Blog

Survival Tactics to Living Abroad

Living abroad takes what we know as “living” and turns it upside down or right side up. It all depends on the perspective that you view it. 

Like a Child: humble yourself to view your new surroundings like a child. See it with open eyes. The world is what you make of it. If you choose to see it as full of possibility, then possibilities will appear.

img_3410Try a Little Something New: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the unknown. When we try something new, we are signaling our brain to get ready for the challenge and push beyond our existing capacity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again: It can seem so daunting. You’ve worked hard to build a community for yourself and then to leave it all behind. Many would rationalize what’s the point? The point is, we’re alive for more than ourselves. Everything has a season. It’s not all about us and once we realize this starting again doesn’t seem quite so bad. We must embrace the idea of starting again. Whether it’s learning how to live in a new community, understanding a local culture or just adapting to a new way of life.

Focus: you will become like whatever you’re focusing on. Think about what is good about where you are. If you’re unemployed you might have more time than ever to learn something new, train for a marathon or study a new language. FOCUS on what is good about your situation.

Hold Tight in the Process: yes it’s difficult, especially when you’re in a new place and attempting to create a routine for yourself. But stay focused in the process. Don’t give up because with each step you make you’re getting along the road. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.

You’re Doing Better than You Think You’re Doing: you will not always be a beginner or brand new. Although the beginning stages feel so challenging, take hope. With each new day, you’re learning and growing. You’re doing better today than you were yesterday just because you have another day under your belt so you are one day wiser. Focus on the progress you’re making and not the lack of progress you have yet to make.

Through My Eyes – Life as a Black Woman

…the color of my skin is with me everywhere I go/
And where you’re permitted “yes,” I am permitted “no”

Through My EyesFull of emotion…sometimes the best way to articulate the racism of our world today is through poetry. Racism is not new. It’s always been here and until people stop living in silence over what they see, it will continue. If you’ve seen racism and injustice (in person or on the news) and you’ve done nothing, then you are responsible and accountable. 

…the color of my skin

Is with me everywhere I go

And where you’re permitted “yes”

I am permitted “no”

 

Does Anyone Care? Finding Peace in the Storm

The other day, in the haze between sleeping and being awake. I saw myself standing on the shore of the ocean (one of my favorite places to be). This massive wave was building and rising and coming straight toward me. It was much taller than me, tall enough where I should have ran, but as I stood there, I saw a hand holding the wave and I didn’t flinch at all. In fact, I didn’t feel any fear. And seemingly in a moment, the wave receded back to the ocean as if it never even approached me.

Close your eyes, the wave is right in front of you, you can feel the mist, hear the roar, smell the salt water and just barely taste it upon your lips. Yet this same wave, does not consume you. Oh it comes close and it poses a massive threat to destroy you completely but there’s One more powerful than the wave. -EE Winkler

This is what peace looks like to me. The waves are still going to come right up to your face, but they’re not going to be able to consume you as long as your eyes are fixed on Jesus. I’d like to say that I don’t know emotional pain from personal experience. But before the COVID-19 pandemic I was going through my own personal pandemic of sorts. I was asking the same questions that people are asking now:

When is this going to end?

When can things go back to normal?

Am I really going to lose my home?

Where will I go from here?

I’ve lost everything, now what do I do?

Does anybody care?

I would love to tell you that in a divine moment of prayer with Jesus, that suddenly all of these questions were answered but truth be told, many of them remain unanswered, except for the last one: “Does anybody care?”

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

To that question, it’s like all of Heaven screamed:

YES! I care! Can’t you see it? Won’t you choose to receive it?

As humans, we’re trite enough to equate “caring” with getting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. But the way in which God cares extends beyond just provision, it’s that deep down, heart wide open, everything exposed kind of care. It’s the kind of care where he sees all of the ugly mistakes you’ve made and still smiles at you lovingly as if you never made one at all. His care, rooted in his perfect love is available to you right now. No one else is going to be able to fill that void you feel within and satisfy your soul in the midst of this land of question marks.

The beauty is that in him, we can have peace for all of the question marks. We don’t have to have an answer for everything to still follow him and enjoy our lives. That’s what He wants for you and for me — to love him, love others and enjoy our lives. He can safely and securely hold all of our question marks and our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. He hears. He sees. He’s near. We don’t see him because we don’t want to see him but he’s here, there and everywhere. You don’t have to look for him because he’s found you. And he’s been waiting, pursuing, wooing you closer to his heart. It doesn’t matter the state of your life now or the mess that you’re in, you can come to him right now. He’s is peace. So you can’t pursue peace without pursuing him.

Rest assured, he cares. He sees your pain. He knows you’re tired. He knows that you’re worried. He knows every emotion that you feel that you don’t even want to admit. Come to him. He’s calling through the waves. Will you call upon him today?

Written by: Erica E Winkler

©Copyright Erica  E Winkler 2020 All Rights Reserved

Erdbeerkuchen (German Strawberry Cake)

A traditional German cake that will make your tastebuds craving for year-round summer berries!

Erdebeerkuchen (German Strawberry Cake)

Cake:
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:
10-12 strawberries (stems removed)
1 pkg strawberry gelatin

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

Grease a 6 inch* springform pan.

To prepare the cake: Whisk together 1 egg, sugar, baking powder and vanilla extract. Then gradually add in the flour, stirring with each addition.

Pour the batter into the springform pan in an even layer. Then tap the pan on the counter to release the air bubbles.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Note: the cake should start coming away from the sides of the pan.

Allow the cake to cool.

Slice the strawberries and layer them “in a beautiful array” on the cake.

To prepare the gelatin, pour the packet of strawberry gelatin into a bowl and add boiling water. Stir well to ensure that all of the gelatin is dissolved. Then pour the gelatin on top of the cake.

Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours or up to overnight.

Then remove the cake from the springform pan and place on a cake stand. Slice and enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream.

*Note: this recipe was for a 6 inch springform pan, for a 12 inch cake, double the recipe and enjoy.

Who Do You Need to Forgive?

One could argue that worst type of captivity is not the captivity that you can see, but rather the captivity that you can’t see. – EE Winkler

Have you ever stopped to consider, what is it that’s holding you captive? Is it yourself? It is another person? Is it a substance? Is it unforgiveness?

So often, we don’t realize that we’re bound up in unforgiveness. We just think that we are the way we are because that’s how we are. But over time, even small offenses will build up and have the capacity to do so much damage in our lives.

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Photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash

Forgiving is the key to your freedom. 

I think that all of us can look inside and find at least one person that we need to forgive. Truth be told, it might be that you need to forgive yourself. We think that the things that people do to hurt us do not really matter and do not affect us, but actually they really do.

By not forgiving them, you’re actually allowing yourself to stay in a perpetual state of bondage. Eventually unforgiveness turns into bitterness and it will affect your life whether you want it to or not. You will actually not be able to love yourself and love others at your potential capacity if you choose to stay stuck in unforgiveness.

What does it mean to forgive someone?

To forgive means that you CHOOSE, not necessarily feel, to no longer hold the offense of someone else against them. I emphasize CHOOSE, because so often we think we have to wait until we feel like it before we forgive. But this principle is a faulty logic that we do not apply in other areas of our lives.

We CHOOSE to exercise even if we are tired because we understand the health benefits.

We CHOOSE to go to work, even if we don’t feel like it because we are committed.

We CHOOSE to be kind, even if we don’t feel happy because it is the right thing to do.

We CHOOSE to love others even when they are not loving to us because we are called to.

We make choices every single day and forgiveness just has to be one of those choices that we make. IF, and only if, we want to be free and remain free. Freedom always costs something and just because we are free today does not mean that we do not have to work to maintain our freedom for tomorrow.

What happens if the painful feelings come back after we forgive?

Sometimes, after we choose to forgive, the feelings of hurt, sadness and pain start to creep up again. When this happens, we have to remind ourselves that we have chosen to forgive and choose not to stay angry. This is so important because if we entertain these feelings then will find ourselves being bound up all over again. We must release that hurt and choose, even when we don’t feel like it.

So, who do you need to forgive today? 

Won’t you make a choice to forgive them? The freedom that you crave is well within your reach if only you will just choose.

©All Rights Reserved 2019

Encouragement for Your Soul with Rhythms and Rhymes

“You are special,

you are loved,

who you are, is enough.” (an excerpt from “Who You Are is Enough”)

It is my honor to share my new poetry book with you today! It is my hope that it will encourage you and remind you that you are loved, you are special and that you have a purpose in life! We need you in this world and there is no one else like you!

In my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes, you’ll find dozens and dozens of inspirational, feel-good poetry. If you’re looking for a little encouragement to remind you just how wonderful you truly are, then you’ll definitely want to check out my book!

I write rhythmic, rhyming, uplifting poetry from my heart and it is my hope that it will speak to your heart in a positive way.

You can find my poetry book, Rhythms and Rhymes for sale on Amazon today in a paperback and Kindle edition. If it’s not available in your country, and you’d like to purchase a book, please let me know and I will do my best to personally get a copy to you. Buy the book: https://amzn.to/2DCtn5F

I hope you know just how special you are and to those of you going through a difficult season of life right now, hang in there, you’re going to make it through this, don’t give up, a better day and the best is yet to come for you!

Sending love and warm hugs,

Erica

 

This is the Day of the Girl (an Original Poem) #dayofthegirl

Celebrating 2019’s International Day of the Girl with this original poem & spoken word performance.

Today is the International Day of the Girl. Championed by UNICEF, this day works to drive awareness and advocate for young girls everywhere. Considering the fact that I used to be a little girl, I think it is a wonderful cause and it inspired me to write and perform this poem today.

Photo Credit: Canva

Look Up

Whatever you’re doing, stop for a moment to look up.

Seriously, look up.

Now, what did you feel? What did you see? What did you think?

Sometimes, we are walking about so consumed by what we see in front of us, whether literally or figuratively, that we become consumed with our challenges and difficulties because we give them way to much negative attention.

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Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

We have to be willing to put things into perspective within the big picture of our entire lives. Even the major problems, fall into perspective when you consider your entire life especially if it is not life threatening; and let’s face it, most of us have problems that are not. Maybe your problem is that something in your life has come to a crashing halt. An unexpected end.

A job?

A relationship?

A home?

You’re looking all around you and all you see is rubble from everything that has fallen apart and come to an end. But in the words of an amazing woman, who I so admire, Kendra Scott, “it’s not over, this could just be the beginning.”

When you’re tempted to keep a horizontal focus, I challenge you to force yourself to physically look up. The action of doing so, just may trigger something in your brain to remind yourself, there is more than what you can see right here, right now.

A horizontal focus tends to leave us so focused on ourselves and our problems that we actually forget that there are people around us with problems too. We forget that even if we don’t have something to give financially, the warmth of a smile or the utterance of encouraging words can lift a person’s soul far more than money ever could.

Look up, my friend.

I triple dog dare you to look up.

Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for what you do have. If you’re reading this post right now, you are insanely richer than you know. Just look what you have in your hands. Look at the fact that you’re still breathing. Look at the fact that you have something valuable and special to share with the world, just by being yourself.

Look up, my friend. Look up.

 

Why Settle for Happy?

Happiness is temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. – EE Winkler

We all love to be happy. It feels good. I once had a history professor that stated, “everything we do in life is to make us happy.” It stuck with me. I pondered it in my head and I realized that there was a lot of truth to his statement. But I still wondered, is it entirely true? Are there innately things that we intentionally do for others without seeking our own happiness? Or do we do the things, to make them feel happy, because making them happy, makes us happy? Ha! Do you see what I mean?

There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

But beyond the idea of happy, I believe that joy is something that can actually be a life’s ambition, a state of mind, a posture. When I think of happiness, I think of this fluffy, fleeing, feeling.

  • I am happy when I eat my favorite food.
  • I am happy when I finish my workout.
  • I am happy when the light turns green.
  • I am happy when I see a butterfly.
  • I am happy when I have a soft serve ice cream cone.

But have you ever considered, that living your life from the ambition of finding happiness, could be settling for so much less than what you were actually made for? What if we’re settling by striving to be happy? What if, joy is actual the greater ambition?

What is true about joy?

Joy can remain in pain.

Pain does not make me happy. I don’t think about pain and smile. But I can still have joy, even when I encounter pain. Why? For I am learning, that pain is just a tool that is used to transform me. And if I choose, it will transform me to make me better and not bitter.

Joy outlasts happiness.

The feeling of being happy, typically does not last very long. I find that no matter what people get or do that makes them happy, if you look at their face in a few hours, you’ll probably find them with a scowl on their face as they scroll down the screen on their phone. Is that what we’re really chasing? That fickle, fading, fluffy, feeling? Alternatively, joy is a state of mind. If we allow it, it can permeate everything we think about thus directly impacting everything we do. There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Joy demands the marathon, happiness commands the sprint. Most people do not have joy because it’s difficult and it takes time to build. It requires a humility that most of us don’t want to submit to. Joy beckons to take one step at a time and not giving up, while happiness wants to measure life in sprints. Happiness yells, “if I don’t get what I want then I’m done!” Joy whispers, “I know there is more than my eyes can see. I will take one step at a time and keep going.”

We don’t have to settle for “happy seasons of life.” Instead we can embrace a joyous life.

What will you choose?

 

 

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

How to Find Peace in the Midst of Pain & Suffering

Looking for peace?

You may not be in pain today, but inevitably, at some point(s) in time in your life, you will experience pain and suffering. And at times it might feel so intense, that you wonder, how it is possible to endure. But the good news, is that none of us have to walk through pain and suffering alone. There is a companion who is closer than a brother, closer than a friend, closer than a husband, closer than anyone and while you are suffering, He’s standing outside the door of your heart, knocking….knocking….knocking….to see if you will let Him in.

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Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

Religion has done an awful job at making God seem far off or making Him seem cold and distant. But the nearness of God is closer than your actual breath. The love of God was displayed when He traded the throne of Heaven to be wrapped in swaddling clothes in a cold, dark, stable in Bethlehem. No earthly king has ever been recorded to trade his throne of riches for a life of poverty because it is only the love of the Almighty God, that would cause such an action in order to make a way for His creation to return to Him.

For some, the Gospel of Jesus has become common place. They’re no longer moved by it. They’re no longer in awe of it. Their hearts have become complacent or hardened from believing. Truthfully, it is indeed a love that cannot be found upon this earth. For not even the person who loves you the most would endure what Jesus endured for you, nor would they be capable of doing so.

God in the flesh, beaten until nearly dead, unrecognizable for all of the beatings and lashings that He endured, then hung on a cross, naked for six hours, pulling himself up by His nailed feet just to keep breathing for every minute of those six hours. All the while, people walked by, mocking Him as He suffered on the cross for you and for me. The soldiers who stood nearby, divided His garments among themselves like a game.

We have never seen anyone crucified in real life. But it was gruesome and horrific. What motivated Jesus, to endure the cross and all the shame? You. Me. Every human being that has ever or will ever exist. His motivation was pure, complete and total love. He knew that there was no way that we could ever “earn” our way to Him or “work” our way to Him. There’s no laws or pillars that will ever amount to “earning” your way to God. No human being can do enough good that would make him or her acceptable in the sight of God. It is only through the cross of Jesus. It is only in accepting and believing, confessing and receiving Jesus as Lord, Savior and God.

He hung naked on a cross with His arms wide open and when He breathed His last breath, it wasn’t the end. He rose from the grave and He is alive. Only God Himself could do such a wonderful, love stained thing. Jesus is God. One part of the Trinity –Father, Spirit, Son.

If you think that whatever you have done has somehow made God not love you or accept you, I’ve got good news for you. God loves you and accepts you right now, just as you are. You might be full of selfish pride, or full of heartbroken pain, regardless, God loves you. No person is better than the other. God loves us all and accepts us all. Jesus paid the price for our sin. If you’ve lived longer than a day on planet earth, then you probably have figured out by now that you have sinned. And so have I. And so has every person. It’s why we need a Savior. It’s why Jesus came to this earth.

