Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Hello Dear Friends,

Today I wanted to talk about potatoes. I am sure everyone has their favorite recipe and the way of making them. I love them really in any way, shape or form and these have always worked the best for me when it comes to taste and texture – soft inside and crispy on the outside. They are super easy to make and I hope they will soon make an appearance at your table too! Have a wonderful week! 🙂

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Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

{Printable recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 – 3 lb (1.1 – 1.4 kg) Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary or a few twigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  1. Peel potatoes, wash them well.
  2. Slice each potato once through starting at the narrower part, to get two halves
  3. Slice each half into 3 wedges.

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4. Place the wedges into a pot and cook them for just about 5 minutes. They are to remain firm.
5. Strain and arrange them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
6. Spice the wedges with salt, black pepper and rosemary.
7. Brush with olive oil and toss it all together so the spices and oil can spread evenly over potatoes.

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8. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (if desired) and stir once again.
9. Bake at 400 F (200 C) until bottom of the potatoes start getting a nice golden-brown color.
10. Now turn on the broiler for 5 minutes on low and then a few minutes on high.
11. Cool for a few minutes and serve as a side dish or just by itself.
YUM! ENJOY! :)

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Beef Stew with Rutabaga

This is a stew the way my grandma made it; very simple, no fancy ingredients here. It just takes time and Love to make it perfect. My grandma usually made the stew with potatoes and sometimes also with rutabaga which is in my language called “repa”. She would also shred rutabaga and pickle it, or just peel it, cut into thin slices and give it to grandchildren to eat it fresh because it’s healthy.

You will notice this not being a conventional way of preparing a stew (no meat searing); still it works wonderfully and the end result is an amazing combination of tender beef, delicious vegetable and hearty soup.

Beef stew with rutabaga

Beef Stew with Rutabaga

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil (I use sunflower)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium carrot (chopped)
  • 1 medium parsnip (chopped)
  • 2 lb (1 kg) stew beef (cut into large cubes)
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups (1 l) water (+ a few cups more while cooking)
  • 1 lb (500 g) rutabaga (peeled and cubed)
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Preparation:

  1. In a heavy bottom cooking pot sauté onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place cubed beef on the vegetable bed and let it brown well on all sides.
  3. Slightly cover pan and keep sautéing beef and vegetables together for 20-30 minutes. Beef will release juices, so just let everything slowly simmer until all liquid evaporates.
  4. Soon you will hear a frying sound. Make sure you stir well so beef or vegetables don’t burn.
  5. Now is the time to add spices: vegeta, salt, paprika and pepper. Stir once again and make sure meat is well coated with spices.
  6. Add water, bring it to boil and then turn down to medium cover and let is simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours. Some of the water will evaporate, so make sure to check the pot every 20-30 minutes to see if you need to add any water. Meat needs to be covered with water at all times while simmering.
  7. The last 45 minutes of cooking add peeled and cubed rutabaga; adjust spices if needed. Serve warm , garnished with fresh parsley.

Beef stew preparation

Beef stew preparation 2

Beef stew preparation 3

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Beef stew with rutabaga

 

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Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

Tarhana soup is a well loved soup in my native Bosnia, as well as in some other countries such as Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, etc. The noodles are made from sour dough and give a soup that specific taste and tomato sauce just enhances its flavor. So, if you like your sourdough bread, I am sure you will like Tarhana as well.

My maternal Grandmother used to make the noodles from scratch. I am not quite sure of how the whole process works, but I can tell you what I remember from my childhood.

The dough is made with flour, water, salt, possibly yeast (some say yogurt too, or with tomato sauce) and it’s left to ferment for 3-4 days (or more). More flour is added to the mixture each day. When the dough is ready, it is divided into hand-size patties which are then left to dry (best in the airy and sunny spot). After they’re dry they are shredded or coarsely grounded into noodles and stored in plastic containers or jars.

I buy my noodles at the store with Bosnian, Balkan or Middle Eastern products. Tarhana soup can be made in several different ways and with various ingredients. This is my family recipe.

