Simple advice for a better life.






The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping is over for most of us (many Ukrainians will still celebrate Christmas on January 6th and 7th), so now it’s time to plan the New Year bash.

Since I will not be hosting  New Year  party this year, and not preparing anything exciting, you may click on the highlighted links to my previous posts with many fun party foods.

Also, I pinned a lot of interesting party foods on my Pinterest board, which you are more that welcome to check out, and test them out.

H A P P Y   N E W  Y E A R!!!







Barn style Birthday Cake with a bunch of farm animals cupcakesFarm Animal cupcakes - sheeps, pigs, chicksFarmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

My two-year old grandson’s favorite song is “Old McDonald had a farm”.  He also enjoys books about farm animals, and just loves riding with his dad on a tractor, while mowing their lawn.

His mom knew exactly what theme he will select for his second birthday party, so it turned out to be “McAidan’s” Farm theme.

Today I will share some pictures of decorations and creative party foods, from that happy event.

stash of stuffed farm animals to decorate the party room

The fireplace mantel held all the “near and dear” stuffed farm animals, which my grandson loves to snuggle up with.

Barn Door and farm animals - wall decoration                                 Barn and farm animals - toy and table centerpiece


The 7 foot high barn door wall decoration was creatively constructed by his mom, out of red wrapping paper, and white strapping tape, accessorized with cow print balloons, as well as few oversize cow and pig balloons.

His toy barn filled with farm animals, served as a center piece on the main food table.

Cowboys or farmers attire for party attendees  Hats and bandanas

All his friends were offered a cowboy hat and a bandana, to wear at the party, and to keep.

His daddy’s cowboy boots came in handy, and served well as an appropriate sign holder.

Party favors

In addition to the hats and bandanas, the little cowboys/farmers left the party with a personalized bag filled with all sorts of goodies.

Lemonade - as pond full of ducksThe swimming duckies - close up view

A large vessel with a convenient spigot, was filled with delicious lemonade, representing a pond full of swimming yellow duckies.   What a great idea!

Party food - deviled eggsFarmer McAidan's Veggie snacksFruit Patch - fun party food

Part of the snack menu were Deviled Farm Fresh Eggs, as well as a variety of berries and veggies from the McAdan’s Berry and Veggie Patches.

Trail Mix - as Chicken FeedPretzel Sticks - Hay


Other munchies included Chicken Feed (trail mix), and a bucket of Hay (pretzel sticks), as well as

Rice Krispies snacks - as Hay BalesOreo cookies taste better as tractor tires

Hay Bales (Rice Krispies Treats), and Tractor Tires (Oreo cookies).

The main menu had an abundance of barbecue foods, salads, other desserts and beverages.

Water slide into a water poolTractor rides

It was a beautiful day, so the very energetic two-year-olds, and some of their older and younger siblings, enjoyed many outdoor activities, including age appropriate sports, tractor rides, and most of all, an inflated water slide with a pool.

I had so much fun creating this post, and hopefully you enjoyed reading it, as well as getting fresh party ideas for that special little one in your family.

Please share your ideas with all of us.  Thank you.

Farmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

Chocolate Varenyky (Perogy)Chocolate Varenyky with hot chocolate fudge

If you like varenyky (dumplings, perogy, pierogi, or however you know them as) as much as you love chocolate, this is a dream come true recipe for you.

I have tasted many different varenyky fillings before, but this is my first time to make chocolate dough dumplings filled with farmer cheese and dark chocolate.

These type of varenyky are more suitable as a unique dessert, rather than a traditional meal.

You can use Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses, dark chocolate chunks, or chocolate morsels,  mixed  with the cheese filling.  For this recipe, I chose the chocolate kisses.

I tested several different ways of serving these Chocolate Varenyky:

  • Drizzled with hot Dark Chocolate Fudge
  • Hot Chocolate Fudge and whipped cream
  • Hot Caramel Ice Cream Topping and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream (my favorite)
  • Plain as they are, sprinkled with powdered sugar, just before serving

As you can see, these Varenyky are shaped differently (resembling little purses), unlike the traditional ones (half-circles).

The dough was very thin, so I used a pizza cutter to cut 2.5 x 2.5 squares to accommodate the cheese and chocolate kisses filling, for easier handling.

Chocolate dough squares and cheese and chocolate kiss fillingChocolate Varenyky - ready to cookChocolate Varenyky (Perogy) - sealing edges


I also, tried the same cheese filling, however I mixed it with 1/4 cup of  Nestle dark chocolate chips.  I used the traditional varenyky shape to enclose the filling, and they were just as delicious.

Farmer Cheese and chocolate chips filling

Farmer Cheese and chocolate chips filling

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 2 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 1 cup warm water (or a little more if needed, to make soft, pliable dough)
  • 6 Tbs. unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Farmer Cheese (I used Friendship brand)
  • 2 Tbs. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs. Corn Starch (or 1 Tbs. corn starch, plus 1Tbs. Wondra flour)
  • 32 Hershey Dark Chocolate Kisses, or 1/4 cup of Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels

Filling Directions:

  1. Place cheese, sugar, egg and salt, in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix gently with a fork, to incorporate all ingredients.
  3. Fold in corn starch. (If using chocolate chips, gently fold them in as well)
  4. Keep in the fridge, until ready to use.

