Evelyn's Delicious Salad

Evelyn is my most favorite neighbor to the west and is an inspiration to me. I absolutely love her. She is near to my mom's age, and is one of my dearest friends in this town.

Three years ago, she began to lose weight. I never felt she looked overweight, but as she lost, she looked even lovelier (if that is possible) than before. She purchased new clothes and turned from a wonderful lady into an even more elegant woman.

I asked her secret. She said she changed her eating habits. She had started eating more fruits and vegetables, less meat and bread. She eats what she wants, but she makes sure she eats a good helping of her salad. I think this is her invention. It is something she makes every week. She makes a large batch and stores it in an air-tight bag, scooping out what she needs for each meal. As she told me about this salad, she opened her refrigerator and gave me a taste. It is all manner of vegetables and fruits chopped into 1/2 inch squares and mixed together. It needs no dressing. As you experience this, multi flavors burst in your mouth. You taste sweet, tart, onion (what kind of flavor is onion?), and crunchy all at once. I asked her how much she ate every day, and she replied "As much as I want."

Recently I popped over to visit Evelyn and as I was leaving she gave me a generous helping of this salad to take home and share with Sailor. That night I put a helping on each of our dinner plates and we were converted.

The next day I went to the store and purchased all the ingredients and began to chop. I use a  Williams Sonoma vegetable chopper to cut up my vegetables. It cuts the vegetables into 1/2 inch squares (and smaller if desired).

I demonstrated it to her and let her try it. She asked me to order her one right away. She figured it would save her hours of time chopping. Depending on how much vegetables and fruits you use, you can create a huge batch for the week, or a small batch just for tonight's dinner. I think once you taste it, you will feel like I do, that it is an essential part of the daily menu. Today I had two helpings for breakfast. mmmm

And so, without further adieu,  I give you

Evelyn's Delicious Salad
red, yellow and/or green peppers
green onion minus the roots
chayote squash
Fuji apples
these next two she doesn't add, but I do      
chop all above ingredients into half-inch squares
add a bag of crasins
mix together

Evelyn takes two of the vegetable bags and puts one inside the other to create a double bag, then she fills it. Try to get all the air out of the bag and twist closed. Place upside down in a bowl.

This gradually marinates and creates a most delicious juice by the end of the week.

Every day you have a salad ready to enjoy. If you would like to add other vegetables or fruits at the time of serving, such as oranges or when
tomatoes get ripe you can do this. But don't add these squishy fruits and vegetables to the original batch. All the above vegetables  are hard crispy vegetables and don't rot too easily.


Sweet & Sour Stir Fry

Every time I make stir fry, I change the recipe, because I make it up each time.But this one turned out so good, I thought I would make sure I wrote this down.

Sweet & Sour Stir Fry

Begin to boil rice. I use 1 cup of rice to 2 cups water. I cover the pan and start it cold allowing rice to soak up water as it starts to boil. Turn down heat to medium low and boil for 20 minutes

Cut a variety of  vegetables into 1 inch cubes including: Onions, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, bell peppers, water chestnuts and soy sprouts (from can),  mushrooms (add last) and anything else that looks like it would be good in stir fry. At this point add precooked, cubed chicken* if desired.
1 Tablespoon olive oil in wok. Heat until almost smoking. Add cut up vegetables. Saute and stir until tender. 

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
In sauce pan combine the following ingredients
1 cup concentrated frozen orange juice
any liquid drained off canned vegetables added to stir fry
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste
soy sauce to taste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup sweetener to taste (I use brown sugar)
Bring to boil and allow to boil for 5 to 10 minutes continuing to stir.
Slowly add:
1/4 cup cold water mixed with corn starch
continue to boil stirring vigorously while sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and pour over vegetables

Remove cooked rice from heat. Make sure no liquid remains.
1 can unsweetened coconut milk from can (found in Chinese food section of grocery store)

Serve with Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Vegetables and breaded, pan fried shrimp* from a box. 

*If  served with shrimp, the chicken is not necessary

Best Brownies IN THE WORLD

I have found the Brownie Recipe to End All Brownie Recipes. 

 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cube butter
1 egg

Mix  in food processor. Grease a cookie sheet (with sides) and press mixture as flat onto the pan as possible. Because of the lack of wet ingredients, this turns out like a ball of playdoh. Flatten as much as possible to spread to all sides. Set aside.

