Category Archives: books

Music Monday: The food edition

Something amazing happened today. Mark Bittman declared his undying love for me via twitter. He also told me he wants me to go to Spain with him when they reprise the “On the Road Again” show. I’m hoping we don’t have to have that Gwenyth Paltrow with us this time. Not that she’s not a lovely person, I’m sure she is. I just would prefer she not come along.

What? Well. Ok. “Declaring his undying love” is going a bit too far. I tend to have a touch of the hyperbole. What he said was that he didn’t think one meal of pot roast was going to kill me. (Which I say shows how very much he cares about my well-being.) And then the second message poohpoohed my comparing him to the pope but said, “Yes, this is really me.” Oh my. He wants me to know it is really him. I was going to send him a message back that said, “this is really me”. But then it was pointed out to me by the almighty twitter gods that I cannot direct message people who do not follow me. So there. We were at an impasse, it appeared. I keep checking, but so far he hasn’t started following me. Certainly it’s just a matter of time before he does. In the meantime, I may never wash these computer keys again.

In honor of the magnificent Mark Bittman (and I say that in all sincerity. His book “How to Cook Everything” opened up a whole new world of cooking to me. I’m no longer afraid to try just about anything. And it’s the first place I check for any kind of recipe, be it pizza dough or gougeres, waffles or roasted root vegetables. Go buy it here.), today’s music Monday selections are both food related.

Go get a snack and enjoy the music!



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Sundays were meant to be spent this way



Sleeping in, spending time with the family. Going for a long walk. Getting some errands done. Reading. And for fun, a little cooking. Perfection.




The day started with the children asking for waffles.  My go-to waffle recipe is from my favorite cookbook-How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  If you’re looking for a present for someone who loves to cook, get them HTCE.  The Overnight Waffle recipe makes the best waffles ever, but the Everyday Waffles are quite tasty, too.  And since I was in no shape last night to be operating any kind of machinery (Hello there, Birthday Celebration!), the mixing had to wait until this morning.




The kids and Russ ate them with the standard butter and syrup.  Although Russ had his with real maple syrup.  The kids don’t like real maple syrup.  Crazy!  They want that fake flavored sugar water, but I’m hoping someday they will outgrow that and realize how good tree sap can be.  I wanted to make mine a little more on the healthy side, so I had mine with yogurt and cherries on top.  Stay with me here, folks.  This was so delicious.  You have to try this! 




First, I mixed a small container of Chobani plain non-fat greek yogurt with a tablespoon of maple syrup. 



Then I put the yogurt on a half of one of those round waffles and topped it with some thawed sweet cherries. 


Yep, it’s healthy.  And delicious. Those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive!  Who knew? Well, I did.  And now you do too.  You probably knew it already though, didn’t you?




I was on a roll (or on a waffle) and dinner was healthy and delicious too.  When I made the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili a few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas  that I thought sounded interesting.  Today, I decided that I would make those enchiladas.  The only problem was that I couldn’t find the recipe.  Or remember where the recipe may be on-line. So I just googled and put together my own recipe based on several similar recipes.  Here’s what I came up with:


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas


  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked until almost done and then cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can  black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (I used Ancho Chili powder)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 (16 ounce) can green enchilada sauce
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheddar/jack cheese



  1. Cook the sweet potato until almost tender.  I microwaved them and then let them cool until I could handle them.  Then I peeled and chopped them.
  2. Put oil in a large skillet and then add everything except the enchilada sauce.  Saute until the onions are are soft and everything is well mixed.
  3. Spray the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.  Pour a bit of the enchilada sauce into the pan. Divide the filling between 6 tortillas. Roll and place seam side down in the pan.  Top with the rest of the enchilada sauce.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the enchiladas when there are 5 minutes left in the cooking time.

Serve with plain, fat-free yogurt (greek-style is best) or sour cream.  Enjoy!





Black beans and sweet potatoes-a match made in heaven



Look at ‘em, just sitting there looking pretty, waiting to go into the oven!

Here’s my dinner plate-


Normally, the rule is that I make one dinner and you have to try it and if you don’t like it, then you get up and make a pbj or go hungry.  Whichever of those you choose.  (And when I say “you”, I don’t mean *you*.  I mean the children in this house to whom I gave birth.  If *you* come to my house, I promise to do my best to make *you* something *you* like. I’m not trying to teach *you* how to like new things.  That was *your* mom’s job.)



But I knew the boys weren’t going to have any part of the enchiladas.  And besides wanting them to have a good dinner (and avoid the whining!), I was looking to later this week when things are going to be very busy and I decided to make them Sloppy Joes and planned to serve the leftovers later this week.  They are Pioneer Woman’s recipe.  That woman knows what is good!  Mmmmmhmmm! 




