Spaghetti Squash Latkes with Dipping Sauce Trio

Spaghetti squash latkes with garlic basil mayo and avocado crema (vegan nacho cheese dip not pictured)

I’m sure you all are in agreement with me that this year has just FLOWN by and it’s crazy that Hanukkah starts tomorrow night!  So of course we had to bring you some unique latkes to this blog, am I right?  For mine, I didn’t use any potatoes (I know, I know…you’re all shaking your head, but since I’m avoiding potatoes right now, I needed something that even I could eat).  Enter the humble spaghetti squash.  And yes, I could have done carrot, zucchini, even cauliflower but it feels so “been there, done that”.  Plus, I had a spaghetti squash sitting on my counter that really needed to be eaten, so I decided this was the perfect use. And no shredding needed here.

First thing’s first – cook the darn thing.  Sure you can cook it in a microwave, but I already had some stuff roasting in the oven, so just threw the squash in there too.  #twobirdsonestone.  And I love how the cooked spaghetti squash even LOOKS like shredded potatoes, minus a TON of unnecessary carbs, so that makes me a happy camper.  And to make it even more low-carb, instead of using a traditional gluten-free flour like almond, coconut, arrowroot, tapioca, to name a few, I used ground flax seeds instead, to help bind it together along with the eggs, salt and pepper and my favorite personal touch – Trader Joe’s “everything seasoning”.  Sure, I can make it myself, but it comes in a pretty package that I just can’t say no to, and I just love all of TJ’s pre-made seasonings.  I’m all for shortcuts, ya know?  One other thing to note, if you don’t want the “stringiness” of the spaghetti squash in one bite of your latke, I’d recommend roughly chopping the squash as you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.  I decided not to do that, but it still turned out so good (and easy enough to eat). Also…you may have noticed my latkes are a wee bit dark, but I like mine extra crispy even if that means slightly burnt.  And these are so great to make-ahead.  Just pop them back in the oven at 400F, or you can pan fry them with a little avocado or olive oil for a few minutes just to crisp up.

As for the dips.  Since it’s so cold and dreary out, I needed a fresh pick-me-up, so garlic basil mayo it is. I love using the frozen cubes of basil and garlic if I need to make a quick herb dip or pesto in a pinch and I definitely don’t have any fresh basil here in my frigid apartment #dreamingofspringalready.  I have to give credit to my sister-in-law, Yael for this, since she created a similar concoction for her birthday party last weekend and it was so good (we layered this dip on tortillas, topped with roasted veggies = YUM).

For my second dip, I went with a tried and true favorite – my vegan nacho dreamy and creamy and insanely healthy.  Check out the recipe here on my blog!

The third and final dip is an avocado crema (I’m using labneh in mine but you can use sour cream or Greek yogurt, or even mayo, I just like the tanginess it lends to the dip and compliments the smooth, mild avocado).  Add some fresh cilantro and you’re good to go.

And if you’re feeling nostalgic, check out one of my latke experiments (almond mustard cauliflower latkes with ginger tahini dipping sauce) from last year on!

Wishing all of our loyal readers a very HAPPY HANUKKAH and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

5 from 1 vote
Spaghetti Squash Latkes
Author: Rachel Katzman
  • 1 spaghetti squash, cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Trader Joe's everything but the bagel seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

  2. Wrap the squash in foil and bake for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Keep the oven on at 400F.

  3. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, everything seasoning, flax seeds and olive oil.   The most annoying part is removing all of the seeds, but be patient, you'll get there. 🙂

  4. Wait about 3-5 minutes for the mixture to absorb some of the flax seed meal.

  5. On a parchment lined baking sheet, scoop a handful of the mixture and form it into flat latkes shapes.  

  6. Bake for 45 minutes, check to make sure they aren't burnt, and cook for another 15 minutes until crispy.  

  7. Let cool and serve warm with the dipping sauces!  


5 from 1 vote
Garlic Basil Mayo
Prep Time
5 mins
Servings: 1
Author: Rachel Katzman
  • 1/2 cup mayo I like using homemade, but use whatever you prefer or have in your fridge
  • 2 cubes frozen garlic, softened
  • 4 cubes frozen basil, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until fully combined.  Adjust seasoning if needed. (note, this spread is delish on sammies!!)

5 from 1 vote
Avocado Crema
Prep Time
10 mins
Servings: 1
Author: Rachel Katzman
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp labneh Middle Eastern yogurt, or you could use Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cube frozen garlic, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp hot sauce Adjust if you like it mild or super spicy
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice I like it tangy and this will thin the dip out a bit, so you can always adjust if you want it thicker
  1. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients.  

