Food Blog Forum & my visit to the Biltmore House

The amazing and stunning Biltmore House

Pictures (lots) and Ramblings from Food Blog Forum 2014 in Asheville, NC. First things first:  Asheville is beautiful.  It is a city surrounded by picturesque mountains and one can quickly realize why George Washington Vanderbilt II chose the location to build the nation’s largest privately owned home, just shy of 179,000 square feet and 250… 

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Week 2 School Garden: Painting Pots

garden week 2, painting pots

Week 2: Last week we started with propagating mint (see week 1) in the school garden.  Our school Harvest Fest is around the corner, and the plan is to propagate mint and sell in painted pots at the fest.  As a determined rookie I started mint and rosemary on my kitchen windowsill, in the off-chance… 

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Week 1: Starting a School Garden with 1st Graders


This is my first post in my school garden series.  I hope you find it useful and perhaps inspires you to start a school garden…if I can do it, anyone can… Let me first start by saying I am not a master gardener, in fact none of my thumbs are even remotely green or have… 

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Meatless Mushroom Pasta Sauce

mushroom sauce_4_4.4

The first savory dish I remember making (microwaved hot dogs not included) is spaghetti with meat sauce.  That’s what Midwesterners call it, at least back in the day.  It wasn’t called pasta bolognese or pasta with marinara sauce.   My mother owned a set of cookbooks from the 60′s with our “go to” recipe, making… 

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Brown Rice Pudding with orange and cardamom

brown rice pudding collage 4

Rice pudding was love at first bite; but I didn’t grow up eating it in the Midwest.  The first time I ever tried it was in Denmark, as a 19 year old.  I had travelled to Copenhagen to spend Christmas college break with my friend (and former exchange student), Tina.  Rice pudding is the Danish… 

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Coffee Walnut Smoothie Meal Replacer

coffee smoothie_5_4-1

We did something radical two weeks ago, no we didn’t switch to a Paleo diet (I still have vivid rash memories of the Atkins diet) or start backyard homesteading…nope, we retired the single serve coffee maker.  I know, RADICAL!  Ours was a CBTL, purchased because we like strong coffee and thought making espresso was appealing…. 

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Sprinkles Cupcakes Mix for St. Patrick’s Day

Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Our St. Patrick’s Day treat for my daughter’s class wasn’t the norm, first it consisted of red velvet cake (which obviously isn’t green) and secondly we used a cake mix (gasp and cover your mouth).  Don’t worry, it isn’t any cake mix, but a Sprinkles Cupcakes mix.  Sprinkles Cupcakes was the very first bakery… 

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Pesto Butter for Salmon

pesto butter

There are recipes and then there are rrrreeeecccciiiippppeeeessss, this is the latter.  It was a rainy and cold day, we loaded into the car for a pleasant car ride; my sister-in-law, my two nieces, my daughter and I, all dressed for the occasion: The Nutcracker Ballet performance at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C.  Before… 

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Whole Wheat Tropical Banana Fritters (quick & easy)

yummy banana fritters

I have written several times about the banana pancakes of my dreams (here and here).  After college I landed my first real job and moved into a studio apartment in the Virginia Highlands section of Atlanta, I had no bed and old car (because living in the cool part of town was worth the pricier rent… 

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Free+Food+Kid: Williams-Sonoma Junior Chef Classes

Cookies, Williams-Sonoma Junior Chef Class

Free + food + kid activity rolled into one, pretty awesome!  Our local Myrtle Beach Williams-Sonoma offers free Saturday morning Junior Chef Classes.  I will start off by saying that I wasn’t compensated by Williams-Sonoma, although compensation for expensive cooking apparatus would be fab (but nothing in life is really free, right)!  Case in point:… 

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Ice Storm Root Vegetable Purée or Mash

root vegetable purée

In South Carolina when winter weather hits, everything comes to a screeching halt.  Schools are closed long before inclement weather arrives, and often well after it has cleared.  The ice storm we experienced over a week ago was no exception, my daughter waited impatiently for the ice and finally it appeared.  We watched out the… 

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Tofu Tacos with Pomelo, Avocado & Black Bean Salsa

Tofu Tacos with Pomelo Avocado Salsa

Pomelo say what? I was in the grocery store this morning and saw a giant round yellow citrus fruit, too special to pass up.  It is pummelo or pomelo, or even pommelo (pomelo has become the most popular spelling).   It originally hails from Asia and is the largest of the citrus fruits, having the… 

