Thursday, December 31, 2009



New Year is a very exciting event in my life and the life of my family. Generally, this is the day when we exchange the presents and Santa Claus might stop by to bring something special for my kids. This is the day, for which, the menu has to be thought through weeks before the event. I cook a lot for 31 December. I try to be rational, and break cooking steps in parts, like boiling the vegetables for salads one day ahead, or baking the sponge cakes. The regular dishes are extremely popular on New Year's Eve table almost in every post-Soviet countries families. We cook "Olivie" salad, "Herring under the fur coat", Caviar on top of the crust bread and champagne. Even, many are saying that all the heavy salads with mayonnaise and meat are sooo bad for your body, and I clearly understand that. Still, the taste of it reminds of childhood, spent awaiting for the presents, and the Holiday spirit full of magic and surprises. 

The Menu for the New Year party.

Olivie salad
Herring under the coat of shredded cooked vegetables
Carrots salad -Korean style
Stuffed cherry tomatoes
Caviar tart
Shrimp, cucumber and avocado salad
Crab cakes
Shrimp Kebabs
Smoked Salmon souffle
Mushroom paste
Eggplant rolls
Lamb Ribs
Young potatoes
My Special Cake 
Ant House Cake in a shape of Tiger's head

There is a tradition to make wishes , while the clock's beat goes on for 12 times. We all spend those beats with the dreams and wishes in our head. I wish you to never forget you wishes and keep dreaming no matter what it takes. 

Happy New Year!!! Have a great 2010!!!!

The recipes will be published after 1st. January. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


   The recipe from SULTANORHANGAZI. (youtube recipe)

   I make baklava pretty often and always try something new, trying to find the one, the perfect one. This time , I tried the recipe , which I found on YouTube channel. I followed exact recipe, and I loved it. The baklava pieces come very light, because you use only 2 sheets of filo pastry per a row. It's good to know, but doesn't save you from the calories, because everyone just had 10 pieces at a time. It's easy to make and fast. The rolling pin that she has in the video is also available in asian supermarkets. Mine is a little bit short, that's why I had to cut 2 cm from the edge of the pastry to fit the rolling pin.

Christmas Card. Project for kids.

 I volunteered in my son's class yesterday as an art teacher. I decided to show them how to make a greeting card. This is an  easy project and with your help and a little story, your kids will have fun making it.

 The first greeting cards, is believed, were used in China in 1400s. Chinese people celebrated the Traditional Chinese New Year and loved to exchange the greetings written on a small cards. The European travelers loved the idea of giving cards and brought it with them to Europe. Germans , of course took the whole idea to a new level and decided to print greeting cards. They used carved wood blocks to make copies of the same card. I showed kids stamps and we made some nice small stamped cards. 

 One of the oldest Valentine card is kept in British Museum . The card is more than 600 years old. I asked children when do we use cards and why do we need them. We also discussed the meaning of the tradition word. They decided that giving and receiving card was a beautiful tradition that made people happy. 

 I told them that very real artist needs an INSPIRATION. We discussed the inspiration meaning and they shared their favorite inspiration with me. I baked some gingerbread man cookies at home and brought them for children as an inspiration for their project. They learned that the gingerbread cookies recipe came from Germany and that Germans brought it with them to America. Germans loved the beautiful state Pennsylvania and built their houses in Lancaster county. We discussed the ways of decoration of the house and trees and learned that the same ornaments and decorations were not available at that time. That's why children loved the decorated gingerbread cookies. The used them to hang on the Christmas trees and used to put them on the windows. The passing by people saw the little smiley faces of the cookies and that cheered them up in  cold, winter days.


You will need

1 RED or GREEN cardstock paper folded in half for the card.
1 BROWN paper for the gingerbread man
1 Strip of some colorful paper (you can look in your wrapping paper collection)
1 BLUE cardstock paper
Construction paper for buttons and decoration of the gingerbread man
Hole Puncher
Glue stick or glue dots
Christmas themed stamps and Ink pad

For children I made templates of the Ginger man out of Cereal boxes. They had to just trace the figure on the brown paper and cut it out. If you have little kids, then precut all the "ingredients" of the card, and then simply assembly them on the card. Decorate it with some stamping or color it with a white pencil.

Have Fun!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


  This recipe is from "Great Recipes of the Great Cooks" cookbook by Patrick Clark. The recipe requires to cook your own Moroccan Barbecue Sauce. The sauce is to die for. It's sweet , delicious, with nice heat and aromas. The sauce is about 1 cup and it will be enough for couple times.


