Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Holiday Pics

Just wanted to share a few of the items I baked for the holidays. The first photo is one of our gingerbread cookies the kids and I cut and iced. Those were fun. A tad bit time-consuming but very fun. The second photo shows(starting from left, clockwise) Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies, Nut Cups, Gingersnaps(that's an easy recipe BTW), Cupcakes, and in the middle, my personal fave...Baklava. 

I also made lemon squares, pumpkin bars iced with a cream cheese frosting and a pan of brownies. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons....Bake or Cook Something

Okay, today was a pretty good day. Mercury hasn't been very kind but I succeeded anyway. My recipes will reflect the days events and the saying "When life hands you lemons make lemonade"(or in this case Lemon Squares and Lemon Soup). Despite the fact that my dishwasher seemed to have a mind of its own and was doing funky things all afternoon forbidding me to get my dishes done in a timely manner I managed to get my house cleaning done and my dishes clean without fail.  My neighbor had guests and as I was pulling in front of my house to my little tiny spot I have for my van, the neighbor's guest decides she can't wait one teeny tiny millisecond (I put my pointer finger up to motion "just a minute" to her and smiled laughing, literally out loud because I park like a little old lady LOL) she was apparently in a hurry and decides to turn her car around from the side of the street she was on to my side of the street without even a grin.

"Bah Humbug Lady!"

I get inside the house  and finish cleaning. I run for gas and wanted to head to the dollar store when I realize that I missed the street I wanted to turn onto. Darnit! I get home and head upstairs here to do my blog for today since I missed yesterday and the day before. Gotta remain diligent ya know. I hear rustling in the bedroom adjacent to the loft here where I'm just typing away and I have no clue what it is because all the kids were downstairs. It's our dog. Our 40 some pound border collie/blue heeler, Rocky, is in the bathtub. LOLL He's been acting strangely tonight.  First thought in my head was "Earthquake??" Nahhhh....he's been hanging all over me and just acting...well, jumpy since my daughter and I got home. Crazy! I just went downstairs to get my cell phone and as I turned the corner at the top of the steps, the dog literally ran into me and just about knocked me over here.

Fun times. Fun times.

So for those days where they are a little sweet and sour, balance it out with some toasty warm Lemon Rice soup or, for the ultimate sugar junkies like me...make some lemon squares. Either one is guaranteed to make you smile. Lemon rice soup is awesome. I kid you not. Most of my friends have cringed at the thought of lemon in a soup, but this soup is oh so yummy. Trust me. Make one small pot for yourself if you must, just to try it out.


10 cups boiled water
1/2 cup chicken base(I use about five cans of chicken broth instead as I have no base, then I just use 5 cups of boiled water instead of 10)
2 cups of Rice * I have used Minute Rice, and my mom uses Orzo as well for a bit of variety to this recipe as well instead of the "standard" rice*

1 stick butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Lemon Juice

Simmer first three ingredients for about 30 mins or so. Then, in another pan you want to melt 1 stick of margarine and 4 tablespoons cornstarch. Gradually add 5 cups of milk stirring constantly so it doesn't lump up on ya. Then just add salt, pepper and Lemon juice to your liking. Add it to the soup mixture(DON'T just  pour it in there. Use a giant serving spoon or ladle to gradually add it to the soup mix)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powder sugar
4 eggs
pinch of salt
1 cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
6 tablespoons of lemon juice
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Mix flour, butter, powder sugar and salt together with a fork. Press into a 9X13" pan. Bake. * When you press the dough into the pan, be sure to raise the sides up a bit because when you pour the liquid filling in you need something to kind of "catch" it so it doesn't burn on the sides when you bake it.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in your blender. About two minutes on a low-med speed should do the trick. Pour over the baked crust.  Bake 25 more minutes.  Cool. Cut and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

My kids love both these recipes and they are picky eaters.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let's Talk About the Holidays Shall We?

