Summer in the Winter Time: Frozen Berry Buttermilk Smoothie Recipe

Happy Friday! The winter is almost here (for me it starts December 1st), the cold weather is settling in and it's harder and harder to get out of my warm bed in the morning. But even in the middle of the winter, you can still have a hint of summer with this Summer in the Winter Time: Frozen Berry Buttermilk Smoothie Recipe.

Why on Earth would I use buttermilk in a smoothie? Because I had too much buttermilk left from a cake recipe I made for Thanksgiving and did not want it to go to waste. I came up with an idea of mixing buttermilk with some of the frozen berries I had picked in the summer and adding a bit of brown sugar to sweeten the deal.

Frozen Berry Buttermilk Smoothie
Serves 1-2 (makes 1 1/3 cup total)

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen berries (I used sour cherries and blueberries)
brown sugar to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)

1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend them up ;)

How gorgeous is this color??? You can adjust the amount of berries and buttermilk to get the texture you desire: add more berries for a thicker consistency, or more buttermilk to make this into a dessert soup.

For other ways to use buttermilk check out Buttermilk Pancakes with Boozy Persimmons, Roasted Pear & Buttermilk Sorbet, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, and Adobo Buttermilk Chicken.

How do you use buttermilk??


Shuba Recipe: Russian Recipes Revisited (RRR)

It's time for another Russian Recipes Revisited post! Are you excited!? I hope you are, because this is a stellar recipe. Shuba in Russian means winter coat, usually made from fur. No, I'm not going to tell you how to make a winter coat...no worries.

Shuba is a traditional layered salad served usually for New Year celebration: it has layers of herring, potatoes, hardboiled eggs, beets and mayonnaise. Some people add boiled and chopped carrots, or raw onions, or even apples. Below is my version of this dish.

Growing up in Russia, fish was often on our menu. My maternal grandmother loved fish and often fried it, made fish soup and even made her own gefelte fish! My paternal grandfather loved herring. Whenever we visited him and our paternal grandmother in Ukraine, herring was often on the table for zakuski: appetizers before the meal. The problem was, my twin and I HATED herring. Our grandfather would often say What kind of a Berman are you if you don't like herring!?

Oh, sweet memories!

Turns out, I don't hate all types of herring: just the salted one. I actually really like marinated herring and smoked herring.

Shuba is usually made with salted herring, but I decided to use the kind sold in jars in wine sauce. You can do whatever you want.

Serves 4

1 large potato cooked in its skin till tender, peeled and mashed
12 ounce jar herring in wine sauce
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise {I used homemade kind, but you can use whatever you like}
2 beets, cooked till tender, peeled and grated

1. Make a layer of mashed potatoes on a flat plate.
2. Add a layer of herring {I also used the onions that were in the jar for a bit of crunch}.
3. Spread around chopped eggs.
4. Add mayonnaise. {I used my mom's trick and put mayonnaise in a plastic bag, cut off the corner and used it as a piping bag.}
5. Pile on grated beets and add another layer of mayonnaise, spreading it carefully so it covers all the beets.
6. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
7. Before serving, add fresh chopped dill.

My friend Cindy came over to try this dish and LOVED it, as did I! I'm sure the herring will scare quite a few of you, but I dare you to try this anyway. You could also technically leave out the herring or use good quality tuna, but you will miss out on the briny flavor.

For next month's installment of Russian Recipes Revisited, I'm planning on baking my mom's sour cream cake! She sent me a recipe in the mail and I can't wait to recreate the cake I fondly remember from many celebration! {That's my mom's handwriting :) }


How To Make Mayonnaise At Home: No Longer a Homemade Mayo Virgin

I LOVE mayonnaise. Love is a strong word and I have no qualms of using it for food. Yes, I love mayonnaise. I love it on sandwiches, in tuna or egg salads, in the Russian potato salad, mixed into borsch, and eaten with fries. I've loved mayonnaise ever since I was a little girl.

