Stuffed Peppers

Oh my gosh these are so good!  I had never even heard of stuffed peppers until I moved to Russia.  That is a staple at many Russian restaurants. But apparently they are popular in the U.S. too!  Win win for my blog! :)  You gotta make these!  Actually, I gotta go make these, AGAIN.  They are that good! :)  Oh…sorry this picture is not so great!

Stuffed Peppers adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 C. brown rice, cooked
  • 4 large bell peppers
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 tsp. olive oil, separated
  • 8 oz. (225g) ground pork
  • Sausage seasoning: 3/4 tsp, salt, 1/3 tsp. ground black pepper: 1/3 tsp. fennel seeds (hard to find in Moscow, you can also omit), 3/4 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1. Trip the bottom of the peppers so that they have a flat bottom side.  This is so they will stand up straight in the baking dish.  Cut the top offof the peppers, dice the top (to be added to the stuffing later), and remove the seeds from the inside of the pepper, taking care to keep the pepper whole.

2. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Place peppers in a square or round baking dish that you’ve sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil.   Try to use a pan that just fits the 4 peppers, rather than something larger.

3.  Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper (tops) and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren’t browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a separate bowl.

4. Add 1 tsp. more olive oil to the pan, then add the ground pork and seasonings (salt, pepper, fennel seed, parsley), then cook until it’s lightly browned.

5. Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the cooked rice and Parmesan cheese to the mixture.  Season with additional salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook a few more minutes so that the entire mixture is warm.

6. Stuff the filling mixture into the peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it’s tightly packed into the pepper shell.  If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small baking dish and bake along with the peppers. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Monkey Bread

Made this sweet treat for some friends the other day to have during our coffee tasting party.  Our teammate Zach had the idea to do a tasting of the cheap, medium, and more expensive coffees that you can find in Moscow to see if there really is that much of a difference.  In short, yes, there is, there really really is a big difference.  Of all the coffees I tried, I liked the Startbucks Blonde Willow Blend the best, which actually surprised me.  Go figure!  But now I know that if I’m low on cash and need coffee, I can still buy the Cafe du Paris brand from our local Auchan and be ok with it! :)

Monkey Bread

Why is this called “Monkey Bread”?  Well probably because you eat it in little bites like a monkey would?  I don’t know but who cares, it’s some amazing, cinnamony, sugary, buttery goodness!

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 packages frozen bread dough or one large bag fresh (rising) bread dough (or if you are in the U.S. you can use 3 cans of buttermilk biscuits from the refrigerated section.).  You need enough dough to fill up about half of a bundt pan.
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 C. (113g) butter
  • 1 C. brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Put 1 C. white sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a plastic bag and shake to mix.

2. If using frozen dough, let it thaw enough so that you can cut/handle it.

3. Cut (or tear off) thawed or fresh dough into small pieces.  Put the pieces in the bag with the cinnamon/sugar mix, and shake to coat the dough.

4.  Grease a bundt pan with some butter.  Layer the pieces of dough in the bundt pan.  Fill it about halfway full.

5.  Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan on the stovetop and let it boil for one minute, stirring continually.

6.  Pour the brown sugar mixture on top of the dough in the bundt pan.

7.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bread is no longer doughy.  Let stand about 10 minutes and then use a knife to loosen the bread from the sides of the pan, so that you can turn it over and remove it from the pan..

Enjoy all that cinnamony, sugary, buttery goodness! :D

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Here is another comfort food meal for you.  I really love to make this for new mom’s to pop in the oven for an easy weeknight meal, or when newbies come to Russia for the first time and need a taste of home. :)  Mmm, just thinking about it is making me hungry!

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

adapted from the Pioneer Woman

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. ground beef or pork or turkey….whatever you feel like having
  • 22.5 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 12 ounces, weight Egg Noodles
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 2 cups Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • 1 cup Grated cheddar, colby jack, or other cheese that you like.
  • more salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat Oven to 350. Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Brown ground meat in a large skillet. Drain fat from the meat then add the tomato sauce, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add to noodles and mix.

4. To assemble, add half of the noodles to a 13×9 baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

Potato Frittata

I am obsessed with this frittata.  That is all.  :D

Make it today!

 

Potato Frittata

adapted from Joy the Baker (so you know it’s gonna be good!)

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Ingredients:

  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices

(Last year my mom got me a mandolin slicer….a week later with one tip of my finger missing…it went back to the store….trust me, just take the time to slice these babies thin yourself!

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 9 large eggs (Joy called for 7, but I like mine a bit more eggy)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh green onions
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (20%)

Directions:

1, Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add 2 Tablespoons of the oil.  Add the onions and cook until caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of water, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the water evaporates and the onions take on a uniform brown color, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the onions to the a large roasting pan and toss with the raw sliced potatoes.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil.  Toss with your hands.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

4. Set the potatoes aside to cool for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F.

5. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, herbs and cream together.  Season with salt and pepper.

6. Grease a 10-inch round glass baking dish or cast-iron skillet.  Add the cooked potatoes to the pan.  Top with the egg mixture.  Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.  Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Supernatural, “Tastes Like Boxed” Brownies

I have posted another brownie recipe on here quite a while back.  While I like that recipe, this one has become my new go-to recipe.  Many of my students are obsessed with it and I am asked to make these for pretty much any student event.  For you Americans, these really do taste like moist, wonderful, chewy boxed brownies, except without all of the preservatives and without the cardboard box filling up a landfill.  Yay!

Supernatural, “Tastes Like Boxed” Brownies

adapted from The New York Times

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup (226g) butter
  • 8 ounces (226g) bittersweet chocolate (50-60% cacao is what I use), broken up into small pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour

Directions:

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

2. Place the broken up chocolate and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave in 30-second increments until the butter and chocolate are melted together.  Stir every 30 seconds.  Set chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

4. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.  Slice and serve!