When pain and suffering come into our lives (and they will, in various degrees and various ways), we can either walk through it on our own and try and “cope” someway or somehow, OR we can reach out and call upon the name of Jesus. How true to His Word He is. When you call upon His name, He will not turn you away. He’s been waiting for you to turn to Him. Regardless if you’ve never called upon His name or if it’s been a long time since you have, or if you’ve never known the PERSONAL love of Jesus, He’s waiting for you. His love is up close and personal. It’s real and tangible. It is a love like no other. The only love that can carry us through valleys of pain, suffering and darkness.

We live in a fallen world and no person will escape the troubles of this life regardless of their status, wealth or name. There is only one name that is above it all and that is the name of Jesus. He wants to walk with you through the pain you’re facing right now. He wants to comfort you and give you His peace and joy. He wants you to know how deeply you are loved and accepted and cherished. You don’t have to push Him away. He wants you. You don’t have to wait until you go to a church building, He is wherever you are right now. You can meet Him, right where you are. You can tell Him your story and your pain and not live in shame anymore.

His presence, the presence of Jesus, is the blessing of pain and suffering. His nearness in a way that is unexplainable. His comfort through weeping that seems to never cease. His mercy to provide blessings in the midst of brokenness. His peace to calm and quiet our fretful minds to sleep at night. His love to cover over all our sin and embrace us in His arms. Oh beloved, take your heart and entrust it in Jesus. He will never break it. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has many good things in store for you. He wants to walk with you through this. His love can give you a good attitude, full of His joy even in the midst of suffering. Really knowing Him, makes you really love Him. I know I don’t deserve the love of Jesus and yet He loves me anyway. And you know what, He loves you too. Just as you are, disheveled, broken, smelly, fearful, however you are, He loves you.

Jesus wants you, do you want Him?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Hörnchen Little German Crescent Rolls

Soft, fluffy and a simple bread to prepare at home today.

There are truly a plethora of different types of German breads. If you have the opportunity to visit Germany, do yourself a favor and don’t pay for a hotel breakfast. Instead, do what the locals are doing and head to a Bäckeri (German for bakery).

For the recipe video, click the image below! 

Inside the bakery you’ll find plenty of bread rolls, loaves and sweet pastries for an affordable price. Even in big cities like Köln and Berlin, you can buy 4 or 5 Brötchen for only 1 Euro! Amazing!

However, the hörnchen is a little bit more expensive, but definitely worth giving a try, because it’s not that much more expensive. The texture is quite soft and fluffy. The taste is buttery with a hint of sweetness. With a bit of honey, marmalade, or nutella — it is a wonderful treat!

Not in Germany? No problem! This recipe is quite simple to prepare just about anywhere in the world. In fact, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry now. So what are you waiting for, let’s make some hörnchen!

Erica’s Hörnchen Recipe

  • 2.5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP melted butter
  • 1.5 to 2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

For the egg wash:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 TBSP milk

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, warm milk, salt and melted butter. Stir well.

Continue to stir and gradually add in the flour, little by little. Keep stirring until the dough no longer sticks to sides of the bowl.

Then turn the dough over onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, only adding flour if the dough is sticky.

Shape the dough into a ball and using a mezzaluna or a knife, cut the dough (like a pizza) into 8 equal portions.

One by one, roll out each portion into a long triangle, about 6 to 7 inches (15-17cm) long.

Then starting with the widest end of the triangle, roll the dough up until you meet the smallest end.

Then fold the dough to create the horn-shape or the shape of the letter “U.”

Continue until all of the hörnchen are shaped (grab some little helping hands if you have them:).

Then place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover them with a dish towel and allow them to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until they have doubled in size.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375F/190C.

Once the hörnchen have risen, remove the towel and prepare the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk in a small bowl.

Using a pastry brush, brush each of the hörnchen generously with the egg wash.

Then place them into the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve and enjoy while they are still warm or save some for later.

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Guten Appetit!

P.S. Hörnchen literally translates to mean “little horns.” This of course is in reference to their size and shape.

P.P.S If you google Hörnchen from an English speaking country, Google might show you a picture of a squirrel. It’s because the word actually has more than one meaning. Go figure, lol! But not to worry, no squirrels were harmed in the production of these bread rolls. 

Sending you lots of love for reading this far 🙂 You’re amazing!♥

 

©All Rights Reserved

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant – Imam Bayildi

Tender eggplant packed full of tomatoes, onions and spices! Heavenly!

Love eggplant? Looking for a hearty & delicious vegetarian & vegan recipe?

Meet Imam Bayildi.

It’s a Turkish dish that I learned in culinary school and every time I make it, it brings me back to Turkey every time.

Follow along with me with the video below ⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓

Imam Bayildi literally translates, “Imam fainted.” Why?

  • Some say that it tasted so good that he fainted after he took a bite.
  • While others say he fainted because it was too expensive.

Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)

Serves 2 or 4 (as a side dish)

  • 2 large eggplant
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (about one 14oz can)
  • 1.5 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & black pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Wash and dry the eggplant. Then partially peel it lengthwise to create a stripe pattern.

Rub the egplant with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil and place them in a baking dish.

Bake the eggplant for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1.5TBSP of olive oil in a frying pan.

Add the sliced onions and saute until they are tender.

Then add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, and crushed tomatoes.

Stir well and cover.

Place on medium low heat to cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If needed, add some water to keep it from sticking.

Using a knife, cut a slit down the middle of each piece of eggplant.

Take two spoons and place them in the slit and gently pull open the eggplant on each side.

Then take the filling and generously stuff the eggplant.

With the remaining filling, pour it into the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the eggplant are tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olson!

Sabich: an Iraqi Jewish Dish in Israel

If you’re looking to kick up your sandwich game, then you’ve gotta try Sabich!

A fresh pita packed full of tender eggplant, egg, hummus, veggies, tahini & more!

So, I’ll admit it. The first time I came to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I never heard of Sabich. I find that you’ll find dozens of places selling falafel and hummus, but only a handful of places that sell and specialize in Sabich.

When I learned about it, I was immediately interested. Like it’s cousin Falafel, Sabich is vegetarian. For me, as a known vegetarian, but as a veggie lover, I appreciate discovering new vegetarian dishes.

Secondly, Sabich is relatively healthy. I say relatively because the authentic version is made with fried eggplant, not roasted eggplant (like my recipe). So, anything fried, well it’s not rocket science, you’re smart, you get the picture. But, there are ways to customize it according to your taste and dietary restrictions. For example, cut the pita in half and pack it full of mostly veggies and a little less hummus and tahini.

Finally, Sabich is simple. It’s honestly not a lot of work to prepare it especially compared to it’s cousin Falafel, who requires soaking chickpeas, blending the ingredients, rest time for the dough, etc. I mean Sabich is close enough to the Hebrew word Sababah (which means cool) and I think it’s a really cool dish.

So, thanks for reading and if you find yourself in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and nearby, try Sabich! (Pronounced: “Sah-bee”). I bet you’ll be glad that you did. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for you to try at home if you’re ever so keen.

Peace, Falafel & Sabich!

Sabich

Recipe by: EE Winkler

Serves 3-4

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 cup of hummus (homemade or store bought –no judgement here 🙂
  • 1/2 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1-2 cups Jerusalem Salad
  • 1/2 cup tahini sauce
  • 1/4 cup pickles
  • 4 fresh pitas
  • Traditional Way? Add Amba and Zhoug (see NOTE 2 🙂

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/ 375F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil) and brush with a bit of oil.

Slice the eggplant in 1/4 inch rounds. Then place the eggplant rounds on the baking sheet in a single layer.

Brush the top of the rounds with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flip over and then continue to bake the eggplant for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

Place the eggplant in a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, gather all of your ingredients and place them on the countertop. (NOTE: think of yourself like your own personal “Sabich Shop.” It’s so much easier when all of the ingredients are out and ready and you don’t have to fumble around your kitchen or fridge hunting for everything.

To prepare the Sabich: take a pita and cut off the very top of the circle, just enough to open the pouch. Alternatively, you can cut it in half if you’re only eating half a pita. Then place a spoonful of hummus, eggplant, egg, onions, Jerusalem Salad, pickles and tahini sauce. Repeat, until your pita if full.

 

NOTE: the order does not matter, at least not to me 🙂

NOTE 2: Traditionally Sabich is made with Amba, a mango chutney & Zhoug, a type of hot sauce. I didn’t make it the traditional way but feel free to make it according to your taste.

Voila! Now, take a big bite & enjoy.

P.s. this is a food coma type of food. You’ve been warned 🙂 I ate it at lunch and had to go back to work. Thank God for strong coffee! Lol!

 

Cultivate a Positive Mindset for Success

Success is something that starts in our minds way before we actually do anything. 

How To Cultivate a Positive Mindset for Success:

Dream BIG dreams: Sometimes if you fail and experience rejection enough times it can sometimes make you dream smaller or shorten your reach or settle for mediocre or ordinary. But what if instead of thinking of failure and rejection as limitations, we instead viewed them as stepping stones that propel us upward to achieve more and reach for more? The rocks that you encounter when you climb a mountain are not to be avoided nor are they meant to slow you down, they are meant to step onto and used as leverage to push yourself forward.

Don’t settle for Less: when it comes to a shopping spree or buying groceries, it’s nice to pay less. But the price you pay for success is not one of these coupon, discount, pay-less opportunities. Success costs a LOT. Although many will try to fluff it as something that it simple and easy and not costly, it will cost you more than you could ever imagine.

Catch Your Thoughts: what are you thinking about? Yes, right now. What are you thinking about? Are your thoughts limiting your success or building it? Ninety percent of the time are you thinking good thoughts or bad thoughts? Catch your thoughts. Don’t just think about whatever pops into your mind but think intentional good thoughts about yourself, your future and other people.

Searching for more inspiration? Check out my inspirational poetry & content!

Photo Credit: Photo by Gradikaa on Unsplash

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Hungry for Travel Adventures?

I always dreamed of seeing the world with my own two eyes. And now that I am so blessed to be able to see so many places, I want to share them with you!

If you’re hungry for a good travel adventure, then let’s go taste and see amazing places and food!

Traveling the world there’s a lot to see and a lot to learn. Ever since I was 8 or 9 years old, I have so longed to escape the ordinary and see the world. But it didn’t happen instantaneously. In fact, it seemed like it would never happen for me when I found myself working my way through college in my hometown. But through a series of events and a lot of growing up, I got the experience of a lifetime to travel the world via ship for graduate school (that’s a whole other story, so stay tuned for that one).

As a cook and a writer, long ago I combined those passions to start creating cooking videos. After experiencing rejection through auditioning for cooking shows, pitching pilot episodes through production studios and studying more and more about food I thought for a long time that I would just keep it as a dream within me.

But through the encouragement of my husband, on January 20, 2018 I started a YouTube channel as a place to publish and share my cooking tutorials and videos. I was humbled when people started subscribing and watching the videos and even more humbled when they cooked my recipes. I gave myself a goal of 50 published cooking videos in 6 months and I met this goal in about 4 months. Simultaneously, I was studying Turkish cooking at a Turkish culinary school (all in Turkish language) and I felt so amazing blessed to be able to spend so much time doing what I love.

This year, I have continued to expand on what I love by creating travel videos. Some of them are food focused travel videos and others are simply about places to see. My goal, is to create content that is entertaining, educational and informative. I want to take people along to see places and experience things that they may never see or do. For so long I appreciated cooking and travel videos as an outsider but now I appreciate them as an “insider.”

So why am I sharing all of this? Not only do I want to share my travels with you, yes YOU. But I also want to encourage you. If you’ve got special dreams hidden within your heart and you wonder, “how on earth will these dreams ever come true”? Don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop working hard. MANY people will not understand your dream. I can’t tell you how many people don’t understand my dreams but you know what? They don’t have to. Don’t let others discourage you but keep doing good work and learning and you’re going to see growth and change in some form.

If you’re hungry for a good travel adventure, then check out my travel videos. Let me know what you think.

Mama’s Cinnamon Rolls

Delicious yeast rolls packed full of cinnamon, sugar and plump raisins!

As a kid, I knew that cinnamon rolls were something that my Mom generally made during the holiday season. Early in the morning, I’d stumble into the kitchen and find her standing there with a piece of dough that covered our entire countertop (it was a pretty big countertop). Once she had it all rolled out, she’d cover it with a light layer of butter, sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar and then precisely scatter the raisins on top. Then seemingly with an effortless ease, she’d roll up the dough and slice it into generous rolls. Then the rolls would have a nice warm rise before they were baked to golden perfection in the oven.

Although my opinion is quite biased, I must say that my mom makes the best cinnamon rolls. This recipe is a close second but let’s face it, nothing is as good as mom’s.

 

 

Here’s the recipe:

Mama’s Cinnamon Rolls

     Recipe by: EE Winkler

For the dough:

  • 3 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil or melted butter +1 tsp for greasing the bowl (for the dough to rise)
  • 2 TBSP white sugar
  • 3 – 3.5 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:

1/2 cup butter (softened) + 1 TBSP for greasing the pan

2/3 cup sugar

2 TBSP ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (rehydrated for 5 minutes in warm water, then drained)

For the topping:

  • 2 TBSP softened butter (to brush the warm rolls)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 TBSP milk

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Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, egg, oil (or melted butter), sugar and stir well. Then gradually add in the flour (NOTE: you may not need all of it, so add it gradually. This is something that can vary). Add enough flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Then turn the dough over onto a floured work space and knead it for about 7-10 minutes.

Then place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rise for 60-75 minutes.

Once the dough has risen (it should have doubled in volume), remove it from the bowl and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop.

Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch (approx. 1.5 cm) thick.

Then spread the softened butter evenly over the dough with your clean hands and/or a pastry brush.

Then combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top of the dough.

Scatter the raisins evenly on top of the cinnamon sugar.

Then starting from the longest side of the dough, push the edges up and begin to gently roll the dough, being sure to not have too much slack dough and that the roll is tight and stable.

Once the dough is completely rolled up, cut the dough into slices about half an inch (approx. 1.5 cm) thick.

Grease a deep baking pan with the remaining butter and then place the rolls in the pan so that they are touching, side by side.

Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and place in a warm area to rise for another 60 to 90 minutes.

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The cinnamon rolls before they rise…

Meanwhile, preheat the oven on 175C/350F.

After the cinnamon rolls have risen, they should have doubled in size.

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The cinnamon rolls after the rise

Remove the towel and place the cinnamon rolls in the oven and allow them to bake for about 30-40 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Then take them out of the oven and brush with the 2TBSP of softened butter.

Then to make the glaze: whisk together the powdered sugar and milk adding the milk gradually until the glaze it the consistency of a thickened syrup.

Immediately drizzle the glaze on top of the cinnamon rolls.

Serve & Enjoy warm (they’re soooooo good when they’re warm)!

 

Bon Appetit!

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Chimichurri Chicken Tacos

Tender chicken marinated in a chimichurri sauce with all of your favorite tacos fixins’ in a homemade flour tortilla.

 

I love tacos. It’s one of those dishes that essentially is so unbelievably simply but so delicious. Take your favorite protein and fill up a tortilla with it and a bunch of veggies.

Every night can be taco night and this recipe is a great one to give a try!

Chimichurri Chicken Tacos

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
  • 1 cup homemade chimichurri sauce
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups homemade pico de gallo
  • 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
  • sour cream or thick yogurt (as desired)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine together the chicken and the chimichurri sauce. Stir well until the chicken is thoroughly coated. NOTE: you can allow it to marinate for 30 minutes to several hours OR cook it immediately. Either way, it’s going to be delicious!

Place the marinated chicken in a large non-stick frying pan. NOTE: there’s no need for extra oil because there’s oil in the chimichurri sauce.

Sauté the chicken until it is no longer pink inside but still juicy and tender.

Remove from the heat and assemble your tacos to your liking. I fill my tacos with the chimichurri chicken, shredded romaine lettuce, pico de gallo and a dollop of thick yogurt or sour cream.

LOVE Guacamole? Check out my Homemade Guacamole Recipe!

Enjoy!

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©Wink of an Eye 2019

Veggie Supreme Burger

A veggie burger that’s far from average…

An all veggie burger layered with thick slices of roasted vegetables, topped with my special sauce and packed on a brioche bun!

Confession… I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I would consider myself a veggie lover! I’ve always loved vegetables and I always will! I was that strange kid begging my Dad to pack me cucumber or bell pepper in my lunch. It just tasted delicious to me and it still does.