I promised myself that I would be diligent in my blogging efforts despite the fact I feel like the woman in that movie "Julie and Julia" who had one person who read her blog when she first started out. I have faith that some day I will wake up one morning, log into my blog and find at least 10 people who have decided what I have to say is entertaining enough to be worthy of a following. Then, like the domino effect my followers would grow from that point on.  So although at this point and time I have but two friends(which is more than Julie did when she first started out), I will continue to babble endlessly about whatever seems to be entertaining and informative, even though today's blog isn't a recipe I'm still going to share with you some of my traditions....

Because ladies(and gentlemen), I love to blog.

Today's topic is about holiday menus. What do you serve to your family friends during the holidays? Is it a big to do for you? Or just a simple turkey or ham tossed in the oven and forgotten about until the timer buzzes? Do you carry on any family traditions when it comes to what you cook for Yule and/or Christmas? 

I am planning a fairly simple dinner with a few "elegant" desserts to tease our palettes. First of all our Yule dinner. I'm thinking perhaps a glazed ham, potatoes(perhaps the hash brown casserole recipe I will post when I have more time), corn casserole, green bean casserole, bread/rolls of some sort(I'd like to find a recipe if I have the time to make rolls from scratch). Christmas Eve is just pizza because it's such a crazy day for us around here and when gifts are opened, forget a carefully planned meal, it would be a waste to make. 

I take the kids out to look at decorations and then we search for Santa's sleigh in the darkened sky. Hoping to see a twinkle of red from Rudolph's nose. Their dad will call and tell me "I hear something, I think Santa is here, hurry back home so the kids don't miss him!" Then I relay the message to the children.  I can see their eyes light up and the excitement in their voices as I look into the rear-view mirror. Then when they run in the door the looks on their faces when they see all the (somewhat carefully) wrapped gifts is...well....


Thinking back to my own childhood, I remember running up to my bedroom and we could see the red flashing airplane tower with the blinking red light. Of course it's there all year long, but for some reason we believed that was Rudolph carrying Santa and his sleigh. Then we'd run downstairs and go hide in our guest closet in the hallway peering through the cracks in the folding closet door to get a peek at Santa. We'd hear stomping footsteps and the dog barking and we'd jump off the floor, fling open the doors in the hopes of seeing Santa. A few years he'd come visit us with a Sack full of gifts. We could see his fluffy red suit outside the front room window after the door bell rang. I am so happy to continue this tradition with my children too. 

Yule will be a wonderful time as we will be celebrating again with the Yule log that we had last year(and the year before) as the children help me light the candles and we welcome baby Sun back to life and give thanks for all the things we can do as the days get longer and warmer. We play pin the star on the tree, Bozo Buckets(Yule Style of course), hide and seek(and appropriate game I feel, as the Sun was hidden and now we "found" the Sun again), we do crafts and sing songs and dance to holiday tunes. It's a fun time celebrated by my children and I. It's new traditions that, should my children choose to do so, will carry on to their children as well. 

Desserts will be plenty for both occasions. I will attempt, once again, to bake the Baklava recipe my mother gave me along with some peppermint candy cane brownies and truffles(those are the "extravagant recipes I spoke of earlier, especially the Baklava that is very time consuming and patience is needed for that one no doubt LOL) Nut Cups, Roshky, Chocolate Walnut bars, and I think I am going to try and decorate a tiered Tree Cake. My mother was talking to me this morning about trying a fondant cake. It sounds interesting. This should be fun. I can't wait to begin baking next weekend. And of course photos WILL be posted.

So there's my blog for today. I am grateful I can type fast. I still have to get my daughter and I ready for school as I am helping the teacher today. This time of year, I live there practically every day. LOLLL I love it. Today I get to help a classroom of 29 Kinder kids do a Christmas gift for their parents(I know what it is already as my twins did it last year, so surprise factor is gone at this point LOLL). I'm also helping get crafts for the holiday party ready as well today too. Fun times, fun times ladies (and gentlemen). 

Have a beautiful day. I'll be back tomorrow with more recipes(Including the ones listed in this blog that haven't been posted yet).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Latest Creations

Here's a few photos of some cupcakes we made tonight. My mom(Thank You Mommy!) had sent me a few of the Wilton's colored Pastes to try out in my icing and cake mixes so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I made butter cream icing and separated it into 3 different bowls adding yellow, red and green paste to each bowl. The kids had a field day with it too.

