Greek-Style Couscous With Spinach, Garlic, Feta, And Pine Nuts

I made this recipe for my daughter Randi and her husband Dan last night as a side dish, and they loved it!  It is healthy, easy to make, and much more tasty than the average couscous recipe.  The whole wheat couscous tastes just as good as the regular, so if you can find it, I recommend using it as it is healthier. This recipe serves about 3-4 people, double this recipe for 5-8 people.

  • 1 box Near East whole wheat couscous- box says plain
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • about 3 1/2 -4 ounces of prewashed baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • about 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated on microplane
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Note:  If you do not like feta cheese, or you’d like the dish to be even less fattening, eliminate the feta cheese.

In large skillet, toast pine nuts till lightly browned.  Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 very large ( or 4 small) minced garlic cloves and put flame on medium.  Saute until garlic is translucent.  Add spinach over low flame, just until spinach is wilted.  Add salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice and zest.  Take off heat.  (You can do this part in advance if you wish.)

A few minutes before you are ready to serve, follow directions and recipe on box for couscous- follow exactly.  When couscous is ready, add it to warmed spinach mixture in large skillet and mix.  Spoon into serving bowl, sprinkle feta cheese over, mix gently, and serve.

Vegetarian Pea Soup With Matzah Balls

I have made pea soup for years.  For years, I made it with flanken.  My mother, father, and children loved it.  My in-law Marcia Greenhouse though had the brilliant idea of making the soup without meat and adding matzah balls to the recipe!  Since her son and my daughter were both vegetarians who couldn’t eat chicken soup with matzah balls, she decided, why not make the matzah balls with pea soup?  The consensus in the family is that Marcia’s matza balls are better than mine, and I totally agree.  My daughter Randi always asks me why Marcia’s matzah balls are better than mine, and I just don’t have the answer.   Here is the recipe for my delicious pea soup and my and Marcia’s matzah balls.  Oh, I made a really big pot, and then I freeze the rest in quart containers (with the matza balls).

for the soup: 

  • 6 tubes of Manischewitz split pea soup mix (I throw the seasoning packets away)
  • about 24 cups of cold water (about 5 quarts)
  • kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons or to taste
  • pepper, about 2 – 3 teaspoons or to taste
  • 2 large onions, peeled – but left whole
  • 2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
  • optional – 1/2 box of alphabet noodles or barley shaped noodles (only if you are not making matzah balls)

Pour the contents of  6 tubes of Manischewitz pea soup mix into the bottom of a very large pot.  Pour in about 24 cups of water (about 4 cups of water for each soup mix packet).  Pierce the two onions with a fork and place in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Skim scum off top.  Add salt and pepper.  Lower flame to low.  Simmer with top on.  After about one hour, add the cut up carrots.  Continue to simmer with cover on  for at least one more hour until you don’t see any more pieces of dried peas.  Discard onions.  If you are adding the noodles, boil them separately and then add them to the soup when the soup is fully cooked.

for the matzah balls:

  • 1 box (2 packets) Manishewitz matzah ball mix
  • oil and eggs- for quantities, see instructions on box

Follow directions on the box exactly.  Refrigerate batter, according to directions on the box.  Then, form the matzah balls using dampened hands.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the matzah balls to that pot and cook according to package directions.  Add  cooked matzah balls to the soup.

Note:  Freeze leftover soup and matzah balls in quart containers. 

Easiest Baked Ziti

This is a recipe that is so easy to make and is just delicious.  Everyone loves it, kids and adults.  If you are having people over for dinner, for a party, or even a barbecue, the addition of this dish will always be appreciated!

