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slow cooker potato soup

slow cooker soup

This is one of those “Do as I say, not as I do!” recipes.

Last night I decided to throw some potatoes, onion, and broth in my slow cooker to make a no-fuss potato soup for the next day.

It turned out to be a huge fuss. All because I wasn’t thinking about exactly how my particular slow cooker works.

I set it on “low” for 4 hours. Which would have been just fine, perfect in fact. I later went to bed. During the middle of the night, I rolled over and woke slightly to smell the delicious soup simmering away as the comforting aroma of soup wafted into my room. Fabulous.

Problem was, I forgot that my slow cooker switches to “keep warm” after the 4 hours is up. So for an additional 4 hours or so, the darn thing kept cooking the soup. Overcooking it, actually.

too brown

When I woke this morning and went to look in on it, it was still lightly simmering and it was dark… so dark!

Please learn from my mistake. If you know your slow cooker turns OFF when it is done, fine. If it switches to “keep warm,” be sure to be around (or at least awake) to turn it off.

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January 29, 2014   No Comments

lucky peas

I served this dip on New Year’s Eve. It is my version of a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

black-eyed pea dip

It is good!

It may not be the prettiest thing ever, but what do you expect? It’s bean dip!

If eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is lucky, then it must be lucky the other 364 days of the year too.

Plus you only need to use and wash 2 measuring cups, a bowl, a fork and a baking dish to make and serve it. Lucky … and as easy as can be.

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January 2, 2014   1 Comment

Migas for the crew

Before I get into today’s post – I want to take a moment to wish my mother-in-law, Patricia Hopkins, a very happy birthday! I love you. xoxo

I made brunch for the fabulous crew from Forevergreen Landscape Designs, Inc., the great group of guys who’ve been redoing our front yard and patio area for the past month.

brunch on the patio

The project was supposed to wrap up last Friday, but because of a mistake by the rock delivery dude, who delivered the wrong color rocks, the project is ongoing… it should be done by the end of this week with a reveal sometime next week.


Long before the nasty gray cement-like rock was delivered, I’d promised to make the guys breakfast or lunch on what was to be their last day… we settled on brunch. And since the majority of men on the job are Hispanic, I decided to make Migas.

As you can see, I was very stealth and snapped a couple photos through the screened windows of them enjoying their meal.


Mexican or Tex-Mex Migas is a traditional breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs mixed with strips of corn tortilla, diced onions, chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese.

chips and such

My version uses crushed tortilla chips, minced serrano, and Parmesan.

Chip Custer is the owner of Forevergreen Landscape Designs. He is the very talented landscape designer who did our backyard. If you go to his website HERE, you can check out photos 2, 3, 8, 10, and 12. Those are a few of the before and after pictures of the backyard project we did with Chip five years ago.

Now you see why I happily cook for these guys!

onion tomato serrano

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November 13, 2013   4 Comments

an everyday side

Are you looking for an easy and family friendly side dish?


Look not further, this is it.

It’s as easy as steaming and mashing a whole head of cauliflower, core and tender leaves included.

tender leaves only

Add a little Parmesan, serve with chicken or fish and dinner is on the table in no time.

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October 15, 2013   No Comments

easy meaty or meatless Monday meal

It has only taken me a week, but I’m finally getting back to you with the second recipe using those polenta scraps from the Polenta Pesto Bruschetta recipe I gave you a week ago today.

trader joe's polenta

This is almost the perfect “layer and bake” recipe, all you have to do is brown some Italian sausage. Although, you could easily make this dish even more convenient by omitting the sausage, thereby creating the perfect Mindless Meatless Monday Meal.

Dave was out-of-town when I made it, but Connor was home for the night, so meat was called for. We enjoyed the spiciness that the sausage added.

Italian Polenta Bake

Italian Polenta Bake

Polenta trimmings from this recipe, or a tube of prepared polenta, cut into rounds
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
8 ounces hot Italian sausage, cooked
1  1/2 cups purchased marinara sauce
2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese

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September 16, 2013   1 Comment

rainbow summer salad

This salad is so beautiful, full of color and healthy goodness. The glistening arils from pomegranates, the red chewy dried cranberry, the creamy richness of avocado, the crunch and spicy bite of the pepitas – oh my!

Salad with Crasins, Avocado, Candied Spiced Pepitas and Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

I use the one-pound box of greens from Costco, their “half and half” mix, half baby spinach and half colorful spring mix.

costoc greens

Any lettuce or combination of greens you prefer work just fine. Be sure to use a full pound though, this is a “big” salad! Once the dressing is added to the greens, the salad won’t keep for long, so be sure to wait until the last minute to put it all together.

I use my Candied Spiced Pepitas. These Candied Almonds would be wonderful too.

Quick Tip: This vinaigrette uses sesame seeds. Store sesame seeds in the refrigerator. Those little things go rancid in a hurry if they are stored at room temperature.

