Monday, February 29, 2016

Add a Little Zip to Your Meal

  • Leap Day arrives every four years except for years ending with "00" that are not divisible by 400. Why the fancy math? The earth rotates around the sun once every 365 and about 1/4 days. So, by adding an extra day every four years, we get mighty close to keeping the calendar consistent with the earth's annual trip around the sun. Trivia fans: Only about one in 1,461 people celebrate their birthday on Leap Day. 
  • It was tradition for women to propose to men on leap year. 
In months filled with root vegetables, casseroles and soups, it's nice to know you can depend on the seasonal citrus surge. When it's too cold or gray to think about going outside, Meyer lemons, blood oranges, and grapefruit can brighten your winter day. Sweet and sour, citrus perks up any recipe.
It did not take me too long to decide what to use these citrus fruits for. It's not often a neighbor comes over and gifts you with fruits from their trees. 
Cardamom is available in whole pod, seed, and ground forms. Cardamom is a highly perfumed spice, especially important in Indian and Arab cuisines. It has both savory and sweet applications. It is a key ingredient in the Indian spice blend called garam masala. In Arab countries, it is also used to flavor coffee, tea, and pastries. A touch of cardamom is great in carrot dishes, in spice rubs for salmon, and in vanilla or chocolate cakes, cookies, and puddings.
Substitute for Cardamom pods
For 10 whole pods substitute:1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or combine 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Winter Citrus Compote with Yogurt
Cook's notes: By themselves, oranges and grapefruits may be too acidic to pair with plain yogurt. Steep them in honey and it's a whole different story. In this compote made with honey, cardamom and ginger, the citrus fruits are sweetened and softened just enough to turn into a flavorful topping for a healthy breakfast of yogurt or oatmeal.
Recipe from TheKitchen and makes 3 cups
Citrus Compote 

  • 2 grapefruits, 2 oranges, and 4 mandarin oranges, or other mix of citrus fruits to make about 3 cups of total fruit segments
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • A few strips of orange zest or curls 
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey, depending on taste
  • 1 cardamom pod, lightly crushed or 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon combined with 1/4 tsp. nutmeg  
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • pomegranate seeds
  • yogurt, oatmeal, or other breakfast food
  • Peel and separate the citrus, into segments, reserving the juice. Place the citrus segments in a heat-proof bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of the reserved citrus juice (top off with orange juice if necessary) with the zest, honey, cardamom, and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Strain the syrup, drizzle it over the citrus segments, and gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate the citrus for at least an hour and/or up to 3 days.
  • Top with pomegranate seeds and serve chilled or at room temperature with yogurt, oatmeal, or other breakfast foods.
Citrus Salad
Serves 4

  • 1 ruby red grapefruit –peeled and sectioned
  • 2-3 oranges peeled and sectioned (pat dry on paper towel)
  • 1-½ cups cucumbers, diced
  • 1 bag of baby spinach, mixed greens or watercress greens 
  • ½ red onion-sliced and separated into rings
  • 1 cup toasted coconut-optional
  • 1 cup pom poms (pomegranate seeds) 
  • crushed pistachios
  • Toast coconut on a cookie sheet @ 350 degrees for 5 minutes, stir several times.
  • In a large bowl toss all ingredients, add enough dressing to moisten greens and sprinkle with coconut, crushed nuts.
Suggested Dressing: Prepared Lite Balsamic Dressing
or Citrus Dressing
  • 2 TB. white balsamic vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar Fig and Orange (World Market)
  • 1 tsp. grated orange or clementine zest
  • 1/4 cup clementine, tangerine or orange juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp.thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. honey
Dressing Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients in a blender

Check out Bella's latest story for Wonderful Women's Network (WWN) 
Alive and Well in Arizona  

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekend Round-Up and The Cowboy's Cookbook Review

