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!!!







Orange-Apple-Cranberry sauce 2Thanksgiving turkey meal would be incomplete, without some delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

If you always use the canned cranberry sauce, because you think that making your own is  too difficult, think again.

Cranberry sauce is so easy to prepare, your under 10-year-old children can do it, honestly.

And best of all, it tastes so fresh, and absolutely delicious.  You will never use the other kind again.

This recipe yields 2.5 -3 cups of sauce.


  •     1 orange, zest only
  •     1/2 cup orange juice
  •     1/2 cup cranberry juice
  •     1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded
  •     3 cups fresh cranberries
  •     1/2 cup honey
  •     1/4 cup brown sugar
  •     1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  •     1/4 tsp. ground cloves


  1. In a medium saucepan, add the orange juice, cranberry juice, chopped apple and orange zest.
  2. Bring to boil, and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries, bring to boil again, partially cover the pot, and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally,until the berries burst.
  4. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
  5. Simmer 5 minutes longer.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in the honey, and let it cool off.
  7. You can puree the sauce in a food processor, or leave it as.
  8. Transfer into a covered storage container, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.  It may be prepared several days ahead.


Sausage and Herb Stuffing – Recipe

stuffing ready to serve 2Stuffing is a must Thanksgiving Dinner menu choice, alongside the roasted turkey.

In the past, most cooks baked the stuffing inside the turkey cavity, but now most of us prepare it separately, in the oven or on a stove top.

Every year I like to try different stuffing recipes, so this time I will share one with herbs and Sweet Italian Sausage.

Roasted turkey ready to serve

My latest favorite turkey roasting recipe is by Martha Stewart.

This recipe yields enough stuffing to accompany an 18 lbs. turkey.

Herbs and spices for stuffing


  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter (or Canola oil)
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery (2 stalks), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and shredded
  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, without casing
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Crasins
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white bread cubes
  • 3 3/4 cups wheat bread cubes


  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the butter, and saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot, and apple.
  2. Remove from pan into a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage into the same frying pan, and cook for about 15 minutes,  stirring often, to break it up.
  4. Mix in the Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat and add to the sautéed veggies.
  6. Preheat to oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Mix in the eggs, Crasins, and Parsley.
  8. Fold in the bread crumbs.
  9. Pour the broth over the mixture, and toss lightly, to incorporate evenly.
  10. Spoon the stuffing into a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish.
  11. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  12. Uncover, and bake another 15 minutes.
  13. Serve hot. (see TIP below)


TIP: If you like your stuffing quite moist, you can use some of the broth/pan juices from the turkey roasting pan, or additional chicken broth, and drizzle over the top of the baked stuffing, before serving.

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.




Roasting a turkey is  a Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S., but  many families also enjoy this meal on Christmas Day, hence the post at this time.

Our family follows a very special Ukrainian Christmas Eve tradition which includes a 12 course meatless dinner.

Christmas Day, on the other hand, is a feast of many different dishes, including smoked sausage (kobasa), as well as baked ham, but no turkey.

This Thanksgiving I tried Martha Stewart’s recipe for roasting a turkey, recommended by a friend from my church, as her absolute favorite.  I was quite impressed with the outcome of this project, as you can see from the picture of the finished product.

Doesn’t this bird look delicious?  So glossy and tender, and just awesome (scroll down to the bottom of this post).

So, if you plan to roast a turkey for Christmas, or Thanksgiving, and like to try this recipe, plus watch Martha’s video, by clicking the link above, I will share my step by step experience with this recipe.


Here is the cheesecloth, as well as the basting sauce ingredients (melted butter and dry white wine).