But until last week, I have never ever made mayonnaise on my own. Is that a horrible thing? Not really, but I wanted to change it. My friend Nicole recommended a recipe from Epicurious, and I'm no longer a homemade mayonnaise virgin!

No, I did not whisk the ingredients by hand. Why would I when the whisk attachments worked just as well? I'm not going to retype the recipe because I followed it exactly, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature
2) Use an Oxo measuring cup (the one w/a slanted side) to add the oil very slowly
3) Make sure NOT to spill the oil all over your counter
4) Do not expect the homemade mayonnaise to taste exactly like the one you buy from a store

What you basically do is whisk an egg yolk with lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and salt and then super slowly add the oil while continuing to whisk. That's all!

This was quite an easy project. But you  know what I did yesterday? I bought a jar of mayonnaise from a grocery store. It will  last waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer, I actually prefer how it tastes, and I see nothing wrong with it.

Will I make mayonnaise myself again? Perhaps. Am I making any strong promises? No.

Have you made mayonnaise at home? Did you absolutely love it?


Lamb & Broccoli Strata Recipe {or Stuffing}

Here's a dish I created last weekend without going grocery shopping: Lamb & Broccoli Strata {or Stuffing}.

I defrosted a loaf challah I had from a photo shoot I did for a 2nd edition of Amy Riolo's cookbook, lamb I had from one of the recipe challenges and then used broccoli that was about to die in my refrigerator. The original plan was to make strata, but when it was time to add the eggs, I realized I only had 3 left! There wasn't quite enough egg'iness to make this a strata...so it's more of a baked stuffing. Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious! You can actually make something similar with your Thanksgiving leftovers: rolls, turkey, green vegetables, etc.

Lamb & Broccoli Strata Recipe {or Stuffing}


2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded, diced

1 cup ground lamb

salt & pepper

2 cups broccoli florettes

3 cups cubed challah

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. In a skillet heat the oil on medium high, add onions and jalapeno and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add the lamb and broccoli, season with salt and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes.

4. Add the lamb/broccoli mixture to a baking dish and incorporate 3 tablespoons of Parmesan and the cubed challah.

5. Whisk together the eggs with water and pour over the lamb/broccoli/bread mixture. Top with 1/4 cup of Parmesan and bake for 30 minutes.

Doesn't this look gorgeous? This makes a great breakfast, brunch or lunch dish. Eat on its own or with a salad. Feel free to double the number of eggs and use milk instead of water for a fluffier richer flavor.

I wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!


Enjoy Life More: Chunky Del Monte Tomato & Persimmon Salsa

Earlier this month, I was asked to participate in the "Enjoy Life More" campaign by Del Monte hosted by BlogHer. I would need to choose one of the Del Monte canned products and talk about how I Enjoy Life More everyday.

Well, this wasn't a difficult task. Ever since I was a little girl, I actually really liked canned vegetables. Peas were my favorite. To this day, I love canned peas and corn and often even drink the liquid they come in! This is not a joke. I also love canned tomatoes. Of course, tomatoes are best fresh when they are in season, but what are you to do when they aren't? That's when you have a choice: you can buy canned tomatoes or the ones that are sold at your grocery store.

The problem with store bought tomatoes in the cooler months is that they tend to lack in the flavor department. So unless you have a greenhouse, add some garden into your meals by adding Del Monte canned fruits or vegetables into your recipes for more nutrition. Del Monte's vegetables ensure you get the best flavor possible.

But what do tomatoes have to do with how I Enjoy Life More every day? Well, if you've been following me on twitter, you know one of my hobbies is salsa dancing. I started salsa dancing ten years ago and have fallen in love with the music, the dance, and sometimes the men. I go salsa dancing weekly and often listen to Latin music: it makes me happy, keeps my body moving, and gets me out of the house.

On days other than Fridays, when I generally go salsa dancing, I often turn off the TV and dance around my condo to one of the salsa stations on the radio or listen to one of my favorite CDs. In fact, that's the only way I clean my condo: with music in the background.

