Shuba Salad with Herring (Cалат шуба)

shuba salad with herring

I know that to some people Herring is not a type of fish they would normally have in their fridge or think of ever purchasing, but once you have this salad you’ll think differently. As a child I was always a very picky eater and Herring was a type of fish you couldn’t even get me to look at. However, once I gave it a try, when I was about 10, things changed. I’ll be honest, my kids are not big fans of this salad but that’s because of the beets not because of the Herring. To them, vegetable seem more gross than any fish, lol. In fact, when I make this salad they are the first once to try it and always pick out all the pieces of Herring. All it takes is one bite to understand the unique and delicious taste of Herring. Give it a try and you won’t regret.

INGREDIENTS:

17 oz. of Herring fillets

4 Potatoes (boiled, pealed and grated)

2-3 Eggs (boiled)

1/2 Red or Yellow onion

3-4 Medium beets (you can use canned beets (2 cans) or freshly boiled beets)

1 1/2 Cups of mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Cut 1/2 of Herring fillets into thin slices and place it evenly in the bottom of a casserole or pie dish.

2. Finely chop 1/4 of the onion and place it evenly over the Herring.

3. Use a large grater and grate 2 potatoes and spread it evenly over the onion.

4. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the potatoes (just a dash).

5. Use a large grater and grate 1-2 medium beets over the potatoes.

6. Spread evenly 1/2 of the mayonnaise over the beets.

7. Now repeat steps 1 through 6.

8. For garnish, use a small grater and grate the eggs over the mayonnaise. Make sure you grate the eggs evenly. Now you’re all done!

Shuba Salad with Herring

9. Place the salad in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours to let the mayonnaise get into every layer. I normally make this salad in the evening and let it sit overnight before serving.

Enjoy🙂

Sauerkraut and Italian Sausage Salad

Sauerkraut and Italian Sausage Salad

Recently my 10-year old daughter discovered (or more like re-discovered) sauerkraut. I used to prepare meals with sauerkraut often but I could never get my kind to eat it, until now. It’s hard to be the mom who loves to cook yet having kids who eat like birds and who are extremely picky with food. However, the solution to my excessive cooking is play dates😉 My friend’s kids love my cooking (which I wont deny, makes me really happy) and always seems to ask for more which works out great for me and my kids since their appetite increases when they have a big company.

This dish is not new to me, it’s one of many dishes I grew up with. I like to prepare this dish during my busy days because it takes less then 30 minutes to prepare and it tastes amazing. This is a perfect recipe for those who want that perfect dinner at least once a week yet have no time to cook.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauerkraut  and Italia Sausage Ingredients

1 Jar or 16 oz of Sauerkraut

2 Cups of chopped Italia sausage (you may also use Polish Sausage)

1 Carrot (finely grated)

1/2 Onion (cut into thin wedges)

3 Garlic cloves (pressed or finely grated)

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Water

Salt and Pepper for taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each)

1/2 Cup of finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Place olive oil and the sausage into a pot and let it cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to give the sausage a little light golden color.

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2. Add onion, garlic, carrots, 1/2 cup of water, salt and pepper. Stir all the ingredients together and let it cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes or until the water is reduced to about 1/4 cup.

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3. While part of the ingredients are cooking, prepare the sauerkraut. Rinse the sauerkraut with cold water, it will allow the cabbage to maintain its texture while cooking and will prevent the dish from being too sour.

4. Add sauerkraut, the remaining 1/2 of water, and fresh parsley, cover the pot, and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

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5. Turn off the stove and serve.

6. This salad is great either warm of cold. It’s a great side dish for mash-potatoes or rice.

Cottage Cheese Buns

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Cottage cheese is one of my favorite dairies. I remember when my mom used to make homemade cottage cheese and we would eat it simply with a little sugar. Now I am a mom myself and I try to make the same cottage cheese for my kids (I will share the recipe soon). Cottage cheese can be used in many different ways. Some of my favorite ways to use cottage cheese is to roll it into crepes with dry fruit and bake it or bake these delicious cottage cheese buns I am sharing with you today. These buns are easy to prepare and are great for breakfast with a cup of tea or milk.

INGREDIENTS:

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups of Cottage Cheese (I used my own homemade cottage cheese)

4 Eggs

1/2 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cups of Sugar

1/2 Tablespoon of Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/2 Tablespoon of While Wine Vinegar

4 Cups of Flour

1/4 Cup of Milk

2 Tablespoons of Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Powder Sugar

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

2. Combine together cottage cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Mix it well with a mixer or food processor to get the cottage cheese to blend into the dough a little better.

cottage cheese mixture cottage cheese mixture

3. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda with vinegar and give it a good stir.

