Monday, July 30, 2018

Tuning in and Tuning out.

Quiet time.

Innovative thinking. Many places can learn from this including restaurants. You don't have to be autistic to want a quiet environment to enjoy your meal. This is a lovely and considerate example of inclusion. No visual stimulation in this post. Just some thoughtful sharing.

What do you think?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Heart Healthy Salmon

Salmon is among the most heart-healthy dishes and is high in Omega 3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends that adults have two servings per week. Salmon contains up to 58% of your daily required intake of protein helping to maintain metabolism and promote weight loss. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, this is a great meal with low calories. On average a 3-oz. serving of wild Alaskan salmon contains 135 calories. I bake and then broil for a few minutes to keep it simple. This is served on fresh butterhead lettuce leaves and garnished with small tomato slices and a few potato pieces. Top it off with thinly sliced spinach before serving. Next, spritz with some Meyer lemon and you are ready for a feast of flavor.

Baked Salmon on Butterhead lettuce

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Everything you need to know about flavor

I found this fabulous book at the library. If you want to find out all about flavor, this is the book for you. It will enrich your food knowledge and develop your flavor skills. The future of flavor experiences is going to be a fusion of expanded culinary traditions. Reading this book will help you appreciate flavor from a new perspective. Enjoy!

Flavor. The science of our most neglected sense by Bob Holmes

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Get your cracker on!

My last post was about topping almost everything with veggies. It's the easiest and most attractive way to make sure you are eating a good amount of vegetables every day. Again, prep ahead!

Tuna on crackers with veggie topping is another good quickie. Pole & Troll caught is considered the best choice for sustainability. Choose all natural, solid Albacore packed in water. Non GMO.

If you eat tuna, this is a nice light meal or snack to share. I like Carr's Cracked Pepper Table Water Crackers but this will work on any cracker you choose, and there are many wonderful crackers to choose from. Crackers are petite serving dishes you can plate anything on.

If you prep ahead this will take about 2 minutes to assemble. Good fast food. Veggie cream cheese, or any cheese you like works too. Keep eating your vegetables!

Carr's Cracked Pepper Table Water Crackers with Albacore Tuna and veggies

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Scramble up some sunshine!

Breakfast does not have to be boring. Toss in some bright and healthy veggies to dress up your plate. Sometimes it's difficult to get your full servings of vegetables, but I find taking a bit of time to chop up a bunch of vegetables makes it easy to add it to almost any meal you fix. Preparing ahead means you have it at your fingertips. It's a quick way to get your daily vegetables and have it on hand as a garnish, salad or side dish.

Veggie egg scramble.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Food Safety

Food Safety

Have you ever wondered when you should freeze, save, or toss food? After seeing this site, I know. Eatbydate is packed with information to help you make the right choice. I was sure I was super careful about food safety, but I was making some mistakes. I encourage you to check it out to keep you and your family safe. No one wants to waste food, but for sure no one wants to get food poisoning. Take some time to see for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Poached Salmon Bisque

Wow. It's been awhile since I have blogged. Mostly because I am not cooking nearly as much as I used to. Food is not the focus of my day any longer. With dietary/nutrition changes and growing concerns over what is inside our food, it has become quite a challenge. I've even changed my toothpaste to non-fluoride and don't use tap water anymore to rinse or prepare food. I use non-fluoridated bottled water. I am overly concentrated on this fluoride issue since I have done extensive research. Fluoride is toxic! I don't want to be cooking it into my meals. If you eat out you have no control over fluoride in the water. I encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself how you feel about this.

I eat soup and salad most days so it makes it a bit tough to do a food blog with little variety. I have ideas and opinions I can share, and will likely move in this direction for future blogs. Not exclusively, but with so much information on food and food safety coming out, it might be good to share what I read and research.

Okay, back to food. Last night I made poached salmon, mashed potatoes and steamed spinach for dinner. It was a beautiful plate, but after cooking it I was not hungry. Fresh fish is the only way to go, so I had to cook it.

I stuck it all in the fridge. Three hours later I thought...hmm. I'll make some soup out of it. A small portion of warm and yummy soup was more to my liking. I did toss in some chile flakes and added pepper to the mix of precooked ingredients. I used a can of cream of mushroom soup and some marinara sauce to make quick work of the soup base. Not ideal, but it was tasty. Made the soup and then squeezed in a bit of fresh Meyer lemon. Excellent overall flavor and the small portion was perfect.

Nothing fancy, but it was fancy good. Next time you're not into a full meal, take some leftovers and make soup. It's a cup of kindness your body will appreciate and nothing goes to waste.

