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.
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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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. For this recipe, it […] Fresh & Simple Creamed Corn - Tender, sweet, fresh corn with just a touch a milk and cream. A delightfully simple & delicious dish! 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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. […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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. Germany […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […] 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 […]
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