Tag Archives: kosher

Chicken – it’s what’s for dinner!

Last night’s chicken dinner was awesome. In fact, my 15 year old son said to me, “no offense Ima, but this tastes better than anything you ever made”. Ouch. But that was after he said “Mmmm, this chicken tastes………DEAD” so you can’t necessarily trust his opinion.

I did technically cook the chicken – but it came from Empire Kosher. And I cooked it in the microwave. It’s great – it’s a whole 3 lb chicken, pre-seasoned (garlic and hhhhherb*), you take it out of the packaging, pierce two small holes in the special microwave wrap that’s around the chicken, put it on a plate, in the microwave, press 20 minutes and DONE. No muss, no fuss. Easy Shmeasy. The way I like it! For busy parents, this is an easy dinner on a school night – just throw together some sides, and you have a great nutritious meal in TWENTY MINUTES.

Very soon after I put the chicken in the microwave, the delicious aroma of the cooking chicken wafted through the house, bringing boys running from all quarters. By the time that chicken came out of the oven the boys were salivating.

It really does look like that. Except no grapes and greenery!

I carved up the chicken – juices were leaking everywhere, which is a good thing! I served dinner – the chicken along with starch and a veggie, and we dug in.

The chicken was moist (“Wet” as one as the kids said…oy) and tender, flavorful and just plain perfect. Seriously. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough of it. It’s a 3 lb chicken. I have a husband, THREE teenage boys with hollow legs, and a nine year old. Plus myself – and we all know I love to eat. Luckily the oldest teen wasn’t here, or there would not have been enough.

The verdict was unanimous. Delicious and please can we have it again tomorrow.

So here’s what I have to say to the folks at EMPIRE. Awesome product – thanks for sending it to me. My kids had a blast telling their friends that we received a chicken in the mail. I am so thrilled to hear you have a BBQ version coming out soon – we plan to try that one as well. I hate carving chickens and turkeys and ducks – could you perhaps use the same awesome microwave technology and sell these fine fowl in pieces? Also – for those bigger families – can you sell bigger chickens – like 5 lb-ers – so that there is enough to go around?

Folks – this “microwaveable” chicken retails at around $10.99 in my area – which is good value seeing as it is pre-cleaned, pre-seasoned, pre-prepared and all you have to do is press a button or two on the microwave.

So from us here at the Hearts / Diamonds Palace – five thumbs up! (or should that be ten?)

*there is an H at the start of HERB – it needs to be pronounced.

Note: I was given this product free of charge. My review expresses my honest opinion and I was not paid in anyway for it.

AWESOMENESS – was just informed that this fall / winter season there will be microwaveable cutlets available – cook for 2 minutes 15 seconds each.  Those will be perfect for my son that eats lunch and supper in school!!

We Shmoozed it Up, Kosher-Style

Last night I shlepped into the city by myself for the MetroImma Social Media Shmooze Event. First time I ever drove alone into Manhattan and I was a little nervous. I’m a country bumpkin – and there are lots and lots of people there, and they all drive like crazy people! Well, not all of them…but you know what I mean.

I got there a little early and was glad to help set up the room. I actually shlepped 3 cases of drinks while teetering in my pink stiletto heels – it can be done, you know! (All that working out at the gym does pay off).

HSM Tweeting the Panel Discussion (Photo Credit to G6)

The event itself was extremely informative – we talked about using social media to promote kosher food and wine. The panelists were just so engaging. Paula Shoyer joined us all the way from DC (so thrilled that you came), we heard from Kim Amzallag from Kosher Inspired, Tamar Genger of Joyofkosher.com and Yossie Horwitz (gee, I hope I spelt it right) of Yossie’s Corkboard.

The panel was once again excellently moderated by the lovely Stephanie Grayson-Zane who I totally adore.

I got to meet some online people for the first time face-to-face which was really thrilling for me. I met @theculturemom @Gsix and @racheldmoore. I reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones and oh the networking! Totally fantabulous!

