Shabbat Menu – Purity and The Red Heiffer


March 14th 2014

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From the rejuvenating waters of the mikvah, to the memory of Miriam’s triumphant dancing after the splitting of the In this week’s Parsha Shmini we read of the purifying power of water and it is the first time we read in specific detail the kosher dietary laws concerning what animals are permissible and prohibited, the criteria for kosher fish and birds and a list of kosher insects (yuck!). This week is also called Shabbat Parah, the Shabbat of the red heifer, which describes the ways in which we purified ourselves to being to prepare for Passover. These days we are purifying our homes by purging them of chametz and so we will eat a chametz filled menu featuring the Red Heiffer.

vegetable barley soup

Vegetable Barley Soup

stuffed roll of beef

Stuffed Roll of Beef


Green Beans Almondine

chickpeas and chard

Chickpeas and Chard

Chocolate Turkish Coffee Cake

Chocolate Turkish Coffee Cake


Scent of a Moscow Mule


March 14th 2014

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A couple of months ago a cocktail-loving friend of mine mentioned the Moscow Mule. The name didn’t sound the least bit appealing to me, but I have to admit I was intrigued when he explained how he was going to a bar that serves the drink the old-fashioned way — out of a copper mug. Just like when you discover a new word and then hear it everywhere, over the past few weeks I’ve been followed by the Moscow Mule – in signs, news articles and bar menus so I had to try it myself and share it with you.

The Moscow Mule is made from vodka, ginger beer and lime. It was created in the 1940′s to help sell more vodka in the U.S. It was served in the iconic copper mug as a marketing gimmick. People would see others get a cool looking different drink and ask for the same thing. Today, with the resurgence in popularity of this classic cocktail bars are discovering customers walking away with the copper mug as a souvenir, says the Wall Street Journal. People love the drink and want to recreate it at home with the right vessel, but there is a way to do this without committing a felony .

The copper mugs are not cheap, this set of 4 runs $75 on Amazon, but if you are a true connoisseur it is worth it. The nice thing about this drink is how easy it is to make. All you need is some quality ginger beer. The basic recipe can be found here, DIY Moscow Mule, I used a beer mug and found it served me well.


This recipe using lime juice, vodka and ginger beer is the classic version, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own. Add some biters, use lemon instead of lime, swap bourbon or whiskey in place of vodka. No matter what you do and whether you have a copper mug or not, this drink is an easy and crowd-pleasing cocktail.

If you like this drink as much as me and you like it spicy, you can save a few dollars by creating your own ginger beer.  The easiest way I have found to do it is by making a ginger concentrate and mixing it with seltzer.  Here is my recipe for a Ginger Concentrate that can be used whenever you want to spice up your life.


Uses For Leftover Hamantashen Filling


March 13th 2014

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You have been diligently preparing for Purim making many Hamantashen with many different fillings. Your Shalach Manos baskets need to be filled with assorted treats and your Hamantashen are anticipated additions in your baskets.

Most religious institutions, when preparing for Purim festivities, enlist cadres of cooks to assemble scores of dozens of Hamantashen for their holiday carnivals. Along with the traditional prune (lekvar) and poppy seed (mohn) fillings, apricot, almond, chocolate, strawberry and other fruit flavors have become favorites.  When preparing hundreds or even thousands of Hamantashen at a time, bakers can easily use many different flavors and have no leftovers.

Day After Purim Chocolate Cake

Day After Purim Chocolate Cake

However, when baking in your own home, the multitude of flavors can cause a problem. Even if you narrow your family’s choices down to three or four, and you make dozens of Hamantashen, you will still find yourself left with half a can of one flavor and some of another.

This has been my experience more than I care to remember. So what was I to do? I knew that the fillings shouldn’t be left in the can because the acid in the fillings would react with the metal can and negatively change their taste. The leftovers could be stored in the refrigerator for a few days in plastic or glass containers but eventually I needed to find a use for them and making more Hamantashen wasn’t the answer!

almond poppy seed bundt cake

Almond Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

The following recipes use four different fillings to make two different cakes.  One cake is poppy seed (mohn)/almond in a dairy pound cake and the other uses leftover prune and apricot filling to make a chocolate cake that is not only pareve, it is also fat free.  Since most prepared fillings for cookies or pies are pareve you can interchange the flavors for either cake. However, I would not suggest prune filling for the butter/yogurt cake since it would alter its golden color.

