Author Archives: makemealsmama

About makemealsmama

My family is my life. Lucky for me, my kids are adventurous eaters. Lucky for them too! Although not every dish is met with success, each child can usually find at least one or two redeeming elements. First and foremost, I cook for them. Everything else is secondary. After working in corporate America for the past 18 years, I started my small business to finally experience the adage "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." Follow me as I make delicious food and photograph it. Watch my journey as a food photographer evolve. Follow along for seasonal inspirations. Keep an eye out for family favorites as well as dishes that work best at dinner parties. To book my services or place orders for shipment, check out my website: www.make-meals.com and my facebook page: www.facebook.com/MakeMeals

Dijon & Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

Chicken dishes aren’t a frequent occurrence around here. In my mind, chicken is kind of boring and when thinking of what to make for dinner, it’s never my go-to protein. But sometimes… sometimes… (like when it’s not overcooked into a dry, crispy, pulp) chicken can be a shining star!

Dijon & Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken in an Oven-Ready Skillet

Dijon & Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken in an Oven-Ready Skillet

The chicken breast here is quick, juicy and delicious!

Enjoy!

Dijon and Brown Sugar Crusted Chicken

Dijon and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken 

Dijon & Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

Makes 4 breasts

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons dijon mustard, divided
4 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
.
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. In an oven-ready skillet, on medium high, heat olive oil.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast.
3. Place chicken breast into hot skillet. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip over and let cook for another 4-5 minutes.
4. Flip so that the “smooth” side of the breast is up. Smother 1 tablespoon of dijon onto each chicken breast. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar onto each breast and gently pat it down.
5. Place skillet into the oven, about 7-10 minutes until cooked through (an internal thermometer should read 165 degrees).
6. Be careful not to over-bake the chicken, otherwise it will be dry and rubbery…
7. Enjoy!!
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Lamb Solyanka (Солянка из баранины)

A few months ago, I blogged a recipe for Beef Borscht and I spoke about the controversies of writing down traditional Russian recipes. The reality is that tradition varies from region to region and also family to family. I often get emails and comments on my most popular blogged dishes (Lamb Plov, Lemon Ricotta Syrniki and Pelmeni) indicating that while my recipe was yummy, this is *not* how their mother/grandmother/aunt made the dish. I have a feeling that I’m going to receive similar reaction to this soup recipe.

Lamb Solyanka

Lamb Solyanka

When my mama made Solyanka, it kind of felt like she was taking all of these random orphan ingredients and pulling them together into a salty, soupy goodness.  So while I write specific ingredients for this recipe, know that it’s very flexible. If you don’t like lamb and prefer beff, swap it out. If you have leftover cold cuts or sausage, throw them in! Everything will stand to boost the flavor of this forgiving soup.

Enjoy!

Solyanka Ingredients

Solyanka Ingredients

Everyone into the pot!

Everyone into the pot!

solyanka3

Solyanka is often enjoyed with vodka 🙂

solyanka5

Lightly garnished with dill, this Solyanka is delicious!

 

Lamb Solyanka (Солянка из баранины)

Makes 12-16 bowls of soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless leg of lamb (about 3.5 pounds) cut into bite size pieces
2 Spanish onions, diced
3 large carrots, shredded
3 celery stalks, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can of pureed tomatoes
1 package all beef uncured hot dogs, cut into coins
6 ounces pitted black olives, halved
1 24oz jar Trader Joe’s Dill Pickles (or any other variety) dice pickles, reserve pickle juice
4 “cans” of water (I’ll explain later)
.
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
.
For serving:
Dill Sprigs

Directions

1. In a large heavy bottomed pot (7.25 quart), on medium-high heat, add olive oil. Working in batches, sear lamb pieces adding a bit of salt and pepper to each batch. Don’t cook through. Remove lamb pieces and any juices. Set aside and repeat with remaining lamb.
2. After all of the lamb has been cooked and set aside (along with all of the rendered lamb juice), wipe the pot “clean” with a paper towel and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Heat for a few minutes and add the diced onion, shredded carrots and finely diced celery. Saute for 7-10 minutes, on medium heat, until onions are translucent.
4. Add the meat and rendered juices back to the pot. Stir to combine.
5. Everyone else into the pot! Diced pickles, half of the pickle juice, hot dog coins, halved olives, and tomato puree.
6. Using the can from the tomato puree, add 4 cans of water to the pot. This will be about 14 cups of water.
7. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer. Let simmer for at least an hour.
8. Taste. It should be a little briny without being overpowering. If necessary, add remaining pickle juice, some kosher salt or freshly ground pepper.
9. Enjoy!!
.
Cooks note: The soup tastes best after it’s been cooled and reheated… so go ahead and enjoy it tomorrow for dinner!
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini Tart

We often have ingredients laying around that don’t have a specific intended use. And when we put them together into a magical dish, we then have to buy those same ingredients for the magical dish. Do I make sense??

