All’Amatriciana – DELISH!

I had this dish at a restaurant recently.  I enjoyed it so much I wanted to try making it at home.  Didn’t take long to find a recipe online.  Simple and Delicious!

Bucatini All’Amatriciana



2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or chopped unsmoked bacon (I used pancetta)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion (red or yellow)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
Kosher salt
12 ounces dried bucatini or spaghetti (I like rotini so that is what I used.  Not a fan of longer noodles.  I blame that on my mom. She did not like spaghetti.)  🙂
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino (I used Pecorina Romano.  You could use Parmesan.  Please don’t use the green can.  Buy a chunk of the real thing.  It really makes a difference. You will thank me.)


  1.  Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. (Be sure to constantly move around to avoid burning. Pancetta cooks fast.)
  2. Add pepper flakes and black pepper, stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Add onion and garlic, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes (remember to crush with your hands), reduce heat to low, stir occasionally, until sauce thickens.  15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and make pasta per the directions. (Don’t overcook.  Cook to al dente instructions.)  Be sure to add salt. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain in colander.
  6. Add pasta to sauce in skillet and toss. Add 1/2 cup pasta water and mix thoroughly until sauce coats pasta.  Add more pasta water if seems dry.  (1/2 cup was enough for me).
  7. Serve and ENJOY!







Baklava – Simple and Delicious

I have wanted to make Baklava for at least 10 years.  I have been a bit hesitant and decided this year to just do it.  Martin called his grandma to get her recipe.  We discussed and we did her recipe with a few tweaks of our own.




16 ounces Phyllo dough
1 Tablespoon vegetable oi
3 1/2 sticks butter, melted


4 cups of chopped walnuts (If you have leftover nuts, place the extra on a baking sheet and toast at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes)
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of lemon
zest of orange (you could do both or just one fruit)


2 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla


  1.  Layout phyllo dough and cover with damp towel. They dry out fast.  I learned that today!  I cut the dough in half and that was the perfect size for my 9×13 metal baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt those sticks of butter.
  2. Mix together the nut filling ingredients.
  3. Here is where Grandma Olga comes into play.  Her way of making baklava is not the usual process you see and read about. Lightly oil the baking pan.  I used sunflower oil. You can use vegetable oil.
  4. When you layer the phyllo you do not butter each piece.  Layers as follows;  6 pieces on bottom, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces phyllo dough. Top layer is not covered with nuts, as you see from the above photo. (When layering be sure to layer one by one not just grabbing six pieces and setting down.)
  5. Cut the baklava into squares/diamonds.  Make sure you are careful when you are doing this.  (You want to be sure you cut all the way through. The melted butter and syrup have to get through the entire pan.)
  6. Pour the 3 1/2 sticks of melted butter into every nook and cranny.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  8. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup.  Put all ingredients in saucepan.  Over medium heat stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  9. When baklava is done baking.  Set aside to cool. (I put in the cold garage as my fridge was full.  If you are lucky enough to have room in your fridge this time of year, after it cools a bit put it in there.)  When cooled pour the warm syrup over the entire pan.
  10. Lightly cover with a towel. Let set for at least 6 hours.  Overnight is best.

This was absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to make again.  Next time, pistachios with almond flavoring.  Hmmm, maybe for New Years Eve!!








Hasselback Potatoes

For some reason Kent and I have been discussing these kind of potatoes.  It seems ever since we started talking about them I have seen tons of recipes.  I chose a Food Network recipe, courtesy of Ree Drummond.  Kent wanted to know why they were called Hasselback potatoes.  This dish originated in Sweden.  It takes its name from Hasselbacken, the Stockholm restaurant where it was first served. These seasoned potatoes turned out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Set aside some of the butter/chive mix to brush on just before serving. Simple and Delicious!

Hasselback Potatoes



6 Russet Baking Potatoes
8 Tablespoons, softened butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chives, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven  450 degrees.
  2. Stir together the softened butter, olive oil, chopped chives, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place a potato between the handles of 2 wooden spoons or 2 chopsticks (I used wooden spoons). Slice the potato into thin slices, leaving 1/4 inch at the bottom unsliced; the spoon handles will prevent you from slicing the potato all the way through. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, place potatoes on baking sheet and brush on the butter mixture. Make sure to get in between all the slices. (I also brushed on every 15 minutes to be sure the butter/chive mix would get in between those many layers.)
  5. Bake until tender and crisp, 55 to 60 minutes.



