Simple advice for a better life.

Potatoes  Au-GratinI have been testing several different recipes in my Nuwave oven, and will be sharing some of them with you.

Today I will post a recipe for a vegetable dish, Potatoes Au-Gratin, which was very simple to prepare, and it turned out to be a delicious side dish.

This recipe was posted in the cook book enclosed with the Nuwave oven shipment, so I will post it for your convenience, in case you have not decided yet to add this kitchen gadget to your collection.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups small red potatoes, washed, and sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 cup red or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (whipping cream)
  • 3 Tbs. Parsley, chopped (0r 1 Tbs. dried parsley flakes)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and slice the potatoes, and place them in the bowl.
  2. Add chopped onion, butter, cheese, cream and spices.
  3. Mix to coat the potatoes evenly.
  4. Scoop into a 10 inch baking dish, gently pressing them down into the pan.
  5. Place on 1 inch rack, and cook on HI power level, for 20 minutes.
  6. Let it rest for 2 minutes with dome lid on.
  7. Serve hot, as a side dish with your favorite meat.

Enjoy!

Paska 2012Easter is just around the corner, so all the necessary preparations for this Holy, and very traditional holiday, have to be planned well in advance, to be fully achieved in a timely fashion.

Ukrainians, and many other nationalities, enjoy many very rich traditions associated with Easter celebrations.

You can click on the links below, to learn more about the Ukrainian Easter Traditions.

This weekend was Paska Baking time for me and my daughter, as well as my 4 year old granddaughter, who not only loves to watch, she also was a very enthusiastic helper.  We are so blessed to have her in our family.

As a result of about 10 hours of Paska Baking time, we ended up with 9 round Paska loaves, as pictured above ( the small “roll” like loaf, was a left over dough from our decorations, so we decided to bake it for the youngest member of our family, who is only 10 months old).

We doubled our original recipe (in the link above), and implemented some changes to the second batch of dough, just to test the theory passed on to us by our friends.

In the second batch, we replaced 2 cups of regular flour, with 2 cups of CAKE flour, and used only 1/4 cup of melted butter plus 1/4 cup of Canola oil.  We also kneaded the dough for about 30 minutes in the bowl, and skipped the kneading on the floured board.

My oven seems to be baking better at lower temperatures, so I bake my paska for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, and another 30 minutes at 325 degrees F, rather than the 15 @400, and 30 @350.

Paska - cross section

Here is a cross-cut section of our paska bread.  As you can see it turned out very light, and fluffy.

The paska with the cake flour was fluffier than the regular recipe, and the one with the mixture of butter and oil crumbled less, than the one with butter only.

Per baking tips from my mom, I always brush the tops of my baked, still slightly warm paska, with melted butter, to give them a nice finish, and to soften the crust.

Since I bake my paska at least a week before Easter, so to keep it nice a fresh, I freeze it until Easter Saturday.

Once the bread is totally cooled off, I wrap it in aluminum foil, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze it.  I also store it in a zip-lock bag after blessing of the basket, to keep it from drying out by Easter Sunday.

In my previous post about the different bakeware for baking paska, I promised that if I find more information about my favorite pans, will share it with you.

Paska baking containers

I stopped at a local Goodwill store, and to my surprise, I found several similar (brand new) pans, and bought them all @ one dollar each.

Most of them still do not have any manufacturing information on them, however one set was made by KOBE mixing bowls, designed exclusively for JC Penny, made in Indonesia.

Also, some of the flower designs of these bowls, resemble Corningware dinnerware, wouldn’t you agree?

If you still need to bake your Paska, now you have additional tips on the original recipe, and the paska bakeware.

Enjoy your Paska Baking experience.  Please share your pictures and tips.

HAPPY EASTER!

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KHRYSTOS VOSKRES – VOISTYNU VOSKRES !- (in Ukrainian)

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KHRYSTUS ZMARTVYCHVSTAL – PRAVDZIVIE ZMARTVYCHVSTAL! (in Polish)

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KRISTUS ER OPSTANDEN! -  JA HAN ER SANDELIG OPSTANDEN! (in Danish- shared by one of my readers)

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CHRIST IS RISEN – INDEED HE IS RISEN!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: AlishaV

Electrical fires are not a rare thing, and can happen to anyone, at any time.

Actually, I experienced it a couple of times as well.

My first experience was with my oven, as all of a sudden, the heating element started to smolder, and my whole oven lit up with flames. I turned the oven off, but the fire did not stop.  Finally I ran to the main fuse box, and flipped off the oven fuse, at which point the smoldering slowly subsided, and my oven started to cool off.

If you do not know where your fuse box is located, or which fuse switch is for which part of the house, you should learn it right now, and hopefully will never need to use this knowledge.  I was lucky enough to be familiar with our fuse box.

