Kosher, cheesy lasagna soup with Italian sausage


As a treif-loving girl, one of the foods I’ve missed most since taking on Kosher status is Lasagna. Sure, I can make the all-dairy kind of Lasagna, and while it’s good, it’s just not quite the same as the meaty, cheesy treif version.

So I was more than thrilled to come across a recipe (I first saw this recipe via a Facebook post) for Lasagna soup from a Farmgirl’s Dabbles. I read the recipe and accepted the challenge to turn this treif dish into something eatable for us Kosher-keeping folks.

Here’s the ingredient list with my exceptions:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian Sausage (Kosher Substitute: Tofurky Italian Sausage)
  • 3 cups chopped onions (I only used about 1/2 of an onion)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. tomato paste (I assume the T. means tablespoons)
  • 1 29-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock (Kosher Substitute: Imagine Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth)
  • 8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta (I couldn’t find either so I used the twist pasta I had in my pantry)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 3 or 4 leaves)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the cheesy yummy part:

  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (Optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces (I chopped up the Tofurky Italian sausage into small pieces) and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock (I used a skillet for the sausage mixture and then added it to the soup mixture in a pot). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

For the next step, as suggested in the recipe, I cooked the pasta in a separate pot and then added some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them because I wasn’t sure if my daughter would eat the soup, but I KNOW she’ll always eat pasta and cheese. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

I used a slightly different method to serve. I first placed the pasta in a serving bowl and added the cheesy mixture (ricotta, Parmesan, and Mozzarella). Next, I ladled the soup over the pasta and sprinkled extra Parmesan on top.

I served with baked mixed vegetables (sweet potatoes, etc.) and a bottle of what my friend likes to call “the Kosher version of two-buck chuck” wine from Trader Joes. I’ve recently learned they have a Kosher version of this wine so I decided to give it a try … sadly, it wasn’t my favorite so I probably won’t buy it again, which is a shame since it cost only $4.

Lasagna wine

Enjoy and happy Kosher Treif cooking!

What to do with leftover “new fruit” after Rosh Hashanah


Prickly Pear Margarita

I don’t know what happens to your “new fruit” after Rosh Hashanah, but in my household, said fruit lies on the counter for a week or so, begins to rot, and someone finally throws it out. Our new fruit selection is usually something unique that we never eat during the year and won’t eat again after taking the ceremonial taste to fulfill our new year’s ritual.

This year, we ended up with the prickly pear. It’s a fruit that has graced our new year’s table many times in the past, so I expected the 4 leftover prickly pears to eventually go the way of the trash can. But on Friday afternoon, I decided to search for recipes that called for prickly pear and … a new Shabbat happy hour tradition was born … the prickly pear margarita.

I won’t claim that getting the juice out of said prickly pears was easy, but it is possible although a bit time consuming. I used the Cactus Fruit Cocktails recipe by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee via the epicurious web site. Thank you Cecilia for this delicious treat!

Cactus Fruit Cocktails

  • 4 prickly pears, peeled (Peeling the fruit was surprisingly easy. Slice through the fruit lengthwise and peel back the thick outer peel with your fingers, leaving the juicy, seed-filled fruit.
  • Ice
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 1/2 ounces triple sec
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Coarse-grained salt for rimming (optional)
  • Lime slices for garnish (optional)

Place the prickly pears in a blender and pulse until liquefied. Strain the juice into a small bowl (you should have about 1 cup of juice). I used a very fine, mesh strainer. It took a while (and some pressing with a big spoon) to get all of the juice, but the seeds stayed behind in the strainer.

Fill a large cocktail shaker with ice, add the prickly pear juice, tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and sugar and shake vigorously.

Pour into glasses filled with ice, rimmed with salt or sugar, if you like. Garnish with lime slices.

What creative ways have you utilized your “new fruit” after Rosh Hashanah?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking and Drinking!

Kids’ Chopped at home Challenge (Video)


Zoe has started watching and loving the kids’ cooking shows, especially the Chopped Teen Tournament. She asked tonight if we could do a chopped challenge at home so I picked 5 ingredients for her and let her create a dish. I gave her:

  • Tortillas
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Hummus

She had fun and the video above shows the awesome results.

Happy Kosher, not-so-treif Cooking!

Kosher hamburgers and what seems like a very, dairy dessert for dinner


Kosher hamburger with fried pastrami

A few years ago, we were visiting LA and stopped at a Kosher deli on Pico street for lunch before heading to the airport. I ordered and devoured a hamburger topped with pastrami that was fried so crisp it reminded me of my old treif friend bacon. It was amazingly delicious, and I haven’t stopped craving it since.

A few weeks ago, I decided to attempt a repeat of said burger and the above photo is the result. OK, so it wasn’t as good as the bacon-like burger in LA but it was pretty darn close, and I didn’t need to fly anywhere to get it.

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to strawberry shortcake topped with it-so-shouldn’t-be-served-after-a-meat-meal whipped cream.

Strawberry Shortcake with pareve whipped cream

Thanks to my new friend, So Delicious Dairy Free CocoWhip, we were able to enjoy a dairy-like dessert favorite but in a Kosher pareve form, and it taste just like the real, fat-filled dairy whipped cream. It’s ready-made and can be frozen and then thawed about an hour before you plan to serve. I found it at Wholefoods in Dallas.

So Delicious Coconut Whip

It felt so decadent to be eating whipped cream topped strawberry shortcake, just like my mom used to make, immediately after eating a similar-too-bacon burger.

Have you turned any of your dairy favorite desserts into pareve treats to enjoy after a meat meal?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Kosher Broiled Spicy Salmon with Hot Pepper Raspberry Jelly


Kosher Spicy Broiled SalmonA few years ago, I tried a new recipe from Woman’s Day magazine called Broiled sweet and spicy salmon using red pepper jelly. Finding the red pepper jelly was no easy task. I ended up having to order it from Amazon but the end result was delicious.

