a sandwich maker, a waffle iron or even a skillet.

Finally, if you are looking for some new grilled cheese ideas you can get this book with 50 grilled cheese ideas.

Hope you find some new ways to make your grilled cheese even easier and tastier.  Come back tomorrow for our Grilled Cheese Bar idea for a fun DIY meal you can even do on Yom Tov.


The Heart of The Cocktail


September 24th 2013

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It isn’t just for ad execs on Madison Avenue, cocktails have always been a part of popular culture.  Until now, I had only ever tried the basics, Martini (not my thing, Bond can keep it), Gin and Tonic, Screwdrivers, Margaritas and Mojitos.  Once I started to really enjoy wine I didn’t even consider cocktails except on vacation to a tropical destination.  Over the years, friends and Shabbat guests would enjoy single malt scotch and bourbon, but straight liquor was never that appealing to me. Maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to Don Draper, but we are living during a renaissance of the cocktail culture and my rocks glass will never be the same.

My most recent concoction was a mint and lime Julep

Taking center stage alongside the food at any fine new restaurant, are creative cocktails featuring fresh fruit, herbs, artisanal liquors and savvy combinations from thoughtful bartenders.  The most interesting menu in town, more often than not, is the cocktail menu.

Craft distilleries, small producers making their own whiskeys, rum, gin and liqueurs, are leading the way and encouraging wine drinkers to put aside preconceived notions of mixed drinks and try something new.  Bartenders are shaking things up with new flavors, from savory to sweet and spicy.

For kosher consumers, we have it pretty easy for a change.  Most spirits, including Rum, Tequila, Scotch, and Bourbon are considered kosher by most authorities, even without a hechsher.  Liquors, bitters and other mix-ins raise a number of kosher issues and you should seek out a kosher symbol on the bottle or consult your local Rabbi for guidance.  On my quest to learn the art of the modern cocktail, I stumbled upon Koval, a craft distillery in Chicago making kosher-certified spirits and liqueurs.

Koval was established in 2008 and is the first craft distillery within Chicago’s city limits since Prohibition.  Al Capone would be jealous!  At Koval, they make everything in house and entirely from scratch.  Koval was founded by Robert and Sonat Birnecker with a passion to bring the distilling traditions of Robert’s Austrian grandfather to America.  Their products are 100% organic and OU kosher certified.  They offer five single-grain whiskeys: Rye, Oat, Wheat, Millet and Spelt, and an impressive selection of liqueurs, including Coffee, Ginger, Jasmine, Orange Blossom and Rose Hip.  The name Koval is Yiddish for “blacksmith” and was the nickname of Sonat’s Great-Grandfather.   You can find Koval in many wine and liquor stores or you can even order online.  If you happen to live in or are visiting Chicago you can even get a tour and that includes tastings!!!

The same week that I started exploring Koval,  I received a sample of Keep It Simple Syrup – KISS – an all- natural spearmint infused simple syrup, with OU certification.  While simple syrup is an invaluable ingredient to have around the kitchen as it can be used to sweeten cookies, baked goods, teas and coffees, it is also is the perfect addition to start your own bar.  The trick to a good cocktail is the mixers.  Koval provides the liquor and liqueurs, but they typically need a little simple syrup.   This spearmint syrup from Kiss is perfect for mojitos, daiquiris, juleps or any other drink where mint is desired.  KISS is available at select markets and online, click here.

For a cocktail with a Middle Eastern flare, I created a fabulous drink based on Jallab, a refreshing blend of water, date syrup and rose water, I used The Date Lady Date Syrup and you can get my recipe here.

As you start building your bar, buy some bitters.  Say that three times fast!  Bitters add a lot of flavor to drinks and Angostura, found near the soda aisle in most grocery stores is certified kosher.  Soon we will try making our own, but until then get a small bottle and start experimenting.

Koval has a lot of recipes on their site, if you need some inspiration.  Cocktails don’t have to be overly complicated or require a lot of ingredients, all you really need is some fresh lemon or lime juice, simple syrup, some craft whiskey or rye a and a few dashes of bitters and you can make it a Mad Men night.

I hope to share more cocktail recipes, tips and tricks, if there is anything you want me to work on let me know in the comments below.


A Kosher Oktoberfest Menu


September 24th 2013

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A few years ago I wrote all about my experience at Oktoberfest which was a really fun two day layover on my way to Israel for Sukkot.  Read the full Oktoberfest experience here.  When I got back I couldn’t help but make these classic German recipes and they have since become a regular go to menu for Shabbat or any night of the week.

soft pretzels

Soft Pretzels

If making this menu for Shabbat you can go ahead and make Susie Fishbein’s Hot Pretzel Challah, click here. Don’t forget an assortment of mustard.

German Sausage Saute

German Sausage Saute

Easy German Red Cabbage

Easy German Red Cabbage



German Radish Salad


Herbed Spaetzl

apple strudel eggroll

Baked Apple Strudel Eggroll

Still working on the perfect strudel, if you have a recipe, please share it by submitting it here.