Tag Archives: cooking

Cookie Recipe Makeover Disaster aka New Camera Practice Session

2 Jan

I had high hopes for a cookie recipe makeover. In the end, I’m not doing the happy dance about the cookies, but I am happy to practice with my new camera (Canon EOS Rebel T1i). I had visions of my grandma’s tea balls but with healthy ingredients (whole grains, almond flour, applesauce, etc.). I divvied the recipe into quarters and tried different variations.  Granted, my math might have been wrong, but I’m guessing that going astray had to do with not using “regular” flour LOL. That said, some of them tasted very good – I think I might be on to something.

Try #1 totally flattened to mush and was NOT what I had in mind (but really had the best flavor). By try #4, they were certainly “balls”, but they were not tasting like I had in mind (uh – a bit TOOO grainy).  Not all was lost,  at least I could practice with my new camera with some light.

I’m pretty pleased about the pictures. I think once I learn how to focus, compose, light, and present, I’ll be golden. 😀

From left to right, Try #1, Try #4, & Try #4 with sugar 😉


Just a few cookies - holding very still for the camera....

Learning the zoom & knowing that I will need a tripod. Geesh - I'm very shaky!

Loving my new Hip Hostess apron - it is a lovely subject, eh? Very proud of the artistic touch on this one **winks**

What’s your best advice for trying to bake with healthy ingredients?

Real Bakers:

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Quick Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

1 Jan
Butternut Squash Soup

My First Butternut Squash Soup

At the ripe age of 43, I’m discovering winter squashes, and I’m just giddy! I usually roast them and either stuff them, fork them,  or  mush mash them. But I’m on vacation with no time restraints, so I thought I’d give my new food processor a try with an assembler friendly Quick Butternut Squash Soup.

Warning: I’m an “assembler” so I didn’t measure anything! And I don’t have a good knife, so I bought a bag of pre-cut squash 😉 This recipe would even work on an exhausted, time crunched week night. The whole thing took 30 minutes – from start to finish – and 20 of those minutes required no oversight while the squash cooked (translation: it only required 10 minutes of my time).  Continue reading

Healthy Coffee Cake Recipe | Bob’s Red Mill 8-Grain Cereal

1 Jan

The body snatchers are lurking, and the result is another baking experiment from this non-cook. This time it’s healthy coffee cake with Bob’s Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal. I used Bob’s Original Recipe as the base, and since I had some of their pancake & waffle mix handy, I used that instead of the other flour and related rising stuff. The result is a hearty and healthy coffee cake that is nutty and just sweet enough. I had a bit more batter than a pie dish, so I made a few individuals in my pretty new dishes. (Too bad I can’t focus the camera – sigh – I’ll work on that….)

You may wonder why I’m on this 8 Grain Cereal kick – well, in 1/4 cup serving, it has 27 g carbs, 0 sugar, 6 g fiber & 5 g protein. I’m thinking this is a PERFECT base ingredient, eh?

Healthy Coffee Cake

Combine dry ingredients. Mix together the butter, eggs, syrup & yogurt; mix wet with dry. Pour a portion into a greased pie pan. Add a layer of apples & nuts. Pour the remainder of batter over the top. Bake at 35o for 30 minutes. (Note: I didn’t watch the time perfectly – and my “recollection” was that it was done in 30 minutes – but it may have been less. Keep an eye on it and when the toothpick is clean – voila!)

I think I’m going to try some cookies later…. What else could we make with the Bob’s 8 Grain Cereal?


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Bacon Wrapped Rumaki Recipe

22 Dec
Bacon Wrapped Rumaki

Bacon Wrapped Rumaki

Confession: I’ve never taken a homemade dish to a party. I know this is shocking, but it’s true. So when my sis announced her big party, I immediately remembered my family’s Bacon Wrapped Rumaki dish. Now that I’m a grown up,  and I want to be a polite party guest, I thought I should bring something that didn’t come from a market. My coming out appetizer destiny would be Bacon Wrapped Rumaki.

I remember eating this every holiday with my family – yep, that would be me, hovering around the oven, making polite conversation while secretly securing my position for the bacon wrapped goodness.

