Kefir Pancakes

This recipe is another house favorite and is super easy to make for Sunday breakfast. The pancakes come out fluffy and literally melt in your mouth.


  • 1 2/3 cups of flour
  • 1 2/3 cups of plain kefir
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (I used coconut sugar used in this recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil


First turn on your oven to 350F. In a bowl add together all of the dry ingredients:


Mix well so that all are evenly combined and add all the wet ingredients:


Mix to combine just enough. I.e. as soon as you see that all the flour was incorporated walk away, and stop mixing. If you continue you will get more and more gluten developed and pancakes will come out rubbery. It’s ok if mixture a little bit lumpy:


Heat up your favorite skillet (mine is cast iron) with enough sunflower oil to cover the bottom on medium low heat. Using your favorite spoon (I use 3 tablespoons ice-cream scoop) pour batter onto the skillet:


Once brown on one side flip them over:


Once the other side is golden brown as well take them off put on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and put them into preheated oven for about 5 to 8 minutes. You can skip this step if you want but I feel it’s necessary to make the baking power work to it’s full potential. Repeat with another batch of batter. You can also add blueberries right after you put batter for the second batch:


When you are ready to serve them, get some honey and mix it with about tablespoon of lemon juice:



Shakshuka with Italian Sausage and Mozarella

This is often a great protein packed breakfast entry that is super easy to make and is very filling. Different people in my family call this differently, the result dish is the same. It’s a mixture of fresh tomatoes, fresh bell pepper, garlic and eggs baked in the oven. In this specific recipe I also used Italian sausage to add more protein to the dish and it turned out quite well.


  • 3 Italian sausages
  • 5 small to medium campari tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 4-5 slices of fresh mozzarella


Warm up your oven to 350F. Heat up a cast iron skillet, then turn down to a medium-low heat and spray with olive oil. Put the Italian sausage and cover with lid. Let it sear on both sides so that the casing is already firm and the sausage is almost cooked through. Meantime slice the tomatoes and pepper into the bite size pieces. Next, open the lid and slice the sausage directly on the skillet to 1″ thick pieces. Add tomatoes and pepper, mix with sausage and season with salt. Close the lid and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Next add six eggs and season them with salt and sprinkle chopped cilantro on top, put it into the oven:


About 5 minutes after put slices of mozzarella on top of the shamshuka and bake for another 5 minutes or so or until the cheese melts:


It’s now ready to serve. Enjoy!

Farmers Cheesecake

This is very old family recipe from my mother-in-law. It requires a lengthy baking process (about 1.5 – 2 hours total) therefore please plan accordingly. The resulting cake needs to be fully cooled down and then refrigerated for at least 3 hours before consumption. I would suggest to make it the night before you are planning on serving it.


  • 2 lbs of Farmers Cheese (Tvorog)
  • 8 eggs separated into yolks and whites.
  • 4 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt



In a stainless steel mixing bowl combine egg yolks, sugar, vanilla beans seeds and salt:

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Using hand mixer beat the mixture until it turns off white:

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In a bigger separate bowl mash the Farmers cheese with the fork. The mashing is important to break down bigger crumbs to ensure that cake will stay together when sliced. If you skip this process you might end up with crumbles. Next and the egg yolk mixture to it and pour over the rasins and mix together:

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Once done, put into fridge to cool down. In a separate bowl add lime juice to egg whites and beat them with the hand mixer until you see peaks form (about 5 – 8 minutes):

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Now pull out the mixture from the fridge and using a spoon fold, don’t mix the egg whites into the cheese mixture. Put back into the fridge to cool it down. Turn on your oven to 250F and let it come up to temperature. Prepare your baking dish (I use loaf pan lined up with parchment paper). If you don’t use parchment paper make sure you cover the pan bottom and side with butter. Once oven is ready pull the mixture from the fridge and pour it into the loaf pan:

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Put it into the oven for 70 minutes and do not open the door. Once the 70 minutes are up, increase the temperature to 300F and leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes or so. The time maybe less for you if using the shallow baking pan. The goal for increased temperature is to get golden brown top. Here is how the ready cheesecake look likes:

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Now completely cool it down on the counter top and then pull it out with parchment paper and put it on a plate and cool in the fridge for 3 hours. Here is the cake that is ready to slice:

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It will shrink in size a little bit, and should be very moist. If you have sour cherry preserves, this cake pairs very well with them. Slice at least an inch thick and serve. Enjoy!