  2. Add the cilantro, mix gently and serve. YUM!

If you liked this recipe check out Daniel’s take on latkes: Jalapeno Cheddar Cauliflower Latkes With Salsa Verde Sour Cream

Daniel’s Recap of the 2nd Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition

I have been meaning to get this post out for a while, but it was a pretty crazy summer and life got in the way. Back on June 25th, 2017, Rachel and I competed in the 2nd Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ competition hosted by Nusach Hari B’nai Zion (NHBZ) under the banner of our kosher BBQ team “5 Dudes and a Vegetarian”. It was a whirlwind trip that included kosher BBQ, Indian food, and doughnuts. Rachel’s husband Elliott picked me and Rachel up from her office Thursday afternoon and of course it began to rain just as we were leaving. Lucky for us, the rain didn’t last long.  We hit a little traffic leaving Chicago but still made decent time, getting to St. Louis at about 9:30PM and crashed for the night.

The next morning, after some coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts provided by our awesome BBQ teammate, Debbie Burg, we got down to work prepping for the competition at NHBZ. The competition was sanctioned by the Kansas city BBQ Society (KCBS).  Their are several organizations that certify BBQ conceptions but the KCBS is probably the largest.  They started sanctioning kosher competitions about five years ago and about 2 years ago released an official set rules for kosher BBQ competitions.  In kosher BBQ competitions there are generally four categories:

  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey
  3. Beef Ribs
  4. Brisket

There was trimming of meats, mixing of rubs, simmering of sauces, and one or two spills, but it was all good fun. We prepped pretty much everything except the chicken, which we left up to Debbie to do Saturday night. Rachel’s Aunt Sue (pictured below) joined us for the prep and was stuck with the unenviable task of doing the dishes.

After we finished prep we headed to Schnucks, a local grocery with a decent kosher selection, although it pales in comparison to Chicago’s Jewel-Osco.  I was particularly discouraged to find out all their cakes were dairy, as it was Debbie’s birthday and we hoping to bring a pareve (non-dairy) cake to the competition.  As the competition was obviously fleshig (meat), the rules as well as biblical kosher requirements forbid (among other things) the mixing of milk and meat.  We picked up some snacks, beer, and last minute supplies for the competition.

Then it was time for lunch at Gokul Indian restaurant.  Definitely go for the buffet if they are offering it when you visit.  I way over ordered, as I almost never get to eat Indian.  Unfortunately, my family members aren’t as culinarily adventurous as I am, and there are no kosher Indian joints in Chicago.  I ordered the combo appetizer plate of Miorchi Bhajia, Samosa, Bataka Vada, and Vegetable Pakora to split with Elliott, but ended eating most of it myself, followed by the buffet where I had a little bit of everything on the menu, and side of puffy flat bread known as Puri and washed it all down with a mango lassi.  Needless to say, I was stuffed.

I then spend a relaxing Shabbat (sabbath) with the Freund family who were very gracious hosts, proving me with excellent food, company, and some much needed rest ahead of long night of cooking and drinking.  As a bonus, they invited a long time friend of mine, Judy Haber, for lunch.

Right after Shabbat we headed to the competition grounds and to set up.  We needed to build our own tent which was a surprise to me as this was has always been something that was done by organizers in my previous experiences. When you get to a competition, any extra work can throw you off your game when all you want to do is get set up, and start cooking (and drinking).  Lucky our final teammate, Rob Feiger, got there ahead of us and had already put up the tent.

There were a few familiar faces there, including David Horesh and his family who make up team SephardiQ and Mordechai Stricks of team Uncle Mordy and Meatzvah Girls.  A few other teams showed up late, that had not done any prep earlier.  These teams needed to choose their meat, which in a kosher competition is provided by the organizers, but they were a little short on ribs.  At one point, the organizers came around to reclaim one of three racks of ribs they had issued to the teams to redistribute them to the other teams that were shorted.

In order to keep things kosher, most of the kosher competitions supply all needed ingredients and equipment.  This event did provide a grill and a smoker as well as a basic set of culinary tools.  I have to be honest though, the knives were fairly dull and the ingredient pantry was basically non-existent.  I did reach out the organizers ahead of time and learned that it would be slim pickings for supplies so I brought most of what I needed with me from Chicago.

BBQ Ingredients


Mendel Segel
Mendel Segel


Sometime in the early morning hours the wind picked up.  This makes tending the fire a bit tricky, but we managed to keep our temperature fairly stable.  The real problem was the fact that tents, which are essentially giant sails, were fairly light weight and were not sufficiently staked down, and started to fly away.  After the tents to left and the right of me blew over, I got smart and tied mine down to our two tables, which managed to hold it for the remainder of the event.

Rachel and Her Mother
Rachel and Her Mother


The spectators showed up around 11:00 AM.  The competition sold tasting tickets so the spectators could get a “taste” of the action. I had a fewfriends stop including my co-worker Brian Kinney who was in town visiting his father, my grade school friend Nathan Waldman who moved to St. Louis for college and never left, and Judy Haber’s daughter Aliza, who at one point was Rachel’s roommate. Rachel’s parents also came down, making the drive from Kansas City and bringing bagels.

To be honest all of our food came out mediocre and our scores reflected it.  Our ribs were overcooked, the turkey wasn’t the prettiest, and brisket was a bit tough.  I have tendency to rush and end up slicing my meat a little too early. We ended up placing fifth overall.  All four teams that beat us were more experienced than us, and deserved to beat us.  Of course team RaBBi-Q took top honors.  Only Mendel Segal could roll in late having done no prep and take overall grand champion. Despite a few bumps, all in all it was a great time.

