Monday, April 27, 2020

Cooking from "Scratch"

Cooking from scratch is sometimes simple, sometimes complicated. It requires a mixture of experience and knowing what flavors work best with each dish. The southern, down-home recipes on this blog are designed for the new cook as well as the very experienced. All it takes is a little time in understanding the ingredients and steps.

I offer you recipes that I prepare often or recipes that are family traditions. I will tell you in advance if it is one that requires a bit of thought as I sometimes do not measure exact ingredients. These you can experiment with easily and none of them are complicated. That's the best part of scratch cooking, you can claim the dish as your own.

Note to new cooks: from scratch means you start with basic ingredients where nothing is pre-mixed and you have to measure the quantities.

Of course, there are recipes from others that have proven just too good to not share. Like the Best Breadmachine White Bread. It would be wrong to keep that to myself. Then there are those that are simply links to articles I've written elsewhere but they take you directly to the recipe.

We discuss using fresh vegetables, making your own seasonings, growing your own herbs and how to use them. I hope you stay for a while and enjoy using the recipes and suggestions. Leave a comment or share something. I will post the recipe with full credit to you if you do.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Non-Gluten Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger With Organic Homemade Mayonnaise

Non-Gluten Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burger with homemade, organic mayonnaise
There are many recipes for non-gluten burger buns this one is just as delicious and you won't even miss the bread. Plus it uses one of the best recipes for homemade mayonnaise available. Load it up with other sliced veggies and you have a healthy indulgence. Serve with super yummy oven baked fries. Links to both recipes are listed.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees...

Rinse ground turkey, pat dry between paper towels. Add seasoings but do not overwork to avoid toughness. Loosely form turkey into patties sizes a little larger than lettuce leaves. They will shrink during cooking.

Brush baking pan with pan coating. I use a heavy iron skillet. Place patties in skillet and bake until browned. While the turkey is baking make the mayonnaise. Click on the link above to get recipe and instructions. 

Remove turkey from skillet and place on paper towels to drain.

Place a lettuce leaf on a plate, spread with mayo. Place patty on leaf, top with tomato and avocado.
Fold leaf over and secure with toothpick.

Lemon Coconut Snack Cake (Delicious Single Serving)

Microwave snack cakes ... delicious and so much yum with so little effort. And to prove it here is my experience with one this morning.

I needed an image to go with this recipe so I automatically went to stock image sites to purchase one. Not much luck. After about 20 minutes it was apparent that the one I needed should have been taken yesterday before I gobbled it down. So at around 21 minutes it occurred to me that I should just go bake another one and take the photo myself. The most time involved would be 5 minutes. Sometimes I just need to make sure all my gears are engaged BEFORE I get out of bed ...

This cake is absolutely delicious and lemon lovers will only regret that it will not cool down fast enough so you can avoid the inevitable hot tongue/kitchen dance. For new cooks, this will bring you into gourmet land on steady feet. So lets get to the recipe.

Please note, while this recipe uses all organic products and is vegan, it is not gluten free. Feel free to use whatever type of flour you have on hand. 

Lemon Coconut Snack Cake

  • 4 tablespoons organic pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (non-aluminum, it will say so on the can)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt flakes)
  • 4 tablespoons full fat coconut milk (can should list total fat as 25 to 30% or more)*
  • 1 teaspoon dried organic coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (peel)

Mix first four ingredients in a bowl so all the ingredients are mixed well. Add the coconut milk and make sure all dry ingredients are moistened evenly. Add the coconut and lemon zest. Mix lightly. Pour batter into ungreased coffee mug. It needs to be a regular sized mug and not a coffee cup. Bake in microwave for 1 minute. Top of cake should appear dry. If it is not, add up to 30 seconds more.

If you are able to resist, let cake cool and then top with whipped topping. Trader Joe's has a delicious vegan non-dairy topping that you will love.

