Sunday, December 30, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting tomatoes is very easy and they can be used in sandwiches or eaten by themselves.


6-8 tomatoes, cut in quarters
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano


Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl rub tomatoes with olive oil and oregano, salt to taste. Arrange tomato wedges skin side down on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Almond and Cherry Yogurt

Tired of eating the same thing over and over again? I hear you. To make my Chobani yogurt more fun these days I add two tablespoons of sliced toasted almonds. Almost like a dessert!

Thanksgiving Trip to San Francisco

This year we went to San Francisco to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. We did manage to get away and do some sightseeing. The highlight of the trip was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

Other things worth mentioning are: visiting the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Blue Bottle Coffee and dinner at Spruce. All with the baby and a stroller!

Pear Walnut Blue Cheese and Red Onion Pizza

This is another pizza I made using Trader Joe's pizza dough and other ingredients. I already posted a longer post about making pizza at home using ingredients from Trader Joe's. This time I used olive oil as a base and then added slices of pear, chopped walnuts, blue cheese and sliced red onions. As always the key is not to use too much of the ingredients!

Russian Tea Cookies with Cardamon

Oh, Russian Tea cookies! I did not know about you until I moved to the US. And as far as I know none of my Russian friends knew about them in Russia either. But I love them. What not to love? Butter, sugar and pecans! The recipe is your basic Betty Crocker plus I added some cardamon.


4 oz of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of cardamon
1 heaping cup of flour
1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl mix together powered sugar, butter, salt, vanilla extract and cardamon. Next, add pecans and mix well. Lastly, add flour and mix again until you have a dough of even consistency. I use my hands to do all the mixing.

2. Roll the dough into balls, flatten them a little bit with your hands - I get 2 inch diameter cookies. Place cookies on a cookie sheet leaving 1-2 inch space between them - no greasing is needed. Bake for 12 minutes until cooked but not brown though most likely the bottom will be slightly brown.

3. Roll hot cookies in powdered sugar one at a time and then set them to cool. Once cookies have cooled off roll them in powdered sugar once again.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Butternut Squash Carrot and Apple Soup

As it turns out making a Butternut Squash soup without spending much time and without using a heavy whipping cream is very easy. I came up with this recipe on my own over the years. Plus my kid loves it. Below is the recipe.


1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
4 carrots, peeled, chopped
1 apple, peeled, seeded and cubed
pinch of cinnamon, cumin, and coriander
8-10 sage leaves, chopped
3 cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Salt to taste

For serving:

Sage leaves
1/4 cup of Olive Oil
Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
Toasted pumpkin seeds

1. Peel and cut your vegetables. Smaller the cubes faster they cook. Also, use a sharp knife and a good peeler to cut the squash. Some people microwave squash before cutting it but I decided not to risk it blowing up (which I hear can happen).

2. Pour 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large soup pot and on medium high heat saute squash, carrots and apple for 2 minutes. Add spices and sage leaves and saute for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium if you see vegetables start burning. Next add stock, bring to a boil, stir, lower heat to medium low (or low, depends on your stove), cover with a lid and let cook for 1 hour until squash and carrots are soft stirring occasionally.

3. Puree squash, carrot and apple mixture in a blender. I worked in 2 batches. Transfer into a clean soup pot and salt to taste.

4. To fry sage leaves heat 1/4 cup of oil in a small pan until hot, add sage leaves and fry for 8-10 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle some salt on them. To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl, add creme fraiche or sour cream, few fried sage leaves and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Simple Greek Salad

It is very easy to make Greek Salad at home. The key is to use good ingredients and slice them pretty. Here is my recipe.


1/2 of green pepper
1 tomato
1/2 of English cucumber
12 Kalamata olives, pitted
4-5 oz of fresh feta (I buy fresh French feta from PCC Natural Markets)
1/8 (or less) of red onion
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt and Pepper


1. As I mentioned earlier each ingredient must be sliced nicely. This is the way I do it. I cut tomato into six wedges and then slice each wedge in three pieces. I like my pepper slices to be long and thin ( about 1/3 of an inch thickness). I peel cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and then slice each half in 1/3 of an inch slices. I use very little amount of red onion and again slice it very very thinly. Feta should be sliced into about 3/4 - 1 inch cubes. I leave olives as they are. Assemble all salad ingredients in a bowl.

2. To make the dressing in a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic that was put through the garlic press and oregano.

 3. Pour dressing over the salad and mix. Salt and Pepper to taste. Salad is ready!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Fall is here and I want something hearty. How about short ribs? Cooking short ribs is not hard - just takes time. I cooked mine last weekend using the Girl and the Fig cookbook recipe as my guide but modified it to fit my preferences. You should allow 2 days for cooking short ribs - one day for ribs to marinade and another day to slow cook them. Here is how I made them.


