Wednesday, January 30, 2013


   Finally I made a soup that Justin liked and "recognized" as a dinner meal! I'm still in shock... I thought it would never happen. It was my "little goal" in life to find a soup recipe that would satisfy my husband and I succeeded. It's a delicious and hearty soup, but I'm convinced that it's the name of it that convinced Justin... "Cheeseburger Soup". I know, probably I didn't play fair, but I would use any trick to make him eat more soup... even if it means making cheeseburger inspired soup! If the name doesn't sound too appealing wait until you try it. I might be bias because I have an obsession with soup, but you know it has to be delicious if Justin had a huge bowl of it! Here is the recipe (makes 6):


*  1 lb lean ground beef
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  2 garlic cloves, minced
*  4 celery sticks, chopped
*  2 carrots, shredded
*  3 medium potatoes, diced
*  2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
*  1 cup skim milk
*  4 cup chicken broth
*  2 tbsp fat-free sour cream
*  1 tsp dried basil
*  1/3 cup chopped, fresh parsley
*  2 tbsp flour
*  1 tbsp olive oil


1. In a Dutch oven (or a deep pot), heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic (2-3 minutes).
2. Add ground beef, parsley, and dried basil and cook for about 5-6 minutes.
3. Add carrots, celery, potatoes and cook everything for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add flour while constantly mixing cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add chicken broth and milk, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
6. Add cheddar cheese and sour cream, bring to boil, turn off the heat and let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

   I can't believe it, but Justin actually had two bowls of soup for dinner!!! Somebody pinch me! I had it for lunch and for dinner... it's that good!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let's shave some sprouts.

   I can't understand how someone can not like brussel sprouts, they are awesome! But it just happens that there is a lot of people out there who claim that they are not edible (I know a few myself)... and wouldn't even try them. Maybe they just never had them made the right way? I usually roast them or make a soup, so this time I decided to change things up and make a pasta dish. Shaved brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and a creamy sauce... if that doesn't sound good, I don't know what does!


*  1/2 lb spaghetti pasta
*  1/2 lb brussel sprouts
*  8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
*  1 large onion, finely chopped
*  1 cup sliced almonds
*  3 tbsp butter
*  3/4 cup fat-free cream
*  salt and pepper


1. Cook spaghetti pasta in salted water.
2. In the meantime, using a mandoline slicer, carefully shave brussel sprouts into very thin slices.
3. In a skillet, melt butter and saute onions, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms with a little bit of salt and pepper (8-10 minutes)
4. Add cream and almonds, combine everything to create a creamy sauce. Mix in cooked and drained pasta and serve.

   Not your usual pasta sauce, is it? If you like brussel sprouts, that's your dish, if you don't... you may just change your mind after trying this one!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Big Bird!

   No, not a turkey... that's reserved for Thanksgiving... I'm talking about a chicken! Rotisserie chicken (next to pizza), is one of our favorite "don't-feel-like-cooking" or "want-something-comforting" dinner ideas. All you need to do is pick up one on the way from work and you have a hot, delicious dinner on the table in no time. It's not necessarily much cheaper to make one at home, but it's definitely hundred times better, moister, and more flavorful... and knowing "what's in it" doesn't hurt either. Add some veggies, herbs, citrus and a beer, and you got yourself amazing roasted chicken.


*  whole chicken (about 6 lbs)
*  6 tbsp butter, room temperature
*  2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
*  1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
*  1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
*  1 tbsp seasoned salt (or more if you like it saltier)
*  1 tbsp garlic powder
*  1 orange
*  3 medium potatoes, cut into 4 pieces
*  2 carrots, cut into 4 pieces
*  1 large onion, cut into 8 segments
*  1 bottle of beer


1. Rinse the chicken under cold running water, pat dry with paper towel and place in a large baking dish.
2. Combine butter with rosemary, thyme, mint, garlic powder, seasoned salt and orange zest. Mix well.
3. Tuck the wings under the chicken, place halved orange in the cavity, and tie the legs together loosely with the kitchen string. 
4. Loosen the skin over the chicken breast and smear the butter mixture over the outside and under the skin of the chicken, being careful not to tear the skin.
5. Arrange the vegetables around the chicken and pour the beer into a baking dish. 
6. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil (loosely) and bake at 400F for 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 60 more minutes, until it's golden brown. 
7. Remove from oven and let is stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, so the juices can redistribute. 

   So juicy, so flavorful and so delicious.  I ate half of the carrots before I even got to carving... and Justin finished the second half a minute I turned around. Rotisserie chicken from the store might be much faster, but you can't beat the flavor of a home-made one. Try it one weekend, and you will never go back to the store-bought kind.

Good luck,

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New favorite...

   ... pizza! Yes, we have found yet another pizza that we fell in love with right away. Actually, Justin found it by accident in a frozen section of a supermarket and took it as an "emergency" dinner! Little did we know, it turned out to be awesome! Chicken 'n Bacon Ranch Pizza... sounds good, doesn't it? Justin is so proud of his "finding" and he is not shy about bragging about it every time we eat it! Well, I do have to give it to him, it is a great find! I decided to make a home-made version of it, mostly to challenge myself, because you can find it everywhere and it's super cheap, but it's nice to make it yourself (and pile a mountain of chicken on it)!


