India: Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken

I got this Indian Butter Chicken recipe from my friend, Susie, who lived in India for almost a year.  I’ve known her through for a long, long time.  She’s helped out with the forums and blog ages.  I even got to meet her and her family in person in New York City a few years ago, right before she left for India (that’s us below).  Oddly enough, just by chance we were both there on the same day!  If you get a chance, check out her blog series on Mommysavers: The Frugal Foreigner.

Since she said one of her favorite Indian dishes was Butter Chicken, I thought that would be a good one to make for my kids.  Don’t let the sheer number of ingredients in this intimidate you. It’s not hard at all.  Plus, once you purchase the spices you can make lots of other Indian dishes.

India: Butter Chicken
Indian Butter Chicken is a great introduction to Indian cuisine. It's mild enough to appeal to many palates.
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 potatoes peeled and diced.
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.
  3. Cook potatoes for ~10 mins, stirring often to evenly brown. Pull potatoes
  4. out of oil with slotted spoon/spatula, and add to sauce. Add chicken,
  5. and cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat,
  6. and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few
  7. spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is
  8. no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.
  9. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  10. Serve with rice.
  11. NOTES: I didn't have garlic ginger paste, so I used chopped garlic and ginger. Also, I didn't have peanut oil so I used sesame oil.

new york 2010

Korea: Korean Beef BBQ (Bulgogi)

Korean Beef BBQ (Bulgogi)

It’s been over a week since I’ve done any international dishes and I’m quickly falling behind if I want to finish all 194 in 2014. I think after going gung-ho all of January, everyone needed a short break. I needed a break from sourcing and cooking recipes, and my family needed a break from all the “weird” food I’ve been serving lately. It’s not that they haven’t enjoyed what I’ve made. Honestly, I think they’re enjoying this project almost as much as I am. We all just missed the comfort of our standard go-to meals like homemade spaghetti, tacos, and spam casserole (yes, I said SPAM. Don’t knock it!).

So, when Nick asked what I was making tonight I simply answered, “beef.” Not Bulgogi, or Korean beef with rice, or anything that would scare him off. Simply beef. And guess what? He liked it. I spared him the lesson on the origins of this dish and what’s going on in Korea these days. I simply let him enjoy his beef.

Korean Beef BBQ (Bulgogi) Marinade:

1 C. soy sauce
1 6-oz. can pineapple juice or 1/2 C. wine
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sesame seed
2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 lb. beef rump roast, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly

Combine all the marinade ingredients and pour over beef.  Marinate for 6-8 hours or overnight.  I used a George Foreman grill to do my beef, but you could sear it in a skillet or on a “real” grill as well.  I served over brown sprouted rice with steamed broccoli.

Korean Beef BBQ

Korean Beef BBQ

  Korean Beef BBQ (Bulgogi)

Latvia: Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums (Latvian Rye Bread Dessert)


When I was researching Latvian foods, I came across this layered dessert.  It fascinated me because I’ve never heard of using rye bread in a sweet dish like this.  When sweetened with sugar and cinnamon, it almost tastes like graham crackers.    The original recipe I found called for cranberries instead of raspberries, but according to Wikipedia, “Raspberry, strawberry and apricot are each favorite preserves for preparing Rupjmaizes kartojums among Latvians, as are the more peculiarly Latvian aroniasea buckthornlingonberryrose hip andred currant varieties.”

If I were to make it again, I think I’d layer it in parfait glasses to get the full effect.

Latvia: Rūpjmaizes Kārtojums (Latvian Rye Bread Dessert)
  • 10 slices coarse rye bread, dried
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp.cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 container mascarpone cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. cream
  • 1 can (I used SOLO) raspberry filling
  1. Combine rye bread, sugar, and cinnamon. In a medium-sized bowl, combine cheese and cream. Whip until smooth. Layer in parfait glasses or a trifle bowl and chill well, or overnight to let the flavors meld.


Thanks, Russian Season!

Poland: Chocolate Babka

chocolate babka

If you’re like us, you know Chocolate Babka from the episode of Seinfeld called The Dinner Party.  Jerry and Elaine make a stop at Schnitzer’s Bakery on their way to a dinner party to purchase a Chocolate Babka.  They forget to take a number, and as a result the bakery is sold out when they reach the counter.  They’re forced into buying a Cinnamon Babka, which Elaine considers ”a lesser babka.”  Here’s a clip:

Chocolate babka is a Jewish dessert popular in Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Czech Republic, Belarus and Poland. Babka is sweet yeast bread, popular in most of Eastern Europe, similar to coffee cake. Arthur Schwartz, author of Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking wrote, “Babka, in its original form, was stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics classes and practiced yoga.”

Chocolate Babka
  • DOUGH:
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 C. flour
  • ¼ C. butter
  • ¼ C. white sugar
  • ¼ C. water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ C. butter, softened
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ C. sugar
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, chilled
  • 1 egg beaten with
  • 1 tablespoon water for glaze
  1. Add yeast to warm milk and allow to foam for 5-10 minutes. Next, add flour, butter, sugar, water, eggs and salt. Mix using a dough hook until smooth. Set aside to rise for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half and roll each section into 10x18 inch rectangles. Spread butter evenly on both halves. Spread chocolate pieces, cinnamon and sugar on top of the butter. Roll lengthwise, sealing ends shut. Place each loaf in a parchment-lined bread pan.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, butter and egg/water. Brush the tops of each loaf with glaze before placing in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka chocolate babka

Lithuania: Kugelis


lithuanian kugelis

lithuanian kugelisKugelis is a Lithuanian baked potato pudding consisting of shredded potatoes, bacon, milk, onions, and eggs. It really doesn’t get much more frugal than this dish, so if you’ve got a tight budget this is a good one to try.  Traditionally, Lithuanians top this with applesauce or lingonberry jam.  When topped with sour cream and scallions, it’s delicious.  It reminds me a bit of the Spanish Omelets I love.

Scott said, “This is really good!” and the kids ate it up too (sans sour cream and onions).  I’ve got photographic proof for that one skeptical friend who said the kids wouldn’t like it. They did… and this photo to the right here was NOT staged (I’ll admit the one below was).  Sydney was picking up the crumbs off her plate (she gets her manners from Scott).

Lithuania: Kugelis
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • ½ lb. bacon
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ C. milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a box shredder, shred the potatoes. Place in cold water in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet. Drain, reserving a tablespoon of grease to use to sauté the onions. In a kitchen towel and twist to remove excess water from the potatoes. Grease an 8x8 casserole dish and add potatoes, eggs, milk, and crumbled bacon bits. Season to taste. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.


Lithuania: Kugelis - Kim Cooks the World

Lithuania: Kugelis - Kim Cooks the World

Lithuania: Kugelis - Kim Cooks the World

Lithuania: Kugelis - Kim Cooks the World


Lithuania: Kugelis - Kim Cooks the World



Thanks, Serious Eats!



China: Pork-Filled Wontons

Deep-fried wontons are one of my daughter’s favorite things to order at Chinese restaurants.  So, I thought it would be in everyone’s best interest if I figured out how to make them at home.  It turns out they’re much easier and more frugal than I thought.  What one restaurant serving costs, I can make 4-5 dozen at home.  Plus, I learned how to freeze them for later.

I was inspired by my friend Maggie’s post on How to Make Crab Rangoon. She is my Chinese-cooking expert friend, as her husband’s family is from China. She knows her stuff (view more of her recipes here:  Maggie’s Chinese Kitchen)

Freezing Instructions:  Cool completely before freezing.  Freeze in parchment paper, making sure all the air has been sucked out of the ziplock page.  For re-heating, bake for about 4-5 minutes at 450 degrees.

China: Pork-Filled Wontons
  • Filling:
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 C. diced celery
  • 1 C. shredded carrot
  • 1 C. diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ C. soy sauce
  • 1 16-oz. package wontons
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Oil for frying
  1. Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well. Place about 1 tsp. of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Brush with egg and seal. Meanwhile, heat oil on the stovetop to 350-365 degrees. Drop 5-6 wontons in the oil at a time, and brown for about 3 minutes. Set on paper towels to cool.


chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons chinese pork-filled wontons

Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce

Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World

Russia:  Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce

Russian cuisine is known for creamy sauces with mushrooms.  We’ve been eating beef stroganoff for years and years, so when I stumbled upon this recipe I figured it would have a similar flavor profile.

First off, let me say the sauce was delicious.  However, since we’re not used to savory crepes in my family, it was met with a bit of resistance. I think the kids would have loved the sauce served over pasta or dumplings (something a bit more commonplace around here). That said, one of my goals with the project was to expose them to new tastes and textures, which I did.  I’m proud of them for trying it and giving it a shot, and maybe next time they’ll be more open to something like this.    I think I’ll tuck the porcini mushroom sauce recipe away to use again.  It was a keeper!

Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce
  • Blini:
  • 1¾ C. buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2¾ C. flour
  • 1¾ cup boiling water
  • ⅓ C. vegetable oil
  • Chicken and Mushroom Filling:
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • 2½ C. chopped cooked chicken
  • ¾ C. chicken broth
  • Porcini Mushroom Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 oz dried porcini or chanterelle mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1¼ C. chicken broth
  • ½ C. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
  1. Combine blini ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Heat skillet. Pour in about ⅓ C. blini batter and flip when the blini get tiny bubbles. Blini are done when golden brown. Set aside.
  2. For the filling, melt butter in a skillet. Saute mushrooms, onion, celery until soft and translucent. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Add chicken and heat through. Set aside.
  3. To assemble blini, add about ¼ C. filling to the blini. Roll as you would an enchilada. Saute in a skillet in butter until golden brown. Set aside in a casserole dish. Later you will be topping with mushroom sauce.
  4. For the mushroom sauce, hydrate porcini mushrooms by soaking them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Drain water and mince. Melt butter in skillet. Saute garlic, onion, fresh mushrooms until translucent. Add porcini mushrooms. Add flour and stir until all ingredients are well-coated. Add chicken broth and heat to thicken. Simmer 10-15 minutes on low. Add cream and sour cream, stir.


Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World Russia: Chicken and Mushroom Blini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - Kim Cooks the World IMG_4192 IMG_4194 IMG_4198 IMG_4199 Thanks, Olga’s Flavor Factory!

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll

Russian Poppy Seed Roll

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything on the blog.  I was visiting my parents in Florida, enjoying some sunshine and R&R.  It was beyond fabulous to escape our brutal Minnesota winter.  I almost didn’t come back!  Now that I’m back in action, I figured I should tackle Russian food in honor of the Olympics being held in Sochi.  I’m definitely hoping my dishes aren’t another #sochifail like so many other things that are going wrong over there right now.

I’ve always loved anything with poppy seed filling, so when I was researching Russian foods this definitely stood out.   This traditional Poppy Seed Roll is a typical treat around the holidays in many Russian families.  I figured my family would enjoy it too – but while spreading the poppy seed filling on the dough, my son Nick said it looked pretty gross.  I have to admit, he’s right.  Poppy seeds taste much better than they look.

Russia: Poppy Seed Roll
  • Dough:
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1½ C. warm milk
  • 4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 7 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Filling:
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash to finish the roll
  • 1 can (12.5 oz.) poppy seed cake and pastry filling
  1. In a bowl, mix warm milk, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for ten minutes until yeast bubbles. Add flour, butter, and salt. Mix with a dough hook (or knead by hand). Cover dough and set in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes. Dough recipe makes TWO rolls.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into a 12" rectangle. Spread with honey, then poppy seed filling. Roll up lengthwise and connect the ends to make a wreath shape. With a knife, create slits in the dough. Brush with egg yolk and water. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


IMG_4174 IMG_4180 IMG_4182 russian poppy seed roll

russian poppy seed roll


Thanks, Melangery!

Thailand: Chicken Pad Thai

chicken pad thai - EASY!

