Category Archives: Kosher food

Fruits of the Vine Mishloach Manot

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Fruits of the Vine Mishloach Manot

I’m about to start a Passover cooking frenzy and realized I never got around to blogging about our Mishloach Manot project, which was both fun and exhausting. My 7 year-old-daughter announced early on that she wanted our gift baskets to include chocolate covered strawberries and the complete package came together from there.

I came up with the idea to use flower pots as our “basket” and my sister-in-law Rosie, suggested we put the strawberries on sticks so they looked like actual flowers. I loved the plan so I went to work several weeks in advance (thank goodness) gathering supplies.

I borrowed the Chocolate Dipped Strawberries recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen with one small addition. I added about a tablespoon of Crisco to the chocolate to aid in the melting process. I also broke down and bought an inexpensive double-boiler from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Yes, I know it’s nuts that I didn’t own one, but I’ve never had to melt gallons of chocolate before so a new pan was definitely needed.

Plastic flower pots from Dollar Store

Next, I found cute, colorful, plastic flower pots at the Dollar Store, along with Easter grass, green napkins, and the green blocks of styrofoam used for flower arrangements.

I cut the styrofoam blocks into pieces small enough to fit into the bottom of each flower pot and used a hot glue gun to “attach” the sytrofoam to the bottom of the pot. Next, I used hot glue to “attach” the green napkin to the center of the Styrofoam block so that the edges of the napkin “flowered” out to cover and hide the Styrofoam.

I added a bit of the Easter grass and filled each basked with:

A few pieces of Candy
Fun fruit and vegetable shaped erasers ordered from Raymond Geddes
Individual packets of Crystal Light, fruit flavored
Fruit seed packet (watermelon, etc.) purchased at Walmart for .29 cents (sadly, I couldn’t find strawberry seeds anywhere!)

Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesThe night before Purim, I washed 100 strawberries and added them to skewer sticks (purchased in the grilling/outdoor cooking section at Walmart). I melted a lot of chocolate using my double-broiler, dipped each strawberry into the chocolate and laid on a piece of parchment paper to dry.

I also dipped a few of the strawberries into chopped pecans while the chocolate was still soft.

Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesAfter the chocolate had hardened, I melted white chocolate and added to a Wilton cake decorating bag with a small round tip to add the swirl design.

Next, all strawberries went into my refrigerator to chill and stay fresh overnight.

The next morning, I started the assembly process of:

Adding 3 strawberries to each flower pot by pushing the sticks through the napkin and into the styrofoam.
Covering the 3 strawberries with clear plastic bags purchased at Walmart (in the party section, used for party favor bags).
Tying the bag around each set of strawberries with ribbon and the cute tag my hubbie made.

My plan was for the Mishloach to be a “Fruits of the Vine” theme but in the end, everyone was too tired to come up with a cute poem so we ended up with a simple “Happy Purim” with a picture of a chocolate dipped strawberry. Maybe next year we should start with the design of the tag first!

I’ll admit that delivery was no piece of cake. Fortunately, it was a cool day in Texas so nothing melted but a few of the skewers did poke through the top of some strawberries so I had to make some adjustments before deliver. And we had enough strawberries left over to serve at a Purim dinner that evening.

 

All in all, it was a fun process and no treif was involved!

Mishloach ManotHow about you? What was in your Mishloach Manot basket?

Here’s a quick supply list for the approve project:

  • Plastic flower pots (dollar stores)
  • Styrofoam block for flower arrangements (dollar stores)
  • Green paper napkins
  • Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
  • Easter grass (dollar store or Walmart)
  • Candy
  • Fun erasers or any other fruit-related toy
  • Crystal Light individual drink powder packets
  • Seed packets (Walmart)
  • Wooden Skewers (Grilling section of Walmart or Lowes, etc.)
  • Strawberries
  • Ingredients for Shiksa in the Kitchen Chocolate Dipped Strawberries recipe plus Crisco and chopped nuts if desired
  • Wilton decorating bags plus small round tip (can also try using a zip lock bag with tiny hole cut in edge. This didn’t work for me, but I was also tired and a bit stressed by this point!)
  • Clear plastic party favor bags (Walmart)
  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

What’s your favorite cooking gadget?

