Category Archives: Food

Maple Syrup


Here’s an easy DIY recipe for (faux) maple syrup.

You’ll Need:
1 c. Water
1/2 c. Sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/8 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs Maple Extract

In a saucepan combine the sugars and cornstarch, stirring to mix, add 1 cup of COLD water, stirring to dissolve the sugars. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook, stirring occasionally until the syrup reaches the thickness you prefer. Add the Maple Extract, stirring again to incorporate, reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and bottle. If you prefer butter enhanced Maple syrup, add 2 tbs of butter with the maple extract.

All leftover syrup should be refrigerated and used within 60 days.

Try to avoid over-stirring the syrup as it boils as this causes the sugars to crystallize.

Make Yourself A Rainbow Cake


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Check out the colors on that cake! It’s a super easy way to make a fun cake. Make the biscuit layer like you would for a cheese cake and separate six bowls with white cake mix. Get a few different colors of gel coloring and mix well, using a separate spoon for each bowl. Pour the colors in one after the other and you’re bound to get that delicious multicolored cake!

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Chunky Monkey Pancakes




5.0 from 1 reviews



Chunky Monkey Pancakes


  • 1 C. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 1 T. sugar
  • ¾ C. buttermilk
  • 3 T. melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 large bananas, diced
  • ½ C. mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ C. chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat.
  2. Whisk together the flour, powder, soda, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Fold in the bananas, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  3. Pour the batter onto the griddle. (I use a ¼ C. measuring cup per each cake). Cook until the sides are slightly browned and the pancake starts to form little bubbles on the top. Flip and cook until browned.
  4. Serve warm with butter and syrup, or for a little extra kick add chocolate syrup

Baked Tacos

Baked Tacos 

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 package taco seasoning mix
4 ounces tomato sauce
1 package of Old El Paso Stand and Stuff soft taco shells
1 package Mexican blend shredded cheese

Brown your ground beef and drain completely – then add refried beans, taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Mix together and scoop into taco shells, (stand them up in a casserole dish). Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

Photo: Baked Tacos - shared from Welcome Home

See more taco recipes -

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 package taco seasoning mix
4 ounces tomato sauce
1 package of Old El Paso Stand and Stuff soft taco shells
1 package Mexican blend shredded cheeseBrown your ground beef and drain completely - then add refried beans, taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Mix together and scoop into taco shells, (stand them up in a casserole dish). Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.




20130403_181027Ahhh! Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love food and how much I enjoy cooking? Well I do and I do. The funny thing is that I didn’t really start learning to cook until grad school, mostly because my grandparents did a lot of the cooking when I was younger and I lived and worked in the residence hall/dorm most of college. However, last evening I got the hankering to try Dreamfields Healthy Carb Living Pasta that I scored as a freebie at the Alabama Dietetic Association Meeting in March. I wanted to make sure I made a sauce that was light and didn’t mask the taste and quality of the pasta, especially since I hadn’t tried any of Dreamfields pasta before. I figured a simple sauce with olive oil and garlic would fit the bill, but I also wanted to add some additional components for taste and texture. And with that said, let me proceed below with my recipe! — P.S. I tend to not do very stringent measuring while cooking and usually add ingredients in “to taste” so if you decide to make this yourself, you’ll probably want to play around with things a bit :)


I love Publix!

20130403_180941Running a little low on the dry basil but that’s okay!

Baby Bella and Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage Pasta (It’s a mouthful!)


~16 oz dried pasta

1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (may want to stick closer to 1/2 cup if you don’t add a lot of additional ingredients to your version of the dish)

3 garlic cloves minced

1 shallot chopped/sliced

2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your taste preference)

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 Tb dried basil (you can use fresh if you’ve got it; I forgot to pick some up at Publix and ended up using dried)

8 oz baby bella sliced mushrooms

12 oz  sliced Al Fresco sundried tomato chicken sausage (or any other meat/protein you’d like to use)

2 oz grated parmesan cheese (again, up to your discretion)

sea salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)


Follow pasta directions cooking pasta al dente or to desired tenderness – once the pasta has cooked, drain the pasta and set aside but reserve about 2 or 3 Tb of the pasta water. While your pasta cooks, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sautee pan or wok. Add in your garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add your chopped shallot. Cook garlic and shallots for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently so your garlic doesn’t burn. Next add your baby bellas and sliced sausage to your olive oil mixture cooking for about 5 minutes or until your baby bellas are slightly tender.

