Bear Paw Cookies (Pracny or Medvědí Tlapky)

Pracny croppedCzech Christmas Cookie #5

Pracny (or Medvědí Tlapky) are very traditional Czech nut and spice cookies baked in special cookie molds, some looking like bear paws. The following recipe has a light amount of spices. Other recipes include more. Feel free to increase the ground cinnamon and clove amounts a bit, according to your taste. Too much clove can get overwhelming, though. This is an eggless recipe. Traditional molds for pracny can be found online. I purchased mine at https://www.slovczechvar.com/?cat=26&scat=88, which is an online store in the US.

I have only ever used smooth flour for this recipe. Unbleached pastry flour (see below) should be an equivalent. I’m not sure how they would turn out using all-purpose flour. Continue reading

Moroccan Cookies (Marokánky)

Marakanky with craisins detailed
The above pictured Moroccan cookies (on salad plate) were made with candied orange peel, Craisins, sliced almonds and chopped walnuts. My favorite combo.

Czech Christmas Cookie #4

A crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookie with the delights of fruit and nuts, and bittersweet chocolate on the bottom. The batter is prepared in a saucepan, cooled then baked, and later dipped in chocolate. The original recipe calls for candied orange peel with nuts, but other dried fruit (or a combination) could be used. The combination of candied orange peel and dried cranberries (i.e. Craisins), with the nuts, is especially nice for the holidays. I highly suggest using candied orange peel. It gives the cookie its signature lovely flavor. I have found it in gourmet shops, but usually order it online. US ingredient equivalents/substitutions are provided, where necessary. I suggest weighing the fruit and nuts. Continue reading

Linzer Tart Cookies (Linecké Koláčky)

Linzer tart cookie 2
Choose your own cookie shape

Czech Christmas Cookie #3

There are no nuts in these buttery Linzer Tart cookies (Linecké koláčky)! They have a lovely hint of lemon and a burst of delicious jelly/preserves goodness. I love these so much with raspberry or red currant preserves, although other fruit flavors would work, too. I buy the highest quality preserves available. These are less crunchy and more melt-in-your mouth than other Linzer cookies. They hold up well. I sometimes make a double batch because these are my personal favorite Christmas cookies. Continue reading

Vanilla Crescent Cookies (Vanilkové rohlíčky)

Vanilla crescent cookies CWCzech Christmas Cookie #2

My Czech mother-in-law’s vanilla crescent cookies (vanilkové rohlíčky) are the most melt-in-your-mouth version I’ve ever tried. This popular buttery vanilla and nut cookie is enjoyed throughout much of Central Europe. These taste great the first day, and even better as they age. I always make plenty! They are my husband’s favorite cookie. My mother-in-law used roasted hazelnuts, which is also my usual choice, but other types of nuts could also be used. The pictured cookies are smaller than they may appear. I consider them a two-bite cookie, while my husband eats them in one.

Continue reading

Ischl Torte Cookies (Ischelské dortíčky)

Ischl torte cookies finishedCzech Christmas Cookie #1

These sandwich cookies are a buttery, chocolaty, nutty delight with a delicious jelly/preserves and rum-hazelnut filling. They are almost like a mini fancy torte. The original recipe was created in 1849 in the spa town of Bad Ischl, in Austria, as a treat for the Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If using Czech/Slovak flour, go by all ingredient amounts in grams and the Celsius oven temperature. Otherwise, use the American measurements. Continue reading

Week 15 – Friday Fitness and Weight Loss Update

Scale with question marks

Main Topic: Surprise! Hmm?

I’ve felt so unwell for the past couple of weeks. I must confess that I “fell off the wagon” both weeks, but particularly this week. Some of my meals were just scrounged from the far reaches of the fridge. Some were delivery, and not the most diet-friendly choices. I guess in my ill state I just didn’t care. Sorry I’m not a better example for dieters right now. Those who follow this update series know that I gained a bit last week. My weight has been going up and down. I’ve been lucky so far that the downs have been about the same as the ups. Continue reading

Czech-Style Potato Salad

Czech-Style Potato Salad (2)
There is actually a lot more potato salad in the bowl than it appears. Around 3 quarts.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I hope everyone has good weather and will perhaps enjoy the delights of a BBQ.  I’m going to my dad’s house today, where my brother will surely be the grill master. We will have simple barbecue fare, like good ole’ Loeffler’s hot dogs, hamburgers, and pork roll (a New Jersey specialty). I was asked to bring potato salad. Continue reading

Beef Stroganoff – Diet-friendly version, but only the cook may know it

Beef Stroganoff Light version
Beef Stroganoff served with egg noodles

In my household, Beef Stroganoff is both a comfort food, and yet more than worthy of serving to guests, including my diet-friendly version. I had never eaten or made this dish until about 15 years ago. My first version was loosely based on one considered fully “Core” for Weight Watcher’s former Core Plan, now the Simply Filling Plan. I’ve since reworked this recipe from its simpler version, to one that wows both my husband and I. Continue reading

The American food industry thinks we are stupid, inattentive, or complacent

Yogurts cropped
The gradually decreasing size of yogurt containers

After a rather stressful appointment today, I decided to pick up a few things from the grocery store. The main items on my list were granulated sugar and pure almond extract. Both items happen to almost always be in the same aisle, the baking aisle, so I went there first before getting side tracked and buying more than I wanted to. The store had zero pure almond extract. They only had the imitation crap. That pissed me off! I refused to buy that. Then what was worse, when I went to pick up a bag (meaning one, 5-lb bag) of granulated sugar, I almost had a fit. I could tell in a millisecond that they were smaller. All of the bags (all brands) were suddenly 4-lb bags! Continue reading

Beef Goulash Znojmo Style (Znojemský guláš)

IMG_20180321_133819038
Not the prettiest dish, but it tastes so good! Pictured with Karlovy Vary bread dumplings.

Goulash is very popular throughout Central Europe, and is a real comfort food, made at home and offered at some restaurants and pubs. Its origins are from Hungary, but the recipe takes on many forms, depending on where it is made. In this post, I’d like to share a goulash from the city of Znojmo in the South Moravian Region of Czech Republic. Continue reading