Pork Egg Rolls

Our entire family love these egg rolls.  They take time to make but they are totally worth it.   You just have to get everything chopped and measured out before starting that frying pan.  Once you do that, it takes no time. Updated the recipe to our family liking.  It seems the more I do a recipe there are changes I make that work for us. 
  This truly is simple and delicious!

Pork Egg Rolls

January 2014 046


1 # ground pork
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 large head (20 ounces) of cabbage, shredded
3 carrots

1 Tablespoon cooking oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

I used Spring Roll Wrappers. You can get them in the produce department of your grocery store. Room temperature is best.

Cornstarch Slurry: 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons cold water

Peanut Oil for frying. (You can use vegetable oil. Peanut Oil is best as it can be used for high temperatures. Doesn’t hit that smoking point 🙂 )


  1. Marinate the ground pork with the soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil for at least 10 minutes (or longer if you want).
  2. In the meantime, shred the cabbage and the carrots. I used a mandoline to shred the cabbage and my grater for the carrots. You could use a food processor too.  Whatever works for you! January 2014 038
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and ginger, fry until fragrant. Add the pork and fry until no longer pink.   Add the cabbage & carrots and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
  4. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Continue to stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Remove filling to a rimmed baking sheet and spread to cool. Set up so juices can drain to one end of the cookie sheet. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Remove all the juices. Now, let’s wrap!
  7. With the point of the wrap, pointing away from you,January 2014 041 place 1/4-1/2 cup of the mixture in center of the lower edge of the wrapper. (I use 1/2 cup – we like them a little larger.  It works great) rub point edges with the slurry and complete rolling to tip.
  8. Deep fry in the oil of your choice in large frying pan or Dutch oven until golden brown.
  9. Simple & Delicious!January 2014 048

Pork and Cabbage Potstickers

Saturday I attempted to go through a stack of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines.  Sadly, I have only gotten through halfway of one magazine.  I kept finding recipes I wanted to make and it got me distracted from my task of getting rid of these magazines.  This was one of the recipes I found and decided to try it for our dinner on Sunday.  I made veggie stir fry to go with it.  I also made Indian Tea Biscuits and Mekitsa.  Once I get started I can’t control myself!!

Pork and Cabbage Potstickers



1/2 head napa cabbage, cored and chopped fine (6 cups)
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces ground pork
4 scallions, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon pepper


24 round gyoza wrappers (I found them at Woodman’s)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup water

Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons mirin
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional) – did not use it this time.  Kent did not want heat today 😦
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, minced (I did not do this time.  I was lazy!)


1.  Toss cabbage with salt in colander set over bowl or in sink and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes.  Press cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture. (I just picked up and squeezed with my hand.  Quite a bit of water dripped out.)  Transfer to medium bowl.
2.  Add pork, scallions, egg, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper.  Mix thoroughly to combine.
3.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold.  About 30 minutes or overnight if you like.
4.  Ready to fill those dumplings?!  Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep remaining wrappers covered with moistened paper towel), place wrappers flat on counter.  Spoon about 1-2 teaspoons of filling in middle of wrapper.  Using a pastry brush or your finger moisten the edges of the wrapper.  Fold each wrapper in half; starting with the center and working toward the outside edges, pinch edges together firmly to seal, pressing out any air pockets.
5.  Transfer dumplings to baking sheet and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.  You will get at least 24 wrappers.
6.  Time to fry/steam your masterpieces!  Line large plate with double layer of paper towels.  Brush 2 teaspoons of oil over bottom of 12 inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of the dumplings in the skillet, flat side down.  Place skillet over medium high heat and cook dumplings, without moving them, until golden brown on bottom, about 5 minutes.  (I set the timer for 5 minutes and that was enough time.)
7.  Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup water, and cover immediately.  Continue to cook until most of water is absorbed and wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. (I set timer for 10 minutes and that was enough time, again!)
8.  Uncover skillet, increase heat to medium high and continue to cook, without stirring, until dumpling bottoms are well  browned and crisp, 3-4 minutes more.
9.  Slide dumplings onto paper towel lined place, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly.
10.  Transfer dumplings to platter and serve with dipping sauce.
11.  Let skillet cool until warm, then wipe out with paper towels and repeat starting at step 6 with remaining dumplings, oil and water.

