Saturday, December 18, 2010

How to Make Honey-Gingerbread Cookies

What would December goodies be without our gingerbread buddies? But alas, molasses is not to be found anywhere in stores here. I finally tried substituting honey, and it has now become a favorite alternate recipe.

The first time I made them in Russia, I couldn't even find the ground spices, so I ended up infusing the dough with hunks of fresh ginger and whole cloves as it chilled. I think I ended up crushing some of the cloves and sprinkling them in, too.

How to Make Savory Pumpkin Relish

I wasn't sure what to call this dish, because I realize everyone's used to Pumpkin Pie and might be put off the thought of a non-sweet pumpkin dish. I did try to make a spicy pumpkin soup, but it just wasn't hitting my tastebuds the right way.

This is what I came up with, and I like it as a flavorful side dish, a pasta accompaniment, or even just spread on bread.

Recipe follows.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Make Spaghetti Pie

"Spaghetti Pie"-type dishes scared me when I was little. Maybe it's the whole "foods touching" problem. But nowadays I'm a fan of one-dish meals. It makes it a lot easier to serve, reheat, etc.

I also like to bring new life to leftovers instead of eating the same thing a few days in a row, and this recipe makes good use of whatever pasta and sauce you have hanging around.

Oh, and one more's like a lazy lasagna dish, as the components are similar but you don't have to take the time to get all the layers perfect. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Make Hershey's Chocolate Cake

I can feel my stomach rumbling as I post this.

Let's just say...the photo does not do it justice. We had this recipe in a cookbook and it's also found in various places on the Web, like here and here. I definitely recommend adding it to your chocolate cake library! Really wish I had some cocoa on hand right now...

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Make Sushi! (In Russia)

Time to FINALLY post those recipes I've been thinking about for...oh, the past month or so!

Sushi can obviously be made in a variety of ways. I had never tried it before because it seemed like a hassle to gather all of the components. But some friends taught us how and I was surprised at how easy it was. I don't know if I would do it often, but it is a fun social activity, and even kids can help (see picture further down).

Now that the nori wrappers and things like pickled ginger are sold in St. Petersburg and the other ingredients are fairly basic, it seems more practical.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Upcoming featured recipes

I've been experimenting a lot in the kitchen, but unfortunately it hasn't been making it to my blog...

Here are a few recipes I'll post when I get the chance:

-Russian-friendly Sushi
-Hershey's Chocolate Cake
-Spaghetti Pie
-Italian burgers

Recipes (with my notes and photos) coming up...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Make Sweet Challah

Rosh Hashanah is observed this week. A perfect excuse to attempt some Jewish bread-making!

My mother makes Challah from time to time, and it is by far one of my favorites, especially straight out of the oven (which is why I was sampling pieces at midnight). Although it has a hint of sweetness, it is delicious with all kinds of toppings: sweet or savory; hot or cold. When still warm, a few pieces of butter are just right.

I'm not going to type up the recipe because they've done it so well on this website, with very clear, detailed instructions. Try it: Famous Challah


Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Make Profiteroles (Cream Puffs)

My favorite combination: vanilla pudding in the middle and chocolate sauce poured over the top.

How to Make a Healthy Substitution

We were introduced to buckwheat at camp, and it is definitely an "acquired" taste...especially in the morning! Buckwheat reminds me of brown rice a little, but maybe more sweet/nutty.

Anyway, if you want to try a healthier side dish, here it is. This site has a detailed recipe; I just boiled it pretty much like rice, with a 2:1 ratio, but starting out with the buckwheat in cold water and boiling together. You can eat it as a hot cereal too or even eat it cold in a salad.

I can't call it "yummy" (unless maybe you throw in some bacon), but I feel really good when I feel the healthiness of it going into my body. If that makes any sense.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Make Chicken Curry Burgers

Obviously, I like chicken. :)

I even buy ground chicken instead of beef. I won't go into details, but it seems like the safer choice.

This recipe comes out nice and moist, and the curry is just one flavor option.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Make Chocolate-Chip Meringues

Here is a recipe that will use the egg whites you have left from other dishes. The cookies are best fresh, and you might want to bake them on a day that is not so hot/humid.

A friend hooked me up with some cream of tartar, but I’m not sure what local ingredient would be a good substitute, to give these meringues their body. Leave a comment if you have any ideas!

Also, note the cooking temp: 300.

Recipe follows…

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to Make Spinach Quiche

This was a labor of love that my mom took on for my sister's baby shower. And by that I mean that it was much too hot to have the oven on, but she did the baking anyway, ahead of time, and we got the sweating over with.

I am looking forward to making quiche here in Russia once the weather cools down a bit.

The traditional filling here is a spinach mixture (far right), which is DELICIOUS, but as you can see from the photo, many combinations are possible, and may be necessary for me as I don't come across spinach very regularly. The broccoli one, for instance, was also tasty.

