Category Archives: Foodology

Allergies & Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies


My husband and I try to eat healthy, but we’re definitely not all gung-ho gluten free. I must admit I’ve had a long-standing love affair with nearly all things “bread”, and particularly pizza. Next week I have to go for 3 days of allergy testing (insert head slump here). I must admit that my fear, despite everything that could show up in the results, is that my allergies will include gluten, wheat, and dairy. I know that  a lot of people have it (including some dear friends), and that they learn to manage it, and there are many great recipes and dishes, and so on and so forth.

There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth if my Dr. says bread and cheese are off the Lisa-friendly list of foods. #justsayin #sorryinadvance

Ok, I just had to get that out, thanks.

My Dad’s side of the family is riddled with allergies. I have had allergy & asthma issues probably all of my life, but I have never managed them well. Finally sick and tired (literally) of feeling so bad day-in-and-day-out, and having developed skin allergies last year, I made an appointment with an Allergist in July. During our first meeting he said,

Your allergies aren’t bad. They are HORRIBLE!

“Well, that’s why I’m here, Doc!” I thought to myself.

So, the next step in this process is allergy testing. My Doctor likes the more reliable old-school skin-prick test. Oh boy, this will be three days of fun that launch into a series of life changes, I’m sure. But if feeling better is the result, then it’s time for a change.

So, in honor of what may or may not be gluten-free days ahead, I found this recipe on my bag o’ Rolled Oats this morning, and thought, “What the heck, let’s give it a go.” Also, as we usher in the fall season (although it doesn’t feel like that in Dallas yet), baking Oatmeal Cookies just feels natural.

I’m glad I did – gluten free or not, I would not only eat these cookies, but gift them! My picky husband loved them too – and didn’t believe that they were gluten free. The peanut butter, walnuts, oats, and chocolate chips are such a well-balanced blend.

As my Mom taught me, pull your eggs and butter out of the fridge first a bit before you back so that they temp out.

Enjoy these delicious (and more nutritious) gluten free cookies!


Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

Yields: Approx 48 cookies (depending on thickness)


1/4 c. butter

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. sugar (I used “Sugar in the Raw”)

3 c. Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats

3/4 c. brown sugar

6 oz. chocolate chips

2 eggs

1/2 c. sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts (I used walnuts)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. peanut butter (I used natural honey peanut butter)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and butter and beat until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda and mix well.
  4. Add peanut butter and mix.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. Place teaspoon full of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges.
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A Healthy Start to the Day


Thanks for all those who have been praying for my Dad. His Heart Catheterization went well, thanks be to God. The 4 Bypasses that they did 10 years ago are all open! The main Artery to his heart has narrowed, and there is about 60% diffused blockage there. Since it is diffused, they can’t put in a stint (which is used when there is a main point of blockage). So he will be starting a non-invasive therapy soon to help with that blockage and hopefully create new wide-open capillaries going to the heart – it’s called EECP.

When something goes wrong with the body, it’s usually then that we really wish we had done a better job of caring for it. Exercise and eating-right are key, and yes, I struggle with that too.  Dad isn’t much of a cook, and it can be daunting to try and do all that just for one person, especially starting in your 70’s.  He wants to eat heart healthy, but the Doctor didn’t have much to give him in order to accomplish that end. I decided that I’d start an ongoing collection of heart-healthy recipes for Dad, and to share with anyone who wanted simple, quick recipes – basically less than 30 minutes.

Today is the beginning of what I’d like to start as an ongoing (over time) Heart Healthy Recipes Series, and it’s a small but loving beginning. And when you’re at the beginning, what is more appropriate then the start to the day, BREAKFAST?

I used to be one of those people who did not like to eat breakfast. I would wake up so congested that my stomach was upset, and I definitely was not looking for anything to be put in it. But my Pediatrician at the time said that I needed to eat something in the morning, especially since I get Migraines. Now, I’m a big breakfast advocate, 100% pro breakfast, and a card-carrying member of Granola Chompers International. OK, I think I may have made that last thing up, but I wanted you to understand my heart-felt (cough) disposition towards Breakfast, and that just flowed out…sorry.