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Anyway, I understand that maybe everyone is not a veggie lover, and despite the fact that this is a Veggie Supreme Burger (meaning it’s only veggies and no meat), I think you’ll love it.

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The vegetables are roasted in the oven until they are tender and caramelized. Paired with the savory special tahini sauce and a homemade brioche bun, it’s a match made in heaven. If you’re not convinced, watch the video above. I salivate every time I watch it even though I am the one who made it, lol!

Guten Appetit!

Nutella French Toast with Fresh Stawberries

A simple recipe that makes the perfect brunch to share with friends and family or to make JUST FOR YOU! 

 

There’s something so refreshing about the uncomplicated nature of French Toast. It makes a beautiful brunch but it is painstakingly simple and nearly foolproof to prepare.

I feel a little like this recipe is a no-brainer but for those of you that know and love French Toast, I hope this video and recipe just simply inspire you to make it and put your creative spin on it.

Nutella French Toast

Recipe for 1 serving*

  • 3 slices of thick cut bread (I used homemade brioche)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP butter

For the Garnish:

  • a sprinkle of sugar
  • 3 fresh strawberries (sliced)
  • a small pat of butter
  • Nutella (according to your liking)
  • a dollop of Greek yogurt or whipped cream

Preparation:

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract until well combined.

Slice your bread and dip them one by one in the milk and egg mixture, turning over to ensure that each side is covered.

Heat a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat and add 1 TBSP of butter.

When the butter melts and the pan is hot, add the bread slices to the pan.

Add an extra tablespoon of butter to the pan and allow the toast to cook until golden brown on each side.

Then remove from the pan and garnish with your favorite toppings.

I used sugar, fresh strawberries, a pat of butter, Nutella (of course) and a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt.

Bon Appetit!

How to Make French Toast

*can easily be multiplied for 2, 3, 4 or more.

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Baked Stuffed Eggplant

Savory, tender pieces of roasted eggplant, piled high with a cheese and herb stuffing.

For a quick and light weeknight (or weekend) meal, these Stuffed Eggplant Rounds are a great go-to meal. They are simple to prepare, with minimal prep and the oven does most of the work. When they are cooking, they fill you home with a delightful aroma and when they are done, they are a beautiful display worthy of any crowd you might have for dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

Stuffed Eggplant Rounds

  • 2 medium size eggplant
  • 2 c chopped tomato
  • 2 c lor peynir (sub: feta or ricotta cheese)
  • 1 c chopped parsley
  • 6 scallions (chopped)
  • 1/3 c + 3 T plain breadcrumbs
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP thick yogurt
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

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To make the filling: mix together the lord peynir, parsley, scallions, 1/3 c breadcrumbs, 2 TBSP olive oil, 2 TBSP thick yogurt, 1 tsp dried oregano and salt (to taste).

Place the chopped tomatoes at the bottom of your cooking pan. Drizzle over 1 TBSP of olive oil and season with 1 tsp of oregano and salt. Stir well.

Pre-heat the oven on 375F/190C.

To prepare the eggplant: Slice the eggplant into thick round pieces. Season with salt and then one by one, spoon the filling on top of each eggplant round to create a nice mound of filling. Sprinkle over a few breadcrumbs on top and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and the filling is lightly browned.

Serve and Enjoy with the eggplant and some of the tomatoes.

Bon Appetit!

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Jerusalem Food Tour at Mahane Yehuda Market

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through their food. What they eat says a lot about who they are and the resources that they have. -EE Winkler

Stroll through the semi-ancient streets in the west part of Jerusalem at Mahane Yehuda Market. 

Energy. Pure energy. There’s a reason why everyone recommends to go shopping on Fridays, that is the tourists recommend this because for the locals it’s equivalent to the crowds during our Christmas season. Okay, maybe not that busy, well…maybe it actually is that busy. Living in Jerusalem, I normally avoided shopping on Fridays but now I’ve come to love it. It brings me back to my days living in the crowded New York City fused with the beauty of Middle Eastern culture. It’s like a party, literally. When you walk into shops or stalls there’s frequently loud music playing and don’t be alarmed if you see the employees dancing. I like the experience because it reminds me to enjoy life. It is short after all and there’s no need to let a few crowds raise your blood pressure.

As a kid I remember going to markets with my Dad. I really loved the international markets because they opened the door to learning more about other cultures and new foods. This interest is one that never left me and I suppose that is why I like going to these types of markets no matter what city I am in.

The hospitality in Jerusalem is great and the people are friendly. This is something I love about Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture in general. But, this market is a place of business so it is nice to come and look around but it’s nice to come and buy, lol!

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There’s plenty of ready made food as well as fresh food to take with you to prepare at home. Additonally, the array of sweets, home goods, beverages and more are exceptional. check out the video above and the photos below to get a better idea of the market.

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Outside one of the entrances to  the market

 

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Inside the market

See ya!

For more Taste and See Jerusalem check out my YouTube channels:

 

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How to Make Turkish Coffee

There’s a saying that says, “One cup of Turkish coffee means 40 years of friendship…”

A robust, strong & flavorful coffee, Turkish coffee is must try drink!

The first time I tried Turkish coffee was in New York City at a Turkish restaurant. They served it in a beautiful manner with traditional cups and a traditional cezve (a Turkish coffee pot) but truth be told, it was nothing compared to trying Turkish coffee in Turkey.

Not only does Turkish coffee have a beautiful preparation, it has an exquisite taste, especially if you like a strong cup of coffee. Like espresso, it is served in a small cup but it serves a powerful punch of flavor. I love to drink it in the mornings or afternoons but most days, I drink it at both times of the day.

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How to Make Turkish Coffee

Ingredients/Materials Needed:

  • Turkish coffee
  • cold water
  • cezve
  • 1 small wooden spoon
  • 1 teaspoon

Preparation:

Measure out 2 TBSP of Turkish coffee per cup and place it in the cezve*.

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Then take your coffee cup and use it as a measuring cup to measure out enough cold water to fill the cup. Then add the cold water to the cezve.

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Stir it together for a few seconds and then move the cezve to a low flame.

Stirring frequently and watching it carefully, wait for the Turkish coffee to develop a layer of foam on top.

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Once the foam develops, take a tea spoon and gently scrape the foam off the top and place it into your coffee cup. (Note: repeat this step if you are making a second, third or fourth cup of coffee.)

Then place the coffee back on the flame and stirring occasionally, wait for the coffee to come up to a rolling boil and then quickly remove from the heat.

Gently and slowly pour the coffee into the cup being careful not to lose the foam (the foam should come to the top of the cup.

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Serve with a couple of pieces of Turkish delight or chocolate and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

*Substitute a very small sauce pot if needed.

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Falafel in Jerusalem – $2 Dollar/ 2 Minute Challenge

Taste and see the ancient city of Jerusalem without breaking your budget. Is it possible to eat lunch in the Old City for just $2 USD?

 

There are a plethora wonderful things to explore and eat in the city of Jerusalem. It’s so full of history and culture, that no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be sure to have a spectacular experience.

But truth be told, Jerusalem can be a quite expensive city to visit and live in. When you’re a tourist, you may be welcomed into a restaurant only to find that your lunch costs a lot more than you were expecting (I speak from experience, lol!).

In the heart of the Old City, you’ll find the Holy sites and the colorful markets in each quarter of the city. So finding a place to eat in the Old city ensures that you can continue to explore without lunch throwing you off course.

The falafel place that I went to in this video is just through Damascus gate, right before you reach the fork in the road. You can tell that this is a place that locals and tourists alike visit, which in my opinion, is a very good sign.

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Check out the video for my review and discover if it really is possible to eat lunch in Jerusalem for $2 USD.

See ya next time!

German Plum Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)

The plums are the star of this recipe! There’s nothing better than a recipe with the simplest, natural ingredients!

A sweet, yeast dough, layered with ripe plums and sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon! 

Pflaumenkuchen is one of the first cakes I tried on my first trip to Germany. It was the first of many delicious cakes that I got to try all made by my Schwiegermutter (mother-in-love).

What I love about this cake is that is indeed quite simple to prepare, but it looks so elegant especially when you are serving it and you can see the beautiful ruby red plums layered on top of the dough.

The dough is a simple, sweet yeast dough but the plums are definitely the star of this show, so it is best to make this cake during plum season for optimal quality.

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Here’s my recipe:

Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake)

  • 1.5 -2 kilos plums (3-4lbs)
  • pinch of ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top after baking
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 2 TBSP softened butter (for greasing the pan)

For the dough:

  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2/3 c warm milk
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 whole egg (large)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 2/3-3 cups white flour (plus a bit more for kneading)

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, melted butter and 1 whole egg, stirring well with each addition. Then continue stirring and gradually add in the sugar and then the flour. Keep stirring until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl and forms a ball, adding more flour as needed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes and then shape into a ball.

Lightly grease a bowl with 1 TBSP of vegetable oil (or any neutral oil) and place the dough in the bowl, flipping over to ensure that both sides are coated with the oil. Then cover with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

While the dough rises, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and grease with 2 TBSP of softened butter.

After the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and gently stretch the dough out onto the greased parchment paper.

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Cover the dough again and allow it to rest again for 25-30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven on 375F/190C.

Meanwhile, de-pit the plums and cut them into quarters of leave them as halves if you prefer.

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Then layer the plums, flesh side up on top of the dough and set aside.

To make the streusel: combine the flour, sugar and softened butter in a large bowl and with your clean hands, crumble everything together to form the streusel crumbs.

Immediately, layer the streusel on top of the plums and then place the Pflaumenkuchen in the oven to bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.

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The plums are the star of the show! 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with just a pinch of ground cinnamon.

Allow the Pflaumenkuchen to cool for 30-45 minutes and then cut into squares and enjoy!

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Can you see the sprinkle of cinnamon on top?
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The beauty of the slice of Pflaumenkuchen! 

 

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Guten Appetit!

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The Struggle with Writing…

To every aspiring writer, stop calling yourself an “aspiring” writer. If you want to be a writer than be a writer. Write everyday. Write something. Write for more than just yourself and don’t worry if it sounds perfect or not. It will never be perfect. Just write. -EE Winkler

 

The Struggle with Writing

by EE Winkler

the struggle with writing comes when you think too much

and you think that the words that you say are not enough

enough to satisfy the critic’s ear

who judges you before the first verse it hears

the struggle with writing comes when you become consumed

by the words that marinate in your mind and you just assume

that you don’t have something special to say

and you undermine your gift and go on your way

the struggle with writing comes with limitation’s claw

that threatens to tell you that you have nothing to say at all

it speaks and breathes through it’s insecurity

hoping to keep you bound in a fearful reality

the struggle with writing comes when you fall prey

to the excuses that try to crowd in your face

they bombard your thoughts and cause a commotion

they hijack your words fueled by imagination’s ocean

the struggle with writing is that you don’t take care of it

and work it out like a muscle to keep it strong and fit

and so it depletes in your desk drawer

only hoping for a moment of freedom with words to explore

the struggle with writing is that you’ve taken too much heed

and caution has become your mantra for reality

no risk have you been willing to step out and take

and so your gift dies under the pressure and weight

the struggle with writing comes when you start to believe

that you don’t have what it takes to really succeed

and so you sell yourself out before you even buy in

and in a moment you end before you even begin

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Photo by Sanm Rios on Unsplash

Productivity for Work: Getting Past the Sick Day Blues

Let’s face it, sick days may be inevitable, especially during cold season, so how can you still be productive even in the midst of these times?

Push past the sick day blues with productivity? Before you think it’s crazy just weigh in what you might actually still be able to do. 

I think like most people, I absolutely hate getting sick. If I see a person coughing or sneezing nearby, I will try to walk at a distance to avoid them, without looking too awkward if you know what I mean. But every once in a while, despite living a healthy lifestyle, I will get sick with a cold or a sore throat especially during the winter season.

Personally, I hate taking sick days. I hate just having to lie in bed and do absolutely nothing. It’s so boring. But sometimes, for the sake of colleagues, it’s better to stay at home or even work from home especially if you have something that is contagious.

While I know my productivity levels may not equate to the same efficiency when I am sick versus when I am well; I am still convinced that there are reasonable and feasible ways to be productive.

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Under the Weather

1.) Know Your Limits. It’s good to know what your limitations are based on the sickness that you have. For example, if your voice is weak from a sore throat, then try to focus on communicating via text, emails and Skype. Try to limit voice communication to the only dire “need to have today” type of conversations. Sometimes when we try to push ourselves too much we end up feeling worse and unable to do anything at all.

2.) Take Extra Care. Don’t forget that when your body is in this state, it needs extra care. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious foods to energize the body and try not to overexert yourself. If you take a little extra care, then most likely your recovery will be more rapid than it would be if you still tried to do all the things that you normally do.

3.) Focus on the “Can-Do’s.” Okay, so of course you’ll have limitations when you’re under the weather but what can you do? If you’re working from home and can’t go into the office, then maybe you don’t have access to all of the software and equipment that you normally would have, but thankfully since so many things are Internet-based, there are still many things that you can do in order to still get work done. For example, in the Marketing world, I can still work on e-marketing campaigns, design cool thumbnails in Canva, communicate via Trello boards, update social media accounts, curate content for website and promo materials, etc. There are still many things that I can do, but the efficiency of course, depends on the level of sickness. For example, when I had a migrane that made me sensitive to light (artifical or natural) it made it quite challenging to even keep my laptop open. There’s no shame in this, it’s just good to know what you can and cannot do and to know that eventually, you will feel better.

4.) Be Patient With Yourself. Sometimes when we get sick with a cold, sore throat, etc., it’s our body’s way of saying that it needs a bit more rest. Sometimes it is even the result of a super busy season of life that has required more of your time and energy. But regardless the trigger, we must be patient with ourselves and make the most out of even these gloomy, old sick says. If leveraged and perceived correctly, they can still most certainly add value to our lives.

Tell Me…What do you think about productivity when you’re sick? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

Eton Mess–this is what dessert dreams are made of! No fuss, no perfection just simply delicious!

Crumbled, crispy meringue, light whipped cream and fresh sweet black cherries combined together are my twist on the classic British dessert known as Eton Mess.

According to my research, Eton Mess was a dessert that originated from Eton College in the UK. While I have discovered numerous narratives that try to identify the exact creation of the dessert, I have settled it within me to let the story remain unsettled, if you know what I mean. Could it have been the school kids that combined all of these ingredients together into a beautiful mess, or could it have been the cafeteria staff that decided to make a new creation or was it a beautiful accident in the culmination of 3 delicious ingredients coming together to form a heavenly dessert delight? I don’t know, but Eton Mess is one of those dessert urban legends that recipe dream books are made of. I like that it’s a mystery. In fact, I relish in the mystery.

Traditionally, Eton Mess is always prepared with fresh, ripe strawberries. But since I LOVE cherries and made this recipe during cherry season, it was to my delight to use cherries. I also took complete creative liberty to write a recipe that I would find delicious and thus why I included other flavor elements like the juice and marmalade. Feel free to choose your preferred fruit because I find that with whipped cream and meringue cookies, you really can’t go wrong.

Here’s my recipe:

Erica’s Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh cherries
  • 1-2 TBSP white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cherry juice
  • 1 TBSP raspberry marmalade
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled meringue (either store-bought or made from scratch)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of lightly sweetened whipped cream (I made my whipped cream at home)

Preparation:

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In a large bowl, combine together the cherries and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Then add the cherry juice and raspberry marmalade and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl, crumble the meringue into bite size pieces.

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Then add the meringue piece and whipped cream into the cherry mixture and gently fold everything together until it is well combined.

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Serve in beautiful glasses and top with a few more cherries on top.

Heavenly…trust me…Heavenly.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Creamy tender rice, lightly sweetened and warmly spiced with cinnamon, vanilla & nutmeg. 

 

Rice pudding is a favorite dessert of mine because it tastes so decadent but light at the same time. Plus, it’s super simple to make. Basically, if you can measure ingredients (or even eye-ball them) then you can make rice pudding because everything goes into the pot at one time and with occasional stirring, you have a beautiful dessert.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Serves 4
  • 1/4 cup short grain rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 TBSP cream
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP sugar (add more to your preferred level of sweetness)
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, nuts or fruit

Preparation:

In a medium pot combine all of the ingredients together and stir.

