146 posts categorized "Cooking" Feed

Low-carb Granola base


Hi everyone ❤

It's been a while since I have posted. Do you realize I have been blogging 14 years. Wow, a lot has changed!!! I mostly share on FB/Instastagram. I have been sharing different versions of low-carb granola I am making and someone asked to share a recipe. Since I do a different flavor profile each week I made a base recipe that you can change out and add any flavorings you want. I will be honest I really do not measure when I make this, so these are just to give you an idea of amounts. But play with it and suit your pallet.

And yes, I am still doing low carb and have not gained my 75 pounds back, even though it has been 7+ years. It works for me. Make sure to read the notes under the recipe xox


Low-carb Granola Base recipe 

Dry ingredients 
2 cups assorted nuts, usually 1/4 cup each nut 
1/8 cup each chia, sesame, and flax seeds 
1/4 cup almond flour 
3/4 cup coconut flakes
Wet ingredients 
2 egg whites
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup melted, cooled coconut oil 
1/2 cup sweetener, I used monkfruit 
1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp pink salt
I add fruit (usually I use freeze dried berries) when I pull granola out of oven. 
Pre-heat oven 325°F
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl and then toss with dry ingredients. If dry ingredients don't look completely coated, add a bit more oil. 
Cover jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spread out granola. Bake 20-25 minutes. Stir granola every 5 minutes because those nuts burn fast. Let it fully cool on pan before enjoying!
I use a combo of egg whites and flax seeds because I like the texture but feel free to use 3 egg white or about 1/2 cup of flax seeds. But if you only use flax seeds I would make a slurry. Mix the flax with a bit of water, stir and let the mixture sit 10 minutes to thicken.
If you leave out the coconut flakes, add some more nuts to make up for them. Also if you use ground coconut, use less because it is more compacted. I would use 1/3 cup. Of course everything I use is unsweetened. 
Some flavors I have made so far:
Coco nibs/coffee/mix berry
Strawberry/lemon/pistachio, Raspberry/dark chocolate chip (which was my favorite so far). If you have any questions feel free to ask!!

Mango, Feta Slaw w/ Mango Lime Honey Vinaigrette, low-carb, nut free, vegan


  Mango feta slaw Storybook Woods


  Whenever I make something my family raves over, ask me to make again, you know I have to share it with you ;-)  My whole family has gone low-carb now (for different reasons: health, skin issues, weight loss. Nobody is pre-diabetic like I was!). Well that means LOTS of salads for dinner, since we all tend to like our veggies raw. But everyone has different work schedules, hours, one works the night shift and that makes makes things a bit more complicated for me. I want a salad that can hold up for a couple of hours, I want one that is filling and of course delicious, as well as nutritious. So I have been playing a lot with slaw's for a couple of reasons

  1. They hold up well!
  2. They are filling. I have to feed 5 adults who eat a LOT!! If there is no meat or bread, I need filling veggies.
  3. They are cheap. It's the blingy stuff that adds up!
  4. All that fiber is fab for your gut!!

     I gave amounts for the slaw but really I never measure, I just wanted to give you an idea of amounts. So throw the amounts out the window and use what you have, use what you love. Just a note it is important to use a soft, ripe mango so you have juice/pulp for the vinaigrette. Plus the added sweetness works well with the salad. Fresh herbs such as basil would be delish with this salad too. 



Mango, Feta Slaw w/ Mango Lime Honey Vinaigrette


6-8 cups slaw (mixture of raw chopped cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.)

½ red onion, small cubes

1 cucumber, cubed

½ cup yellow bell pepper, cubed

3 TBL finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 ripe mango, cubed (save pit and skin for vinaigrette)

optional, ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled


Add all ingredients to large bowl. Make vinaigrette. Toss all together and enjoy!



Mango, Feta Slaw w/ Mango Lime Honey Vinaigrette


pit and skins from the mango

1 lime, juiced (you can use zest too)

½ cup olive oil

1 tsp. honey

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste


Rub off as much juice and fresh from the pit and inside of skin of the mango into a bowl. Add all other ingredient and blend together. You can use a blender or hand-blender (that is what I use) If you do not have a blender, just whisk together (just try to really break up that pulp with your fingers before blending).



Health Friendly Holiday Treats

Pfugde Storybook Woods


  Hello everyone. I have been busy decorating and cooking. I am not quite ready to share this years theme but soon. I am busy making treats; cookies, candy, etc. It is hard at this time of year to go sugar free but over the years I have discovered I can make healthy version of what I love. I have compiled a list of thing I love to make. I thought it might be helpful for you too. Just to let you know I primarily use xylitol, stevia and coconut sugar. These are low on the glycemic level and my body/blood sugar does well on them but use what works for you.

My number one favorite treat is this No-Sugar Fudge. You can make it without peppermint. I have had it plain or with coffee or nuts added. It is yummy and so simple. You can also make it vegan with coconut milk and oil. 

My second favorite is a recipe of mine, Grain-Free Snowball cookies. We have loved this for a long time. 

Another favorite cookies is Rosemary Shortbread!

Orange and chocolate are a wonderful combo in this Orange Chocolate Cookie-dough Bark

Cafe Cookies are great because you can keep a log of dough in the freezer and bake off a few slices at a time. 

Keto Caramel Sauce, do I need to say more!

Raw Sesame Truffles

And lastly, I just love chocolate disks with toppings of nuts and dried fruit. Just melt a bit of chocolate, paint small circles on parchment and top with toppings. Pop in freezer and they can be enjoyed 15 minutes later.

Do you have a healthy Christmas treat you enjoy? I would love to hear about it!


Whipped Feta Salad

Whipped feta salad 1 Storybook Woods

    I eat a LOT of salads, at lest one a day. So I am always looking for ways to bling it up. I made David this Whipped Feta Salad for Father's day and it was a big hit. Now I am making whipped feta all the time. It is easy to make, keeps a good week in a air tight container and great with veggies. Check it out!

Whipped feta salad 2 Storybook Woods

Whipped Feta Salad

whipped feta

Greens tossed in a vinaigrette

cherry tomatoes, avocado and pistachio nuts to garnish


Simply spread some whipped feta on your plate, dress your greens and add garnishes. Very simple to make.  


Whipped Feta

1 cup (8oz) feta cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup (3oz) whipped cream cheese, at room temperature, see notes


In a food processor crumble feta into tiny piece. Add cream cheese. Run processor until smooth and fluffy. Takes about 3-4 minutes. Store in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps about a week refrigerated.


Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup oil, I like a good olive oil

3 TBL Balsamic Vinaigrette 

1 TBL honey (optional)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste


Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Taste and adjust to your liking



  1. Instead of cream cheese you can also use, sour cream or mascrapone.
  2. My Strawberry Infused Balsamic is wonderful in this salad!
  3. Great as a crudites with raw veggies.

Review of Breville Smart Oven Air

Coutoven1 Storybook Woods


    We purchased a Breville Smart Oven Air and told my FB'ers I would write a review. Thought I would post it here. First let me say, I was looking for a second oven but putting in a wall oven meant a good $1000 and taking out half my cabinet.  So $400, seemed a good deal compared to the price of a second wall oven. I was interested in this oven because it is the biggest counter oven I could get. I have plenty of counter space, so I want to get the most out of it as possible.

Coutoven2 Storybook Woods

    This oven has 13 preset functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Proof, Air-Fry, Dehydrate, Reheat, Warm and Slow Cook. It comes with 2 oven racks, 13" nonstick pizza pan, 2 heavy-duty oven racks, broil rack, enamel baking pan and air-fry/dehydrate basket. I was a bit nervous this would be a wasted purchase, but I had two ovens before and know how nice it is to have two. I have to say I am beyond thrilled with this oven. Actually I have only used my other oven once since I bought the Breville a month ago. This oven is veryyy accurate and efficient. For example if I roast tomatoes in my oven it would take 1 hour, in the Breville set on super convection, it takes 25 minutes. The airfry setting really works well for roasting veggies. The slow cooker works beautifully. Really I do not have one complaint. As you can see in the photo below. I am cooking potatoes, garlic and tomatoes all at once. I do not know if this would work for a large family, but really for the 4 of us it has been fine for most things.

Coutoven0 Storybook Woods


    So I think it is a value, I paid $400 and am thrilled with my purchase. This is my review of the Breville Smart Oven Air. By the way I was not paid for this review, just to let you know ;-) Also do you love the little shelf David made to hold my spice jars. Painting the walls with chalk paint and adding the shelf, really finishes the space off don't you think!

No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

  No-Mac  Cheese and Cauliflower Storybook Woods

    This recipe all came about because I miss mac and cheese. I wanted a low carb version and tried several recipes, but honestly they were too much work, relied on a roux (I do not eat flour) and I was not happy with the results. In mac and cheese your cooking a pasta that absorbs the sauce, cauliflower does not absorb, so you need a different type of sauce. I learned a long time ago just thickened cream makes a simple sauce. Add some cheese, bake until thick and bubble and it is quite good, and easy :-)

    I have made at least 5 different versions of this with cook /frozen/riced/not and this is the version my family liked best. The second recipe is the one I like the best, because it is easier. I did not have to prepare and par-cook the cauliflower. They are both good though. The only kind of cauliflower I would not use is frozen florets. We all agreed it was too mushy. I do not know why the frozen riced cauliflower is not mushy, but it is not. Par-cooking the cauliflower florets gave a perfect textured with the finished dish. I like to serve this with a steak and salad on our weekends. If you hate cauliflower, make the second version, you will never know there is cauliflower in there, if you use strong flavored cheddar.

No-Mac  Cheese and Cauliflower 1 Storybook Woods

No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

makes a 5x10" pan


1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups cauliflower, small flowerts, par-cooked *see my notes below

1 tsp. dried granulated garlic

½ tsp ground pepper

½ sea salt

Pre-heat oven 350°F

In a sauce pan mix all ingredients, except the cauliflower. On low heat stir cream/cheese until cheese is melted. You do NOT want to boil this, just melt the cheese. Pull sauce off heat and stir in cauliflower. Grease a 5x10" pan and pour cauliflower in prepared pan. Cover pan with heavy lid or foil. Bake 50 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crispy brown around the edges.4


Quicker version No-Mac, Cheese and Cauliflower

makes a 5x10" pan


I cup heavy cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups frozen, riced cauliflower

1 tsp. dried granulated garlic

½ tsp ground pepper

½ sea salt

Pre-heat oven 350°F

In a sauce pan mix all ingredients, except the cauliflower. On low heat stir cream/cheese until cheese is melted. You do NOT want to boil this, just melt the cheese. Pull sauce off heat and stir in cauliflower. Because the cauliflower is frozen the sauce with glop together, but do not worry it will bake fine. Grease a 5x20" pan and spread cauliflower in prepared pan. Cover pan with heavy lid or foil. Bake 50 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crispy brown around the edges.



