Pregnancy: The Continuing Story

Pregnancy Announcement-1-2 Thank you everyone for being so excited with us about our pregnancy! Sergi and I are completely overwhelmed by such an astounding flood of congratulations and warm comments. We did read ALL your comments and are so thankful for everyone who took the time to write and share in our happiness.

Announcing the Pregnancy to Our Families

The perfect opportunities to share our exciting news with our families came just a few weeks after our first visit to the doctor, where we finally confirmed that yes, indeed, we WERE pregnant…. 

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Big News! We’re Pregnant!

Surprise! Sergi and I are going to have a baby!

I am currently 15 weeks pregnant. The past few months have felt so surreal and incredible. It’s still hard for me to believe that I am writing this post.

12 weeks, 4 days pregnant at the time of this picture

12 weeks, 4 days pregnant at the time of this picture

I was actually almost 9 weeks pregnant when I took the home pregnancy test. After 7  years of not being able to conceive a child, it was something I didn’t really think about as a possibility anymore. Life was also extremely hectic at that time, so it really took us by surprise.

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Dill Pickle Spears

Dill Pickle Spears-1-9 The summer and fall at my parent’s house involved a lot of food preservation. It was almost like Little House in the Big Woods:). I absolutely loved it. My Mom would make jam from all the berries we picked, applesauce, apple chips and apple filling from the apples from our very own trees, and of course, she would pickle all kinds of things from the abundant garden supply.

I’m sure it was A LOT of work for her, but for me it was a beautiful sight to see. I loved watching her fill the jars with vegetables and then pouring the brine over them. The rows of colorful jars all filled and ready to go in the cellar always made me feel like we were really rich. I always secretly resonated with all the early settlers of America or even my own ancestors back in Belarus, who had to work so hard to make sure they had enough to feed their families throughout the long, harsh winters.

Of course, now we won’t starve if we don’t pickle our vegetables or store them in bins in the cellar. The shelves of our grocery stores are bursting with many varieties of whatever kind of food we could ever dream of. However, it’s still a lot cheaper to pickle your own food and the taste of homemade can’t even compare to store bought. You will never, ever taste store bought pickles that will even closely resemble home made pickles. I have always loved all kinds of pickled food, and the Slavic recipes are my absolute favorite…. 

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Yellow Rice

Yellow Rice-1-17 Rice is one of my favorite side dishes and I love serving it with many of the main courses that I cook up. It’s so quick, healthy and we love the taste too. I usually make some type of rice pilaf, keeping it plain or adding some garlic and parsley, or carrots and onions, etc. I have a really easy, foolproof recipe for perfect rice, and that is my go-to method. Since we live in Florida, we are also familiar with yellow rice, which is common in Spanish, Mexican, Latin American, etc. cooking. It’s served as a side dish in many local restaurants. Let me tell you, it has earned a praiseworthy reputation for a very good reason.

I used my basic rice recipe as the foundation of this dish and then added all the ingredients that I have loved whenever I tried this dish. This is by no means an authentic recipe, but my version of it. I love the flavors that are added to the rice by using 3 different types of peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices and herbs. Using chicken broth instead of water really adds another dimension of flavor to the rice as well. It’s very easy to make, looks stunning and reheats beautifully. … 

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Whole Roasted Striped Bass With Tomatoes and Herbs

Striped Bass With Tomatoe and Herbs-1-6 Roasting whole fish is probably one of the easiest, most beautiful and satisfying meals to prepare. This dish is not only a looker, but is astoundingly exploding with flavor in every bite.

When I recently went to a local seafood market and came home with two gorgeous striped bass, I really wanted to roast them whole, since that is one of my favorite fuss-free ways to prepare fish. Since I live on the west coast of Florida where we are surrounded by water, it only seems natural to enjoy lots of fresh seafood as often as possible. Not only is it extremely simple to prepare, but it always blows me away how tasty the fish always turns out. Isn’t it breathtakingly stunning too? It looks like it belongs on the menu of a fancy restaurant or on the covers of a magazine, but it came out of my cozy kitchen and was eaten on a regular Monday night by my husband and myself:).

The accompaniment of the tomatoes, shallots, garlic and herbs is absolutely spot on. As the fish and vegetables roast, they release a lot of juice and it creates a natural sauce to go along with the meal. Sergi and I dug right in and picked all the bones clean. We will be making this quite often in our household for sure…. 