Hacienda de la Canoa Tour
Canoa Ranch in Green Valley, AZ was a working cattle ranch from 1820 to the 1970s. At its peak, the ranch controlled more than 500,000 acres. Pima County bought the 4,800-acre ranch property, about 25 miles south of Tucson, in 2001 with the goal of making it a public site and nature refuge. Today historic ranch buildings and numerous archaeological sites remain. Visitors are led on guided tours through the historic ranch that was once home at various points in history to Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans and Americans.It gives visitors insights to the fascinating stories of the people that lived and worked on the ranch. Here is a scenic view of the Santa Cruz River Valley. Note the Santa Cruz River is usually a dry river bed unless there are heavy rains which are likely to occur in late July into August and even into September. 
With a winter stay in cowboy country it's not hard for me to reimagine life back in the 1800's, having just read Sherry Monahan's newest book "The Cowboy's Cookbook". It's  a book to savor with original photos, recipes that were staples of cowboy cuisine and historical vignettes which give context to the dishes from the old west. I have developed a new appreciation for those who cooked in the newly settled west with limited supplies available and certainly not the most optimum conditions.   
Last year I met Sherry briefly at The Tucson Book Festival in March. Here is a link to her book previously published book "Frontier Fare" which I reviewed last March on my blog. Sherry Monahan and Frontier Fare
Sherry's passion for food and history led to her writing her first book "Taste of Tombstone" written in 1998 and in 2009 she began a monthly food column for the magazine True West. Sherry also explores the various history of wines and food parings at  

So it's no surprise that with her newest book "The Cowboy Cookbook" Sherry continues to delve into the history of food in the West, late 1800's, documenting authentic recipes mostly taken from 19th Century newspapers and old Western cookbooks recipes. It is evident meticulous research went into compiling this book with the wealth of information and photos. Sherry sets the tone for the book in the introduction giving the reader some needed cowboy vernacular/slang e.g. huckydummy, lizard scorchers, sinkers, Texas Butter to better understand the time period. 
The book is divided into five chapters: Cattle Trails, Round-Ups, At the Ranch, Cow Towns and Stockyards Cities, and Holidays and Celebrations, Cowboy-Style. Within each chapter are historical information and images, personal stories of those who lived at that time and recipes that were staples of cowboy cuisine. 
Since I am from Laura Ingalls Wilder country one of the chapters At the Ranch I found quite informative. It was an interesting read that parallels what I imagine pioneer life to be like in the Midwest. 
Did you know that President Theodore Roosevelt was a cattle rancher in the late 1800's? He owned Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota and often went on round-ups and ate cowboy grub. He lived there for several years after the death of his wife and mother and returned to New York after the brutal winter of 1886-1887 that wiped out his entire herd of cattle.
I was fascinated perusing the recipes in this book: Vinegar Pie, Corn Pone, Fried Squash Cakes to name a few. But it was the Sinkers recipe that caught my attention with its funny name. It seemed like a good one for my first try.
 Sinkers (Soda Biscuits)
Cook's notes: Bread items like biscuits were often put in the cowboys' saddlebags so they had something to eat during lunchtime when they were away from the camp. Sherry's adaption for the book came from Texas Denison Daily News, March 3, 1878. 
But here's a true confession, my adaptation- I was compelled to brush melted butter on the biscuits before baking and then topping the baked biscuit off with a spoonful of jelly. Perfection! I used the rim of a 3 inch glass to make 7 biscuits.
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 -3/4 tsp.salt
  • 1-1/2 TB. butter or lard
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Combine flour, salt and soda together in a large bowl.
  • Using  a pastry cutter or two forks, cut butter or lard to form pea sized pieces into the flour mixture.
  • Add in the buttermilk and stir just to combine. Do not over beat.
  • Gently knead a few times. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Place in a greased skillet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush biscuits with butter.
  • Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
Sherry is the author of several published books on the Victorian West. For more information on her other books check out her website
Since I recently visited Tombstone these two books are next on my list by Sherry.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Mix-and-Match Healthy Ingredients ideas from
Throw together a quick, good-for-you meal in a flash by combining any of these speedy ingredients.
Keep your health bowl simple, or max out with something from every category.

