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18 Sep Baked Lamb Pizzas

I hope you don’t get tired of my excitement with James Beard’s bread book, but every recipe I’ve tried is very good. Here’s another one. It’s called Lahma bi Ajeen and as you might guess, it’s made with lamb. I love lamb and I love pizza so it sounded like a unique combination and I wanted to share it with you for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

Beard’s recipe calls for pine nuts but I substituted pecans that I had on hand and they were a very good substitution. It also called for tomato paste but I had two tomatoes that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them so they were also a good substitution.

Beard wrote that these “pizzas” were fun to make. I have to disagree; they are more fun to eat! My only criticism of his book is that his instructions aren’t always crystal clear although it’s never ruined my finished product so I can’t complain too loudly. For example, he writes that these pizzas make 8 servings and that you should divide the dough into walnut-sized balls. Well, he must use some pretty big walnuts because I ended up with 16 walnut sized balls.  

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Balls

Did he mean that each person should get two pizzas? I don’t think so. At any rate, if you’re going to go to the trouble of making pizza, it’s much better to have 16 than 8 of them.


For the Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

pinch of granulated sugar

scant 1 cup warm water (100° to 115°)

1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 ¾ cups)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in ½ cup of the lukewarm water and allow to proof for 10 minutes. Put the flour and salt in a large, warm mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil and the yeast mixture. Work the dough vigorously adding the remaining lukewarm water gradually to make a soft dough. Knead in the bowl about 15 minutes (I thought I was the only one who kneaded in bowls!) until the dough is pliable and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours or until doubled in bulk. (I use my microwave turned off.) Lightly oil the top of the dough to prevent a crust from forming.

For the Filling:

1 pound finely chopped onion

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 ½ pound finely ground shoulder of lamb

½ cup pine nuts

½ six-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon granulate sugar

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sauté the onions in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until wilted but not browned. Remove from heat and add garlic. Then add it to the ground meat along with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Make a small sample patty, fry in ½ teaspoon olive oil and taste. Correct the seasonings if needed. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Divide into walnut-sized balls and allow to rest for a few minutes, then roll each piece with a lightly floured rolling pin into a circle 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Spread the prepared filling generously over each piece. Transfer each piece to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 450° to 500° for 8 – 10 minutes. The patties should be well done but still pale in color.


The other interesting thing to note is that even though I spread a generous serving of the lamb mixture on each pizza dough as he says you should do, I still had about ¾ of a cup of the lamb mixture left over. AND, I didn’t use 1 ½ lbs of lamb as the recipe suggests; I only had a 1 lb package. Go figure! As usual, I baked them in my convection toaster oven.

Lamb Pizzas

Lamb Pizzas in my Convection Toaster Oven

With the leftover lamb mixture, I added it to some store-bought Classico basil and tomato sauce and poured it over pasta. It was very good! If you have leftover as I did, you could also stuff zucchini or an eggplant with it.

Lamb mixture

Lamb Mixture Cooking

Beard says you can cut these pizzas into wedges and serve them with cocktails. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing worse than eating cold, ground lamb – it’s too greasy. I wouldn’t recommend them for eating with cocktails or as hors d’oeuvres. These pizzas are best eaten hot.

Baked Lamb Pizzas

Baked Lamb Pizzas Hot from the Oven

I ate 5 and froze the rest. They freeze well and reheat in a toaster oven very well.

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container for Freezing

Also, they cool off pretty quickly. If I make them again, I will be sure to really load on the lamb mixture so I don’t have any leftover and so that the pizza will stay hot longer. Those are my words to the wise. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!



21 Aug Hair style

As I wrote about in last month’s New Food Friday Flash, I would be writing more about foods to put on your body and not just in your body for good health. This month’s post is for a recipe for a great shampoo that you can make yourself with simple ingredients. You can find these ingredients in a health food store or online at for example. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local Meijer supermarket and that is why I selected it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


Black Tea Shampoo Recipe

1 cup distilled water

6 bags black tea (regular tea)

½ cup liquid unscented, baby mild Castile soap

1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerin

10 drops Ylang essential oil



Boil water and steep tea bags 30 minutes.

6 Black Tea Bags

Boil 6 Tea Bags

Cool. Combine with remaining ingredients. Put in a clean, bottle (an old washed, shampoo bottle works well). Label the bottle. Shake bottle before each use. Shampoo, and let sit in hair for 2 minutes. Rinse. You will not get as much lather with this shampoo as with store-bought shampoos. Condition as usual.


I chose not to use Ylang essential oil and instead used Peppermint essential oil. The Peppermint oil has more uses. Many times these essential oils are interchangeable – but not always! Lavender essential oil could also be used in this shampoo as it is beneficial in fighting dandruff and stimulates hair growth.


