Beef, Shiitake, and Green Bean Stir Fry

Beef, Shitake and Green Bean Stir Fry-1-24 Sergi and I both really enjoy green beans and I serve them as a side dish almost every week. I decided to make them the star in a beef stir fry, which just happens to be my favorite protein to use. With just a few other simple ingredients, this dinner is just chock-full of flavor.

Stir frys hardly take any time at all to be cooked. Cutting and preparing all the ingredients takes more time than the actual cooking process, and since there aren’t that many ingredients, you can be sure that this dinner should be to on your menu for busy days. One of my biggest time savers is to cut up all the ingredients in advance and then it all comes together so quickly. The flavors are spot on and 50 times better than any take out you can ever get. … 

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Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole

Chicken, Mushroom and Buckwheat Casserole-1-15 As a girl with strong Slavic roots, I grew up eating buckwheat and I still love coming up with different recipes that will incorporate this nutty, flavorful and very nutritious grain. Even though my favorite way to enjoy buckwheat is as a kasha with mushrooms, I wanted to come up with a way to make it into an entree. Cooking the entree and the side dish at the same time is such an awesome idea. Not only do you save time, but there are less dishes to wash.  I can appreciate that for sure. 

I made this dish many months ago when I was still pregnant, and my husband and I both loved it so much, I knew I had to share it with all of you. The fluffy buckwheat groats are flavored with both dry and fresh mushrooms, which is a match made in heaven, in my opinion. I topped the buckwheat with juicy, lean chicken and it’s all baked together under a golden, cheesy crust.

You can even assemble it ahead of time and then just finish baking it in the oven. That’s especially convenient for Sunday dinners, when we come home from church hungry, but don’t want to spend hours preparing a meal. Of course, there are plenty other days of the week where a prepped dinner is such a life saver. … 

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Pasta with Artichokes, Fennel and Onions

Fennel and Artichoke Pasta-1-32 Sometimes, I like challenging myself to play the “pantry game”. I like to spend at least one week per month, not buying anything new, but using up whatever I have. This can seem a little bit depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s actually a lot of fun to see how creative and resourceful you can be. The trick to saving money on groceries is to have fewer trips to the grocery store. Not only will you save money, but you will also save so much time. With a well stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry, you can go for a few weeks without having to go to the grocery store, as long as you plan well. One of my favorite tricks is to use up perishable ingredients first, leaving the ingredients that will stay fresh longer to be used during the later weeks. You can cook many delicious dinners that will not make you feel as poor as a church mouse. You can create many ingenious dinners that taste really fresh and even gourmet.

I’m always well stocked up on pasta of all shapes and sizes. Adding vegetables to a pasta dish is a very easy way to make it more interesting and add lots of flavor. You can keep canned baby artichokes in your pantry for dinners just like this one, or you can even use frozen artichokes instead. Fennel, onions and garlic are pantry ingredients that will stay good for weeks without spoiling, so they are the perfect ingredients to add fresh flavor.

Roasting vegetables gives them such a great caramelized and savory taste. Adding the roasted vegetables along with all the aromatics to the pasta creates a really memorable meal that even looks and tastes fancy. Crunchy and golden breadcrumbs add even more interesting taste and texture and fresh herbs is another trick that I like to use to make any dish fresh. Do you want to know how to store fresh herbs so they will last longer? I’ve got you covered.

Ever since I had the baby and we came back home from the hospital, I’ve not been feeling well enough to leave the house much. Besides, all my tubes, IVs and other medical equipment make it extra difficult. My husband does almost all the grocery shopping and I’ve only been to a grocery store once, which I deeply regretted on the way home:). Meals like this one are especially appreciated during times like this. Even when I’m perfectly healthy, meals like this are very convenient for unexpected company, extra busy times or when you just don’t have the energy for something really time consuming. … 

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Enjoying Our Time At Home

Recuperating at Home-1-35

“Home is the nicest word there is.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’ve been home from the hospital for a week and a half and let me tell you, there’s no place like home. It’s wonderful to be in the midst of familiar surroundings and in my safe haven. I love to relax with my books, a cup of tea and in the presence of family. … 

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Pan Fried Butterflied Trout

Pan Fried Butterflied Trout-1-29

Sergi and I love seafood, as you are well aware of, if you’ve been hanging around this blog for a little bit. We never seem to get tired of the taste, and it also helps that it’s not complicated and quick to prepare. Pan frying it on both sides until it’ s golden brown and juicy is my favorite way to prepare it. I’ve posted this dinner on social media several times and was asked to share the recipe, so here I am, fulfilling my promise.