Check out Rachel’s take on the trip here: St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition Re-cap By Rachel

BBQ Ribs BBQ Turkey BBQ Chicken Brisket

Rachel’s Recap: 2017 Kansas City Kosher BBQ competition

3rd place in brisket! And yes, those are my parents! (Avi was MIA in this photo b/c she was taking it)

It’s been a little over a month since our team “Five Dudes and a Vegetarian” competed once again in this year’s (6th annual) Kansas City Kosher BBQ competition!  This year was a little bit different as the competition was part of the Kansas City Jewish Arts Festival at the Jewish Community Center, so the PR for the event was a little bit different.  So granted there were LOTS of people that came by the event, but since the BBQ event was sort of tucked away on the side, we didn’t get as many passersby asking to try our food (which, may have been a good thing, since we only had some tasting samples – the priority is for the judges and the rest, well, we take home for family). 🙂

The BBQ event itself was smaller – only 12 teams this year, instead of the usual 20-25, so our team kept thinking positively that it’ll give us better odds at winning big this year.  We competed against some of the best.  Some regulars, like Sephardic-Q, DWF Kosher Q Crew (shoutout to my buddy Brian!!) and Dukes of Chazzer (and they won Grand Champ, 2 years in a row now, SUPER impressive – congrats to Andy and the team). We also had the opportunity to have our booth right next to some legit professional BBQers and when I say legit, I mean, they’ve competed in the MASSIVE, “American Royal” BBQ competition (let’s just say, over 400 teams at that one – cue jaw drop).  Dan from Chop’s BBQ basically just swept the entire competition, so much so, that he was having a hard time juggling all of his trophies, while carrying them to his car. #sorrynotsorry.  But so well deserved.  On the other side of Dan was Andy from Smoke on Wheels, who also won big that day.  I felt a huge honor just to be competing in the same space as these dudes and wanting to learn from the best.

Same shpiel here – we did prep Thursday night (I made the rubs, cooked the sauces and helped pack up and keep us organized), and the rest we tackled Saturday night, motzei Shabbat.  We had 2 new members of our team, Joyce (from KC!!) and my other sister, Avi!  It’s become such a family affair and I love it!  Saturday night turned out to be great weather, no major hiccups for us and… I quite possibly slept on top of a piece of cardboard underneath a table, and there may or may not have been spooning with my husband involved (it was COLD, okay?!).

Homemade shakshuka for breakfast – my permanent role in the morning hours.  It was delish.  Added some beef fry on the grill and breakfast sausage (I heard it was delish, but what do I know?).  All of our proteins looks pretty darn good if I must say so, and we all felt REALLY good about it.

12 o’clock NOON – time for the first turn-in.  Boxes are complete with perfectly folded tin foil on the bottom and drips have been wiped up (yes, I’m a bit of a stickler for the perfect-looking turn-in box, but believe me, that’s a good thing).  Chicken, ribs, turkey and brisket.  All the work pays off, everything is turned in to the judges and now we start cleaning up and it’s time to wait.

Judging time is here.  Fingers are crossed, waiting for our team name to be called for something…anything!  And lo and behold, we placed the EXACT same as last year – THIRD place in BRISKET!  I know we all want to do better (looking at you, Daniel)! And though I agree, I’m still happy we won, especially a trophy.  But there are always things to learn from our experiences and ways to improve so we can get a second or FIRST place trophy maybe next year.

A couple takeaways – one thing we have to work on is our timing, though I think we have the cooking timing down, we just have to be more careful about the resting of the meat and plating and so forth.  Always a work in progress but we’re getting there, and learning from mistakes.

And the biggest takeaway from this year’s event, was how much we (and by “we”, I mean everyone competing) miss Mendel Segal – who singlehandedly organized this event with the Va’ad 6 years ago and made it the incredible event it is today. Though since he moved to South Florida, it just didn’t have that “Mendel-esque” touch as it could have.  Those of you who were there, you know what I mean.  It was a great event, don’t get me wrong, just was missing that something extra – those details that Mendel can control in his sleep, he’s such a master.  So, yes, Mendel, we all miss you. But we’re excited to check out your restaurant in Miami, and maybe…a BBQ competition there soon??

Check out some picts from the event!

Brisket and the rub!


Chicken prep!






Making breakfast and running on an hour of sleep!


Shakshuka for bfast




Morning selfie


Final touches for the chicken


Honey, baby!


Ellie, with Dave Rogers, from KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society – the competition is sanctioned by them)!


Smokin’ it up


Basting those ribs


Final product!


3rd place-winning brisket!




Mendel in his element


Team spirit!!

Pizza Challenge! (the Rachel version)

Gluten-free pizza crust…super crispy!!! No, really!