Tarhana soup, trahana

Tarhana Soup {Sour Dough Soup}

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a medium green bell pepper
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 small zucchini (optional)
  • 3/4 lb (about 350 g) ground beef
  • 1 tsp “Vegeta” spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground white pepper
  • 15 oz (425 g) can tomato sauce
  • 5 cups (1 liter + 200 ml) water
  • 1 cup (about 200 g) tarhana noodles
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sour cream (optional)

*** All vegetables finely chopped

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oil in a cooking pot and add all finely chopped vegetables. Sauté for 5 minutes then add ground beef.
  2. Sauté ground beef and veggies for another 5-10 minutes, then add spices, tomato sauce and water.
  3. Bring it to boil and add tarhana noodles. Stir well. Let the soup simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally as the noodles tend to stick to the bottom.
  4. Noodles will thicken the soup. If it’s too thick for your taste, you can always add a little water.
  5. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or a tablespoon of sour cream
  6. ENJOY!

Tarhana

Tarhana soup preparation

Tarhana soup - trahana

Tarhana soup - trahana

 

 

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

By request of some of my readers, I will try to post more cooking recipes to my blog. One of the most liked Bosnian summer meals are stuffed peppers.

If you’re not familiar with Bosnian cooking, you should know that we like to cook from scratch, use fresh ingredients, seasonal vegetables and we take pride in what we do. Even though the ingredients and spices are simple, preparation and cooking process are lengthy and produce flavorful, hearty and memorable meals.

I usually make stuffed peppers two ways – stuffed with ground beef and cooked in sauce and the vegetarian way, stuffed with potatoes and rice and baked in the oven.

Today I would like to introduce ground meat stuffed peppers. I usually use ground beef for stuffing. Ground pork, or mix of ground beef and pork can be used as well. I have not tried making them with ground chicken or turkey. I also add a potato to the stuffing mixture, but that’s optional. Also the rice doesn’t have to be precooked. I half-cook mine, since I’ve had stuffed peppers where rice was not fully cooked and I want to avoid that. Most common peppers used in Bosnia are white peppers. I suggest not to use green bell peppers for this recipe, except if they are really small. A good substitute in the US are cubanelle peppers. I usually serve my stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes, but they can be served just by it self and with an addition of some good crusty bread to dip into sauce.

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 white peppers (2.4-2.8 oz OR 70-80 g each)
  • 1 1/3 lb (600 g) ground beef
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) rice
  • 1 large potato (finely chopped)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp Vegeta spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

       + for the sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½  cup (120 ml) tomato puree
  • 4 cups (1 l) water

Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry peppers. Cut open the top and remove all the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice halfway (about 5 minutes) and strain. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop vegetables.
  4. Place ground beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with all the spices.
  5. Add all vegetables, rice, egg and parsley and mix into a compact mass.
  6. Stuff each pepper and set on a plate next to the stove.
  7. Heat 3 tbsp of cooking oil in a frying pan. Lightly brown peppers on each side (just until fragrant, remove from the pan and place back on the plate.
  8. Pour the oil from frying into a cooking pot. You will make the sauce now.
  9. Lightly heat the oil, add 2 tbsp flour and stir gently until smooth.
  10. Add ground paprika and salt and stir for about 1 minute. Don’t let it burn.
  11. Add tomato puree and water. Stir and let it boil.
  12. When the sauce starts boiling, place all the peppers inside. Turn the temperature down to medium and simmer for about 45-50 minutes in a half covered pot.

*** Sauce will reduce during the cooking and will become thicker.

Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or just with bread.

Long grain rice

White peppers

Ingredients for stuffed peppers

Stuffing mixture for peppers

Stuffed peppers

Browning stuffed peppers

Stuffed pepper sauce

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Bosnian Stuffed Peppers

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

As per request of one of my dear readers, I wanted to introduce this much loved soup of our grandmothers. I am not sure where the soup originates from (Austria perhaps), but it is well known all over the old continent. It is delicious, easily made and filling.

