Pompeian Spray Oil – a wicked cool find!

Image via Pompeian.com
Image via Pompeian.com


First of all, you aren’t going crazy… you have reached the same blog… art. food. home. by barbara stroud… some changes have been made in the look of the blog, let me know what you think!

Have you read the ingredients in spray oil? You know the stuff you spray baking pans with? Yikes! AND if you’re supposed to steer clear of soy, most of it has soy in one form or another, so this was a welcome sight. There are a few brands now available and this is great news! Keep an eye out for them! Also gluten free for those of you who need that!

Catch you back here tomorrow!


[featured product]: everyone needs this! makes a great gift as well!

[featured product] is something that I really like… in this case its something that is so useful, cuts down on foil and plastic in landfills and is a treat to the eye… whatever could it be??

CharlesViancin silicone lids

One of the gifts I received for my birthday from my mom and dad were a few of these Charles Viancin silicon lids. I was thrilled! They know I LOVE THIS STUFF! I’ve had my eye on silicone lids for a while, but haven’t bought any… Why am I so excited about silicone lids you wonder? NO PLASTIC WRAP (can you imagine?) or FOIL to cover bowls with! Sweet! Everyone loves dealing with plastic wrap, right? Ugh. And foil… the price keeps going up like crazy (what’s up with that??)…

As you can see these silicone lids are good for many reasons, they’re BPA free, the may you eco friendly but reducing waste, they seal tightly, I tried it on a cereal bowl (the small size, 6″), I just set it on top, and I could pick the bowl up by the center stem that sticks up…. the suction is unbelievable. To get it off, set it down, and lift it off… comes off easier than you can imagine.  The lid creates an airtight/waterproof seal keeping your food fresh! You can even use it while cooking to retain steam… you can use it in the dishwasher and the microwave!

CharlesViancin rectangle

As you can see they make all sizes, even small lids for glasses, stoppers for wine bottles (how cool is that?), cutting boards, etc. All different flower patterns, and I saw on their Facebook page that they have a snowflake design coming out soon for the holidays! Check out their STORE LOCATOR to see where you can purchase them near you… if there isn’t a place, you can find them on Amazon.com!


I love smart things! Catch you back here tomorrow!


O N E   Y E A R   A G O…  Featured Artist… William Berra!

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O… Sullivan’s Island Home Tour, Day 1!

All images via Charles Viancin

How to make homemade hot chocolate mix!

AltonBrown hot cocoa foodnetwork

Hot chocolate. The epitome of comfort food during the cold months. There is nothing better then a warm mugful of the tasty treat that satisfies your need for warmth, sweet and chocolate craving all in one fell swoop!

I have previously posted how to make Hot Chocolate from scratch (using milk). It’s a treat, a real treat!

But… if you’d like to make  a hot chocolate mix (like the store brands) that is healthier (because it’s minus the strange ingredients) that you mix with water, just like the pouch you buy at the store, Alton Brown from the Food Network came up with a recipe to make it quick and easy.

This recipe received five stars by all those who reviewed it… that’s the highest… how convenient to whip it up yourself!

5stars foodnetwork

This recipe received FIVE STARS

Hot Cocoa

Alton Brown

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown – (Food Network) – Yield 5 1/2 cups of hot chocolate mix

Print Recipe


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Hot water


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.

Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk.

How easy is that?!  Catch you back here tomorrow!

CHILI RECIPE: How to make a great pot of chili!

Best Chili Ever!

This is one fast and easy recipe. This chili is so tasty you absolutely won’t believe it, especially when you see how quickly it comes together… Not too many ingredients:


1 pound ground sirloin (or whatever hamburger meat you prefer, I find whatever I can that has no antibiotics, etc.)

1 onion, diced

2- 28oz cans of diced tomatoes

2- 16oz cans of chili beans (I use Bush’s Chili Beans, whatever heat level you desire. Today I used Medium)

Chili Powder (to your taste, I use about 1-2 Tablespoons)

Crackers to crinkle on top when served… can also top with cheese, sour cream and any other topping. I just use crackers, oyster crackers are best!

Step One:

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onion. Cook until translucent.