Recipe below...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to Make Ranch Chicken (Guest Post)

Here's another tantalizing recipe from my sister...

*See update at bottom of post for my modifications, with photo!

Now, I'm not sure how readily available Ranch Dressing is here in Russia. So I did a quick search and found a dressing recipe at Ranch Dressing. The ingredients look similar to my Russian Peasant Dip, which has a tasty flavor.

In fact, the recipe might even be tastier with the homemade dressing.

Check it out after the jump.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coming Soon

I'm figuring out my Internet connection at the moment, but I have some recipes piling up! Stay tuned for...

-Chocolate-chip meringues

-Spinach quiche

-Chicken curry burgers

-Ranch chicken

Back soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Make Key Lime Pots de Creme

Key Lime Pie without the crust! Yum. This post is cheating a little bit since I haven't tried this recipe in Russia yet and I'm not sure about lime availability/quality there. But I have seen them in stores, so I'm sure it would be doable, for a special occasion.

This recipe courtesy of GourmetSleuth....

Monday, July 19, 2010

How to Marinate Chicken for Fajitas

This is an easy, tasty marinade. Definitely a staple!

Friday, July 16, 2010

How to Make Pancake Mix for Camping

This is a tip from a friend that I'm passing along.

Annnd...I don't have a picture, so enjoy the random nature scene.

The tip is: If you look at my original recipe for pancake mix, you would typically add egg, milk, and oil to cook them. For camping, substitute some egg powder and dry milk. All you need to do is add water!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Make Russian-Style Beet Salad

This is sort of like "vinegret," a Russian salad made from beets and other veggies. I'm not strict about the recipe though, so it's more Russian "inspired" than the real thing. But all in all, beet salads can be pretty tasty, healthy, and colorful!

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to Make Asian Ginger Salad Dressing

I love that dressing that comes with the Japanese lunchboxes (what are they called?) in Asian restaurants. This dressing comes pretty close to the taste, yet is made mostly from fresh ingredients. A versatile dressing; nice alternative to something heavier on the mayonnaise or sour cream.

A basic version may be found at, and I adjusted based on reader reviews and personal preference.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Make Pico de Gallo

It took me awhile to figure out that this tomato garnish was not the same as salsa! I love the citrusey (sp?) pizazz it adds to meat, rice, and more. It can also be substituted for salsa in your favorite Tex-Mex dishes: tacos, quesadillas, dips, etc.

The key flavors here are the cilantro and the lime juice. If you leave those out, you're left with a bland salsa, or a plain tomato salad...not really worth it. Go for something different!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How to Make Pancakes from Homemade Pancake Mix

No need to buy Bisquick anymore! If you keep a supply of homemade pancake mix on hand, that is. Then all you have to do is add eggs, milk, and oil, and the pancake batter is ready...


(from my mom plus the "More with Less" Cookbook...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Make Chocolate Cake (or cupcakes) with Mocha Frosting

There is a secret ingredient in these which may be surprising, but makes for a very moist, rich finished product. If you're going to make chocolate cake, why not go all out?

See recipe below

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How to Make Quiche

I usually make more of a casserole than a quiche, being too lazy to make a crust. This time I made a crust, and I still haven't mastered that part yet…but the filling was good, so I’ll post that.

(see below)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to Make Roasted Pork with Carrots and Potatoes (Guest Post)

My lovely sister is helping me out here while I'm being lazy working on expanding my repertoire. Here's a mouth-watering recipe that she sent along.

In her words: One of my favorite easy comfort meals, especially in the winter, is pork tenderloin roasted with carrots and potatoes.

Recipe follows...

Friday, June 25, 2010


I've got a few new posts in the works, but in the meantime, I'll recommend another cooking blog which looks like an excellent source of recipes.

Annie tipped me off to this Russian-American woman's site. I figure the author's taste is similar to mine with the Russian-American mix. There are a lot of Russian recipes that I haven't quite figured out yet, so I look forward to following her tips.

Check out

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Well, this is embarrassing...

It would seem that I've been overzealous in posting all my favorite recipes, and in doing so...have run out!

Apparently, my repertoire isn't quite as broad as I thought. I need to think of an excuse to try some new dishes! It's time to head into unknown territory...

In the meantime, if anyone wants to write a guest post, let me know! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How to Make Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks

This is a nice comfort food recipe to have in your repertoire. The sauce is pretty all-purpose and can be used for different cuts and types of meat, even for grilling.

Works well served with rice and veggies.

The drumsticks even taste good cold-a picnic option?

What would I do without Recipezaar? (Recipe below)

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Make "Italian" Bread

From my mom's recipes...

This is a whole wheat/white flour combination that creates a nice, light loaf perfect for toasting. It has a neutral flavor that works with both salty and sweet.

