Archive for March, 2009


I love pork tenderloin! It’s cheap and so simple and quick to prepare, yet it always feels like a lot more effort went into it. I think I make one almost every week – usually roasted with a dry spice rub.

Tonight, I wanted something with apples. It was a rainy day and pork chops with apples feels like a comfort-food combination for me. This recipe comes from Simply Recipes. I chose it because I had all of the ingredients on-hand. (Except for some dry white wine – I used “cooking wine” instead. I’m not really sure if using regular white wine would’ve made any difference.)


The result was delicious!! The cumin wasn’t overpowering and the apples were sooo tasty! I think I cooked my tenderloin a little too long – I forgot to set the alert on my thermometer, so I didn’t take it out of the oven until it was at around 167 degrees F. But Stas always complains that I don’t cook things enough (he just likes things really really well-done), so let’s just pretend that I didn’t make a mistake and that I did it all for Stas πŸ™‚


Cumin Dusted Pork Tenderloin with Apples
from Simply Recipes

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
minced garlic
salt and black pepper
ground cumin
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used cooking wine)
1 medium sized apple, peeled, cored, and sliced



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

With the tip of a sharp knife, make deep little slits all over the tenderloin and insert bits of garlic all over. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin (a light dusting of cumin… don’t go overboard!).

Place the oil in a skillet and sear the tenderloin over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, turning the meat as it browns.

Remove the meat from the skillet (do not discard any juices in the skillet) and place in an oven-proof baking pan (one with some depth). Add the broth and white wine, cover with aluminum foil, and place it in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

After you’ve placed the meat in the oven, cook the apple slices in the skillet that you used to brown the tenderloin. Saute until soft.


sauteed apples

When the tenderloin is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.


right out of the oven

Slice the tenderloin into 1/4-inch thick slices. Serve with the sliced apples.

Serves 2


pork + apples = comfort


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Sausage and Vegetable Stew over Egg Noodles

I had a good Saturday! Stas and I got up early (9:30am), had breakfast, and then he left to go skydiving for the day. I spent some time researching bridal makeup on the internet (I think I found my look) and then went grocery shopping. I loooove grocery shopping (seriously), and I took my time today and fully enjoyed it. A bonus was that it wasn’t packed like it usually is, so I managed to leave with my good mood intact πŸ™‚

After putting the groceries away, I decided to do some cooking. This recipe comes from the current issue of Food Network magazine. I got it for free – it was one of those “try our magazine for free” deals on the internet. The catch was that they secretly enrolled you in a full subscription – so sneaky!!! I cancelled it right away, but still got the free issue. (score!)

The magazine is full of recipes, but most of them aren’t very healthy. And most of the chefs on the food network really annoy me. The Food Network was awesome a few years ago, when they had a lot less Rachel Ray, Next Food Network Star and other reality-type shows, and a lot more Mario Batalli, Iron Chef, and Giada De Laurentiis.

Anyway, back to the recipe! It caught my eye as a great recipe to make for Stas – because he loves soups and stews, especially for weekend lunches.

It was very easy to make, and Stas really liked it – so it may be a keeper!

I served it over egg noodles for him because he had a long, exhausting day of skydiving (he got 4 jumps in today) and needed some carbs!


Sausage and Vegetable Stew
adapted from Food Network Magazine, Feb/Mar 2009

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
Kosher salt
4 cups water
6 ounces kielbasa, cut into small chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the oil turns deep red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook until just toasted, 30 more seconds. Immediately stir in 4 cups water. Add the kielbasa, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with pepper, and more salt if necessary.

(optional: serve with sour cream, fresh chopped parsley, and a sprinkle of paprika)

Serves 4


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I’ve been slacking again! Not in the cooking department – I’m still cooking daily (we very rarely go out to eat, and we never ever order in)… but in the posting department! It’s just that I haven’t made anything special or worth posting about. A lot of repeats (kotleti, beef and barley soup), and a lot of meals just thrown together at the last minute (like chicken breasts sprinkled with an ad-hoc conconction of herbs and spices).

So this post is about my other passion at the moment: my wedding!!!

Date? Check!

