Category Archives: review

Caprese Oven Fries 


Fruit Compote

Great for pancakes, great for cheesecake! This is so simple if you have the time. Three ingredients and 20 minutes later gives you a great topping for breakfast or dessert that stores well sealed for several days in the refrigerator. You could also serve it warm with crumbled graham crackers and whipped cream.

Blueberry is my favorite, but I prefer strawberry on my waffles with some whipped cream. The real stuff, nothing homogenized. I bought this little cheesecake from the store, I think because I had a coupon. It was plain, so I thought about what I was going to serve it with not having planned previously to get it. Blueberry Cheesecake came to mind which was my favorite ice cream in high school (I don’t remember having anything before that besides chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla; I also like Pralines and Creme, then I liked Mint Chocolate Chip, now I like Vanilla Bean with yellow cake and caramel—bad, I know!).

Start with fresh berries. Here’s some strawberries…chop them up into a pan (this was about three cups), a heaping 1/4 cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Strawberries are full of water which they will release, enough to make a syrup.

Mix together on medium-high and cook until reduced, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Strain liquid into clean container and add sliced, fresh strawberries, if preferred.
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Cajun Chicken and Sausage Pasta

Photo by M. Sandoval

One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Sausage Alfredo Pasta. That’s a mouthful!

This recipe was at the end of a blog post that I neither had the time nor patience to read. The photos are beautiful and show most, if not all, of the ingredients. I love that! What happens with me, though, is: I already have chicken going in the slow-cooker where I know it will be cooked to perfection. My dilemma is getting a recipe together in time for dinner. Why don’t I plan better? I can’t. Literally. Chicken in the pot is a good sign! So, I skim over the recipe and check to see if I need anything from the store. Here, I only needed the sausage and more cream. This would be easy; fresh parsley in the backyard, bulk garlic from Costco, as well as pasta, spices, and my favorite chicken “stock” Better Than Bouillon are all always on hand.

Sometimes I’ll grab the few ingredients I need for several recipes, but I really do need to get out of the house everyday. Today, was a quick-stop day.

A package of quality Andouille sausage, slice the links on a bias, brown in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add minced garlic, stock, and then cream. Here is where not reading all the directions ahead of time (or at least, thoroughly, became a problem…or a bump in the process). I had a pot of water going in which I planned on cooking the pasta. Looking at the pan with the sausages and stock, I realized I missed something because the cream was not going to fit. I could blame the stock; Better Than Bouillon is added to water to make as much as you need and maybe I wasn’t paying attention to the quantity of liquid I would be using. I could also blame pan use. Stock pots were not made for browning meat, but this recipe clearly states in the name that it’s a “one-pot” dish.

Anyway, I caught it at the right time (really, this is just not a one-pot dish–the chefs will tell you!); after adding the stock to the pan with the sausages which “deglazes” the pan getting all the “yummy bits”, as my chef friend calls it, off the bottom of the pan from browning the meat, and before adding the cream which potentially could stick to the pan. Everybody into the stock pot. Continuing from there, it worked out perfectly.

Cajun Spice:

1½ T sea salt

1½ T cayenne

1½ T paprika

1½ T garlic powder

1½ T fresh ground black pepper

T dried chopped onion

T dried oregano

Optional: T dried thyme


I had cooked the chicken separately and so chopped it and added it with the cream, pasta, and parmesan cheese (where the author used fresh grated parmesan which I didn’t know until looking up the website to cite–I use what I have unless I know it will compromise the integrity of the recipe).


What’s left of our backyard parsley after last month’s heat wave. Sprinkled on top!

Amazing flavor, just the right amount of heat (which is variable)! This one’s a keeper!

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French Dip Sandwich

I had high expectations for this recipe having tried the French Dip sandwich from the Shady Lady in Sacramento. They have a mushroom au jus (hope I’m not giving away secrets!) and the sandwich itself has a touch of wasabi which is perfectly complementary to the au jus, not to mention the meat is tender, juicy, and divine!

So I admit, you really have to start with a great piece of meat which I unfortunately did not. I like to “use what I have” and this was the closest cut of meat available. Slow-cooking it is essential, but here, it wasn’t enough. The meat was still tough and chewy even though the flavor was good.

