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://www.glutenfreeliving.com/recipes/main-dish/thin-crust-bbq-pizza-with-crispy-bacon/
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

Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion Pizza


PizzaThis pizza is one of my wife’s favorites. It does take a little bit of time to made the roasted garlic and caramelized onions, but that can be done ahead of time. Roasted garlic and caramelized onions have a million uses.  I love roasted garlic baked in to a crusty homemade loaf of bread, and caramelized onions make a great topping for hot dogs and hamburgers.

This pizza is a great way to add an adult twist to a meal that is often thought of as something for the kids.  You can use the same recipe for the crust and sauce and substitute for other vegetable (or leave them off all together) for the kiddos.


5 from 1 vote

I have to admit this recipe came from my mother-in-law, although I don't know where she got it from originally.  I like it primarily because it is easy and fast.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 3 Large Pizzas
  • 5 Cups Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Envelopes Dry Yeast
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
  1. Add all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined  and dough ball is formed.

  2. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium. Let the dough knead until it can be stretched thin enough to you can see light through it without tearing it. 

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel.  Allow to rise until the dough doubles in size.

  4. Preheat your oven to 500°F.  If you have a pizza stone place it in the oven before you the oven is hot.

  5. Take a dough ball and roll it in to a thin to the size you desire and place on a pizza screen or pan. Spread on sauce, cheese, and toppings and bake until the crust is golden.

5 from 1 vote
Pizza Sauce

This is a super easy recipe,  Feel free to adjust to your particular taste.

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 Large Pizza
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 8 oz Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tsp Red Paper Flake Optional if you like some heat
  1. Combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the spices to hydrate and the flavors to come together.

5 from 1 vote
Roasted Garlic
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 1 min
Course: Sauce
Servings: 1 Head
  • 1 Head Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

  2. Slice off the top of the head of the garlic, exposing the top of all of the garlic cloves.

  3. Put the garlic on a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Wrap the garlic in the foil and bake until the clove are golden brown and soft enough to be easily squeezed from the paper, about an hour.

5 from 1 vote
Caramelized Onions
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

A great topping for burger, pizza, or a hot dog.  It can also be added to mayo or yogurt to make a dip.

Course: Sauce
  • 6 Large Onions Sliced
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter Substitute more olive oil for a dairy free version
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a large saute pan and place over low heat.

  2. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and a deep golden brown.  It they start to brown too fast, lower the heat.

For a healthier gluten free option check out Rachel’s take on pizza: Pizza Challenge! (the Rachel version)

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 www.takethemameal.com 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 Riskyveggie.com 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 GuiltyKitchen.com (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
  2. Visit and follow us at httpss://www.facebook.com/meatyourvegetables/
  3. Share this post on Twitter
  4. Follow @meaturveggies on Twitter. You can find us here:  httpss://twitter.com/meaturveggies
  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.

Loaded Jicama Fries Two Ways


After Pesach (AKA Passover) everyone is a little sick of potatoes.  Jicama, a large tuber from Mexico with the texture of a turnip and the flavor of an apple is a great substitute for a potato. You don’t get the same crunch as you do with a fried potato, but it is not bad for an occasional change.   Originally I was going to name this  post Jicama Fry Poutine Two Ways, but the recipes moved too far away from a traditional poutine, which is made with cheese curds and gravy.

Mushroom and Cheese Jicama Fries Jicama Fries with Mushroom Gravy and Cheese Sauce

Kosher cheese curds can be very hard to obtain so in my dairy version I substituted a cheese sauce, and the gravy for a mushroom sauce, to keep it all kosher.



5 from 1 vote
Jicama Fries
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

This is a great potato alternative if you want to change it up.  You can try baking them instead of frying, but believe me, it won't be nearly as good.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican, vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 Large Jicima Cut in to 1/2"X1/2" Fries
  • 3 tbsp Seasoned Salt To taste
  • Vegetable Oil For frying
  1. Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the fries and boil for 10 minutes to soften them.