4. Combine together the cottage cheese mixture with baking soda, baking powder and flour. Mix it well either with a mixer or by hand.

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5. Place the dough on a floured surface, press it down with your hand, and cut into cubes the size of your palm.

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6. Roll each piece of dough into small balls and place them on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a baking sheet, use a baking pan but make sure to spread a little butter over the pan and cover it with flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

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7. Place the buns in the over and let them bake for 12 minutes.

8. Remove the buns from the over and with a pastry brush apply milk to each bun and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.

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9. Place the buns back in the over and let them bake for additional 10-15 minutes or until you see the top get golden brown.

10. Remove the buns from the over and let them cool down. Once they’ve cooled down, sprinkle a little powder sugar over the top and serve.

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Enjoy🙂

Chicken and Rice Plov (ПЛОВ)

Chicken and Rice Plov

Chicken and Rice Plov is one of my favorite dishes to prepare. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and very satisfying. The recipe doesn’t call for many ingredients but the taste is amazing. Traditionally this dish is prepared with lamb but I prefer chicken or even beef. Don’t be afraid to explore with other meats because the ingredients below go well with any type of meat.

So, if you are looking for a new dish for dinner, you should definitely give this dish a try.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Chicken breasts

4 Bacon strips

1 Onion

1 Carrot

4 Cloves of garlic

2 Tablespoons of oil (olive or grape-seed)

1 Dry bay leaf

6-8 whole black peppers

1 Tablespoon of Vegeta seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley and dill (1 tablespoon of each)

1 1/2 Cups of rice (I used organic Basmati rice)

4 Cups of water

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Cut the bacon into small thin pieces. Place it into a deep pot and let it simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

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2. Add 2 tablespoons of grape-seed oil, thin cut onion, grated carrot, minced garlic, and chicken (cut thin and into small cubes). Mix all the ingredients together and add the bay leaf and whole peppers. Now give it another toss.

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3. Add 1 cup of water, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.

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4. Add the freshly cut parsley and dill, Vegeta seasoning (if you don’t have any, add more salt and a teaspoon of Mrs. Dash original seasoning), salt and pepper to taste.

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5. Rinse the rice throughout and add it to the pot. Add water and mix it all together. Place it on the stove on low hear (on the scale of 1 through 10, at about 2), cover it, and let it cook for 45-50 minutes.

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6. Remove the pot from the stove and serve. There are a few ways to serve this dish: with sour cream or with a side of cucumber and tomato salad.

Chicken and Rice Plov

ENJOY🙂

One Pot Farmer’s Market Pasta

One Pot Farmer's Market Pasta

This is not one of my original recipes but it is so easy to prepare and so delicious that it would be a shame not to share it. In the last 2 months I’ve prepared this dish twice and every time it was a complete success. The entire family loved it. I would have never thought about cooking pasta this way. When I think of a dish that incorporates pasta, I automatically think of cooking it separately. But with this recipe there is no need for extra pots or pans, everyone goes into one pot.

This is a must try recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

12 Oz. spaghetti

1 Medium red onion thinly sliced

1 Small Japanese eggplant cut into small cubes

4-5 Stalks of asparagus, cut in 2 inch pieces

A handful of broccoli florets, cut in half

1 Zucchini cut into small cubes

A hand full of green peas (optional)

2 Cups cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 Red and 1 Yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 Cup of assorted mushrooms (optional)

2 Cloves garlic peeled and minced

2 Handfuls baby greens, I used baby kale, wild arugula, and spinach

1 – 1-1/2 Tsp salt and lots of fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

2 Tbsp olive oil (or grape seed oil)

1 Cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Noir)

3 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp white wine or sherry vinegar

1 Cup shredded hard Italian cheese

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Put everything except the cheese, into a large pot. Add the wine and water (measure exactly since you will not drain the pasta, all liquid will be absorbed by pasta) to the pot and bring up to a boil. If your pasta doesn’t fit completely into the pot, nudge it down into the water as it softens. Cover the pot while it comes to a boil then uncover and boil for about 7-9 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente. Watch the pan to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick. Stir often and add additional water if needed. Don’t over cook the pasta, there may still be some water left in the pot but make sure not to drain it.