Add hamburger and break up with spoon while it cooks. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Step Two:

Add two cans of tomatoes and two cans of chili beans WITH the juice. Now take each can that you used (tomatoes and chili beans) and fill each can about 1/3 of the way with water. Add the water to the pot (this also gets the extra juice from tomato cans/bean cans).

Now add the chili powder, you can also add pepper… if you used no sodium tomatoes/beans you can also add salt at this time. (I don’t use it because I buy regular tomatoes and chili beans, so there’s plenty of salt).

Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Add more water if it needs it. You can make it as thick or as runny as you like! As it simmers it will reduce over time.

Serve in a bowl. Can top with saltines, oyster crackers, cheese, sour cream, green onions or whatever sounds good to you!

NOTE: Last time I made chili I didn’t have chili beans and didn’t want to run to the store. What I did have is cannellini beans, so I DRAINED those beans and added two cans and I doubled the chili powder. I think I also tossed in a tablespoon or two of diced jalepeno’s… I buy them in the pickle section, that way you don’t have to cut them up… good time saver! This chili was awesome. You can use whatever beans you like. Most common are red kidney beans or whatever you’ve got on hand!


Catch you back here tomorrow!

Recipe! White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Recipe (and image) by GoodLifeEats!

LOOK at this amazing macaroni and cheese! Something DIFFERENT… as soon as I saw it I ran to the store and bought the ingredients. This Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon recipe is by Katie Goodman, author of the Good Life Eats blog. Well, LOOK at that photo, doesn’t that just look so darn good? Well, let me tell you. IT IS! At first I was skeptical. Kale? Hmmm. Not sure if I like kale. I know some people love it. I also know some people really don’t love it. I emailed Katie to see if there was a good substitute for something less “kaley”, she offered the suggestion of swiss chard. Ooooh, I love swiss chard! So that’s what I was going to buy, but instead I saw that the kale was local and in season, so I thought I would try to be a grown up and try it. Guess what? I LOVED IT! It’s got to help to have cheese and bacon to go along with!

These are the only things I changed… Since there are just two of us, I made half a batch, which was enough for 4 servings (hefty servings). I left out the garlic (which we normally eat quite a bit of), nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. I used Cabot’s Seriously Sharp white cheddar (ohmygosh!) and I used the white fiber seashell pasta to make it a little more “healthy”. I also didn’t make the croutons on top, if I would have had the bread on hand I would have, but it was delicious without it as well!

Check out Katie’s blog, and if you’re a macaroni and cheese lover, give this a try. It’s heaven on a plate!! Here’s the recipe from Good Life Eats! My version is below, clink on the printer icon to print the original recipe from Good Life Eats!

Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon



1 lb. macaroni
3 tablespoon butter
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
1 ounce parmesan, finely grated
dash nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces center cut bacon
3 1/2 ounces fresh kale, chopped (about a half a bunch)


Cook pasta one to two minutes less than package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Cook bacon, drain, break into pieces and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter. Sauté onion for 3 – 5 minutes over medium heat, tender. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden. Slowly whisk in the milk while cooking over medium heat.

Stir in the cheddar and parmesan cheeses, mixing until melted. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper, and salt (if desired). Bring to a slow simmer, and then stir in the pasta, bacon, and kale. Oh, this is going to be so good!

Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3 1/2 quart oven safe casserole dish or cast iron pan (as mentioned in the original recipe. Bake at 375 degrees F on the center rack in the oven for 10-20 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.


Catch you back here tomorrow!

Pasta with zucchini and onions from the Farmer’s Market… delish!

Aren’t these just the sweetest baby yellow squash, pattypan squash and zucchini that you’ve ever seen? Here is a quick and easy meal to prepare that will make you want it again and again and again… you don’t have to use baby zucchini/squash, you can use regular. However, if you can find the baby, it’s a treat, we got this at the Farmer’s Market (Charleston, SC)…

This time I decided to try Trader Joe’s Spinach and Chive Linguini… it was tasty! I didn’t have any strong flavors in this pasta, so the chives and spinach flavor were a nice touch… You can use whatever kind of pasta you like… often times I cook whatever kind strikes me, cappelini (Angel Hair), Linguini, Spinach pasta of any type, whatever sounds good to you!

