Category Archives: Feast

Recipes, books, games and more — PJ Library’s got everything you need to celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah is almost here, and I can already smell the latkes and see my kids smiling from all the holiday fun.

If your family is like mine, your kids are already looking forward to Hanukkah, and you are ready to make some special memories.

To help families embrace and share the joy of The Festival of Lights, PJ Library has updated its “Hanukkah Hub” for 2021 to bring Jewish and Interfaith families games, projects, recipes and more ways to make this year’s holiday one the family will cherish for years to come.

Photo Courtesy Of PJ Library

Whether you are looking for ways to mix up your latke recipe, or instructions on how to light the holiday candles, PJ Library is your go-to source for all things Hanukkah.

You already trust PJ Library to curate and deliver quality Jewish books to your family, so you can be sure that they have an excellent selection of activities to make Hannukkah a blast for all eight nights.

PJ Library’s Hanukkah Hub is free to use, and anyone is welcomed to visit PJ Library to browse all of their wonderful Hanukkah books, activities, and recipes.

For more information on PJ Library, and how you can enroll your children in their free book subscription service for Jewish families, visit PJLibrary.org.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All views expressed are my own.

White and dark chocolate chip cookies with WAFFLE CONE pieces

My son turned nine years old this week, and we will be celebrating with a small group of his friends this weekend.

I purchased a bunch of snacks (more than enough, according to my son), yet I couldn’t resist adding another fun treat to the mix.

My family loves chocolate chip cookies, and I often make the classic favorite we all know well. This time, however, I wanted to have some fun, so I swapped out half of the chocolate chips for the white chocolate version and added some waffle cone pieces for a crunchy, sweet surprise.

Note, I used the Keebler-brand waffle cones, as that’s what I had on hand. I would be curious how this would work with other brands, or even other types of cones.

Let me know if you try this recipe and share what you think in the comments.

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Warm up your nights with this “ramen style” shitake mushroom soup

When you have picky eaters, you lean into the ways your kids enjoy food. My children happen to enjoy various soup, and this delictable, ramen-inspired soup with a delectable mushroom broth is no exception. And, with the weather getting colder, few things are as comforting as a warm bowl of healthy soup.

You will notice I don’t have ramen noodles in my ingredients list. Honestly that is because I can never seem to find them as a stand-alone item. Unfortunately, I do not have the skills to make my own noodles, so I work with what I can find.

I believe any Japanese-style noodle would work well in this recipe. If you are only able to find (or prefer to use) dry pasta, just boil the noodles in the broth following the instructions on the package.

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5 Ways to enjoy fall in the Western Hudson Valley

I have called the Hudson Valley my home for several years now, and I am finally getting around to sharing some of the incredible food, places, and culture this region has to over.

The Hudson Valley is an area of New York State that stretches along the Hudson River. On the east side, you have Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess County, while on the west side of the river, you will find Orange, Rockland and Ulster County.

My family resides in Western Hudson Valley, so my focus will be on this part of the region, but you can certainly find incredible places to explore on the eastern side of the Hudson River.

While any time of year is a wonderful time to visit, the Hudson Valley is especially popular in the fall, and with good reason. The leaves turn gorgeous shades of red, orange, yellow and purple; farm stands are filled with tasty fall produce; and, apple and pumpkin picking is plentiful.



Please note fall weekends (especially Columbus Day weekend, and during Warwick’s Applefest) can be extremely crowded. If you prefer less people around during your visit, try coming in the middle of the week, or later in the season. Late November, before the Winter holiday activities start, is a good bet.

Read on to learn about some of my favorite spots to experience the best of the Hudson Valley.

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Super simple pizza lunch/snack hack

I have two school-age kids who bring their lunches from home. Though I am far from the healthiest parent, I do try to give my children a variety of foods, and, when possible, pack them items that are homemade.

Still, those prepackaged kid lunch options you find in the supermarket are very tempting, and definitely convenient.

My son and I were at the store together, viewing these very items in the refrigerated section, when I thought of the idea to try and make my own version of this popular item.

I grabbed some pizza dough I had already made, got a muffin tin, and got to work. The result was portable, stackable, packable mini pizza rounds.

If you are a parent looking for an easy school/camp/sports lunch or snack hack. Read on for the super simple recipe.

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Rich, creamy vegan roasted cauliflower soup

My husband and I have made a point to eat more healthily this year, by making vegetables a bigger part of our diet.

Our go-to veggie of choice is cauliflower. Packed with nutrients, this versatile vegetable lends itself nicely to a number of dishes.

We particularly love cauliflower when it is roasted, and this past winter have enjoyed the warm flavor of my roasted, cauliflower soup (recipe to follow).

Note, I almost never use measuring tools while cooking savory foods, so the measurements are very much an approximation. Please adjust as needed to suit your taste.

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Spice up your family’s health with these flavorful recipes

Getting kids to eat healthy is a battle I know all too well. From artistic uses of fruit, to “hiding” vegetables, parents seem to have to go through extreme lengths just to add some nutritious foods into our children’s diet.

