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!!!







Fresh Tomato Salad 2Growing up in a household with an abundance of home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, made me accustomed to include them in my daily diet, and loving them all.

Meatless dishes are a welcome change to our family’s routine of meat based meals.

During the summer months, my mom utilized her home grown fruits, herbs and vegetables , in most of her cooking and baking.

Today I will post one of the tomato salads she used to prepare, which brings back many childhood memories.

This salad can be served as a side dish, or as a light lunch, accompanied by a piece of toast, or a piece of fresh Jewish Rye Bread, smeared with sweet butter.

I am sure you will agree that homegrown tomatoes have much richer flavor, and smoother texture, than the store bought ones, making this simple salad that much more delicious.

Sliced cucumbers and radishes may also be added to this salad, to enrich its color and flavor.

If you are not a big fan of sour cream, you may use Greek Yogurt, or omit them both, and enjoy still very flavorful salad, but much lighter in calories.

Since sour cream was not available during those days in Europe, my mom would use heavy cream mixed with clabbered milk .

This recipe yields 2-4 servings.


  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 Tbs. chives, chopped (0r you can slice 1/2 onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream


  1. Wash the tomatoes, and cut out stems.
  2. Cut each tomato in half, horizontally, then cut each half into 6 or 8 wedges.
  3. Peel and mince the garlic
  4. Place the tomato wedges, minced garlic and chives in a medium bowl.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Fold in the sour cream, just to coat the tomato wedges.
  7. Sprinkle some chopped chives, as garnish.



Pickling cucumbers - Day 1If you like pickles, this post will interest you, and you will be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to make your own delicious pickles.

You already know that besides cooking and baking, I also enjoy gardening.

This year my garden did not do very well, but I did have lots of tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers and cucumbers.  My green beans, red beets, corn, zucchini and squash were not as productive.

My sister does a lot of canning and pickling, so she encouraged me to pickle my own cucumbers.

She shared her recipe, but I did not have the Red Currant leaf or horseradish root, so I had to improvise and use the ingredients I had available.

Since I wanted to use my pickles as soon as they were ready, rather than preserving them for winter,  the recipe is quite simple, and it does not require any special equipment.

If you are wondering about the type of pickling jar I was using….well….I did not have a jar large enough for this project, so I used a large glass vase……it worked perfectly fine.  I sterilized it first, of course, and used a tea towel  over the top, during the pickling time of about 4 days.

Pickling my own cucumbers was very easy, fun, and rewarding, especially after sampling the finished product.

Homemade pickles


  • 10 medium pickling cucumbers (they are short, firm, and low on seeds)
  • 10 medium garlic cloves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 10 Allspice kernels
  • 2-3 whole Dill weed stalks with seeds
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3 quarts of cold water
  • 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt


  1. Prepare the pickling brine by boiling 3 quarts of water, with salt, then set aside to cool off to room temperature.
  2. Wash the cucumbers under running water, and brush off the small pricks found on their skin surface.
  3. Trim off both ends, and cut each cucumber into 4 sections, lengthwise.
  4. Set aside.
  5. Peel the garlic, and cut each clove in half, lengthwise.
  6. Trim off the roots of the dill weed, rinse the stalks under running water, set aside.
  7. Clean your jar (vase in my case) with hot, soapy water, and rinse well.
  8. Place half of the dill weed stalk at the bottom of the jar.
  9. Drop in half of the peppercorns and whole allspice.
  10. Place half of the cucumbers in the jar.
  11. Place another dill twig over cucumbers, drop in more garlic and spices, plus a bay leaf.
  12. Add the remaining cucumbers, cover up with another dill weed twig, and pour the brine over the cucumbers until totally submerged.
  13. Tie the top of the jar with a breathable material (such as a tea towel), and keep it in a dark, cool place for few days, to let them pickle.
  14. Once the cucumbers are ready (4 days later), you can leave them as is, or remove the dill weed, and transfer them  into few smaller jars, along with the garlic, spices and pickling brine.
  15. Close each jar with a lid, and store them in the fridge, to extend their shelf-life.

I use pickles on  sandwiches, as well as in Deviled Eggs, Potato Salad, or even in a veggie soup to enhance its flavor to an interesting light tangy taste.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who are celebrating this very traditional holiday here in the US.

I always have the pleasure of attending St. Patrick’s Day party, hosted by my daughter and her husband.

If you are still searching for party food ideas, I will contribute with links to my previous posts of  “green” food recipes for this occasion.

You can also check out my Pinterest board for “Party Foods”, for lots of new ideas and recipes.