These recipes were chosen because they have few and simple ingredients, take a short amount of easy prep, and are things my Dad likes. Hopefully they will be things that you like too.

Here is a link to the download including 5 easy Heart-Healthy Recipes:

Heart Healthy BREAKFASTS

OR, if you’d just like to go to websites where I gathered the recipes, click on the titles below.

Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies

Slow Cooker Oats

Summer Berry Parfait with Yogurt and Granola

Breakfast Tortilla Wrap

Easy Egg White Omelet

Happy Breakfast eating, friends. Share your reviews or even your own Heart-Healthy recipe suggestions in the comments please!

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5 Meatless Friday Options, Beyond Fish

Lent is upon us, friends. Part of our sacrifice is abstaining from meat on Fridays. In the long run, it’s a small price to pay for the price paid for us.

My husband is not the biggest fish-eater, and by fish, I’m referring to it in a form that is not beer-battered and dipped in Tartar sauce, stuffed and sauced in a taco, slapped on a sandwich and covered in cheese.  For those of you with non-fish friendly households, I wanted to provide some DELICIOUS options for consideration outside of fish.

The first three recipes are from, and have all been tested by yours truly. The last two recipes were from my Mom’s personal collection, and as such, are stellar!

Enchilada sauce1) Cheese & Onion Enchiladas: I grew up on my Grandma’s enchiladas, with a sauce (for dipping the corn tortillas in) that was made with chili powder, flour, and water — then stuffed with chopped onions and Muenster cheese. I have since discovered a new recipe with lots of flavor that we both really like, 10 Minute Enchilada Sauce. Look how rich in color that sauce appears? View Recipe>>

Recipe Tips: I added approx 1 Tbsp Caldo de Pollo to the recipe (or Chicken broth instead of water to add flavor). I used a clove of fresh garlic (crushed) instead of garlic powder, and increased the ground cumin and onion salt at least to 1/2 tsp – perhaps even to 3/4 tsp each.  This makes a thick, rich sauce.

2) Homemade Veggie Pizza: You know you’re a homemade pizza-lover when your Bridal Registry includes a pizza stone! Yes, that’s us. Homemade pizza can be easy as picking up a pre-made crust (my Mom used to make it with white bread dough from the freezer section) and canned sauce, to Homemade Pizzapulling out all the stops with homemade dough and sauce. Since we try and eat healthy here, I make a multigrain crust with some wheat flour in it, and make my own tomato sauce if time allows (the extra sauce I’ll pop in the fridge to use later with pasta, extra pizza dough in freezer). I topped this yummy pizza with a 4 Italian Cheese blend, pepperoncinis, sliced mushrooms, green pepper on 1/2, and then sprinkle it later with freshly ground Italian Herb blend and Red Pepper Flakes. I’m getting hungry as I type this, sheesh!

View Homemade Pizza Sauce Recipe>>
View Pizza Dough Recipe>>

3) Eggplant Parmesan: If you want a pretty quick recipe, and like Italian Food, here’s a good option. If you used a jar of Spaghetti sauce, the prep is less than 30 minutes, and bake time is about 35 min, so within an hour, dinner’s ready. You can serve the eggplant over noodles, or serve them on the side – drizzled with olive oil, topped with parmesan & Italian Seasoning – easy, quick, delicious.

View Easy Eggplant Parmesan Recipe>> 

4) Shuler’s Swiss Onion Soup

Shuler’s was a very popular restaurant back in Michigan. Their Win Schuler’s cheese spread would still be one of my all time favorite snack foods if I knew where to find it! This soup takes some time, but if you can spare it, you will be so glad you did, because it is divine.

