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.

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

Spicy Slaw with Pickled Jicama and Creamy Salsa Verde Dressing


Welcome back from the Passover craziness! It feels like the Seder meals were forever ago, am I right?  Well, back to the swing of things, and this latest challenge ingredient is “Jicama”, also commonly known as a Mexican turnip.  I think it tastes somewhere in between an apple and a potato.  I love the versatility of the humble jicama – you can eat it raw or cooked and it’s such a neutral base, it’s good in so many dishes.

I had a few dishes running around in my head and tested a few things out, but what I started with was a quick pickled jicama – let that sit in the fridge for a day or so until I figured out my next move.  Just apple cider vinegar, water, salt and coconut sugar (since, if you know me, I don’t even have white sugar in my pantry.  I know, I know…I’m one of “those” people).  Diced it up, poured the brine in a mason jar and let it do its job.  Then, it was on to some inspiration.

Over Pesach, my mother-in-law showed me a new cookbook she got, “Perfect for Pesach” by Naomi Nachman.  Truth is, this is basically what I eat all year-long!  Gluten free, but definitely still delicious, I mean, who are we kidding.  I was really digging it, so I got a copy for myself (can one have too many cookbooks?  I think not)!  I came across a coleslaw with chimichurri and that got me thinking about my jicama dish.  But immediately, my mind went to salsa verde (green salsa). So, I got some tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes with a papery skin on the outside), some jalapeno AND Serrano peppers  (because you know, I live on the edge – maybe that’s another reason why I’m “risky” veggie, aye?), some green onions, garlic, olive oil, sat and pepper.  Broil for about 10 minutes until everything is slightly charred and piping hot and now you have a sudden craving for chips and dip.  Blend it all in a food processor and BAM.  Salsa verde.  I’ll warn you, it does have quite a kick, but you can always remove the ribs and seeds of the peppers before blending away.  But I like it spicy baby!

So that’s that!  I mixed some bagged coleslaw (because I’m not afraid of using shortcuts), sliced radish, pickled jicama, and fresh cilantro (and if I COULD, I would sprinkle cilantro on freaking everything – yea, I’m one of those weirdos that somehow doesn’t think it tastes like soap).  And to mellow out the heat of the salsa verde, I mixed in some homemade mayo, but you can always use store-bought, don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me. 🙂

Fresh, light, spicy, crunchy – now THAT sounds like a perfect spring dish if you ask me.  I served this slaw as a side dish to my Moroccan salmon and carrots – look for that recipe coming soon on my other blog, riskyveggie!Jicama Slaw Menu

And coming up…my light take on Shavuous food!  (say WHAAA?)








Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s Jicama recipe: Loaded Jicama Fries Two Ways



Traditional Chicken Soup With (Kosher) Bacon Schmaltz Matzo Balls


When it comes to Passover (AKA Pesach), most families have more traditions than Fiddler on the Roof.  I was all set to make you a super traditional matzo ball with homemade chicken schmaltz and gribenes.  I figured this was going to be an easy challenge to beat Rachel at.  How could a vegetarian gluten free dish beat (to quote Walter from The Big Lebowski) “…three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax”.  So I spent hours slowly rendering chicken skin to extract some liquid gold and produce crispy little chicken skin cracklings, and then…and then one of my kids spilled my schmaltz. All over the kitchen floor. Needless to say, I was not happy.

That is when I went in to problem solving mode.  What do I have in the house that is similar to schmaltz? That is where I completely broke with tradition and went to one of my favorite crutches, (kosher) bacon. Ask your Bubby, there ain’t nothing traditional about bacon. That being said, it does provide fat and crunch just like schmaltz and gribenes.

Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments.  Also, let me know if you like my matzo ball soup or Rachel’s better.  You can find hers here: Minestrone Soup with Gluten-Free Matzah Balls

5 from 1 vote
Chicken Soup
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs

A classic kosher comfort dish.  It's good for what ails you, they don't call it Jewish penicillin for nothing. I don't like anything too fancy in my chicken soup so I stay away from things like zucchini and tomatoes, but if you like them feel free to add them, it won't hurt anything.  

