Monday, February 25, 2008

Easy Meal III

Reheat, simmer, broil, eat. Can YOU fix dinner in less than 15 minutes?

Remember the Pork Tenderloin I made awhile back? It was a grand one. I sliced all the medallions, served some with the Apricot-Orange sauce. I tucked some into the freezer, a few, I set in the refrigerator waiting for my quick and easy version of Nutty Butter Orange Pork Chops.
Pork Medallions from the other day
Peanut Butter (I used the p-butter Nick and I made yesterday)
Mandarin oranges from the can
Sea salt
Vino tinto

Nutty Butter Orange Pork Chops
Steamed Asparagus
Vino tinto en Blaso (Wine in a glass)

Ready? Set. Go!
  • Trim ends of asparagus so the stalks can fit in a bread pan (metal). Fill pan 3/4 with water, set on medium to boil.
  • Turn on broiler.
  • Get out plates and utensils.
  • Open mandarin orange can and pour into storage container.
  • Line small cookie sheet with foil.
  • Nuke the pork medallions to warm them.
  • Put the asparagas in the almost boiling water.
  • Arrange medallions on the foiled pan, put a plop of peanut butter (I used the p-butter Nick and I made yesterday) in the center of each medallion, top with one orange slice.
  • Turn asparagas over in pan (like a log roll)
  • Put pork under broiler
  • Watch broiler like a hawk.
  • Remove asparagus from heat
  • Remove pork
  • Drain Asparagus, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt
Move all to plates, smudge face with flour, sit down, smile, eat, drink and then load the dishwasher, toss the foil, cap the oranges, wrap up the asparagus and refrigerate with any remaining pork for lunch tomorrow.

Two medallions with topping are about four ounces total, so lets figure 269 calories for the entre, 4 spears of asparagus is 13 calories total, and the vino 74 calories. 15 minutes, a fine dinner for the family and a grand total of 356 calories.

After all that effort, go ahead and go have some ice cream with your family. Order Founder's Favorite if you're at Cold Stone and think of me!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Roasted Corn Poblano Chowder

I found this recipe in The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. It tastes almost cheesy and is creamy good. I found a very similar recipe on line at in their CopyCat area. Here's the "close" one:

Servings: 6-8

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk, or 1 cup milk, and 1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, unpeeled and diced
3 medium poblano chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 (16-ounce) package frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, celery, and onion, Cook until the onionis transluscent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes, being careful not to let the flour scorch. Turn the heat to high and slowly whisk in the stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add the milk. Bring the soup to a rolling simmer and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the potatoes, poblano chilies, corn, and roasted red peppers. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the salt and cayenne pepper.

Note: I couldn't find poblanos here in Utah. Looking on line, I found poquillo's could be substituted. They worked just fine.

The cookbook gives 130 calories per cup. provides the information to the side here, probably based on 6-8 servings to the recipe. As good as it is, I'd say "double it". You won't want to stop at just a cup.

No Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Nick is in the kitchen now! He asked me to make him cookies the other day. We did it together this morning. This is an excellent recipe to do with children. You can teach them how to measure, how things are made, how things should look and smell when mixed together and be sure to explain spills can happen to anyone!

We made these from scratch....really, really from scratch by using the Cuisinart to grind the peanuts into PEANUT BUTTER!

This No Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie recipe was posted by Coconut and Lime.

These are one of those foods that you have show self control with if you're weight watching at 103 calories each delicious, sweet, flavorful pop! ('s worth it!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

First Homemade Curry

I have done Asian curries starting with curry paste. Tonight I did my own starting with oil and onions. It turned out OK. I like cooking with fresh tomatoes, but I really like it after the flavors have "sat" for a day.

I'll give this one a "rest" and check back in on it tomorrow.

There are great reviews for the cookbook I used: 50 Great Curries of India. The 10th anniversary edition has been released. So I guess I'm in good hands. I'll keep you posted.