2 1/2 cups honey
1 cup ketchup
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp chile paste with garlic  (You can find it in Asian food store)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
5 star anise
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground mace (I didn't have mace, and it was still fine)

In a medium -sized nonreactive saucepan, combine the honey, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, chile paste, cilantro, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cardamon, cloves, and mace and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer , stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes, or until reduced by one third. Strain through a fine strainer into a bowl and discard the solids. Cool to room temperature.

After you prepared the recipe above, and cool it to the room temperature, preheat the oven to  400 degrees F.
Season the salmon to taste with coarse salt and pepper, lay on a heavy-duty baking sheet, and baking for 7 minutes. remove the pan from the oven and lightly coat the salmon steaks or fillet with the sauce. Roast  the fish until ready.
You can serve it with additional sauce.

Saturday, December 5, 2009



Sorry, I do not have picture. The dish was gone in seconds, and I couldn't find anything left for the photo. This curry is very delicious. You can easily substitute chicken with vegetables or tofu and make your own vegetarian version of curry. Serve it with basmati rice. 


I used about 2 pounds of chicken thighs cut into cubes
2 yellow onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 inch of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter or ghee
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp of mustard seed (my own preference, optional)
1 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
10 fresh cilantro
1 cup cashews grounded in food processor
1 cup whole-milk regular yogurt (if I don't have yogurt, I substitute it with sour-cream mixed with kefir)

Heat butter in heavy pot. Cook the onions until golden color. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook 1 minute and add all the spices ( curry, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, salt). Cook the spices for 2 minutes, do not forget to stir it. Add chicken and stir. Cook chicken for 5-7 minutes and add tomatoes. After the sauce will start boil, lower the heat and simmer it for 30 minutes. Do not forget to stir.

Pulse you cashews in food processor and when the chicken is ready, add the cashews with yogurt into the curry. Stir very well and cook just until first bubble.  Chop the cilantro leaves and garnish the curry.

Friday, December 4, 2009



1 whole red snapper (ask the guy from the store to clean the fish)
olive oil
salt, ground pepper
1 lemon
1/2 of a yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 ziplock bag

The fish is perfect as good lamb chops with simple seasoning like salt and pepper. My kids, unfortunately, don't like the fishy smell and that's why I try to marinate fish for at least 30 minutes in lemon juice.

Prepare your fish, wash the inside and dry the fish with paper towels. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon, chop the garlic, add a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the fish cavity with salt and pepper. Put the fish into a ziplock bag and pour the lemon juice mixture. After locking the bag, massage the fish with juice and leave it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Line a heavy baking sheet with foil and and oil it with olive oil. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place fish atop the foil. Slice the onions into rings. Place few circles of onion inside the fish. If you have few sprigs of rosemary, place it inside the fish. Slice the lemon and place few slices on top of the fish.

Bake the fish for about 40 minutes until the fish is cooked through the bone.

Monday, November 30, 2009



 Thanksgiving holiday was really a joy in my family. The special feast required a special dessert. After looking through hundreds of recipes, I couldn't find something new that I had never done before. Then, I remembered about the Pierre Herme book, and found this recipe. 
The cake is very delicious. Rich ganache is to die for, together with dried apricots the cake tastes heavenly. 

It took me 4 hours to complete the cake. The recipe is not very difficult and you can definitely fasten the process if you will think throughly the timing, since some of the components can be done in advance.

The recipe is long and may scare you away, but if you will think over of all the components before starting the process, you will see that the it is not complicated as it seems.

This recipe makes two cakes-one for now and one that can be stored in the freezer. You will need two 
7 1/2 by 3 1/2  pound cake pans (loaf pans).  My loaf  pans are 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches, that's why I had a good size one cake and second pan was baked with a thin cake layer. 

You can bake in advance COCOA CAKES (Sometimes I bake cake in the evening before the day of the party and store them wrapped airtight at room temperature.)
 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (40 grams) Dutch-processes cocoa powder
 1/4 cup (35 grams) cake flour
 3 1/2 tbsp potato starch
 5 1/2 tbsp (75 grams) unsalted butter
 9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
 1 1/4 cups sugar
 5 large eg whites, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two loaf pans, then line  the pans with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the cocoa powder , cake flour, and potato starch. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

3. Working in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup plus 2 table spoons  of the sugar on a medium-high speed. About 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl. You will need another mixer to beat the egg whites, if you don't have one, scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl and wash and dry you mixer bowl and whisk attachment.