Here is a pic that the photographer snapped of me chatting away with @Gsix. We have been reading each other’s blogs for so long – it was so great to finally meet and chit chat in the flesh. (Can you believe she is a grandma? Looks way too young!)

Thank you MetroImma for this great schmooze. Thank you to Jdeal, Heering, Kosher.com and U Cafe for sponsoring on such a great event. And the Schwag bags? Total goodness.

Quinoa Salad with Multicoloured Peppers

Ruby V left me this recipe on a comment on the blog, I adapted it a little, but here is the recipe she posted – and it was yummy and totally Gluten Free.

What you need:

2 cups quinoa, rinsed,
4 cups water
peppers (I usually do one orange, one red, one green or yellow)
one to one and a half onions, chopped fine
2 small bunches parsley, chopped
currants, about a half cup, or more to taste (I left these out)

half cup olive oil
half cup lemon juice
agave or other gluten free sweetener to taste

What to do:

Put quinoa in pot with water, cover, and boil for 5 min, turn off and leave covered for 15 minutes.

Chop peppers and onions, and parsley.

When quinoa is done (ring separated from kernel) add veggies, mix

Make dressing, add sweetener to taste, salt and pepper. Add to salad, mix well.

Add currants and mix.

Chill in fridge.

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Time saving – not really

Us busy mothers use some shortcuts sometimes in order to get good meals on the table. Friday night I was planning to serve a chicken pot pie. It needs pastry. With everything else I was cooking for Shabbat, I just didn’t have the time to make a pastry from scratch, so I bought frozen pastry. I defrosted it so I could spend 5 minutes rolling it out. Imagine my surprise when I found lumps of margarine still within the dough. It had not been blended properly. So I now had to spend time that I didn’t budget for remixing this pastry. How did this save me time? Do they not have quality control at these manufacturers? I was most ticked off.

Plus there was eggshell for the second week running in our gefilte fish. I buy the frozen loaves and boil them up – I will be writing to the company to complain. At the prices I pay for their fish there should be no egg shells anywhere in my food.

I guess I have yet to take my Grumpitol and Snarkitol this morning….

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No Mikvah for You!

OK, I am really angry. This has been going around my head for days on end. My friend Shorty is an awesome person. She started becoming more and more observant and is invested into her Judaism. Read her personal story here. Shorty wants to learn all she can about the best way to embrace her religion.

When Shorty was not on her religious path she married a truly wonderful man. He is totally sweet and so good to her. He isn’t Jewish. At that point in her life marrying Jewish was not on her radar. By her own admission she lived very much of an assimilated life. Life-threatening surgery started her religious gears churning, and she has been on the path to more Jewish knowledge ever since.

Shorty’s husband is extremely supportive of her quest for Jewish enlightenment. He is her number one cheerleader and takes pride in her.

Recently Shorty started attending a class locally, with other Jewish women, about the laws of family purity – Taharat HaMishpacha. Traditionally, during menstruation and for a week after a woman is not physical with her husband, she immerses in the mikvah, and they can re-consummate their physical relationship. It truly is something special in a marriage and when this mitzvah is performed properly it brings added benefits to the marriage.

Shorty was told that because her husband isn’t Jewish, she really shouldn’t bother with the whole thing. It’s like saying a bracha (blessing) on non-kosher food. It’s wrong.

If she is told not to bother with this mitzvah, why should she bother with any of the others? Do they also not count because she is intermarried? Should she not bother keeping kosher because her husband isn’t Jewish? Should she not say brachot on kosher food because her husband isn’t Jewish? If she gets into the practice of keeping the laws of family purity, and immerses in a mikvah – how can that be wrong? Is it not the woman’s mitzvah to keep? The husbands do not have anything at all to do with the keeping of this mitzvah except to not touch their wives when forbidden to. Shorty’s husband is more than willing to respect her observance of these laws. Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to keep more mitzvot, not push them away because “you’re intermarried, you couldn’t possibly keep this mitzvah properly”. If she does decide that she wants to go to the mikvah – would she be turned away? Is a mikvah attendant within her rights to do so? I think not. Even if the mikvah lady knows that a woman is not married, or married to a non-Jew, she has no right to refuse to observe an immersion.

