Category: Reviews

Passover in Aspen


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed where I ended up for Passover…Aspen, Colorado. I’m still pinching myself as I unpack my suitcases.

It was a week before Pesach, my upstairs was cleaned, and I was stressed. I’ve never made Pesach in my life. The kids were off of school, I had to shop for everything, and I had to tackle the kitchen and playroom. Dear G-d. I was kvetching to my mom, who was headed for Aspen as one of the guest speakers on the Prime Experience Program. Lets just say, a couple of hours later, she had pulled some strings and my family and I were headed to ski country! We booked our tickets faster than you can say “I have no idea how to ski!” and the rest is history!


I can never thank my mom enough for the unbelievable experience of Pesach in Aspen. We had the most amazing time relaxing, making new friends, taking in the most beautiful scenery and enjoying delicious Kosher for Passover food. The elaborate smorgasbords of salads, fruits, crudities, cheese, charcuterie and pastries spanned breakfast, lunch and dinner for a full 10 days. It’s no wonder I’ve hopped on the South Beach Diet train the minute I got back! I’ve never eaten so much in my life!


Luckily, there was a lot to take in around the city, so we explored the beautiful views on foot. Hiking the Rio Grande Trail, visiting Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and going 11,212 feet up on Aspen Mountain. And no, I did NOT go skiing. I’ve got four kids and I’d rather not hit a tree head on while I speed down a mountain uncontrollably (ok, I’m a chicken, I admit it!).


This was my first time on a Passover program, and I totally get the hype. You get to send your kids to daycamp, chill by the pool (I’ve never sat by a pool with evergreens and snow in view!), and enjoy lavish meals that someone else prepared. What can be wrong with that?! Well, to be honest, I have to say, that while the program was the vacation of my dreams, it wasn’t the beautiful family-oriented Passover of my youth. It was fun, relaxing and delicious but it lacked soul. Even with all the hard work and prep, there is so much beauty in a homemade Passover, and I look forward to giving it to my kids one day.


That’s not to say that if I have the opportunity to head to an exotic island for the holiday, I won’t take it up. Are you hearing me KMR, Kosherica, Prime, VIP Ram??? I won’t say no if you invite me!!


I love to travel, and if I ever have the opportunity to visit a place I’ve never been to, I jump on it. When I walked around Aspen, I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous view, and everywhere I went, I just kept drinking it all in. I can’t believe that I’ve lived in the U.S.A. my entire life and I never knew that such a beautiful place existed just a couple of hours (planeride) away. Forget Europe and The Islands, we’ve got a goldmine right here in this country! It really made me realize that I’ve got to start exploring more of the States. Maybe even drive cross country in a mobile home (I’m pushing it now, aren’t I?).


Now that I’ve learned to take semi-professional pictures, I love to put together a family photoshoot with the beautiful surroundings. I took the most incredible photos of my kids with the most breathtaking scenery that I will treasure for a lifetime. I mean, how can you beat this?

I thought I’d seen it all until we hiked the Rio Grande Trail. O.M.G. Can I go back now?!


Photos along The John Denver Sanctuary, with poetry inscribed in the rocks….


And the drive along the Colorado River to Denver, wow! The red mountains, the beautiful land at every turn, it was beyond!


I’m so very thankful to have enjoyed Passover in Aspen. I have a newfound appreciation for this country and I can’t wait to explore more of it (hey hubby, are you listening?!)!


Have you ever been to a Passover program? How did you like it? Share with me in the comments below!

And don’t you worry, BIB is back next week with lots of new healthy and exciting recipes!

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Favorite Kitchen Tools

Although I’ve been married for 12 years, I have yet to make my own Passover. And I plan to avoid it at all costs, as long as I can. This year though, my mom and in-laws are both going away, so it’s looking more and more like I might have to finally bite the Passover bullet (unless one of you want to invite me over!). Making Passover means I’ll have to stock up on kitchen essentials, which got me thinking…What are my kitchen essentials? It’s a question that’s often asked at my cooking demonstrations, and I think it’s about time I share them with you!