This certainly isn’t a health and wellness recipe, but it is worth every calorie! Aside from the bacon cooking time, the prep is really quick. And because this is a crowd favorite, I would strongly suggest making a double batch.  Continue reading

8 Grain Muffins – Yummy and Tasty! #foodthanks

24 Nov

Tasty nutty goodness with whole grain oats, brown rice, corn, soybeans, millet, barley, oat bran, sunflower seeds & flaxseed

I can’t remember the last time I baked anything requiring baking soda. I pride myself on being an average “assembler” and since baking is chemistry and requires precise measurement, I’ve never really been a baker. But it’s cold out and I’m getting sucked into it by all the lovely posts and pics from my friends. (Thank you all, I think!) But I’m also trying to eat healthier, so I wanted to try something besides my great grandma’s Teaball recipe.

I picked up a package of Bob’s Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal because it looked yummy and had a Muffin Recipe on the package. It has 8 whole grains for goodness sake – that’s healthy!

Knowing the danger involved, but feeling CONFIDENT (due to the kind support of Spabettie (Kristina) & VinoLuci (Barb), I decided to modify it a bit using yogurt, maple syrup, apples & nuts. But yes, I was also feeling nervous about modifying given the chemistry nature of this project.

I enlisted the help of my 18 month old nephew, properly slung a towel over his shoulder, turned on James Taylor, and went to work.   Continue reading

How the Power of “More” Changed My Habits

21 Nov
My Bike and Me

My Bike and Me - In Real Life

“Whatever we think about gets bigger….”

It was about 20 years ago when I first heard this, and it has always stuck with me. Over time, I’ve mainly applied this to my thinking. For example, focusing on the solution gets makes the solution grow in our mind, and is more productive than focusing on the problem. But without knowing it, I subconsciously applied this to my behavior on my recent healthy living journey.

Continue reading

10 Clues That I’ve Adopted New Healthy Habits

7 Nov

Trying to incorporate new healthy habits has been a slow process. For me, making sustained changes requires baby steps that I can do one day at a time. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not going to swap a pizza for a cooking habit overnight.  On that one, I started by committing to cook 2 days per week (up from zero).  And if I’d started saying, “I have to get 200 minutes/week activity,” it would be so daunting, I would quit before I started. I started by working out with a trainer 2 days per week, and a couple of weeks ago I actually got 400 minutes of activity! As a frame of reference, it wasn’t that long ago that I got zero minutes per week (sad, I know).   Continue reading

Enter… The Spaghetti Squash

27 Oct
Spaghetti Squash

Uh.... Looks like pasta to me mom!

Venturing into “new” ingredients, I’ve been staring at this large yellow gourd for a few days now. But thanks to Todd (@PhitZone), Deb (@DebRoby), & Shelley (@Momma_Oz), I just went for it.

I roasted the spaghetti squash (along with some other squashes & peppers), made the sauce, and carmelized some onions for pizazz. While “forking” the squash (I made my 17 year old son watch), we were both sort of amazed at the stringy stuff that was coming out. He asked what it tasted like, I shrugged, and we both tasted it. I told him he could have some pasta if he wanted, and he said, “What the heck, it’s already made. I’ll have this.” (Proud mama moment, eh?)

I’ve gotta say I’ve been missing some of my Italian meat sauces the last couple of months since I’ve been watching my starches.  Quick, easy and tasty dishes like this remind me that I like vegetables 😉 This one’s a keeper!

And if you haven’t done so, check out the sites for Todd, Deb, and Shelley – thanks so much for being my cooking coach 😉

From Panic to Pride – My Slow Shift in the Kitchen

4 Oct

Vegetables - My New Kitchen StapleI’ve been scolded in the kitchen. I’ve cried in the kitchen. I’ve been labeled the “little salad maker” (and not in a complimentary way). The whole cooking thing for me is an emotional issue. My being a bad cook has become part of my identity, which actually is fairly sad.

