Category Archives: Blog

My Must Have Kitchen Christmas Gift List

I have an over accessorized kitchen. It is hard to find a appliance or gadget that I don’t have because I collect them obsessively. I spend hours and hours in the kitchen and I love to do out of the normal type of dishes or preparations. I have put together my list of kitchen Christmas gifts at some great holiday bargain prices!


 Pepper Mill

If you aren’t grinding fresh pepper in your food you are missing out on the incredible flavor of freshly ground pepper. This grinder has a ceramic grinding mechanism which means it will last a long time and you can use it for both salt and pepper. Another great ideas is putting your favorite dried herbs in one of these and grinding them on demand to release more essential oils.

 Electric Pressure Cooker

I often wish I had two of these because I use mine constantly and could do double duty with two. I make fast delicious bone broth, make ham and bean soup in less than two hours from scratch or just steam sweet potatoes into fluffy, moist, deliciousness. The use for this pressure cooker is endless and you will never file it away in the cabinet.


 Knife Sharpener

The one thing that I cannot stand is a dull knife. It is amazing what a difference it makes using a finely honed knife versus a dull one. I know you probably have a steel but a steel only removes rough spots from the blade and does not actually sharpen the blade at all. If you haven’t had your knives sharpened in the last 6 months than you are suffering through dull knives that make everything you do more difficult.


 Immersion Blender

The tool that the infamous “Two Fat Ladies” dubbed this tool the kitchen vibrator is my favorite tools when making sauces and soups. Transferring hot liquid to a blender to smooth soups is a messy and dangerous adventure that can be avoided entirely with this little beauty. This also lets me use vegetables to thicken my sauces without dirtying my blender. I think everyone should have one hiding in their cabinet.

Sous Vide

This tool is a busy cook’s best friend. You put together your meal in vacuum bags and set the temperature and time on your machine and go conquer the day. All you do it maybe give your meat a finishing sear and your perfect meal is complete.

I have my eye on a Mellow when they come out because it just looks and sounds too cool.


 Nespresso Espresso Machine

I know you don’t directly cook with an espresso machine but you do make beverages that are necessary for me to have a fruitful day without ripping anyone’s head off. I am not always a fan of espresso but I have found that I can rely on Nespresso pods to always be delicious!

Interested in other items that I think are worth having in your kitchen? Check out my Amazon Store.


How to make Thanksgiving Dinner without breaking a sweat


I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family for almost 20 years. Not all of those dinners went smoothly. Like the year I forgot to make the mashed potatoes or the year I forgot the rolls in the oven and turned them into bricks. I have picked up so many tips and tricks over the years that now making Thanksgiving is simple and easy. With just a little prep a day or two before Thanksgiving you can actually enjoy the holiday alongside everyone else.

First thing I do every year is look at my menu for the day. Mine was based on what my family served when I was a kid and updated slightly with a deep fried turkey and my own spins on the old recipes. You don’t cook this menu more than twice (Thanksgiving & Christmas) so it is ok to have the exact same thing because your family will not get tired of it. I admit my Thanksgiving dinner is lacking in vegetables but my family gets at least one or two servings of vegetables with every normal meal so I don’t feel bad about not serving them on this special occasion.

My traditional Thanksgiving menu consists of –

Deep Fried Turkey – This is a must and this recipe can also be used on a hardwood smoked turkey for more juicy results.

Giblet Cream Gravy – I actually withhold the giblets from this recipe and use them in my dressing recipe.

Sage Turkey Dressing – This recipe is one that has been in my family for as long as I can remember and is my favorite. My dirty little after Thanksgiving treat is to take cold slices of this and make sandwiches out of it.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping – If you make this Sweet Potato Casserole for a family dinner make sure you take a couple copies of your recipe because people will ask for it.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes – These are the best mashed potatoes ever. Being part Irish they make me proud.

Lion House Rolls – These tender buttery Lion House rolls are like the combination of a croissant and the standard parker house dinner roll.

Cranberry & Mandarin Orange blend – A can of whole cranberries and a can of Mandarin oranges mixed together and chilled.

Pecan Pie – This recipe was the most sought after pecan pie recipe on the web for years.

Sour Cream Apple Pie – Some people are prejudiced against sour cream so just say its apple pie until after they have taken their first bite and then they will be in love.

Hot Mulled Cider – Family members show up and look for this first thing because it is so good.

First thing to do while planning out your meal preparation is to go down the list of ingredients you need for each dish and make sure you either have them or they get on your shopping list. Double check the items you think you have because half the time I think I have them but I really don’t because one of my kids have done away with them recently. Make sure you get extra turkey parts like wings or legs to make your turkey broth because I find you don’t get enough flavor from just a neck and giblets and once in a while those are missing from your turkey. This was a tough lesson learned one year when the turkey was missing its giblets and my local grocery stores were all either closed or out of turkey parts.