Poached Salmon Soup

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Toast and Steel Cut Oats Topped with Berry Smoothie

McCann's Imported Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal is great any time of day. It's NON GMO certified which makes it even better.  If you don't want to have a bowl of oatmeal you can always add it to other foods or spread it on toast. The benefits of oatmeal as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol is fabulous and may reduce the risk of heart disease. I cook extra and refrigerate it so it's on hand for a quick toss into soup or a warm broth. It adds a nice creamy texture. The possibilities of oats added to many other recipes is only limited by your imagination. I hope you'll try it.

Steel cut oats on toast topped with smoothie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Curry Up and Get Some Delicious

This is a super simple meal. I had some leftover roasted chicken that I cut up into small bites and added it to a creamy curry sauce. Next I cooked some noodles and poured the sauce over it. Garnish with some chopped mixed greens and crispy red bell pepper and you are all set. Tastes great hot or cold.

creamy curry sauce with chicken bits chopped mixed greens and red pepper

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Delicious Celery Two Ways-Smoothie and Spread

Celery Smoothie and Toast Topping.

Celery Smoothie

Celery Puree on Toast with marinara, mozzarella and chile oil

If you have a garden and are growing celery it pops up pretty quickly, and you want to use it as soon as possible. One way to do that is juice it up. If you want an alternative, skim off the top and put it on toast as a spread. This toasty has a base of celery purée, two small dollops of marinara, shredded mozzarella and a bit of chile oil from my good friend Larry at

Then pop in in the oven for a few minutes. Eat it now, or put in the fridge for a fresh bite later. You can also cut it into small squares and put it on top of your favorite veg. Cucumber slices are a nice complement to this combo. Zucchini slices are also great.

A quick side of chopped celery and red bell peppers and it's all set. You might want to serve the side on top of a slice of tomato. Or forego the toast, and just spread the celery purée on top of the tomato for a super healthy snack. Perfect for summer picnics.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Benefits of Bone Broth

Learning about healthy food alternatives. This week is about bone broth, a healing superfood. I also learned about eating for your blood type. Lots of information online. You may want to look into both. In the meantime, here is a delicious combination of chicken bone broth with tabbouleh, fresh garden herbs and a few noodles. All I can say is wow. The benefits of bone broth are tremendous, and the flavor was super fresh. Some bone broth takes longer to cook than others. Up to 48 hours, so you will need to plan ahead. Use only organic. Anything that has been fed antibiotics is not acceptable. If you start now, you will be 'well' on your way.

chicken bone broth with tabbouleh and garden fresh herbs soup

Here are a few links to info on both topics.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Healthy, Crunchy, Simple Salad with Super Celery

Quick note for people who need simple solutions. I like cottage cheese and choose non-fat, small curd for the least amount of sodium. This is nothing more than cottage cheese, fresh, crunchy celery and tomato with fresh ground pepper. If you like a healthy salad, this will satisfy your craving. Super low calorie. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese is 62 calories, celery, depending on size of stalk, about 1-6 calories, and although this is not a whole medium tomato which comes in at 22 calories, it's all under 100 calories. Tasty and filling with a lot of crunch plus nutrition. If you want to find out just how wonderful a stalk of celery can be check this out.

Cottage cheese, celery, tomato salad

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dietary Restrictions? Caregiving Cooking. Homemade Soup is Souper.

I'm posting on soup because it is one of my favorite things to eat; but also my sister had to go to ER for kidney/gall stones this week. As someone who likes a lot of flavor, I have not really known what to prepare for meals. Her diet is pretty restricted to fruits and veggies, perhaps a very small portion of boiled chicken. No fat or greasy foods, no dairy, etc. Still trying to figure it all out. I had prepared a nice meal, just taken it out to serve and that's when her attack came on. So off we went. Was glad I was here to get her there quickly, it is extremely painful and she was vomiting. I have no idea what would have happened if I was not here, not sure she could have even called 911 since she was completely doubled over in anguishing pain.

The first soup I made for her was pretty much water broth with veggies, although I did add some carrot juice to pop in a bit of color and flavor. She is not a big fan of thyme, or I might have tried adding in a few sprigs. I boiled the chicken in with the mix. you can see in the photo, there was fat in the broth. It did not dawn on me to cook them separately. I have never boiled chicken, or thought about the fat rendering out.

The next attempt, I boiled the chicken only in water with a little carrot juice and drained off all the liquid. This was a much better solution and the chicken came out clean. That way she can add it to anything she wants. Salad, soup, stuff it into a lettuce cup or a small bell pepper. The real key is very small portions.