One final note, your soup will never taste as good as your mother's for 2 reasons:

1. Memories are a strong force

2. She probably added some soup mix with MSG to give it that little something extra.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Jewish
Servings: 1 Large Pot
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 4 Medium Carrots Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 4 Ribs Celery Rinsed, tops and bottoms cut off and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato Peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Turnip Peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Parsnip Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 1 Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt To taste
  • Pepper To taste
  • 1 Handful Dill
  • 1 Handful Parsley
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 4 Chicken Leg Quarters Remove and save the fat and skin to make schmaltz
  1. Put all the ingredients in your largest pot and fill with enough water to cover everything, making sure not to fill too high in order to prevent it from boiling over.

  2. Cover the pot and put over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the soup is at a boil remove the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.

  3. Let the soup simmer for about four hours or until the soup reduces by about 15%.

  4. Remove chicken from the bones, adding the chicken back in to the soup and discarding the bones.  Serve within a week or freeze for up to six months. 

5 from 2 votes
Matzo Balls
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Jewish
Servings: 12 Small Matzo Balls
  • 1/2 Cup Matzo Meal
  • 2 tbsp Cold Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Fat (Kosher) Bacon grease, chicken schmaltz, or vegetable oil
  • 1 Large Egg Beaten
  • 2 tbsp (Kosher) Bacon or Gribenes Chopped very fine
  • 2 quarts Chicken Stock For cooking the Matzo Balls
  1. Add all ingredients except the 2 quarts of chicken stock in a large mixing bowl, stir with a large wooden spoon, ideally one passed down from your Bubby, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Put the mixture in the fridge for about an hour to hydrate.

  2. Roll out the matzo balls just slightly smaller than a golf ball and cook in chicken stock for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately or remove from liquid and freeze.

Minestrone Soup with Gluten-Free Matzah Balls


Ah, the dreaded “P” word.  The word that we Jews cringe when anyone utters it before Purim. Yes, I’m referring to “Pesach”!  HA!  It’s not that overwhelming, is it?  (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).  And so it begins. Searching, sweeping, and cleaning out old, weird stuff from the fridge (you know, the stuff you forgot to label, some unidentifiable mushy substance that now has a fresh layer of fuzzy mold?)  Alright, enough of the gross stuff. You are reading about food here anyway.

Quick disclaimer:  Some of you may notice that I have included peas in this recipe.  Peas are “kitnoyit” and only eaten by Sephardic Jews on Passover, so if you’re Ashkenazic, then peas are off limits.  So feel free to omit, if it applies to you.

So this week’s challenge is none other than the traditional “matzah ball” (or matzo ball as it’s most commonly spelled).  Being, well, me…I wanted to take on the challenge to make mine gluten free, and before you get all annoyed with me that I may not making true matzo balls, here me out for a second. Call them whatever you want, but basically these are big gnocchi, and trust me…they turned out pretty delicious if I say so myself.  So no haters here…just wanted to try something different while still appealing to everyone.  I must admit, I had to do some research here.  Survey says – use potatoes as the base.  I went with yukon gold potatoes, mostly because I like the flavor, and when they cook, they get this super creamy consistency that I don’t think you can really get from a big baking potato, and no peeler necessary (though honestly, I hardly ever peel potatoes). The other thing I realized while doing some searching on the interwebs, is that you MUST wait for the potatoes to cool before making the dough (so, insert extra prep time for that).  I didn’t ask questions, I just followed along.

Then came the hard part – what type of soup would I make?  I briefly thought about “tortilla soup”, sans tortillas, but using the matzah balls as a replacement, but my gut told me to go with a simple minestrone.  It’s a week before Passover and aren’t we all trying to get rid of random items in our fridge?  Many of us probably have canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, frozen peas, right?  This is basically a “dump soup” as I like to call them – just dump everything into a pot and call it a day.  That’s the beauty about making soup, you can throw in whatever you want and adjust seasonings as you go, it’s almost fool-proof.  Plus…since these matzah balls are basically gnocchi, why not make an Italian-influenced soup, right?  I’m not trying to change the world here with my out-of-the-box and totally inaccessible recipes that no one will make it.

Before I go, I have 2 tips for you (and one bonus tip in the recipe below), because you KNOW I’m all about handy tips, ya!  So I used a can of whole peeled tomatoes for this and I happen to love these vintage-looking cans, so don’t throw them out (or recycle for that matter), instead use it as a low vase for flowers!

