Tuscan Pasta and Bean Soup

As you can probably tell from the name it is NOT a Russian or Ukrainian soup. It IS however absolutely delicious. My cousin found it from an iPhone App and liked it so much she shared it with me (thanks Tanya), and now I’m sharing it with you. I love this recipe because it’s very simple and easy to make. The ingredients are probably already in your pantry. I love that!

This is what you will need:

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Small onion (chopped)

1( 28 oz) diced tomatoes w/roasted garlic

2 Can chicken broth (I used one 32 oz carton instead)

1 Can kidney or pinto beans (undrained)

2 Tsp dried basil(crushed)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1/4 Tsp pepper

1/2 Cup dried small pasta shells.



Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.

Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, beans, 1/3 cup water, basil, parsley and pepper. Bring to boil.
Add pasta; reduce heat to low. Cook stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 min or until pasta is tender.
This makes 6 servings.

This is a very delicious soup. And it’s vegetarian (you can substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth). My husband is a serious carnivore and even he ate it. And my toddler loved it as well. I win!

If you want to add some meat to this soup I would recommend bone in chicken breast and then just split up the meat for each serving or brown some ground turkey in the oil, add the onion and continue with the directions. I think the ground turkey will add great flavor.





A Ukrainian/Russian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving! I love thanksgiving! And with all the difficulties we may be facing, so much to be thankful for. What a great excuse to throw a party. I was fortunate enough  to attend TWO Thanksgiving get-togethers! We had turkey for lunch with my in-laws and turkey for dinner with my dad’s family. It was so great to see all my loved ones together. And the food was amazing!

We all know the traditional thanksgiving food, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or apple pie, cranberry sauce…etc. When my family celebrates thanksgiving it seems to me they go all out with a Russian wedding menu! I know some of you know exactly what I am talking about and those of you who don’t, one day I will have to blog about the Sacramento area Russian wedding menu. For now you will have just a glimpse of it.

My Thanksgiving Lunch at my in-laws:

Turkey of course!

Vinaigrette salad.

Layered garden salad.

Smoked salmon with olives.

For desert pechenye rozachki (Rose cookies). They are amazing! I have the recipe and soon so will you.

Store bought baklava.

Of course I brought along my pumpkin cheesecake.

It was so wonderful to spend lunchtime with family and enjoy all this food.

Then there was dinner with my dad’s family. There were almost 30 people at my parents home and it was a potluck style meal. I have to warn you. Viewing of the food may cause hunger pains and the urge to cook, bake or eat thanksgiving leftovers.

Goluptsi or golupchiki.

Cabage wraps.

Recipe coming soon.



My favorite!



Lightly marinated fresh cucumbers.




Red beet salad




The very popular, found at every Russian party

Shuba. A complex, many layered side dish.  It may

take some time before I try to tackle this one.


Mashed potatoes with podliva.




Other appatizers and side dishes

Two small hens and a turkey! We eat so much meat!


And my favorite part…the desert! I think I ate more desert than the actual meal.

The ultra popular “Vafly”. They are these super light thin wafers with cooked condensed milk (caramel) in-between to create layers. I love to eat these.

This is my mothers creation. Perog. It has the dough of piroshki with cheesecake filling and fruit preserves all layered and baked. It is amazing! I can’t wait to make it and post the recipe.

My aunt Alla’s piroshki. She makes the best. All different fillings and sooo yumy!

My aunt Lyuba’s Fried dough and cheese fritters. I need to get my hands on this recipe!


The deserts were enjoyed with a large cup of tea of course. We love out tea!

We even had blooming tea!


Food was great and so was the company. So much to be thankful for.






Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love cheesecake and I love the thanksgiving holiday. This recipe will bring both of those together. I absolutely love pumpkin cheesecake! This was my first time ever making cheesecake and it turned out amazing. And it’s pretty easy to make! This is my personal recipe. The crust is nice and buttery and the filling is rich and creamy. I really hope you make it for your thanksgiving or any occasion. My husband and I enjoyed it yesterday for our 7 year wedding anniversary. It was so sweet!



1 1/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs (8-10 cookies)

1/4 Cup sugar

4 Tbsp butter melted



3 Packages 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1 1/4 Cup white sugar

3 Tbsp flour

4 Eggs at room temperature

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 Tsp salt

2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 Tsp cinnamon

15 oz Pumpkin puree

1/2 Cup sour cream


Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Coat 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter until moistened. Empty everything into the pan and pat firmly into the bottom of the pan and a little on the sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes. After it finishes baking set aside and let cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 300*F.

Mix all the filling ingredients. Place filling into springform pan.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit for 1 hour without opening the door. This will let the filling bake further and prevent cracking in the center.

Remove cheesecake and let cool on the counter. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours. If you are too eager just refrigerate for at least 4 hour before serving. Also if you don’t want to make your own crust just buy the already prepared one and make your own filling. I’m sure it will taste just as great, minus the time you spend making your own.

Garnish with chopped nuts, fruit or whipped cream. I used heavy whipping cream and added a little vanilla and almond extract. With a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was delicious and super fragrant. Oh sooo good!





Plov is a very traditional dish in the Russian/ Ukrainian community. It is also a very common dish to be prepared for any gathering that requires food. Although it is common there is no real “common” typical recipe. I have tried plov prepared in multiple different ways. It seems as though each family has their own way of preparing this rice and meat dish. I have a recipe that is simple to make with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. It is simple and easy to make yet still has the  flavors and smells of traditional plov. You can make it in less than an hour and feed a large family. Honestly I don’t think I even know how to cook for just two people. All my recipe’s seem to have 4+ servings. Thanks to my mom who has always cooked for a large crowd and the “na glaz” (eyeball it) method of cooking I always have leftovers. I’m glad my family lives a couple miles from me and I get to share with them.