Next was the sliced baked potato, spicy chicken and vegetable casserole I had made. I could have frozen it or offered it to neighbors, but I just ate it for every meal until it was gone. By the last few servings I was getting pretty tired of it. As I do with other food, I finally turned it into soup. Oftentimes I just add water and everything simmers nicely. I don't overcook vegetables, so heating this up was a quick process. Most of the veggies are still relatively firm even after reheats.

Having dietary restrictions requires some new thinking when you are used to cooking a certain way. It has me rethinking almost everything I eat too. I am already a big label reader, and have changed some of my own eating habits to have a healthier lifestyle. Homemade soup is a good start for anyone. Lentil soup is my favorite. I am not sure if she can eat lentils. As I said, I have a lot to learn about cooking for others who have special needs. In the process, I will learn to be a more mindful cook.

Chicken and vegetable soup with carrot broth

Boiled Chicken

Casserole Remix to Baked Potato Soup with Veggies and Cheese

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spicy Curry Chicken with Veggies and Rice

From this to this.
Slow Cooked Spicy Curry Chicken

A dish of delish, Spicy Curry Chicken with Veggies and Rice

I like curry but sometimes it needs an extra punch of flavor. This spicy curry chicken has a lovely blend of spices that simmer down to an excellent sauce. I cook ingredients separately so I can use them for other dishes later. However you decide to accent your plate, making the spicy curry sauce is an ace every time. I use my special chiles from Larry the Peppahead to blend in a lot of native wonder. This has his special reserve smoked chile olive oil. Dixon and Caribe, a little turmeric and a dash of Sriracha. A beautiful combination of flavors that you can use on about anything, but for this recipe I used chicken.

Once I finished cooking all the ingredients, I plated up a small dish to enjoy. This is served with red bell peppers, snow peas, celery, carrots and brown rice. I think you will love it. If you are a vegetarian, skip the chicken and use tofu.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Games People Play-Coupons|Incentives|Promotions

Safeway Monopoly Game Image

Safeway Monopoly Game Tickets

It is not unusual for people to want to win something, but at what cost?

I’ve watched Extreme Couponing a few times and am amazed at how much time they spend to organize, file, shop, and store the massive amount of items. On the whole, it’s stuff that is not all that healthy for you. A huge amount of processed and frozen foods. Paper goods, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.

The last time I watched the show; one woman had spent over 50 hours preparing for her shopping trip. Buying multiple newspapers to get an added advantage and getting her kids to help clip and sort.

I think it’s all crazy. But, I thought I ought to try and see what some of these shopper incentives were all about and how much time it takes.

Safeway has a Monopoly game. You get tickets to paste onto the board depending on how much you buy. At first I did not collect the tickets, thinking how silly it was. Then I decided to be a consumer on their terms. I started taking the game rewards.

First you open the tickets, then you sort them, then try and find where they go. You have to turn the board around and around to see if you have any matched numbers. Next, you have to turn it over and start this whole process again.

The images are so small I needed to use a magnifier to match them up. It’s a bit tricky with some of the impressions, so you end up looking to match numbers, not just images.

Why am I sharing this? Well, the biggest reason is how much time you spend looking at the images. Talk about brand influence! You have this game that actually hypnotizes you. Depending on how many tickets you have, you may look very closely at a brand logo many, many times.

Not too unlike couponing…brand impressions are registered hundreds and hundreds of times. You may be saving money, but you are being influenced to buy certain brands whether you want to or not. Your brain is being tattooed with brand names and it will affect you your whole life. You won’t even know why, but you will buy based on the subtle, or not so subtle effects of the circulars, games, incentives, discounts and in-store promotions.

Pretty soon you will not have a mind of your own. You will buy based on advertising and marketing. Again, you won’t know why you buy what you buy.

These sales tactics seem innocent enough, play a game, maybe win some money, a vacation home, luxury car, home makeover, college tuition, trip, gift card, spa treatment, Redbox movies for a year, weekend getaway, jet ski or a family picnic, but I want you to think seriously about how much time you will spend looking at these brand logos.

I want you to think about all the hours you will spend clipping coupons when you could be spending quality time with your family. Cooking nutritious meals, not microwaving some Hot Pockets because you got them for free.