These recipes are designed to be used with commercial fillings not jelly or jam as they contain less binding agents and more moisture than fillings and will alter the consistency and flavor of the cakes.  In general, I also recommend that jelly or jam never be used to fill Hamantashen as they melt when the cookies are baked and often cause the sealed sides of the dough pockets to open.

Eat in Good Health!


10 Add On Gift Ideas


March 12th 2014

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One of the mitzvahs of Purim is to give mishloach manot comprised of at least two different types of food.  In addition to a food basket, consider giving loved ones an extra little gift to enjoy along with their hamantashen.  Below are gift ideas for the ten “personalities” you might encounter among your friends and acquaintances.


Colorful Clip Table Holders

1.  Teacher: Thank your children’s teachers with this great hands-free Colorful Clip on Table Holder.  They can clip it to their desk while in class or to a picnic table during recess.


Joy of Kosher

2.  Chef: For the culinary inspired friend, give the gift of the latest Joy of Kosher cookbook.


Correspondence Cards

3.  Writer: Encourage your writer-friend to take up a different medium: letter writing.  It’s also a subtle way to tell them to stay in touch!


Aristotles Puzzle

4.  Science Nerd: For the philosophically or scientifically inclined, Aristotle’s puzzle is a great gift which push them to test their logical sensibilities.


Shany Cosmetics

5.  Aspiring Make-up Artist: A make-up lover can never have too many brushes!  These bamboo brushes from Shany Cosmetics are sophisticated and designed in America.


Kindle Cover

6.  The Avid Reader: For the reader with shelves full of books and a fully stocked Kindle, consider sending them a beautiful cover for their Kindle.


Trakdot Luggage Tracker


7.  The World Traveler: Your friends will be super impressed by Trakdot Luggage Traveler.  It is designed to provide a specific location for your luggage which can be tracked from your cellphone.


HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

8.  Politician: The new Hilary Clinton biography, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, traces the evolution of Hilary from First Lady to Presidential candidate.


Oster My-Blend Blender


9.  Health Nut: The Oster sport bottle blender is a great gift for the health conscious people in your life.  They can blend their favorite smoothie in their sports bottle, no extra dishes to worry about during the morning rush!


Holga Lens Filter


10.  Instagram Enthusiast: We all have that friend who documents most of her life on Instagram.  Why not give her more filters to choose from, with the Holga Lens Filter she can filter her photos as she takes them.


Sweet and Spicy Sambusak For Purim


March 12th 2014

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Curry leaves, fenugreek, and multi-colored mustard seeds aren’t part of every day Ashkenazi fare. Integral to Indian foods, they are all part of the vast sweep of Jewish cuisine that includes distinct Indian- Jewish communities.

Kolkata (Calcutta), Cochin and Mumbai (Bombay) were home to the largest Jewish communities for centuries, and yet were relatively unknown to the West. There were smaller Jewish communities dotted throughout the Indian subcontinent. They developed foodways deeply influenced by their neighbors, from spices to techniques.

The communities, all located in different states, arrived at different times.

In Cochin, Jews settled over a thousand years ago. Calcutta’s original community arrived as merchants in the 17th century but in the 19th century there was a consequential influx of Jews from Baghdad and other countries of the Middle East. The foods they ate remain distinct from one another. The Baghdadi Jews strongly influenced the food of all of their neighbors of every faith.

The Benei Israel of Mumbai left ancient Judea in the time of King Solomon, on a merchant ship. The boat was shipwreck on the shore. The survivors set upon creating a new life, isolated from all Jewish contact. Yet, they continued to observe the Sabbath, eat no pork or shellfish and follow ancient traditions to the curiosity of their neighbors. There was great doubt that they were truly “Jewish” but DNA testing proved they were indeed exactly what the claimed- to be from the line of Judah.