Cut up the zucchini and onion… if you have anything else to add, go ahead, it only gets better… red pepper, mushrooms, tomato. Sauté in olive oil (or canola oil) on medium high heat until zucchini starts to brown and onions are translucent… Cook your pasta, drain, and add to the pan with the veggies… stir around, dish up and sprinkle with copious amount of parmesan (ok, so my ‘copious’ and your ‘copious’ may differ, I get my parmesan cheese “habit” from my mom…) and TADA… dinner is ready in no time and it is KILLER! Fresh and tasty…

Here’s the “recipe” which as mentioned above can be changed however you like! All measurements are approximate, you can’t mess this up… well… for the most part!


1 medium zucchini (or an equal amount of baby squash)

1 small yellow squash, pattypan squash, etc.

olive oil

pasta of your liking

parmesan cheese

salt, pepper

In a large pan, boil water for the pasta. Depending upon the cooking time for the pasta, start the veggies… give them about 10 minutes.

Cut up the squash. I don’t peel (especially baby squash) but if its tough (or not organic) then go ahead a peel it, it has good vitamins in the skin, so I try to eat it… dice the onion.

In a nonstick frying pan add 1 Tablespoon (roughly, if it needs more, add it) of Olive Oil… (If using a regular pan you’ll need more oil)

Once the oil is hot, toss in the chopped squash and onion. Don’t stir around too much, if you can let it sit for a bit before stirring it will brown nicely. Don’t let it brown too much… just some crispy edges are nice…

Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander. When the veggies are done you can turn the heat to very low and add as much pasta as you think you’ll need (it’s hard to judge when cooking pasta, but when you put it in the pan you can tell if you have way too much pasta for the amount of veggies). Stir it around to coat the noodles (add a splash of olive oil if necessary if it appears to be dry). Dish up the pasta and sprinkle with S&P and parmesan… and ENJOY!

Variations: sometimes I cut up fresh tomato and add it after it’s on my plate… also wedges of avocado are so nice… sometimes I will dice up some banana pepper and add that with the zucchini and sauté it… it adds a nice flavor!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Healthbeat: Beat Your Sugar and Starch Addiction… Here’s how…

I have to share with you a fabulous article from Prevention Magazine. Now don’t roll your eyes… hey, every little thing we can do to preserve our health is worth it, right? These are LITTLE changes that can help you beat the sugar and starch addiction (yes, addiction… America is addicted to sugar, and I’m no different. I am struggling to stop my sweet tea (and it’s not very sweet, I make “sweet tea” with 3 tablespoons of sugar for 2 quarts)… I find I don’t want to drink it… sigh… BUT tea is good for you, so I bought a mint plant and pluck off a section and place it in the glass and smash it with a spoon to release the wonderful mint flavor… at least that adds a different flavor!). Here are a few things YOU can do… this is adapted from the Prevention Magazine article adaptation of The Sugar Blockers Diet: Eat Great, Lose Weight–A Doctor’s 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Lower Blood Sugar, and Beat Diabetes–While Eating the Carbs You Love, by Rob Thompson, MD, with the editors of Prevention (Rodale, 2012). 

Have a Fatty Snack

Have a fatty snack 10 to 30 minutes before your meals. Reason: You remain fuller longer. 

At the outlet of your stomach is a muscular ring, the pyloric valve. It regulates the speed at which food leaves your stomach and enters your small intestine. This valve is all that stands between the ziti in your stomach and a surge of glucose in your bloodstream. But you can send your pyloric valve a message to slow down.Fat triggers a reflex that constricts the valve and slows digestion. As little as a teaspoon of fat–easily provided by a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese–will do the trick, provided you eat it before your meal.

Start Your Meal With A Salad

 Reason: It soaks up starch and sugar.

Soluble fiber from the pulp of plants–such as beans, carrots, apples, and oranges–swells like a sponge in your intestines and traps starch and sugar in the niches between its molecules. Soluble means “dissolvable”–and indeed, soluble fiber eventually dissolves, releasing glucose. However, that takes time. The glucose it absorbs seeps into your bloodstream slowly, so your body needs less insulin to handle it. A good way to ensure that you get enough soluble fiber is to have a salad–preferably before, rather than after, you eat a starch.

