Thursday, January 17, 2013

#43 Belarus' National Dish: Draniki

Draniki is potato pancake. It is the national dish of Belarus. Served as part of the main dish, it is soft and tastes great by itself, but more delicious when topped with light sour cream. I served it with cucumber and topped it with garlic chili sauce. It was so good. Traditional recipes usually include flour, but our recipe does not have it. Still really delicious! I made more the next day because I missed it! I grated the potatoes by hand, and that consumed a lot of time, but it was worth every minute spent.




1 1/2 cups finely grated potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sunflower oil

  1. Wash and dry potatoes. Peel and then finely grate all of the potatoes.
  2. Add eggs and salt to the grated potatoes.
  3. In a non stick frying pan, heat sunflower oil, then pour 1/4 cup of mixture for each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve warm.


What my little family and I learned about Belarus:
  • It's capital is Minsk.
  • It has fascinating beauty. The country is landlocked with 5 borders: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
  • It is relatively flat, the highest point is 1,132 ft, with 40% covered with forests (according to a 2005 UN estimate) and  it has 11,000 lakes. 
  • We enjoyed looking at photos of the 4 world heritage sites in Belarus: the Mir Castle Complex, the Nesvizh Castle, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the Struve Geodetic Arc. Visit their official website and find out more about Fantastic Belarus:
  • If you want to give tips in Belarus, you can give only 5% of the total amount and it is appreciated in restaurants and cafés (15-20% in California!), because it is entirely discretionary.  Drivers and hotel staffs do not expect tips.
  • People are very hospitable. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

#42 Thai Beef Salad Wraps

Ahh this wrap was so good. It tasted so fresh, with the mint, cilantro and basil the tender meat and sauce..yum! It was my third time to try Thai cuisine. I know, I know. Where have I been..haha. I missed out on a lot. Thai food is delicious I was told several times, and I totally agree.  It is very easy to make and we truly were more than satisfied!



1 pound flank steak, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
1 cup cubed peeled cucumber
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomato halves
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas
12 Bibb lettuce leaves


  1. Prepare grill to medium high-heat.
  2. Sprinkle steak with salt and black pepper. Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill for 4 minutes on each side or untl desired degree of doneness. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut steak diagonally across grain into think slices. Combine steak, cucumber, and the next 5 ingredients(through fresh cilantro) in a large bowl. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and red pepper. Drizzle over steak mixture; toss well to coat.
  4. Warm the tortillas according to the package direction. Arrange 2 lettuce leaves on each tortilla. Spoon 2/3 cup steak mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up.

Here is a picture of us visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok. 
She's so cute. I like how big my lashes and hot pink shoes are :) 
I think we were on top of the palace's roof ;)

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, 2007

#41 Potato and Smoked Sausage Skillet

We used a light smoked sausage for this recipe and the main attraction is the beer that is used to cook it. Once cooked, it did not really taste of the beer at all :) The potatoes cooked really fast I noticed. It's a great dish.



1 ounce light smoked sausage, sliced
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
about 6 pieces of regular size red potatoes
1 cup fat free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light beer
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage, and cook for 4 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring often. Remove sausage from pan, and set aside.
  2. Add onion and potato to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring often. Return sausage to pan. Add broth and beer; cook 9 minutes or until liquid is almost completely evaporated.

We learned that potatoes were first domesticated in the southern part of Peru and extreme northwestern part of Bolivia around 7,000-10,000 years ago. There are over 1000 varieties of potatoes, made possible by selective breeding for centuries. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), in 2010,  the largest producer in 2010 is China with 74.8 million metric tons, followed by India, with 36.6 million metric tons. The total global production of potatoes in 2010 is 324 million metric tons. That's a lot of potatoes!

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers Cookbook, 2007

#40 My Sweet and Spicy Hot Salad

This salad is crunchy, juicy, sweet, spicy hot and I make a light dressing to go with it. The heat comes from the Jalapeño peppers. I like to eat raw corn and fresh crisp veggies (who doesn't?), the taste of each vegetable is so different than when it is cooked. I usually throw away left over salads at night when we have it, but not this one, I cook it with the dressing the next day. The taste is as great as it was raw, and the kick from the Jalapeño remains. Try it and enjoy it's spicy yumminess!