It took me hours to play this little game with myself. To actually experience the whole gig one game ticket at a time. If you like puzzles, you will like this. If you are lucky, you will win something. More than likely you will get a 25 cents off coupon for a tub of Daisy Sour Cream, Dannon Activia Yogurt, Twizzlers Twists, Nabisco Wheat Thins Toasted Chips, Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cookies, Daisy Cottage Cheese, One 2 Liter bottle of your choice of name brand soda, Jolly Time Microwave Popcorn, Capri Sun Juice Drink Blend, Nabisco Oreo Sandwich Cookies, Edge Shave Gel, perhaps 50 cents off Finish Jet-Dry Liquid Rinse Agent, 75 cents off Sparkle Paper Towels Prints, or a real biggie, an instant winner of two (2) bonus Monopoly game tickets on your next visit while supplies last. Woohoo!

Even this is another example of how brands influence us. I looked at the coupons and typed them in for this article. Ridiculous! All this does not even include the hours it would take to add the codes in for the online game or fill out individual, hand-addressed, 3X5 index cards for each code in a separate envelope. Now add postage. Gee, what a deal.

It’s your call if you want to trade time for money in the form of coupons, or playing games like this. But in the end, it’s the brands who win, not you.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How to Cook when Renovating a Kitchen

kitchen renovation image

As a cook, your kitchen is a sanctuary. The thought of doing a renovation, although it might be exciting, is also one of the most difficult transitions to deal with. The first thing is packing up all of your goods. I recommend keeping your essentials out until the very end. The rest can go into boxes or plastic storage bins. Bins with lids keep things clean and still accessible if you need them. From your essentials, pare down as much as you can. Think like you are packing a suitcase.

Relocating your kitchen to your dining room is an option. A long side table will do just fine as your temporary kitchenette. If you don't have a long table, buy a large Ikea desk top and put it on top of an existing smaller table. It will provide you with the prep space you need. Mobile food carts with a cutting board surface will also be helpful. For items that get quite hot, like a toaster oven, it is safest placed on a surface that can take the heat. A large tile from the hardware store works perfectly.

You still need to consider ergonomics and sanitary conditions. Plan for it. Make sure your surfaces are the right height and you have a place for clean vs used towels. Have a dish pan like they use in restaurants available. Get them at your restaurant supply store or online. Don't let anything stack up. Clean as you go! Prep, clean. Cook, clean. Serve, clean.

Next, think about what you need when everything is out of the kitchen. Once the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and sink are gone, they're gone. No more disposer either. Have a plan in place for food scraps. Ideally you have a compost bin. If not, get a separate garbage can and take it out often! Immediately is best.

If you don't already have them, some useful tools to have on hand include:

A one or two burner, portable cooking range or induction cooking plate, an oven-top griddle, electric skillet, waffle maker, hot sandwich maker, crock pot, toaster with mini-oven or a toaster oven, an extra dorm-sized fridge, microwave*, a Ninja and/or immersion blender, a culinary heat lamp, food steamer or rice cooker, and a coffee/tea maker if you use one. If you plan on entertaining, add warming trays to your list. Paper plates, cups and reusable dinnerware will be an asset in this situation. Get some. Lastly, you'll be cooking with smaller pans in a toaster oven, invest in a few Pyrex glass pans that are stable to 450 degrees. If you bake, you'll need a small sheet pan, and smaller muffin pans.

Renovating a kitchen doesn't mean you can't make delicious meals. In fact, it somewhat simplifies the process. I call it dorm cooking. Even if you are throwing a party, warming trays and three crock pot warmers will make your buffet easy to set up.

Water is another thing you'll need to consider. During renovations you may want to have water delivered and rent or buy a water dispenser stand with both hot & cold water taps. You have a choice of either top or bottom load. Think about which will work the best for you.

As always, keep a sense of humor. Your energy goes into the food you prepare. Enjoy this switch-up of your routine and it will shine through with your delicious.

These are some fun cooking hacks that at the very least will make you laugh. If my list of what you need is too long, you can make just about anything with a coffee maker and an iron.

TIP: Depending on what your weather is's also a good time to get your grill on.

* I don't cook with a microwave.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Putting the Squeeze on Heinz 'Tomato' Ketchup

Do not enter Heinz Tomato Ketchup symbol on plate

I only use ketchup in one thing. Meatloaf. It's rare that I make a meatloaf, but it's always with Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Never again. I read this yesterday and was completely shocked to find out these facts. This goes to show how important it is to read labels. This has been the only ketchup I have ever used and it did not dawn on me to look at the label. Call it brand brainwash. 

From now on I'll be making my own and think you should too. There are many great recipes online for homemade tomato ketchup.

One example:

Here are the Heinz facts.