I can think of plenty of Jewish husbands who don’t care if their wives use the mikvah or not, plenty of Jewish wives who don’t practice Taharat Hamishpacha properly because it isn’t important to them. Here is a Jewess willing to take on this mitzvah, which is HUGE, and she is being told not to bother. There is something wrong here.

Maybe one day Shorty’s husband will decide to convert. We don’t know the future. Pushing them away from keeping this mitzvah is not the way to keep a person interested in pursuing their religious ideals. Is it fair for a rabbi to tell someone NOT to keep a mitzvah? Is it moral?

Granted I do not know the halacha behind this issue, but in my book any discouragement of a Jewish person from keeping a mitzvah is just wrong.

Please chime in with your thoughts.

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Piros Krumpli (Potatoes with Paprika)

Ingredients

1 large onion diced
2 tablespoons of oil (recipe calls for olive oil but it isn’t necessary)
2-3 tablespoons of Hungarian sweet or smoked paprika
6-8 potatoes cubed
Salt

How to:

Boil potatoes in salt water till soft – about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile sauté diced onions till transparent in oil. If I am cooking these for Shabbat, I fry my schnitzel first and use the oil to sauté the onions. Adds incredible extra flavour.

Take off heat and add paprika. Mix well.

Drain potatoes and mix with onion mixture.

If it’s dry add a little more oil.

Enjoy!!

*I got this recipe a couple of years ago from the sister of a friend.

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Frozen Bugs – Yum!

Our community up here in Montreal seems to be very machmir when it comes to food and kashrut, I believe.  I have written before about how most families that I associate with up here will not eat Pas Akum (bread made by a non-Jew) whereas the same types of families down in NY do.

I had a discussion today about whether or not frozen veggies have to have a hechsher. I was of the impression that anything you buy to eat has to have kosher certification, but apparently if there is no risk of bugs being mixed in with your frozen peas and carrots, there is absolutely no need. (This applies to only frozen veggies that have nothing added and have not been processed with anything else). But I remember learning that if you have the choice between buying a kosher brand and a regular store brand, you are supposed to choose the kosher brand and give the money to a fellow Jew.

What about pure fruit juices? Rougemont makes awesome apple juice. They used to have the MK certification. I guess they decided to save themselves some money and no longer bear kosher certification. Most people that I know will no longer buy it due to lack of hechsher. But is there anything non-kosher about it? It’s still the same juice. 100% pure is 100% pure.

Is my community just extra machmir, or does this make sense to you? All thoughts appreciated.

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Passover, a Kosher Collection (Book Review)

Passover, a Kosher Collection, by Pam Reiss.

Ever since this book arrived in my mailbox I have looked forward to having the time to just sit down and devour it without disruption. I love cookbooks. I love the pictures, I love the recipes, I love the stories behind the recipes. I love feeding my family in new and clever ways. I finally found the time to indulge and was in food nirvana.

Pam Reiss’s new cookbook, specially aimed at Passover (Pesach), is a delicious romp through culinary heaven. The decadent chocolate tart on the front cover is a real taste of things to come.

I am a traditionalist at heart, especially when it comes to holidays. I used to have  this mind set that Pesach cooking has to be difficult and complicated, so why bother doing anything out of the ordinary. The kids fill up on matzah, and potatoes and eggs, I will make a huge chicken soup and that’s it. No longer.

Reading my way, nay, savouring my way through Pam’s book I was struck by how simple the recipes are. Ok, some do call for a lot of ingredients, but that’s just how recipes are on Pesach. The majority of the ingredients are those a good cook would have on hand and there aren’t many complicated procedures to go through.