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Place the pot over medium heat, slightly covered and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not stick.

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Remove from the heat and serve warm or pour it into a heat-safe bowl, covered with plastic wrap pressed against the rice pudding (to ensure that it does not form the layer of skin on top).

Serve cold if desired with whipped cream, nuts or fruit.

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Note: Depending on the consistency that you like your rice pudding, you may want to add more milk and/or cream. I always like to add extra but it’s totally about personal preference. Enjoy it as you wish!

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Bon Appetit!

Poetry is…

Poetry is…

by EE Winkler

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

with words I reconstruct my day and build dreams in the night

in a matter of moments I can be anywhere I want to be

with a few lines or verses I write a new story

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

since my childhood it has not betrayed through joy or through plight

it has been there to right my triumphs and comfort my despair

it never leaves me wondering if it really cares

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

fueled both by sorrow and joy do they simultaneously ignite

a sputtering of endless words that somehow coexist

to help my brain take my thoughts and make sense of all of it

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

no matter where I am it has been by my side

with a longing to convey the emotions that bang on the door of my heart

it is poetry that has remained the train for my feelings to embark

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Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Just for Today (Imagine)

Just For Today

by EE Winkler

Just for today imagine that you can’t lose

and that every wrong around you can be diffused

you don’t have to be led by the feelings at bay

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that hope is restored

in the things that you’ve always been longing for

no longer bound by the limitations you see or say

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that there are endless possibilities

to be the person that you always longed to be

not restricted in any single way

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that the end is near

not to keep you contained or bound in fear

but to finally give you a chance to really live beyond the zone in the grey

if you can imagine just for today.

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Black Eyed Peas for a Southern Style New Year Celebration

A savory Southern classic dish and the perfect way to ring in the New Year!

As a kid, it was never too unusual to me that we ate black-eyed peas at the beginning of the New Year. It wasn’t necessarily on New Year’s Day but sometime early in January. Although the tradition around eating black eyed peas for each new year is associated with luck, I don’t think that is why my parents actually prepared them. I think it was more about the fact that it was a nice tradition and a delicious but affordable dish for a large family.

What I love about black eyed peas is not just the fact that they remind me of home and my childhood but also, they are just so simple to prepare. With minimal ingredients and a bit of time, you’ve got a simple meal. Paired with rice or more traditionally, corn bread and collard greens, you really have a satisfying, hearty wintertime meal.

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Here’s the recipe:

Black Eyed Peas with Snaps & Bacon

  • 1 cup dry black eyed peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup green beans (snapped into 1-2 inch pieces)
  • 2 TBSP cubed bacon
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth (or water seasoned with chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preparation:

Quick Soak for the Black Eyed Peas: Place the black eyed peas in a large pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes and then cover. Allow the black eyed peas to soak for about 1.5 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large pot, add the bacon and onion and sauté until the bacon is browned and onions are tender.

Then add the black eyed peas, bay leaves, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 2-3 cups of the chicken broth.

Bring the black eyed peas up to a medium boil and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more chicken broth or water as needed.

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Then add the green beans and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then remove from the heat and enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

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Künefe (a sweet cheesy pastry)

A sweet & cheesy treat covered with crispy kadayif! Künefe is a treat found throughout Turkey & the Middle East.

 

One of my all time favorite Turkish desserts is künefe! It’s something that I enjoyed going out to eat but it is also something I learned to prepare when I attended culinary school in Turkey.

Like pizza, künefe is best enjoyed when it is hot and fresh. The cheesy is melted, the kadayif is crispy & buttery and the simple syrup, referred to as “sherbet,” is still bubbling. Mmmm!

If you’ve never tried it, I think you should find a place asap that sells it and give it a try. Künefe places in Turkey have perfected the art of the service. They specialize in a myriad of different types and make each künefe to order. At your table, they serve some seasonal fruit, kayamak (a sweet clotted cream) and shot glasses filled with milk. All of these items uniquely compliment and enhance the flavor of the künefe.

The beauty of künefe, is that you can make it at home pretty easily. You just need the kadayif, which I have found can be difficult to find in some countries even in the Middle East especially since there are different variations of künefe such as the one in Nablus that uses a finely ground kadayif instead of the shredded kind.

In southern Turkey, I love to visit the kadayif shops. They are small little shops filled with massive machines to make the kadayif. Once it’s made, when you walk in the shop you’ll find piles and piles of it. It looks like a golden wonderland!

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Here’s the recipe:

Peynirli Künefe

  • 4-5 cups of tel kadayif (shredded kadayif)
  • 1/3 c melted butter plus 2 TBSP for greasing the pan
  • 12 oz cheese (I used Hatay Peynir, a special Turkish cheese but you can substitute an unsalted mozerella; it needs to be a neutral cheese that melts well)
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 small lemon wedge (like the size that you put it iced tea)

Essential Tools

  • Künefe pan (Two are better than one, but I used one in my recipe) -Substitute: a 6-8 inch frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • large bowl
  • a small plate

Preparation:

Grease your künefe pan (or frying pan) with 1 TBSP of butter.

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In a small saucepan, prepare the sherbet (simple syrup) by combining 1/2 c white sugar with 3/4-1 c of water and the lemon wedge. Gently stir and place over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want it to come to a rolling boil, just lightly simmer.

Place the kadayif in a bowl and drizzle over 1/3 cup of melted butter. Toss to evenly coat the kadayif.

Then layer half of the kadayif in the bottom of the künefe pan pressing it down to create an even layer.

Slice the cheese and then layer it evenly on top of the kadayif.

Cover the cheese with the remaining kadayif being sure that no cheese is exposed.

Using a small plate, press it down on top of the künefe to compress it.

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Now, it’s ready to the stove. Note: a gas stove is preferrable because you can have better control over the heat. But if you’re using an electric stove, place the heat on low, be patient and diligently watch your künefe so it doesn’t burn. When it’s ready to flip it should smell like browned butter not burnt butter.

Over a low flame, cook the künefe until golden brown on the bottom. (Note: this takes about 5-6 minutes but you can check it by gently lifting up a corner. If it’s golden brown, then it’s time to flip it.)

When it’s ready to flip, take a large plate (big enough to cover your pan) and place it on top of the künefe. Gently, with oven mitts holding the pan and the plate, flip the künefe to reveal the browned side up.

Then, place the pan back on the stove and using the pastry brush, coat it with the last tablespoon of butter.

Then carefully place the künefe back in the pan by placing the plate over the pan and gently moving it into the pan with a spatula.

Then cook the künefe again until it is golden brown on this side.

Remove from the heat, and place on a  heat proof surface.

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Gently stir the sherbet (simple syrup) again and then ladle it onto the künefe making sure it is fully covered. Note: It might seem decadent to top it with a sugar syrup but really this is the only sugar being used in the entire recipe so it actually has less sugar than my average cake recipe.

Serve & Enjoy immediately because it is sooooo delicious.

And of course, Afiyet Olsun Arkadaş!

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All photos & text by EE Winkler

Reframing Your Goals to Optimize Goal Setting

Don’t let your goals get you down, let them left you up! 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced discouragement from goals that you have set but struggled to achieve. It is not always easy, especially when if there are many goals that you want to achieve. But, through reframing your goals, it can set you up for a more successful journey. A journey that considers that starting point, the finish line and the space in between that I like to refer to as the “journey.”

Check out my video below where I give a more detailed explanation about how to Reframe Your Goals Today:

 

I would consider the “journey” to be the hardest part but also the best part of any goal. It is where all the action actually happens. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to consider your favorite book, movie or play. Why do you love it? Is it just because the character succeeded or was it because they overcame so much adversity along the way?

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Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

Or is it because they were the underdog and no one expected them to succeed. Or was it because so many external forces effected their life in a negative way and still they found a way to overcome? Whatever the reason, I think we love these types of stories because we can see ourselves in the story. We relate to the character’s struggles and we too want to accomplish something great.

 

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Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

Below, you can find a little, simple poem I wrote about “reframing.”

Reframing

by EE Winkler

She said, “my life will never be the same.

Ever since I viewed it through a different frame

I took a different approach than the way I always did

and now more and more is changing and I really like it

There seems to be a freedom that I had yet to find before

and suddenly closed opportunities are becoming open doors

far beyond what I expected things to be

a simple reframing has set me free.

what I thought could never be has come to be

and now I see the world through a lens of possibility

simply because I help up a little frame

and placed it around my goals today.

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German Christmas Market Recipes: Champignons mit Knoblauchsoße (Mushrooms in a Creamy Garlic Sauce)

Sautéed mushrooms, onions and a creamy garlic sauce.

     The Christmas Markets in Germany are a wonderful experience every Christmas season. They are full of great gifts and of course great food! Although a mug of Gluhwein (Mulled Wine with warm spices) and Bratwurst are always my favorites, these Mushrooms in a Creamy Garlic Sauce are a satisfying, comforting, warm meal during the cold weather at the markets.

Here’s my recreation of this festive treat!

Champignons mit Knoblauchsoße (Mushrooms in a Creamy Garlic Sauce)

  • 1.5 cups of whole white mushrooms
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped onion
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c thickened yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely minced)
  • salt, pepper & dried oregano (to taste)
  • 1 scallion (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBSP fresh parsley finely chopped

Preparation:

In a large non-stick frying pan, add the olive oil, butter and mushrooms and sauté over medium heat.

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Halfway through the cooking process, add the chopped onions and continue to cook them until the onions are tender. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano.

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Meanwhile, combine the garlic and yogurt in a small sauce pan and sauté for just a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

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To serve: plate the mushrooms and then pour over the garlic sauce. Garnish with the scallions and parsley.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

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Great Grandma Lucy’s Grits Soufflé

Creamy, fluffy & delicious grits baked to perfection as a soufflé. A simple and elegant twist on breakfast and brunch.

Grits Soufflé. Of all of the many things that I heard of my Great Grandma Lucille cooking her Grits Soufflé ranked pretty high on the list. I think that it was partially because she made it so well and partially because it was one of my Dad’s favorite dishes. And although I never knew my Great Grandma Lucy, I have heard so many stories about her that make me feel like I did know her. She was a professional cook for nearly her whole life and whenever I cook dishes that she made, I feel like she’s somehow there with me in the kitchen.

This recipe has been a long time in the works. I had no recipe from her to work off of but only an idea of how to make grits and a rough idea for how to make a soufflé. But eventually it came together and here it is now. I hope you enjoy it.

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Great Grandma Lucile’s Grits Soufflé

  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 1/2 c milk (at room temperature; add more milk as needed)
  • 1/4 c hot water
  • 3 TBSP butter (softened)
  • 1 TBSP parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 3 eggs separated (egg yolks and egg whites in two separate bowls)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/190C.

Grease a soufflé pot with 1 TBSP of butter.

To prepare the grits: Add the grits, hot water, milk and salt (to taste) in a sauce pot. Stirring frequently, cook the grits on a low simmer for about 10 minutes, gradually adding more milk as needed. (Note: the grits should be thick like oatmeal but nice and creamy.) At the very end, stir in the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and the 1 TBSP of parmesan cheese. Remove the grits from the heat and set aside.

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Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Temper the egg yolks by adding a few tablespoons, spoonful at a time and whisking in between each addition.

Then add the egg yolks into the grits and set aside.

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In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

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Then fold the egg whites into the grits gradually.

Then pour the grits into the greased soufflé pot and bake for about 15-20 minutes or just until the souflee has risen and is golden brown on top.

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NOTE: Please don’t open the oven. It will be very, very tempting to do so in order to check on it, but for this recipe, just look through the glass part of the oven or just trust the process. Opening the oven door prematurely can cause the soufflé to drop and although it will still taste delicious, it will not have the same beautiful, tall souflee appearance.

Remove from the oven, serve immediately and wow your family and friends. Because you just made a soufflé and you made it out of grits so I think that calls for an applause.

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Golden brown but still soft & delicate.
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Nice and fluffy like eating a cloud…
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…so delicious. Grandmas always know.

“Love you Lucile. You made the world a better place in more ways than one.”

 

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Recap: Thanksgiving Abroad in Jerusalem + Being Thankful Everyday

A twist on my traditional Thanksgiving meal inspired by local ingredients.

Every year that I spend Thanksgiving abroad, it’s always a new and unique experience. Sometimes we celebrate it with a big group of people and other times it’s just my husband and me celebrating it together. Regardless, it is still a good celebration. Since my husband is from Europe, our focal point for Thanksgiving is really about reflecting and giving thanks. Thinking about all that we have to be thankful for. Undoubtedly, there is always so much to be thankful for.

Also I was inspired to create a Thanksgiving meal based off of the local ingredients in Jerusalem. Instead of using butter and herbs for my turkey, I used labneh (a thick, strained, creamy yogurt) and za’atar (a blend of spices found commonly throughout the Middle East and North Africa). For my stuffing, traditionally I would prepare a cornbread stuffing, but this year I used “Jerusalem Bagels.” They are very long (nearly three or four times the length of a traditional “American bagel,” the texture is softer and they are coated with sesame seeds. It’s very common to see vendors selling them throughout the Old City and I have a favorite bakery just beyond Damascus Gate that sells them hot and fresh.

Preparing this meal reminded me of my first Thanksgiving abroad in New Zealand. I went searching everywhere for turkey only to finally “settle” for a sushi feast (not a bad Thanksgiving option if you ask me). It was not what traditional according to what I would consider traditional, but it was a nice change.

What I’ve learned about celebrating Thanksgiving and other holidays abroad is:

  • Change Can Be Good: It doesn’t have to look exactly like your typical celebration and that’s okay. It brings you back into awareness that you are in a new culture.
  • Going Local is Best: In terms of buying ingredients, local ingredients are the way to go. It’s true that you probably will not find a local equivalent for everything on your list but you can find something else that is equally (if not more) delicious. Plus, going local is more environmentally friendly, supports the local economy and is much friendlier on your wallet.
  • Expand Your Celebration: Invite others to experience a feast. Last year I had the privilege of inviting many guests to our house. I was cooking all day long and it was so rewarding to see so many people gathered and just having a great time. Our group represented nearly 10 different countries.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day. As cheesy as that may sound, it is true in the spirit of celebrating the holiday as a day of truly giving thanks for all that you have. Today and everyday, I always have many things to be grateful for and I am sure if you’re reading this right now, then you do too. Thanks for reading. Remember you are loved, you are cherished, you are unique and special.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Okra & Tomatoes: A Taste of Home

Tender baby okra, ripe tomatoes, sweet onion and a simple spice blend; Okra & Tomatoes is a classic Southern recipe that has been cooked for several generations in my family.

Okra and tomatoes was something normal in my household. Frequently prepared on Saturdays or Sundays is was a simple and satisfying dish. It was also something that I heard about my grandmothers and great-grandmothers making and so when I make it in my kitchen, no matter how simple the recipe, it still feels so special.

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Here’s the recipe:

Okra & Tomatoes

  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups fresh baby okra (or the smallest size that you can find)
  • spice blend: salt, black pepper, sweet paprika, red pepper flakes)*
  • 1/2 cup water

*Note: this was not an exact measurement but moreover to taste.

Preparation:

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Wash the okra and cut off the tips and top “crown” of the okra (where the stem was).

Add the olive oil and chopped onion to a frying pan and sautee until the onions are tender.

Then add the spice blend and sautee just until the spices become fragrant.

Then add the tomatoes and okra and half of the water, stir and cover.

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Simmer the okra and tomatoes on medium low heat, checking occasionally to add more water. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the okra is tender. Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 6.33.20 PM

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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Fresh Fig Tart Recipe

Ripe & sweet fresh figs, layered on a butter-crust and drizzled with a cinnamon-honey butter!

Figs are one of the oldest fruits recorded in human history and I think one of the most underrated. They are sweet and satisfying to eat a couple but I also love creating recipes around them.

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For this recipe, it is important to have fresh figs so if you cannot find them, try substituting another fruit like apples, peaches or plums.

Here’s the recipe:

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Fresh Fig Tart

  • 15-20 fresh figs (cut into quarters)
  • 1 pre-prepared pie crust
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • flour (for dusting & rolling out the dough)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.