Eat Some Vinegar

 Reason: It slows the breakdown of starch into sugar.

The high acetic acid content in vinegar deactivates amylase, the enzyme that turns starch into sugar. (It doesn’t matter what kind of vinegar you use.) Because it acts on starch only, it has no effect on the absorption of refined sugar. In other words, it will help if you eat bread, but not candy. But there’s one more benefit: Vinegar also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

You should consume vinegar at the start of your meal. Put it in salad dressing or sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on meat or vegetables. Vinegar brings out the flavor of food, as salt does.

Include Protein With Your Meal

 Reason: You won’t secrete as much insulin.

Here’s a paradox: You want to blunt insulin spikes–but to do that, you need to start secreting insulin sooner rather than later. It’s like a fire department responding to a fire. The quicker the alarm goes off, the fewer firefighters will be needed to put out the blaze.

Even though protein contains no glucose, it triggers a “first-phase insulin response” that occurs so fast, it keeps your blood sugar from rising as high later–and reduces the total amount of insulin you need to handle a meal. So have meatballs with your spaghetti.

Nosh on Lightly Cooked Vegetables

 Reason: You digest them more slowly.

Both fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber. As a rule, though, vegetables make better sugar blockers, because they have more fiber and less sugar.

But don’t cook your vegetables to mush. Boiling vegetables until they’re limp and soggy saturates the soluble fiber, filling it with water so it can’t absorb the sugar and starch you want it to. Also, crisp vegetables are chunkier when they reach your stomach, and larger food particles take longer to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Another tip: Roasted vegetables like cauliflower can often serve as a delicious starch substitute.

Sip A Glass Of Wine With Dinner

 Reason: Your liver won’t produce as much glucose.

Alcohol has unique sugar-blocking properties. Your liver normally converts some of the fat and protein in your blood to glucose, which adds to the glucose from the carbs you eat. But alcohol consumed with a meal temporarily halts your liver’s glucose production. A serving of any alcohol–beer, red or white wine, or a shot of hard liquor–will reduce the blood sugar load of a typical serving of starch by approximately 25%.

That doesn’t mean you should have several drinks (especially if you have diabetes, as multiple drinks can cause hypoglycemia). Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it also delays the sensation of fullness, so you tend to overeat and pile on calories. Be especially mindful about avoiding cocktails that are made with sweetened mixers–yet another source of sugar.

Save Sweets For Dessert Only

 Reason: All of the above.

If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, there’s nothing to impede the sugar from racing directly into your bloodstream–no fat, no soluble fiber, no protein, no vinegar. But if you confine sweets to the end of the meal, you have all of the built-in protection the preceding rules provide. If you want to keep blood sugar on an even keel, avoid between-meal sweets at all costs–and when you do indulge, don’t eat more than you can hold in the cup of your hand. But a few bites of candy after a meal will have little effect on your blood sugar and insulin–and can be quite satisfying.

 Bonus Sugar Blocker: Move Your Body

 There are other ways of blunting sugar spikes, and exercise is one of the best. Your muscle cells are by far the biggest users of glucose in your body and the target of most of the insulin you make.
When you exercise, your muscles need to replenish their energy stores, so each cell that you work out begins making glucose “transporters.” These sit on the surface of the cell and allow glucose to enter.In the meantime, while cells are still making the transporters, they also open up special channels that allow glucose in, independent of insulin. So to reduce sugar spikes, try going for a walk after eating.
Here’s a quick QUIZ to see if you’re at risk for Diabetes. I know sometimes you just don’t want to know, but this is one time you need to know. If you know you can prevent things from getting worse and turn things around!
Now with all that being said, it’s not really that hard. Have a small salad with some sort of fat (cheese, avocado, etc.), and a vinaigrette (any type of vinegar and olive oil). Then for your meal have a lean protein and a lightly cooked veggie. Sip a small glass of wine if you drink wine (not a reason to start drinking if you don’t). If you’re going to eat a sweet, have it after a meal as dessert, then… take a walk! Even if it’s just around the block. Leash up Fido and make his day!
Catch you back here tomorrow!