Brown rice

Red leaf lettuce
Swiss chard
Purple cabbage

Fish (canned, smoked, or freshly cooked)
Cured meats
Beans (black, cannellini, butter, chickpeas, kidney)
Eggs (hard-boiled, poached, or fried)Vegetables and Herbs
Snap peas
Snow peas
Herbs (dill, parsley, cilantro, tarragon)

Ricotta salata
Aged Cheddar
Any creamy cheese (like Camembert or Humboldt Fog)

Wild Cards
Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
Marinated artichokes

Okay let's get started with your empty bowl, fork and spoon. Be creative combining these ingredients into quick meals.

Vegetable Health Bowl
Ingredients: Roasted cauliflower, roasted squash, roasted zucchini, kale, cabbage, almonds, herb ranch dressing

Chicken Bowl
Ingredients: Shredded chicken, farro,lemony carrots, marinated mushrooms, romaine, snap peas, avocado, Feta, walnuts,mustard vinaigrette

Salmon Health Bowl
Ingredients: Roasted salmon, barley,smoked paprika fennel, Swiss chard, chickpeas, basil, scallions

that According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a saguaro is usually 50-70 years old before it grows its first branch. And this is if the arm grows quickly. It may even take 100 years before a saguaro can grow its first arm. 
A saguaro must be 35 years old before it can grow any flowers.
The bloom of the saguaro is Arizona’s state flower.
The roots of a saguaro expand like an accordion to absorb as much water as possible.
The saguaro is primarily made up of water.
An adult saguaro may weigh up to 6 tons.
It’s illegal in Arizona to move a saguaro cactus off of private or public property without a permit.
Saguaro cacti are very important to the Sonoran ecosystem, as a large number of animals use the cacti as a host plant.

Check out the number of arms on this cactus!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mexican Fiesta Thursday

Add some pizazz to your evening meal with Mexican Lasagna and Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Pie. 
Mexican Lasagna
Cook’s notes: The following recipe was prepared in a 9 x 11 baking dish and serves 6. Pair the main dish with cornbread and a fruit salad .

  • 1-lb. ground beef or Chorizo sausage
  • ½-3/4 cup onions diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • ½ red pepper diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • optional chiles
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • 1-16 oz. jar of chunky salsa
  • 1/3 can refried beans
  • 8 oz. of enchilada sauce 
  • ½ can of corn (11 oz.) drained and rinsed (could use Mexican style corn) 
  • ½ can of black beans (15 oz.) or dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 cups (small package) of Mexican cheese (package found in dairy section) 
  • 1 package of yellow corn tortillas (6 inch size) you will need 10 for a 9 inch baking dish 
  • optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sliced black olives, guacamole
  • Brown ground beef or sausage with onions, red/green peppers and minced garlic. 
  • Drain and add mixture back to fry pan.
  • Add in spices, salsa, enchilada sauce, refried beans, corn, beans.
  • Cook on low heat for 10 minutes uncovered.
  • Grease 9 x 11 baking pan and place 4 tortillas in bottom of pan overlapping-to fill in spaces. Tear another tortilla into 4ths to fill in corners and sides. 
  • Place half of the meat mixture on top of tortillas and ½ of the cheese.
  • Repeat with another layer ending with cheeses, black olives can be added at this time.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes-remove foil and cook 10 minutes longer
  • Let set 15 minutes before cutting
  • Serve on the side with chopped tomatoes/lettuce/sour cream/guacamole/salsa
Mexican Chocolate Ice-Cream Pie
Cook's notes: This pie is decadent but well worth the splurge for a festive occasion. It will last in your freezer for up to a month but its unlikely that will happen.
The recipe was adapted from Southern Living August 2012
I used Haagen-Dazs coffee and chocolate ice-cream (each container is 14 oz.)