*  Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  1 large chicken breast, cooked and cubed
*  10-12 slices of turkey bacon, coarsely chopped and crisped
*  1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
*  3/4 cup fat-free ranch dressing
*  2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley


1. Roll the pizza dough on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and bake at 425F for 5 minutes.
2. In a bowl combine cubed chicken, crisped bacon, ranch dressing and half of the mozzarella cheese. Spread on pre-baked dough, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake at 425F for 10 more minutes (or until crust is golden brown).
3. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

   Do you see the amount of toppings on this baby? Oh, I wasn't shy about them... and that's the advantage of making your own pizza, you can "customize" it however you want to and you don't have to fight for the only piece of chicken that's on it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Four magic words!

   You want to know what they are? Pickled Mango Pork Curry! Magical enough? Pickled - I love everything that's pickled, and now I have one more thing to love. Mango - the most widely consumed fresh fruit in the worlds, yes, that's true! Pork - tender and flavorful meat, very popular in Poland. And last, but not least - curry - a super fragrant and vibrant spice. When you combine all these magical things you end up with one delicious and exotic meal! Here is the recipe (serves 6):


*  2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into cubes
*  1 large onion, coarsely chopped
*  2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
*  1 cup pickled mango (you can find it in Indian store)
*  1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
*  1 can (14oz) whole tomatoes
*  1/2 cup fresh cilantro
*  2 tbsp garam masala spice
*  1 tbsp curry powder   
*  2 tbsp brown sugar
*  2 tbsp vegetable oil
*  salt


1. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the pork.
2. Add pickled mango, ginger, curry and garam masala. Cook, constantly stirring, for 2-3 minutes to awaken the spices.
3. Add onions, carrots, tomatoes, salt (to taste), brown sugar, and cilantro. Cook for 3-4 minutes, add some water (to create as much sauce as you like), bring to boil, cover with lid, and transfer into 375F oven. Cook for 45 minutes until pork is tender.
4. It's the best served over rice.

   Man, is that flavorful or what? Such a warming and comforting dish that takes you right to Asia (I have no idea if it's a traditional Asian dish, but that's where it takes me!). A little bit hot and spicy, but just the right amount to awaken all your senses without making you sweat! You can make it with any meat, but somehow pork is really good in here and just makes sense!

Good luck,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Finger licking good!

   Well, to be honest it's not only finger licking good, but skillet/spoon/plate licking good... and if I dropped it on the floor...I'm afraid it would be floor licking good too (did I go too far?). I am talking about chicken liver pâté... oh, what are those looks for? It's not that bad, actually just opposite, it's amazing (the title)! Yeah I know it's hard for somebody who is not a fan of liver (if you could only see Justin's evil look that he gave me when I said I'm making it), but trust me, it's so smooth and flavorful and when you spread it on a crunchy slice of baguette - you will be in heaven! Even Justin enjoyed it, I'm not sure he was in heaven, but he ate a fair share of it! Here is the recipe:


*  2 lbs chicken livers
*  1 large onion, finely chopped
*  2 garlic cloves, minced
*  1 stick of butter (8 tbsp)
*  5 bay leaves
*  6 all spice berries
*  1/3 cup white wine
*  1/2 tsp ground thyme
*  salt and pepper


1. Clean chicken livers from excess fat and membranes. Rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.
2. In a skillet, melt 1 stick of butter and saute onions and garlic with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and all spice berries until cooked and soft (8-10 minutes).
3. Add cleaned livers and cook until brown, firm and completely cooked through (about 10 minutes).
4. Add white wine and cook for 5-6 minutes to reduce the liquid by half.
5. Remove bay leaves and all spice berries, transfer into a food processor and blend until smooth.
6. Transfer into ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for over night (or at least 4-5 hours).

   Call it poor man foie gra, I'll take it! It's so good! A little bit bitter, smooth, and creamy! I always eat it with bread or crackers, and a slice of dill pickle... I don't know what it is about this combination, but it just works. Try it... even Justin liked it!

Good luck,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dinner for two - part 3.

   Here comes the third, and the last part of our dinner - a dessert. After such a rich and heavy dinner all we wanted is a cup of coffee and a light, fruity dessert. There is nothing more perfect than mini, one-bite desserts, so that you can eat as much or as little as you want to. I made mini filo dough cups filled with a light cream and topped with fruit. You can use any fruit you like, but it just happened that I had a pomegranate at home and I thought it would look cool combined with kiwi. So here is the recipe:


*  10 sheets of filo dough
*  butter cooking spray
*  8 oz cream cheese, room temp.
*  1 orange flavored yogurt, room temp.
*  1 tbsp lime juice
*  4-6 tbsp powdered sugar (adjust to your own taste)
*  1 kiwi, chopped
*  pomegranate 


1. Gently place 1 filo sheet on a flat surface, spray with a cooking spray and cover with another dough sheet, gently pressing. Repeat it until all the sheets are stuck together.
2. Cut the dough into squares (2 inches big) and gently transfer into a mini muffin pan forming small bowls.
3. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
4. In a bowl combine cream cheese with yogurt, sugar and lime juice. Add as much sugar as you like (I prefer mine to be just lightly sweet).
5. Using a piping bag or a small spoon, fill the filo cups with cream cheese and top with pomegranate and kiwi (or any of your favorite fruits).

