Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Christmas thoughts

So it is the last Sunday of this decade.  2020 will be here in the blink of an eye.   I've spent a lot of time this week reviewing my year and my life and I am excited for a brand new decade.

Our holiday was very nice.  I catered lunch for one of the groups of doctors that I work for.  I'm not saying it is true for all but for the group I work for... the way to their heart is through their stomach.  We had a really nice time together, sharing a meal and time with each other.  It was very festive and well worth the seven hours I spent in the kitchen.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the big guy and I spent at home together.  What a treat to just be able to relax and enjoy a few days with no hustle or bustle. The day after Christmas one of our dear friends came for dinner and we enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, yeast rolls and a wonderful salad.  Along with a number of cocktails.

One of my gifts was the new cookbook Fix It With Food by Michael Symon.  I have flipped through a little and already see a number of things I want to make.  I'm feeling the need to lighten up our diets.  When we lived in SW Florida we ate more of a Mediterranean Diet with primarily sea food, fruits and vegetables.  Moving back to the Midwest we had a very difficult time finding good sea food.  Well earlier this year I found Sea 2 Table and their products are amazingly fresh and it feels so good knowing exactly where they come from.  So this year I will be taking you along on our journey to an even healthier way of eating. (No affiliation with the cook book or Sea 2 Table)

I hope everyone was able to have a few moments of peace throughout the holidays.  I know it can be a very difficult time for some.

I started this blog to share my love of all things food. I have a lot of plans and goals for 2020 and I plan on sharing it all here so there will be more posts and more on my day to day journey through life.

Wishing everyone a fabulous New Year!

I'm going to share the Banana Pudding recipe I made for Christmas Day.  It's not exactly healthy but it does have a lot less sugar than most recipes.

Vanilla Pudding:
1/3 Cup sugar
3 Tbs. corn starch
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1/3 Cup whole milk
2 Egg yolks
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Add the first 5 ingredients and cook over medium heat whisking frequently.  It takes about 8-10 minutes to completely thicken.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.

Let cool for just a few minutes and then add to a pie crust or a pie pan lined with vanilla wafers.  Let sit about two minutes and add in 3-4 medium sliced bananas.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  At least 4 hours.

With a mixer whip whole whipping cream and a tablespoon of vanilla until thick.  This takes about 8 minutes.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile

Right before it started snowing, our yard was filled with birds filling up on bird seed.  They fly around so quickly it was hard to capture what I saw but I did get these two pictures.

Christmas Baking

I can't believe Christmas is ten days away.  I don't know why but this year seemed to fly by even quicker than most.  

The house is decorated for Christmas.  It is cold and snowing.  A perfect day to start my Christmas cookies.

I try to make cookies that freeze well so I can pull out a variety when I need them between now and the New Year.

This year I am keeping it pretty simple.  I am taking two trays to work for the Doctors and I want a tray to put out on Christmas Day so I won't need as many as I usually bake.

So far, I've made Peanut Butter Blossoms and Magic Cookie Bars.
Next, I will make Wedding Cookies and Sugar Cookies.

The house smells wonderful.

Any holiday baking at your house?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Friday night we had all of the usual leftovers from Thanksgiving and I wanted to try something a little different.  Eggroll wrappers and wonton wrappers have SO many uses.  I've made a large variety of appetizers with them over the years so I thought why not try a thanksgiving leftover eggroll?

Now I was a little skeptical at first but I have to say they were really good.

I took eggroll wrappers and spread on mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing and turkey.  I pan fried the eggrolls and we used my cranberry sauce as a dipping sauce. Yummy!

We had a couple of turkey sandwiches over the weekend and then Saturday night I used up the rest of the turkey in a big pot of Brunswick Stew.

My first encounter with Brunswick Stew was way back when I was 19 and waitressing at a BBQ place in SW Florida.  Apparently a lot of BBQ places make this to use up the leftover smoked turkey, chicken and even sausage.  There is a lot of controversy as to where exactly and who exactly originally created the stew.

I love the taste of it.  This is the recipe that I use. It is from The Farmers Almanac.  It is a versatile stew so add whatever veggies you like or have on hand.  I usually add corn and lima beans.