Tip number 2?  I made veggie stock a few months ago and froze it in ice cube trays (I have a few weirdly shaped ones, some heart-shaped, some stick-shaped, but who cares), then instead of buying veggie stock for this soup, I just popped in a few veggie stock cubes and you’re done.  I kinda eyeballed the measurements, but feel free to play with it as you make it!  I added a lot of water and stock because I didn’t want it to end up being tomato sauce.  So start with some water and you can always add more.  Don’t have stock around?  That’s fine too, just add enough after and make sure you season with plenty of salt, pepper, and whatever else you have on hand.  The sky’s the limit!  Don’t have peas?  Throw in some sliced button mushrooms!  Make it your own!

One other thing to add.  If you’re like me and want to multi-task, let your slow cooker be your friend in this scenario!  I didn’t want to babysit my soup, so instead I dumped everything into my crock-pot, and cooked it on low overnight.  I made this for Friday night dinner, so all I had to do was put it back on the crock pot and re-heat it.  Don’t you love when your kitchen appliances can do the work for you?  But obviously you can make it the old fashioned way too.

So that’s it, here we go!  1 week and counting.  Wishing you all a chag kasher v’sameach and a wonderful Pesach with family, friends and hopefully LOTS of good food.  🙂

Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments.  Also, let me know if you like my matzo ball soup or Daniel’s better.  You can find hers here: Traditional Chicken Soup With (Kosher) Bacon Schmaltz Matzo Balls

5 from 1 vote
Minestrone Soup with Gluten Free Matzah Balls
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Homemade, Italian, Jewish, Kosher
Servings: 8 people
Author: Rachel Katzman
Gluten Free Matzah Balls
  • 7 small-medium yukon gold potatoes baked and cooled
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh dill
  • 2 tsp garlic powder I roasted some garlic with the potatoes and I added the garlic to the soup, but you can use garlic powder, that's totally ok 🙂
Minestrone Soup
  • 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 small white onions, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 10 oz bag of frozen green peas
  • 1 10 oz bag of frozen carrots yea, I was feeling pretty lazy here, just being honest.
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped optional (I didn't use any because I just used up whatever I had in the house)
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced also optional,
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 3 cups water
  1. Make the soup - in a large soup pot, sweat the onions, garlic, celery (if using) carrots and mushrooms (if using) for about 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

  2. Open the can of whole peeled tomatoes and carefully (wearing an apron is a must here), use your hands to crush the tomatoes while in the can, so they're not quite as "whole" but a little more rustic.  

  3. Add in the can of tomatoes, frozen peas, stock, water and any other spices or seasonings (thyme, bay leaf, dried basil)

  4. Turn the stove to high and cook until the soup is boiling, then turn down the simmer, cover and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. While the soup is cooking, add the matzah balls ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.  You may have to add in a little more flour if the dough is still too sticky but depends on how starchy your potatoes are, or if you're using extra large eggs.  Knead the dough in a big stainless steel bowl until you get the perfect consistency (you want to be able to roll them in your hands, so not too sticky but sticky enough that they hold together).

  6. Fill a second soup pot with water and bring to a boil.

  7. (Tip #3):  Use a mini ice cream scoop to portion out the matzah ball dough and drop in to the boiling water.  

  8. Cook for a few minutes, until the balls float to the top.

  9. Remove the matzah balls with a slotted spoon and drop them into the minestrone soup to finish cooking. 

  10. Serve the soup piping hot with fresh basil or dill and enjoy!


Lamb Bacon Chili Shakshuka With Quail Eggs


Before you ask, yes you can may this with any type of bacon and eggs, it does not need to be lamb bacon or quail eggs.  I happened to have some excellent lamb bacon from CWS Meats and I also managed to find a local small chain grocery store that regularly carries kosher quail eggs.  I figured a kosher bacon and egg change would be a great one for me and Rachel.

Lately it has been wet, cold and gray in Chicago so I was craving something warm and hearty.  As we are getting close to Passover I did not want to buy any new ingredients, so I rummaged through my fridge and came up with this shakshuka recipe.  Shakshuka is generally made by simmering vegetables in a tomato sauce, and then carefully adding whole eggs and cooking they until the whites are set and the yolks are just warmed through.  Chili peppers are often added to the sauce to give it a kick.

