Breaking the Fast with a Fast Trip Across the Street, Chicago Style

September 7, 2015
Please note: fresh fruit and vegetables need to be inspected for insect infestation. Please consult our guide

imageYou think you have a big crowd coming to your house to break the Yom Kippur fast? Not compared to my friend Marsha, you don’t. This September, Marsha and her husband, Brian, along with another couple, will be co-hosting the Ninth Annual Easy Access Break-Fast for the families of her Chicago shul.

Marsha lives across the street from the minyan, so “thirty seconds after the shofar blows, everyone is walking across the street to my house!” she says. This year, she expects a full house of 110 people—at least.

The two co-hosting couples split most of the cooking, while others are delegated to bring food or beverages or help with cleanup. The couples keep notes from year to year, adjusting quantities, so they have the meal down to a science.

When I asked Marsha why she prepares a meal for such a large crowd, she replied, “If we didn’t do this, some people wouldn’t have a place to go.”

I hope you enjoy the following fast and fabulous recipes that Marsha serves, including some of my own personal favorites.

Marsha’s Vegetarian Ziti


  • 1 lb. penne (rotini can be substituted)
  • 2 (26 oz.) jars roasted garlic tomato sauce
  • 12 oz. “fake ground meat” (or 4 veggie burgers, crumbled)
  • 1 small can spinach, drained (or one 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Additional vegetables, such as zucchini or pre-cooked broccoli florets (optional)
  • 2 cups additional shredded mozzarella cheese (for topping)
  • Dried or fresh minced parsley, basil or oregano (for sprinkling)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add tomato sauce, veggie meat, spinach and 2 cups cheese. Mix well. If you like, add optional veggies.
  3. Place mixture in a sprayed 9×13-inch pan or large disposable foil pan and spread evenly. Cover with foil. (Can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated.)
  4. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour. Uncover, sprinkle with 2 additional cups cheese. Sprinkle with dried or fresh herbs and bake for 10 minutes.

Note: This recipe can be made in 4 small loaf pans or two 8-inch square pans.

Carrot Kugel

12 servings

I enjoyed this gluten-free carrot kugel when I was a guest at a friend’s house. I eliminated almost half the fat in this scrumptious pudding without sacrificing flavor. It’s a winner!


  • 2 lbs. carrots, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (e.g., walnuts or almonds)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 6 eggs (or 4 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
  • 4 Tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/3 cup honey (or ½ cup sugar)
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)


  1. Cook carrots in boiling, salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and let cool.
  2. Insert steel blade in food processor. Process nuts and brown sugar until crumbly, 8 to 10 seconds. Remove from bowl and set aside.
  3. Puree carrots until smooth, 20 to 25 seconds. Add eggs and mix well. Add remaining ingredients (except for reserved nut mixture) and process until smooth, about 30 seconds longer.
  4. Pour mixture into sprayed 9×13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle with nut mixture. Bake in preheated 350° oven about 1 hour, until nicely browned.

Note: This kugel freezes well, and can be served hot or at room temperature.


  1. Substitute 8 oz. of baby-food carrots
  2. This recipe can be made into muffins. To do so, insert paper liners into muffin tins. Pour batter to fill each compartment ¾ full. Bake 30 minutes at 350°F.
    Makes 20 to 22 muffins.

Lox and Bagel Cheese Strata

12 servings

This do-ahead dish is perfect fare for any special occasion. It’s an excellent way to use up leftover bagels (or buy day-old bagels so you can afford the lox). To save money, you can use lox pieces. It’s “dill-icious!”


  • 5 to 6 whole wheat or sesame bagels, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 8 oz. lox (smoked salmon), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz. low-fat Swiss and/or Havarti cheese (about 2 cups grated)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 6 large eggs (or 4 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or light sour cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the bagel pieces evenly on the bottom of the dish. Top with lox and sprinkle with the grated cheese, scallions and dill.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, milk and seasonings; blend well (you can use a blender, whisk or large food processor). Pour evenly over the bagel-cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (If desired, you can prepare the recipe up to this point and refrigerate for 24 hours.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until the mixture is puffed and golden.
  4. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes for easier cutting.

Serve with a large Caesar or mixed garden salad.

Note: Keeps for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and reheats well. Freezes well for up to 2 months.


  1. Use your favorite savory-flavored bagels, such as sun-dried tomato, spinach or multigrain. You can also make this recipe using whole wheat or multigrain bread cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Instead of lox, use 2 cans of sockeye salmon, drained and flaked, or 1½ cups of leftover cooked salmon. You can also use canned tuna.
  3. Other cheeses can be substituted for the Swiss or Havarti; try Monterey Jack, cheddar, Jarlsberg or a mixture. For a twist, add ½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Cookie’s Hot Milk Cheese Kugel

12 servings

This scrumptious kugel recipe from my sister Rhonda (Cookie) Matias of Toronto is a winner, and its lighter version is an excellent runner-up.


  • 1 (12 oz.) package medium noodles
  • ½ cup soft butter or margarine, cut into chunks
  • 1½ cups creamed cottage cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup cornflake crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Sour cream and berries for serving


  1. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Insert steel blade in food processor. Process butter or margarine chunks with cottage cheese, eggs, sugar and sour cream until well mixed, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add mixture to noodles. Add hot milk and mix well.
  3. Grease a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter or margarine. Add noodle mixture and top with crumbs, and cinnamon if desired.
  4. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour, until golden. Serve hot with sour cream and berries.

Note: This recipe freezes well, and can be reheated.

To make this recipe lighter, reduce butter or margarine to ¼ cup. Use low-fat cottage cheese and skim milk. Instead of 4 eggs, use 2 eggs and 4 egg whites. Use fat-free or light sour cream and granular Splenda instead of sugar. Substitute 1 Tablespoon melted butter or margarine to grease the pan (or spray it with nonstick spray).

Norene’s Lemon Squares

Makes about 48 squares


  • 1 cup butter or margarine, cut in chunks
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar


  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Process base ingredients on the steel blade of the food processor until crumbly, about 20 seconds. Press into sprayed 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden.
  3. Process topping ingredients until blended, about 10 seconds. Pour over base. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer, until golden. Cut into squares when cool.

Note: These squares freeze well.

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author and culinary consultant in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of seven cookbooks. For more information, visit her web site at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.