Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vanilla Chai Smoothie

Looking for a great morning smoothie that tastes great and is power packed?  Well here you go!

Vanilla Chai Smoothie

1 Scoop Vega One Vanilla Chai
1 Tablespoon Psyllium Husk Whole Flakes
1 Frozen Banana
1 Cup Frozen Kale
1 Tablespoon Chia, Hemp or Flax Seeds
3 Cups Water

Mix all of the ingredients in a Vitamix and Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Making of Buffalo Chicken Dip

When I read the e-mail that all current students at the Chef's Academy were eligible to participate in a recipe contest I never dreamed that it would become such an exciting chapter in my career.

I spent days and hours upon hours developing this recipe.  I started with a simple recipe that my friend Teresa made for me for the first time years ago.  Since that day every get together we have either she makes it or one of us makes it.  It has become a party staple.

I have researched this recipe and have never found the original recipe in print that she makes.  There are many variations but not the same.  When I read about the contest I knew this recipe was a winner.  I also knew that it would require me breaking it down and changing it.

To begin with we used a bottled hot sauce.  Well that flavor needed to be replicated.  I began researching hot sauce recipes and took all of the components that I loved about hot sauce and developed my own.  Needless to say we (my family and friends) sampled gallons of homemade hot sauces before I came up with the one that was my favorite.

Next I needed to come up with three different heat levels for the requirements of the contest.  I kept production in mind throughout the entire process.  I wanted a basic sauce that you could alter to different heat levels.  This would make production much easier and the flavor would be consistent to buyers.

The recipe includes chicken so cooking the chicken that could be replicated in production was another consideration.  As well as how to process the cooked chicken.  Do I want large chunks or finely shredded?  Oh so many considerations!

The other two layers of the recipe included a cream cheese mixture.  I decided I liked the flavor of blue cheese rather than a ranch flavor.

Finding the cheese mixture was a matter of my personal preference.  The recipe is going to be packaged without cheese and then you can add your own cheese after it is done.  This recipe can be done with just about any cheese you prefer.  My favorite to date is the mozzarella cheese.

Once the components were in place I decided that instead of layering this dip I preferred it stirred all together to meld the flavors.  This also holds up better when it is sitting out if it doesn't get devoured within minutes.  I also chose to microwave instead of cooking in the oven which is how it is going to be sold in the stores.

Jake came to my house about a month ago and I made the dip for him and his girlfriend.  We continued to tweak it and he transported it home.  Another trial.  How does it transport?  How does it freeze?  How does it reheat?  There are so many variables that go into developing a recipe.

I have been working with Jake and Cedric for several months now.  They are gifted business men and I believe this product is going to be a household name.  I am so excited to be on the ground floor of this and I hope to develop many more recipes for them.  They are men of great talent and integrity.  I am very glad to have a small role in part of their company.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grape-Nuts Cereal

Grape-nuts cereal is not something that I have ever given much thought to until I recently had them sprinkled on a salad at a restaurant.  This started the wheels turning. What a great way to replace croutons.  I love almonds on my salad but sometimes I have already had plenty of almonds as a snack and don't want to eat any more.  I am really just looking for that crunch that I love in a salad.  For this purpose grape-nuts work great.  Not to mention the added fiber benefit, good amount of protein and they are 100% whole grain.  If you read the nutrition facts a serving size is 1/2 cup.  I only used about 1-2 Tablespoons so keep that in mind when calculating the nutrition facts.

So today I made a Quick Curry Carrot Soup for lunch and thought it needed a little crunch for texture instead of croutons.  Grape-nuts!!!  It was delicious!  I only used about 1 Tablespoon and it really did the trick.  

I am beginning to think the possibilities are endless for texture in food not always meaning so many calories.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!  Also pass on your ideas to me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Potatoes!  Not only are there different sizes and colors but they also perform differently depending on how you are preparing them and what their intended use will be.

I have made many soups and stews only to look in the stock pot just before serving and asking "where are my potatoes!"  They seems to have turned to mashed potatoes in the liquid.  My thought was always that maybe I cooked them too long.  Well, maybe I did but more than likely I was using the wrong potato variety for my dish.

