Category: Recipes

The Power of a Jewish Woman: CHANA

I’ve always been one to put my feelings into words, but the magnitude of the loss, fear and pain that I feel, along with all of my brothers and sisters worldwide, leaves me speechless. The loss of so many precious and innocent souls, the fear for our soldiers on the front lines and the absolute terror for the 230+ hostages held captive in Gaza – how does one survive the gravity of this present-day holocaust?

In challenging times, I’ve always been one to be proactive. We can roll up into a ball and cry (and there is definitely space for that!), but we can also channel our pain into doing something – whether it’s volunteering, donating, or praying.

I always go back to my roots because they anchor me and guide me through difficult times, which brings me to my namesake. I was named after Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, the mother of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She was a righteous woman who was known for collecting herbs to create ink for her husband to write his Torah thoughts while in exile.

The Rebbe said of his mother, that her hebrew name, Chana, is an acronym for the three mitzvot of a Jewish woman: CHALLAH (Preparing bread for Shabbat and separating the dough), NIDAH (the laws of family purity) and HADLAKOT HANEIROT (lighting Shabbat candles).

So as a Jewish woman and mother, I wanted to take the opportunity to share these three mitzvot that every Jewish woman can take upon herself to help bring some light into this dark time.


The requirement to separate challah applies any time you make a large dough (not just for Shabbat) from any (or combination) of five flours: wheat, spelt, rye, barley, or oats. Challah is not separated from some loose batters and sweet pastries (as opposed to a heavy batter/dough, like that of bread or babka).

The blessing on dough can be made by anyone, not just the person who prepares the dough. Men may also separate and make a blessing when separating challah.

Challah must be separated from any large dough , whether you are baking it for Shabbos or for the week.
You should only separate challah if your dough is large enough according to halachic standards:
• Dough containing at least 3 lbs, 11 oz. of flour (about 14 cups). : Separate challah and recite the blessing.
• Dough containing between 43 and 59 ounces of flour: Separate challah without a blessing.
• Dough containing less than 43oz. of flour: Do not separate challah at all.

After you have formed the challah dough, knead it, and allow it to rise in a large bowl. Before forming the dough into loaves, you will say the blessing. If the dough is divided into multiple bowls, join the pieces for a moment by laying them side-by-side on the counter so they touch.

Recite the following blessing:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֱלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶר קִדְּשֳנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַפְרִישׁ חַלָּה מִן הָעִסָּה

Transliteration: Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha’olam asher keed-sha-nu b’mitz-vo-tav v’tzi-vanu l’haf-reesh challah.

Translation: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate challah.

Separate a small piece of dough, approximately one ounce, and say:  “harei zo challah”” (This is challah.)

Now you can say the names and prayers for whatever you wish.

Some people say this Yehi Ratzon prayer.
To pray for the list of hostages, download list here.
Prayer for the State of Israel and IDF here.

Burn the separated piece of challah by wrapping it in a piece of silver foil and placing it in the broiler, or by any other method. (If burning it inside the oven, there should be no other food baking in the oven at the same time.)


Here is my award-winning challah recipe from my cookbook Millennial Kosher that uses enough flour to make the blessing. Also on my blog here.

You can find a more detailed step by step guide to separating challah here.


Niddah is a ritual around a married woman’s menstrual cycle that begins with the onset of menstruation and is completed with the woman’s immersion in a mikvah, a ritual pool of water. The laws of niddah are detailed and complex and too lengthy to post here, however, you can read more about this Jewish woman’s mitzvah here and here. Find a mikvah near you, here.


Lighting Shabbat candles is a special mitzvah reserved for Jewish woman and girls, starting at the age of 3.

Single girls light one candle. Married women light two. Many have a custom to also light for each member of their immediate family, so if you are married and have 3 children, then you would light 5. If you have any daughers over the age of 3, she can light with you as well.

You must light candles 18 minutes before sunset. You can check the candle lighting time for your city here.


It is customary to give some coins to charity before lighting candles. Put the charity box aside. If you have young daughters that need assistance, you should help them first and then light your candle. Strike the match, light the candle/candles and place the match on a heatproof tray (do not blow it out).

Use your hands to cover your eyes (some have a custom to first stretch their hands towards the candles and then move them inward in a circular motion, three times, to usher in the Shabbos queen)

Say the following blessing (you can download the print here):

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת קֹדֶשׁ

Transliteration: Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noi eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lekh hah-oh-lahm ah-sher ki-deh-shah-noo beh-mitz-voh-tahv veh-tzee-vah-noo leh-hahd-lik nehr shehl shah-baht koh-dehsh.

Translation: Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the holy Shabbat.

Now you can keep your eyes covered and pray silently for whatever your heart desires. If you want to read a list of printed names or prayers, you can say them at this point.

To pray for the list of hostages, download list here.
Prayer for the State of Israel and IDF here.

You can find more detailed information on candle lighting here.

Through the power of the Jewish woman, may we merit to see the hostages returned, the end to war, and the coming of Moshiach speedily in our time!

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Herbed Apple & Date Salad

I was lucky enough to spend the last week of the summer in Israel to join a close friend in celebrating a Bar Mitzvah (full itinerary to be posted after the Chagim!), but also for some inspiration for both my body (food!) and soul. What’s amazing about Israel is that you don’t have to seek those things out – they find you. Whether you’re going to the kotel for Friday night prayers, or taking a stroll through the shuk – beauty – in the form of soulful connections, culinary delights, Jerusalem stone, artisan creations, magical energy – surrounds you.

