Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

   So the girl from Poland gets to host the most American holiday ever - Thanksgiving! This day used to "belong" to my Mother-in-law, but since she passed away couple years ago, my husband and I decided to pick up the baton and continue the tradition. And let me tell you, it is not an easy task, because my Mother-in-law was an amazing cook and Thanksgiving dinner was her masterpiece. No pressure!!!
   Last year was the first time we hosted and it turned out pretty good, family was happy, food was eaten and everybody decided to come back this year (so I must have done something right!). One of my favorite dishes (well, who are we kidding, I love all of them equally) is stuffing! It's really easy and I make it the day before to save time on Thanksgiving day.


* 12 oz unseasoned cubed stuffing (I used Pepperidge Farm)
* 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 8 oz of mushrooms, chopped
* 4 celery stalks, chopped
* 1/2 cup water chestnuts, chopped
* 1 apple, chopped
* 1 cup dried cranberries
* 10-15 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
* 3 cups of chicken broth
* 2 eggs
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* salt and pepper


1. In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute chopped onions with a little bit of salt until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add Italian sausage and cook until no longer pink.

2. Add chopped celery and mushroom and cook everything for 5-6 minutes, stirring. Set aside and let it cool a little.

3. In a large bowl, combine water chestnuts, apples, cranberries and fresh sage. Add chicken broth and beaten egg, mix everything together.

4. Transfer cooled sausage mixture into the bowl with the rest of ingredients, add cubed stuffing, season with salt and pepper and mix everything until combined.

5. Transfer into greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for additional 15 minutes.

   Delicious! It comes out not too mushy, but not too dry. Sage makes it taste like holidays, cranberries and apples give it the right amount of sweetness and water chestnuts provide the crunch and texture! I always make a big batch to make sure that we have plenty of leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody,

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mac, cheese and veggies!

   Who doesn't like mac and cheese? I know I do and I could eat it all the time, and my boys (especially Justin) could eat it with me (but maybe not ALL the time)! I am always trying to change things up, add new ingredients or improve the taste (like it's necessary to improve the taste of mac&cheese!!!), so this time I decided to spruce it up a little bit with bunch of veggies... and kielbasa! It doesn't really make it "diet friendly" if that's what you were expecting, but it definitely removes some guilt while eating it... you are getting a serving of veggies after all and if you have seconds (I bet you will)... it's two servings of veggies!


* 10 oz of whole wheat macaroni pasta
* 1 package (13 oz) turkey Polska kielbasa, chopped
* 2 medium zucchini, chopped
* 2 cups cauliflower florets
* 4 tbsp butter
* 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
* 4 cups milk
* 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 tsp Dijon mustard
* 1/8 tsp nutmeg
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* salt and pepper


1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente (or until it has the texture your family likes). 4 minutes before the end of cooking, add cauliflower and cook together with pasta. Drain and set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in the pan, add kielbasa and cook for 5 minutes until it starts to brown. Add chopped zucchini and cook everything for additional 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a deep skillet, melt butter, add the flour and cook whisking for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to get rid of any lumps and cook for 5 minutes. Add cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook for additional 2-3 minutes (whisking).

4. Combine macaroni, cauliflower, kielbasa and sauce, mix everything together until sauce covers everything and ... enjoy!

   As you noticed I did not bake it in the oven as you normally would. It not only cuts down on time, but it also makes for much more creamy and moist mac and cheese, which I really like. If you want to make it vegetarian, you could obviously skip kielbasa, but I don't think Christopher would appreciate me doing so - kielbasa is his favorite food in the entire world!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Best sides!

   Today's post is about two "sophisticated" side dishes that are super easy, have only few ingredients and take no time to make. When I say "side dishes", I mean that for most people they would be on a side... for Christopher on the other hand, one of them is the main dish! When he sees the green potatoes, he refuses to eat anything else and just wants a bowl full of potatoes, spoon in his hand and he is good to go! The other one - glazed carrots, I could eat like candy (they actually taste almost like candy), but what I really like about this dish is that it takes exactly 5 minutes to make! Yes, that's right, five minutes and you have delicious side dish! So here they are: green (broccoli) potatoes that Christopher is addicted to and glazed carrots that will impress anybody with the flavor and simplicity!


* 3 large potatoes
* 3 cups broccoli, chopped
* 2 tbsp butter
* 2-3 tbsp cream cheese
* salt


1. Peel, wash and quarter potatoes. Put into cold salted water, bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for another 10-15 minutes until potatoes are soft.