*About full fat coconut milk. It is not the same as the coconut drink although you can bake with both. The full fat coconut milk is thick. When you open the can you should see that there is a thick part like whipped cream with liquid around it.

The brand I used for this cake was Savoy and it is 30% total fat. It is 70% coconut with rest water. Avoid brands that list a lot of ingredients. You don't need the extra things and they pretty much are not good for you. There are a lot of brands so don't be afraid you won't find it, just choose the one that meets the criteria.

Healthy Eating- Pancit With Nettle and Shrimp

Healthy Eating- Pancit With Nettle and Shrimp
What is Pancit? It is a stir-fried noodle dish that can customized to the tastes of individual cooks. Put together somewhat like fried rice, it is easy to prepare and takes very little time. For a formal definition:

What is Nettle? Stinging Nettle to be exact. My backyard is covered in it from the winter rains. It is a weed to some and an herb to the rest of us. It is both medicine and food. As a medicine it treats prostate problems, arthritis and many, many other conditions. But as a food I can tell you it is delicious as a stir fry or added to other greens. The first time I used it I added it to kale and was they tasted so good there were no leftovers. Read more about Stinging Nettle here:

I should confess... it was the group Herbal Healing I belong to on Facebook who told me about using Nettle. Read their comments here:

I don't hesitate in eating it because the backyard has had very few chemicals applied to it. It used to be a haven of fresh fruit with peaches, oranges, apricots, plums and grapes. That is when my dad took care of it. Now I realize why, when he retired, he was out there all day.

I also remember my mom working in her garden and coming back inside almost in tears when she planted, weeded or harvested her crops. The Stinging Nettle would get a hold of her and make her miserable. So please be aware that unless you cover your arms, hands and feet really well (long sleeves, gloves, socks and shoes) you are going to be stung mercilessly. Frankly, I don't mind but I do wear gloves... it makes it easier to grab a bunch and pull them up.

But if you have arthritis getting stung helps with the pain you experience from your condition. You can read about that in the first link. So, without much more a-do, here is the recipe for Pancit With Nettle and Shrimp:

NOTE: This recipe looks a lot more involved than it actually is. It is a fast dish to prepare especially if you slice and chop ahead of time...

*I try to avoid Soy products but when I do use them it is the organic variety. Be aware that most soy products in the United States are GMO products. Braggs Liquid Aminos is a great substitute for regular soy sauce because it is certified non-GMO.


  • 2 packages Mung Bean Threads
  • 9 jumbo shrimp (washed, peeled and de-veined)
  • Chicken or pork stock or both (try to avoid bouillon or non organic store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (this does not include the sea or pink salt listed below)
  • Organic olive oil or coconut oil (about two to three tablespoons)
  • Fresh Stinging Nettle (about a colander full)(soak, wash and then cut off bottom of stem)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Toyomansi (soy sauce with Calamansi) or soy sauce and lemon juice to taste*
  • Black sesame seed oil
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sea Salt or Pink Salt
  • Powered Turmeric
  • Black pepper
  • Other seasonings to taste can include red pepper, thyme, dry mustard, dry ginger and garlic
  • Slice tomatoes, cucumbers and lemon wedges for garnishes
  • Large skillet or wok ( the skillet should be able to withstand high flame)


  • Snow peas
  • Green onion (both tops and bottoms)
  • Chicken, diced 
  • Pork, diced
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Celery, sliced thinly
  • Carrots, sliced or julienned

In a medium pot, add the stock and bean threads. If the liquid does not cover the threads, add water so they are barely submerged. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, cut into 3 inch long sections using scissors or a knife. Set aside.

Season shrimp with salt and spices.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Be cautious, coconut oil has a low melting point. Toss in seasoned shrimp. Toss and cook until they have medium brown edges as in the photo above.

Add cooked bean threads. Continue to toss and cook. Add additional veggies if you are using them. Toss and cook. Add Stinging Nettle and cilantro. Cook until wilted, it won't take long. Season to taste. Add Toyomansi or soy sauce/lemon mixture to taste, about like you do when you are eating fried rice.