Extra Fluffy Sourdough Pancakes

Ok, so these pancakes are really what the pancakes look like in my opinion, i.e. not the mushy kind that you get at your favorite breakfast place. The key here is different leavening agents that create a complex flavor and a very fluffy texture. My recipe doesn’t use sugar at all, but you can add sugar or honey if you like.


  • 1 cup of 100% hydrated sourdough starter (1/3 cup of discarded starter, 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of flower, mix and let sit overnight)
  • 1 cup of Kefir or Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour



Put all ingredients together into a bowl:

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And mix until you achieve pancake batter consistency:

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Let it sit on the counter while you turn on your oven to 350F and let it warm up to the temperature. Get the baking sheet ready with the cooling rack on it. It will be used to finish the pancakes in the oven. Next, heat up your favorite griddle or non stick pan, add sunflower oil to cover and using about 3 tablespoons of batter pour your pancakes on the pan:

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Once you see bubbles open on top and sides are firm you can flip them:

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And about minute or two later take them off the pan and onto the cooling rack and put them into the oven for about 5-8 minutes:

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It’s ready to serve immediately after you pull out from the oven. It goes great with greek yogurt and honey mixture (1/3 cup of honey and 1 cup of yogurt mixed together).


Sourdough Waffles

Sourdough recipes require preparation in advance and that is be a good thing for the weekend breakfasts. I’m not going to describe how to start a sourdough starter, you can get one from Amazon which is what I did, and follow the instructions on the packaging. I will assume for this recipe you already have a starter culture ready in your fridge.


  • 1 1/2 cup of 1:1 hydration sourdough starter fully developed overnight
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour


The way I do it, is the day I feed my sourdough starter (usually Friday evening) I get the half a cup of discarded starter and hydrate and feed it 1:1, i.e. 1/2 cup of discarded starter, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. Do this early in the evening and let it sit in warm place overnight (about 12 hours) until it’s fully developed:

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In a separate bowl crack open 3 egg yolks:

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Add salt, honey and vanilla extract:

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Next add water and flour:

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And pour melted butter on top of the added flour:

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Mix to achieve consistency of the waffle butter. If it’s too thick add a little bit of water. It should come out looking like this:

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Cover it and let it sit on the countertop for about one hour. You will see bubbles forming on the top and that is what we need for good waffles. Once the hour is almost over, warm up your waffle iron. I use 1/4 cup measuring spoon to pour waffle batter into each section of my square waffle maker. Your might be different and might require more or less batter. Don’t forget to spray cooking surface with oil once it’s hot, to prevent waffles from sticking and to get the nice golden color on your ready waffles. Here are some pictures:

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And these are the ready waffles:

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Cool them on the cooling rack so that they are not soggy, or serve them right away. Kids like it with Nutella spread on top, I like it with almond butter. You can pour honey or maple syrup. Enjoy!