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Food Art: Cabbage and Potato Stamps for Valentine’s Day

potato stamp heart valentines

What does a food blogger do for Valentine’s Day cards?  Decorate cards with heart and flower stamps made from food, of course!  I live miles from Michaels or A.C. Moore, 20 minutes to be exact, almost equidistance to India (in my  mind).   Since I rarely go to these stores, I get sucked into the… 

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Comforting Farro Pilaf

Comforting Farro Pilaf, feature image

What does one make on a cold, dreary, winter day: farro of course! Not familiar with farro? Read all about farro here.  Farro is derived from wheat and popular in Italy, and it is fast becoming common place in the United States.  Most of the farro consumed in the States is the emmer variety, which also… 

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Vibrant Collard Greens sans Meat

Vibrant Collard Greens Sans Meat

Since I now live in the South, I would be remiss to not include a recipe for collards greens.  As collard greens and the South go hand in hand.  Plus this week I received two large bundles of the greens in my CSA basket.  Normally in the South, collards are cooked with salt pork or… 

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7 Secrets to Perfect Chocolate Covered Strawberries

the 7 secrets to Perfect Chocolate Covered Strawberries

There is something irresistible and impressive about chocolate covered strawberries.  Every time I make them for an event people swoon, while flattering, it is a bit perplexing, as the bonus secret of chocolate covered strawberries is: they are very simple to make. Take them to your next party and everyone will think you are awesome sauce… 

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Lemoncello Blood Orangetini with Fresh Basil

blood orange24_Fotor

Yay!  It’s Friday.  The University of Rochester did a study some years back and they found that people are happier on weekends, starting with Friday evening…which comes as no surprise.  Today I am celebrating for several reasons:  the sun came out and the ice is melting, it is 20 degrees warmer than other days this week,… 

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Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Syrup

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Syrup

  Here in South Carolina we are experiencing our first winter storm in years.  Yesterday schools were closed in anticipation of the storm, as signs of the much hyped ice didn’t appear until after 4PM.  Last night I went to the gym and saw our little overpass closed; in the South we don’t have trucks… 

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Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Cocoa Quickies

Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Cocoa Quickies

I made cocoa quickies a million times as a kid (well, maybe not that many, but a lot).  The recipe was in my  4-H cookbook; my mom would mix the butter, sugar and cocoa on the stove, then I would stir in the remaining ingredients and form the cookies with two tablespoons onto a sheet… 

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Sweet Potato Sushi

Veggies on Sushi ready for rolling

My favorite dish from Thanksgiving dinner was not turkey, dressing, or mashed potatoes…but sweet potato sushi rolls.  Did you think I would eat 15 pieces of sweet potato sushi and not be able to recreate it?  Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.  I checked father Google, and the only sushi recipes I saw were for… 

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Our Chicago Thanksgiving: Parade & dining at The Drake

Ice Sculpture Drake Hotel Chicago

Thanksgiving Day in Chicago (to read the first post in the series click here). The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started at 8…kind of early following blackout Wednesday.  Temperatures in the low 30’s made it the coldest Thanksgiving Chicago had experienced in years, so we layered as best we could.  Halfway through the parade my daughter… 

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Food Blog Confessions & Honey Rosemary Popcorn

Honey Rosemary Popcorn w lemon zest...yum

Everywhere I look there is a popcorn recipe these days, so you know what they say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  Here is my audio confessional of this popcorn post and a little behind the scenes of having a food blog: Check out Vivian Howard on PBS a A Chef’s Life, her Holiday… 

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Chicago Thanksgiving Trip: Great Food and Live Music

Bub City Cowboy

Chicago is known for great food and live music and my recent trip to the Windy City did not disappoint on either count.  This is the first in a two part series on our Thanksgiving trip. We started the first day of our Chicago Thanksgiving trip with lunch at Rick Bayless’s “fast food” eatery Xoco… 

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Epiphany/Mardi Gras Three Kings Cake

Three Kings Cake

For many Americans January 6th is just another day, or possibly a harried day as children return to school after a long winter break.  I was raised Methodist and went to church every Sunday, yet I had no knowledge of Epiphany (although it is quite possible that I wasn’t paying attention).  Then on two separate… 

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Happy New Year

collard greens for the New Year

I am guilty of wanting to get things done quickly and perfectly (yes, I am a perfectionist).  I let perfection fly in the wind this day, there were smiles and laughter and magical moments.  Did it really matter that the samosas didn’t look like traditional samosas…no, the samosa police weren’t knocking at my door!  (Okay…I… 

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How to Make Reindeer Food: easy gift a child can make for classmates

reindeer food

Christmas time with a young child is so exciting.  I am finally in the Christmas schedule mode and have remembered to move the elf every day for at least 2 weeks.  Apparently our elf didn’t like foggy weather and decided to go to the North Pole during the day instead of night for 4 days… 