Sunflower Cherry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

These little hummers will change your ideas about breakfast forever. I baked them this afternoon and we had one for desert this evening. They are easy and are so full of flavor.

Whole Foods Market brings you this little dandy:

Sunflower Cherry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

The only draw back is the calorie count. An 8x8 pan makes 16 servings at 190 calories each. But with a 100 calorie yogurt you won't be too bad off. Just don't top it off with a humungous whole milk mocha!


My dear mother was 5'7'' and I don't think I ever saw a picture of her where she weighed more than 110 (I'd love to know what she weighed when she was pregnant with us kids). She had the metabolism of a race horse. She cooked like a farm wife. I don't think I ever had a fresh vegetable growing up unless it started with "p" and ended with "otato". Canned veggies all the way. Fruit cocktail would be the next highest on the list of "good for you's" and Crisco was a staple. She did however make a KILLER rhubarb pie which I will share at some point.

Now back to me. She did not share her metabolism with me. I got my father's. Farm life gene meets chubby bunny gene. She was kind enough though to share her ultra small boned-ness. Welcome to my HELL!

My point here...all of the recipes and meals I've been posting (old family recipes and holiday recipes exempted) I've been merrily cooking and eating while losing weight. Lots of weight. Without drugs, supplements, programs.

My secret? Just pay attention. There's a simple formula: Garbage in, garbage on (your butt). When I take the time to cook and calculate what I'm eating, my weight goes down. When I get lazy, on goes the processed carbs, the sugars, etc.

OK, back to cooking and heating to your healthy heart's content.

Cabbage Pockets

Cabbage Pockets
aka Beerocks

This recipe is my favorite school lunch recipe. Whenever I make these, I'm compelled to serve canned corn and mixed flavor jello squares with them.

The recipe, again, is army portions. These freeze well and are great tasting when reheated in the microwave. After baking and cooling, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in freezer for a while. When thoroughly chilled or freshly frozen, repackage into dinner servings or single servings in storage bags. Thaw before reheating and heat until desired temperature, but not so long as to make the bread dough tough.

These are excellent alone or dipped into ketchup and/or mustard (a kid thing).

One of my school friends worked for the school district's lunch program for a few years and was able to give the the "real deal" recipe from the school. My Aunt Mabel taught me how to make this, making the bread paper thin and still strong enough to contain the contents. And yes, Sharon, I'm sure these are the same ones your Granny made, given she lived "just up the street". I grew up in a town where many German immigrants (via the Shenandoah Valley) had moved from and eventually homesteaded in Northeastern Colorado.

Cabbage Pockets

3-1/2 lbs. Lean hamburger
3-6 small onions chopped
2 heads of cabbage

Cook until lightly browned, drain. Add 2 heads of cabbage chopped (discard hard pieces) or sliced (not grated) in the food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until cabbage is tender. NOTE: Use two dutch ovens or equivalent. (This can take a few hours)

2 Cups warm water
½ Cup sugar
2 packages dry yeast.
Dissolve for about 10 minutes in a 4 quart bowel. Add 3 Cups flour to make a batter. Let sit 5 minutes. Add 2 beaten eggs, 6 tbls. Butter or margarine, 4 Cups Flour. Blend well, then add 3 teas. Salt. Knead for 15 minutes. Put in greased 4 quart bowl, cover with damp cloth or PAM-ed waxed paper. Put in a warm place let rise until doubled.

Roll dough 1/8” thick and cut into 4”x4” pieces. Add filling and cross corners together. Pinch shut. Flip so the "X" side is down on the baking sheet. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake until brown at 375° or 400°. Serves 25

Bottom of cabbage pocket, with corners folded in looks like this:

Sweet Potato Delight

If you use this recipe, consider yourself family. I rarely share it. This comes from a church member collection cookbooks that I've had for nearly 20 years. The beauty of this is that it is my mother in law's church, but was given to me by one of my step-daughters. I only use "step" to indicate that there's an extra level of sweetness added when "his" kids give you family books. When I talk about my five girls - it means they're mine - no matter how they came to me!