    • 1 pound of ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 pound of grated mozzarella cheese, part-skim or whole milk
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 14-16 oz. ricotta cheese, part-skim or whole milk
  • 1 egg (I often omit as not necessary)
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • about 32-40 oz. of marinara sauce, either jarred or homemade marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Start boiling pasta in large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions for al dente; drain pasta.  While you are cooking the pasta, mix ricotta cheese in a bowl the egg, some salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste, and oregano (optional).  Pour about 1/2 cup of sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 oval or rectangular baking dish.  Spread about 1/3 of noodles on top.  With you clean hands, drop dollops of ricotta mixture over noodles (to use about 1/3 of ricotta).  Sprinkle about 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese over, and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Then with a large spoon, drizzle marinara sauce over, to use about 1/3 of the remaining sauce.  Repeat with 1/3 of noodles, 1/3 of ricotta, 1/3 of mozzarella, a little Parmesan or Romano, 1/3 of sauce.  Repeat with last 1/3 of noodles, last 1/3 of ricotta, remaining sauce, and then top off with remaining mozzarella.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  When starting to be bubbly around the edges, uncover dish, and place under broiler – at  least 8 inches from broiler element.  Watch carefully so as not to burn, but you are looking for the cheese to be browned nicely all over the top.  Serve immediately.

Note: You can make this up to 2 days  in advance   and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.  You will need to add about 1/2  to the cooking time if you are baking right out of the fridge. 

Judy’s Sweet And Sour Meatballs or Stuffed Cabbage

I adapted this recipe from my Aunt Florence Fried’s recipe for the filling of her stuffed cabbage.  When I used to make stuffed cabbage, I would make extra meatballs for my children.  My son Danny was the one who really loved these.  My mother loved when I made this, but my father especially loved when I made the stuffed cabbage.

for the meatballs or the filling of the stuffed cabbage:

  • 4 pounds chop meat (85% or 90% lean)
  • 4 eggs
  • about 1 cup of plain bread crumbs (or matzah meal for Passover)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce for the sweet and sour meatballs or the stuffed cabbage:

  • 4- 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4- 6 oz. cans tomato paste (I use Contadina)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sour salt (or substitute 1 more lemon for sour salt 9/11)
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (reduce to 1 1/2 cups)

if you are making stuffed cabbage:

  • 1 large head of new cabbage

for making the sweet and sour meatballs:

Put all the sauce ingredients in a large pot.  Put over low flame and whisk till blended.  Then form meat mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Gently drop meatballs into pot.  Simmer covered over a low flame about 2 1/2 hours.    Do not stir until your meatballs have set after about 1/2 hour or so.  If you mix while they are still raw, they will not retain their shape.

for stuffed cabbage:

Core and put 1 large head of new cabbage in a very large pot.  Pour cold water in to cover.  Simmer covered until the leaves are soft enough to separate.  Lay out one leaf of cabbage at a time.  Put about one tablespoon of meat mixture in center but towards the bottom of the leaf, then begin to roll up, then fold both sides over, and continue to roll.  Do with each leaf until you have used all the leaves.  Put half of your sauce mixture in bottom of a very large pot.  Then put all of the cabbage rolls, then the rest of the sauce on top.  If you have any leftover meat, make meatballs out of them and add to the top of the pot.  Simmer with the top on about 2 1/2 hours.

Note:  This freezes very well.

Roasted Halibut Or Haddock With Roasted Tomatoes And Shallots

I made this dish for my daughter Randi and her husband Dan. They loved it. You can turn this into a no-salt recipe by eliminating the salt.

for the fish:

    • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of halibut or haddock fillet
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves (if you have both fresh thyme and fresh oregano, use a combination of the two)
  • olive oil (I use light)

for the tomatoes and shallots:

  • 6-10 plum tomatoes, cut into chunks (each chunk should be about 1/2 the size of a cherry tomato)
  • 4-6 shallots, small dice
  • 3 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (May substitute about 1/4 teaspoon dry)
  • olive oil (extra virgin or light)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On half sheet pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then place tomato chunks on pan along with chopped shallots. Sprinkle with minced garlic, thyme leaves or dried thyme, kosher salt, and some cracked black pepper. Toss to coat with the olive oil. Cook for about 45 min. to 1 hour or until tomatoes start to shrink and shallots are beginning to caramelize.