My Sweet and Spicy Hot Salad


8 ounces frozen corn, thawed
1/2 big red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 big green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green jalapeño pepper, minced
4 sprig of onions (scallions), chopped
8 pieces of cherry tomatoes, halved
red lettuce (about 4 leaves)  coarsely chopped


1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon light sour cream
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pour all the vegetables inside a big bowl, add in the dressing, mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy

Jalapeño peppers originated in Mexico, named after Jalapa (Xalapa) , Veracruz where it was traditionally cultivated. The heat level of each pepper differ from mild to hot depending on the cultivation and preparation. It is a skin and eye irritant, but it also has medicinal attributes. It's juice is used as remedy for seasonal allergies and cardiovascular problems. 

#39 Japanese Style Chicken Curry

I wanted to try a great recipe from olive magazine, but was lacking the miso paste, the fresh ginger and the curry powder. I was really craving for curry and so  I decided to improvise! The result of my ingenuity, thankfully, was not a disaster. I wouldn't say it will taste perfect to others as nothing beats the flavor of fresh ginger and miso paste.. but we made a great tasting Japanese style curry using the ingredients that we had available. We absolutely loved it!

Japanese Style Chicken Curry


1 packet AKA MISO SOUP (Soybean Paste Soup)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 full chicken breasts
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon mirin
1/8 teaspoon salt
trimmed green beans
1/4 cup of chopped green onions
Steamed rice, to serve


  1. Heat 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the chicken pieces on both sides until golden. Remove from the pan. 
  2. In the same non-stick pan, add  the remaining 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, let it heat then  add garlic cook until brown.
  3. In a bowl, add the water and then empty the miso soup packet. Stir well. Add into the pan.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger powder and the browned chicken. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the green beans, green onions and mirin then simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

Curry ( カレー karē ) is one of  the most popular dishes in Japan. Curry was introduced to Japan between the mid 1800's to early 1900's by the British. Served in different styles and a wide variety of meats are used. In Japan, beef and pork are popular, whereas in many neighboring countries, chicken, seafood, lamb and vegetables are most common. Back home, we always ate Chicken Curry. Next time we will try a good lamb curry recipe.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I thought I should share this recipe because I really liked it. If you are looking for a cheaper wine to make your own Sangria, this bottle of  Pinot Noir was on sale for $8.99, with fruity aromas and flavors, I thought it should taste good when mixed with other fruits. It sure did.

Van's Sangria


1 bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir
1 big navel orange with peel, sliced
Meat of 1 big navel orange, coarsely chopped
1 lemon with peel, sliced
1/2 cup halved sweet grapes
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
2 tablespoon sugar (add more according to your taste)
Some brandy (optional)

  1. In a glass pitcher, pour in the wine.
  2. Squeeze the lemon and orange slices and toss in the slices.
  3. Add the brandy, fruits and sugar.
  4. Stir. Chill for at least 3 hours. Best when chilled overnight before consuming.

Red wine was first mixed with fruits in Andalusia, Spain as some historians speculated. This delicious drink is typically served in Spain and Portugal in the summer months in some areas, and year round in others. It is also commonly served in South America. Sangria, named after the Spanish word 'sangre' meaning blood for it's dark red color, is a favorite to many and widely served in bars and restaurants here in the United States, in UK and many other countries.

Now it's your turn to make it, add more variety of fruits that you love and enjoy it in the comforts of your own home, year round! :)

#38 Polenta with mushrooms, zucchini and mozarella

Polenta is ground cornmeal that is boiled with water or stock. An ancient food that originated in Italy, it is commonly eaten since the Roman times. I also learned that it historically has been a peasant food. It was only in the 16th century when corn was introduced to the New World. Before then, Polenta was made with farro, chestnut flour, millet, spelt or chickpeas.

Ground cornmeal is also enjoyed in many parts of the world, with many different names and cooked in a similar way to Polenta. Sometimes it is eaten directly after boiling, sometimes after grilling and baking. For this recipe, I bought my Polenta ready made from Trader Joe's. It is inexpensive, super easy to prepare, filling and delicious.



Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 (16-ounce) tube of polenta, cut into 8 slices
3 cups diced zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 (8-ounce) packaged pre-sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, drained
1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add polenta rounds, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; set aside, and keep warm. 
  2. Add zucchini and mushrooms to pan; saute 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. 
  3. Place 2 polenta rounds on each of 4 serving plates. Spoon vegetable mixture over polenta. Top with cheese. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers 15 minute cookbook, 2007

#37 black bean avocado salsa

Six years ago, it was a big surprise to me that an avocado fruit can taste great as an accompaniment to meat, and amazing when drizzled with lime, lemon and salt. I usually just eat it with sugar and milk back home. It was shocking to me how expensive it is when I first saw it in a nearby grocery store. $ 1.99 each for tiny ones! Back home, I usually just pick it up from the ground, literally. I don't remember buying an avocado fruit ever in my entire life before I moved to California. My mother has big organic avocado trees in her backyard and in the farm in the Philippines, and we handpicked the fruit once it falls to the ground or early in the morning, only if, we feel like eating it. An avocado fruit falls off the branch when it is ripe and ready and it does not break :) 

I love salsa. When freshly made, it tastes so much better. I used beans as a substitute to tomatoes based on a recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook. Once I tasted it, I could not keep all the goodness to myself! I summoned my dear friend who is a salsa connoiseur to judge it. The judgment: "Excellent!"



2 cups coarsely chopped peeled avocado (about 2 small avocados)
1/3 cup red onion (about 2 medium onion)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently. 
  2. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 2 hours. 
  3. Serve with baked or light tortilla chips. 

Salsa originated in Mexico. The word salsa means sauce in Spanish. In English speaking countries, it usually refers to the tomato-based, hot dips in Mexican cuisine. There are many variations, including our nouveau salsa recipe.  I wonder where my grandmother learned how to make her version of salsa which she called "Sasa-an" :) She made it with tomatoes, green and red onions, small hot chili, vinegar and calamansi (Philippine lemon). Will dig further into this :) And will definitely make as many salsa variations as I can.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

#36 Denmark's Grønlangkål (Creamed Kale)

Some people believe cooking Kale for New Year's Eve dinner brings in good luck especially in money all throughout the new year :)  I did not include it in our menu since we usually don't eat that much Kale because of it's slightly bitter aftertaste. A few days ago, I found this method of cooking and decided to try it. I modified the original recipe to achieve the perfect balance according to my palate. What a great discovery for me because the unpleasant aftertaste disappears after cooking! Instead, we enjoyed the delicious blend of cream and only the good flavor of the vegetable. This recipe is said to be 500 years old from Lolland, an isle in the Southern part of Denmark. Grønlangkål is a traditional Danish every day meal during the cold winter months. Kale is a super food and I am very glad I found this.

(Creamed Kale)


6 cups Kale (hard part of the leaves removed)
2 tablespoons melted salted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

  1. Rinse the Kale well and drain in a colander.
  2. Trim away and discard any discolored leaves and tough stem ends.
  3. Slice leaves into small thin pieces.
  4. Melt the butter and then add the flour, stir consistently.
  5. Add the kale, stir, and then add the heavy whipping cream.
  6. Add the sugar, salt and pepper.
  7. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium low heat or until you achieve the consistency that you like.

What my little family and I learned about Denmark:

  • It is officially the KINGDOM OF DENMARK, and the head of the monarch is HM Queen Margrethe II (we spent a lot of our time looking at the royal family's pictures)
  • They have a lady Prime Minister and her name is Helle Thorning- Schmidt
  • It's capital is Copenhagen. DK has one of the best economies in Europe. I learned that it has the world's highest minimum wage and the unemployment compensation is very high. All college and university education are free of charges.
  • A report by the OECD  in 2011 found that the Danish people are among the happiest among those in the 40 countries that were surveyed.
The cuisine must also contribute greatly to their happiness. I will certainly discover more dishes.

Recipe adapted from

Friday, January 11, 2013

#35 Philippines' Arroz Caldo (Rice Porridge with Chicken)

This dish brings back a lot of great memories. A loving mother, a very caring late grandmother, and soothing massages from both amazing women after a delicious Arroz Caldo dinner, the massages are enjoyed by yours truly everytime I was a little unwell :) Massages and Arroz Caldo are the best fever busters.