I noticed that one of the cupcakes in this photo looked like two chili
peppers conjoined with a cotton ball. LOL

I was just trying various "designs" here. Trying to find ideas for Yule 
and Christmas decorating. Notice my first attempt at a Yule log.

Kids and my creations squeezed onto a holiday platter.

Chocolate Chip/Walnut Bars

This is a recipe I acquired through a recipe exchange a year or two ago. It's a really easy recipe and these bars are so delicious. This recipe puts about 100 calories on my thighs just reading it.  Enjoy!

1/2 cup of butter
3 eggs
2 cups PACKED brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups walnuts
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder. Stir in nuts and chocolate. Spread into foil lined pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool, then cut. Me? I can't wait for them to cool so I cut them about 2-5 minutes after they come out of the oven. :)

Chocolate Torte


1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Can Chocolate Icing
1-8oz Pkg. Cream Cheese
1 small container Cool Whip

Prepare cake mix according to directions. Pour into two 8 inch round pans. Bake.

Prepare frosting mixture as follows:

Combine Chocolate Icing, Cream Cheese and Cool Whip.

After cakes are done baking, cut each cake in half. Place one half on a cake plate. Ice completely, add next layer repeating the process until entire cake is iced.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Bless her soul, I miss my Grandma Strez. Oh the stories I could tell you about watching her in the kitchen whipping up all kinds of ethnic dishes and deserts. Paprikash, Dumplings, Roshkies, Kolachky(SP?? LOL). I loved spending the night at her house with my siblings.

My mother told me one time that she tried to get my grandma's roshky recipe from her and my grandma just wouldn't spill the beans.  Bless her soul, I have to laugh at her for being so "secretive" about her recipes, which I'm sure were handed down generation to generation, mother to daughter.

Anyway, my mother told me that the Roshky recipe I made was the closest to my grandmother's recipe she ever tasted.(Not bragging here by any means, I don't find any pleasure in "swollen head syndrome", however, it made me smile to think that I can (almost) bake as well as Grandma Strez did.). My sister on the other hand, can make a pierogi blind folded and they taste just as good, if not better, than my grandmother's. I couldn't if my life depended on it. So that is one gift she has, that I probably never will, compliments of our Grandma.

You can use a variety of fillings for the roshkies. I prefer Almond and/or walnut myself and apricot. I also use to love Poppy Seed roshkies, but something about random drug testing should I ever be afforded the luxury to find a job(or snag an interview) would deter me from using poppy seed as I've heard some horror stories and saw the Seinfeld episode where Elaine had a poppy seed bagel before a company drug test. *giggles* I've also used Jelly. True story. It runs a little more, and you shouldn't over fill the dough with the filling or with the jelly. Trust me, after your first batch, you should figure out what "too much filling/jelly" is. loll

So here is the recipe. I hope you will enjoy these delectable pastries that simply melt in your mouth.



1 8-oz Pkg of Cream Cheese
2 sticks of butter
2 3/4 cups of flour(if the dough is still "sticky" you can add flour as needed to the bowl or to the work surface where you roll the dough it, but it shouldn't be too "Dry")

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add flour...not like my kids were they dump half the bowl in at one time and it causes you to ingest half a cup of flour up your nostrils and a plume of the white stuff to float into midair. Slowly. Add the flour slowly. About half a cup at a time. I start out mixing it with the mixer and then after about a cup of flour is added, I proceed to use my hands.(*Points finger at you in a "Motherly Manner"...make sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before kneading the dough!! Although it would be wise to do this before you even begin to bake, however, we know that children need their noses blown, or we get ten phone calls when we decide to bake. It's like all telemarketers or (for you parents out there)our children's friends just know when we've decided to bake and all call at once...ya know?)

