Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finding Myself Friday: Food for Thought

This past week was very busy and full. It started off with the very first Kosher Cupcake Bake-off, an event that I co-produced with SweetUP partner Abbey Wolin (, Breezy Beckerman (, and Beth Rosen ( and Thank you all for making things happen. Event planning can be very stressful and tiring, especially for parents also working full-time and taking care of young children. Family is first, and being a mother and wife are my top priorities. I am so thankful that my husband and children gave me the extra five minutes, which often became fifty, while working on this event.
Once everything came together at Breezy’s beautiful store in Cedarhurst, NY, and over 100 people from just a few streets away to as far as New Jersey filled the room, I remembered why I work so hard on these events. The end result is always good. This event, an idea that came from the talented Beth Rosen, came to fruition in just five weeks. These things only happen when every member of the team is contributing what little extra time they have to make things happen. All of our time was donated to create this event and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Achiezer Hurricane Sandy Fund.
It was so nice to see the tremendous support from the community, which was a mixture of foodies, friends, and fans of everything cupcakes. Our special MC for the afternoon was Jamie Geller. In addition to being a mom of five children, she is the founder of the Kosher Media Network, Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine & Even though Jamie now lives in Israel with her family, she takes frequent trips to the USA for speaking engagements and press events. We were thrilled to have Jamie join our other impressive panel of judges including, Bobbie Lloyd, President and Operating Partner, Magnolia Bakery; Alessandra Rovati, an Italian food writer and lecturer and founder of; and Tamar Genger MA, RD Director of Digital Media for Kosher Media Network and Executive Editor for There was no shortage of sweet treats at the event, but I also want to thank Esti from Fruit Platters and More for supplying a beautiful platter of fresh fruit. She also donated the pomegranate seeds that our contestant used during the competition. Also, just as important, was the hip tunes sound system donated by the fab DJ Ben Black.
Check out some of the photos of the event from Lia Jay Photography and Heidi Schwartz.
The contestants were incredibly talented at their trade! They included Melissa Kaye of, Faige Goldner of, Michelle Goodman Frohlich of, and Shira Perlman of They all produced some of the most amazing looking, and tasting cucpakes, I have ever had. All of these cupcakes, from cake to frosting, were dairy free. Part of the fun in this event was the element of surprise. The contestants were sent a box of ingredients to use in their cupcakes earlier in the week. These ingredients included Cherry Heering Liqueur and Coffee Liqueur, King Arthur Flour, Fig Jam, and Balsamic Vinegar. They could either use all of them in one cupcake, or use them in three different cupcakes. For the icing on the cake, literally, the contestants had to pick three of the following ingredients: pomegranate seeds, lavender, cumin, cinnamon maple butter, apricot kernel oil and wild sweet orange Tazo tea. The theme that they had to create in their cupcakes was Purim. They had a total of 45 minutes to create their frosting from scratch and decorate their cupcakes.
Once the clock started, attendees watched as the contestants made their way to great creations. Breezy provided all of the tools and fondant a cupcake designer could desire. When their time was up, the contestants presented their cupcakes, all so inventive and festive. Once the judges had a chance to view and taste the three cupcakes from each contestant, they took a few minutes to make their decision. During this time, the winners of the raffle prizes were announced. The raffle prize sponsors included Joy of Kosher, Earth Balance, KitchenAidUSA, King Arthur Flour,,, and Fairway Market.
The winner of the cupcake competition went to Cup of Cake NJ. Faige Goldner, with her baby in tow, created Fig Cupcakes with Pomegranate Cream Cheese Frosting. Faige’s cupcakes and winning recipe will be featured on and in the Shavuot issue of Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jamie Geller.
Feeling full from such a tremendous event, but not yet done for the week, I attended the 7th Annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience on Monday evening. This event was sold-out and 1700 people attended. I just loved running into some of the food personalities I met since I started my blog over four years ago. From Chef Jeff Nathan of Abigael’s to Nachum Segal of the Nachum Segal Show, it was an evening full of the leading personalities in the kosher food world. The food at this event was so beyond what most people think a kosher meal should be; move over matzo balls! Kosher food has influences from all of the countries that Jews have lived. We’ve been everywhere! For a complete listing of the food and wine, go to Who knew?
As I now start my next diet, or is it I am picking up from the last one I was keeping? I am thankful for having a full week. Now, as Shabbos approaches along with a major winter storm named after a fish in a Disney film, #nemo, I am happy to also have a full tank of gas, a refrigerator of food, and a heart full of appreciation of what is on my plate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hanukkah Hangout

Jewish Bloggers and Social Media Mavens To Donate Toys to Families Affected by Hurricane Sandy at "Hanukkah Hangout"  

Families with small children affected by Hurricane Sandy will receive more toys thanks to a Hanukkah Hangout organized by SweetUP, jdeal, and Metroimma. These premier social media communities, with a cumulative reach of tens of thousands of followers in the Jewish community, will gather together for an evening of Giving, Gifting, Creating, and Sharing. It's an event that incorporates social media with an element of social good that makes this a noteworthy event. A portion of the proceeds will be sent directly to

"While many of us head out to shop for toys for our children, we want to have in mind those families that lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” said Esti Berkowitz, SweetUP Co-Founder. "One of our key missions of SweetUP is to include an element of giving back to those in need at each of our events. I am thrilled that jdeal, the Jewish daily deal site, and Metroimma, the no 1 site for Jewish moms, have offered to co-host this event with us”.