2. Drain the water, add butter and cream cheese and mash until smooth. Season with salt if needed.

And for glazed carrots:


* 10 thin carrots
* 3 tbsp butter
* 1 tbsp agave nectar
* 1 tbsp lemon juice
* 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
* 1/3 cup pecans, chopped


1.  Peel and half carrots. In a sauce pan, melt butter, add carrots (cut side down) and cook for 3 minutes on high heat.

2. In a small bowl, combine agave nectar, lemon juice and ginger.

3. Flip carrots on the other side, add agave/lemon mixture, sprinkle with pecans and cook for 2 minutes.

   To be honest it's really hard to decide which one is better (not that you can't eat them together), but I think I might be with Christopher on this one (only because I have a potato addiction as well)! I was kind of making fun of him for wanting to eat just potatoes for dinner... but to be fair, I could totally do it too!


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Veni, Vidi, Vici - Ingredient No.4

   This one is out there, I'm not gonna lie! I've seen in on TV and I've heard about it for years, but I never though of using it myself... until this New Year resolution thing! Flour made out of crickets, or if you prefer more detailed description - pressure cooked crickets ground into a dust! Who is in?

   If you are still reading it, that means you are genuinely interested in my experience with the cricket flour, so here it is. The flour itself is a little bit denser and a little "coarser" than a regular flour, and has some kind of smell to it! I can't tell you if it smells good or just smells, lets leave it at that! It's also quite dark (see pic.). I saw recipes for muffins, cakes, cupcakes, but somehow I thought pancakes would be the easiest, the quickest and with only few ingredients we had a better chance to really taste the cricket flour. I chose ricotta pancakes, because I never made them before and also I thought that crickets might need some "carrier protein" to help out!


* 1 cup cricket flour
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* 2 eggs
* 3/4 cup milk
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 2 tbsp sugar
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
* zest from one lemon
* pinch of salt 
* cooking spray


1. Combine flours, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl and mix together.

2. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, ricotta, milk, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk everything until smooth.

3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix everything until combined.

4. Heat the pan on a medium heat, spray with a cooking spray, pour the batter (1/4 cup) in the middle of the pan and cook couple minutes on each side.

5. Best served with maple syrup, lemon juice and almonds.

   So here are the pancakes, looking good, but before I tell you how they tasted, you need to know that my husband, who refused to try them, ended up eating three of them in one sitting! Also, all my coworkers (well, all, but one) tried them... and some of them even took a second bite! I am surrounded by brave people! Oh and my son ate it too... but let's be honest, he had no idea what he is eating (not that knowing about crickets would stop him!).

   Anyways, going back to the taste... the best way to describe them is that they have this "healthy taste", if that's even a thing! They are dark, dense and everybody swore that they could feel some minor crunchiness (yikes!). They have a nutty (almost naughty) taste and smell, but turns out that if you smother them in syrup and lemon juice... you can barely notice it anymore. In conclusion, as the title suggest... it's a kind of thing that you want to try at least once, to either concur your fears or to satisfy your curiosity, but somehow I am not planning on making more of those.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Easy like Sunday... afternoon!

   Sunday dinners are very different nowadays compared to the ones I grew up with. In my house (and probably majority of houses), Sunday dinners were lavish, fancy(ish) and took quite some time to prepare. There was always a soup as a starter, followed by a second course (meat, potatoes and salad) and a dessert. I loved it then and I would still love it today if ... somebody would cook it for me! It's not that I don't like or don't want to make it... it's just that we are never home on Sunday afternoon. We are usually at the park or in the ZOO or on the road trip... we leave right after Christopher's nap and we come back right before dinner, so there is no time to cook a three-course meal. Usually we stop at the restaurant, get a takeout, or I cook something quick... like today's dish - roasted vegetables. They are super versatile and you can pair them with things like rotisserie chicken (picked up on the way from the store), some fish (cooks in minutes), or my personal favorite, an over medium egg with the runny yolk oozing over veggies.


*  3 medium sweet potatoes
* 3 medium baking potatoes
* 6 carrots
* 1 large onion
* 3 cups of broccoli florets
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tsp dry rosemary
* salt and pepper


1. Peel vegetables and chop them into bite size pieces making sure that all vegetables are similar size.

2. Transfer veggies into a large bowl, add olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and using your hands toss everything together until completely coated.