…And we’re BACK!  It’s been so busy here, but we’re back to bring you some new “food challenges”.  First up?  PIZZA!  This one could be harder than it seems.  I tend to overthink my food and sometimes it’s better to just stick with the classics instead of going so over-the-top that it’s just too pretentious and just plain crazy (maybe in a good way though, right?).  And ironically, Daniel and I ended up both using caramelized onions for our recipe.  I guess we had similar brainwaves happening as we brainstormed for this challenge!

For my pizza crust, I could have gone a few different ways.  Yes, I’m doing gluten-free, but just it’ll still taste good.  Look, I love a good, crusty gluten-laden pizza crust just like everyone else, but honestly, I FEEL so much better when I omit gluten from my eating lifestyle, but do whatever is best for you.

What did I end up doing?  Sauerkraut!

Um…excuse me?  Yes, you read that correctly.  I have a great (paleo) cookbook called “All American Paleo Table” from Caroline Potter (as you can see from the photo), and she uses drained sauerkraut in her pizza dough.  I purposely didn’t want to use cauliflower rice, or soaked quinoa (even though those come out pretty good), I wanted to do something a little out of the box, but again, staying with the pizza theme here.  I’ve made this pizza crust many times, and it’s SUPER easy to make (no crazy prepping here), just drain the sauerkraut, add a few extra ingredients, bake, add toppings and bake more and you’re done.  No waiting for the dough to proof.  No waiting for the quinoa to soak overnight.  I’ll be honest, I used store-bought sauerkraut, but by all means, use homemade if you have it!  I was never a fan of sauerkraut until recently, so maybe that’s something I end up using the fermentation kit for, who knows?

As for the toppings?  I just want to do too many things, but I just went with yummy flavors that I love.  Basil and garlic ghee (clarified butter) for the base, creamy caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, goat cheese and fresh basil from my porch garden (right before the end of their season outside).  I opted not to do a tomato sauce, or even a white sauce, for the fact that I wanted that buttery creamy goodness to come from the basil and garlic ghee, and it will melt with the caramelized onions and the goat cheese to become this unctuous savory sauce.  Maybe next time I’ll do pesto, or sun-dried tomato sauce, or even a breakfast pizza, with cashew cream cheese, smoked salmon, arugula and even a just cooked egg, with that perfectly runny yoke (#liquidgold) – because why not…everything is better if throw an egg on top of it, right?  Or is that SO 2015? 🙂

Here is the link to the gluten-free pizza crust (and believe me when I say it, it really does turn out crispy!).

5 from 1 vote
Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese GF Pizza with Basil Butter
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Servings: 1 10" round pizza
Author: Rachel Katzman
Basil butter
  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter), or regular butter at room temp
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, freshly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Caramelized onions
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar optional (I didn't use sugar, but if you want an extra carmelization, feel free)
  • 3 tbsp goat cheese (softened, or crumbled)
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
Make the pizza dough according to instructions here: httpss://
Make the caramelized onions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions, salt and pepper (and sugar, if using).
  2. Cook on medium-low for about 15 minutes until golden brown (but not burnt)
Make the basil butter
  1. Add the ghee (or butter), basil, salt, pepper and garlic to a bowl and mix until smooth and ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
Take hot pizza crust out of the oven and top with basil butter, caramelized onions, sliced roma tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese.
  1. Bake at 400F for 10 more minutes until crust is crispy and golden. 
  2. Cool for 10 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Check out Daniel’s take on Pizza: Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Meals and Mitzvot!

Shredded BBQ chicken-topped roasted sweet potatoes

Well, we’ve made through Rosh Hashanah!  It’s officially the year 5778 and I want to wish all of our readers a Shana Tova U’metikah –  and here’s to this year being full of health, happiness, love, laughter and LOTS of good food!  And that got me thinking.  As we are now in the 10 days of repentance, it’s no surprise that I started thinking of what else I can do to do things with a little more intention, a little more positive spirit (and those of you who know me, I’m a pretty positive person already).  Yes I can say things a little nicer to my husband (as I tell him to clean up), or be more mindful of how others may be perceiving my attitude.  But I can’t discount the fact that one of the things I love to do most (yes, cooking), has helped many not just this past year, but in the last several years.  No, I’m not perfect of course, but I felt I should share my experiences with making food for those who truly need it.  I’m sure we all have a lot to repent for as we head into Yom Kippur, but I know there’s a lot I should be proud of and participating in this huge mitzvah definitely does the trick.

It’s a common thing throughout many communities (Jewish or not), that if someone has a baby, suffers from an illness, is in the hospital, or really just needs a helping hand, making a meal is one of the ways of fulfilling that important mitzvah.  I particularly love doing this form of “chesed” or kindness, and not just because I love to cook, but it really truly makes me feel good about the food I’m putting so much love into.  Of course, one can order takeout and have it delivered.  But there’s something about a healthy, home cooked meal that sets it apart.  And what’s most important for me is knowing my clientele.

Typically, when I make a meal for someone, it’s because of a new baby, so clearly a joyous time, but not without stress and sleep-deprivation and I’m sure not many new moms don’t really want to think about standing on their feet making dinner when dealing with a crying baby.  Here I am, stepping in to help you, not because you need it, but because I CAN help.