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Favorite Kitchen GadgetsCongrats to Julie for winning my “What’s your favorite and quick go-to dinner?” She recommended pizza made on an English muffin or a pita and also fine egg noodles mixed with butter and shaker cheese. Both sound like delicious and easy options that most kids would happily eat.

Julie’s prize was one fun cooking gadget, but I got kind of carried away when I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to find the gadget. So Julie ended up with 3 gadgets instead:

A Stainless Steel Wavy Knife from MSC International for fancy fries, fabulous fruit and vivid veggies.

Rocker Garlic Crusher by Joseph Ltd, London – crush garlic by pushing and rocking back and forth over clovers.

Silicone Basting brush.

I also got myself a ProFreshionals Herb Mincer, which I haven’t tried yet but it was too cool to pass up.

Congrats to Julie! Please let us know how you use your new kitchen gadgets.

What about you? What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Share your quick go-to-dinner for kids for a chance to win

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006We’ve all been there. The 6:00 pm witching hour arrives. Dog is barking. Kids are screaming, “what can I eat?” The Head chef (aka, you) has no idea what she is going to make for dinner. There’s no time to go to the store. You have to work with what you’ve got. Which in my case usually isn’t much.

For me, the go-to-dinner for my daughter is usually Wacky Mac. Zoe loves it. It has a lot of protein, and she will eat at least 2 bowls full, along with a few fruits and vegetables. I’ll sometimes add fresh cheese to the Wacky Mac, as well as a small jar of baby food carrots to beef-up the nutritional value.

It’s no easy task finding Kosher mac and cheese, other than Wacky Mac. I’ve tried making homemade mac and cheese, but Zoe NEVER likes it. We always go back to Wacky Mac.

I recently read an article in Food Business News titled School Nutrition Innovation on Display talking about how various food manufacturers are coming up with more nutritional food options for school lunchrooms. One in particular interested me – Land O’Lakes is planning to offer two new mac ‘n cheese products that approach the new U.S.D.A. standards in different ways –  one features reduced sodium while the other replaces semolina pasta with whole grain.

I assume these products are for school lunchroom use only, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Land O’ Lakes will eventually sell these mac and cheese products in stores AND that they will be Kosher. I reached out to Land O’ Lakes to inquire about the Kosher piece. Will let you know what I find out. It would definitely be nice to have a few more packaged (and Kosher) mac and cheese options.

Last but not least, let’s get to the giveaway part. I’d love to hear your go-to-dinner ideas for quick, easy-to-make meals for kids.

Add your suggestions to this post via the comments section for a chance to win a cool kitchen gadget … to be determined when I go shopping this week but I promise it will be fun : )

Deadline for suggestions is Sunday, January 26, 2014.

I’ll draw a name from all of the suggestions on Monday, January 27, and post the name of the winner and their kid dinner suggestion at that time, along with info on how the winner can contact me with their shipping information.

Good Luck and Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Kosher Food Fun in Barcelona, Spain

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Kosher Spicy Meatballs

Please see an updated version on this post from our 2nd trip to Barcelona: Kosher Food in Barcelona, Spain Part 2.

I recently traveled to Barcelona, Spain, for a conference and took my husband along as my translator. I speak zero Spanish and he speaks at least enough to get us by … don’t even get me started on the number of times he got us to where we needed to go or saved us from eating some treif we shouldn’t be eating thanks to his “just enough” knowledge of the Spanish language : )

We weren’t always fortunate enough to eat at Kosher restaurants while we were in Barcelona so the few nights we did make it to a Kosher place, I was thrilled to kick the plain salad to the curb and enjoy a hearty, meat dish like the one pictured above.  Those are spicy meatballs with Mejadara (rice with lentils and spices) from Delicias Kosher. We also enjoyed hummus with pitas and some potato tapas that were too spicy for me to eat but everyone else loved them. And oh the wine in Spain was so amazing … and cheap! I honestly could have just lived on wine while I was there … but thanks to a few great Kosher restaurants, I didn’t have to.

Kosher Shawarma

Our last night in Barcelona, we made our way to Shalom Kosher Restaurant for several delicious dishes. For the main course, I had shawarma (pictured above) and Neil had a beef kabob (pictured below). Both were awesome … Neil’s was the best so I’d probably get that one if/when I go back … but my favorite thing was an appetizer they put on the table before dinner was served.