Trout is very affordable, it’s mild, so it doesn’t taste “fishy”, one medium sized fish is the perfect portion for one person and like I said earlier, it’s on the table in no time. Normally, we just serve  it with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, since lemon and seafood are such a lovely pairing. When I have a little extra time, I like to make a lemon butter sauce. It’s creamy, tangy and “buttery” of course. I’ll share a recipe for that whenever I feel up to it. However, it’s so delicious plain and simple, that you don’t need a sauce to enjoy it.

Whenever I ask Sergi to pick up some trout at the store, he is more than happy to oblige, since this is his favorite seafood preparation too. I love when our taste buds match up. I really hope Nathaniel will grow up to like it too. … 

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Honey Lemon Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley

Glazed Chicken and Baked Barley-1-18

We are finally home! After a 10 day hospital stay, it is especially nice to be in our comfortable, cozy surroundings. This weekend, we basked in the joy of having our son home with us and have the hospital experience behind us. We feel so blessed and are incredibly happy. I shared some really cute pictures of our baby boy yesterday on Facebook and Instagram, so head on over to check them out if you haven’t seen them yet. While I am recuperating and enjoying my “maternity leave”, I have some really yummy recipes stored up to share with you.

I make roast chicken quite often for dinner. Usually, I make potatoes or rice to serve alongside, but since I’m a big fan of other grains too, barley is another option that I reach for. This time, I decided to bake the barley in the oven and to use chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. With the usual onion, carrots, celery and garlic flavoring the barley, I also added butternut squash and was so pleased with the results. The honey, lemon and garlic glaze on top of the chicken ties it all together perfectly. … 

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Preparing For a Baby

It was a GORGEOUS Sunday today. Sergi and I on the last day before our son is born.

It was a GORGEOUS Sunday today. Sergi and I on the last day before our son is born.

I wrote this post on Sunday, February 22, the day before we had our baby. I meant to post it that day, but that didn’t work out, and now we ended up being in the hospital for ten days after the delivery. Yes, life is full of the unexpected. You can make plans and have expectations, but not everything is in our control. Having a baby does give us time to plan and prepare, so this is my story of preparing for the birth of our baby. … 

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Welcome To the World, Nathaniel Caleb!

Nathaniel-1-10 One week ago, February 23, 2015, at 0204 pm, we celebrated the birth of our son, Nathaniel Caleb.

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

For months we have been preparing for his arrival, praying for his health and delivery, and dreaming of the time when he would finally be in our arms. I will never forget the beautiful moment when I heard his first cry…. 

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Coffeecake Bundt Cake

Coffeecake Bundt Cake-1-29 My bundt cake pan gets a lot of use in my kitchen. The fact is, that I like desserts that I don’t have to fuss with too much.  When you make a bundt cake, the prep work is very minimal but when you take it out of the oven and serve it on a fancy plate, you’re rewarded with a stunning dessert. It’s beautiful enough to serve for company and easy enough to make for a low key evening with the family.

This is a recipe that I have been using from Cooks Illustrated for the past few years. Every time I make it for company, everyone asks if the recipe is on my blog, and I’m really surprised I haven’t shared it yet. Coffeecakes are really great. I love that they aren’t too sweet but are tender and soft. I’m glad Sergi shares my opinion; this happens to be his favorite bundt cake. He’s very partial to both coffeecakes, pecans and bundt cakes, so it’s a score on all counts. Cinnamon and pecans add great flavor and crunch. No wonder they are called “coffeecakes”, since I can’t think of anything that would be better with a nice cup of coffee. A warm cup of tea or a cold glass of milk are other great alternatives, depending on what you like. Leftovers store really well too, so you can pack some into your lunchbox the next day. 


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Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu-1-15 I think I might be turning into a meat snob. I just don’t think meat is worth eating unless it’s juicy and tender. The biggest culprit to dry and rubbery meat is overcooking it and a meat thermometer is the simplest way to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s easy to have tender meat with nice, quality cuts of meat like the filet mignon, or a marbled steak, as long as you don’t overcook them. It is easy, but it can also take a painful bite out of your wallet. More affordable cuts of meat can be juicy too, I promise, you just have to cook them a little bit differently. Since these cuts of meat have a lot of connective tissue, they need a longer time to cook. Braising, which is cooking in a small amount of liquid, is such a wonderful technique for just such instances. A really great option is to use the slow cooker. With just a little prep, you walk away and let this magic machine do all the work for you.

I was so happy with the results of this recipe. This will be my go-to method for succulent, melt in your mouth beef from now on. You can even make a large batch and freeze part of it for an easy dinner in the future. Since I wanted as much flavor as possible in the sauce, I added tons of aromatic vegetables, which sort of melt right into the sauce as the meat cooks for hours. Not only do they flavor the meat, but they transform into a rich, velvety sauce, which is spooned over your starch of choice right along with the meat. … 

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