Green Pancakes without Artificial Colorings

Last year when we were exploring, if the chlorophyll extracted from plants can work as a coloring agent, we experimented with spinach and got the idea to try it as the coloring agent in our pancakes. The first time we tried it, the result was disappointing.  Even though we could see some green in the middle, the…

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Homemade Soap the Easy Way: chocolate soap, lavender soap, coffee soap and more

When my aunt suggested we make homemade soap together, I shrugged my shoulders, “Sure.”   I was born to a pair of college students living in a student dorm, so I spent a large portion of my childhood being babysat by an assortment of relatives.  The upside of this was that I got to learn a…

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Navy Bean, Squash, Apple Soup with Pumpkin Oil

  One of two choices is available to Chicagoans in November.  We can either wrap ourselves in existential depression lamenting the disappearance of warmer weather until April, or we can break out snow pants and embrace fall.  One of the things that help me embrace the cooler weather is my winter recipes folder.  It’s full of recipes for nurturing soups,…

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Apple Sorbet

When my friend told me she never had apple sorbet I was speechless for 30 seconds.  And if you don’t know me well let me just clarify.  30 seconds is a very long time!  If you don’t make apple sorbet, what do you do with leftover apples?  You know when you eat half an apple…

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Brain Boosting Smoothie for Kids and their Parents

Long before I took Biology and Chemistry of Food class at Northwestern University I knew what we eat matters.  After all I had years of practical experience.  I could eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and feel alert and strong through the morning.  Or I could eat a donut and fight sleep and lethargy half…

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Russian Apple Pie – Gluten-free Sharlotka

      Physics, geometry and chemistry were not the only subjects taken seriously in Soviet times.  In my public high school we were also required to take a class named Trudovoe Obuchenie (Trud), the name that I can only translate as Home Economics.  For two hours each week the girls baked and sewed, while boys hammered and…

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Perfect Peach Pie (gluten-free)

For some reason I have never seen Peach Pie on a menu in a restaurant.  I have never seen it at a potluck, picnic, or barbeque.  And none of the cookbooks in my extensive collection has a recipe for  it.  Apple pie?  Yes.  Key Lime Pie?  Yes.  Lemon Meringue Pie?  Sometimes.  But Peach Pie?  Never!…

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Lemon Honey Ice

We love tea with lemon and honey so much we drink it every day and some days three times before noon.  Drinking hot tea on a hot day is the best way to cool down.  I always knew it worked (I’ve been drinking hot tea in a summer all my life), but I only recently…

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Lemon Bars (gluten-free)

Classical lemon bars get a makeover with a gluten free flour.  Four out of five members of my family declared them perfect.  I made two batches and we took them on a picnic with us.  I bet some very happy ants are still eating our crumbs out at the park. Ingredients For the crust 1…

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Dream Blueberry Pie (gluten free)

I must be dreaming.   Is it possible that nobody tried to make a traditional key lime pie with blueberries in place of key limes?  I searched and searched, but didn’t find anything except for the classical key lime pie with a few blueberries on top for decoration.  I saw this blueberry pie in my…

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Homemade Whipped Cream Topping

Once upon a time there lived a girl by the name of Irina.  When Irina’s daughter turned one, Irina invited friends over to celebrate and made the most perfect cake in the world.  Between “Oh my god!” and “It’s so GOOD!”  I hardly had any ability to hear what she was saying about the secret…

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Homemade Diaper Rash Cream

I call my third child My Organic baby.  That’s because while I was pregnant with him I went all crazy about everything organic.  I bought only organic shampoos, used coconut oil as a body lotion, threw away my non-organic mascaras and didn’t color my nails.  Of course, I ate everything organic, made at home all…

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Fava Bean Salad

Throughout history meaning given to fava beans, one of the oldest cultivated plants on earth, ranged from magic to evil.  In ancient Egypt there were believed to have supernatural powers.  They were presented as a symbolic offering to the Gods of the Nile and not everybody was accorded the privilege of eating fava beans.  In…

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Fava Bean Dip

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear “fava beans,” I think about the iconic line from The Silence of the Lambs.  You know, which one I’m talking about?  “A census taker once tried to test me.  I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”  Few people realize that author…