These are not as hard as this seems.  Honest.  They are simple and very delicious. By the way,  I beat Kent at Scrabble.  🙂




Greek Meatballs

I saw this recipe in an old Rachel Ray magazine I had been looking through over my morning coffee.  These sounded too good to resist.  I used ground pork cause that’s what I had in my freezer.  Eric and Rachel popped over today and thought they were delish.  Then Martin came home from a Chicago weekend and popped a few.  He said, “Mom, I enjoy eating out at restaurants but your cooking beats them all!”  I guess these meatballs pass in this home!!

Greek Meatballs
(Courtesy Michael Symon)



1/2 cup day old bread, diced
1/2 cup whole milk
Canola oil, about 1 quart. You will need for sautéing and pan frying.
1/2 cup minced or grated onion
1 pound ground beef or lamb (or pork!)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (OR 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano-that’s what I used)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (I used 1/2 teaspoon.  This took great control.  I LOVE cumin!)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup flour for dusting
Handful fresh mint leaves, torn, for serving (I used mint and dill.  I tried and enjoyed both.)
Lemons, cut into wedges (I did not use these for other than decoration.  If I read directions I would definitely have used correctly.)
1/4 cup olive oil

1.  In a small bowl combine the bread and milk, set aside.
2.  In a medium skillet heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, saute until translucent (about 3-4 minutes).  Add garlic and stir frequently about 1-2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
3.  In a larger bowl put the ground pork, egg, oregano, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cooled onion and garlic.  Squeeze excess milk from bread.  Place bread in bowl.  Using hands, gently combine the meat mixture.  Form into 20 small balls.
4.  Place flour in a medium bowl.  Roll the meatballs in the flour, shaking off any excess.  Place on plate.
5.  In a large non stick skillet, heat 1/3 inch canola oil over medium heat.  Add the meatballs and cook on each side 3-4 minutes.  (I slightly flattened when I was placing in the skillet.)  Transfer to paper towel lined plate.
6.  Arrange meatballs on platter.  Sprinkle with mint (or dill).  Grate the zest from the whole lemon over the meatballs (I missed this step.  That is what I get for not reading the directions thoroughly the  first time!!)
7.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (Just a tiny bit of salt.  I love salt and I would not add too much.  There is enough flavoring in the meatballs.)

I hope you give these a try. They take no time at all and are incredibly flavorful.  ENJOY!



Pitka or Soda Bread-My Favorite

Here is the another Pitka recipe.  I have 2 others on my site.  I would say this is a simple soda bread.  It takes less than an hour from start to finish.   Serve plain, with butter, jams or cheese.

january 011



5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk (keep the egg white.  You will need it to brush on top of bread)
2 cups plain yogurt (NOT non fat)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I use Sunflower oil)


  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour baking pan.  I used my cast iron skillet.  You could use a 9″ round cake pan
  2. In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Whisk together and make a well by pushing the flour mixture to sides of bowl.
  3. Add eggs, egg yolk, oil and yogurt in center of bowl.  Mix with hands.
  4. After mixed together form a round, flat bread.  (approx 9″ round, 2″height)  Place in prepared baking pan.  Brush top with egg whites.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top
  6. Take out of oven.  While warm, wrap in a towel.  When cooled place in plastic bag to store.


Syrian Lentil Soup – Simple and Delicious

For New Year’s Eve an Italian tradition is to have ‘good luck’ food.  Every year my Aunt Mary would bring the lentil soup on New Years Eve.  At midnight after everyone kissed and hugged each other we would eat sausage, lentil soup, cookies, fruit and the leftovers from dinner earlier that evening.  I know there was a lot of food but I only remember what I enjoyed.  Actually, I did not enjoy the lentil soup when I was little.  I do now though!!

Well,  I found this lentil soup recipe and decided to make it for Christmas Eve.  I’m a week early but this sounded so good I had to give it a try.   I will make again for New Years.  That’s how much we all enjoyed it!!

Syrian Lentil Soup

December 010


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery rib, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 pound red or brown lentils (I used red)
5 cups chicken broth or water
1 small bunch spinach (I had a bag and used a little more than half)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium low heat until tender and slightly golden, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cumin and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the lentils and broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the spinach and simmer until tender.
  7. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Simple and Delicious!!  Best of luck to you!!

Kyopolou – Bulgarian Eggplant Roasted Red Pepper Dip

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


NOvember 013


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!!

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

november 033


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!!