This recipe can easily be scaled up and down for more people, or for that matter the size of your pan.  This recipe comes out wonderfully in  cast iron skillet, but a saute pan or a large frying pan will work in a pinch.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s dish using the lamb bacon and quail eggs and let us know which you liked better in the comment.  Hers can be found here: Lamb Bacon French Fries topped with Quail Eggs and Chopped Parsley

5 from 1 vote
Lamb Bacon Chili Shakshuka With Quail Eggs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Mexican
Servings: 4
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 6 Slices Lamb, Beef, or Pork Bacon Diced
  • 1/2 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Medium Onion Diced
  • 6 Medium Mushrooms Sliced
  • 1 Each Red and Green Pepper Diced
  • 15 oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • Slices of Pickled Jalapenos For garnish if you like it hot
  • Torilla Chips
  1. Put a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon, keeping the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until completely browned. Remove the ground beef, again leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Add the onions and cook until the start to brown. Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook until the also start to brown.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, cooked ground beef, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Carefully add the eggs one at a time, being careful not break the yolks. Let the eggs cook in the sauce until the whites are set and the yolks are warm.
  6. Sprinkle on the bacon and garnish with the jalapenos and tortilla chips. Serve immediately.

2017 International Home + Housewares Show Review


Last Sunday Rachel, Elliott (Rachel’s husband), and I went to the International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place on Chicago’s Museum Campus.  For those of you not from around these parts, McCormick Place is the nation’s largest convention center with 2,600,000 square feet of prime exhibit space.  Needless to say there was an insane amount of walking involved.  We walked about 10 miles in 9 hours.  Once we got there, we met up with Gabriel Prero and his wife Lena. Gabriel is very long time friend of mine (since preschool) and a very talented industrial designer.  If you ever have the chance to walk a trade show with an industrial designer, I highly recommend it.  While I tend to concentrate on either form or function, Gabriel is able to look at a product and truly appreciate the marriage of the two.

To be honest, we did rush through the show due to its size. One could easily spend two full days at this show, as it fills all three major halls at McCormick Place.  Here are some of the highlights:

Anova is coming out with some cool new items including a $99 immersion circulator. Anova was one of the first companies to bring the immersion circulator/sous vide cooking to the home kitchen, and at that price, this new product really makes sous vide cooking accessible to the home cook.

Aervoe was showing a temperature-controlled induction cooktop for $124.  While it is not as accurate as PolyScience’s THE CONTROL °FREAK™ ,at a fraction of the cost, it is be a good option for the home cook.

The Loki Smart WIFI Thermometer, a magnetic ball that can read up to four (internal or ambient) temperature probes and transmit to your mobile device, was something I found interesting.   It also has a social media component for finding and sharing recipes.  They are currently in pre-orders with prices starting at $99.

PicoBrew was there showing off their Pico Personal Craft Beer Brewery.  These things are super slick.  It is a totally hands off system from start to finish with cartridges that can be purchased to produce your favorite style of beer.  The cartridges can also be customized for your own secret recipe.  Unfortunately, at $800 it is out of my price range. Of course, if they wanted to send me one to review I’d be happy to oblige.

Mason jars and fermentation were a running theme throughout the show.  Some standouts in that space were mason jar top companies Masontops, Kraut Source, and reCap.  Kraut Source takes the win in the fermentation department with their lid that includes a spring loaded disk that holds your vegetables below the waterline to prevent any nasty bugs from getting to them. From an aesthetic standpoint, Masontops comes out ahead with some great colors, a wooden cap with a plastic liner, and a chalkboard top.  Finally, from a range of functionality standpoint reCap was impressive, with a wide variety of lids including a sprayer and a pump.

The Party Bar from Igloo
Trailmate from Igloo

Igloo is celebrating their 70th anniversary and showing off the Trailmate, which is best described as the SUV of coolers, and the Party Bar, the ultimate cooler for entertaining.

Like in past years, SodaStream was there giving out their sample bottles and showing off the new MyWater Flavor Essence.  I really love these, as they are unsweetened, making them, a great way to add flavor without added sugar or nasty tasting artificial sweeteners.

We had some time to hang out with Chef Randall Smith at Ergo Chef, and play with their innovative knives. They make a line of RaBBi-Q knives developed in conjunction with my buddy, the winningest man in kosher BBQ, Mendel Segal. Chef Randall also competes in the kosher BBQ circuit on Team Shiva Que.  I look forward to sharing a few drinks with him in the future as we cook brisket late into the night.

Finally we ran in to a few food celebrities including Fabio Viviani from Top Chef,who is absolutely hilarious, Jeff Mauro AKA the Sandwich King, a Chicago native from the Food Network, famous Emeril Lagasse, as well as BBQ legend Steven Raichlen.