Honey Apple Dutch Baby

This is another favorite breakfast that I once saw on Alton Brown “Good Eats” show in it’s basic form. Really easy to prepare if you have all the ingredients. The key is equal parts of milk and flour in the batter and a good cast iron skillet. This isn’t really sweet in my version because the batter doesn’t use any sugar at all and the apples are made with just a drizzle of honey. Plus you don’t really need to feed sugar to your kids anyway 🙂


  • 3 medium apples, cored and sliced into 8 pieces each. I find that Gala apples work best
  • 2 tablespoons of Honey
  • 4 tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter divided into two equal parts
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon, divided into two equal parts
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Madagascar Vanilla Extract


Slice all apples into 8 pieces and core them:

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Next, turn on your oven to 425F and let it get up to temperature while you are working with everything else. Get your favorite cast iron skillet and put it on medium heat to warm up. Melt half of the butter in it and dump all sliced apples, sprinkle it with half of the cinnamon and drizzle it with honey:

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Keep the heat on medium, toss them around every now and then until they are golden seared on each side and slightly soft:

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Take them off the skillet and put into a bowl to rest:

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Next wipe your skillet with paper towels, be careful it’s very hot! Do not wash it with water, we want to just remove the left over cinnamon/butter/honey residue. Once wiped, put it into the oven that is heating up to 425F and leave it there until you are done with making batter.

Get a medium bowl, put eggs, milk, salt, flour, remaining cinnamon, vanilla extract all together and mix until your batter is smooth:

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At this point your oven should be already up to 425F and the cast iron skillet was sitting there for at least 10 minutes:

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Get it out, put on the stove, drop remaining butter into it and coat bottom and all sides with wooden spatula, and then dump all apples and pour your batter over it:

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Put the skillet into oven and let it bake for about 15-20 minutes until edges are brown and center is risen up, but still soft:

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Pull the skillet from the oven. At this point you are ready to slice and serve breakfast:

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You can make the sour cream and honey mix if you like (2/3 sour cream 1/3 honey) and serve as a sauce.  We ran out of sour cream so we enjoyed it as is. Enjoy!


Chevapcici, Ajvar & Pita Bread

Ok, a while ago, almost 8 years ago we went to Croatia for a summer vacation with kids. There were a number of memorable moments, but the very first one was a fast food from this place in Split:


Which I didn’t take the picture of but it’s a pita bread with case-less sausage (sort of like kebob) and Ajvar sauce with fresh onions on top. We of course had to try to make this at home and now 8 years later we have our own version of this dish that I feel is very close to the original. So this recipe makes everything from scratch, including pita and it’s a great for Saturday grill time. I would start the night before though, but it’s ok to do the same day. Here is what you will need:

For Chevapcici:

  • 5-6 pounds of Lamb Leg. We usually get ours at Costco
  • 5-6 pounds of Pork Belly. Same thing, get yours at Costco. If belly that you get is more fatty than use about 2/3 of 5 pounds.
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of Salt
  • 2 teaspoons of Ground Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of Smoked Red Hungarian Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of Smoked Chili Powder
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of San Pellegrino (or other sparkling water you like)

For Ajvar:

  • 18 Red Peppers. Pick the ones that are dark red, they tend to have more flavor.
  • 4 Red Fresno Peppers. They look like Green Chilies but have more smoky flavor.
  • 3 Medium Eggplants
  • 1/2 cup of Sunflower Oil
  • 18 medium garlic cloves. If your cloves are from Giant garlic, reduce the number in half at least
  • 1 medium lemon

For Pita Bread:

  • 1 lbs of Fage Whole Greek Yogurt
  • 1 lbs of White All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of Sunflower Oil

For Garnish

  • 1/2 of Sweet Onion
  • 1/2 of Cilantro Bunch

Start the night before with the your favorite meat grinder and grind all of your pork belly and lamb, add salt and mix well so it looks evenly distributed:

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Next you will grate your onions and add it to the meat:

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Followed by garlic:

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Next I mix all remaining dry ingredients (cumin, paprika, chili, soda) together and pour that over as well:

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And finally crack open two eggs and pour that over as well:

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Now mix everything very thoroughly by hand adding sparkling water as you go. The resulted mixture should be smooth and sticky. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge overnight.