There are 2 major categories of potatoes based on their starch, moisture and sugar content:

Mature or Starchy Potatoes.  High starch/low moisture/low sugar (Russets or Idahos) 
Light, dry and mealy when cooked.
  • Ideal for baking, mashed potatoes and french fries

Waxy Potatoes.  High moisture/high sugar/low starch (Red skin and New Potatoes)
Holds shape well when cooked
  • Salads, soups, hash browns and any time you want the potato to hold its shape well.
Many experts will tell you there is also a third category:

Medium-Starch Potatoes

Yukon Gold, Yellow Finns, and all-purpose potatoes do a better job of holding their shape but share many traits in common with high-starch potatoes.
They range from Waxy to somewhat Starchy.  These can be baked and produce a smooth, creamy texture unlike the Russet which is more grainy and starchy.

There are many other potatoes that fall into each of these categories.  I gave the ones I see at the grocery the most.

To store potatoes keep them in a cool, dark place.  Never refrigerate!

1 pound=4 cups diced=1 3/4 cups mashed.

Trivia:  Not all small potatoes are new potatoes, and not all new potatoes are small.

With Thanksgiving coming up I thought it would be good to add a mashed potato recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  If you are not a member of this site I would highly recommend!  It is a paid subscription but the videos are fantastic and they test these recipes until they have them down to a science.  This would be my dream job!  There is an offer for a free 14 day trial.  That is how I began my obsession with them!  Here is the link to watch the demonstration and get the recipe:

If this link does not work.  Go to the America's Test Kitchen website.  I cannot reprint this recipe for you under their copy right laws.  I have no affiliation with this website other than I love them!

Monday, August 8, 2011


There are very few things in life I know for sure.  I do know that I make the world's best granola!  Ask anyone who has had it and they will most likely agree!

It has been a challenge of mine and my family to find a granola to buy that the taste compares.  Just as a sport!  We find that most of them are very oily tasting, not crunchy, old tasting or in general just bland.

So, a couple of years ago I decided to test market my granola and sell to family and friends.  I priced it out and began to take orders.  I charged just enough to cover the cost of my goods.  Well, my accounting skills were not so good as I found out and I was actually loosing money.  Oh well.  It was a fun journey and one that ultimately led me to enroll in culinary school where I took a purchasing class and now can price correctly!  Thank you Mr. Wilson!

When you have kids home from college and they are asking you to make it for them before they go back you know you have a winner.  So, I am sharing my "secret" recipe with you that I found back in 1991 and have been making since.  I have made some changes to it along the way.   We serve it with Dannon Vanilla Yogurt and Dried Cherries.  Tell me it's not the best!

Crunchy Granola
3 ½ cups oats, uncooked (not instant)
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup wheat germ
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup sunflower kernels

½ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well, and set aside.

Combine honey, brown sugar, and oil in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is thoroughly heated.  Remove from heat; add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until peanut butter melts.  Pour honey mixture over oats mixture; stir well.  (Mixture will be dry at first; continue stirring until moist.)

Pour mixture into a greased 15-X10-X1 inch jellyroll pan.  Press mixture flat with the back of a wide metal spatula.  Bake at 325 degree F for 30 minutes (pan may need to be turned during cooking) or until golden brown.  Pour out onto parchment paper to cool

To Store:  Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Recipe adapted from The Southern Living Complete Do Ahead Cookbook from Today’s Gourmet series
Oxmoor House, Inc.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Your Birthday

I love you,
You love me,
We're a happy family,
with a great big hug,
and a kiss from me to you,
Won't you say you love me TOO!

I love you,
You love me,
We're best friends like friends should be,
With a great big hug,
And a kiss from me to you,
Won't you say you love me too 

You always loved Barney!  Who wouldn't.  He's purple.  He loves everyone and he sings!  

It  seems like yesterday you were running around the house singing this song.  Happy (born that way:)).  Family stopped by round the clock just to see you.  Watch you.  Experience you.  You were as close to a perfect child as there ever had been.  Everyone made sure you were told that at least 100 times a day!  