NOTE: Black Tea shampoo is for brunettes. Blondes can substitute chamomile tea for the black tea as it has a natural blonding effect. However, I did not test the chamomile myself.

Chamomile flowers

Chamomile Flowers


I created a list of all the recipes I thought I could use from all the books I had read. I also selected ingredients that were most often used. I did not want to spend a fortune making my own shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, body lotions, cleansers, bath soaks, makeup removers, lip balms, insect repellents, car washes, tub and tile cleaners, window washes, and a few others! This was research I wanted to do to find a way to avoid allergy-causing ingredients that manufacturers use in their products. Their ingredients also cost us more. In theory, making your own products should cost less in the long run.


One of the benefits of using this shampoo that was not mentioned in any of the books I read is that it makes your hair more manageable. When I use it, I don’t use a conditioner afterwards. My hair has never looked so good! I don’t curl it; I don’t blow dry it. If that doesn’t make it all worth it, then I don’t know what does. How’s that for an unsolicited testimonial?


As much as I like this particular shampoo recipe, I have found another that I like that contains the juice of a grapefruit. As soon as I finish this Black Tea Shampoo, I will be making the grapefruit shampoo. If it is as good, I will be reporting back here to you!






17 Jul Hair style

You may have noticed that I recently posted a New Food Friday Flash a week earlier than usual. That’s because I had allergy brain, otherwise known as fog brain due to allergies. My allergies have really been acting up lately and I’m not just talking about my respiratory allergies. Let me tell you how I got Angelina Jolie lips due to an allergic reaction.


Angelina Jolie Lips

Sunscreen Lips!

I always wear lipstick outdoors to keep my lips moist and prevent cracking and bleeding. I’ve been wearing Chapstick with sunscreen to do the same when I’m doing yard work. Over a gradual period of time recently, my lips began to swell. Then they developed cuts or ulcers at the corners of my mouth. It hurt when I ate and they bled. I thought, “What the heck is going on here?” I finally figured out it was due to the sunscreen in my Chapstick. I stopped using the Chapstick and the next day, no more ulcers. My lips returned to normal although I rather enjoyed their puffiness!


The moisturizer I use on my face when I’m outdoors also contains sunscreen. When I stopped to think about it, I had seen a dermatologist six years ago for red blotches on my face and a scalp rash. He gave me all kinds of drugs which helped my scalp but didn’t do anything for my face. The blotches were still there. After the recent lip incident, it dawned on me that my moisturizer also contained sunscreen and that it was probably what caused the blotches on my face. I stopped using the sunscreen moisturizer on my face. No more blotches on my face. Now I use a non-sunscreen hydrating moisturizer.


I felt good about finding the causes of these allergic reactions until I developed yet another allergic reaction and rash on my arms and legs! This happened at the same time that a Measles outbreak occurred in Indianapolis which worried me even though my inoculations are up-to-date and I had Measles when I was young.


I suspected my laundry detergent because I had bought a new one – one I had never heard of before. I had also been adding more detergent to the wash than I usually do. So, I stopped using that brand altogether. I bought a mild, perfume and dye-free detergent. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: ALL. I also now use less detergent than the manufacturers recommend. I’ve had this rash about three weeks at the time of this writing and still have not rid myself of it although it is much improved. I cut back on the detergent due to the advice from one of the authors listed below.


Right around this time, I had been watching a program on the Livewell Network called Steven and Chris. I have to commend them on their wonderful, knowledgeable guests. Nutritionist Joy McCarthy caught my ear on one of their programs. I was lucky in that my local library had her book, “Joyous Health.” She was the spark that ignited my desire to find the underlying cause of my recent skin reactions.


Cancer-causing Ingredients

Her book lists ingredients to avoid in cosmetics, such as: BHA, BHT, DMDM, (a formaldehyde-releasing preservative; formaldehyde causes cancer) and PEG (may cause cancer), and many others. These ingredients are not only harmful to us, they are harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife

Save the Fish!



She also writes that people with asthma or who suffer from allergies, are especially sensitive to sulfites, commonly found in:



dried fruits

potato chips

frozen fries

fruit snacks

frozen dinners

Nitrates and nitrites (which cause cancer in animals)


I had written a post a while back about sulfites. They can also be listed as celery root extract in an ingredients label. The good news on dried fruits: she says you can soak the dried fruits in filtered water and then use them without suffering a reaction! 


After I read her book, I went back to the library and reserved books on natural products. I learned a lot and am still reading and learning!


