Simple advice for a better life.

Birthday Party AppetizersWhether you are cooking at home, dining out, or ordering take out, there are almost always some leftovers to deal with after the fact.

There is nothing wrong with having leftovers.   After all, you spent time and money on this food, so you deserve to enjoy it to the last morsel.

Some prepared dishes are not suitable for later use as a leftover…they lose their taste and texture, so it is best to just part with them right there and then.

Numerous others, on the other hand, are still great for at least one or two meals, or even to be frozen for that rainy day when you have no time or desire to cook.

Some people do not like leftovers, and never keep them.  However, if you are like me, you don’t mind them, and feel that you get your money’s worth if you use them.

Most Europeans don’t believe in leftovers….maybe because they hardly ever have any.

They serve their meals already preportioned per plate, and make just enough to feed the crowd they accounted for.  The portions are large enough to satisfy the consumer, so there is no need, or room, for seconds.  Therefore, there are no leftovers.  Any remaining food on each plate, which hardly ever happens, is discarded.  It is almost impolite to ask for a “Doggie Bag”.

Here in the USA we have no problem asking the waiter/waitress to pack up our leftovers to take home with us.

It is very important to keep track of your leftover food in your fridge, which is one of my pet peeves.  I almost feel like I am a fridge police, whether it is at home or at work.

There is nothing worse than seeing “old” food sitting in the fridge way past its safe consumable time.

My personal time line for using up leftovers in up to 3 days…4 being the absolute max.

Now I will share my best way of using up leftovers, and keeping your fridge fresh, and ready for restocking.

Since most of us work full-time, and don’t have much time for cooking during the week, we prepare extra food on weekend, to hold us over for couple of days.  Then by mid-week, it’s time for some take out.  By Thursday we have leftovers to use, or lose.

I consider Thursday  a “Leftover Smorgasbord Dinner Day”.  We pull out all the leftovers from the past few days, and add something new if needed, and call it a day.

Everyone is to create their own plate of food from the smorgasbord spread available.  We also use disposable dishes and utensils that day, to save time on clean up effort.  Whatever food is remaining after this dinner, gets discarded for good.

This is the BEST way to free your fridge of leftover food, and to prevent any food from hiding in there for too long.

Since we have no dishes to wash on this day, we devote our time to cleaning up the fridge, and getting it ready for fresh food from Friday or Saturday shopping.

It works very well every time, and it also is fun, economical, and stress free.

I suggest you try it too, and share your comments.

Have fun!

Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1

Stuffed cabbage - servings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was chatting with a friend of mine about cooking ….surprise…..surprise…; she was telling me about an interesting dish her family and friends really enjoyed.

She kindly shared her recipe, so I finally had a chance to try it out, and share it with you.

The preparation process might look involved,  but it really isn’t bad.

The finished product looks impressive, especially before the stuffed cabbage head is cut up into serving sections.

Serving piece

 Ingredients:

