Dec 31, 2011

cinnamon french toast

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As the year comes to an end, it's important to reflect on the past year while looking forward to the next.  This past year definitely was a year of change for us.  My husband and I moved halfway across the country, started new jobs, and started our lives together for the first time near family and friends.  It's been a year of uncertainty and excitement.

Although we can't predict what next year will bring, I know how your new year should start.  It should begin with a warm cup of coffee and some cinnamon french toast.

Dec 30, 2011

potato soup

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There's nothing quite like a nice bowl of soup to warm your soul when the snow starts falling.

Well, maybe soup and your dog wearing his latest fashion statement.



Dec 29, 2011

veggie spring rolls

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After the mass amounts of cookies, goodies, and not-so-healthy foods the past holiday week, I decided to make something much lighter...veggie spring rolls!  They're a favorite for my husband and me, and they're really easy to make.

I made these spring rolls for my family.  I didn't read the fillo dough instructions beforehand.  They need to be defrosted in order to roll them out and not end up with a crumbly mess.  Needless to say, we had a crumbly mess.  We set the fillo on top of the preheating oven and salvaged the crumbly mess.  Life lesson of the day...read the recipe all the way through before starting.

Dec 28, 2011

sautéed cauliflower


 As much as possible, I like to eat seasonal, local food.  As you can imagine, it's a rough time now for fresh produce.  In Cleveland.  In December.

But, there's one vegetable that's actually in season locally.  Cauliflower.  We never ate it much at home growing up, but I've come to love it over the past few years.  This is a super simple recipe to make a delicious cauliflower side dish.

Dec 27, 2011

candy cane cupcakes


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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  My gift to you...candy cane cupcakes!  Enjoy!

Dec 26, 2011

christmas eve bobalki

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The holidays taste like poppy seed and walnut in a Slovak home.  Either kolachi or bobalki are a staple.  I, luckily, grew up with both traditions--eating bobalki for Christmas Eve with my dad's family and kolachi for Christmas Day with my mom's.

My dad's family always celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve.  We all gather at a relative's house and eat at one big table or at least at various tables in the same room.  (My dad worked for a week on coming up with a seating configuration that will work at their house this year.  It involved graph paper and lots of eraser marks, but he got it to work!)

Dec 24, 2011

puppy chow

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My husband LOVES puppy chow.  Really, who doesn't?  The problem with puppy chow is that it makes a ton and then you start eating it and can't stop.  You know what I'm talking about.  If you don't, though, you really, really need to make some of this.

It's been a rough week to work retail.  And currently my husband is working retail.  So, I decided to surprise him with some of his favorite treat when he gets home from work today. 

Dec 23, 2011

peanut butter kiss cookies

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Let the cookie-fest continue!  Today's cookie is one of my personal favorites, peanut butter kiss cookies.  They are definitely a holiday tradition in our family.  My mom always made them for Christmas when we were little.  Even when we were too young to help with the baking itself, my sister and I loved adding the kiss at the end.

This year, sis and I made the cookies ourselves.  They turned out just as we remembered...delicious!

Dec 22, 2011

snickerdoodles

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I love baking with my sister.  Today I got to bake with her since she is home  for the holidays.

Every year, my grandma, aunts, cousins, mom, sister and I make cookies for our family's Christmas Eve gathering.  It always ends up being an obscene amount of cookies, but we do it anyways.  I think at this point a ridiculous amount of cookies is a holiday tradition.  And you can't argue with tradition.  So, today we made snickerdoodles, one of our Christmas favorites.

Dec 21, 2011

cinnamon applesauce


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There's nothing like homemade cinnamon applesauce.  It pretty much puts the jarred stuff to shame (that is, if applesauce could be shamed).  This is an easy holiday dish that's definitely a crowd-pleaser.  It's a part of most of our family holiday celebrations, so I decided to share it with you.  If you have a Christmas party coming up and don't know what to bring, this is it!

It's almost silly how easy it is to make.  It's simply apples and cinnamon.  So, it's healthy too, which is weird for a holiday tradition, but I can't complain. 

Dec 20, 2011

no frills granola


I've always thought that granola should be straightforward, simple, rustic.  I'm not a big fan of all sorts of dried fruit, nuts, and grains in my granola that make me play a guessing game every time I take a bite.  There's something about simplicity.

Trying to find a simple granola recipe was not only difficult, but really impossible.  So, I made up my own.

Dec 19, 2011

homemade flour tortillas


I've always wanted to try to make homemade tortillas.  Then the universe conspired to make it happen.  Several times this week, I've seen people on tv making homemade flour tortillas (which is impressive, since we don't have cable and don't get the fancy cooking channels).  They looked so delicious, warm, slightly chewy, and perfectly browned.  I couldn't help myself.  They had to be made.

After some searching, I came across this recipe.  It was one of the few recipes that didn't contain lard or shortening (it has veggie oil instead).  It was an easy recipe to make and the results were to die for!  It would be hard going back to store bought tortillas, even after having these just once.

Dec 18, 2011

whole wheat banana bread

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It's been an in-between type of week for me.  It's between my birthday, which was last week, my husband's birthday, which is this week.  It's been half snowing (ya know, the funny little flurries that make Clevelanders wonder why the snow gods are holding off and when they're going to strike for real).  My dog is half sick...one ear infection that is getting better, but still slowing him down quite a bit.  We're to the point, too, where I'm done with last semester's work and still pretending like next semester is WAY far off in the future.

