Okay, I’ll confess it. I absolutely love cooking. It’s a passion of mine that started at a young age. The last of 5 kids I had a working mama who was a strong believer in a home cooked meal. She’d come home from work, take off her heels, gather us in the kitchen and away we’d go cooking. Her favorite motto was “if you want to eat, you’ve got to cook!”
She was always a gem in the kitchen. A tender bundle of joy normally blasting some music or singing to make her own while we cooked. From the age of 5 I was in the kitchen with her and it was always such a joy for me and still remains a joy to this day. There’s something amazing about starting from nothing “scratch” and making something beautiful. I think within all of us there’s a desire for that in some form or fashion. For me, the kitchen is definitely a place that I explore this desire.
By the age of 15 I was working in fast food and found myself even more interested in cooking. Over the course of my teenage years and early twenties I worked in several restaurants, met amazing people, published recipes, pitched a cooking show (as the writer and host), attended restaurant openings, studied world cuisines from old ladies (they have the best cooking skills ever!) and travelled the world discovering new cuisines, traditions and tastes. By 25 I packed my car full of everything I owned and moved to the Hamptons to work in sales and marketing for the hospitality business. Of course my passion for food invaded everything and I ended up befriending several chefs, developing menus and cooking behind the line.
Food equalizes us all. It reminds us that we are but dust, fragile and in need. We cannot sustain ourselves and the need for food is just a glimpse of how much we need our Creator. If you’ve ever been amazed by anything in this world, you’ve got to know that there’s a God who made it and loves you passionately.
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 […] Homemade German Pretzels (“Bretzels”) - Soft and tender, freshly baked pretzels. It is like taking a trip to Germany without stepping foot outside of your kitchen. Pretzels are one of the first snack foods that I remember eating as a kid outside of my favorites (cucumber & bell peppers — don’t judge me, I’ve always loved my veggies, lol!). My […] Italian Homemade Lasagna with Ground Beef - Layers of delicate noodles, tender ground beef, rich ricotta cheese and savory marinara sauce make this lasagna a flavorful dish for any night of the week. I grew up eating a lot of Italian food and I’ve found that it has shaped and impacted my cooking in such a positive way. Lasagna was definitely a […] Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi) - A simple and refreshing salad with lemon juice and olive oil. “Coban” literally means “shepherd” in Turkish. This flavorful salad packed with crisp veggies and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It is absolutely so simple to make and it is the perfect appetizer or even main course. I think you’re going […] Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese - Rich, velvety, smooth ricotta cheese — made from scratch. I never knew until about 5 years ago just how simple some cheeses are to make. The first cheese I ever made was Paneer for making the beautiful Indian dish, Saag Paneer. It was truly such an exciting process because I love making new discoveries in […] Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt) - Tender eggs poached to perfection in a bed of creamy garlic yogurt and with a drizzle of olive oil and red pepper flakes. This dish is such a prime example of the beauty of Turkish cooking. It is true that there are some Turkish dishes that are complex and laborious to prepare but this one […] How to Make Sauerkraut (from Scratch) - German cuisine would not be complete without sauerkraut. There’s nothing better than a grilled bratwurst, brötchen and sauerkraut. Or really, sauerkraut with anything is always a good idea for me. My first recollection of sauerkraut is when I when I was seven years old, I remember seeing my dad pile it high on his hot […] Cocoa Coffee Brownies “Caffeinated Brownies” - An energizing and chocolatey twist on your next coffee break — Cocoa Coffee Brownies “Caffeinated Brownies.” I have heard it said that coffee truly does enhance the flavor of chocolate. But even if it didn’t, I think somehow I would still manage to combine them together in some form or facet. I rarely bake anything chocolatey […] Homemade Simit: Turkish Bagels (Authentic, Crispy & Delicious) - Crispy on the outside, coated with toasted sesame seeds, but soft on the inside; there is nothing quite like a Simit (Turkish bagel). There is nothing quite like a fresh-baked Simit (Turkish bagel). You can find them in most Turkish bakeries but also from street carts selling