Dough Directions:

  1. Mix together the flour and cocoa.
  2. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Add the water and butter, and make a soft dough.
  4. Place in a plastic bag, cover with a tea towel, and let it rest at least 15 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Flour a work area, and roll out the dough very thinly (2-3 millimeters).
  6. Use a pizza cutter and cut into long strips, 2.5 inches wide.
  7. Cut each strip into 2.5 inch square pieces.
  8. Place a tsp of cheese filling on each piece and place the chocolate kiss in the middle (as pictured above).
  9. Bring all four corners of the dough together, pinch the top and sides, to fully seal in the filling.
  10. Bring pot of water to boil.
  11. Place at least 10 dumplings into boiling water, stir gently with a wooden spoon, and bring to boil again.
  12. Cook for 4 minutes, once they float to the top.
  13. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a colander, to drain off.
  14. Serve warm as suggested above.
  15. These are also delicious preheated in a microwave, and served as suggested above.



Stuffed Dumplings - Turkey stuffing 3These dumplings are almost a complete meal in itself, since you have the potatoes, the meat, plus add your favorite gravy, or a savory tomato sauce, and dinner is ready.

My sister shared a bunch of new recipes with me, so I will also share them with you, as soon as I test them out, and include some pictures to show them off.

These dumplings are very tasty, and the leftovers are great reheated in the microwave.

You may serve them with your favorite gravy, sauteed onions in butter, sauteed bread crumbs in butter, or a savory tomato sauce.

I made my own tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes from my garden.

This recipe yields 32 dumplings, slightly larger in size than a golf ball.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes (about 10 medium size potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Wondra flour
  • 2 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the stuffing:

  • 1 lbs. ground meat (I used turkey for this recipe, but chicken, beef or pork may also be used)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil
  • 2 Tbs. Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions for the stuffing:

  1. Add 1 Tbs. butter to a frying pan, and saute the chopped onions for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute longer, stirring often.
  3. Add the ground meat and continue to saute, until fully cooked, stirring continuously to break it up.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley and sage.
  5. Remove to a medium bowl, and mix well with 1 egg and bread crumbs, to make stuffing.
  6. Set aside to cool, then form into 32 meatballs, about the size of a walnut.

Directions for the dough:

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut in chunks.
  2. Rinse and place in a pot of cold, salted water.
  3. Bring to boil and cook until done (about 20 minutes).
  4. Drain the water, and add 1 Tbs. butter.
  5. Mash well, until smooth, and not lumpy.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Place the mashed potatoes on a floured work area.
  8. Mix the all-purpose flour with the corn starch and Wondra.
  9. Make a well in the middle of the potatoes, and add the flour mixture.
  10. Add 1 egg, one egg yolk, salt and oil.
  11. Mix it all up, to create a soft and satiny dough.
  12. Let the dough rest 5 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  13. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a long rope, about 2 inches in diameter.
  14. Use a sharp knife, and cut the dough rope into 32 slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
  15. Using floured hands, and working on a floured surface, form each slice into a thin circle (less than 1/8 inch thick).
  16. Place one prepared meatball in the middle of the circle and bring edges together to seal, then roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball.
  17. Set aside on a floured surface and repeat the process until all the dough and filling are used up.
  18. Meanwhile, fill a pot with salted water, and bring to boil.
  19. Place several dumplings (no  more than one layer once they float up to the top) into the boiling water, and gently stir with a wooden spoon, or spatula.
  20. Bring to boil again, and once they float to the top, cook for at least 8 minutes.
  21. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of cold water, and leave them in there for few minutes to cool off. Then pour out into a colander, to drip off.
  22. Repeat the cooking process for the remaining dumplings.


Stuffed gnocchi  - with sauteed breadcrumbsStuffed gnocchi  -  with sauteed onions and butter

Stuffed gnocchi  - seved with mushroom sauce

Serve warm with your favorite gravy (mine favorite is mushroom – center picture).  The above serving suggestions also include sautéed bread crumbs in butter, garnished with chopped parsley, or sautéed onions in butter, garnished with chopped dill weed.




roasted mini sweet peppers ready to enjoyWhile visiting my son and his family, we enjoyed a delicious barbecue meal with also included roasted mini sweet peppers.

These were absolutely delish, and my daughter-in-law shared her preparation instructions, hence this post for you.

I have seen these at the grocery store, but never thought of trying them out, since I usually buy the full-grown multi-color peppers to use in veggie platters, or to cook them stuffed, for a  meal.

I enjoyed the mini ones so much, that now I buy them on regular basis, and actually more often than the other ones.

They are great as a side veggie to any meat dish, a healthy snack, or even as an appetizer.

Package of sweet peppers


  • 1 package of Mini Sweet Peppers, rinsed, patted dry (leave them whole with the stems on)
  • 2 Tbs. of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp of Sea Salt, or Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil paper.
  3. Pour 2 Tbs. of olive oil onto the lined pan.
  4. Place the rinsed, and dried off peppers on the pan.
  5. Mix or toss around to evenly coat them with the olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian Seasoning.
  7. Place pan on a middle oven rack, and bake for 20 minutes (see TIP below).
  8. Remove from oven to cool off slightly before serving (they are very hot inside).

These still taste wonderful at room temperature.

cleaned and ready to flavorall roasted nowoiled and seasoned

Here are some pictures of the steps above:  clean peppers layered on the pan, seasoned with spices and oil, and finally all baked.


TIP:  You may bake these peppers without turning them over, so they are lightly toasted on top, and get more browned on the bottom, which is fine, and you might even like them better that way.  Or you may bake them for 10 minutes on one side, and turn them over to the other side for the remaining 10 minutes of baking, to make them evenly baked on both sides.  I do not turn them over, since I love the slightly charred bottom, which I feel it adds to the overall flavor of the finished product. 

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