The nice thing about this menu is that you can either make ahead or have most of the preparation done the day before Thanksgiving that way you are mostly just waiting on things to cook. This lets me actually enjoy some time with my family instead of rushing around the kitchen. The first thing I do each year is get my turkey in its brine. They can set in the brine for up to 48 hours but I prefer right around 24 hours. This lets me get my giblets out of the turkey also so I can make my turkey broth. You can either use a pressure cooker to make your turkey broth or you can cook it low and slow so you can all the flavor and gelatin out of the bones. I like to brown my turkey bits before boiling them so that the flavor is richer. I also like to include a half an onion, celery, a carrot and a clove of garlic along with some herbs like thyme, sage and a tiny bit of rosemary. Don’t waste fresh herbs on this. The dry stuff will turn out just as well. Once your broth is done strain it well and save all the meat and giblets for either your gravy or your dressing. Refrigerate and remember to remove the solidified fat from the top before you use.

I will usually make my pies one or two days ahead of time that way they get proper time to cool. Make sure you hide them well because hungry children are known to steal entire pies. I also put my cans of mandarin oranges and cranberries in the refrigerator at least a day ahead of time that way I can just throw them together at the last minute without worrying about chill time.

While I am waiting on the broth I will throw my sweet potatoes in the oven on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or throw them in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Make sure you peel them right away after you take them out of the oven because they will just slide out of their skins. It will be much harder after they cool. I just throw them in the refrigerator until I am ready to put together the casserole. While I am waiting on the potatoes to bake I chop my onions, carrots and celery for my dressing.  If you are making rolls you should have your dough made and refrigerator proof it overnight. This makes it quick to get them done the next day and it also improves the flavor.

Once all that preparation is done you are ready to relax and rest up for Thanksgiving morning. Some key tips for Thanksgiving morning is to have a prep list for yourself so you don’t forget anything. Mine looks something like this.

1. Remove these items from refrigerator

  • Dough
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turkey Broth – Remove the fat right away
  • Turkey – 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you plan to cook the turkey

2. Make Sweet Potato Casserole

3. Make Dressing

4. Prep Turkey for Frying then fry – Dry well and rub with olive oil, salt and spices

5. Form Rolls and let rise

6. Make Mashed Potatoes

7. Make Gravy

8. Bake Rolls

9. Make cranberry and mandarin mix

Tips for the turkey which are true for both a roasted or fried turkey. Make sure you take your turkey out of the refrigerator early enough so that it comes up to close to room temperature before you bake it. This will help it to cook more evenly and will make it more juicy. The key to the juiciest turkey is the brine ahead of time which imparts the moisture and flavor throughout the bird and not just where you injected it. The last thing to remember is to always let your bird rest tented in foil for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven or fryer. This lets the moisture redistribute and will keep it from gushing out everywhere when you cut it instead of remaining in the meat. Turkeys that are brined and rested properly will be moist and juicy even as a leftover.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you to not only have a more delicious dinner but one you can enjoy from beginning to end!



CIA here I come!

Culinary Institute of America

The post from yesterday was almost a month in the making while I fixed issues with the site and dealt with life issues. I received the best news ever while I was on vacation in Japan.

I was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America! I thought it was a long shot but I was accepted so quick it left me in shock. I can’t start classes until May 2016 because I have to get my work schedule adjusted and that doesn’t happen until sometime after the next semester begins. That is fine it gives me lots of time to get everything ready for this new chapter in my life.

I have taken on a new struggle over the last few months. I am trying my hardest to lose weight but it feels like it goes against everything I live for. I love food. I love making food. I love eating food. Unfortunately I just can’t stop once I start and I cannot withstand temptation. I hate not being able to eat anything I want any time I want. I understand that realistically I can just in very small  portions and there is my fault. I am also Irish/German so I love beer and whisky. Fortunately I can stop at just one of those but when I am trying to lose weight it seems like just one is all it takes to stop me in my tracks. I am adapting and figuring out how to get the weight loss done without having forsake everything I love.

It is so hard to be calorie conscious when your thoughts are always on how you can make a food taste better. As a chef your goal is to provide the ultimate culinary experience you can so balancing flavor versus calories can be a real struggle. Adding spicy, sour and or salty flavors to a dish can up the flavor without added calories. I will be posting much more calorie mindful recipes in the future while I continue my personal struggle. So far I have lost 25 pounds and the loss is starting to be noticeable with my clothes fitting better so I am happy with my progress so far. My only fear is that when my oldest daughter leaves for Germany in a few weeks that I again revert to my not give a damn ways. Have any of you felt this same struggle? If so how do you overpower your inner food diva?