4. Whip the egg white at medium-hih speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the 
remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

5. Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sifted dry ingredients  and 1/4 of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled melted butter, stirring to incorporate the butter as much as possible. Add the butter and the remaining white to the yolk mixture. Gently fold everything together.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans - it should come three-quarters of the way up the sides. Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes. Check with the wooden skewer or the toothpick for doneness. 

7. Cool the loaves, allow them to rest 3 minutes in their pans, then gently unmold them onto cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.


 ( can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salted butter (or use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
6 tbsp warm water

Put the sugar in a medium saucepan or a small skillet and place the pan over medium heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt , stir it with a wooden spoon. Keep heating and stirring the sugar until it turns a rich brown color. Standing away from the pan , drop the butter into the pan , then  as it melts , stir it into the caramelized sugar. Stand back again and add the water. When the mixture comes to the boil, pull the pan from the heat. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.


 6 ounces (170 grams) moist, plump dried apricots.
 1 cup water
 Juice of 1/2 lemon
 pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the apricots  and water in a medium saucepan  and bring to a gentle boil.Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 3- 4 minutes. Drain the apricots and let cool

 When they are cool, cup the apricots into small dice.  (If you'd like, you can reserve couple apricots and use them to decorate the tops of the cakes). Toss the apricots with lemon juice and black pepper and set them aside until needed.


 6 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (the best quality you can find), finely chopped
 4 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
 2/3 cup sugar
 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter (if unsalted , then add a pinch of salt)
 1 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature.

1. Mix together bittersweet and milk chocolate together in a large heatproof bowl.

2. Set a heavy-botomed medium saucepan over medium -high heat and sprinkle about one-third of the sugar over the bottom of the pan. As soon as the sugar starts to melt and color, stir it with wooden spoon until it melts and caramelize. Sprinkle over half of the remaining sugar and, as soon as it starts to melt , stir it into caramelized sugar in the pan. Repeat with the last of the sugar and cook until the sugar is deep brown color. Stand away from the pan , still stirring, add the butter and then, when the butter is incorporated, the cream. Stir  and bring the cream to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Pour half of the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate, using rubber spatula , stir gently. When the chocolate is smooth, add the remaining caramel, stirring. Set the ganache aside to cool for about 10 minutes. It should still be warm to a touch.

4. While the ganache is cooling, beat the unsalted butter , using either the paddle attachment or spatula. You want to soften the butter until it is consistency of mayonnaise, but you don not want to beat air into it. Gently stir the butter into the ganache. You can use it now or store it in refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to use it, allow it to come to room temperature and stir it. 

5. To work with ganache, it must be the consistency of a very creamy frosting and must have enough body to mound. Place bowl of ganache in refrigerator, checking every 5 minutes  to stir it , so it doesn't become too firm around the edges. 


Working with a serrate knife, slice each cake horizontally into 3 even layers. Place a first layer on the cardboard or cake platter. Using a pastry brush, dab the bottom layers with the syrup. Use a metal spatula to spread ganache over the moistened layer. (1/2 inch thick) Top the layer of the ganache with half of apricots and very gently press the apricots into ganache. Set the next layer into place on each cake, and moisten it syrup. Smooth each layer with another layer of ganache and dot with remaining apricots. Moisten the top layer with syrup and settle it on the place. Spread a very thin layer of ganache over the side and tops of the cakes. Chill the cake for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Keep the ganache at room temperature. Remove the cake and spread a new layer of ganache on top and sides with metal spatula. Use a fork to comb the sides of the cake for decorative purpose. You can serve the cake now or refrigerate it for up to 12 hours. If the cake is too cold the extraordinary texture of he ganache is diminished. Just before serving, dust the tops lightly with cocoa powder. Place the reserved whole apricots.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009



I love Bundt cakes! They are easy to make, very quick and ingredients are usually already awaiting in your pantry.
I have 3-4 recipes which I make from time to time. They are tested many times by my family and my friends. If you are going to bake something for the 1st. time, I would also suggest to start your experiment with Bundt-cake. 

Recipe is shared by VSEWARD (CHEF-V) in Recipezaar forum.

You will need a bundt-cake pan.