Shuler’s Swiss Onion Soup                                              Servings:  12

1/2 cup butter
2 lbs onions, peeled, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
6 cups beef stock or 6 cups canned beef broth, reduced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon celery salt
12 slices French bread
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup (8 ounces) dark beer
salt and pepper, to taste
12 slices mozzarella or gruyere cheese


  1. In large stock pot over medium-hugh heat melt butter. Add onions and cook ’til brown, stirring regularly, about 30 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in paprika, then add beef stock and bring to a boil.
  3. While onions are browning make a roux by whisking oil and flour in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, while whisking constantly, until mixture is browned. Watch that it doesn’t burn!
  4. When roux is done, stir enough into stock pot to thicken soup, then add celery salt, cover and simmer at least 2 hours.
  5. Shortly before serving sprinkle bread slices with Parmesan and toast them in the oven. Remove and set aside.
  6. Add beer to soup and return to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Ladle soup into (oven-proof) bowls or serving crocks, top with a toasted bread slice and a slice of Mozzarella or Gruyere.
  8. Place bowls under the broiler for a minute and watch carefully ’til cheese is melted, bubbly and slightly brown.

5) Crockpot Vegetable Chili

I love using our Crockpot. It’s like gifting myself a hot and ready dinner upon arriving home after a hard day’s work. Here’s a delicious recipe, sans meat.  There’s quite a bit of chopping/slicing involved with this veggie prep, so if you have a food processor, that will speed things along. Fire up your crockpot, pop in the veggies, grab you some Cornbread, and enjoy.  This is my favorite kind of boxed Cornbread. Krusteaz Honey Cornbread

Crockpot Vegetable Chili


40 oz can Kidney beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped
4 oz can green chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. cumin
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. salt

1. Saute onion and garlic until soft.
2. Combine all ingredients in crock pot.
3. Cook on low in Crockpot for 6-8 hours, or 4 hours on high.

I hope you and your families will enjoy these delicious meatless meals. I wish a blessed Lent to all of you. Leave reviews or suggestions in the comments, please and thank you!

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2012 Year in Review: Annual Christmas Letter

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

-St. John of the Cross


If I don’t send this–our Annual Christmas Letter update–folded up in our Christmas cards every year, then I usually send a note with the card directing folks here for the proverbial dirt on our comings & goings, highlights of the year, and photo fun. Well, if you happen to be a close-knit friend/family member that’s on our card list, if you hadn’t noticed that a card has not arrived from us, you for sure know now. If you sent us a card, know that we are grateful and truly loved it; and this update is written from our heart to yours. We don’t talk, see each other, message each other, etc., nearly enough–so this is my feeble attempt to connect. Pardon the public format, please.

(Violins play in the background of this part of the prologue). Since we moved up our departure date to Florida 1-week earlier, amidst everything else, it may tip you off to the extreme time crunch we’ve been operating under, especially this season, and the great need to re-prioritize our ever elusive friend and foe, TIME. I easily could have been Martha – determined to still send out Christmas cards come what may; but, I’m thankful that Mary took over, choosing the better part. I’ve been spending some desperately needed downtime in a sunny spot, surrounded by a subset of the circle of loving and large family we are blessed with.

Paul Jacob by Waterside

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely been seeing a surge of posts and pics from me, i.e. playing with our Godson, visiting with my Brother at my Father’s home–during the short days that our trips overlapped in Florida–baking Mom’s beloved Christmas treats, taking time to blog again, photos, making 1st Turkey dinner, working on our business ventures (more to come on that), etc…

If you are a new blog follower, or just-popped-on-your-blog-cause-I-searched-something guest, well then, WELCOME! Glad you are here, and hope you stay awhile, as well as come back for more visits in the future!

This time for me to “retreat and recharge” has mainly been provided by Mike’s kindness and unwavering support, as well as the flexibility provided by his boss to telecommute into work. And my Dad’s kindness in always opening up his home to us. For all these things and more, I am grateful. Without further ado, here’s the 2012 update!


(perfect for speed readers, skimmers, SEO optimizers, you know who you are, etc and such)

Some 2012 Great Moments, in random order:

  • Celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary on June 24th. Yep, still Newlyweds and loving it!
  • Being asked to be Padrinos, or Godparents, for the first time together for our youngest nephew, Jacob, also on June 24th
  • Seeing our Texas family, and being back where we got married-South Padre Island-before our 1st wedding anniversary
  • Dad coming to visit us in Texas during the summer
  • Finally seeing my 1st Ordination – congrats to our friends in Dallas who have made fine, young Priests
  • Visiting with friends and family coming to or passing through Dallas – always a blast!
  • Having one of our dearest friends, Kelli, get engaged to Marcelo and ask both of us to be in their wedding. This will be my first time as Matron of Honor 🙂 Incidentally, she was our Maid of Honor.
  • Making the 1st part of “Our Big Announcement”. The 2nd part at the end, folks, so hang in there.

