Thanksgiving 2015

What a nice Thanksgiving this year!  I was quite calm in my kitchen.  I spent from 8am to 9pm in my favorite spot.  Starting from breakfast at the beginning of the day to Thanksgiving food festivities to clean up, all went smoothly.

This year I bought a Heritage turkey at Ski’s Meat Market.  Along with the turkey we had stuffing, mashed potatoes (Eric brought), sweet potato casserole (Paige brought), baked onion casserole, lasagna, Russian potato salad, ham, rustic dinner rolls, cranberry orange Bundt cake and apple crisp.

We had great conversation along with a delicious meal. Plenty of leftovers to share.  That is the best part of a meal, the leftovers to go home with.  Here is my stuffing recipe for this year;

Checkered Stuffing (or Dressing, whichever works for you)

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10 cups day old bread (rye, pumpernickel, white and wheat, thus checkered), diced into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage (I used sweet)
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks or 12 ounces)
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium sized celery, chopped 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups turkey stock (or you could use chicken broth)
2 eggs


  1. Toast cubed bread in 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. (I did this a couple of days before Thanksgiving. I put in ziploc bag until I was ready to use.)
  2. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  3. Melt 3/4 cup butter in large skillet, add onions and celery.  Saute until soft, 8-10 minutes.
  4. While celery and onions are sauteing put together the stuffing. In a large bowl add the toasted bread cubes with herbs, sausage, salt and pepper.
  5. Add butter, onions and celery to large bowl along with 1 1/4 cups broth.  Toss gently.
  6. Whisk 1/14 cups of broth and 2 eggs in a small bowl.  Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined.
  7. Transfer to prepared dish, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-30 minutes.  Until top is browned and crisp.

Kent likes his stuffing cooked in the bird.  I lightly stuffed the cavity of the turkey.  (Don’t worry, it was cooked thoroughly.)

This stuffing was a hit. We will be adding this to our Thanksgiving dinners and even diners throughout the year.  Now I have 2 dishes I will be making each Thanksgiving; Checkered Stuffing and Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake.


Russian Salad – Simple and Delicious

During the holiday season Martin requests Russian Salad.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas he requests this salad on the table.  Each year I get better and better at chopping pea sized potatoes, carrot and pickles. The smaller you chop, the better it is.

Russian Salad

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5 medium sized potatoes, diced (I usually use Russet)
2 medium sized carrots, diced
4 dill pickles, diced
5 eggs, hardboiled, diced
1 cup peas (I use frozen)
1 cup ham, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper (I use 1-1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2-1 teaspoon pepper)


  1.  Dice the potatoes and carrots to peas size.  Put in sauce pan. Cover with water and parboil.
  2. Dice/chop the pickles, eggs, ham and green onions.  Dice as small as you can.  Pea size is good, but you could chop the pickles even smaller. (Sometimes I am a great dicer, sometimes not so much!)
  3. Drain the potatoes and carrots.  Put in large bowl.
  4. Add rest of ingredients to bowl and mix well.  Be sure you taste it. You may need to add more mayo or seasonings to your taste
  5. Place in refrigerator and serve after the salad sets for at least 2 hours.  I generally make the night before.

The chopping can take time.  I find it a great stress reliever.  Yeah, that sounds kind of crazy but it works for me.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  ALSO, I try to chop everything so when the potatoes and carrots are done parboiling I can put it all together.  Enjoy this simple and delicious salad!

Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

Thanksgiving  2015.  We enjoyed this so much last year I thought I would add to our menu this year.  You should give it a try! Simple and Delicious!!

Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

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2 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
6 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen cranberries (I used fresh)

Orange Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons of fresh juice from an orange
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon orange extract


1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray and lightly flour.
2.  In large bowl beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  (I used my stand up mixer)
3.  Add vanilla and orange peel.  Blend well.
4.  Beat in eggs one at a time.
5.  In medium bowl, mix 3 cups flour, the baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Gently stir in cranberries. Pour and spread batter into pan.
6.  Bake 60-75 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. (It took 75 minutes for this cake in my oven.)  Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan.
7.  For the glaze;  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, butter and extract – whisk until smooth. Drizzle over bundt cake.  ENJOY!!