2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 kosher salt
1 (2 sticks) cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup, regular sour cream, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 F. I preheat it to 350 F usually.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Mix together really well and set aside.

Generously spray a 9-inch Bundt pan with Pam. I use the shortening and cover all the nooks and cranies and a tube with my fingers.

Gently dust the entire inside of the pan with the sugar  and cinnamon mixture. You should use 1/4 cup of sugar, evenly coat the inside surface of the pan, including the tube. Set aside the remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Beat just the butter in a medium speed for one full minute. Add the white sugar and mix for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl. Mix until white and fluffy. Add the brown sugar. Mix for 2 minutes until mixture looks light brown and uniform in color. Add eggs-one at a time, beating each for 1 full minute. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternatively with the sour cream;beat well.

Spread half of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle  with 1/4-1/3 of cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the batter. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan and sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over top.

Bake in preheated oven for 55-65 minute. My baking time was 50 minutes. Check the cake with the toothpick. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes on the wire rack and then invert the cake on the wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009



Recipe is from Good Housekeeping "Best -Loved Desserts"

It's a nice recipe of very delicious cookies. You can bake them for some-speacial occasion, they are perfect for the Holiday season.

1 cup-all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter
3 tbsp cold water
1 jar (7 oz) macadamia nuts
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 9-inch pan with foil, grease foil. If you don't have exact 9-inch pan, I used the slight bigger rectangle one and build up the necessary size with the foil.

In a medium bowl, with a wire whisk, mix flour, sugar , and salt. With knives or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with fork after each addition. Help with your hands to moist all the dough. With lightly floured hands, press dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. With fork, prick dough at 1-inch intervals to prevent puffing.

Bake crust until golden, 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Turn your ovens heat to 375 F.

Coarsely chop 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, reserve hem for the topping. In food processor with knife blade attached, pulse remaining macadamia nuts and brown sugar until nuts are finely ground. Add egg and vanilla. Pulse until just combined.

Spread macadamia filling evenly over cooled crust with a spatula. Sprinkle reserved chopped macadamia nuts on top. Bake until filling has set , 20 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool , lift foil with pastry out of pan and place on cutting board. Cut into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 squares, cut each square diagonally in half.

P.S. The macadamia nuts are little bit pricier than other nuts, but very delicious. You can find them in your local Nut store, Whole Foods or Turkish grocery stores. I also, think that walnuts would work great  in this recipe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Change Your Life

Here is the great article , I found on a lovely -positive blog. I hope it can give you a good start for a day!!!

5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Change Your Life

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, November 15, 2009



I consider myself a very good baker, and working on a cake for 12 hours doesn't scare me usually, but somehow I always had a fear to bake an all-American pie. I have some kind of dislike to the recipes which requires to stop the process in order to put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Under a pressure of Thanksgiving menus seen and heard form everywhere, I decided that I must to try something that I had never had in my life- THE PUMPKIN PIE. I did the dough from scratch but you can definitely use the store-bought. The recipe was found by me in the trusted source -American Test Kitchen.


1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
 2 tbsp. dark-brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3-4 tbsp ice water


1 (15 oz) can plain pumpkin puree
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup evaporated milk
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


1 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch salt
2 tsp dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp granulated sugar

Process flour, brown sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl. Sprinkle 3 tbsp of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together until the dough sticks together. If needed, add another tablespoon of water. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk.Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 -hour. After 1 hour , roll the disk in between two-parchment paper sheets. The sheets should floured. Roll it into 12-inch circle 1/8-inch thick.Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Press the dough gently into the plate and refrigerate for about 30 minute , then freeze for 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375 F.Line the chilled dough with a double layer of aluminum foil and fill it with dry beans or pennies. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and foil  and continue to bake for 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.


Heat oven to 350F. Process the pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in a food processor, about 1-minute.Cook the mixture in large sauce over the medium-high heat until thickened, about 4 minutes.Off the heat, whisk in the evaporated milk into the pumpkin mixture, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Pour the filling into the warmed pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is puffed and cracked around the edges and the center barely jiggles.

While the pie is baking, combine the pecans, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the corn syrup and vanilla, using your fingers to combine. Scatter the topping evenly over the filling and sprinkle granulated sugar. Bake until the topping is bubbling around the edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely , at least 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

The family's opinion was divided into half. Half of the family liked the pie very much and another half wasn't impressed much. The dessert itself is very good, it's just that we are so much more chocolate ganache and cake people than pumpkin pie eaters.    :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Raising Respectful and Happy Kids

    I have read a wonderful book "Raising Respectful kids in a Rude World" by Gary McKay, Joyce McKay, Daniel Eckstein and Steven Maybell and wanted to share few things that I learned from it.

