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:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We tried this for Nate's department Christmas Party, it went over pretty well!

Mercimek Koftesi (Lentil Balls)

Photo Credit: Lezizsofralar'a Hosgeldiniz



  • 2 cups red lentils
  • Salt
  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Biber Salcasi, Turkish red pepper paste (not harissa), or a mix of puréed roasted hot and sweet red peppers
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Romaine or other small cupped lettuce leaves


In a small saucepan, combine the lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the water, about 10 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and remove from the heat. Cover and set aside until the bulgur is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a small skillet over low heat, heat the oil and add the onion, sautéing until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and pepper pastes and mix well. Remove from the heat and cool. Add cumin, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Season with salt to taste.
Add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture and toss to mix. Add the scallions and parsley, mixing gently. Line a platter or individual serving plates with lettuce leaves. With dampened hands, form the lentil mixture into oval walnut-size balls, placing them on top of the lettuce. Serve immediately, or cover lightly and refrigerate up to one hour.
About 40 lentil balls, 8 to 10 appetizer servings

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Photo from All Recipes, see URLin the post.
I was too lazy to upload my own pic tonight.  :-p
I had some aging bananas sitting around, but I wasn't really feeling like banana bread, so I Googled around a little for something different, and found this recipe:

Now I'm not usually big on mocha flavored foods, so I was a little apprehensive on this one, but I figured it was worth a shot.  I was pleasantly surprised by how the coffee added just a little distinct flavor to the muffins.  It wasn't overpowering at all, but gave it a really different and delicious twist on the whole banana/chocolate combination.

The original recipe called for a lot of fat and sugar, in my opinion, so I made some modifications.

The original recipe:

1 cup margarine
 1 1/4 cups white sugar
 1 egg
 3 ripe bananas
 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

What I actually used:

1/3 cup margarine
 3/4 cups white sugar
 1 egg
 2 ripe bananas
 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (I used Turkish coffee)
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Despite cutting back half the butter and almost half the sugar, they tasted delicious.  It still made 18 muffins too.  Not too bad, and the kids really enjoyed them too (bonus!).  :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

We lived in Germany for a few years while my husband was in the Army.  While we were there, we often had schnitzel at the local restaurants.  They have many ways of preparing it, and after a few months, we found a way to make it ourselves.  Of course there we had the benefit of actually having the cuts of meat intended for making this dish (and the flavor packets for making the jaeger sauce), but this is an improvised recipe to make the plain "wienerschnitzel."  If I ever find out how to make that jaeger sauce, I'll post another blog just for it!

What you'll need:
- Either a thin, boneless cut of pork, or a thicker porkchop, cut in halves
- Breading: you can use variations on this.  For mine, I usually either user pre-bought italian seasoning or a mix of that and pork seasoning, but you can also mix up some bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or even ground rice crispies, and add to it flour, garlic salt/powder, and various seasoings
- Lemon (real or artificial, but in my opinion, this is not option, it is the secret ingredient!)
- Onions, sautéed (optional)
- Oil (to pan fry, I use olive oil)

To make it, just bread the pork (I don't even use egg or anything, just dip in the breading) then pan fry in oil.  If I had to guess, I'd say it takes about 7 min on each side (until golden brown).

And of course the secret - once they are a minute or so away from being done, give them a healthy dousing of lemon juice.  I don't know why, but it gives it a very pleasant flavor.

I like to server mine with wedged potatoes, topped with sautéed onions, but it would probably be fine on its own with whatever side you choose.  And if you can find a good German beer to complement it, well, more power to you!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Who doesn't like pancakes?  When I was growing up, we always made bisquick pancakes, but I've always made them from a recipe in my cook book.  Recently, I found this recipe on All Recipes and I love how light and fluffy they are.  It beats the pants off of my cookbook recipe!

The ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Again, pretty simple, mix the dry ingredients, then the wet, then mix together and throw on a griddle.  The boys and I like to add in our own special touch though - chocolate chips.  :-)

These are famously popular in my household

 So, as my coworkers know, I actually tried out that pretzel recipe, and yum!  Let's just say they disappeared quickly.  I also tried my own little twist on these, making buckeyes with pretzels bits in them. 

More on that later...

So here is the basic list of ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used a good deal more)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used less - didn't have enough!)
Pretzels (I bought a bag, used about half)
1 bag  semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used about 2/3-3/4)

The rest is a little time consuming, but pretty easy.  Grab a small ball of peanut butter and sandwich it between to pretzels, then shove them in the freezer.  

As I said, I also decided to try my had at making these into buckeyes (which use about the same ingredients).  I took a bunch of the broken pretzel pieces and used plastic bag and rolling pin to basically crush them into little chunks.  I mixed those in a little bit of the peanut butter mix that I was using in the pretzels, rolled those into balls, and shoved them in the freezer.

After sitting for about an hour (maybe less, I was impatient!) I melted some chocolate in a sauce pan and started dipping the pretzels.  I found it hard to get what I felt was "enough" on the tip of the pretzels, but I found it was super fast and easy to just drop them in face first.  :-)  I also dipped my buckeyes, then set everything back in the freezer.

While mine don't look as good as the recipe site, they certainly were tasty.  :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Image from:
Another find by Thomas Hall, these look too tasty not to try.  I may have to try my had at these this week.  They look like buckeyes plus pretzels.  YUM!


Two Tiny Kitchens: Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Image compliments of LifeHacker
Thomas shared this, and I thought it was too good not to re-post on a food blog.  I may have to try this.

Get Bacon in Every Bite of Your BLT with the Basket Weaving Technique

Monday, September 24, 2012

One of my coworkers suggested (jokingly I think) that I start food blog.  Well, surprise!  I actually did it.  I snapped some photos of the meal I made tonight, and here it is.  The only problem: I don't measure things - at all.

So, tonight's meal...what I can fajitos (a burrito without the beans + veggies).  Of course you could alter this to add whatever, but here's what use:
The Meat:
- steak (doesn't really matter what kind, I usually go with whatever is cheap)
- onion (chopped)
- cilantro
- garlic (diced)
- seasoning (you could use whatever you normally use in tacos, burritos, or fajitas, but I used garlic salt, Mexican chili powder, and cyan pepper) 
- lime/lime juice

The Veggies:
- onion
- pepper
- olive oil

The Rice:
- rice
- garlic
- cilantro
- lime
- tomato

Cooking it all is pretty easy.  Brown the steak, throw in the onion, garlic, cilantro.  Cook until done, season near the end, and viola!

Meanwhile, throw in the the onion/pepper with some olive oil, cook on medium-high to get the nice seared look/taste.

You can put on some rice while you're at it.  I like to season it with cilantro, garlic, lime and sometimes tomato.

When you're all done, top with whatever toppings you like best (I threw on salsa, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream).

It seems so basic that I feel silly posting it, but maybe it will give you some ideas.  The real secrets are cilantro and lime.  Oh, at it only takes about 30 min to make if you cook it all at the same time.