Serve with slice tomatoes and cucumbers on the side.

This dish freezes well.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Simple Plain Roasted Chicken for Beginners

Simple Plain Delicious Roasted Chicken for Beginners

For new cooks, cooking a yummy roasted chicken is simple. Don't think you have to rub it in all sorts of seasonings and chemicals to make it delicious and tasty like the ones at your grocer's or supermarket giant. All you need are seasoned salt and black pepper and even the pepper is optional.

  • Ingredients:

  • 1 organic whole chicken any size
  • Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • Black pepper (fine to medium ground)

Heat oven to 375degrees. Move oven rack down to the next level so chicken will cook in the center of the oven.

Wash chicken all over, drain and pat dry. Sprinkle chicken all over and inside with the seasonings.

It doesn't matter if you use a roasting pan or open pan with rack... cook chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until juices run clear. A good way to tell is to move the drumstick. If it pulls away from the body easily then it is done. But use the 1 1/2 hours as a marker. Or use the chart below as a guide:

  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds: Roast at 375 degrees F for 1 to 1-1/4 hours
  • 3 to 3-1/2 pounds: Roast at 375 degrees F for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours
  • 3-1/2 to 4 pounds: Roast at 375 degrees F for 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours 
  • 4-1/2 to 5 pounds: Roast at 375 degrees F for 1-1/2 to 2 hours
You can use the juices from cooking to make a gravy. Easy gravy is to add some water to the juices, bring to a boil. Put two tablespoons or more of organic cornstarch in a cup and stir in a little cold water. Quickly add the cornstarch to the boiling liquid, stirring, and cook until thickened. It doesn't take long.

Serve all with mashed potatoes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Non-Gluten Butternut Squash Bread

Non-Gluten Butternut Squash Bread. Delicious, moist and healthy...

When I first took this bread out of the oven I couldn't stop eating it. It is so good! It was warm with a soft center and crispy outside. Super moist.

Perfect amount of sugar. I do use sugar as long as it is pure granulated and not made from beets. I also never purposely use stevia or artificial sweeteners. Stevia does not taste good to me and the other sweeteners are just not healthy.

Using my favorite non-gluten baking mix, non-gluten flour mix, you are in for a tasty treat. Make the non-gluten flour mix ahead of time and you won't have to stop while you are putting together this very easy bread/cake.

NOTES:  This recipe is  not complicated and can be put together quickly.

The recipe lists a very ripe banana as an ingredient but you can use all squash. The banana just makes it a little sweeter. If you keep ripened, frozen bananas in the freezer they are easy to add to any recipe including smoothies. But for this recipe thaw it so that it is soft and doesn't have to be mashed. Add it to the measuring cup first and then fill the rest of the cup with the squash puree.

I also had a fresh orange so I peeled and grated the skin and added it to the wet ingredients.

The squash will be stringy but unlike sweet potatos the strings will disappear in beating and baking. Just scrap them off the beaters back into the bowl.

Non-Gluten Butternut Squash Bread
  • 1 very ripe banana (optional, you can use all squash)
  • Pureed squash 
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (I use brown)
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pure granulated sugar (like C&H)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use all coconut sugar if you have it)
  • 1 3/4 cup non-gluten flour mix 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I love using fine quality Ceylon cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (I used allspice. Use whatever spices you want)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a loaf baking pan with coconut oil or melted butter.

Put the banana in a measuring cup (a dry measure) and then add the pureed squash, enough to make a cup full. Level the top of the cup off just as you do with flour or other dry ingredients.

Put banana and squash in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, water, vanilla and melted coconut oil. Beat on medium to avoid splashing.

Measure the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Add carefully to the wet ingredients and mix well. With non-gluten flours you do not have to worry about over-beating. Just make sure everything is mixed well.