Take the time to read through each and every recommendation, as they are chock full of kitchen TIPS as well as TOOLS, enjoy!

1. Paderno Spiralizer This handy kitchen tool creates noodles out of a variety of vegetables creating endless possibilities. I make pizza crusts, burger buns, noodles, curly fries and rice – all out of veggies! It is truly the perfect tool for those looking to reduce their carb intake – especially during Passover! The newest version includes 4 blades, but I love the classic 3-blade spiralizer which creates ribbon noodles, thick udon-style noodles and thinner spaghetti noodles (the newer model also includes an angel-hair-noodle blade).
2. Mini Kitchen Whisk I love this for emulsifying salad dressing, mixing sauces and more! You can never have too many whisks in the kitchen! That’s why I chose it for my logo!
3. OXO Julienne Peeler This is my go-to tool for quick and easy zoodles (zucchini noodles) or julienned carrots for the soup. It’s super compact and easy to use so you can make salads like these. Note that I have tried other brands and I recommend the OXO only.
4. Kitchen Tongs I use kitchen tongs on a daily basis. I have several, in many different sizes. It’s great for removing items from a pot, stir frying, stirring noodles, handling meat or poultry on the BBQ, serving salads, and even juicing citrus! See my kitchen tips (#1) for more on that!
5. Belgique Cookware I purchased the Belgique cookware set at Macy’s when I got married, and it has carried me through years of cooking! My pots still shine beautifully, cook evenly and clean wonderfully. I am IN LOVE with my pots. The only drawback is that they stopped making stainless steel lids (which is what I have) and they only come with glass lids now. I’m not a fan of glass lids because they can crack, but as far as pots go, you get a real bang for you buck with this set. I love it so much that I even purchased additional pieces of open stock over the years, like this sauteuse. Please note that I cannot vouch for the quality of the current model!
6. Le Creuset Dutch Oven I don’t think I would have ever bought this pot, had I not won 2nd place in a Mushroom Contest for this recipe, which awarded me a $500 gift certificate to Williams Sonoma. When I got the gift card in the mail, I knew exactly what I was going to buy! A dutch oven allows you to cook on the stovetop as well as the oven – making things like braising super efficient. When I started cooking my roasts in a dutch oven, the results did not compare to those I made previously. These heavy cast-iron pots are perfect for soups, stews and even breadmaking. If there’s one expensive item you splurge on in the kitchen, make it a dutch oven.
7. Professsional Knife Sharpening Machine People ALWAYS ask me what knife I use and I always say the same thing: it’s more worthwhile to invest in a knife sharpener than it is to invest in a knife. I use a budget friendly Santoku knife (see #15), which I sharpen regularly, making it good as new! One of the most dangerous tools in a kitchen is a DULL KNIFE because it requires you to use more pressure, which can result in injuries. A sharp knife does the work for you, no pressure required. Granted, I splurged on a pricier model (using the leftover money from my Mushroom Contest win), but you can easily purchase a more budget-friendly option. There are also other methods of knife sharpening, like using a whetstone, but it gives me the chills so an electric sharpener is my preferred method.
8. Silicone Spatulas These are a must-have for every kitchen! I use mine to scrape out the food processor, remove batter from mixing bowls, and mix up a stir-fry without scraping my nonstick wok (#18).
9. Garlic Crusher If you’re like me, and you don’t love mincing garlic by hand, or having to take out the mini processor to do the work, a garlic crusher is a must! This brand comes with a nifty little tool to help you clean the crevices.