Balancing your life and your love

CockAsian Food TruckMy last 3 years have been a whirlwind that I could have never predicted. Trying to balance my strong urge to be an entrepreneur and passion for all things culinary and my family and their needs. I am a work horse when I am doing something I love there is almost nothing that can stop me once I start a project.

I have been self employed since shortly after college. That makes over 20 years of working for myself. This year working for somebody else with a set schedule has been a tough adjustment. I am used to being very fluid with my time and being in full creative mode all the time. My current job is enjoyable but I miss the joy of creativity. I have decided that my next endeavor will be to find a way to work my culinary interests back into my life.

My first step was encouraging my husband to start brewing his beers again. I am a back seat home brewer. I help me pick the recipes and hone the flavor qualities he wants to have in those beers. One of my greatest gifts is my ability to almost taste the flavors in my mind so he can tell me what flavors he wants to come out of his beers and I can tell him what hops, herbs, spices, and or fruits he needs to add during brewing to produce them. I must admit beyond procuring ingredients and later drinking I don’t involved in the brewing process. I love that smell of boiling wort it is such a comforting smell almost like baking bread.

We have a refrigerator dedicated to our serving beers from our pony keg (5 gallon kegs) system. It hold 3 kegs which means we can potentially have 15 gallons of beer on tap. My husband and I enjoy very different beers so I will choose a beer, he will choose a beer and then we choose one we can both enjoy. It normally takes him most of a day to brew a single 6 gallon batch of beer so he does that on Sundays while I am working. Two Sundays ago he brewed our version of Southern Tier Pumpking which used graham crackers, vanilla, lots of pumpkin, spice and will come in at about at 8% ABV. Last week he brewed his version of 3Floyds Zombie Dust. This week he is brewing one of my all-time favorite brews our imperial version of New Belgium’s Trippel. All 3 of them are outstanding brews and I would be happy to share those recipes with you if your interested.

I have decided my next goal is to go to culinary school. Here in San Antonio we have the Culinary Institute of America and I have been dreaming about attending it for a while but now I am ready to do it for real. I learned from the food truck that I need to learn to take baby steps and this is a perfect place to start my  next adventure. My current job will cover my tuition so I just need to enroll and start looking at classes! I am Super excited!

In the mean time I plan to sell my food truck and get my blog rolling again and start living the dream again!

Indian Recipe Collection Basics

I absolutely adore Indian food. My children actually ask for Punjab Choley, Palak Paneer, and several different curries at least once a week. I don’t even remember when I started making Indian food at home it just evolved out of my families love for curry. I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “but Indian food it too spicy”. That is the great part of making it yourself you can adjust the spiciness to your liking. In my family we kick it up and make everything too hot for the general public. I have to be careful to hold back the heat when cooking for guests because I have caused a few too many eyes to water. Overall Indian food is simple, healthy and fun change up to your boring meal time traditions. The Indian recipe collection below are some of my favorites.




Samosa from Jeyashri’s Kitchen
Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi from Crave Cook Click


Bhatura from Sailu’s Kitchen
Paratha Bread

Paratha Bread

Paratha Bread from Food and Flavors By Shipli
Chole Paneer

Chole Paneer

Chole Paneer from Sinfully Spicy
Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread)

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread) from Sinfully Spicy
Tiki Masala

Tiki Masala

Chicken Tiki Masala from Serious Eats
Mutton with Potatoes

Mutton with Potatoes

Aloo Gosht – Mutton with Potatoes from Sinfully Spicy
Fish Curry

Fish Curry

Fish Curry from Sinfully Spicy








Fall Vegetables and Why Fresh is Best

MEN-AS09-fall-garden-vegetablesI love Fall. Every year when the weather cools and the gardens are bursting with the new harvest I am in heaven. When you can get fresh harvested Fall vegetables, they taste so much better than the stuff we find in the grocery store. I stalk my local farmers markets for winter squash, brussel sprouts, and other wonders that need a bit of cold weather for the flavors to develop. Nothing makes me more happy than to run home from the market and prepare those vegetables before they even see the inside of my refrigerator. I am going to give you a list of Fall vegetables and when they are at their peak of flavor. I am also listing out some of my favorite recipes to prepare them.

Beets – Beets can be harvested late spring through Autumn. Beets are most flavorful when they are between 2 and 3 inches in diameter.