Today, Jewish style dishes often crop up at family meals and at Indian restaurants.

Indian-spiced Apricot and Mango stuffed Sambusak Purim Cookies are a new kind of Purim treat. They are a cross between Purim’s traditional hamantaschen, the savory filled empanada-like pastry known as Sambusak, and the malpua, a sweet stuffed pancake enjoyed by the Bene Israel, India’s Jewish community. The traditional malpua is a sweet stuffed pancake made with pineapple, almonds and other fruits and nuts. This version also incorporates Silk Road flavors into its yummy filling. It’s a delicious way to introduce some new flavors–and to learn about a Jewish community with a storied past that is unfamiliar to most Jews. Be sure to allow 1 hour (or up to 1 day) for the dough to chill before you fill and bake. These will keep in a covered container at room temperature about for 2 days, but they are best the day they are made.

Get the full recipe.


Kosher Shrimp Cocktail Recipes


March 11th 2014

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Whether you keep kosher of have any other kind of dietary restrictions, chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve heard comments like: “What? You’ve never had bacon??” or “You can’t eat lobster? You have no idea what you’re missing!”. And it’s true, I don’t.

Because missing something you’ve never had, is pretty much impossible. It would be sort of like missing a person you’ve never met, right?
In fact, I think not being able to eat certain foods is a good thing. It means I can be perfectly happy eating the “fake” stuff, like soy bacon, or veggie burgers, or imitation crab or shrimp. Recreating traditional flavors can be fairly easy, really. Especially when you have a good selection of seasonings and condiments to choose from. After all, those are the ingredients that will mostly infuse the food with flavor!

tropical shrimp cocktail

Tropical Shrimp Cocktail Terrine

We loved using Gold’s Cocktail sauce for these “shrimp” dishes. The combination of sweet and tangy flavors with a little kick from the horseradish was just the perfect addition for both of them. But then again, being the ketchup and horseradish addict that I am, I could eat this stuff with a spoon right out of the bottle (can’t say I haven’t done that with their horseradish with beets before). Hope you enjoy it!

Get the recipes for

Tropical Shrimp Cocktail Terrine

Baked Coconut Shrimp

This post was sponsored by Gold’s, all opinions are our own.


In the JOK Kitchen with Meatless All Day *Giveaway...


March 11th 2014

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Don’t let the name fool you, this book is not just for vegetarians.  For our health and our environment all of us should be eating less meat and this is easier for some than others.  Meatless All Day aims at helping anyone out there trying to incorporate more vegetarian food into their diet with lots of flavorful recipes.  While some of the recipes are vegan even more can be adapted and most of them are perfect for a kosher lifestyle as well.Dina gives tips on how to make your meatless meal more robust/meaty so that even the meat lovers won’t notice.  Give it a shot, we have three recipes to start with that Dina is sharing, read on.

When and why did you become a vegetarian?

I’m actually not a vegetarian; however, most of the meals I eat are meatless. I love cooking and eating vegetarian for many reasons. Among them, I try to eat healthfully and am passionate about designing meals around gorgeous, fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, I absolutely love beans and lentils and global cuisine (and so many amazing dishes worldwide are vegetarian). Furthermore, meatless cooking is super-convenient, in that I don’t need to constantly run out to the store for fresh meat or fish. It’s also extremely economical. Finally, I feel good that I’m doing my small part towards the health of the planet.

Does your whole family eat meatless all the time? 

No, my family sometimes eats meat or fish. But, like me, most of the meals they eat are vegetarian. Even though my kids are the sons of a cookbook author, their favorite meals are quesadillas, pizza, macaroni and cheese, PB&J, and pasta. My husband tries to watch his cholesterol and eats black bean soup or chili for lunch nearly every day.

What is your earliest memory of cooking?

It’s a toss-up between my creating a chocolate banana smoothie recipe for a school newsletter in the fifth grade and my ransacking my childhood home’s pantry for any sweet ingredients I could find to make peanut butter or thumbprint cookies. I remember being frustrated by the bitter taste of a hunk of baking chocolate—I’d thought it would be as sweet as a candy bar!