When your tomatoes are about 25 minutes into cooking, prepare your fish. Place the fillets on a sheet pan which you have covered with foil and drizzled with olive oil. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cutlets with the minced garlic and the thyme (or the thyme and oregano). Put in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until cooked through. Place fish on serving platter, and spoon roasted tomatoes on top. Serve.

Note: If you buy fresh oregano or fresh thyme, you can store it in a ziploc bag covered with a damp paper towel, and it will keep for a few weeks.

Note: It is important to use a fish that is thick enough to withstand the roasting. If you use a thinner fish, such as flounder, then be careful to roast it for only 5-7 minutes.

Thin-Sliced Fried Eggplant With Marinara Sauce

I had this at my in-law’s Marsha’s house. Her husband Al Berman made this for an appetizer. It was DELICIOUS!!! You can serve this as an appetizer, or as a quick and healthy dinner served with marinara sauce and a salad. Believe it or not, my sons, Danny and Benji both love this, and they hate eggplant. Try this for your kids.

  • 1 or 2 eggplants (choose eggplants that have a smaller diameter), peeled
  • 1 or 2 eggs (or as many as necessary) mixed with a little water
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • oil, for frying
  • marinara sauce, for serving

Peel eggplants and slice them thinly, between an 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Place in egg mixture. Then dredge in bread crumbs thoroughly on both sides.

Heat a large frying pan or 2 pans until hot. Then add oil, either light olive oil, canola, corn, or vegetable oil about 1/8 inch high in pan. When oil starts to shimmer, add eggplant. Fry on both sides until nicely browned.  Add oil as needed.

Serve with marinara sauce, either a good jarred variety such as “The Silver Palate” or my delicious homemade marinara sauce.

Roasted String Beans and Tomatoes

This dish is easy to make, healthy, delicious, and the colors are beautiful.  I made this for my son Danny and myself, and to my shock, Danny loved it, even though he doesn’t usually like string beans.

Ingredients

    • 1 pound of fresh string beans, ends trimmed
    • about 8-10 plum tomatoes or 2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes
    • kosher salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves (optional)
    • olive oil (I use light)
    • Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Cut plum tomatoes into medium size chunks, each about the size of a half of a cherry tomato.  If using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half.  Place on prepared sheet pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons oil over, sprinkle with salt and pepper and thyme.  Toss with your hands to coat well with oil.  Roast uncovered in oven for about 45 minutes.  Then take out, and add the string beans.  Drizzle a little more oil over beans and sprinkle beans with salt and pepper.  Then toss gently.  Roast for another 20-30 minutes until the beans start to brown on the ends.  Serve.

Passover Spinach Pie Or Passover Spanikopita

This Is The Best Recipe For Passover Spinach Pie Or Passover Spanikopita!

Last year, our wonderful friends, the Slotnicks, invited us over for a Passover Seder.  I wanted to bring a main course dish that my daughter and her husband, who are both vegetarians, would enjoy.  My daughter loves the Greek dish called spanikopita or spinach pie, so I decided to create my own Passover version of it.  It turned out delicious!  And it only took about 30 minutes to prepare.  We’re getting very close to Passover, and I definitely plan to make this Passover spanikopita for Seder or just for a light dinner this year!

    • about 6 matza boards
    • 5 extra large or jumbo eggs (3 for filling, 2 for pouring over the top)
    • 1-10 ounce box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
    • 8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
    • 1/2 of a medium onion, chopped finely
    • about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of dried dill or 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease sides and bottom of  a 9 x 13 pyrex or ceramic baking dish well with butter or margarine.

In a medium mixing bowl, gently mix the drained spinach with the crumbled feta, the chopped raw onion, 3 eggs the pepper, and the dill; set aside.