Cut the figs into quarters.

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Dust a large countertop with a bit of flour and proceed to roll out your pie crust until it forms a nice circular shape (approx. 14 inches in diameter).

Then brush 1 TBSP of butter onto a parchment lined baking sheet and transfer the dough onto the parchment paper.

Brush the center of the dough with 1 TBSP of melter butter.

Then arrange the fig quarters to create a beautiful design. Note: I like to go in a circular shape with the figs facing flesh side upward.

Then in a small bowl, whisk together the honey, butter and cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, brush the figs with the cinnamon-honey butter.

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Then fold up the sides of the tart, piece by piece towards the figs. Note: there’s no science to this but I love to overlap of the dough as I fold. I think this creates a really rustic but beautiful end product.

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Then bake until the dough is lightly browned and the figs are bubbly and delicious (approximately 20-30 minutes)

Allow the tart to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then cut slices (like a pizza), enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream (if you wish) and enjoy!DSC09286IMG_5260

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Fresh & Simple Creamed Corn

Tender, sweet, fresh corn with just a touch a milk and cream. A delightfully simple & delicious dish!

 

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Creamed Corn

  • 2 ears of fresh corn (approx. 2.5 cups if using frozen corn)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1.5 cups of milk (slightly warmed)
  • 1-2 TBSP cream
  • salt & pepper (if desired, to taste)

Preparation:

Shuck the husks from the fresh corn and rinse thoroughly to remove the stringy pieces. Pat them dry gently.

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Then place the corn in a large bowl and carefully with a knife, cut off the corn kernels from the cob. (Note: it is good to do this in a large bowl or else the corn kernels will fly everywhere, lol!)

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Once all of the corn kernels are removed, use the back of the knife (the dull side) and scrape it against the cob to remove some of the natural “milk” from the corn. Set aside.

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In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk quickly to form a roux. Then gradually add about 1/2 cup of warm milk, while continually whisking. Remove from the heat and add in the corn. Pour over the remaining milk and stir thoroughly.

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Place back on the stove and cook over medium heat for just 10-15 minutes or until the corn is tender. Then add the cream, salt & pepper (if desired) and enjoy immediately.

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It is simply splendid.

Enjoy!
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Baklava: How to Make it at Home (Simple & Delicious)

Layers and layers of flaky crispy dough filled with pistachios and walnuts and covered with a perfectly sweet glaze. 

Baklava making is indeed an art. In the large businesses you will find huge, cold rooms reserved for rolling out he dough (called yufka, also known as phyllo) and preparing this delicious dessert.

Although baklava is found throughout the world especially in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, it is almost always prepared differently. No matter who I ask, they always tell me that the baklava from their country is the best and proceed to explain to me why.

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As for me, I find it a beautiful thing to simply appreciate the differences. Yes I have my favorites but at the end of the day, how it is prepared is a beautiful reflection of collective cultures and societies.

Making baklava at home is actually quite simple especially if you buy the pre-prepared dough like I did. Essentially, it just takes time and patience to carefully and steadily build layer upon layer of this dessert.

Here’s the recipe:

Baklava

  • 200 g melted butter
  • 400 g yufka or phyllo dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 lemon

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven on 200C/392F.

Grease your baking dish with butter using a pastry brush. (I used a glass 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish; this is not the traditional type of pan but it works well)

Then keeping the yufka covered with a damp kitchen towel, peel layer by layer and carefully place it in the dish, brushing the dough gently with butter after each addition.

After about 15 layers, it’s time to add the nuts.

On one side I added the pistachios and on the other side I added the walnuts.

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Then I continued layering about 18 more sheets of the dough, adding butter after each addition.

Once the final layer is added, gently cut the baklava into diamond or square shapes, being careful not to tear the dough.

Cover with the remaining melted butter and place the baklava in the oven.

Meanwhile, to make the simple syrup combine the sugar with 2 cups of water and the the lemon wedge and simmer on low heat, stirring frequently for about 8-10 minutes.

Once the baklava is golden, remove it from the oven and pour over the simple syrup on top. The baklava will rise and sizzle and it will look and smell absolutely delicious.

Allow to cool and then serve and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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How to make Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambée)

A thin crust German style pizza covered with a layer of fresh thick cream, crispy lardons (bacon), thinly sliced sweet onions and melted cheese. 

Flammkuchen is one of those recipes that is a familiar yet unfamiliar taste all at the same time. Although it is nicknamed “German pizza” it is not really what some would consider as traditionally pizza in the sense that it is made with crème fraîche (essentially sour cream) instead of marinara sauce.

For my version of this recipe, I make my own creamy combo of labne (kind of like a yogurt cheese) and a bit of strained yogurt. This combination makes for a delightfully subtly tangy taste that balances the rich bacon, sweet onions and salty cheese.

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Flammkuchen originates from the south of Germany and northeast France, thus why it is also known as Tarte Flambée. Traditionally it would have been prepared in a wood burning oven that makes the thin crust nice and crispy along the edges. I find that a really hot oven works just as well as long as you are cautious enough to not let it bake too long.

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Here’s my recipe:

Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambée)

  • 1 pizza dough (pre-prepared from scratch or storebought)
  • 1-2 TBSP all purpose flour (for dusting & rolling out the dough)
  • 1/3 c labne
  • 2 TBSP thick strained yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (not traditional to use cheese at all but I used mozzerella)
  • 3 heaping TBSP lardons or bacon pre-cut into small cubes
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 250C/482F (or as hot as your oven can get).

Place the lardons or cubed bacon into a small frying pan and allow them to cook for a fw minutes (stirring frequently) until they are browned and crispy. Drain and remove from the heat. (Tip: keep the bacon fat! It might sound crazy but it is good to have on hand. My mom always kept some in a mug in the fridge for whenever she needed it. She’s a genius, I know:)

Dust a clean countertop and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough into a large thin rectangular shape.

Then fold the dough like a package and carefully transfer it onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Alternatively, you could roll out the dough directly on the parchment paper.

Mix together the labne and the yogurt until smooth and then using a spatula, spread it over the dough in a nice and even layer.

Then sprinkle over the lardons (try not to eat them, lol!), onions and cheese.

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Season with salt to taste and place the Flammkuchen in the oven to bake for 7 minutes or so (depending on how hot your oven really goes).

Then remove from the oven, transfer onto a large cutting board, cut into generous squares and serve immediately.

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Guten Appetit!

*My tip: keep some extra ingredients handy because Flammkuchen tends to get eaten up pretty quickly. 

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How to Make Georgia Peach Cobbler

Tender fresh peaches, with just a hint of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg covered with a flaky, buttery crust and baked to golden perfection! — That is a classic Georgia Peach Cobbler that will keep “Georgia on Your Mind.”

Growing up in the state of Georgia, also known as the “Peach State,” a summertime was never complete without buying some peaches. They were always so fresh, juicy and sweet and almost every year, my Mom would make peach cobbler.

She’d peel the peaches and I would stand beside her to eat the peels, lol! The most beautiful part of this dessert is that the fresh peach taste is not ruined or overwhelmed but simply accentuated with just enough cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.

Truth be told, I cannot overemphasize the use of FRESH peaches to make this cobbler. There is such a distinct taste difference it’s like trying to make sushi with canned fish. Yeah, just think about that. It’s not good. So do yourself a favor and use fresh season or if you really cannot find fresh peaches then a bag or two of frozen peaches could work but definitely not canned. Okay, sorry for the fresh emphasis but I did grow up in a place called the “Peach State,” lol!

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Here’s the recipe my friend:

Georgia Peach Cobbler

  • 5 large peaches (peeled and sliced – approx. 2.5 cups)
  • 3 TBSP to 1/4 c white sugar (this totally depends on the sweetness of your peaches)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/4 c butter (+2 TBSP for greasing the pan and topping the finished cobbler)
  • 1 TBSP corn starch (dissolved in 2-3 TBSP of cold water)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F/190C.

Peel and slice the peaches into equal sized slices and place them in a sauce pot.

Sprinkle over the sugar (start off with less and then taste as you go), cinnamon and nutmeg. Gently stir and place over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the peaches are soft but not mushy. NOTE: Taste it to make sure it is sweet enough for your preference.

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Pour in the cornstarch mixture and bring up to a boil, stirring constantly to ensure that the peaches don’t stick. Add a bit of water, if it becomes to thick to stir.

Then remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a baking dish (I used an oval 10 inch 8 inch glass pan) with 1 TBSP of softened butter.

Then pour the peaches into the baking dish being sure to scrape out all of the delicious peach sauce! Yum! 🙂

Then gently place your pie crust on top of your pan, pressing down just until the dough covers the peaches in a nice layer.

Cut off the excess dough and then crimp the edges. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the middle of the dough or prick the dough briskly with a fork. NOTE: this ensures that the peaches can “breathe” while baking.

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Place the cobbler in the oven and make for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cover with the remaining 1 TBSP of softened butter.

If at all possible, enjoy warm with a little fresh whipped cream or old fashioned vanilla bean ice cream!

Heavenly!

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Poğaça: Cheese & Herb Turkish Pastry

Delicious savory bread rolls packed with crumbly white cheese and parsley. Perfect for tea time, breakfast time or any time of day.

If you visit a Turkish bakery, you would be hard pressed to not find Poğaça. They are an essential! Commonly enjoyed for breakfast or tea time, they are perfect to keep on hand especially for last minute guests.

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The dough is a simple yeast dough but with egg and yogurt, it makes the dough a bit more tender. While cheese and herb filling is one of the most common, olive filling and potato filling are also popular alternatives to try out.

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Here’s the recipe:

Poğaça

For the dough:

  • 1 1/3 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 TBSP thick yogurt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/3 c warm milk
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 c lor peynir (sub: feta cheese or ricotta cheese)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T thick yogurt
  • salt (to taste)

For the topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 2 TBSP sesame seeds
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and the warm milk until combined.

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Then add the whole egg, olive oil and yogurt and continue to stir well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and the salt.

Then constantly stirring, add the flour mixture to the dough and keep stirring until it comes together.

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead it well for five minutes.

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Then using the remaining 1/2 T of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, flipping it to make sure that both sides are covered lightly with the oil. Then cover with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, divide the dough into ten small balls and cover again with the kitchen towel as you prepare the filling.

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To make the filling: Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Season with salt (to taste).

To assemble the Poğaça: Take a dough ball and flatten with your finger tips. Then take it and stretch it like a pizza dough until it is about four inches in diameter.

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Then take 1.5 tsp of the filling and place it in a line close to the right side of the circle.

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Fold over one side to the other to create a semi-circle. Then crimp the edges with your finger tips.

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Dip your fingers in some olive oil and gently coat the bottom of each of the Poğaça and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Continue until all of the Poğaça are done.

For the topping: Whisk together the egg yolk with the milk and using a pastry brush, brush each of the Poğaça with the egg wash. Then sprinkle over the sesame seeds.

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Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Serve & Enjoy! They taste so good when they are warm!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

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Streuselkuchen German Crumb Cake

A light and fluffy vanilla cake topped with a thick layer of German style streusel! 

Streuselkuchen was one of the first cakes that I tried on my first trip to Germany. Although I had heard many wonderful things about the German cakes it wasn’t until I actually went to Germany that I truly experienced the beautiful myriad of cakes and tortes.

Streuselkuchen is traditionally prepared with a yeast dough and then covered with streusel (a German style crumb topping comprised of flour, sugar and butter). But for my version I make a light, fluffy and moist vanilla cake instead and cover it liberally with the streusel topping.

It is also a brilliant idea to add fruit, such as apples, apricots or cherries in between the streusel and cake. Also you could add a pudding layer for an even more rich cake. Regardless of how you choose to make it, I am sure you will love it. Or, if you feel so inclined, take a trip to Germany and try this cake and many others in a local bakery. If you love cake and coffee then the German “Kaffee und Kuchen” a special time of day normally in between lunch and dinner, more frequently enjoyed on weekends, when you enjoy a slice of cake and a cup of coffee with friends and family.

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Here’s the recipe:

Streuselkuchen German Crumb Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cup thick plain yogurt (e.g. Greek yogurt or strained yogurt)

For the streusel topping:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter (very cold & cut into small cubes)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper and grease it liberally with butter (I used a 13inch x 7inch glass pan).

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar for a minute or two.

Then add the eggs one by one, whisking well with each addition, and then the vanilla extract.

Then in intervals, add the flour mixture and the yogurt until it is all thoroughly combined.

Pour the cake batter into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the streusel.

To make the streusel: Combine together the flour and sugar in a large bowl and stir well. Then add the very cold butter and using your fingertips or a pastry cutter or a fork, “cut” the butter into the flour and sugar. Basically, what you’re doing here is creating the streusel pieces which is formed from the butter clumping into the flour and sugar. Keep clumping into it forms a chunky streusel.

Then take the cake out of the oven and top it with the streusel in a thick layer.

Bake for another 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the cake.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then carefully lift the cake out of the pan by the parchment paper.

Cut into slices and serve and enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

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DIY All Natural Ginger Ale

Refreshing with a bit of spice from the fresh ginger, slightly sweet and with a punch of lime!

Ginger ale is one of those drinks that I will always remember from my childhood. As a kid, my parents used to give me ginger ale, because it was caffeine free and I had a lot of energy. At Christmastime, sometimes they would mix it with egg nog. I loved this combination because the egg nog was always a bit too thick for me and I loved the taste of the ginger to cut the richness of the egg nog. When I think of ginger ale, it just brings up a lot of good memories for me.

Flash forward a couple of decades to sitting on a train with my future husband (before we were married) and he pulled out two cans of ginger ale from his backpack. It instantly made me smile and to some it might seem like a small thing, but to me it was a really special.

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Inspired by these lovely memories and a stack of fresh ginger I saw at the market one day, I tried my hand at making my own ginger ale. I learned that more ginger is better and that actually less sugar is better too. Here’s the recipe:

DIY Ginger Ale

  • 1/4 cup of ginger (finely chopped or cut into rounds)
  • 1.5 -2 cups water
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • spritz of lime juice (per serving)
  • soda water (per serving)

Preparation: 

To make the ginger syrup (which is the base of the ginger ale): peel the ginger (or keep the peel on if you clean your ginger very well and if you have organic ginger) and cut into round slices or small pieces. Mash the ginger with the back of your knife to release more of the flavor and then add it to a small pot with the sugar and water. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently and adding more water as needed. Allow it to cool and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

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Transfer the ginger syrup to a heat safe glass bowl to chill.

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To make the ginger ale: place a couple of tablespoons of the ginger syrup in a glass. Add a spritz of lime juice and then fill the glass with soda water. Stir (don’t shake, lol!)) and then enjoy!

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Buttermilk Biscuits: a Southern American Recipe

Light, flaky, tender biscuits topped with butter and marmalade!

Growing up, biscuits were a special Saturday morning breakfast. Made from scratch, they do require more work than just popping a slice of bread in the toaster. But with just one bite, you’ll find that it’s totally worth it!

The biscuits are savory and often eaten alongside breakfast items like grits, eggs, sausage or gravy. They are most commonly found in the southeast United States but they are slowly making their way to restaurants around the country. But, there really is nothing like a homemade biscuit.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

makes 6 bisuits

  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour + more for dusting & kneading
  • 1/3 c butter (very cold & cut into cubes) + more for topping the biscuits (if desired)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/3 c buttermilk (added gradually)
  • Optional: marmalade or your favorite spread for topping or serve with eggs, bacon & grits for a true southern style breakfast!

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to to 200C/392F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt.

Then add the butter and using a fork, pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the texture resembles small peas.

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Then gradually add in the buttermilk, stirring constantly until the dough pulls off the side of the bowl and forms a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough for a minute or so until the dough is smooth. Note: don’t knead to harshly or too long in order to prevent the dough from becoming tough and also to ensure that the dough stays nice and cold.

Then dust a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough until it it about 1 inch thick.

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Then dip the rim of a drinking glass in flour and “cut” the biscuits.

Place the biscuits onto a parchment lined baked sheet, greased with butter.

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Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

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Serve & Enjoy warm (because they are absolutely delicious this way & who doesn’t love warm bread, fresh out of the oven?)