3. Spread everything on the large baking sheet to create a single layer and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

   Delicious! I love the caramelization on the side that touches the pan, I usually don't move or shake the pan, just so it can brown some more. If you want to "change things up" you can use a different herb each time, rosemary happens to be my favorite, but I also use thyme, basil or dill... they are all delicious.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Easter!

   Happy Easter Everybody!

   Today will be a short post and a short recipe. Short post - because I want to go back to enjoying the Easter with my family as soon as possible and short recipe - because I already cooked bunch of delicious, traditional Polish Easter dishes, so I decided to use a shortcut for the dessert and made some carrot cupcakes using a store-bought cake mix! Yes that's right, you don't always have to harvest your own grain to make your own flour to make a cake from scratch... these cupcakes are still home made and delicious, just a little "easier" and quicker to make!


* Decadent Carrot Cake Mix, Duncan Hines
* 3 eggs
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil

* 2 boxes (8oz each) cream cheese, room temp.
* 3/4 cup powder sugar
* 2 tbsp lime juice
* food coloring
* egg-shaped M&M's 


1. Prepare cake mix and bake cupcakes according to the instructions on the box . Let them cool completely.

2. In a mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar and beat for 4-5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add lime juice and beat for 1 extra minute.

3. Separate into two bowls and few drops of different food coloring to each bowl and mix until combined.

4. Frost the cupcakes and decorate with egg-shaped candy.

   Christopher had so much fun making and decorating the cupcakes... or I should say he had fun eating the candy and going crazy on the sugar rush 15 minutes later!!! Justin and I decided to join him, so we ate a couple and then we all ran around the house singing "Let it go... let it go...".

Happy Easter,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Soup again!

   I almost started the post with saying that it's been a while since I posted soup recipe... and then I scrolled down and saw the pozole! Then I thought that at least it's been a while when I used mushrooms as my main ingredient.... and then I scrolled down and saw bunch of recipes with mushrooms! So guess what's on the menu today? Yes, you are right, mushroom soup! It's kind of "springy" soup with mushrooms, veggies and chicken, so it's perfect timing since we just welcomed the Spring. I wish somebody told the weather that Spring came, but than again, it's even better timing since the temperatures outside are very "soupy"! Here is the recipe:


* 16 oz mushrooms, chopped
* 4 celery, chopped
* 3 carrots, chopped
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 3 tbsp butter
* 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
* 1 cup sour cream
* salt and pepper


1. In a large skillet, melt butter and add onions, celery, mushrooms and carrots. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add chicken broth, season with salt and pepper (if needed) and cook for additional 15 minutes.

3. Combine sour cream with half a cup of boiling soup and mix to combine. Add the mixture to the soup, bring to boil and remove from the heat.

   Very light and very delicious (to be honest, most soups are delicious to me). You can use any kind of vegetables you like, it just happened that I had those in the fridge and it turned out they really pair well with mushrooms.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ingredient No. 3!

   What, it's already March?! How did that happen? I understand that February is a little bit shorter than other months, but come on.... we just celebrated Valentine's Day not so long ago! Anyways, I'm a little behind with my "new ingredient a month" project (since I still live in February!), but I'm gonna make it up now. This month's ingredient might not be "exotic", it's something that many of you use every single day, but for some reason I've never cooked with it. Tomatillos - green vegetables that resemble unripe tomato in a husk. I think they are actually called "Mexican husk tomatoes".


   When I was searching for some interesting recipes, I saw a lot of tomatillo salsas and sauces, but I wanted something more than that, something different (not that there is anything wrong with salsa!). And then I found it: Green Pozole, made with chicken, tomatillos (duh!), hominy and herbs - it sounded delicious, it looked delicious... and it turned out delicious! 


* 1 lb tomatillos
* 2 lbs chicken thighs
* 2 (15 oz) can hominy
* 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
* 4 garlic cloves, sliced
* 4 oz sunflower seeds
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 cup fresh cilantro
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tbsp vegetable oil
* lime
* salt

Garnish (optional)

* red onion, sliced
* radishes, sliced
* cilantro


1. Bring about 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add 1/2 chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, bay leaves, and some salt. Cover the pot, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

2. Add the whole chicken thighs and cook gently (uncovered) for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool a little. Strain the broth and set it aside for later.

3. In a food processor or grinder, grind sunflower seeds until they form fine powder. Set aside.

4. In a pot, heat 3 cups water with remaining 1/2 onion, tomatillos, cilantro and oregano. Cook covered for 10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Discard the cooking liquid and place the cooked veggies into a standing blender, add remaining garlic and blend everything until smooth.