This ketchup based product has been put on hot dogs, eggs, burgers, chicken – you name it! But did you know that one of the biggest names in the ketchup game doesn’t even have enough tomatoes to be classified as ketchup in some countries? Heinz Ketchup is actually banned from calling itself ketchup in Israel for that very reason!
On top of the utter lack of tomatoes, here’s five reasons you should avoid this name brand altogether:
1. There’s a proverbial crap-ton of high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that has many links to obesity, heart attacks and cancer.
2. For every 100 grams of ketchup in a Heinz bottle, there’s 23.6 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar for a condiment made of tomatoes…
3. According to a lawsuit filed in 2014, Heinz doesn’t use distilled vinegar in their ketchup, rather a modified form of corn.
4. You know how you’ve heard that excessive sodium is bad for you? Well Heinz Ketchup has a lot, as in 190 milligrams per tablespoon.
5. In addition to the insane amount of corn in a tomato based product, the corn they use has a high probability of being genetically modified. That means any non-GMO people out there already have their reason to stay away!
Ketchup can be some serious business, so make sure you’re getting the real thing and not some knockoff only claiming to be real. Don’t buy Heinz! Pass it along

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holiday Cheery. After Christmas, Christmas Salad.

After Christmas Christmas salad. Romain. Chicken with chicken gravy. Jasmine rice. Pomegranet seeds, flax seeds, bias cut green beans. I think I'll do an after holiday post. Nice cold or warm.

If you stuffed yourself with too much food this holiday, here's a nice light alternative. 
Make an after Christmas, Christmas salad. Romain, chicken with chicken gravy, Jasmine rice, Pomegranate seeds, flax seeds, bias cut green beans. Nice warm or cold.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Sunny Side Up

fried eggs on toast

Keeping it simple and tasty for Christmas breakfast.
Eggs are great fuel for the day.
Wishing everyone a sunny side up kind of day!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Egg Salad and Mozzarella Tomato Rounds

 Egg Salad tomato rounds with mozzarella greens and veggies

Egg salad is so simple to make, although it can look rather plain. I often add a little crunch of celery and red bell peppers to dress it up. Being on a tomato kick has been easy prep for me. When I am super busy I don't have as much time to spend in the kitchen but I still like to eat well. Nourishing food that keeps me fueled.

Food always looks more appealing when it's colorful and plated nicely. Even if it's simple fare, take the time to make it yummy to your eyes. Sit down and savor your meal and enjoy it to its fullest. I usually make a dozen hard-boiled eggs at a time—that way I can have them for a quick breakfast and put them in other things throughout the week. Plenty to share.

One large egg is 78 calories, but if you are watching cholesterol, it checks in at 187mg, which is 62% of recommended daily intake. One cup of chopped boiled eggs (approximately three medium eggs) is 210 calories. So, making a bit of egg salad and using it as a tomato topper is a good idea. You get all the goodness, (protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids) and flavor without being too heavy-handed with egg calories and cholesterol.

Yes, the mustard and mayo add some calories too. Still, it's a nice way to have a small portion go a long way. If you want the least amount of calories, use just the egg whites. They are only 18 calories per large egg, 60 calories less than a whole egg. Don't throw the yoke out. It makes a nice light egg crumble for salad, or spread on toast. This has a slice of mozzarella too, another 78 calories. While this is not super low-cal, small portions of each make it a good go-to almost any time of day, or as a nice side with your meal.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tomato Two Ways. Baked Tomato with Mozzarella or Cold with Vinaigrette

Short on time? Hot or cold, one thick slice of heirloom tomato makes a delicious light lunch or dinner meal. The first was topped with mozzarella cheese and a very light red wine vinaigrette. I was out of basil, so I used a little sliced romaine to garnish. The second is a broil baked tomato with mozzarella, a bit of marinara sauce that was thinned down and finely grated Parmesan. I cooked it right on the plate to let the juice from the tomato and the sauce run together. Simply delicious. I ate them both. First the cold and then the hot. When you have the ingredients for each, why not prepare them two ways and enjoy the different presentation. I pepper just about everything, and I added chile flakes to both of these for a little extra pop. I like them plain, but you could add just about anything, from artichoke to prosciutto.

 Single Slice of Tomato with Mozzarella Cheese and red wine vinaigrette

Baked Single Slice of Tomato with Mozzarella Cheese -Marinara Sauce and Parmesan Cheese

Baked Single Slice of Tomato with Mozzarella Cheese and Marinara Sauce

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Grilled Chickpea Sandwich with Cheese, Broccolini, and Zucchini Side

Grilled Chick Pea, Cheese and Broccolini Sanwich
Had some chickpeas left over from the recent roast and decided to make a grilled chickpea sandwich. Sounded good to me.

