Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Sunday brunch is definitely one of the most awesome meals of the week. You sleep in, and then eat a lot of fat and carbs...what's not to like?
Step 1:

Step 2:

The grapefruit makes it healthy, true story.

Also: the "sausage" patty is from Morningstar Farms.  Salty, delicious, and kosher (dairy).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Jar of Sadness: Premade Matzoh Ball Soup

Let's say you're busy, and you're at work, and you're not feeling all that great. What could be better than some matzoh ball soup? The warm, savory goodness. The fond childhood memories. Sounds like a plan, right?

It is, but only if you happen to live near a restaurant that serves one (and if you do, I am jealous and I kind of hate you), or if you have time to make some from scratch. Much as I wanted to love it, matzoh ball soup in jar form just turned out to be kind of depressing.

"It'll be like getting a warm hug from Bubbe!"

I wanted to like it. I really, really did, especially since the only other food I had in my office was some leftover falafel and a bunch of frozen peas, which is not really the greatest combination, as meals go. But it was just... not quite right. The matzoh balls had disintegrated in the broth a bit; the broth itself was overly salty, even compared to the normal powder broth mix. To be fair, I normally add  more water than is recommended when using the powdered mix, so this may just be a personal preference. And the vegetables! The vegetables were just sad little memories of what a carrot used to be, lurking at the bottom of the bowl like flakes of fish food.
My recommendation: if you anticipate wanting matzoh ball soup at a time when you won't be able to make it fresh, make the balls ahead of time and store them separately from the broth. Then mix with the broth and vegetables, and microwave that. It's what your Bubbe would want you to do.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Butter Bean Soup

Sunday night is generally not a time when many of us feel like making an elaborate dinner. At the same time, sitting on the couch chowing down on that leftover half a challah isn't the healthiest or least depressing of meal options. Soup, however, is as close to effortless as it gets, and has the added benefit of actual nutritional value. About the beans: butter beans, delightfully pareve in spite of the name, are basically just large, white lima beans. But they have a slightly milder taste than standard-issue lima beans, hold up very well in a soup, and contain useful stuff like potassium and fiber.

Butter Bean Soup (Serves 2)

Ingredients that need a hechsher:

- Soup base (recommended: Imagine brand vegetable broth), 2 cups
- Butter beans, if using canned, 1 cup
- Paprika (recommended: Trader Joe's Smoked Paprika)

Ingredients that don't need a hechsher:

- Onions, 1/2 cup
- Celery, 1 cup
- Carrots, 1 cup
- Zucchini, 1 large


Chop the zucchini, carrots, celery, and onions. If using canned butter beans, drain and rinse the beans. Place 2 cups of the vegetable soup base, along with 1/2 cup water, in a large pot. Put the vegetables and beans in the pot, along with a few dashes of paprika. Cover and simmer on low for  about 1 hour, stirring occasionally:

(Gratuitous-- hopefully, at least-- pic showing you how to stir)

Put the soup in a bowl, and then eat it. Yep.

Friday, January 11, 2013

1/4 cup-cakes

Did the term "cupcake" arise because the cake in question is often about one cup in volume? Who knows! Probably the internet, but I'm feeling lazy, so I'll just assume that's why, and deem my tiny cupcakes "1/4 cup-cakes" for that reason.

Baking Implements:

- Mini cupcake pan
- Mini cupcake wrappers (optional)
- Spatula
- Large bowl
-Medium bowl



No hechser needed:
 - 2 large eggs, or kosher egg white product (no hechsher needed if you use whole eggs, but check for blood spots. You want a hechsher if you're using a processed egg product).

Hechsher needed:
 - Kosher vanilla or yellow cake mix (there are many available)
- Almond Milk (Pacific brand)
-  1 stick butter-- or if you can't find it, Earth Balance Baking Sticks (which are pareve)


No hechsher needed:
- Cocoa powder (pure cocoa powder, not a mix)
- Confectioner's sugar

Hechsher needed:
- Vanilla extract
- Whimsical sprinkles of some sort (Betty Crocker brand-- many diferent varieties have a hechsher, but be sure to check)
- More almond milk
- More butter or margarine

The cupcakes

Before you start, leave the butter out to soften (if using butter rather than margarine). Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Mix together the cake mix, 2 eggs, 1 cup almond milk, and 1 stick of butter in a large bowl. Keep mixing until all clumps are gone, but don't over-mix.

Place cupcake liners into your pan, if using them.

Bake cupcakes until the tops are golden brown-- around 20 minutes, but keep an eye on it, as ovens vary. Once they're all done, set them aside to cool.