Pour batter into pan, set pan on rack in middle of the oven. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until cake springs back when light pressed on top. Or when a toothpick pressed into the middle comes out clean.

Cool bread in pan for about 5 minutes then turn out onto plate or rack.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gluten-free Yeast Rolls

Turn gluten-free yeast rolls into savory, indulgent Monkey Bread
Ever since I decided to become fit I've searched for ways to turn my favorite dishes into healthier versions. Monkey Bread is a triumph because there is no difference in taste or texture with my new version.

The traditional recipe calls for regular white wheat flour. Even though I turned to using organic wheats and felt much better about it, it still seemed possible to make it even healthier. And there was.

Instead of butter (I don't think butter is unhealthy but wanted to try an alternative) I used organic coconut oil with a little organic olive oil mixed in. And then... I found an excellent recipe for non-gluten baking mix that is substituted cup for cup of the traditional flour. Use this non-gluten flour mix recipe for the flour and then come back and get the recipe for Gluten-free Yeast Rolls...

Non-gluten breads can only rise once. Therefore, adjustments are made to all recipes, not just this one.

Gluten-free Yeast Rolls
  • 1 cup warm water (105F top 115F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, butter or olive oil or a mixture of all
  • 1/2 cup sugar (real cane sugar... no artificial or alternative sweeteners)
  • 3 organic large eggs (I usually use brown)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4- 4 1/2 cups non-gluten flour mix (four to four and one half cups)
  • Extra melted coconut oil, butter or olive oil. If you are not vegan I would suggest butter.

Brush a bundt pan with with butter or olive oil making sure the entire inside is covered.

Combine the wam water and yeast in a large bowl. Let the mixture stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs and salt.

Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time until it is all incorporated. The dough will be wet. 

At this point is when the recipe moves from traditional yeast roll instructions...

Sprinkle some of the non-gluten flour mix on the table. Then scrap your dough out of the bowl on top of the flour mix, making sure it is not on any bare spots on the table. Then completely cover the top with more flour mix. Pat the dough out until it is about 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick. 

Cut into strips (a few at a time) then cut into rectangles. Nothing precise. Dip pieces into melted butter or oil then toss into bundt pan. Repeat until all the dough is in the pan. Let rise until double in size.

Bake bread at 375F until bread top is brown, around 20 minutes. When it is a nice dark golden brown remove from oven. Allow to cool for a bit then turn it out of the pan by placing a plate on top of the pan and then turning it over. Set on table and remove pan. It may fall apart like in the photo or it may hold the shape of a bundt cake. Whatever happens here is perfect! You will not regret the results.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

This is the most delicious recipe for pheasant. And to add to that, look at all that bacon. This Thanksgiving proved that anything covered with bacon will turn out to be amazing!

I'd never had nor cooked pheasant before but for some reason decided that it would be the main protein for the holiday. First of all, they are expensive. A four pound bird costs as much as a free range turkey. Second, to get a good price they came 9 per box so I asked several co-workers if they would consider going in with me. It worked out perfectly.

I can't wait to return to work to find discuss their recipes and how they served theirs. As for me, I used a recipe I found at but modified it slightly to cut down on the sodium and sugar. Not much of a salt fan, not only for health reasons but I really prefer to actually taste the flavors of the food I am serving.

I got them from Big Rick at If you are local, drop by on Saturdays when he has the grill set up and is passing out samples. Rick has everything you may need for any type of cookout, dinner or event. He also has gator, sausages of all types (wild and domestic meats), seasonings, gumbo fixings and, of course, your high quality pork, grassfed beef, poultry and seafood.

Thanksgiving side dishes were plain kale steamed in chicken broth, poached pears with parsnips, cornbread dressing, old fashioned (civil war era) jelly cake and gravy.

NOTES: for some reason several sites listed pheasants as mostly dark meat. My bird had the same amount of white breast meat as a regular turkey or chicken. The same with the dark portions.