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

I’m relatively new to gluten-free cooking.  For the longest time I considered it a passing fad like Atkins diet.  Then it happened.  At the time I had a 20-pound bag of wheat flour delivered every month through a subscribe-and-safe program on amazon.  But somehow I missed a month.  Some people would just go to a…

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Homemade Peanut Butter

During my third pregnancy my breakfast was either a toast with peanut butter or a toast with honey and … peanut butter.  When you eat that much peanut butter you become very particular about it.  At first I tried every brand and variety at Whole Foods, then I raided amazon online store.  Finally, I started…

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Chocolate Caramel Turtles

Ever since we read Anansi’s Party Time we’ve been searching for a perfect Chocolate Turtles recipe. We liked Chocolate Turtle Cake that we posted here, but it wasn’t until we tried the classical Chocolate Turtles recipe on what’s cooking America that we said “this is it!  Look no more!”  The ingenuity of this recipe is…

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Frozen Berry Treat – Замороженное Чудо

When I was a child I spent all of my summers with my grandparents in their country house (called dacha).  My grandparents were great gardeners.  They had everything from classic fruit trees to richly-flavored basil plants with every kind of berry and vegetable in between.  If you have a garden, you might be familiar with…

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Russian Rice Kasha – Рисовая Каша

Russian Rice Kasha is a breakfast dish that can be eaten anytime of the day.  It provides a delicious alternative to the way-too-sweet breakfast cereals and pancakes laden with maple syrup.  I recommend it especially, if you have children.  It seems that childhood foods are the ones people gravitate to later in life.  (I do).  I…

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Russian Compote – Soviet Cafeteria Star

Compote wasn’t just a Soviet cafeteria staple, it was an undisputed star.  It had a perfect combination of sweet and tart.  The pieces of fruit swimming inside were a dash of delight.  I still remember trying to get friends to give me the fruit from their compote.  “I will let you copy my math homework,…

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Homemade Lemonade in 5 minutes

Ever since we made homemade ice-cream in a bag we were wondering what else can we make in a bag.  Luckily I subscribe to education.com newsletter and this week they sent a recipe for a ziploc bag lemonade.  We tried it right away!  It’s a great recipe for a hot summer day when you just don’t feel…

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Homemade Lipstick

      Homemade Lipstick?  Are you crazy!  That’s what I would have told someone a year ago.  In the world where there is Dior’s Addict Lipstick there is no place for homemade stuff.  Have you tried it?  Moisturizing, volumizing, mmm…. it feels, smells, and tastes perfect.  It’s actually quite addictive.   But if you keep your…

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Dairy Free Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I mentioned somewhere before that I occasionally go through vegan phases.  The main reason these phases don’t last is that nobody else in my family is interested in that kind of eating and I end up cooking two sets of meals, which is sadly just not sustainable in a long run.  So whenever I find…

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Buckwheat Cookies

By now you probably know that I like everything buckwheat.  Why?  A look at the nutrition label at the back says it all.  Buckwheat is made of healthy protein, fat and carbohydrates.  It’s full of vitamins and minerals.  I first got the idea for buckwheat cookies from a cookbook by Brendan Brazier called Thrive Energy…

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Healthy Buns (without a bread machine)

About a month ago I posted a recipe for the Best Burger Buns with the dough made in a bread machine that’s been pretty popular, but as my friend pointed out, “Not everybody has bread machine!” So here it is!  Wonderful homemade buns that do not require the use of bread machine.  Just two hands…

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Better Banana Bread

Follow my blog with Bloglovin My kids love banana bread.   Instead of fighting it, I decided to make my banana bread healthier.  I added chia seeds (quality protein, manganese, magnesium…) and hemp hearts (plant-based protein, omegas, iron, phosphorus..).  I replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat (I would be happy to make…

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Homemade Sunscreen

      I find it ironic that while sunscreen sales are growing and reaching $1 billion a year, skin cancer is on the rise.  Shouldn’t this be an inverse relationship? According to CNN report, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. In fact, in the past three decades more people had skin…

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Homemade Hard Candy – Петушки на Палочке

When my kids ask me to buy candy I have the hardest time saying “yes.”  Not only there is nothing nutritionally valuable in candy, it is also often filled with additives, preservatives, and weird colorings with names that remind me of aircraft fuel.  So my solution to this problem is to make homemade candy.   We…

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Lemon Flax Seed Waffles

  Happy Mothers Day!  Instead of venturing out on a very cold morning and spending an hour waiting for a table in some crowded cafe, I decided to make my own mother’s day waffles.  Cooking is what I always prefer to do anyway.  When you make your own waffles you can make them just the…

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What Russian Tsar Ate for Breakfast?