There’s a great website called where the coordinator puts in the recipients’ info – name, address, number of people in the family to feed and any food allergies or other specific requests (i.e. “deliver before 5pm”, “no mushrooms” or “gluten-free”). You get to schedule when you’d like to make a meal, by putting in your name, email, phone and what you’re making.  And understandably, adhering to guidelines can be very tricky for some, but I am one of those people who have specific request (though I’m not allergic to gluten, I just feel better when I don’t eat it), but I get it.  I cooked a meal for a family recently who is gluten-free and it was a perfect opportunity for me to make them a healthy, nutritious meal without wondering if any of my food will make them sick (oy, I hope it didn’t)!

If I’m cooking for a mother with a newborn, I automatically include my famous “coconut date balls”.  A friend once told me that they were “the perfect bite to have when you’re up in the middle of the night breastfeeding”.  That’s the best compliment (thanks Joy)!  And exactly what I set out to do when I first made these (little disclaimer here – I usually put coffee in my date balls, but of course everyone has their own preference, so I always message the mom asking if a little coffee is okay, otherwise I just omit).  I want to make food that’s healthy, because, let’s be honest – they’re most likely getting week’s worth of lasagna and pizza and maybe the occasional roasted chicken. And nothing wrong with that, but I like to make something a little different, something that’s a crowd pleaser – good for kids and adults and is easy to just pop in the oven to re-heat and serve at the table.  So you’re probably wondering what I typically make, am I right?  Well…I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.

Here are my typical meals:

  • I usually make some sort of salad:
    • Caesar salad – again, something the whole family can enjoy, and I use homemade mayo (organic, pasture-rased eggs), and no soy
    • Carrot slaw – this is SUPER easy.  All you do is dump a bag of shredded carrots in a bowl, add in some chopped pecans, shredded unsweetened coconut, sliced green onions, raisins and any kind of lemon vinaigrette – a little sweet and savory
    • Crunchy coleslaw – also super easy.  Bag of coleslaw mix, add in whatever veggies you have (and I mean whatever – onions, tomatoes (okay, fine, they’re a fruit), peppers, celery, cucumbers, zucchini…anything), top with some Terra Stix, and add whatever vinaigrette or creamy dressing you have on hand
  • Main dish (always protein involved):
    • This used to be a big hit, but I still make it sometimes, it’s my “Mexican Tortilla Lasagna”. Also, super easy.  I make some refried beans (I just buy the GIANT can of pinto beans, add in some garlic, cumin but limit the salt, because even though I rinse the beans, they’re still pretty salty).  Start with a big foil pan and layer tortillas (if the family is gluten-free, I use corn, not flour), add a layer of beans, sliced tomatoes (and any other veggies you want to sneak them in), Mexican shredded cheese blend (or any shredded cheese you happen to have on hand), do another 2 layers, and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Top with shredded lettuce and if you want, add a side of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and guacamole, if you’re feeling SUPER generous.
    • This one may surprise you…but here me out.  Lately, I’ve been making “shredded BBQ chicken-topped roasted sweet potatoes”.  Honestly, just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean that I can’t make meat or chicken for someone else.  And what’s nice on the “takethemameal” website is that you can see what everyone else is making (TBD seems to be a favorite, ha).  So, all I do is pop some sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 for about 40 minutes, and put 2-3 chicken breasts in a slow cooker with some BBQ rub (preferably Rabbi-Q’s rub and sauce, but I also like Trader Joe’s coffee BBQ rub), cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-6 and shred. That’s basically it.  Once the potatoes are cooled, slice them open, add some spices if you prefer, top with the shredded BBQ chicken and sprinkle with sliced green onions.  My beautiful friend Davida texted me the second my husband dropped off this meal (and included the carrot slaw and date balls) and told me how it looked like a restaurant-quality dish and even her husband, who went to culinary school said he would PAY for a meal like this! 🙂  Thank you darling for your support! And check out her incredible testimonial on my Facebook page here!

So there you have it, dear readers.  As I said, I truly love doing this mitzvah but it’s also a nice and convenient way to introduce people to my cooking!

Until next time…

Rachel (a.k.a “Risky Veggie” signing out)


Want to know the recipe for my “famous” coffee coconut date balls?  Check them out here on my other blog, riskyveggie!


Kosher hot dog stand at Wrigley Field

  • March 21, 1837 – The City of Chicago was founded.
  • October 8, 1871 -The day the Chicago fire was started.
  • April 23, 1914 – The day Wrigley Field opened.
  • November 4, 2016 – The Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years.
  • July 21, 2017 – The day Certified Kosher food arrived at Wrigley field.

Few things can impact the day people remember so vividly in their lives — like when something epic happens.  Last Friday, Certified Kosher food finally came to Wrigley Field in the form of a Glatt Kosher hot dog stand. Adults raved and kids were excited and yes, some may have even shed a tear or two when they stepped up to the plate to order their kosher food.

