Sunday, December 16, 2018

Oatmeal Raisin Banana Pancakes

I'm just going to tell you right now - these pancakes are not light and fluffy! But they are healthyish and they do taste yummy. The oatmeal gives them a lot of texture and good-for-you fiber. I started making them for something that was a little fun and different for breakfast, yet I didn't want to jump too far off the mindful eating track. The raisins and cinnamon make them taste good enough for a holiday breakfast. But the banana is key; honestly without it this dish is pretty dry! 

Ingredients and Procedures for Six Medium Sized 6" Pancakes

2 eggs
1 medium banana, mashed
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup buckwheat (or all purpose flour)
2 tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dried raisins

1 tablespoon vegetable oil to fry pancakes

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until the yolk and white are well combined. Add the mashed banana, oatmeal, buckwheat, milk, baking powder maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and cinnamon. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients into a blended batter. Stir in raisins.

Heat the oil in skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, fry three pancakes at a time by dropping 1/4 cup of batter on skillet for each pancake. When multiple bubbles appear on surface, flip each pancake over and cook for three additional minutes.

Serve with maple syrup.  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies: Easy and Super Delicious!

The recipe for these cookies must be at least 100 years old. I'm guessing this because my grandmother, who was born in 1903, brought Christmas tins of these to our house every holiday season. I remember biting into them - still cold from being in the truck of the car - and literally sinking my teeth into the soft shortbread covered with frosting. Sometimes she decorated them with tiny edible silver balls which seemed to add a magical quality to them. When I was about ten, she gave me the recipe and called them "Aunt Mary's Cookies". I should have asked her who Aunt Mary was! She must have been a relative that was gone before my time. I still love this recipe and even though they don't look very Pinterest or Instagram worthy, they are absolutely delicious!  They are especially easy for kids to make which makes them perfect for the season. Merry Christmas! 

Aunt Mary's Cookies - Ingredients and Directions for 2 1/2 Dozen

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks, regular salted)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda*
1 teaspoon cream of tarter*
Decorative sprinkles

*4 teaspoons baking powder can be substituted for the baking soda and cream of tarter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit 

1. and 2.   Using a mixer, cream the confectioners sugar and butter together until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. and 4.  Add egg and extract(s) and mix until well combined

5. and 6.  Add flour, soda and cream of tarter (or baking powder) and either stir in or use mixer until the dough is stiff and smooth.

7,  Use two spoons to drop rounded mounds onto an ungreased baking sheet lined with either foil or parchment paper and place in preheated 375 Fahrenheit  degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Cookies will be done when they are faintly brown in places around edges or on top.

Ingredients and Directions for Basic Butter Cream Frosting - Plenty for 2 1/2 Dozen Cookies

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick regular salted)
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

Using a mixture, cream all ingredients together until light and fluffy.

Frost each cookie and decorate with anything you wish!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Australian Pub Food: Chicken Parmigiana

When we went to Australia a couple of years ago, I'm sorry to say this exhibit in the Melbourne Museum is as close as we got to seeing a kangaroo and an emu.  

But in our limited time there we did see the Sydney Opera House and ....

... Melbourne's famous St. Kilda Beach. In fact, we walked all over Melbourne as Allison showed us the sights of the city she lived in for a few months. (Later during her time in Australia she worked up north in an Uranium mine - but that's a whole other story!) 

One thing we made sure to do was pop in to one of the pubs by the beach and get a parma - also called a parmy depending where you are in Australia. This dish would be called Chicken Parmesan in the United States, but its Aussie full name is Chicken Parmigiana and it's usually served with french fries, either underneath or on the side. Sometimes there is the option of ordering it with a ham slice under the melted cheese.

 It was amazing to me that a dish that would be served in a fine Italian restaurant here, was considered bar food there! I've made this dish for many years, sometimes substituting eggplant or even round steak for the chicken, and the girls always loved it. If you make it, send me a line or two and tell me how it went:

Chicken Parmigiana - Serves Four 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

One of the reasons this dish is yummy is that the sauce is nice and rich! So the first thing you want to do is make this quick, easy sauce and let it simmer on low heat while you are preparing the chicken.

Ingredients and Procedures for Parm Sauce

2 (15 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan. Let the mixture simmer over medium/low heat for 20 or 30 minutes.

Ingredients and Procedure for Chicken

4 (4 to 5 oz.) chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk or water
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Vegetable or olive oil

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper.