This recipe is my contribution to the annual request that makes Thanksgiving memories.

Sweet Potato Delight

3 29 oz. cans sweet potatoes - (think Thanksgiving army)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup butter, melted

Warm sweet potatoes in pan and pour off juice. Add the other ingredients and whip until smooth. Spread into 9x13 inch dish. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of whipped potatoes. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

There are no calories listed as this is Thanksgiving food and sweet as candy! Calorie exempt!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Easy Meal II

Another easy-breezy meal for you.

Reheat Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce

Include Sauted Spinach

Serve with Louis Jadot Beaujolais.'s Tasting Notes - "This brilliant garnet wine is bright and fresh, with ripe, supple crushed strawberry flavors underscored by zesty nuances of peppercorns, gentle tannins and a clean acidity, finishing on a succulent, refreshing note. "

Total dinner: 505 calories and a heap of yum!

Sauted Spinach

If you hate canned spinach, mostly despise frozen spinach, range between maybe like and absolutely love fresh spinach, this is the recipe for you.

My once-roommate and twin-like best friend got me going with this one.

Bag or bunch of fresh spinach (6 ounces)
Garlic clove minced or half a kitchen spoonful of minced garlic from a jar
Olive oil. I like the extra virgin, rich olive oil best for this, but any will do.
Sea salt
Large (really large) nonstick skillet

Heat skillet on medium, pour in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Heat oil, but don't let it get too hot. Add the garlic and cook until softened, but not brown. Dump in spinach and stir, gently folding the big leaves down to the bottom of the pan. The leaves on the bottom will shrink and get darker. When all the leaves are small and dark green. Sprinkle sparingly with a pinch of sea salt and you're done!

It took me longer to type this than it did to cook it. About five minutes.

This makes two servings at 141 calories each: 20 calories for the spinach, 4 for the garlic, and 117 calories for the oil (if you use 2 tbls.).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Easy Meal

My girl friend and I have absolutely crazy schedules for the next couple of weeks. Work has been flying by at breakneck speed. We haven't hardly had the energy to call each other at night, which is like breathing to us.

She was in my neck of the woods tonight and lest we not let an opportunity go unexploited, I invited her to dinner. Here's the menu:


Commercially made butter/basil/walnut spread

Dr. Weil's Citrus Salad Dressing
Romaine lettuce - my new FAVORITE!
A carrot, manually grated
A stock of celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick
A few mandarin orange slices
Sliced Almonds

Leftover Wild Rice with Cranberries and Almonds

A Ferrero Rocher candy

I made the salad dressing while my friend constructed the salad. We broiled the steaks, taking hers out for a few minutes while mine stopped mooing. Just before "done", I smeared on a teaspoon of the seasoned butter on each of the stakes and popped them back under the broiler until the butter melted. While broiling the steaks I nuked the rice.

All my wonderful desserts had been consumed over the weekend so the piece of candy became dessert. (Actually, I saw my daughter down the last of the banana bread, which was plan A, just as I was pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator.)


Evening meal calorie total: 590. Time borrowed to make it: Less than 30 minutes. Friendship: Priceless.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nutty Butter Orange Porkchops

This was a favorite of ours a few years back. It's from my dear Richard Simmons. I haven't made it for awhile. My daughter asked for it today. Because I had a very large pork tenderloin to make the Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce I had extra medallions left. I also have mandarin orange slices in the refrigerator that I have been using on my salads. (I use the mandarin slices instead of the oranges called for in the recipe). Thanks to the Internet, once again, the recipe can be yours too!

Nutty Butter Orange Porkchops

Caloriewise these clock in between 269 and 300 calories. The flavor is so rich that you'll forget that you're eating pork, peanutbutter and oranges in one sitting!

Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce

I thought I was only going to be able to talk about this exquisite main dish, as the recipe was printed in this month's Cooking Light magazine. However Recipezaar came through with the recipe and including the appropriate credit to Cooking Light.