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Cheese Tortellini With a Creamy Tomato and Spinach Sauce

Tortellini With Creamy Tomato Sauce-1-15 Recently, we spent a lot of time with our families, because one weekend my baby sister got married and the next weekend Sergi’s baby sister got married. It was wonderful to have a chance to reunite with family members, spend time together and celebrate some awesome events. Happy moments are always multiplied many times over if they are shared with loved ones.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out to have vacation while you have visitors, even though that would be so much better, so I had to get my creative juices flowing to come up with tasty dishes that would be enjoyed by a crowd, not too hard to make and taste delicious too. Besides, when there is family around, there are more important things to do than spend hours in the kitchen, like watching “Frozen” with my nieces, going to the park to grill, swimming at the beach, shopping and just lots of hours spent catching up.

This dish was a huge success. It seems that everyone loves cheesy pasta dishes in my family and with a creamy tomato sauce and spinach, it was completely devoured with lots of praise. Everyone agreed that I just had to recreate it and post it on the blog:).

The creamy, cheesy tortellini is a great option for easy dinners, and the sauce tastes so fresh and vibrant. If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of fresh tomatoes, use those instead of canned tomatoes, but since I don’t, I had to accept and embrace my limitations and the results were superb. The fresh spinach and herbs always elevate any dish that they are used in and a splash of cream makes any sauce so much better. This is also an awesome meal to make on busy family weeknights, and now that school is in full swing, I’m sure many of you can appreciate a simple recipe. … 

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Banana Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream-1-6 Can you believe it’s already September? This summer just really flew by. I’m sure those of you with children or who are going back to school yourselves really feel a big change at the beginning of each school year. For me, it simply means that the days will soon be cooling off and we will have perfect weather until next May. Yay! There are definitely perks to being a Floridian.

Since the beginning of a new school year means that most of you will be extra busy now a days, I though I would share a really easy dessert recipe that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately. I’ve always been a huge ice cream lover and it’s my dessert of choice most of the time. However, I can only have a tiny bit at a time, since I’m slightly lactose intolerant. Anyway, when I saw this recipe all over the internet, it seemed too good to be true. When I tried it one evening, both Sergi and I were amazed at how creamy, luscious and velvety is it. Give it a try. It’s especially nice when you have some spotty brown bananas on hand that you don’t know what to do with. … 

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Ricotta Crumb Bars

Ricotta Crumb Bars-1-13

As an introvert, I’ve always loved to spend time at home. There is nothing more comforting to me than relaxing in our “humble abode”, no matter what I might be doing – housework, cooking, cleaning, reading a good book while curled up on the couch, spending time with my husband or sipping a cup of tea while watching all the deer and turkeys paying us a visit in our yard.
Even though I love spending time with people, I’m definitely more comfortable in my bedroom slippers than in party shoes.
I think this dessert is just like me, very simple, homey and quiet. It doesn’t call attention to itself and isn’t very complicated or fancy. The delicious aroma of dessert baking in the oven adds another dimension of coziness to the atmosphere. Isn’t the scent of baking so magical?
I came across this recipe on a Russian recipe forum and it had such great reviews, I just knew it was something I had to try. Just from looking at the ingredient list, I knew that these bars would be something that I would make many times, and they’ve been a favorite of ours for several years now…. 

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Potato Pancake Appetizers

Potato Pancake Appetizers-1-7 We’ve been having so many parties lately, birthday parties, weddings, family reunions, housewarming party, etc. The past few months have been very eventful for both sides of our family. As usual, I browse through the Recipe Index and look for ideas of what to cook. I quickly noticed that the Appetizer section that I have here is very skimpy. Hmmm. I might have to work on that. I guess I’m one of the people that just can’t wait to dig in to the main meal:).

What could be more Belarusian than an appetizer based on a potato pancake? This one is absolutely delicious and as classic as it gets. The combination of the hearty pancake with the tang of the sour cream and the salty fish and fresh herbs is SO spot on. Every time I make these “appetizers”, I end up enjoying them as a main meal, because I just can’t get enough from a few bites. It could have something to do with how much I adore potato pancakes. Every once in a while, I do get a strong Slavic craving for herring too, and smoked salmon is a weakness of mine as well. As you can see, this recipe was just bound to come together at one point or another.

These would be perfect as a party starter, and really get your appetite going. You can also serve it as a light meal, with tea or even as a lunch option. If you’re feeling very festive, you can also use caviar instead of the fish or if you’re not a seafood appreciator, you can serve the pancakes with canadian bacon, prosciutto , or sautéed mushrooms…. 

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The Allium Family – Onions and Garlic

Onions and Garlic-1 Onions and garlic are the foundation of many flavorful dishes. Yes, they are collectively called the “allium” family, not the alien family:).

I use them in almost all the food that I cook. I love the homemade, hearty flavors that they give to food. Maybe it has something to do with my Slavic roots:). There are also many health benefits of of onions and garlic, and they have been proven to have antioxidant properties, that help protect your body against health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Since I like to use many varieties of onions in my recipes, I get many questions from all of you about what is a shallot, leek, etc., where to find it in the store and what can be substituted…. 

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