  2. Remove the fries from the water and dry them completely.  A salad spinner works well for this.

  3. Add vegetable oil to your largest, heaviest frying pan so it come 3/4" inch up the side.  If you have a cast iron skillet this would be a great time to break it out.  Put over medium heat.

  4. Once the oil gets to 350°F start adding the fries a few at a time being careful not to crowd the pan.  Fry on each side until golden brown.

  5. Move the fries to a cooling rack, season with the seasoned salt, top with your favorite additions, and serve immediately.

5 from 1 vote
Mushroom Gravy
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: vegan, vegetarian
  • 1 lb Mushrooms (I like cremini AKA baby bellas, but white buttons will work) Stems removed, rinsed, and sliced
  • 2 large Onions Halved
  • 3 tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Finely Chopped
  • Additional Olive Oil for Sauteing
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Stock Preferably home made, but store bought will be fine
  1. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan or a dutch over over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, being careful not crowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary.  Saute the mushrooms until the are nicely browned on both sides and remove them from the pan.

  2. Add the onion and some olive olive oil if needed.  Saute the onions until they take on a golden color.  Add the soy sauce and the garlic and continue to cook until the garlic just starts to brown.  Then remove the onions and garlic from the pan.

  3. Turn the heat down to low and add the flour and butter or olive oil.  Stir constantly to completely coat the flour particles with the fat.  This is called a roux, it is a great thickener for sauces. 

  4. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, and onions.  Then slowly add vegetable stock, stirring regularly until the desired thickness is achieved.

  5. Serve immediately on top of fries, knishes, pasta, or chicken, the sky is the limit.

5 from 1 vote
Cheese Sauce
  • 3 tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Or Cream
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
  1. Put sauce pan over low heat and add the flour and butter or olive oil. Stir constantly to completely coat the flour particles with the fat. This is called a roux, it is a great thickener for sauces. 

  2. Continue to stir the roux constantly. Once the roux starts to brown add the milk or cream slowly and continue to stir.

  3. Once the milk or cream is completely incorporated, add the cheese and stir the cheese until it is completely melted.  Serve immediately.

Jicama Fries with Shredded Beef and Spicy Salsa Verde

For my meat version, I wanted to something that would stick the ribs, topped off with some heat.  I happened to have had made some Mexican food recently and thought that this was a great opportunity to use up some leftovers.  Pulled beef is a great opportunity to break out the slow cooker (AKA Crock-Pot), and as Ron Popeil always said, set it and forget it. The ingredients for the salsa are grilled, which is a great way to use up the heat from dying coals after a backyard soiree.

5 from 1 vote
Pulled Beef Jicama Fries
Pulled Beef
  • 1 Hunk of Beef Nothing fancy. Neck or shoulder is fine
  • 1 Bottle Beer
  • 29 oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Onion Sliced
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  1. Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker (AKA Crock-Pot).  Let it cook for about 6 hours on low.  Shred with two forks.  Serve as a taco, with rice, on fries. or over pasta.  Freezes well.

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Jicama Fries
Spicy Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

This is a great condiment when you want to kick it up a notch.  You can add more or less chili peppers to control the level of heat.  You can also remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers to decrease the heat.

Course: Dip
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers
  • 2 Poblano Peppers
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers
  • 6 Large Tomatillos Husks removed
  • 1 Large Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Skin removed
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Handful Cilantro Chopped
  • 1 Lime
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. Toss all the peppers, tomatillos, onion, and garlic with the olive oil. Put them on the grill or under the broiler until the skin begins to char and then remove from the heat

  2. Remove the tops from the peppers and add them to a large mixing bowl along with the onion, tomatillos, and garlic.  With an immersion (stick) blender, process until desired texture is achieved. This can also be done in a food processor or a regular blender.

  3. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper and the juice from the lime to bowl.  Stir to combine. Serve alongside chips, or on top of tacos or fries.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s Jicama recipe here: Spicy Slaw with Quick Pickled Jicama and Creamy Salsa Verde Dressing

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