Soak about 3 matzas in warm water in another 9 x 13 baking dish.  When the matza starts to soften, gently squeeze the water out, very carefully, so that you don’t crumble the matza.  Then place the matzas in the bottom of the pan to cover it.  Do not overlap the matza; just lay it side by side covering the bottom of the pan the way you would if you were making lasagna.

Spread the entire spinach mixture evenly over the matza, covering the matza completely.  Then soak another 3 matzas in warm water, gently squeeze out excess water, and place the matza over the top of the spinach, covering the spinach completely.  Beat the remaining 2 eggs and pour over the matza.  Dot with butter or margarine.  Bake covered for about 30 minutes till hot and bubbly.

Note #1:  You can prepare this in advance and refrigerate this up until the step where you pour the 2 beaten eggs over the matza.  Then when you wish to bake it, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, pour the 2 beaten eggs over it, dot it with butter or margarine and bake covered, for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Note #2:  You may substitute 1 pound of fresh spinach for the frozen, but you will need to saute it (very briefly) in a little oil, butter or margarine, just until it wilts and turns a dark green before you mix it with the feta, egg, onion, pepper, and dill. I like to use the frozen spinach, because 1-16 ounce box of frozen spinach is equivalent to much more than 1 pound of fresh spinach.

Ellen’s Delicious Passover Pineapple Kugel

Learn To Make This Outstanding Pineapple Kugel For Passover!  

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I got from my friend Ellen Wachstein.  Ellen is an amazing person and a wonderful friend! I have so many memories of the happy times my family spent over the years with Ellen, her husband Bobby, and her three great children, Toby, Steven, and Alexa. My favorite memories are of the many days our two families spent together at the Phillips Avenue Beach Pavilion in Deal, New Jersey, or of the many times our two families just hung out together at their house or our house.  Anyway, my family was lucky to be invited over to the Wachstein’s for a Passover Seder one year.  Bobby Wachstein does a fabulous job of leading the Seder!  Of course, I was very into the food.  One of the dishes Ellen made for the Seder was her Passover pineapple kugel.  I loved it.  I got the recipe and I make it every year for Passover.  Whenever I am invited to anyone’s home for a Seder, I always bring this dish, and it  gets rave reviews.  I know if you make this pineapple kugel for Passover once, it will become a favorite of yours, too!

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine (use unsalted margarine to make this dish pareve, otherwise you can use salted margarine or butter) (used margarine for Passover 2014)(used butter Passover 2015)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you only need salt if you are using unsalted butter or margarine)
  • scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2- 20 ounce cans crushed pineapple in natural juice, strained but not dry at all (you will not be using the juice)
  • 6 extra large eggs, mixed in a small bowl (switch to 7 ex. lg. next time– to give a little more liquid)
  • 4 cups of dry matza farfel (used whole canister April 2014) This year, I used 14 oz. of matza that I broke into pieces myself when I couldn’t find farfel)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling on top (also sprinkled cinn. and sugar on top April 2014) I used 2 1/2 teaspoons 2015 and sprinkled top too

to make the kugel:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the margarine into a 9 x 13 baking dish, rectangular or oval, and place in the oven.  When it is melted take out the pan, swirl the margarine around in the pan to make sure that the sides and bottom are well greased.  Pour the melted margarine into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place a colander in the sink.  Put the whole canister (14 oz.) of matza farfel in the colander.  Run warm water over the matza farfel.  When the matza farfel starts to soften, turn the water off.  The pieces of farfel should be soft, but not mushy.  This is the tricky part.  Because if you have let too much water soak into the matza farfel, it will turn into one glob of mush, and you will have to throw it away and start all over.  Hold the colander with both hands and shake the excess water out, the way you would if you were draining pasta.  Dump the matza farfel into the large mixing bowl with the melted margarine.  Mix the farfel gently with the melted margarine using a rubber spatula.  Pour the sugar and the drained pineapple into the mixing bowl and mix gently with the rubber spatula.   Pour the beaten eggs in, and mix gently to incorporate well.  Add the cinnamon, and mix in.

Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle the top with additional cinnamon.  The cinnamon on the top is what is going to make the kugel look pretty, so be generous.  Bake about 60 – 65 minutes until kugel is browned on the sides and the bottom.  Serve.

Hint #1:  You can bake this in advance, then cut up into 24 pieces, place in heavy duty aluminum foil, and then heat up later either  in the microwave (If you are heating this up in the microwave, take it out of the aluminum foil, and place it on a microwave safe plate).

Hint #2:  I like to bake this in a clear glass baking dish so I can see if the sides and the bottom are browning.  If you bake this in a ceramic baking dish, it will be harder for you to know if the kugel is done.

Aunt Helene’s And Aunt Francine’s Delicious Broiled Chicken And Potatoes

This Chicken Is Wonderful To Make For A Friday Night Shabbat Dinner!

My ex-husband Joe Kahn has two wonderful aunts, his Aunt Francine Shure and his Aunt Helene Caplan.  They were welcoming and loving to me when Joe brought me to their homes in the suburbs outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  I spent the most time at Aunt Francine’s and Uncle Richard’s house.  I loved going there because they were loving, fun, and warm people.  (I really miss those times!)  I also loved going to Frannie’s house because she was (and still is, I’m sure) a fantastic cook.  This recipe for broiled chicken and potatoes was often served when Joe and I were invited over for dinner.  Joe has told me many times about the wonderful Friday night (Shabbat) dinners that were held at his house hosted by his mother Bernice Kahn.  Joe remembers that Aunt Helene was in charge of the chicken.  She prepared it at her house and brought it over because there just wasn’t enough room in Bernice’s oven to cook all the chicken for the 18 or so people who were going to be eating.  Joe has unbelievably wonderful memories of those Friday night dinners.  A memory I have of eating this meal in Richard and Francine’s dining room is how much Richard enjoyed Francine’s cooking, and how complimentary he was about everything she put on the table. It was just fun to be with them!  Please try this recipe – it is a foolproof recipe for delicious chicken!

  • 1 or 2 whole chickens, cut up in eighths
  • kosher salt *(optional- see note below)
  • pepper, garlic powder, and paprika
  • dried onion flakes OR 1-2 onions, minced
  • 1 or 2 large cans of whole baby white potatoes
  • light olive oil or schmaltz (chicken fat)

for the chicken:

Preheat oven to broil.  Cover a half sheet pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Season the cut up pieces of chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika on both sides.  Place on prepared pan so the bottom of the chicken is facing up.  Broil until the top of chicken is nicely browned, 5-10 minutes.  Then turn and broil until the skin side of the chicken is nicely browned, about 5-10minutes.  Then cover with aluminum foil and cook at 325  degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour more. the cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.

for the potatoes:

Take the potatoes out of the can and rinse them well in cold water.  Put a little oil or schmaltz in a cast iron skillet or any type of frying pan.  Fry the minced onions, seasoning them with a some paprika and some salt.  When the onions are starting to brown, throw the potatoes in with the onions.  Season the potatoes generously with paprika and a little kosher salt (optional).  Toss the potatoes with the onions as the onions brown.  When the onions are really browned, place the potatoes and onions in a serving bowl.

OR

Rinse the potatoes with cold water as above.  Pour a few tablespoons of oil  on the bottom of the casserole dish.  Put the potatoes in the dish.  Sprinkle the potatoes generously with paprika, and place the casserole in the oven uncovered while you are broiling and baking the chicken.  Just be sure that you put the casserole underneath the chicken so that the potatoes don’t burn while you are broiling the chicken.  Toss the potatoes and the onions a few times during the cooking.  If the potatoes don’t have enough color, add a little more paprika.  The potatoes will be ready to serve when the chicken is done.

*Note:  The original recipe calls for NOT USING any salt when you season the chicken.  That’s because Kosher chickens were being used, and Kosher chickens are already salted.  So if you are using Kosher chicken, OR if you are trying to cut down on salt, just eliminate the salt from the recipe.