Another time was just as scary, since while I was away from home, my toaster oven “miraculously” turned itself on.  I was not even using my toaster oven that day.  It must have been heating at full blast long enough for the handle to fall off, the electrical socket, walls and counter top to get  too hot to touch.  Fortunately it did not cause a more serious fire, and to this day I still do not know what caused it.

I learned my lesson, so now before leaving the house I always unplug the toaster oven, the coffee pot, my curling iron, and any other small appliances I have plugged in…just in case.  I encourage you to do the same, because not only it will save energy (anything plugged in, even if not in use, draws energy), it will give you a peace of mind, while you are away.

Here are additional tips on preventing electrical fires in your home:

  • Cover all unused wall sockets with plastic safety covers, if you have small children in your house (they love to stick their curious little fingers in there, or anything else they might be holding).
  • Avoid running extension cords across walkways, doorways, and under carpets.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for plugging appliances into electrical outlets.
  • Avoid overloading outlets, by not plugging more than one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle at one time.
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor, and near all sleeping areas.
  • Change smoke alarm batteries regularly. As a rule of thumb, change every time you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Replace, or repair any loose or frayed cords on all electrical devices (that includes your laptop).

If you have any other ideas on preventive measures for house fires, please share them with us.

Brownie cupcakesFirst of all, THANK YOU VERY MUCH to all of my readers for your loyalty, increasing my traffic to over 16,000 page viewers…this is awesome.

According to my Google Analytic Reports, I have viewers from over 140 countries, and even though the highest three are US, Canada, and United Kingdom, I am receiving comments from many other readers, asking me to convert US measures from cups and ounces, to grams.

You will also notice that an American cup, which all my recipes use, is equivalent to 8 oz, or 250 ml.

To help you all out, I am posting several links to sites I found very helpful and user friendly, which will take the guessing out of your weights and measures conversions.

Here you will find easy conversions for the major baking ingredients, such as butter, flour, sugar, and more:

http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/butter_converter.html

http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html

http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/convert.html#International%20Liquid%20Measurements

http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/cup-to-gram-conversions/Detail.aspx

If you still are not sure, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or leave a comment below my posts, and I will definitely assist with a prompt reply.

If anyone is familiar with even better sites than the ones listed above, please share this information with all of us, as we are one happy bloggy family.

Thank you so much, and please continue visiting my blog.

Ukrainian Easter PaskaOne of my favorite traditions for Ukrainian Easter is baking Paska, a special bread, which takes center stage on the breakfast table for Easter, and is the main part of the Easter Basket, among other special foods, being blessed on Holy Saturday, or Easter Sunday.

I already shared with you my favorite Paska recipe, and many of you asked about the kind of pans to use for baking this bread, since the traditional Ukrainian Easter Paska should be round, in shape.

I decided to write this short post, and share some ideas of the kind of bakeware to use for baking paska.

Pots for paska baking 1

The above pans are my favorite ones to use.  They have quite thick walls and bottom, are just the right size for paska for my basket (the largest one), and the smaller ones were always great for small paskas for my children’s baskets.  The largest one is 6 1/2 inches in diameter, and 3 inches tall.

Pots for paska baking 2

These are stainless steel mixing bowls, which also are great for baking paska. These are larger in size than the first set, they have thinner walls, and the bottom is not as flat, but still very convenient to use.

Pots for paska baking 4

These are glass bowls by Pyrex.   Very convenient to use for baking paska, but you will need to allow less time for baking, than in the other pans.   Also, you have to be careful with handling these hot glass vessels,  as not to burn yourself or place them on a cold surface, so they don’t crack.

Pots for paska baking 5

These containers are made by Corning Ware, and excellent for baking paska.   May daughter used these for her paska, and it worked like a charm.  You need to make sure to grease well the upper lip of the posts,  and dust it lightly with flour, as it flares out, so the paska does not stick, making it difficult to remove.  You might need to loosen the edges up with a knife, so you do not damage your paska during removal for cooling.

Pots for paska baking 3

Here is a clay flower pot, which was suggested to me by one of my readers (this one is for display only, as I am actually using it for my plant),  is also a great container to use for baking paska.   She recommended to use olive oil to grease the inside, before filling it with paska dough.

I have yet to try to use this idea for baking paska, but it sure makes perfect sense, since I am aware of terracotta cookware which some cooks highly recommend.  I would take a little more careful handling, so you don’t scratch your work surface, as terracotta pots usually do not have very smooth bottoms.

Some bakers use large coffee cans ( like those from Folgers or Maxwell House), line the inside sides and bottom of the can with a thick brown paper (brown paper grocery bags), greased of course, and cut about 1 inch taller than the can,to prevent the rising dough from spilling over.  These paskas are nice and tall, thus easy to arrange in an Easter Basket for blessing.

Tip: If you are using different sizes of bakeware, at the same time, keep the larger ones towards the back of the oven, and the smaller ones closer to the front, as the smaller ones will be done sooner, and more accessible for removal from the oven.

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