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini Tart

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini Tart

A few months ago, during the height of summer and summer guests, I had some leftovers. Almost an entire log of goat cheese and some brie… and summer squash that the kids picked themselves from Holbrook Farms. With only those ingredients, I defrosted a puff pastry shell and set out to make an easy dinner.  

Since making it the first time, it’s a dish that the kids ask that I repeat almost once a week! So easy and the results are so fancy! You’ll love it at home or for a dinner party!

Enjoy!

Place brie and goat cheese on raw puff pastry

Place brie and goat cheese on raw puff pastry

Alternating zucchini and summer squash makes the tart colorful and playful

Alternating zucchini and summer squash makes the tart colorful and playful

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini Tart

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini Tart

Vegetables can be sexy from any angle!

Vegetables can be sexy from any angle!

Cut into the tart once it's cooled down a little bit

Cut into the tart once it’s cooled down a little bit

Goat Cheese, Brie & Zucchini 

Makes about 8 appetizer size slices

Ingredients

1 frozen puff pastry, defrosted
8 ounces goat cheese, sliced
5 ounces brie, rind removed, sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, summer squash, olive oil and salt. Toss to coat.
2. Unfold puff pastry dough onto silicone baking mat, laying on a large baking sheet.
3. Using a sharp knife, score along the perimeter of the pastry dough, about 1/2 inch in from the edge. (Optional)
4. Break up the goat cheese and spread evenly over the puff pastry.
5. Fill in the empty spaces with pieces of brie that you break up with your fingers.
6. Alternate the zucchini and summer squash over the cheeses.
7. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until crust edge is golden brown and zucchini has softened.
9. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
10. Delicious warm or at room temperature!
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Borscht with Beef (Борщ с мясом)

Blogging traditional Russian recipes can be controversial. Three of my most popular recipe blogs are Russian dishes: Lamb Plov, Lemon Ricotta Syrniki and Pelmeni. About once a week I get emails from readers who tell me that although my recipe was delicious, this is *not* how their mother/grandmother/aunt made the dish. I have a feeling that I’m going to receive similar reaction to this recipe.

Borscht

Borscht

When I was growing up, borscht was a staple in our Russian Jewish household. Mama made borscht once every two months or so. When we were really lucky, grandma would make it! Somehow, even though grandma used the same recipe, hers was always better (shhhhh…. don’t tell mama!)  Now I get to share my version of my family recipe with you!

Enjoy!

Stew meat and beef bones ready to braise

Stew meat and beef bones ready to braise

Sauteed Vegetables

Sauteed Vegetables

Peeled Beets

Peeled Beets

Cubed Beets

Cubed Beets

Borscht with Beef

Borscht with Beef

Beef Borscht

Beef Borscht

Borscht with Beef (Борщ с мясом)

Makes 12-16 bowls of soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large red, orange or yellow peppers, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 pounds stew meat, diced
2-3 pounds beef bones
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small can of tomato paste
4 medium size raw beets, peeled and diced
4 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups shredded cabbage
24 cups water (approximately), divided
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
.
For serving:
Dill Sprigs
Sour Cream

Directions

1. In a large heavy bottomed pot (7.25 quart), on medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion, peppers, carrots and celery. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent and peppers have softened. Remove from pot, set aside.
2. Season stew meat liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Add stew meat to the pot and brown on all sides.
3. Season beef bones liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Add beef bones to the pot and brown on all sides.
4. Add enough water to cover beef bones. Approximately 8 cups. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a medium/low simmer.
5. Let simmer until water has reduced by half, stirring occasionally. This will take about 1 hour.
6. Add garlic, tomato paste, raw beets and potatoes. Return sauteed vegetables to the pot. Add 16 cups of water (the pot should almost be full).
7. Bring heat up to a medium/high and let the soup come to a boil.  Turn down to a low simmer and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until beets and potatoes are cooked through.
8. Add cabbage. Simmer another 5 minutes.
9. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper as needed.
10. Enjoy!!
Cooks note: The soup tastes best after it’s been cooled and reheated… so go ahead and enjoy it tomorrow for dinner!
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Double Turkey Bacon Lentil Soup

Turkey bacon isn’t so bad. Turkey bacon isn’t so bad. Turkey bacon isn’t so bad. 

Double Turkey Bacon Soup

Double Turkey Bacon Soup

I’ve been trying to repeat this mantra for many years now. But making the switch from pork bacon to turkey bacon has been difficult. It’s just not the same. So we’ve made a compromise. Breakfast bacon remains regular bacon, but when a recipe calls for bacon, I’ll substitute turkey bacon. In this recipe, I actually use two different kinds of turkey bacon. The two different types add to the depth of flavor.

Enjoy!