Broccoli  – Broccoli can be grown year-round in temperate climates so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. It is more sweet, less bitter and sharp when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.

Broccoli raabe, rapini –  A more bitter and leafier vegetable than its cousin, broccoli, but likes similar cool growing conditions.

Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk, and if you see them for sale that way snap them up – they’ll last quite a bit longer than once they’re cut. Look for them after your first frost or cold front for the most flavorful sprouts.

Cabbage – Cabbage is bright and crisp when raw and mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked. The cooler the weather when it’s harvested, the sweeter it tends to taste (this effect is called “frost kissed”).

Carrots – Carrots are harvested year-round in temperate areas. Unusual varieties are harvested during the carrot’s natural season, which is late summer and fall. True baby carrots – not the milled down versions of regular carrots sold as “baby carrots” in bags at grocery stores – are available in the spring and early summer. Locally grown carrots are often available from storage through early winter even in colder climates.

Cauliflower – Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop and at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.

Celery Root – Celeriac/celery root is at its best in the cooler months of fall, winter, and early spring (except in cold climates, where you’ll find it during the summer and early fall).

Celery – Celery is at its best in the fall, with its harvest continuing through winter in warm and temperate climates.

Chard – Chard like all cooking greens, chard turns bitter when it gets too hot. Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions.

Fennel – Fennel’s natural season is from fall through early spring. Like most cool weather crops, the plant bolts and turns bitter in warmer weather.

Kale – Kale is like all hearty cooking greens – cooler weather keeps it sweet.

Kohlrabi – Kohlrabi (late fall) comes into season by the end of fall, but stays at its sweet best into winter.

Leeks – Leeks more than about 1 1/2 inches wide tend to have tough inner cores. The top green leaves should look fresh – avoid leeks with wilted tops.

Parsnips – Parsnips look like white carrots and have a great nutty flavor. Look for thinner parsnips, since fatter ones tend to have a thick, woody core you need to cut out.

Rutabagas – Rutabagas also known as “yellow turnips” and “Swedes” are a sweet, nutty root vegetables perfect in stews, roasted, or mashed with plenty of butter.

Shallots – Shallots are harvested in late summer and into fall, and are at their sweetest when fresh.

Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are often sold as “yams.” They store well and are available from local sources year-round in warmer areas; from late summer through winter other places.

Turnips – Turnips have a sharp but bright and sweet flavor. Look for turnips that feel heavy for their size.

Winter Squash – Winter squash of all sorts comes into season in early fall and usually last well into winter. The squash you find in your local grocer could be up to a year old and the flavor will a shadow of what it once was. Find these fresh at your local farmers market to really experience winter squash.

Fall Vegetable Recipe Collection


Roasted Beets, Carrots and Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar

As I have said in the past there is no season that makes me happier than Fall. Sure my birthday is in peak of fall but nothing makes me happier than the cooler temperatures and the changing colors of nature. My favorite vegetables are also at their peak of flavor at this time. I could just live on pans of roasted fall vegetables. You will notice that these recipes are pretty simple and mostly involve roasting. The reason I chose these recipes is because I want you to take the vegetables in their full glory. I love sharing my favorite recipe finds so please enjoy this Fall vegetable recipe collection.

Roasted Beets, Carrots and Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar from The Food Channel


Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel, and Parmigiano

 Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel, and Parmigiano from Fine Cooking


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar from Serious Eats

Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli from Get off your Tush and Cook

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake from Get off your Tush and Cook

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme from Six Burner Sue

Roasted Parsnips

Roasted Parsnips

Roasted Parsnips from Simply Recipes

How to Care for your Cutting Board

Cleaning with salt and lemon

Cleaning with salt and lemon

My father was a carpenter and over the years he made me a number of cutting boards. I didn’t know how to care for them at first and eventually they would split and become unusable. I think I went through at least 10 boards before I finally learned how to keep them nice. My dad passed about 5 years ago and I have 2 boards that he gave me. Those boards get the royal treatment and fire and brimstone will rain down on anyone who damages them.

Today I am passing on my hard earned knowledge on how to care for your cutting boards.

1. Oil it Regularly – About once a month you should rub your cutting board with mineral oil. No need to buy expensive butcher block oil which is the same thing with a fancy label. Just look in the pharmacy for mineral oil.

2. Sand out Imperfections – When you get scratches and scrapes that start bothering you just pull out a piece of 220-grit sandpaper and buff them out. Be gentle and go with the grain.

3. Don’t Soak it – Moisture will warp and cause wood to break down so don’t leave your cutting board in the sink. Give it a quick wipe and towel it off immediately after cleaning.

4. Keep it Elevated – Cutting boards with feet will stay in place better and will keep it safe from any moisture that may gather underneath it.