Pork Medallions with Apricot-Orange Sauce weighs in at 236 calories for 2 pork slices and 1/4 cup sauce.

This is a sweet, tangy, peppery recipe that makes your tastebuds dance. I served it with the Wild Rice Cranberry and Almond side dish.

No breads or other accoutrements were needed for a filling, flavorable meal.

Wild Rice with Cranberries and Almonds

Remember back under the Wild Rice Soup recipe where I mentioned making more rice than needed so it could be used later without the time and hassle of cooking it? Voila!

I found the basis for this recipe on CD measurements in the recipe didn't quite fit the amount of ingredients I had on hand and the ratios seemed off. Here's my version:

2 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1/8 cup butter
1/4 cup onion chopped (about 1/4 onion)
1/2 cup celery, chopped, (abt. 2 sticks)
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds (not toasted - the rice brings that flavor to the table)

In a medium skillet melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, and apple for about 5 minutes, stiring constantly, until tender. Stir in cranberries and sliced almonds. Add rice until warm. Mix well.

This dish is pretty. The shiny brown rice, the red cranberries, the tiny green celery flecks, the white of the almonds. I served it in a clear bowl that has a cranberry colored lattice rim.

This brings a nutty, fruity, salty sweet mix to your meal.

6 servings and the calorie calculator says: 116 calories. That is if you can maintain your self control to a mega delicious 1/2-3/4 cup serving.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gingered Carrot Soup

This is the recipe that everyone is asking for. I found it on Calorie Count:

6 Servings

3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp ginger root, minced
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups (reduced sodium fat free) chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp uncooked rice
1 salt and pepper to taste


In a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft but not brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add ginger and carrots and saute for 5 minutes longer.

Stir in broth, orange juice and rice, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool, then puree in batches in food processor or blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat before serving.

I'd suggest you make it a day before you want to serve it. The flavors really come alive the 2nd day.

The best thing about this recipe? 128 calories per serving. Eat up folks!

Breakfast Burritos

My kidlet has decided that I have evolved in the kitchen during the last year. (Thanks to Louise, SweetStuff and some time). This is the first recipe I'd ever posted.

Chopped Onions - about 1/2 a cup
Sliced Mushrooms - about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup
A little more than a handful of frozen TaterTots - Slightly thawed and gently broken up
2 Ham Slices - chopped, outer skin discarded
4 Eggs - beaten with a drizzle of milk added
Pepper (the ham provided enough salt for us)
Grated Cheddar Cheese
3 Large Tortillas

Melt butter, cook onions, add mushrooms. When cooked, add the TaterTots and ham. Heat through. Put in bowl and put a plate on top to keep warm.
Melt a little more butter, cook eggs, scrambling to med sized pieces
Heat tortilla slightly in microwave. Sprinkle tortilla with grated cheese, melt slightly in microwave again.

Place a large serving spoonful of vegetable/ham mixture and a large spoonful of the scrambled eggs, and grind some pepper on to the tortilla, roll up like a baby blanket and enjoy!

Serves 3. Calories are invisible on this one.

NOTE: Think of this as more savory than chacha. If you're a die-hard salsa fan, try it before you smother it. Please. Then if you must, you must.

Tidy Apples

For some reason I don't always like to just eat an apple. But I like having apples to eat. Subtle difference.

I don't care to chomp on the fruit at work - I'm always busy and don't need apple dribble on my clothes or a brown gnarly apple staring out the door. But I don't mind nibbling some slices with a fork. I can do that much tidier between people in my office, calls and writing emails.

Here's how I fix them:

I have only used Gala apples for this recipe.

Peel, core applie(s) slice apples vertically. I usually do three or so at a time.

In a saucepan place about half an inch of water and a teaspoon of sugar. (I use the brown, raw sugar). Bring to a boil.

Place apples in the water, stirring/turning them so the sugar water "coats" them.

Do not let them get soft. Just a few minutes in the water is all that is needed.

Pour into colander so water/sugar run off.

Dust with cinnamon.