1. Par-cooking cauliflower. Cut your fresh cauliflower into small florets, about the size of your thumb nail. In a small pan on your stove or in a microwave set on high, boil cauliflower about 3-4 minutes. Until it starts to become transparent in color but still firm. Run cauliflower under cold water and set aside. This can be done earlier in the day too. Just refrigerate until you make you no-mac, cheese and cauliflower.

2. If you want to keep it really fast and quick, make the second version but cook the sauce and riced cauliflower on the stove for about 5 minutes, until the frozen cauliflower is cooked. Then enjoy. I make this for my dinner on nights, when I am cooking something for my family I cannot eat. With a salad it is lovely. Not as lovely as the baked, crunchy version but still good.

3. Lastly, this dish is only as good as the cheese you use. Use a strong cheddar with lots of flavor!


No Potato-Potato Salad

No pototasalad 2 storybook woods

    I am always trying low-carb version of dishes and I will be honest, my family doesn't always like them. Which is fine, as long as they are tasty to me, I am happy. But this replacement I made for potato salad was a big hit for my family. I have been making it all summer long. Really it is the same version of potato salad I always make, with capers and lots of lemon zest. I just replaced the potatoes with raw, riced cauliflower but the dish did not have the same creaminess like regular potato salad. I could have used cooked cauliflower, but we like it raw better. So instead I upped the hard boiled eggs. Between tiny pieces of cauliflower and lots of hard boiled eggs, this dish still has that creaminess that one loves in potato salad!

PS. this is very typical of a low-carb dinner for me. My family all had Moroccan Burgers. I had my burgers without buns with fresh avocado and a small piece for French cheese. And of course no potato-potato salad ;-) works for me.


No Potato-Potato Salad

makes one large bowl


4 cups of raw cauliflower, riced (finely chopped)

3 green onions, white and green part, thinly sliced (chives work well too)

1/4 cup (or more) capers

6 hard boiled eggs, cubed

zest of two lemons, organic and cleaned


Mix all ingredients and dressing together. Toss, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.



3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

Dijon mustard

1 TBL juice from capers

salt and pepper to taste'


Whisk all in a bowl, taste and adjust to your liking.




Wishes Are Like ... Strawberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar



    "Wren sets another bushel of tomatoes under the table and sets to making a salad. On the outdoor worktable Wren has arranged small crocks filled with herbs; chives, basil and hyssop. Next to the crocks is a large shallow pan filled with lettuce leaves floating in cold water. From the pantry she procures some fresh ripe cream brie Luc has sent and carefully crushes a handful of herbs with a clove of garlic in a mortar. Taking the heady paste, she whisks it with some olive oil and strawberry infused balsamic vinegar. Last summer Wren had macerated large vats of balsamic with strawberries from the garden. After a day, she strained them out and set the vinegar in a dark corner of the pantry. This is her favorite vinegar. The strawberries bring out the fruity intensity of the balsamic.

    Carefully drying the Red Speckled lettuce, Wren arranges it on an opalescent platter. Adding fresh figs and slices of brie to the dressed leaves completes the salad. She admires it for a moment the intense purple against the cool white platter.

    Devlin comes striding out of the dining room with a tray of iced tea. He hands her a glass, kissing her cheek. “Another work of art!”" from Wishes Are Like ... the sequel to Wren Bay

After picking 20 pounds of strawberries, I have been making vinegar for the winter!!


Strawberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar

makes one bottle, plus one small jar

1 bottle of balsamic vinegar

frozen strawberries, see notes about amounts*

In a jar or bottle bigger than your bottle of vinegar, pour our vinegar inn it. Add enough strawberries, still frozen, to come halfway up the vinegar. Cover jar and set aside, out of the sun. Let the vinegar sit no more than 2 days. When it smells like strawberries, strain out the berries. Pour you vinegar back in the bottle. You will have extra, which can go in a smaller bottle. A gift for friend, maybe? Store in vinegar a cool, dark cupboard. It will keep for one year. The berries are good in salads. They will keep in refrigerator 2-3 days.


You can make a small batch or a large batch. Just eyeball it, and use about half the amount of vinegar for the strawberries. For example, one cup of vinegar, you would use ½ cup for frozen strawberries but it does not need to be exact.

It is important to use frozen fruit, because they give out more juice.




Thai Peanut Butter Salad

Thai Peanut Butter Salad 1 StorybookWoods

    Twice a month I have lunch with a girlfriend. She is an amazing cook, so we always eat well. This is a salad I made for one of those get together and was requested to write a recipe for it. I like this salad because it s liking having 2 salads in one. It is actually quite hardy and would make a great meat-free, dairy-free, carb friendly dinner. It looks pretty too, which is nice when you have guests!

Thai Peanut Butter Salad 2 StorybookWoods

 Please read the whole recipe before cooking!

Peanut-butter Coconut Salad Dressing

½ cup peanut butter

⅛ cup coconut milk

2-3 TBL honey or coconut sugar

1 TBL soy sauce

1 TBL fish sauce

1 minced garlic clove


* (Add these later)

juice of half lime

1 generous tsp. grated, fresh turmeric (or tsp. dried ground turmeric)

salt and pepper as need

**Water, if needed


In a small sauce pan add the first 6 ingredients. Heat ingredients together on low setting on your stove until melted and whisked together. You do NOT want to cook this, you are just warm it up enough to melt ingredients together. Take pan off heat and let cool 10 minutes, then add lime juice and turmeric. Whisk, together, taste and adjust flavors to your liking.

**If the dressing is too thick you can whisk water in. Start with a TBL at a time, the dressing with separate at first but keep whisking and the dressing with come together.


Asian Vinaigrette

½ cup mild flavored oil, I like avocado oil

3 drops toasted sesame oil

2 TBL (or more to suite your taste) rice wine vinegar

1 TBL fish sauce

1 finely minced garlic clove

fresh ground pepper

soy sauce or salt as needed


Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Tastes and adjust to your liking.


First Salad

2 cups or so of greens (I used spinach)

 a small bit of chopped fresh cilantro


1. Toss greens in Asian vinaigrette. Line your platter with dressed greens. 


Second Salad

3 cups or so chopped raw veggies. I used the following veggies, but use what you like: radishes, snow peas, bell pepper, cucumber, cabbage, green onion, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.

Peanut-butter dressing


roasted salted peanuts

fresh lime


2. Chop veggies in bite-size pieces.

3. Mix veggies in a bowl with peanut-butter dressing.

4. Top greens in vinaigrette with dressed chopped veggies.

5. Garnish salad with avocado, roasted salted peanuts, lime wedges and more fresh cilantro if you like!

note, if you have leftover dressing, it will keep in fridge for one week.






Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream

Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream 0 Storybook Woods

    I make ice cream all the time! It is so easy, cheap and carb friendly. I have a basic 2 cup cream-1 cup whole milk ratio and then play with the flavors all the time. My latest hit is Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream. Really, it is an easy twist of vanilla ice cream. Smoked salt, apple wood smoked salt to be exact, is my favorite spice to use lately I love it in everything, but what I really love in is desserts. I find the smokiness really adds something to the sweetness. It is such a tiny change, but it makes a huge difference in the flavor. A tip, I find smoked salts lose their smokiness quickly. So if you are lucky enough to have a store with a bulk section (like I do) buy it in small quantities. Freshness is important!

Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream Storybook Woods

Smoked Salt Vanilla Ice Cream

makes 3 cups ice cream


2 cups cold heavy cream

1 cup cold whole milk

¾ sugar (I am pre-diabetic, so I use ½ cup coconut sugar and 3 drops of stevia)

1-2 (or more) tsp. smoked salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract


Whisk all ingredients together and taste. If you think it needs a more salty flavor add a bit more. Run in ice cream maker for 30 minutes. Until firm. Transfer ice cream to a container and store in freezer until you are ready to serve. We like ours soft, so we eat it right away. Garnish ice cream with a sprinkling of salt, caramel sauce is good too. I like to serve this with a small glass of sherry.







Winter Little Things, day 22, Grain-Free Porridge

  Grain Free Porridge Storybook Woods 1

   There is nothing like a hot bowl of porridge in a cold winters day, but with my grain-free diet I could not eat oatmeal (too carby for my body). My friend shared me her version of grain-free and that got my mind going. It took me a while to get a recipe down, but I love it and it is easy. Please check out my notes about the recipe. If you eat oatmeal check out how I make it for my family. Or try out my Lavender Pear Oatmeal !


Grain Free Porridge Storybook Woods

Grain-Free Porridge
makes 1 serving

⅛ cup flax meal (or finely ground flax seeds)
⅛ cup almond flour
1 TBL chia seeds
1 TBL sesame seeds
1 TBL hemp seeds
2 tsp coconut sugar, or more if you want it sweeter
small pinch of sea salt

stir all together in a small bowl.

Pour ¼ cup + 1 TBL boiling hot water over porridge. Let porridge sit 5 minutes uncovered. I then reheat the porridge in the microwave for 1 minute on high.
I enjoy my porridge topped with raw cream, unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted pecans, walnuts and a little fruit (like dried sour cherries).


This porridge is quite thick and I think it out with the cream. But if you like your porridge thinner, just add a bit more boiling water when you soak the porridge.

I wanted a smooth porridge with chunky bits of nuts. But if you want it all smooth, add your nuts to the porridge before you add the hot water.

You can play around with the nut flour and seeds BUT use at least flax or chia, this is what helps bind the porridge together.

You can make this dairy free. Also feel free to add spices like cinnamon if you like.

Martini Steak

  Martini Steak Storybook Woods

    Good day. I have decided to go back a rewrite some of my old recipes (I wrote this recipe 8 yrs ago).  I made Martini Steak for my hubby and he still loves it. I even made it for his friends at elk camp and it was a big hit. This recipe is especially good for tougher cuts of steaks. Since I tend to buy meat in bulk, I will make up several of these and store them in the freezer. That morning, I just pull out a baggie and let the steaks defrost. Then all ready to go and grill!

  Martini Steak Storybook Woods 0

Martini Steak

serves 2

2 steaks


¼ cup liquid from green olive jar
¼ cup gin
⅛ cup Vermouth
1 tsp ground pepper
2 crush garlic heads


Wedge of blue cheese (or Gorgonzola)
Sliced green olives

Add the first five ingredient, the marinade, in a zip-lock freezer baggie. Mix well and add steak. Marinate steaks in fridge for 4-8 hours or in freezer.