Vanilla bean infused honey… delish! Great on yogurt…

Vanilla Bean Infused Honey

Ahhh, if you’re one of the many making changes in your diet to cut sugar for a myriad of reasons, this will help! Vanilla bean infused honey… you can drizzle a little (or a lot) in your Greek yogurt for a fabulous taste! You can use it for many things, this is just what I happen to use it for… (oh, but since I can smell the bakery and the heavenly bread I keep getting images of a nice piece of toast (with the bakery bread), slathered spread lightly with Kerrygold grass fed cow butter (yep, sounds healthier already doesn’t it??) and a drizzle of the vanilla bean honey… oh boy! It’s dangerous living near a bakery… ha ha… Dr. Oz would remind you that honey is still sugar, so tread lightly… let me know how YOU use it… or what else you put in your Greek plain yogurt to make it tastier??!

Here’s the how… not much to it!

4-6 oz. honey

1-2 vanilla beans

Slice the vanilla beans at each end, then scrape the “meat” out of the inner part of the vanilla bean. Once you have done that…

In a heavy small saucepan, heat the honey (on low) until it’s warm, add the vanilla bean (“meat” and discarded bean portion), stir it around. Keep it on low about 10 minutes or until fragrant. Turn off, let cool, place in glass container.

Hope you enjoy! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Coconut Oil… what’s looking to be a very healthy oil that doesn’t get stored in the body as fat!

Image: Amazon

Coconut Oil… have you heard the rave reviews about all the wonderful things it can do? From what I’ve read this past weekend it can aid in losing weight, help prevent or even help those with Alzheimer’s, moisturize skin and hair, increase HDL (good cholesterol), decrease LDL (bad cholesterol), decrease triglycerides, the list goes on and on. We’ll have to wait for long term studies, but for me, I’m jumping on the bandwagon, and taking 1 tablespoon a day. It can’t hurt. Let me know if you’ve tried it. WHY are YOU taking it?  HOW are you taking it? I tried eating it off the spoon (it’s like lard), that was a little difficult, so I heat it ever so slightly and swallow… a tablespoon is doable, I personally chase it with a Triple Ginger Cookie from Trader Joe’s 🙂 some people but it on toast, in coffee, in oatmeal, in smoothie’s, use it as oil and topping when making popcorn… AND the reason I bumped into the health benefits about coconut oil was because I saw a recipe for Double Coconut Muffins on the Smittin Kitchen website… whoa, they sounded good, and I had just spoken to my mom who told me about a video that someone just told her about (click HERE to see it) about how it’s helping Alzheimer’s Disease, and also helping to prevent. I’m sure long term studies are a ways off, but if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s you know how devastating it can be. I vowed to try this, it’s worth it to me… so now, I think everyone I know is taking this for one reason or another. I just didn’t want you to be left out of the loop!

Google Coconut Oil  and you will see so much information it will make your head spin. Try to read from reputable sources and realize that anyone can post anything to the Internet… From what I’ve read, you should buy VIRGIN coconut oil. Ideally Organic virgin (or extra virgin) coconut oil. UNREFINED, since they alter the makeup of the oil when it’s refined. Refined is good for using as a moisturizer for skin and hair. One more thing… you can often find it in the grocery store in the baking aisle, however, often times these are NOT the virgin organic varieties… those are mostly found in the health aisle… ask if you are unsure. Read HERE the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil by Charles Mattock, I got this from Dr. Oz’s website

Here is a blip from Nutiva (extracted from Amazon):