Next, add your pasta to your pan and toss to coat while also adding about 2 Tb of the leftover pasta water. Toss in your parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste and you’re good to chow down! :)


Chop up that garlic and shallot!


After that shallot and garlic has sauteed for a bit, don’t forget your red pepper flakes


Add in those baby bellas


the great thing about the Al Fresco sausages are that they come fully cooked so you just want to make sure they’re heated to warm temperature for the dish

20130403_190321Don’t forget your Italian parsley


And ta da!

Thankfully my husband really enjoyed the dish and since it’s just the two of us and our dog scoring a sliver of chicken sausage here and there, we have plenty of leftovers that’ll make for some nice lunches over the next few days. I like having the Italian parsley in the dish to add some earthiness to the flavors and provide a bit of texture as well. But, if Italian parsley isn’t your thing, you may want to do some chopped fresh basil as an alternative or forgo the greens all together. Overall, the base of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper is a fairly common combination that you can use with any pasta and additional ingredients of your liking —- awesome!

Before I end this post though, I do want to make mention of the Dreamfields Pasta. As you can see below from the label, Dreamfields indicates that it only has 5 grams digestible carbs despite 41 grams being listed on the label per serving. With Dreamfields pasta, 5 grams is fiber while 31 grams are “protected carbs”, which is apparently the  carbohydrate that is protected by a special protein/fiber blend by Dreamfields to prevent the digestion of this starch. Sounds pretty nifty huh? Perhaps even a little confusing. Check out the Dreamfields Expert Q&A for further explanation. However, I would be careful about counting it as 5 grams of carbohydrate for your meal of choice. While you do that, I’ll be enjoying my leftover pasta :)


U.N. Urges Eating Insects; 8 Popular Bugs to Try


Fried locust on display before being eaten.

Insects, like these fried locusts on display in a market, are a popular snack in a number of countries.

Ants are sweet, nutty little insects, aren’t they?

I’m not talking about their personalities, but how they taste. Stinkbugs have an apple flavor, and red agave worms are spicy. A bite of tree worm apparently brings pork rinds to mind.

This information will come in handy for those of us following the latest recommendation from the United Nations: Consume more insects.

report released Monday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reminds us that there are more than 1,900 edible insect species on Earth, hundreds of which are already part of the diet in many countries.

In fact, some two billion people eat a wide variety of insects regularly, both cooked and raw; only in Western countries does the practice retain an “ick” factor among the masses.

Why eat something that we usually swat away or battle with insecticides? For starters, many insects are packed with protein, fiber, good fats, and vital minerals—as much or more than many other food sources.

One example: mealworms, the larval form of a particular species of darkling beetle that lives in temperate regions worldwide. Mealworms provide protein, vitamins, and minerals on par with those found in fish and meat. Another healthful treat: small grasshoppers rank up there with lean ground beef in protein content, with less fat per gram. (Related video: Family learns how to cook and prepare mealworms.)

And raising and harvesting insects requires much less land than raising cows, pigs, and sheep. Insects convert food into protein much more efficiently than livestock do—meaning they need less food to produce more product. They also emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases than most livestock (think gassy cows).

Entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food, is also a safe and healthy way to help reduce pest insects without using insecticides. Plus, gathering and farming insects can offer new forms of employment and income, especially in developing tropical countries where a lot of “edibles” live.

That helps to explain why 36 African countries are “entomophagous,” as are 23 in the Americas, 29 in Asia, and even 11 in Europe. With so many species swarming the globe it’s difficult to parse out the specific ones most often eaten, so we’ll go a little broader—to the top edible insect groups. According to my favorite cookbook, Creepy Crawly Cuisine by biologist Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, a leading proponent of the entomophagy movement, here are the eight critters most often ingested worldwide.