My recent interest in wanting to learn how to cook has really been about an overall wellness path. (And let’s not forget the wake up call when my son called and asked, “Can I Order a Pizza and Put it on Your Tab?” Preparing healthy, tasty food is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Some of it is vanity (I’d like to shed a couple of pounds). Some of it is that I really enjoy fresh and interesting dishes. I’m also completely bored of eating out and paying restaurant prices for food that doesn’t help me stay lean.

In addition to the health piece, the other big motivation comes from panic because my son will be leaving in a year, and I haven’t taught him well about food.

Enter My Social Media Community

What started as snarky little comments about food, cooking, and my lack of skills on Facebook and Twitter, has resulted into a wealth of support and information from my social media community. In the last few months, I’ve embarked on several daring (relative term of course) kitchen experiments, gotten immediate support when something is on the grill, received help identifying a mystery herb, and guidance on various kitchen gadgets. (Remember, everything is an experiment for me because I am THAT inexperienced.)

What I’ve Learned

  1. Nuts make everything better – pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans – they’re crunchy and flavorful and they make me feel like a gourmet.
  2. Ditto for cheese – goat, Parmesan, feta, ricotta – just a sprinkle or dab and VOILA! I now own a little grater and grated my first hunk of Parmesan this summer sans injuries to my knuckles.
  3. Even when I’m dead tired during the week, it doesn’t take that long to throw a couple of chicken breasts into a pan with some peppers, onions, and tomatoes, then finish with basil, squash, and of course, nuts & cheese. For me, energy (or lack of it) is a real barrier. So it’s critical to have key ingredients handy – onions, garlic, lemons, red peppers, tomatoes, chicken, spinach, balsamic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, fresh herbs, broth, and veggies.
  4. I love caramelized onions – even though some would call me a cheater (I add a smidge of sugar and balsamic) – I don’t care, because I used a pan, a knife, and 4 ingredients.
  5. I am not a bad cook – I’m just inexperienced, uneducated and untrained. There is a BIG difference.

I’m still essentially an assembler. But I’m using knives, pans, grills, pizza stones, and my new chopper thingie – so I’m pretty sure I’m cooking too. I’ll catch up soon with my cooking/assembling posts.

In the meantime, do you have any tips? I really appreciate having everyone’s support!

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Can I Order a Pizza and Put It on Your Tab?

19 Sep

Note: I originally posted this, uh, 2 years ago on Sip the Good Life. And since this is still a big part of my story, I felt it totally appropriate to repost. Since the original piece, we have eaten far less pizza and have made a smidge of progress. That said, I’m still a disaster in the kitchen.


No joke. That was a text from my teenage son, who was home alone while I was on a business trip to SF.

This is both hysterical and disturbing on many levels:

  • He actually thought I had a tab with the pizza company.
  • Either it didn’t occur to him, he didn’t want to, or he didn’t know how to prepare something to eat.

OK – full disclosure – and trust me, this isn’t easy. I’ve worked in the sustainable agriculture industry for 12 years. I’ve sat on statewide and national committees on the issue and am often asked to weigh in on policy matters. I feel very strongly about supporting local farmers, connecting school food programs with farmers, and recognizing that eating is an agricultural act. And when I actually go to farmer’s markets, I even know a bunch of the growers by their first name.

But somehow my personal eating habits have degenerated to what some would consider embarrassing, and others would consider dismal. Depending on the moment – I would totally agree with both – but I’m not going to drift into a remorseful funk.

With one innocent text from my son as my wake up call, I’ve decided to come out of the closet on this one. And cyberspace is way out of the closet.

So what’s the how and why of it? How did there become such a disconnect between my beliefs and my actions? Hectic schedule? Emotional sabotage? Lack of energy? Not to mention that I really don’t enjoy shopping, many things I prepare totally suck (which is a complete waste of time in my opinion), and I don’t enjoy time in the kitchen (I see it as lonely drudgery).

So having taken the first important step, I’m on a quest to make some small, meaningful lifestyle changes to bring my values and cuisine back into alignment and to share some learning and fun with my son. It won’t be easy because my barriers are still around. In fact, I don’t even know where to start. But I’ll keep you posted (and I’m taking the pizza off of both of our speed dials).

Are you a food sinner? Care to share?

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