A deliciously healthy cooking oil. Better than butter. USDA organic. Unrefined & no trans fats. Rich in lauric acid. A soothing body oil. The coconut oil myth. Coconut oil has been mistakenly described as not healthy. The fact is, coconut oil is cholesterol-free and rich in medium-chain good fats that doctors recommend. Why is it that baby formulas often include coconut oil? Because coconut is one of the world’s most nourishing super foods. Nutritionists suggest enjoying up to 3 tbsp of extra-virgin coconut oil each day, so help yourself to this heavenly, creamy taste of the tropics. Nutiva’s cold-pressed Coconut Oil is: Extra-virgin & pure white: not refined, deodorized or bleached! Organic: so it’s free from pesticides, GMOs and hexane. Versatile: Ideal as high-heat cooking oil (up to 350 degrees), as a nutritious substitute in baking, a better-than-butter replacement on bread, vegetables or popcorn, and as a luscious oil for skin care, hair care, and massage. America needs an oil change. While doctors suggest we consume a 4:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, the average American diet provides a ratio of 20:1 or more – contributing to heart disease, skin disorders, and arterial inflammation. So avoid out of balance soy, corn, and canola oils with their trans fats, oxidation, and GMOs. Cook with coconut oil (with only 1% Omega-6), and use olive oil (also low in Omega-6), and hemp oil (with the perfect 3:1 Omega ratio) for unheated recipes. Nature’s ideal all-purpose cooking oil. No trans or hydrogenated fat; no cholesterol or hexane. Unlike other brands, we press our coconuts within 2 hours of chopping. No refrigeration required. Solid at room temperature and melts at 76 degrees. Any coconut husk fibers at the bottom of the jar are indigenous to the processing and harmless. Coconut oil contains medium-chain good fats with 50-55% lauric acid – a healthful nutrient that supports the metabolism. Certified organic by QAI. Product of the Philippines.

A disclaimer… I in no way am trying to provide medical advice, only passing along what many others have told me. Ask your doctor if you need to know if this is OK for you…

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Microplane, the wood working tool that crossed over to the kitchen!

The Microplane Classic Series Zester/Grater

This is one awesome tool. Made by Microplane, this is the Classic Series Zester/Grater. It makes a molehill out of a mountain, so to speak… It takes the toughest job and makes it a snap. Did you know that the smaller garlic is chopped the higher the health benefits? I use my Microplane zester mainly to make a wonderful paste out of garlic and/or ginger. Therefore no big hunks of garlic, just nice and flavorful, AND it only takes a few minutes! I originally bought it years ago to use with Parmesan cheese, but these days it’s all about the ginger and garlic… if you don’t have one, give it a whirl, I’m sure you’ll wonder how you did without it for so long! As they say at Microplane, it’s the woodworking tool that crossed over to the kitchen, and boy am I ever glad someone thought of it!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

How to make hot chocolate from scratch… Quick and easy!

Have you ever wondered how to make hot chocolate from scratch? Well wonder no longer… here’s the scoop, and you will flip when you see how quick and easy it is! I have fond memories of hot chocolate! Growing up in Michigan as a young kid my mom told us we had to drink something warm before we walked to school (you heard me… back in those days we walked… miles i think it was, over mountains, through streams, in extremely cold temperatures. Ok, so I exaggerate a little but not a lot!) – so it was usually hot chocolate. I didn’t grow up drinking a latte for breakfast while in kindergarten, darn… that would have been nice, ha ha… Anyway, a tasty treat indeed… 

Ingredients include… UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER (like Ghirardelli or Hershey), Sugar and Milk

Fill your liquid measuring cup with 1 cup of milk (I use organic 1%, but any milk will work). Place it in the microwave until it’s hot (every microwave is different, mine takes 1 minute 30 seconds). (If you prefer not to use a microwave you may certainly use your stove! Heat the milk on low until hot.)

Add 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of sugar (I use unbleached cane sugar, but any will do). [A note on the quantities here… this recipe is from Ghirardelli, from the actual container of unsweetened cocoa, if it’s too chocolately for your taste, cut the amount the next time, same with the sugar…] 

Stir the cocoa powder and sugar together until it’s all mixed up…

Now add the hot milk to the cocoa powder/sugar mixture… 

Stir it well. Get all those hunks of chocolate sweetness mixed in. Give it a taste… if it’s not hot, toss place it back in the microwave for a few seconds till it’s warm again!

Ahhhh, now the best part (and it’s totally optional), give it a good swirl of whipped cream (REAL whipped cream or Redi-Whip, but not that chemical laden “non-dairy” whip stuff that comes in a tub in the freezer section… *GASP!* Just say NO! Friends don’t let friends eat Cool W… oops, sorry, got carried away…

Enjoy, you will be surprised how quick and easy… and remember… cocoa… GOOD FOR YOU!!! Not so much the sugar… if you can wean that down, pat yourself on the back!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

A granola recipe you will make for the rest of your life!