Drain off marinade and grill steaks as you like. Serve steaks with sliced olives and crumble cheese on top. Enjoy!






Bloom, Browned Butter Trick


Here is a note I posted on FB about my health and weight lost. Thought I would share it with you!!

"Well I weighed myself :-O

    As I have said in the past, when I started this almost a year and 1/2 ago, I do not weigh myself. I do not want to be defined by a number, nor do I want to focus on losing weight. Yes, I need and want to loss weight but even more so, I want to be healthy and I think by focusing on a number is counterproductive for me. Having said that, I know I weighed around 240 lb, give or take. So I finally weighed myself at my dad's and I am proud to say I weigh 203lb. I have lost about 40lb, give or take ;-) Which is wonderful, and not really important, all at the same time.

     I want to share for a couple of reason, first to encourage others. I do not know about you but it really inspires me when I see others meet their goals. Second I wanted to say, low carb and HIGH fat is working for me. Not that you are me. You need to play with what works for you but I tend get a lot of pull back from others who feel that eating fat is bad. Yes, you have to eat the right kind of fat: coconut oil, avocados, grass fed meat and dairy, etc. But I make sure I get a good dose of fat every day. As a matter of fact I am lowering my protein intake (including nuts. I eat them but less now), and upping my fat. I mostly eat veggies with healthy fat. If I eat something like a boneless, skinless chicken breast I make sure I eat a big pat of grass fed butter or half an avocado on the side.

     For me it is eating very low on the carb scale, cutting out most sugar and exercising is what has worked. I will also say I think it is 50/50 on diet and exercise. When I do not do one or the other, I get the same results: bloating, stomach aches, munchies and I'm sleepy. So if you are skeptical about eat fat or just like to hear how others are doing, I hope I have encouraged you. It is not easy, I am not going to lie but there is a sweetness knowing I have lost 40lb. And that I am getting stronger. Thank you for letting me share xox"

    So in-keeping of my love of butter, grass-feed butter that is ;-) I though I would share a simple way to bling up those veggies or plain piece of fish or chicken breast. Brown your butter. It is so simple and easy, and it adds a lot of flavors. It is one of my go to tricks for dinner. The other night we had salad and rockfish filets. I just panned fried them in brown butter, instead of plain butter and it added so much more flavor. I could tell you how to make it but I think it is nice to see, so here is a great video on how to brown your butter.

    Now I will give you another TIP. In the video he pours the butter over his cooked veggies but you can cook your veggies or meat in the butter. Here is what you do, have some oil in-hand, olive or avocado, or whatever you like. When the butter is browned, foaming and smells nutty pour a splash of oil in the butter. This helps the butter from burning. Then you add the meat or veggies. Just make sure you are using something that cooks fast and is thin. If the butter is cooked too long, then will still burn eve with the oil. That is it, a yummy way to get healthy fat into your diet!

Also thank you for the congratulations on my 9 year bloggiversary, I am so grateful for all the friends I have made over the 9 years.  The winner is Dianntha, congratulation xox


Raspberry Coconut-Bacon Salad

  Raspberry Coconut Bacon Salad3 Storybook Woods

    Since my diet is at lest 60% vegetables, I am also looking for interesting ways to bling them up. Then I came across coconut bacon! Wow what an interesting concept. Basically you take unsweetened large flaked coconut (I buy 5# bags through my co-op), mix it with oil and spices, then cook it in the oven. You end up with a crunchy, savory treat that taste similar to bacon. It really does!

Raspberry Coconut Bacon Salad4 Storybook Woods

    I like this idea for several reason, it is inexpensive, it is healthy, it is a way to enjoy bacon flavors when I do not have pastured pork and it taste so dang good. I find myself just munch on it but I created a salad. The coconut bacon is also wonderful on morning eggs with avocado! I encourage you to give it a try and here is a link to several version of the bacon!

coconut bacon 1

coconut bacon 2

coconut bacon 3

Raspberry Coconut Bacon Salad Storybook Woods


Raspberry Coconut-Bacon Salad






fresh raspberries

coconut bacon


I am not putting amounts because you can make a tiny salad or huge. I toss the spinach, cucumber, radish and avocado with the vinaigrette. Then garnish the top with raspberries and coconut-bacon.



1 TBL Dijon mustard

1 TBL raw apple cider vinegar

1 tsp minced fresh garlic

1 tsp honey

oil to taste, 1/4-1/3 cup or so. I like avocado oil for this.

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together, taste and adjust to your liking.

Raspberry Coconut Bacon Salad2 Storybook Woods





Orange Chocolate Cookie Dough Bark, grain-free

  Orange bark storybook woods0

    I have to say this is truly my favorite treat/candy. A top and bottom layer of dark chocolate sandwiched in between with a thick orange/vanilla scented almond dough. I came across this recipe for Cookie Dough Bark (Aimee blog is one of my favorites) and thought it could easily be made grain-free. It could actually be made gluten free as I think most any flour would work. I added the orange flavor but it could be left out. As long as you do not eat the whole pan, which is easy to do ;-) this candy is quite carb friendly and healthy. A fat bomb! I keep small squares in the freeze as a yummy treat!

PS. Don't you love this carved wood frame I picked up in Oregon? I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet but it is a $4.00 bargain!

Orange bark storybook woods40

Orange Chocolate Cookie Dough Bark, grain-free

Makes about 27, 1' squares


1 ½ cup fine almond flour

¼ cup coconut sugar (that is less than ½ tsp per square)

a generous pinch of sea salt

4 drops of Flori Di Sicilla or orange extract or juice

5 TBL butter, cut into small cubes or coconut oil

1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chips, I use 80% (If you use semi-sweet or milk leave out the 1 tsp. coconut oil)

1 tsp. coconut oil


Set aside 9"x4" loaf pan, silicone works best. In a food processor add flour, sugar and salt. Mix together with a few pulses. Add butter and flori. With pulse, mix until it starts to come together as a ball. Do NOT over mix the dough. You want a soft play dough. It comes together in about 30 seconds or so. Get a piece of parchment or wax paper bigger than your pan. Lay dough out on parchment in a log the length of your pan. Using the extra paper (so you do not touch the dough with your fingers) and push down on dough until you have a piece that fits inside the pan. It does not have to be perfect. Just try to make is the size of the pan. Then take the dough wrapped in the parchment set it in the freezer. Make sure it is on a flat surface. Then continue with the chocolate coating.

Orange bark Storybook Woods

You can melt the chocolate and 1 tsp. coconut oil in the microwave, start with 60 seconds and then check every 20 second or a bain marie. After chocolate is melted spread a little less than half over the bottom of the pan. Then pull out your almond filling, unwrap and set onto of chocolate. If you have a large gaps, gently push dough to fill in but as I said earlier, it does not have to be perfect. Lastly pour the rest of the melted chocolate over the dough and spread as evenly as possible. Set pan uncovered back in freezer, on a flat service for 2 hours. After the candy has firmed up, pull it out of the pan and cut it into squares. If it seems to firm to cut, set the whole thing in the fridge for 1/2 hour and then cuts. You can store the candy in a tight fitted container in the fridge. Or if you want to to last longer than a week, I would store it the freezer!

Orange bark storybook woods00

Drunken Beans

  Drunken Beans Storybook Woods

    I mentioned on FB I was making drunken beans for dinner and someone asked what that was. I realized I had not written a recipe for it, which is stupid because I make these a lot! This recipe is another case of me trying to create a bean dish my hubby would like. He HATES beans. I figured if I worked some pork fat in there, that would help ;-) The twist, so to speak, is to boil the beer down to a thick/bacony sauce. It is an easy step and takes those beans to another level. David loves these and I find the more her eats them, the more he is open to eating beans. Since beans are so healthy, full of fiber and cheap, I am thrilled!

Drunken Beans3 Storybook Woods


Drunken Beans

Makes 4 cups


4 cups (or two 15 oz cans) cooked pinto beans

3 slices of raw bacon, cut into small pieces

1 tsp. oil, I like raw coconut

½ large onion, chopped in small pieces

1 cup beer, I use whatever my homebrew hubby has on-hand but rich ale is good.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. ground pepper

1 TBL. salt

Heat a soup pot on high. Add oil and bacon. When bacon starts to release it’s fat (about a minute or two) add onions and turn heat down to med/high. Cook until bacon is crisp and onion have caramelized. If it starts to burn turn heat down more. Then add beer and garlic. You want to cook the beer down until it has thicken BUT before it evaporates. Add beans, pepper and salt. Simmer 10 minutes on low. If the beans seem too dry (not enough sauce) add a small bit of water. Although these beans do not have a lot of sauce. You can enjoy them as is or refry them!

Luck of the Irish Pizza

  Irish pizza 1 storybook woods

    This was such a huge family fav I had to share it. A fun way to switch up that cornbeef. Amounts are general, all depending on what you like. You can leave off the cabbage slaw but I really like that cold crunch with the rich pizza. I served with extra horseradish and sauerkraut on the side. All you need it some Dark Chocolate Stout 60 second mousse and you have a perfect Friday night meal!

Irish pizza 2 storybook woods

Luck of the Irish Pizza


1 pizza crust, can be gluten or grain free too  

1 TBL Dijon mustard

2 tsp horseradish

1 TBL oil, I like avocado oil


Thinly sliced cornbeef, a generous cup or so

Grated cheese, a mix of swiss and gruyere is lovely

Cabbage Slaw


Pre-heat oven 400◦F and roll out your pizza crust. Mix together mustard, horseradish and oil. Adjust amounts to your liking and brush the entire top of the crust with the mustard mixture. Sprinkle some sauerkraut over the pizza, Top with cornbeef and then cheese over the meat. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. While the pizza is baking, make slaw and serve with cooked pizza.


Cabbage Slaw

3 cups finely sliced cabbage

2 green onions, sliced


½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

1 TBL. oil, like olive or avocado

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Salt and pepper to taste


Mix dressing together, taste and adjust to your liking. Add cabbage and green onion to dressings. Toss and serve with pizza. I like to pile it on top of mine.


Roasted Fennel & Beet Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette

Beet Fennel salad w orange2

    This salad was inspired by one we had on New Years eve. It was a beet salad my husband loved. Now I have known David 29 years and have never seen him eat a beet, let alone like it. I adore beets, so I am thrilled. I came home, played around and came up with this salad. I have to say even though I love raw fennel, roasting it has become my new go to. Roasting fennel, like roasting most veggies, brings it sweetness out and softness the strong flavors. If you like fennel I would suggest you try roasting it and see what you think. I keep some on hand to throw in dishes. It is so much easier to just roast a big pan of something and then have it to use!