3 tablespoons of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh italian parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar

Ribs Braising Mixture
4 lb of bone-in short ribs (I got 5 ribs)
Olive Oil
1 cup of red wine
1 carrot, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 cups of beef stock
few (3-4) sprigs of fresh italian parsley
few (3-4) sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper


1. Rinse short ribs and pat dry, lay in a large glass dish. Make marinade by mixing together the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour it on top of short ribs. Cover dish with ribs with a plastic wrap and keep in a fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 300F. This is where I diverge from the recipe in the book. I scrapped some of the marinade off the ribs with a fork. I then seared ribs on all sides until light brown color in a large pan. I used a little bit of olive oil for that. I transferred ribs to a plate.

3. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven (I use Le Creuset) and on medium heat saute carrots, onions and celery for about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes next and saute for another 5 minutes. Add red wine, beef stock and bring to a boil. 

4. I had too many ribs to fit in one dutch oven so I divided them between two pots and split braising mixture as well. Add few sprigs of parsley and thyme and one bay leaf to each pot, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. I left ribs to cook for 4 hours in the oven. I checked few times on them during that time. After 4 hours ribs were ready to be served. I served them with mashed potatoes and some steamed broccoli. As expected meat was falling of the bones.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New York City with a Baby: What to Eat and See

Earlier this month we went to New York City for 4 nights, which gave us 3 and a half days to see the city and friends we have there. When I decided to have kids I told myself that I would still travel and I am. Of course, it is not the same as without a child and you have to deal with a stroller, diaper bag and feedings. And some cities are more kid-friendly than others. Here are the places we ate at and visited while in New York and found doable with a kid. Plus, few other comments on traveling with a baby in Big Apple.

What to Eat:

1. Eataly is an Italian food multi-restaurant and market place under one roof. We had dinner at Birreria - a rooftop beer garden. I also got some Italian truffles, biscotti, cookies and sliced meats. It was a crowded place on Saturday night but we had no problem pushing a stroller around, though we had to carry it up more than few stairs. As for food at Birreria - it was hit-and-miss. My halibut was overcooked, lamb and sausage dishes were great.

2. Le Pain Quotidien is an international chain of bakeries (founded in Belgium) that serves pastries, salads, soups and sandwiches. They have many locations in New York City and accommodate babies with the strollers easily. This is a good lunch spot that has calories next to every item on its menu.

3. Blue Hill was our splurge for this trip. Upscale farm-to-the table type restaurant. They did not mind us having a baby who kept dropping his toys. Food was what I expected fresh quality ingredients in well executed dishes. Some may say portions are small.

4. Lombardi's is the first America's Pizza - head over there if you want some pizza and beer. We felt like we did want to have real New York pizza. No problem with a baby there either.

What to See:

Day 1: After having dinner we headed to the Empire State Building to see the city at night. Stroller was not a problem though we had to ask security where disabled access was - it was not obvious at first.

Day 2: Starting from our hotel in Midtown we walked to the Central Park entrance in front of Plaza hotel. We decided to walk through the Central Park to Guggenheim Museum.

Day 3: This was our sightseeing day. We took a taxi to the Battery Park, walked along the waterfront, saw and took pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Then we headed down Broadway to Wall Street. We saw the famous bull and bunch of people taking pictures with it. We walked along Wall Street all the way to South Street, from where we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We then took a taxi to SoHo, had lunch in Greenwich Village and walked. Washington Square Park was full of students - NYU is nearby. Quite a college town.

After that we took a taxi to the High Line Park, an old railroad above the ground that was converted into a park few years ago. This was a highlight of the day, for sure.

Day 4: We walked from our hotel in Midtown down the 5th avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was not able to see one exhibit because strollers were not allowed there. But staff helped me to see a part of Modern Art gallery by taking me to the back entrance with a stroller. And then it started to rain. I caught a cab back to the hotel - but it was a struggle to get one in the rain.

I enjoyed New York even with a baby in tow. Of course I did not experience any nightlife. I also felt like 4 days was not enough - needed another 3 days. I think taking a taxi was a good idea with the baby and a stroller. Restaurants were accommodating, except one place that had a sign "We love your baby, but we don't have a room for your stroller." Made me smile. When we got back to Seattle I asked, "Where are all the people?"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Arugula, Fennel, Endive and Radicchio Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

The highlight of this salad is the pomegranate vinaigrette, the recipe for which I got from the Girl & the Fig cookbook. Here is how I make the salad.


For a salad:
2 cups of baby arugula
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 of radicchio head, sliced vertically
1 endive, leaves pulled apart
1/2 cup of candied pecans
1/2 cup of dried cranberries

For a Pomegranate Vinaigrette (makes more than you need, about 1 ¼ cups):
¾ cup of pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons of candied ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons of grapefruit juice (I just bought 1 grapefruit and used ½ of it for juice)
¼ cup of red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon of honey
½ cup of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Start by making the pomegranate vinaigrette. Pour pomegranate juice into a small pan and add ginger, bring to a boil and boil until reduced by half. Transfer the pomegranate-ginger mixture to a blender and blend. Then add shallot, grapefruit juice, red wine vinegar and honey and blend again. Add olive oil last and blend until all ingredients are mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a bowl combine all salad ingredients, add ¼ cup of pomegranate vinaigrette, toss and serve.