When it comes to Thai food, most people think of Chicken or Shrimp Pad Thai.  It’s a dish that is commonly served at casual local eateries in Thailand and probably the most common Thai dish served in America.   Thai food is known for balancing 3-4 different taste palates in one dish: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.   For that reason, you may think the list of ingredients on some recipes looks pretty schizophrenic.   Somehow, they fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  That’s the art of Thai cooking.  I can appreciate that.

Chicken Pad Thai may not be the most adventurous dish to try from this region, but it was a good introduction to these flavors for my kids.   It was a safe, family-friendly choice.  Scott said enthusiastically, “This is REALLY good!  Where is it from?”  (you know, because the name didn’t give it away for him).  It’s quick, too.  The whole meal was done in about 30 minutes.

(Mankato friends – if you’re looking for the fish sauce, rice vinegar and other Asian ingredients, the Global Aisle at Cub Foods has everything you’ll need.  Bean sprouts are in the produce section).

Thailand: Chicken Pad Thai
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 5 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz. rice noodles
  • 4 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ C. sliced green onions (more for garnish)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C. bean sprouts
  • ⅓ cup chopped unsalted peanuts
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  1. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and soy sauce. Add chicken pieces and turn until well-coated. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Place noodles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over noodles to cover and let sit 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tbsp. sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and soy sauce mixture. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp oil in the skillet. Add the eggs and cook until scrambled. Add the noodles, sauce and chicken. Cook about 2 minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook another 2-3 minutes until noodles are tender and bean sprouts are not crisp. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with peanut and cilantro. Serve immediately.


chicken pad thai recipe easy chicken pad thai recipe easy

Chicken Pad Thai

chicken pad thai recipe easy chicken pad thai recipe easy chicken pad thai recipe easy

This dish inspired by Chocolate & Chillie and

Ukraine: Varenyky

ukranian varenyky

My family LOVES pierogies.  I can’t remember the first time we tried them, but I’m guessing it was in the Chicago area when visiting my grandmother.  We found a Polish market that sold fresh pierogis and always loaded our cooler up with them before heading back to Minnesota.  When my grandmother passed away and we no longer visited that area, I figured out how to make homemade pierogies that tasted pretty much the same (if not a tad bit better).

Last night, we tried the Ukranian version, known as Varenyky.  According to AllThingsUkranian they are, “One of the twelve traditional dishes for the Sviat Vechir (Christmas Eve Holy Supper).”   Since I’ve now made both, I’d say the main difference was in the dough.  Varenyky recipes use some sort of milk or cream in the dough, while pierogies contain potato in the dough and no dairy.  The end result, however, is nearly identical.

Like pierogies, Varenyky are kind of time-consuming to make.  If you’re going to make them, make a double batch to save for later.  The frozen ones can go directly in the skillet without thawing.  I was going to freeze the rest of mine for another meal, but my family liked them so well they wanted me to cook them up instead.  I’d say that was a clear indication of their success.  The kids gave them two thumbs up.

Don’t have a 3″ circle cutter?  A wine glass works well.

Ukraine: Varenyky
  • DOUGH:
  • 5 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1¼ C. evaporated milk
  • ¼ - ½ C. water
  • 6 medium potatoes, diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • ½ C. butter
  • 1¼ C. Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the butter and evaporated milk. Stir until combined. Begin to knead dough, adding water only as needed. When dough sticks together, place in a greased bowl and set aside while you make the filling.
  2. For the filling, place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes, until tender. Drain. Melt ½ cup butter in a medium skillet. Saute onions in butter until tender. Add the potatoes back in, along with the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roll dough to ⅛" thick (if you have a pasta roller, it works well). Cut 3" circles. Add 1 teaspoon of the filling to the center of the circle and seal shut.
  4. Over high heat, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add varenyky and boil 4 minutes. Drain. Saute varenyky in a skillet with butter until golden brown. Serve with sour cream.


ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky filling ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky potato filling ukranian varenyky potato filling ukranian varenyky potato filling ukranian varenyky potato filling ukranian varenyky potato filling

ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky dough ukranian varenyky ukranian varenyky

This recipe was adapted from