Smoked Turkey Brunswick Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cups smoked turkey breast, shredded
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 ½ cups diced Yukon gold potatoes
2 cups mixed vegetables, frozen (corn, baby Lima or butter beans, green peas, green beans, and carrots)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup barbecue sauce (Recipe here
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
 Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the shredded smoked turkey meat and remaining ingredients to the stock pot and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours or until potatoes and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

*Roasted turkey works just as well as smoked.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

I started preparation on Tuesday and followed my list each day.  It made things so easy doing a little each day instead of a marathon on the day of. The big guy, aka my husband, doesn't cook much but loves food and makes a pretty good sous chef.  It was fun spending time in the kitchen together.

Everything turned out delicious.  We ate around 1 pm and now I have the rest of the holiday weekend to spend as I wish.

Tomorrow we will have turkey sandwiches and Saturday I will make Brunswick Stew which is one of my favorites. I think I have enough turkey to make a few turkey pot pies as well.

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving however you decided to celebrate.

                                                      Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pies

                                    The big guys plate.  I don't know how he can eat so much.

Icewine from Canada.  It has a really nice flavor.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving Day preperations

We are going very traditional this year for our Thanksgiving Dinner.

Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Dressing
Stand up Deviled Eggs
Bacon Brussel Sprouts
Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Sweet Potato Pie

I finished my last minute shopping today and I've worked out my timeline.


Make pie dough for the two pies, wrap and store in the fridge.
Bake the sweet potato for the pie. Wrap and store at room temperature.
Cut up carrots, onions and celery.  Store in the fridge.


Make and bake sweet potato pie.
Make and bake pumpkin pie.
Make a pan of cornbread for the dressing.
Make the cranberry sauce.  Store in the fridge.
Clean the turkey and store in the fridge.


Boil eggs and make stand up deviled eggs.
Put together cornbread dressing. Cooking in the crock pot to save oven space.
Put turkey in the oven.
Set out yeast roll dough to rise.
Bacon Brussel Sprouts.
Mashed Potatoes.

It is going to be a very busy week.  Looking at this list, I'm really questioning why I didn't plan to take off work Wednesday.
I am going to wish every one a very Happy Thanksgiving now.  I will post pictures on Friday and share my recipe for Brunswick Stew that uses up left over turkey and warms you up on these cold days.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile

My husband loves grits and eggs so this morning I fried the egg in a heart shaped cookie cutter.  It came out pretty well and put a smile on his face.

Happy Saturday!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Stuffed Shells

It was a super crazy, stressful week at work.  On top of that we broke all kinds of record low temperatures and had a snow storm that dropped a few inches of snow.
I decided I needed comfort food.  Stuffed shells are my winter weather go to when my weary soul needs soothing.  Along with a salad and some warm delicous bread, this dinner will warm you up.

For the meat sauce...
In a sauce pan heat olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)
Add 1 diced onion and saute for about 3 minutes
Add 2-3 garlic cloves diced 
Add1 pound ground beef
When the ground beef is fully cooked add 3 cups of your favorite sauce.  I've used my own homemade and I've used my favorite jarred sauce. Both were great.
Season with basil, pepper, salt, oregano to taste
Let simmer on low for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Shell filling...
2 cups of ricotta cheese
1 cup of mozarrella cheese
2-3 garlice cloves pressed
1 egg
Season with basil, pepper, salt, oregano to taste
Combine ingredients and chill for about 30 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 350. Cook shells just until aldente and let cool.
Cover the bottom of the pan ( I used 13x9 glass pan) with some of the meat sauce.
Fill cooled shells with shell filling and add to the pan.
Spoon remaining meat sauce on top of the filled shells.
Top with mozzarrella cheese.
Sprinkle with a little oregano and pepper.
Bake for around 30 minutes covered and then another 10 uncovered or until the cheese is bubbly.

These freeze and reheat wonderfully!

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Holdiay Season Is Here!

Here in the Midwest the weather has been breaking all kinds of records in October.  The first week of October we had record highs in the high 90's, we've had record rainfall throughout the month and now for Halloween we  hit a record low of  25 degrees.  I think the cold kept the trick or treaters away. I know when I was a kid (many moons ago) no amount of rain, snow or cold would keep us from trick or treating. My husband and I always dress up (somewhat) and enjoy handing out treats to the little goblins.  We ended up with about 35 kiddos showing up.

For as long as I can remember I have made a big pot of beef chili and an appetizer or two for dinner on Halloween.   Last night was no different.  We had chili and stuffed jalapeno peppers.  It was delicious and helped warm us up a little.  Last night was the first time we had to turn on the furnace.  It's funny we had a fireplace when we lived in Florida but we do not have one here.  I don't know what we were thinking buying a house without a fireplace in the Midwest.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween.