1 8oz package cream cheese
1 egg
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix in food processor (don't bother to clean it from last mix, most of it comes out and the crumbs won't hurt)
Pour over brownies and spread to all edges.

Bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Serve.

I found this recipe at


Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf

This is such an easy dish to make and it is TASTY. I could be because you saute everything in butter... humm, so you could make it a titch healthier if you cut some of the butter. heh heh. anyway- on to the main event, rice. This is a great recipe to use some of that left over rice.

Here is what you need:

1.5 cups uncooked rice
1 bell pepper
1 onion
4-5 cloves of garlic

Start by cooking your rice. Use a two to one ratio of water to rice, so if you have 1.5 cups of rice then use 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil for two minutes and then set on low and let it simmer for 20 minutes. In the mean time saute onion, garlic, red bell pepper, and then start on the mushrooms. By the time you are finished with the vegetables the rice will be done. If you have a wok it is probably an appropriate pan for making this dish since it will be bigger than your skillet- but i have yet to bust that bad boy out. But it does leave a mess if you stick with the smaller pan. ANYWAY- (i have a problem with rambling sometimes). Add a few more tabs of butter to the rice and then season with sage, garlic powder, chicken bullion, and pepper. And enjoy!!!
My assembly line.
just showing my new cookie cutter shapes that i got. :)
My sweet little helper.
I've made chicken pot pies a few times and I think that this is the best batch yet!

Here is what you need:

and two to three recipe pie crust (one crust makes two individual pies) and the filling filled 6 pies with little filling left over.

3- ish cups of water
2-3 chicken bullion cubes
1-1.5 cups of chicken (2 chicken breasts- cooked)
1 onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
3-4 stick of celery
4-5 carrots (if you forgot to just buy frozen peas AND carrots)
4 mushrooms not just sliced- cut them in to tiny pieces
frozen peas
1 can-cream of chicken soup

for the roux
8 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of milk

(to taste)
garlic powder

Make sure that you make the pie dough well in advance of starting so it has time to chill. And now to the filling. Saute onions, garlic, celery. And then in a separate sauce pan combine 3 cups of water and a few bullion cubes and set at medium heat. Add sauteed items to broth as you go. Cut carrots to bite sized pieces and add to broth. Add peas and bite sized COOKED pieces of chicken to your broth. Start to saute the mushrooms and on the side make a roux. (One stick of butter melted, whisk flour into butter one table spoon at a time. then slowly add milk- it will thicken so much that it will almost be paste... and then it will thin out. When it is thinned then season it. This was my first time doing this and it made all of the difference in the world. Garlic powder, thyme, sage, salt, pepper. Add this to the broth. And last but not least add a can of cream of chicken soup. Season the broth too... and that is it.

Roll out your pie crusts (i do mini pot pies because they cook faster) in an assembly line sort of way. I promise it will save you time. Make sure to not pull out all of the pie dough. Only what you are working with. It would be a shame to have all of that beautiful dough go to waste because it was too warm to roll. ANYWAY- roll all of the crusts, fill the pies, and then do the tops. Make sure to cut slits in the top so steam can escape. I also like to paint the pie crust with milk and then sprinkle with coarse salt. (just a pinch because you don't want to ruin your pie!)

Bake small pies at 400 for one hour. Remember to put a pan covered in tin foil under your pies for when they drip. If you have chosen to do a large pie bake at 350 for 2 hours. Also make sure that you cover the pies with tin foil so that they don't brown too quickly. but make sure that you put cooking spray on the tin foil because it will stick to the pie. About a 20 minutes before the pie is done uncover so it will brown.

And that is it! Enjoy!

burgers and fries

The rolls that I made for this were FANTASTIC!! And really great for hamburger rolls- they really held together nicely while eating.

Here is the recipe- again I got the bread recipe from Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Everyday". Go get it, check it out from the library. It is a MUST HAVE in your house hold. You won't regret it.

5 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons salt, or
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm milk
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
5 tablespoons gluten (that is my addition instead of bread flour- i use regular flour and add gluten.. then it is the same as bread flour)

Mix for a few minutes and then let the dough rest for five. Mix for another few minutes and let it rest. I pulled the dough once and put it in the fridge to rise over night.