  • 3-1/2 cups of finely ground graham crackers 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 5 TB. melted butter 
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 1 pt. container coffee ice cream-softened 
  • 1 pt. container chocolate ice cream-softened 
  • 1 cup whipping cream 
  • 3 TB. coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua) 
  • Preheat oven 350.
  • Use a blender or food processor to finely grind the graham cracker into crumbs. Add in cinnamon and melted butter, mix well. 
  • Reserve 1 cup crumbs and press 2-1/2 cups of crumb mixture into a pie pan.
  • Bake 6-7 minutes, set aside to cool.
  • Stir together reserved 1 cup graham crumbs, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut  and pecans. Set aside.
  • Spread softened coffee ice-cream evenly over baked cooled crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup crumb mixture (crumbs, chips, coconut, pecans) over the coffee ice cream layer. 
  • Freeze until firm
  • Repeat with next layer of softened chocolate ice cream and sprinkle with rest of graham cracker mixture (reserve 1 tsp.) and freeze until firm.
  • Beat whipped cream, add in Kahlua and spread over the top of each pie serving or over top of entire pie. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. 
  • Serve immediately. Leftover pie should be stored in freezer and covered with foil.
If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.
Vincent van Gogh 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Beef and Barley Soup with Irish Soda Bread

Beef and Barley Soup with Irish Soda Bread
Cook's notes: Warm up your evening with a flavorful bowl of Beef and Barley Soup. It's chock full of healthy vegetables. Pair the meal with an Irish-inspired round quick bread recipe made with buttermilk and currants or raisins. It's a new take on traditional Irish soda Bread. A bit of backstory;before baking the bread, a cross was traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread loaf with a knife – often said to ward off the devil to protect the household.
  • 1-lbs. round steak or beef chuck cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1-cup each thinly sliced carrots, celery and onions
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1- 14.5 oz. can chunky tomatoes (basil, oregano, garlic)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1–32.oz. box beef broth, fat free no MSG
  • 3/4 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 cup V-8 juice-low sodium 
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 cup fresh green beans, cut in bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup quick cooking barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Place flour in zip loc bag, add meat and dredge the cubes. In a soup pot heat 1 TB. oil and brown meat, set aside.
  • In same pot, add 1 TB. olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and celery stirring for 5 minutes.
  • Add in rest of ingredients except barley and bay leaf. Simmer covered on low for 2 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add in barley and bay leaf the last hour. Be sure to remove the bay leaf before serving.
  • If using a crock pot cook on high 4 hours and the last hour add in barley and bay leaf.
  • To reheat soup the next day may have to add more beef broth as the barley will absorb some of the liquid.
Irish Soda Bread  
Recipe previously posted March 3, 2015  and makes a 8 inch loaf.

The following link is a great resource for parents and grandparents who are looking for ideas on memorable read aloud books for their children/grandchildren

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Avocado and Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad with Low Fat Chipotle Lime Ranch

Nature is painting for us,
day after day,
pictures of infinite beauty. 
John Ruskin 
(English artist and a leading art critic of the Victorian era)
Avocado and Grilled Chicken Salad with Low Fat Chipotle Lime Ranch Dressing
Cook's notes: A delicious simple salad with lots of fresh flavors. The secret is the dressing which is light and quite tasty. If you want to amp up the spice level use 2 chipotle peppers.
Recipe adapted from  and served about 4. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled and diced or four cooked chicken breasts, diced 
  • 10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium avocados (semi-firm but ripe), peeled, cored and diced
  • 1- 1/2 cups fresh corn or 1 can Steamfresh corn
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or shredded jalapeno or cheddar
Chipotle-Lime Ranch Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk, then more as needed
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice
  • 1 chipotle chile peppers, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chives
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salad Directions
Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl and gently toss. Plate and serve with Chipotle-Lime Ranch Dressing.
Dressing Directions:
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until chipotle pepper is well minced. Add in a few more tablespoons of buttermilk to thin as needed. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Celebrating Notable Birthdays While Enjoying The Night Sky

