Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

Celebrate the pumpkin season with a fresh home made pumpkin bread. Pumpkin bread makes a good breakfast, desert, or just a snack. This particular pumpkin bread loaf went to AMC with us to help us enjoy Avatar.


1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

I like to double the recipe to make two loaves. It just seems more efficient that way- same amount of time, one mess, but two loaves.

Start with baking a pumpkin. A small pumpkin is enough to make 2 loaves. Cut it in half and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for one hour. Peel the skin off and puree the rest. It would be falling apart after baking anyways, so not so much pureeing is necessary.

Mix all the ingredients together with a mixer. If you have a fancy mixer like mine, this should take just a few minutes. I love my new mixer! This was my Christmas present to myself.

Pour the mix into the bread loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3) previously greased with butter. Bake at 350F for one hour. Do the toothpick test to see if your pumpkin bread is ready. Cool on a rack before serving.

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Kitchen aid mixers are especially useful in baking because you can add the ingredients while they mix. No mess, no splashes and you still have both of your hands to do other stuff. This mixer makes baking easy and quick.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage

I found this recipe in a magazine while waiting in a dentist chair. I've never made anything from pumpkin before, and it just looked really interesting. I tried to remember the ingredients and procedure, however when I got home and tried to write it down I realized that I forgot most parts of it. I new it involved 2 butternut squashes, so I went to the supermarket and got that. The rest of it is my invention, but when it was done, it was delicious. So, I am sharing this success with you now.


2 butternut squashes (2 1/2 lbs each)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery, grated
2 large shallots, chopped
1 carrot, grated
3 twigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
32oz chicken broth (you can make this vegetarian with vegetable broth)
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

fresh sage leaves
2 cups of french bread cut in cubes

Cut the squashes in halves, remove the seeds.

Place cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Saute shallots, carrot and celery in oil, then add peeled baked squashes, and the rest of the ingredients. Boil at low heat stirring occasionally.

While the soup is cooking, cut up a couple of slices of french bread into cubes. Fry them in butter or oil for several minutes until they harden and are golden brown in color.

Serve the soup in individual bowls with fresh sage leaves on top and french bread croutons on the side.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Butter Rolls with Cheese


1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

2 1/3 cups bread flour

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp active dry yeast

feta or sheep cheese


1 egg

Make the dough out of the above ingredients. I use my bread maker, so it's pretty easy. It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Split the dough into 14 equal balls and allow them to rest covered with a kitchen towel for 20 minutes.

Use the rolling pin to stretch the doing into triangles.

Add cheese and roll each triangle starting from the wide end.

Place the rolls on the greased baking pan. Spray a little water and allow to rise at 90F for about 30 minutes or until they double in size.

Beat one egg for the glaze and brush each roll.

Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

Good old days-
We tend to eat lots of dough during the winter time in Serbia. We make something similar to butter rolls with cheese, and we call it "kiflice". Everybody loves kiflice! Kids can hardly wait till they come out of the oven. Here are my first attempts to make kiflice. These pictures are from the 80's, taken in Belgrade, Serbia.

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I use this Zojirushi bread maker to make various breads as well as dough. It works great. You just pour all the ingredients in, and get the dough out. No trouble, no mess, guaranteed success.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate Walnut Bites

Not only that Serbia is not friendly to those who are vegetarians, but if you have allergies to nuts, you should also watch out. Serbian deserts are loaded with walnuts.

Chocolate Walnut Bites are quick and easy to make. No baking required.


1/2 sugar
3/4 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1 egg white, beaten
1 tsp rum
1 tbsp water
1/2 finely ground walnuts for decoration

Melt sugar in water over medium heat. When the solution is completely clear remove from heat and add chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix well. Add beaten egg white and run, and mix again.

Leave the mixture in the refrigerator to harden so that you can shape it. With wet hands form 1/2-1 in balls. Roll them in finely ground walnuts and place on the serving tray. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

If you have small baking cups, you can fill them with the mixture and then leave in the refrigerator to harden before serving. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stuffed Zucchinis

They look good, they taste good, and they have bacon in them! Just like in most of my other postings, you can modify the quantities and ratios of the ingredients (not to leave out bacon and cheese though!). Try it and find out what ingredients and ratios work best for you. As for myself, I hope to learn how to spell "zucchinis" properly.