Grilled Cheese – Simple and Delicious

I found an article in Food Network magazine about grilled cheese sandwiches.  It had 12 different recipes.  I passed it around a couple of Fridays ago and had the kids pick out which one they would like for Sunday dinner.  I made Minestrone Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was a fun, relaxing Sunday.  I had a blast making the different sandwiches.  I ended up making a Parisian, Italian, Brie and Apricot and later in the week a Pastrami grilled cheese.


Italian Grilled Cheese

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Hero Roll sliced in half, 1 slice Provolone cheese, salami, prosciutto or soppresseta, hot cherry peppers, 1 slice provolone.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium low heat; add the sandwich and top with another skillet.  Cook until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes per side.


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Split a croissant, spread dijonnaise on the cut sides.  Sandwich with one slice of Muenster, 1 slice of ham, one slice of Muenster.  Butter the outside of the croissant.   Preheat a non stick skillet over medium low heat; add the sandwich and top with another skillet.  Cook until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 3 minutes per side.   (For the dijonnaise take 1 Tablespoon of dijon mustard and 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise, mix together – voila – dijonnaise!)

Brie and Apricot Grilled Cheese

Spread apricot preserves on 2 slices of Brioche.  Sandwich with Brie. Melt one Tablespoon of butter in a non stick skillet over medium low heat; add the sandwich and cook until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add more butter when flipping sandwich.  (This one was not a fan favorite. Sorry no photo of this one.)

Pastrami Grilled Cheese

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Spread brown mustard on 2 slices of rye bread.  Sandwich with 1 slice of swiss cheese, a few slices of pastrami, some sauerkraut and 1 more slice of swiss cheese. Butter the outside of the sandwich. Preheat a non stick skillet over medium low heat; add the sandwich and top with another skillet.  Cook until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes per side.  (Kent loved this one.)

Hope you give them a try.  Enjoy!!


Bakin’ Bacon – Simple and Delicious

This is the easiest way to make your bacon.  No more splattered stove top.  I know, bacon is bad for you.   Oh well, we enjoy our bacon and I am not giving up on it!!  “Everything in moderation, including moderation!”


Bakin’ Bacon

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6 pieces bacon (I ate a piece before I took the picture!)


  1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  That will make cleanup much easier.
  2. Place bacon on your parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Put in cold oven, set at 400 degrees.  Set your timer for 15 minutes.  (I did check at the 15 minute mark and it still needed 5 more minutes. If you bake less, the timing is less.  2 pieces are done in 10 minutes.)

All done.  Enjoy your bacon!!


Popcorn Balls – Simple and Delicious

Eric requested popcorn balls for Sunday dessert.  I wasn’t too sure about this one.  I can’t remember the last time I had a popcorn ball.  Maybe never.  I am not a fan of popcorn though.  Well, these were so simple to make and quite delicious.  Here is the recipe he sent me to try.  It takes no time at all.  Since my husband enjoys popcorn and in our youthful days he used to make it often, I had him make the popcorn.  Believe it or not, I have never made popcorn in a pan.  I left that to the popcorn expert in our home. 🙂

Popcorn Balls

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Whoa, this new program with WordPress makes the photos gigundo!!


9 cups popcorn
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1.  Pop that popcorn!!  Whether you buy the microwave kind or kernels to pop in a stock pot.
  2. Coat a large heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil or cooking spray.  Place popcorn in the bowl. (I used butter)
  3. Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine.  Place over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  That takes about 2-5 minutes.  Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. That will take 7-10 minutes.  (I used a thermometer.  If you don’t 10 minutes will be enough time.)  Stirring periodically and pay attention!
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until melted and smooth.
  5. Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn and stir continuously with a rubber spatula.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl, the syrup settles at the bottom.  Make sure you mix thoroughly.
  6. Using buttered or oiled hands, tightly press mixture into 3 inch rounds. (I buttered my hands)  Place on parchment paper to cool completely, about 10 minutes.

