Sunday, December 30, 2012

Want some more cookies?

   Recently I really got into cookies, it's a lot of fun. I actually prefer making them much more than eating them (which is not too bad either), coming up with new recipes and refreshing the old ones! How can somebody not like cookies? They keep forever, they are perfect as a gift, as a dessert, or just as a snack (if you suddenly crave a quick, sweet bite). Here is one of my recent creations, which is a perfect example of a new twist on an old recipe:


*  2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
*  1 cup white sugar
*  3 cups all-purpose flour
*  2 tsp vanilla extract
*  1 tsp baking powder
*  1/2 tsp salt
*  1 lime (juice and zest)


1. Cream together butter and 1 cup white sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, lime juice and lime zest.
3. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time.
4. Using a tablespoon, scoop a dough and form uniform balls.
7. Place on a baking sheet and flatten with a fork.
8. Bake at 350F for 14 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

   Super simple and super delicious. Lime zest has a very unique flavor and makes the cookies fresh and tangy. Just pack them in air tight container and they will be good for a while.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

As Polish as it gets!

   I can't believe that Christmas is over, where did it go? All that's left is lots of gifts and a fridge full of leftover food... actually it doesn't sound that bad when I think about it! For me (and probably lots of other Polish people) Christmas Eve is a huge part of the Christmas celebration... we have a special supper, with lots of different vegetarian dishes and we get to open our gifts! Yes, we get to see them earlier than most people, but lets focus on the food, because it's just special and finger-licking-good! We serve so many different dishes, each one better than the last, but one of my favorites (among 10 others) is a sauerkraut with porcini mushrooms. Creamy, luscious and delicious, here is the recipe:


*  2 lb sauerkraut, lightly washed and drained
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  1 large apple, peeled and shredded
*  1/2 cup dry porcini mushroom 
*  2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1/2 tsp caraway seeds
*  2 tbsp olive oil
*  salt and pepper


1. Cover mushrooms with 3 cups of warm water and let them soak for at least 2-3 hours. Boil the mushrooms (in the same water), reduce the heat and cook for about 30-40 minutes.
2. Drain the mushrooms (reserving a cooking water), roughly chop them and set aside.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute onions for 5-6 minutes. Add drained sauerkraut, shredded apple, chopped mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Cook everything on low heat for 30-40 minutes, constantly stirring and slowly adding mushroom cooking water. Let the water cook out completely and create a soft and moist dish. 

   You will probably notice that the recipe makes a lot, but trust me, it's nothing and it will be gone in couple of days! There is nothing more Polish than that dish, and Justin agrees with me one hundred percent. I can't wait to have another portion!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Favorite cookies ever!

   One of my very good friends developed a small addiction ... every day we go for coffee he can't help buying a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie (or two). Every day he says he is not getting any, and then we walk by a cookie stand and somehow he ends up with one in his hand. I can't blame him, though... those are my favorite cookies as well. It just happens that it's his birthday the day after Xmas and I came up with the best birthday gift that man could wish for (besides a super duper fancy camera, but I can't afford to buy him that!). You know what it is, right? Macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies! Here is the recipe (makes 2 dozen):


*  2 sticks butter, softened
*  3/4 cup light brown sugar
*  3/4 cup white sugar
*  2 tsp vanilla extract
*  2 eggs
*  2 1/3 cups flour
*  1 tsp baking soda
*  1 tsp salt
*  1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
*  1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips


1. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla extract until fluffy.
2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Add macadamia nuts and chocolate chips, mix with the wooden spoon to combine.
4. Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Do not bake longer then 10 minutes, to make sure cookies are soft and gooey. 

   I absolutely agree with my friend that these are the best cookies in the entire word! Gooey and crunchy, sweet and salty... delicious! What could be a better birthday gift for a cookie lover than a box of homemade cookies?

Happy Birthday Chris,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sexy legs!