Years ago, well, 2002 to be exact my sister was telling me about this wonderful granola recipe she was addicted to. She sent me the recipe, and I made it several times, it was wonderful, I think she got it out of a magazine in a waiting room somewhere… since then I have made a few notes, sometimes I use less sugar, more cinnamon, different nuts, different dried fruit. It’s just granola, so add more of what you like and less of what you don’t! It’s wonderful on top of yogurt, in a bowl with milk (and fruit) or all by itself! I add more cinnamon if I think i’ll be eating it out of hand, less if I think I’ll be topping yogurt and fruit, but it’s up to you my friend, do what you like! This is what I do…

Hint… this is especially good… plain Greek yogurt, a swirl of honey, a few tablespoons of granola and a sliced banana… it will keep you going strong for hours!


4 cups old fashioned oats (any brand will do, but old fashioned and not the quick cooking, it won’t be the same, I speak from experience!)

1 1/2 cups (or more) slivered almonds (this is key… the thicker crunch, the TASTE of the almond, oh yeah, SLIVERED, not SLICED)

1/2 cup (or less) LOOSELY packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon (or less) cinnamon

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon (real) vanilla

1 1/2 cups (more or less depending on your taste) of dried tart cherries (you can use ANY DRIED FRUIT YOU LIKE, I find cherries to be especially scrumptious, decadent and GOOD FOR YOU!)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. If you’re using a dark pan, you might want to bump it down a bit, every oven is different, just keep an eye on it!

In a LARGE bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, sugar, salt and cinnamon with a wooden spoon. (This is the pre-stir together pic, go ahead and stir it up good, but gently, don’t want to break up the oatmeal).

HINT: when measuring this mixture, use the measuring cup to measure the OLIVE OIL first, then the honey, it will slide right out!

Warm the olive oil and honey mixture. You warm this mixture by placing it in a small pan on the stove (low), or in the microwave if you PROMISE not to walk away from it, you don’t want it HOT, you just want it warm enough to mix together… it doesn’t take long! Hmmm, sounds like I’ve repeated this step before, doesn’t it?

Once the olive oil and honey mixture is WARM (not hot), add the vanilla… PURE vanilla please.

Now you want to drizzle the warm honey/olive oil/vanilla mixture over the dry oat mixture. You want to drizzle and not pour like I did in this photo… Do what I say, not what I do… ha. I was trying to take a photo and pour, apparently I don’t have those skills down pat… yet! Give me time! Good grief, what part of DRIZZLE didn’t I get?? It’s all good, some quick subtle stirring is needed to coat the oat mixture with the oil mixture… gentle, remember you don’t want it to be the consistency of flour when you’re done…

Ready for the oven!

I know, I know! This looks a tad pale… trust me, after it basks in the warm glow of the oven it will turn a magical color… Now pour this mixture onto an ungreased 9 x 13 cookie sheet. It’s ready for the oven! Bake it at 300 degrees for 40 minutes total… STIR IT AROUND EVERY TEN MINUTES!

After it’s done, pull it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, go ahead and add the dried fruit. In my batch, I’m adding dried tart cherries.

Store the granola in an airtight container and it will last for 7-10 days, or freeze it and it will last 3 months!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Med Pasta (shrimp, feta, spinach pasta, artichokes) so good it’ll make your eyes roll back in your head!

Med Pasta with Shrimp

My husband and I made THE BEST pasta dish the other night… it came together and it was OUTSTANDING… quick and easy too! We used spinach spaghetti (Whole Foods), you can use fresh spinach pasta, spinach linguine, or I’m sure regular pasta will do just fine… keep in mind there is also the quinoa pasta available… might be tasty? We’ve made this several times and we get between 1/2-3/4# fresh large shrimp. Frozen shrimp will work just fine. Just run them under cold water to thaw. I’ve used both frozen and canned artichokes, both work fine, as long as they’re thawed/drained. The feta and olives add the perfect touch. I made it for the two of us, adapt the recipe below to suite your needs, add anything else that sounds good to you! Hint: I often will buy some of the veggies (red onion and red pepper) at the salad bar or the bulk veggies cut up at Whole Foods if I know I don’t need the entire pepper/onion… Last time I think the red onion/red pepper was sixty five cents!