Tips on changing your beet hater!

  • 1. Golden beets have a much sweeter and softer flavor. Even thought I used red beets for this photo, I try to use golden when I make it for David.
  • 2. Buy the best, fresh beets you can. Also roast/bake them!
  • 3. Do NOT used canned beets. Really I have found most pre-cooked beets to be mushy. You want them cooked tender but not mush.
  • 4. I marinate them for a couple of days before serving them to hubby.
  • 5. Also I cut them up and put them in the dressing while they are still warm (thanks for the tip Angie).
  • 6. Use a dressing with a lot of flavor. Basically you want the beets to taste like the vinaigrette. I have found if you can get someone to eat something (even if you have to drown it in other flavors) over time they get use to the veggie and then you can go lighter on the flavors.

  Fennel  Collage

Roasted Fennel & Beet Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette

Roasted fennel

to roast fennel pre-heat over 400˚F

Take whole fennel and cut in thin slices from top to bottom. Set slices on parchment paper. Lightly oil both sides and sprinkle salt on-top. Roast 45-60 minutes. I like them tender but still a bit al dente, firm. But cook to your liking. When fennel is cool, cut into small pieces. I store fennel in a covered bowl in the fridge, to use as wanted.

Roasted Beets

Orange Vinaigrette

Juice 1/2 small orange

1 TBL Dijon mustard

1 TBL raw apple cider vinegar

1 tsp minced fresh garlic

1 tsp honey

oil to taste, 1/4-1/3 cup or so. I like avocado oil for this.

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together, taste and adjust to your liking. Amounts of beets and fennel is up to what you like, what you have on-hand and how many people you are serving.

Like I mentioned in my tips above. I like to marinate the beets in the vinaigrette a few days before serving them, so I do the fennel separately. Then add the roasted fennel to the beets and vinaigrette just before serving!

Beet Fennel salad w orange3


Churchmouse Christmas Menu

  Christmas menu

    Since our Christmas theme has a Scottish feel, I used that to inspire our Christmas dinner. This is a great menu too because many of the dish (or part of the dish) can be made ahead of time. I will be poaching the salmon ahead, making the custard and herb cheese, as well at the dill sauce a day or two before.

    For Christmas morning I am planning on making scotch eggs, fruit and cheese platter, scrambled eggs (we like our pastured eggs), whiskey bacon, sour cherry/lemon zest scones. And who knows what else.

    For Christmas Eve, we are going a totally different direction. Tamales, taco salad, beer/bacon drunk beans, cabbage salad  w/ lime/cream dressing. All the cookies and candies we have made or have been given. Plus Christmas sangria!!

Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving menu 2014
 Our Thanksgiving menu this year. We love the technique of spatchcock chicken, so we are trying it with turkey. We will see how it goes. Are you trying anything new for Thanksgiving?

Spatchcock Turkey

Baguette, Smoked Oyster, Pancetta stuffing

New York Style Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sour Cream Apple Pie

ps. I forgot to put Spiced Port Cranberry Sauce and I may add this Roasted Oersimmon and Ginger Custard to my menu too!!


Roasted Delicata, Mushroom Brie, Proscuitto Pizza


    LOL, well can you tell I am loving my roasted winter squash? I have been putting it in everything, even soup. Even though I am not suppose to be eating bread, we do have pizza night once (or twice) a month. I have tried some alternative pizza crust but really did not like them. So how I handle pizza crust is first to not have it a lot, duh ;-) Second to make myself a small pizza, like the size of a dessert plate. Lastly, I eat all the topping and about half of the crust. My family is thrilled to finish off my homemade crust for me. This seems to be the best solution for me. Luckly I can have small bits of bread and it does not send me into a bread craze. Actually I think small bits now and then keeps me from feeling deprived. There are foods that if I get a taste of (like TJ mango gummys) I cannot stop. I crave them so bad, so I just do not eat them but bread is different for me. This low carb thing, is such a day to day walk.

    When we do pizza night, it is make-your-own because we all want something different (I usually make some weird pizza for myself) This pizza is my fall fav right now. The combo of salty proscuitto, creamy mushroom brie and sweet roasted squash is heavenly. I have added spinach, which is good but usually have a spinach salad on the side instead. Pizza's are such blank slates, so play with your flavors combos!


Roasted Delicata, Mushroom Brie, Proscuitto Pizza

(I am not giving amounts because it is based off what size pizza you are making and what you like).

pizza dough

thinly sliced proscuitto

roasted delicata squash, cut into small cubes w/ skin on (or any winter squash but if you are using other squash, then remove skin before roasting)

mushroom brie (if you cannot get mushroom brie, then plain brie will do)

thinly sliced mushrooms

grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese, combined

Pre-heat oven to 450˚F

Roasted some delicata squash, cubed in 1/2" squares (skin on) earlier in the day or about an hour before you will bake the pizza.


If I have the time I make the piazza dough that rests 48 hours and uses 00 flour. Letting the dough sit a day or two really makes a difference. If you know you will be having a pizza night ahead of time, I encourage you to try this recipe.

Cover rolled out pizza dough with olive oil (no red sauce w/ this pizza). Lay pieces of proscuitto on crust, then sprinkle the roasted squash over proscuitto. Arrange large chunks of brie and sliced mushrooms. Then top with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Bake 20 minutes or so. Enjoy!



Roasted Veggie Salad w/ Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

  Roasted salad 0

     This salad was born out of me trying to like cauliflower. It is such a healthy and cheap veggie. I really wanted to embrace it. I LOVE roasted veggies, so I started there. I roasted both cauliflower and delicata squash (which I love because you do not have to peel it). I really like how the sweetness from the squash rounds out the salad. Then I made a yummy vinaigrette with kalamata olives. My thinking was their strong flavor would basically cover up the cauliflower flavor I was trying to get use to. I served the veggies on a bed of fresh spinach. This is now my favorite fall salad. A dinner all on it's own or a great side dish to a grilled steak. I have to say after enjoying this salad I now love roasted cauliflower and eat it plain as a side dish or snack. Next is to get used to mashed cauliflower with cheese ;-)

  Roasted salad 2

Roasted Veggie Salad w/ Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

Serves 2 or 4 small dishes

2 cups cauliflower, broken into very small pieces

2 cups delicata squash, cut into cleaned ½“cubes (I do not peel it becuase the peel is edible)

3 TBL (or so as needed) of oil, (I like avocado oil)

1 TBL sea salt

Fresh spinach

Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

You can garnish the salad with feta or parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh herbs, toasted pumpkin seeds, etc.


Pre-heat oven to 400◦F. Line a pan with parchment paper. You want a pan like a jelly roll with sides and roomy enough for for cauliflower and squash. You do not want them squished together on the pan. Coat the cauliflower and squash with enough oil to cover the veggies. Arrange them on the parchment and sprinkle a generous amount of salt on top. Roast 40-50 minutes. I like them very crispy, so I roast them longer.  Let the veggies cool about 10 minutes before putting your salad together.

Toss either just the spinach or all the veggies in the vinaigrette (see my notes about this). Start with half the batch of vinaigrette and then add more as needed. If you do not have enough vinagrette, just toss in a bit more oil. Garnish as you like and enjoy!


Kalamata Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil

3 TBL (or more depending on what you like) of balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove

8 whole but pitted kalamata olives

Salt and pepper to taste


With a blender stick or in a blender, blend all ingredients together. Taste and adjust as needed.


1. I found braking the cauliflower into very small pieces helps and really roasting them. They taste deep-fried then. A little dried garlic is good too.

2. Dressing the salad. I prefer to dress just the spinach but you can taste the cauliflower more that way. So if you are trying to cover up the flavor, dress all the veggies.

3. Roasted green beans, asparagus or tomatoes would be good in this salad too.

4. I like to eat  my roasted veggies soon after I roast them, so they stay crispy.


Roasted salad 3

Pumpkin Custard, grain/gluten free

  Pumpkin cus

    I have not written much lately about my pre-diabetes. I am doing good. It has been 7 months or so. No symptoms, I am working out and doing pretty good on my diet. Which to reiterate is a low carb diet, lots of veggies and some protein. I am not eating quite as low carb as I was. I am adding small amount of beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa , etc. You cannot not eat super low carb long term. If I eat a really bad, carby meal I try to eat real low carb the next day to balance myself out. I find now if I eat too much of something like bread I get a terrible stomach ache, so I satisfy myself with a small slice now and then.

    It if funny the some of the carbs I thought I would miss I do not like pasta and other surprises me like I really crave corn tortillas. It is a constant balancing act. Plus I have my family (if it was only me to feed, it would so much easier ;-)  This dessert came out of trying to make something for my family but also for me. They have been in pie mood lately. Which fine, I just eat the filling and leave the crust but I was sick of the lovely crust calling my name. So I decided to make a pumpkin custard. Which honestly is just pumpkin pie filling but it is all in how you cook it. Very simply you cook the filling at a low temp in a bain-marie. This will give a softer, silkier custard. I used mason jars but did NOT have the lids on while baking. After they cooled I added the lids. This is simple. You can even keep bags of filling in the freezer, waiting to defrost and bake off!

Pumpkin cus2

Pumpkin Custard

makes 4-6 servings


1 pumpkin pie filling, most fillings that have eggs in them will work. I like to use my simply rich filling.


Pre-heat oven to 300˚F (if you know your oven runs hot, then 275˚F)

Fill clean mason jars 1/2 or 1/3 way depending on how big you want each serving. Make a bain-marie (water bath). What I do is take a baking pan big enough to to hold your jars or custard cups and set the pan in my pre-heated oven and pour hot water in pan filling about a third of the way. Then I add the jars. I do not like to add the water after the jars are in the pan because you risk getting water in your custard. Bake anywhere from 40 minutes until 60 minutes. You want the center to be cooked. It may be jiggly but nothing liquidy when you insert a knife in the center. Pull out jars and let them sit on your counter until cool. Then add your lids and store in fridge. All that is needed is a dollop of homemade whipped cream. I barely sweeten mine and add a splash of dark rum!

Carrot Soup Garnished with Hazelnuts

Carrot soup0o

   This is a recipe from lasts fall issue of Gatherings, Rustic Romance (the digatal version is free by the way). It is a simple soup recipe I wanted to share!

    Carrots are an ubiquitous vegetable and one that I always keep on hand. This soup is straight forward. Carrots are cooked in broth and pureed with a touch of cream. What gives the soup its depth of flavor is the hazelnuts and the parmesan rind. I got the idea from light summer minestrone I make, full of vegetables and herbs. I try to keep the leftover rinds from my wedges of parmesan cheese and throw them in soups. After the soup is cooked, I toss the rind away. It is like getting one last squeeze of flavor from the cheese. Simply garnish your soup with some toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil. You have a clean but richly flavored soup!

