A couple of weeks ago, I sent my husband to a foodie event in Manhattan promoting “America’s Most Wanted Recipes,” a new book just put out by Simon and Schuster. The part that had me most interested in this event was that they had requested that people make a kosher version of the over 200 secret recipes from 57 of America’s most popular food chains. As a kosher mom blogger and advocate for kosher food, I just had to be there. Unfortunately, my babysitting budget had been depleted so that I could attend the OU Advanced Kashrut Seminar for Women, a week long seminar that discussed what kosher is and what kosher is not. I learned so much and met some incredible people (I was even quoted in both The Jewish Press and OU.org). So, I sent my husband and main chef in our home, to the event. I advised him to schmooze with the people from the media and get the scoop.
My husband had fun at the event and even came home with an assignment for us. We were asked to cook one of the recipes and convert it to a kosher one. When I saw one of my favorite appetizers from Houston’s (I used to eat there before I started keeping kosher), I couldn’t wait to get started. I remember eating at Houston’s in Chicago with my friends and sharing Houston’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Now, I could make a kosher version of this appetizer in my own home and eat as much as I wanted (that is a really scary thought). Another recipe I wanted to kosherize was the Olive Garden’s Salad Dressing. I remember the days of all you can eat salad at Olive Garden topped off with a tangy, basil balanced salad dressing. I also saw this as an opportunity for my husband and me to get creative with date night as well as good content to post on my blogs, which would also be posted on Epicurious.com.
We agreed to take a shot at a kosher version of Chili’s Southwestern Egg Rolls. Right off the bat we saw something we needed to change with the recipe. The recipe had a combination of chicken and Monterey Jack Cheese. Not kosher! Milk and meat (meat and dairy) are never mixed together. So, we decided to make the dish dairy. We both felt that the cheese was a key component to the success of the recipe. My husband and I both love large amounts of melted cheese on eggs, potatoes, Challah, pizza, and bagels and there is no shortage of cheese in our house (thanks to Costco and their affordable and delicious Natural & Organic Kosher Cheese). Yes, I do get very excited when discussing cheese! We substituted the boneless, skinless chicken breast with Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips, also kosher pareve. In order to get the grilled like sensation, we threw the pieces into a pan with a little canola oil for a few minutes. Yum. We also made our own avocado-ranch salad dressing with Hellman’s mayonnaise, avocado, and oil. All of the other ingredients were okay to use in our kosher version of the recipe. The final result, delicious and a new addition to our Shabbos and Yom Tov meals.