Holiday Prep Post #6 – Cook Thematically


September 9th 2014

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It’s good to organize your cooking and prep work by theme:

Day 1 wash and prep your veg

Day 2 make your soups and stews

Day 3 clean your chickens etc…

This keeps you from switching your cutting boards back and forth from fresh produce to salmonella laden raw animal proteins.  Of course if you are meticulous about cleaning you have nothing to worry about but I find when cooking in bulk, for larger crowds, it’s much easier to quickly rinse a cutting board between cukes and carrots then to have to clean (read scrub) when I am elbow deep in raw chicken.


Holiday Prep Tip #5 – Chop, Chop, Chop


September 9th 2014

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Now is when you really earn your sous chef stripes.  (Say that 10 times fast!)  I chop, cut, slice, dice, ribbon, julienne and more about once a week.  I think about my menu and cut accordingly. I often have carrots 3-ways in my fridge: in coins (for roasting and snacking), julienned (for stir fries and starchy sides) and ribboned for salads.

I filet my bell peppers (includes washing and removing the seeds and ribs) and slice them into strips so I can easily grab a bunch and use them as is and/or quickly dice without having to wash and clean.

Fresh chopped parsley lasts in the fridge for at least a week if not 10 days (fab for cooking and garnishing!).  As do sliced onions.  I always have a container of red and container of yellow sliced onions ready and waiting.   Cucumbers in my fridge are both coined and in sticks (easy to dice from, if needed) and grape tomatoes of many colors are always washed and halved, lengthwise.

I keep all of the above in the fridge, separately, in sealable containers, because they each have different shelf lives and combining them only shortens their longevity.  More delicate herbs like basil I pre wash wrap in a damp towel before putting in a sealable container in the fridge.  Most everything should keep for about a week.

Use this tip not just for holiday cooking but for year round as well.  When you get home from shopping, wash, check, peel, cut, and prep all your veg.  Seal and store until you are ready to cook tomorrow, or later in the week.


Holiday Prep Tip #4 – Don’t Be Scared...


September 9th 2014

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Now that I live in Israel most meat comes frozen. There are fresh butchers here and there but for the most part I buy my roasts, chop meat, and stew beef, frozen. Similarly whole sides of salmon and fish fillets come frozen. Fishmongers are harder to come by than butchers. And because year-round I don’t have time for a big shop more than once a week I buy lots of fresh chicken – on the bone, in cutlets, in strips, ground – and freeze that as well. This way, I can just shop from my freezer before cooking.


Holiday Prep Tip #3 – Organize Your Shopping...


September 9th 2014

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Now that you know your menu, including intended repeats organize your list by shelf stable and fresh produce.  Have you ever noticed that stores start to run out of stuff as the end of the holiday draws to a close?  Of course this is most prevalent on Passover but it happens during the High Holiday season as well.  We usually do 1 BIG and by BIG I mean HUGE shop at the start and then fill in with perishables and last minute items throughout the month.  This way you have everything (or most things) you know you need at the ready.

When you organize your list though, be sure to include any perishables you need for bulk cooking within that first shop.

A well-stocked house is helpful for lots of reasons but I’ll give you two:

1. Should you find yourself with unexpected free time (it does happen!) you can get a jump on things.

2. Ingredients in house keep you from having to call an audible.  You know how we can all get.  As flexible as we wish we were when we have our heart set on making something we want to make THAT and only THAT.  Because not only is THAT important, in fact essential to our menu, but THIS side was reliant on THAT main and once we don’t have THAT we have to also change THIS and then, well you know, it’s just the beginning of the end.



Holiday Prep Tip #2 – Consider Encore...


September 9th 2014

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When planning your menu, consider your company and time between each holiday meal and don’t shy away from serving the same thing more than once over the course of the month.  Serve the same soup the first night of RH and the first night of Sukkot or the same brisket Shabbos of the 3-day Rosh Hashanah Yom Tov and Shabbos Chol Hamoed (Sukkos).  Point is, don’t make 3 soups, 5 briskets, or even 8 desserts.  Cook in bulk by doubling/tripling/quadrupling recipes that freeze well.

Freeze in portions the size of your crowd and pull from the freezer in advance of the meal.  This way you are not starting from scratch before each holiday.  Alternate your menu based on company (so you don’t repeat food with repeat guests – although that wouldn’t be the worst thing) and proximity of meals.

Click here for my tips on which foods freeze well:

Easy Food Preparations When You Freeze with Ease

Freezer Tips For Your Collection


Holiday Prep Tip #1 – Plan Your Menus Now


September 9th 2014

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By now, I mean right now.  Tomorrow is ok (now is better!) but just don’t let it wait a week.  Plan your menu for the entire holiday season at once, the earlier the better, from the first Rosh Hashanah meal to the last Simchat Torah seudah.  Crazy Fact: There are at least 16 meals if you live in Israel and 20 meals if you live outside of Israel.

