Colorful Couscous

Photography by Dan Engongoro

This  couscous recipe is a real time saver, as it doesn’t require the couscous to be cooked beforehand.


  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes chopped
  • 1 zuchinni  chopped
  • 1  lb mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 3 TBSP onion soup mix
  • 1 clove garlic-crushed
  • 1 8.8 ounce package Israeli couscous
  • 2 ¼  cups  boiling water


Sautee  onion in oil until soft and golden. Add the rest of the vegetables and continue sautéing until soft. Place vegetables, spices, couscous and boiling water in a 9×13 pan. Cover and bake on 350 for 1 hour.

This article by EstherO. originally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine.


Etrog Box Party Favor

I couldn’t resist posting these adorable etrog box party favors that I made for my friend’s sons Bar Mitzva which will take place this Shabbat. I have always enjoyed handing out  green sour sticks and lemon candies (which resemble the lulav and etrog) to my little “Succah hoppers”.This year, maybe I will make these etrog boxes for them as well. I might even make them for each place setting at my Sukkot table.


  • small hard plastic boxes made by Celebrate It (available at craft stores)
  • lemon candies available at
  • foam-which I took out of a real esrog box and cut into pieces
  • labels designed by


  1. Cut foam to fit into plastic box.
  2. Fold the foam in half and make a 1/2” slit.
  3. Place foam in the box and place the “esrog” in the slit.
  4. Apply printed sticker to outside of the box

For more great sukkot ideas check out Do It Yourself Sukkah Shelf, Flowers In Bubbles, and Chic Hanging Vases.

Roasted Asparagus with Crumbs

Photography by Dan Engongora

This side dish has always been one of my favorites. It’s a nice change from the standard potato, pasta and rice sides. Though the picture and the ingredients call for asparagus, this recipe can be adapted for cauliflower or string beans as well.


  • 2 lbs asparagus , string beans or cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Crumb topping:

  • 1  Tbsp canola oil
  • ½   cup Panko crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400.Remove ends, tips and small triangles from asparagus to prevent any problems with bugs. Place asparagus on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle asparagus with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender , 10-15 minutes, then transfer to  a platter.

Meanwhile , place oil in medium pot over medium heat. .Add  panko crumbs ,salt and pepper  and cook, stirring frequently till golden brown. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle asparagus with crumbs right before serving to ensure that the crumbs remain crunchy.

Note-if you prefer you can cook the vegetables

This article by EstherO. originally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine.

Yom Kippur Lemon Besamim

Smelling Besamim on Yom Kippur has been a long standing custom. As we fast, it is a challenge to complete the “100 Brachot” we strive to make each day; smelling Besamin helps us along to reach that goal.  My legendary great aunt, Mrs. Rosa Engelsrath, a pioneer in the Bais Yaakov movement in America, was the innovator of many of the school projects that are the norm today. One of my favorite ones was the special lemon that was prepared for Yom Kippur. A fun activity that can be done by anyone in the family, this simple project is sure to be a big hit. The sweet smelling lemon will not only help along with your Brachot count, but it will also refresh and invigorate those who smell it throughout the fast.

Every year, this is a great activity for my children (and the neighbors  too!) Before Yom Kippur I buy  dozens of lemons and have them make this project and distribute to all the neighbors.


  • Lemons
  • Whole Cloves
  • Long nail


Carefully poke holes in the lemon with the nail, then insert the cloves into the lemon.

You can place the cloves randomly, or you can create a design with them

Flowers In Bubbles

This is a  great way to add a hanging decoration to your succah  décor, yet keeping a nice open, airy look. Additionally, this would make a wonderful gift, presented in a pretty  box.



  1. Place flower in part side of the ball, close ball.
  2. Thread the fishing line through the hole on top of the ball and hang them from the schach.

Grouping  varying sizes  together adds interest and dimension.


*For more great Sukkot ideas check out chic-hanging-vases , do-it-yourself-sukkah-shelf , esrog-box-party-favor

Chic Hanging Vases

For many of us, there can never be too many flowers around, so here are some “bright” ideas to add to your Sukkah decoration repertoire.

Preparation time-approximately 5-10 minutes per vase.


  • Clear light bulb
  • Small needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Long screw
  • Fishing line type thread (available at sewing/craft store)
  • Cloth gloves and goggles for hand and eye protection

Directions :

Using your pliers, carefully remove the metal piece from the bottom of the bulb.

After the piece is removed there will be a hole in center.  Begin breaking away at the black glass insulator by inserting a screw in the hole and prying out.

With the bottom of the bulb removed, begin removing the innards of the bulb carefully with the pliers and screwdriver.