A Growing Intolerance to Chemicals

According to author, Melinda Coss who wrote, “Natural Soap,” there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from skin allergies due to our growing intolerance to chemicals in household products. So, this is not just a female problem. Men use household products and cosmetics too. Men wear sunscreen and men do laundry! Isn’t that right men?

Incredible Hulk

Strong Men!


Hair Care

Each of the books I borrowed and read had something to offer, including one that was focused more on African-American women, written by Lisa Akbari, “Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age.” Although her tone was scolding, I figure I needed to be scolded! I am much gentler to my scalp and hair thanks to reading her book.


Other changes I am making due to my readings are to use natural products on my hair like coconut oil instead of store bought cream rinses and shampoos which contain harmful ingredients like sulfates, parabens and artificial fragrances that cause inflammatory skin reactions and are suspected to cause cancer.


Coconut oil is useful not just for sautéing foods, but also as a conditioner for your hair, a lip balm, and a shaving oil, just to name a few things. It conditions and soothes skin, so says DK publishers of the beautifully artistic book, “Natural Beauty.” You can find coconut oil in the same aisle as the olive oils. Buy the organic, oil-pressed jar.


A Light Bulb Moment

  • All these years I have been a fervent believer in caring about what I put into my body without enough thought as to what I put ON my body. What can I say? It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! Arf!


Food for Face

Bananas and avocados will not just be going in my mouth; they will be going on my face, in my hair, and on my hands. A mixture of avocado and honey makes a great hydration hand mask for dehydrated hands according to author Elizabeth Tenhouten, author of “Natural Beauty Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair.” Bananas contain pantothenic acid which strengthens the hair.


Hair Growth

Mix half a banana with one egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of honey. Shampoo then apply the banana mixture to your scalp and hair; leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and condition. Author Annie Strole claims this mask is great if you want to grow your hair and prevent it from breaking. Promise me you won’t ring my doorbell when I’m doing this! 


Hair Buildup

Kelly Reno, author of Soaps, Shampoos & Other Suds says you can remove soap build-up from your hair by combining ½ cup water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a bottle. Shake thoroughly and gently massage it in. Then rinse with warm water. There are many variations to this recipe. Some authors recommend apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.


More in Future Posts

More on this topic will be posted on my blog in the future. These books have really enlightened me. I have already made my own shampoo and lip gloss. Some of these ingredients were not readily available in supermarkets although they did have many of them. It has taken me about a month to get all the ingredients that I need without breaking the bank.


An Investment in Safe Products

I should be able to make my own laundry detergent, hand lotion, shampoos, rinses, conditioners, facial masks, hand masks, lip gloss, lip balm, and more. I am in the process of extracting the best recipes from each book using the most popular ingredients like avocado, lavender essential oil, castile liquid soap, and aloe vera gel just to name a few. I stayed away from the harder to find, more exotic ingredients like calendula oil or apricot kernel oil or the endless variety of oils that are either online or at health food stores (even though I did find a health food store nearby that stocks EVERYTHING!) I don’t know how involved I will get into this. If I see more promising results as I did from my homemade lip gloss, I may invest in more of these products.


An Investment in Time

I haven’t seen any noticeable results from my homemade shampoo except that my hair looks thicker and is easier to manage. I know, those are good results, but the shampoo is hard to work with when my hair is wet. I’ve tried two different shampoo recipes with one being better than the other. I have a third that I want to try before deciding that homemade shampoo can take the place of unsafe, store-bought shampoo. I’m also having trouble with homemade hair conditioners. They seem to be too oily. The third recipe for shampoo I want to try, contains some oil whereas the other shampoos didn’t. That might be the one! Third time’s the charm! Stay tuned!




New Food Friday Flash – Sweet Potato Rolls to Die For!

19 Jun Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Can we all agree that we all love hot, buttered rolls? But they’re not the best for our health or waistline. Since I am always looking for ways to improve my diet, I have tried another James Beard bread recipe that I am addicted to! Again, it’s from the “old” book I found at the library. The man knows bread! I’ve also read his book on fish. It wasn’t nearly as good and disappointing in comparison. But I wasn’t disappointed with his Sweet Potato rolls recipe!


Has anybody not heard that we should stay away from white potatoes? Why? At the risk of repeating what you already know, they’re not as nutritious as other vegetables; they contain a high amount of pesticides (they’re in the “bad” 15 category), and we tend to fry or slather them in butter or sour cream which is not good for us. What’s a potato-loving girl (or guy) to do? Substitute your potato craving with a sweet potato.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes have more nutrients, they’re high in fiber and they’re low on the pesticide scale (they’re in the “good” 15). We can make a “pumpkin” pie with them. We can bake them in the skin and serve with a pat of butter. And, we can make sweet potato rolls with them! I’ve tried several recipes making rolls with white potatoes and they have hardly any flavor and little nutrition. You’ve got to try these sweet potato rolls!