Then next day take it out two hours before it is ready to bake. Shape bread into desired shape (i did rolls). Preheat oven to 425 and then turn it down to 400 when baking. Add one cup of water in a cookie sheet w/lip for a steam bath. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack.


1 lb ground meat (i used turkey burger)
1 egg
1/2 (ish) cup oats

Defrost the meat and then season with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and then i use "burger seasoning" clever name, right? Sometimes I add a diced red bell pepper (but i was lazy today). Add one egg, and the oats. Mix until it holds it's shape well. If you want to pre-shape these remember to use wax paper in the middle of them to make life easier when it is time to grill. Put them on the grill or stove top at a medium heat and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side... or until cooked through out.


4-5 russet potatoes

Pre heat stove top pan with about a cup of oil on medium heat. In the mean time cut the potatoes evenly into strips. When the oil is hot (you can test it with ONE drop of water, but be careful because it will spit back at you.) put the potatoes in and blanch them for a few minutes. Then put them aside inside of a paper towel to soak up some of the oil. When you are finished blanching take a piece of tin foil and make sure to spray it with cooking spray. (You don't want potatoes stuck to it). Set the tin foil down and then spread the potatoes evenly and salt with all purpose seasoning salt. Leave for 7-10 minutes. I didn't rotate them and they were a little brown on one side but they really turned out tasty.


I love that asparagus is in season! It is such a quick and easy veggie to cook. wash thoroughly and then snap the ends off. At a medium heat with about 1/4 cup of water and a tab of butter and let it steam for 4 minutes. The asparagus will be bright green and still crisp... but that is how it should be.

And there you have your meal. mmm it was good!


Chicken and Mushroom soup

Look at me multitask!
Simmering soup... mmm!
After the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic have been roasted in the oven...

the finished product. SO GOOD... if i do say so myself.

Chicken and mushroom soup-

What you need:
Rotisserie chicken
2-3 cups carrots
2-3 cups celery
3-4 cloves of garlic
3-4 tomatoes
2 red bell peppers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Next, set your stove top to a medium high heat and fill your pot about half way full of water. Add chicken bones, skin anything that is left from separating the actual chicken from the carcase. (i know it sounds kind of gross... but stay with me people, you WILL NOT regret it.) Add 3-4 cubes of chicken bullion and let it boil for 45 minutes.

Place the chicken in a air tight container in the fridge and save for later. Next you want to get out your tomatoes. You can either blanch them in boiling water for one minute so the skins will come off easily OR you can just go ahead and cut them into quarters and deal with the skins later. i have done it both ways and it works both ways. Place tomatoes in a greased 9x13 pan. cut onions into bite sized pieces. Put half of the onions in the 9x13 pan with the rest of them put in a pan to saute. Mince a few cloves of garlic and place in the pan and the rest put in the pan to saute. And finally cut your red peppers and place in the pan. Salt, Pepper veggies and then drizzle a little olive oil on the top of the veggies. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

In the mean time you are busy sauteing onions, garlic, celery. By the time you get here you can usually strain your bones and discard. I just have a huge bowl that i strain the broth into and then as soon as the pot is empty of all of the stragglers put the broth back into the pot. Add 5-6 cups of warm water to the broth and add 3-4 more cubes of bullion. Turn the heat down to a medium low heat. Add one cup of rice. Chop and add carrots, and all of your sauteed items to broth. Start sauteing mushrooms and in the mean time the tomatoes, peppers, and onions should be done. Add them to the soup. Cut up the chicken that you placed aside and add to soup. Continue to saute the mushrooms and add them to the soup as they brown. Remember- don't crowd the mushrooms or they won't brown! (That is from Julie and Julia) I end up doing about 1.5 sliced mushrooms at a time and they brown nicely.

When you are finished with that... and truthfully it kind of takes awhile to saute the mushrooms. But when you are finished you can season the soup with thyme, garlic powder, sage, salt, pepper. Don't skip this step because the soup will be mediocre at best without them. But with them they will make your soup sing!

I like to serve this with crusty bread and sometimes I slice an avocado on top. This recipe makes a pretty full pot. I never have figured out how to scale it down. If you figure it out let me know. If not there is plenty for leftovers and even more to freeze for later. Enjoy!