Simple advice for a better life.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw 2If you are bored with the same old traditional coleslaw, and are looking for something more interesting and refreshing, you will enjoy this recipe.

At first I was skeptical about the combination of the ingredients for this coleslaw, especially the use of pickles, and grapes.

I had a discussion with my niece, who is a Food Scientist, and she felt that it actually sounded pretty good.

She would have excluded the raisins (she does not like them), but I kept them in, and would have loved to add the walnuts, but did not have any in my pantry.


  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded (about 1/2 of a medium head of cabbage)
  • 2 medium red apples, cored and chopped (I used Gala, and shredded them)
  • 1 cup red and green, seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped (I used Vidalia onion)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts , coarsely chopped
  • 3 large dill pickles, peeled and shredded
  • 1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise (I used Hellmann’s Light)
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs coarse grain brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl combine, cabbage, apples, onions, grapes, pickles, raisins, nuts.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and sugar.
  3. Add to cabbage mixture and lightly toss to coat.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss lightly.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or 2-6 hours, before serving.

Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container, for 3 days or less.

Ira Torte  - servingThis torte recipe was passed on to our family by our cousin Ira (Eera), from Ukraine, hence the name “Torte Ira”.

The filling for this torte is quite different, since it uses a rather non-traditional main ingredient.

Most torte fillings are made mainly with butter, powdered sugar, chocolate or cocoa, plus various flavor enhancers.

This filling uses it’s share of butter, and much less sugar than most, but the bulk of the filling is made out of cooked Cream of Wheat.

You would never guess that Cream of  Wheat is the main ingredient of this filling, by just tasting it, because it is very creamy and light, despite the amount of butter it contains.

This torte is best refrigerated, to keep its ideal texture, thus  suitable mostly as an after dinner dessert, rather than a party dessert, requiring an extended exposure to room temperature.

Ira Torte

Torte Ingredients:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (4- 1 oz squares), melted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour

Torte Directions:

  1. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate and butter.
  2. Add vanilla extract.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with salt, until light and fluffy.
  5. Add sugar and beat a couple of minutes longer.
  6. Fold the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  7. Add sifted flour, and blend it in well.
  8. Grease a lightly flour, a 9 x 13 x 2 sheet cake pan.
  9. Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.
  10. Pour the torte batter into the prepared pan.
  11. Place on a middle oven rack, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven to cool in the pan. (see TIP below)

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 2 cups whole  milk
  • 4 Tbs Cream of Wheat
  • 1 1/2 cup butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs alcohol (brandy, liquor, cognac, whiskey), or your favorite extract

Directions for Filling:

  1. Use a 2 quart sauce pan.
  2. Add milk and Cream of Wheat, and bring to boil.
  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
  4. Set aside to cool off.
  5. In a medium bowl, add softened butter, juice and extract.
  6. Mix to blend well.
  7. Mix in the powdered sugar, until creamy.
  8. Add cooled Cream of Wheat, and mix to blend all well together.
  9. Spread filling over the cooled cake.
  10. Set aside.

Chocolate Icing Ingredients:

  • 8 0z semi-sweet baker’s chocolate (8 – 1 oz squares)
  • 4 Tbs whole milk, or heavy cream for whipping

Chocolate Icing Directions:

  1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate.
  2. Add milk, and incorporate into the melted chocolate.
  3. Remove from heat, and pour over the filling.
  4. Smooth out with the back of a spoon, for smooth, even finish.
  5. Cool in the refrigerator, until it begins to firm up.
  6. Remove from the fridge, and pre-cut through the chocolate icing, to form serving pieces.  This will ease the final cutting to serving pieces later on, once the chocolate fully cools and hardens.
  7. Cover, and keep in the fridge at least over night.
  8. Just before serving, cut through the filling and the cake, place on a serving platter, and serve.


Please share your comments.  I love to hear your feedback.

TIP:  Please don’t be alarmed after the cake is baked, because it will seem very dense and brittle.  It will soften up by the moisture from the Cream of Wheat filling, seeping down into it.

That is another reason, why this torte does hold up well, exposed to room temperature for an extended period of time.  It holds its shape best, being refrigerated.

Who's in Charge Here?

Creative Commons License photo credit: born1945

Labor Day is gone, summer vacation is over, and the school buses began rolling down the streets as usual.

When I spot a yellow school bus on the road, I know that a new school year has already began, at least for some students.

Going back to school may be a lot of fun for some, especially if they are looking forward to seeing all their friends and favorite teachers, after the summer break, but for others, it could be quite an intimidating experience.

Starting Pre-School, Kindergarten, High School, or College, can be one of those trying times for many young people, in many different ways.

In my opinion, a Freshman year in High School, is a very frightening time for many students.