There is a lot of excitement about this new venture for both the Cubs and their fans to get certified kosher food in the ball park. From Jews to Muslims (who keep strict Halal), to the health conscience, there is a new kind of dog on the block. With their tasty Romanian hot dogs and spicy Polish sausages, Danzigers will surely have people lining up to get their fill of kosher hot dogs at Wrigley.

Danziger’s kosher hot dog stand is located on the first base side, on top of section 235, in between the last two ramps leading up to the upper deck where the 400-500 sections are located. We are assuming it will be open only 6 days a week and closed for Shabbos with possibly further closings for Jewish holidays. That may change, however, so be sure to check ahead before walking into the stadium.

While still in its infancy, the simple menu consists of a Regular Romanian hot dog or a spicy Polish Sausage – which are reasonably priced compared with other inflated pricing while in the ball park. Looking to pile on a mountain of condiments and build your very own authentic Chicago hot dog? You can get grilled onions for no extra charge or decide to top it off with some mustard and relish packets. There have been some sightings of hot dog sauce (read Ketchup) but we will chuck it up to management’s oversight.

Looking for a quick snack? Be sure to grab a kosher certified pretzel here as it is the only location in the park that is certified kosher – – all other locations are not certified!

The entire kosher community is excited to hear this awesome news. But there is word that Danzigers already has competition as Milt’s food truck will be starting to serve up their famous Arietta pulled rib sandwich, but that will have to wait for another week before we can sample it. Stay tuned for more in a follow up post!

St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition Re-cap By Rachel

5 “Dudes” and a Vegetarian (not quite but close enough) wearing our trademark “Meat is murder…tasty, tasty murder” t-shirts!

Well, it’s been 2 weeks since competing in our first kosher bbq competition of the season, and life is finally back to normal (and I’m pretty sure we got all of the bbq stink out of everything).  Our team “5 Dudes and a Vegetarian” (Daniel Peikes, Elliott Fliegelman, Debbie Burg, Robert Feiger and me), competed in the second annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ competition on June 26th! Maybe you caught our Facebook live, as Daniel Peikes, our fearless pitmaster, slathered the base rub (made by yours truly) all over the giant hunk of brisket! Well, if you missed it, be sure to check out our “Meat Your Vegetables” Facebook page!  And in case it wasn’t that obvious, yes I’M the vegetarian on the team.  It definitely gets a lot of laughs and no, I don’t make “vegetarian” food for the judges.  Because that’s not allowed. 🙂  More on that later…

But first, let’s talk Indian food! That’s right…kosher Indian in St. Louis! Stopped there for lunch with (most) of our team to enjoy a relaxing, supper yummy meal at Gokul restaurant on Friday, after the prep.  A cute place with funky colors yet a calming atmosphere, the menu seemed a little overwhelming to me, so I opted for the buffet instead.  Everything was delicious – from the herbed rice, to the vegetable korma (mixed veggies with cashews and raisins in a creamy tomato sauce) to the super spicy spinach and mushroom sauce and beans and lentils cooked with mild Indian spices.  No naan or paneer for me…but it was tasty and full of flavor and spice.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

For those of you who haven’t experienced the joy of kosher BBQ competitions, here’s a little rundown.

The competition has an entrance fee – anywhere between $350 – $400.  That amount includes all of the protein (typically brisket, ribs, chicken and turkey), the spices and ingredients provided by the competition (like salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, apple juice, olive oil, ketchup, etc…), equipment like knives, cutting boards, tongs, heat-proof gloves, thermometers, AND of course, the smoker and the grill.  So, yes, you are able to bring in other ingredients, as long as they are brand new, sealed and of course they have to be labeled kosher.  Typically, the prep happens either Thursday night or Friday (as the cooking gets underway Saturday night, for a Sunday event).  The prep for our team?  Well, for St. Louis specifically, I made all of the rubs – the base rub, which then was used to make the rub for the brisket, ribs, and turkey (our teammate Debbie, had her own special recipe for the chicken).  I also made the injections (I know, sounds so dirty, right?  Or maybe it sounds medicinal, but whatever the case, yes, I make sauces to then have injected into the meat.  Oh baby).  Meanwhile, Daniel is trimming the fat off the brisket and prepping the ribs.  Debbie is making her sauces, while my husband was the gopher (he’s not allowed in the kitchen, especially with knives). 🙂  Okay, just kidding Ellie!  My aunt who lives in St. Louis also came by to check out our prep and she volunteered to be our dishwasher – such a big help, thank you aunt Sue!

Okay, so by Friday late morning, all of the prep is done.  Saturday night, right after Shabbat, we head over to the shul where the event was happening, get our tent (thanks to our teammate Rob for getting us set up), grab our tables and start rolling.  Rubbing the brisket and getting that baby on the smoker at some point during the night. 🙂  That’s the key here – we stay up ALL NIGHT and essentially babysit the brisket on the smoker.  You really need to keep an eye on that temperature – that can really make or break it!