Travel-related 2012 Highlights:

  • Began the New Year traveling back from our Christmas trips to be with both sides of the family in South Texas and in Central Florida
  • South Florida in May for Alyssa’s (niece) Quincinera, a great celebration!
  • San Benito in June, a brief visit with Mike’s family, swinging by South Padre beach where we celebrated our marriage the previous year
  • Louisiana in October for Jeff & Erika’s (friends) wedding – we stayed in a lil’ Cabin on the Bayou. Mike got a Gumbo-making lesson, and we enjoyed a short time to see friends and be back in the country
  • Michigan in November. We took a health scare from my Grandma as an opportunity to visit her and stay with my bro & SIL, Chris & Jen, visiting a couple of other friends and family members in between
  • South Texas in late November – we spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family in San Benito (we made a mighty fine Turkey, I might add), and then to San Antonio with SIL & BIL, Rose & Jesse. Mike & I were honored to be chosen as Padrinos of the Rings for our newlywed cousins, Thomas & Claudia! We also got to have a yummy brunch with our other cousin, Robert
  • Full circle to Central Florida for Christmas

NOTE: Since we’ve gotten several tempting offers, the list of places-we-WANT-to-travel/friends-& family-that-we-want-to-see is always MUCH longer then what we’ve accomplished. Despite working fulltime and laying the groundwork of 2 businesses, we still were able to squeeze out several trips, as you can see, mostly visiting family since we are both Dallas transplants. Looking forward to more adventures in 2013 – and please continue to be patient with us if you’ve been on the “to visit” list! We’ve not forgotten you – it’s all about the right timing though. Praying for us to have an increase of time and money may move you up on that list though, LOL!!

Several of the Cool New Things I’ve Learned to Make/Do in 2012:

  • Crochet
  • Movie promotionFor Greater Glory, an inspiring and historic film that premiered in the US in June
  • Decoupage
  • Twitter, @LSanMartini at your service. OK, so…I held out until 2012 to dip my toe into that Social Media pool. I’ve got a whopping 20 followers as of this 3rd day of Christmas, to sporatically try and entertain in 140 characters or less. A challenge for the verbose, truly. Trust me, I’ve got Facebook and Pinterest down pat; but I basically feel like I’m wandering round the Twitter Kiddie Pool with a life jacket, and am just now learning how to use the big girl potty instead of the ol’ catch and release method. Did that just get weird? Sorry.
  • Foodie Progress: Homemade Packzi’s (for Fat Tuesday), Brined Turkey, healthy & hearty meals, (click the recipes tab for a few more – but many haven’t been posted unfortunately!)
  • Graphic design – dabbling in logos, icons, new and old programs
  • WordPress-based website development & design– a blog redo, involved with development new websites from scratch – including working on mine (not live yet)
  • With the help of a great new Doc, learning what and how to fight back my Chronic Neck Pain/Migraine Headaches that’s gone on for far too long
  • Photography – we recently scored our first DSLR during Wolf/Ritz Camera’s Going-out-of-Business Sale, and it’s been a blessing. Have loved learning, getting blu-ray interview of my Grandma, and even doing our first engagement photo shoot! This is a good segue way into a a very brief year-end photo tour, courtesy of the Sony a77 and my Hubby & I.