2. Toss the pasta with the cheese, and serve with the extra tomatoes and lots of fresh basil or parsley.

Enjoy🙂

Taco Chicken Bowl

 

Taco Chicken Bowl

My first crock-pot dinner. Yes, that’s right, my first crock-pot dinner. I am the mom who cooks everything from scratch and spends at least half a day in the kitchen preparing dinner but I think that after today I will be making some serious adjustments to my cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to cook but there are days when I wish I had more time for other things. From now on the crock-pot is going to be my “go to” dinners on long days.

Yesterday, while waiting to pick up my kids from school, a mom told me about different dinners she prepares in the crock-pot. Simply listening to her made me so hungry and all I could think about was how close is Target so I can go and get myself one of these things, lol. Of course I went and purchased one that same day and got online to check out what crock-pot cooking was all about. It amazed me how simple the recipes were and how little time it takes to prepare. So, today when I pick up the kids from school I will get to share my crock-pot recipe.

I chose this recipe because it incorporate a lot of my family’s favorite ingredients. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Lbs. chicken breasts

1 (16oz.) jar salsa

1 (15oz.) can black beans, drained

1/2 Lb. (8oz.) frozen corn

1 Tbsp. chilli powder

1/2 Tbsp. cumin seeds

2 Cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 Tsp. dried oregano

1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 Tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

1/4 Cup of water

1 Cups of dry rice

8 Oz. shredded cheddar

1/2 bunch cilantro or parsley (optional)

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Combine the chicken, salsa, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and water. Give everything a good stir and make sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.

2. Place and secure the lid on the crock-pot (slow-cooker) and set the timer to 8 hours.

3. 30 minutes before end of cooking time, place 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt into a pot. Bring the rice to boil, turn the heat to low (to about a 2 setting), cover it and let it cook for about 20 minutes. Note that rice cooking time may vary depending on the type of rice you’re using. So check on the rice every 5-8 minutes. Once the water has completely disappeared, fluff the rice with a fork.

4. Right about now the chicken should be ready. Turn off the cooker, remove the lid, take two forks and shred the chicken.

5. Plating: Place rice on the bottom of the bowl, then the taco chicken mix, and top it with shredded cheddar and fresh cilantro or parsley.

You are all done! Enjoy🙂

Chicken Taco Bowl

 

Brussels Sprouts, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Salad

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It’s that time of the year again. It’s pomegranate time. How will you use your pomegranate?

I personally never used pomegranate as an ingredient, always ate it raw, but now that I see so many cooks use pomegranate in deserts, salad dressings, soups, with meats, etc. I became curious. I am not sure that I am ready to try it in a desert but it sounds great in a salad. It’s a slow transition to a more exotic dish.

Pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits but not only because of its unique taste but because of the nutrition it contains. Pomegranate is moderated in calories. It contains no cholesterol or saturated fats. It’s a good source of fiber and a great source of antioxidant. So as you can see pomegranate is very beneficial for your health and I intent to incorporate it more into my meals. A salad would be a great start.

The salad I am sharing with you today is a great side dish for the upcoming holiday parties. It’s easy to prepare, quick, and guaranteed to leave your guests happy. Try it and I am sure you’ll love it🙂

INGREDIENTS:

pomegranate, Brussels sprouts, onion, pistachios, Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 Lb. Brussels sprouts

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 Yellow onion, sliced

1/3 Cup shelled pistachios, chopped

1/3 Cup or 1/2 of pomegranate

1/3 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 Teaspoon of ground black pepper

Salt to taste

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Cut each Brussels sprout in half and then slice it thinly.

2. Heat  2 tablespoons of olive oil (use more if needed) in a large skillet set over medium low heat. Add the onion and let them cook until lightly brown.

3. Add Brussels sprouts and let it cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender but still bright green. Stir occasionally and don’t let it burn.

4. Stir in the pistachios, pomegranate, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed.

5. Transfer to a serving dish and serve it warm.

Tuscan Style Pasta Salad

Tuscan Style Pasta Toss

I love good food and I love cooking but lets be honest, there is not always time to cook what you want. However, that doesn’t mean that you should’t have something delicious. Today I am sharing with you a recipe that only takes 5 minutes to prepare, if you have left over pasta. In my household pasta is a must, so finding left overs is never a problem. So peek into your fridge and get started🙂

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup of cooked spiral rotini pasta

1/2 Cup of fresh baby spinach

6 Kalamata or Black olives

1 Table spoon of soft pieces of roasted bell pepper

Tip: If you have fresh bell peppers in your fridge, turn your over to 350 degrees and place the peppers in the oven on a rack. Let them roast for about 30 minutes or until the skin is lightly brown. Remove them from the oven, place them in a pot, sprinkle a little salt over them, and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then, under slow running water peal the skin off the peppers. You can use them right away or place them in a freezer bag, freeze and use as needed.

1 Table spoon of pesto sauce (more if needed)

1 Table spoon of feta cheese

HOW TO PREPARE:

1. Mix together pasta, olives, belle pepper, and pesto sauce.

2. Place the spinach on the plate, place the mixed pasta over the spinach and top it with feta cheese.

Now you’re done, sit down and enjoy🙂

Sweet-Scented Pilaf and Ultimate Chicken Curry

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About a month ago my friend and I went to the movies to see The Hundred-Foot Journey. The movie was simply amazing. This movie inspired me to learn the basics of Indian cuisine and introduce my family to something they’ve never had before. So, the following day I found myself standing in the middle of Barns and Noble looking for a book that would satisfy my curiosity of Indian cooking and won’t scare me off with complicated tasks. After about an hour I found the perfect book.

I got home and with my older daughter we picked two recipes that were familiar and easy to prepare. We went to the grocery store and got a little overwhelmed in the spice isle but once we got home and started cooking the process turned out to be so easy and fun. Indian cuisines are known for their spices and unique flavors, which to be honest brought up the curiosity in the first place. I was a little scared that my kids won’t like the new flavors, especially in the Sweet-Scented Pilaf which contains a number of spices my family never tried before but after our first try and within the last month they’ve asked for it again. Thus, these two recipes were a total success and I look forward to learning more.

INGREDIENTS:

SWEET-SCENTED PILAF– ULTIMATE CHICKEN CURRY–
1 Cup of Indian white rice 

2 Tablespoons of canola or grape seed oil

1 Teaspoon cumin seeds

½ Teaspoon whole cloves

6 Green cardamom pods

2 Fresh or dried bay leaves

2 Cinnamon sticks

1 Small red onion (cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced)

1 ½ Cup of water

1 Teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of canola or grape seed oil 

1 Small sweet onion (finely chopped)

4 Garlic cloves (finely chopped)

4 Pieces of fresh ginger (each about the size of 25-cent coin)

2 Teaspoons of curry powder

½ Cup of canned diced tomatoes with their juice

½ Cup of half-and-half

1 ½ Pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut into 2 in-inch cubes)

1 Teaspoons of salt

2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional).

HOW TO PREPARE:

— SWEET-SCENTED PILAF —

1. Place the rice in a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the rice. Gently run the slender grains between the fingers to wash off any dust. Drain the water and repeat this process 3 or 4 times.

2. Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, sprinkle in the cumin, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Let the spices sizzle for about a minute.

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3. Add the onion and stir-fry the slices until lightly brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.

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4. Add the drained rice to the spices and onion, tossing them gently to coat the rice. Add the water and salt. Stir the rice once or twice to incorporate the ingredients.

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5. Over medium-heat, bring the water to boil, uncovered, and let the ingredients boil without stirring for about 5 minutes.

6. Now stir once or twice to bring the partially cooked layer of rice from the bottom of the pan to the surface. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting.

7. Let the rice steep for 8 to 10 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let the pan stand on the burner, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

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8.  Uncover the pain, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

— ULTIMATE CHICKEN CURRY —

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the onion, garlic, gingers and stir-fry until the onion is light caramel brown around the edges.

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3. Sprinkle the curry powder into the skillet and stir to mix. Let the spices roast for about 15 seconds.

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4. Pour in the tomatoes and stir. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft.

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5. Pour the half-and-half into the skillet and scrape the bottom once or twice. Transfer the chunky curry mixture to a blender and puree until it is slightly curdled looking but smooth.

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6. Return the sauce to the skilled and stir in the chicken and salt.

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7. Let the chicken and sauce cook together for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the chicken, when cut with a knife no longer has the pinkish-red color.

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8. Sprinkle the cilantro (optional) on top of the chicken curry and serve.

Enjoy🙂

Russian Chicken/Beef Pelmeni (Raviolis)

Pelmeni

Pelmeni is one of the most traditional dishes in Ukraine and Russia. Growing up, pelmeni was my favorite food. I was one of those kids that lived practically on air and getting me to eat was an everyday struggle for my mom but she never had to call me twice to dinner when I knew that pelmeni was being served. My older brother and I used to have competitions who would eat more pelmeni in 15 minutes. I may have been little but I was quick and very competitive, so as you can imagine, I won most of the time.

I always used to say that when I grow up the first thing I want to learn how to cook is pelmeni. Well I did. The first time I made them, I will admit, they were not very good. I put too much flour into the dough and after cooking them, they were too hard and tasteless. I learned quickly from that mistake. The second try was much better but there was still something missing. The third time I added vegetable and herbs to the filling and they were finally perfect. Now I make them for my kids and they love them as much as I do.

Recently I began sharing them with my friends, I began receiving requests for orders, and I got to teach one of my friends how to make them. They have become very popular in the circle of moms.  Moms are busy and dinner sometimes is either a take out or a simple sandwich but if you have a batch of pelmeni in your freezer you can serve your family with a healthy, full, and delicious dinner in just 15 minutes.

Although making pelmeni is very time consuming but one day of work gets you five easy dinners. Pelmeni are much easier to make when you have a friend to help and the girls chat really makes time fly by quickly.

So give it a try, you won’t regret it.

INGREDIENTS:

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For the dough –>

2/3 Cup of buttermilk

1 Tablespoon of sour cream

2 Cups of warm water

2 Large eggs

1/2 Tablespoon of salt

7 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour (plus an additional 1 cup for dusting)

For the chicken/beef filling –>

2 Pounds of ground chicken

2 Pounds of grass fed ground beef

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Small onion chopped finely

1 Small carrot grated finely

4 cloves of garlic grated finely or pressed

1 Tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

1 Tablespoon of finely chopped dill

1/4 cup of water

3/4 Teaspoon of salt

1/4 Teaspoon of black pepper

HOW TO PREPARE THE DOUGH:

1. Whisk at medium speed or by hand:  2 cups of water, 2/3 cup of buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt until well blended.

2. Add 4 cups of flour to the liquid mixture and mix it well. You can use a dough mixer or if you don’t have one, you can use a hand-held-mixer while mixing the first 3 cups of flour and then continue mixing by hand.

3. Add 3 more cups of flour one cup at a time. If you are mixing by hand, fold the dough like an envelope while mixing. Make sure the flour is well blended.

4. Add the rest of the flour to the dough. Add 1 tablespoon at a time until you notice that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl yet still soft and fluffy.

5. Cover the dough with plastic or a towel to prevent it from drying. Set it aside and prepare the filling.

dough

HOW TO PREPARE THE FILLING:

1. Pre-heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add 1 small finely chopped onion and 4 grated (or pressed) cloves of garlic and saute until golden and soft.

2. Add 1 small finely grated carrot, 1/4 cup of water, and saute for another 5 minutes.

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3. In a bowl, mix together: ground chicken and beef, saute onion/garlic/carrots,  parsley, dill, salt, and black pepper.

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HOW TO MAKE PELMENI:

1. Cut off a chunk of dough, about the size of your fist, place it over a smooth, lightly floured surface and roll it out slightly wider than your mold. You can purchase a pelmeni mold on Amazon.com. 

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2. Flour the mold and place the rolled dough over the mold. Fill each pocked with about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling.

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3. Roll another chunck of dough (same as in step 1) and place it over the mold. My friend Stephanie mastered the dough rolling pretty quickly :) I was very impressed with her skills. It took me about three tries to get the right texture. 

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4. After placing the second layer of dough, lightly press over the entire surface and push out the air bubbles and prevent the filling from squeezing out. Flour the rolling pin and role over the top of the second layer of dough until the pelmeni fall through each hole.

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5. Turn the mold over and lightly push the pelmeni out with your finger. Some pelmeni may fall out on their own if you put enough flour on the mold before placing the first layer of dough.

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6. Sprinkle a little flour over a plate or cutting board and arrange each pelmeni separately. Place it in the freezer. Once they are well frozen, you can place them in a bag and cook them later.

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HOW TO COOK PELMENI:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt.

2. Once the water starts to boil add fresh or frozen pelmeni but try to add  only one or two at a time to prevent them from sticking together.

3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir. Let them cook until they all rise up.

4. Once they rise up, turn the heat to low and let them cook for additional 5 minutes.

5. Drain pelmeni and place them in a bowl. Toss pelmeni with butter and sprinkle with fresh dill (optional).

6. Serve them warm with sour cream or sour cream and soy sauce (my husband’s favorite), or with vinegar.

Enjoy🙂