I’ve made sweet potato rolls five times now. When I’m down to my last one or two rolls, I start baking a sweet potato. I like the sweet potato skin to show some blackened areas from baking because that caramelizes the potato and brings out the sweetness.


I knew that yesterday I was planning to do lots of yard work and would be too tired to make the rolls, so I started the night before. I put the dough ingredients and sweet potato together (I had baked the sweet potato the night before that) and put it in the fridge overnight. I wasn’t sure this would work, but happily, it did!


The next morning before I went out in the yard, I took out the bowl of dough. It had risen beautifully as you can see in the photo.

Sweet Potato Dough

Sweet Potato Dough well-risen

 I rolled the dough into 24 balls and put them in two cake pans as I usually do. I placed them in my microwave oven (turned off) with a hot cup of water, and left them there to rise while I did my yard work. When I came in exhausted, at 4:00 pm (I began at noon), I checked on my rolls. Look at how much they rose! 

Sweet Potato Dough Rolls

Big, Puffy, Sweet Potato Dough Rolls


I then baked the rolls in my convection toaster-oven. For me, it takes 17 minutes at 350° but I will give you the original recipe below.


They say we “eat” with our eyes. Look at the color on these beauties!! They’re gorgeous! They’re moist! They’re fluffy! When you put them in cake pans, they pull apart like cotton candy! 

Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Beautiful Color on these fluffy Sweet Potato Rolls


The final result: they tasted the same as the sweet potato rolls I made without putting the dough in the fridge. The only difference is that they raised more, and were bigger than usual. What’s not to love about that? Isn’t it great to know that you can do this recipe in steps if you’re short on time? Plus, if you use the refrigerator method, you don’t have to knead the dough at all.


I enjoy them with breakfast and with dinner. They reheat very well in the microwave and they keep in the fridge very well. I keep them in the cake pan.  After they’ve cooled on a rack, cover them with aluminum foil. I also put the foil-covered rolls in a clean, plastic bag in the fridge just to ensure that they don’t get stale. This works very well. I keep the other cake pan with rolls covered the same way, and put them in the freezer. So, when the first batch is nearly all eaten, I take out the frozen batch and put them in the fridge. Easy-peasy.


Beard says you can substitute the sweet potatoes with canned sweet potatoes (without the liquid), or winter squash, like butternut squash or acorn squash. I tried acorn squash rolls yesterday but I prefer the sweet potato.  Either would make an excellent substitution since they are equally nutritious, high in fiber, and low in pesticides and a good way to sneak a vegetable into your family’s meal.


Sweet Potato Roll Recipe

2 packages dry yeast

4 Tablespoons sugar

½ cup water (100° – 115°)

3 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon salt

2-3 eggs (one for basting rolls)

3-3 ½ (or more) cups flour

½ – ¾ cup cooled, mashed sweet potato

2 Tablespoons cream


Combine the yeast with 1 Tablespoon of the sugar and the ½ cup water in a bowl. Let it proof 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of sugar, the melted butter, salt and 2 eggs. Stir well to blend. Stir in the flour one cup at a time with the potatoes. (I prefer to add the potatoes before adding the flour.) Knead 2-3 min. Add enough additional flour to prevent sticking. Dough will be soft. Shape it into a ball. Put in a buttered bowl, turning to coat all. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place about 1 hour. Then punch dough down, shape into a ball again and let rest 2 minutes. Form into golf ball size balls and place on a buttered cookie sheet or 2 cake pans. Let rise until doubled in size. Brush with the last egg mixed with the cream. (I prefer using only an egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and 1 Tablespoon powdered dry milk which I always have on hand. I never have cream in the house!) Also, I brush the rolls before I let them rise. If you brush dough after it has risen, it tends to deflate the dough.


Bake at 375° for 20 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 24 rolls or two loaves. Bet you can’t eat just one!



New Food Friday Flash – Irish Soda Bread

15 May Irish soda bread side view

I have been on the hunt for an easy to make, quick, delicious bread recipe since the year of the flood. I think I found it! This is not the usual recipe for Irish Soda Bread. Most recipes I’ve seen contain raisins. This one is raisin free. If I want bread with raisins then I’ll also want cinnamon in it. Then it wouldn’t be Irish Soda Bread, it would be Cinnamon Raisin Bread. I also have a recipe for Irish Soda bread using yeast. This is not that recipe. I started making this bread at 8:00 pm one night when I craved bread. It was on a cooling rack at 9:00 pm. That’s what I’m talking about and that is why this month’s New Food Friday Flash focuses on Irish Soda Bread.