The base for the soup can be chicken or veal stock and dumplings are made from farina flour. This flour is coarse and resembles grits, but unlike grits, it is made from wheat. Apparently for many years I was confusing the name for semolina and farina flour. I recently learned that semolina is mainly used for making pasta and gnocchi and farina is used as cereal (cream of wheat). In Bosnia farina is called griz and in Germany grieß. We mainly use farina for dumplings and desserts. If you happen to go through my recipe index, my Semolina Pudding should actually read farina pudding (I promise I will change that).

chicken soup with farina dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

{print recipe}

Chicken stock:

  • 1. 5 – 2 l (1.5 – 2 quarts) water
  • 100-200 g (3.5 – 7 oz) chicken (I usually use breast without skin, but dark meat can be used as well) or veal
  • 2 medium carrots (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 parsnip (cut once lengthwise and once across)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 parsley twigs
  • Vegeta
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (finely chopped)

Farina dumplings:

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) farina flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 50 g butter (1.7 oz)- at room temperature
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

  1. In a stock pot filled with water add chicken and all the vegetables. Bring it to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock and set aside all that’s left in the sieve.
  3. Return the clear stock into the pot. Finely chop chicken, carrots and parsnip and put back into the stock.  Onion, celery, and parsley can be discarded. Spice with vegeta, salt and pepper. Let it simmer lightly.
  4. Dumplings need to be prepared immediately before you want to add them to the soup. Do not let the dumpling mixture sit and wait, because they will not turn out good.
  5. For the dumplings combine farina with salt, pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add softened butter and egg and make a mixture gently mixing with a fork. Do not use electric mixer. Do not over mix.
  6. Take a small spoon and grab some of the mixture. With another spoon help shape the mixture into a nice oval and put it into simmering soup. Work fast. Dumplings will start expanding and coming to the surface.
  7. When they are about triple in size, turn off the stove, add chopped parsley to the soup and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. If dumplings are made right they will have a soft consistency, somewhat grainy texture and will not be hard or fall apart.

*** I suggest not to make these dumplings with hands as you may squeeze and press the mixture too much and then they will be too hard after they are done.

Chicken stock

Making Farina Dumplings
Making Farina Dumplings
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Farina Dumplings Mixture
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval
Make Farina dumplings using two spoons and shaping them into an oval

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Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Chicken Soup with Farina Dumplings

Bosnian Bean Soup {Grah}

Just when I thought the winter has lost its grip on us, it’s snowing again and it’s bitter cold outside. I guess I’ll have to patiently wait for the spring.. In the meantime I decided to cure the winter blues with a cup of familiar, good Bosnian Bean Soup. In Bosnia and the regions of Balkan, this soup has been around for hundreds of years. It is simply called “beans” (grah) and when you say “grah” everyone knows what you’re talking about. Most families have their own, family recipe which they swear to be the best one around. I think my recipe is pretty darn good too! 🙂 This flavorful, hearty soup is made from dried beans, so it takes a while to be done, but I’ll tell you the wait is absolutely worth it. If you would find yourself in a conversation with an older Bosnian lady and if you (God forbid) mentioned that you have used canned beans to make grah, she would be seriously mad (if not offended) and she would use all of her powers of persuasion to change your mind and to point you in the right direction when it comes to preparing grah. 🙂

Although I am not going to be mad if you use canned beans, I would strongly suggest – don’t. I am speaking from my own experience here. Take the time and make this soup the proper way and you will be rewarded with a best cup of bean soup you ever had.

Since I don’t have a way to get the real Bosnian beans here in the US, I tried substituting them with pinto beans, black eyed peas and kidney beans. None of these have worked too well. Recently I found peruano beans which are just perfect for this soup and if not the same, then they are very similar to my favorite Bosnian beans.