I smashed the soft chickpeas and topped them with some shredded cheese and broccolini. Then a generous squeeze of Sriracha Chili Sauce. I served it with a broad slice side of zucchini, sprinkled lightly with chia and flax seeds, plus a small bite of artichoke and a few of the crunchy roasted chickpeas.

After I made it and shot the photo, I thought it would be good with the zucchini on the sandwich. So, I opened it up and put a slice inside. I liked it both ways. The leftover chickpeas could have gone into a few things but making a sandwich was new for me. Maybe you will like it too?

Grilled Chick Pea, Cheese and Broccolini Sandwich,Side of Zucchini

Monday, September 28, 2015

Super Snack! Roasted Chickpeas with Sriracha and Dixon Chile Powder.

Roasted Chickpeas with Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and Dixon Red Chile Powder
Everyone loves crunch! These super hot chickpeas are roasted in Sriracha Chili Sauce and New Mexican Dixon Red Chile Powder, plus a little olive oil, and a touch of salt. Chickpeas are nutrient dense and chock full of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The name chickpea, (ciche pease) comes from a variety of sources with the addition of garvance in the 17th century. The current word, garbanzo comes directly from modern Spanish. I just call them delicious. These are great snacks but also make a wonderful addition to many other recipes. Pop them on a salad. If you are feeling adventurous, crumble them on top of your eggs, or sprinkle on top of your mac and cheese bake.

Making these are easy. If you use fresh garbanzo beans, you are going to have to prep ahead and cook them for about two hours. Cool, rinse and dry. If you use the canned version, rinse and dry them before you toss all the ingredients together. I also clean off the clear outer skin. Next, let the ingredients marinate for 30 minutes. Use a non-stick sheet pan, or line a traditional sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and lay the chickpeas in one layer. If you use a glass pan, add a quick spray of non-stick oil. Cook at 400-450 degrees for about 40 minutes, turning them every ten minutes or so. I like mine very dry and crunchy throughout, so I sample them toward the end of the bake and sometimes add additional time. Your personal preference for crunch may vary, how long you cook them is up to you. Also, the amount of spice you add will influence the hot factor. Make a good sized batch. They will last for a few days, but my guess is that they will be gone before you can say yum-dillicious.

TIP: If you want other flavors, mix in whatever you like. Chickpeas are adaptive to lots of ingredients. If you are going to use these as a crumble or crisp, put them in a baggie and pound them to your desired size. These also make a fine crumb breading for fish, chicken or pork. 

PS. If you want some New Mexican Dixon Red Chile Powder…this is your source.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fig and Friends Emoji

Fig and Blueberries Emoji
My dear friend brought me a lovely bowl of figs this morning. I missed him, so he left them on the porch. What better way to say thank you than with a personal emoji of surprise and delight. Thanks Mac! You're the best.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Watermelon. A Slice of Summer Nostalgia.

beautiful watermelon
As summer wanes, I get a little nostalgic about watermelon. It's a staple in the fridge throughout the season; and since it's 92% water, it keeps me hydrated. It's definitely thirst quenching on hot summer days. When I am not hungry, it's a perfect energy snack with a light boost of sweetness. With only 6% sugar, one slice is all you need to wet your whistle.

It's no wonder watermelons were left as food in the tombs of the Egyptians to nourish the dead in the afterlife; it
refreshes you and brings you back to life.

The word watermelon first appeared in the English dictionary in 1615 but the vegetable, commonly thought of as a fruit, has been cultivated since the second millennium BC.

TIP: Don't toss the rind! Pickle it, or put it into a blender for a super nutrition advantage in your smoothie or favorite beverage.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fruit. Edible Decoration.

Fruit. Edible Decoration

One of the delights of summer fruit is their artful perfection. When you feast your eyes on the vast variety of fruit in your market don't just think of them as food. Think of them as edible decoration.

Bring home a variety and use them as centerpieces for your table; allow them to ripen naturally. The sweet aroma fills the room with the scent of summer until you are ready to eat them. Unlike most flowers, fruit is a beautiful decor accent that you can eat. Their natural beauty brightens up your space. Any time you bring nature inside you enhance everything.

In addition to enjoying them as they are, baking them, adding them into prepared dishes, turning them into a sauce or jam, making smoothies, a fruit dessert, or topping ice creme—I like to squeeze the juice on some lovely salad greens for a light, fresh dressing or spritz a little into my water.