Here they are at “the bottom of the totem pole” once again, surrounded by older, more mature pupils.  Their social life is changing with growing interest in the opposite sex, dating, starting new relationships, which seem everlasting, in addition to extracurricular activities, part time jobs for some, plus lots of homework to keep up with.

Not to mention the importance of fashion, such as certain brand names, make up, and most of all, peer pressure.

I came across a great article on this subject, which offers very helpful suggestions on how to deal with stress at school.

You will need to go to that site to read the article in its entirety, but I will provide their bullet points:

1. Create a Schedule

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

3. Ignore the “Mean Girls”

4. Have a Healthy Escape From School

5. Don’t Procrastinate

6. Eat “Brain Foods”

7. Focus on What’s Important

8. Don’t Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

I hope you had a chance to read all about it, and found this information useful, and helpful.

I am very interested in hearing students’ opinion about their High School experience, and their suggestions on dealing with stress associated with beginning the school year.

Enjoy your school year!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispies TreatsIf you need a quick snack, or a simple dessert, all you need to do is to reach out for a box of Cocoa Krispies Cereal, and whip up some tasty treats.

I usually make the traditional Rice Krispies treats, with melted marshmallows and butter, but when I noticed this recipe (on the cereal box), I really wanted to try it.

I liked the finished product, since as simple as it was to make, it tasted rich and delicious.

The addition of chocolate and peanut butter to the cereal, really kicks it up a few notches, and turns it into a nutritious, and a very tasty treat.

It makes a great school lunch snack, or a prefect after school treat, for your children, or grandchildren.


  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used organic)
  • 6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (you can also use peanut  butter chips)


  1. Add sugar and corn syrup into a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium  heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves, and mixture begins to boil.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in peanut butter.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Gradually fold in Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies cereal, until all well coated.
  7. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2  cake pan, with butter, Crisco, or cooking spray (I used butter).
  8. Spoon in the Cocoa Krispies mixture, and press down firmly, and evenly.
  9. Set aside.
  10. Add chocolate and butterscotch chips into a 1-quart saucepan.
  11. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until all chips are melted, and blended together.
  12. Spread melted chocolate/butterscotch mixture over the cereal mixture, smoothing it evenly with the back of a spoon.
  13. Let it cool off, and firm up.
  14. Cut into serving pieces.


Chocolate Banana Bread - sliceToday I decided to turn my regular Banana Bread into a delicious cake like creation, and the results were quite rewarding.

I was convinced that adding some chocolate to the recipe, will enhance the texture and flavor of my Banana Bread, and topping it off with a creamy chocolate glaze, will make it that much more decadent.

After all, how can anything chocolate, not taste great!

I am sure all the chocolate lovers will agree with me on this one.

The total baking time took a little longer than I expected, but once the bread looked done (springing back up when lightly tapped), I was happy with the results.

Dark and White Chocolate morsels topping Dark and White Chocolate morsels topping - close up

Dark and White Chocolate morsels, melting on top of the baked cake, to form a creamy topping.

Chocolate Banana Bread with chocolate topping

Creamy Chocolate glaze on this Chocolate Banana Bread, is indeed the “Icing on the Cake”.


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. Vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole of low fat)
  • 2 large, very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 cups cake flour (Softasilk)
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup dark chocolate morsels

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients (optional)

  • 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate moresels


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the white and brown sugar with the eggs, until a thick creamy mixture forms.
  2. Add Vanilla extract, melted butter, salt, milk and sour cream.
  3. Add mashed bananas.
  4. Mix, to blend in well.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cocoa.
  6. Gradually add to the egg mixture, mixing continuously on medium speed, until smooth batter is formed.
  7. Fold in 1 cup of dark chocolate morsels.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Grease a loaf pan with vegetable shortening (Crisco), flour lightly bottom and sides.
  10. Pour the cake batter into the pan.
  11. Bake on the middle oven rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
  12. I lightly tapped the top of the bread, and once it was springing back, I knew it was fully baked.
  13. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  14. Remove from the pan onto a wire rack (see TIP below), and gently arrange the remaining dark and white chocolate morsels on top of the loaf.
  15. Leave them on until melted enough for easy spreading all over the top of the bread, to form a creamy chocolate glaze.
  16. Cool off completely before slicing.

Keep at room temperature for serving, or cover loosely with foil, and refrigerate for later use.


TIP: For easier chocolate glaze preparation, you may prepare a “paper lift” to remove the bread from the pan. Place a large enough sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil, in the pan, so it extends a few inches above the long pan sides.  Place the cake back in the pan, on top of the paper lift.  Arrange the chocolates morsels all over the bread as stated in the directions.  Once the topping sets, you can lift out the bread from the pan, by grabbing both sides of the extended paper, and pulling it upwards, to lift it out of the pan.

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