I decided last night to pull out this yummy recipe again and whip it up for dinner. Only once I started prepping, I discovered the jelly I had on-hand was Hot Pepper Raspberry Preserves. Not exactly the flavor I was going for, but I have to say, it turned outHot Pepper Raspberry Preserves pretty well.

The mixture of jelly, soy sauce and ginger was very spicy but once it was broiled on the salmon, the tongue-burning flavor was tamed enough to enjoy the salmon without keeping a cool drink close by.

My 8 year old ate several pieces and then came back later to finish off the leftovers.

What flavors have you tried to spice-up Salmon?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

What to do with leftover Chili? Kosher Sloppy Tacos


Kosher Sloppy Tacos

We recently went through a kitchen remodel that took way longer than expected. When our kitchen was finally finished, I immediately jumped into cooking action by making all of our favorite comfort foods, one being chili dogs. It was a weeknightt, and I needed an easy recipe that I could make quickly so I turned to Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design short on time cookbook.

Yes, that's a food stain at the bottom of this well-loved page in Susie Fishbein's Short on Time cookbook.

Yes, that’s a food stain at the bottom of this well-loved page in Susie Fishbein’s Short on Time cookbook.

I’ve used this chili dog recipe (page 138) before but keep in mind that I have not cooked … in a real kitchen … for about 10 months so let’s just say that my results were less-than-great. The chili was bland at best, and while my family ate it without complaint, there were some comments like “could use more salt” or “did you put any garlic in this chili?” and my favorite, “Is the chili supposed to be this watery?”

There was a lot of chili leftover so a few days later, I made an attempt to turn that comfort food into another one of our favorite comfort foods – tacos.

I used the chili from the first recipe but added 1 package of Ortega taco seasoning mix (Circle K Kosher) and a bunch more salt and garlic powder. I then let the whole mixture simmer for 30ish minutes on the stove.

The newly created “taco sauce” was still more watery than normal, which made it very messy (hence the name Sloppy Tacos) but my family, me included, LOVED it. The taste was amazing, and more importantly, I was thrilled to be able to salvage the less-than-great chili.

To go along with the tacos, I purchased the pre-packaged chopped peppers and onion mixtures at the Whole Foods on Preston and Forest in Dallas. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Dallas Kosher and to the equally wonderful folks at Whole Foods, the Preston/Forest location now offers several different pre-packages (washed/cut-up) fruits and vegetables that are certified Kosher.

We also added to our Sloppy Tacos:

Eating this sloppy combination was a bit challenging but the flavor was delicious. The Kosher Sloppy Taco is now my go-to dish for leftover chili.

What’s your favorite way to use leftovers?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Under the Sea Mishloach Manot for Purim 2015


Under the Sea Mishloach Manot

Purim is by far one of my most favorite holidays, mainly because I love coming up with ideas for gift bags, assembling all of the goodies and delivering them to family and friends.

And I won’t lie, I also love receiving Mishloach Manot as well. The doorbell rings numerous times throughout the day. And even if we are not home because we are out delivering our on baskets, we return to find stacks of goodies on our porch. So fun!

Fortunately, my 8 year old daughter loves Purim as much as I do, and she is very creative. I can always count on her to come up with the best ideas for our Mishloach Manot. And my hubbie is the official note card maker.

This year, Zoe wanted an ocean, under the sea theme so she could incorporate her favorite sea animals. A quick Google search turned up a similar idea from Kosher on a Budget so we took her idea and ran with it. Thanks so much Mara for the great idea.

Ocean animals Mishloach ManotHere’s our list of ingredients:

1. Small bottle of water – we used Nestle Pure Life brand purchased at Walmart.

2. Shamu & Friends baked snack crackers (OU Dairy) – small bags in box of 12 purchased at Walmart.

3. Seaweed (Paskesz Apple Flavored sour sticks parve) – purchased in Kosher section at local grocery store / Tom Thumb.

4. Clown Fish (Paskesz/Haribo gummy fish parve – purchased in Kosher section at local grocery store / Tom Thumb.

5. Seashell/Seahorse Chocolate / Guylian Artisanal Belgian chocolates w/ hazelnut filling (Circle K Dairy) – purchased packages of 22 pieces at Walmart and wrapped 3 pieces each in Wilton tiny clear bags from Joanne’s Craft store / tied with white ribbon.

6. Grass – various shades of blue and green purchased in Easter section at Target and Dollar Store.

7. Thick 8 1/2 x 11 paper to for note cards – Have a Splash-tastic Purim with fishbowl design.

8. Finally, we included a small note with information on Kosher symbols, etc. for the items we placed in individual bags.

Under the Sea Mishloach ManotAssembly:

  • Gallon size freezer Zip lock bags to hold everything.
  • Light green colored, heavy stock 8 1/2 x 11 paper, cut to fit in Zip Lock bag for note card. Have a Splashtastic Purim and fish bowl design printed on paper.
  • Placed 3 sour sticks and 3 gummy fish in snack size Zip Lock bag, sealed and stapled to note card, just below the “Have a Splashtastic Purim note. I stapled through both the paper and the back of the Gallon Zip lock to ensure note card and fish stayed close to top of bag.
  • Added the decorative grass to bottom of bag.
  • Added water bottle, Shamu Friends snack bag, Chocolates (3 to a bag).

For my daughter’s friends, we added a small, plastic sea animal, purchased at JoAnn Craft Store, to each gift bag.

With the exception of the stapling, this is a Mishloach Manot project that is easy for kids to assemble and requires no cooking!

Happy Purim and Happy Kosher Treif Cooking.