One such culinary delight that I found repeatedly in various forms – is this delicious herb salad. With loads of fresh parsley, crunchy celery, some kind of dried fruit (usually raisins) and nuts (often pecans or walnuts), the salad was simply dressed and so refreshing! I knew when I took my first bite that I needed to create a Rosh Hashanah version, and here it is!

Shana Tova! – to a SWEET New Year indeed.

Related Recipes:

holiday salad with apple & honey vinaigrette
pomegranate coleslaw
roasted beet salsa

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Roasted Baby Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

Welcome summer! After a crazy busy winter that flew by faster than I ever thought possible, it’s corn season – my favorite! There’s nothing quite like crispy corn on the cob, and I love it in all forms – raw, roasted, grilled, steamed, and even made into ice cream and pudding. Baby corn though? It doesn’t get much love.

But when I saw my friend Melinda roast it in the oven with some garlic salt, my imagination went wild! So I picked up a couple of bags at Trader Joes, and I made this lipsmacking dish that is inspired by Elote, or Mexican Street Corn. Traditionally, elote is grilled, rolled in a sour cream and mayo mixture that’s seasoned with chili powder, lime and cilantro, and then rolled in cotija cheese (similar to feta). Here, I roasted the baby corn with tajin chili lime seasoning, and made a light Greek yogurt sauce with cilantro, jalapeno, garlic and lime. I finished it with crumbled feta and cilantro and OMG it’s my new favorite dish!!

For the corn:

2 6oz. pkg fresh baby corn
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp tajin seasoning or chili lime spice
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta
fresh cilantro, for garnish

For the crema
2 5.3oz containers Greek yogurt
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed
kosher salt, to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the baby corn on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil, tajin and salt. Roast for 25 minutes or until slightly charred.

While the corn is roasting, combine the crema ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Spread the crema on a platter and top with roasted corn, Finish with crumbled feta and cilantro.

Related Recipes:

grilled corn with za’atar garlic butter
watermelon corn salsa

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Liliane’s Dafina

Ever since I had dafina at the home of Moshe and Titi Haliwa in Marrakesh a few months ago, I’ve been dreaming about it. Unlike bean-heavy Ashkenazi cholent, dafina is a Morrocan stew that’s loaded with meat, bones, chickpeas, rice, wheat berries, potatoes and eggs! I love that the components are cooked separately in little packets and that there’s something for everyone in this loaded overnight stew.

A little while ago, I attempted to make dafina but it was an absolute fail! It was tasteless and watery, and the delicious kishke stuffing that Titi had made with ground beef, bread crumbs and ground almonds came out like dry cardboard. I rarely fail so badly at recipes, but I knew I needed a real Moroccan grandma to teach me the ropes! Luckily, Brigitte Dayan, a longtime follower, invited me to join her mom and sisters one Friday afternoon to learn to make dafina together! They put out an amazing spread of some of Liliane’s homemade Moroccan pastries, and we got to work making dafina and boulettes – the most delicious Moroccan meatballs (recipe coming soon)

Of course Moroccan grandmothers never measure, so I was so grateful that Liliane took the time to roughly measure the ingredients with me. It was so clear to me how much love she puts into her dishes, and she even got all dolled up to cook together! Liliane told me all about her life growing up in Morocco, and how she once hosted the prince for a Shabbos meal! She shared how everyone in town would bring their dafina pot on Friday’s to be cooked in one central area, and then they would pick them up on Shabbat afternoon, or have a local muslim deliver it. Sometimes you would get the wrong pot (her mom put a special sign on the handle)! Liliane’s recipe is very savory, while the one Titi had made was more on the sweet side (she adds dried dates) but feel free to play around and make it your own!

Does your family have a secret dafina ingredient? Share it in the comments below!

Thank you so much to the Dayan family for welcoming me in your home to cook dafina together! I had a blast!

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Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef

This week, my foodie friends and I decided to throw a dumpling party, where each attendee contributed another dumpling from around the world! You can watch a roundup here! I decided to go with tamales since I’ve always wanted to learn to make them the authentic way. First, I researched barbacoa recipes for the tamale filling (which you can also fill with beans, pulled chicken, cheese or veggies).

Barbacoa is actually the Spanish word for barbecue. It generally refers to meats over an open fire, but in Mexico, barbacoa evolved into a specific cooking style in which meat is slowly cooked in a pit dug into the ground, which is covered with agave leaves. Cooking the meat sealed in a pit steams the meat by sealing in the moisture while also imparting it with smoky flavor. Home cooks adapted barbacoa to the kitchen and converted it into braised beef, which works well in the Instant Pot or crockpot.

Barbacoa is typically made out of tougher cuts of meat, goat or lamb that require long, slow cooking times. Chuck roast, brisket and beef cheeks are common, but I used deckel because it’s a budget friendly with good marbeling. While tough, the meat breaks down into tender pulled beef in the Instant Pot.

The tamales were a huge hit at the party (full recipe coming soon), and I used my leftover meat to make pulled beef tacos for dinner the next night. I love that this recipe is spicy, savory and full of flavor, different from the sweet pulled beef I’m used to eating. Give it a try!


Related Recipes:

Blogoversary BBQ Brisket
easiest crockpot pulled beef
skirt steak tacos

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