Click on over to the pizza recipe for the ingredients. In this case you'll want the oven at 350, or whatever you usually use for baking, rather than the higher pizza temperature.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to Make Delicious Strawberry Cupcakes and Frosting

Just in time for summer!

When I hear "strawberry cupcake," I think of something fluorescent, made from a box. But these are from scratch.

This recipe is another Recipezaar find, attributed to Martha Stewart.

Some of the commenters suggested trying a different frosting if you don't want to go too heavy on the strawberries. But this one worked fine for me.

Recipe after the jump...

How to Make Whole Wheat Fettucine (or other noodles)

You don't have to have a pasta machine to make pasta any more than you need a bread machine to make bread.

I would say that the benefits of homemade pasta are probably 1) the taste and 2) the sense of satisfaction that you made it yourself.

Not to mention, you can try all sorts of variations, like spinach or sweet potato pasta. Mmm.

I used a basic pasta recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens "New Cookbook," 11th Edition, 1989

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How to Bake Perfectly Done Pizza

I previously mentioned a few methods for avoiding a soggy pizza crust.

The only problem with prebaking the crust was that it felt like the flavors didn't quite get to mingle. It tasted like bread with some cheese on top, rather than a whole, unified flavor sensation.

I was aiming for improvement and tried one more method, and got success...


How to Make Basic Chicken Salad

Just a snack or meal standby that you can tweak to fit your personal taste.

I crave tuna every once in a while, but it's hard to find here. So I have to substitute with chicken (of the land). Oh well, at least I don't have to worry about mercury...

Recipe after the jump:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Boil Chicken For Various Recipes

This isn't so much a recipe (although I included mine down below) as a tip.

I have so much trouble finding high quality meat (especially boneless) that comes out nice and tender. My solution is to boil a whole chicken, use the meat for a variety of purposes, and use the broth to make soup. It's economical, convenient, and the kitchen smells wonderful while it's cooking! The meat turns out tender and flavorful every time.

Some dishes requiring cooked chicken:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to Make Luscious Lemon Squares

I know, I was surprised too. I don't make a lot of non-chocolate desserts, and I can't recall what prompted me to try this one.

But from the first time, I was hooked. Once you eat one, you just can't stop nibbling. They're also good to have around for guests who may or may not like chocolate, and they can be frozen.

This recipe (slightly modified) is from 300 Best Comfort Food Recipes by Johanna Burkhard, which is a cookbook that I definitely recommend!

Recipe follows...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to Make Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This dish took awhile to make, but maybe that was because I had to make the tortillas, chicken stock, sauce, etc. from scratch. So if you have those around, you are on your way to a fairly quick dinner! Some assembly required...

But honestly, if you can multi-task, it won't take so long...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Make Pizza With Rye Dough

I really like working with the rye flour, and I like the sturdiness that it gives the pizza. If you don't like the taste of rye, though, you can substitute. I'm out of whole wheat flour, so have been experimenting with rye a lot. Bear with me. :)

It seems that the main challenge in making pizza is avoiding a soggy crust. My approach is to: 1) Saute veggies ahead of time to get rid of some of the juices. 2) Pre-bake the crust until almost done, so that basically all is left is for the cheese to melt. 3) Not overload the pizza with lots of fillings. It's good for individual flavors to shine, anyway.

Please share if you have other tips. I don't have a pizza stone or anything like that, just a metal baking pan. No corn meal, either.

So here is the crust:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to Make Russian Peasant Dip

Some fellow Russian students and I found this recipe while we were living in the "Russian Immersion House" (read: eating lots of blini and watching Russian soviet cartoons).

I am not sure what is actually Russian about this recipe besides the name and the fact that it's made with ingredients commonly found in a Russian refrigerator (sour cream, dill,...).

It's good as a dip for bread and veggies and can also be used as a sauce for meat (I put it on some fish).

For a nice party presentation, you can hollow out a round loaf of bread and pour in the dip, arranging the bread pieces around it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Make Yummy, Moist Yellow Cake (From Scratch)

I don’t make yellow cake very often because I didn’t have a good recipe and considered it inferior to other flavors. However, my roommate made this recipe the other day and it was quite moist and delicious, even without icing!

I definitely recommend giving this a try and making it your default yellow cake recipe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Make Scalloped Potatoes

My roommate discovered this recipe and I immediately became a fan. Cheesy, buttery, potato goodness. I like it better than other scalloped potato recipes I've tried to make.

Credit goes to Sue Gregg, who adapted her recipes for life in Russia and had a Russian-language edition printed.

Recipe follows...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to Make Sandwich (or Dinner) Rolls

I needed to make some bread for sandwiches since my last batch of bread had turned out a bit on the sweeter side.

The recipe I found is from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (11th Edition, 1,200 recipes). I had made them with all-white flour before, and wanted to try something a little heavier. Being out of whole wheat flour, I used rye. No caraway seeds, though.