It's now November and I can't believe it.  Why does time seem to go by so much more quickly the older you get?  I'm going to start working on my many lists for the holiday season.  Thanksgiving dinner, marathon cookie making, Christmas dinner, New Years Eve and New Years Day.  I will be doing so much cooking and baking for the next two months and I am so excited.

What are some of your holiday traditions?  'Tis the season.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile

My Halloween Kitchen Witch

Pizza Night

After a long work week I try to keep Friday night dinner fun and relatively quick and easy.  Burgers, various sandwiches and pizza are usually
 on the menu.  Last night was pizza.  The fun thing about pizza is the endless possibilities.

This pizza was half pepperoni, half spicy chicken sausage, green peppers and red onions.  But the creative possibilities are endless.

1 package yeast
1 tbs sugar
2/3 cup warm water
Mix together and let sit for 5 minutes
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
yeast mixture
I mix in my Ninja with the dough hook for about 1 minute
Remove dough and kneed for about 1 more minute
Place dough in a covered, greased bowl and let double in size. Approximately 1 hour.

Pizza Sauce:
8 ounces tomato sauce
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 minced onion
tsp or two of dried oregano
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Sautee garlic and onions, add sauce and oregano and let simmer.  Right before you are ready to use the sauce, stir in the parmesan cheese.

In the oven preheated to 475 degrees I pre cook the dough for about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, add sauce and toppings and mozzarella cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is bubbly delicious. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile

                                                                   Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Popovers or Yorkshire pudding, depending where you are on the globe...well, they are heavenly. 

Years ago when I first decided to try making my own I was so worried.  I had always been led to believe they were difficult to make but they really are quite simple.  Once you get the basics
down, the possibilities are endless.

You can make them in muffin tins if you do not have a proper popover pan.

Basic Popover Recipe:
3 room temperature eggs
1 cup room temperature whole milk
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk eggs and milk well.
Add flour and salt to the egg mixture and whisk again until batter is the consistency of pancake batter.

Spray pan well with cooking spray and put in the oven preheating to 450 degrees
Once oven reaches 450 degrees remove the pan and add the batter to fill the cups.  Bake for 20 minutes.
Turn oven down to 325 and bake for 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and place popovers on a cooling rack.  Stick a sharp knife in the end to allow steam to escape and prevent deflating.

Makes 6 large popovers.

*To add your favorite cheese, put cubes of cheese in the pan once the batter has been poured.
*Add herbs or chives to the batter for savory popovers.

I love these served with cream cheese and jalapeno jelly.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Changing Seasons

My favorite time of year has begun.

I enjoy Summer and all of the fresh herbs, veggies and fruit.  I also love nothing more than sitting in the sun with a good book.  However, because I lived in SW Florida for so many years with no 'real' fall or winter,  now that I am back in the Midwest I LOVE October - February. 

I love all of the holidays, the longer nights, feeling cozy at home and most of all the food of the season. Chili, stews, soups, casseroles, slow roasted beef or chickens are what make our dinner menu during these months. And when it's cold outside nothing is more comforting than baking a sweet treat, warming the house and making it smell like heaven must smell.  This time of year is full of comfort food for the soul.

One of my favorite fall/winter comfort foods is White Chicken Chili.  I always make a huge batch and keep some in the freezer because this chili makes you feel so good.

White Chicken Chili
1 pound chicken (white and dark meat from previously roasted chicken or cut up raw chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 Cups chicken broth
4 ounces diced green chiles
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons Mexican or regular dried oregano
3 Cups great northern beans
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

After cooking, top with cilantro, jalapeno's, cheddar or jack cheese. (Optional)

Over medium heat cook chicken and onion in oil until lightly brown. (If using pre cooked roasted chicken add chicken with the chicken broth.)
Stir in spices, green chiles and broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add beans, stir and simmer another 15 minutes.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Baked Cake Donuts

Vanilla Cake Donuts

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Use either a stand mixer or hand mixer and beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce speed and add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.  Add flour mixture half at a time, alternating with milk and beat until just combined.

Transfer the batter to a pipping bag or a resealable plastic bag and snip a hole in one corner of the bag.  Fill pan to 3/4 full.