5 zucchinis
1 cup chopped smoked bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, grated
1 cup feta or sheep cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
seasoning salt, black pepper

Like always, get a good bacon! Don't get your supermarket brand. Not every bacon is the same, and the flavor of this dish will depend in the quality of the bacon you get. I prefer smoked bacon, but you can use any, just as long as it is the good kind.

Use a small spoon to carve our the insides of the zucchinis. Save about 1/2 of this, and chop it into small pieces. If you save all of it, you will have a lot of leftover stuffing.

Preheat the over to 400F.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and fry in a skillet for several minutes. Add onions, garlic, grated carrot and seasoning mix. Continue to saute over medium heat until the onions are golden in color.

Transfer into a mixing bowl. Add graded celery, bell pepper, cheese, sour cream, zucchini pulp and freshly ground black pepper. Mix together and stuff it back into the zucchini shells.

Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until the top of the stuffing starts to darken. Serve straight out of the oven. Garnish with parsley and freshly ground parmesan cheese.

Here is a step by step summary just for fun:

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Every kitchen should have a set of mixing bowls. If you do any kind of cooking, they come in handy not only for mixing, but also for storing and preparation of various starting ingredients, especially when the ingredients list is long.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Russian Salad (Serbian= Руска салата/ Ruska Salata)

I am deliberately putting this post right after the soup. The reason for this is that most of the ingredients come from the soup. Most people think that soups are made out of left over food scraps, however, there is a tasty spread/ appetizer that you can make out of soup scraps.


3-4 cooked potatoes
2 cooked carrots
6 shredded cooked drumsticks or thighs
1 cup finely chopped pickles
1/2 cup peas
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard

This is very easy to make, you just need to do a lot of chopping. The measures that I suggest can be modified depending on what you can find in your soup.

Chop all the ingredients finely and mix together. Cover with a layer of Mayo on top. You may also decorate the top with slices carrots and pickles. Serve with fresh french bread or crackers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chicken and Beef Soup


1lb beef
6 drumsticks or thighs (with skin)
3 large carrots
5 stalks celery
3 red bell peppers
4 tomatoes
2 potatoes
4 garlic cloves
1 onion
4L water
salt and pepper
parsley to garnish

Soups are generally easy to make. I would say the only trick is to boil them slowly if you want the soup to remain clear. However, if you plan to blend the veggies later on, it doesn't matter how you boil it.

You can chop the veggies however you like. I cut them into halves. That way I can easily take them out later on. If you like to eat veggies in your soup, you may want to chop them smaller.

First, cut the onion into halves and grill on the stove burner until it turns dark. This will add a little extra flavor.

In cold water place all the veggies and meat. Season with salt and whole black pepper. Cook covered on low to medium heat. Try to find the lowest heat at which the soup would remain boiling. Cook for 3 hours. Use a large pot for this so that you can fit everything.

When the soup is done, you can also bland the veggies with the soup, or leave them whole or in pieces depending on how you chopped them.

When the soup is fully cooked, while still boiling, add noodles and continue cooking for several minutes (according to the instructions on the noodles). Serve into bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

These measures would make a large batch. If you don't plan to eat it all at once, you can store it in the fridge for later. If you do plan to store it, I recommend to do so before adding noodles (because they will get soft). Take enough soup for one meal in a smaller pan and bring to boil. Add noodles and boil for several minutes. Add chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper to each bowl of soup.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vegitable Rice


2 cups of white rice
2 carrots, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (or water with a bullion cube)
seasoning salt
crushed red pepper

Wash the rice and fry it in oil until it becomes golden brown in color.

Add onions, garlic, carrots and peppers and continue to fry for another 5 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking. Season with crushed red pepper and the seasoning salt.

Then add tomatoes, and stir. The tomato juices will braise the bottom of the pan in case any of the rice was stuck to it.

Add chicken broth, or water seasoned with bullion cube (you can make this a vegetarian meal is you use a veggie bullion). Stir once again, cover, and lower to heat. Cook until the water has been completely absorbed by rice.