Jacob & Pilar

Gloria in Excelsis Jacob Santa Letter

Jeff & Erica Wedding

Lisa Molly dancing


Midday on Bayou

brined thanksgiving turkey

Josie at Thanksgiving



BW Lisa & Jacob

Kelli and Marcelo

St Mary's Austin BETTER


MJ bunny hat

Birthday Family

Jacob in Suitcase

Paul pushing stroller

OL Guadalupe

2012: The Heart of the Matter

2012 has been quite a teacher, as the virtue I was given to work on was perseverance—aka endurance. Through the highlights, as well as personal and professional trials in a downward-facing dog economy, I’ve learned, adjusted, and grown.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

The Big Announcement Part II, is something we’ve been building over the years, months, and more so then ever in the past weeks. Honestly, it’s something we feel strongly that God’s been preparing me for, especially through all of the work experiences and skills that I’ve gained over the past 20+ years. Looking back on the doors that have closed and the windows that have opened, it all makes sense. I am moving into being a full-time small business owner , serving as Co-owner/COO of Illuvint as well as Owner of Little With Great Love, Online Boutique.

What is Illuvint? The formal version:

Illuvint LLC, a family-owned and operated company, specializes in custom solutions for small business owners. From online presence to ecommerce, PR to sales, operations to advertising, IT to logos, consulting to implementation, we desire to be involved in what makes you successful! Our diverse, collective expertise provides creative and powerful approaches – from our entrepreneurial experience to yours.

The informal version:

A marriage of the skills, experience, knowledge, talent, resources, outsourcing contacts…that we’ve doubled through our own marriage.

SPECIAL THANKS: I’m very grateful for the diverse and nationwide group of people that have been involved in the preparation of this journeying out into the world in this new way. You are far too many to name, but I pray that you know who you are and how you’ve made a great impact on us. Your support of the work Mike and/or I have already done, mentorship, encouragement, prayers, love, help, yadda yadda yadda, have made us better versions of ourselves. I’m excited to be a full-time Entrepreneur!

Stay tuned for more to come on Illuvint! We will need your continued prayers, encouragement, support, and referrals as this start-up is about to get a kickstart into 2013.

We pray for you, and for us, that 2013 will bring abundance. Abundance of grace, blessings, love, joy, peace, health, wealth, and wisdom!

Love and prayers,

Lisa + Mike

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Mom’s Christmas Goodies: The Best of Her Best

If there was just one thing that my Mother was renown for, it was her Christmas baked goods. Whether they were fresh out of the oven, on a Christmas platter wrapped and ready to travel to a party, or still frozen out of the huge chest freezer in our basement — they were never “un” anything — and by that I basically mean, uneaten or unloved.

We are at my Dad’s, and I asked the 3 men here – Husband, Brother, and Father – which cookies were their top picks for me to bake.  All three of the fellas heartily agreed that the Peanut Butter Blossoms with the Hershey Chocolate Kisses needed to be near the top of the “must-bake list”. Betty Crocker’s version is wonderful.  To enhance them with a touch of Christmas cheer, I roll the peanut butter dough balls in the red and green sugar prior to baking.  After pulling them out of the oven – you press the Hershey Kisses into the hot cookie, and let them cool for a good while.  The kisses will take quite a while to re-solidify atop the cookie as they both cool.

Betty Crocker Peanut Butter BlossomsI even love how the Peanut Butter Cookies crack a bit when you put the Hershey’s Kisses on top. Yum yum!

But, if you’re a chocolate lover, and a Paula Deen type of butter advocate, this next Christmas recipe is definitely for you.  I have no idea where Mom originally got the recipe, so I don’t know who should receive the credit for this masterpiece, but thank you to the ghost-chocolatier who graced us with Napoleon Creams.

Napoleon Creams  

Yields: (1) 9×13 pan; These are cooked on a stove-top & chilled in the fridge – no baking required.

Ingredients for Crust (Bottom Layer):

1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

Ingredients for Filling (Middle Layer):

1 cup butter
6 Tablespoons milk
2 (3 1/2 oz) packages of vanilla instant pudding mix
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Ingredients for Topping (Top Layer):
1 12-oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter


How to make the Crust:

  1. In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the butter, cocoa, sugar and the vanilla extract.
  2. Cook over the simmering water in the bottom pan, stirring until the butter melts.
  3. Add the eggs.
  4. Continue stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes.Layer 1: Napoleon Creams
  5. Add graham crackers and coconut, mixing well.
  6. Press into a greased 9×13 pan (you can use butter or cooking spray). I use a piece of waxed paper and my hand to pack it down into the pan firmly.

