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Beet Soup


I have made many variations of beet soup, also known as borsht. Borsht is a Russian soup that’s a mixture of vegetables including beets, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and possibly other veggies. The bright color of beets gets muted when cooked with other vegetables, so I like to make this beet soup with only beets, tomatoes and some onion in a vegetable broth with added spices. It’s really so simple. 

And the big surprise is that this beet soup tastes delish hot or cold! Cold soup in the summer is so refreshing! 

We had dinner in Chicago at the Russian Tea Time. It’s much more than a tea room. Their menu is full of hearty Eastern European fare! Their borsht was a beautiful red of grated beets and carrots which inspired me to develop this recipe for Beet Soup! 

8 medium to large beets

16 cups (64 oz) unsalted vegetable stock, low salt if possible if using store bought stock. Stock is better than broth!

2 – 28 oz cans diced tomatoes in juice, not sauce!

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 large bay leaves

8 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

16 whole allspice

15 whole coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes. This adds a fair amount of heat. Use less if you don’t want it hot.

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dried dill weed, optional

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

  • Trim off stems and leaves from beets. Reserve the stems. Use the leaves to make a Beet Salad. Look up my recipe here
  • Wash the stems and cut them into 1/2 –  1 inch lengths. Set aside.

  • Soak beets in water and scrub clean.
  • Peel beets with a vegetable peeler. Grate them with a food processor or Kitchen Aid attachment. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Meanwhile, in a large 12 quart stock pot, heat the stock. 
  • Add onion and tomatoes to the stock.
  • Add bay leaves, garlic, allspice, coriander, and hot pepper flakes. Cover and bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. 
  • Add the grated beets and stems to the soup. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

  • Add sugar, red wine vinegar, dill, salt and black pepper. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. 
  • Cool and store in the frig for a full 24 hours so the flavors meld. 
  • Float sour cream or plain yogurt on each bowl if you like. But you’ll lose some of the bright red color! This is traditional, but not necessarily always used.
  • Voila!

Empty bowls of beet soup offer a beautiful color that’s even pleasing to look at!

Beet Greens Salad


I love to make borsht or beet soup, but I don’t always want to add the beet greens to the soup. And greens still attached to the root vegetable are so very fresh! Beet greens are a great source of calcium which we need to treat and prevent osteoporosis. And they are full of antioxidants!

 This is quick and simple. Serve it cold as a salad or hot as a vegetable. Both are prepared the same.

  • Cut the leaves and stems from the beets
  • Wash well in water and drain
  • Place greens on a cutting board 

Beet greens quickly cool down in ice water

  • Cut off the stems and reserve for soup if you like, or use them here. Cut the stems in 1 inch or bite size pieces.
  • Cut the greens into 3 inch sections, perpendicular to the stems
  • Heat on the stove a large pot with 1/4 cup water
  • Place greens into the hot water
  • Toss greens a few seconds until slightly wilted.
  • Remove from pot with a slotted spoon
  • Place in a large container of ice water for 5 – 10 seconds or until cooled
  • Lift greens out of the water with your hands or slotted spoon and drain in a colander
  • To prepare the salad place 1/2 – 1 cup of the greens on a small plate
  • Drizzle over the greens good quality olive oil and white balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle with flaked sea salt
  • Voila! Your salad is ready
  • You can heat this in the microwave if you would like to serve hot.
  • Greens cook done a lot, so plan on 3 – 4 cups of raw greens serving one person.

If you let this sit in the frig, some of the red color will bleed. You can add this to the serving plate if you want more red color.

No Carb Key Lime Cheesecakes


Ohthatstasty.com posted this recipe on Pinterest. It’s delish, practically no carbs and low cal if you eat only one serving!  Making small shooters or 1/2 cup size containers is what keeps the calories down. I also use Greek cream cheese and yogurt instead of cream cheese. It has more of a tang and fewer calories and fat. 

I slightly changed the recipe by adding more lime juice, less Splenda, and no vanilla.I also omitted the food coloring. The lime zest and juice add a hint of green that reminds me of Florida and their Key Lime Pies!

I have a Ninja food chopper which pulverizes the pecans! No added butter needed for this crust. A few seconds in the Ninja and its smaller vessel and your crust is ready to be layered in your serving containers. Use a larger amount of pecans if you’d like more crust

  • Finely chop 1/2 to 3/4 cup pecans
  • Distribute evenly into 6-8  small 1/2 cup size containers such as 4 oz canning jars or punch cups
  • Tap down the pecans to form a crust with the bottom of a spice jar or something similar in size
  • In a medium bowl beat together until smooth and creamy:

8 oz Greek cream cheese and yogurt

Zest of 1 lime (reserve 1-2 short strips of rind to garnish the final topping)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (this may take 2 limes)

  • Whip until stiff 

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Fold into the cream cheese mixture 1/3 of the whipped cream
  • Spoon this over the pecan crust and spread evenly with the back of a teaspoon
  • Take the remaining whipped cream and spoon over the cream cheese mix. Spread evenly with a teaspoon
  • Slice the reserved strips of rind into 6-8 thin pieces
  • Layer on top of your cheesecakes
  • Voila! Refrigerate until ready to eat!