PS all photos are taken by Annetta Bosakova

Carrot soup 1o1

Carrot Soup Garnished with Hazelnuts
6 small servings

2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 TBL olive oil
5 cups carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced into ¼ “slices
4 cups of chicken broth or water
Heal of parmesan cheese (the thick end of a wedge that is inedible)
¼ cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, with skins rolled off and very coarsely shopped
Toasted hazelnut oil or good flavored olive oil

In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté shallots in oil for five minutes or so, until they are soft but do not burnt. Add carrots, broth and cheese rind. Cover pan and simmer ½ hour, until carrots are soft but not mushy. Remove rind and throw away. Add cream and blend with a blender stick or regular blender until smooth. Taste and add salt/pepper to your liking. If the soup is too thick, blend in some water. When you are ready to serve garnish the bowls of soup with hazelnuts and a of drizzle hazelnut oil.

Since this is such a simple soup the better tasting the carrots are, the better tasting the soup will be.
Another garnish that would be good with this soup is chiffonade fresh basil.

Roasted Pear Sauce


   I have decided to go back and rewrite some of my old recipes (Hopefully in these past 8 years I have learned to write recipes better.). Roasted pear sauce is a recipe I make every year so it is a perfect choice since this is my favorite and simplest way to make pear sauce (or apple for that matter). Please check out the notes below before making. There is also a recipe for Caramel Pear Sauce using the leftover juice. It is wonderful on pancakes, ice cream or fresh fruit!!

PS I have a rockin grain-free cake highlighting this sauce that I will be posting next week. Make sure to come check it out!


Roasted Pear Sauce

enough pears to fill a large baking pan w/ a lid (I used about a dozen) I like anjou

2 cinnamon sticks

2 vanilla beans, cut in half

4 whole anise

2 large slices of candied ginger or fresh ginger, cut into wide strips

½ cup sugar (I use coconut sugar), see notes

1 cup water


Pre-heat oven 250°F

Do not peel or core the pears. I cut pears into 1/4, leaving seeds, skin and all. I only remove the stem. Fill pan two thirds of the way and tuck whole spices in/around the pears. Then top with more pears. As many that will fin in your baking pan. Sprinkle sugar on top and then water. Cover with a heavy lid or foil. Roast one hour. Pull the pan put of the oven.Let the pears sit, covered for one hour.

Strain pears into a large bowl. Set the juice aside for caramel pear sauce. Remove all the whole spices except the candied ginger ad one vanilla bean for the caramel sauce. The ginger gets soft and mushy like the pears, so it can be run through the food mill. Process the pears through a food mill. I fill glass canning jars with a 2" header at the top (so when the sauce expands while it freezes, you have room and the jar will not break). Store jars in freezer. Since the sauce has almost no sugar, I am not sure if it would can well.


Caramel Pear Sauce

usally makes about 1/2 cup


juice from the pear sauce

vanilla bean from the pear sauce, cut open and scrap out the inside, add that to the pear juice. Discard the pod.

1-2 TBL butter

Set juice in a heavy sauce pan. Boil juice over high heat until it reduces by two thirds. Keep an eye on it. The sauce should be thicker and look for it to start smelling caramelly. Pull off heat and add 1 TBL of butter. If you want the sauce more buttery, add another TBL. Fill one or two small jars. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Warm sauce berfore serving.



1. Ideal pears are ripe but NOT mushy. A bit firm is a good thing. I actually buy them hard and let them ripen, so I can pick the perfect time. I smell them. If they smell likes a pear then that is a good thing!

2. I have found every year, even though the use the same type??? of pears, some years they are sweeter, some years not. Some years they put out more juice, some years not. Since it is easier to add sugar than take it away, I go light handed. After I have cooked and ran the pears through the mill?? I taste it. This year’s batch really needed a bit more sugar and vanilla. So I threw the sauce in a big pot, gently heated it (did not boil it) add some more sugar and some vanilla extra. It was fine and not too sweet in the end.

3. Some years a add lemon peel too. Cut pieces about an inch wide. Try to only get the skin not the white pith. Tuck that in with the spices and throw them away after the pears have cooked.

4. Do not forget to keep the vanilla beans for the caramel sauce.



Plum and Cabbage Quick Braised Pork Sausages


    We have been busy harvesting our Italian prune plums. I LOVE these plums but really did not pay attention to them until moved to the island 23 years ago. The old tulip farm we lived on had a huge tree. Oh my goodness they were wonderful and perfect for cooking. I was on the island the other week and picked up some beautiful, artisan made heritage pork sausages. So I thought it would be fitting to create a recipe for these sausages using some of our prune plums. Now I used unripe plums because I liked the idea of a bit of tartness against the sweetness from the pork, cabbage and cream but you can use ripe plums too, just read my notes about them at the end of the recipe.

    This is a very quick recipe about 15-20 minutes cooking. And to save yourself more time, cut up your onions/mushrooms/cabbage in the morning. I used a LOT of cabbage and only 3 sausage to make the meat go father (they were not cheap but oh so worth the money!) but you can use less cabbage or more meat. It does not matter the cooking time is the same. This has become a fall fav of mine. I hope it is for you too!

Plum pork00

Plum and Cabbage Quick Braised Pork Sausages

Serves 4


3-4 sausages (I used three, sliced them up just before serving and mixed them in the cooked cabbage/plum mixture)

½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

½ large cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

Splash of dry white wine (optional)

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup (plus extra if needed) heavy cream

6 plums (Italian is best but any will work) cut into bite size pieces


Heat a large pan (that has a lid) on high heat. After a minute or so add a splosh of oil, then mushrooms and onions. Let onion brown a bit for a minute or two. Then add cabbage and cook 2 minutes with lid on pan. Deglaze pan with wine. Then add salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium/high. Add cream, garlic and sausages. Cook 5 minutes. If using unripe plums add now, if using ripe plums see notes below. Turn sausages over and cook another 5-8 minutes. Check and see if sausage is cooked, if not cover a cook a few more minutes. If you feel like the sauce it to watery, take out sausage, turn heat up to high and boil a minute or two. Enjoy!


If you prefer using ripe plums, it is up to you of you want to add them the last 5 minutes or wait to the end. But cooking them too long could turn them to mush, so if it were me I would add them at the end.

I said I used unripe plums but not rock hard. You know when they look and smell good but are still firm, that is what you are looking for.

You can use less sausage as I did and just slice them up and add to cabbage before serving or serve whole sausages with cabbage/plum on the side.

Also if you want your sausage really crispy? After they have cooked, just brown them up in a small, hot pan and then add back to the cabbage.

Moroccan Burger Mix

  Moroccan burger

    In my attempt to eat low carb (trying to keep my blood glucose down) I am eating basically a paleo diet. Not that I chose a paleo diet, it just mostly suits my needs. I do eat a lot of raw and vegetarian (although vegetarian can be carby, all those beans and rice) but I can only go a few days without meat. Since we buy a whole animal, cows and pigs, we get a lot of ground meat. Which is fine. I like it, it is versatile. Burgers, meat patties and meatballs are served often in my house. I am always looking for a way to change it up a bit and these Moroccan burgers are a big hit. It seems like a lot of spice for only a pound of beef but that is the point. You want these really flavorful, so go heavy handed with the spices. Also play with what you like and what you have on-hand. Honestly, I do not even measure when I make this. I tried to give amounts reflective of how I measure in my mind. A good smoked paprika is a must. I use lots of turmeric and garlic because it is so healthy. My hands are so orange when I make these but it is worth it and a cheap way to bling up cheap food. Enjoy!!

Moroccan Burger Mix

1 pound ground meat

1 TBL smoked paprika

1 TBL ground turmeric

2 tsp dried, powdered ginger

2 tsp dried, granulated garlic (or 2 finely chopped fresh garlic)

1 tsp cayenne or red pepper powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground, dried cumin

1 TBL salt

1 tsp ground pepper

Add all ingredients to a bowl and gently mix together. If you want to check the taste, take a small bit, fry in a pan and taste. Besides burgers, which we loved grilled, this makes great baked meatballs. Add one or two eggs, roll meatballs about the size of a walnut and bake 20-30 minutes at 350◦F

    *Note, you will noticed there is no bread crumbs in the burger or meatballs. That is because it is not carb friendly but feel free to add it if you like. Yes, they are a bit firmer without the bread crumbs but for me, they are fine and a small sacrifice to pay for my health. If you want them moister and do not want to use bread crumbs, try 1/2 cup of grated zucchini. If you peel off the skin, you family will not even know it is there!!

 Also I probably use more, like a generous TBL or tsp. because I do not measure. So really feel free to add a lot and see how you like it.

Pineapple Salted Caramel Ice Box Cake


    One of the joys of living on the water in the northwest, is how tepid the summers are. It rarely goes over 75. Most people do not have air conditioning or ceiling fans. And for those few hot days, well like when it snows ... we fall apart ;-)  This last weekend we were in for record breaking heat, so I turned to my facebook friends for no-cook ideas. They always give me the best advice. One friend mentioned an ice box cake. I will be honest and say I have not had many of these, even as a child.


    So after much research this is my spin on ice box cake. Pineapple and caramel have always been a favorite combination of mine. I love the sweet acidity of fresh pineapple against the richness of caramel. Now this would be even better with homemade cookies but since the whole point was not to heat up my kitchen I bought cookies and salted caramel sauce (Trader Joes). The amounts do not have to be exact, just have plenty of everything. I have to say I LOVED this combo. A real fav and perfect on a really hot summers day!!


Pineapple Salted Caramel Ice Box Cake

Makes a 9” round cake, but you can use any pan. Even just make a mountain of it on a cookie sheet. the messier the better.


½ fresh pineapple, skin removed and cored

salted caramel sauce, a generous cup or so

whipped cream, lightly sweetened (how to whip cream)

36 small vanilla cookies, any cookie, shortbread or graham cracker will work


Assemble all your fillings

Take the pineapple and chop in food processor until you have a chunky sauce.

Warm up caramel sauce, if using pre-made. Remove lid and microwave jar for 30 seconds to soften up sauce.

Make whipped cream. 3 cups of heavy cream whipped w/ 1 TBL. of sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.


Then assemble cake

Line your pan w/ parchment paper (plastic wrap will do but not as good as parchment).