10. Microplane Zester Some people forgo this tool because they don’t do much zesting, but a microplane works for so much more than that! I use a microplane to grate ginger, garlic and shallots into sauces and dressings.
11. Hinged Ice Cream Scoop An ice cream scoop is a must-have for portioning out everything from cookie dough, muffin batter, meatballs, burgers, biscuits and more! If you ever wondered how professional places manage to make cookies and muffins that are all exactly the same size, it’s because they use a portion scoop! Scoops come in all sizes, so you can get smaller ones for meatballs and larger ones for muffins. Besides for equal-sized portions being aesthetically pleasing, it also means that your food will cook evenly, since everything is the same size.
12. Ziploc Freezer Bags This kitchen tool comes straight out of your supermarket aisle! I never use big ‘ole fancy pastry bags in the kitchen. Ziploc freezer bags do the job just perfectly for me! One of the tricks I like to use is to stuff my Ziploc bag into a measuring cup to make filling it easier. Then, I snip off the corner with kitchen shears and use it to pipe pastry cream into cannolis, mousse into cups, puree onto wontons and frosting onto cupcakes.
13. Lodge Cast Iron Grill This stovetop griddle sits over your stovetop burners and grills up poultry, meat and fish with beautiful grill marks. The cast iron gets smoking hot, making it the perfect surface for indoor grilling. NOTE: When purchasing cast iron, look for unseasoned varieties as lard and other types of nonkosher fats may have been used in the seasoning process (when I purchased this grill several years ago, it had a kosher certification).
14. Nesting Bowls This inexpensive set of nesting bowls really helps to keep prep clean and organized. One of the principles of professional cooking is “mise en place”, which means to have all of the components of your dish prepped and organized before preparing it. Prepping large meals with various courses can be made more efficient by cooking with that philosophy in mind.
15. Victorinox Santoku Knife I have really small hands, so a classic 8″ chef’s knife doesn’t work for me. I want to feel comfortable with my grasp on my most-used kitchen tool, so I prefer the shape, style and size of this 7″ santoku knife. If you like a classic shape better, I also recommend the Global budget-friendly knife or the pricier Wusthof.
16. Zyliss Folding Mandolin A mandolin is an essential tool for anyone who wants to cook with finesse. It creates uniform slices in varying thicknesses, so you can create the perfect garnish, potatoes au gratin, veggie chips or fries. This version folds for easy storage. NOTE: Safety First! Make sure to use the accompanying safety guard.
17. Flour Sack Towels These all purpose cotton towels are lightweight and perfect for many kitchen jobs such as drying greens, squeezing excess moisture from herbs or veggies (in lieu of expensive cheesecloth) and wiping counters or hands while cooking.
18. TFal Nonstick Wok I love Asian cooking so a wok is a must-have in my kitchen. This lightweight nonstick wok is dishwasher-safe, making it perfect for stir fries, Pad Thai, deep-frying, or even steaming or smoking. It’s large size works wonders for sauteing spiralized veggies!
19. Nonstick Mini Rolling Pin Mini rolling pins don’t have to be just for play dough! I love that this is nonstick for easy cleaning, and it’s non-cumbersome, so I have a handle (pun intended!) on my doughs (not my favorite thing to prepare!).
20. Zyliss Safe Edge Can Opener If you’re still using an old fashioned can opener, it’s time for an upgrade! You never know where your cans have been sitting, or for how long. They can carry all sorts of bacteria! To prevent cross-contamination, use an opener that removes the entire lid of the can without leaving sharp edges. Safety all around!

