I’m Back! …and some birthday cake….

Hi everyone! I have been away for a while but I am back and I have some great recipes coming up. I started a new job and trying to adjust to my new schedule. My goal is to update once a week. I really hope I can stick to that schedule.

For today I want to tell you about my baby boys 2nd birthday. I guess he’s not a baby anymore since he’s 2 years old! I can’t believe it. Time flies! His birthday was February 24th. We decided not to throw a big party but just celebrate with the three of us. I wanted to experiment with marshmallow fondant on his birthday cake. I ended up making such huge cake that I called my family and they came over for some homemade pizza and fondant covered cake!

For my pizza I made the dough in my bread maker according to the bread maker recipe book. I divided the dough into two and made two rectangular pizzas with it. The toppings were whatever I had in the fridge at that time.

Turkey pepperoni pizza

 

 

Breakfast sausage and bell pepper pizza

My son Christian enjoying his slice!

Those two pizzas were perfect for the 8 of us!

And then there’s the cake…

I really didn’t want to spend the time on a homemade cake so I decided on the semi-homemade method. I bought a box of yellow cake mix and German chocolate cake mix. I used apple sauce instead of oil to make it a little healthier and followed the box directions on everything else.

I made homemade frosting to layer between the cake layers. I also used apricot preserve on some of the layers to break up the sweetness with some tartness.

The marshmallow fondant was the most work. I really wanted to make marshmallow fondant because I think it taste really good and so much better than regular fondant. I used a recipe I found online and added blue food coloring for the light and dark blue colors on the cake. I found it difficult to roll out the fondant but that may be my lack of upper body strength. I have never worked with any kind of fondant before but  I think it turned out pretty well.

Happy Birthday Christian!!!

 

I used boxed cake mixes, fondant recipe I found online, and frosting recipe I had in a cook book. If you would like any of the recipes just let me know and I would be happy to post them here for you!

So easy birthday party…sooo good!

Honey Cake (Rizhik)

This is one of my favorite Russian cakes. My mother-in-law makes it and it is so delicious. Once you get the hang of it its a pretty easy cake to make. I also learned that my mother-in-law made several of these cakes at one time and then would sell them at the neighborhood open market. Would you like to buy some?

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup unsalted butter melted

2 Eggs

1 Cup sugar

2 Tbsp honey

2 Cups flour separated, plus more as needed

1 Tbsp baking soda

2 Tbsp vinegar

Filling:

4 Cups whipping cream + 1 cup sugar

or

3 Cups Sour cream + 1 cup sugar

 

Here’s what you need to do:

In a medium mixing bowl mix together butter, eggs, sugar, honey and 1 cup flour. In a separate small bowl combine baking soda and vinegar, once baking soda is dissolved add to the other ingredients.

Place bowl over a pot of hot simmering water on the stove top. Stir the ingredients frequently for about 10 minutes. The mixture will become a burnt orange/ brownish color.

Remove from heat.

Mix in 1 cup of flour.

Let the dough cool down so that it is easy to handle with your hands.

When the dough has cooled down enough to handle with your hands remove a handful of the dough and add just enough flour to it so it doesn’t stick to your hands and is a soft dough consistency.

On a flat floured surface roll out the dough to really thin. Place a clean dinner plate over the dough and cut around it to make a perfect circle.

Place the circle dough on a non stick cookie sheet and bake for 3 minutes in a preheated 350* F oven. Don’t over-bake. The dough will rise and will look like a large cookie. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You will get about 8-9 of these “large cookies”.

To make the filling using whipping cream just add sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Spread over the cake circles creating layers. To make sour cream filling just add the sugar and mix well.

Once you create the layers of the cake you can eat it right away. Or you can let it sit for about 10-15 minutes and cut the cake around the edges to create a more perfect round cake. Use the rest of the filling to cover the outside of the cake. I love chocolate so I make chocolate ganache and spread that over the cake. I used one of the imperfect dough circles and crumbled it on top and around the cake.

I used the sour cream filling. The cake absorbed it and was super moist. Soooo good!

Enjoy!

 

*I wanted to make sure the cake tasted good so I made a little mini version first. I just used the rim of a cup to cut the dough into small circles. I poured Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup over the cake.

 

Crab Salad

This is a super easy version of a crab salad. It’s not exactly like the one you can find in your grocery stores deli but its easy to make and very delicious. It’s great for dinner for a small family or for a party. This is a favorite at parties for my relatives.

Here is what you need:

1/4 Head of cauliflower chopped into bite size bits

1 lb Imitation crab meat chopped or torn into desired size

2 Small carrots chopped

3/4 Cup chopped onion (or less if you don’t like the taste of onion)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy. Or refrigerate for about 30 minutes or more and it tastes even better!

