Cooking · Food · YouTube

Discovering New Teachers In The Kitchen

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I love to follow cooks and bakers. I love to learn more tips, tricks and techniques to improve my cooking and baking. You also know I love YouTube because I find some very interesting folks there.

I am usually slow to the (any) party so when I came across Erin Jeanne McDowell on Food52 it was a double introduction. I had never ventured into Food52 territory before and I had never heard about Ms. McDowell even though she has been a prominent baking presence for several years.

I did say I am often late, right?

I tripped over her video about tomato pies and was hooked! Check it out:

Now, I love a good tomato. And I love pie crust. Is it any surprise that I love a good tomato pie? Each of the pies is a work of art and relatively easy to put together.

There is more to this baker than just tomato pies. She has a wide array of recipes (she’s written at least 3 cookbooks) and best of all she is a great teacher.

Check out The Dish interview:

I don’t know of anyone who has never had an issue (or issues) with cooking or baking. There is always something that we stumble with. What I look for are the teachers who explain what to look for – and show me – and how to fix it so I can feel a bit more confident in the kitchen.

I give credit to Natalie Dupree who showed me how to use a food processor and gave me the courage to get one of my own. Hey, if she could do it, so could I, right?

Sometimes we just need a helping hand to get our hands dirty, right?

Check out Erin’s videos and recipes. I sure will be, too!

Cooking · Food

Rao’s End of An Era?

With the news that Rao’s has been acquired by Campbell’s many of us are sorely disappointed.

I know many folks don’t understand the problem. For them any jar of pasta sauce will do. For the rest of us, however, Rao’s is on target with a clean list of ingredients (no sugar), a balanced flavor, and for those sensitive to acid from tomatoes, Rao’s rarely creates that discomfort.

Yes, it isn’t cheap but neither is making your own.

Read more about this acquisition HERE.

In the meantime, I’m stocking up.

Cooking · Dining · Food

Time For A Change?

When You Need to Revisit the Menu

August is that month when many folks deal with kids returning to school and the ‘normal’ shifts. There is a concerted effort to gather the necessities and prepare for the return to a more regular daily schedule.

For those of us without kids, or have older kids, the shift might not be so drastic but the need for a shift can be felt.

Many of my meals are pretty standard. I’ve been known to be on a ‘cheese sandwich for lunch’ routine that could last for months. I might switch up the sandwich, but the pattern would hold. Breakfast, my favorite meal, is not often the Big Meal I love, but is often cereal with occasional toasted something. (Toast is a THING in my house…) Lunch is often my main meal and as such can evolve and change depending on my whim or desire.

Lately, breakfast – that quick and easy start to my day – has become a bit… … … I hesitate to use the word ‘boring’, but <sigh>

My standard weekly breakfasts have been mostly cereal for months with little shift of the cereals (I switch between two) and the occasional toast. For a long time prior, however, I enjoyed my breakfast biscuits.

As a rule I don’t like early in the day heavy breakfasts. If I want a Breakfast (fill in with the full blown whatever your idea might be) it is usually for brunch. I’ve learned that eating early, around 6 a.m., tends to make me hungry by 10 no matter how much, or how little I eat. Annoying? You bet!

All that being said, and as much as I enjoy my cereal, I find that a change is needed. Hmm.

Perhaps it is time to return to yogurt? Maybe a return to the breakfast biscuits?

I have friends who bake their oatmeal for easy breakfasts that can be carried to work. I have to admit, baked oatmeal has been on my To Be Tried List… So have Breakfast Cookies, which seem to be a bit more complicated but just as easy to carry…

All said, a shift in the ‘regular’ meal pattern is a good thing. And I now have something to consider as I put together my next grocery order.

What do you think?

Cooking · Food · Meal Building Blocks

Digging in the Archives

Recipe archives that is…

For those of us old schoolers who have a collection of cookbooks and/or recipes in various formats, there is a bit of adventure involved when we pull out either a book, box or whatever and start digging to find the Next Different Thing For Dinner.

For those who don’t, the adventure can be rummaging around the Internet for the same thing.

The goal is simple, finding something new(ish) for our summer meal plans that don’t require loads of time, heating up the kitchen or stocking lots of stuff in the pantry other than what we normally would use.

Thankfully, there are lots of places to look: Food brands have their websites with recipes and usually a way to get the brand items either directly or locally. Or both.

Have you checked out your local library or book shops, specifically second-hand book shops? The library could be a great resource to test out cookbooks before you hand over the cash…or not. The second hand shops often have gems you might not find anywhere else. Cheap.

Yes, recipe sites like are great places to find new ideas, but sometimes you just want something…else.

Check your local markets to see if they offer recipes. You might be surprised to discover that there are lots of ideas that are easily accessed as you do your regular shopping.

Take advantage of local produce. That is a great way to control your budget. And, if you are inclined, see if you can score some items to put away for Winter. Your county agricultural department should be able to answer any questions you might have on how to do that.

As busy as Summer can be, don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut. Experiment a little. You never know, you could find your next House Favorite!

Cooking · Food · YouTube

Not Your Ordinary Cooking Show

If you have been around here for any length of time, you know I love cooking shows. I love to discover new (to me) recipes while learning new tricks to the trade. A few years ago I happened across a show on YouTube that I kept returning to watch. It is a great mixture of good food, interesting commentary, and a huge assortment of recipes going back…quite a long time. And that doesn’t include the videos.

Canadian Glen Powell and his wife, Julie, invite people to visit at least once a week where Glen tries out recipes, talks about the research he has done on the recipe, walks us through the process, and Julie joins to taste test and adds her comments.

It might sound a bit dry, but it is really quite interesting stuff if you like to cook and/or eat. Glen has covered quite an array of foods but there is more, a lot more, on his YouTube channel, Glen and Friends.