So, I figured, while the sick pup is sleeping and we're in between eating birthday cakes and grading papers, why not make some banana bread?  The bananas weren't in-between, luckily.  They were definitely mushy enough to easily be turned into this tasty treat!

Dec 17, 2011

marinara sauce


All of the recipes so far have been my family's or my own creations.  This is the first recipe in honor of my husband's family.  This is based on a recipe his mom's family used to make and continues to make for family celebrations today.  My husband and I have made several changes to it, but the idea is the same.  It's a basic Italian marinara sauce.  It will make your house smell like your old Italian grandpa's house.  I never had an old Italian grandpa, but if I did I'm pretty sure his house would smell like this.  Use your imagination.

Dec 16, 2011

apple crumb pie

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There is nothing better than homemade apple pie.  That's a fact.  I'm pretty sure of it.  Especially when it's warm and gooey and has crumb topping.  This is what the holidays should taste like.  Or really any day, since I guess I made this on December 13th.  For some reason, on December 13th, I woke up thinking about homemade apple pie.  It happens, right?  I couldn't get the apple-spice deliciousness out of my head all day.  So, after dinner, I made it.  Yep, I just went ahead and made it for no reason at all.  It may have negated the healthy egg drop soup we ate for dinner, but it was well worth it.

Dec 15, 2011

vegetable sushi

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 A few years ago, my friends in Georgia introduced me to sushi.  They took me out to a sushi restaurant.  It scared me just a little because I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  When I thought "sushi", I was sure that my friends were going to make me eat raw fish, which I was less than prepared to do.

But, there were plenty of non-fish options at the restaurant.  And they helped me order.  And it was delicious.

Dec 14, 2011

whole wheat bread

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I've made many loaves of whole wheat bread trying to find a recipe for a moist, not-too-sweet, easy-to-make bread.  This is the best recipe I've found so far.  My family tries to eat whole grain everything as much as possible.  This recipe makes that easy to do and very tasty.  This bread is especially good with a warm bowl of pasta or soup.  Enjoy it warm if possible, but toasting it for breakfast is delicious as well.

Dec 13, 2011

egg drop soup

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This recipe should really be called "Egg Drop Soup" in quotes, because it's what we call it but that's not exactly what it is.  It's not at all a traditional egg drop soup, but it's what a vegetarian egg drop soup recipe evolved into over time.  This is a staple in our house and makes great leftovers/lunches for the week.

So, here it is.  Our Asian-y, vegetarian "Egg Drop Soup" concoction that's perfect for a cold winter day.

Dec 12, 2011

oatmeal cookie smoothie


It's true.  I've got a new addiction...Oatmeal Cookie Smoothies.  They taste like the real deal, but they're made with healthy-ish things like oats and bananas.  We've been making smoothies for years, but this new discovery has worked its way into my week WAY too many times already.  I may or may not be sipping it as I type.  But, it's so good!  So, so good!

Puree the following ingredients in a blender for one very large or two small glasses of liquid cookie:

Dec 7, 2011

hearty vegetarian stuffed peppers

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I know that stuffed peppers aren't supposed to be vegetarian, but stick with me for a moment.  I never really liked stuffed peppers growing up, but my husband is crazy about them.  One day I came across a recipe that I figured he would like.  He hasn't eaten meat in years, and was ready to have some stuffed peppers in his life again.

Well, I made these stuffed peppers (with a few healthy adaptations) and both of us were hooked!  One bite in, we decided that they would be added to the regular recipe "repertoire".  They're healthy, filling, and really flavorful.  If you want to make them really special, use homemade mozzarella cheese...so melty and delicious!

homemade mozzarella cheese

Last summer I read the book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  It completely changed the way that I view food.  She is a strong advocate for local, seasonal foods that support the farmers and the environment.  In the book, she makes her own cheese.

I know what you're thinking...why in the world would you go through all that hassle to make something you can buy at the grocery store?  She made the decision to make her own cheese to support local dairy farmers and to avoid eating "cheese product".  You know the stuff...the cheese that is unnatural colors, could survive in the fridge for a year or two, and that doesn't quite taste like the milk it came from.

Dec 5, 2011

grandma's pumpkin bread




It only seems fitting that the first recipe should be a favorite from "Chookie Chookie" Grandma (my sister and I actually used to call her "Cookie Grandma" because she was the grandma that always had cookies at her house, but that's another story).  Her recipe is for a super-moist pumpkin bread that makes your home smell like the holidays.

This is the perfect bread to make on a warm, rainy December day.  I'm pretty sure it should be snowing in Cleveland, although I shouldn't be the one to ask since I've been living the Georgia the past several years.  To make it feel like December, a wintery-scented candle, Christmas music, and pumpkin bread are definitely necessary on a day like today.

Dec 4, 2011

a chookie chookie

My grandma's recipes haven't ever been measured simply by cups and tablespoons.  She's made delicious treats with "a chookie chookie" of cinnamon and a "smidge" of nutmeg.  I learned so much about baking and cooking from my two grandmas.  They've taught me to love food and that sometimes the best recipes need just "a chookie chookie" of that last ingredient to make them extra special.

I hope to inspire you to whip out the baking pans and measuring cups to create some of your own homemade deliciousness.

Definition: A chookie chookie loosely translates into two shakes of spice shaker, hence the double "chookie".  "Chookie" is pronounced like "cookie" with a "ch".