For help or inspiration (or both!) when it comes to High Holiday menu planning click on the following links:

A South African Rosh Hashanah Menu

A Rosh Hashanah Menu From Kim Kushner

Healthy Holiday Menus Under 600 Calories

Pre-Yom Kippur Menu: Hearty and Filling Foods

How to Break Your Fast

How To Have a Healthy Break The Fast

Mix and Match Sukkot Menus

A Sukkot Menu From Susie Fishbein – With Shopping List

Shemini Atzeret Menu

Simchat Torah Menu



Fall 2014 Magazine Sneak Peek


September 8th 2014

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DIY Rosh Hashanah Hostess Gift *Giveaway*


September 8th 2014

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Make your own hostess gift or centerpiece. Filled with candy this vase doubles as a gorgeous table decoration and a candy dish filled with edible goodies for the kids.

This year the first night of Rosh Hashanah falls on the night of September 24th, 2014.  A big relief after last year’s early holidays, we have time to plan and prepare.  Still, hopefully we will all get a little break and be invited out for at least one of the meals and that is when this amazing do it yourself hostess gift will come in handy.

This gift idea is so amazing for several reasons.  First, it is really affordable to make and looks absolutely stunning.  Second, it is incredibly easy.  Third, the gift includes flowers for the grown ups and candies for the kids (and grown ups too of course).  There is really something for everyone.

The idea behind this ingenious gift comes to us from Chavi Chase of Pret-a-Partee,  find her here on Facebook and on Instagram.   Here are the instructions:

You will need two glass vases, one that can fit inside the other.

Chavi was able to get a large vase similar to the one pictured here at Michael’s and then found a smaller bud vase at a dollar store!!!  If you are bargain shopper you can make this gift super cheap. For ease you can order this larger vase and this smaller vase both from

1. Place a glue dot on the bottom of the bud vase.  Chavi used a tape dispenser that has sticky glue on it, called adhesive sticky glue dots and is available at Wal-Mart, Office Depot or any stationary store or online here.

2. Insert the bud vase into the wider vase.

3. Choose your Mike and Ike candies by color if desired, this is where to get the kids involved.  For the design pictured above Chavi chose the Cherry color because it made her think of pomegranates and the apple green color for apples on Rosh Hashanah.

4. Layer your chosen Mike and Ike candies alternating colors as desired, just eyeball, it does not have to be prefect.

5.  Fill the bud vase with water and fresh cut flowers.  Chavi chose these green hydrangeas and red roses to match the colors (Chavi got these beauties at the floral department of Shoprite).

6.  Deliver to your hostess before the holiday so everyone can enjoy the flowers and the candy throughout the holiday.

Instructions and design provided by Chavi Chase of Pret-a-Partee

Photos by Esti Photography

Make your New Year sweeter with this giveaway from Mike and Ike!! Enter to win a candy prize pack below, start by sharing your favorite hostess gift in the comments below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Mike and Ike.



Come See Me Demo At Winn-Dixie This Thursday


September 7th 2014

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I am so so so excited to be coming to Florida and to meet all my South Floridian friends.

Catch me on NBC 6 on Wednesday September 10th at 11:30am when I show morning show host Roxy Vargas how to fill and shape individual round challahs stuffed with a variety of sweet holiday treats. And even better, I am personally inviting you to join me LIVE at Winn-Dixie of Tamarac (7015 N. University Drive) on Thursday September 11th at 5:30pm for a demo, tastings and book signing.

I will help get you ready for Rosh Hashanah with a step-by-step demonstration of 4 of my favorite holiday recipes. Oh and I know I already mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating: THERE WILL BE SAMPLES FOR YOU ALL TO TASTE!

Come and learn how to make Apple and Honey-Stuffed Challah, Date and Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs, Sweet Kugel with Dried Fruit, and Deconstructed Apple Pie – get all the recipes plus 16 more in our free downloadable #FreshNewYear eBook here.

BONUS, ALERT, PAY ATTENTION HERE FOLKS: There will be a FREE GIVEAWAY! All attendees will receive a FREE copy of the Rosh Hashanah issue of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine filled with over 50 recipes including tons of Jewish classic comfort foods.

Can’t wait to see you. (And hug you. You already know I can’t keep myself from hugging.)

Together with the folks at Winn-Dixie we wish you a sweet new year filled with new memories!

Shana Tova.



Why You Should Add Leeks To Your Rosh Hashanah...


September 5th 2014

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Everyone knows that Rosh Hashanah is apples and honey time. But there’s a growing tradition to include other symbolic foods on the menu during the High Holiday season — foods that evoke our wishes for G-d to bless and protect us in the year ahead.