   No, not mine...the chicken's! I love chicken legs! I am definitely a dark meat lover, which is another example why me and Justin are the perfect marriage... he loves white meat and I love dark... this way no part of the chicken is wasted in our house! We don't have to fight for the same piece of meat, like I used to fight with my sister for a leg (yes, I know, usually chickens have two legs... but my father, unfortunately, liked them too!). To make drumsticks sexy (like they need sexing up!) I prepared them in a luscious, silky, coconut and curry sauce and cooked them until the meat got super tender! I know you agree with me that it sounds sexy... wait until you try it! Here is the recipe (serves 4):


*  8 chicken legs (drumsticks)
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
*  2 garlic cloves, minced
*  15 oz can coconut milk
*  16 oz can tomato sauce
*  1 tbsp turmeric powder
*  1 tbsp curry powder
*  1 tbsp coriander powder
*  1 tsp ground ginger
*  1 tbsp brown sugar
*  2 cups chicken broth
*  vegetable oil
*  salt and pepper


1. Coat the bottom of Dutch oven with vegetable oil and heat to a high temperature.
2. Dry chicken legs with a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown on both sides (3-4 minutes each). Remove from the pot and set aside.
3. To the same oil add chopped onions, garlic and cilantro. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add turmeric, curry, coriander, ginger and brown sugar, and cook stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes.
5. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce and coconut milk, scrape the bottom of the pot, bring to boil.
6. When the sauce is boiling, return chicken legs to the pot, cover with the lid, transfer into the oven and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

   It's the best served with Basmati rice (or any rice for that matter), a perfect vehicle for this delicious, silky sauce. Chicken is juicy and tender, practically falling of the bone. Such a comforting dish!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cheesy pasta!

   Already sounds delicious, does it? Justin and I are big fans of cheese, the sharper and "stinkier", the better. Actually every time we plan a romantic date at home, we end up buying a few different cheeses, crackers and grapes, open a bottle of wine and that's all we need! Well, this weekend we had similar plans... doing nothing, sipping wine and eating cheese, but unfortunately a nasty flu changed our plans and we ended up sitting on the couch, sneezing, coughing and sipping cough sirup instead of wine! But since I already had a beautiful piece of Gorgonzola cheese in the fridge I decided to turn a sexy cheese and crackers dinner into a bowl of fattening, comforting and "medicinal" (don't quote me on that) bowl of saucy pasta with walnuts. We already feel better! Here is the recipe (serves 4-6):


*  1 lb ziti pasta
*  5-6oz Gorgonzola cheese
*  2 cups heavy cream (hey, we are sick, we need comfort!)
*  1 cup Parmesan cheese
*  1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
*  2 tbsp butter
*  salt and pepper


1. In a large skillet, melt butter, add Gorgonzola cheese and break it with the spoon until it melts. Add heavy cream and pinch of pepper, bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until sauce thickens.
2. Add Parmesan cheese and walnuts, and mix everything together.
3. Boil pasta in salted water and drain it reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
4. Add pasta to the sauce, mix together and, if needed, add a little bit of reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce.

   Creamy, saucy and cheesy! Delicious silky pasta with a perfect crunch from the walnuts. If you need a "pick-me-up" dish, that might be your solution!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bacon egg and cheese please!

   Haven't posted a breakfast recipe in a while, have I? One of my favorite "breakfast-to-go" items is bacon, egg and cheese sandwiche made with a whole grain English muffin! I could actually eat it all day, all year around and probably I wouldn't get bored with it! Sometimes, when I crave it really, really bad I just stop by some fast-food place (don't judge me!) before work and get it. To save time, money, and calories I decided to make my own at home, portion it, and enjoy it every day at work! Here is the recipe (makes 10 servings):


*  12 oz smoked bacon
*  10 eggs
*  1 cup skim milk
*  1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
*  2 tbsp flour
*  salt and pepper


1. Cut bacon into small pieces and crisp in a pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer onto a paper towel to drain the grease and let it cool.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, salt, and pepper. Add cooled bacon, transfer into a greased baking dish and bake at 375F for 20 minutes.
3. Cut into squares, portion, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve with a whole grain English muffin and some ketchup if you like it!

   There is absolutely nothing better in the morning than a delicious egg sandwich. I don't know if you noticed, but I used a real bacon this time. I decided to try it out and I have to be honest, it tastes the same as turkey bacon to me (which has fewer calories), but it's your call.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meatless Meat Sauce!

   How to make the most famous meat sauce meatless? I've achieved something that meat lovers could find unachievable... I turned the famous beef bolognese sauce into a delicious, vegetarian feast! The secret ingredient - lentils - full of proteins and flavor, the perfect substitute for beef! To make things more delicious and satisfying, I added few of my favorite ingredients - mushrooms and zucchini! Here is the recipe:


*  1 cup green lentils
*  2 zucchinis, chopped
*  4-5 stalks celery, chopped
*  8oz mushrooms, chopped
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  28oz can crushed tomatoes
*  1/3 cup ketchup
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 tbsp brown sugar
*  1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1 tsp dry oregano
*  1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
*  salt and pepper

*  1lb spaghetti pasta


1. Wash lentils in cold water, transfer into a pot, cover with water (about 2-3 inches above lentils). Cook for 25 minutes, until lentils are soft, drain and set aside. Lentils will absorb water during cooking, so make sure you keep adding some.
2. In a deep skillet, heat olive oil, add onions, mushroom, celery, and zucchini.  Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and oregano. Mix everything together and cook for about 10 minutes until veggies are cooked, but still a little bit crunchy.
4. Add cooked lentils and Parmesan cheese, bring to boil, and it's ready.
5. Serve with spaghetti pasta and enjoy your new favorite!

   You will not believe how good this sauce is. No meat required... and you don't even miss it! It's a little bit sweet, a little bit tangy, saucy and crunchy... I'm sure you will like it!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No-heart-attack Chowder!

   Who doesn't like a nice and chunky chowder? I love any kind... corn, potato, veggies... but New England clam chowder is probably one of my favorite soups in the entire world. I always feel guilty when I eat the "real thing", because it's loaded with butter and heavy cream, and I just can't eat as much as I would like to. Today's post is not going to be about clam chowder, but a regular, simple veggie version with some turkey bacon (I needed to throw in something that Justin would be excited about too). And the best part of this recipe is that it has no butter, no heavy cream, no loads of calories. Check this out:


*  2 large potatoes, finely chopped
*  2 carrots, finely chopped
*  5 celery stalks, finely chopped
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  20 slices turkey bacon, chopped
*  1 cup frozen corn kernels
*  1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

*  4 cups skim milk
*  2 cup chicken broth
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  3 tbsp flour
*  1 cup dry white wine
*  1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
*  1 lime 
*  salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a deep pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onions and turkey bacon for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrot, celery salt and pepper, and cook for 5-6 minutes.
2. Add flour, mix together and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add white wine, scrape the bottom and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add Worcestershire sauce, milk, chicken stock and desired amount of water to make it as dense as you like.
4. Add corn and parsley, and cook until veggies are tender. Finish with juice squeezed from 1 lime and it's ready to serve.

   I like it hot, I like it chunky... and that's exactly how this chowder is! The lime juice makes it refreshing and light. I usually cook my chowder for no longer then 15-20 minutes, just to cook potatoes, without loosing the texture of other veggies. It's just perfect!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Want some more pumpkin?

   Yes, pumpkin again... acorn squash to be more precise. This time it's not a soup or a main dish... this time it's a brunch (or breakfast) item. Only a few ingredients, but tons of flavor. It's not your usual branch menu, but who said you can't change it up a little bit and try something new?


*  1 small acorn squash
*  2 eggs
*  1 tsp olive oil
*  1 tbs chopped, fresh rosemary
*  salt


1. Slice the acorn squash into 1 inch slices, sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and rosemary and bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes until soft.
2. Place baked slice on a saute pan, drop the egg in the middle, season a little bit with salt, cover the pan and cook until egg is the consistence you like!

   Simple, but impressive. The perfect dish for pumpkin lovers to start a day. And what better way to eat it than with a cup of hot cocoa?