Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ok folks, just to preface, this isn't really a "recipe" per say, more of a decoration guide.  But I'm posting it here because it's food related.

I made these for my son's birthday this year, and the kids seemed to think they were a hit.  I sent over 30 to school for a class of 24 and got 0 back, so that's good right?  lol

What you'll need:

- Cupcakes (I cheated, Betty Crocker is my friend)

- Lots of frosting.  I used 1 tub of plan white vanilla (which I split to make the green for the pigs and the yellow on the birds), 1 tub of strawberry (optional, but it's a LOT easier to make red frosting when you start with pink!), and chocolate (you could sub another color, but this is used for the accents, like eyes, eyebrows, mouths, etc).

- Candy oranges (for the beaks)

- Regular mini-marshmallows (for the eyes)

- Key lime marshmallows (for the pig noses)

Decorating instructions:

For the pigs:

- Add food coloring to get a green-ish color.  Don't be afraid to use a lot.  I used enough to make it just darker than my key lime marshmallows.

- Frost the cupcakes.

- Cut the key lime marshmallows in half for the pig snouts.  Cut more in quarters for the ears.

- Place them on the cupcakes (see pic for reference).

- Take some regular mini-marshmallows and cut them in half for the eyes.

- Place them on the cupcakes just next to the snout to make eyes.

- Use your chocolate frosting to dot on the eyes, snout, and if you'd like, a mouth.

And ta da!  Pigs are done.

For the birds:

- Grab your strawberry icing (or regular white if you're brave), and add a lot of red food coloring (white is going to take a ton more, and you still might end up pink).  Then frost.

- Take some leftover white icing and mix up a yellowish color.  Frost just the bottom third in a semicircle-ish shape.

- Cut a few of the orange slices along the already indented sections (see picture).

- Place the orange slice section just above the yellow "belly" of your bird.

- Make a wide "V" shape just above your "beak."

- Take some mini-marshmallows and cut them in half length-wise, then cut them in half again (so you end up with a thin half-circle).  Place them under your eyebrows for the eyes.

- Dot on some eyeballs.

And your birds are done!

I'll admit it takes some time to do the cutting and placing of candy toppings, but it's fun for the kids and easier than decorating a cake (in my opinion anyway).

BONUS TIP:  I hate getting out the frosting bags for projects like this.  I mean really, all you need it for is the chocolate right?  So I came up with my own cake-decorating hack.  Use a medicine syringe!  Loading it up can be a bit messy.  I used a knife to add just a little at a time.  But once it's loaded with frosting, it's actually easier to use (in my opinion) than a cake decorating tip/bag).  And for small amounts of frosting like the ones in this project, you hate to dirty a whole bag.

Happy frosting!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Found this recipe for adana kebab, think I'll have to try this when we get home.  It's not "true" adana kebab, but I think I might actually like this version better.

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground veal
4 teaspoons olive oil, for brushing on pita's
4 teaspoons salted butter, small cubes
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup yogurt
2 medium red onions, sliced very thin
1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon lemon juice
8 pieces pita bread or 8 pieces naan bread
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sumac, can be found in any middle eastern store.or you can omit this step


1. In a large mixing bowl add lamb and veal.
2. Then add minced bell peppers and onions.
3. Add all spices and mix well.
4. Cover and put in fridge overnight.
5. Mix red onion,sumac,lemon juice in small bowl cover and put in fridge.
6. Using your hands shape mixture into 6 inch long kebabs and about 2 inches wide.
7. Place on a hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
8. Kebabs will be done when they feel spongy.
9. When done place kebab inside of pita.
10. Top with yogurt sauce and sliced red onion mixture.
11. This can also be served with a side of Turkish Pilaf.

Recipe found at:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I found this today while looking for a popcorn ball recipe.  I am a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies and buckeyes, and this looks like a cross between the two, so it's defninitely going in my "to try" list.  :-)

The recipe and pics come from:

First, in a large bowl, cream together:
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
Now, add:
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used skim)
In a separate bowl, stir together: 
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Add the dry mixture in several batches to the wet mixture and mix well. 

Finally, use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir in:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Chill the dough for an hour.  Roll the chilled dough into 1 inch balls and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Melt chocolate melts or almond bark in the microwave or a double boiler.  Dip each ball in the melted chocolate, gently tap off excess and place on wax paper.  Sprinkle with a few mini chocolate chips if desired.  This recipe made around 50 bites!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo & Recipe from

Simit is a very popular street food here in Istanbul.  It's like the concept of a bagel only using a more bread-like dough, and the result is chewy deliciousness.
I found a recipe for it online today, and I will definitely be trying this when we get back home.  Maybe as a treat for my coworkers I'll make these and bring in some Turkish tea?  ;-)'s the recipe.  Both that and all the pics are from  I borrowed many of the images since they do a great job of showing the step-by-step process. 