The story: I was searching the book shelves at my library for baking books and came across a book by the famous chef, James Beard. When I tried to check it out using the computer checkout station, I couldn’t find the library number on the book. I asked the librarian about it and she said it was an old book so the number would be on the inside cover instead of on the outside of the book. Sure enough, it was inside. I hesitated for a moment when she said “old book” but I thought I’d check it out anyway. Boy, am I glad I did!


James Beard’s “Beard on Bread” is a treasure trove of bread recipes. I’ve made two of his breads so far and both were very delicious. The Irish Soda Bread caught my eye because it had no yeast or raisins in the ingredients and when I scanned the recipe, it said to knead for 2-3 minutes. There is no waiting for the dough to rise. His ingredients list did not include any sugar but his directions said to add the sugar! Aaargh! I thought, too many obstacles! This recipe can’t be any good! There is no waiting for the dough to rise? There is no 10-minute kneading as I am used to? Should I add some sugar? Should I leave the sugar out? But I was desperate for a piece of bread! Desperate I tell you. I left the sugar out even though my other Irish Soda Bread recipes contained sugar in the ingredients list. It would only go to my waistline anyway.


Here is the recipe:

3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 ½ to 2 cups buttermilk


Beard also included another version of this recipe using all white flour instead of whole wheat flour. I used half white bread flour and half white all-purpose flour. If you use all white, decrease the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon.


Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly then add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, similar to biscuit dough but firm enough to hold its shape. Knead 2-3 minutes on a floured board. Form into a round loaf and place in a well-buttered 8-inch cake pan or a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cut a cross sign on the top of the loaf with a very sharp, floured knife. As it was baking, it rose and kept rising! It was beautiful bread, decorative because of the necessity to cut a cross on the top with a sharp knife before putting it in my convection toaster oven. It browns nicely in 35 – 40 minutes at 375° in your oven.

Irish Soda Bread in one hour!

Does this bread look like Santa Clause or it is just me?


Beard says to cut the bread in paper thin slices. I like it thin, I like it fat, I like it any which way but loose. He likes it buttered. Its great buttered but it is also good with blackberry spreadable fruit. It is very good as garlic toast (slathered in butter, topped with Italian herbs and garlic salt). It would also be good as sandwich bread. You have to try this bread. It’s good for novice bakers, old-hand bakers, what the heck, a kid could make it.


It keeps well in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. One-hour bread. I think I died and went to heaven!

Irish Soda Bread T-stand

Yipee! I love this bread!




New Food Friday Flash – A Better Breakfast

17 Apr Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

I’m a big fan of PBS. They have a program; actually, it’s more like a documentary, they call “Breakfast Special.” Apparently, it was so popular that they now have a Breakfast Special II. The narrator and cameraman (and crew) go around the country at various restaurants that serve breakfast. These breakfasts are special! The interviewed customers rave about them. The program is light and funny. The breakfasts are typically huge, sometimes unusual, and very delicious-looking. When they stopped at a restaurant that served buckwheat pancakes (at only a certain time of the year), my mouth watered so much that the next day I ran out and bought buckwheat flour and made my own! Since sadly, I am not a breakfast lover, I decided it was time to make my own “Breakfast Special.” That’s why I chose it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. Sure, I love my recipe for Southern Rice Pancakes but it is time-consuming and the syrup and butter I put on them goes straight to my hips. A few times a year I’ll treat myself to bacon and eggs but I recently learned I’m allergic to sulfites. So, in an effort to eat a healthful breakfast and incorporate more beans in my diet, I created a recipe that I love and I want to share it with you. The following are the star players.


The Grits

Grits are similar to corn meal which is how you make polenta. Polenta is a southern Italian staple. I’m half southern Italian (and half northern Italian) so the chances of my liking grits, ironically popular in the south of the US, were good! Grits are white whereas corn meal is yellow. Grits are grittier and corn meal is creamier. I top the grits with a pat of butter.


The Beans

I’ve discovered refried beans. I don’t know why they’re called “refried” because they aren’t fried to begin with so how could they be “re” fried? In the supermarket, you can buy various types of refried beans, some with lard, some without, but I like the lardless Pinto refried beans. I doctor them up in a tablespoon of olive oil in which I fry half a chopped onion, one clove of garlic chopped, and about a teaspoon of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (comes in a can) minced. I keep my Chipotle in Adobo Sauce in a container in the freezer and when I need it, I scrape it with a fork or whatever is handy and put it in the pan. This all gets sautéed until the onions are translucent. Then, in goes the can of beans. I mix it well, put it in a dish, and take as much as I want to go with my grits, saving the rest in the freezer.