Double Turkey Bacon & Lentil Soup

Double Turkey Bacon & Lentil Soup

Double Turkey Bacon Lentil Soup

Makes 12-16 servings

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces turkey thigh bacon, cut into slivers
4 ounces peppered turkey thigh bacon, cut into slivers
1 large onion, small dice
3 carrots, small dice
2 celery stalks, tiny dice
8 sage leaves, tiny slivers
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 packages Trader Joe’s Steamed & Fully Cooked Lentils
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large heavy bottomed case iron pot on medium/high heat, heat the olive oil.
2. Add both types of slivered turkey bacon and saute about 3 minutes.
3. Add onions, carrots, celery and sage. Saute until softened. Approximately 5 minutes.
4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
5. Add garlic and saute for about a minute, until lightly browned and fragrant.
6. Add lentils, stock and water. Bring to a simmer.
7. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper to taste.
8. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin season usually means sweet treats for us. Just to name a few: Pumpkin bread with zucchini, pumpkin pancakes and the most traditional: pumpkin pie. I realized that I don’t often make savory dishes with pumpkin.

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup

That all changes now. I’m going to substitute pumpkin wherever I’ve used butternut squash in the past. With pasta, in stews and definitely in soups! This soup doesn’t use spices that are traditionally associated with pumpkin dishes. No cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. The mushrooms in the soup add a lovely earthiness. All of the flavors that you’re used to in a light yet hearty squash soup! This soup is great year-round treat!
Roasting pumpkin, onions. garlic & onions

Roasting pumpkin, onions. garlic & onions

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Sugar Pumpkin Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

Makes 12 servings

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

48 ounces Trader Joe’s sugar pumpkin cubes
1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
2 large garlic cloves
10 ounces white mushrooms, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
4 cups water
Optional: 1 teaspoon ground ginger
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
.
Trader Joe’s roasted & salted pumpkin seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, toss pumpkin cubes with onions, mushrooms and garlic with olive oil, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 10 turns of the pepper grinder.
2. Spread out on a large riimmed baking sheet. Roast until pumpkin is tender and golden, about 30 minutes.
3. Transfer vegetables to a stockpot over medium heat.
4. Add the broth and water.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree.
6. Bring to a simmer and taste. If using ginger, add now. Adjust for salt and pepper.
7. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds right before serving.
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.

Traditional Chicken Soup (Бульон)

I was lucky to grow up with two full time working parents and we sat down to dinner every weeknight at 6:15pm. My mama cooked up a storm on Sunday’s and would supplement the soups, meats and starches with fresh vegetables throughout the week. Our meals weren’t exotic or exciting, but warm and steady staples that allowed us to eat together as a family.

As with many other Eastern European families soup was a constant at our house. So much so that my niece, Sandra, wrote an article about it a few years ago! Chicken soup made a regular appearance on the schedule of soups, but mama also made it when one of us was sick. My sister and I would dutifully drink our soup while simultaneously making mocking comments about mama’s Jewish penicillin. Now, as a parent myself, I mock no more.

These days, we have chicken soup whenever the urge hits us… but rest assured that whenever someone starts to sniffle, chicken soup is definitely making an appearance at our house!

Traditional Chicken Soup with Egg Noodles

Traditional Chicken Soup with Egg Noodles

My kids grew up eating grandma’s chicken soup because I simply couldn’t make it as well as she did/does. That’s the truth. A few years ago I asked my mama to write down the recipe and she did…. with commentary. Sharing the recipe is like sharing an actual piece of my heart. My mama is the most important person in the world to me and I’m so lucky that she gets to be such an active part of my kids lives.

Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Traditional Chicken Soup (Бульон)

Baba Emma’s/Deda Yasha’s Chicken Soup (Bulon)

Recorded 04-29-10

For our dear children and grandchildren

Makes 15-18 bowls of soup

Ingredients

(1) Bell & Evan’s organic while chicken
(1) Big pot of water (approximately 12-14 cups of water)
(1) Large onion, whole, skin removed
(4) Celery sticks, cleaned and halved
(3 or more) Carrots, peeled (more if you like a sweeter soup)
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Optional: Cooked egg noodles or matzo balls
.
Love: the more the better

Directions

1. On the day of cooking Deda Yasha buys the freshest-prettiest Bell & Evan’s organic whole chicken.
2. He takes off skin from the chicken and cuts it in portions.
3. Baba Emma washes thoroughly every piece of chicken with cold water lets it stay for a while in the cold water and then rinses it again.
4. Put all chicken parts in a big pot with cold water and bring it on the medium heat to a smooth boil, BUT BEFORE it will boil you MUST take off-out ALL “soapy” stuff from the surface.
5. Add the thoroughly washed vegetables and depending on their future use either cook them until they are very soft and gave all their taste to the soup or take out carrots so they will be not too mushy.
6. During this slow simmering add salt, pepper to your taste (don’t over-salt it, please).
7. Let chicken soup simmer for about 40-60 minutes on “low”: it should be very clear.
8. Take it off from the stove, let it cool off a little bit and take out all veggies with the DRY utensils. NEVER go with the wet serving spoon into the soup, it will sour the soup! Bring to room temperature before refrigerating.
9. When you make it with Love it tastes even better!!!
.
-When plating, cut up vegetables and chicken. Add noodles or matzo balls.
.
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!
.