Before the season is over, buy them now. Get canning, or cut them up and freeze them to enjoy year round.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Modern Etiquette meets the Wi-Fork

Table setting etiquette blueprint with mobile phone
Table étiquette has seemingly changed to include a Wi-Fork phone—but it's more than that, it's taken center plate. It's become the largest part of the table setting. With the exception of a handful of places that ban cell phones at the table, it's now embedded into society as acceptable.

It's the new appetizer gone wild.

I, for one, think it's completely rude. Mindful eating and good manners should not be left behind. People are obsessed with taking pictures of their food while dining and it's distracting. I don't want to see phonies taking selflies while talking with their mouth full.

Decorum is dignified and shows respect for the chef, the servers and your guest(s). It's good taste for the sake of good taste. I guarantee your food will taste better if you put away your phone.

I want to enjoy my meal and talk with the people I am breaking bread with. How about you?

App is a verbal short for appetizers in restaurant lingo, and tech applications, but real appetizers are small bites of delectable food meant to be savored—not a download you devour while using your phone. If you currently do this, I hope you will rethink your decision and join those of us who would love to spend quality time with you…without your Wi-Fork phone. The new normal is not informal + mobile device. There, I said it—I formally invite you to get a little more formal, or dare I say, civilized.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Do the Mashed Potato!

Idahoan Mashed Potatoes with Asparagus and Cheese
I keep a box of Idahoan potatoes on hand for quick fixes. Of course I like using real baked potatoes when I have the time, but these are 100% real Idaho potato flakes, and they work just fine when you are in a hurry. I like to add some extra goodies in to my potatoes and that can be just about anything. They have different flavors, but I've only tried the traditional ones. I like to do my own flavoring. Another reason I have them in my pantry is because they make an excellent add to soups and sauces when you want a creamier consistency. They thicken your base quickly. Don't over do it, sprinkle in a little at a time and wait and see how it blends.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What's in a Garnish?

Grilled Pork Chop with Red Bell Peppers
Using a simple garnish makes your plate presentation more beautiful. This plain grilled pork chop topped with a few slices of fresh red bell pepper and two tiny sprigs of broccolini greets you with a nice pop of color. Letting the au jus rim the plate and adding some fresh cracked pepper completes the visual appeal. You don't have to go overboard with a garnish. Use what you have. Even if it's just some wild salad greens. Slice it up chiffonade style and place a small amount on top of your serving or even around the plate for added color. It only takes a few seconds to add a garnish, but it's a feast for your eyes that lingers way past the meal.

Chiffonade (French pronunciation: ​[ʃi.fɔ.nad]) is a chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hot & Saucy Grilled Chicken on Crispy Cold Veg Bed

Grilled chicken with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese is delicious but all that gooey goodness is even better stacked on a fresh cut veggie salad. Cut up some cucumber, carrots and celery and chill them in the fridge. The chicken is served hot over the cold bed of veggie salad and is a nice contrast. Add a few more veggies on top for a perfect serving. This small plate keeps portions under control but the full stack of veggies underneath fills you up with satisfaction. If you want to cut calories, skip the sauce and cheese but this combo is a wonderful blend of flavors. If you don't eat meat, the salad combination is outstanding all by itself. Toss it with a tad of your favorite dressing and you've got some seriously cool crunch as a main dish or side.

chicken with chopped veggie salad bed

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Super Easy Mini-Pizza

Mini Pizza on Flour Tortilla
This small pizza is great for kids. It's 5" and cooks up in a pan in about 5 minutes. I used a store bought flour tortilla and crisped it in the pan—turning it a few times to keep the sauce from soaking in to the soft tortilla. Then I spread some chunky marinara sauce almost to the edge, and added a few fresh red bell pepper slices. Next, I top with shredded mozzarella cheese and put the lid on to steam melt the cheese. Just before serving toss on some chile flakes and a garnish of green.

Your kids can make this by themselves and there is practically no clean up.

