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Auntie Helen’s Lemon Jello Cake

April 1, 2015


There’s a funny story about how my family got the recipe for this cake from Auntie Helen. We had most of the recipe, but we didn’t know whether to use lemon jello or lemon pudding. Auntie Helen was in the hospital with a tube down her throat and couldn’t speak so we said “Blink once for jello, twice for pudding!”. She was in hysterics thinking it was the funniest thing ever and we found out it was jello. She ended up recovering and living many more years and we all had a big laugh about it together.

For the cake:

1 box lemon cake mix

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup water

4 eggs, beaten

1 small package lemon jello

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9×13 cake pan

Mix the oil, water, eggs, and lemon jello together in a mixer. Add in the cake mix and mix on low for 30 seconds. Then mix on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating once half way though.

While the cake is baking, mix together the powdered sugar and the lemon juice.

When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately poke holes all over it with a fork and pour the glaze over it, making sure to get it all the way to the edges and all over the cake.

Place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you have the time. You can either take it out and eat it, or you can frost it. I don’t think frosting is necessary, but my husband likes it with marshmallow cream cheese frosting.

Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat one 7oz. jar marshmallow fluff with 8 oz. room temperature cream cheese and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. If you want it a little sweeter, add powdered sugar to taste.


Tapsy (Sou) Boereg

April 1, 2015


Tapsy Boereg is like Cheese Boereg, but made in a pan instead of into individual pastries. It makes a great appetizer or dinner. Flaky, buttery layers of phyllo dough with melted cheeses are always a crowd pleaser.

1 lb. phyllo dough sheets, defrosted over night in the refrigerator

1 stick salted butter, melted

2 lbs. jack (or pepper jack if you like it spicy) cheese, shredded

1/3 cup small curd whole milk cottage cheese

1/3 cup spreadable cream cheese

1-2 Tbsp. feta cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup whole milk

First, make the cheese filling by mixing together all the cheeses plus 1 of the beaten eggs and the parsley, if you’re using it. Mix it together with your hands like you would meatloaf until everything is very well incorporated together.

Butter a 9×13 casserole dish very well. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom, brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 4 sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom. Now spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture on the phyllo dough. Next, layer 4 more sheets of phyllo dough, buttering each one as you did before. Now more cheese. Repeat layering like this until you run out of phyllo dough or cheese. End with phyllo dough on top.

Get a small sharp knife and cut the boereg into rectangles. It will be impossible to cut after you bake it, so do it now and save yourself some trouble. At this point, you can put it into the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. If you want to bake it right away, that’s fine too.

Just before baking, mix together the 3 beaten eggs and 1 cup milk. Pour over the boereg and tilt the pan so that the egg mixture gets into every nook and cranny.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, rotating 180 degrees half way through so it cooks evenly. Let sit 5 minutes on the counter and then enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread Pancakes

January 21, 2014

Do I even need to say anything else? They’re chocolate. They’re banana bread. But they’re ready right away because they’re pancakes.

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour
Whole milk

Beat the egg. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and bananas. Whisk to combine well.
Add the cinnamon, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk until everything’s combined.
Add in the flour and once again, whisk until combined.
Now add in the milk a little at a time until the batter is the right consistency to make pancakes. I didn’t measure, but I’d guess around 1/2 to 2/3 cup is what I used.

Now place 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp.) batter per pancake on a non-stick skillet on medium low heat. Wait until edges start to bubble, then flip. Cook until done on other side.

I didn’t even need butter or syrup with these, but go ahead and indulge if you want. These would also be good with chocolate chips in the batter or bananas on top or even strawberries. Get creative and enjoy!

Turkey Chili

July 15, 2013

2 diced onions

2 cloves minced garlic

1 lb. 93/7 ground turkey

One 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapenos (or Rotel)

One 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

salt to taste

tapatio hot sauce to taste

1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese


Spray a large sauté pan with cooking spray. On high heat, cook 1 of the diced onions with the ground turkey until the turkey is no longer pink.

Add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook 30 seconds.

Add in the can of diced tomatoes with the juice.

Add in the rinsed black beans and a few dashes of tapatio. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Add salt to taste.

Cover and let simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.

Top with the other diced onion and 1 cup shredded cheese


This recipe is 34 Weight Watchers Plus points for the whole thing including the cheese. If you serve it over brown rice, each cup of rice adds 5 points.

BBQ Chicken Pita Pizza

April 16, 2010

This is a healthy recipe that also happens to be super yummy. We had it for dinner last night and really enjoyed it. If you’re just making one, you could even make it in the toaster oven instead of turning on the big oven.

Preheat oven to 350F

1 whole wheat pita

BBQ sauce to taste

thinly sliced red onion to taste

chopped cilantro to taste

3 oz. shredded cooked chicken (I buy “just chicken” from Trader Joes)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Layer the ingredients in the order I listed them. Cook at 350F for 15 minutes. The pita will get crispy and the cheese will get melty!


April 13, 2010

Choreg is a soft, sweet Armenian bread that we eat for dessert or breakfast or with appetizers. This recipe isn’t exactly like my great-grandmothers, but it’s close and it’s delicious.

5 cups flour

1 cup melted butter

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs + 1 egg separated, beaten

2 packets of yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

sesame seeds for sprinkling over the top

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Melt the butter and beat the 3 eggs. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt well. Add in the butter, 3 eggs, yeast mixture and milk and mix together. You can knead it right in the bowl just until the dough comes together and isn’t sticking to the sides of the bowl anymore. Clean the bowl, coat it with butter or oil and put the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours.

Now it’s time to shape the dough. Take a key lime sized piece and roll it out with your hands into a long worm shape. Bend into a horseshoe shape and then braid the two sides. Place on a greased aluminum baking sheet. Do not use teflon, non-stick or any other dark bottom pan or they will burn on the bottom.

Let rise 30 more minutes. Brush with beaten egg and top with sesame seeds. Bake in a 375 F oven for 13 minutes. Take out and eat warm. If you’re not going to eat them all at once, you can freeze them and microwave them to heat them back up.

Easy Strawberry Mascarpone Pie

March 22, 2010

There are a couple recipes for Strawberry Mascarpone desserts that I adapted this recipe from. Here is one and here is another. I got lazy and made mine easier so I thought I’d post the result here while admitting that the idea is not mine!

First off, I did not make my crust. Yes, I went to culinary school. Yes, I know how to make a simple tart or pie crust. But it was hot and humid yesterday and I didn’t want to have to turn on the oven so I bought a pre-made graham cracker crust. It turned out to be absolutely delicious.

One 9oz. pre-made graham cracker pie crust

2 lbs. fresh strawberries

1/2 cup regular sugar

zest of 1 orange

1/2 a small lemon juiced

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Take the stems off the strawberries and quarter them. Mix well with the regular sugar, orange zest and half the lemon juice. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Whip the whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and remaining lemon juice, with an electric mixer. Once it’s good and whipped, add in the mascarpone cheese and whip again just until it’s well blended.

Open up that store-bought pie crust and spread the mascarpone mixture in it evenly. Now stick it in the refrigerator.

Your 30 minutes should almost be up now. Strain the juice from the strawberries into a saucepan. Put the strained strawberries on top of the pie and put it back into the refrigerator. Add the balsamic vinegar to the strawberry juices and boil it until it becomes a syrup. Take a pastry brush and brush the syrup over the strawberries until they are all glazed. You may not use all the syrup. I used about half. Put that pie back in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

We had to use a spoon and a knife to get ours out to eat it. You’ll definitely want that spoon to scoop up any delicious juices that have accumulated at the bottom. We had lots of juice and I was very surprised that the crust did not get soggy. Maybe it’s because we ate it so fast. I made it last night and here’s what it looked like this morning:

Yep, there are only 2 of us here. And I’m actually thinking about making another one tonight and saving half to take to my Grandma tomorrow morning. So let this be a warning to you. You will eat the whole thing in 2 days flat and you’ll still want more. It’s that good.