Pam mixes the traditional with the new. There are recipes for gefilte fish and chicken soup alongside Greek Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Kabocha Pear Soup. She has included recipes for 13 salads – one must have variety through all those holiday meals. There are side dishes galore – and they aren’t all potato related! Plenty of kugels for the traditionalists from potato, to apple raisin farfel kugel to cauliflower, leek and zucchini kugel.

Pam’s main courses are mouth watering. Unlike all the other Pesach cookbooks in my library, Pam includes dairy dishes as well as meat and poultry, fish and vegetarian too. She has included the traditional briskets and roast chickens. However I cannot wait to try the shakshuka, and eggplant parmesan, and was thrilled to see directions on how to make my own ricotta. Didn’t know one could do that so easily!! One recipe I look forward to trying this Passover is her Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potato Crust. My family loves my chametzdik CPP – I am sure I can wow them with her Pesachdik one. I always use the chicken left over from making chicken soup for my pie, and that is exactly what Pam suggests.

There are so many main dishes to choose from – we could eat a different meal every night of Passover and still have plenty recipes left to try. I love that there is an Osso Bucco recipe – who would have thought to make that on Pesach, but there is absolutely no reason why not. Change it up a little bit!

One thing I have never done for Pesach, is baked desserts. The amounts of eggs that go into everything coupled with no flour or magic baking powder, it was always much easier to buy the desserts. Reading Pam’s yummy dessert recipes and seeing photos of her confections has helped changed my mind. I will be attempting to replicate at least some of her delectable desserts. There are biscotti and mandlebroit, pancakes and matzah rolls, meringues and cookies, cakes and macaroons, cheesecakes and birthday cakes, several different types of tortes, crème brulee, brownies and pavlova. No one even needs to know that they are eating Passover desserts. There is no way that they could tell the difference.

Pam guides you through her recipes step by step. You do not need a degree from culinary school in order to whip up these delicious meals. You just need patience and time to spend creating wonderful meals for your family. Your family will look at Pesach in a whole new light after you cook for them from this book. You will be creating even more awesome family memories.

This book makes an awesome gift for any chef who is planning to be cooking for the upcoming holiday, or a must buy for anyone that truly wants to feed their family better food on Pesach from now on. Personally, I cannot wait to have my kitchen all Pesachified and full of the Kosher for Pesach food, so that I can start cooking up a storm. For me, Passover, a Kosher Collection, will be front and center, a major part of my pre-Pesach preparations and Pesach celebrations, not just this year, but every year.

To order your copy online, please go to www.pamreiss.com.

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WWYD – mealtime

My kids go to their dad for dinner one night a week. They are always complaining they never get fed food that they like and it’s always healthy stuff, sometimes vegetarian foods including tofu. (My boys are very much meat and potatoes types of guys) It has got to the point that before they leave they take inventory of my fridge to see what there is to eat when they come home. I feed them healthily, but never tofu because, well, I just don’t do tofu.

They invariably come home ravenous. They do not ask me to cook anything for them on those nights, because they know I won’t (it’s my night off), but they descend on the fridge like vultures. I have told them to discuss their culinary concerns with their dad and step mom. I would feel awful if I cooked them a meal and they didn’t eat. Doesn’t matter if I am biologically related or not. It’s rude not to eat food put in front of you.

Is this my concern, or not? By allowing them to eat when they get home am I sabotaging their mealtime at their Dad’s? They say they do eat there, or pretend to, and are not rude.

What would you do?

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HSM’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Honestly, I use Nestle’s toll house choc chip cookie recipe. I just double it. But here it is, pictures and all.

Ingredients

2 ¼  cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

¾  cup granulated sugar

¾  cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups Chocolate Chips – I like to use semi sweet

Optional – 1 cup chopped nuts

What to do

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. (above)

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION: PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

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