Arrange ⅟ᴣ of your cookies on the bottom of the pan. Spread one cup of whipped cream over the cookies. Do not worry if it gets all messy, it will taste just fine. Next spread half of the purreed pineapple. Then drizzle some caramel sauce over the pineapple. Repeat layering again starting with the cookies. Then top with the last ⅟ᴣ of the cookies, then whipped cream. Lastly drizzle more caramel sauce. Cover top with plastic wrap, so it is not touching the cake and store in freezer. Takes a good 6-9 hours or overnight to freeze. Enjoy!!!


Grapefruit Cucumber Stuffed Avocado Salad


    Once a week I head to the island, so Chloe can hang out with her best friend. They have been doing this for a good 14 years. We mom's knit, chat and cook all day. Both of us are foodies and have similar diet restrictions. I have to say, over these years we have ate very well. This is a salad I made the other week for our get together. I have to say it was quite tasty and easy to make!!


Grapefruit Cucumber Stuffed Avocado Salad

one avocado, halved, pitted and skin removed

2 grapefruits, cut into wedges. I save the juice from the leftover grapefruit in a little bowl

1/3 of cucumber, cubed

6 or so kalamata olives, sliced

a drizzle of good olive oil

garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients except the avocado together. Add a bit of the leftover juice from the grapefruit and adjust taste to suite your palate. Fill avocado with salad and enjoy.

This salad is easy to bling up. Any fruit, cheese, snow peas, a little chopped salami are all good. The possibilities are endless.


Raspberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream w/ Chocolate Bits


    This recipe is a facebook request. I post what I am cooking and everyone wanted a recipe. It is super easy, no-cook, vegan, dairy free and carb friendly. You could make it with other fruit too. Make sure you check out my tips below!!


Raspberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream w/ Chocolate Bits

1 cup fresh raspberries, or more if you have it

1/3 cup sugar (I use coconut sugar)

2 cans, cold, full fat coconut milk (I use 1 can coconut cream and 1 can light coconut milk)

1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

2 tsp coconut oil

In a food processor with blade attachment add raspberries and sugar. Pulse berries a few times to break them up and extract juice. You do not need to grind up the seeds. Strain our seeds with a fine mesh strainer. Pushing down to get out as much juice and flesh as possible. Throw seeds away. In the processor or blender mix berries and coconut milk. Then pour in ice cream maker. Mine takes about 20 minutes. While the ice cream is going, melt chocolate and coconut oil. You can do this in a microwave or on the stove. When ice cream is firm, slowly drizzle melted chocolate in. If chocolate starts to clump up, break it up with a spoon. Transfer ice cream to a container with a tight lid and set in freezer. Enjoy!



I keep un-opened cans of coconut milk in my fridge, so I can make ice cream anytime I want.

You can use more sugar if you want it sweetier. I am just trying to get by with as little sugar as possible.

Coconut oil really is the best oil to use for the chocolate bits because when cold it become firm BUT not rock hard. It is easy to bite into, even when frozen.

Honestly, I tend to make this just after dinner and we eat it half frozen. It is amazing!!

Raw Taco Salad

  Raw tacoinstagram

    As I have written before, that I am looking for ways to eat more protein but cannot afford to eat pastured meat everyday. I have been experimenting and have created some real disasters, also some family favorites. This salad is a family fav and they say the “meat” taste just like the real thing. This salad is easy, simple to suite your families tastes and healthy. That is a win/win.

    One word about getting your family to eat food they are not use to. First you cannot climb the mountain in one step. I was not sure what my family would think of this salad, so I left the "meat' off to the side, thinking that could just sprinkle it on. Actually they heap it on but that is okay because they are still eating a big salad. At first I had a lot of olives, chips and cheese but slowly started reducing all that and adding more veggies. So work with what you know your family likea and do not freak if they want a lot of the goodies and not the veggies. In time you will win them over!!

Raw tacosal lable

Raw Taco Salad

Makes a large salad for 4-6 people, it is vegan if you leave out the cheese

Raw taco meat, see below

Lime Cilantro vinaigrette

2-3 romaine lettuce hearts, cut into strips (you can also use some cabbage like I did in the photo)

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cucumber, cut into small cubes

1 red pepper, cleaned and thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cut up, juice and all

1 large avocado

½ cup jack cheese, small cubes

Toss all vegetables and cheese together. Dress w/ vinaigrette. You can then add the taco meat but I like to serve it on the side so everyone can add to their liking.


Raw Taco Meat

Makes 1 cup

1 cup sunflower seeds, see note about seeds

1-3 tsp of taco seasoning, homemade or store bought. (Just read those labels and know who you are buying from. Some of those spices mixes are full of fillers, GMO & other nasty things.)

About a piece of red onion that looks about the size of a generous TBL.

In a food processor add all three ingredients and pulse chop a couple of time. Taste and adjust, then pulse chop until you get a crumbly, moist meat. The onion is where you get your moister and holds the nuts together. Do not over pulse and create a paste.

Raw tacosal3


  • 1. You can use raw sunflower seeds but if your family is new to eating lots of nuts (or is picky, like mine can be) I suggests you uses salted, roasted sunflower seeds to start with. Once your family is use to eating this dish, you can start to move them towards raw sunflower seeds. Just add a bit salt to the recipe meat then.
  • 2. If you are not worried about doing low carb, you can add bean and crushed taco chips. Or serve them on the side like I do. You can also add olives or different cheese. Really the sky is the limit here. It is what you like.
  • 3. Any dressing will work. My family likes thousand island dressing better but I like the lime/cilantro vinaigrette better.
  •  4. You can make raw tacos too but using whole romaine leaf as the taco shell. Pile the veggies with the dressing on the shell and top with taco meat.

Thanksgiving Menu


    I have had several request for our Thanksgiving menu, so here you go. Sadly I do not have recipes because I just make it up ;-) Like the new stuffing we are going to try this year: GF bread stuffing with caramelized cabbage and onions. I will add some bacon, fresh chestnuts and sage. Also I have already changed the greens to a salad with pomegranates, persimmons and brie with a pomegranate glaze vinaigrette. I will let you know how it was! If you have any question about anything, just write me and I will help the best I can. So what are you making for this Thanksgiving?

Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Uncook tomatoe fixed

    Uncooked tomato sauce is a long time family favorite dish. It was conceived years ago on a hot summer day! I had a pile of very ripe tomatoes that needed to be used. Really what this dish is, is macerated tomatoes. See when you macerate things like tomatoes or strawberries, their juice flow from the fruit and it creates a sauce of sorts. By letting the tomatoes sit in the salty, olive oil it pulls their juices out and that creates a sauce. It also flavors them. I love that after lunch I can make this sauce and just set it aside. Then at dinner time (when I am tired) all I have to do is cook up the pasta!


Uncooked Tomato Sauce

Serves 4


12 or so medium, ripe tomatoes

¼ cup good olive oil

A generous splash of balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves

6 large fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of cooked pasta, (do not cook pasta until you are ready to eat)


Anywhere between 2-5 hours before you are going to eat make pasta sauce.

Cut tomatoes into medium size cubes, around ½ “.  It is important to cut the tomatoes on a board where you can save all the juices. You want all the tomatoes for the sauce. Put the tomatoes, juices, seeds and all in a large bowl. Finely minces garlic cloves and add to tomatoes. Tear basil into small pieces and add to tomatoes. Add, oil, balsamic, some salt and pepper. Stir all together, cover the bowl and set aside on counter. Important you do NOT put the sauce in fridge. It will change the texture and slow down the maceration. When you are ready to eat, cook pasta and add to sauce. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.


1. I like to add fresh mozzarella to this dish. I cut the cheese into small cube and add it to the sauce when I add all the other ingredients, so the cheese can marinate too. I also serve the pasta with fresh grated parmesan cheese but you can make this dish with no cheese.

2. Other herbs are good too; just make sure you use fresh herbs. Dried herbs do not work well in this dish.

3. You can add more balsamic and make it more like a vinaigrette or use no balsamic. If you use more balsamic cut back on the oil a bit.

4. What makes this dish is good, ripe tomatoes. This is why this is a summer dish. If your tomatoes do not have flavor, your sauce will be bland. Also a flavorful olive oil is important.

Raw Granola

  Raw grano00

   I really love raw food for breakfast and lunch. One of my favorite raw food dishes is raw granola. There are lots of different versions out there but mine is a combo of dried fruits, nuts and coconut oil. Sometime I use more nuts to make it really crumbly and sometimes I use a bit more oil and dried fruit to make more of a paste. Either way, it is delish and perfect this time of year over a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Raw grano1

Raw Granola 

Serves 1-2 people

3 dried dates, pitted

1 generous TBL of extra virgin coconut oil, I only use Nutiva

6 dried sour cherries, or equivalent other dried fruit to your liking

a pinch of sea salt

10 walnut halves or other nuts

a pinch of vanilla paste

In a food processor (I have a mini-one and these are really great for raw granola or candy) process dates and coconut oil until you get a bit of a paste. Then add the rest of the ingredients, pulse chop until you get a consistency you like. The whole thing should not take more than 60 seconds to make.Then crumble it over a bowl of fresh fruit.


I actually do not measure, I just wanted to give you an amount to work with. I find it is good no matter if it is crumblier or creamier. Play with it and find what you like!!

I throw some hemp seeds on top.

I soak and dry my dark skinned nuts ahead of time for help remove phytic acid.  

(I keep bags of soaked, dried nuts in the freezer. It also takes away the bitterness.)

You can add raw coco powder. And spices too!

If it is not sweet enough for you, you can add a bit of raw honey.

The skys the limit on what you put in your raw granola!!


Salmon Burger w/ Cream Cheese & Capers

Salmon burger2

     I was grilling salmon burgers for dinner and wanted a new way to bling them up a bit. One of our favorite dishes is my prosciutto/avocado topping but I wanted something new. I was inspired by one of my families favorite breakfast dishes, bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. Salmon burgers are not smoked but I thought it would be delicious just the same. I mean you cannot wrong with salmon, cream cheese and capers? You could serve the salmon burger on a bagel but used a brioche bun. I have to say this was a big hit with my family, an easy way to gussy up something and a dish we will be making again!


Salmon Burgers with Cream Cheese and Capers

Simple add to your grilled (or pan fried) salmon burger a large piece of cream cheese and any of the following;


Sliced red onion


Chopped tomatoes

Chopped hard boiled egg

Fresh dill


I buy uncooked, wild caught salmon burgers from Trader Joes but sometimes I like to make them from scratch!

Salmon Burgers
makes 4 burgers
1 ½  pound fresh, raw salmon, cut into small cubes (skinless and bones removed)
⅟ᴣ cup breadcrumbs, can use GF crumbs
1 TBL Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground pepper and salt

In a food processor add ½ of the salmon pieces and pulse until it is chunky but not totally smooth. It should take 20 seconds or so. Remove and add to the rest of salmon to a bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Gently mix with a spoon until just combined. Form 4 equally-sized burgers. You can grill or fry in a hot, greased pan (or greased grill) about 4-5 minutes on each side. Let the first side get really cooked before turning over the burger because they are fragile. Garnish and enjoy!

