It’s hard to come up with original recipes. And we don’t always have to. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when talented and creative chefs have already done that work for us. So while sometimes I like to play around with recipes and create my own, others I am happy to rely on the work of others, especially if it turns out to be really good! I've made a number of the recipes in the cookbook, Crowning Elegance, put out by the Arie Crown Hebrew Day School of Chicago and I’d like to share with you some of my favorites.

Moroccan Couscous Soup

This soup is a meal in and of itself. It’s perfect on a cold winter’s night. I added some cumin to give it more zip and more Moroccan flavor. I also made a few other alterations according to our family’s preference (i.e. more white meat chicken). Feel free to play around with it a little.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 pound short ribs (I always use more to satisfy the meat lovers!)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chick peas, drained
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 head green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts and 2 thighs
  • 3 boxes (12 cups) Imagine chicken broth (this makes the soup much richer than using water)
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10 ounce) package couscous

In a large stockpot over medium-high flame, heat oil, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add short ribs and brown. Add chickpeas, zucchini, cabbage, squash, carrots, chicken, broth, cumin, turmeric and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Prepare couscous according to package directions. Place a few tablespoons of couscous in each bowl and top with soup. Enjoy (We do!).

Split Pea Soup

Another great dinner. It’s so filling that it doesn’t need anything else alongside.

  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 1 cup pearl barley (my addition for an even heartier soup)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms (I’m a big mushroom fan so I added these also; you can also used canned mushrooms if you don’t have any fresh ones handy)
  • ¼ pound sliced corned beef, torn into ¼-inch pieces
  • 12 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil (I skipped this but I wanted to give you the option)

In a large stock pot over medium-high flame, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower flame and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Mixed Greens with Portobello Mushrooms and Honey Glazed Almonds

I made this for Yom Tov and it was a hit. I substituted candied pecans for the almonds – just because they were easier to find and we like them better but it’s up to you!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 Portobello mushroom caps, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces mixed salad greens, coarsely torn 9about 3 cups)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, stems discarded
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup candied pecans (or honey glazed almonds)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder (I omitted this)
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, over medium flame, heat oil. Add mushrooms and cook until meaty and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a jar, combine oil, vinegar, ketchup, garlic, sugar, mustard powder (if using), paprika and salt. Cover and shake well.

In a large bowl, combine mixed salad greens and baby spinach. Add cherry tomatoes, nuts and cooked mushrooms. Pour dressing over salad. Toss.

Secret Ingredient Chicken

I made this with whole chickens, cut in 1/8th’s one week for Shabbos and I made it the next week with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It works well with either. It’s super easy (my favorite component) and delicious. It’s a peanut butter sauce without the hundreds of ingredients.

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I always skip this extra salt)
  • 1 (3-1/2 pound) chicken, cut in 1/8th’s, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a (9 x 13 x 2-inch) baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, ketchup, horseradish and salt (if using). Dip chicken pieces in sauce mixture. Place in prepared baking dish, presentation side down and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Bake or an additional 45 minutes.