    Raising kids is not an easy job. Every question they ask , every action they do, may puzzle even the most knowledgeable and best parent. The older my kids get, the more difficult I find it for myself. More often, I am trying to recall my childhood memories and think of what my parents told or did. (I think that I have greatest parents and loved they way they raised me).Sometimes, I think of myself as a child and think of how I would react about some issues. But sometimes none of that works because, first of all, I am not a boy-and I have two boys, and I just never faced some brutal male fights or conversations. Second is that the time and place that my kids are growing in are absolutely different from mine. I had read tons of books, and never felt like any of them answered my questions. Either the problems described in them didn't exist in our life, or people who wrote the books didn't have kids of their own. The "Raising Respectful kids in a Rude World" have tons of practical advices and examples. Here are few things that I highlighted for myself and wanted to share them with you.

 -Those who misunderstand equality also misunderstand rights. They believe equality means,  " I have the right to do whatever  I want." The misconception leads to insensitive and uncivil behavior. Don't forget about your kids rights.
-Rudeness can be prevented only to the extent that parents practice mutual respect and equality in all areas of family life.
-PARENTING ROLES: -The "Boss"-a parent who gives orders.
                                        - The "Doormat"-a parent who gives in.
                                        -The " Servant"-a parent who gives special service.
Many parents alternate between roles, but most of us have predominant one.
-Some kids of bossy parents become afraid of their parents. As they grow up, this fear can be transferred to any authority figure and hamper their development. "Connie, a charming 15- year old, was the delight of her parents. She always did what they asked. That's why they were so shocked when they found out she was pregnant. It turned out she'd chosen a boyfriend who liked to tell her what to do, and she followed his wishes."
-Limits without any freedom do not teach kids how to function in a world where they are expected to make decisions.
-" 12-year -old Vicki, an only child, was raised with an abundance of love from her parents who never wanted her to be unhappy. They did everything they could to please her. Whenever she felt challenged by any task, her parents were there to help her or do it for her. Vicki had a hard  time making friends, as they would not always give in to her. As she grew older, she felt more overwhelmed with responsibilities at school and frequently acted helpless.Whenever her parents decided not to give in to her wishes, Vicki would sulk and pout, and if her parents persisted, call them name and throw a temper tantrum."
-It's a important to let children do for themselves what they are capable of doing. Even young children can learn to do things for themselves.
-Giving choices and letting children learn from the consequences of heir choices, helps kids learn responsibility for themselves and their responsibility to others.
-Parents can use choices to help children learn responsibilities toward others. "Elizabeth, 15, is in her room playing music. The volume is very high.Mom knocks on the door loudly, so as to be heard over the music volume. Elizabeth comes to the door."Elizabeth", Mom says, "the volume of the music is disturbing us. Please turn it down, use your earphones, or turn it off;you decide"
-" Eight -year -old Jake liked to show off when Mom and Dad had company. Dad told Jake his boss was coming to dinner and that he'd appreciate it if Jake would be on his best behavior. "If you decide to clown around, I 'll ask you to go to your room and stay there until you are ready to cooperate."That evening, Jake began to show off. Dad excused himself and calmly took  Jake by his hand and led him to his room. Dad told Jake he could come back when he was ready to cooperate. Jake came out of his room , he cooperated for the rest of the evening. When the company left, Dad thanked Jake for his cooperation."
-"Susan -5 and Debbie-3 are sisters. Usually when they play together, they argue and take toys from each other, and at least one of them ends up crying. One day, Mom sees them playing nicely together. She comments, "I see you are playing nicely. You two look like you are really enjoying yourselves!" Encourage are quick to catch the child being good.
-You can use this creativity in a positive way. You can set up situations where kids are encouraged to use their strengths. "11-year -old John was by no means the perfect child, but he did have some talents. he was good at math. Mom acknowledged his skill and asked if he would help he balance the checkbook."
-Listen and respect your kids ideas and realize that if your child or teen doesn't agree with you, it doesn't mean the kid is wrong.
-Parents build self-esteem by *Accepting the child or teen*Having positive and realistic expectations*Focusing on the positive*Recognizing contributions*Focusing on effort and improvement*Recognizing and understanding the child's feelings *Having faith and confidence* Letting the child do what the child or teen is capable of doing* Giving choices and letting the child learn from the consequences*Instilling the courage to be imperfect*Teaching kids to care about others, to have good-manners, to help -out.
-If kids participate only in ares where they are immediately successful, their lives will be very narrow and they will not experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from well-rounded life.
- Examples of PRAISE vs Examples of ENCOURAGEMENT
" I am so proud of that great report card."- "I hope you are proud of yourself for learning so much and doing so well in school this period."
 "What a good boy you have been all day!"- "I appreciate how cooperative you have been all day!"
"Mommy is so happy that you've cleaned your room"- "I bet it feels good to have your room back in order!"
"I am so thrilled being your parent when you play as well as you did today" -" I am so glad you are in my life."
 -Encouragement can be given for accomplishment, but it also focuses on effort and improvement, and unlike praise, can be given when a child doesn't achieve.
-When you say " I am so proud of you"-is actually discouraging. Why? Because the parents pride is based on deeds. Can you be just as proud of your children because they are worthwhile even when they fail? Instead say: " I will bet you are proud of yourself!"
-Encouraging words: " I really enjoyed our time together today";"You seem to enjoy (name of activity"; "You gave it your best, and that's all you can do."; "You worked really hard on it."; "You are improving (tell how)";"Thanks for helping me. It made my job easier.";" You have a talent... Would you help me with?"; "I know you can do it.";
-Don't give encouragement with one hand and take with another: "I know you can handle it.... So you better get busy! "
-Use alternative messages. : " You get off the computer right now. I don't have to tell you again!" use " When you stay on the computer so long, I feel frustrated because we agreed to a time limit."
-I -Messages is great technique. Messages such as, " You always.." " You never.." "You should..."-are examples of " YOU -Messages" Instead try to emphasize to I and Me. " I am disappointed when you leave your toys on the floor";" I can't sleep when the TV is so loud"; " I feel frustrated when...."
- Use Open questions.A closed question usually requires a limited "yes" or "no". Open questions start with who, what, when, where, how and why.
-Rewards and punishments make the parents responsible for kids behavior. Choices within limits help kids take responsibility. The problem with rewards-they tend to escalate. A candy bar may motivate the 5-year -old, but the reward could become a car when the child is old enough.
-Reminding takes the responsibility for remembering away from kids. It's as if they need a personal secretary to follow them around and act as their memory. Do not "If you do it one ore time...";" How many times I told you...";