1. Beetles

The most commonly eaten beetles are the long-horned, june, dung, and rhinoceros varieties. These are munched by people living in the Amazon basin, parts of Africa, and other heavily forested regions, both tropical and temperate, as diverse species are easily found in trees, fallen logs, and on the forest floor. (Native Americans, I’ve heard, would roast them over coals and eat them like popcorn.) They are efficient at turning cellulose from trees (indigestible to humans) into digestible fat. Beetles also have more protein than most other insects.

2. Butterflies and Moths

They do more than look pretty fluttering across a meadow; these winged insects, during their larval and pupal stages, are succulent and full of protein and iron. They’re very popular in African countries, and are an excellent supplement for children and pregnant women who may be deficient in these nutrients. In Central and South America, fat and fleshy agave worms, which live between the leaves of the agave plant and turn into butterflies, are highly sought after for food and as the famed worm dropped into mescal, a Mexican liquor. Cultivation of these worms could help protect them from overharvesting.

3. Bees and Wasps

We love bees for their honey, but they have more to give. Indigenous people in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and Mexico commonly eat these insects when they are in their immature stages. Stingless bees are most commonly munched, with wasps a distant second. Bee brood (bees still in egg, larval, or pupal form tucked away in hive cells) taste like peanuts or almonds. Wasps, some say, have a pine-nutty flavor.

4. Ants

You’re probably thinking that it takes a lot of ants to make a meal. True. But they pack a punch: 100 grams of red ant (one of thousands of ant species) provide some 14 grams of protein (more than eggs), nearly 48 grams of calcium, and a nice hit of iron, among other nutrients. All that in less than 100 calories. Plus, they’re low in carbs.

5. Grasshoppers, Crickets, and Locusts

Grasshoppers and their ilk are the most consumed type of insect, probably because they’re simply all over the place and they’re easy to catch. There are a lot of different kinds, and they’re a great protein source. The hoppers have a neutral flavor, so they pick up other flavors nicely. Cricket curry, anyone? Meanwhile, locusts move in swarms that devastate vegetation in countries where people are already struggling to eat—one of several reasons to turn them into dinner. (See video: Family prepares a cricket stir-fy.)

6. Flies and Mosquitoes

Not as popular as some of the others, these insects—including edible termites and, yes, lice—still have a place at some tables. Flies that develop on various types of cheese take on the flavor of their host, and the species from water habitats may taste like duck or fish.

7. Water Boatmen and Backswimmers

Easy to cultivate and harvest, these cosmopolitan little guys deposit eggs on the stems of aquatic plants, in both freshwater and saltwater environments—even in stagnant water. The eggs can be dried and shaken from the plants to make Mexican caviar (tastes like shrimp), or eaten fresh for their fishy flavor.

8. Stinkbugs

If you can get past the funky smell, these insects apparently add an apple flavor to sauces and are a valuable source of iodine. They’re also known to have anesthetic and analgesic properties. Who would have thought?

Share your insect-eating stories in the comments.

Watermelon Juice



1. Lime Juice: The amount can range anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup depending upon the sweetness of the watermelon and the amount of tang that you prefer. So start with say 1/2 cup and add more if required.

 Cut watermelon to half and empty the inside with a spoon
In batches, puree the  watermelon along with  lime juice
Strain it
Add ice cubes along with the mint in a pitcher
Pour the juice.
Add in some honey to taste and stir to combine.
Take the empty watermelon and roll the  edge over the sugar
Now pour the juice inside the watermelon and decorate with strawberry and lemon piece

Serve chilled with additional sprigs of mint and ice.

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes


Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).
Make sure the potatoes are perfectly clean.
Make slices across the potato, but don’t reach its bottom.
Slice the butter and Parmesan.
Then open the potatoes’ crevices and shove the Parmesan and butter, alternating between the two.
Transfer the potatoes onto an oiled baking sheet, then drizzle some oil on top of them.
Season with salt and garlic powder.
Bake for about 60 minutes.
After about 45 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Drizzle cream over the top and top with grated cheese.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream if you wish.