While eating produce is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes we do need to get creative with our recipes, there is an even easier way to add nutrition to your family meals, and chances are, you already are doing it.

Herbs and spices, the stuff you pull from your pantry to add flavor to your favorite dishes are packed with the vitamins and minerals our families need to promote healthy living. From improving digestion, reducing inflammation, to boosting immunity, just a pinch or two of these small, but mighty spices cand do wonders for your nutrition.

Read on for some delicious ideas to add flavor and health to your family meals.

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An epic Chanukah starts with PJ Library and Manischewitz

My kids love cookies (who doesn’t?), and have enjoyed making holiday-themed cookie houses at school and elsewhere. And, while those are a lot of fun for children, they tend to be more Christmas themed, which can make Jewish kids like mine feel a bit excluded. So, when our family got the opportunity to test out Manischewitz’s new Chanukah cookie decorating kit, they could not wait to get their hands (and mouths) on this fun and tasty project.

The Chanukah House Cookie Decorating Kit comes with pre-baked cookie walls and roof pieces, ready-to-use frosting and decorations, to make building an enjoyable and easy process. You can choose to follow the design pictured on the box, or you can get creative and decorate the house any way you like.

My kids got creative with their design, and had a little trouble getting everything to stick at first, but once they got the hang of it, they really enjoyed putting the house together and putting their own spin on the decorations.

Of course, the best part about building the Chanukah Cookie House was getting to eat it. Ours wasn’t up long before my boys went right for the delicious, frosted cookie pieces. As you can see in the picture below, my kids couldn’t wait until Chanukah to give the cookie house a try, so you can believe us when we say that this project was both fun and yummy.

Kids of all ages will love building this tasty treat this Chanukah (which begins on December 10), and families will love that each kit comes with a PJ Library subscription card so that families raising children with Jewish values and traditions can sign up to receive a free expertly curated, age-appropriate children’s book each month.

For even more Chanukah fun, check out PJ Library’s “Hanukkah Hub” for recipes, stories, games, gift ideas and more.

The Manischewitz Chanukah House is available at retailers nationwide and on Amazon.

Disclaimer: As a PJ Library influencer, I am compensated for promoting this program. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sisters “Challah Back” in the name of social justice

The Challah Back Girls are on a mission to fill hearts and tummies with their unique cause-centered business that delivers delicious challah (a traditional Jewish bread used on the Sabbath and holidays) to your doorstep and gives back their profits to a deserving charity each month.

Ahead of the busy Rosh Hashana rush, I was fortunate to connect with this incredible business and learn how this company — run by four sisters — got started and how they became so committed to the mitzvah, or good deed, of giving back.

As part of our Blogging for Better series, I am proud to feature Challah Back Girls as our featured organization for September.

BFB: When you started your business was it always your intention to have a donations element to it?

CBG: Initially, the donations came in challah form, but as this project grew we decided to incorporate a fundraising donation element. When Hannah [one of the Challah Back Girls] was forced home from Binghamton University, during her final semester in March she blessed the family with delicious challot each week. Through family friends,
we learned that our neighboring town’s Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BVAC) had potluck Shabbat dinner and lunch every week, and so we offered to contribute to their meals with challah.

During the peak of the pandemic, we then expanded our efforts and brought challah to healthcare heroes and frontline workers working day and night, and found that while it was the least we could do for those putting their lives on the line. Challah Back Girls grew when we realized there were more cooks in the kitchen (literally). The high demand of challot we were making for frontline workers required all-Loffman-sister-hands on deck, and the four of us figured out where each was able to contribute
something unique while working towards the same goal.

After weeks of preparing challot to give away, we started to wonder how we could contribute to both epidemics plaguing our country: COVID-19 and anti-black racism. As protests erupted around the country, and our own town of Teaneck was challenging how racism still exists in our community, we realized the importance of supporting the movement in the ways we could.

We all attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Teaneck on June 6 to speak out against police brutality and anti-black systemic violence. It was important to us that the community send our money and support to organizations and communities who were leading the charge.

Simultaneously, we were receiving a lot of inquiries through our family’s Instagram account (@WeLoffToTravel) about if our challot were for sale. We didn’t feel right selling our challot just because they tasted like heaven. We wanted to find a way to combine spreading the challah love each week while supporting the work being done right now to address discrimination, poverty, racism, etc.

It was then that we marginally shifted our focus and after much thought and feedback, decided to start selling the challot and donating the profit we made each week to a different organization promoting social justice and supporting at-risk or disenfranchised communities.

Traditional and adventurous ways to make Shavuot the delicious dairy holiday of your dreams

Shavuot, the Jewish festival that commomerates the receiving of the Torah (Old Testament), was one of my favorite holidays as a child.

I would love to tell you my appreciation of this holy day was because of a deep spiritual connection to my ancestors, and maybe it was a bit, but the real reason I adored Shavuot was the food.

Unlike other Jewish festivals with their gefilte fish, chopped liver and other traditional ashkenazic foods I disliked, the holiday of Shavuot was a dairy-filled wonder of cheesey goodness.

From blintzes to lasagna, I loved all the lactose-laden meals I indulged in during the holiday. Continue reading