Perfect Non-alcoholic Green Punch for those who prefer to keep it that way, or for ALL designated drivers.

Not only green, but really filling and delicious, is this Broccoli/Bacon/Cheese salad.  Everyone’s favorite…really!



Green Beans Vinaigrette is another wonderful salad for St. Paddy’s Day.



I like to prepare  a  Corned Beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes meal for my family, around St. Patrick’s Day, just to be a good sport, and support those who are more into it.


You know how the Irish feel about their potatoes…hence these Irish Potato Pancakes.  Sooooo yummy!!

I am always looking for your comments and suggestions of party foods you like to prepare.  Thank you.

Enjoy your party!!


Another exciting birthday party to write about.

My grandson just turned TWO, and since he is really into all the alphabet games, puzzles, and books, his parents chose the Alphabet Theme for his birthday party.

His mom was very creative with the birthday cake, as you can see in the picture above, and below.

Besides being delicious, it was very specially made with lots of effort to create a checkered design.

She chose his favorite colors of blue and green, and a special insert had to be used for separating the different color batters, while filling the cake pans with it, to achieve the checkered effect.  Don’t you agree that it looks wonderful?

The six layer cake was frosted with homemade vanilla butter frosting, and decorated with colorful sugar alphabet letters.  She also baked large alphabet letter sugar cookies, which the children were able to decorate with edible food color markers.

In addition to the cake, there were lots of miniature cupcakes  (skinny recipe), with just a dab of cream cheese frosting, and dinosaur sprinkles.

The Birthday Boy is also fascinated with dinosaurs, so many of his birthday cards and gifts supported that interest.  He will be busy playing with all of these until a new interest springs up by the next party.


Besides  his special Birthday Cake, he had a second cake to be used on his “official” birth date (in 3 days), and it sure came in handy as he shared it with his parents and grandparents, just before going to the museum in NYC to check out the display of some HUGE dinosaurs.  Nothing can beat that!!

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the cake was spelled out with actual wooden letter blocks. Cute and creative, to say the least.

Since the party was in the alphabet theme, the whole party room was decorated with letters, and each letter had an appropriate picture of the birthday boy’s activities from the past year.







Here is a favorite one of mine:

I refer to this particular picture display ” Like Father Like Son”, since the black and white picture is of the father of the Birthday Boy, at the age of two, also trying on big shoes , as his son did the same this year, with his dad’s shoes.

Isn’t this just so adorable and precious?

It was a beautiful sunny day, so lots of play activity centers were set up outdoors; a perfect place for the little ones to have fun.

They loved the swing and slide center, the soccer ball and goal net, and most of all, the numerous cardboard boxes with alphabet letters printed on them.


These cardboard boxes had large alphabet letters painted on all sides, and the kids had so much fun playing with them.

I am sure these will be used again in the future months, as fun spelling sessions, as well as building blocks, and scrabble games.  Very creative, inexpensive, and fun idea.


The adults and kids  had lots of fun playing the “Cornhole” game, swimming in the pool, and being entertained by the show at the outdoor “ABC Theater” (yes these are the stage curtains, trying to stay down on a windy day).

Very talented cast, garbed in their spur of the moment costumes, entertained everyone with the  reenactment of a popular fable about The Great Big Turnip (Reepka – in Ukrainian), narrated by the  Mom the of the Birthday Boy.

It was lots of fun for everyone, and the little ones were very attentive, while munching on their special snacks prepared for the occasion.

The party favors for the young crowd consisted of cute alphabet letter baskets filled with numerous favors, plus homemade crayola crayon letters, which spelled out the name of the recipient of the favor.

There also was large bowl filled with an assortment of sweet treats for those who were allowed to enjoy them, as some parents are very conservative about their kids sugar intake.


Last,but not least, is the display of the pre-party appetizers, which included fruit platter, Nirchi’s Pizza from Endicott, NY, Buffalo Hot Wing Chicken Dip, veggies and chips, Ukrainian smoked sausages (Kabanosy) from East Village Meat Market in NYC, Eggplant and Mint Bruschetta, Tomato Bruschetta, Red Beet Carpaccio, Grilled Shrimp with Zucchini and Avocado salad, freshly baked Frico Chips, numerous other kids snacks, and lots of refreshing drinks.

Our family parties are known for more than enough food to please everyone.

After the cake, there was more food served for dinner…..but I failed to capture it on camera (I must have been all partied out….).

It was a fun party, and I applaud the parents of the Birthday Boy for doing such a wonderful job with the party

planning, and final execution of these plans.

I hope you enjoyed my short synopsis of the Alphabet Theme 2nd Birthday Party.


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