them from just 1 or 2 lira. It […] Spätzle (German Egg Noodles –Homemade) - Love at first bite, there is nothing quite like homemade Spätzle. Spätzle are delicious German egg noodles and simply delicious. This recipe captures the essence of the homemade Spätzle making process combining a blend of traditional and modern methods. The first time I tried Spätzle was the day after I got married. My husband is from Germany and we […] Strawberry Sorbet (Made from Scratch) - A refreshing, healthy & cool treat — this strawberry sorbet recipe is so simple and so good. Just a few simple ingredients! As a kid, we not only went for ice cream but also we went out for frozen yogurt and sorbet. It was always an experience that I loved especially for the fact that […] Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers - Fluffy scrambled eggs cooked with tender tomatoes, onions, peppers and Turkish spices; A hearty and delicious breakfast meal. The first time I tried Menemen was at Turkish breakfast one day at a restaurant. I love egg dishes so I have tasted and cooked my fair share of eggs. Although this dish is so […] Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade) - Brötchen, literally translated means “little bread.” These delicious traditional German bread rolls take me back to Germany every time I make them. I’ll never forget my first trip to Germany. We arrived at the airport and I was so excited. I was getting to see my husband’s homeland for the first time. When we arrived, […] Fresh & Simple Guacamole - Oh guacamole, you taste so good. With fresh ripe avocados and a pico de gallo it’s the perfect balance to make this dish taste delicious like it should. Although I am definitely a big fan of eating guacamole with some pita chips or tortilla chips, there are truly a plethora more ways to enjoy it. […] Roasted Eggplant Salad - A refreshing salad packed with tender pieces of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions. Ever since I started roasting eggplant, it has brought such joy to my recipes. Roasting eggplant is super simple, it pretty much guarantees that the eggplant will be tender and perfectly cooked and it is so delicious. This salad is […] Oma Erika’s Pilz (Mushroom) Pasta: How to Cook Like a German - There’s nothing like a recipe from a grandma and this recipe from Oma Erika is so good and yet so simple to prepare. As a kid and even to this day, I have always heard the marvelous stories about my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They were marvelous cooks and just marvelous women in my opinion. But […] So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes - Who needs french fries when you have potato latkes? No, this is not an exaggeration. Trust me, with one bite you too will be a latke fan. I realize more and more as an adult, how blessed I was to grow up in such an international and intercultural community. It expanded my world so much […] The Simplest Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients) - Making lentil soup is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with this great recipe. Everything goes in one pot and it is minimal prep, minimal clean up but with maximum flavor and taste. I have more than one lentil soup recipe but I love this one because it is much simpler than my other one […] Omelette with Garlic Yogurt (Cilbir) - A delicious plain omelette cooked to perfection and served on plain yogurt garnished with red pepper flakes. Cilbir is traditionally made with poached eggs but this alternative is a welcome embrace for a simplier version. But if you prefer, you can prepare this recipe the same way, except poach the eggs instead of preparing an […] Authentic Pico de Gallo (Fresh Mexican Salsa) - Fresh, vibrant and full of flavor; there is nothing quite like Pico de Gallo. With only a few simple ingredients, you’re own your way to Pico de Gallo paradise. I honestly can’t recall the first time I tried Pico de Gallo. I grew up eating Mexican food so much that it is such an integral […] Soy Tahini Rice Noodle Salad - Light and tender rice noodles coated with a soy-tahini dressing and packed with fresh veggies. I love noodles. But I love noodles with soy sauce and tahini (combined or separately). There’s just something about the flavor of this type of food that I absolutely crave and love. This rice noodle salad was inspired by wanted […] Swiss Chard Bulgur Rissoto (Pancarli As) - Tender swiss chard is cooked with peppers, onions, bulgur, tomato paste and bulgur to create this comforting dish. Here’s the recipe: 10 oz ground beef 1 bunch of chard (cleaned and chopped) 1/2 c medium sized bulgur 1 onion (diced) 1 TBSP butter 1 TBSP olive oil 1 TBSP tomato paste 1/2 TBSP red pepper […] Lemon & Dill Tuna Salad - Protein packed, simple and delicious –this is a healthier