Next morning turn on the grill on medium low and put all of your peppers on it and grill them until they look like this:

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Take them off to couple of ziploc gallon freezer bags (two should be enough) and let cool for about 30 minutes while you put the Eggplants on the grill. Make sure to cut a hole with a sharp knife in each eggplant otherwise it will/might explode. You will need to grill them on both sides until they are uniformly soft. About 40 minutes or so. Also take them off and put into a ziploc bag and wait until it cools down another 30 minutes. While that is happening, start peeling off skin from already cooled off peppers and removing stalk and seeds. You don’t have to preserve the form, we are going to be putting these into food processor or meat grinder after it’s all done. Couple seeds left over is ok. Make sure you don’t touch your eyes when you remove skin from the Fresno peoppers! After you finished, the eggplants should be cooled down enough, so you can do the same thing, remove the outer skin and only preserve whatever is inside. Some people use spoon to do that, use whatever works for you. Once you done you should have a bowl of ready peppers and eggplants for the trip through the meat grinder or food processor. I prefer the output from the meat grinder vs. food processor because of the texture. You will grind all peppers with eggplants and add 4 cloves of garlic somewhere in between. Put a big stainless steel pan on medium heat add the 1/4 cup of sunflower oil and pour resulting pepper/eggplant and garlic mixture over to the pan, and also add salt to taste:


Cook for about 30-40 minutes constantly mixing to reduce the water content and make the mixture thicker. Somewhere in the middle of cooking process squeeze the juice of one lemon, mix to incorporate and continue cooking until mixture is thick. We usually go through this spread in a week, but if you like to preserve some for later you can seal it in a glass jar and once it’s cooled put it in to the fridge, it will last up-to 3 months:


Now by the time you are done with Ajvar and it’s cooling down on your table you can work on a dough for the pita bread. It’s very easy and straight forward. You mix equal parts by weight of greek yogurt and all purpose flour adding salt and tablespoon of sunflower oil to the mixture. You will need to work with the dough until it’s shaped into a smooth ball. Cover it with plastic and let it rest in the fridge for about 1-2 hours. At this point you are ready with all preliminary preparations!

About one hour before the lunch time pull out the meat mixture from the fridge and set it aside on the counter top. Get the dough for pita as well and cut it into 8 pieces. Using dough roller and a little bit of olive oil (no extra flour, otherwise your pita will be too dry) roll each piece to about 8″-10″ diameter, cover each with plastic wrap and set aside. It’s ok if it’s not perfectly round!

Next you will need to work on your garnish, cut cilantro and sweet onion and mix together in a bowl. This will be used as a garnish later.

Now back to the meat mixture. Turn on your grill to medium and let it warm up to temperature. What you do next with the meat depends on what equipment you like using more. I tried both the pushing out of the plastic bag to make the long sausages or using the ice cream scoop to measure each portion. I prefer the ice cream scoop  way and my Cevapcici come out more like meatballs, but they will fit perfect inside of the pita bread that you are about to make!

Find a 12″ pan with a lid, preferably non stick, spray it with a little of olive oil and set on medium low heat. Once it comes up to temperature (about 2 minutes) put the pita that you rolled and have sitting on the counter top and cover with lid. Wait about 4 minutes and open the lid, you should see that it formed a bubble in the middle (or multiple bubbles if you didn’t roll it thin enough). Check if it’s golden brown underneath and flip it on another side and let it sit covered for another 2 minutes. Repeat with 7 other pitas. By the time you are on 4th pita, take your time to go to the grill and put all of your cevapcici on the grill and cover the lid. Because of the fat content in meat mixture (remember we used pork belly) they don’t require extra oil for the creates. They will take about 10 minutes to brown on one side (at least on my grill). By that time you will be on your pita number 6 with 2 more to go. Flip each one on the grill and set the heat to medium low and cover the lid again. In 10 more minutes you will be finishing your last pita and you should see that your grilling is done and you are ready to take them off on a plate and let them rest for about 5 minutes. You are now ready to serve! Unfortunately the picture of ready product didn’t get made, but what you do you slice each pita in half, open it like pocket and put a couple of sliced “meatballs” in, pour over the Ajvar and top it off with onion and cilantro. Croatian street food at your Saturday Grilling Party! And as usual Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

Google Express started delivering from Sur La Table and while doing regular shopping I got a muffin pan. This recipe is adopted from one posted by Alton Brown and really I hope is very close to what it supposed to be originally.