Turkish Sesame Rings (Simit)
Adapted from “Classical Turkish Cooking”, by Ayla Algar
Makes 8 large simits
Note: The original recipe calls for baking the simit on heated tiles but I adjusted it to use regular baking sheets as I don’t own tiles.
For the Dough: 
3  + 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeasts
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
about 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
About 1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup molasses (in Turkey: pekmez)
1/2 cup water
For the Topping:
2 cups sesame seeds
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 10 minutes in a warm place until frothy. Place the flour on the work surface, make a well in the center, and put in the yeast mixture, salt, and 1 cup lukewarm water. Gradually work in the flour to make a stiff dough (you may not need all of the flour). If you have a heavy-duty mixture, it is best to knead 10 minutes with the dough hook. By hand, knead at least 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy. Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 2 hours.
Knead the dough a few times on a lightly floured work surface, roll into a log, and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball and let rest under a slightly damp towel about 30 minutes.
Photo & Recipe from
Roll each ball into a 14-inch long rope. Hold down one end of the rope with one hand while twisting it with the other. Then form this twisted rope into a long ring, pressing and rolling the overlapping ends together on the work surface with one hand to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet or a work surface (I use marble countertop) and let rest 1 hour.
Photo & Recipe from
Dust 4 baking sheets with some cornmeal. Set aside.
Dissolve the molasses in water in a bowl. Put the sesame seeds in a plate and set it next to molasses water. Dip each simit in molasses water first, then in the sesame seeds, making sure the simit is completely and thickly coated with the seeds on all sides.
Place 2 rings on each baking sheet. Take each ring and rotate it gently through your hands, enlarging it into a 7-inch circle. Or, if it is easier for you, let the simit sit on the baking sheet and simply stretch it in all directions. Let the simits rest for 30 minutes or until well puffed.
Preheat the oven to 390F.
Bake 2 baking sheets at at time, about 15 to 20 minutes, until rich brown in color. Simit is best eaten fresh out of the oven. They will be good all day. You can also reheat them wrapped in foil to freshen them. Afiyet Olsun! (Bon appetit - in Turkish)
Photo & Recipe from

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I found this recipe on while browsing another topic today.  It loos delicious and super easy, I definitely want to try this when I get back!

12 slices day old French bread (1 inch thick)
5 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup packed brown sugar, (divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup portions)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

optional:  1 cup chopped pecans

Arrange bread in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish.  In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, 3/4 cup brown sugar, vanilla; pour over bread.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Combine butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar; drizzle over the top.  Bake, uncovered, at 400 for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with blueberries.  Bake 10 minutes longer or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Serves:  6-8

Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with syrup on the side (optional)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Image from Delicious Istanbul
Since arriving in Istanbul, tea has become a much bigger part of our lives.  Here, the Turks have tea all the time.  It is common to have it (in place of coffee) with your breakfast.  You often see two people sitting at a cafe enjoying it, and if you go out to eat, it's really common for them to ask you if you'd like çay (tea) after your meal.  You'll also see the street vendors making it over a little grill.  It's a staple.

The tea here isn't like your average cup of tea in the US though.  They make it from black tea leaves, add water, and serve with sugar.

I'm borrowing the recipe (and image) from this site:

Prep Time: 5 Min
Cook Time: 20 Min
Total Time: 25 Min

Serves: 6


1/3 cup black tea leaves
1 L water for tea brew
1 L water for serving
sugar to taste


  1. Fill the bottom kettle with 2 L hot/boiling water and bring to boil at the high heat on your stove top.
  2. Meanwhile, put the tea leaves into a fine sieve and rinse them with cold water to remove the tea dust. Drain well. Transfer the washed and drained tea leaves into the upper kettle and stack the upper kettle on top of the bottom one.
  3. Once the water in the bottom kettle is boiled, pour half into the upper kettle to brew the tea. Reduce the heat to medium and let the tea in the upper kettle get brewed over the steam coming from the bottle kettle.
  4. Pour out some tea brew (with a Turkish tea glass the rule of thumb will be to pour out the brew to the waist, the narrowest point of the glass) and then dilute it with water
  5. Reduce the heat to low to keep your tea warm as you’ll be serving a few rounds. Once the tea drinking is over turn off the heat.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm not sure if you'd call this a side or main dish, but here in Ortaköy, they make meals of potatoes.  Not just any potatoes though, these things are HUGE, like bigger than both of my fists put together.  Between the two of us, Nate and I couldn't finish one.  They have oodles of toppings, some of which probably have no business being on a potato, but they were pretty tasty.  I think I'll have to try breaking out of the old fashioned butter-salt-pepper-and-sour-cream routine and loading up one some time for dinner.

To make it, they take a baked potato, cut it open, and use a fork/knife to scrape the insides of the potato.  They leave the potato at the bottom, add butter, salt, and grated kasar cheese, and mix it together thoroughly until the butter and cheese have melted.  Then, you pile on toppings galore!

You can read more about them here: