Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My first cooking post - our anniversary meal!

One blessing/challenge of living in a small town is the unavailability of many restaurant choices. If we want to eat familiar foods like Chinese or Mexican (and even McD's, my girls' favoite!), we have to drive an hour to get it. I'm not least we can find them!

Since moving to Croatia many years ago, I have had to learn to cook from scratch and make up recipes. I present to you some that I've made up that were inspired by real dishes I remember eating in America somewhere. I made this for our anniversary a few weeks ago. We had planned to go out to eat, but it was a snowy day and didn't feel like driving two hours. So, after a quick trip to the market, we made this scrumptious and easy to prepare meal!

This is what we made: Creamy Pasta, Grilled Chicken and Glazed Carrots. I also served salad and yummy crusty bread, but forgot to include them in the photo. The ingredients are listed below, but keep in mind that I usually don't measure when I cook. Thankfully, these are really forgiving recipes that are hard to mess up. I also used ingredients (I even provided links to some of the products I used) that are readily available in Croatia, so my Croatian friends can easily make them!
If you're in Croatia, the first thing you need to do is get a gas grill. :) Those who aren't from here, Croatians usually have these gorgeous stone grills that are part of their yard landscape. They're pretty, but you can't use them when the weather is bad. Seriously, gas grills are DA BOMB! We can grill even when there's a snow storm outside. Preheat your grill and sprinkle your chicken pieces with seasoned salt (or Vegeta, which I don't use because of the MSG content), pepper and garlic powder. Grill the chicken until it's cooked through. Brush BBQ sauce or any sauce you have in your pantry (we used Mango/Ginger that we found at Lidl) the last 10 minutes of grilling.
For the pasta sauce, I chopped up country ham (or this in Croatia) or bacon and brown them in the frying pan. Remove from pan.
Slice and stir fry mushrooms in the same pan with the ham drippings. Add minced garlic. Stir fry for a couple more minutes.
Put the cooked ham back in the pan and add the cooking cream/milk mix and lower down the heat. Add a cube or two of chicken buillon, depending on how salty you want it. I'd start with one and add more to taste. Add pepper to taste. Let sauce simmer until thickened.
Cook pasta (I used Tagliatelle). Pour sauce over it and toss. Sprinkle generously with grated hard cheese (Padane, Parmesan, etc.) and toss a little bit more.
For the glazed carrots, slice carrots thinly. Stir fry in a pan with some butter until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.


Creamy Pasta:
1/2 cup of chopped ham/bacon
500 grams/1 lb of mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic, about 2 cloves
1/2 cup or 100 ml of cooking cream (vrhnje za kuhanje)
1/2 cup or 100 ml of milk
1-2 chicken bullion cubes
500 g or about a pound of pasta
Grated hard cheese (Padano, Parmesan, etc.)
salt and pepper

Simple Grilled Chicken:
Chicken pieces
BBQ or any thick sauce
salt and pepper
garlic powder

Glazed Carrots:
1 kilo of carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
50g or 2 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper

I'm linking this to the Homemaking Linking party.
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  1. What a lovely menu! It looks fabulous.

  2. Happy Anniversary, looks like a wonderful meal!

  3. Happy late Anniversary!! :) looks like your meal was way better than a restaurant meal to me!! I sometimes think you can usually do the same if not better than any restaurant, plus it also usually way cheaper!! :) thanks for sharing and have a fabulous week!! :)
    Looking forward to more of your food posts!!

  4. Happy Anniversary, Nina! The recipes look great! I think I need to try that pasta!

  5. Happy Anniversary & looks like a yummy celebration meal!

  6. Yummy sounding recipes - and great to know they are basically pretty straight forward. Your cooking sounds a bit like mine - throw and hope!!

  7. Looks delicious! Happy anniversary and many more!

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Thank you for your kind comments.

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