Posted on Jul 23rd, 2012 by Allison (Recipes)

It feels like it has been too long since I’ve posted. I have begun (but not completed) several posts, including the anticipation I was feeling when my garden started to show signs of life. Then the glory of its full bloom, which has now faded. A visit from Ashley & Kennedy. A visit TO Ashley & Kennedy. And I still have pictures and comments from Bali to share.

But today you get a recipe. Why? Because it’s just as quick and easy to post about as it is to prepare. I’ve taken it to two different gatherings in the past 30 days and it was so well received that I decided to share it with all of you. But I’m not going to make it for all of you…

Crunchy Romaine Salad
Serves 10 – 12

Absolutely delicious salad – easy to prepare, but sure to be a hit where ever you serve it.

I took this photo right before devouring it for lunch


Sweet & Sour Dressing

1 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Soy Sauce (or to taste – I use more)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until blended.

1 3oz package Ramen noodles
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large bunch broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 head romaine, washed, drained & torn into bite size pieces
4 green onions, chopped (I use more)

Break the noodles into small pieces, discarding the flavor packet. I use a food processor with just a few chops to break them up. Brown the the noodles and pecans in the butter in a skillet. Drain on paper towels and let stand until cool. When cool, combine noodles & pecans with the broccoli, romaine and green onions in a salad bowl and mix gently. Right before serving, add 1 cup or more of the dressing, tossing to coat.

Number Of Servings:10 – 12 when served as a side. 4 – 6 when served as main course.

Preparation Time:15 – 20 minutes plus cooling time for noodles/pecans

Bon Appetit!

(7) Comments   
Posted on May 27th, 2011 by Allison (Recipes)

This week I tried a new recipe. Turned out DELICIOUS and I decided to share…

Black Bean (Mint) Brownies

  • 1 15oz. can of UNSEASONED black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 4 eggs (extra large)
  • 1 cup Sugar (I used xylitol)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. oil or butter
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup ricotta or cream cheese
  • Chopped nuts – optional (I used walnuts)
  • 4 – 5 drops Peppermint Essential oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients but nuts in a food processor or blender- blend very, very well. If you want them even more chocolaty, you could toss in some chocolate chips with the nuts at this point.

Pour into an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray or oiled with canola or olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes. (til toothpick pulls out clean).

Who knew black beans could taste so moist and chocolaty!
I recommend these highly if you’re trying to go gluten free for cut down on carbs.

By the way… Black Bean Brownies do not cause gas. Because the black beans are pureed, the fiber is broken down before you eat them. Yeah!

Try them and let me know what you think.

(9) Comments   
Posted on Dec 7th, 2010 by Allison (Recipes)

Some people (i.e., Paul, Craig, Margie) really enjoy cooking and delight in mastering complicated recipes.

Sadly, I’m not one of them.

However, I really enjoy eating, which necessitates engaging in a bit of cooking – since I live alone with no one to cook for me, and eating out all the time gets expensive.

I can cook – I just don’t enjoy it. So, with rare exception, I look for simple to make foods that please my palate. I do enjoy the “presentation” aspect of meal preparation – creating a beautiful place setting, food arrangement with garnishes, etc. But none of that matters with out the food, I’m afraid.

Now that dreary winter is upon us, I turn to soups and stews. I especially like them because one recipe can last me for several days. I can handle reheating soup. In fact, about this time 2 years ago, I shared my Taco Soup recipe with you. Did you try it?

This week I had a hankering for some hearty beef stew. And I just so happen to have a delicious recipe – even if it does rely and the simplicity and convenience of some canned ingredients. It is really, really good. Especially with a slice of fresh french bread.

Here is the recipe for your winter eating enjoyment.

Hearty Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs beef cubes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 can Cream of Celery soup
  • 2 – 3 beef bullion cubes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 quart water
  • 5 – 7 cubed potatoes
  • 4 – 6 carrots, cut
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh mushrooms (optional)

Brown beef with onion. Add remaining ingredients, except potatoes and carrots, and simmer for several hours. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for another hour. Serve with fresh bread.

Sound good?
Before I added the potatoes and carrots, I divided the stew and have frozen half of it. So in a couple of weeks when I get another hankering, I can pull it out of the freezer, add potatoes, carrots and cook for an hour – and have my dinner for another 4 days. Yum.

Do you have any good soup or stew recipes to share?

(9) Comments   
Posted on Mar 1st, 2010 by Allison (Recipes)

Cafe RioIt’s no secret that I am a fan of Cafe Rio – especially their Chicken Tostada salad.  It used to only be served as a Wednesday special, and I actually planned my travel to Salt Lake around being there on a Wednesday for lunch or dinner.

I guess it proved popular enough that it is now a regular menu item, and every time I visit Salt Lake I make at least 2 visits to one of the several locations.  Kennedy says they make the BEST quesadilla EVER (and, even better – they serve kids quesedilla’s for free).

Seattle has a lot of great Asian food.  And the best Italian restaurant on the planet (well, that I’ve tried).  But no Cafe Rio.  And no decent substitute.

So when I discovered Cafe Rio copy-cat recipes, I just had to give them a try.

The results?   SUCCESS!