At first, I thought it was a bowl of French Fries but when I bit into the yummy morsel, I discovered it was fried pita – a Southern Treif-loving girl’s dream – proving that anything tastes good when it’s fried. We asked our waiter about it, and he explained that they sliced up pita into strips and deep fried it to get the crunchy French-fry like quality. They gave us small bowls of Tahini and some other very spicy dipping sauces and we were set. Oh, and of course we also had some yummy Spanish wine.

The funniest part of the evening came when Neil asked our waiter if they took American Express (but he called it Expresso because he was trying to sound all Spanish and stuff) and the waiter thought we wanted an espresso, Americano Style.

Kosher Beef Kabob

Last but definitely not least, we rushed to the Mercat de La Boqueria one afternoon to a vegan falafel place that Neil had discovered during his daily adventures. The food stand closed at around 4 and I didn’t want to miss out on these falafels. The Falafel Vegan was worth the 2 metro trains and long walk/run we had to take to get there from our hotel. I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of this yummy falafel (see picture below of me waiting for my Falafel to be prepared), but you’ll have to take my word for it … and visit the place the next time you’re in Barcelona. Once you are done eating, you can walk through the many vendors’ stands in the Boqueria and marvel at the interesting foods for sale. Lots of treif to admire in this market!

Vegan Falafel

Have you been to Barcelona? What were your experiences with food, Kosher or otherwise?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking, Travels and New Year!

Mike and Ike Corn Cake Muffins with Creamy Pear Frosting

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Mike and Ike Corn Cake Muffins with Pear Frosting

This month’s “Chopped Challenge Kosher” Linkup was anything but boring. The challenge: make a food item that includes corn, pears and Mike and Ike candy. I love corn and I love pears; not so much with the Mike and Ike but my 7 year old daughter is a big fan so she happily helped me with the prep and baking last night.

We decided to liven up a plain old corn muffin and make it into a dessert type food that’s OK to eat with your dinner – say hello to the Mike and Ike Corn Cake Muffins with creamy pear frosting. Here’s how it went down:

I started with a Corn bread Muffins recipe from AllRecipes.com:

Corn Bread Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (I used can corn kernels instead)
Mike and Ike Original Fruits, chopped into small pieces (I used a handful – see photo below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, honey, eggs and salt. Mix in flour, cornmeal and baking powder; blend thoroughly. Stir in milk and corn. Mix in the chopped up Mike and Ike candy. Add a bit more milk if needed. Mike and Ike Corn Muffin BatterMy batter was thick but not so much so that I couldn’t spoon it into the muffin cups.
  3. Pour or spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Next, I borrowed a frosting recipe from the Cupcake ProjectRiesling Cupcakes with Pear Mascarpone Frosting (Gluten-Free Cupcakes) but I only used the frosting piece of the recipe:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature (I found Kosher Mascarpone at Wholefoods)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 ripe pear
Finely chopped walnuts, to taste (I didn’t use the walnuts but they might add another fun element to the Mike and Ike corn cake muffins)
Cream Cheese – I ended up adding some cream cheese to make the frosting thicker so have some on-hand just in case.

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix butter on high speed with an electric mixer for two minutes.
  2. Add mascarpone and mix until just combined.
  3. Add powdered sugar a little bit at a time until just combined.
  4. Peel and slice the pear.
  5. Puree the pear slices in a food processor.
  6. Use a sieve to remove any excess liquid from the pear puree. (I did not do a good job with this part so my frosting was too thin)
  7. Mix two tablespoons of pear puree into the frosting.
  8. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes.
  9. Top with walnuts.  (I skipped the walnuts)

Mike and Ike Corn Cake MuffinsI must not have drained enough of the liquid from the pear because my frosting was way too thin. I ended up adding more powdered sugar and some cream cheese to make it thicker. Then I used a frosting bag and star tip to pipe the frosting onto the muffins. I topped each with one piece of Mike and Ike candy.

Both my daughter and hubbie were a fan of this weird little dessert/bread treat. It combines salty and sweet flavor in a nice way and the Mike and Ike candy and the corn give it a fun and unexpected crunch. Plus the frosting is creamy and delicious with just a hint of pear. It was a fun experiment and will be a nice surprise in my daughter’s lunch box today!

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

KosherConnectionThe Kosher Connection, an informal group of creative kosher food bloggers from all around the world, proudly present our monthly kosher recipe challenge.  Each month we will present you with recipes on a different theme from all the kosher food bloggers.