Do you cook with your kids now?

Absolutely—whenever they’re up for it! I’m always trying to get them excited about food and to encourage healthy habits in the kitchen. A few of the recipes I make with them include Green Smoothies (a kale, frozen mango, and apple juice smoothie); chunky applesauce; brownies; banana bread; and quesadillas. Nothing too complicated—my boys are only 4 ½ and 6. But I can’t wait until they get older and can accomplish more complicated tasks.

Here’s the recipe for my Green Smoothie (it’s not from my book, so it is a bonus for you).

What is your favorite recipe in the book – can you share it with us? 

Truly, each recipe is like a baby. So it’s difficult to choose. Though, if I had to highlight one, I might say the Beet Wellington with Pinot Noir Sauce. It’s a play on Beef Wellington. My version includes roasted beets, mushrooms, and goat cheese—in a shell of puff pastry. Here’s the recipe  and you can see it pictured above.

For someone who is meatless averse, which recipe do you recommend starting with? 

I would recommend the Whole Wheat Spaghetti with White Bean Balls. The White Bean Balls are more delicious than true meatballs—truly! Your family won’t be able to tell they’re vegetarian. I’m getting hungry just thinking about that recipe! And it’s very easy and healthful!

Most Jewish holidays are traditionally a very meat heavy time, do you have any recommendations of how to limit the meat?

So true—brisket is a mainstay for my extended family. I would go for the Seaweed-Crusted Tofu with Remoulade Sauce.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Meatless All Day published by The Taunton Press in 2014.  Photography by  © 2014 by Kate Sears

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with White Bean Balls

Beet Wellington

Seaweed-Crusted Tofu with Remoulade Sauce

How often do you eat meat? Let us know and enter with rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of Meatless All Day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kosher Wine For Purim


March 10th 2014

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This year we celebrate the holiday of Purim on Saturday March 15, 2015.  As many of you know, the Sunday meal is a festive seudah celebrated with a delicious meal, songs and lots of drinking.  There is a tradition to drink until you can no longer distinguish between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai.  While that may be too much for most, it’s nice to know there are some wonderful kosher wines to share at your special meal with close friends and family.

Here are some of the wines we will be celebrating with this Purim:

Freixenet Excelencia Kosher Brut (Spain); $18.  This Spanish sparkling wine (Cava) is Freixenet’s first kosher offering available in the U.S.  Macabeo grapes are selected for this cuvee of delightful complexity, boasting aromas of ripe pear and green apple with crisp acidity on the palate, balancing long and elegant fruity and floral notes.

2011 Dalton Shiraz (Israel); $20.  One year of aging in America oak produced a highly concentrated wine that is dark in color, the nose is intense with black fruit, plums, berries, licorice, and pepper notes. The wine has soft integrated tannins and a long finish.

2010 Borgo Reale Maturo (Italy); $22.  The Borgo Reale Maturo is a red blend of 55% Primitivo and 45% Negroamaro grapes and is a perfect accompaniment to pasta, pizza and other saucy dishes. This makes this wine unique a wine which combines the opulent velvetiness of the great northern Italian wines with southern Italian warmth and earthiness.

Porto Quevedo Ruby Porto (Portugal); $21.  This sweet port wine is a young, deep ruby colored wine, with red fruits bouquet evocative of raspberry, blackberry, and redcurrant. Perfect to pair with chocolate mousse, apple tart, or dates.



Pockets Of Surprise – DIY Kreplach Recipes


March 10th 2014

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With hidden meanings, veiled faces and conspiracy as the theme for the holiday, it is easy to see why kreplach are a favorite food for Purim. Little purses stuff ed with surprise fillings are fun and delicious treats. While homemade kreplach require a bit of effort, they are worth the time spent. I like to use the kreplach in a variety of ways. They are most often served in soups. I also like to crisp them up and add them as “croutons” to salads and to serve them with dipping sauces as hors d’oeuvres.