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Gingerbread House S.O.S.

ginbread house2

The story goes like this: my sister would rave to me about the fabulous ginger bread house parties she would throw every year.  She had her parties for four years or so, maybe skipping one year, then she all of a sudden sends me all of her cookie cutters for the ginger bread houses, because…so… 

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Homage to Charlie Trotter: Tahini Asparagus Dip

Homage to Charlie Trotter

“I do not want guests walking out of the restaurant feeling as if they over-indulged because of excessive cream, butter, and alcohol. I want them to feel stimulated and alert, knowing that they will be able to look forward to breakfast the following morning. Food doesn’t have to be rich to taste good.”  Charlie Trotter… 

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10 Disney Cruise Food for Thoughts (literally)

Castaway Cay

This is my third post in a three part series on the Disney Dream Cruise.  Please visit my other posts: here and here. If you are planning a Disney Cruise, here are 10 Disney Cruise Food for Thoughts (literally). 1.  If you so choose, there are plenty of plant based food options on the cruise.  … 

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Holiday Cranberry Oatmeal Bake

Holiday Cranberry Oatmeal Bake

The holidays are a special time, and I love when family is together.  I strive to make dishes I know they will enjoy.  When I was in grade school, my best friend’s name was Amy.  Her mom thought that Amy had ADD, so her mom baked with little sugar and no chocolate.  When I went to her house, her… 

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10 Tips to make the most of the Disney Dream Cruise

Pirate Night Disney Dream Cruise

This is the second post in a 3 part series on the Disney Dream Cruise.  Today I am giving you 10 Tips to make the most of your Disney cruise. 1.  Wine is available on the cruise, but it is much more expensive and there is a limited selection.  Disney, unlike most cruise lines, lets… 

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Top 10 Reasons to go on the Disney Dream Cruise

Disney Dream Cruise Ship

  I have been M.I.A. recently:  my in-laws were visiting, there was Halloween and lots of Fall Festivities and we went on a cruise.  To be very honest, I had declared myself a non cruiser.  My husband and I love to travel, but with no strings attached so to speak, no time tables or agendas. … 

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How to Make Granola


Making granola from scratch is not only cost effective, but healthy.  Making granola is as easy as dumping some  ingredients together, giving it a quick stir, and baking for approximately 30 minutes.  I make mine with peanut butter and maple syrup, it is delicious and nutritious.  Check out my video to find out how easy it… 

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Top 10 Favorite Pantry Staples

soy sauce

Looking into someone’s pantry can tell you a lot.  My mother-in-law in India has virtually no pantry, just a few boxes of crackers and banana chips that my father-in-law likes, plus coffee and sugar.  It all fits on a few shelves in an upper cabinet.  In India, like most other countries (UK and Australia excluded),… 

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Roasted Garlic, Carrots and Butternut Squash Soup with Pistou

Fall Roasted Garlic Soup

Nothing says fall and winter to me like soup.   It is fun to be creative with flavors and create something delicious.  My father always orders the soup, no matter the season.  My husband will ask “did your dad order soup?” of course the answer is always yes.  Although, my father is on to something, soup… 

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Shakshuka with Garbanzo beans and Power Greens

Shakshuka with Garbanzo Beans and Power Greens

I did not eat eggs for 6 months of this year.  Then I decided to embrace eggs.  I am lucky enough to get mine from farmer Darel.  He has truly free range eggs that are raised in an ethical manner.   Eggs do have cholesterol, the reason eggs were on the out list for many years. … 

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Coconut Salted Caramel Sauce

Coconut salted caramel with apples

I love the combination of caramel and apples.  Last year I utilized child labor (my daughter, who was gleeful to assist) to remove wrappers from two bags of caramel candy.  I set her down at her little table, gave her a trash bag for the wrappers and a bowl for the caramels.  I thought it… 

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Healthy Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Pancakes

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes with Banana Syrup

  As I have mentioned, I have an infatuation with banana pancakes that has spanned almost 20 years.  Many years ago, my mother shared my grandmother’s pancake recipe with me.  It is so easy, that I now have it memorized.  Most pancake recipes add copious amounts of butter, but these pancakes have none.   I make a really delicious… 

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How to Caramelize Nuts for Salads

Carmelized Walnuts

Learn how to caramelize nuts for salads, quick and delicious! Ingredients: 1/2   cup walnuts or other nuts 1        teaspoon butter or butter alternative 2       Tablespoons Sugar  (I used organic cane sugar) good quality sea salt  (optional)