Whenever someone mentions salsa, my first thought is salsa music or salsa dancing. But for this Enjoy Life More post, I decide to create a salsa recipe with Del Monte's Diced Tomatoes with a few fresh ingredients added to spice things up.

Chunky Del Monte Tomato & Persimmon Salsa


14.5 ounce can Del Monte Diced Tomatoes, drained

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons lime juice (plus a few lime wedges for serving)

1 persimmon, peeled and chopped

salt & pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Serve the salsa with a few wedges of lime and your favorite chips.

To enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card, please tell me about meals that make you feel good & are good for you.

(And for additional opportunities to win prizes and learn more about Del Monte products, like them on Facebook!)

No duplicate comments.You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

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Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. This sweepstakes runs from 11/19/2012 - 12/21/2012

Official rules are available here.

Be sure to visit the Del Monte's brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Disclaimer: BlogHer and Del Monte sponsored this post. All opinions are my own.


My First Trip to DC's Union Market: What to See, Where to Eat, What to Buy

Last Sunday, my friend Cecilia and I made our first trip to Union Market. I've heard a ton of buzz about the market in the last few months and in fact know several people who have stores there. It was time I checked it out for myself!

Here's a bit of information from the website:
A year-round indoor market featuring 40 local artisans opened September 8, 2012. Union Market will once again be the culinary epicenter of the Capitol City. Surrounding the market will be a vibrant mix of retail, restaurants, hotel, entertainment, incubator space for new food concepts as well as retail and wholesale space.

Market Hours: Wednesday-Friday 11-8 | Saturday-Sunday 8-8

The market is located by the NoMa-Gallaudet U (New York Ave) Metro station (about a 5 block walk) and is somewhat isolated, but I felt fine walking there in day light with Cecilia.

I loved that the market had plenty of stores/restaurants/vendors to choose from without feeling overly crowded. First we checked out Salt & Sundry pop up store by Amanda McClements. If you love to be surrounded by pretty things, this is the store for you. You can buy pretty dishes, glasses, napkins, soaps as well as some food items. I bought a set of silver plated forks/spoons/knife and already made use of it in my latest blog post.

Then it was time for a snack. Since we had DC empanadas at a friends' wedding the day before and I was going to be eating a lot of lamb for dinner (Border Springs Farm!), those two food places were out. We decided to get bubbly and oysters from Rappahannock Oysters Co. The counter was packed, but we managed to find two stools. The oysters were plump, salty and incredibly fresh. And I was happy not to have to shuck them myself.

For $2/oyster, I could not say no to a 2nd half dozen. Cecilia tried a popular dish of lambs & clams and it was equally divine: lamb, clams, white beans, aioli served with two generous pieces of grilled bread all for just $14!

After lunch, it was time to do a bit more walking around. I was stopped in my tracks by a gorgeous orchid on the counter of Pearl: a fine teas store. There I bought two teas: black currant and mango licious. I've only tried the black currant tea and it's delicious! Can't wait to try the mango flavor.

Before leaving, we stopped by the Dutch Floral Garden which, just like Pearl, was doing a pop up shop at the market that day. The flowers were absolutely gorgeous, but I could not buy them because I had plans for after the market.

Instead, I bought a set of three vases on a square tray. Aren't the pretty? What a fun way to display flowers from Sylvie and Marshall's wedding ;)

I can't wait to go back to the market and check out the other vendors.

Have you been to the market? What were your favorite finds?


Persimmon Praline Pistachio Parfait: An Incredibly Easy Dessert (or Breakfast)

This past weekend was a three day weekend filled with good friends, beautiful weather and fun food adventures. What I did not manage to do, however, was to do grocery shopping and cook a few dishes for myself and to showcase on this blog. So Monday morning (day off!) I decided to create a two recipes from the ingredients I already had. Thus, here's a Persimmon Praline Pistachio Parfait. Don't you love all the Ps in the title? {These are the persimmons I found on a side of a road.}

{I will be posting my second creation, Lamb & Broccoli Strata, soon.}

If you wonder whether I always have praline pistachios on hand, the answer is no. They were a gift from Cecilia who brought them from Europe. If you don't have praline pistachios, you can use regular pistachios or just cook the nuts with a bit of sugar and water in a skillet. Of course you can also use any other nuts you have/like.