Fast forward to Noon on Sunday – the competition BEGINS!  Chicken turn-in to the judges is first, followed by ribs, turkey and brisket.  And because this competition is a KCBS sanctioned competition (Kansas City Barbecue Society – yes it’s a real thing, and it’s 2 legit 2 quit, HA), there are MANY rules that are specified through KCBS, rules like no garnish, and sauces with no chunks bigger than a fine dice – are the real deal.  That’s right.  No sprigs of parsley in our turn-in boxes!  Just the meat, in all its smoky glory.

Judging underway, and winners announced at 2:30.  We’re tired, exhausted, sweaty (and reeking of smoke) and most definitely dehydrated – let’s get this thing started.  So, we came in 4th place in ribs, 5th place in brisket, and 5th place overall.  And out of only 10 teams, I was hoping we’d inch out by a wee bit more, but hey, it’s good practice, good experience and it just keeps us fired up for the next one.  What I really love about competing in these events is the camaraderie and the great sportsmanship from everyone!  We compete against novices and professionals, but at the end of the day, no one is here to sabotage one another – everyone helps each other out when needed, like borrowing ingredients, equipment, keeping an eye on other teams smokers and alerting them if they get too hot – we’re all here to win of course, but we’re all here to have fun and enjoy ourselves.

Next on our BBQ competition road trip?  Kansas City in September…here we come!


Check out some highlights from the big event!

Vegetable Korma + delish Indian yumminess = HEAVEN


Ellie, did you enjoy lunch? 🙂


Picture of a picture


Sunday morning breakfast – meat ends, bfast sausage, and my homemade Shakshuka along with Debbie’s homemade mini pitot!


5th place winning brisket and burnt ends!


Savory smoked turkey


Sweet ‘n smoky ribs (sorry the chicken didn’t make it into the photos)!

Check out Daniel’s take on the trip: Recap of the 2nd Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ Competition

Fried Pickles and The Giveaway Winner

Fried PicklesBefore we get to the fried pickles  I want to say congratulations to Anita Jude of Ashland, KY.  She is the lucky winner of our reCAP Mason Jar Kit Giveaway.  Thanks to folks at  reCap Mason Jars for providing the prize. Anita let us know how you plan on using the fermentation kit.   I love a good pickle.

While we are on the topic of pickles, I had some pickle chips sitting in the fridge from my Very BBQ Purim, and some matzo meal left over form Passover and I figured why not give fried pickles a try and I was pleasantly surprised.  I paired it with a spicy mayo made with my Green Fermented Hot Sauce, for a great crispy snack.  It also makes a great addition to your new cook out, as an appetizer for you next casual dinner party, or a great  hors d’oeuvre at a cocktail hour.  It is also vegetarian friendly, and for gluten free version you can substitute the matzo meal for corn meal.

5 from 1 vote
Fried Pickles
Fried Pickles With Green Spicy Mayo
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins

A great crispy treat.

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 1
Author: Daniel Peikes
Fried Pickles
  • 12 Pickle Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Matzo Meal or Corn Meal
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Large Egg Beaten
  • Vegetable Oil For Frying
Spicy Mayo
  • 1/2 Cup Mayo
  • 1 tbsp Green Hot Sauce Or more if you like it hot
  1. Lightly dust the pickle chips with flour with flour, making sure to shake off any excess. 

  2. Dip the pickle chips in the beaten egg.

  3. Coat the pickle chips in the matzo meal.

  4. Add about an inch of oil to heavy frying pan and put over medium heat.  If you have a cast iron skillet this is a good time to use it. Fry on each side until golden brown.

  5. Mix the hot sauce with the mayo and drizzle over the fried pickles.  Serve immediately.

Light and Easy Shavuot Menu

Well, Shavuot is HERE! Starting in just a few hours, to be exact.  Ah, the holiday of cheesecakes.  People usually assume that Shavuot is MY holiday because I don’t eat meat, but I wouldn’t be a true Ashkenazic Jew without a little bit of lactose-intolerance, am I right, or am I right? 🙂  Therefore…I’m going with a more light menu.  Something a little healthier and easier on the tummy.  But if you’re all in for dairy-laden cheesecakes and lasagnas, then be my guest.

For the main event…Mini Socca Pizzas!  Um, excuse me?

Yes, soccas.  They hail from the Provence region of France.  I’m so fancy, I know.  I came across an old issue of InStyle, featuring recipes from lifestyle guru and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.  She featured these super easy-to-make soccas, so I’m doing my own spin on them!  All it requires is chick pea flour, water, a little olive oil and salt.  You can find the full recipe, along with some other entertaining tips here.  And since I typically try to avoid gluten, sugar and dairy, this seemed like a perfect way to have some fun in the kitchen and experiment with my mini socca trio toppings!

And since soccas are so easy to make, you can make a whole bunch of them, big or mini, pop them in a plastic bag and freeze them – it’s easy to keep on hand in case you need a quick dinner.  Just top with salad, veggies, or tomato sauce and cheese and dinner is ready in a flash.

Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging my “other” blog for my other dishes for this Shavuot menu, so check it out and let me know what you think!  And have a chag sameach!

