Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 and New Beginnings

It has been awhile since my last post. In the meantime, our lives changed forever in a good way. We found out that we were going to be parents. It brought us joy, happiness, and satisfaction. This was something we wanted to experience and we are grateful for the opportunity. 

Then those feelings subsided quickly for me, due to the morning sickness. First three months were hell for me. I had strong food aversion, stomach didn't handle anything, and extremely tired. So in that time, I didn't set foot in the kitchen. My poor husband had to deal with whatever he can make with no heat and smell. I lived on saltines and tea. I couldn't keep my Paleo diet any longer nor I didn't want to. I had to eat whatever I can keep it down at that point, if that was saltines, I had them. I thought this was never going to end and I was going to be miserable for the rest of my pregnancy. Luckily, those aversions went away during second trimester. 

Second trimester is the best so far. I have more energy, huge appetite, less pain and am happier. With these positive changes, I started cooking in my kitchen again. I started slowly and now I am cooking and baking everything I desire. As one can imagine, I am not following Paleo anymore. One day, I will be back but not right now. Some might say, this is the best time to keep practicing but there are so many things I crave, it will be very difficult not to eat them. Let me explain what I included in my diet. I bake bread every day, I bake cakes and breads, make pies, use legumes for soups and stews, make pilafs etc. I need to gain weight and eating carbohydrate rich diet is the only way to do it. I try to be careful what I eat though. I don't go out and eat fast food. I cook and control what I add in my dish. Wouldn't I be happier if I had followed the Paleo? Most likely, yes. Wouldn't it be healthier for the baby? For sure, yes. 

Enough of this self-defense :) I will eat carbs, meats, veggies, and legumes until I change my mind. 

Friday, July 26, 2013


It is almost end of July and I have still recipes that I need to publish. This month went too fast for us. In the beginning of the month, I was looking for plane tickets for our annual travel to Turkey and that was a bit of a challenge. The travel agent I worked with was decided to go on a vacation without announcing on the website. Really! That was inconvenient for people like me who try to figure out what the heck was going on. Once I found out what was happening, I knew finding tickets was going to be a test for me to see how I could manage stress. Luckily, I found and purchased the tickets. I was surprised by prices being so high this year. Shocking, right!

We also continued with our Paleo diet and starting to get good results. Our bodies were starting to get better at using the food as fuel resource. We were feeling better with ourselves but I'll admit, here and there I was getting mood swings and sugar cravings. I know it will go away as sugar addiction is the hardest to get rid of. It also helped me to cook different dishes that I was getting into a cycle where I was preparing almost the same style dinner every night. 

I am spreading the words to people around me, because I want them to experience what I am experiencing. Feeling energetic and not having any side effects from the food we consume worth everything. Yes, this type of eating requires planning and cooking. What strikes me most is when I tell people that I wake up early to prepare breakfast, they look at me like I am doing something wrong or crazy. Cooking and preparing food is part of life outside of U.S. but here people see that as wasted time. I pity for those people. Life is too short to waste on meaningless things. To me, I am fine with spending an hour or so a day to prepare my food so I can control what I eat. I don't want big corporations to force upon me their cheap and innutritious empty food boxes. If people could see this, majority of food related problems would diminish. I am hopeful though, one day this will end. Until then, I will control my own destiny. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

Grilled Chicken Thighs

Another day, another dish. Since I grilled fish last night, I thought to myself I should grill chicken this time. I bought bunch of organic chicken thighs from Costco and they come really handy. It has been awhile since I roasted some potatoes and I added that to the dinner. 

1 lbs. chicken thighs - skinless, boneless
1 lbs. fingerlings potatoes
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
2 medium zucchini

1/2 lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp oregano
3 crushed garlic cloves

For Roasted Potatoes
1 sprig of rosemary - minced
1 minced garlic clove

 Wash chicken thighs with cold water and drain. Mix marinade ingredients in a small bowl and place chicken pieces in a large plastic bag, pour marinade over and close the bag. Mix everything well, set aside for at least 30 minutes. Heat grill on medium and place chicken thighs on it and cook until the outside is golden brown, then flip and cook until the meat thermometer reads 165F. Place on a plate and cover with aluminum foil loosely.

Wash zucchini and peel skin in stripes. Cut 1/2 thick slices diagonally. Place them in a baking sheet and spray olive oil and mix it to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on a hot grill and cook until soft and translucent in the middle. 

Wash potatoes and pat them dry. Cut big ones into 1/2 inch. chunks and place them in a big bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and mix to coat. Bring a 12 inch skillet on medium low heat, add potatoes and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally until the center is soft. Add garlic and rosemary and stir until fragrant. Serve immediately. 

Grilled Tilapia

It is challenging to cook traditional Turkish recipes in week days, so I try to find something on the easier side. I decided to grill tilapia with zucchinis. I was going to stuff those zucchinis but change of plans. I like this dish because it is delicious, quick and healthy. I served with Shepard's salad.

2 tilapia fillets
2 medium zucchini
Cooking spray
salt, pepper

Spray fish with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Turn heat on medium and heat the grill/grill pan. Cook until grill marks develops and flip. Cook other side until the middle is opaque and serve with lemon wedges. 

Cut zucchinis diagonal 1/2 inch thick and spray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill until both sides have marks. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicken Wings

It has been awhile since last post. There have been a lot going on and I couldn't find the time to post. I had to get my root canal re-done. That was not fun and took some  energy out of me. Then the weather has been dreary. Last weekend, we went to Rockford to see Alex's family and it was a tiring trip. I have been getting pretty lazy and don't like that. So, here is my attempt to change that. I decided to make some chicken wings in the broiler since it is easier to use it and turned out really good. I made it really spicy this time and they are much better that way.

Chicken Wings 

9 chicken wings - separated at the bone in the middle and makes 18 pieces

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp red pepper flakes 
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cut wings at the joint and wash them. Place wings in a large bowl and mix with marinade mix and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Turn on broiler on high and place chicken wings on a rack and place a baking sheet underneath. Add 1 cup of water into the pan to prevent smoking. Broil until the skin turn dark brown and flip the other side. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mushroom Quinoa Frittata

I added another cook book to my library from Costco this time. It is called 500 Best Quinoa Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury. I loved the book and have been making some of recipes already and wanted to give it a try to this one.  

8-inch square glass baking dish, sprayed with olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

6 large eggs
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz. cremini or button mushrooms - sliced
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa - cooled
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper until blended. Set aside
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and green onions; cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened. Stir in quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Spread quinoa mixture in prepared baking dish and pour egg mixture over top. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 23 to 28 minutes or until golden and set. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or let cool completely. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A New Chapter

Today marks an important chapter in my life. I have decided to start blogging my cooking journey here so when I look back years later, I could see how far or little I've come. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and moved to USA in 2006 after I met my husband. It was difficult in the beginning to make decent food because we lived in apartments and most of them equipped with old electric ranges which did not help my cooking. I started getting better at cooking when we bought our gas range.

Cooking is/was an ordinary part of daily life in Turkey. People teach their daughters at an early age to cook. Every Turkish woman is a chef who knows how to bake bread, prepare delicious dessert including baklava, sear meat, cook fish properly and so many other things that I cannot count. 

In our house my dad was the cook. He would use different ingredients and create interesting yet delicious meals. I watched him a lot and learned one or two things from him. That is how it started for me. 

I am going to capture the food I am cooking with the information of the origin as some of them will be from Turkish cuisine. I hope this blog will help people out there who want to try delicious, nutritious and different meals. 

Enjoy the journey.