Night Sky 
The night sky with a full moon over the Santa Rita Mountains near a golf course certainly caught my attention. 
Advice from the Night Sky
See the big picture
Be a star 
Keep looking up
Don't be afraid of the dark
Stay full of wonder
Expand your horizons
Turn off the lights
George Washington February 22, 1732
some fun DID YOU KNOW trivia facts
  • Washington was the only president to be elected unanimously. 
  • Washington became known as "the father of his country." 
  • Washington was the only president inaugurated in 2 cities - New York and Philadelphia. 
  • Washington was the only president that did not live in the White House. He was involved in the planning of the Capitol.
  • Washington did his own bookkeeping and recorded every penny of expense in a ledger that is still available today.
  • His inaugural address was the shortest inaugural address in U.S. history: It was only 133 words long and took him just 90 seconds to deliver. 
  • He lost all of his teeth except for one by — according to second president John Adams — cracking Brazilian nuts between his jaws. He got dentures made out of a hippopotamus tusk, designed especially to fit over his one remaining real tooth. But the hippo dentures were constantly rubbing against that real tooth so that he was constantly in pain. He used opium to alleviate the pain. 
  • He snored very loudly, and instead of wearing a powdered wig like other fashionable people, he put powder on his own hair, which was naturally a reddish brown. 
  • He was not at good at spelling and he had a speech impediment. 
Edna St. Vincent Millay, February 22, 1892 was an American lyrical poet, playwright and feminist. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and was known for her activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work.

Song of a Second April

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Some of the Week's Best
"In wilderness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau
Advice from the Wilderness
Keep a sense of  adventure
Listen to the Wind
Be taken by wonder
Tread lightly on the earth
Immerse yourself in nature
let the storms pass
Take a hike
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (April 4, 1869 – January 8, 1958) was an American architect and designer. She was one of the very few female American architects in her day and the designer of many landmark buildings and spaces for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, notably in Grand Canyon National Park.  She was a true visionary in the male dominated 1900's as her work had enormous influence as she helped to create a style, blending Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs and rustic elements, that became popular throughout the Southwest. 
As an architect, she built structures that blend into the native landscapes in ways that enhance the landscape rather than detract from it. 
Attention: Little known fact she came from St. Paul, MN.

Mary Colter wanted to be an artist as a young girl growing up in St. Paul, and carried that passion to an art school in San Francisco with the end goal of teaching. While attending art school, she was taken under the wing of an architect and learned to apply her talent as an artist to designing buildings. For 15 years after graduating from art school, Colter taught  classes at Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul after a brief stint teaching art in Menomonie.

After those 15 years, she took on a couple of short-term design jobs decorating for the Fred Harvey Company, moving closer to the canyon as her interest shifted to design. After each short-term decoration job, she moved right back to St. Paul, but in 1910, she had earned a permanent and prestige position with the Fred Harvey Company designing and decorating Grand Canyon hotels, restaurants, and other amenities.
Some of the buildings Coulter designed include:
– The Lookout Studio
– Hermit’s Rest
– Phantom Ranch
– The Watchtower
– Bright Angel Lodge

Over her 30-year career as chief architect and designer for the Fred Harvey Company, Colter oversaw 21 major projects along the railroad lines, and as rare as female architects were during the early 1900s, Colter was one of the best architects of her time, dwarfing the achievements of many acclaimed men in her field. She drew inspiration from the rocks and trees that made up the landscapes that were her canvas and her work was influenced by Native American culture.
A recommended read to find out more about this pioneer architect of the southwest.  
I really enjoyed this book. It is a wonderful tribute to a woman whose life's work with the Harvey Enterprises was to preserve Native Indian customs, designs and artifacts through her architecture designs. Not only do you learn information about her but there are photos and information about the buildings she designed and important features of the world at that time. She drew her inspiration for her building styles from the local inhabitants and the history of the areas they were to be built in. She was pleased to pay homage to them in her works.
And check out this book list from Buzz Feed for your 2016 reading list 

Texas Sheet (Sheath) Cake aka: Mexican Chocolate Cake

Cook’s note: I dare not mess too much with this classic cake that epitomizes Southern and Western hospitality. But I will say there are many variations of this recipe to choose from online and in cookbooks. Some use sour cream in the cake while other recipes opt for using buttermilk instead. Mexican Chocolate Cake gets 5 stars from me and it was so easy to put together. It's a crowd pleaser and Oscar worthy if you are throwing a party next week. 