For Rachel’s take on the show see here: Recap: 2017 International Home + Housewares Show!

Recap: 2017 International Home + Housewares Show!

Chef Ming Tsai and his “fangirl”

Well, it’s Monday and my feet, legs, shoulders, back (ok, basically all of me) is sore, my Fitbit tracked over 24,000 steps, almost 10 miles and on my feet for 9+ hours all yesterday.  That must mean one thing – the International Home and Housewares show was yesterday! And no, I did not exaggerate those numbers. As their website claims: “Where art intersects with engineering. Where technology informs style. Where exhibitors display innovation, buyers discover trends & the industry connects to do business. It’s just plain smart.  In addition to more than 2,100 exhibitors showcasing thousands of new products, the International Home + Housewares Show offers visitors education and insight into business practices and trends that are shaping the industry. Experience the Show’s strong educational sessions and special displays to help grow your business!”

Smart, yes.  Exhausting, absolutely.

Here’s the scoop.  Daniel and I registered a few months ago (well, I also registered under my other blog Risky Veggie).  The 3 of us (my husband included), left at 8 a.m. on Sunday, arrived just before 9, after winding our way through some random outdoor parking lot that seemed miles away from McCormick place.  We started on one side, walking up and down each aisle, checking out products and booths – everything from Black + Decker to SodaStream, Vitamix, Nest, Cuisinart, and Keurig and checking out every type of pressure cooker from every company you can think of. 🙂  Luckily there were many raffles to win a pressure cooker, so of course I entered every single one (this is next on my list of kitchen appliances).

We got a hugger! 🙂
Goofing around with Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King







Action shot!




First on this side of the exhibit, was walking over to the cooking demo featuring Food Network chef Jeff Mauro (a.k.a. “The Sandwich King) – a local Chicago boy, he won “Food Network Star” a few seasons back.  He was demoing Chicago-style Philly cheesesteak and sweet potato hash, using the new George Foreman grill, with removable plates for waffle-making, braising, broiling, searing and of course grilling. So, naturally, he heckled Daniel and me in the front row, while we took action shots and heckled him back.  He was super friendly and so silly (case in point, my “silly pictures” I took with him).  I gave him both of my business cards and off we went.  Meanwhile, my husband Elliott was off at the Wahl exhibit getting a free haircut and beard trim (this barber, Ben is THE BEST.  If only he had a barber shop near us).  Yay for free haircuts!

Continuing on, chatting with some vendors, ooing and ahing over the fancy displays, getting free bottles of personalized SodaStream drinks (and may I say, their new all-natural and totally sugar-free flavors are pretty good) and… how could I forget? Daniel and I purchased our own portable commercial induction cook top with temperature control, at a CRAZY low price (um, think under $150).  Yup, exactly.

Next, I stumbled upon the Aroma booth and low and behold, Chef Ming Tsai was there doing a cooking demo with their new fancy schmancy pressure cookers (see, I told you). He made 3 dishes – seared beef with rice and watercress, Chinese duck (I left during this demo and came back) and…Dunkin Hines cake.  Yes, it’s true. He was demonstrating how easy it is too make cake in this pressure cooker.  Since I was standing in the front row (why was everyone shying away in the back?), he asked me to be his volunteer, to show everyone how easy it is to use.  The only hiccup was that he forgot to plug it in (cue my deer in headlights face). Okay, all is good.  Photo taken with him, and mentioned that I met him at a book signing years ago downtown, gave him my cards (of course) and again, away we went.

More walking.  Feet getting a little tired by now. Lunch (I brought my own Rachel-friendly food).


Time for the South side hall.  I saw that Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian was going to be there doing a demo, but I waited around and didn’t see him around, so instead, we all head to the Cooking Theater to see the one and only Fabio Viviani for his cooking demos (you may remember him from Top Chef, where he made “It’s Top Chef, not Top Scallops” a famous line and me, being the weirdo I am, quoted it to him last year.  He laughed).  He got a volunteer from the crowd to help him make fresh pasta – orecchiette, to be exact, and Chicken and Cauliflower steak puttanesca, all while chucking balls of pasta dough into the crowd, because, he’s Fabio. 🙂

Chef Fabio Viviani signing last year’s photo

Wasting no time, I rushed up to the front, asked for a quick photo and (since I came prepared and printed out the photos of the celeb chefs and me from last year), I had him sign my photo of us.  Yea, I’m weird like that (but in my defense, Daniel did that too and gave me the idea of printing out those photos).