Braised Short Rib Ravioli

Braised Short Rib Ravioli

To expedite the process of making the kreplach, I like to prepare my fillings in advance and freeze them. I put a lot of flavor into my fillings; I want them to have an assertive flavor. Think about it: a bland or neutral dough will “mask” the flavor a bit, so you need to start with bold spices and quality ingredients. Don’t skimp on browning the meats and fillings. That caramelization adds a layer of flavor that cannot be made up for in the final product.

DIY Cheese pierogies

Cheese and Potato Pierogies

Homemade kreplach dough is silky and easy to work with. But, in a pinch, I reach for wonton skins. They are a good substitute for homemade and freeze beautifully. While homemade kreplach are a bit of a potschke, they are a labor of love and a delicious part of the holiday.

Get my recipes:

Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib Kreplach

Coconut Chicken Curry Kreplach (Samosa)

Cheese and Potato Pierogies

Mishloach Manot Idea Pack two kreplach with dipping sauce in a mini lunch box container.

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Late Winter 2013) – Subscribe Now


Cheese Quiche


March 10th 2014

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Jamie Geller shows you how to make Cheese Quiche in this Quick & Kosher video. Find the recipe here.


Shabbat Menu – Remembering


March 9th 2014

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This week’s parsha describes the laws and responsibilities of the kohanim, the holy priests.  The kohanim keep the fire on the altar burning constantly, from morning until night.  There is also the special Shabbat Zachor reading where we remember the attack of Amalek as we draw closer to the holiday of Purim.  In the spirit of remembering we will share a menu filled with Omega-3 fats, which have brain boosting powers.

Sesame Soy Salmon

Sesame Soy Salmon

baked eggplant with ground beef

Baked Eggplant with Ground Beef

charred asparagus

Charred Asparagus


Freekeh Pilaf

Cranberry White Chocolate Hamantashen

Cranberry White Chocolate Hamantashen


A Low Fat Caesar Salad


March 7th 2014

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Caesar salad made have Italian origins, but when we work a little fusion magic we can create an unbelievably creamy Caesar using plain Greek yogurt.  The truth is that Caesar salad is not from Italy, but it is generally attributed to an Italian immigrant and is usually made with Romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, anchovies or Worcestershire, garlic, black pepper and an egg yolk. An average Caesar salad will have almost 200 calories and 15 grams of fat.  That is why we created this lower fat, egg free alternative that is extra creamy and the secret is the Greek yogurt.

Norman’s Greek yogurt is chalav yisroel and provides a great substitute for heavy cream and sour cream.  In this case it works to keep the fat down and also allows us to keep this Caesar salad eggless.  This salad has only 100 calories and 2 grams of fat, add some canned or grilled tuna and make it a full meal. And since we are already going fusion crazy, there is no need to stop at romaine and croutons with this salad dressing.  Go ahead and make extra and use on all your favorite salads.  If you leave it a little thicker you can even use it as a spread for a sandwich.

Here’s the full recipe for our Greek Yogurt Caesar Salad.



Easy Weeknight Fish Recipes


March 7th 2014

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Are you looking to get more fish into your diet? This flavorful recipe makes it easy to increase your fish consumption. White meaty fish, such as halibut and the cod served here, is low in calories but high in protein. For those of us watching our waistlines, fish is a great choice especially when it replaces fattier cuts of red meat. And because it’s so low in calories, it means we can have a larger portion for fewer calories.   If you are new to fish, try replacing one meat dish a week with a fish dish. Small changes will add up quickly!

This Mediteranean style steamed cod recipe is healthy and flavorful, bursting with unsaturated fats and lots of strong flavors. Because cod, as mentioned above, is a mild yet meaty white fish, it takes on the flavors of ingredients in the dish. In this recipe, olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic and white wine provide savory bursts of flavor. I serve this dish a bright green vegetable such as sautéed Brussels sprouts in garlic and olive oil, or just-wilted garlic kale.

Sesame Soy Salmon

Sesame Soy Salmon

Fish is an excellent source of protein. And salmon is an especially good source of healthy fats, namely omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are great for reducing inflammation and the risk of developing heart disease, two things that are very important in keeping healthy. But salmon is not the only source of these good-for-you fats. Broaden your palate and try other fish rich in Omega-3s: tuna, trout, mackerel and arctic char are also great options.