What are some of your kitchen must-haves? I would love to hear! Share them with me in the comments below.

Please NOTE: This post contains affiliate links which means that a small percentage of every purchase made through the links above goes to help support the BIB blog!

Food, Family and Tradition Review & Giveaway

I have to confess that while I love to collect cookbooks, I don’t really read them. I prefer to browse through the pictures, take a mental note of the good-looking recipes, and return them to the bookshelf amid my growing collection. Rarely do I come upon a cookbook that I want to read front to back. Where the food photography doesn’t matter, and the story is what grabs me.

I read Food, Family and Tradition cover to cover. The new book by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro celebrates the resilience and courage of holocaust survivors through food and stories. As the daughter of holocaust survivors, Lynn sought to bring to light the beauty and richness of traditional Jewish life in Czechoslovakia and Hungary before the Holocaust. In the preface to the recipe portion of the cookbook, she paints a vivid picture of her parents’ family life in Eastern Europe. With period photographs, biographies, a family tree and original vignettes, Lynn draws you in to her family history and story of survival. She details their emigration from Europe to the U.S. and how they went on to weave new family traditions while founding Hungarian Kosher Foods, the first all-kosher supermarket in the midwest.

In the second part of the cookbook, Lynn shares 150 family recipes, many of which were prepared for sale in the family’s supermarket. Many of the dishes are highlighted by family stories and remembrances.

There’s nothing fresh and modern about the recipes in Food, Family and Tradition. On the contrary, the book seeks to keep century-old traditions alive through sharing family recipes that celebrate the spirit of Eastern European culture. Some of the heimishe recipes you’ll find include chopped herring, mandel bread, rakott krumpli (potato-egg casserole), blintzes, gefilte fish, brisket, schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, tzimmes, honey cake and so much more.

Growing up in an ashkenazi family with Eastern European roots, so many of the Hungarian dishes in Food, Family and Tradition hit close to home. My bubby would prepare many of the above-mentioned recipes as well as borscht, cheese kugel, chop suey, chicken paprikas, stuffed peppers, sweet and sour tongue, cabbage and noodles and others. Since my bubby is not the measuring type, it’s nice to be able to see these recipes written out in a clear and concise manner. Some of the recipes are accompanied by photos, but most of them are not. I usually find that bothersome, but in this book, it seems to make no difference. Maybe it’s because it’s the story that matters, or because I recognize so many of the dishes from my upbringing, that I don’t need to see them to know what they look like.

All in all, Food, Family and Tradition is about more than just family recipes. It’s about continuing the legacy of Jewish life before the holocaust through food and culture.

I’m giving away a free copy of the Food, Family and Tradition cookbook! To enter, simply leave a comment below about a traditional family dish that means a lot to you. For an extra entry, follow Busy In Brooklyn via any of the channels below. Just be sure to leave a note in the comment letting me know where you follow.

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Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, November 10th, 2014.

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Paleo 30-Day Meal Plan


I can’t believe this day is finally here! Somebody pinch me! I’ve been working on my Paleo meal plan every free minute for the past 2 months. My family has been having elaborate 3 course Whole30 dinners for the past few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally introduce my 30 day meal plan!

Almond curry stuffed sweet potatoes, dinner, Day 18

If you haven’t been following my Whole30 diet journey on Facebook and Instagram, read this blog post for a quick summary of how I’ve been changing my life with the Paleo diet. I could have never imagined how energetic, healthy and happy I would feel eating a sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, legume-free and grain-free diet.

Cabbage and sausage egg roll, breakfast, Day 19

One thing my Whole30 was not – boring! I truly believe that the best way to diet is to eat well. Eating flavorful, satisfying meals curbs cravings and doesn’t make you feel deprived! I believe in this so strongly that I decided to chronicle all of my Paleo recipes in a meal plan and make it available for anyone interested in taking control of their eating habits and living a healthier life.

Cauliflower fried rice, lunch, Day 23

My 30 Day Meal Plan includes 50 pages of more than 100 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Recipes like my Smoky Braised Chicken & Collards, Pad Thai, Sweet Potato Chili, Cucumber Sushi Rolls, and Nut-Crusted Shnitzel will make you feel like you’re eating anything but “diet” food! I’ve also included basic building block recipes like 5-minute ketchup, homemade mayonnaise, zoodles (zucchini noodles) and cauliflower rice that you’ll be using again and again.

Chicken nuggets with 5-minute ketchup, dinner, Day 29

The menu also includes a section of holiday and weekend recipes, for those wishing to entertain guests. Bonus appetizer, soup and dessert recipes like tropical guacamole, asparagus with mustard vinaigrette, spaghetti squash soup and strawberries with coconut whipped cream will help you round out your meal.

Broccoli quiche, breakfast, Day 7

As if that’s not enough, I’ve also included a handy calendar that you can print out and post on your fridge. It lists the breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day. A Table of Contents will help you find your daily menu easily.

Moroccan fish, lunch, Day 13

Also included in the Paleo ebook are pantry and fridge staples, helpful tools, resources and tips to help guide you through the 30-Day meal plan.