In a second bowl whisk together the egg and the milk or water.

In a third bowl mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and dried oregano.

Using tongs, take a chicken breast and dredge it in the flour. Then coat it in the egg mixture and finally cover it with the bread crumb mixture.

Put enough of the oil into a skillet so it covers the pan and is about a 1/4 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium heat. Brown both sides of the chicken breasts about 5 minutes per side. Be careful not to let the pan get too hot because you want the chicken to be golden brown and not burnt.

Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and drain the oil out of the skillet. Return chicken back to an oven safe skillet or place it in a baking dish. 

Spoon the simmered Parm Sauce over each breast and place in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Carefully take hot skillet or baking dish out of the oven. Top each breast with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and continue baking for 10 additional minutes or until cheese is browning and bubbly.

Serve with french fries as they do in the pubs or opt for a nice green salad!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Cucumber and Radish Salad

We've been traveling in our motor home for a couple weeks now. We went up through Michigan and crossed over into Canada. Then we traveled across the entire expanse of lower Ontario, went into Quebec and entered the Unites States again via New York. Upstate New York is a lot like upper Michigan; the 45th Parallel runs through both states - except New York has mountains! In both Michigan and New York we were gifted cucumbers and I found myself trying to do something other than just slicing into a lettuce salad. Pairing the cucumber with radishes gave them a kick and the yogurt kept it refreshing. But what I really liked was the flavor the thin red onion slices gave the salad; the yogurt mellowed them out and it made this quick and easy side really yummy!

Ingredients for Four Servings:

1 large cucumber
2 radishes
1/3 of a medium red onion
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Wash and cut the ends off the cucumber. Thinly slice and put into bowl. Wash and thinly slice radishes and add to cucumber. Peel onion, thinly slice and place in the bowl. Spoon in the yogurt and the salt, dill and pepper. Gently toss and refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Porto Pork Chops

Almost right after she graduated from Indiana University, Allison took off for Spain to teach English and explore the world. She got a week off at Easter time, and we joined her in Madrid. We rented a car and drove into Portugal. Back in the 1400s, it was a world power and its only rival was Spain. In fact, the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world in half between the two countries. Nothing last forever - right? However, while Ronald Reagan was president, Argentina claimed that the treaty gave them the right to the British owned Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Of course England didn't agree and forcefully let it be known the treaty was obsolete!

We stayed in the city of beautiful Porto for a couple days and were charmed by the tiles, the architecture, all the colors but especially by the food. On Easter Sunday we ate at a fabulous restaurant right on the water where Roy ordered a Francesinha, a sort of sandwich made of several pork meats which were swimming in the most delicious sauce any of us had ever tasted. It was definitely something cooked low and slow and had a dash of what Porto is famous for - port wine.

When we got home, I was dreaming of those flavors but didn't have the time or patience to watch over something for hours. I don't drink alcohol, but I like to cook with it for the complexity it gives to a dish and I figured a bit of port might give me the essence of what I was looking for in a hurry. The inspiration for this dish posted here came from a recipe in the 2009 cookbook, The Family Chef by Jewels and Jill Elmore. I tweaked it a bit and the result turned out to be a favorite of Roy's. Of course, it is still totally delicious without the port and over the years I have often left it out.


4 pork chops, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, put through a press
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup tawny port (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel each sweet potato and pierce with a fork. Microwave on high for six minutes. When cool enough, cut into cubes. Set aside.

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, sage, thyme, salt, lemon juice and pepper to make a paste. Reserve 1 teaspoon of mixture. Rub the rest into both sides on each pork chop. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a oven proof pan such as an iron skillet or Dutch oven and place over medium high heat until very hot. Brown each pork chop about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the sweet potato cubes, diced red onion, 1/4 cup parsley and the reserved 1 teaspoon of spice mixture to the same hot skillet that the pork chops were browned in. Gently stir to combine and loosen the crispy bits. Sear the sweet potatoes, turning over once after 2 minutes. Continue to cook for 2 additional minutes.

Return the pork chops to the pan, nestling them among the sweet potato cubes. Pour the port over the pork chops and sweet potatoes and cook for 2 minutes.

Place skillet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

South American Stir Fry: Lomo Saltado

Just from Googling around I read that in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Peru experienced a wave of immigration from the area around the city of Guangzhou, China. These people brought soy sauce and woks; then they incorporated their cooking practices with ingredients native to their new home. This way of cooking came to be known as "chifa" and today is a common type of  Peru cuisine. 