It can also be cooked in the oven on a sheet pan to get a golden, bubbly cheese top.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How Much Cheese is Too Much Cheese?

cheese on top of cheese with garnish

I've been really busy lately and have not been much for a sit down meal. What this means is I graze on small bites throughout the day. Many times grabbing a slice of cheese, a cheese stick, a spoon or two of cottage cheese, add some cheese to a small bowl of soup, or make half a cheese sandwich. That's a crazy amount of cheese. I always have salad in the fridge and other things to make, but some days I just keep eating cheese. I did this image at the end of the day, laughing at myself for how it all adds up. This visual food for the day scenario is both laughable and not. Without variety, and certainly adding in fruits and veggies your body is not going to be very happy; plus it packs on some heavy calories and salt. One cheese slice is 104 calories and 468 mg. of sodium. Yikes. Add in a cheese stick and it's another 80 calories and 220 mg. of sodium. You can see where I am headed with this. Yes, cheese has its benefits, and it makes everything yummier, but it should be used sparingly as a treat. If you want to cut calories and are on a low salt diet…I'm giving you the same advice I'm giving myself. Don't buy it. If it's not there you won't eat it. I fell off the wagon so to speak, and got careless with my shopping and eating these past few weeks. Now, I am back on track and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cooking with Kids. Pots & Pans and Utensil Set

Cooking with Kids Pots & Pan and utensil set

Get your kids, or grand kids cooking with this sweet little set of stainless steel pots and pans plus a utensil set by Melissa & Doug. Perfect for ages 3+ for a fun adventure in let's play house. It has a beautiful polished mirror finish and is as nice as anything you have in your grown up kitchen. When they are finished playing, it comes with a storage stand to tuck away and keeps things tidy. If you want this set, go to or call 1-800-284-3948.

They did not pay me to plug this…it's just so awesome, I had to share.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tiny Bites. Big Results.

Tape measure with blueberry on cutting board
I know I posted on this but it's worth showing again.
Big results come from making small changes over time.
Plus, I think the image is a fun reminder.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Calculating your Plate

food measurements
This is what it's like to calculate your plate.
I'm not enjoying food as much as I used to because it's not just an eating event…it's a calculation process. Lots of us have jumped on the cooking at home bandwagon but it's mostly about taste and presentation without much consideration for the waistline impact. This image illustrates a good point. If this measuring device was at the center of your plate, how would you rethink what you consume? Add in the nutritional value, GMO % and before you know it, you don't want to eat. This is more of an editorial than a fact…but I'd like to know how you feel.

I miss being able to eat anything I want, uhhh…namely pizza without having to think about the consequences.

My parents did not know about any of this stuff and still lived in to their late 70's. That's long enough if it was an enjoyable trip…today, it's like a no-no to eat most things and enjoy the flavor of fun. I am not saying go crazy with your diet, but for heavens sake…live a little will ya. I'm talking to myself as well as others.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chocolate is Not Aways What You Think it is...

chocolate scare
Regulations are changing on food labels but this is off the charts. I recently read that some chocolates contain ingredients that have dangerous heavy metals and other ingredients you don't want to consume. Read this list of companies you don't want to keep. I eat Lindt 85% extra dark chocolate on occasion and add some non-fat blueberry yogurt for creaminess with a few fresh blueberries. It might seem like a good snack but in the future I will not be eating it.

Nutrition labels do not tell the whole story, no matter how vigilant you are with inquiry. And, this is just one example.

Food can be a risk on many levels if you don't pay attention. Why don't they share this kind of information and stop adding it in to our food?

They just want our money and don't care how it affects us.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Water and Lemon Scare

Adding vinegar and lemon to water
Today I watched a video on the potential of icky stuff on lemons. Really icky bacteria and fecal matter, etc. I've heard this many times before. Especially in restaurants where not enough care is taken in keeping them clean. Don't give up on the delight of lemons in your water. The best way to avoid this is to grow your own. If you are dining out, take your own lemon with you.

As an alternative, I also enjoy apple cider vinegar in water. Just pour a small amount in to a container, add some water and bring it with you.

TIP: As a general caution, you may not want to order foods that are prepared with lemons.

Also, if you enjoy zest, I recommend you take your own and share this info with your friends who cook, cater or eat out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sliced Tate Bakes

Potato Bakes Sliced
I like different varieties of potatoes and enjoy serving them in small portions. More of an accent on the plate. These were to go with super thin slices of steak and French green beans…but it did not happen. To my surprise, I served these up and my sister would not eat them. She said they looked liked snails and actually made a face and pushed them away quickly. She was really turned off by the look of them. They say we eat with our eyes first…well, in this case…it was a total turn off to her.

By contrast, I love the look of them and thought she would enjoy a different presentation of potatoes. Purple potatoes are not everyones top choice and this may have added to her no thank you grimace.

She ended up making her own potatoes.
Instant, from a box.

Everyone has their own taste preferences and as a cook you have to honor that. So, if your kids won't eat something, or an adult dislikes certain foods, or an unusual presentation, it's okay. Fortunately, I enjoy the process of cooking and tucking some love inside. Even if someone does not want it, the effort is not wasted. Love is what cooking is all about. Even if it comes from a box.