Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zhanna's Russian Health Drink

Greetings to my friends who are probably wondering what happened to me. I haven’t made an entry in my blog in several months. We recently moved to a beautiful remote area of the country. The birds awaken us in the morning with their melodious songs—we never hear traffic. Occasionally we see happy neighbors walking or biking past the house.
They always wave or stop and say hello.

Now that I am nearly unpacked I can get back to writing, visiting with my grandchildren that are closer than before, lying on the beach, and having fun in the kitchen.

I recently met a friend of my daughter-in-law named Zhanna who moved to the U.S. from Russia a couple of weeks ago. She was a little under the weather and was sipping a concoction that looked somewhat like lemonade. Through translation my daughter-in-law explained its purpose and contents. It was a health drink she had been drinking since she was a child. She got the recipe from her mother and it was good for whatever ails you.

The flight from Russia took more than a full day, being cooped up with a lot of people
that may or may not have been ill and she was not taking any chances. Hence she was drinking this Russian health drink. The next time you are around someone with flu or your kids come home from school with the sniffles, brew a jug of this Russian Health Drink. Zhanna swears by it. Thank you Zhanna! Stay well.
 Health Drink from Zhanna

1 medium fresh ginger root
4 fresh squeezed lemons
1 tablespoon honey
2 pounds frozen or fresh cranberries
3 liters lukewarm water 
Place following ingredients
in 3 liter or half gallon container:

a) Peel the ginger root and squeeze through a garlic press. Taste for heat, if it is too hot       use only half. Save the rest of the ginger for another day.
  b) Squeeze the lemons and remove seeds.
  c) Thaw frozen cranberries or wash if fresh. Grind in blender  
  d) Add honey
  e) Add lukewarm water and mix thoroughly.
Drink through the day on a full stomach to prevent getting sick. If you are using this drink for children use half the lemon and add more water.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Chicken Enchilada Caserole

This recipe has to be credited to my friends and teachers from North lake Elementary School. I spent most of my teaching career there in Garland, Texas.

The North lake staff had a lovely tradition of celebrating birthdays monthly in the teachers’ lounge. During lunch time, we brought in homemade treasures from salads and casseroles to cakes covered with candles. Many of the cooks shared their recipes many of them are among our family favorites.

Try this sumptuous Chicken Enchilada Casserole with your family and friends. If you are lucky enough to have a group like the teachers at North lake, you might share your recipes with them too.

12 corn tortillas
½ cup cooking oil
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
¾ cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 cups diced chicken
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped green chilies

Cook tortillas in oil—5 seconds per side to soften.
Place 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1 tablespoon of onion on each tortilla and role up. Place seam side down in 9x13 baking dish.

In a large skillet, melt butter and blend with flour. Add broth and cook until thick. Stir in sour cream, chicken, and green chilies.  Cook until heated—(do not boil!). Pour sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly and light brown. This makes 6 servings with two enchiladas each. You’re going to love this! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dutch Baby Pancake

Have you ever heard of a baked pancake called a Dutch Baby? I first found this recipe in a ladies magazine during the 1990’s. Our family liked it so much that we kept the magazine on the shelf with our favorite cookbooks.

Last weekend, I thought of a Dutch Baby, recalling its puffy crust topped with blueberries and powdered sugar then drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. On Sunday morning I prepared the light pastry, placed it on my favorite platter, and then topped it with whipped cream.

As soon as I took it out of the oven, everyone came to the table eager to try the Dutch Baby. There are several different toppings you can enjoy with this pancake other than berries. Try cooked apples with brown sugar and butter topped with cinnamon—especially good in the fall when apples are ripe or sliced peaches during the summer.

3 tbsp. butter (melted in large ovenproof skillet)
3 eggs
¾ cup flour
¾ cup milk (warmed for 20 seconds in microwave)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch of salt
1 pint blueberries (or other berries washed and drained. Combine with 1 tablespoon of sugar and set aside.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in large oven proof skillet and put in oven to melt.
  2. Place all ingredients, eggs through salt in blender and combine.
  3. Pour blender contents into hot buttered skillet and return to middle of oven.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffy and brown around edges. Remove to rack and let cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove pancake to large round platter.

Spread with sweetened fruit, sift with powdered sugar, and drizzle with sweetened condensed milk—last decorate with whipped cream. However you choose to adorn your Dutch Baby, I promise one thing—you’ll love it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kale Casserole

In Connecticut, I belonged to a farm co-op. We picked up fresh vegetables harvested daily from the farm. Our share was plentiful and sometimes more than we could use.

The farm produced a weekly paper with information about local farms, activities for children, and seasonal vegetables and fruits. Usually there was at least a recipe or two many shared by the other co-op members.

I remember once we had a big crop of kale and I was trying to find more recipes using this healthy green. I hid a few leaves in our smoothies and then went on to make a meatless casserole with eggs, cheese and kale. Everybody in the family liked the dish and I prepared it for my writers’ group as well. The recipe was printed in the co-op paper and also in Baking with Barb in CAPA’s Monthly magazine. Recently I found a good buy on kale and again made Kale Casserole. Try this recipe, feed it to the kids, and feel good about hiding healthy vegetables in your casserole.