Leeks for instance.

Why leeks? Because the ancient Aramaic word for leeks (karsi) sounds like yikarsu, the word for “cut off” or destroy. In the prayer we say after eating leeks we ask for protection against our enemies, that they be “cut off” from us in the year ahead.

Leeks seem particularly significant this troubled, violent year.

And so, with hopes that 5775 will be a fortunate and peaceful one for Jews everywhere, our family will be eating leeks in some form or another at Rosh Hashanah.

Actually, we all love leeks, which are in the onion family, and I cook with them often. Unlike onions though, which I think of as a “seasoning” to add flavor to stocks, soups and sautéed food, I regard leeks as more of a vegetable. I always serve braised leeks at Passover. In the summer I char leeks on my outdoor grill. I make hot soup with leeks in winter, cold soup when the weather turns. I use them in omelets. Serve them as a side dish throughout the year. Mix them with potatoes for my Hanukkah latkes.

One dish that I know will be on my Rosh Hashanah menu is Imam Bayeldi, a Turkish specialty made of braised leeks, eggplant and tomatoes. It tastes wonderful and you can make it ahead and eat it hot, cool or at room temperature. I have even used the leftovers for sandwiches (either with feta cheese or grilled meat).

During the holidays I will also serve my easy 5-Ingredient Leek and Potato soup (one of the 5 ingredients is water!), which can be varied so many different ways that my family likes to guess what I’ve thrown into the pot. This soup can also easily go from pareve to dairy to meat.

Finally, there is sure to be a family favorite, Chicken with Leeks, Parsnips and Mushrooms, another simple, colorful, nourishing and delicious make-ahead entrée.


Cooking With Joy: Roasted Asian Veggies


September 4th 2014

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In late summer, I love to go to my local farmers market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of my favorites are beets, carrots, and radishes. The vibrant colors alone are reason enough, but we also really enjoy eating them!

We opted to dress this recipe down and roast the veggies while leaving off the nuts. We figured it would be more family-friendly, since our family is not so into nuts.

Beets and fennel are right up there with some of my favorite things to eat. And while hubs likes most vegetables, his best in this dish are the radishes.

Roasting and caramelizing any vegetable is a great way to bring out its natural sweetness.The addition of this sesame/soy marinade did a great job highlighting the flavors of each vegetable, too.

 Raw Root Vegetable Salad page 109
DRESS IT DOWN Asian Roasted Root Vegetables


15 Simanim Inspired Sides and Mains


September 3rd 2014

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When I sat down to write this post I had to take a few minutes to research the many simanim we eat by Rosh Hashanah.  I ended up spending quite a bit of time reading up about the reasons we eat these foods, they are foods we eat all year round but yet their incredible significance is truly seen around Rosh Hashanah.  Foods such as dates and leeks are connected to the destruction of our enemies, pomegranates for increasing our spiritual merit, and carrots for abundance, just to name a few.  Below are 15 sides and mains that prominently featured some of the most well known of the simanim– don’t worry, you won’t find any recipes for fish head or ram’s head below!



This Sweet Potato and Leek Soup puts leeks, a siman for destroying our enemies, front and center as does the Spicy Sauteed Leeks and Spinach.  If you’re looking for a tzimmes that is chock full of nutrients and is really easy to prepare, try the Sweet Potato and Carrot Bake, Beet Tzimmes or the Tzimmes Stuffed Butternut.  The Katz Tzimmes would make for a hearty and delicious main dish, it has all the traditional favorites including flanken, knaidelach (matzo ball) mix and kishke.



In Hebrew the word for beans relates to the words many and heart, some people have a tradition of saying a blessing over the beans during the seudah which asks that our spiritual merits be increased and that we will become empowered.  Many people serve black-eyed peas for this purpose, two great recipes are the Brazilian Onion and Garlic Rice with Black Eyed Peas and Black-Eyed Peas with Mustard Greens.



Similar to black-eyed peas, pomegranates are a siman for increasing spiritual merit.  Try the Pomegranate Glazed Carrots as a side or the Pomegranate Wine Osso Buco as satisfying main dish.  Other ideas include simanim packed sides with pomegranate dressings, such as the Simanim Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Dressing or the Apple, Fennel & Roasted Beets with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.



Date and Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs

In Hebrew the word for dates is a play on words which signifies “may our enemies be destroyed”.  Dates and date honey are a delicious and healthy way to add flavor to sides or mains.  Try the Date and Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs, Bulgur with Carrots, Nuts, and Dates or the Roasted Apple Slices with Date Honey (if you don’t use margarine, substitute with coconut oil instead, but use a bit less oil than is called for).