Cafe Rio Tostada Salad

Here’s the recipe (I halved everything except the dressing, and it made about 8 servings):


  • 5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 1 sm bottle zesty Italian dressing + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in a large crock pot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours.  Remove chicken and shred. Reserve a small amount of juice and pour over shredded chicken.  Keep warm.

In a large pot, bring to a boil the following:

  • 6 2/3 cups water
  • 8 t chicken bullion
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 sm cans diced green chilies (I used mild)
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 3  – 3 1/2 cups of rice

Cover and simmer on low for approx 15 minutes, or til water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 – 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, saute:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Stir into rice before serving.


  • 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t lime juice
  • 1 t salt1/2 t pepper


  • 1 pkg Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing mix (I didn’t use the entire pkg)
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 C Mayo
  • 1 to 2 tomatillos
  • 1/2 to 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 t lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed!

Other ingredients

  • Black beans (I actually soaked them overnight and cooked for an hour before serving – but canned black beans work too).
  • Sour Cream
  • Chopped or shredded romaine lettuce
  • Round corn tostada shells
  • Tortilla strips for the top
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese


Chicken Tostada SaladPlace corn tostada shell in a metal or foil pie plate. Spoon about 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup black beans on top.  Top with shredded chicken and a little grated cheese.

Pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes, til cheese melts.   It should look something like this when you take it out of the oven.

Chicken Tostada Salad - yum!Then top with lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, a few sprigs of cilantro and a little grated cotija or parmesan.

Add a scoop of sour cream and lime wedge on the side – and pour on the Creamy Tomatillo dressing (I like to use a lot).


(9) Comments   
Posted on Jan 23rd, 2009 by Allison (Recipes, Reminiscing)

The discussion on Erica’s blog yesterday reminded me of an open face sandwich I loved as a teenager…. and am, sadly, craving at the moment.  I say sadly because I’m on a particrularly restrictive diet for the next few weeks and cannot run out to the store and buy the ingredients to make one.   Perhaps you can make one and eat it on my behalf.


Melted Cheese and Bologna

  • 1 slice toast
  • 1 slice Oscar Meyer beef bologna
  • 1 slice Kraft American Cheese
  • Miracle Whip (not mayo)

Lightly toast the bread. Cover with Miracle Whip. Add the bologna and top with cheese. Slide into a toaster oven or under a broiler and broil until the cheese melts and just starts to bubble. Let cool slightly before eating or the hot cheese will stick to the roof of your mouth.

I supposed you could solve the hot cheese issue by making two at a time, then putting them together so there is bread on both sides….

Yes, I know, it probably sounds disgusting – but really, it’s good and is a nostalgic “comfort food” for me. I think the last time I had one of these was about 6 years ago while on Kauai with my sister. Not particularly Hawaiian…

Here are a few other low brow (or just odd) foods from my youth that I could still eat and enjoy today (but rarely do). 

  • Potato chips dipped in Jell-o.
  • Creamed tuna/corn on toast (I know, can you believe it?)
  • Kraft marshmallow creme spread on soda crackers
  • French fries dipped in a Frosty (I still do this regularly)
  • Bread and gravy.   My Grandma made this. 
  • And I’m not sure I would now, but as a kid/teen I LOVED Velveeta.  Made the best, meltiest grilled cheese sandwiches.

Have you ever tried any of these?  What are some of your low-brow, nostolgic comfort foods?

(24) Comments   
Posted on Dec 19th, 2008 by Allison (Recipes)

When it gets cold like this, I often find myself in the mood for soup.   Especially since I can cook it up once, then eat it for several days.   

Taco soupOf my three usual favorites, the one that sounded best for this cold spell is my mom’s Taco Soup.   Probably because I had all the ingredients on hand, and couldn’t leave the house because my car doors were frozen shut!

The recipe below makes an absolutely HUGE batch.  Frankly, I don’t even own a pot that would contain it all – so I always halve it, and it is more than enough to feed a family with leftovers.   

Last night it really hit the spot – I’m looking forward to another bowl tonight.  


  • 1 Pound hamburger
  • 1 onion- chopped
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 cans water
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • ½ to 1 cup salsa
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 2 quarts of tomatoes (if they are too chunky, chop in a blender)
  • 1 quart of water
  • 2 cans red kidney beans (undrained)
  • 2 cans pork and beans

Brown hamburger with onion. Drain and rinse.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and Frito corn chips

Do you have a favorite soup recipe? What do you crave on cold, winter days?

(17) Comments   
Posted on Jul 29th, 2008 by Allison (Recipes)

Tonight I found myself craving something sweet and looked in the cupboards to see what I might have hidden away.  I realized I had all the ingredients for a delicious caramel popcorn recipe, which I haven’t made for years.  It sounded perfect. 

Caramel Popcorn3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C white sugar
1/2 C dark Karo (light also works)
1/2 C water
1 Square butter (NOT margarine)
1/8 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp soda

Mix everything but the soda and cook on medium high.  Stir and cook to “soft ball” stage – not too firm.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in soda (makes it foamy).  Pour over popcorn – makes at leasat 2 large mixing bowls full.

I only wanted enough to cover a microwave bag of popcorn – and 1/3 recipe did it great.  1/2 recipe would give tons of coating if you’re so inclined.    Try it and let me know what you think!

What treats do you find yourself craving at night?

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