5. In a Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil, add the pureed veggies (be careful as it will splatter) and cook the sauce uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the ground sunflower seeds and 1 cup of the broth reserved from cooking the chicken, stir and cook another 5 minutes.

6. Shred the chicken and add it to the sauce together with the hominy and the remaining broth (add as much as you like - depending on the thickness you want to achieve). Season with salt to taste and simmer everything for additional 5-10 minutes.

7. Serve in a bowl with sliced radishes, red onions and lime juice (you can also add avocado).

   What a cool dish! I am definitely going to make it more often (especially that my boys loved it too). It's super filling and hardy, but light and fresh at the same time. The bright and crunchy garnishes make it even "fresher". You can garnish it with all the things I mention or you can just mix and match, but if my two year old loved all of them (even the red onion!!!) you should definitely give it a try!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

For the Love of Grain!

   I love all sorts of grains! There was a very short period of my life, few years ago, when I was being tested for potential gluten allergy (long story!) and all I could think of is that I won't be able to eat my beloved grains! Wheat, barley, rye... I just can't live without them and the thought that I might not be able to eat them was pretty scary. Thankfully gluten allergy was eliminated and I could go back to enjoying my bowl of buckwheat! Since Justin and Christopher also like different grains (which makes me super happy) I cook them very often, either as a side dish or casseroles or in the soups. This time I made a farro side dish for some chicken and just to make sure that nobody will skip their veggies (I'm looking at Justin here), I added some here - it made the dish much more delicious and it made the veggies harder to avoid!


* 1 cup quick cook farro
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 large carrots, shredded
* 16oz mushrooms, chopped
* fresh parsley
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* salt and pepper


1. Cook farro in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute onions with a pinch of salt for 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

3. Add farro, mix until combined and garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

   Grains and mushrooms - some of my favorite ingredients! I could probably just eat this dish on its own, nothing else needed, it's so good. The crunch from farro, the earthiness from mushrooms, the sweetness from carrots and the freshness from parsley - that's all you need in a perfect dish!


Friday, February 12, 2016

Magic of social media!

   Have you seen those short cooking videos on Facebook or Instagram? I am absolutely addicted to them, to the point that I am obsessively checking my phone every five minutes to see if there is a new video! Some dishes look more interesting than others, but I really love the ones that are very simple and use only few ingredients. This recipe (below) of what I call "Savory Mini Monkey Breads" is one of my favorite dishes I've seen on social media. It's quick, semi home made (store-bought dough), it has only few ingredients, you only need one bowl to prep it (and a muffin pan)... and it's so easy, the monkey could do it (I think that's where the name came from)! Oh, and each time you make it, you can use different "flavorings" to change it up!


* 2 boxes of Pillsbury Grands!® Flaky Layers Original Biscuits
* 1/2 stick of butter, melted
* 1 tbsp garlic powder
* 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
* 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


1. Cut all the biscuits into 4 pieces. Put in the bowl.

2. Add  melted butter, garlic powder, parsley and cheeses. Toss everything gently with your hands and transfer into the muffin pan (5-7 pieces into each muffin).

3. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes.

   One bad side of the dish is... that my boys refused to eat anything else for dinner and just stuffed there monkey faces with the monkey breads! I guess it's a compliment to the chef, so I shouldn't complain! 


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Game On!

   Looking for a last minute idea for a snack to enjoy during the Big Game? We all know everybody (us included) is going to have wings, guacamole and deli platters, but how about something to substitute potato chips with? It's only February, so I bet most people are still sticking to their New Year's resolutions and are looking for "healthier" snacks that are not necessarily carrots or celery sticks.  Roasted garbanzo beans - they are full of protein, they are super crunchy and you can create any flavor profile you like - sweet, salty, mild or spicy! My spice mix turned out to be awesome and I highly recommend it!


* 2 (15 oz) cans of garbanzo beans
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp five spice 


1. Wash and drain garbanzo beans. Put them on the paper towel and pat them dry.

2. Put dry beans in the bowl, add olive oil and spices and mix together until everything is evenly coated.

3. Spread them into a single layer on the baking sheet and bake at 400F for 45 minutes, shaking the pan every 15 minutes.

    Roasting time depends on what you are looking for - if you would like them to be hard and crunchy, add  extra 5 minutes; if you like them softer, 40 minutes is probably all you need. They turned out really good and every time I look at my boys their jaws are moving... I'm not sure if we will have any left for the actual game if they keep "sampling" them like that!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

New ingredient, part 2!