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Muhammara: Roasted Red Pepper Dip

A savory, delicious, roasted red pepper dip that’s packed full of flavor and super simple to prepare.

Muhammara is one of those mezes that at first sight, I had not idea what it was. But as soon as I took a bite, Mmmm, the flavors were so undeniably delicious! I will never forget trying it for the first time.

If it is prepared correctly, then you can taste a light smoky flavor from the roasted red peppers, a tangy burst from the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, a nutty richness from the toasted walnuts and the perfect balance of spices.

Making Muhammara is super simple even without a food processor. Traditionally it is prepared with a mortar and pestle and all of the ingredients are crushed together. It originates from Aleppo, Syria but in neighboring countries throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East you’ll be likely to find it. In Turkey you can even find it pre-packed in store bought containers (although I do not recommend the store-bought version, just saying).

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This dip perfectly compliments a meze night or you can serve it with veggies and toasted pita bread at your next party. It is naturally vegan so it is perfect for everyone! If you want to make it gluten free, substitute the bread crumbs for more walnuts.

Here’s the recipe:

Muhammara: Roasted Red Pepper Dip

  • 5 small sweet red peppers
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2-3 TBSP bread crumbs
  • 7 whole walnuts (finely chopped) + a few extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp pull biber (sub: Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses*
  • fresh mint (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/392 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Clean the peppers and dry them thoroughly. Then rub the peppers with 1 TBSP of olive oil.

Allow the peppers to roast until lightly charred (about 30-40 minutes).

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Remove from the oven and place them in a heat safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam for 30-60 minutes (or until cool enough to handle and the skin peels off easily). Then peel off and discard the skin.

Using a food processor (or even a mortar and pestle for a more authentic consistency), blend together the peeled, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, bread crumbs, pull biber, cumin, sea salt, olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Once blended, it should still have some texture to it, pour into a bowl, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and walnuts. Serve immediately or pop it in the fridge and enjoy later.

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Culinary Note: Muhammara tastes amazing as a spread on sandwiches or even in a pasta salad. YUM!

*If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, try substituting raspberry or balsalmic vinegrette. It will not taste the same but this is an alternative pre-ready solution. OR, if you’re willing, you can make your own pomegranate molasses by simmering 1 cup of pure pomegranate juice and 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar (based on your preferred sweetness, but it shouldn’t be too sweet) and simmer, stirring frequently until it forms a thick molasses. 

3 Tips How to Manage Negative Stress…Better

It’s true, we all have to deal with negative stress at some point in our lives. But wouldn’t it be nice to deal with it better?

1.) Identify the Root Cause and Know Yourself: It is so important to ask yourself this question, “Why am I so stressed?” Then ask yourself, “Is this the real, underlining, root cause for my stress?” Perhaps work might seem like the reason why you are so stressed but perhaps it is not your work in and of itself but rather your response or attitude towards your work. What can you do to change this?

2.) Take Action: After identifying the root cause of your stress, now is the time to take action. To make a plan to take actionable stress in order to minimize and eliminate the stress in your life. For example, perhaps you need to take a different approach to the stress trigger in your life.

3.) Make a Plan, Stick With It, Assess and Re-Assess the Plan (as needed): What are you going to plan on doing on a daily basis to address the stress triggers in your life? Perhaps you need to make a list, or get an accountability partner or make a tangible commitment that will keep you on track. Commit to “sticking with your plan” and then be willing to make assessments as needed. The assessments are so important because you are changing and your environment is changing (even in small ways that you might not notice).

These three tips are what I have learned along life’s road through my personal experience. I hope that they help you and encourage you.

Feel free to share, how do you manage negative stress?

 

Turkish Egg Salad (Yumurta Piyazi)

A light, healthy, Mediterranean twist on a classic egg salad recipe!

When I studied Turkish cooking, I learned nearly two hundred different dishes. This one, although it is so simple, is one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because of its simplicity or perhaps it is because I enjoy eating eggs. Regardless, it is a simple, classic favorite of mine. Here’s my version of this beautiful, Turkish recipe.

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Turkish Egg Salad (Yumurta Piyazi)

  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 scallions (finely sliced)
  • salt (to taste)
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (pull biber)

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Preparation:

Cut the hardboiled eggs into quarters (lengthwise) and place on a plate.

Drizzle the olive oil on top of the eggs.

Sprinkle over the parsley and scallions.

Then season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Serve and Enjoy immediately or pop it in the fridge to enjoy later!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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A Foodie’s Story: Funny Outtakes from my Kitchen & 100th Video Celebration

Celebrating 100 little steps on the way to one big goal.

I will never forget the first time I “pretended” to host my own cooking show. I was seven years old, in our kitchen in Connecticut with a bowl full of cheese, ham and other assorted things. I proudly announced, “Hi, I’m Erica and welcome to my show! Today we will prepare…

“I proudly announced, “Hi, I’m Erica and welcome to my show! Today we will prepare…

I didn’t really know how to cook yet but I had spent enough time in the kitchen helping my parents and also watching classic cooking shows on television that I was convinced that I could host my own show. I was captivated how each cook or chef had their own unique personality and even more unique style of cooking.

I watched cooking shows like Martin Yan’s, Yan Can Cook with his snappy tag line of “if Yan can cook, then so can you!” And you know what? I believed him. As a little girl watching his show I was inspired by his delicious Chinese food creations and his lively personality. He had a contagious enthusiasm that seemed to come alive in the kitchen.

And you know what? I believed him. As a little girl watching his show I was inspired…”

But then I also watched shows like, Justin Wilson’s Cajun Cooking. With his blue shirts, red suspenders he always had a notable, familiar style. And with his tagline of “Whoo boy, that’s good! I guarantee!!” declared loudly nearly every time he tasted his food, I was convinced that I too could make food so delicious!

Of course Julia Child with her show, The French Chef, is an unforgettable part of my childhood cooking history. She showed the basics from start to finish and regarded every ounce of her personality as a strength and not a weakness.

Watching Jacques Pépin cooking with his daughter Claudine, reminded me that cooking truly was even better with family and when traditions and techniques are passed down from generation to generation.

My culinary education continued on from there with countless chefs and cooks, both great and small, known and unknown, ordinary and extraordinary, they all inspired and taught me endless knowledge. By the time I started working in restaurants at age 15, I felt like I belonged there in a strange sort of way. And even when I stopped working in restaurants (it can be a crazy and busy way to make a living), I still felt somehow nostalgic for them. I found myself writing recipes for my local newspaper and spending my evening cooking up my new creations in my home kitchen.

Some of my family and closest friends who have witnessed me in the kitchen say that it is indeed where I belong. I’ve worked with many different chefs and sometimes felt the pressure weigh in like a wrecking ball. I wondered why cooking had to be so stressful sometimes.

All along, I never forgot about this dream of mine to cook on a cooking show. I even auditioned and pitched my ideas to different networks on numerous occasions but without success. I felt a little defeated by this. In a way I convinced myself that maybe my cooking was strictly meant for my home kitchen and not to share with others outside of my family and friends.

After much encouragement, I finally started filming my own cooking shows. I dug up my old college filming and editing knowledge and researched filmmakers for inspiration to try to somehow create my own cooking show. I won’t lie, it was terrifying. I wanted to give up almost right after I started. I thought, what is the point? Will anyone watch them? Am I interesting? Can I create enough recipes? Can I film alone? Can I edit all of my footage? How do I edit a cooking show in the first place? Is my camera good enough? On and on, the questions and waves of doubt rolled in. But you know what, I just decided to make the cooking videos anyway. Then something really special happened… I started to learn a lot and learn a lot fast and the cooking videos, filming and editing started to get better. And to tell you the truth, I am still learning a lot. It is the hardest job I’ve ever had and pays the least in terms of actual revenue. But truth be told, there’s a priceless value on finally doing work that I really love doing. Work that I am proud of. Work that really allows me to be myself. After 17 years of working (yes I know, I am still very young), it feels great to have daily work doing something I am passionate about even if other people do not understand it or take it seriously. I understand it just fine and I take it quite seriously. I don’t allow myself to get hung up on what other people say. I am open to learn from anyone, but I have decided to not let the critiques cripple my creative process but rather build it.

“…but I have decided to not let the critiques cripple my creative process but rather build it.”

The work can continue around the clock but along with that I have experienced an ongoing creative inspiration that seems to run through my veins 24 hours a day. I see ideas and get inspiration so quickly now. I have learned and am learning that if you want to be more creative, then you must simply create MORE! Even if you feel like you have nothing to say, give or create, just do it anyway and eventually, the creativity faucet will not stop flowing. I have experienced this beyond just for filming cooking videos but also for writing novels, poetry and music.

“I have learned and am learning that if you want to be more creative, then you must simply create MORE!”

There are so many lessons that I have learned and that I am still learning but all I can say is thank you! Not to myself but to God. You know I prayed for something like this but I never knew how to “make it happen” but I know He has been my driving force behind it all, filling me with bursts of creativity, excitement, fun and strength. He makes it all worth it. I am reminded even now that He is the reason why I create. He is whom I create for. It is His applause and approval I seek and I believe I have because He has accepted me as I am (and you too by the way). So many days of filming and editing alone I am reminded that I was never really alone. He was and is and ever will be with me. There’s a beauty and a peace in knowing this and moreover, knowing HIM.

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Käsebrötchen (German Cheese Bread Rolls Recipe)

Light, fluffy and cheesy bread rolls! Käsebrötchen are a special and irresistibly delicious German treat!

I’ll never forget on our first breakfast on our first trip to Germany with my husband. We were at his parent’s house and there were a plethora of fresh German bread rolls but a couple of my husband’s favorite — Käsebrötchen.

They looked absolutely delicious, covered with cheese and soft to the touch.  When I took a bite, Mmmm, I was not disappointed. They are irresistibly delicious! So, I was determined to learn how to make them myself. And after tasting many, here is my recipe creation! All I can say, is that these bread rolls did not last long. The recipe makes 6 large bread rolls but it can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled — well you get my point. Guten Appetit!

Here’s the recipe:

Käsebrötchen (German Cheese Bread Rolls)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (plus more for dusting and kneading)
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1.5 – 2 cups shredded mozzerrella cheese*

*Or your favorite type of cheese

Preparation:

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and the water until the yeast is dissolved.

Then add the flour and salt and stir well.

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Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Then shape the dough into a ball.

Pour 1 TBSP of olive oil into a bowl and lightly grease it.

Place the ball of dough into the greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Put it in a warm place and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.

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Then divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Lightly grease a parchment lined baking sheet with the remaining 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the dough balls on the baking sheet. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for another 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven for 180C/356F.

After the second rise, whisk together the egg yolk and 1 TBSP of water.

Using a pastry brush, coat the top of each bread roll with the egg yolk mixture.

Then take the shredded cheese and liberally, and I really mean liberally, top each bread roll with the cheese (let the cheese fall all around each bread roll).

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Then place the bread rolls in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

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Serve & enjoy immediately or save for later.

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Guten Appetit!

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5 Intangible Items to Bring on a Job Interview or Big Idea Pitch

Interviews…we all have them at numerous points in time in our lives. How do we prepare for them in such a way that we can be successful?

Beyond the tangible items, your resume, portfolio, references, recommendations, flash drive with digital versions of your documents, etc. — it is so essential to prepare and bring the intangible items. The ones that also require preparation, focus and sometimes speak much louder than the tangible items ever could.

1.) Confidence: it is an essential component to interviewing well or having a successful idea pitch. It is not only about confidence in yourself but also a confidence in your experience, education and abilities to meet and exceed the requirements of the job.

2.) Humility: humility goes hand in hand with confidence. They actually can compliment each other. You can be confident that you have the skills and experience to perform a job but you can also be humble in your approach to completing the job. By this I mean that you keep an open mind about how to best complete the job even if you are considered an expert in this knowledge base. A humble person can come to terms with the fact that they don’t know it all and remain open to learn and grow.

3.) Poise: it’s that cool, calm, confidence that’s undeniably attractive. Although poise is something commonly attributed to royalty or reserved for beauty pageant vocabulary it actually really makes a dynamic difference if leveraged in interviews or presentations. How you carry yourself, says a lot about how you feel about yourself so make sure you’re communicating a message worth listening to.

4.) Energy: it is so important to have a natural level of energy and enthusiasm on a job interview or when you’re pitching a new idea. Think about it this way: the interviewer chose to make time to meet you and to see if you are a fit for their company or organization. They are already interested and partially convinced about you, you just have to make them completely interested by showcasing your best.

5.) Positive Attitude: your attitude is one of the few things that you can control in this life. So let me ask you a question, do you have it under control? Positive people are not just born this way, they actually take the time to develop and train themselves to think in a positive way. By having a positive attitude you are giving your perspective employer a preview of what they can expect. Everyone loves to work with positive people with a “can-do” attitude. Are you one of them? Don’t simply have a positive attitude but let it transcend into your descriptions about your past work experience and your outlook on the future. A positive attitude is contagious and every employer wants a team of people with one.

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Photo Credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Cacık (Creamy Yogurt with Garlic, Lemon, Cucumber & Mint)

A refreshing, delicious and light addition to compliment grilled meats, salads or just simply served as a classic meze (appetizer).

I have had the pleasure or eating Cacık numerous times and what I have found is that no recipe tastes the same. In culinary school, we made it with a thick yogurt and most of my colleagues ate it as a side item. Some of my friends prepare it with yogurt and water to make it literally the consistency of a soup and it is eaten as so. The store bought variety is somewhere in between but lacks the burst of freshness from the lemon, garlic and using fresh mint. 

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My recipe is a bit different from them all. I use a thick yogurt but then I really infuse it with the fresh flavors of the lemon, garlic and mint that makes it undeniably delicious. Quite frankly, I love Cacık with grilled meats or to dip toasted bread. Yum! 

Here’s the recipe:

Cacık (Creamy Yogurt with Garlic, Lemon, Cucumber & Mint)

  • 1 c thick yogurt (Suzme, Greek or your favorite strained yogurt) 
  • 1/3 c finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh mint + a sprig for garnish
  • 1 large garlic clove (crushed)
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth. 

Add in the lemon juice and salt and whisk again.

Stir in the cucumber, garlic and fresh mint. Taste to see if more salt is needed.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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Photos & Recipe by EE Winkler

©All Rights Reserved

Donauwelle: A Traditional German Sheet Cake with Fresh Cherries, German Buttercream & a Chocolate Topping

A modern twist on the traditional German sheet cake, with layers of chocolate cake, vanilla cake, fresh cherries, German buttercream and topped off with a chocolate topping.

Although from the sounds of the ingredients, it may seem that you have heard of this cake before or it may seem similar to the Black Forest Cake. But in as many ways as it is similar it is also unique.

The cake batter is essential comprised of a chocolate cake layer and a vanilla cake layer but when the cherries are placed on top, they fall into the cake as it bakes thus creating a wavy cake on the inside.

Topped with a decadent German buttercream and a chocolate glaze (that gets better with time) it is a treat that is easy to serve to friends or enjoy for a special occasion.

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Here’s the recipe:

Donauwelle

For the cake:

  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c sunflower oil (or an neutral oil)
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c thick strained yogurt (Greek or Suzme)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 c cocoa powder
  • 1.5 – 2 c pitted fresh sweet cherries
  • 2 TBSP butter (for greasing the pan)

For the German Buttercream:

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c corn starch
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 c softened butter

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C & grease a small cake pan with butter.

For the cake: whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and then whisk again. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Alternating between the flour mixture and the strained yogurt, add them to the cake batter, while whisking well with each addition. Divide the cake batter in half and whisk in the cocoa powder into half of the cake. Starting with the chocolate cake batter, pour it into the cake pan. Then add the vanilla cake batter on top creating a nice even layer. Then layer the pitted cherries on top of the cake to completely cover the cake in neat rows. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes and allow to cool.

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To make the German buttercream: Heat the milk in a medium saucepan just until hot, but not boiling. In the meantime, whisk together the eggs, cornstarch and sugar until smooth and well incorporated. Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until completely combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Then pour the mixture onto a plate, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the cream. Chill for a couple of hours to overnight.

Once cooled, whisk the softened butter in a large bowl and then whisk in the pastry cream mixture into the butter until completely combined.