The Egg

Any egg will do, but if you really want to spoil yourself, use Eggland’s Best eggs. The flavor and vitamin/mineral content is superior. I like mine well peppered with a little salt.

Beans, grits, & egg

A well-peppered egg on top of grits and refried beans


The Grapefruit

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Looking at the Red Texas Grapefruits I bought at Meijer, I can see it is no lie. They are wonderfully sweet! If you haven’t had a red Texas grapefruit, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Try some grapefruit

Texas Red Grapefruit


The Alternative

I made oatmeal instead of grits but put on too much cinnamon. Yet it turned out great and now I prefer it that way! Sprinkle on a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and it’s a nice alternative to grits and better for you. Buy old-fashioned oats, also better for you.


I coat my 6-inch cast iron pan with a little coconut oil and spread the bean mixture on one side and the grits or oatmeal on the other. Top this with an egg, salt, and pepper and it’s ready for the toaster oven for 7 minutes at 400° for a still jiggly egg. Experiment with the time to get your egg the way you like it.


While this is baking in the oven, I am eating my grapefruit. I also make myself a large hot cup of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in and a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger. Sometimes I add honey, sometimes Truvia, a natural sweetener. It’s better than tea or coffee. Actually, it tastes a lot like regular tea to me but doesn’t stain your teeth and ginger is good for you.


This breakfast is divine! The beans are a little spicy, the grits or oats a little sweet, and the egg, well the egg is an egg and if you like eggs, it’s good! The grapefruit is sweet and juicy! Sometimes I’ll have a slice of Irish Soda Bread too with butter or jellies depending on how hungry I am and how much time I have.

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast


Now I can join the people who love breakfast as long as I’m having THIS breakfast! Try my breakfast special, you’ll like it!



New Food Friday Flash – Wildflower Honey and Honeybees

13 Mar Honeybee at work

All my life, I used clover honey in my tea and in any baking dishes or any recipes that called for honey. The truth is I never really liked the taste of it. One day, I decided to try Wildflower Honey. I will never go back!

Honey Made from Wildfloewrs

Wildflower Honey


As you might have guessed, wildflower honey is from wildflowers and clover honey is from clover, the annoying green that has invaded your lawn!


I have also tried buckwheat honey and another variety called golden honey. Buckwheat honey comes from buckwheat. I liked it even less than clover honey. Golden honey comes from Goldenrod. Golden honey has a lemony note and goes well in tea with lemon. The ebeehoney website (link below) claims that their customers who have allergy issues prefer this type of honey because “goldenrod honey is taken off very late in the season when goldenrod is primarily the only plant in bloom.” So, can honey be taken as a treatment to lessen allergy symptoms? Probably not according to the Mayo Clinic. Still the idea isn’t so far-fetched.  


Light-colored honeys like clover honey or orange blossom honey are higher-grade honeys. Dark colored honeys like buckwheat honey are lower grade honeys. This is according to Encarta Encyclopedia. Somewhat contrary to this is information from the website which claims that darker honey has more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties compared to lighter honey. They also claim that honey variety tastes can vary due to rain amount, nectar sources, sunlight, etc. which all affect what flowers, plants, trees, are in bloom for the bees to collect nectar and pollen.


Why do bees make honey?

Bees make honey to feed their larvae (their young). They also make it to help them survive the winter months. It is similar to squirrels storing nuts for the winter. During the other seasons, their food source is pollen.


Busy Bees Filling their Comb with Honey ( NoShoes)


The honeybee is native to Asia and the Middle East and was introduced to North America by early European colonists. This bee is known as the European honeybee. By the mid-1800s, honeybees had become widespread. Today, they are on every continent except Antarctica. There are six other recognized species of honeybees: the Indian honeybee, Koschevnikov’s honeybee, the dwarf honeybee, the andreniform dwarf honey bee, the giant honey bee, and the mountain giant honey bee. (I wouldn’t want to run into him! Or, is it her?)


A mustachioed Bee and his Girlfriend( vjeran2001)

There are many races of the European honeybee. Races? That is what it says in my Encarta Encyclopedia. The most popular are the Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian honeybee. How do you know when you’ve been stung by an Italian honeybee? When it stings you it says, “Batta Bing!” Just a small joke. Very small.


Africanized honeybees, also known as killer bees, are a hybrid of African and European races.