Want different variations? My mom likes to add corn kernels and peas. They add more color and taste great. When making this salad for a very large crowd (80 people) my friend added cooked white rice. It added volume, couldn’t be seen and didn’t alter the taste very much at all. The store-bought crab salad has celery in it, also a great addition. Make your own!

Rice Noodles with Pork

Warning!! This is not a Russian or Ukrainian dish. It is made by my mother who is Ukrainian so it made it to my blog. My husband and I enjoy this dish very much and we would like you to enjoy it as well. My mother uses bean noodles instead of rice noodles and it tastes amazing. This is a pretty easy dish and you can add whatever veggies you have on hand to create your own rice noodles with pork.

Ingredients:

1/2 -1lb pork (depends on how much meat you want on your plate)

1 cup chopped white mushrooms

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup green onion chopped

2 garlic cloves grated

1/4 cup vinegar (plus more depending on your taste)

salt and pepper

3 tbsp oil

What to do:

Heat oil in a large skillet and add pork. Cook pork until completely done. Add mushrooms, garlic, and cabbage. Cook on medium high heat until the veggies are soft and cooked down.

Cook the rice noodles or bean noodles according to package directions. If directions are not in English just place noodles in boiling water and cook until done, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook the noodles because they will get too soft and fall apart.

When the cabbage has cooked down add the bell peppers. Stir fry for a couple minutes until the bell pepper is slightly softened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the rice noodles or bean noodles are done cooking add to the pork and vegetable skillet. Add the green onions and vinegar. Softly stir everything together.

Place on a plate and enjoy!

Sooo good!

Goluptchiki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

A few weeks ago I posted tifteli and I promised that I would post Goluptsi. In my family we always called them Goluptchiki. The way my mom made goluptchiki, is the tifteli ingredients are what the stuffing for the cabbage is for goluptchiki. I would have to say that goluptsi is one of my favorite Russian/ Ukrainian foods. Right next to Borscht and Oliviye. Goluptsi just like borcht is made completely different by different people and I’m picky about whose I will eat. I absolutely love the way my mom makes them. She makes them very flavorful, very moist and super tiny, bite size even. I know that some people make them super large, meal size and my mother in law makes stuffed grape leaves. I am posting the recipe that my mom gave me and I attempted to make them just like hers. She has many more years experience making them, and I have made them maybe three times in my life. My dad got to try them and according to him they taste just like my moms! He’s so sweet.

This is a very time consuming recipe so you need to have plenty of time to make these. Also one head of cabbage will make a huge pot full of goluptsi. They make great next day leftovers (just reheat in the microwave). Or freeze them and enjoy some other day.

Ingredients:

-1 large head of cabbage

-1 1/4 cup white rice

-2 lb Ground meat of choice (I used 1lb ground turkey and 1lb lean ground beef)

-2 Small onions (1 roughly chopped, 1 grated)

-3 Medium carrots grated

-Salt (4 tsp or to taste. It may seem like a lot of salt but remember that there are 2 lb of meat that needs to be salted)

-Pepper (1 tsp or to taste)

-1/4 Tsp Chili powder

-4 Tbsp ketchup

-Water

-1 Can petite diced tomatoes

Note: If you read my tifteli recipe you will notice that it requires only 1 lb of ground meat. I increased the amount for goluptsi to 2 lb and increased the rice and spices accordingly. You can still use the exact recipe for tifteli for the goluptsi stuffing but will have to use a small head of lettuce or half of a large one.)

What to do:

Cook rice according to package directions. Make sure to keep the rice a little undercooked. Set aside and let cool.

Use a large pot. Fill with water and heat until boiling. Add a few pinches of salt.

Take the cabbage and remove the stem with a knife. Peel away the first couple leaves of the cabbage on the outside. Place the cabbage into the water and let it simmer. Keep an eye on the cabbage. You will notice the outside leaves getting softer. Start peeling them off. When the cabbage leaves are soft enough that you can roll them remove them, place on a platter and let them cool. Continue doing the same thing with the rest of the cabbage.

Cabbage leaves cooling

While the cabbage leaves cool, combine the cooled rice, ground meat, grated onion, 2 grated carrots, salt, pepper, chili powder, and 2 tbs ketchup. Make sure to fold in all the ingredients gently.

Cut the large cabbage leaves in half removing the thick stem. My cabbage was so large I was able to cut the large leaves into three. Of course I was making super tiny golupchiki. You can even use the entire cabbage leave whole just make sure to “shave” down or cut down the stem so that it is easier to roll.

Take the cabbage leave in your hand. Place the desired amount of meat/ rice stuffing. In my case it was about 2-3 tbs.

Take one end and roll it to the other end. Make a fist while gently holding the golupchik in your hand and stuff the loose ends inside.

Continue until all the stuffing is gone or all the cabbage leaves have been stuffed. Keep a few leaves to line the cooking pot. When using the little cabbage leaves just cut down the stem and use the entire leaf. If you have stuffing left over just roll it up into a ball and cook it with the goluptsi, it’s a tiftel now.