A Quinoa Tip!!


    I have written about this before but I think it bares repeating. Not only is quinoa a SUPER food and one that should find ways into your meals but it is perfect for cold, grain salads. So many grains and rice’s, when chilled clump together in a goopy, lumpy mess but not quinoa. It cooks beautifully and chills beautifully too. It never clumps; just gently push with a fork and the quinoa easily breaks up.

    I try to keep some cooked quinoa in the fridge to add to scrambled eggs in the morning, veggie wraps for lunch and side dishes at dinner. I love the nutty taste. When we first started eating quinoa, I would cook it in broth but now that we love it, I just cook it in water. I know it will be perfect for our dinner tonight, Sicilian Salad; lemon vinaigrette, quinoa, slow roasted tomatoes, garlic greens, fresh spinach, dried current and toasted pine nuts!


Lavender Peach Pizza

Lav peach pizza

    Happy summer! To me this time of year means lots of veggies and fruit! I try to make the most of it but I have one problem, a picky daughter (who I will not mention her name but she knows who she is and probably so do all of you because I keep mentioning her!!). She hates cooked fruits: pies, cobblers, crisp and so on. Actually I love to make this kind of thing for breakfasts. They can be made low sugar, gluten free and are pretty healthy. Sigh … but one night I wanted an easy dessert using the case of peaches I just picked up. I also wanted picky daughter to like it, so I came up with this Lavender Peach Pizza. It is veryyyyy simple. The pizza base is made from a pie crust I had in the freezer. I spread a little melted butter, cinnamon and sugar, baked it off and it became a prefect dessert “pizza crust”. Then I smeared on some mascarpone, add sliced peaches and to dress it up a bit, drizzled lavender honey on top. Heaven! You could make tiny, individual pizzas but cutting out small circle from the un-bakes crusts. Just think how impressed your guest will be! Make sure to smear a little butter and flour on your cheek before you serve for the “full guest appreciation” effect xox

Lav peach piz

Lavender Peach Pizza

1 Sugar Pie Crust*

½ cup (or more if you like lots) mascarpone or you can use soften cream cheese.

5-7 ripe peaches

Lavender Honey, this is very easy to make. I always keep a few jars of lavender honey on hand.

When you are ready to serve your pizza, take your cooked, cooled pie crust and spread mascarpone on top. Then add sliced peaches and drizzle honey over the whole kit and caboodle, then enjoy!!

Lav peach pizcrust

*Sugar Pie Crust

One pie crust (can be gluten free), rolled out on parchment paper or greased foil. Make a little lip around the edge (like image of the un-cooked crust above) and pop in freezer for at least 20 minutes while oven is pre-heating.

⅛ cup melted butter

Coconut sugar or brown sugar



Pre-heat oven 375˚F

When oven has pre-heated, melt butter. Pull your frozen crust out and paint it with the melts butter, using a pastry brush . Then sprinkle some sugar, a little cinnamon and a pinch or two of salt. Bake on parchment 15-20 minutes, until the crust is cooked and golden. Set aside and let cook. This can be made earlier in the day.


1. The melted butter will freeze intantly when you brush it onto the frozen pie crust but that is okay!

2. Do not add too much cinnamon, you do not want to over power the taste of the lavender.

3. You could make tiny individual pizzas but cutting out small circle from the un-bakes crusts.

4. Do not have lavender honey on hand? Gently warm some honey with a couple of lavender heads (you can use the steams too). Make sure the lavender has not been sprayed with any pesticides. Do not boil your honey! After honey has warmed, set is aside for a good half an hour, then remove lavender and drizzle honey on you pizza!! Or if you have food grade lavender oil, 2 drops mixed in 1/4 cup of honey will work too (but it is not as good).



A Clean Cook

  Clean cook

    I have been enjoying Thomas Keller's book, Bouchon Bakery. Being one of thee top chefs in America and owning The French Laundry (Which I have eaten at before it was hip and was owned by Don and Sally Schmitt.) I figured Thomas knows his stuff, although he is approaching cooking from a chef's point of view. Which is very different than a home cook but as Madam Mimi would say, "One should never cook like a chef but understand and have the same skills as one."

    In his baking book he uses the term A Clean Chef, immediately a few different ideas went zipping through my mind but then I realized I think he meant all of them. Gosh, what a perfect term for the kind of cook I want to be. If I was starting a new blog or writing a cookbook, I might call it A Clean Cook!

    Originally this was just going to be one post but I realized I have a lot to say, like I always do on the subject of food, so this will be series.

I will be back with what is a clean cook! Please enjoy more of the series






No-Cook Oatmeal

Nocook oatmeal
    I stumbled across this idea about 5 years (and am just getting around to posting it now :-) Soaked or no-cooked oatmeal. I just cover rolled oats in milk and let it stand 1/2 hour and it is done. Delish, chewy but creamy at the same time. One word about the rolled oats; I use thick rolled oats, regular would be fine but I would not use instant or quick oats. They are already cooked, steamed and become gummy when soaked.I am enjoying soaked oats with raw milk, coconut sugar, toasted hazelnuts and dried sour cherries!


No-Cooked Oatmeal

Rolled oats thick or regular, but not instant

Milk, I use raw milk or almond but any milk will work

Put oats in bowl and add enough milk to just cover oats. Set in fridge for 30 minutes. I cover bowl with a small plate. After 30 minutes add your toppings and enjoy!



You can make this the night before, just store in fridge.

If you like your oatmeal hot, put the bowl in the microwave a minute or so before eating.

Rosemary "Crack"er Candy

Rosemary candy

    A couple of years ago a friend had me try a candy made from saltine crackers with a toffee like topping, milk chocolate and toasted almonds. It was great but of course I wanted to bling it up a bit :-)

    One of my favorite things is rosemary italian crackers. I thought rosemary might be a fun twist to this candy. Add some dark chocolate and toasted hazelnut and you have perfection. I have been told by my girlfriends who had this the other night, it was perfect (and could I write the recipe). Enjoy!!!

Rosecracker Collage

Rosemary "Crack"er Candy

Keeps 3-4 days in a container with a tight lid

Italian Rosemary Cracker, I used 6 Trader Joe's brand crackers

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chopped or chips

1 cup (or more depending how much nuts you want) toasted, chopped hazelnuts


Pre-heat oven 400˚F.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Make sure there foil going up the sides of the pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with crackers.

In a sauce pan boil together butter and sugar for 3 minutes. If using coconut sugar only a minute or if you start to smell the sugar burn (which is what happened to me!!). Pour a some of the caramel over each cracker. Then spread caramel over the crackers with a heat proof spatula. Bake 5 minutes exactly. Pull pan out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate over crackers. Wait 5 minutes, the chocolate will have melted. Spread melted chocolate over the crackers. Then sprinkle chopped nuts. Let cook and then brake into large pieces. Store in a tight container.


Peppermint Mess

Peppermint mess

    The other night I was looking for a quick, simple, use what I had on-hand dessert.I had some peppermint jo-jo's and decided to dress them up a bit. Have you heard of Eton Mess? It is this layering of meringues, cream and strawberries, creating a yummy mess. This dessert is the same principle as Etons Mess, peppermint jo-jo's, whipped cream and peppermint chocolate sauce. It creates quite a festive, peppermint mess!

Peppermint Mess


3 peppermint jo-jo's (or oreos or chocolate cookies)

whipped cream

simple chocolate sauce*

crushed candy canes (I was out but it would be a perfect topper if you have some)

In a bowl layer a crushed cookie, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Layer again and garnish with third cookie and crushed candy canes. 


* Simple chocolate sauce

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chocolate (I like to use bittersweet for this recipe) chopped or chips

peppermint extract


Simple put both ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and melt together on the stove set at low heat. When chocolate is melted, stir in s few drops of peppermint extract.

By the way the amount of chocolate to cream does not have to be perfect. I never measure. For the amount of chocolate, I just try to add about half the amount of cream I poured. I just eyeball it!


Happy Thanksgiving Sangria


Well our flooding rains have stopped, David is safely home, I have NO errands to run and tomorrow is our Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. One of them is all of you. I am very blessed to know each of you. I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and feel blessed. Here is a Thanksgiving Sangria recipe (I threw together last night) for you to toast with your loved ones xox


Thanksgiving Sangria

In a large jar or container add

One sliced apple and one sliced pear

One cinnamon stock, broken in half

One vanilla bean, cut in half

A few whole cloves


Cover generously with white wine. (I am using TJ Charles Shaw chardonnay. Got love good $2.50 wine!!)

Cover and let sit a day, gently stirring now and then!!


Image from Three Little Monkeys Studio

Apple Cider Marinated Pork Chops

Apl cid marn

We grill year around. My hubby does not cook but he grills! Since we grill so much I like to change the flavors out. Apple cider is a fall favor and this marinade is a bit hit. Marinating pork (or chicken) is a good idea because both meats can dry out when cooking. It adds flavor and keeps the meat moist. Serves this with an apple, candied pecans, spinach salad and you would have a perfect autumn meal!!

I am linking up with Bernindeen's Tea Time


Apple Cider Marinated Pork Chops

good for 4-6 chops


1/2 cup apple cider (or juice)

3 TBL apple cider vinegar (if you can get raw cider that is the best)

1/4 cup water

2 garlic cloves ruffly chopped

1 TBL fresh ground pepper

2 TBL salt

1 TBL fresh ground nutmeg (do not use pre-grounded nutmeg because it is only sweet. Fresh ground nutmeg has a peppery bite to it!!)

1/2 tsp. ground allspice


Mix all together and marinate chops for 4 hours (up to 12 hours) and pan fry or grill. I like to put my chops and marinate in a zip-lock baggie. Works well!!


Dried Apricot Beet Salad W/ Orange Dressing

Ap beet sal 2

I have mentioned this before, I have a weekly get-together with a dear friend. We always eat something yummy but she cannot eat gluten or dairy. This has been a bit of a challenge for me. I cannot just bring a over loaf of bread with some good cheese. But it is good a good challenge for it has forced me to think even more out of the box. All summer I have been bring salads and this one was a winner. Actually this would be a wonderful winter salad (sooo keep that in mind). The dried apricots and orange zest vinaigrette really brighten up the roasted beets. I would say, this is a jewel of a salad!!