Honeybees exist in a very complex social community or colony. The queen bee is the only sexually productive female. She is the mother of all drones, worker bees, and future queens. She can lay as many eggs in a single day as her body weight, often exceeding 1500 eggs. She controls the sex of her offspring. Amazing, these creatures, aren’t they? No wonder they are among the most studied insects.


Beekeeper ( NoShoes)


The queen mates with the drone honeybees. The drones don’t do anything but mate with the queen. They are the equivalent to a stud horse or George Hamilton. Once they mate with her in mid-air no less, they die. They make the slackers of the office world look busy.


The extreme opposite are the worker bees. They are workaholics. They keep the nest clean. They construct the honeycomb. They defend the nest. They collect the nectar, water, pollen, and propolis, a gummy substance used to seal the exterior of the nest. They convert the nectar to honey. They feed the larvae, queen, and drones. They control the temperature of the nest. You would think this would tire them out, but no, they communicate the location of food to other worker bees by “dancing!” Uh-oh, I feel another joke coming on. This must be why the BeeGees wrote the song, Staying Alive! “You must be dancing, yeah!”  Anyway, in six weeks the dancing worker bees are dead. Would that be square dancing or the polka? Sorry, my dance card is full. Is Garth Brooks involved? You might want to think twice the next time you tell someone you are “as busy as a bee!” 


Tulips Waiting for the Bees ( gregav)

By now, it is common knowledge that honey is bees’ “spit.” Well, not exactly. It’s actually worse than that! A worker bee, called a “field” bee, goes out to collect the nectar from flowers and puts it in its honey sac, which is an enlargement of its esophagus. It regurgitates the contents into the mouth of a “house” bee that deposits the nectar into a cell in the comb and carries out the tasks necessary to convert the nectar into honey. Encarta doesn’t go into the tasks of converting the nectar into honey. Could it be any worse than what we already know? All I know is that it goes from one bee’s mouth to another bee’s mouth and then into my mouth. Yum.


Survival Issues

Wasps and hornets prey upon honeybees. Honeybees also fall prey to birds, cane toads, robber flies, bears, and the ferocious honey badger.


During the past 10 years, mites have killed thousands of honeybee colonies in North America. The mites live in the bee’s breathing tubes or on the outside of larvae and adults. Sometimes it seems like dust mites are in my breathing tubes so I can relate. Science is trying to develop tolerant strains of honeybees to replace the mite-susceptible ones. Menthol fumes can help reduce some mite infestations.


There are 20,000 species of bees worldwide. They are not on the endangered species list yet. If that ever becomes an issue, not only will we see a reduced sale of honey, but we will see a scarcity of such crops that rely on pollination to the tune of $10 billion annually in the United States.



Honey contains a natural presence of botulinum endospores. Children under one year old should not be given honey because their systems are not developed enough to handle the bacteria.  Some adults shouldn’t eat honey if they are sensitive to pollen, celery, or other bee-related allergies.


Final words of advice: do the taste test to see which honey you prefer. When you see a bee, don’t swat at it, just get out of its way and don’t spray pesticides near them.



New Food Friday Flash – Trottole

13 Feb Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichoke Quarters

Once a week I get grocery flyers from Meijer, Kroger, Marsh, and Aldi. (Most recently, 1/8/15, a Save-a-Lot grocery store opened near me.) I’ve always avoided Aldi because you need to have a quarter (25¢) handy to use one of their carts. You can’t use credit cards and you have to bag your own groceries and bring your own bags! However, food prices are lower although that is getting harder and harder to tell because with fuel prices plummeting, all grocery stores are lowering prices! At least they are here in Indianapolis. Ever the adventuress, I decided it was time to give Aldi a try. On one of my trips there, I came across a gourmet pasta called Trottole. I thought this pasta was different enough to be a part of my New Food Friday Flash.

Trottole Front Label

Trottole Front Label

 Trottole is a tri-colored pasta in the colors of the Italian flag: green, white, and red. The red comes from tomato powder, the green from spinach powder. These Trottole are imported from Italy. The pasta shapes are big! They look like a salesman’s sampler for the Michelin man. (If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you need to watch the Antiques Roadshow more often.)

Trottole Back Label

Trottole Back Label

 Because these Trottole are so thick, they need a longer cooking time: 11-13 minutes for an “al dente” tenderness. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a long wait for pasta! Trottole have an interesting mouth feel. They’re fun to chase around the plate with your fork.


The first time I made them, I combined them with feta cheese, broccoli florets, chopped garlic, olive oil, walnut pieces, and pasta water. I covered the pan so the cheese would melt. It made a nice gravy-like consistency for a dish I enjoyed very much!