  • 20 ounces by weight Organic All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Himalayan Salt
  • 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup of Cane Sugar
  • 1 cup of Organic Sunflower Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 16 ounces by weight of Sour Cream
  • Zest of one large orange
  • 1 1/2 cups of Blueberries (I used frozen ones, and it worked just fine)


Heat your oven to 375F before you start mixing things. You will need two bowls, one for dry ingredients and one for wet ones. In dry ingredients bowl combine flour, salt, soda and baking powder:

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Mix to combine and distribute the ingredients. In the wet bowl combine eggs, sour cream, orange zest and oil:

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And mix it well to a consistent state:

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Now pour the wet into the dry bowl, add blueberries and mix just enough to combine, lumps are ok, we need to avoid gluten development as much as possible:

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Get a muffin pan, spray with olive oil mister and using ice-cream scoop (or whatever you like) put the dough into the muffin tin wells:

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 375F until you will get them looking like this:

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Pull them out from the pan onto dry cooling rack, wait for 10 minutes and call the kids for breakfast! Enjoy!


Sourdough Bread

One day I was reading online about how to make a rye bread that I used to love back when I was a kid in the USSR days. I’m taking about making an authentic Borodinsky Bread which isn’t sold in it’s pure form in USA and the versions that are sold have a long list of unknown or hard to spell ingredients. Now making a dough with bakers yeast has always been viewed negatively by me and I always avoided even trying bread baking at home. But here it’s sourdough, which sounded very nautral. And by making it at home it would mean that it’s now possible to make Kvass! So finally I gave in. Let’s try to make the sourdough rye from scratch!

Lazy Dumplings (Farmers Cheese Gnocchi)

This is a classic breakfast recipe from my grandmother. It is very popular with my kids and very easy to make. The name “lazy” says it all, it’s really easy to make, and anyone can do it. You will need following:

  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Pounds Farmers Cheese
  • 1 3/4 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 table spoons of cane sugar
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of honey

Here is my list of ingredients:

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Separate egg yolks from egg whites. The best method I found is to use your hands like a strainer, the egg white will go through very easy keeping the egg yolk in tact. Put the Farmers Cheese into the mixing bowl, add salt, sugar and egg yolks:

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Mix with a handheld mixer (or you can do it by hand to, but it’s a “lazy” recipe after all, so mixer is probably easier):

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Once smooth (about a minute of mixing), add flour and continue mixing:

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And then by hand to get to this point:

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Let the dough stand for 15 minutes for gluten to develop and meantime put a pot with water on the stove adding about teaspoon of salt to it (here in the picture it’s already boiling but it will take good 10-15 minutes to start boiling while dough rests):

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Next pull the dough out on your countertop surface, add a little bit of flour and cut the dough into 8 pieces:

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And then roll each piece as follows:

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And using your favorite knife slice the rolled dough into pieces about one inch thick:

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And put them on the floured plate and continue with the next piece of dough and so on. Once you are done with all of them time to prepare the honey sour cream sauce. Combine one cup of sour cream with about 1/4 cup of honey (you can add more honey if you like):

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Mix it with the fork until the texture is smooth like pancake batter:

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By this time the water in the pot should already be boiling and you can add the dumplings to it (you can cook half and freeze half if you want). After you add them to the water gently steer once or twice and wait until they start rising to the top. Once that happens it’s an indication that they are ready and you can take them out with a strainer spoon and serve:

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Here is today’s morning kids breakfast:

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Pour the honey sour cream sauce on top of each plate and serve. Enjoy!