Okay hands washed and all flour now in the bowl and thoroughly kneaded in, we take out our big ball o' dough and throw it on  a floured counter. (Okay, not literally THROW, unless your favorite Idol contestant was just booted from the show, go ahead take out your frustration on the dough. )

Roll out the dough. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares.(*I'll be honest here, I don't ever measure. I just cut up a bunch of squares, period. You don't want them too big, if that's the case they'd be Kolachky, not Roshky) If they are the size of a Blackberry Tour...too big. Do not use your Blackberry to measure the dough.  If you are a parent, go to your game closet, pull out your kids Barney Memory Game and use one card to measure the size of the square. That should do it. If you have no kids, knock on  your neighbor's door, the one with the ten kids on the front yard, I guarantee they have a memory game.

After you cut the squares you are going to now add filling to the squares.

This is the fun part. Because too much filling will spill over and burn on your baking pan. Too little filling, well, it's more like a teaser Roshky....Little fruit flavor lotsa dough. Icky.

Fold corner to corner. I have a photo of what this should look like here---click right here--->> Roshky Photo ...after it has baked. Place on UNGREASED baking pan.

Place in oven at 375 degrees(Yes, you should pre-heat the oven, cut me some slack I'm on a blogging roll as my coffee has kicked in now LOL) for 20-25 mins. Oven temps vary so of course, you want to check at 20 mins and once the oven gets really toasty you may want to check them at 15-20 mins. You want them to be a light golden brown around the edges.  You can take a peek at the link above again to see what I mean about the color.

Let them cool for about 10 mins or so, and when still a little warm sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Creamed Spinach

Alas, I am totally "stoked"(is that even used as slang anymore?? or is that totally 80's??) that I found some time to share all my recipes and catch up on my blog here. 3+ blogs in one!

This creamed spinach recipe is awesome I tell you.

It's a quick and easy recipe as well.

I wish I had a photo. I'll have to take one next time just to show you how yummy it looks and it tastes even better!

Creamed Spinach


2 Tblsp Butter
2 10-oz pkgs Frozen Spinach(thawed and drained)
1/2 med onion, diced
1 Tblsp garlic(more or less to taste)
3-4 oz Cream Cheese(if you don't want to waste a whole 8 oz bar by only using half of it, just get the 3 oz bar, otherwise just double the recipe and your problem is solved)
1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese(I mash/stir it in with a fork) and milk until it's smooth and creamy. Add nutmeg.  I just sprinkle it all over the top, I don't even measure it. I love nutmeg. You'll kind of smell it as it's cooking.

Add spinach to the mixture. Cook about ten minutes or so until piping hot. Let it stand five minutes or so.


The Persistent Little Witch's Kitchen Blessing

Witchy Comments

~Magickal Graphics~

Goddess bless my kitchen, hands and mind,
May love and blessings come
With each recipe I find.

My kitchen is my sacred, happy place,
Where memories are made.
Floured little noses, and dough on walls 
remind me of all the giggles that soon will  fade.

When my batter crumbles, or my cake should suddenly fall,
Remind me Goddess, 
To step back a bit and remember
To Laugh at it All.

I give thanks for all ingredients,
I give thanks for the gift to bake,
I give thanks for the gift to cook a meal,
That love and passion make.

Goddess, protect my kitchen,
and all who enter in it with me,
Keep me focused and attentive,
As I ask so Mote It Be.

Chicken Paprikash and Dumplings

At the request of my forever BFF and cousin(A.B.C), Kristen, I am posting this recipe for her. Yes, it's a day late, but better late than never I always say. :)

My son's class is having a multi-cultural luncheon at school in ten days. So I thought it would be wise to do a "trial run" on this recipe as I have not made this since I lived in my apartment on 115th Street over 10 years ago. As I was on the phone blabbing away and attempting to make this recipe, (mind scattered) I put in 1 stick of butter instead of the required 2 Tblsp of butter.


I managed to scrape out the excess butter in time before it all had melted into the pan, and the results were pretty tasty.  My six-year old daughter, Kalaya, had never had Chicken Paprikash or a dumpling in her life. So when I bent down with dumpling and soup atop the spoon and gave her a taste, her little blue eyes opened wide and lit up as she exclaimed to me "MOMMY! THIS IS REALLY GOOD!"

She's my pickiest eater.