Salmon has a naturally strong flavor which holds up nicely against this savory  marinade for a Sesame Soy Salmon. Allowing the fish to marinate long enough helps to meld the flavors together for a cohesive dish. The addition of a crunchy vegetable base adds interesting texture and  lots of flavor.

What is your favorite fish? I hope I inspired you to eat it more often.


Unique Chocolate Treats for Mishloach Manot


March 6th 2014

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Everybody that knows me is familiar with my chocolate obsession. The darker and richer, the better! Every year I make a few special treats to put in my mishloach manot. These two are at the top of my list! The chocolate bark is simply delicious and always looks festive and the chocolate dipped honeycomb fits in with my Bee theme. Both are incredibly easy to make and will completely jazz up your mishloach manot!

honeycomb candy

Chocolate Honeycomb Candy

Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb
Purim has always been one of my favorite holidays but with an 11 week old baby, this year is going to be better than ever! Our little Andi Brielle (Andi Bee as we call her) helped with the decision for this year’s theme- Honey Bee. Everything will be black, yellow, and honey filled to fit the theme. And for a crunchy snack, homemade, chocolate dipped honeycomb fits the bill. Chewy, sticky, and caramel flavored, these little guys hit the spot!

diy chocolate bark

DIY Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate bark is an easy and delicious snack that’s perfect for any time of year. I love using high quality, dark chocolate, but feel free to use any kind you like. This is perfect to make when you have leftover dried fruit or nuts in the house. Really anything goes here!


5 Savory Hamantashen Inspired Menus


March 5th 2014

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Here at Joy of Kosher we have a plethora of hamantashen recipes!  Many of the recipes are quite versatile and can be served outside of a Purim party setting.  These menus are inspired by 5 savory hamantashen which work as appetizers, main meals, and of course, desserts.

Cardamom Scented Hamantaschen with Goat Cheese and Pear Filling

1.  Cardamom Scented Hamantaschen with Pear and Goat Cheese Filling: The goat cheese filling is optional; if you choose to go dairy-free try the Green Curry Chicken and Vegetable Rice as an entree.  The classic combination of pears and goat cheese make these hamantaschen a great side dish.  Start with Easy Zucchini Soup, followed by the main course of  Grilled Salmon over Lentil Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette and the Cardamom Scented Hamantaschen with Pear and Goat Cheese Filling.  For dessert, try the Almond and Olive Oil Cake.


Camembert Hamantaschen with Apple Cinnamon Filling

2.  Camembert Hamantaschen with Apple Cinnamon Filling: This is a fabulous sweet and savory appetizer.  For the main course, try the Lemon and White Wine Broiled Sole with Cranberry Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini and Potato Salad with Arugula and Tomato.  For dessert, try the Hazelnut Chocolate Chia Pudding or the Pear Applesauce Cake with Pomegranate Glaze.


3.  Thanksgiving Savory Hamantaschen:  Filled with roasted squash and turkey, Thanksgiving Hamantaschen are served best as part of the main meal.  Start with the refreshing Miso Kale Salad, then during the main course pair the Thanksgiving Hamantaschen with Chili Garlic Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Beef Bacon.  If you’re not too full, try the Deconstructed Apple Pie for dessert.


Vegetable Samosas (The "New" Hamantashen)

4.  Vegetable Samosas (The “New” Hamantashen):  Vegetable samosa hamantashen make a great vegetarian main dish.  The Carrot, Quinoa and Spinach Soup is a great starter, followed by the vegetable samosas with Rice Pilaf, Channa Masala and Kumquat Chutney.  For dessert, try the beautiful Indian River Grapefruit Meringue Cake.


Pecan Pie Hamentashen

5.  Pecan Pie Hamantashen: It’s safe to say that the Pecan Pie Hamantashen would make a perfect dessert.  I picture serving these along with pareve ice cream, but before rushing to dessert, try serving dinner too!  I would serve a hearty dinner starting with a Blood Orange and Beet Salad, followed by Herb-Roasted Beef in Salt Crust with Green Beans Almondine and Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes.