November 8, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Apple Sausage

I love butternut squash and this is a super easy way to serve it! The melding of all the different flavors of the fresh herbs and the sweet apple sausage is the perfect fall dish. And you will not believe the aroma from your oven as it roasts!

This can be served as a side dish or as a main dish accompanied by a fresh salad of greens topped with apples or pears, Gorgonzola, toasted pecans, a little bacon and a white balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette!


1 medium size butternut squash, seeds removed and cut into bite size pieces
10 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced lengthwise
Sweet apple chicken sausage, sliced
fresh sage, chopped
fresh rosemary, chopped
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Toss all ingredients together and mix well. Place in roasting pan and place in an oven heated to 350 degrees F.
 Roast for 30-40 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes.

October 6, 2011

The "Evil" Treat

This chocolate-toffee-carmel bar is sooooo good that it's evil! This is one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures in me when I say that you will not be dissapointed!


1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
1/3 c. oil
2 eggs
1 (12-oz.) pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. white chocolate chips
4-5 oz. heath chocolate toffee pieces
1/2 c. butter
32 caramels
1 (14-oz) can of sweetened condensed milk


Heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13x9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the first 3 ingredients until well blended. Next add all the chips and toffee pieces and again blend well...the mixture will be thick! Press 1/2 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the caramels, sweetened condensed milk and the butter and cook over low heat. Stir frequently and keep an eye on the mixture because it can burn. Blend until it becomes smooth. Then when the partially baked crust is done, evenly pour the caramel mixture over the top.

 Then crumble the remaining cake mixture over the top of the caramel and place back in the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

 Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Take a knife and run it along the sides of the pan to loosen the bars. Cut and serve!!!

And enjoy this most evil of treats!!!

September 13, 2011

White Pie Topped with Arugula Salad

This is a wonderful combination of two of my absolute favorite things...white pizza pie and arugula! I made a simple white pie using frozen pizza dough (although you can make it yourself), three to four different cheeses, and a simple arugula salad. It is a new twist on an old classic!

Frozen pizza dough, enough for one pie
2 T. olive oil
Shredded Italian cheese blend, as much as you want
Parmesan cheese if it's not in the Italian Blend
Several dollops of ricotta cheese
Fresh arugula
Cherry tomatoes quartered
Olive oil and vinegar to toss salad
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Roll dough out and place in pizza pan. Spread the olive oil over the top of the pie and top with the cheeses. Place in an oven set at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Prepare salad by tossing the arugula and tomatoes with the oil, vinegar and season with salt and pepper. When pizza is done cooking, cut a slice and top with salad!


August 29, 2011

Jarring Peach Jam = Simple and Delicious

What could you want more on a cold winter morning but to open up a jar of delicious peach jam which was jarred in August? Peaches have been plentiful and cheap recently, the perfect storm for making peach jam. I like to give them as Christmas presents to teachers, bus drivers, friends and family members. This is basically the Ball recipe only I substitute the 3/4 c. water with 3/4 c. brandy and cut back on the amount of sugar. The alcohol cooks off leaving a wonderful flavor to the jam.


6-7 medium peaches, peeled and chopped into tiny pieces
3 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 c. brandy
1 pkg. Ball pectin (Buy 2 boxes just in case you need to add a little more.)
1 T lemon
1 T butter


Prepare canning jars and lids in water bath. I just use a large pot and lay the jars down. (I also boil the scoop portion of my ladle) Add water and bring to a boil. Then I  turn the heat off and let them sit in the hot water until I am ready to jar.

Combine all ingredients and bring to slow boil. Place a plate in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once your jam mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Take the cold plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount of the jam mixture onto the plate and wait about 1 minute. The mixture should gel so that when you tip the plate, the jam barely moves. If it is still runny you will need to add in more pectin.

Remove one jar from hot water and place on a folded paper towel. Carefully pick up your ladle and begin to spoon the jam mixture into the jar. Fill until the jar is almost full leaving a 1/4 to an 1/8 inch gap from the top. Clean the threads of any drips. Remove a lid from the hot water and place on top. Screw on the ring and make sure it is tight. (Ring does not need to be boiled.) Wipe down the jar and let sit until you hear a "ping" and the circle on the top is sucked in, concave, this means you have a seal and you can store the jars on the shelf.

This recipe yields 6 half pint jars.

August 12, 2011

Piroshki - A Russian/Kazakh Dish

This is my daughter's absolute favorite dish! So here she demonstrates how to make these delicious little pockets. They are a simple dough filled with ground meat and several different herbs. This is actually a Kazakh peasant food made with lots of love, and I have to say that Gracie is a natural at putting these little pockets together!!!


For Meat Filling
1 lb of ground meat, any kind
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium onion, chopped
Fresh dill chopped, or 1 T dried
1 T dried marjoram
1 T dried mint
1 T dried Thyme
Salt and pepper
1 T butter for sauteing

For Dough
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 egg
Approximately1/2-3/4 cup milk
2-3 more T. butter for sauteing
Melt butter in a frying pan and then add the garlic and onion, sauteing until onion is transparent, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the ground meat and brown. Add the next 4 ingredients plus the salt and pepper. Let the meat mixture cool completely before assembling the piroshki.

Next, in a large bowl, add the flour, egg, milk and salt and mix together. You may need to add more flour to the dough to prevent it from becoming too sticky. You don't want the dough sticky or you will not be able to work with it properly.

Roll out the dough on a clean floured surface, again you may want to add more flour to prevent dough from sticking. Your dough should be about 1/4 of an inch thick. Then using a round cutter or a glass, press into the dough and pull out the circular shapes. Cover them with more flour and roll them out into and oblong shape.

Then add 2-3 tsp. of the meat mixture to the center of your dough.

Now using your finger with a little bit of water, trace the outer perimeter of the dough with the water. This is to ensure a good seal on the pocket.

Then carefully fold the dough in half, pulling one side over the meat, and press edges to seal. Place on a well floured surface and repeat the process until all the meat is used.

Melt butter in frying pan and add the doughy pockets to the pan.

Fry in pan until the dough becomes golden in color. Carefully remove and serve or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

These are great alone or served with a dollop of sour cream. The dough recipe here can also be used to make the Eastern European pirogi.


August 8, 2011

Restaraunt Review

Calhoun's Restaurant
1004 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738-3102
(865) 436-4100

While on vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, my family dined at a local restaurant by the name of Calhoun's. Calhoun's was a recommendation by one of the locals and how could we possibly go wrong with that?
The restaurant is a large establishment and upon first entering the atmosphere resembles that of an upscale diner, complete with booth seating. Our waitress was very pleasant and took our drink orders along with an order of fried green tomatoes. I was a little skeptical of the tomatoes but when they hit the table they were gone in a flash. They were served with the most amazing mustard sauce, delicious. When my drink came it was brought over by the bartender himself. He wanted to make sure the cucumber martini I ordered was to my liking…and wow was it!! I have to say that it was the best martini I had ever tasted.

My husband and I ordered the House Ale steak which is a 10 oz sirloin steak marinated in olive oil, mustard, garlic, Calhoun's own Cherokee Red Ale and topped with Worcestershire butter. When it was brought to the table our waitress waited until we cut into our meat to make sure the meat was cooked properly and again to our liking. Both of our steaks were grilled to perfection.  The meat melted in our mouths and the flavor was unbelievable. One of my side orders was Spinach Maria which is creamed spinach made with 5 different cheeses, again another triumph for Calhoun's.

As for the kids’ meals, Michael’s macaroni and cheese was devoured by the old king of mac and cheese and Grace had the kid’s meal of ribs which was a very generous portion.
We all left very pleased with our meals and very full. And the best part was that our bill came to a grand total of $86.53. That also included the kids’ drinks and my husband’s handcrafted brew of Cherokee Red Ale.

It was a very family friendly dining experience and I would strongly recommend Calhoun's if you are in Gatlinburg Tennessee. The service, price and food are all worthy of all 5 stars from me, and I am not very easily impressed!
My Rating ***** out of 5

August 7, 2011

Fresh Cucumber Martini

I tried this for the first time while on vacation last week and fell in love with the flavor of this martini. It is very light and refreshing and much to my surprise, I was able to find the Cucumber Lime vodka at my local liquor store!


1/3 cucumber peeled and with seeds removed
3 T Sugar syrup*
2 shots of Rain's Organic Cucumber Lime Vodka
The Juice of one lime
2 basil leaves, chopped
3 - 4 mint leaves, chopped

In blender combine all ingredients. Pour liquid through strainer into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into martini glass. Garnish with cucumber slices and a little of the chopped mint and basil.

* Sugar syrup is simply granulated sugar mixed with a small amount of water and then heated through. This is so the sugar is already dissolved and in a liquid form.


July 28, 2011

Low - Carb Vegetable Lasagna

This recipe is the low-carb version of lasagna because I used baked eggplant as my noodles. Actually it was so good that both my 8 and 6 year olds had no problems eating all of their vegetables!


    2 large eggplants, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch noodle-like strips
    cooking spray (olive oil spray is best)
    salt and pepper


Meat Sauce
2 lbs of ground turkey, chicken or turkey sausage
2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or mix of oregano, basil and thyme)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach
1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes

Cheese Mixture:
2 eggs
2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
6 scallions chopped
3 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c.Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray cookie sheet, arrange eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper and cook slices 5 minutes on each side. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

Brown meat, onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Then add red pepper and mushrooms, and cook 5 more minutes. Add spinach, tomatoes, spices and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime blend ricotta, egg and onion mixture.

Spread 1/3 of meat sauce in bottom of 9? x 13? glass pan.
Layer ½ eggplant slices, ½ ricotta, 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan.
Add last layer of sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan on top.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
Remove foil and bake or broil another 5-10 minutes until cheese is browned.

 Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing, if you can wait that long!

July 20, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Nothing says summer more to me than peaches. Peach jams, pies, peaches with cream and sugar, and of course peach cobbler. I think cobbler is one of the simplest was to enjoy this wonderful fruit. I like my cobbler warm with either vanilla or butter pecan ice cream…delicious!!!

6 peaches pealed and sliced
4 T superfine sugar
1/2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 T of buter, diced
5 T milk


Mix sliced peaches with the next four ingredients and then place in a 9 inch square baking dish and bake in the oven set at 425 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and all but 2 T of the sugar. The add the butter pieces and with either a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut the butter into the flour and keep doing so until the mixture looks like small peas. Then in a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and with a fork stir until a soft sticky dough forms.

Remove the peaches from the oven when they are done baking and then from a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of dough onto the top of the peaches. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the top of the cobbler. Return to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the topping is firm and golden in color.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

July 15, 2011

Coq Au Vin

Since yesterday was Bastille Day I decided to celebrate by making this all time favorite French dish. The recipe is fairly easy and cook time is just about an hour. There's lots of flavor from the wine, brandy and herbs which are used to create this dish. And of course the little flambe action adds  excitement to the whole process of making Co Au Vin.


6 T butter
3 T olive oil
3-4lbs chicken thighs and legs
4 oz smoked pork (bacon, pancetta) cut into small strips
5 oz pearl onions peeled but left whole
6 oz cremini mushrooms halved or quartered depending on the size
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c brandy
1 1/4c. red wine
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
1 bouquet garni*
salt and pepper
3 T flour


In a flame proof pan, brown chicken pieces in 3 T of butter an 3 T of the olive oil for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms and garlic to the pan. **Pour the brandy over top and ignite immediately with a long match or torch. Let the flames diminish before adding the wine, broth and bouquet garni, salt and pepper and return to stove top. Heat to a soft boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken has become tender. Meanwhile in a small bowl add the other 3 T of butter and the flour, mash together and set aside.

When the chicken is done cooking remove from the pan and add the flour butter mixture in a little at a time stirring continually...this will thicken the sauce. Bring back to a boil and return the chicken to the pan. Serve immediately and garnish with bay leaves. You can serve it oby itself or over noodles or rice.

*Bouquet Garni...typically I will tie fresh thyme and parsley together and add a bay leaf or two to the pan.

**Flambeing is believed to add a richness to the food by chemically changing the food's composition. Don't use anything more that 80 proof or 40% alcohol for this process.

July 13, 2011

Classic Whoopie Pies

The other day my husband handed me a recipe he had cut out of the Sunday newspaper...he's never done something like this before...and it was a recipe for Whoppie Pies. "Can you make these?" he asked very politely and of course I agreed! So yesterday I decided to make them with Michael and Grace and they were a big hit with both husband and kids.

(For the pies)

1 12/3 c. of all purpose flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 T. unsalted butter at room temp
4 T of vegetable shortening
1 c. dark brown sugar packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. milk

(For the Marshmallow filling)
1 1/2 c. marshmallow fluff
1 1/2 c. shortening
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 T vanilla extract.


To make the pies...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. In the work bowl of a standard mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, the shortening and the brown sugar on a low setting until combined then increase setting to medium and beat for 3 more minutes. (If using a standard mixer, use the paddle attachment to blend ingredients.) Then add the egg and vanilla and beat 2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk and beat until blended then repeat with the other half of milk and flour.

Using a tablespoon drop batter onto the parchment paper spacing them at 2 inches apart. Bake in the center of your heated oven one sheet at a time for approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet and then remove from sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the filling...
In a medium bowl beat the fluff and shortening until blended and then add the vanilla and sugar and beat until fluffy. Once the pies are cooled, place a dollop of the marshmallow mixture between to pies like a sandwich. Repeat with remaining pies and enjoy!

Surprisingly each pie is only 250 calories...but be's hard to eat only one!!!

Recipe courtesy of Parade Magazine

July 7, 2011

Barb's Baked Picnic Chicken

OK...we are talking super easy and packed with flavor!!! Typically I use thighs and legs for this recipe but you can easily use breast meat too. The creamy dressing helps to seal in the meat's juices. Great for toting to any outdoor party!


6-8 pieces of chicken, skin removed, rinsed and patted dry
Any thick salad dressing like Ranch, Creamy Italian, Creamy Ceaser and such
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs, low sodium
1/2 package of Good Season's Zesty Italian dry mix
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix dry dressing mix with the bread crumbs, then dredge the chicken into the creamy dressing followed by dredging it in the bread crumb mix. Place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. It's that easy!!

June 30, 2011

Patriotic Dessert Squares

Raspberries, blueberries and a little cream cheese make up the red, white and blue color scheme for this dessert. All sitting on a cookie like bottom. My mom always requested this for any summer backyard barbecue because it was one of her favorites. I haven't made it in a while but this year I decided to dust off the old recipe and make for this 4th of July!


1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c butter

1 pt fresh blueberries
8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
8 0z container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 pts. fresh raspberries

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 cups water
1 (3 oz) pkg. raspberry flavored gelatin

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Blend together the flour and brown sugar and then using either a pastry blender or fork, cut into the butter until the mixture resembles that of coarse crumbs. Spread flour mixture out onto a 15 X 10 X 1 inch baking sheet and press until the surface of the pan is covered. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Sprinkle blueberries on cooled crust. In a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Add the marshmallow creme and beat again. Fold in the defrosted whipped cream, blend by hand, and then spread over the blueberries. Refrigerate for one hour.

In the meantime, in a medium sized pot, add the sugar, cornstarch and water and heat. Cook until mixture thickens and becomes more clear than opaque. Add the raspberry flavored gelatin and mix. Set aside and let cool for about 20-30 minutes.

Remove tray from the refrigerator and place the raspberries on top of the now cold cream cheese mixture. Spoon the cooled gelatin mixture over top of the raspberries and then refrigerate again for one hour.

Cut into desired square sizes and serve.

June 27, 2011

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Summertime is here and its time to make my black bean and corn salsa, a favorite in our house. It is the perfect side for anything grilled or even just over sliced avocado. It's as healthy as it is colorful and very simple to put together. This is one of Grace's absolute favorites!


2 c. black beans (you can use canned which have been rinsed or dry which have been soaked and cooked)
4 ears of corn cooked, with kernels removed or 1 pkg frozen corn
1/2 red onion chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/4 c. cilantro chipped
1T ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 fresh cracked pepper
Lime juice from 2-3 limes depending on size
Jalapeno pepper chopped (optional)


Toss all ingredients together, blend well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

June 21, 2011

Spaghetti with Shrimp in my Summer Sauce

This sauce is very simple and light for the summer. I typically will wait until my tomatoes begin to come in and make this recipe, but there are times when I just want it so I will use canned. (I pick canned tomatoes with no salt added.) But one thing I won't skimp on is fresh basil and the plump shrimp tossed in at the end of cooking adds a small amout of sweetness to the sauce.


4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T olive oil for sautéing
Two 28 1/4 oz cans of tomatoes or 8 tomatoes boiled and peeled
1 6 oz can tomato paste
4 oz of feta, crumbled
1/2 lb or more of large shrimp, peeled
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
chopped fresh basil
1 lb thin spaghetti

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil for approximately 5-7 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and paste and simmer for 20 minutes. Sauce will thicken. At the end of the cooking time, add the feta and stir in then add the shrimp and cook only until pink. Season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Ladle over prepared pasta and top with fresh basil.

Serves 6

June 20, 2011

Broiled Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes. I've been making this tomato recipe for at least 20 years now and it is always a special request from my husband. The flavor of the mustard with tomato is very light, but the bread crumb topping adds a little bit of a crunch to the dish. Very simple and quick, only about 3-4 minutes in the broiler. The perfect accompaniment to any grilled beef or chicken.


3 tomatoes sliced in half with stem removed
6 T Dijon style mustard
Dry oregano
Italian style bread crumbs (about 6 T.)
6 T melted butter
Parmesan cheese


Place tomatoes in over proof dish cut side up. Spread the mustard on top and then sprinkle with oregano. Top with the bread can y=use more that 1 T if you like...I know I do. The pour melted butter on top and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Place in broiler for about 3-4 minutes depending upon how high up the oven rack is in proximity to the broiler. Remove from broiler, top should be a little on the crunchy side and serve.

June 13, 2011

Restaraunt Review

Carmine's Family Style Italian Restaurant
200 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 221-3800

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to dine in one of New York City theatre district’s most popular restaurants Carmine's. Carmine's is an Italian family style establishment with locations also in Atlantic City and the Bahamas.
Upon entering Carmine’s you may feel as if you have been transported back to the mid twentieth century as the décor is consistent with that period. Music also compliments the feel as you hear the big band tunes playing over the sound system.  Many of the tables in the restaurant are round and able to seat up to 10, perfect for family style dining, and they were covered in traditional white linens. We had a reservation for noon but had arrived about a half hour early. This was no problem for the wait staff as we were seated when all of our party had arrived.
We decided to go with the Sunday pasta special which was a sampling of vegetarian lasagna, manicotti, bolognaise and ravioli. We had the salad which was another of the day's specials and it consisted of baby romaine lettuce and roasted vegetables, ricotta cheese and a homemade creamy Italian dressing. The salad and dressing were so good I actually would have licked the plate if I were in my own home. But what I did was dip the bread which was on the table into the leftover dressing, it really was that good. We also ordered two meat entrees, chicken Marsala and chicken Parmesan. Both chicken entrees had good flavor with the Marsala being my favorite. The meat was very tender in both dishes that you could cut it with a spoon... and we did! The pasta plate was a little overwhelming for me. I honestly only sampled the bolognaise and the ravioli. The bolognaise was excellent while the ravioli were a bit dry and lacking in flavor for my taste. It appeared that the other members of our party enjoyed the lasagna and bolognaise as well.

Service was excellent, absolutely no complaints in this department. Dishes were brought out by several servers all at the same time, water glasses were kept full and our server checked back at comfortable intervals (not absent and not too intrusive) to make sure we had everythign we needed.

As far as cost verses quality of food, well it was well reflected. Carmine’s in the theatre district of Manhattan is a great place to dine before or after a Broadway show. We were able to sit and dine for as long as we wished without being rushed and the food was very enjoyable.
Carmine's receives a solid **** out of 5 stars!!!

June 6, 2011

Goya's Classic Chick Pea Salad

Some of the best recipes come from the Goya people. This one is their Classic Chick Pea Salad. I typically eat this all summer long with a little tuna fish tossed in. Love it because it is a very light and satisfying lunch.

    Pictured here with Tuna

1 can of Goya chick peas
½ cucumber diced
½ red bell pepper diced
½ small red onion chopped
1 T oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar (red or white)
Tuna fish (optional)


Combine all ingredients and set aside for a half hour to allow the flavors to blend. Refrigerate leftovers.

June 2, 2011

Travel - Kazakhstan

Statue of Vladimir Lenin, Semey, Kazakhstan

In 2005 my husband Chris and I received the invitation to travel to Kazakhstan in order to adopt our two children Michael and Grace. Kazakhstan is located in central Asia with the major border countries being that of Russia, China and Uzbekistan.  Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country by land mass in the world and it is the largest land locked country in the world. Since Kazakhstan is land locked its weather consists of extreme winters and summers. We flew in November so the weather in Kazakhstan had already started to take a downward plunge. We were slated to stay in the country for four full weeks. During the four weeks the first two were spent meeting our new children and bonding with them. Then we were to have a week in which we had our court date and finalize any paperwork that needed to be completed in the region where we adopted. The final week was spent in one of the country’s major cities, Almaty, to have the children’s required physicals done and again complete more paperwork at the US embassy.

The Wishing Tree, Semey, Kazakhstan
Small pieces of material are tied to the tree's branches and a wish is to be made while doing so. We did put a piece of material on the tree and made our wish!!!

During our time in Kazakhstan we had the chance to sample some of the native cuisine. Traditional Kazakh includes mostly milk products, mutton and horse meat. Yes horse meat. The early Kazakh people were nomads who relied heavily on camel and horses for transportation as well as for food. While in Kazakhstan many of the eateries were more Western in food choices, but our wonderful translator Rashaun took us to a restaurant where traditional Kazakh dishes were served. Chris was adventurous enough to try the horse meat and said that although it was a little more gamey than what he is use to, it tasted pretty good. I sadly enough wasn’t willing to try the horse meat but I did sample a number of other Kazakh dishes.

Monument built as a tribute to all those who suffered during the above ground nuclear bomb testing from the late 40's until the late 70's. The open area is in the shape of a mushroom the center of the cloud is an the bottom of the structure is a mother and child.

One of my favorite dishes is adopted from Russian fare and it is called Piroshki. Piroshkis are similar to Eastern Europe’s Pierogies only they are filled with ground meat and onion seasoned with garlic and herbs which give it a unique flavor. I like them sautéed in butter and served with sour cream. They are, without a doubt, my daughter’s absolute favorite dish!

Statue in Victory Park right across from our hotel in Semey, Kazakhstan

If you would like more information about our time in Kazakhstan and our adoption experience, please go to

Grace and Michael in the orphanage in Semey Kazakhstan
Grace 3 years
Michael 15 months

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