This month we tried something new and different, a Chopped Style Challenge.  Each participant had to use at least two of the following items: canned corn, pears and Mike and Ike candies !  Follow our recipes on Twitter with #KosherRecipes.


Since this month is a chopped style challenge, go ahead and vote for your favorite.  Let’s see who is the winner of our Chopped Challenge!!

 

The Ultimate Party Food – Mini Cheese Biscuits

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Mini Cheese BiscuitsIn September of 2011, I attended a bingo night in my neighborhood. I know the month and year because after bingo, I BEGGED the hostess Judy to give me the recipe for her amazing Mini Cheese Biscuits. Thankfully she did via an email sent the next day. I still have my printout of the email … with the date and year on it. These biscuits are so delish that I’ve kept that cherished email printout all this time.

The biscuits are cute, small, easy to make and very addictive. So without further ado, here is the recipe for what my neighbor calls “Mona’s Incredible Cheese Biscuits.” I don’t know who Mona is but thank you very much!

Mini Cheese Biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup sour cream (best with regular, not reduced fat)
2 cups self-rising flour (or 2 cups all purpose mixed with 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and spoon into mini-muffin pans a tablespoon at a time. I purchased a great mini-muffin pan that holds 18 muffins at Target and filled each slot about 1/2 full. Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on wire racks.

And as I mentioned about the deviled eggs, I’ll bet these would be pretty tasty with a few Baco Bacon bits mixed in : )

These can be prepared ahead and frozen for up to a month. Thaw frozen biscuits on the counter and reheat wrapped in foil for 10 minutes or until warmed through, if desired.

They are also delicious at room temperature.

Enjoy, Shabbat Shalom and Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

 

Kosher Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs

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Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs

When I was growing up, one of my favorite events was the Potluck lunch. There were one or two cute, little old ladies in our community who made the most yummy deviled eggs for the lunches. And if you weren’t one of the first people in line, you missed out on these delicious treats.

Since then, I’ve thought about those deviled eggs many times but never seriously considered making them myself because they seem high maintenance. But during my last trip to my Mother’s house, I discovered a beautiful deviled egg platter hiding among the many beautiful dishes in her cabinets. I snagged the dish and have been looking for the perfect opportunity to debut it since.

Last weekend offered me just the chance in the form of a bridal shower brunch. I decided to tackle the long feared deviled egg and started searching for recipes online. I found many that called for the standard mustard, relish, salt and pepper ingredients but one particular recipe intrigued and challenged me all at the same time, Thanks to the Gourmet Live blog for these amazing California Dream Deviled Eggs:

California Dream Deviled Eggs

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold them all in one layer (I made 18 eggs). Add water to cover by 1 1/2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a full rolling boil. Cover, remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes. Pour off hot water and fill plan with cold water and a handful of ice for 15 minutes or until cool. Pour off the water. Peel eggs under cold running water.

Purée yolks with 2 1/2 ounces fresh mild goat cheese, 3 tablespoons milk, ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper and pulse in 2 ½ tablespoons chopped dill. Fill whites.

And if you want to semi-Treif it up, throw in a few Baco Bacon Flavor bits!

The goat cheese adds such a unique twist to the traditional deviled egg and was such a surprise to the guests at the shower. I only had 4 deviled eggs left and I happily ate them myself.

Enjoy and Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

Spread the job via backpacks for Foster Kids

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Zoe's Backpack Project

Zoe collected 8 back-to-school backpacks to donate to foster kids.

Last year during my daughter’s first grade year, the Mother of a classmate reached out to the class to ask for help with her chairty, Foster Kids Charity, Inc. She was stuffing backpacks with food, toys and other necessities to donate to foster kids and asked that each member of the class bring certain items. Zoe was assigned small stuffed toys and juice boxes, which she happily shopped for.

Once all the goodies arrived at school, the kids formed an assembly line and each had a specific job as part of stuffing the backpacks. The kids had such a great time and learned a wonderful lesson about teamwork and helping kids less fortunate than themselves.

This endeavor, and an email from Foster Kids Charity, gave me the idea for a project that Zoe and I could work on over the summer.  The charity was helping to gather/create 300 back-to-school backpacks for foster kids, and I volunteered Zoe and I to donate 10. We worked all summer, begging family and friends to donate supplies and we also did a lot of shopping during back to school sales. My hubbie even got into the action when he found inexpensive backpacks at Academy, bringing home 2 for us to stuff.