A nice salad to serve with these Trottole is a spinach and pear salad with sliced avocado, carrot slivers, and blue cheese dressing.

Spinach Pear Salad

Spinach Pear Salad


The second time I made them, I poured a sausage tomato sauce over them that I had made from ground turkey, crushed fennel seeds, and other ingredients that I had made weeks ago and stored in my freezer. I wish I had the patience to write down all my cooking experiments so that I could duplicate the successful ones. Alas, this sausage sauce was the best one I ever made and I don’t have a clue how to make it again.


The third and last time I cooked these pasta from its 17.6 oz package for $1.69, I cooked them my favorite way for pasta, mixing them with a jar of quartered artichokes, chopped garlic, olive oil, and gorgonzola cheese.

Trottole Blue Cheese Artichoke dish ingredients

Trottole Blue Cheese Artichoke dish ingredients

This is an easy, quick recipe worth noting for when you are rushed for time or too tired to cook. You get your calcium, fiber, protein, and carbs. There is no sodium in the Trottole. It’s a delicious, nutritious dish.

Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichoke Quarters

Trottole with Gorgonzola and Artichokes

 The only negative comment I have for these pasta is the packaging. I ended up cutting my finger trying to remove the snap-like closures on the cardboard and plastic packaging. There are two of them as you can see in the photo. I was worried that one or both could end up in my pasta dish. Carelessness in this area could earn you a broken tooth. The edges of these snap-like buttons are sharp. Take my advice, get scissors!

Gourmet Pasta

Trottole Gourmet Pasta with Snap Seal


Otherwise, Trottole are fun to eat. They may be too fat to serve to young children who may choke on them. It’s better to stick with small pasta for them like stars, elbows, or baby shells. If you can find it, alphabet pasta is good for kids too! They are tasty and educational!


Speaking of education, my Italian translation software tells me that trottole means tops or whirligigs. “Hey honey, can you make some whirligigs for dinner tonight?” Wink, wink!




New Food Friday Flash – Crystallized Ginger

16 Jan Crystalized Ginger

I have come across a few recipes using crystallized ginger and I became curious about this product. I found a jar of diced crystallized ginger in the spice aisle at Meijer but it was too expensive. Around Thanksgiving, Meijer put out their biggest display of candied fruits that I’ve ever seen. Among them was a small container of crystallized ginger.Crystalized Ginger

The pieces were big and looked delicious! $2.99 for 4 oz. You know me, I couldn’t resist. Plus, one of my favorite cookies, when I have a cookie or two, is Ginger Snaps. Unfortunately, they just don’t make the ginger snaps that I like in these parts! So, lucky for you, I decided to make my own using crystallized ginger. Two recipes came inside the container: ginger snaps and ginger bars. I opted for the ginger snaps. That is how this post got selected for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


But how did cookies get to be on a blog that purports to be about getting and maintaining good health? Give me a minute; I’ll come up with something.


OK, this cookie recipe calls for molasses. I use blackstrap molasses and it’s extremely high in iron. I don’t think there is anything out there that contains more iron. The recipe also calls for an egg. Eggs get a bad rap. They are good for you, especially Eggland’s Best eggs which I always use because they contain more vitamins and minerals than in regular eggs with double the Omega 3. Also, ginger is good for you. According to WebMD, Ginger contains chemicals that may reduce nausea and inflammation. Researchers believe the chemicals work primarily in the stomach and intestines, but they may also work in the brain and nervous system to control nausea. Click the link to learn more. The recipe also calls for cinnamon which adds sweetness and is good for you. There are no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients in this homemade cookie recipe as you will undoubtedly find in a store shelf cookie.


Satisfied? Good! Here is the recipe:


Ginger Snaps

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

4 oz. Paradise Crystallized Ginger, chopped coarsely (came with a 50¢ coupon)



Preheat oven to 375°. Combine softened butter, sugar, molasses and egg, beat well.

Ginger Snap Batter

Ginger Snap Cookie Batter

Add chopped crystallized ginger pieces.

Diced Crystalized Ginger

Crystalized Ginger Diced

Mix dry ingredients together, add to wet mixture, mix well.

Crystalized Ginger added to Batter

Crystalized Ginger added to Batter

Chill for 1 hour. Form into 1” balls, roll in sugar, and place on greased cookie sheet, 2” apart.

Cookie Balls Rolled in Sugar

Cookie Balls Rolled in Sugar

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cookie Balls on Tray

Cookie Balls on Tray

Makes 36 cookies.

Ginger Snap Cookies

Ginger Snap Cookies Cooling

I think they taste great dunked in tea with honey and lemon.









Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.


Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.



1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)



Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.


These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!


We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.






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