Ranch Dressing


My family has been making this since the 1970’s. It’s an adaption from the Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix that was really big then. Everyone always loves it! My son in law Joe Wodark thinks I should market my Ranch Dressing 😉

The ingredients for this dressing are in many of the foods I grew up with. My grand parents were from Russia. They used a lot of buttermilk, sour cream, garlic, dill

This can be a salad dressing or a dip for vegetables. Use more buttermilk for a thinner salad dressing and less for a thicker dip. You can add more or less garlic and dill too, depending on your preference. I like to use a clear glass canning jar for this. It’s easy to store in the frig. Use a spoon to pour over your salads.

  • In a quart jar whisk together:

2 cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise 

1/2 cup sour cream

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

  • Then add the buttermilk and give a final whisk

1 cup buttermilk

  • Cover with a piece of plastic and then the canning lid
  • Store in the frig
  • Voila!

Cucumber Salad with Green Onion


Cucumbers are abundant all year. It’s a nice cool crunchy salad anytime.

4 cucumbers, peeled and sliced 

2-4 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup light or regular Hellmanns mayonnaise

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried dill weed, optional

  • In a large bowl combine the cucumbers and onion
  • In a small bowl combine the mayo, buttermilk, salt and sugar
  • The dill is optional and completely changes the flavor
  • Mix together and serve cold.
  • Store it in the frig till serving time
  • Voila!

Italian Meat Balls


This recipe is from an Italian-French cooking school called The Antoinette Pope School. It was in downtown Chicago and my mom took lessons there in the 1940’s. This recipe is straight from their cook book. 

I always make a large quantity of these meatballs because they freeze well and everyone loves them. They’re great plain or with Italian tomato sauce. 

Here is the mixture which needs to set for 30 minutes

These meatballs are ready to bake to 150 degrees F. Parchment paper is a better liner than foil for baking


3 pounds lean ground beef

1 tablespoon or more dried oregano

1 cup grated Italian Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 eggs, beaten with a fork 

1 and 1/2 cups cool milk or water

1 and 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F
  • In a very large bowl combine ingredients in the order given, and with a large fork or spoon beat in each ingredient.
  • Now let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
  • Form into 1 and 1/2 inch size balls
  • Place on  baking sheets lined with parchment paper or foil.  Parchment is best. Do not crowd the meatballs.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Use an instant read thermometer.
  • Cool thoroughly before freezing. 
  • Serve as is or simmer in an Italian tomato sauce.

Enjoy!

Limoncello


Limoncello is  a tart slightly sweet liquor that’s best ice cold. It’s served all over Italy as an after dinner drink, aperitif or  anytime you want! The original recipe is from Sorrento along the Amalfi Coast where we learned the secrets for making true limoncello from a local family, the Coppelli’s. Gino and his sister gave us lessons over a several day process at their Residence Santa Lucia where we stayed for 2 heavenly weeks.

Dave made the Coppeli family limoncello this week for the holidays to give as Christmas gifts. He found 125 ml and 250 ml bottles with cork stoppers, similar to the bottles our friends in Sorrento used. 


Here is the process

  • In  a 1 or 2 gallon glass jar combine

Yellow rind from 14 large or about 20 typical size organic lemons (only use the yellow peel, not the white pith and not the juice either!) use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel the yellow rind

2 liters 96% alcohol (we used Everclear purchased in Ohio since 96% is unavailable in Michigan. Vodka is NOT a substitute!)


  • Cover and let sit 4 days to 2 weeks. The lemon rind will take on a leather like texture and the alcohol will turn a beautiful lemon yellow

  • Make a simple syrup solution by combining and heating to a boil

5 cups sugar

10 cups water

  • Let the syrup cool overnight
  • Add the syrup to the lemons and alcohol


The limoncello becomes milky when the 96% alcohol is used. Because vodka contains less alcohol you end up with a clear solution which is not what you want. We made that mistake last year!

  • Mix and cover. Let sit 1-4 days
  • Ladle into 4 or 8 ounce clear jars by pouring into a funnel lined with 2-4 layers of cheesecloth

In Sorrento our master instructor used rolled cotton rather than cheese cloth to strain the limoncello. This is the best filter. Use a Watman filter paper or something similar.The cheese cloth allows a fine residue to pass through.


Store in a cool place. Place a bottle of limoncello in the freezer several hours before serving ice cold. Freeze your serving glasses too!

This is Gino Coppelli. He and his sister were our limoncello instructors in Sorrento.



Bella Bella!