As we (Bosnians) are pretty serious meat eaters, we like to add some nice smoked meat to the soup. I usually add authentic Bosnian smoked beef, but smoked pork ribs or similar will also give it a great flavor. Smoked meat from Balkans would require a whole new post, so I will just say that if you would really like to have some, try any store with products from Balkan. Serve the soup with some good, crusty bread. This is essential because you will be dipping that bread into soup and using it to pick up the last drops from your cup! In the winter time we also might serve this soup with pickled vegetables such as pickles, pickled peppers, sarena salata (a mix of various pickled veggies), pickled peppers stuffed with sauerkraut, etc.)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

{print recipe}

Ingredients:

  • 500 g (17 oz) dry peruano beans
  • 1-2 l water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 of a green bell pepper
  • 250 g (9 oz) smoked beef (cubed)
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP vegeta
  • 1/4  TSP fresh ground black pepper
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP cooking oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 TSP ground paprika

Preparation:

*** Soaking the beans in cold water over night will reduce the cooking time.

  • If you have pre-soaked the beans, rinse them, place in a large cooking pot and go to number 1.
  • If you didn’t soak the beans, place them in a cooking pot, add water and let it boil for a few minutes, rinse and add fresh water.
  1. Finely chop onion, carrot and the bell pepper. Add it to the beans and let it boil. Reduce the temperature to medium, cover the pot slightly and let it cook for about 1 hour. Occasionally check if water level has decreased, add additional water to always keep the same level of liquid in the pot.
  2. After 1 hour add all spices and cubed smoked meat (polish sausage or similar can be used too, but then you will add them at the last half hour of cooking time). Cook for another 1 to 1.5 hours. To check if beans are ready take a few out of the pot and squeeze them between your thumb and index finger. If they are soft and creamy, and the peel comes off they are ready. The soup will look thick and it will smell wonderfully.
  3. Now add tomato paste and let it incorporate well into the soup.
  4. It is time now to make the roux to thicken the soup.
  5. Peel and finely chop 3-4 garlic cloves. Using medium setting, heat 2 TBSP oil in a small frying pan. Toss the chopped garlic in oil just until fragrant.
  6. Add flour and mix it with a wooden spoon until all crumbs disappear and flour starts changing its color to a very light brown. Now add paprika and again mix well. Pour the roux into the soup. This might produce a lively reaction. Give it a nice stir, reduce the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  7. Serve warm with a slice of a nice, crusty bread.
  8. This soup freezes well and keeps well in the fridge for at least 3-4 days.
Smoked beef meat
Smoked beef meat
Steps of making roux
Steps of making roux

Bosnian Bean Soup (Grah)

Hearty Chicken Soup with Green Veggies

Last few days I just had a taste for some soup. In the warm summer season I usually make a lot of salads, pastas, grilled meats and such… I realized I miss a bowl of a nice soup. This one is just totally a combination of things that I had in my fridge and it is pretty simple to make, healthy and just so delicious.

Hearty Chicken Soup with Green Veggies                 Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium chicken breast
  • 1 large tomato (blanched and peeled)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegeta
  • 4 cups (950 ml) water
  • 10.5 oz (300 g) green peas
  • 7 oz (200 g) fresh green beans (1 inch pieces)
  • 7 oz (200 g) okra (1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) tomato sauce
  • Fresh parsley (finely chopped)

Preparation:

Lightly heat olive oil in a cooking pot and add finely chopped onions, garlic and carrots. Add peeled and chopped zucchini and sauté for a few minutes.

Add chicken breast cut into ½ inch (1.5 cm) cubes; add salt, fresh ground pepper and vegeta to taste. Sauté for another five minutes and then add blanched, peeled and chopped tomato. At this point mixture will start getting thick. Mix for a few minutes not letting it burn. Now add water and let it boil. There is no need to add chicken stock as your sautéed veggies and chicken will make a great base for the soup.

After the soup starts boiling, add green beans, peas and okra and reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add tomato sauce and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or until desired thickness.

Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley and a slice of good bread! Yum, yum, yum!!!!!! 🙂