Chicken and Rice

Some people hear “chicken and rice” and think…boring.  But this recipe is comfort food at its best.  It uses arborio rice which makes it nice and creamy in the end.  Hope you like it!

Traditional Chicken and Rice
adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe via Elle’s New England Kitchen

Serves 4-6

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt (more to taste)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 6 cups hot chicken or turkey stock
  • 2 cups Italian short grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli (For great creamy risotto texture, don’t substitute.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

1. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet or saucepan with a lid, and set over medium high heat.

2. Stir in the minced veggies and garlic and add one teaspoon of the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the chicken and the bay leaf and add one more teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the chicken is browning and mostly cooked through.

4. Raise the heat and add 1 C. of the broth, stirring and deglazing the pan. Cook until the most of the broth has evaporated.

5. While stirring, pour in the rest of the broth and the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to keep it bubbling gently at a low simmer.  Cook for 14-17 minutes, or until the rice and chicken are fully cooked and the rice is a creamy consistency.

6. Turn off the heat and drop in the butter, stirring until it’s completely incorporated, then stir the grated cheese. Check for seasoning now.  Add more salt if needed.  Serve immediately with additional Parmesan for topping if desired.

Thanksgiving 2013

Hey everyone!  Long-time, no blog!  I’m getting excited about Thanksgiving though, so I had to share some stuff with you.  We do it up Reeeeaaal nice here in Moscow.

If you are looking for some inspiration on what to make for Thanksgiving, check out my Thanksgiving Inspiration post.  Lots of great ideas and recipes! Need a dessert that will wow?  Check out my post dedicated to Thanksgiving desserts! :)

So, what am I making for Thanksgiving this year?

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1. Chocolate Pudding Pie.  I make this just about every year, so its pretty much become a tradition for me.  I love how rich and creamy this chocolate pie is.  As a person who does not enjoy the most traditional Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie (Gasp!), this has become my go-to Thanksgiving dessert!

2. No-bake Pumpkin (Chocolate Chip) Cheesecake.  I usually make a full-blown cheesecake,  but because I’m traveling in Scotland with our intern team from Sunday to Wednesday before the big day, I just don’t think I’m going to have time to make that one this year.  But I think this no-bake version will fit the bill nicely.  The link above is a non-chocolate chip version, but I don’t see the harm in adding some. :)

3. Sausage Cornbread Stuffing.  I was telling my friend Robi that I never sign up to make stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal, and I always feel disappointed that the stuffing is not what I was expecting it to be.  So I think I’ll have a go at it this year! :)

4.  Cheese Muffins.  Once again, no time for dough rising or anything like that this year due to spending my time singing in the Scottish hills and eating lots of haggis, but these muffins are quick, easy, and simply TO DIE FOR, and would be perfect for any Thanksgiving meal.

I’m also praying that someone brings Green Bean Casserole to dinner this year.

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I don’t think I’m going to have time to make it this year, but I loooove it.  So I’m praying someone else will have this idea! :)

Here’s to hoping this time prepping for Thanksgiving, fills each of us with even more thanksgiving for all the ways in which God has blessed us!

Oatmeal Banana Bread

I’ve recently started a little journey to get a bit healthier, move more, and drop some extra pounds.  But for someone who just loves to bake (fo myself and others), I wanted to be creative about finding ways to still get to enjoy that part of my life,while at the same time making wise eating choices.  I recently made this Oatmeal Banana Bread from the Weight Watchers website.  I just loved it.  So yummy and wholesome and good!  Now, I wouldn’t exactly call it celery, but a  slice a day paired with a banana was a pretty healthy breakfast for me. :)

Oatmeal Banana Bread from Weight Watchers

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 3 large bananas, ripe, mashed
  • 1 C. uncooked oats

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add oil and egg to the dry mixture and mix thoroughly.

3. Add mashed bananas and oatmeal to batter.

4. Lightly grease a loaf pan.

5. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 55 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.

I don’t like Pumpkin Pie

Ok so that admission probably isn’t going to win me any points for Thanksgiving, but its true!  I know you are shocked!  How can the cooking devushka not like one of the iconic centerpieces of the Thanksgiving meal? (5 days people, 5 DAYS!)

But do you know what I recently discovered?  Actually, there’s quite a few of us strange ones out there that when presented with a lineup of yummy pie goodness at Thanksgiving, would gladly pass over the pumpkin!  Even Pioneer Woman!

If you are looking for some fun Thanksgiving dessert alternatives for your feast, why not try one of these?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Fudge Brownie Bars

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Pumpkin Caramel Pie

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars

 

 

A perfect soup for Fall

Just whipped up this soup this morning before I headed off to the university.  Took less than an hour to make, and SUPER yum!  I know some people only like pumpkin in dessert type things, but I am just LOVING this soup. Hope you’ll try it!

Pumpkin Chicken-Rice Soup from Sarah

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. onion, chopped
  • 3 TBS. butter
  • 2 TBS. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 C. milk
  • 2 C. chicken broth
  • 2 C. pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbs curry powder
  • 1-1.5 C. chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-1.5 C. rice, cooked

Directions:

-Saute 1 chopped onion in 2-3 Tbs of butter.

-Take the pan off the burner to make a white sauce.  Blend in 2 Tbs of flour and 1/2 tsp salt into the sauteed onion mixture.  Slowly add 2 cups of milk, constantly stirring to prevent lumps from forming.  Return to heat and stir until the sauce bubbles and thickens.

-Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups pumpkin puree and all the spices to the soup.  Simmer for several minutes and let the soup thicken a bit, then add cooked rice and chicken. (I just threw in a couple of handfuls of both until it was the consistency I wanted.)