Check out more Rosh Hashanah ideas here!



Rosh Hashanah Gift Ideas Everyone Can Enjoy


September 3rd 2014

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It’s always nice to bring a gift when someone invites you to a meal, but the typical red or white bottle of wine can get a little boring and cute little tchoktes take up space and are not appreciated by everyone.  I mean how many honey pots can a person break–er–I mean get as a gift.  Fine, if you are like me maybe you appreciate a new honey pot every year, and last year I shared some lovely new honey related gift ideas that go beyond the pot.  Those gifts inspired me to find more Rosh Hashanah gifts, but this time they are all edible.

My feeling is no one can have too much actual honey, did you know it doesn’t go bad?  And no one can have too much chocolate, olive oil, flavored liquors, teas etc.  The trick is choosing the right ones, the best ones, the food products that look like a gift.  Here are my suggestions.

Morad Pomegranate Wine is the wine of choice for Rosh Hashanah.  If you can’t go anywhere without a bottle of wine, then let’s make it seasonally appropriate and a more exciting gift.  You can drink this wine as is of course, but you can also use in cocktails and recipes to liven up your Rosh Hashanah.  Of course it is not grape based so you can’t say kiddish on it.  It lasts for a few weeks in the fridge and is incredibly versatile and flavorful.  - right now you can get it on sale online at

Mead is the oldest fermented beverage made from honey.  Often associated with Renaissance festivals and it’s cloyingly sweet taste, Maine Meade Works and Honey Run Winery have brought back the mead and are showing us how Mead can be enjoyed.  Both are certified kosher.

Another unique bottle gift is this Besamim Liqueur.  Besamim means spices and refers to the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg like scents we usually smell at the end of Shabbat for Havdallah.  This new company, Sukkah Hill Spirits brings us the besamim in a bottle perfect for spiked cocktails or drizzled on desserts.  I would use it in a hot apple cider or over a an apple cobbler.

One last unique bottle option is this non dairy Nougat Liqueur by Heavens.  This sweet and creamy drink surprised me with a great flavor that can truly be enjoyed over ice alone, but once you taste it you won’t be able to stop dreaming of the perfect nougat flavored iced coffee or topping your vanilla ice cream or adding to your hot chocolate.  The flavor is great and the 17% alcohol makes it easy to enjoy.  Get a bottle of nougat liquor at SkyView.

There are many fantastic gift ideas from Savannah Bee Company – they have a whole gift section of their site with everything from their best honey to honey soap to t-shirts.  For a holiday where honey is central, Savannah Bee is a great resource.  I am showcasing here their raw honeycomb, it comes in an gorgeous box filled with straw, so that it can be given as a gift, but you will want to make sure you get one for yourself too.  Serving this honey at your Rosh Hashanah table will ensure you have a sweet new year. Order your honey comb here.

For some people it is not a gift, if it is not chocolate and for those I have to recommend this vegan (non-dairy) Hot Fudge.  There is so much you can do with this and the packaging is super cute, I can’t think of a person who wouldn’t love to have some hot melty chocolate that they can eat after any meal.  Find more about Coops here.

If you want something chocolatey that is a little fancier, this is one of our all time favorites, Dear Coco Truffles.  In September only they offer the Jewish New Year collection with Mediterranean Pomegranate and Argentine Honey.

For one stop shopping for all your foodie gift ideas, check out the new Kosher Artisinal website, where they have done all the work for you.  Find the best olive oils, honeys, chocolates, spices, teas and more all kosher and ready to order.  With fast, free delivery for orders over $75 you can get everything you need and you can’t go wrong, I guarantee your hosts will be thanking you.

What is the best gift you have ever given or received?  Any new foods out there you would recommend?



Free High Holiday #FreshNewYear ebook


September 3rd 2014

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RSVP for #FreshNewYear Twitter Party


September 2nd 2014

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

We are gearing up for the High Holidays with Winn-Dixie by our side.  For every day and holidays Winn-Dixie has over 1,000 kosher products plus a kosher baked goods in most of their stores.

Join our party to get tips and recipes for your High Holiday meals, ask questions, answer questions as we all plan for a sweet and Fresh New Year.


Tuesday September 9th 9-10pm EST


@JoyofKosher @JoyofKosherMag @KosherFoodBloggers @TamarGenger @JamieGeller @WinnDixie

Moderator @MommyBlogExpert

How to participate
Use hashtag #FreshNewYear
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 4 $50 Gift Cards and 1 grand prize $100 gift card for Winn-Dixie and make sure to include your twitter handle.*  We will also be giving away 5 copies of our Fall 2014 issue of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine. Then go over and enter our other Winn-Dixie sponsored contests here.


*Winners will be selected from those who live near a Winn-Dixie or Bi-Lo store.