When I look back at pictures of you I teeter between amazement and tears.  Amazement because you are and always have been incredible.  Tears because I miss you being little so much it makes me cry to even write it.

You were born "special".  Your beauty is as deep inside as it is outside.  No one comes in contact with you without being touched in some way.  You are as smart as smart can be.  Gifted is the word I believe was used for you growing up by the schools.  Kind, loving, funny, easy going, messy with your room!  Loved by your peers.  Loved by your family.  Loved so much by me.  Daddy's girl.  Your brother's conscience.  Given everything.  Expecting nothing.  Grateful for all.

Today I wish you all of the love and happiness that you have given away so freely over the years.  As I do every day of my life I dedicate you back to the God who made you so perfectly. So carefully.  And I thank Him for the gift of you.  Happy Birthday Elizabeth.  I love you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


With all of the recent talks about our government and this debt that has been racked up I cannot let this week pass without blogging it as one of my topics!  I just finished a sociology class last week and I have to say I did walk out of class (I had it everyday!) and felt like I was an island when it came to views on our government.  I don't think our government has our best interest in mind over their own personal agenda in many instances.  However, I cannot blame them entirely for what has happened.  Personal responsibility is still at the top of my thinking.  Just because the government says we should be spending money should we?  Do you really spend what you don't have in order to "stimulate" the economy?  Who thought of that one?  I was raised and continue to live that if you can't afford it you don't buy it.  If you can afford it you better make sure it is worth it.  Once money leaves your hands it may not make its way back around to you again.  And really is having "everything" really serving us well.  How did we get here!!!!  Did we buy the lie that everyone needs a ridiculous amount of "stuff" to be happy?  The more we have the more we have to spend our lives maintaining it.  Is that really living?  Thus begins the breakdown of the family.  The more money you have the more likely you are to be doing "other" things that are so much more important than doing the little things.  Some of my best memories where when the kids were young and we had NO money.  See that is ridiculous!  I lived in Carmel, was a stay at home home and we had plenty of food and air conditioning and heating.  Did I really think I had NO money!  I was not rich by American standards but who set those absurd standards anyway.  Why did I judge my own circumstances by those!

My grandparents raised 7 kids in a 2 bedroom house.  I wonder if they thought they were poor?  Were they unhappy?  Did they blame the government that they had that life style?  I doubt it.  They lived with family as a priority and did the best they could.  No handouts, no programs, nothing given and nothing expected!  When did we start believing that everything should be easy and that we should all be living a dream that I am not sure where it came from anyway.

My son is in the Dominican Republic on a missions trip as I write.  He could have gone anywhere in the world during the summer.  It is the highlight of his summer.  I am sure the more he lives in America (which I love with all my heart) the more he will think that he needs more, more, more.  I hope he never compares himself to someone with more.  I hope he looks at someone with less and sacrifices something he has to give to someone in need and then thanks God every day that he has more than he needs.  My hope is that we all could live like that.  Be thankful for what we have.  Stop feeling sorry for ourselves.  Stop letting anyone tell us how much we "need" and how much we should "spend".  If we loose it maybe that would be the best thing that ever happened to us.  Maybe instead of going out to dinner we would have a pitch in dinner with our neighbors.  Maybe instead of raising our children to think that Christmas is all about the gifts we could actually celebrate the true meaning.  Maybe instead of running after the latest and greatest we could spend more time with our families.  The more we have the less likely we are to do the things that matter most.

Yes I live well (and continuing to reduce my consumption).  I would give it all away if I felt like it would better this nation as a whole.  If we all thought that way what would we blame our government for?  Would we even need a government as big as it is?  Let's take care of each other.  Don't hate government or even blame them.  Start within our own lives and live to the standard that we believe in.  Then we have the power.

In my sociology class so many people talked of hating the government yet they continued to take advantage of the system and want more.  We can't have it both ways.  If we are honest and live within our own means and take care of each other how can we go wrong?  Well this just scratches the surface but I am always struck by the reports that say that people in the United States were the happiest during the depression and now that we are so prosperous we live on depression medication.  What?  Call me a dreamer but I believe we have what it takes to overcome this and to learn a few good lessons in the mean time.  God Bless America!