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Top the cake with a thick layer of the German buttercream and spread it evenly over the cake (Note: you might have some left over).

To prepare the Chocolate glaze: melt the chocolate over a double boiler until it is melted. Stir in the oil and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate has slightly cooled, pour it over the German pastry cream.

Then using a fork or a butter knife, create the waves on top of the cake allowing some of the pastry cream to be shown through the chocolate.

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Serve immediately or pop it in the fridge for a special treat for later.

Guten Appetit!

When: Say Goodbye to Fear, Doubt & Anxiety

When – an inspirational poem to encourage you to say goodbye to fear, doubt and anxiety. 

Poetry is one of the most beautiful expression of words that I know. I first fell in love with it as a young child. I started reading poets like Langston Hughes and Shell Silverstein and I was inspired by the beauty of their work.

When is an original poem I wrote to talk about issues like fear, doubt and anxiety.

Rose photo credit: Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

©All Rights Reserved

Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

Tender fresh grape leaves stuffed with a flavorful vegetarian filling.

I will never forget the first time I tried stuff grape leaves. I cannot remember exactly how old I was but I was a small child. It was a new taste for me. The leave reminded me of an undercooked collard green but I thought the filling was quite tasty.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I would say I’ve eaten my fair share of stuffed grape leaves in many different countries, prepared a myriad of different ways. Although they do require some time to actually roll and stuff the leaves, they are well worth the effort. I love that they can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature so there’s no need to fuss with this aspect. 

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Traditionally, they are prepared with meat, but I don’t miss the meat when I prepare them without it. I created this recipe because I did not have meat on hand and I used bulgur instead of rice simply because I really love bulgur. 

I think that everyone that has ever eaten a stuffed grape leaves, knows them immediately when they see them. And if they are like me, then seeing them will surely bring a smile to their face.

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

  • 20-30 fresh grape leaves
  • 1/2 c dry fine bulgur
  • 1 small onion (finely diced; about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To blanche the grape leaves: Clean the grape leaves thoroughly. Then prepare a large pot of boiling water. Working in batches, blanche the grape leaves for about 30-60 seconds. Then remove from the water and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the grape leaves and set aside.

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To prepare the filling: Prepare the bulgur by placing it in a bowl and adding one cup of boiling water. Stir and then cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow it to steam for 10 minutes. 

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Then add the tomato paste and stir well, adding a little water as needed. 

Then mix the bulgur and the tomato paste mixture in a large bowl. Season with the oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh parsley just until it is incorporated.

In a large stock pot, line the bottom with about 4-5 grape leaves (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan).

To roll the grape leaves: One by one, place them on a flat surface. Starting at the wide bottom part of the grape leaf, place about half a tablespoon of the filling on the leaf and spread out into a thin line. Fold in the sides of the leaf and gently roll it until it is completely rolled. Continue until all of the grape leaves are rolled.

Place each of the stuffed grape leaves seam side down in the pot, side by side, very close together. Top with the lemon slices and enough water to fill the pot half way up (but do not submerge the grape leaves. Place a heavy ceramic plate of bowl on top of the grape leaves and cover with a lid. Allow the grape leaves to cook for about 45 minutes, adding more water as needed. 

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Once cooked, gently remove from the pot.

Serve and Enjoy with a lemon slice.

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Afiyet Olsun!

 ©All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: EE Winkler

Eier Frikasse (Eggs w/ Vegetables & Creamy White Sauce)

A simple, classic and traditional German recipe, Eier Frikasse is a great go-to meal with minimal ingredients and prep time.

Some of the best recipes are the simplest recipes. The ones that don’t even require you to leave your house and go to the market for additional ingredients. These recipes are some of my favorite. With non-complex ingredients, easy preparation and great taste, they are by far some of the best everyday recipes that every good cook should have in their recipe file.

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Here’s the recipe:

Eier Frikasse (Eggs w/ Vegetables & Creamy White Sauce)

  • 4 hard boiled eggs (sliced)
  • 1 c chopped carrots (cooked)
  • 1 c frozen green peas
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 c chicken stock (or veggie stock)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

In a large sauce pot, melt the butter and then sprinkle over the flour and whisk until smooth.

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Keep whisking frequently until it turns light brown in color.

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Add the chicken stock and keep whisking until smooth.

Bring to a boil and then season with salt and pepper.

Add the vegetables and lemon juice and stir well.

Then add the eggs and stir gently

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Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Garnish with parsley & enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

 

Garlicky Good Green Beans

Simple, healthy and delicious green beans sautéed with garlic, olive oil and seasoning!

A good side dish recipe can be difficult to create but well worth the effort. This recipe was birthed nearly 10 years ago when I wanted to make green beans in a quicker way than how I grew up eating them. And so, with a bit of garlic, olive oil, seasoning and green beans, this recipe idea became a reality. It is still a go-to recipe for me to prepare a simple and quick side dish. It is perfect for everyday whether it is just a weekday or a holiday.

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Here’s the recipe:

Garlicky Good Green Beans

  • 1.5 c green beans
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (crushed and minced)
  • 1-2 T olive oil (or butter)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Clean and trim the ends of the green beans.

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Mince the garlic until it forms a paste (rubbing the flat part of a knife back and forth on a cutting board with a bit of salt will achieve this paste consistency).

Place the green beans and garlic in a frying pan with a little bit of water. Simmer them for about 2-3 minutes and then drain the excess water.

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Drizzle over the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and sauté the green beans for just a couple of minutes before the garlic starts to brown too much.

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Serve immediately and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Bon Appetit!

Bazlama: Turkish Yeast Flatbread (Light, Fluffy & Simply Delicious)

A fluffy & light yeast-based Turkish flatbread, Bazlama is a classic and simple bread. Cooked until puffy and thick and coated with a little butter or olive oil, it is so delicious and perfectly compliments any meal.

Bazlama is a combination between a flat bread and a traditional bread similar in texture to Naan. It is thick and fluffy, making it perfect to serve with meals with sauces or gravy because it can soak up the excess liquid.

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With minimal prep work, the dough can be prepared ahead of time and then the Bazlama can be prepared just before you are ready to eat.

Here’s the recipe:

Bazlama (Turkish Yeast Flatbread)

  • 1 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil +more for brushing the bread after cooking (if desired)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 TBSP of olive oil.

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Then add the flour and the salt and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Then transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

With the remaining half a tablespoon of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel, place it in a warm place and allow it to rise for one hour.

After the dough has risen, knead it gently again for one minute. Then shape into a ball and cut into two equal pieces.

Roll out each piece to make a large circle (like making pizza dough).

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Place the rolled out circles on a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour and cover again with the damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an additional 30 minutes.

To cook the bazlama: Place each piece one at a time on a crepe pan or large frying pan. Allow the bazlama to cook on both sides (about 3 minutes each side on medium high heat). Note: The dough will start to puff up a lot and this is a very good sign. When it starts to lightly brown, it is ready to be flipped.

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To serve, brush with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt (if desired).

Break bread and enjoy with your loved ones!

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Afiyet Olsun! 

 

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

A flaky, thin, buttery crust filled with apples, cinnamon sugar and raisins! An Austrian delightful recipe!

I don’t know what there is not to love about apple strudel. It is so delicious and although the dough is an essential formula to this recipe, the dough does not steal the show away from the natural delciousness of the apples.

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Here’s the recipe:

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) 

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or any neutral oil) + 1 tsp for oiling the bowl
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 2-2.5 c sliced apples (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 1/3 c raisins
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon’

For topping the strudel:

  • 2 TBSP melted butter

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: Mix together the egg, oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Then add the flour and the salt and stir well until the mixture forms a cohesive dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth. Grease a bowl with butter or oil and then place the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and allow the dough to rise for 1-2 hours.

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To roll out the dough: Cover a large countertop or table with a clean tablecloth. Dust with flour and roll out the dough into a very thin rectangular piece. The dough should be thin enough for you to see your hand through it and it will be very, very delicate.

To make the filling: Mix together the apples, raisins, cinnamon and sugar.

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To assemble the strudel: Pile the filling in a line along one of the shorter sides of the dough leaving about 2-3 inches of space from the edge of the dough.

Lift up the edge of the dough to partially cover the filling and then using the tablecloth, lift it up so that the strudel naturally rolls up.

Once rolled, tuck the ends under each side and brush liberally with the melted butter.

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Carefully lift the strudel on to a baking sheet lined with parchment and lightly greased.

Bake the strudel in a pre-heated oven on 375F until the strudel is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush with a little extra butter (if you choose; I did).

Serve and Enjoy warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Absolutely divine!

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Guten Appetit!

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5 Tips of Encouragement in the Growth Process to Achieve Your Dreams & Goals (+ What No One Tells You About Growth)

Watch what happens when you don’t give up…

What No One Tells You About Growth

1.) It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The race will not immediately be over, instead it’s about making a commitment to make little steps over a long period of time. It might seem exhausting but with each step you are making a “step” an improvement, a stride towards the finish line and towards your desired goal, so KEEP GOING!
2.) Don’t Focus Solely on Appearances
It may look stagnant at times (but you’re either taking a step forward or backwards; if you’re doing the right thing, then you are taking a step forward so keep on doing the right thing regardless of it you can see the progress immediately.There may be times when it looks like nothing is happening. But keep going anyway. Don’t live based on appearances. If you’re doing the right thing, you might not be rewarded at every moment but keep on doing the right thing.
3.) Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
Everyone’s journey looks different because we are all so uniquely differently crafted by God. You were not created to look like, sound like, be like, act like, etc. anyone else except you. God expects for you to be the best you not the best replicated version of the person next to you or the person you most admire.
 
4.) It Might Hurt – Growth Can Be Painful
 
There’s a lot of truth when it comes to the word “growing pains.” Often in order to grow and keep growing, we might experience pain in the process. For example, in order for muscles to grow, the muscle fibers must be torn so that they can rebuild themselves to be stronger, in order for a palm tree’s roots to grow deep into the ground, sometimes large weights are placed on top of it to force the trees roots to dig down deeper, and in order for beautiful spring flowers to bloom, they must first start out as a seed buried underground and must push through the soil in order to grow.
5.) Your Growth Can Stimulate Others to Grow
Your personal growth process is about more than just you. Although it may seem so all consuming about yourself, your dreams, your hopes, your future, etc; there is more to it than that. You have the power to positively impact the lives of others through just simply choosing to live a life of integrity as you steadfastly pursue your dreams. You don’t have to be called a “mentor” to be one. There are probably people that already consider you to be one. So keep going forward and don’t give up. In the end, you will reap what you sow.
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Ezme Salad: a Traditional MEZE Salad (Antep Salad)

A light, fresh and flavorful salad that perfectly compliments kebabs or any grilled meat.

      No kebab is complete without a salad. In fact, I would say that if you go to eat kebab at a restaurant and they do not serve a salad with it, then there is seriously something missing and you should consider eating kebab at another place. Yes, the salad really is that important. Truth be told, the variations of salads may vary based on tradition and taste, but this Ezme Salad is a simple salad packed with the flavorful essentials to compliment your meal.

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      I often make this salad and eat it as a meal because I like it so much. It the perfect blend of crunchy and soft and sweet and sour. All of the ingredients are pretty simple, except the pomegranate molasses may take some digging to find (depending on what part of the world you live in). In this case, feel free to sub it with a fruity tasting vinaigrette.

Here’s the recipe:

Ezme (Antep Salad)

  • 1 tomato (chopped; about 3/4 c)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP chopped mint
  • 1/4 c chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped cucumber
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.

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Season with salt, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.

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Pour over the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses.

Stir well until combined.

Serve and Enjoy immediately or pop it in the fridge and enjoy later!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

Kohlrouladen (German Stuffed Cabbage) – Abendessen für Zwei (Dinner for Two)

Tender ground beef, seasoned to perfection and wrapped in a large cabbage leaf, Kohlrouladen is an edible gift that your tastebuds can unwrap.

This dish is a favorite of mine and I think it is because it is such a simple but delicious German comfort food. The meat is kept tender and juicy thanks to the cabbage and in my version, I season it with spices and a bit of dijon mustard.

It also is perfect for preparing ahead of time and/or making for guests because everyone gets their own individual serving. Paired with some boiled potatoes and steamed veggies, this is the type of meal that makes a great day even better.

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I tailored my normal recipe in this case to make Abendessen für Zwei or Dinner for Two. It is perfect for enjoying a meal at home with the one you love.

Here’s the recipe:

Kohlrouladen (German Stuffed Cabbage)

  • 2 large cabbage leaves (about 8-9 inches)
  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 c finely chopped white onion
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3-4 TBSP plain bread crumbs
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the cooking process:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 c beef broth

For the gravy:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • remaining beef stock/cooking liquid

Preparation:

Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water by placing them in the water for 15-30 seconds and then placing in a cold water bath to immediately cool the cabbage leaves. NOTE: the cabbage leaves should be soft and tender but still quite green.

To prepare the meat: place all of the ingredients (except for the cabbage) in a bowl and mix it together with your hands until it is well incorporrated.

Then divide the meat mixture in half and create two large meatballs.

Lay the cabbage leaves open and place one meatball at the bottom (near the stem) in each of the pieces of cabbage. Fold the sides in on top of the meatball and then roll the cabbage to create a little package for the meatball.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot. Then add the kohlrouladen, seam side down and lightly brown them on both sides.

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Then add 1 cup of the beef broth and cover with a lid and allow the kohlrouladen to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is well done, adding more broth as needed.

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When they are done cooking, remove from the pan and make the gravy.

Melt the butter, then sprinkle over the flour and whisk until smooth. Then add the remaining beef stock and/or cooking liquid and keep whisking to make a smooth gravy.

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Plate each of the kohlrouladen and top with the gravy.

Guten Appetit!

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Mushroom Lo Mein (Asian Stir-Fry Noodles w/ Soy Sauce & Veggies)

Tender eggs noodles, with sautéed mushrooms, veggies and coated with a homemade soy based sauce.

       One of my favorite take out cuisines has always been Chinese food. But sometimes when you’re craving take out but there is no take out in sight, it is time to get creative in the kitchen and whip up your own creation.

      This recipe is my version on a classic dish. The perfect balance of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, the flavor of these noodles is undeniably delicious.

While I created a vegetarian mushroom Lo Mein, this recipe can most certainly be customized to suit your dietary needs and wishes by swapping a vegetable protein, like tofu, or poultry, meat or seafood. Regardless what you use, it is going to be delicious!

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Here’s the recipe:

Mushroom LoMein

  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 c carrots (juliened)
  • 1/3 c white onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 c cooked egg noodles

For the sauce:

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil

Preparation:

In a wok or a large frying pan, add the oil, mushrooms, carrots and white onion and sauté until the vegetables are tender.

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To make the sauce: stir together the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and set aside.

Then add the pre-cooked egg noodles and pour over the sauce and toss thoroughly to ensure that the sauce covers all of the vegetables and noodles.

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Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the scallions.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

Ayran: a Healthy Yogurt Beverage

A refreshing yogurt beverage that is delicious and healthy! It is the perfect thing to keep you hydrated for any hot day!

      If you are not so acquainted with drinking unsweetened yogurt based drinks then Ayran will be be considered an “acquired taste”. I will admit that the first time I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. The very idea of drinking an unsweetened yogurt beverage somehow did not sound appetizing to me. But after many opportunities to try Ayran, eventually the drink that I didn’t like, soon became a staple and favorite.

      Supposedly, it is the perfect drink to staying hydrated during the summer because of the salt content providing much needed electrolytes lost on hot days.

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The delightful Ayran fountains that are commonly found during the summer months in Turkey are a welcome sight for me to see. The Ayran is fresh and bubbly, just the way I like it.

Here’s the recipe:

Ayran

  • 1/3 c thick yogurt
  • 6 oz carbonated (soda) water (for foamy ayran– sub: flat water)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 sprig fresh mint (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Place the yogurt, carbonated water and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, whisk until it is smooth and foamy.

Pour into a glass, topping it with the foam.

Garnish with fresh mint (if using).

Serve & enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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Bratkartoffeln (German-Style Home Fries)

      Literally translating as fried potatoes, these German fried potatoes are far from ordinary. Crispy potatoes and onions and topped fresh herbs and spices, they are delicious any time and any day.