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September 3, 2013   4 Comments

non-traditional Labor Day potato salad

Today is my Aunt Patty’s 60th birthday. Patty is the youngest of eight in the family where my mom is the oldest. My mom was 18 when Patty was born and she married my dad in November of that same year.

pattys cake

We celebrated yesterday with a birthday party at my Uncle Mike and Aunt Silvia’s lovely home. This is the cake that my sister, Sloane, had made at Honey Moon Sweets, for the occasion. The following recipe is one the two salads I brought. The other salad will be posted tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Patty!

And a very Happy Labor Day to all of you.

potato veg salad

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September 2, 2013   2 Comments

as requested by Peggy…

pita jungle

After not seeing each other for more than three weeks, Peggy and I just had to get together and go out for lunch this past Monday. That’s a long time to not see your BFF!

The day before, I called her to make our lunch plans. Coincidentally, she was having lunch at Pita Jungle, enjoying Coconut Curried Soup w/ Chickpeas, with her daughter, Natalie.

Peggy said, “Linda, I LOVE this soup! You have to taste it, figure out how to make it, and give me the recipe!”  I told her that if she didn’t mind going back to Pita Jungle the next day – I’d do my best.

Problem is, the Coconut Curried Soup with Chickpeas is not on the printed or online menus at Pita Jungle. This means there is no description of the soup for me take any of my cues from.

I’ve deciphered restaurant recipes many times before but there’s always been some sort of guide or reference, you know, a description of the dish – besides just the food itself. This was going to be more challenging than I had originally thought.

Monday, I ordered the soup. I ordered nothing else, I wanted all my focus to be on the flavors of that soup.  I tasted it and knew some of the ingredients for certain; obviously coconut milk, probably full fat. I’m going to use lite coconut milk for my recipe, feel free to use full fat if you’d rather.

There was most certainly red curry paste, garlic, and ginger … and possibly jalapeño as well.

pita jungle soup

Next, I spread the vegetables out on the rim of the bowl to see what I could see; I snapped this photo of it – let’s see… red bell pepper, tomato, poblano pepper, parsley, chickpeas, onion, and either orange bell pepper or carrot.  The orange-colored pieces were so small that neither Peggy nor I could decide which it was – so I’m going with orange bell pepper since I don’t care for carrots. I’m also adding diced mushrooms, just ’cause I want to.

soup vegetalbes

I’m posting the recipe this morning but I may come back and tweak it after Peggy gets over here and tries it.

Get over here, girl!

If tweaking is done, I’ll put any additions or changes in red print… stay tuned.

Peggy never did make it over to try the soup, but my boys and I decided it was too thick. Add another can of coconut milk or vegetable broth to thin it out to your liking. I used more coconut milk and then needed to add more curry paste as well.  I’ve made those changes in the recipe below.

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July 25, 2013   4 Comments

cool-down salad

It’s HOT. Here is a cold refreshing salad to help cool you down. Throw in some rotisserie chicken if you want to make it a main course.

Now go sit under a fan or jump in the pool.

Enough said.

slaw and dressing

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July 2, 2013   2 Comments


For those of you who are over, let’s say 35, do you remember way back in the 80′s when one of the most popular appetizers in just about every hip eatery was Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini?

Those were the days, weren’t they?


Magical Days.

Wonderfully magical, I tell you!

Every weekend at happy hour, we’d waltz into Lunt Avenue Marble Club and eat a huge platter of those crunchy delights. Dipping them into a creamy white dipping sauce …  and not gain a pound!

And at that heavenly happy hour, you could order 2 for 1 cocktails for three bucks and the waitress would deliver both drinks to your table at the same time. Sometimes you’d order your second round before you finished your first, and you’d have four drinks sitting in front of you. At the same time!

Honestly kids, that is not a dream! It used to happen.

The part about not gaining a pound is true too. It may have had a little tiny bit to do with my 20 something metabolism … I miss those days.

I miss Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini.

I really miss my metabolism!

I miss it all so much that I tried to bring it back for a remix.

These days, just looking at a platter of Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini would cause me to instantly gain 10, maybe 20 pounds. So, I gave the zucchini a “makeover” – just to see if I could recapture at least a little slice of the glory days.

As far as makeovers go – this was a major fail! As far as your basic low-cal, low-fat, low-cholesterol makeover – it was a fine.

These zucchini rounds are NOTHING like the glory days zucchini, but they are an OK side dish. With that ringing endorsement, I’m sure you’re going to want to run into the kitchen and whip up a batch or two.

I miss the Magical Days!

I used diet cheese puffs for the yellow zucchini and diet honey mustard pretzels for the green zucchini. The cheese puff zucchini was disgusting! I’m only mentioning it because it is shown in the photos. Otherwise I would prefer to forget it completely!

The pretzel variety was tasty … as tasty as diet baked zucchini can be when you are really wishing you were at Lunt Avenue with four cocktails in front of you.

For those of you who still own a 20 something metabolism or are willing to throw caution to the wind… the original recipe for LAMC Deep-Fried Mushrooms and Zucchini is at the end of the post. If you make it, do not let me know. It will only serve to make me feel sad.

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April 23, 2013   3 Comments