You can use a whole chicken, chicken fryers or chicken breasts even. Although I find that dark meat tastes much better in this recipe, so I used one package of six chicken thighs. That was more than enough meat and I probably could have doubled the recipe and had enough leftovers for a day or two.


Ingredients for this recipe:

4-6 chicken thighs(or 4 pd chicken if you choose to use a whole chicken)
1/2 medium onion, diced
salt to taste(i use about a 1/2 tsp to start and add as I go if I need more)
Pepper to taste(sprinkled lightly to just cover the top of the butter more or less)
Paprika(sprinkled lightly to cover as well)
1-2 tblsp butter
1-2 tblsp jar garlic(or 1 clove garlic..more or less to your liking, I happen to love garlic...keeps the vampires and creepy men away LOL)
1 pint sour cream( a 1/2 pint if you like your paprikash a little more thinner and a little less thicker)
1-2 cans of Chicken Broth(or you can use chicken base, however,  I've never made this recipe with the base so I'm not sure of the exact measurements to water on that)

Two separate dutch ovens(or simliar sized pots)

Place chicken  with water and broth into dutch oven. Add a 1-2 tsp of Jar Garlic into water along with Salt and Pepper to flavor chicken. Bring to boil for about an hour or until chicken gently falls off the bone and is completely cooked through.*This recipe is based on 4-6 chicken pieces. Adjust cooking directions accordingly*

About 10-15 mins before chicken is done boiling begin to melt butter and add onion, garlic and season to your liking with Paprika, Pepper and Salt. It's best to under season and add to taste then to over season and regret it later. Stir in Sour Cream. Continue to simmer and stir for about 5-10 mins.

Gradually add (with a ladel or serving spoon) the water from the pot of chicken.

Next take chicken out of the pot and cut into whatever size you prefer. I chopped mine up in varying sizes. Some were shavings and some were cubed. Not exactly the way my grandma did it, but still tastes the same(sort of LOLL). I also added some(not all) of the Chicken skin to keep the flavor. Remove the skin, don't remove the skin...again, personal preference.

Add chicken to the paprikash pot and voila'! You're done! Simmer maybe another 15 mins and while it's simmering you can tend to preparing your dumplings.

ADDED NOTE: Because of the butter and drippings from the chicken, it will tend to settle on top of the pot. Be sure to always stir before serving.


I remember my grandmother's dumplings like it was yesterday. I use to love watching her make these tasty little buggers. She use to put them in a bowl for me and my siblings and cover them in butter. Mmmm....*has flashbacks to childhood at Grandma Strez's house and days of dumplings and butter and Strawberry Jello and Reddi Whip....*

So sorry, childhood flashback there! LOL

Okay, so the dumpling recipe is pretty darn easy.

Boil water, when the water is boiling add the dumpling dough. When it rises to the top of the water wait about a minute to two minutes and remove. (*NOTE: It may stick to the bottom of the pot so just take a spoon and gently stir to remove it from the bottom of the pot. I haven't uncovered the secret of "unsticking dumplings" from the bottom of the pot*grins*)

It's just One Egg, 1 Cup of Flour(I actually sprinkled a bit more in my recipe, but I can't give you an exact measurement so I just went with one cup here LOLL maybe 1-1/4 cup..let's go with that shall we??LOL), 3 tblsp water.

The dough should be the consistency of Paper Mache' paste more or less.(I do believe this is the recipe for paper mache' sans the egg LOL) it will be a tad bit sticky. Take a knife or spoon and scrape into pot of boiling water.

Place in plate or bowl. Lightly salt(if you desire) and serve(in a bowl, not on a plate, that's just disrespectful to this fine Slavic recipe and would make all Polish grandmas roll over in their graves I'm sure.)

Ta-Dah!!! Dinner is served!

One final note, it was brought to my attention by an un-named individual that it was "weird" to not add the dumplings to the soup mixture. I told this individual, "We're Polacks, we do things different".  LOL Truth be known, thanks to my beloved Mother, if you add the dumplings to the Paprikash(or any soup really) it will absorb the liquid causing you to have one giant "dumpling blob" overtaking your pot of soup. ;)

Happy Eating!