Personally, I believe, that the parent should be a happy person, with a a great sense of humor and appreciation for the world and share those feelings with their kids.

Thursday, November 12, 2009




1 lb grouns lamb meat
1 lb ground beef meat
1 medium  onion
1/2 of medium bunch fresh parsley
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp baking soda
crushed cumin and coriander -2 tsp
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Process the onion and parsley in the food processor, chop the garlic. Mix the meats and all the ingredients. Mix it throughly very much for 3 minutes with your hands until very well blended.

You can serve the koftes in the pita pockets or on top of the rice with salad. If you are planning to eat as a sandwich, form 1 inch balls. If you going to serve it over the rice, form 2 inches long oval koftes.

I own a wonderful electric grill, which I can use inside the house. I am very satisfied with the results. You can grill yours outside or use the cast-iron pan for grilling on top of the stove. If you don't want to spend time by the grill, by flipping the koftes, you can simply place all shaped koftes on the baking pan and place it in the oven. Turn on the broiler and broil the koftes until lightly brown on one side. Flip the koftes and broil the other sides.

Serve with the hummus and kisir.



 There were days, when I and my husband were coming home so late from work and school that the only open food place was our neighbor chinese take-out place. We used to eat Lo-mein everyday. It was sick, I know. Those days are in a history now, but sometimes I carve for the shrimp Lo-mein at home. Through the years I created this basic recipe which will help you to create Lo-Mein of your choice-Chicken or Shrimp at home.



1 -Package of spaghetti, fettuccine or fresh Lo-mein noodles.(whatever is available)
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken boneless thighs or 1-2 lbs shrimp.
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 inch of fresh finely chopped ginger
3-4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth ( I make mine sometimes from Broth cubes)
1 tbsp of starch
1 tbsp of rice vinegar

IMPROVISATION:  (Put anything you have in your refrigerator)

1 red bell pepper
2 cups of chopped bok-choy  or 1 cup of chopped cabbage
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms 
1 cup of shredded carrots (sticks)
1 zucchini
green scallions
sesame seeds
1 yellow onion
12 oz. snow peas or french green beans
1 cup of broccoli


Prepare the noodles or spaghetti as instructed on the package. Chop, cut all the ingredients. It's very important to prepare everything you will cook before the cooking process, because the chinese cooking process goes very fast.