  • 1 turkey, 14-18 lbs.
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 bottle(750 -ml) of dry white wine of your choice
  • 1 package of cheesecloth, I cut mine in half
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup dry red wine (0r white wine) for the gravy
  • 3 Tbs. of fat (reserved from the pan juices)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour (for gravy)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I also like to sprinkle some Maggi Seasoning)


  1. Remove turkey from plastic wrapping, and remove the giblets packed inside the turkey, and in the neck cavity.  Place the giblets in a medium saucepan filled 3/4 with water, and cook for at least an hour. Save the stock for gravy.
  2. Rinse the turkey under running cold water, outside and inside. Also rinse out the giblets, and set aside.
  3. Dry the turkey with paper towels, and let stand uncovered for 2 hours at room temperature (this lets the skin dry out slightly for better results with basting).
  4. Place oven rack on the lowest level in your oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  5. Combine the melted butter with wine.  Fold each cheesecloth in half, and let it soak in this mixture.
  6. Pour 1  cup of water into the roasting pan, place the cut up veggies, and place the roasting rack in the pan.
  7. Place the turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack, remove the pop-up timer, if present.
  8. Fold wingtips under the turkey.
  9. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper inside the turkey.  If you are stuffing your bird, fill the large cavity and neck cavity loosely with stuffing (I do not stuff my turkey, I cook the stuffing separately).
  10. Rub the turkey’s breast with 4 Tbs. room temperature butter, and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
  11. Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen twine, and tie a bow for easier removal after roasting.
  12. Lift  one cheesecloth one at a time from the butter/wine mixture, squeeze it slightly, so it does not drip, make sure you have it folded to form 4 layers of  cloth.

  13. Place it on top of half of the turkey, extending over the right leg and down the side (if you co not cover the thighs they will brown much faster and darker than the rest of the turkey).
  14. Do the same with the second piece of the cheesecloth, overlapping it slightly over the first one at the top of the turkey breast, covering the left side of the turkey breast, leg, and extending it down the side, as well as the front and back of the bird.
  15. Place turkey legs first into the oven. Do not cover the pan.
  16. Cook for 20 minutes, without checking on it.

  17. Using a pastry brush, baste the  cheesecloth and exposed parts of the turkey, with butter/wine mixture. Don’t panic if you notice how dark the cheesecloth gets during cooking.  The turkey underneath is still very light. Your kitchen will fill with a sweet aroma of warm butter.
  18. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue baking for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
  19. If your pan fills up with too much juice, you may remove some and save for gravy.

  20. After about 3 hours of cooking, remove and discard the cheesecloth.  Notice how light the breast meat is still at this point.
  21. Turn the pan around, so the legs are facing front, and the breast is facing the back of the oven.
  22. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.
  23. Baste the turkey gently with the juices, or the remaining butter/wine mixture.
  24. Bake for 1 hour longer, basting after 30 minutes.
  25. Insert the instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, and the temperature should reach 180 (if stuffed – the stuffing should reach 140 -160). The turkey should be golden brown.
  26. If the legs are not fully cooked yet, baste the turkey, and bake another 20 minutes.
  27. Once fully cooked, transfer turkey to a warm serving platter, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
  28. Pour the pan juices into a fat separator cup.  Let it stand for 10 minutes to settle.  The baked veggies in the pan may be used or discarded, but they added delicious flavor to the pan juices for your gravy.
  29. Set the roasting pan aside, do not wash it.

Finished product, ready for carving and serving.


To make gravy:

  1. Place roasting pan on a stove over medium-high heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of dry wine (red or white).
  3. Add 3 Tbs. of fat which separated from the pan juices.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are loosened up from the pan.
  5. Mix 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously, so it’s not clumpy.
  6. Stir in giblet stock (at least 2-3 cups) and bring to boil.
  7. Cook until liquid has reduced by half (about 10 minutes).
  8. Add the fat-free part of the reserved pan juices, and cook for 10 minutes longer.
  9. This will make about 2 1/2 cups of gravy.
  10. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and Maggi seasoning if you like.
  11. Strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve.


Enjoy your delicious turkey with homemade gravy.

Recipes for my favorite stuffing, and other side dishes, will be posted by next Thanksgiving.










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