Archive | August, 2013

Elena’s wedding throwback

26 Aug

happy_bride bridal_flowers first_look makeup_readyWe worked at Elena’s wedding back in May 2012, but met her a year earlier at the bridal exhibition. We were really honored to do Elena’s makeup because she is actually very good at it and at the wedding day she had some extra time, and actually did bridesmaids makeup!

Coins in a frame project

23 Aug

coin_frameI randomly found this idea at Pinterest and thought it was awesome. We had all these coins just sitting there in a jar, so I was excited to put them to use!

I’ve got the glue gun at Home Depot, frame – in Michaels. This project took me about 20 min. Now the real question is if it’s not going to fall if it’s placed on the wall, because this piece is kinda heavy

What’s growing on our balcony garden

22 Aug

basilI’ve never been excited to work in the garden because I spent a lot of my childhood days at the summer house (“dacha”) working on a field. Summer house in Ukraine and Russia is not your American summer house. It means you go there to work in the garden picking up weeds and collecting apples, berries, cucumbers etc. Usually toilet is outside, no shower etc. I’m sure new houses have all these goods built in, but it was not the case in our case…Next step down the civilization is a village. Village has bigger fields, and our grandparents have 2.5 acres of fields. I am very thankful we don’t have any animals there (my grandparent live there from Spring till Fall, not the full year).

My cousins always seemed to enjoy digging in the grounds and telling me that I should help my grandma better with this. But I just hated it. Especially the outfits you put on when you go to the field – someone’s old clothes and shoes, yuk.

So it is very funny how I like growing herbs now. Last year I started doing this, this year I got better, next year I’ll be the pro

The easiest thing that grows is basil. It grows no matter what like nobody’s business. If I don’t water it for 2-3 days, it doesn’t mind. You add some water – it’s alive again next day. It is really nice to have fresh basil anytime I need it. I use it for hummus mostly.

Then I have arugula. Next year I’ll have more of it, and will plant it properly, so it’s not overcrowded. I use just a couple of leaves at a time. If I needed a bunch, my balcony garden wouldn’t be able to provide that space.

Rosemary. I’ve got it for one recipe, and planted it, but really it has no use in my cooking. My daughter likes to eat it tho. Maybe I’ll skip it next year.

Mint. The best herb ever. It grows no matter what! You should plant it separately from everything. I love how fast it grows leafs back. I use it for vitamin water, and for other cooking. The more leafs you pick, the faster new ones will grow.

Cilantro and Parsley. This year I planted just one of each, but next year these plants will get more attention. Usually you need a lot of them, so when you harvest them, you need to wait 2 weeks for them to grow back. Next year I’ll plant 3-4 bushes of each.

 

Vegetable Vegan Dumplings

20 Aug

vegetable dumplingsI love some vegetable dumplings, especially their low calorie count. I’ve been buying Gyoza brand in Chinese store for a while (190 cal per 6), but reading the ingredients did not make me happy. Too many ingredients I cannot even pronounce!

So this was an attempt to make my own, and it was a good one.

For stuffing I used leftovers stuffing from stuffed eggplant I made the other day, and added ginger and carrots. Wrappers I’ve got in HMart (wonton wrappers).

The recipe for the stuffing one more time plus additional ingredients, all divided by 2. You can prepare more and freeze them (that’s what I’m going to do next time)

  • 1/4 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup millet (you can use quinoa!)
  • 1/6 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1/4 of chopped eggplant without the skin
  • oil for frying

1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in saucepan. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove 1/8 cup onion, and set aside. Add mushrooms and eggplant to pan, increase heat to medium-high, and sauté 3 minutes, or until tender. Transfer mushrooms to bowl.

2. Reduce heat to medium, return 1/8 cup onion to pan; add millet, and sauté 2 minutes. Add lentils and 1 cup of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with mushroom mixture.

3. Unfreeze wrappers. Add 1 teaspoon of a mixture in each and wrap them. I wet hands a little bit and close the wrappers, otherwise they don’t stick

4. The best way is to freeze them after you’re done. I line the container with parchment paper, and place them the way they don’t touch each other.  Each layer has to be lines with paper. Then I prepare them on steam, steaming about 6 min.

 

 

 

Bridal Photo Shoot Throwback

19 Aug

web IAM2013 bridal-6917Bridal season slows down a bit for the month of August, but will come back strong in Fall. Here are couple of photos from one of my favorite bridal photo shoots we worked on for I Am Modern Spring 2013 issue with the photographer Monica True

Makeup – Makeup by Alina G Karamanweb IAM2013 bridal-6936web IAM2013 bridal-6971web IAM2013 bridal-6845

Stuffed Vegan Eggplant with Lentils and Millet

17 Aug

eggplantThis is one of my favorite dishes! Big in volume, low in calories (370 per serving), tastes great! The original version is here. I found that if to follow original recipe, it makes too much stuffing, so I post here 1/2 to 2/3 of what they suggest. And for the sauce I used this time the one I made for Couscous and Broccoli Bowl

So here is updated version

Eggplant

  • 2 large eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided, plus more to coat pan
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • ½ cup millet (you can use quinoa!)
  • ⅓ cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. pepper

1. To make Eggplant: Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut eggplants in half, bake on one side 10 min, flip and bake 15 min. Spray with some oil before baking. Let it cool outside of the oven

2. Heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in saucepan. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove 1/4 cup onion, and set aside. Add mushrooms to pan, increase heat to medium-high, and sauté 3 minutes, or until tender. Transfer mushrooms to bowl.

3. Reduce heat to medium, return 1/4 cup onion to pan; add millet, and sauté 2 minutes. Add lentils and 2 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with mushroom mixture.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Scoop out eggplant flesh, leaving 1/4-inch-thick edges for shells. Chop eggplant flesh, and add to mushroom-millet mixture. Stir in allspice and Aleppo pepper. Spoon 1 cup filling into each eggplant shell, top each with 2 Tbs. Tomato Sauce, and bake 15 minutes. Serve with remaining Tomato Sauce

Vegan Couscous and Broccoli Bowl

15 Aug

couscous_broccoliOne more recipe from Vegetarian Times, this is vegan dish. It doesn’t have a photo at the magazine, and I know some people who don’t bother themselves cooking something they don’t see on the photo, so I do it for you.

Did not change much from the original recipe, just didn’t add nuts, and didn’t add the oil to the broccoli. I guess that brought down the calorie count per serving by about 30 cal. 372 cal per serving in the original version.

I like it a lot but it doesn’t leave me full, so I’m not sure I’ll be cooking it often. But definitely will use the sauce recipe for something else

So here is it:

Sauce

  • 1 ½ Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • ½ Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Couscous and Broccoli

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat Israeli couscous
  • 1 lb. broccoli, chopped into 1-inch florets
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

1. To make Sauce: Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomato paste, and sauté 30 seconds. Add onion and salt, and sauté 10 minutes. Add red peppers, garlic, and paprika; cook 5 minutes. Transfer to food processor, and purée with parsley and vinegar.

2. To make Couscous and Broccoli: cook couscous according to package directions.

3. Steam broccoli 5 minutes, or until tender. Toss with oil and lemon juice in bowl. Divide couscous among bowls. Top with broccoli, then 3 Tbs. Sauce.