To make these as healthy as possible, I used the leanest ground beef I could find (93% fat-free).  They were served on whole wheat hamburger buns. The boys didn’t care they were healthy, they just scarfed them down.



Grill those buns!


And then eat!

I hope your Sunday was a good one! 




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Awesome Autumn Weekend

What a great weekend!  After a early morning spent working on Saturday, the rest of the weekend was spent having fun.

There was a trip to the Farmers’ Market:

So many things that I want to have!

Mmm, baked goods!

Grains! I ended up getting lentils from this stand

And puppies! I resisted the cuteness, though.

Then there was the baking of refreshments for fellowship time at church.  I made a Pumpkin Bread with Caramel Glaze and tried a new recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries.

These cookies make me happy inside

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

From My Baking Addiction

yield | 48 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries; roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; combine until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cherries.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.
5. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Storage: Cookies store well in an airtight container for up to three days.

Notes: Get creative! Add in whatever strikes your fancy, I can imagine a variety of chocolates, nuts, and dried fruits will really make the flavors and textures of this cook truly amazing.

And then Sunday included the Arnold Days Parade.  Sam marched with his middle school band in the parade.  Russ, Ike and I and the dogs went and enjoyed the sights.


Russ and the dogs hangin’ out
Ike is ready for the candy throwin’ to start!
It’s a goat. Wearing a hat and sporting a doll “rider”. I love it!
Yay! Sam! The band played so well! (Yes, I am a proud mom.)

The rest of Sunday was spent reading the paper, watching football (well, some of us checked our eyelids for holes while the football was on), then the making of red beans and rice using some andouille sausage we bought at the farmers’ market.  There was also cornbread and salad, if you must know.

Whew!  What a great weekend!  And now I’m off to bed to read some more of my new book, Fall of Giants.


The end! Beep, beep!

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Abrupt Endings and a Recipe

I finished Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby’s newest book.   It was okay, but it ended so abruptly.  The last 3 books I’ve read have seemed as if the author was under the gun to meet a deadline.   Which means I’ve thrown all of them down in frustration and then spent the rest of the day trying to create the ending I wanted for the book.

I’m now reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  No abrupt endings in this one, it goes on for better than 600 pages!  I’m loving it so far.  How did I never read it before?

On a totally unrelated note, the Confirmation kids (and families) are taking dinner to the local Ronald McDonald House tonight.  It is such a great thing for the kids to do and it never fails to make me want to grab my boys and squeeze them tight and thank the Creator that they are healthy and happy.  As we were discussing the menu, I offered that it could be that some of those folks  staying at the House could be looking for a more healthy option or maybe were vegetarian.  And I offered to bring something that would fit both-

Black Bean and Rice Confetti Salad


  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth [vegetable broth for vegetarian option]
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 (1 lb) package long-grain rice (2 cups uncooked) [I use brown rice, which takes longer to cook]
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced [I use one  bunch of green onions]
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Bring broth and water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Add rice and bay leaves.
  3. Bring back to boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes for white rice.  Brown rice takes about 40-50 minutes.
  5. Transfer rice to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.  If there is time, chill rice overnight.
  6. Mix in black beans, peppers, onion, chopped cilantro, oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin and chili powder.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Cover and refrigerate.  Serve chilled.

Makes 12 servings.  One serving is 5 points, but I only eat 1/12th of this if it’s an entree.  Hope you enjoy!

How true is this? “We cannot build the future by avenging the past.” -T.H. White, The Once and Future King



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My Book Report

I’ve finished Jane Smiley’s new novel, Private Life.  I would like to tell you that I loved it, but I can’t.  I remember reading, and loving, A Thousand Acres.  You could understand why it had won a Pulitzer.   This book, (like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead) when it was good, it was very, very good.  And when it was bad, it was horrid. 

I absolutely loved the large part of the book that takes place in Missouri.  It is always fun to read about places that are familiar, right down to street names and neighborhoods here in St. Louis.  It was a great portrait of Missouri from after the Civil War until the turn of the century.  And a wonderful description of what life was like for a young woman at that time in history. 

Then our young woman moves to California with her eccentric husband and the novel just goes nowhere.  Forty years of her life are lived there and it just seems that we learn nothing about the main character (or any character for that matter) and, even more frustratingly, she learns nothing about herself. 

I can let one of the characters sum up my feelings about this book-“But it goes on so long you can’t stand it anymore.  At a vaudeville show, at least if you didn’t like the act, you knew it would soon give way to another.”

I’m ready for the next act-Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.

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