Ap bet sald 3

Dried Apricot Beet Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette

5 medium beets, roasted*

1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup red onion, chopped into small pieces

orange vinaigrette**

Toss altogether and enjoy!!

*Roasting beets

Set 5 medium beets in a pan and add 1/4 cup water. Cover with a lid or foil tightly. Roast one hour in oven at 350˚F. Check to see if beets are done by piercing them with a sharp knife. If firm and cannot be pierced, cook another 20 minutes. When cool, pull or peel off skin and cube in bite size pieces.

** Orange vinaigrette

zest of one orange

juice of one orange

juice of 1/2 a small lemon

1/3 cup good olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 TBL honey

salt and pepper to taste


Mix altogether, taste and adjust to your liking.


Pistachio Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

P blupie

Pistachio blueberry cheesecake pie, my that is quite a mouth full! I know cheesecake and pie, sounds weird but it is really not a cheesecake more of a cheesecake tasting filling, minus the eggs. I have to say this is a yummy combo and one my family really loved. You could assemble this in the morning, keep it in the fridge and bake it off before dinner. Also you could use a lot of filling like I did or half the cream cheese part and more berries. Really it is up to what you like!!!


Ps blpie

Pistachio Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Cream cheese filling*

2-3 three cups fresh blueberries, depending on what you like. You can also use frozen berries but do not defrost them.

1/2 cup corsely chopped pistachios. You can use raw or toasted, salted nuts.

1 pie crust


Pre-heat oven 350

Lay pie crust on parchment paper. Spoon filling into the center of the crust. Leave a good three inches of crust bare to fold over (look at first picture). Top with berries and then pistachios. Gently fold side up and over the edge of the filling. Bake 35-45 minutes. Until your crust is cooked and browned. 


*Cheesecake Filling

8 oz of cream cheese at room temp

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

1/3 cup sugar

grated lemon peel (optional)


Put all in electric mixing bowl. Cream all together. If you want a pie with just a little cream filling make half the recipe. Really how much filling and fruit you use is up to personal taste and it does not change the amount of time you bake it. By the time your crust is cooked your filling will be too.

Raspberry Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

Lac rasp 3

I have to share my new favorite food, lacto-fermented veggie!! I tell you these are addictive. And healthy, as Sally Fallon says in her book Nourshing Tradtitions

"The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine."

So what is lacto-fermanted veggies? Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria. I have found this method of preserving really easy to do.

The other reason I love this method of preserving (besides the fact that it is easy) is my family hates canned or pickled veggies and fruit. I do some freezing but my freezer is only so big. Drying works for certain things but really this is the best way I have found to preserve vegetables that my family loves.

My friend Angie is the one who turned me onto this. I was already making water-keifer (which I also LOVE), she shared this Lacto-Fermentation video with me. It is worth checking out if you are interested in using this method. I do, do two things different than him. I use a ratio of 1 TBL salt/2 cups water. Also while lacto-fermenting I keep a small baggie with water on top of the veggies. This hold down the veggies but lets bubbles escape. Just make sure the baggie fills in the top of the jar. I had to keep adding water and taking out until I figured out how much water to use. Always make sure your veggies are covered in the brine.  There is much more info out there (I am not an expert on this subject.) But check out Jenny McGruther's webinar she knows what she is talkng about and adress safety!!


Lac rasp

Raspberry Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

10 garlic cloves

1 cup raspberries

green beans, I did not measure but I used about 4 cups


Take a clean, sterilized jar and fill with veggies. Leave a good one inch head space at the top. Cover with brine. Make sure all vegtables are covered in brine. Take a small (or large if using a large jar) zip-lock baggie and fill with some water and set on top of veggies. Baggie should fill in the whole opening. Set you jar aside somewhere, where you can keep an eye in it. You will sett little bubbles and in two-three days the brine should start to look cloudy. Feel free to taste and see how it is tasting. After anywhere from 4-7 days the veggies will be ready. You will find all the red is leached out the the raspberries and into the brine. Keep in fridge for up to 6 months. Metal should never touch the lacto veggies, so I set a piece of wax paper over the jar and then screw on the lid.



Fill container you are using with water. Measure that amount. Use 1 TBL salt for every two cups of water. Gently simmer water in a pan until salt melts. Set brine aside and let cool.

Peach Melba Dinner Salad

  Pech m salad

We are finally have summer weather, yeah!! Today is going to be close to 90 and this is rare for us. Almost nobody has air conditioning (except my mother, who I can escape to if it gets really bad. Mother's rock!!), so it is light, easy meals we are craving. I wanted to make some dinner salads but was not feeling inspired. I decided to ask FB friends for ideas and boy did everyone come through with lots of yummy salad ideas. This salad it bits and pieces of ideas my FB friends shared. Thank you all by the way!!

I knew I had to share this salad when my family came moaning to me how good it was and told me I need to make it again. Actually what they always say is never make this again, which is code for this is insanely good. I did not put amounts because I think how big of a salad you would make and what you like (maybe you would rather have more tangy green apple or more sweet peaches. I use one apple and two peaches by the way). It is all about your palate and what you like xox


Peach Melba Dinner Salad

I have no amounts listed because I think it depends on the size salad you are making and what you like.



chicken breast cubed, grilled or poached

candied pecans

green granny smith apple, cubed

peaches, cubed

raspberry/lime vinaigrette *

Toss and enjoy.


* Raspberry/ Lime Vinaigrette

1/2 cup raspberries. If using frozen, give them time to defrost

1/3 cup oil, I like a good olive oil

zest of a lime

juice of half a lime

3 TBL honey

1 garlic clove, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste


Put all ingredients in a large bowl, mash and mix together. Taste and adjust to you liking. Your are looking for a vinaigrette with a nice balance between sweet and tang from lemon.



Grilled Apricot Quinoa Salad

Gil apar sal 2


    For those of you who are not on FB, I am always posting what we are having for dinner. Usually it is a “last minute, what do I have on-hand?” kind of dinner. This recipes is one of those. I had just picked up 10# of bing cherries and 13# of apricots. The apricots were sweet and delish but still a little firm. Looking for a way to use them in my dinner I came up with this salad.

    Grilling apricots is easy. You want ripe but NOT too ripe of fruit. If they are too ripe, they are soft and hard to grill. I tossed the apricots with some cooked quinoa, arugula from the garden, feta cheese and a lime vinaigrette. Oh and I added some chopped lemon verbena but basil would be good too, only just use fresh herbs!

    Quinoa is my favorite grain for salads. Not only is it a super food but it has have a yummy nutty flavor and holds well in the fridge. You know how cooked rice and other grains when refrigerated stick together? Well quinoa does not do that. So you can keep cooked quinoa in the fridge ready to use. I love it when something makes my life healthy but easier at the same time!!


Grilled Apricot Quinoa Salad

6 grilled apricots, cut into large pieces *

Quinoa **

Lime dressing ***

feta cheese, amount to your liking

1-2 cups arugula leaves

Toss all together and enjoy!!


*Grilled apricots

Use apricots that are ripe but still a bit firm. If the fruit is totally ripe it is very soft and hard to grill. Cut apricots in half and discard pits. Coat fruit in oil. Grill apricots cut side down, 2-3 minutes. Until it starts to soften a bit and you have grill marks. Flip fruit over and grill 2 more minutes.



Bring 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt to boil a sauce pan, Add 1 cup quinoa and lower heat to a medium heat or simmer. Cover with a heavy lid and cook 20 minutes. All water should be gone. If not, cook another 5 minutes. Pull off heat and let quinoa sit 5 minutes covered.


***Lime dressing

1/2 cup good olive oil

juice of half a fresh lime

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 TBL. honey

6-8 lemon verbena leaves (or basil) torn into bits

salt and pepper to taste

Wisk all together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your liking.


Prosciutto Topping for Salmon

Pro topp 1

    I always know when I have to share a recipe with all of you when my family begs me to make the dish again. This is one of those times. We were having grilled salmon burgers but I did not want to do the bun thing and was looking for a way to bling up the salmon. I had some prosciutto on hand and thought I would give it a try. I have to say prosciutto and salmon go brilliant together. They are both rich and slightly sweet. Instead of fighting each other, I think they brought out the best in each other. Adding the creaminess from the avocado and the sweetness for the tomato rounds it out.

    A word about prosciutto, I know it is expensive. I also know we are all looking for ways to stretch our pennies but I would like to make a case why I think prosciutto is a budge friendly pantry item. First you only need to buy a small of amount. I am always asking the deli to slice me 3 thin slices. I find that suits me just fine because secondly, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Prosciutto has a lot of flavor and a little goes a long way. It can take a simple ingredient like chicken or potatoes and really add something. Thirdly, you do not need buy prosciutto di Parma. Now prosciutto di Parma is amazing and I am not going to pretend domestic prosciutto is the same BUT domestic prosciutto it is good enough for everyday cooking!

*A tip: make sure you buy your prosciutto at a store that has a good turnover. If the prosciutto sits around too long, it taste old (sorry I do not have a better word ;-). If unsure, ask for a sample!


Prosciutto Topping

serves 4-6, depending how much topping you like. I could eat the whole bowl myself !!!


3 thin slices of prosciutto, cut into small pieces

1 medium, ripe tomato cut into bite size pieces

1 ripe avocado, cut the same as tomato

3 TBL. of good olive oil

1 garlic clove finely minced

salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients and serve over salmon.


Roasted Tomato Avocado Smoked Burger

Rost tom burg 2

I had no plans of posting this recipe (believe it or not, I do not post everything I make for my family ;-) but these were soooooooo insanely good, I had to. I mean my family was already asking me (half way through eating the burger) when I was going to make the burgers again. There is just something about the combo of the smoke from the smoked paprika and wood grilling with the sweetness from the slow roasted tomatoes and rub, plus adding the richness from the cheese and avocado, Amazing!! We enjoyed this meal with a big simple salad, corn chips with smoked salsa and some roasted red pepper hummus. I will be cooking this meal again next week!

ps, I know in the picture is looks like there is ketchup on the bun but it is just the juice from the roasted tomato.

Roasted Tomato Avocado Smoked Burger

makes 4

4 Smoked Burger*

Roasted Tomatoes, I used small/medium vine tomatoes

4 buns, we like whole wheat

avocado, sliced

Dijon mustard

sliced cheese, ideally something smoked like smoked provolone

Grill the buns, spread a little Dijon on for spiciness, top the burger with some roasted tomatoes and avocado, then enjoy!!


Smoked burger

1 pound ground meat, I used elk

1/4 cup of my smoked paprika rub

Mix together and form four burgers. Grill as you like. If you have some wood for smoking, add that to your grill. We threw on some apple wood. As soon as you pull the burgers, top with cheese so it will melt.