     Their name says it all “Bratkartoffeln.” “Brat” is German for frying and “kartoffeln” means potatoes. This dish is literally translated means fried potatoes but the potatoes are not simply fried. They are enhanced with onions and herbs to make this a delicious side dish or main meal.

     Traditionally, Bratkartoffeln also includes bacon or speck. Although my recipe is the vegetarian version of this classic dish, they are still just as delicious.

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Here’s the recipe:

Bratkartoffeln

  • 1 potato (pre-boiled)
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 scallion (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP white onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 T fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Boil the potato until it is tender. Drain, pat dry and then cut into squares.

Heat a frying pan with oil and then add the potatoes and let them brown for 2-3 minutes.

Then add the white onion and scallion and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Season with the oregano and salt and cook for another couple of minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned and crispy.

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Then plate up the potatoes on a dish, sprinkle with the remaining scallion and the chopped parsley.

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Pavlova with Fresh Cherries

A crispy sweet layer of meringue, topped with light whipped cream and then covered with fresh sweet cherries.

      Named after the Russian ballet star, Pavlova is a heavenly delicious dessert. But honestly, how can you possibly go wrong when you match meringue, whipped cream and fresh cherries into layers of beautiful delicious bliss.

Enough said…

Here’s the recipe:

Pavlova with Fresh Cherries

  • 1 c fresh black cherries (pitted)
  • 1/4 c fresh whipping cream
  • 2 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 pre-prepared meringue circle (2 egg whites, 1/4 c white sugar, 1 tsp white vinegar)

Preparation:

For the meringue: Whip together 2 egg whites with 1 tsp of vinegar until it forms soft peaks. Then add in 1/4 cup of white sugar slowly while continuing to whisk the meringue until it forms stiff peaks.

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On a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon the meringue to form a circle about 6 inches in diameter and flatten in an even layer. Bake on 100C until the meringue is firm and then turn off the oven and let the meringue set in the oven overnight.

For the pavlova: Clean and remove the pits from the cherries.

Place the cherries in a bowl and add 1 tsp of sugar and stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, whip the cream, adding in the powdered sugar slowly, until it forms stiff peaks.

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Spoon the whipped cream on top of the prepared meringue.

Then spoon the cherries on top.

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So delicious with the cherries and the juice and whipped cream piled high on the meringue!

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Serve and Enjoy!

Heavenly…

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

Light and flaky homemade dough, packed full of melted cheese. Gözleme is the ultimate version of a grilled cheese sandwich but better!

If you’ve seen Gözleme prepared once, chances are that you won’t forget it. It is such a beautiful traditional preparation with a large circular board that sit upright like a small table, a long rolling pin and a large dome cooking surface.

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I love watching Gözleme being prepared because it is prepared with such excellence and speed, not to mention, it tastes great! Many consider it even to be the “fast food” of Turkey because it is so common to find Gözleme throughout the country.

But the great thing is that it can certainly be prepared at home, even without all of the extra equipment. If you have a counter space, a rolling pin and a frying pan, then you an also make Gözleme at home.

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Here’s the recipe:

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

For the dough:

  • 1 c flour (+ more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3-1/2 c warm water
  • 1 T olive oil

For the filling/cooking:

  • 1.5 c shredded mozzarella cheese (or any cheese that melts well)
  • 2 T olive oil

Garnish (optional):

  • 1/4 tomato (sliced)
  • 5-6 cucumber slices
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley

Preparation:

To make the dough: Combine all of the ingredients (except reserve 1/2 of the olive oil) together in a bowl and stir well until it forms a dough, adding more flour if it is too sticky or more water if it is too dry. Then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 5-6 minutes. Then shape the dough into a ball and use the remaining olive oil to grease a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes.

To make the Gözleme: Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and place it on a floured surface. Dust the dough and your rolling pin with a little more flour and proceed to roll the dough into a very thin circular piece. Note: It should be thinner than a thin crust pizza dough where you can see your hand through the dough but not to thin for the dough to tear.

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Then place some of the shredded mozzarella cheese in the middle of the piece of the dough and fold the sides of the dough on top to create a square shaped package.

Then brush a little olive oil on a crepe pan or frying pan and place the Gözleme on the pan. Brush the top with a little more olive oil and allow the Gözleme to cook over medium heat until it starts to puff up and lightly brown. Flip and repeat.

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The dough really starts to puff up as it cooks!
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Nice and golden brown!

Remove the Gözleme from the pan, cut into triangles and serve with the granishes.

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It is Best Enjoyed When it is Warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue) + Culinary Torch from my Husband

Layers of ice cream, sponge cake and topped with lightly browned meringue! 

      Baked Alaska is like an ice cream cake, only better. With a layer of cake, two layers of ice cream and covered with a luscious and light meringue that is torched to golden perfection.

What can be more fun than having a culinary torch and using it to make delicious desserts?

For our wedding anniversary, one of the gifts that my amazing husband got me is a culinary torch. This special culinary gadget is what makes the Baked Alaska get perfectly browned and honestly, it is my favorite part of making this dessert. The culinary torch is also especially useful for making creme bruleé. It is responsible for creating that crispy caramelized sugar layer that makes it so special.

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What I love about Baked Alaska is that it really looks so beautiful and it tastes so good. With a little prep ahead of time, it is also great to make ahead of time and then just add and torch the meringue when you’re ready to serve it.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue)

For the Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 c sugar

For the ice cream:

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream (softened)
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream (softened)

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 c white sugar

Preparation: 

Pre-heat the oven for 180C/350F. Grease a springform pan and set aside.

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For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until well incorporated. Then add the almond extract and continue to whisk just until is mixed in. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Then add half of the flour mixture at a time into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well in between each addition.

Pour the cake into a springform pan and pat it against the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Note: I use a toothpick to test to make sure the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done. If not, it needs to bake a little longer.

Allow cake to cool overnight (if possible) and then using the base of the bowl that the ice cream will be filled in, cut out a circle piece of the cake. Note: it is kind of like tracing, think of the bowl as the tracing paper for your cake.

To prepare the layers:

Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 30-40 minutes ahead of time (depending on the weather where you live it might melt faster or slower).

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Then line the bowl with plastic wrap ensuring that the plastic wrap is firmly pressed against the bottom and sides of the bowl and that there is sufficient plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Note: don’t omit this step. It is a lifesaver when you actually go to remove the ice cream cake from the bowl.

Then spoon the softened ice cream into the bowl allowing each flavor to create its own layer.

Then take the circle piece of cake and firmly press it on top of the ice cream. Cover the cake with the plastic wrap overhanging on the sides of the bowl. Then place it in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours or for several days (depending on when you want to serve the cake.

To make the meringue:

Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly to ensure that the sugar does not stick. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the egg whites and white vinegar in a very clean bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Then while the beaters are still running, slowly pour in the sugar syrup mixture and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Take the cake out of the freezer and peel back the plastic wrap. Using a serving platter or plate, turn the bowl over and then gently lift the bowl. Then remove the remaining plastic wrap.

Using a butter knife (or a pastry bag if you prefer) spread the meringue on top of the cake until it is fully covered.

Then using a culinary torch, torch the meringue until it is evenly golden brown.

Serve and Enjoy immediately!

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Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

Berliners (German Yeast Doughnuts w/ Oma’s Marmalade)

Light, fluffy yeast doughnuts, dusted with sugar and filled with Oma’s marmalade.

There is nothing quite like a Berliner! I will never forget the first time I tried one. It was my first time in Germany and my husband and I visited a bakery in Leipzig and introduced me to this beautiful German specialty.

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Germany has so many wonderful varieties of breads, cakes and baked goods. I am always so thrilled to visit bakeries in Germany because it is always such a delightful experience.

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But, living outside of Germany means that many of these beloved baked goods are not so easily accessible. But this recipe, and many of my other German recipes are a great solution. I love to prepare them for my husband and I hope that you like them and this recipe too!

Here’s the recipe:

Berliners (German Yeast Doughnuts with Oma’s Marmalade)
For the dough:
  • 2 2/3 c all purpose flour (+more for kneading and dusting)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 2/3 c warm milk
  • 3 tsp (10 g) dry active yeast
  • 2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 1 – 1.5 c Oma Erika’s marmalade (or your favorite jam)

For the topping:

  • Powdered sugar or granulated sugar (dusted according to your preference)

 

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: in a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk and sugar and stir well. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs.

Add the melted butter to the yeast mixture and stir well. Keep stirring and add the eggs. Then mix together the flour with the salt in a separate bowl. Stirring constantly, add the flour mixture in batches to the yeast mixture.

Continue stirring until a dough forms (it will start to get difficult to stir by hand at this point but don’t worry). Then place the dough on a floured surface and knead it well for 7-8 minutes. Then cover it with a dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes.

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Once the dough has risen, cut the dough into even pieces and roll them each into a ball.

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Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, dusted with a little bit of flour. Then cover the dough balls again with a dish towel and place them in a warm place and allow them to rise again for another 30 minutes.

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Heat a large heavy stock pot with oil. Test the heat of the oil using a wooden spoon. If bubbles start to form around the spoon, then the oil is hot enough.

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Carefully place each of the doughnuts in the oil and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until browned.

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Then place them on a paper towel lined plate and allow the excess oil to drain.

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Continue until all of the doughnuts are fried.

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Then using a “donut jelly filler” proceed to fill each doughnut with the jam, being careful not to overfill.

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Then dust the doughnuts with powdered sugar, serve & enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

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How to Make Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza) at Home

A perfectly, thin, crispy crust coated with a mixture of veggies, spices and ground meat. Turkish pizza is the ultimate, traditional Turkish street food.

The Legend of the Turkish Pizza

I have been told that the Turkish pizza was the creation of baker that visited the coast of Italy. He saw the people eating and enjoying pizza and he tasted it and enjoyed it too. So as the story goes, he brought the concept back to his homeland but put a local spin on it infusing Turkish spices and seasonings to make it such a beloved Turkish dish. 

I do not know if this legend is true or if my friend was only trying to play a joke on me, but it does make for a really great story, if you ask me.

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There’s nothing like going to the Firin (Turkish for bakery) and to see that they are making Turkish pizza*. Hot and fresh out of the wood-buring oven, the pizza is the perfect food to eat for lunch or dinner. In many ways, it reminds me of my years in New York City, when I would go and grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza, and stand outside or grab a seat at the counter and eat my slice.

Needless to say, no matter where I am in the world, I make friends pretty quickly with the bakers and the people who sell food. Lol! And no matter how long I’ve been gone, if they are still there, they remember me, lol! So do yourself a favor, and either go to enjoy a Lahmacun from your favorite place or make this beautiful recipe. Because, who doesn’t like pizza?

Here’s the recipe:

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

For the topping:
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 c tomato (chopped)
  • 1/4 c sweet red pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 T olive oil
For the dough:
  • 1 cup of flour (+1/2 c more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1.5 tsp yeast

Preparation:

Place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor (except for the ground beef) and blend it until it forms a smooth mixture. Add in some olive oil if needed and continue blending.

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Then mix in the ground beef with a fork and spatula until it is well incorporated.

Set the mixture aside and roll out the dough.

Pre-heat the oven for 220C/428F.

For a large lahmacun, take half of the dough and roll out into a long, thin, oval piece.

Gently transfer the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Then take about half of the topping and spread it evenly on top of the dough to create a nice thin layer, being sure not to leave too much empty space.

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Bake the lahmacun in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is browned and crispy and the toppings cooked.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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Afiyet Olsun! 

*In some cases, they are making it for a special order, because you can bring them all the ingredients and they will assemble and bake the pizzas for you, but in the heart of the city centers, it is quite common to find them bakers making them for individual sale.

 

Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

An irresistible German treat, Quarkspitzen are like German doughnut holes. Golden brown and crispy on the outside but delicate and tender on the inside. 

A visit to the German Christmas markets or to the annual Kat (a large local carnival with rides, games and food) would not be complete without buying a few Quarkspitzen. Before I even knew what they were, I was interested just from the very smell of them cooking. Made from quark, a type of dairy that is the consistency of a thick yogurt or sour cream.

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Although Christmastime is more than six months away, there’s nothing like recalling this and the myriad of marvelous Christmas treats from the German Christmas markets.

Here’s the recipe:

Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

  • 3 T melted butter
  • 300g quark
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1.5 – 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • oil (for frying)
  • powdered sugar (for dusting the quarkspitzen after frying)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar.

Then add the eggs and continue to whisk.

Mix together the corn starch, baking powder and flour.

Gradually add in the flour mixture and the quark, half at a time, rotating between the two of them.

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Then add the lemon juice and stire just until it is combined.

Set the batter aside for 10-15 minutes and fill a large stock pot with oil.

To fry the quarkspitzen, dip a spoon in the oil and then into the quarkspitzen batter and place into the fryer to create a roughly oval shape. Fry until golden brown on each side and then place on a paper towel lined plate.

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Continue until all of the dough has been used.

Dust the quarkspitzen with powdered sugar, or if you prefer, granulated sugar.

Serve & Enjoy warm.

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YUM!

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Guten Appetit!

Fröhe Weihnachten!

Homemade Apple Sauce (Simple & Delicious)

Just apples, a hint of sugar and a few of my favorite spices and you’re on your way to making homemade apple sauce.

I love applesauce. It was one of those things as I kid that I used to love to have as a snack. It just tasted so good; and honestly, I still love it. For years I never knew that it was so simple to make. I just relied on the store-bought kind until I moved to countries that don’t sell apple sauce. Lol! That’s when I go to my kitchen laboratory and get to work creating.

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The recipe is so simple. I mean, really simple. If you can cook apples and then pop them in a food processor — well, you have apple sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 3 apples (I used Golden Delicious because they are sweet and delicious!)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardomom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 c water

Preparation:

Peel, core and slice the apples.

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Place the apples in a large stock pot. Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and water.

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Simmer for about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the apples are tender.

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Remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods.

Transfer the apples to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve and Enjoy warm or pop it in the fridge for later. (It is really good cold, especially on a hot summer day! Simply refreshing!) 

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Guten Appetit!

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

Savory, succulent and delicious, these stuffed cabbage leaves make a great meal. Paired with some crusty bread they’re so good for lunch or dinner.

     The first time I had stuffed cabbage leaves, my husband and I were traveling with a friend. We went to visit several of his family members and when we went to his aunt’s house we had lunch together. At first, I didn’t know what I was eating so I didn’t know what to expect but with one bite, I was pleasantly surprised. The cabbage is tender and lightly stuffed with a tomatoey meat and rice mixture. Delicious.

The first time I made them for myself, I realized that making these are indeed a labor of love. But they are so worth it in the end, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.

My version is vegetarian but I find that they are still just as full of flavor as the traditional method of making them with meat. Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

  • 5-10 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 2/3 c rice (soaked and drained)
  • 3 T fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper –if possible)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/4- 1/2 c hot water

Preparation:

To prepare the cabbage: Remove the cabbage leaves from the head of cabbage and clean thoroughly.

Boil water in a large pot and working in batches, add the leaves to the water and cook them for 2-3 minutes (or just until they are tender and soft enough to roll).

Then place the leaves in a large pan of cold water and continue until all of the leaves are prepared.

thumb_DSC05087_1024To make the stuffing: Sauté the onions with the olive oil until tender. Then add the spices and stir well and cook for a minute or so (or until fragrant). Then add the rice, tomato paste and hot water and stir well. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes until there is no water remaining. Then add the chopped parsley and stir. Set aside.

 

To stuff the cabbage leaves, lay out a small piece of a leaf. Cut off the hard stem part and then add about 1 TBSP of the filling in a straight line. 

Fold the sides and then roll the cabbage, being sure to continue to tuck in the sides as you roll it (as if you’re rolling a burrito).

Continue until all of the cabbage leaves or stuffing is used (whichever comes first).

In a large stock pot, place enough cabbage leaves to cover the bottom of the pot. Then layer the cabbage leaves in the pot, side by side, tightly together.

Using a kitchen weight or a “make-shift weight*” place it on top of the cabbage rolls. Cover with hot water just barely reaching the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes or until the cabbage and the rice are tender.