I found out more about Glen by reading this article: How a Canadian Depression Era…

I tried to find just the right teaser for you to visit Glen’s YouTube Channel but truthfully, there are just too may temptations.

Check out Glen and Friends Cooking on YouTube to see what delectable treats might tempt you.


Cooking · Food

Getting Out of The Rut

I recently checked out a local grocery store that I haven’t visited in a Very Long Time. Why did I do it? I wanted to see if the grass was greener over there, so to speak.

It started because I didn’t need a lot of my regular stuff. That’s the standard fare I get every month. I did, however, need a couple of things that couldn’t wait until I was ready to do the Big Shop. So, I thought I would try my luck at this other store.

What I found surprised me. While they do carry some big name brand items, when I looked at their store brand items, I saw pretty much the same things I would find under Big Name Brands under a different brand name. Same item, lower cost.

Now, to be fair, this is nothing new, but I think we tend to forget that manufacturers often create goods for multiple brand names and price points. We really can save some cash by getting out of the rut of always buying the same brand names.

Anyway, I found items that I would not have found in my usual market. Little things like empanadas and premade salads. While this might not sound like a Big Deal, when you are craving a bit of something new these things can be quite a nice change of pace.

I also found lower priced fresh fruits and vegetables. As Summer moves in and we look for lighter fare, these items will be more prevalent on our menus.

At the end of the day I think my experiment was a success. I found a good resource for a variety of items I couldn’t find in my regular store. When added to the regular items on my shopping list the lower cost has had a positive impact on my budget.

While it is often easier to hit the larger markets or big box stores, perhaps it is worth trying your own experiment and checking out markets in your area that you haven’t visited before.

Cooking · Dining · Food

I Don’t Often Eat Over The Sink

But sometimes it is the easiest, and cleanest, ways to enjoy things you might not have very often.

We recently were benefited by a rather large snowstorm that shut pretty much everything down for a few days. Not a regular occurrence around here. Because I paid attention to the warnings, I ordered groceries earlier than I normally would and, because it just seemed like the thing to do, I picked up some things I don’t normally buy.

I have to say that the change in menu has been wonderful!

The first thing off the bat was a lucky purchase of a couple of pounds of ground beef at a price that was palatable. I cooked it up and put it in the fridge so I could use it for a variety of meals.

I found a can of chili for chili dogs – something I never knew you could buy – and tucked it alongside the hot dog buns. The hot dogs were in the fridge along with the cooked hamburger and cheese. Because I really wanted something salty, I picked up a box of different snacks, which included some Fritos. So I had the makings for a Frito pie, or chili cheese dogs, or even tacos.

Yep, I picked up some taco shells, too. I don’t normally pick up the premade shells but this time it just seemed like a good idea. I tucked them into the oven to crisp up while I reheated the meat and pulled the cheese out of the fridge.


Messy. Tasty. Silly fun that I really did need to eat over the kitchen sink. 😀

While I don’t recommend this type of spurge very often, it is quite a nice change of pace from the standard chicken, pork, or whatever that is part and parcel of the regular meal plan.

And did I forget to mention that it worked perfectly with the snow days when we really couldn’t order in or go out for anything at all?

Cooking · Food

Magic Pantry Strikes Again!

Hot Dogs. Pork and Beans. Cornbread

This family favorite is a combination of budget friendly, kid friendly, time friendly foods.

Last week I stocked some items in my pantry that would be easy to fix if the weather turned (it did) and things got a bi dicey. Frankly, I got several bits of comfort foods that I don’t normally buy, but they have made wonderful meals while the weather outside was awful.

This recipe is not quite corndogs, not quite beans and franks, not quite … and a bit of all of them.

Beans, Dogs, and Corn Bread

Not quite corn dogs and more than beans and hot dogs with a side of corn bread.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 8 x 8 square baking pan


  • 15 ounce Pork and beans
  • 1 package hot dogs
  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with baking spray.
  • Slice the hot dogs and place them in the baking pan. Cover with the pork and beans.
  • Combine the milk, egg, and cornbread mix as per the instructions on the box. Pour the mixture over the beans and hot dogs in the baking pan.
  • Bake until the top is brown and tests done using a toothpick.
    Be sure to insert the toothpick as close to the bottom of the pan as possible.


This quick and easy pantry recipe will be a hit for anyone who loves hot dogs, pork and beans, or cornbread. 
It is easy on the budget too, because you don’t need to purchase expensive ingredients to make a wonderful meal.
The beans and hotdog mixture will keep the batter from baking quickly, so it is important to check for doneness before you serve.

You can easily double or triple this recipe just be sure to use a baking dish that is big enough and to allow enough time for the batter to cook through.


A Little Something Extra

When I was a kid, convenience foods were not common in our home. It was an EVENT when store bought TV dinners or pot pies were on the table. I emphasize ‘store bought’ because my mom would save the aluminum foil pans to make her own and tuck them away in the freezer.

Now, when I’m looking for a touch of comfort food, I enjoy the occasional store bought pot pie or even a TV dinner.

The other night I found myself contemplating tucking one of those delicious pot pies into the oven. As I recalled the lovely end result (hey, to each his/her own) I remembered that I have a pot of rice in the fridge. Hmmm. Could I?

I did!

When I put the pot pie into the oven to bake, I took about a cup of the rice out and put it on the bowl I would serve the pot pie in. When the pot pie was done, I turned it out over the rice. Yum!

The rice soaked up the extra gravy and also bulked out the meal a bit. Maybe a bit over the top, but on a cold winter day this toasty tasty meal hit just the right note.

Why not treat yourself to a touch of comfort food and step it up a notch by adding something a little extra?