Shavuot Menu:

Sweet potato goat cheese popovers

Caramelized onion dip

Strawberry spinach salad with pecans, onions & feta

Mini Socca Trio:

  • Goat cheese, smoked salmon, fresh chives and dill
  • Spicy roasted garlic tomato sauce, zucchini ribbons, capers, fresh basil
  • Creamy mushroom ragout with black garlic, coconut milk, sliced radish and cilantro

And last but not least…


Chocolate Coconut Lime Pie – from one of my fav bloggers/cookbook authors, Elizabeth Nyland of (this recipe is next on my list to re-create). YUM!

Fermented Hot Sauce with reCAP Mason Jar Kit and Giveaway

Fermented Hot SauceA few months back Rachel and I attended the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show.  This was the second year we went, and the second year that the fine folks at reCap Mason Jars have taken time to talk to us and show us their products.  They followed up with us after the show and sent us one of their super fun Fermentation Starter Kits to review and another one to give away.  Fermentation in a mason jar is a great way to preserve vegetables, while giving them great flavor.  If our recipe below we take it to the next level and make a bright hot sauce. Details on the giveaway are at the end of the post.

As far as the kit is concerned, it is pretty straight forward.

It comes with the following:

1-24 ounce Ball Mason jar

1-Pour lid

1-reCAP Fermenter (A waterless airlock)

1-4 ounce Ball Mason jar

1-2.5 ounce packet Himalayan Pink Salt

An instructional guide including 3 recipes

The products included all look to be of solid quality.  The two mason jars included are made by Ball, which makes a quality product. the pour lid seems to be made of quality plastic and forms a good seal.  The pour lid can be used for other things like salad dressings and cocktails. The airlock fermenter seem to be of good quality, but check back in two weeks when we find out how the fermented hot sauce comes out (recipe below).  The pink salt is a nice touch, but really any salt would have worked.  I usually use Morton Canning and pickling salt.  The instructions and guide could have been a bit more detailed.  I did not like the fact that they put all the measurements in volumetric measurements instead of weights.  This can throw you off it you use a different size grind on your salt such as kosher salt which is much larger, or pickling salt which is much finer.

A while ago we did an un-boxing video on Facebook Live, check it out here:

What is Fermentation?

A quick primer of fermentation.  Fermentation is a process where something, usually a vegetable, is preserved by exposing it to specific beneficial bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms.  They keep other, nasty, bugs away and create a pleasant tangy flavor. This is accomplished by submerging the vegetable in a salt water brine, which keeps the harmful bugs away while beneficial ones thrive.  Other herbs and spices can be added to the brine for additional flavor. The process creates carbon dioxide, this is where the airlock comes in.  The airlock allows the carbon dioxide out without letting other contaminants in, so the glass jar does not explode.

I took one of the recipes that came with the Fermentation Starter Kit and put a twist on it.  Below is my version of the recipe.  The sauce takes two weeks to ferment, so stay tuned to see how it comes out.

Hot Sauce Fermentation Ingredients


5 from 1 vote
Hot Sauce Ingredients
Fermented Green Hot Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins

This is a recipe based on the hot sauce recipe included in the Fermentation Starter Kit by reCAP.  The kit includes all of the equipment you need. The original recipe is for a red hot sauce, but I had a bunch of green peppers to use up so I went off script.  I also added lime juice and scallions that are not in the original recipe to put my own spin on it.  

This recipe only takes about 10 minutes to prepare, but then takes 2 weeks to ferment so plan ahead.  It goes great on tacos, pizza, chicken, or anywhere you want to add a little heat.

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Servings: 1 Jar
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper Sliced thin
  • 2 Jalapenos Peppers Sliced into rounds
  • 2 Serrano Pepper Sliced into rounds
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Sliced thin
  • 2 Scallions Sliced thin
  • 1.5 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Juice of One Lime
  1. Combine the salt, water, and lime juice to create a brine.  Stir until the salt is dissolved.

  2. Add all the peppers, garlic, and scallions to a mason jar, then pour the brine on top, leaving a few inches of space at the top.

  3. Add a weight to keep the peppers below the water line.  A smaller mason jar works well for this.

  4. Cover the mason jar with a pour lid fitted with an airlock

  5. Let the vegetables ferment for 14 days, then remove from the brine but don't throw out it out.

  6. Blend the vegetables slowly, adding the brine back in until the desired constancy is achieved.  Store in the refrigerator and it should last for a very, very long time. (or maybe not, if you use it quickly!)

Now on to the giveaway.   The fine people at reCap MAson Jars, will give on lucky reader of our blog a free fermentation starter kit.  You can earn entries into the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter links below and completing the following tasks:

  1. Subscribe to the blog via the box on the top right of screen
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  5. Leave a comment on this post letting us know how you you like this post and what you would like to see on the blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run for 2 weeks, which is coincidentally the same amount of time it take for the hot sauce in the recipe to ferment.  Tune back in then and we will do a taste test to see how the hot sauce came out, and announce the winner of the giveaway. Good luck everyone and thanks for your support.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using those links.  The products being reviewed and given away were provided free of charge by reCap Mason Jars.