2016 IHHS







More walking, more free swag, more business cards exchanged, more contacts being made.  “I’d love to write a review on my blog about your product”, and “where do you sell these in retail” where the common lines that I felt myself repeating all day.

Caught a quick glimpse of Chef Emeril Lagasse at his booth but he was talking with his PR people and heading back to the other wing for an autograph signing.

North side was next.  This is the cleaning, organizing, start-up companies, or some you’ve seen on Shark Tank stuff (i.e. Squatty Potty, Scrub Daddy, DBest), among other big companies like Ziploc, Kate Spade, Clorox and Igloo. I chatted with a few companies who were so excited to give me extra products to try out and review (hair clips, mason jar lids, cookie cutters, and cleaning cloths, just to name a few). A few more cards given out and carrying 3 heavy bags of stuff, it was 5:15 and time to head out.

“Party Bar” from Igloo
“Trailmate” from Igloo

All in all, a great show.  Last year when I went for the first time, I was just getting up and running as a blogger, and now I have not one, but TWO blogs!

I’m always on the lookout for interesting designs, new products – everything from kitchen appliances, home decor, storage, food prep, cleaning products and everything in between. I feel much more prepared now for these types of shows, more business cards to hand out and the best questions to ask “show me about your product” and “what new products are you showcasing?”

Ergo knives!

The trade show is well organized and some company booths are displayed so impressively, so chic, I wish my living room could look that put together (ok maybe it is), but mostly, I coveted those fancy tablescapes. 🙂 And maybe the baby blue vintage-style toasters.  Or the giant copper pots.

Time to register for 2018!

Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s review of the show here: 2017 International Home + Housewares Show Review

Happy Pi Day: Smoked Duck Personal Pot Pie


Pot Pie

Happy Pi day (at least for another few hours) to my math nerd friends, not to be confused with National Pie Day, which next year will be on Tuesday, January 23rd according to Google. For those of you who don’t remember, Pi (π) is the Greek letter used to represent the magical number needed to calculate the area and circumference of a circle.  Its approximate value is 3.14, hence Pi day is March 14th.  See this link for a much more accurate value for Pi: Pi to a million places. Now that the math lesson is over, on to the food!

Many people make pie for Pi Day because they sound the same and they are generally circular (and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pie!), and therefore Rachel has challenged me to Pi Day throw down. I had some leftover smoked duck from my Very BBQ Purim Se’udah, and figured pot pie was a great way to use it up.  And yes, this recipe will work fine with roast duck, roast turkey, or even chicken.

Pot Pie Mise

5 from 1 vote
Cut Pot Pie
Smoked Duck Personal Pot Pie
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine: BBQ, Homemade
Servings: 12
Author: Daniel Peikes
Duck Stock (Or Just Use Chicken Stock)
  • 1 Duck Carcass Leftover
  • 2 Duck Wings
  • 1 Tablespoon Celery Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Mustard Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Cups Duck (or Chicken) Stock
  • 2 Smoked Duck Legs and Thighs Bones Removed
  • 2 Carrots Diced
  • 11 Oz Canned Corn
  • 1 Medium Onion Chopped
  • 6 Medium Mushrooms Chopped
  • 2 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 3/4 Cup AP Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 24 Puff Pastry Squares or Rounds
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Egg Beaten
  1. Take all the ingredients for the stock, put it in a large pot, and boil for couple of hours. Strain out the solids and preserve the liquid.
  2. Put the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. After 2 minutes, add the flour and whisk until the all the flour is coated in oil and there are no dry pockets. This is called a roux.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and cook the roux until it starts to brown, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
  4. Add all the vegetables, the stock, and the duck meat to the pot and stir, making sure to incorporate the roux into the mixture. Cook until the vegetables have softened.
  5. Spray 2 muffin pans (they usually hold 6 muffins) with cooking spray. Press one puff pastry square into each muffin compartment to form the bottom crust. Add the filling, about 2/3 of the way to the top and cover with another puff pastry square, tucking the ends in. Brush egg on top.
  6. Preheat the over to 350°F and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Cut Pot Pie

Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments.  Also, let me know if you liked my recipe or Rachel’s better.  You can find hers here: Happy Pi Day! Chocolate Sweet Potato Pudding Pie with Maple Coconut Cream