Two More Good Byes

This is just a short note giving you an update in my life behind the scenes.

This weekend we said good bye to Angel and Branden. It was an emotional good bye and a very dark and gloomy day for us. It’s hard to put into words all the feelings that we experienced and quite frankly, I just don’t want to talk about it much. IMG_1440

Marinated Assorted Vegetable Salad

Marinated Assorted Vegetable Salad-1-11Who else is always looking for easy, make ahead recipes for parties and entertaining? They are SO convenient, especially for when you want stress-free, simple recipes for the days that you are hosting a gathering of family and friends. This recipe fits every requirement: minimal prep work, very quick to make, can be made ahead of time and is always a big hit with guests.

My Mom and a bunch of my relatives have been making this Marinated Vegetable Salad Assortment for years and it’s a favorite for many good reasons. All the reasons that I already mentioned are really important, but the most important is taste, of course. I love how crunchy this salad is and so full of robust flavor and is vibrant and colorful.

Especially during the summer months when people are entertaining much more often, this salad is perfect to be added to your menu for the next bash. … 

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Vegetarian Borsch

Vegetarian Borsch-1-14As a young girl, I would find myself running barefoot to our family garden almost every day in the summers.  Since my Mom worked, I was the cook during summer vacations.

As the warm sun shined down on my ponytailed head, and I walked through the rows of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and herbs, I would look for inspiration of what to prepare on that particular day. Besides having all kinds of fresh salads every single day, I would try to make a dinner menu based on what we had in the house with the vegetables that were growing outside. Since I was too young to have a driver’s license, I didn’t have the luxury to stop by a grocery store for a random item or two. It was great exercise for the mind and preparation for my own future housekeeping. I loved it with all my heart.

One day, I brought back all kinds of vegetables to the house and realized that they all would come together in an awesome Borsch. Even though I knew that my Mom always started her Borsch with some sort of meat broth, either we didn’t have any meat to use on that particular day, or I wasn’t exactly sure how to it, I don’t remember, but I do know that I was really proud of myself when Dad and Mom came home from work and we all sat down to have dinner as a family and everyone praised me and just raved about how good the Borsch was.

I don’t know if it was really THAT good or they were just trying to be really nice to an uncertain teenager, but that is my first memory of making Borsch. Even though I do prefer to add meat to Borsch, like the first recipe that I posted, sometimes I do crave something a little bit lighter and fresher. … 

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Eggplant Parmesan

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I am just thriving this time of year on all the fantastic vegetables that are available everywhere. Eggplant Parmesan is a classic summer beauty that is absolutely out of this world delicious. 
It’s so hearty and filling and just bursting with summer flavors. This is definitely one of the vegetarian meals where you don’t miss the meat at all.
Whenever we have a family get together and my aunt and uncle are there, they like to treat us to Eggplant Parmesan. This is Mike’s specialty dish and he has taught all of us to make it too. Even my brothers make it for their wives. It has become a favorite with everyone and even though we make several full baking pans of Eggplant Parmesan, it is all gone with alarming speed.
Eggplant Parmesan is very versatile.  You can choose to bread the eggplant or not, you can slice the eggplant into rounds or into strips, you can add peppers and other vegetables or not. With tomato sauce and cheese, it all comes together in a very tasty meal. … 

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Roasted Tomato Sauce

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There are some staple recipes that you just have to have in your repertoire. Tomato sauce is one of them. Jarred tomato sauce is convenient, but making homemade tomato sauce is SUPER easy. This recipe is extra delicious, since the tomatoes are roasted, which gives them a big boost of caramelized flavor in addition to the flavors of fresh vegetables and herbs.

During the summer when the stores, farms and gardens are overflowing with gorgeous fresh produce, take advantage of the abundance of tomatoes and make some sauce; you will be amazed by the depth of flavor of homemade sauce.
I love that you can adjust the flavor of homemade food to suit your own liking. You can add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and a myriad of different herbs to the sauce. My favorite flavor combination is very simple – tomatoes, garlic, herbs and olive oil. It’s so yummy, I could just eat it with a spoon, and I sometimes I do just that:). It’s wonderful to have a few jars of your own homemade sauce on hand. You can use the sauce in so many different recipes, one of the most simple is with some pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on busy days, and all the way to Lasagna, Eggplant Parmesan, etc. … 

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Why I Chose a Gas Cooktop

Starting out with a clean slate in a kitchen is AWESOME! I’ve never had options when we lived in apartments for the past 8 years of our married life, since you just have to simply accept whatever is there and work with what’s available.