  In the famous play by one of my most favorite Russian writers Mikhail Bulgakov there is a funny scene where lunch is served to Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The Tsar asks what is being served and hears the following list, “Rabbit livers boiled and pike’s heads in garlic and caviar… Anis vodka or cardamom…

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Buckwheat Bread – no yeast, no milk, no eggs, no knead recipe

I had to eat a lot of buckwheat bread to arrive at this final version.  And I say “I” because my kids refused to have any of it.  Fortunately, this final version is good enough even for them.  Phew…  I now realize that my mistake was trying to make buckwheat bread look like my regular…

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How to Make Russian Pancakes (two recipes)

  When I was a kid there was no holiday I liked more than Maslenitsa, the Pancake Festival.  It’s the oldest surviving Russian holiday dating back to 2nd century AD.  It started as a Pagan celebration of Spring and Sun and was later adapted into Christianity because folks just absolutely refused to give up the…

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Russian Vinaigrette Salad

I can’t recall one party or celebration from my childhood without this quintessential Russian salad.  And I’m pretty sure that not having it on a New Year’s night is practically illegal in three quarters of Russian territory.  I don’t know for sure what is the secret of its popularity, but I have my theory.  Beets…

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Basic Egg Bread (bread machine dough)

          I was just recently trying to estimate how many loaves of bread I made in the last five years.  I bake a new loaf at least every other day.  I bake bread for playdates and picnics.  I bring a loaf with me when I visit mommy friends who had a…

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Russian Easter Bread (Kulich – Кулич)

      Today is Orthodox Easter!  S Paskhoy Vas!    How to celebrate Easter Russian style In my childhood home we started Easter morning by eating пасхальные яйца (decorated eggs) and Кулич (Kulich bread).  Kulich is a lightly sweetened yeast-risen bread that has a mushroom shape – tall stem with round top.  The top of…

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My guide to essential oils

  Essential oils are all the rage.  The United States is now the largest importer and consumer of essential oils in the world ($2,721 million in 2013).  It seems that lately every time I get together with a friend she starts talking about essential oils that she just bought.  I got invited to Essential Oils…

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Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup

I know, I know it’s April.  But the gloom outside is a perfect setting for this classic comfort food.  So today we are making Chicken Noodle Soup.  I don’t know if anybody else does it this way. My friends are usually surprised.  But that’s the way we like it. Ingredients for the Stock 12 cups of…

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Easter Cakes – Cross Hot Buns (bread machine)

“Hot cross buns! // Hot cross buns! // One a penny, two a penny. // Hot cross buns! // If you have no daughters, // Give them to your sons! // One a penny, two a penny. // Hot cross buns!”  Every copy of Nursery Rhymes we ever owned included this silly and seemingly nonsensical rhyme.  “One a penny, two a penny,”…

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The history of oats in one bowl – Russian Oatmeal

All my kids are down with a cold.  I think I’m coming down with it too.  It only makes sense.  I just got into a habit of bragging that I’ve got through the winter without one sniffle.  No bragging should go unpunished.  Whenever I feel off sorts, I start craving comfort foods from my childhood.…

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Chocolate Caramel Turtles – Anansi’s Party Time

We are cooking our way through books.  It means that whenever we come across some food in a children’s book, we cook it.  (You can read more about it HERE).   As soon as we finished reading Anansi’s Party Time  my kids started jumping up and down shouting, “But we MUST make Chocolate Turtles.”  And so we…

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Russian Borscht – Grandmother’s recipe

If you have ever cooked Borscht in your life, you might have a very strong opinion about how it should be cooked.  And that’s ok.  Everybody cooks it differently.  There is no consistent recipe for borscht.  There is no agreement where it came from either.  I have heard Ukrainians say that borscht has Ukrainian origin…

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Apple Pie – Cooking our way through Children’s Books

We are cooking our way through children’s books.  It means that whenever we come across some food in a book, we cook it. (You can read more about it on this page) Today we are taking on How to bake a pie and travel the world by Marjorie Priceman.  In this book a young baker comes to…

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