5. Deep Clean with Lemon and Salt – When your board gets smelling a less then fresh all you need to do is sprinkle with some coarse salt and rub vigorously with half a lemon. Just scrape off the salt and wipe clean with a dry towel.


Clean and oiled cutting board

Follow these simple rules and you will be able to keep your cutting boards for many years.



Pumpkin for Dinner? Savory Pumpkin Recipes for Autumn.



I personally want to sample every pumpkin recipe I find. Unfortunately most pumpkin recipes are for sweets so it really isn’t good for my waistline. It isn’t always easy to find savory pumpkin recipes but I have done the work for you. Today my goal was to provide a list of savory pumpkin recipes that won’t make us live in the gym this fall.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta from Kitchen Treaty

This rich and creamy dish is prepared and served in the same pot. Topped with goat cheese and garnished with fresh parsley. You won’t believe how easy it is to make.

Pumpkin Turnovers

Pumpkin (Butternut squash) Turnovers

Pumpkin (Butternut squash) Turnovers from Julias Album

These are a perfect fall time snack! I might be tempted to make them with Pretzel dough instead of pastry.

Pumpkin Empenadas

Savory Pumpkin Parmesan Empanadas

Savory Pumpkin Parmesan Empanadas from Crisco

These have a lot of potential with a little experimentation.

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Curry

 Pumpkin Curry from Indugent Cooking

This curry pairs pumpkin with fresh coconut and the warm flavors of chiles and cumin.


Savory Pumpkin Tart

Savory Pumpkin Herb Tart from Eclectic Recipes

This tart would make an incredible Sunday brunch item.


Quinoa Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Quinoa Black Bean Pumpkin Soup from Avocado Pesto

A hearty, protein-filled and flavor-packed chili that happens to be vegan.


Pumpkin Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter + Feta

Pumpkin Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter + Feta from Reclaiming Provincial

These are flavorful little nuggets can be made ahead and make a quick and delicious meal.


Pumpkin Soup With Crispy Shallots

Pumpkin Soup With Crispy Shallots from A Calculated Whisk

Crispy, sweet shallots are a beautiful contrast to this creamy pumpkin soup.


Pumpkin-Ancho Enchiladas With Pulled Pork


Pumpkin-Ancho Enchiladas With Pulled Pork from Spicy Southern Kitchen

These fiery little enchiladas are right up my alley.


Roasted Pumpkin Salad

Roasted Pumpkin Salad from 101 Cookbooks

Roasted pumpkin and sweet, roasted red onions are nestled atop wild rice to create a beautiful, autumn-inspired salad.


Pumpkin Fritters with Rosemary and Cheese

Pumpkin Fritters with Rosemary and Cheese from What about Second Breakfast

Crisp on the outside and pancake-y in the middle, these savory pumpkin fritters laced with a touch of rosemary and cheese are nothing short of perfection.


Greek Pumpkin and Leek Pie

Greek Pumpkin and Leek Pie from The New York Times

This is another recipe that is perfect for a Sunday Brunch.

Craving Pumpkin Recipes


It is inevitable that even here in the deep south that once Fall starts I will start craving all things pumpkin. This year it started early with the pumpkin beers as the brewers jumped the shark and released them in August. I can’t complain too much because it means I will get to try more pumpkin beers this year but the excitement is starting wear off already. If you haven’t tasted Southern Tiers Pumking or Warlock yet then you need to apologize to your taste buds and run out and find some right now. If you happen on a bottle of their Choklat and you in any way enjoy chocolate you owe yourself to try this incredible beer.

Now my focus is on cooking and baking with pumpkin. I already schooled our local brewers about their choice of pumpkins for cooking. Those pretty pumpkin you see all over the grocery stores taste horrible and don’t even think about baking with them. You might as well use a butternut squash because it is more closely related to the pumpkin we get out of a can. If you can’t get your hands on Neck Pumpkins then you might as well use canned pumpkin. I have been browsing the internet for weeks gathering pumpkin recipes to share with you.

Neck Pumpkin

Neck Pumpkin

Here is a list of some of he most delish pumpkin recipes I have seen so far this season.

Pumpkin Marmalade from Tigress in a Jar

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Steamy Kitchen

Caramel Apple Shake from Mom on Timeout

Pumpkin Cheesecake Chimichangas from White Lights on Wednesdays

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting from Two Peas & their Pod

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake from A Night Owl

Baked Pumpkin Cream Cheese French Toast from Damn Delicious

That was a good start. Tomorrow I will delve deeper and give you some wonderful savory dishes.

Enjoy Life!


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