This dough is SO easy to work with!  Such a pleasant surprise...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How to Make Mocha Cheesecake

What is it about cheesecake? I'm by no means a connoisseur, but could making one really be that hard?

Due to a "prophetic" dream a few weeks ago, and with prompting from my roommate, I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? What could go wrong with mixing a little cream cheese, egg, and sugar together and popping it in the oven?

This is my mom/Joy of Chocolate's recipe:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to Make Savory Roasted Veggie Medley

Okay, this is pretty much the same as the eggplant one, except it's a different veggie mix and I threw in a little meat since it was going to be a main dish.

I started with the mystery squash in the photo at right. It's about the same size and shape as what I usually refer to as "summer squash" (yellow), but is pale green with some stripes. Perhaps a zucchini variation...aren't they all cousins, anyway?

I liked the eggplant so much that I decided to use a similar recipe, and it did not disappoint.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Make Russian Tacos

Nope, I didn't switch the photos. Those are actually blini, or a Russian version of crepes. After trying various substitutes for taco shells, my roommate decided to serve the filling in blini, and it has become one of my favorites.

The blini are soft enough to fold up and thick enough to hold the filling in. They can be reheated and can also be heated up a saucepan or the oven to get a crunchy effect, a la chimichangas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to Make Really Good Brownies

900+reviewers on Recipezaar can’t be wrong! This truly is the best brownie recipe. It’s really easy, and impossible to mess up, especially if you use real butter, cocoa, and vanilla!

½ c butter, melted
½ c unsweetened cocoa
1 c sugar
2 eggs...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How to Roast Eggplant

Hooray, it's my first veggie post! This recipe is another keeper that I found on recipezaar.

I was in the grocery store recently and happened to notice a display of eggplants. I have the produce section memorized, so something new always catches my eye. I didn't really think about whether or not eggplant was in season, but I decided to grab one while I had the chance.

A few days went by and I realized that it was time to do something with that eggplant. A quick investigation turned up "Roasted Eggplant (Aubergine) Spread." I really don't get the whole "spread" part of it. It's so yummy that I don't know why you would put it on bread or crackers, unless you think it is just too rich on its own. To me it is just a yummy veggie dish to mingle with the other flavors on your plate.

Anyway, here is how to make it:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Make Lasagna

I’m pretty flexible when it comes to lasagna fillings. I like there to be plenty of cheese and tomato sauce, but other than that, the choices are wide open.

The basic elements for lasagna are:
1) SAUCE, supplemented with any combination of meat/veggies
2) An egg/cheese CREAMY component
3) A melty cheese like MOZZARELLA
4) PASTA (store-bought or homemade)

Since most of the ingredients are cooked ahead of time, your main goal is for the noodles to become soft (if not cooked already) and the layers to set. This requires having the right amount of liquid in there that is going to bubble up and seep through all the layers. At least, that’s the way I think of it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Make Flat Bread

I found this recipe on recipezaar under "Arabian Pita Bread." Then, when I was able to purchase whole wheat flour, I began to substitute it for the white flour.

It's not the best bread for sandwiches, but it's good with hummus or to dip into sauces at a meal.

I like the fact that the bread has some yeast to give it body, but you don't have to worry about it being cooked to the perfect point. Just mix, let rest for a few minutes, and then cook one at a time in a frying pan.

I also like that it looks sort of like Naan. I imagine that you could add various spices to get a little more of an exotic taste.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How to Make Banana Bread-Comfort Food!

My roommate and I both like to bake banana bread, especially to take to a church event or other meeting.

I've tried several good recipes, but I have to say that my mom's (modified James Beard) is one of the best!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

How to Make Filling for Great Greek Pitas

This is one of the yummiest fillings for pita!

As far as I can tell, the original recipe can be found here, but I learned it from a friend back in the college days.

Making this dish is really convenient because you can set the meat in the marinade and make the salad ahead of time, then just sauté the meat when you’re ready to eat and it will all take about 10 minutes to put together.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How to Make Walnut and Sunflower Seed Bread

Ever since I found a whole wheat flour source in St. Petersburg, I've been trying to learn how to make bread. I haven't really gotten to the point yet where I like the process. I hate getting sticky dough all over my hands and trying to clean up all the flour afterwards.

However, can't complain about the finished result! It's nice to have homemade bread around.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How to Make Shepherd's Pie

Call it by whatever name you prefer; here is what it looks like: a layer of ground beef and veggies crowned with a topping of mashed potatoes with a golden crust.

I don't know if there are any "rules" for this dish, but here is my latest version:


There have been too many times when I've liked a recipe, only to lose it for months or years! I also didn't want to hijack my regular blog with cooking jargon, so I'm starting an archive here.

I enjoy culinary blogs, but I always find it frustrating when people comment on how a dish looks, but don't mention how it tastes.