When cooled place slices in container. I usually put the equivalent of a whole apple in a container. The "cooking" keeps them from turning brown. And cooking them such a short time keeps them crisp.

Apples contain about 75 calories each and the sugar packet a whopping total of 20 calories.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Creamy Tomato Soup

Dr. Weil's Website served this one up. I love Campbell's tomato soup made with milk. This one is fresh, flavorful and not heavy.

The recipe states 4 servings at 147 calories. Running the ingredients through the calculator on Calorie Count stated 91 calories based on eight 1-cup servings.

This was delicious served with some freshly baked bread, a salad with grated cucumber, grated carrot and mandarin orange slices. I topped it off with Weil's Citrus Salad Dressing.

You'll see my servings being smaller than many posted. That's because I like to add breads, salads, and other sides to my meals, including lunches. If I reduce the amount of the main dish just a bit, I get lots of flavors and don't find myself drifting to the snacks. (Banana Bread excluded from that statement.)


I don't drink buttermilk, but I do keep this as a staple.

When I buy a carton, I store the unused milk into storage bags in 1 cup portions. I mark the contents and measure with a Sharpie. Lay the bags flat in the freezer and then stack when frozen.

I try to remember to move the bag from the freezer to the fridge the night before. If I'm not that organized they can be thawed with cool running water or a cool water bath for immediate use.

Banana Bread

I found the best-ever, EVER, banana bread recipe in the Starting with Ingredients cook book: Banana Oatmeal Quickbread.

Sweet, light, fluffy and full of flavor. Toss Grandma's recipe - this is THE ONE!

Notes about the recipe: Use the largest bowl for the liquids as you will be adding the flour and buttermilk to it.

The recipe says to bake in two 8-cup pans. I have closer to 5- or 6-cup loaf pans so I got three loaves out of it. The nutrition information shown here is based on the 3 loaves and 16 slices per pan.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Citrus Salad Dressing

Dr. Weil is on to something here.

Citrus Salad Dressing

Four servings at approximately 43 calories per serving.

Lemon Love

Fresh lemon is nirvana. I won't run to the store for it if it isn't part of the weekly grocery haul, but when I have them - yum. I've found ways to keep them around even when I'm not sure if I'll need them. Here's the scoop:

You can use lots of the lemon - but sometimes you don't need it all when a lemon is called for in a recipe.

If I just need zest, I'll make the poor guy look like a plucked chicken, put the lemon itself a storage bag and put it in the refrigerator. For a fine zest, there's a WONDERFUL tool made by Microplane. It's perfect for citrus rinds AND ginger (I keep my ginger frozen and just shave off what I need, when I need it). This makes short work of the fruit and keeps my fingers in tact.

If I need the juice, I'll zest the lemon onto some parchment paper and plop it in the freezer for a few minutes (don't abandon it - it could take on the flavors of the freezer) and then bag it up. I have an antique "juicer", round, glass, little handle and lip to pour with (just like mom's). I've found if I zest first, I can get more juice out of the lemon.

I put any leftover lemon juice in a snack size Baggie (sorry - storage bag) and lay it in the freezer. Soon, I can stack it under any other that I've tucked in the icebox.

The 'Net says 3-4 tablespoons of juice typically come from a large lemon, but I've found, at least with my zesting habit, that I get 5-6. I start my recipes with 3 and add more if the taste dicates it. It typically takes less fresh juice to enhance a recipe than the bottled.

And about bottled lemon peel/rind - ugh - there's no substituting the taste of real zest. Do this instead of buying the lemon rind at the store....put the bottle back on the shelf, go buy a lemon or two. After leaving the grocery store head to Bed Bath and Beyond and get your zester instead. You'll pay a little more for the zester than the bottle of spice, but only once. Your spice cabinet will thank you and so will your family/guests. Trust me on this one - I tried every permeation of avoidance there was. Just don't.

Brownies (Without Shortening)

BROWNIES (Without Shortening)
Makes 24 servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x13 baking pan.