  • 1 head white cabbage
  • 1.5 lbs. meatloaf mix meat (pork, beef, veal)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded on a large eye grater
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 Tbs. catchup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet of cheese cloth ( easily found at your grocer)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cubes beef bullion
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water.
  2. Add 1 Tbs. salt, and bring to boil.
  3. Remove one layer of the outer leaves from the head of cabbage and discard. Trim the end of the core, but do not carve it out.
  4. Place the head of cabbage into the boiling water (core down), and boil for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the cabbage head with the core up, and boil 15 minutes longer.Cooling the cooked whole cabbage
  6. Remove from heat, and submerge the cabbage in ice water for 15 minutes.
  7. Save the cabbage water for later use.
  8. Gently trim off some of the thick rib of the cabbage, from the core upward, but make sure the leaves remains attached to the core.Cabbage head ready for stuffing
  9. Gently unfold the leaves one by one, and spread them out to the side of the core. Don’t worry if they split slightly; it will be fine once the head is reconstructed.
  10. Repeat this process until you have at least 3-4 layers of leaves.
  11. Cut out the middle portion of the remaining tightly folded leaves (save for later use)
  12. Set the cabbage leaves aside for now.Sauteing veggies for stuffing
  13. Add oil to sauce pan, and heat it on medium heat.
  14. Add the chopped onions, and saute 5 minutes.
  15. Add shredded carrot and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  16. Add chopped garlic, and saute 1 minute longer.Stuffing ingredientsStuffing ready to use
  17. In a large bowl, mix the meatloaf mix with the sauteed onions, salt and pepper, paprika, Italian Seasoning, chopped parsley, egg, water, and catchup.
  18. Mix all to incorporate evenly.
  19. Spread the cheesecloth on a platter, and place the cabbage leaves over it.
    Stuffing step 1
  20. Make a large ball (size of a tennis ball) put of the prepared filling,  and place it in the middle of the spread out cabbage leaves.
  21. Bring up one layer of leaves, and fold over the filling ball, to enclose it.Stuffing step 2-3
  22. Spread a generous amount of filling onto the second layer of leaves.
  23. Fold them up towards the created filling ball, and carefully recreating the head of cabbage.
    Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1
  24. Repeat this process until all the leaves are used up.Cheese Cloth wrapping step 2
  25. Bring up all 4 corners of the cheesecloth, fit snugly around the stuffed cabbage head, and tie it all together at the top of the head.Cooking step 1
  26. Place the ball of cabbage in a medium pot.
  27. Mix 5 cups of cabbage water with beef bullion.
  28. Mix in 1/2 of the tomato paste.
  29. Pour over the tied cabbage head.
  30. Add bay leaves, and more water if necessary, so at least 2/3 of the cabbage ball is submerged.
    Cooking step 2
  31. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  32. Remove cabbage head from the pot, and set on a serving platter.  Remove and discard the cheesecloth.
    Cooking step 3Cooking step 4
  33. Carefully place the cabbage head in an oven proof casserole dish, and set aside.
  34. Heat the remaining liquid in the pot, and cook to reduce to about 2 cups.
  35. Mix flour with a small amount of cabbage liquid, to form a smooth paste.
  36. Mix in  heavy cream, and remaining 1/2 of tomato paste.
  37. Pour this mixture into the cabbage water.
  38. Bring to boil and cook for few minutes to form a creamy sauce.
  39. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  40. Pour sauce over the cabbage head.
  41. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and bake it uncovered for 20 minutes.
  42. Remove from oven, and cut up into wedges (from middle top of the cabbage head toward the bottom).
  43. Serve it hot.

Enjoy and share comments.

 

 

 

Standing Prime Rib Roast  - just roasted in a dutch ovenStanding Prime Rib Roast  -  just roastedStanding Prime Rib Roast  - sliced for serving

Prime Rib is one of my favorite “special occasion” dinner meats, because it is so flavorful, even with very little additional seasoning.

Prime Rib tends to be a little pricey, so I only make it once I find a nice piece reasonably priced.  You want to buy a piece with at least 3 ribs (6-9 lbs), which will generously serve 5 – 8 people.

Today I will share my Prime Rib roasting experience with you.

You will be quite surprised how simple it is to prepare, and how impressive and tasty is the outcome.

My dutch oven was a great vessel to roast it in, but any heavy pan will do.

Ingredients:

  • 7 lbs of Standing Prime Rib Roast (3 ribs)
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Black Pepper, ground
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (optional
  • 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 twigs of Rosemary (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove the meat from packaging, and rinse off, or wipe it down with damp paper towel (I always like to rinse my meat before cooking….just because…).
  2. Place the meat on a platter, on the counter, and leave it out for 2 hours uncovered,  (to get it to room temperature, and for the outside surface to dry up a little).
  3. Place the meat in a roasting pan, ribs down and fat side up (I used my Dutch Oven).
  4. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  5. Using a basting brush, baste the olive oil all over the top and sides of the meat.
  6. In a small dish prepare the meat rub, by mixing together the Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Black Pepper, Italian Seasoning and Kosher Salt (see TIP below).
  7. Spread the meat rub all over the oiled meat.
  8. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns (and Rosemary is using).
  9. Do not cover the pan.
  10. Roast the meat in a preheated over for 3-4 hours, basting from time to time.
  11. It is very important to have a good quality meat thermometer, to check the temperature of the inner part of the meat, to reach 125-130 degrees F.  Start checking the temperature periodically after 2.5 hours of cooking.
  12. If you like to have your meat medium done, remove it from the oven once the meat reaches 125 degree F, cover loosely with aluminium foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes or even an hour, at room temperature.  The resting period is very important, to keep the juices in the meat, making it very tender.
  13. Before serving, remove the aluminum foil, and cut off the ball of the meat away from the ribs, running the knife along the side of the ribs and meat.  Wrap the ribs and refrigerate for future use, to prepare Prime Rib soup stock.
  14. Slice the meat against the grain, into serving slices (thin or thick…your preference).
  15. Serve with your favorite gravy, incorporating the juices remaining in you roasting pan.
  16. My favorite is Au Jus  gravy , served with Prime Rib.