   I am a huge fan of mushrooms... any kind, any preparation, any amount!!! In Poland we pick our own mushrooms straight from the woods (yes, that's right!) and we cook them as fresh as can be! And yes, we know exactly which one to pick and which one to stay away from... it's just one of our "Polish skills" that we are born with! I triad hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms (probably exaggerating here a little bit), but somehow I never tried Enoki mushroom... so thanks to my new year's resolution I have a perfect opportunity to do so.

   I was looking for some interesting recipes featuring Enoki, but since I didn't find anything that was "satisfying" enough, I decided to create my own.  I took the inspiration from Japanese cuisine and created a miso-ginger soup with Enoki and tofu.


* 4 cups ginger miso broth (Trader Joe's)
* 15 oz fresh Enoki mushrooms
* 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
* 4 oz extra firm tofu
* 4 green onions, chopped
* 2 tbsp butter


1. Cut roots of the Enoki mushrooms, at least 2-3 inches from the end. In the small pen, melt butter and fry half of the mushroom for 6-7 minutes until golden brown, set aside.

2. Wrap tofu into 2-3 paper towels and squeeze excess water. Cut into small cubes.

3. Boil miso-ginger broth, add remaining mushrooms, spinach and chopped onions (leave some for garnish) and cook everything for 5 minutes.

4. Add tofu and cook for 4-5 minutes.

5. Pour into bowls, garnish with fried mushrooms and green onions.

   The broth is delicious - super flavorful and comforting, while fresh and light. The Enoki mushrooms are a great substitute for noodles, they are a little bit chewy and have a "bite" to them - just like noodles but without all the extra carbs and calories.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our Baby is two!

   I can't believe it, but it's true, Christopher just turned two (I swear, this rhyme was not intentional)! He is super funny, has strong opinions and lots to say, he loves to sing ("Let it go, let it go...") and loves to dance. He is really into cooking and baking, he always wants to help in the kitchen, he knows how to grate veggies, he can operate the KitchenAid mixer (supervised!) and he can "measure" dry ingredients (that does NOT mean that all the ingredients are getting into the bowl!)... basically what I am trying to say is that he is one awesome kid! So for his birthday we both made a hazelnut birthday cake with a Nutella frosting and chocolate glaze! He might only be two years old, but he already made his own birthday cake... and then ate a huge piece of it, but it's a different story.
Here is the recipe:

Cake Ingredients:

* 7 oz hazelnuts, grated
* 1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
* 2 sticks of butter, room temp.
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 5 eggs
* 5 tbsp milk
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* pinch of salt
* 1 tbsp cocoa powder
* 1 tsp cinnamon


* 2 sticks of butter, room temp.
* 7 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp. 
* 1/3 cup powdered sugar
* 1 cup Nutella

Chocolate glaze:

* 10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1 tbsp light corn syrup


1. Using a mixer beat together butter and sugar until smooth, about 5 minutes.

2. Slowly add eggs, vanilla extract and milk and mix for additional 2-3 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients (including nuts) and slowly add to the batter. Beat together for 2-3 minutes until combined.

4. Pour batter into two 9-inch, round, greased pans and bake at 350F for 30-35 min, until toothpick comes out dry. Transfer onto drying rack and let them cool completely (preferably overnight).

5. To make the frosting, combine butter, mascarpone and sugar and beat in the mixer for 5 minutes. Add Nutella and mix for additional 1 or 2 minutes until smooth.

6. Spread frosting between the cake layers, on the top and on the edges.

7. To make the glaze, combine chocolate chips and butter in glass bowl and microwave in 30 seconds intervals stirring after each time until melted completely, smooth and runny. Add corn syrup and pour over the cake immediately allowing the glaze to run down the sides to completely cover the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the glaze to set.

The cake was a hit! The birthday boy enjoyed a huge piece (so as his shirt and table and floor) and demanded another piece the second he woke up the next day (luckily we have enough to last us for ever).

   One very important piece of advice: do not forget about the cake while it's in the oven! Yes, that happened! We were playing with Christopher's train and the cake might have baked for few minutes more that it should... but it all turned out awesome and moist and delicious!

Happy Birthday My Little Man!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Power plant!