Arroz Caldo, or 'lugaw nga naay manok' meaning rice porridge with chicken meat, is one of the Philippines' favorite foods. Mostly eaten for breakfast, sometimes lunch. I love eating it for dinner. It's very filling without the thousands of calories to worry about. What I also like about Arroz Caldo is, every spoonful has a different flavor. I eat it a certain way, that's why. (^__^)  This is how: for the first bite, a spoonful of just the rice and sauce, on the second I add the toasted garlic to the rice and sauce, then I include some chicken meat on the third spoonful, a slice of ginger on the fourth, then all together on the fifth. :) And  I cook it in a certain way also. I cook the rice separately. Here is my recipe:

(rice porridge with chicken)


1 cup of uncooked rice (preferably Heirloom Kokuho Premium Japanese style rice by Koda Farms)
6 cups of water (for the rice)
15 cups of water (for the soup)
3 tablespoons Herb Ox MSG Free Chicken Seasoning
1 cup ginger, sliced 
1 cup green onions (bottom part), chopped
2 pounds of chicken breast with bones
green onion leaves sliced diagonally, for garnishing
toasted garlic, for garnishing

  1. Mix the first two ingredients and bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until the rice is very tender.
  2. In a pot, mix the 15 cups of water, herb ox seasoning, sliced ginger, chopped green onions, and breast meat with bones. Bring to boil. Then reduce heat and let the chicken cook uncovered.
  3. Meanwhile, mince garlic. Over medium heat, spray oil on a small pan. Add garlic and cook until brown, stirring frequently, careful not to burn it.
  4. Once the chicken and rice are cooked, ladle cooked rice and put it in a deep bowl. Then ladle chicken soup, add the ginger and onions (it settles in the bottom of the pot). Add to your bowl of rice and soup.
  5. Separate breast meat from bones, discard the bones and then add the meat into the bowl of rice and soup.
  6. Garnish with raw green onion leaves and toasted garlic.
  7. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#34 Krem Sup Iz Sparzhi (Russian Cream of Asparagus Soup)

This soup is so filling that after I finished a serving, I did not want to touch the rest of the food on the dinner table. It's meatless, it looks great, tastes very delicate and delicious.

(Russian Cream of Asparagus Soup)


2 lbs of asparagus, woody ends removed
3 cups of salted water
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups of milk
2 teaspoons of HERB OX Chicken flavored MSG-free seasoning (instead of Vegeta Seasoning)
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted Croutons

  1. Cut Asparagus into 1-inch  pieces. Place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of salted water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Pass the asparagus and stock through a sieve, forcing out as much of the asparagus as possible and leaving the stringy parts behind.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in same medium saucepan and add 4 tablespoons flour, mixing to form a roux. Meanwhile, mix 3 cups milk with sieved asparagus stock and Herb Ox seasoning. Pour into saucepan with butter-flour mixture(roux), whisking constantly until incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the croutons in the center of each serving. Serve immediately.


For our  mini study on the country of origin: drawing is not available for our first "visit" from our little artist, maybe next time :)  We learned that Russia is the largest country in the world with a population of almost 143 million as of 2012, with 160 ethnic groups and 100 languages. Since she attends ballet  classes, we enjoyed watching cultural videos, particularly of it's ballet companies. It was really fun watching and learning with her. So much to learn about amazing Russia.

Recipe adapted from Barbara Rolek,

#33 Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese


1/2 pack uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole milk

  1. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Omit the salt and fat.
  2. Once cooked, drain and do not wash.
  3. In the same (hot) pan, return the drained pasta, parmesan cheese and whole milk.
  4. Add cooked meat or bacon on top if desired.

My daughter does not like the taste of ready-to-mix packaged macaroni and cheese. So we always make it from scratch. I also make it with ground beef for added protein.

Macaroni and Cheese originated in the United Kingdom. First recorded in a 14th century English cookbook as "makerouns". Did you know that up until the 18th century in Britain and Italy, it was considered an upper class dish? I also found this cool history of "mac & cheese" in America:

"Maccaroni" with various sauces was a fashionable food in late 18th century Paris. The future American president Thomas Jefferson encountered macaroni both in Paris and in northern Italy. He drew a sketch of the pasta and wrote detailed notes on the extrusion process. In 1793, he commissioned American ambassador to Paris William Short to purchase a machine for making it. Evidently, the machine was not suitable, as Jefferson later imported both macaroni and Parmesan cheese for his use at Monticello. In 1802, Jefferson served a "macaroni pie" at a state dinner.
Since that time, the dish has been associated with the United States and especially the American South. A recipe called "macaroni and cheese" appeared in the 1824 cookbook The Virginia Housewife written by Mary Randolph. Randolph's recipe had three ingredients: macaroni, cheese, and butter, layered together and baked in a 400 °F (204 °C) oven. The cookbook was the most influential cookbook of the 19th century, according to culinary historian Karen Hess..

I hope you enjoy this dish!