One question that I get asked surprisingly often is why I specifically chose a gas cooktop. Since this question keeps popping up, I decided to write this post to explain my line of thought and appease your curiosity:).Gas Cooktop-1-2… 

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Hearty Green Beans With Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

Green Beans With Mushrooms-1-10My very first blog post in my new kitchen! I can’t tell you enough how wonderful it feels to have a kitchen of my very own, and made specifically how I wanted it. It’s a dream come true. The kitchen is taking much longer to complete than we expected, but in the meanwhile, I’m so happy to be cooking again and I am loving my gas cooktop. I’ll write a whole blog post with all the details about our new kitchen once it’s completed, but for now, I’ll share the new recipes that I’m creating in this beautiful space.

Besides tomatoes, green beans are probably the most popular side dish with my husband and myself. We eat green beans in many different ways. They are so delicious, especially if cooked just right, so that the green beans are tender but still vibrant green and crisp. Pearl onions are so dainty and sweet, so they are perfect in this dish. With the addition of shallots, mushrooms and garlic, this is a very scrumptious combination of ingredients. Balsamic vinegar adds just the right amount of acidity and sweetness to give the whole dish a perfect balance of flavors. I could eat this as a main course with some rice. … 

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Cooking Without a Kitchen

As I promised in the previous post, today I am sharing my experience of cooking without a kitchen.

Our kitchen remodel got delayed and we were without a kitchen for more than a week. During the hot summer, Florida afternoons, it was quite a challenge, since the only area that was available to have a temporary kitchen setup was our sunroom, which does  not have air conditioning! It’s hot enough there as it is, but standing next to a hot skillet was almost like being in a sauna.

Cooking Without a Kitchen-1… 

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Moving Week Eats

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The moving truck in front of our old apartment building.

We are finally in our new home! Last weekend rushed by at breakneck speed and I am happy to announce that we survived.

Moving takes so much time and effort. My organized little mind does not like chaos, and the masses of boxes, stacked up possessions, disassembled furniture and just utter chaos at times have been driving me crazy. However, it also a huge motivation to get everything in order again and get settled in as soon as possible in our new home. I am so excited about getting my closets, drawers and every room organized again. My hands are just itching to get it all down right away.

In the meantime, food has been the last thing on my mind, but no matter how much I wanted to avoid it, we humans have this strange need to eat every day. It would be so much easier to just resume eating in a week, once everything is settled down again:). However, this is not the case. In fact, I think everyone was more hungry than usual, because we were all working so hard…. 

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Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake-1-16How many of you like to eat homemade desserts, but don’t like to spend too much time on the preparations? I’ll raise both hands.

The creator of the bundt cake and I would probably be kindred spirits. What a brilliant concept for a fancy presentation with minimal effort.

I make all kinds of bundt cakes: orange, lemon poppy seed, coffee cake, glazed and marbled. This is a Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake, from a recipe that I got from America’s Test Kitchen. I think that any time you add sour cream or buttermilk to batters it makes it 100 times better. This chocolate cake really rocks, and I am not a chocolaholic by any stretch of the imagination. I crave chocolate cake only a few times a year, and this one is the one of the few recipes that I will make. The chocolate cake is delicious all by itself; it’s so chocolaty, deep, rich and tender. I make this bundt cake a lot of times before work, when I don’t have a lot of time to fuss, but want to have something sweet in my lunchbox. Let me tell you, a slice of this Chocolate Cake with a cup of coffee really hits the spot sometime around 2 in the morning. It’s also something for me to look forward to in the beginning of my shift, when it’s usually really busy.

You can elevate this cake a notch by serving it with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and some fresh berries. That would be worthy of a special occasion. … 

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