   No, not the power plant you are thinking about... I'm thinking about the plant that everybody is talking about recently and is considered a super food, apparently with some super powers! Normally, kale would not be my first choice as a green component of a salad, but I started using it more and more for two reasons: 1) it's one of the most nutritious leafy vegetables and 2) it is getting a little bit boring to always use lettuce or spinach. Everywhere I look, I see those extravagant, colorful and innovative ways to plate your salad, so I wanted to have a fancy lunch myself and I created my own kale salad extravaganza! Recipe below makes salad for one person:


* 1.5 cups baby kale
* 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash (recipe below)
* 1/2 cup shelled edamame
* 1/2 apple, chopped
* 4 grape tomatoes, halved
* 1 cooked egg
* 2 tbsp chopped red onions
* 1oz goat cheese, crumbled
* 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette


1. Roasted butternut squash: peel and dice one small butternut squash, coat with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet at 400F for 20-25 minutes until tender.

2. To assemble the salad, combine all ingredients, toss together with the dressing and enjoy!

   I would add some baked chicken or turkey breast, to be honest. I didn't have any in the fridge and I was to hungry to cook/buy one (well, actually I had some until Justin ate it before I got to it!!!), but I think it would be a good addition, especially that it was my entire lunch.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pantry cleaning

   I'm sure we've all done it... looked into the pantry to see if we can create a dish out of things that are in there. I, personally, do it very often - it's cheap, it's convenient, and it's exciting - it allows me to "express" my creativity in the kitchen (and clean the pantry a little). Some times I look at the result of this "pantry creation" and I think to myself: what the heck was I thinking with this combination, but most of the time I am pretty pleased with the dish. Usually I am able to create something with only ingredients I find in my fridge and pantry (makes me so proud of myself), but sometimes I need an extra thing or two. This time I had to buy some peppers, but I was able to stuff them with things I already had on hand. They turned out great and extra bonus - they are diet and healthy eating friendly. The recipe serves 6 dieters following the New Year's resolution or 3 people who just want to enjoy their dinner without starving!


* 3 large red peppers
* 1 lb lean ground turkey
* 3/4 cup quick pearl barley
* 1 15oz can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
* 1 15 oz can green pigeon peas, rinsed and drained
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 3 tbsp shredded sharp cheddar
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* salt and pepper


1. Cook barley in excess salted water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute onions with a pinch of salt until translucent (5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

3. Add ground turkey and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add drained diced tomatoes and pigeon peas, season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cook everything for additional 5 minutes.

5. Add drained barley and mix until everything is combined.

6. Cut peppers in half, clean the seeds and fill with the barley mixture. Arrange on the baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

   If you don't have pigeon peas, you can use black beans (or any other beans for that matter), I just happened to have few cans of those (they are Christopher's favorite), so I used them. Another tip for this recipe is that you can use more cumin powder for bolder flavor, but I wasn't sure what my two-year old thinks about cumin yet, so I went lighter on it - he loved it!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Resolution!

   It's that time of the year again - time for the New Year's Resolutions! This year I decided to ditch the usual "losing weight" crap, I never follow through with it anyways, and I decided to be adventurous and think outside the box. My 2016 resolution is... drum roll please.... once a month I will cook with the ingredient I've never cooked before!!! How about that? It doesn't necessarily have to be something I've never ate before, given my love of food and willingness to try anything, this might be difficult. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of exotic ingredients I haven't tried yet, but they might be difficult to get and I refuse to drive 2 hours to the specialty store to get some live cobra hearts (yes, that's right, I would totally try it)!!! So I decided to go with things I never personally cooked with in my kitchen!
To kickstart the new trend, I bought some... persimmons.

   I don't know how that happened that I've never tried them before, but somehow I always thought they would be mushy and melon-like (I do not like melons)! Well, I was wrong,  they are firm, sweet and delicious... and we are slowly getting addicted to them. I found some interesting recipes for cakes and desserts, but I figured persimmon salad might be the good way to start the new year!


* 1 lb Brussels sprouts
* 1 large persimmon, sliced and cut into pieces
* 1 pomegranate
* 1/2 cup dried blueberries
* 1/2 cup pecans, chopped


* lemon juice, from 1 lemon
* 2 tbsp honey
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
* pinch of salt


1. Using a mandolin, thinly slice Brussels sprouts and transfer into the bowl.

2. Add pomegranate seeds, persimmon, blueberries and pecans.

3. Combine all ingredients of the dressing and mix well until smooth. Add to the salad, combine and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

   Delicious! Sweet, sour, savory, crunchy and a little bit chewy (blueberries) - all flavors and textures on one plate. We paired it with some citrus baked salmon and it was a hit! So it's official now, my first experiment with new ingredients was a success!

Happy New Year,