Our bird was raised on a vegetarian/non-hormone diet therefore it was not wild. It was tastier than a regular chicken and what some term as "an improvement on turkey".

If you are counting calories to the point where you have to be mindful even of holiday meals then this is not a good recipe for that. And even though there is no salt added for roasting, the brine has 1/4 cup of salt. Please be aware if sodium intake is a concern.

Recipe for Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

8 cups water

1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed 
1 pinch ground cloves
1/2 lemon, juice of 
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (4 lb) whole pheasants
2 tablespoons butter
6 slices of natural processed bacon (optional) 

Heat together the water and salt until salt is dissolved, then allow to cool to room temperature for about a half hour.

Add the sugar, syrup, onions, garlic, cloves, and lemon and cayenne pepper (if using).
Add pheasant, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the brine until the sediment can be spooned off top. Boil more to make sure it contains not uncooked sediments. Use this for basting.

Place brined pheasant in a roasting pan breast up and insert a tablespoon of the butter under the breast skin.

Rub the rest of the butter all over the pheasant, then roast uncovered for about 1-1/2 hours; check after an hour, though. Since my bird was larger than the original recipe it took around two hours to cook fully.

Baste frequently!

And if you like, to keep the breast meat moist, you can cover it with bacon strips as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Non-Dairy Protein Drink for After Weight Training

quiinoa milk
Suzie's Quinoa Milk

In a way, I guess I am a pain addict because hurting after a workout never deters me from exercising the next day. But since I am intermittently on my own without a trainer I do a lot of research to make sure I am doing things right. I found out there are things you can do to cut down on the soreness that make your muscles heal faster.

It is strongly recommended to have protein at least an hour before and within 30 minutes after training.  Getting your protein solely from shakes does not complete daily requirements but it does get you to optimum, especially if your diet is right.

Some answers:

What happens if I don't get all the protein I need? Will my muscles shrink?

Absolutely not. If you're eating an appropriate amount of protein in general, an occasional low-protein day will not affect muscle growth. The only reasons muscles would get smaller are from lack of use, injury, or severe calorie restriction. - See more at:

Is there any benefit to getting protein from bars or shakes instead of whole foods?

No. Shakes and protein bars might make it easier to meet your daily protein requirements, but in the end, high-protein foods like meat, eggs, peanut butter, and nuts may actually be more satisfying because they have higher fat content and take longer to digest than shakes or bars. - See more at:

For women:
So, how much protein do you need? The suggested number differs depending on the source. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the standard food guide recommendation for the average individual is set around 46 grams per day for women and 65 grams per day for men.4
Keep in mind, however, that this is the recommendation for the average, semi-sedentary individual. If you're constantly exercising and breaking down lean muscle tissue, your required protein intake needs to increase. Likewise, if you diet and consume fewer calories from carbs and fats, the macros you consume from protein will need to increase.
The essential form of protein in shakes is whey. Whey is a dairy product and that is bad for those who lactose intolerant. There is no way to make it work for us.

About a year ago I discovered non-dairy milks... almond, oatmeal, hemp, sunflower seed. Last week I found some quinoa milk and that was the essential component for me. Quinoa is the king/queen of protein. 

When buying milk alternatives the best ones contain no carrageenan, no GMO products, is unsweetened, unflavored and has little processing. Of course, you can always make your own but that is another post. Above is one brand that is ideal but there are many others.


  • 1 cup Quinoa Milk (46 calories/2 g protein)
  • 1 large egg (70 calories/12 g protein)
  • 1 large banana (105 calories/1.3 protein)


  • Keep fully ripened bananas handy in the freezer. They add sweetness and will chill your shake.
  • Add any fruit or vegetable you think will work for you.
  • Add fresh turmeric. It has benefits for the heart, digestion and is high in antioxidants. In order for it to work properly always add some black pepper to whatever dish where it is used. Even your shake.
  • Try different milks but be mindful that some are higher in carbs than others.