3/4 cup cocoa powder (60 grams)
1 cup all natural applesauce (unsweetened)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour (I used flour w/baking powder in it)
1 tsp. baking powder (omit if using flour mentioned above)
1 tsp. salt

Mix cocoa with applesauce
Add sugar
Add eggs
Add vanilla
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking power (if used), salt.
Add flour mixture to batter.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 20-30 minutes, or until center is cakey and brownies start to pull away from the sides.

Note: I first made this recipe with 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup shortening instead of the applesauce. Sporting nearly 175 calories a piece and a so-so taste, I went back to the kitchen to try the recipe as shown above. Now perfectly sane in calories. The applesauce version tastes better too!

Credits: Recipe, before revision, is from my company's cookbook's entry "Chewy, Moist Brownies", submitter's name withheld.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wild Rice Soup

This is a very rich and tasty soup from Byerly's in Minneapolis. Once I tasted this, I was hooked. It is a much requested meal at my house.

Wild Rice Soup

6 one cup servings, at approximately 406 calories each.

My Favorites

Cooking, Eating and Losing Weight

  • You can cook. You can eat. You can lose weight. I promise. Calorie Count can help. There are others, but this one is free and improves every day.
  • By cooking the food you're eating you take control of what and how much and when the food goes into your body. This gives you the power to choose. I can choose to eat more fruits and vegetables during the day and go out to eat at night where the portions are large and the foods complex. I can choose in the morning to have a hearty breakfast and soup and simple meats for dinner.
  • I do most of my cooking on weekends. Meals upon meals. I portion everything out to lunch or dinner portions and tuck them into the refrigerator or freezer. When I come home from work or shopping and I'm hungry and tired - I still eat smart, have great food and eat almost immediately!
  • I try to cut down on fats where I can. We need fat in our diets, just not too much. Sometimes it's the fats that make the taste. Eat some, eat less of something else, exercise a little more.
  • Chocolate is good. The less chocolate you eat, the more succulent what you do eat becomes. Take a break from chocolate for a week or so. Then have a piece. Plan when to eat it. Enjoy it. Less will become more. My favorite thing to do is to plan a day for a nice cup of hot chocolate. About 170 calories, I really have to think about when I will be able to savor it. Make it a treat and not a staple.
  • Weight Loss Is Easy. I have lost 20 lbs in the last three months (12/29-3/29) eating everything I've posted here (with the exception of the Cabbage Pockets). I eat out about twice a week. There are two secrets to this success I think: Knowing what is going into my food and being in control of how much I dole out to myself. I am eating real portions of foods, the ones I've posted here. And I eat three meals a day without exception. You can too. Some days are harder than others - but isn't everything in life that way?
  • More to come - check back soon.


  • Butter, Unsalted Butter: If you don't have copious amounts of unsalted butter in the refrigerator, your recipe is sure to call for it and the store will be selling it for 4-plus dollars per pound.
  • Buttermilk: Can be frozen and thawed to used in recipes. I put it in plastic bags with the measurement written with a Sharpie.
  • Orange Juice: I buy small 12 ounce bottles of Orange Juice. the expiration dates are usually 2-3 months out. This way I can use it or supplement a measuremnt needed when actually juicing an orange. The small bottles are perfect for a constant supply of juice.
  • Dried Fruits: Raisins, Cranberries, Apricots. Keep them around. I seal the bags or boxes in plastic bags to retain freshness.
  • Almonds: I keep lots of whole almonds. Target sells them at a good price in plastic jars. I then buy sliced almonds and other nuts and place them in the jars.
  • Rice: I love, love, love the Zatarains rice. It cooks up easily and stays separated (not sticky). I keep it in the recycled almond jars.

Clementine Cake

This is the exact recipe I found in the cookbook I bought in Pittsburgh (see my note at the bottom about how recipes "travel"). I took this one step further and dusted it with zested dark chocolate (from Espana). Magnifico! Enjoy!