1 bunch kale
4 cups cubed stale bread
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup olive oil or butter
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
¾ cup of milk


1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.    Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray and spread bread cubes into the dish.
3.    Wash the kale and drain in a strainer. Cut stems from leaves and chop to bite sized pieces.
4.    Place 2-3 tablespoons from the olive oil or butter portion in a large skillet.
5.    Wilt half of greens in skillet and remove to large mixing bowl, wilt remaining greens in butter and add to mixing bowl.
6.     Saute mushrooms and onions in butter until light brown. Mix in bowl with greens.
7.     Add milk, eggs, and mushroom soup to vegetables and toss in two cups of cheese.
8.     Pour kale mixture over bread pieces in casserole dish. Sprinkle casserole with remaining cup of cheese. Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until bubbly and light brown.

This casserole will serve about 8 to 10 people or make two smaller dishes and freeze one for another time. Refrigerate leftovers. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

How many different dishes do you make with your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? Of course you always have turkey sandwiches and sliced breast meat with mashed potatoes and leftover gravy, but have you tried making soup?

One of my favorite turkey recipes is turkey and sausage gumbo. My son Chris first introduced me to gumbo and I must say it is one of my favorite soup recipes. Try this before you decide to toss the turkey.


1 pound of Polish sausage or Andouille (spicy Cajun sausage) cut into bite size pieces
3-4 cups of skinned chopped turkey from leftovers or roasted chicken
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup flour
½ cup chopped sweet pepper
1 medium chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery with leaves
4 pints turkey or chicken broth
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2-3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch of thyme
6 drops of hot sauce or to taste
¼ cup chopped green onion (for garnish)

1 cup brown rice cooked according to package directions


When your turkey dinner is finished prepare the leftovers by removing skin and bones and separate meat into packages appropriate for your family meals. Freeze all that won’t be used within a couple of days.

1, Prepare turkey for soup by chopping it into bite size pieces and set it aside.

2. Place hot water in medium pot with turkey bones and scraps, some onion and celery.
This will make a flavorful broth. Cook until veggies are tender.

3. Sauté the sausage in a large skillet until brown. Remove most of fat using a paper towel then remove sausage from skillet and set aside.

4. Pour vegetable oil into skillet with remainder of fat. Add the flour and stir constantly on medium heat until roux is the color of chocolate (about 25-30 minutes).
5. Add chopped peppers, onion, and celery to skillet and cook until vegetables are tender (about ten minutes).

6. Pour broth from turkey bones and contents of skillet into soup kettle. Add more water and chicken bullion if needed to make about two quarts of liquid. Stir until soup is slightly thickened.

7. Add sausage, turkey or chicken, garlic and rest of ingredients through hot sauce. Simmer about an hour.

8. While soup simmers prepare brown rice according to package directions. This will take about 40 minutes.

9. Remove bay leaves and sprinkle soup with chopped green onions.

10. Serve this delectable gumbo over the rice. What a wonderful way to serve leftover turkey.

Send your recipes for leftovers to our blog. We’d love to share some of your favorites!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ruth's Danish Apple Cake

In my lifetime I have met many people from all over the world who have shared their food and recipes with me. One of those people was a friend named Ruth who was born and raised in Denmark. Through the years we became good friends, and she shared many great meals with our family. I in turn shared many recipes and meals with her and her family.

I attended the World’s Fair in New York City in the early 1960’s. What an unforgettable experience! At the Danish pavilion we ate a fabulous meal which included Danish apple cake.

Later I told Ruth about the cake. She then shared with me a different apple “cake”. She said it was very popular during apple harvest. Since this is apple harvest time I will share it with you. You won’t need an oven. So the next time the electricity goes off you can still have dessert and use up those apples you picked at the orchard.


Apple layers
4 to 5 large apples peeled and sliced (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or your favorites)
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Combine apples and water in a medium sized stew pot and cook until tender and most water has evaporated. Add sugar, cinnamon, and butter and stir until ingredients are combined. Set aside.

Crumb layers
4 slices of stale bread—grated
5-6 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients for crumb layers in medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Spread 1/3 of crumb mixture in large clear serving bowl. Cover with half of the apple filling then half of remaining crumbs. Finally spread remaining apple filling on top of crumbs, then sprinkle remaining crumbs. Chill in refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours or overnight. Serve chilled apple cake garnished with whipping cream.

This is a simple and delicious family friendly dessert. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chocolate Berry Crumb Bars

This busy grandma finally made these cookies along with my daughter-in-law, Yulia, who shared them with her office staff at a pitch-in luncheon. She won first place with kudos for the cookies. Try this recipe yourself. There are lots of parties and holidays in your future.

Scroll through the blog and you will find several of our favorite family recipes. Try the pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing.  Check back later for more October recipes.

                                          Chocolate Berry Crumb Bars


1 cup butter softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cups packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
1 ¼ cups sweetened condensed milk
½ cup of your favorite berry jam- I prefer seedless raspberry.
½ cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch glass baking pan with baking spray.
  2. In large mixing bowl beat softened butter until creamy. Add flour, sugar and salt and mix until crumbly. Spread all but about ¾ cup of crumbs into pan, sprinkle with flour, and press lightly with finger tips. Set rest of crumbs aside.
  3. Bake about 10 minutes or until crumbs start to brown around edges. Remove from oven, but leave oven on.
  4. In a small saucepan put the condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips. Warm at low temperature and stir until creamy. Spread it over the baked crust.
  5. Chop the nuts and add to the remaining crumbs. Sprinkle over chocolate sauce.
  6. Drop dollops of jam on top of crumbs until ½ cup of jam is used. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and return to oven. Bake 25-30 minutes until center is set and crumbs are slightly brown. Remove pan to wire rack to cool. Cut into squares. Serve and delight your guests.