1 Small onion

2 Garlic cloves (add 1-2 more for more garlic flavor)

3 Small carrots

2 Cups white rice

3 Chicken breasts

4 Cups water

2 Tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1 Tbsp Vegeta

Squirt of Ketchup

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium high heat, in a large deep skillet or soup pot. I have used both before. The plov will be great in either one.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and drop into the skillet to brown a little.

While chicken is cooking chop up  the onion, carrots and garlic. I used my handy-dandy food chopper. You chop up by hand or use food processor. Chop the pieces to whatever size you prefer. I like for the carrots to almost disappear into the rice. I either use the electric chopper to chop the carrots into small bits or use a hand grater. A grater is a great tool for the carrots. My mother in law just takes already peeled baby carrots like they sell at the grocery store and just quarters them. You can do that too. Once everything is chopped up,  place the carrots, onion and garlic in with the chicken. Cook until chicken is cooked through and carrots are slightly tender.

Pour the two cups of rice into the skillet and fill with 4 cups of water. Add salt, pepper and vegeta. Get one good squirt of ketchup into the skillet as well. Gently fold the ingredients together. Let the mixture heat to a boil. At this point I like to taste the broth to make sure I don’t need additional vegeta or salt.

Cover, turn down to low heat and let the rice cook for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and make sure the rice does not over cook. Once the cooking is done just fluff with a fork and serve! It’s great with a side of Olivye or other salad.


Easy Cheese Danish Remix

I love watching the Food Network. One day I watched Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa make these amazing cheese danish’s. Since then I have made them a few times but this time I decided to put a Thanksgiving twist on them by using pumpkin! I am not a big fan of pumpkin pie. I do however, love pumpkin cheesecake. For this danish I created the cheese filling to imitate a pumpkin cheesecake filling. They are amazing! Here’s the original recipe. And here is what you need for the remix.

8 Ounces cream cheese room temp

2 Tbsp ricotta cheese

1/3 Cup sugar

1/2 Tsp salt

1 Egg, 1 egg yolk

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1/4 Cup pumpkin puree

1/4 Tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 Tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp sour cream

2 Sheets puff pastry

Preheat oven to 400* F. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Make sure puff pastry sheets have defrosted according to packaging directions.

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. You can use an electric mixer on low speed or use spatula and do it by hand. Make sure cream cheese is soft enough that it wont leave cream cheese lumps in the filling. Add the rest of the ingredients withholding the egg and egg yolk. Combine everything and taste. It may not be sweet enough for you so add sugar little by little until desired sweetness. I like the filling a little sweeter than what the recipe calls for. Finally add in the egg and egg yolk. Mix together but do not whip.

Follow the original recipe directions :

“Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.”

* I like to sprinkle the danish lightly with sugar before baking. They become even sweeter and look really pretty.

Mmmm…sooo good! Enjoy!

Pierog Leniviy

This cake is super easy to make, and is so delicious. It’s called pierog leniviy which translates into Lazy Pie. It’s “lazy” probably because it uses few ingredients and there is not much work involved in preparing it. And “pie”? It’s not really a  pie or pierog even. I would say it’s a cake! This is one of my favorite Russian/ Ukrainian cakes ever. It brings back so many memories for me of my mom making this for us kids and we could barely wait for it to get out of the oven. We would just break it up and dip it into the sour cream frosting. Mmmmm… Oh yeah, the recipe! Here it is:

300g (approx. 10.5 oz) of plum jelly or seedless preserve(I used seedless blackberry preserve. It turned out amazing. I say use whatever flavor you like and see how it turns out.)

2 Tsp baking soda

1 Cup white sugar

1 Cup milk

1 Egg

3 Cups flour

2 Tbsp butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 350* F.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the jelly and baking soda. It will start bubbling and making a sort of hissing sound.

Next add the rest of the ingredients and slowly stir them in by hand.

As you can see in the photo above it looks pretty much the same just more bubbles.

Grease a 9×11 rectangular baking pan or round cake pan.

Empty the contents of the mixing bowl into the bake pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check to make sure it’s baked through.

Here it is! You can slice it up into squares like you would brownies and just eat them up. Or you can create a sour cream frosting to go with it.

2 Cups sour cream

1/2 Cups sugar

Mix together the sour cream and sugar. Taste it! If you want it sweeter just add a little more sugar. (I always add a little more sugar.)

Cut the cake horizontally and take the top half of the cake and set aside. Use half the sour cream frosting and spread it on the top of the bottom half of the cake.

Take the top half and place it on top. Now you have frosting in the center. The other half of the sour cream frosting will go on top.

This is what I’m doing while making the cake.

A slice for you! Enjoy! Mmmmm…sooo good!

Cabbage filled Vareniki (s tushenoy kapustoy)

Vareniki are great! You can make them as desert, or as part of dinner. In previous posts I gave you the recipe for vareniki and tushenaya kapusta (cabbage). Tushenaya kapusta is a great filling for savory vareniki. I made tushenaya kapusta according to my recipe but without the meat. Then I chopped up some turkey bacon (trying to stay somewhat healthy), or you can use regular bacon, and fried it up in about 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle it on top. These are great to make and freeze for later meals as well.

They are sooo good. Enjoy!

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