 

Enjoy!

 

TIP:  Some cooks prefer to omit the salt, because they feel it draws the juices out of the meat during cooking, but I like to flavor my meat with salt.  If you prefer to have a crusty top on your meat, you can first roast it at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower it to 275 degrees until done to your preference.   I prefer the meat being tender evenly throughout, hence cook it at the lower temperature from start to finish.

During the last hour of  roasting time, you can bake some russet potatoes in the oven, to serve with the roast.

 

Waffle bowls filled with fresh fruit Ice Cream Cone Birthday Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

Another birthday party rolled around for my “little princess” granddaughter, who turned six years old.

Ice Cream Sundae Party invitation

This time she asked for an “Ice Cream Sundae” birthday party theme, so her mom, once again, went all the way out to make it exciting.

The above party invitation was created by my daughter, to get the ball rolling on the Ice Cream Sundae party theme.

Today I will share some of the party moments I captured with my camera.

Ice Cream Cone bouquet

Outdoor Ice Cream Cones decor

 

 

There were plenty of ice cream cone type of decorations throughout the indoor and outdoor, as you can see at least two of these in the above picture.

Jelly beans ice cream cones, and rice krispies treats

Jelly beans ice cream cones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice cream cone marshmellow snacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a large selection of sweet snacks, before the birthday brunch.

Some of which were Rice Krispies, decked out with decorative ice creams, ice cream cones filled with jelly beans, and ice cream shaped marshmallows.

 

Yummy snacks - Ice Cream Sundae Birthday Party

Oh yes…..there also was a nice display of fruit snacks, as well as variety of crackers, cheeses, mini kobasie (kabanos), sweet and savory dips and chips.

Ice Cream Sundae Brunch Food 1

Ice Cream Sundae Brunch Food 2

The Brunch Menu included Tri-Color Pasta Salad, Nirchi’s Pizza, Roast Beef Au Jus and buns, Breakfast Casserole, Quiche, and Waffles with syrup.

Ice Cream Sundae Toppings - Nuts Free

  Ice Cream Sundae Toppings - containing nuts

All set wtih ice cream bowls, spoons, plates, banana split boats

Here I would like to display all the “necessities” for ” Make your own Ice Cream Sundae”.

These included special ice cream bowls with matching spoons, banana split boats, and myriad of toppings to satisfy the “everything on it” and the “nut free” crowd.

Create your own Ice Cream Sundae

All the ice cream lovers lined up nicely next to the “Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae” station.

Good thing the weather was great, so the event took place outdoors….as some of those creations gave way to gravity….and had to be recreated from scratch….:-)

It was a great success!!

They had more fun making these sundaes, than eating them.

Many of these fancy creations got abandoned shortly afterward, to melt in the sun, while the little guests got busy running around and playing.

 Decorate your own Ice Cream Server hat

One of the indoor activities included decorating your own ” Ice Cream Server” hat, as you can see how intensely and diligently the girls are working on this project.

They did a beautiful job, but forgot to wear them to the Ice Cream Sundae Making Station…oh well.

Ice Cream Sundae Thank You Favors Bags

Once the sweet treats depleted and the “sugar high” energy burned out, the party bunch was ready to go home for a nap.

They were sent off on their way with a colorful bag full of treats, stamped with ice cream cones (which the birthday girl decorated herself), and a nice Thank You note.  They also got to keep their special ice cream bowls with matching ice cream cone spoons.  Nice!

What a great party this was.

Can’t wait for another birthday party to photograph, and to share with you.

Party-foodsParty-Time-Appetizer-table

 

 

 

 

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!!!

MAY YOU ALL BE BLESSED

WITH GOOD HEALTH,

LOVE,

PEACE,

AND PROSPERITY.

 

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