We’re getting married in September 4, 2009. This is a perfect date for a few reasons: 1) It’s a Friday, so we save money on some of the vendors, 2) It’s Labor Day Weekend!, and last but certainly not least, 3) it’s my Mom and Dad’s 15th wedding anniversary! And the date just looks cool: 09.04.09

Location? Check!

Willowdale Estate

Willowdale Estate

This was a tough decision. I was torn between the Warren Conference Center & Inn in Ashland, MA (the practical choice) and Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, MA (the venue of my dreams… but more expensive and out of theΒ  way for most guests). In the end, I went with the one I absolutely loved and the one where I could envision the perfect wedding: Willowdale!

Looking back, it shouldn’t have been such a tough decision. Each time I visit Willowdale, I fall more and more in love with it!

Wedding colors? Check!

Light blush pink, a darker berry pink, and champagne. Like this:


Officiant? Check!

It took me awhile to find an officiant. We wanted someone who could offer Russian translation of the ceremony – and someone who wouldn’t charge us too much for it! The Martha Stewart Weddings website has this great tool where you can put in exactly what you’re looking for and vendors will enter bids for it. That’s how I found Linda Brown. We met with her a few weeks ago and she was wonderful – very warm and friendly, and she had a lot of good ideas for the ceremony. Plus, she has a friend who will do the Russian translation!

My dress? Check!

It was the second one I tried on and I knew right away. I tried on more after that, but nothing compared to it.

No pictures, though. I can’t risk Stas seeing it!! πŸ™‚

My shoes? Check!

Benjamin Adams London - Diaz

Benjamin Adams London - Diaz

I bought these from a wedding/special occasion shoe store near my work (Dyeable Shoe Store). I think I tried on 20 pairs of shoes before finally choosing – it was SUCH a hard decision. I knew I wanted something with some embellishment, and of course they had to be comfortable. When my dress comes on, I’m going to bring the shoes back to the store with a swatch and have them dyed the same color. After the wedding, I’ll have them dyed black so I can wear them again.

Bridesmaid dresses? Check!

Dessy After Six - style 6556

Dessy After Six - style 6556

I love these! And luckily the girls do, too! I thought this would be one of the harder things to find, but it was pretty quick and easy! The color is blush pink.

Jr. Bridesmaid dress? Check!

Raylia - style 4288Z

Raylia - style 4288Z

We picked this out last weekend. Unfortunately, the “Jr.” style wasn’t available to try on, and there’s no picture of it, but I think It’ll be perfect. We ordered the shorter version, in 2 light pink colors (I think ‘pale pink’ and ‘baby pink’)

Flower Girl dress? Check!

Us Angels - style 233

Us Angels - style 233

… with a light pink ribbon. I’m also going to buy a dark pink ribbon at a fabric store. Light vs. dark may be a last-minute decision for me.

Hair/Makeup Stylist? Check!

I absolutely love my hair stylist. I’ve been going to Renee Britt at Athena Salon in Boston for years now and she always gives me a great cut & color. Plus, she’s super-nice, so going for my haircut always feels like I’m going to visit a friend. She’ll be doing my hair and makeup on the big day. We haven’t had any dry-runs yet, but I have some ideas floating around. For my hair, I want a simple, elegant low bun. For my makeup, I want something bright – no smoky eyes. Something that makes me look radiant yet natural.

Cake? Check! (kinda)

We know who is making the cake… Torte di Venezia. Its actually part of the Willowdale package, so no big decisions there. We just need to decide on a final design and the flavor.

Favors? Check!

This is also part of the Willowdale package… a candy buffet! I wanted to have one anyway, so it’s awesome that it’s included in the price of Willowale! I just need to order bags.

I also ordered personalized match boxes from The Knot. (and I got personalized cocktail napkins to match!)

DJ? Check!

I met Greg Gates at a Willowdale bridal expo and right away, I knew he was the perfect choice. He has years of experience, an infinite number of positive reviews and recommendations, and he offers a great package at a great price. Greg will be doing the music fot the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.

Photographer? Check!

I’m very lucky to work with an extremely talented photographer: Jeff Newcum. His style is exactly what I wanted in a wedding photographer, and I absolutely love his work. I’m so excited that he’ll be shooting my wedding. I think that having a good photographer is one of the most important details of a wedding, because I’m sure I’m going to miss out on so many of the small details throughout the day/night. And I’m going to be so nervous/excited/stressed/emotional that I probably won’t be able to absorb everything going on around me.