Cheese Boereg

February 18, 2010

Sometimes, cheese boereg is eaten as part of mezza (appetizers), but my family usually makes a meal out of them. They are crispy and cheesy and delicious. My favorite part is when the cheese oozes out the side and gets crispy on the pan. A little treat for the chef!

1 lb. package phyllo dough

1 stick melted butter

5 cups shredded jack cheese

1/3 cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup cream cheese

1 heaping Tbsp. feta cheese

2 beaten eggs

Get a big bowl and mix together all the cheeses and the eggs with your hands. Squish it all together until the cheese is all broken up and well combined with the egg.

Unroll the phyllo dough and brush the first layer lightly with melted butter. Put a small amount of the cheese filling at the bottom in the center.

Roll just one sheet of phyllo up a few times

Fold one third over toward the center

Roll up a couple more times

Fold the other third over toward the center

and roll up the rest of the way

Repeat until all the phyllo dough or all the cheese is used up. If you have leftover filling, you can freeze it for next time. Or you can spread it on pita bread and stick it under the broiler. Remember, it has raw eggs in it, so it must be cooked!

Place the cheese boeregs on a greased pan, brush the tops with melted butter and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Sweet Hadjin Choreg

February 5, 2010

This is my great-grandmother Mary’s recipe for sweet choreg. They are also called gata. This kind has a sweet filling called koritz. There are also regular choreg and gata without the filling, but I prefer these. We eat them for breakfast or a midnight snack. Actually, they are so yummy we eat them all the time!

Koritz (filling):

1 lb. butter

3 cups flour

4 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup finely ground walnuts

1 cup sugar

For the dough:

1/2 lb. melted room temperature butter

1/2 cup crisco

1/2 cup warm water

2 packets yeast

2 1/2 lbs. flour

2 tsp. salt

1 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar

12 oz. can evaporated milk

2 beaten eggs

First, make the koritz:

Melt the butter on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring and stirring until it is well blended and looks almost like dough. Turn off the heat and add cinnamon, walnuts and sugar and stir stir stir until the sugar is totally dissolved and everything is blended very well. Set aside to cool.

Now you can make the dough:

First, melt the butter. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Mix the flour, sugar and salt together well. Cut the crisco into the flour with a pastry cutter or just by using your fingers.

Dissolve 1 Tbsp. sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the 2 packets of yeast to this and set aside to proof for 10 minutes.

Beat the 2 eggs. Add the eggs, melted butter, yeast mixture and evaporated milk to the flour mixture. Mix with your hands (it will be messy) until it comes together as a dough. Knead just until it is completely blended. You can do all this right in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 2 hours.

Now it’s time to roll them out! Divide the dough into 5 equal sized portions. Divide the koritz into 5 portions. Take 1 portion of dough and roll out into a square about 1/4″ thick. Spread 1 portion of the koritz all over it, pressing it into the dough with your hands lightly. Roll up into a tube like a jelly roll. Pinch and seal the edges with your fingers. Now gently flatten it out with a rolling pin, being careful not to let the kortiz ooze out. Cut on the diagonal into several rectangular pieces. Pierce each choreg with a fork in a couple places. Brush with beaten egg. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with each portion until you are done. Eat them hot out of the oven! Once they’ve cooled, you can microwave them for 15-20 seconds and they will taste fresh. They also freeze well if you want to save them.

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

January 13, 2010

This is the most moist, chocolatey delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever had. People go crazy over it! You’ll need a bundt pan for this recipe so get yourself one!

Spray the bundt pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

3/4 c. water

3/4 c. oil

4 eggs

1 package small instant chocolate pudding

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 package Devil’s Food Cake mix

8 oz. sour cream

powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Stir everything but the powdered sugar together BY HAND. If you use a mixer, the cake will turn out tough and dry. Pour the mixture into the bundt pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Bake 50 minutes at 350 F.

When you take it out, let it cool for one hour, then invert the pan and the cake should just slide right out. Don’t let it cool more or less than an hour or it may not come out of the pan! It’s gonna be tempting to take it out before that hour is up but don’t do it! It’s worth the wait.

If you want, you can now make a design with powdered sugar like I did. Or just dust it lightly all over. Now go eat it and experience the bliss.