twist on the classic tuna salad recipe. All the flavor you crave but without as many calories. I love making salads. But not just traditional green salads, but rather salads that I can make ahead of time, pop them in the fridge and that last for […] Turkish Style Hummus - Traditional cuisine meets modern with this Mediterranean classic! What I appreciate about hummus is that it is just so simple. All you need is a few minimal ingredients and then you have something really special. The tahini is an absolute must! A paste made from ground sesame seeds, tahini compliments the flavor of the chickpeas […] Fresh Mint Lemondade (All Natural, Healthy & Kid-Friendly) - Refreshing, cool & so good! This mint lemonade is a twist on a classic recipe. Full of fresh chopped mint it is a cool delightful beverage for any day of the week. As a kid, summertime always meant Mom’s Lemonade. Homemade with simply lemons, water and sugar and with the perfect ratio of all ingredients […] Red Lentil Soup (Eksili Malhita Çorbasi) - A creamy lentil soup, blended to perfection and topped with mint, it’s so delicious and satisfying without feeling overly full. The best part of this recipe is that it’s a one pot recipe and the lentils are the star of the show. You literally place the lentils and rice in a large stock pot and […] Stovetop Homemade Macaroni & Cheese - Creamy, comforting and delicious homemade macaroni and cheese! Comfort food at its finest and a throwback to childhood. Macaroni and cheese in my household was an art. In fact, I never knew about the box version until I went to my best friend’s house at the age of 5. Her mom was making a the […] Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte) - Delicious mini meatballs made of ground beef and bulgur nestled in cacikli a thick yogurt sauce with parsley, garlic and spices. Here’s the recipe: Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte) 4 c thick yogurt 2 bunches of parsley (finely diced) 10 garlic cloves (minced) 10 oz ground beef […] How to Make a Bechamel Sauce - Creamy and silky smooth, a delicious bechamel sauce is the perfect base to many culinary creations, especially a really quick and yummy stove top macaroni and cheese. Bechamel Sauce. From the moment I heard the name of this sauce as a kid, it sounded so fancy. It was something that I saw French chefs talking […] Homemade Baked Pita Chips - Crunchy, flavorful and so good. These homemade pita chips are super simple and super delicious. I love pita bread but sometimes I find it difficult to consume it all before it spoils. So, these pita chips are the perfect solution. Once they are baked I toss them in a sealed plastic bag and they stay […] Dolangel (Flakey Pastry with Pistachios & Cream) - Flakey, crisp and just sweet enough –dolangel is a must try Turkish dessert! If you like Turkish baklava, then you’ll love this dessert! It’s the type of dessert that when you take a bite, the flakey pastry bursts in your mouth. Crispy and so light, it’s so delicious. The yufka (a dough similar to phyllo […] Homemade Mashed Potatoes - Creamy, smooth and so delicious — there’s nothing like mashed potatoes made from scratch! Mashed potatoes is one of the most quintessential foods of my childhood. Thankfully, in my house it was not just reserved for holidays but also for Sunday suppers or even for weekday dining. I learned how to prepare mashed potatoes through […] Red Lentil Meatless Meatballs (Malhitali Köfte) - A tender, delicious, savory, meat-less version of a meatball backed with bulgur, lentils and veggies. Yet again, this is another great köfte (Turkish for “meatball”) recipe. Instead of meat, it’s packed full of bulgur, red lentils, vegetables and spices. They are a flavorful addition to your menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Here’s the […] DIY Self-Rising Flour - Don’t forsake your favorite recipe that requires self rising flour, thanks to this simple DIY recipe to make self rising flour in a flash! Growing up, my mom always had two containers of flour. On one container she labeled it “All Purpose Flour” and on the other she labeled it “Self Rising Flour.” I noticed […] Peynirli Künefe - A sweet delicious dessert packed with sweet cheese, pistachios and a crunchy base and top layer! A Mediterranean classic dessert. Okay so I’ll admit that way before I started learning about Mediterranean cooking, the idea of cheese in a dessert (besides marscapone) didn’t sound so appetizing to me. It wasn’t until a friend took us […] Gavurdağı Salad (A Traditional Turkish Salad) - A fresh & delicious Turkish salad with the perfect balance of savory and sweet with an olive oil and pomegranate molasses dressing. This salad was love at first bite. One of the beautiful things about Turkish food is the vibrant and fresh ingredients that