Leveraging the power of leading online deal sites like and network of moms on will amplify the “Hanukkah Hangout” that will take place on Thursday, November 29. The evening will start out with a crafting activity by Abbey Wolin, SweetUP co-founder and owner of Not2Shabbey. All of the bloggers will then participate in a Manischewitz “Hanukkah House” decorating contest. The images of these Hanukkah Houses will then be uploaded to the Manischewitz Facebook page and entered to win a plethora of prizes.

"We are excited to partner with SweetUP on this event" shared Jodi Samuels, founder of "We understand that families with small children need to feel the happiness of the holidays regardless of their circumstances, we also believe in giving back"

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About jdeal
jdeal is a Jewish Daily Deal Site offering Seriously Surprising Deals everyday
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About Metroimma 
The no 1 site for Jewish Moms
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kosherfest RoundUP

Event #1 Kosher Food Blogger Conference. 

Look who was a sponsor!
The Kosher Food Bloggers are a community of bloggers, brands, and foodies that share a common passion for good kosher food and culinary adventure. Their first ever conference was held at the Carlton Hotel in NYC.  They had some really awesome speakers like Jamie Geller of Joy of Kosher, the genius photographer Noah Fecks, and the SEO master Joe Apfelbaum of Ajax Union.  

The best part of doing what we do is meeting the friends that we make online and seeing them in person! Melinda Strauss of Kitchen Tested  is truly one of those people. We finally got to meet her Kosher Food Blogger buddy Shelley Serber of The Kosher Home {on a budget}. Of course we became instant friends. Meeting Leah Shapira was also super swell. Not only is she the author of Fresh & Easy, but she also runs the website Cook Kosher and is a managing food editor for Ami Magazine

Lunch Sponsored by Fairway

Event #2 Pre Kosherfest Social Media Dinner 

This year, KosherEye and SweetUP served-up the best in social media networking at the 2nd Annual Pre-Kosherfest Social Media Dinner at Abigael’s on Broadway. The who’s who of foodies, magazine editors, and lifestyle bloggers dined on an exclusive menu created by celebrity Chef Jeff Nathan. In true social media style, IPhones, instagrams, Facebook shares, and tweets were just as handy as fork and knife. People followed along from right in the room to miles away by following the designated hashtag for the evening, #kfeast12.

Upon arrival, guests were treated to glasses of champagne sponsored by Royal Wine! This gave people enough time to finally meet their Facebook and twitter followers in real time. 

The sponsors of this year’s dinner were a perfect fit for the impressive group of bloggers. The room was thrilled to hear about some of these brand new products from our Premier Sponsor, Manischewitz CompanyThe Chanukah House, Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, and Macaroon Dough!

Look out for my next post with some more details
on this super fun project for kids! 
Food man LLC, the creators behind Matzolah and winner in the Best New Passover Product Competition that took place before Kosherfest, brought down what Moses didn't have room for, Matzo granola!

As guests were served three courses, each just as delicious as the next, the “getting to know you” chat began. Each guest presented an “elevator” speech sharing who they were, and what they were about, in no more than 1 minute!

Once the main meal was concluded, delicious desserts were served, complimented by Cherry Heering Coffee Liqueur! A bottle of this lovely liqueur was placed on each table, accompanying after dinner coffee, and miniature bottles were included in the swag bags.

As the evening was drawing to a close, our very special guest, Alex Rapaport, founder of Masbia Soup Kitchen, shared a few words about his organization. When this event was conceptualized, the importance of recognizing and giving back to a non-profit organization was essential. Masbia was that organization and proceeds from the event went towards this organization. It was a great honor to give all additional food items from our sponsors to Masbia, who have been providing warm healthy meals to families affected by the hurricane, and to the teams helping with the aftermath of Sandy. The evening ended on a very positive note.

Esti Berkowitz and Abbey Wolin {The SweetUP Team}
Ready to go home after a wonderful night
In the next few months, we will be putting on a Chanukah Hangout benefiting the children of Chai Lifeline, A Kosher Cupcake Cook-off, Social Media Soiree and Fashion Show! True to our mission of connecting Jewish bloggers from all backgrounds with brands that want to reach these bloggers, we are you one-stop networking team! Please join us on Facebook and on twitter @sweetup2012.

Event #3 Kosherfest! In the words of Abbey Wolin 

Finally the BIG day had arrived! I had never been to Kosherfest before and I was soooo excited! I got to meet some really amazing people and eat some really delicious food. I came home a bit tipsy and stuffed.  

Susie Fishbein with her new Kolatin product!

 Paula Shoyer is like my other half.
She's from Long Beach  and went to HALB and HANC.
It's like she could be me, but I haven't been on the
Food Network nor have I written a book! 

Leah Shapira of Cook Kosher signing my new cookbook
Fresh & Easy

Jamie Geller  from Joy of Kosher
She graciously gave me a new copy of
Quick & Kosher to replace the one that got
ruined in my house debacle

Funny costumes!
He could braid those havdalah candles quick!

7th Heaven for my husband. 

Till next time!
Abbey & Esti