Clementine Cake Recipe

I cut this into approximately 1x1 or 1x1.5 inch squares. Approximately 135 calories based on 22 pieces cut per recipe.


I have found (referenced and tried) that the following items called for in recipes can be substituted with. Recipe item = substitute:

  • Scallions = Green Onions
  • 1 Tbl Cumin Seeds = 1 Teas. Ground Cumin
  • Cardamom - 1 pod, 1 tsp. ground, 18 to 20 seeds
  • Cardamom - 10 whole pods = 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


Sometimes I make more of something to have on hand to use later. Then I find the recipe I'm using lists the ingredients from the starting point and I have to research to find if I have enough. I've done the research done for you.
  • 1/2 cup wild rice = approximately 2 cups cooked
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice = approximately 3 cups cooked
  • 2 stalks of celery = approximately 5/8 cup chopped
  • 1 medium onion = approximately 1 cup chopped

Cookbooks and My Favorite Recipes

I have a Barnes and Noble membership which allows me discounts on books I buy through them. Frequently they send me coupons offering additional discounts.

Starting With Ingredients: This is a wonderful book for using ingredients you have or love in a new way. Look up Chicken, get chicken recipes. Look up squash, squash recipes.

  • Banana Oatmeal Quick Bread - page 94

Vegetable Love: If it classified as a vegetable it's probably in here. Main dishes, side dishes, vegetable dishes and desserts. Yes, desserts.

  • Slaw Dressing - page 270

1080 Recipes: A 30 year best seller in Spain, this has just been translated into English. I spent a month in Spain in 2007. This takes me back.

The Whole Foods Market Cookbook: The nearest Whole Foods is 60 miles from where I live. :( The recipes in here are rich and flavorful.

  • Spinach and Pinon Nut Quiche - page 141

The French Chef Cookbook: Recipes Julia Child demonstrated on her first public television program.

Cooking For Young Homemakers: 1958. Mom gave this to one of my brothers so he wouldn't starve. Let's just say it is in very good condition.


  • Buying: Buy quality items. Take your time. Set aside $10 here, and $10 there. Save your pennies and use your Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. Cook with friends and watch what they use.
  • Food Processor: Just do it. I truly thought I didn't need this appliance. I bought Cuisinart. It is the most used appliance in my kitchen. Perfect cuts, grates, chops, dices and purees. Zip, zip, done. I also have a Cuisinart coffee maker - love that too.
  • Wooden Spoons: I thought my plastic wooden-spoon-shaped spoons were just fine. Get the wooden spoons. They keep the stuff off the bottom of the pan better, they bring up the scrapings into the food for flavor, they don't scratch your cookware, they clean up easy. Oil them with olive oil now and again. Don't soak them.
  • Prep Cups: Little teeny clear glass bowls. I measure out my spices, salts, teensies of this and that into them. It makes everything ready to assemble. Easy clean up. I have found having about 10 or so of them is plenty - about $1 each.
  • Custard Cups: Same use as above, only on a larger scale. I like having eight of these. About $5 for four.
  • Glass Mixing Bowls: I prefer glass, Pyrex. They make 3 pc. sets for about $10. I added a few middle sizes and doubled a couple of sizes I found I used multiple times in a single recipe.
  • Bakeware: Much of my bakeware is Pampered Chef stoneware. It cooks better the older and darker it gets.
  • Springform Pan: The new "bunt" pan I think!
  • Zester: I prefer the Microplane brand. Use it on your citris fruits, chocolate, ginger, etc.
  • Garlic Press: Zyliss is my preferred brand. I use this practically every other day. We use garlic in everything. You don't need to fully peel the garlic before you use it AND it cleans up fast!
  • Kitchen Shears: Keep two pairs in the kitchen. If you've just snipped the chicken or the pork, you can carry on with the herbs without stopping to wash them.
  • Wire Wisks: Buy sturdy wisks in a few sizes. Big ones for the batter bowls, small ones to do eggs in a smaller bowl. Again, having 3-4 makes it easy to do a meal/recipe without having to stop and wash.
  • Dry Measure Measuring Cups and Spoons: I prefer heavy metal measuring cups. They can be used to melt chocolate or shortening on the stove. The heavy metal speaks to quality. The same with my measuring spoons being metal. My kitchen sports a dash, pinch and smidgen set too for those old-timey recipes. I keep all three in a bin in the cupboard. I don't have to dig through the utensil drawer to find them.
  • Liquid Measuring Cups: Pyrex, hands down. I have three that cover just about anything I need to make. 1 cup, 2 cup and 4 cup. Easy to use, see, heat, mix, clean, etc.
  • Recipe Book Holder: Props your recipes up whether they are in books, plastic coated printouts or magazines. It keeps the recipes accessible and free from the spilling crud.
  • Silicone Cooking Bands: Heat resistant up to 600 degrees Farenheit. Use in place of butcher twine - no tying - stretch to fit. Oven, rotisserie and deep fyer safe. They clean up easy.