Roy and I had this yummy "stir fry" several times this winter when we were in southwest Florida where Peruvian food is very popular. I was surprised to find out that it had soy sauce in it because it had such spicy Latin flavors. Authentic Lomo Saltado gets its kick from the yellow aji amarillo pepper, which I found as a bottled paste on Amazon. A good substitute is jalapeno or Thai chilies. "Lomo" translates to loin and this recipe can be made from beef tenderloin or, as I used, sirloin steak. Another cheat is using frozen french fries instead of making your own. It's festive enough for a weekend but easy enough for a week day meal.

Ingredients and Directions for Lomo Saltado - Serves Four

About 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak (or beef tenderloin)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or put through a press
2 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 1/2 bell pepper - any combination of colors, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper or 2 to 3 smaller Thai peppers, sliced w/seeds & membranes removed
3 small tomatoes, sliced in lengthwise strips
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnishing 

1 small bag of frozen french fries
2 medium russet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Trim all the fat from the steak, and slice it into thin strips.

Combine the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a bowl. Whisk well, add the meat and gently combine. Set aside.

Start making the french fries. Either follow the package directions for baking the frozen french fries or follow the steps below.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch wide strips by slicing them lengthwise every 1/4 inch and then cutting those pieces into 1/4 inch wide strips.

Rinse the strips and drain them. Then put them in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them sit for 10 minutes.

Drain them, rinse them again, then pat them dry with paper towels.

Spread the potato strips out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (best option!) or foil.  Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread them out again so they are in a single layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, gently flipping over every 10 minutes, until nicely browned.

(These are extra yummy tossed with Parmesan cheese, minced parsley, and a smidgen of truffle oil - especially when dipped in mayo mixed with lemon juice and garlic.) 

But wait - we are using these fries for Lomo Saltado!

To continue with Lomo Saltado:

While the french fries are cooking, place the sliced bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet. Saute over medium low heat, about 10 minutes or until tender. 

Add the tomato slices and saute  until softened about 3 to 4 more minutes.

Remove the cooked vegetables from pan and set aside, covered.

Place the meat mixture into the same pan.

Saute until the beef is brown on both sides.

Add the vegetables and gently toss.

To serve, divide french fries among 4 plates. Ladle the Lomo Saltado on top. To garnish sprinkle a bit of chopped cilantro on top of each serving.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Smoky Sweet Potato Salad

This winter, Roy and I have been staying in one of the nicest RV "resorts" we have ever been in. The grounds are gorgeous and the sites are paved, spacious, and landscaped. It like going going to camp - there are so many activities that it's impossible to do everything that is offered. One pastime that everyone seems to partake in is eating! There are lots of pitch ins and opportunities for group dinners. This recipe was born out of the need to bring a dish to contribute to a gathering, and wanting to offer something different.  It's a great side to serve with grilled meat and for someone who avoids legumes, it is a good substitute for baked beans.

Ingredients and Directions for Smoky Sweet Potato Salad - Yields 8 Generous Servings

4 medium sized sweet potatoes
4 red radishes
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 tablespoon diced jalapeno pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder 

Wash, peel, and cube the potatoes. Fill a large soup pan about half way up with water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and let the water return to a boil. Cook for about 5 more minutes or until the cubes can be easily pierced with a fork but still feel fairly firm. Don't let them get mushy. Drain and allow to cool. I actually put them in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

While the potatoes are cooking, wash the radishes. Slice a couple and dice the other two. Set some of the sliced radishes aside for garnishing.

If you haven't already done so, slice the green onion, and dice the red onion and jalapeno pepper. 

When the potatoes have cooled, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili powder. 

Place the cooled sweet potatoes, radishes, red onion, green onions and jalapeno pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix in the dressing.  

Garnish with radish slices.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Orleans Style Shrimp

Any version of shrimp whether it's frozen, fresh, cooked or raw can be used in this recipe. Fresh shrimp is great, but for me, having a bag of those little guys - already cooked  or not - in my freezer has enabled me to put together a yummy dinner when time is short. I also like to buy bell peppers when they are on sale and freeze them sliced or diced, in Ziplock freezer bags. And these days bags of already diced onion, peppers, and celery are available. A meal can be ready in the time it takes to set the table and put together a salad while the veggies saute. Here I served this dish over riced cauliflower, but mashed cauliflower, rice or grits would also be nice. 