The frosting

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine. When the mixture is smooth, add 3 tablespoons of almond milk. Now, add 1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (the latter of these is optional). Mix all ingredients together. If it's too runny, add more confectioner's sugar as needed. If it's too clumpy, add a bit more milk.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them using a spatula. Adorn them with liberal amounts of sprinkles. Save a few tablespoons of frosting, and then eat it.

Shabbat Shalom!

Faux Cheese: Not Even Once.

Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or just looking to make a typically-meaty meal into a dairy or pareve one, meat and dairy alternative products can be great. There are flavorful and healthy veggie "burgers" made of an assortment of delightful nuts and grains; there's perfectly decent dairy alternatives that can be used in baking or just on their own, like soy milk. But there's one thing that the world's fakeologists have never managed to successfully replicate: cheese.

Over the years, I've tried so many cheese alternatives. From soy, to rice, to unidentifiable synthetic polymer, they all have one thing in common: they are disgusting.

To be more specific, I'm talking here about faux-cheese products that are meant to replace large amounts of regular cheese, such as on a pizza, grilled cheese sandwich, etc.

So, what's a person to do if they can't find any kosher cheese in their area, or want to eat a pareve or vegan meal? Here are a few ideas:

  • On a tofurkey sandwich (or a turkey sandwich, if you swing that way), try guacamole or avocado slices in lieu of cheese.
  • Replace the cheese on a pizza with marinated tofu.
  • Top a salad with nuts instead of shredded cheese. Candied pecans are great on a pear and arugula salad with a sweeter dressing; walnuts go well on a simple romaine salad with a more savory dressing.
  • Instead of crackers and cheese, why not Zoidberg crackers and hummus?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ginger Kale Mozzarella Wrap

There's nothing better on a cold winter night than grilled cheese, maybe with a side of soup or salad. But a standard grilled cheese isn't exactly the healthiest thing in the world. So here's a dish that will satisfy your desire for warm, cheesy goodness, with fewer calories and far more nutrition.

Ingredients that need a hechsher, and product recommendations:

- Whole-grain tortilla (Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Tortilla)
-  2 oz. Fresh mozzarella cheese (you can find kosher fresh mozarella at Trader Joe's)
- Hummus (Trader Joe's, or Tribe)
- Ginger salad dressing (Newman's Own Lite Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing)

Ingredients that don't need a hechsher:

-Fresh kale


Wash 2 cups of kale thoroughly, and check for bugs. Place washed kale in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 tbsp of water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

If there's any water left after microwaving, drain it. Then, toss the kale with 2 tbsp of ginger salad dressing.

Chop mozzarella into small pieces, for easier melting. Not sure how much 2 oz. of cheese is? It's about 2 pieces of string cheese. Place cheese pieces in the center of a tortilla, on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 30 seconds; if cheese is not melted, continue microwaving in 10-second intervals until it is.

Spread hummus on sides of tortilla. Fill tortilla with kale, and wrap it up.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Lunch: Amy's Pesto Tortellini

If you've got half an hour to eat, maybe you don't even want to waste time cutting up some vegetables and assembling a sandwich. For days like those, frozen meals may be the best option. A lot of frozen meals are lacking in substance, both nutritionally and in terms of flavor, but the ones from Amy's Kitchen have never disappointed me.

Amy's Kitchen Pesto Tortellini Bowl isn't exactly a diet food, at 430 calories and with 19 grams of fat. However, it's filling, quick, high in protein-- and most importantly, kosher.

Here's how I like to eat it: microwave the pasta. Then, cook a cup or so of frozen peas in a large bowl. When the peas are done cooking, empty the pasta into that bowl, leaving behind the pesto sauce that doesn't stick to the pasta. Now it's at least nominally healthier, and even more filling due to the addition of high-fiber peas.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Easy Lunch: Veggie burgers with pea and carrot chips

When your coworkers are all running off to McDonald's for a quick lunch, what's a kosher-keeping person to do? Make your own version of that ubiquitous fast food lunch, of course-- but make it kosher, vegetarian, and far healthier.

My version of the burger lunch includes a veggie patty with a bit of melted cheddar cheese, topped with sriracha. Then for a side, some sliced carrots (or baby carrots), and air-dried pea crisps in lieu of french fries.

Items that don't need a hechsher:

Items that do need a hechsher (aka "everything else on the plate), and brand suggestions:
- Veggie burger (Amy's All American veggie burgers)
- Cheddar cheese (if you live on the West Coast of the U.S., try Tillamook Kosher Medium Cheddar)
- Sriracha sauce
- Buns (Trader Joe's hamburger buns, white or wheat)
- Pea crisps (Trader Joe's "Inner Peas")