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Blueberry Cottage Cheese Squares
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Blueberry Cottage Cheese Squares

It’s finally time for our Lithuania trip recap! We traveled throughout the country and I’m going to spread the highlights of our adventure over the next three posts. Lithuania is the same size as West Virginia and sits above Poland and Belarus and across the Baltic Sea from Sweden. We flew into Vilnius, which is the capital and largest city in the country. Apolinaras was born and raised in Vilnius so I was very excited to finally see where he grew up! His mom met us at the airport and we headed over to his condo, where she had stocked the fridge with all his favorite Lithuanian goodies that just aren’t the same in the states (e.g. pickled herring, pickles, kefir). Apolinaras looked like a little boy opening his Christmas presents as he went through the fridge – it was just about the cutest thing ever and so sweet of his mom.

For the next couple of days we explored the city and visited many of Apolinaras’ friends and family members. I absolutely loved Vilnius. Like many European cities, the juxtaposition of gorgeous cathedrals and old winding streets filled with quaint rows of shops and apartments made me swoon. I also loved all the green space. There are parks throughout the city and Apolinaras’ condo is right next to a large national forest.

We climbed up the tower of a fort in the middle of the city to take in impressive views and also visited several churches where Apolinaras played the pipe organ when he was younger. This particular church is where people like to meet each other in the city center and we kept the tradition alive by meeting a few of Apolinaras’ friends there.

One of the highlights was going to a folk art festival with traditional Lithuanian music, art, and food. We leisurely browsed all stalls and picked up some wooden treasures including hand carved wall decorations for our kitchen and an adorable cutting board shaped like a pig.

Lithuanian artisans are also known for their linens, amber, and ceramics, so I got several gorgeous amber necklaces and linen pouches to store them in.

As you can probably guess, I was especially excited to try all the traditional Lithuanian culinary specialities. Most Lithuanian dishes are centered around the bounty of the farmland and dairy industry and contain sausage, potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, cottage cheese, and butter. They also have the best dark rye breads and amazing beer!

The zeppelins really stole the show for me – they are huge potato dumplings (the size of a regular potato!) stuffed with either sausage or cottage cheese and topped with bacon or mushrooms in a cream sauce – talk about the ultimate comfort food! And yes, they do eat a few veggies too, the most popular of which are beets, cucumbers, and cabbage. Oh, and between the 2000 lakes and Baltic Sea, fish is also on many menus and it’s often smoked or pickled.

Apolinaras’ mom made us several delicious traditional Lithuanian dishes during our stay including crepes stuffed with cottage cheese and topped with jam, potato dumpling soup, and fried potato pancakes, but my favorite meal was this lovely baked cottage cheese tart that also contained rice, eggs, and raisins. We ate it for dinner, but many people also eat it for breakfast and I knew I wanted to recreate something similar once we returned home. I mixed fresh blueberries and lemon zest into my version and enjoyed a big slice for breakfast last weekend. Next up are our visits to the countryside and resort towns by the Baltic Sea!

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Squares
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups 2% cottage cheese
2 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon, finely chopped
1 pint fresh blueberries (about 2 cups)

Directions:
Heat oven to 350˚F. Mix cottage cheese, brown rice, eggs, sugar, and lemon zest thoroughly in a large bowl until well combined. Gently fold in blueberries and pour mixture into a greased 8×8-inch square pan.  Bake at 350˚F for 45 to 50 minutes or until tart is set. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition: 318 calories, 4.4g fat, 3.7g fiber, 19.8g protein per serving
Cost: $1.20 per serving

39 Responses to Blueberry Cottage Cheese Squares

  1. What an adventure–seeing a new country must be such an awesome experience–and those cottage cheese bars sound so unique, and perfect for breakfast or snack!

  2. I’m so glad you had fun on your trip! It must have been so nice to immerse yourself in your husband’s culture and childhood memories. And to eat all of that awesome food!

    That blueberry cottage cheese square looks completely amazing…if all the food was that good, then I really need to go to Lithuania!

  3. Lithuania looks like such an amazing place!! Glad you had fun :) And the blueberry cottage cheese squares look delicious! Can’t wait to see more about the trip.

  4. Gorgeous pictures Kerstin. Looks like a very fun trip. :-) I’ve also never heard of anything like the cheese squares. The combo of that with the rice and fruit sounds very interesting.

  5. ah, love the recap! sounds like there were some great eats, and those potato dumplings? fabulous :) this blueberry cottage cheese combo is also a winner!

  6. Wow .. turns out that Lithuania is more of a gem than I thought it would be! The architecture is beautiful … I love the winding streets too! Anything with potato in it, like those potato dumplings work as comfort food for me … I could eat well there :)

  7. So fun to look at all these pictures. I have walked down those same streets and gone inside the same cathedrals, climbed the same hills. It is so beautiful there.
    What a fun adventure.
    Your blueberry bake looks fabulous.

  8. What a trip! I would love to see some pics of the necklaces you got. And I would be all over the dark breads and potato dumplings :) Great bar recipe- easy peasy too!

  9. What a fabulous adventure! My best friend in high school was from Vilnius and told me a lot about it, but I have yet to visit there. The blueberry cottage squares look wonderfully delicious!

  10. Great recap! Those giant potato dumplings sound delicious, will you be recreating those as well? At first I was confused by the rice in the blueberry cottage cheese dish but then I realized it’s probably a lot like like a sweet noodle kugel (which usually contains fruit & dairy too), a traditional Eastern European Jewish dish!

  11. It sounds like a wonderful holiday and the food you brought back to share with us is really outstanding. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  12. What a great trip and how fun to eat that food!!! I’m loving the sound of those blueberry squares. Cant wait to read more about your trip.

  13. What a fun trip Kerstin! And so nice to see and learn more about where your husband grew up! The giant dumplings are swoon-worthy! Everything looks really delicious. Especially your lovely blueberry squares! Perfect since blueberries are just coming into season.

  14. I am totally in love with this idea! It looks so delicious, and rather healthy. I can’t wait to make it! Thanks for bringing us such a creative recipe!

  15. My husband grand parents were originally from Lithuania. I too wish to visit this country one day. This sounds like a beautiful trip Kerstin.

    Blueberry square sounds scrumptious!

  16. The blueberry and cottage cheese treats look unique and wonderful! You’re too cute with your beers! Lithuania looks amazing – I’m so jealous! Take lots of pictures!!

  17. I love your recap! Vilnius looks like such a beautiful city! What a fantastic place to grow up :)

    I would love those potato dumplings too! Your blueberry cottage cheese squares look SO good – I would definitely love to have one for my breakfast!

  18. I tried to make zeppelins at home, and they completely fell apart on me. I had always said that I would give it another try, but it’s been a couple years, and I still haven’t tried again. If you get any tips, please let me know!

  19. Thanks everyone!

    Nisrine and Monica – Aww, thanks :)

    Mary Ann – It’s so gorgeous – I’m already looking forward to going back.

    Cara and Megan – I picked up two Lithuanian cookbooks there and plan to make zeppelins soon! I’ll let you know how it goes!

  20. […] so Greta could spend time with her grandma. I’m not going to recap our visit since we visited many of the same places I’ve already talked about, and let’s face it, it would probably take me several more months to get the post up, haha, but […]

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