Bake for about 12 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer to wire cooling rack.  Let cool about 10 minutes and then do preferred toppings.  The possibilities are endless.

The donuts I did today were cinnamon sugar and maple glaze.

Maple Glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

This is just the basic recipe. The options of donut flavor and glaze are endless.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The End of Another Summer

I know Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer but where I am in the Midwest summer is hanging on a little bit longer with the temperature in the 90's all week.  But, all good things must come to an end and I know the end of another summer is near.

I love each season equally and love living my life in sync with the seasons. So I am preparing myself to say good bye to my summer favorites for another year. 

BLT's...I mean is there really anyone that doesn't enjoy a delicious home grown tomato on a bed of fresh lettuce, thick cut local bacon and a smear of mayo between two delicious pieces of perfectly toasted bread?  I'm sure there may be some but they are not my people.

Tomato, basil pizza...My first slice of this amazing pizza was years ago when I lived in Ft. Myers Florida.  Antonio's Pizza. (now closed)  Wood fired amazing dough with thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese.  This is culinary perfection.  Ever since that first slice I have been known to take whatever type of bread I had on hand and top with these three heavenly ingredients.

Corn on the cob...It gets harder each year to find non GMO corn but it is possible and when I do I stock up.  I love it boiled up with just a bit of butter and salt...YUM!

Fried Green Tomatoes...Another summer favorite.  This year one of my favorite places that is farm to table had a special appetizer of fried green tomatoes with a corn salsa. OMG they were the best I have ever had and I have had a lot just this summer alone.

Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers...There are dozens of ways to make these but I love big fresh peppers straight from the garden, stuffed with a mixture of  garlic, herbs, and different cheeses with a touch of panko on top and cooked on the grill.  The fresh grilled peppers and hot cheese mixture are a winning combination.

These are just a few of my summer only favorites.  They just do not taste as good if they are not in season and local.

I will miss you all along with the farmers market and going in the back yard and picking veggies or fresh herbs to cook. Good bye summer bounty...until we meet again next year.

Monday, September 9, 2019

My personal thoughts on food...

I believe that local, organic food (produce, meat and dairy) is the best food you can eat. I believe that food is one of the biggest factors in our health and well being.  I believe that processed food is full of chemicals and preservatives that are killing us. I believe that you can prepare a meal at home with good quality ingredients for less money than you would spend at a fast food joint or in the freezer section of your local food store.

I understand that local, organic food is not always easy to find.  I understand that for a number of years here in America the media hype has been preaching fast, easy, time saving and pre packaged.  I understand that life can be busy, stressful and even messy.

I hope that good quality, local and or organic food becomes even more the 'norm' and more easily accessible to all of us.  I hope that it becomes easier to learn about food, cooking and health.  I hope more people start growing food.  I hope the media hype really picks up on the changes that are going on and starts to promote a more conscious and healthy way of living free of pesticides, chemicals and gmo items.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My love affair with food.

My Grandmother Jean was an amazing woman.  Aside from all of her other attributes, she was a true home maker.  Her cooking, canning, preserving, growing everything, sewing and knitting skills could rival Martha Stewart and even Rhonda over at  As I grew older I was just truly amazed at how much she could not only do, but do so well.

I wish all of those Sunday's, holidays and summers that I stood by her side either in the garden, the kitchen or her sewing room that I would have watched her a little more closely and listened a little harder to the priceless lessons she was trying to instill in me.  I wish I would have taken notes so that I could have a record of the knowledge that she possessed.

I moved away from home at 18.  Not just away, but 1200 miles away.  It didn't take long for me to miss Sunday dinner at Grams and to truly appreciate what an amazing cook she was.  I missed her home cooking.  I missed the roasted chickens and turkeys, the creamy mashed potatoes, the home made dinner rolls, the preserved strawberries in January and so much more.  It was then that it started (I believe the first lesson was deviled eggs). I would call her and tell her I wanted to make this particular dish and she would tell me what I needed and walk me through it over the phone.

Gram taught me the basics and I ran with it, trying everything.  I firmly believe she was and still is with me in spirit each time I try a new recipe or cook an old favorite.

The best thing she taught me was not to be afraid to just try.  Just keep practicing.  If it doesn't work out you'll figure out what went wrong and it will be better next time, she would tell me.

So, I guess my love of cooking actually stems from my love of eating my Grandmothers good food.

Thank you Gram!!

Summer goodness.