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.  :-)