   Crunchy, creamy and fruity... a perfect finish to a great dinner.  Filo cups are so light and fragile, and they have a great crunchy bite to them. The cream is sweet and tangy and pairs great with a fruit... delicious. So that's it for our date-night dinner... I already can't wait for the next one.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dinner for two - part 2.

   After the delicious appetizer (which we snacked on while cooking the rest of our dinner), it's time for the main course! After my clue, I'm sure it's no surprise that we had a piece of rich and tender rib eye steak paired with a baked potato (fully loaded!) and an arugula and pear salad. There are a few reasons why we chose this dish as our date-night dinner. First, it's probably one of the most ordered dishes from a restaurant's menu, second Justin really wanted a "piece of meat", as he called it, and third, I got a brand new cast iron skillet for Xmas and I needed to try it out! So without further ado here are the recipes:

Baked potato:

*  2 large baking potatoes
*  1 tsp olive oil
*  2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
*  2 scallions, chopped
*  2 slices turkey bacon, diced and crisped
*  salt


*  2 large rib eye steaks, about 1 inch thick
*  steak seasoning (or just salt and pepper)


*  3 cups baby arugula
*  1 pear, thinly sliced
*  1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
*  1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
*  light raspberry vinaigrette dressing


Baked potatoes:
1. Wash and scrub potatoes under cold water. Pat dry with paper towel.
2. Pierce each potato with a fork all around in 1-inch intervals. Coat with olive oil, arrange on a baking rack and bake at 360F for 90 minutes.
3. Slip potatoes across with a knife, gently open up, sprinkle with salt and top with a spoon of a Greek yogurt, crisped bacon and scallions.

Steak (medium):
1. Take steaks out of the fridge and let them sit in room temperature for about 2 hours.
2. Pat dry, brush with a little bit of vegetable oil and season with a steak seasoning on both sides.
3. Preheat the oven to 500F and place the empty cast iron skillet inside to heat it up (for about 10 minutes). Transfer the skillet onto a hot stove, put steaks in it and cook for 2 minutes on each side (it will smoke like crazy, but it's all good!).
4. Transfer the skillet together with steaks back into a 500F oven and bake for 3 minutes. It's very important to stick to the exact times (if you want the steak to be medium), so that the steak is not overcooked
5. Transfer cooked steaks onto a plate, cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 8-10 minutes before serving.

1. Combine arugula with sliced pear and chopped pepper. Drizzle with the raspberry vinaigrette dressing (or any you like) and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

   Do you see the size of this steak? Thank God we ate it at home, because we had to unbutton our pants not even half way through it!  It's a very simple and rustic meal... and so American too! Wait until you see the dessert...

See you in a few days,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dinner for two - part 1.

   A couple of months ago, as an early New Year resolution (why wait till January), me and Justin started a new tradition - a fancy dinner for two at home! We still love to go out to a restaurant and have a nice dinner, but why not have a "date night" at home? I need some new and exciting dishes for my blog anyway, so why not stay at home, dress up, set up a nice table, open a bottle of wine (or two) and enjoy our date without crowds and noise (and without spending hundreds of dollars!). We turn off the TV, crank up our favorite music, light up few candles and enjoy our meal for as long as we want... and if we want to unbutton our pants after a huge meal... nothing stops us from doing so!
I decided to divide our recent date-night dinner into three posts: appetizer, main course and dessert, and today I present you with a mushroom and parsley roulade - this delicious appetizer that will win over your heart!


*  rectangular thin pizza dough
*  8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
*  1 medium onion, finely chopped
*  1/2 cup cream cheese
*  1 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
*  3 scallions, chopped
*  2 tbs olive oil
*  salt and pepper (lots of pepper)


1. In a skillet, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and saute onions and mushrooms with some salt and black pepper (I use at least a teaspoon of pepper).
2. When mushrooms are soft, transfer them into a bowl and add cream cheese, parsley and scallions. Mix well to combine.
3. Roll the pizza crust, cover with a remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and spread the mushroom and parsley mixture, leaving 1 inch border on one side (the longer one).
4. Roll the dough wrapping the filling inside. Cut into 1-inch slices, place on parchment paper covered baking sheet (cut side down) and bake at 425F for 10-13 minutes until edges are golden brown.

   Crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside... delicious. One of my favorite culinary combinations is mushroom and parsley... they are just perfect for each other! It could be a meal on itself, but don't forget to leave some space for a main dish... which I will post in a few days! Do you want a hint what it can be? Did you notice the steak knives on a table? I'm not saying anything else...

See you in a few days,