Heat the wok or big frying pan. Fry the chicken or shrimps with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Put the cooked meat or shrimps in a plate. Reheat the wok and add the sesame oil, fry onions, carrots, broccoli, mushroom, bell pepper, garlic and ginger at last.

Mix the chicken broth with soy sauce and starch. Add the broth into wok and mix it for 2-3 minutes.

Add chicken (shrimp), bok-choy and scallions. Mix it very well and add rice vinegar, red pepper for heat (optional), sesame seeds and spaghetti (noodles). Mix the Lo-Mein and serve right away.

Trust your inner chef and improvise!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009




2 cans chick-peas.
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tbsp tahini paste (sesame seeds paste, found in Middle-Eastern stores)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt

In a food-processor, puree the chick-peas, mashed garlic, lemon juice, tahini sauce, salt, olive oil and water. Add water or lemon juice, if necessary, to thin the hummus to the desired consistency and transfer it to the bowl. Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with some paprika.

P.S. Before you cook any can product, you should drain and wash throughly with the cold water. It will reduce the sodium -level in double and make your dishes taste better.




2 tbsp medium-coarse or fine bulgur (can be found in Middle-Eastern food-store)
1 medium size bunch of finely chopped fresh parsley
1 medium size bunch of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 bunch (8-10) chopped scallions
2 medium chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp of hot pepper paste (if you cannot find, you can skip it)
Juice of 1/2 of Lemon
salt to taste

Bring to a boil 1 cup of water in a small pot. Put 2 tablespoons of bulgur and stir. Boil it for 20 seconds and drain in a sieve. Let it stand.

Mix all the fine-chopped ingredients in the salad bowl. Add prepared bulgur, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper paste.

P.S. Hot pepper paste gives red color and heat to the salad. You can add fresh finely chopped chili pepper. If you wish, you can also add fresh mint ( about 1/2 cup)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009



This recipe was found by me many years ago in a wonderful newspaper of Uzbekistan and later adopted to different ingredients and different places that I stayed in. I call it samsa, only because the pirozhki in triangle shape with meat and onion inside were called like that in Central Asia. There is not much common with a real samsa in this recipe, but it still gives me courage to highly advice you to try it at home.


1 cup of warm milk
1 packet of active-dry yeast (2  1/2 tsp)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp of salt (if using the unsalted butter)
3-4 cup of all-purpose flour (depends on the flour)
2 sticks of unsalted butter or margarine (softened). If you use margarine, avoid the salt.


1 1/2 lb ground turkey meat
2 medium onion
ground black pepper
ground cumin and coriander

In my early attempts to make the samsa, I added 2 eggs, but it requires little bit more time.

Warm up 1 cup of milk. Touch it with your finger, the milk should have  pleasant warm temperature. Mix in 1 packet of the active-dry yeast and sugar.Let it stand.

Sift in 3 cups of flour in a separate bowl . Add softened butter and mix in the butter with your hands. Do not knead the dough, try to get crumbles.

In the cup of milk, you will see the active growth of the yeast. Add the mixture into the flour. Knead the dough into the ball shape. Add more flour, if needed. The dough should be very pliable, not sticky at all. Sometimes I add up to 5 cups of flour.

After the dough is shaped into a ball, put it in the bowl and covet it tightly with plastic and place it in refrigerator.

Time to prepare the meat filling.

Clean the onion and process it in the food processor. Mix the ground turkey meat and onions in medium size bowl. Add salt, pepper, cumin, coriander. Mix it very well.

Heat the oven 350 F.

Cover the baking tray with parchment paper.

Get the dough out of the refrigerator , cut 1/4 part of it. Place the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator. On the floured surface, cut the dough into walnut -size pieces. Roll each piece with the rolling pin into a circle. Place 1 tbsp (or less) of meat filling in the middle of the circle. Pull two top sides of the circle and stick them together, add the bottom side and shape the triangle. Place the shaped samsa on the baking tray. The stitches should on the bottom.When you fill one baking tray, brush the tops of the samsas with egg-wash. You can sprinkle sesame seeds or black cumin (black sesame) seeds (optional). Put the baking tray into the oven.Bake for 30 minutes.