If I had a deli slicer, I would have shaved this meat before letting it sit in the pot.

The marbling is okay, but it needed more time in the heat.

It looked like it had potential, and I’m sure it did…just not enough for my patience or time.

Gingerbread Oatmeal

With the holidays in mind, I thought the kids might enjoy this for breakfast while they were waiting for me to wake up, so they could open Christmas presents. Well, I didn’t get to making this–the store was completely sold out of molasses, go figure. I didn’t give up.

Here is it put together a week later, and the bulk of the finished recipe was frozen for future consumption.

The oatmeal, spices, salt, and molasses together remind me of a dessert with chocolate drizzle!

Because I did not have steel-cut oats as the recipe suggests and used old-fashioned oats, I cut the water in half and had the rest of it ready to add as I checked on the oatmeal after an hour. It was looking pretty good, but still had a couple hours to go, so I added two more cups of water.

The spices are beautifully mingling together waiting to be added to the pot.

The results were a little watery, a little too heavy on clove for me as well as unsweetened. I recommend only using no more than five cups of water if you used old-fashion oats like I did and adding milk and your favorite sweetener when the oatmeal is ready to eat.

Cincinnati Chili

Did somebody say chocolate?! Until I saw this recipe, I had only heard of chocolate added to mole in a savory dish. This was surprisingly fantastic! I’m not sure if it was the cocoa or if it was the right balance of spices, but this may be may favorite chili yet.

Begin, of course, with sautéing the shallots and browning the and ground turkey.

Add the spices and seasoning, tomatoes…

Toss in the cooked ground turkey and shallots.

Mmm…can’t wait!

All those spices and seasoning, yes!

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipes binder, p.120

Garlic Parmesan Chicken

Too easy! The chicken was already perfectly cooked in the Crock-Pot but with only salt and pepper as seasoning, and I wanted to add a sauce or additional seasoning so that we weren’t just having “roast chicken” again. I put it in the fry pan with some olive oil to brown both side, but as I was browsing recipes for chicken, I found this quick and minimal recipe. All I had to do was add thyme and Parmesan cheese!

I made a mess with how quickly this was done. I could have used a lower heat and waited a little longer before flipping the chicken; then I wouldn’t have the little pieces tear away and stick to the pan, but the resulting flavor was delicious! The thyme infused olive oil and chicken, and the Parmesan cheese gave it a little crust and a little salty taste, but just the right amount. Yum!

Steam some green beans in a bag quickly in the microwave (about three minutes) with some salt and pepper. You could add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to tie it all together, as they say in cooking, et voila!

Dijon Chicken and Mushrooms

Chicken cooked ahead of time to perfection in the Crock-Pot with salt and pepper. Browned in the skillet with butter and garlic.

Add mushrooms and cream cheese.

Allow to simmer while cooking pasta.

Use your favorite pasta. Cook to al dente.

Cover in chicken and sauce. Serve.

Here’s the recipe I used as a guide.

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Crock-Pot French Toast

Here it is with a couple tabs of butter!
You know how the grocery store makes fresh baked bread usually French bread which they put out at the end of the day or the next day on a Reduced Price rack? That bread is perfect for French Toast!…or croutons, depending on what your cooking.

This is too complicated for me. Leave it in the fridge overnight? French Toast is very simple once you get the jist of it. The bread needs to be relatively saturated in the egg-milk wash, and the wash should be seasoned with cinnamon at the very least. I never add sugar to my French toast but I highly recommend it for compote, so…I’m forgoing the recipe’s overnight soak and adding half of the listed sugar.

I made sure to drizzle milk over each piece of bread and then did my best with that following with the eggs.

In an effort not to make extra work for myself by dirtying more dishes, I measured the milk in a measuring cup, added the vanilla extract to that, swirled it around and poured it over the bread. I added the eggs separately using the same measuring cup, cracking the eggs into it and then whisking them with the salt. I don’t like to crack open eggs into that much liquid I may not be able to replace in the case of finding a bad egg. I made that mistake a long time ago, 20 years maybe. Not something you forget!

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast

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