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup water or freshly brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • optional 1/8 cup Kahlua
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 TB. unsweetened cocoa
  • 9 TB. milk
  • 2-1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 TB. Kahlua

  • Melt butter in saucepan, add cocoa and water or coffee. Bring to a boil and set this mixture aside.
  • In a bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, soda, espresso powder  and pour into hot cocoa mixture stirring with a wooden spoon to mix well.
  • Beat eggs and add in buttermilk, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, optional Kahlua. Pour into chocolate mixture and beat well. 
  • Pour batter into greased 13 x 9 pan or a jelly roll pan with sides.
  • Bake @ 375 for 25 minutes in a 13 x 9 pan or 400@ for 20 minutes in jelly roll with sides -check center for doneness with large toothpick.
  • Cool cake 15 minutes before pouring on freshly made frosting 
  • Melt butter in saucepan medium low heat and add cocoa and milk, whisking to blend well
  • Bring to a boil and set pan aside. Add to pan powdered sugar and beat well to remove lumps. Optional adding in 2 TB. Kahlua. You may have to add a little more milk for right consistency.
  • Pour icing over cake and sprinkle nuts immediately on frosting- the frosting amount is generous so you might think about not using all but any left over icing tastes great right out of the bowl :)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Healthy Friday

In the Spotlight
 Mc Cormick Spices 
McCormick website may be one you overlooked when considering healthy options in your cooking. They have developed a great section of healthy recipes using their  spices. click on healthy. The recipes are divided into sections: Gluten free, Low Sodium, Low Fat, Low Carbs and Low Calories.
Disclaimer: I am not a rep just an interested food blogger ;) 

Consider the following sample recipes

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mexican Fiesta Thursday

I like to see a man proud of the place
in which he lives.
I like to see a man live so that his place
will be proud of him.
Abraham Lincoln

As of late politics has become a three ring circus-Lincoln gets my vote for his sensible thinking! 

Cook's notes: A taquito is Spanish for "small taco" or 'rolled taco". It is a Mexican dish most often consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling including beef, cheese or chicken. The filled tortilla is then crisp-fried. The dish is often topped with condiments such as sour cream and guacamole.

This recipe calls for baking instead of deep-frying, making the taquitos substantially healthier than what you’d get at a restaurant. Consider order of deep-fried, rolled-up tacos at a restaurant can set you back almost 1,000 calories with 60 grams of fat! 
Serve the baked chicken taquitos with your favorite salsa, guacamole and reduced-fat sour cream. The recipe makes 12 taquitos. A rotisserie chicken  from the deli is a time saver 
Roasted Red Peppers often are found in produce dept. Traders Joes has a product I really like with a bit of zip and zing. 
  • 3 oz. low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 TB. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TB. chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1-2 roasted red peppers, finely diced, patted dry on a paper towel
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or shredded Mexican Fiesta Cheese
  • 10-12 6-inch flour tortillas
  • optional:reduced fat sour cream and additional salsa
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients listed before tortillas. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
  • Warm the tortillas wrapped in paper towels in the microwave to soften, about 15 seconds. Place each tortilla on a work surface. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, spacing the assembled taquitos evenly on the baking sheet. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Turn once during baking time. Serve with reduced fat sour cream additional salsa and guacamole, if desired.

Mexican Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Cook's notes: Add Mexican Hot Fudge Pudding Cake to your repertoire of recipes to try. It's a warm, rich, gooey chocolate cake spiced with Saigon Cinnamon with a hint of Mexican Chile powder.   

Meet Minnesota Author Barbara Saefke

NAC 2020 AUTHOR VIRTUAL TOUR MEET MINNESOTA AUTHOR BARBARA SAEFKE Barbara E. Saefke author Mystery and Romance Barbara...