Click HERE to print just the recipe…

MED PASTA – serves 2

Spinach Spaghetti (or any pasta, spinach is especially good in this recipe)

Olive oil for sautéing

1/2- 3/4 lb. shrimp (I bought fresh, large, deveined shrimp)

Red pepper (about 1/4 of a pepper)

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 red onion, chopped

Artichokes, chopped small (I used either one can, or about 8-9 frozen and thawed artichokes) – drain in either case…

Feta (a few spoonfuls for each plate)

Kalamata Olives (a spoonful for each plate)


Splash of white wine or pasta water

I used a stir fry pan, I heated some olive oil (about 1/2-1 tablespoon, add more if you need it), once the oil got hot and was dancing around I added the shrimp and cooked until pink and they were done, about 3 minutes, then add a few cloves of minced garlic, cook this for one minute. Holy cow does that ever smell good! Then put this shrimp/garlic mixture into a bowl while you do the next step… (Make sure your shrimp is done, but not OVER done… when shrimp turns pink and opaque, or you see the ends curl up, that means its done)…

Add a little more olive oil to your pan (1/2-1 tablespoon), when hot, sauté the onions and red pepper. When onions start getting translucent add the artichokes and cook for a few minutes (until hot), and add the shrimp back in. Now I have brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (yippee), time to deglaze the pan. I used a little white wine, but you can use water, broth, etc. Literally a few tablespoons, just enough to be able to stir the brown goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan and turn it into heavenly taste for the pasta dish… Add the cooked and drained spinach pasta to the veggies. Toss to coat, add more olive oil if necessary. Using tongs (to pick up all the little veggie pieces) put some of this fabulous mixture on a plate (we use a low rim soup bowl that works perfectly as a small pasta bowl). Sprinkle feta and olives on top. Grind a little pepper and you’re ready to go!

Your eyes just rolled back in your head didn’t they? Too good! Catch you back here tomorrow!

How to make a perfect soft boiled egg…

The perfect soft boiled egg...

I love a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg. It tastes much like a fried egg without any added fat… I put mine on wheat or sourdough toast. Eggs are good for you, they provide good protein. They’re perfect for breakfast, lunch OR dinner… It’s our “go to” dinner when we’re in a hurry… (sorry Fred!). I like my yolks running and the whites cooked… if that’s the way you like your eggs, it may take a time or two to get it exactly right with your stove, etc., but it is such an easy method… it’s worth a try…

Fill a sauce pan with water that would cover your eggs by about 2″, you want to do this to keep the water hot enough after it comes to a boil and you add cold eggs…

Once the water is boiling, add the eggs, and set a timer for 6 minutes. Now this is the tricky part. Depending upon how cold your eggs are will change the time somewhat. If about 37 degrees it should take about 6 minutes. If you leave them out on the counter for a while, then it will take less time. What I did was took eggs out of the fridge, added to boiling water, and set the timer for 5 minutes the first time (whites too runny), then 5 minutes 30 seconds, whites almost perfect but a little runny, so it was probably 5 minutes 45 seconds – 6 minutes and it was just right… crack them open with a knife and gently scoop the egg out with a spoon (as shown above left). I like to mush around (as shown above right), S&P and ENJOY!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Quick and delicious! Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo by Cooking Light magazine…

Image: MyRecipes.com

I’m sharing with you a great recipe from Cooking Light magazine… This is a relatively quick and easy meal. Each recipe makes 2 servings and believe me, the servings are generous. I pretty much followed the recipe, except I like to use grape tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes… If you have dinner for four make two packets then slide it into a pretty dish. Gorgeous, tasty and without the guilt… then you can indulge in dessert! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo


  • 1 regular-size foil oven bag
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 cup diced tomato  (I used grape tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Coat inside of oven bag with cooking spray. Place the bag on a large shallow baking pan.
  3. Cook the pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon oil and next 7 ingredients (1 teaspoon oil through pepper). Place the orzo mixture in prepared oven bag. Combine shrimp and basil. Arrange shrimp mixture on orzo mixture. Fold edge of bag over to seal. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until the shrimp are done. Cut open bag with a sharp knife, and peel back the foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

Yield: 2 Servings

Cooking Light
MARCH 2000