Continue with the remaining dough.

Long time ago, I was adding 2 eggs into the milk mixture. After that, the process is absolutely the same. The only different requirement is that you will need to leave the dough in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
I also used ground beef instead of turkey.

If you have any questions, please write in the comments, I will be happy to help.

Monday, November 9, 2009



 Adapted from DELICIOUS magazine

100 g white chocolate, roughly chopped. I used white chocolate chips.
300 ml heavy cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup (55 gr) caster sugar
500gr mascarpone cheese
150 ml prepared strong espresso coffee, cooled
100 ml Kahlua liquer
24 lady fingers bisquits (savoiardi)
250 gr fresh raspberries (optional)
Chocolate sauce (optional)

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave or in small owl over a pan with simmering water ( do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir gently,  until chocolate smooth. Set melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.

Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks, the fold in the cooled chocolate.

I used the standing mixer and removed the whipped cream to another bowl. The standing mixer's bowl we will need for whisking the eggs and 2 tablespoons of sugar, until pale. Whisk in the mascarpone. Carefully fold a quarter of chocolate cream into the mascarpone mixture, then fold in the remaining chocolate cream. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Combine coffee, Kahlua and remaining 1 tbsp of caster sugar in a shallow dish.

One at a time dip your lady fingers into the coffee mixture and lay in a row on flat serving platter. Using the palette knife, spread the mascarpone cream on the top. Throw the raspberries on the top. Top with another 8 dipped fingers, remaining mascarpone and berries, followed by the remaining 8 dipped fingers and mascarpone cream.

Chill for at least 2 hours in refrigerator or overnight.

When ready to serve, drizzle tiramisu with chocolate sauce. Or sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve the chocolate sauce on a side.


300 gr good-quality dark chocolate chopped
300 ml heavy cream

Place cream over a medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 8, 2009



 Inspired by Simply Ming cooking

 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2 -inch       dice
 1 tbsp cornstarch
 1 tbsp curry powder
  1/2 inch of fresh ginger root chopped
 Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
 2 medium onions cut into 1-inch dice
 2 small zucchini cut in 1 inch cubes
 1/2 cup chicken broth
 4 tbsp canola oil

First prepare all the ingredients -cut, chop and reserve everything. The cooking part is going very fast. Do not forget to put your rice on the stove. You will have the rice and the chicken will be ready at the same time.

I mixed 4 tbsp of canola oil, ginger and curry powder.

In medium bowl combine chicken and cornstarch and mix to coat the chicken completely.

Heat a wok or heavy saute pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of Curry-Ginger oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until ready 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Return the wok back to the heat and add 2 tablespoons  and ass onions. Stir fry onions until soft about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and stir fry until the zucchini is tender for 4-5 minutes.Return the chicken to the wok , add the broth  and bring it to boil, about 30 secons-1 minute. Stir  and remove from the stove. Serve over the rice immediately.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Lemons Bars
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Baking Book.

The recipe is easy and the bars are very tender and delicious. The crust is the crumbiest and the Lemon top is very tender and Lemony. The perfect Vitamin C dessert for Cold Days.

3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) softened butter

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar

3 to 4 large lemons ( 3 large lemons must be enough)

6 large eggs (room temperature)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease 13 by 9 baking pan.  Line pan with foil, extending foil over rim;lightly grease foil. The foil covered fully the glass pan that I used , that's why I didn't grease the pan.

In food processor with knife blade attached, pulse butter, 2 cups flour and 2/3 cup confectioners sugar until mixture is moist but crumbly.

Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan. With fingertips, press dough evenly
onto bottom of pan. Bake until lightly brown for 20-25 minutes

While crust bakes, prepare filling. From lemons, grate 2 1/2 tsp peel and squeeze 2/3 cup juice. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat eggs. Add lemon peel and juice, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk until well blended. (3-5 minutes)

When the crust is ready, whisk your lemon filling again and pour onto hot crust. Bake until filling is just set and golden around edges 18 -22 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack. Sift remaining 1 tbsp confectioners sugar over warm filling. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

When cool, lift foil with pastry out of pan and place on cutting board;carefully peel the foil away from sides. If you like trim edges. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips , then cut each strip crosswise into 8 pieces. I cut into diamond shapes.