Lighting? Check!

"Uplighting" at Willowdale Estate

"Uplighting" at Willowdale Estate

I’m SO excited about the lighting!! I saw this type of lighting in magazines when I first started planning and didn’t think it would be affordable – but it totally is. Boston Uplights has done many weddings at Willowdale, so they know exactly what to do to make it look perfect.

Registry? Check!

We are registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Crate & Barrell.

What’s left?

A whole bunch of stuff! If you ask Stas, he’ll say that the whole thing is planned already. But that’s so not true! There’s still a big list of to-do’s:

Find tuxes
Decide on flowers
Decide on the cake design
Decide on the menu (we have a menu tasting this Sunday!)
Order bags for the candy bar
Put together baskets for the bathrooms (toiletries, etc)
Order a bunch of candles to decorate the venue and the tables
Organize the rehearsal dinner
Finalize and send the invites (which my talented sister designed!)
Do the seting chart
Take care of the programs, place cards, menues, etc.
Plan the honeymoon (New Zealand!)
etc. etc. etc.
(so much!)

Planning a wedding is a lot of work – but it’s fun!

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I love fish… but I don’t make it too often. Instead, I usually get my “fish fix” in the form of sashimi (yum!). I found this recipe through a “Dinner Tonight” search on MyRecipes.com. I thought it would be a gym night, so I was looking for something quick but tasty. This recipe caught my eye because it used mayonnaise. I’m really not a mayonnaise person – I tend to stick to more natural, whole foods. But I have a lot of different kinds of mayo sitting in the back of my fridge – mostly unopened – from dip recipes or Russian salad recipes. For awhile, I kept buying new jars, thinking I was all out, only to get home and find I had plenty.

I planned on cooking this with haddock, but Stop & Stop had cod loins on sale and I just couldn’t resist! Any white fish will do – just adjust the cooking time based on the thickness.

Easy Baked Cod Loins
from Cooking Light, October 1999

1 1/2 pounds cod or other white fish fillets (grouper, haddock, etc)
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley



Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place fish on an baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Combine lime juice, mayonnaise, onion powder, and pepper in a small bowl, and spread over fish.


fish with mayo mixture

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs; drizzle with butter (Actually, I just sprayed mine with some olive oil spray).


ready for the oven

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Sprinkle with parsley.


right out of the oven


if it flakes easily, it's ready!


serves 4 (or 1 little Shushka + 1 hungry man)

I really enjoyed this recipe. It was quick, used up some of my mayonnaise, and very tasty. I loved the combination of flavors! Stas claimed to like it, but he scraped off all of his breadcrumb topping, so who really knows.




Stas, that's the best part!!!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; whenever he orders fish at a restaurant, he makes sure to get it “without the crumbs”.

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Look! A new post!!

I’ve been neglectful again.Β  I haven’t stopped cooking – I’ve been forgetting to take pictures. And without the pictures, what good is a cooking blog post?

I almost forgot to take pictures of this soup. And then the camera almost died on me (low battery). It’s a miracle that I actually have some material to work with here!

This recipe is from the March issue of Cooking Light, in the “Lunch to go” article. For the past couple of months, I’ve been packing lunch for Stas… sometimes it’s a wrap, sometimes some borscht, sometimes leftovers. I try to switch it up so he doesn’t get bored. (So I really hope he likes this soup!) I chose this recipe simply because I’ve never made a beef & barley soup before…



Barley and Beef Soup
from Cooking Light, March 2009

cooking spray (I used sunflower oil)
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 pound chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled carrot (about 4)
1 cup chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked bearl barley
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray (or oil). Add chopped onions and beef; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender and beef is browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


chuck steak fillets


beef & onions in dutch oven

Add chopped carrot and celery to dutch oven; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in barley and remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and summer 40 minutes, or until the barley is done and vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaves.


after adding carrots & celery



Serves 6 (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

This is the type of recipe that improves with time. So if you can, make it the day before you plan to eat it.



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