Greek yogurt, whisked with a fork
persimmons, peeled, chopped
praline pistachios, chopped

1. In a glass arrange persimmons, yogurt, pistachios, yogurt, persimmons, yogurt, pistachios.
2. Eat. 

Clearly, I loved this easy dessert, which I actually ate for breakfast.

Note: I bought an adorable set of forks, spoons and a knife from Salt & Sundry this weekend. The spoon above is just one of them.You'll be seeing more of these pretty silver plated utensils!

What's your go to dessert that can also be served as breakfast?


Not Your Typical Bagel Breakfast: Spanish Eggplant, Monterey Jack & Poached Egg

I'm not your cereal & milk for breakfast kind of a girl. I need more substance. In fact, I don't mind eating leftovers for breakfast once in a blue moon: think soup, pizza, or even half a burger!

As far as the "normal breakfast," bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon are one of my favorites, but they do get old. A few weekends ago I decided to have a bagel with a few atypical toppings: eggplant, cheese (ok, that's not that different) and a poached egg.

For the eggplant part, I used Sabra's Spanish Eggplant that I received as being part of Sabra's Tastemakers Program. Before visiting the Sabra factory in Richmond, VA, I had no idea Sabra makes vegetarian sides like this one. The Spanish Eggplant is a "delicious mix of all-natural ingredients, including eggplant, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Simmered in a tangy tomato sauce, this classic blend of veggies makes a lovely appetizer or intriguing addition to any meal."

If you can't find the Spanish Eggplant at your grocery store, just make something similar at home!

Spanish Eggplant, Monterey Jack & Poached Egg Bagel

1 bagel, toasted (use whichever flavor you like)
1 slice Monterey Jack cheese
2-4 tablespoons Sabra's Spanish Eggplant
1 poached egg

1. Assemble: bagel, cheese, eggplant, egg.
2. Dig in!

I decided to have this as an open sandwich, but you can do as you please! This is a messy dish to eat for sure, but who cares? I love breaking the egg yolk and have it coat the rest of the ingredients.

And now, a few words about a toaster I used for the bagel:

Last month I received an email from the makers of Magimix to see if I'd like to review one of their toasters: MAGIMIX BY ROBOT-COUPE VISION TOASTER. At first I wasn't sure if I was interested. I have a toaster. I've had it for over 7 years and it does the job. In fact, it toasts bread, English muffins and bagels. And it allows me to toast frozen versions of toast and bagels.

But then I looked at the Magimix toaster and fell in love. It comes in a shiny red color and it has a see-through window, letting you see exactly how toasted your bread is getting! How brilliant is that?

Magimix has settings for bagels, toast, frozen toast (but alas not bagel), and an option to reheat already toasted bread.

And if you want an official description, here you go:

The Vision Toaster’s innovative technology:
4 heat settings include Toast, Defrost, Reheat and Bagel (one-sided toasting).
Defrost function automatically switches to toasting function once defrost is complete.
Reheat button reheats without drying out the toast.
Extra-wide slots accommodate the thickest bagels, baguettes and toasts.
Long-life quartz elements provide faster browning leaving bread crisp on the outside yet still moist on the inside.
Slide-out crumb tray and double insulated borosilicate glass windows make for easy cleaning and safe use.
Durable construction. Built to last for 30,000 uses.

Bottom line: this is a great looking and well functioning kitchen appliance! Thank you, Magimix for the lovely gift. I just now need to find a home for my old toaster!!

Disclosure: I received a Magimix toaster for the purpose of a review but was not compensated for the review in any way. All opinions are my own.