#32 Deviled Eggs with Crabmeat (without mayonnaise)

I love eggs. I like 'em boiled, fried, poached and scrambled :)  I've never made Deviled Eggs before, so I searched and found recipes online but, since I don't like mayonnaise, I omitted it and used a less fattening substitute.  I experimented more, I added crab meat. It turned out really well, tastes great so I am sharing the recipe to you. I hope you will like it.

(without mayonnaise)


4 hard boiled eggs
5 tablespoons minced crabmeat
6 teaspoons light sour cream  
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
fine salt to taste
paprika, for garnishing
fresh parsley leaves, chopped, for garnishing

  1. Boil eggs. 
  2. Drain and peel off the shells.
  3. Cut all 4 eggs in half length-wise, and remove the cooked yolk (yellow part), set in a bowl. Set the cooked egg whites aside.
  4. Using a fork or a spatula, break the cooked egg yolks into small pieces, add the crab meat, light sour cream, mustard and sweet pickle relish. Add a sprinkle of salt or to your taste. Mix well.
  5. Scoop a teaspoon (or more if you like) of the mixture and place in each egg white.  Sprinkle paprika and fresh parsley leaves.
  6. Store covered in the refrigerator. Serve cold.

Deviled Eggs originated in Rome. Very popular in all of Europe and the United States with so many variations. I will make variations from Sweden, Hungary, Germany and France very soon.  

#31 Easy Marinara Sauce from Scratch

If you are looking for a simple Marinara Sauce, try this one. It is natural, tastes delicious and very easy to make. I highly recommend! I prefer making this than buying marinara sauce in a jar. It certainly tastes better.



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
6 pounds coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
About 1 pound of pasta

  1. Heat olive oil in medium heat, then add minced garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Once it boils, simmer uncovered in low heat for 20-25 minutes.
  3. Stir in basil and parsley, then cook for 1 minute.
  4. Serve over cooked pasta.

Easy Spaghetti in Marinara Sauce :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

#30 Hungary's Goulash

Goulash is one of the national dishes and the symbol of Hungary. Part soup, part stew, the meat is unbelievably tender. We devoured the meat, it was THAT good! Gulyas it is called in Hungary,  originates from the word Gulyas, meaning 'herdsmen'. It is a soup made of meat (beef, pork, lamb or veal), noodles, hungarian (sweet) paprika, vegetables and other seasonings. Very popular in many countries in Europe. And now it is very popular in my home.



5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed  and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions( about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian Sweet)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all purpose-flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine
4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)

  1. In an 8-quart heavy kettle, cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. 
  2. In the fat remaining in kettle, brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with a slotted spoon to bowl.
  3. Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden.
  4. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick as shown in the photo above).
  5. Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.
  6. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add potatoes to soup and simmer, covered, occasionally until tender, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Soup may be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat soup, thinning with water if desired.

I used Turkey Bacon instead.

Meat is browned.


She learned about Hungary, it's capital Budapest, and she said "It's such a beautiful country, Mommy". We spent most of our learning time reading about the castles.  It has about a hundred of castles and ruins of castles all over the country! Read more here 

Recipe adapted from the Gourmet, December 1994

#29 Oven fries with crisp sage leaves

This is such a fragrant way to make potato fries. You cannot make me eat fried potatoes for a while, I just discovered a more delicious and healthier way to make it in the oven :)  And don't they look beautiful?



2 small baking potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 fresh sage leaves

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut each baking potato lengthwise into 6 equal slices. Place potato slices in a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt; toss well to coat potato slices. Remove potato slices from bowl; set aside. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400F for 40 minutes or until slices are golden brown on the bottom. Remove pan from oven. 
  4. Add fresh sage leaves to reserved olive oi and salt in bowl.
  5. Gently rub sage leaves along bottom of the bowl, coating both sides with olive oil and salt. Working with one potato slice at a time, lift potato slice from baking sheet with thin spatula. Lay 1 sage leaf on baking sheet, and cover with potato slice, browned side down. Repeat with the remaining potato slices and sage leaves.
  6. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven using a thin spatula, carefully turn potato slices over with leaves on top. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until  bottoms begin to brown. Serve immediately.

Thank you to Belgium for giving us "French Fries". In the South of Netherlands, bordering Belgium, they were and still are called Vlaamse Freiten or Flemish Fries. Some Belgians believe that the term "French" was introduced when American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I, and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them "French", as it was the official language of the Belgian Army at the time. Read more