Line a large pot with the cabbage leaves you set aside. This is to keep the bottom goluptsi from burning. This is just a precaution and you don’t have to do it if you want to use all the leaves for golupchiki.

Place the golupchiki in one layer. Sprinkle with some grated carrots and onions. Continue with second layer of golupchiki, carrots and onion. When all the golupchiki are in the pot cover with the rest of the ketchup and can of diced tomatoes. Here you can use whatever amount of ketchup and diced tomatoes you would like. It will all cook down and create a nice sauce. Pour enough water into the pot to almost cover the goluptsi.

Heat on high to reach a boil. Turn heat down to medium. Cover and cook for 1 hour. After an hour check on the golutsi. The meat should be completely cooked and the cabbage is easily and effortlessly sliced through. Everyone has a different pot and different stove top so cooking time will vary. It could take up to two hours.

They are so delicious! I enjoy them as a main dish with a side of salad and my husband covers them in sour cream. You can do whatever you like!

Enjoy!

Cherry Cheesecake

Cheesecake is not exactly a Russian food. It’s not Russian at all but we certainly do enjoy it! I found this recipe on my Martha Stewart phone app. It’s called Lite Cherry Cheesecake because it has fewer calories and less fat than a regular cheesecake. I made this cheesecake a couple of times now and let me tell you that it tastes amazing and there is nothing low-calorie or low-fat about the taste. My husband even said that it’s one of the best cheesecakes he’s ever eaten. I cannot keep this recipe to myself. Everyone needs to enjoy it. You can get the original recipe here http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/light-cherry-cheesecake.

You can make that great cherry topping that the recipe recommends but I think you can also try blueberries or mixed berries as well. I wanted to try raspberries and cherries together. It turns out the raspberries just fall apart and create a delicious gooey mess. I had a cherry and raspberry preserve instead!

It turned out very delicious. Enjoy!

Tifteli

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I know that Christmas just passed but we can still celebrate! I love the holiday season. Especially all the delicious food to eat! I thought my two thanksgiving dinners were amazing but I think my Christmas dinners were even better. I am so blessed! I am looking forward to sharing some of the recipes of the dishes I got to enjoy. Unfortunately I was so busy cooking and eating I didn’t take the time to photograph everything. But that’s okay because that just means I’m going to cook and eat again, and this time I’ll share with you. Stay tuned!

This Christmas my mother made goluptsi (stuffed cabage rolls) and tifteli for our Christmas dinner. I think she makes the best! I am very picky about goluptsi and I can only eat my mothers or my own. I just think that it’s something special and needs to be perfect. Goluptsi are stuffed cabbage rolls. In this case boiled cabbage leaves are stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat, carrot, onion, and seasoning. Tifteli are balls of that “stuffing” cooked either separately or together with goluptsi. I did a little research on tifteli and found that not all Ukrainians or Russians even know what they are. Online I found different recipes as well. I will share with you my moms recipe. When I was little and my mom would make them, I always felt sad for my mom because I thought she had no more cabbage left and she had to make these little balls of the filling and called them tifteli. I asked my mom about it and she said that wasn’t always the case. When I told my sister this she said that she thought that my mom made tifteli especially for her because she didn’t like the cabbage. Oh the things we think about when we’re little.

Here’s what you need!

Ingredients:

1 Cup Uncooked white rice

1 lb of Ground meat. Completely your choice. I used ground turkey. You can used ground chicken, pork, or beef or any combination of them.

3 Tsp salt or to taste

1 Tsp Pepper

1/4 Tsp Chili Powder (Optional. I like to add just a tiny bit because of that little kick of spicy you feel on your tongue)

1/4 Cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Small onions ( 1 roughly chopped, 1 grated)

3 Carrots Grated

4 Tbsp Ketchup

1- 15oz  Petite diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp butter

 

Directions:

Cook the rice according to package directions. It is important not to overcook the rice because it will keep cooking with the rest of the ingredients. It is okay to have the rice slightly undercooked.

In a large bowl mix the rice, ground meat, salt, pepper, chili powder, parsley 1 grated onion, 2 grated carrots, and 2 tbsp ketchup.

In a large skillet heat the oil and butter on medium high heat.

Make 2 inch balls out of the meat/rice mixture and add to the skillet. Slightly brown the ball all over by turning it so it doesn’t burn. Add oil if needed.

Once browned, move the tifteli to a small dutch oven or a 4 quart pot. Cover with the remaining onion, carrots and ketchup. Layer the tifteli, one on top of the other. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pot, cover, lower heat to low and let cook for about an hour. Instead of the water you can add a can of petite diced tomatoes. The tomatoes will add to the flavor and the tifteli will be moist and cooked wonderfully. Sooo good! Enjoy!

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