Layer 1: Napoleon Creams

Your crust will look something like this when it’s pressed in the pan. You can see that I have some chunkier bits of Graham Crackers in there.  The Coconut adds a wonderful flavor, even if you’re not a big fan of Coconut.

Set aside the Crust, to work on the Filling:

  1. Cream the butter well with a mixer.
  2. Stir in the milk, dry pudding mix, and powdered sugar.
  3. Beat until fluffy.
  4. Spread evenly over crust, but don’t mess with it too much, or the crust will start to break up and mix in with the filling.
  5. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until firm.

Layer 2: Napoleon Creams

Butter is the central ingredient here.  The pudding mix gives it a rich color and flavor.  I let my butter soften on the countertop for at least a 1/2 hour to make it cream nicely.  Make sure to chill this layer spread over the crust well, or it will blend with the top layer – not good.

Make the top layer (it’s almost like a frosting)

  1. In the top pan of a double boiler, melt semi sweet morsels and butter over the simmering water in the bottom pan.
  2. Cool slightly.
  3. Spread over pudding layer.

Napoleon Creams

The semi-sweet chocolate chips & butter create a type of frosting topping. I like using the semi-sweet, as I think with the decadence of the dessert, the milk chocolate would be too much or the dark chocolate would be too harsh.

To finish off the Napoleons

  1. Chill until set.
  2. Cut into small bars to serve.

Layers of Napoleon Creams

Look at all those lovely layers of Napoleon Cream goodness! These take some time to prepare, but will not disappoint.

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Thanksgiving Recipes – Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors to the north, in Canada! I’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, but from what I hear, they share similar foods as those that will be featured on tables across America on our Thanksgiving next month.  We love celebrating Thanksgiving – –I have so many fond memories with my family, such as the ones found in this post.  But part of the reason why we love Thanksgiving is because we love food—good food, like the kind that many busy family members spend hours preparing for the special meal we share together on that day.

I’m sharing a couple of recipes from my baking collection, in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving and in preparation for ours.  I’m a Pumpkin Pie advocate, believe me, but not everybody is.  So, if you’re wanting to change things up, or offer some other options, here are two delectable choices.  The first recipe is Nana Deane’s Pecan-Coconut Pie, shared by the Food Network’s Alton Brown, and is an amazingly delicious Coconut and Pecan Pie, courtesy of Ray’s Dairy Made, Burton, Arkansas.  If it’s a Southern pecan pie recipe, you know it’s gotta be good!

Nana Deane’s Pecan-Coconut Pie does not disappoint

Nana Deane’s Pecan-Coconut Pie

Servings:6-8     Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 30-60 min


10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar

3 large whole eggs

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces buttermilk

3 ounces pecans, chopped (approximately 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 ounces sweetened coconut flakes

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 pie crust (pre-baked)  NOTE: I linked to a good crust recipe that I’ve used before on

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, coconut, pecans, flour, vanilla and salt.

Pour this mixture into a 9-inch pre-baked pie crust.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is golden brown and the center is barely set.

Cool for 40-45 minutes before serving.

Another yummy option would be to make Pumpkin Cookies.  Who doesn’t like cookies, right? Although I haven’t tried making these cookies, they were a recipe of my Mom’s; and since her baking became legendary in our parts, I’m gonna trust that these cookies are equally fabulous.

Pumpkin Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen


1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water and drained

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a mixer, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.

Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla – mix well.

Stir in dry ingredients.  Chill.

Drop on greased cookie sheet.

Bake approximately 15 minutes and cool on a cooling rack.

If you try these recipes, I’d love to hear how they turned out!  If you have any questions, please just let me know.  And Happy Thanksgiving – today if your Canadian, and in November if your American 🙂

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Healthier Zucchini Bread

I remember as a little girl the sweet smell of my Mom’s Zucchini Bread wafting throughout the house.  It was a moist, delicious and best of all Chocolate Zucchini Bread that was one of her specialties.  As you can imagine, that also means high in calories. Just 1 slice of Zucchini bread, not even Mom’s chocolate goodness, can be over 300 calories.  Ouch!

Using the standard ingredients of (white) flour, sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, eggs, oil, sour cream, and zucchini, here is what one recipe equals:

Per Serving:

Calories:  306

Fat:  16.75 g

Cholesterol: 34.5 mg

Percent calories from fat: 49

Mother Earth Zucchini BreadI can’t even remember where I got this recipe, but it’s called Mother Earth Zucchini Bread.  Using healthy substitutions like 1/2 white & 1/2 whole wheat flour, egg whites, applesauce, and buttermilk, here’s the new nutritional info:

Per Serving:

Calories:  157

Fat:  2.17g

Cholesterol: Trace

Percent calories from fat: 12

WOW!  A trace of cholesterol?  About half the calories?  And less then a 1/4 of the fat!

And believe me, that it if my husband says, “In fact it is so good, I want another piece!” we’ve got a keeper! This is not a really sweet bread – which I like – and not dried out either.  Love the bit of crunch of the Walnuts too.

Here’s the recipe:

Mother Earth Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

6 egg whites

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 c grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a Bundt or Tube Pan (I used loaf pans) with vegetable oil cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

Dry Ingredients 

In a separate bowl, combine egg whites, applesauce and buttermilk.

The wet ingredients

Mix in the grated zucchini with the wet ingredients next.

The wet ingredients

Then combine the wet and dry ingredients together.

Combine wet & dry ingredients

I like to stir the nuts in last.

Stir in chopped walnuts

Pour into the greased pan(s).  Bake at 45 minutes to an hour.  Serve warm or cold!

Zucchini Bread

1 recipe made these 2 loaf pans (Stoneware and Silicon bakeware) – remember to fill only about 1/2 full with batter.

Now pour a glass of milk, cut a slice, and enjoy this healthier version of Zucchini Bread!

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Totties for Two

It’s that time of year when something is always “going around”.  Not feeling well either?  Perhaps you should try a Hot Tottie!  It’s soothing, natural, and doesn’t taste too bad either.

Hot Tottie ingredients

Totties for Two

My Grandma is so big into home remedies, and since I’m supposed to be playing guitar and singing at a retreat tomorrow, I figured that last night was the opportune time to try “Totties for Two”.  I adapted a couple recipes I found to what we had on hand/prefer – so feel free to leave comments with your feedback.  Honestly, I’ve neither tasted nor made a Tottie myself – so I can’t tell you how it measures up.  I have left some tips below.  But I will tell you that after tipping a Tottie last night, I slept more soundly then I have all week.  And when I awoke, I was skipping around like a wee sprite, the junk in my chest had loosened up a bit more and my throat wasn’t sore as it has been the other 4 mornings this week.  What does this mean?  I am a Tottie advocate at this point – yes, Pro Tottie and unashamed.  Your tired eyes and wheezing chest are likely skimming these lines for something of value now, so I will now just provide the recipe…

Hot Totties

Servings: 2 large servings

1 1/2 cup water

1 cup Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)

1 1/2 cup Whiskey (we used Jack Daniels)

1 cup Honey

3 Cinnamon Sticks  (4 cloves were also recommended)

2 slices fresh Lemon (optional)


  1. First put the water, lemon juice and Whiskey into a medium saucepan.
  2. Be sure that the mixture has heated up before you add the honey. It can be at a gentle boil, but be sure to turn the heat down as you gradually add the honey – so a little at a time. Stir constantly during this step, or your pot will boil over!
  3. Next, add the whole cinnamon sticks (or cloves) into the mixture, and bring to a boil again. Again, be sure to stir!
  4. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add a lemon slice in each mug and serve.
Natural, soothing remedy for Cold + Flu

Natural, soothing remedy for Cold + Flu

Now it’s ready!  Enjoy and feel better
I adapted my remedy from this recipe that came from the UK — you can read more here:  I prefer my Americanized spelling of Tottie though, as you can see.