Eat them up. They are delicious.  Eric and Rachel LOVED them!!

Kyopolou – Bulgarian Eggplant Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Here is a simple and delicious dip.  Martin requested it this weekend.  Another Bulgarian treat.


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2 Globe Eggplants, roasted
3 medium tomatoes, roasted
4 red bell peppers (you could do 2 green and 2 red.  Next time I will do that.), roasted
4-6 clove of garlics, minced (I used 6 – you could roast the garlic, too)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper


  1.  Cut eggplant in half lengthwise.  Cut deeps slits in flesh. NOvember 006 Bake in oven 400 degrees for up to an hour.  When you can put knife through flesh easily, put under broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown flesh.  NOvember 009
  2. Roast tomatoes at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Put under broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown lightly.NOvember 008
  3. Roast peppers in oven or over stove.  I roasted over burner on stove.  NOvember 007You could also roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and put under broiler 3-5 minutes.
  4. When all veggies are roasted.  Chop the tomatoes and roasted peppers.  Take flesh out of eggplant and chop also.  Mince the garlic cloves. Place all chopped vegetables in large bowl.
  5. Add oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Place in refrigerator for a couple of hours.  The longer you let it set, the better it will be.
  6. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.  Toasting the bread is a great way it too!

Enjoy this flavorful Bulgarian dip.  Let me know what you think! Ciao!!

Roasted Chicken – Simple and Delicious

You say, “why would she post how to roast a chicken?”.   Well, I found a great recipe that gives you a flavorful and moist roasted chicken in an hour.  This is Thomas Keller’s recipe.  I don’t truss my chicken because I am lazy.  But, I do roast it.  Here you go;

Roasted Chicken


4-5 pound whole chicken
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (you may use less depending on size of chicken)
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme


  1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Rinse off chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Be sure the chicken is dry.  This will give you a crispy skin.
  3. When dry, stuff cavity with rosemary and thyme sprigs.  Generously salt the skin of the chicken.
  4. Place chicken in roasting pan or large skillet.  (I use a skillet)
  5. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. (Be sure to check the temperature of your chicken.  Should be 165 degrees.)

That is it.  Perfect chicken every time.  Told you it was easy.  Next time I will post a picture for you.  Just trust me on this one!!

Bulgarian Musaka – Simple and Delicious

Martin requested Musaka this weekend.  Bulgarian Musaka is a version of a popular dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Moussaka.  The Bulgarian dish uses potatoes instead of eggplant.  This is such a flavorful dish.  Simple and very delicious!

Bulgarian Musaka

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1# ground pork
1/2 # ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2# potatoes, diced 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chubritsa (you could use savory)
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup oil (I used Sunflower.  You could use vegetable or olive oil)


4 eggs
1 cup yogurt
1/4 salt


  1.  Saute onions until opaque.  Add the pork/beef and mix with the onions.  Add the tomato and spices, salt, pepper and mix together. DO NOT cook meat all the way through as it will bake through in the oven. Just saute and mix until combined and lightly cooked. (I added 1/2 the spices in the saute pan.  I added the other 1/2 of spices when I put in the baking dish and added the potatoes.  Don’t ask me why. I think you could probably add all at once.)
  2. Put meat mixture in 9×13 baking dish and add the potatoes.  Mix together so the spices are combined with the meat and potatoes. Add the water/broth.  Put in 375 degree oven. Check every 15 minutes and mix together.  It will take about 45 minutes for the potatoes to get done.
  3. While the meat and potatoes are cooking whisk together the eggs, yogurt and salt.
  4. When the dish is done, remove from oven, top with the egg mixture.  Put back in oven and bake another 10 minutes.  After the egg mixture is done,  turn on the broiler.  Broil until egg topping is browned, about 5 minutes.november 003

This is the first time I made this dish.  Martin loved it.  I always enjoy making a dish he would enjoy from his home country.  I am sure in some sense it brings back memories of his grandparents and the meals they shared together. All I know is Musaka is a hit in our home!  We will be making this simple and delicious dish more often!!