Chicken Caprese Wraps

Chicken Caprese Wraps-1-4 I didn’t really consider sharing this recipe here, since it seemed TOO simple, and is not really a recipe, but more of an idea. However, it dawned on me one day as I was making myself this wrap for the umpteenth time,  that something this tasty just has to be shared and enjoyed by others too. Who am I to hog deliciousness like this all to myself? Yes, it is my obligation to bring this amazing wrap to your attention.

I’ve been working in hospital settings since I was 18 years old. When I was in college getting my nursing degree, I also had a job as a Nurse’s Aid/Unit Secretary, first of all to earn money and second of all to get more hands-on experience in the nursing field. One thing I can definitely vouch for is that hospital cafeteria food is not exactly a gourmet experience. Succumbing to cafeteria food becomes part of your identity as a medical worker; it’s the topic of conversation – “What do they have to offer tonight?” or “Does anything look remotely decent?”  However, even in such settings, some gems can be found. That’s where I first fell in love with wraps. It was the one meal that I actually enjoyed with a nice side of crunchy pretzels.

Since then, I love trying out different combinations of ingredients in wraps. Hospital wraps were fairly simple, but this Chicken Caprese Wrap is prize-worthy. Chicken, soft, creamy mozzarella and juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil with olive oil and balsamic vinegar as the dressing and all of that encased in a soft, thin tortilla. You can play it up with other flavor combinations and different ingredients, such as avocado, bell peppers, roasted red peppers, lettuce, etc. There is nothing cafeteriash about this wrap – it’s headed for the hall of fame. … 

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Almond Cookies

Almond Cookies-1-8 Whenever we bake sweets for the holidays or special occasions, my Mom and sisters like to satisfy the cravings of as many family members as possible. On Christmas, Mom makes sure to bake every single person’s favorite cookie. I know, she’s awesome. It’s always nice when you can please as many people as possible with one cookie, instead of having to bake several varieties.

These Almond Cookies happen to be a favorite among the men folk. My Dad, both my brothers, both brother-in-laws and my husband all devour these cookies when they are made. In fact, they are usually one of the first cookies to be completely demolished. Whenever we visit my parents in New York, Mom makes sure to pack us along some treats for the road, front he abundance of goodies that she make while we are visiting. One year, as she was packing us a variety of different cookies, Sergi asked if there were any more Almond Cookies left. There weren’t. My little sister, Karina, happened to hear from the corner of her ear (that’s a Russian expression all the way!) and while we were packing our car, she quickly whipped together a batch of these cookies. She is so thoughtful and sweet. Of course, there was no need to bake us cookies, but she just wanted to surprise Sergi with a treat, and we were definitely surprised and very touched. She and Sergi are really close; can you tell?

I’ve had many requests for this recipe, so I finally took the time to do it. The cookies are so easy to make, and the resulting chewy, very almondy treats are great for any occasion, whether it’s a regular Tuesday, a holiday or party. You can also make the cookie dough ahead of time. How’s that for convenience?

Recipe from allrecipes.com

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Holiday Preparations – Easter Ideas

With Easter right around the corner, holiday preparations are in full swing. Whether you will be hosting Easter brunch or dinner in your home or attending the holiday gathering as a guest and are bringing something to share for the meal, many of us are scouring the internet for great ideas.

I’ve put together a Pinterest board with some gems that have caught my attention. Pinterest is such a great tool, I use it all the time. There are so many great menu ideas, brunch, entree dinner options, side dishes and beautiful desserts. I also found many beautiful decorating ideas and table settings.

Easter Pinterst Board copy … 

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Apple and Blueberry Cheesecake Crepes

Apple, Blueberry Cheesecake Crepes-1-16 Dessert has a lot of responsibility weighing on its shoulders. Dessert is the punctuation to a meal. It’s the last thing people eat and the taste will linger until the next meal. If you want a stunning and exquisite dessert that doesn’t take all day to make and every pot and pan in your pantry, you’ve just got to make crepes.

The crepes are thin and delicate with an amazing combination of flavors and textures. The creamy cheesecake-like filling has a zesty lemon flavor that starts to melt when it’s paired with the warm, buttery and saucy apples. Let’s not forget the bursts of fresh and juicy blueberries that round out each luscious bite. I know this sounds like it could go on the menu of a 5 star restaurant, but you can make it for dinner on a regular Thursday to make any family mealtime extra special…. 

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Sausage, Peppers and Broccoli Pasta

Sausage, Peppers and Broccoli With Pasta-1-9 Necessity is the mother of invention. Thus was the creation of this dish. A few years ago on a very busy night, I needed a very quick dinner option, and this is what I came up with.