Tips and Tricks

  • Revisions: If you find a "better way" when using recipes, make a note in your cookbook by writing directly in the book or adding a sticky note of some sort.
  • Efficiency: I tear off a sheet of freezer paper and line one side of my double sink, wax side down, with it. I peel vegetables into the sink, toss paper towels, eggshells, etc. This keeps me from opening the trash bin every five minutes. When I'm done I fold the corners over and drop it into the trash bin.
  • Preparation: I measure, slice, dice, and "prep" all my ingredients before I start cooking/assembling the recipe. This serves several purposes...I can double check that I have all my ingredients in the house and also nearby so I don'tfind myself with something boiling over on the stove AND trying to find the ingredient I needed to add ten minutes ago. With everything beside the stove I can stir, add, and leave anything unattended. It also fulfills any OCD traits tendencies you might be harboring.
  • Clean Up: Clean as you go. Measure the sugar, put it away. Empty the dish, put it with the others, either in the sudsy water, dishwasher or in a designated place on the counter. When you're done, you're nearly done. It doesn't seem like such a chore to cook. And if you're cooking multiple meals like I do, you're ready to carry on with the next.
  • Cooking Times: Especially when recipes are new to you, set the timer for a few minutes less than your recipe calls for. It's much better to have to checked for doneness a few times than wish you had.
  • Revisions: When you make a recipe for the first time follow the directions. Make your ingredient, timing, and measurement changes on subsequent attempts. This way you have a baseline and know how little, or how much, or how not-at-all adjustments are needed in the future.
  • Failure: Recipes will flop under your deft hands. It's OK. New ones, old ones, it-has-to-be-perfect-TONIGHT ones. Smile and then try cooking with wine.
  • Recycle Spice Jars: You can use those little spice "kegs" and their shakere tops again. Many recipes call for mixing spices and then coating the meat or "dusting" the dessert. For spices, measure your spices onto a piece of parchment paper and bend the paper in half to make a chute. Slide the mix into one of the jars and then sprinkle it over your meat. For sugar or cocoa, measure and spoon the topping onto the jar and again, sprinkle away.
  • Brown Sugar: Wrap it up, bag it, bag it again and put in the freezer.
  • Cooking with wine: Notice I didn't say to put it in your recipe. It's my recipe for enjoyment while I'm cooking.

Credit Where Credit is Due!

I have many, many friends, that have known me for many, many years. They won't believe it is truly me writing about cooking.

And those that knew my mother will be even more astounded.

Thank you Aunt Mabel you supplied me with a stepstool and a place to learn.

Thank you Veronica for the cabbage pocket recipe from the school district.

Thank you Richard Simmons (yes, we've met, worked out and written), for teaching me that you can cook and eat and lose weight all at the same time.

Thank you SweetStuff for stirring the fires.

Thank you Louise for being there when I go "huh?" and teaching me about "cooking" with wine.

Thank you my darling daughters for growing up wonderful so I could get to this point in my life - where I have the time and energy to pursue this.

Enough yacking stuff.....let's get cooking!