Asian turkey burger with sauteed cabbage, avocado and Thai almond butter sauce, dinner, Day30

One of the things I tried to incorporate into the meal plan was utilizing leftovers. Nobody wants to sit in the kitchen all day, so meal planning is essential! On several days, I have you set aside some leftovers which are repurposed in another way the next day. Less waste and less work, who doesn’t love that?!

Fajitas with homemade spice mix over cauliflower rice with fried egg, dinner, Day 4

One of the other great features of the Paleo cookbook is that I created the meal plan so that each day’s menu is featured on it’s own page. This way, you can print out the page on it’s own, hang it on your fridge and not have to run to your computer to follow the recipes.

Chicken tortilla-less soup, dinner, Day 23

Now that I’ve whet your appetite with these amazing dishes, I know what you’re thinking….”How do I get my hands on this ebook?!” Well, that’s the easy part!

Inside-out coconut chicken burger , dinner, Day 26

To purchase the ebook, simply click on the “pay now” button below to pay for it via paypal. When I receive your payment, I will email you the ebook. You can print it out, staple it, glue it together – whatever you wish. You just can’t share it :) I spent hours upon hours of hard work preparing this book for sale. I ask that you do not reproduce it in any form (email, photocopy, or sharing the recipes on your own blog). If you love the ebook as much as I do, plug away! Show your love via social media with hashtag #paleoebook, and don’t forget to tag @busyinbrooklyn!

Apple crisp “cereal”, breakfast, Day 12

Order your Paleo 30-Day Meal Plan today! You’ll receive: -50 pages of over 100 recipes -Pantry and Fridge/Freezer Staples -Building Block Recipes -Holiday or Weekend Meal Ideas -30-Day Meal Plan -30 Day Calendar -Dieting Tips

Butternut squash pie, lunch, Day 6

Paleo 30-Day Meal Plan $15
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For more of what’s in the ebook, and for a chance to win  a copy, visit this post! For FAQ’s, check this out!

I would love to hear about the recipes you are making and enjoying! Please post a comment and share! And of course, if you have any questions at all about the ebook, please don’t hesitate to contact me at busyinbrooklyn@gmail.com!

Dairy Made Easy Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Leah Schapira & Victoria Dwek turn out new cookbooks faster than I develop recipes. Their latest addition to the Made Easy series is a fantastic collection of dairy recipes, just in time for Shavuot!

Like Starters & Sides Made Easy, Passover Made Easy, and Kids Cooking Made Easy, the Dairy edition is layed out in the same attractive, easy-to-read style. Even their cookbook-making skills seem made easy. They’ve mastered a template that provides a small soft-cover book that’s beautifully styled, easy to flip through, and filled with tips and tidbits, all without seeming overwhelming. The beautiful pictures draw you in and the down-to-earth recipes make you want to open your pantry right then-and-there to whip up one of their quick and easy dishes.

Besides for 60 easy-to-make recipes, you’ll also find a comprehensive cheese guide, a Make It Light section, a Make it Pareve Guide, and bonus serving ideas. Leah and Victoria fill each page with great tips, like how to measure frozen fruit, how to soften butter quickly or how to bake pizza without a pizza stone. They also share their thought processes and family anecdotes in a fun and friendly way.

What do I not want to make from this cookbook? It’s filled with mouthwatering recipes for breakfast, great starters & sides, soups, salads & sandwiches, and of course pizza, pasta and dessert (hello 180 calorie cheesecake!).

Some of the recipes I look forward to trying are the granola thins, arancini, sweet chili home fries, stuffed sole, French mushroom soup, hasselback baguette, honey pomodoro pizza, cajun creamy penne, cheese buns, peanut butter creme brulee and strawberry cheesecake ice cream.

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, I’m giving away a free copy of the Dairy Made Easy cookbook! To enter, simply leave a comment below with your favorite Shavuot dish. You can also follow Busy In Brooklyn via any of the channels below for an extra entry. Just be sure to leave a note in the comment letting me know where you follow.

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Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, May 26th, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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