I’m always craving veggies, and this dish has plenty of them. Any dish with sausage has a tendency to be heavy, but in this case, the vegetables and the light broth really lighten it up. Adding fresh tomatoes at the end is one of my favorite ways to add a note of freshness to a pasta dish, in addition to the fresh herbs. You can use any kind of pasta for this meal. Angel hair happens to be one of my favorites:).

Now that I have two very small little boys to take care of, time is very precious. Playing in the kitchen is limited, unless it’s the weekend and my husband can take over babysitting, but by then, I usually just want to relax or go have some fun:). Anyway, I sure am glad that I have a bunch of easy recipes in my repertoire for baby days…. 

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Braised Chicken With Vegetables

Braised Chicken With Vegetables-1-11 The taste of homemade cooking never gets old does it?

It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s possible to get tired of homemade food. We may get sick of cooking (he he) but not the actual food. I think I appreciate homemade food the most after a road trip. I enjoy eating out as much as the next person, but it’s always such a comfort to indulge in simple home cooking.

I’m writing this after working a 12 hour night shift and I have to go back to work tonight too. I’m especially thankful that I made enough of the Braised Chicken and Vegetables yesterday, and today all I have to do is heat it up. This kitchen wonder is a one dish meal, and has so many terrific flavors going on. You can serve this dish as a stew or as an entree and either way, it definitely has the satisfying flavors of home cooking in every bite. … 

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Ponchiki – Russian Donuts – Творожные Пончики

Ponchiki - Russian Donuts-1-8 Ponchiki are a walk down memory lane for me. My Mom used to make them quite often when I was a little girl. I just happened to have some farmer’s cheese in my refrigerator and this was the perfect recipe to use it in. Sergi and I couldn’t stop eating them. They turned out even better than I remembered. Golden and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside, these Ponchiki are absolutely perfect.

I actually avoid frying as much as I can. Not only because of the health issues, but because I just hate messing with frying. However, this recipe is absolutely worth it. It only takes about 20 minutes total for the whole process, from mixing the batter to gazing at the puffy, golden Ponchiki lying in a delicious jumble on a plate. You won’t be gazing at them for long though, because you won’t be able to resist taking a bite. … 

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Puffy Omelet

Puffy Omelet-1-6 It has been almost 18 years since I first tried this omelet.

The scene: Dad at home with 5 kids. Mom in the hospital after giving birth to our last sibling. We were all so excited! We were old enough to understand the joy of a new baby and couldn’t wait to bring her home.

The reality: The five children needed to eat and Dad just didn’t really have any cooking experience. Mom’s cookbooks to the rescue. He found a doable recipe, read the instructions on making an omelet and started whisking the ingredients together.

I was almost 10 at that time, and having watched Mom in the kitchen creating delicious masterpieces many, many times, I thought I knew a thing or two about cooking. It was weird enough seeing Dad in the kitchen, but his technique just didn’t look right at all. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and say something, but I had serious doubts that it would be edible. I had never seen Mom make an omelet in the oven, and frankly, the egg mixture looked WAY too runny. Dad didn’t know any better, he just nonchalantly continued with the recipe instructions.

The verdict: Half an hour later, we were all enjoying a puffy, scrumptious omelet that DID turn out perfectly, much to my  relief.

Give this recipe a try. It couldn’t be any easier, and it tastes like you’re eating a fluffy omelet cloud. I added a bit of toasted breadcrumbs for a crisp texture and parsley for a fresh flavor boost. … 

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Frugal Tips From An Immigrant Part 2

Buying lettuce whole is much cheaper than the bagged salad mixes.

Buying lettuce whole is much cheaper than the bagged salad mixes.

In the first part of this post, I wrote about some of the frugal tips that I observed in my parents, grandparents and other immigrants. As I wrote in the first post, I know many multigenerational Americans who use many of these tips as well, while many immigrants are not frugal at all. This is just a general observation. Today, we continue the topic. Let’s get to the second part of Frugal Tips From An Immigrant. … 

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Quick and Simple Meat Sauce For Pasta

Quick Meat Sauce For Pasta-1-9 I’m becoming an expert at perfecting simple and quick dinner options.

Most days, I have to work quickly, to get as much work as possible done during the nap time of my two little guys. I’m not sure what I get more excited about – getting them to nap at the same time or getting dinner done in one session, instead of having to stop and start several times to attend to the one that is crying for attention at that moment. Although when I reach success and have two napping babies and dinner ready to go for when my husband comes home and before I have to go to work at night, I sometimes feel that it’s nothing short of a miracle:).

A quick meat sauce to serve with pasta is a hearty but not heavy dinner option. It’s also especially nice, since you can make a large enough portion to have leftovers and not have to cook the net day. It also freezes very well, so all you have to do is defrost the sauce, heat it up and serve it with pasta…. 

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