Orleans Style Shrimp - Serves Four


2 or 3 strips of bacon (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of any or a combination of  red, yellow, or green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, put through a press
1 (15 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Frank's)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 pound peeled shrimp, frozen or fresh, cooked or raw


If using, cook the bacon until crispy and set aside.

While bacon is cooking, if using frozen shrimp, put them large bowl of cool water so they can defrost.

Drain the bacon grease from the skillet and add vegetable oil, onion and diced pepper. Saute over medium low heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and thyme. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse and drain shrimp.  Add the shrimp and continue to cook another 5 minutes. If using raw shrimp, make sure the shrimp turns opaque to ensure it is done.

Serve over rice, grits, mashed or riced cauliflower and crumble bacon (if using) on top.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sunshine Spinach Salad

Years ago, Aunt Gayla brought a salad to a family holiday gathering. We all loved it so much that I tried to duplicate it and my attempts morphed into the spinach salad posted here. For a time, we ate it quite a lot; then we seemed to forget about it. Every now and then one of the girls will say, "Can you make that salad with the oranges and avocados in it when I come home?", and I wonder why I don't serve it more often. The dressing, which has Dijon mustard and a bit orange juice, seems to get in cahoots with the avocado slices and ends up coating the spinach in - family joke here - a "luxurious" way. Don't skip the step where the lemon is squeezed on the avocado because it just lends to the spectacular end result when everything is tossed together. This is truly a salad where the sum is greater than the parts! :) 

Ingredients for Four Servings

1 large bag baby spinach leaves ( 8 cups)
2 or 3 clementines or tangerines, depending on size
2 ripe avocados
1 small lemon
1 small red onion
1/2 chopped pecans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper


If they are not already washed, then rinse, drain and blot the spinach leaves dry with paper towels.

Peel clementines or tangerines and separate into sections.

Peel and pit avocado. Slice and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the avocado.

Peel and thinly slice the red onion.

Place the spinach leaves, clementine or tangerine sections, avocado slices, red onion slices, and chopped pecans in a large bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, orange juice, Dijon mustard, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.

Pour dressing over spinach and other ingredients and toss until the mixture is coated.

Divide between four serving plates. This is great served with salmon or chicken! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Two Speedy Soups From Canned Tomato Sauce

Tomato Coconut Curry and Tomato Sausage Soup

Now that all my girls are out on my own - it's weird, I know - but I'm still cooking for them. It's like we are in tandem universes. They are hundreds of miles away, but I still try to make dishes I think they would like as well as approve of! It makes for a lot of sharing and discussion, which is a lot of fun for me. One thing I realize is they come home late, tired and hungry after a whole day of working followed by some kind of exercise class or activity. They want something substantial, but fast and also perhaps Whole 30 compliant or at least healthy. The soups posted here are so easy and with label reading, they can be made with canned tomato sauce that doesn't have bad stuff in it! The trick to the Tomato Coconut Curry is to have already cooked chicken meat on hand and a left over sweet potato. Or, a microwave that zaps them in five minutes.  The smooth broth goes so well with the velvety cooked sweet potato and the subtle spiciness is very warming on a cold day. The Tomato Sausage Soup is an old favorite of Roy's and I've made it for years. I put it together out of desperation one night when all I had on hand was a can of tomato sauce, some sausage, and a handful of mixed salad greens. It turned out to be hearty and delicious! Aidells brand sausage is available at most grocery stores and happens to be Whole 30 allowed. I'd love to know which of these soups people enjoy more!

Tomato Coconut Curry Soup - Serves Two as Main Dish


1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and cubed
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, put through a press or finely minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, including juice
1 (15 oz.) can coconut milk
1/2 heaping cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Lime wedges for serving


Peel and slice onion. Heat oil over medium low heat and saute onion until tender - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cilantro and curry powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes. coconut milk, sweet potato, chicken, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Turn the heat up to medium high to get the mixture up to a simmer, then turn down to medium low and cook for 5 more minutes.

Tomato Sausage Soup - Serves Two as Main Dish


1/2 pound sliced sausage
2 cups greens - spinach and/or kale
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme


Brown sausage over medium heat - about  3 to 5 minutes per side. Add tomato sauce, greens, beef broth, oregano, salt, pepper flakes, garlic, thyme, garlic powder. Bring up to a boil, then turn down to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.