are used in every facet of traditional cooking. […] Ali Nazik (Roasted Eggplant topped w/ Seasoned Ground Beef) - A creamy, savory and flavorful entree, Ali Nazik is light and delicious. A traditional Turkish dish, it tastes and looks like a work of art. I have tried many variations of Ali Nazik and I must admit that they were all good in their own unique way. I’ve even created my own recipe for Ali […] Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup - Savory and flavorful, this soup packs a punch. Creamy and thick, it’s packed with meat, chickpeas, vegetables and saffron. Here’s the recipe: Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup 500g stew beef chunks 500g green beans (blanched) 1400g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt) 1 egg 4 scallions (white parts only) 1 1/2 c chickpeas (canned […] Stuffed Zucchini with Saffron & Pistachios (Kuzu Icli Kabak Dolmasi) - The perfect balance of a savory ground beef filling with aromatic spices, pistachios and almonds. In Turkish cooking, I’ve been learning about the myriad of different variations on stuffed vegetables. There are many variations. This is already the third variation of stuffed zucchini and it tastes completely different than the last recipe I learned. The […] Curry Chicken - Tender marinated chicken coated in a creamy flavorful curry sauce with mushrooms and sweet red peppers. I love curry chicken. And I know that curry in general is one of those spices (although it’s actually a combination of spices but that’s a whole other story) that people seem to love or to hate. As a […] Oven Roasted Potato Wedges - Crispy and flavorful on the outside, tender and delicate on the inside–these oven roasted potato wedges are cooked to perfection to make a delicious and simple dish. I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like a good potato wedge. As a kid, wedges were my favorite way to eat potatoes. I loved the fact […] Turkish Abugannuş - Lusciously creamy, thick and with a hint of garlic, this is a beautiful and simple preparation of the classic Babaganoush. It’s true. I’ve tried so many different variations of Babaganoush that they all tasted like a completely different dish. They all had eggplant but everything else about them was very different. Some had tomatoes, while […] Savory Bulgur with Caramelized Onions (Sade Simit Asi) - Creamy and smooth bulgur, packed with flavor and topped with caramelized onions. If you love polenta, then you will love this bulgur dish. The bulgur is simmered in a delicious tomato broth until it is tender and creamy. Then it topped with caramelized onions and ready to enjoy! Here’s the recipe: Sade Simit Asi […] Tasty Tabbouleh Salad - A delicious Mediterranean twist on your salad night, try this Tasty Tabbouleh Salad! Tabbouleh is a common salad eaten throughout many countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is a simple salad but packed with flavor in every bite. It starts with fresh veggies that are mixed together with bulgur and tossed with […] Turkish Meat Pie (Sini Köfte) - Flavorful ground beef, pistachios, walnuts and almonds are layered between finely ground bulgur to make a savory meat pie. Here’s the recipe: Sini Köfte 1.5 lbs lean ground beef 3 c finely ground bulgur 4 onions (finely diced) 2 T red pepper flakes 1 tsp saffron 1 T raw pistachios 1 T raw walnuts 1 […] Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav) - Tender saffron yogurt coated ribs are tenderized and roasted to perfection to top a plate full of rice pilaf. For this recipe, the ribs do most of their cooking in a pressure cooker. Then they are coated with a mixture of yogurt and saffron and roasted until perfection. Meanwhile, the rice pilaf is […] Cumin & Herb de Provence Roasted Carrots - Light, delicious and full of flavorful–these cumin and herb roasted carrots make the perfect side item to compliment any meal. Making vegetables delicious is often as simple as adding a little herbs or spices. This dish, is a great example of the big difference a few herbs can make. A blend of purple and orange […] Beef & Onion Stew (Salçali Soğan Aşı) - Tender chunks of stew beef are sautéed to perfection and then braised with pearl onions and quince until tender and succulent. Growing up, beef stew was a staple in my house, especially during the winter time. It was a hearty stew, paired with rice and perfect for warming up on a cold day. This beef […] DIY Pasta Making: Orecchiette - Italian for “little ears” this unique pasta shape is perfect for scooping up delicious sauce. Orecchiette is one of a kind. Sure, there are similar pastas but there is not one quite like this one. When my local grocery stores stopped selling it, I resorted to making my own from scratch. The most […]
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