This is my modified version of a couple recipes I found online.  I tried it last night with different measurements, and we ended up adding a bit more water after it was done:  I had used only 1 cup of water and 1 cup of honey, and it had a strong and boldly sweet taste, followed by slightly tart lemon and “spicy” cinnamon aftertaste.  So in the recipe I listed here,  I have added more water and less honey to cut some of that sweetness.  Even so – make it according to your individual taste – add more honey, Whiskey, or water. You can start with the suggested recipe and then modify it as you wish.   My original recipe filled about 2 ½ large mugs for my hubby and I, using only 1 cup of water.

You can juice fresh lemons if you have them, but I used the lemon juice in the bottle for this – as the 4 small lemons we had weren’t going to cut it.  We just added the fresh lemon wedges.

If you make this for a little one, of course omit the Whiskey from the recipe. My husband makes fabulous fresh Cinnamon Tea, just with mainly those ingredients – very yummy and soothing!

There are versions you can find online where they do this quickly in the microwave.  We mainly utilize the stovetop at home, and liked the idea of all these ingredients really activating and blending as they simmered.

May you find comfort in this “Totties for Two” recipe AND combat those pesky cold and flu symptoms at the same time!  Please excuse any typos — I need another Tottie!

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Nummy Low-fat Strawberry Shake

So the nutritional info on the average 10-oz. Strawberry Shake comes in at about 320 calories & 7.9 grams of fat.

I say, people, we can do better then that, while not compromising on the yum factor with a few smarter substitutions!  So I found a popular Strawberry Shake recipe on and tweaked it to accomplish just that.  I prefer using Frozen Strawberries – instead of ice cubes and fresh hulled Strawberries – but either will work.

Nummy Lowfat Strawberry Milkshake

Nummy Low-fat Strawberry Milkshake      Yields: 6 cups   Prep time: 5 min

2 cups frozen strawberries

3 cups of Low-fat Milk (I prefer 1% Organic)

2 cups of Fat Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt, i.e. Dreyers

1.5 – 2 teaspoons of Sweetener (Agave Nectar = natural and tasty)

Add all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.  Drink. Enjoy. Repeat, as 1/2 c of Fat Free Yogurt is only 90 calories!

1 Review by Mikaelam4:

4 out of 5 stars.  “Strawberry-licious.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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Best Hummus Recipe with a Twist

Finding healthy AND delicious dishes can be a lot like looking for comfortable AND stylish shoes:  They are out there, you just have to search a lot to find the right “fit”.  When you do achieve dual perfection, that’s when you tell all your girlfriends and then use it until it’s plumb worn out. Consider this my call to tell you, “Eureka!  I found a smart and sassy dish!”

I found this recipe on one of my favorite sites for healthier recipes, Cooking Light.  That site takes most of the difficulty out of the search, as nearly everything that I’ve tried on there has been a winner.  I was looking for an appetizer type dish that I could make for what has become the Martinez Lounge Happy Hour (i.e. drinks & snacks at home, after work, for us Newlyweds.)  On Friday, Mike, Kelli & I pigged out on this Black Bean Hummus with warm slices of Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Flour Pita Bread and Cucumber.  Today I took it into work, and you know it’s a hit when a man will come back into the break room about 4 times to get more.  I served it today with pita chips and raw Sugar Snap Peas, yum!


Yummy Hummy!


  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 small jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 3 (6-inch) pitas


1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Place 1/4 cup cilantro, tahini, and next 8 ingredients (through jalapeño) in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.

3. Cut each pita into 8 wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes, turning once.

David Bonom, Cooking Light
MARCH 2011

If you are a visual learner or culinarily challenged, here’s there’s a link to the video on how to prepare this fantastic dish!

How to Make Black Bean Hummus

If you have trouble finding Tahini, the Sesame Paste, look around the Mediterranean section of the grocery store (I found it around some Jewish staples, like Matzo).  I asked 5 people in Walmart (yes, I know, why???) where it was; sadly, 4 people were standing within 15 feet of it in the same row and had no idea this crucial ingredient of Hummus was in their midst.

I hope you’ll enjoy this Hummus with a Hispanic Twist!

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