The project took us all summer and last week we were able to donate 7 very full backpacks to the charity and then thanks to a wonderful neighbor, we donated one more for a total of 8 backpacks. Not long after, we received a lovely email from a lady at child protective services telling us the backpacks had already been distributed to foster kids throughout North Texas. Zoe and I were both so happy to be able to help others with something that we take for granted … supplies to get ready for school.

And although, we didn’t reach the goal of 10 we set for ourselves, we still loved that we were able to contribute in a meaningful way and will hopefully be able to increase our donation next time around.

Next, I want to sign us up for one of the programs that sends backpacks of food home with children before the weekend, such as Feeding America. There are local food banks in so many cities that participate in this program, and I honestly can’t think of a better way to spread joy and happiness during the high holidays, and it doesn’t even require us to spend hours in the kitchen : )

Happy Holidays, Happy Kosher Treif Cooking and Happy Donating!

 

KosherConnectionThe Kosher Connection, an informal group of creative kosher food bloggers from all around the world, proudly present our monthly kosher recipe challenge.  Each month we will present you with recipes on a different theme from all the kosher food bloggers.  Follow our recipes on Twitter with #KosherRecipes.

This month we got together in the spirit of the holidays to help #SPREADTHEJOY.  All of us found our own ways to give back to the community this month and we hope it will inspire you to do the same.  Share our link up and articles and comment with your own examples.  Together we can bring joy to everyone!

Trip down memory lane via a SnowBall Cake

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Snowball Cake

 

My Mother used to make this amazing SnowBall Cake that was such a treat. I even asked for it as my birthday cake once because it was so cool.

I started thinking about the SnowBall cake several months ago and did a Google search. How hard could it be to find this recipe right? Wrong. It was very hard. Every recipe I found contained pineapple or some other ingredient that I knew my Mom’s cake did not include.

So I called my Mom at the nursing home where she lived to ask her about said cake. She said she was sure the recipe was somewhere at her house and I could look for it the next time I was there.

Then she told me the story of how this particular cake recipe made it into her collection. According to her, we had attended a family reunion one summer in Doniphan, MO. This reunion was for my Dad’s side of the family, which is huge, so there were lots of attendees and lots of good food from many different folks. One of my Dad’s sisters had made this amazing cake that looked like half of a snowball so my Mom asked her for the recipe afterwards … and what you see above, is the prized recipe … along with a bonus recipe for Watergate cake in my Mom’s handwriting. This is a good cake as well.

I’ve never made the SnowBall cake myself, but I can vouch for its yumminess, and in memory of my Mom, I’m going to attempt to make SnowBall for my upcoming birthday this week. In a way it will feel like my Mom made it for me. Hopefully I can do the cake justice.

How about you. Do you have any recipes passed down from your mom that you love to make/eat?

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!

 

Facon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich

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Facon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

It doesn’t get anymore Kosher Treif than this! Tonight I made myself a Facon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich. That’s right. I said it … and it was so delicious!

I’ve been craving a BLT for months and when my husband discovered Jack’s Gourmet Kosher Facon at our local Tom Thumb grocery store, I knew I was in business.  The Facon is pricey for sure at around $8 for a small package but some times a girl Jack's Gourmet Kosher Faconjust needs to splurge a little to get her favorite Treif treat.

Facon is a little tricky to cook because, unlike real bacon, Facon broke apart very easily when I tried to remove it from the package. Instead of looking like bacon, it just looked like thin strips and pieces of meat cooking in the skillet, but the taste totally made up for the stringy consistency.

I fried the facon on medium high heat for about 8 minutes, just until it was crispy and drained it on a paper towel to get rid of some of the grease. Next, I toasted 2 slices of bread, covered both sides with mayo, added lettuce, tomatoes and … FACON … and ate the yummy goodness.

The edges of one piece of the Facon were very tough, probably because I cooked it too long so I’ll have to play around with he cooking time but hey, any bacon-like substitute is better than no bacon-like food at all.

I ate every bite and was relieved when my daughter said no to my offer to share. Get thyself to the store today and buy yourself some of Jack’s Gourmet Facon. Then let me know how you koshered-up your treif!

Happy Kosher Treif Cooking!