Caution: Though this task is not at all complicated, caution should be used as the glass is (obviously)  fragile.

Measure how low you want vase to hang down, double the thread and cut accordingly.

Wrap the thread around the neck of the bulb and tie a double knot. (In order to insure the vase hangs straight, it is a good idea to take another string and tie it the opposite way. Then, take the strings from both sides and tie them together to form a “handle”.

Hanging options:

Hang from Schach

Screw hooks into the wall and hang the vases from them – great for a filler in between decorations.

*For more great Sukkot ideas check out esrog-box-party-favor , do-it-yourself-sukkah-shelf , flowers-in-bubbles



Do It Yourself Sukkah Shelf

Way back then, when we put up our Sukkah for the first time, my father-in-law added a shelf along one of the walls. Right away I was struck by how simple and practical this idea was. Years later, people are still commenting about it. So, here are the details for the many of us who have a wood panel Sukkah. With simple supplies, and minimal “handy man skills” your Candlesticks, Seforim, Benchers, flowers, etc can “hang around” the entire Yom Tov, and not have to be moved and removed countless times from being in the way.


  • Finished piece of wood (pre cut pine shelving, custom cut at Home Depot  ,etc)

I used  48’x9’x1/2’(exact size will vary based on the size of your Sukkah, and on distance between beams you will drill into)

  • Decorative molding (optional)
  • Decorative brackets
  • Wood Stain
  • Standard hardware

(All supplies can be purchased in any  home improvement store: Home Depot, Lowes, etc)


  1. Stain the wood the color of your choice (I used a stain/shellac combo applied with a lint free rag.)
  2. Measure the distance between the beams and attach the brackets to the wood accordingly.  Use at least two screws to attach bracket into the beam, and at least one screw to hold the shelf to the bracket.
  3. Choose a practical spot (high enough so items will be out of reach of children (about 5’),  yet keep in mind a safe distance between the top of the candlesticks and the Schach).

The wall near the flames should be covered with aluminum foil. You may want to consider using hurricane lamps in your Sukkah, to protect the candles.

For best results use a level to ensure the shelf is straight.

(TIP-  If you don’t have a level, mark a constant  one inch height around the circumference of a clear cup and fill with water  to that height,  When shelf is level,  water should be at the one inch mark all around the cup.)

*For more great Sukkot ideas check out chic-hanging-vases , flowers-in-bubbles , esrog-box-party-favor

Rosh Hashana Place Setting

Here is a neat way to keep things neat at your Rosh Hashana table. Place ” Dip the apple in the honey” supplies by each setting, as opposed to passing around the dipped challah and apple. For an extra creative touch, you can use the apple as a place card holder.


  • Small jar, dish or tasting spoon for the honey
  • Honey rock candy on a stick, fresh orchids and currants for decoration (optional)
  • Mini apples
  • Seating cards

To make seating card holder simply make a slit in the apple and insert card in the slit.

Apple Shaped Ices


Enjoy this” sweet” new idea for a “Sweet New Year”! A refreshing and very simple idea to finish off any Yom Tov meal.

Strawberry Ices 


4 cups frozen strawberries

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar


Place all ingredients in your food processor. Using the S blade,blend until all the strawberries are blended.

Pour mixture into a parchment lined 9×13″ pan.

Freeze till solid.

Using a 3″ apples cookie cutter ,cut  the ices out.

Place in freezer till you are ready to serve.

Decorate plate with dessert sauce.

Place 1,2 or 3 “apples” on each plate.

Garnish with any small leaves.

Yields: 12 apples














Ice Bowl

Photography by Dan Engongora

Heres a ”cool” presentation with simple preparation!

This idea is perfect for keeping ice cubes, fruit, sorbet, etc  chilled at your next summer party.

You will need:

  • 2 stainless steel bowls; one should fit inside the other with 1–2 inches between them
  • fresh or silk flowers, citrus slices, or any other decoration of choice
  • strong tape such as duct tape


1. Scatter flowers or citrus slices in large bowl.

2. Place small bowl inside large bowl. Tape the two bowls together so that the rims are flush with each other. Pour water in between the bowls to ½-inch from the top

3. Add some more flowers or citrus slices and use a skewer to help put into place.

4. Freeze overnight. Let stand at room temperature until bowls separate easily (about 10 minutes). Remove tape.

5. Lift the top bowl; invert bottom bowl to remove ice bowl. Freeze until needed.

*Tip To catch drips, you can put a towel underneath your tablecloth or rest the ice bowl on a bowl or a tray.

This article by EstherO. originally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine.