A Quote We Live By...

While watching TV, I noticed a quote on a charter boat captain's notebook that perfectly describes my hubby and me...

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost..."

Zuppa Toscana (Sort Of...MY Version)

Here is MY version of that yummy sausage and kale soup served at that famous Italian restaurant chain.  (I added several ingredients to a "copy cat " recipe I found online.)


5 Mild Italian sausages (removed from the casings)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 Russet potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
1 box (32 oz.) chicken stock or broth
2 chicken buillion cubes
3 cups water
4-5 cups kale (stems removed and sliced into thin strips)
1 to 2 cups of heavy cream (you can sub half & half, but I used cream...because I HAD cream...)

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot and add the sausage.  Break up chunks and cook until browned.  Then add the onion and the garlic and saute until onions are soft.  Add the chicken broth, bullion cubes and water. Cut the unpeeled potatoes in half, and then slice the halves into 1/4 inch slices and add to the pot.

Add some salt (not too much, unless broth is low sodium) and pepper, and simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Then add the ribbons of  kale.

Be sure to remove the center "stem" or "rib" from the kale leaves!
 Cook about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Right before serving, stir in the cream, but DO NOT BOIL. Heat for several minutes to combine flavors...and SERVE.

How was MY version???

(Ask grand daughter Claire...)

(And a side note...son Nick took leftovers to work the next day...and he said it was even better the second day.)

Apple Cider Waffles

Looking for a way to spice up your breakfast??  Stir up a batch of Apple Cider Waffles!

Simply use apple cider in place of all or part of the liquid called for in your favorite waffle recipe.  I also added finely diced apple and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon to the batter.

I guess this means we've added a new "favorite" to our breakfast recipe repertoire...

POT ROAST...Autumn On A Plate

I don't know about you, but for me one of the best things about Autumn is the return to menus that include oven roasted meats and one-pot dinners.

We're enjoying another visit in Indiana, and our Indy grand daughters LOVED this pot roast dinner I made the other night.

And if you've never had carrots fixed this way, you're in for a treat!  (Our grand kids love them!)

To prepare the chuck roast, I dried the meat with paper towels, then rubbed the roast with some extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Then I browned the meat on ALL sides in some extra virgin olive oil in a thick roasting pan.

I quartered an onion and smashed three cloves of garlic and threw all of it into the pan with the meat. Then I poured one can of Dawn Fresh by Georgio Mushroom Steak Sauce (if you can find it in your grocery store) over the meat. (I love the stuff.  It's a huge head-start in making flavorful gravy!)

Then I plopped on the roaster lid and roasted the meat, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours at 300 degrees.

About one hour before dinner, I increased the oven temp to 350 degrees.  Then I added peeled and quartered carrots and lots of quartered mushrooms.  I put the lid back on and returned the pan to the oven for another hour.  (The only mistake I made?? Not adding MORE CARROTS! The girls LOVED them since the carrots become sweet and almost caramelized when cooked this way. )

When ready to serve, I removed the meat and vegetables from the pot, and I thickened the pan drippings with a "slurry" made by stirring several tablespoons of flour into a small amount of water until smooth, then streaming the mixture into the pot with the meat juices that had developed in the pan.  I stirred constantly until the mixture came to a boil and thickened.  

COOKING TIP:  You will never know how thick your pan sauce will be until it comes to a BOIL. That's when you know if you need to add more liquid to thin the sauce, or more flour and water mixture to thicken it more.

As you can see, I served the roast with garlic mashed potatoes and some steamed broccoli.

Ahhhh...Autumn (and a rainbow)  on a plate...And three happy little girls at the table.

Autumn in the Heartland...

From Iowa City...

To Indiana...

As the old poem goes...


I hope you are enjoying the season...

Purse Snatchers...BEWARE!

All my days spent as a cruise specialist and travel agent have helped to make me very aware of my surroundings when I travel...even if my travel only consists of a trip to the grocery store.

Here is my TRAVEL TIP to help keep your purse safe...

Simply fasten the baby strap through the handles of your purse.

And make a copy of all of the credit cards and the other cards you carry in your purse.  (Insurance cards, etc.)  Simply go to a copy machine and place all of your cards face down on the machine and make a copy.  Keep this copy in a safe place at home.  That way if your wallet IS ever stolen you'll know exactly what cards were in the wallet and you'll know what information has been compromised!

Better safe than sorry...

Cooking Tip? Cooking Stations

Many of you have asked me how I can prepare four or five dishes and then SERVE them during the time allotted in a culinary class, so here is my secret...

Arrange ALL the ingredients you will be using in a recipe in various stations around the room...

Mac and Cheese Station

Chocolate Waffle Cookies Station

Green Beans Station...

Chicken Nugget Dipping Sauce Station
This makes it so much easier to work neatly and efficiently.  So try it in your own kitchen.  I think your dinner will appear on YOUR table much faster...and with less stress.
Bon Apetit!

My Final Class of 2014...COOKING WITH KIDS!

Recently I taught my last Kirkwood Community College culinary class...Cooking with Kids (Ages 4 to 8) I wanted to share the talents of my little chefs with all of you!

Meet my newest class of Chefs... Birthday Girl Violet, and her friend Adeline...And Caroline, my little "Grad Student" in her THIRD cooking lesson in my kitchen!

My tiny chefs not only learned how to prepare our meal, but they also learned the proper way to set the table.  (And their manners during mealtime were impeccable!)

They were GREAT listeners, and they did a SUPER job in making the table look festive!

A job well done!!

Then it was time to COOK!  Here they are, carefully removing the ends of the green beans...with cheese spreaders!  (A great SAFE tool for little hands...)

The chefs helped me create a RAINBOW SALAD made with apples, carrots, raisins, celery and vanilla yogurt...YUM!!!

And my little chefs did an AWESOME job in crushing the corn flakes for our homemade chicken nuggets!

Our Rainbow Meal continued with homemade Mac and Cheese, and those beautifully prepared fresh green beans...

And "What's for Dessert"?  Amazing chocolate cookies...made in a WAFFLE IRON!  
Those little chefs LOVED "making  it SNOW" with a sprinkle of powdered sugar over those warm chocolate cookies.  (And I made sure a little SNOW ended up on the chefs too!)  
Giggles are a welcome ingredient in MY kitchen!

Chefs Adeline, Caroline and Violet...waiting patiently for the next batch of cookies to come out of the waffle iron...We needed two more cookies for the Moms before we could build our desserts!

And they were pros at serving our desserts to their Moms!  
(Those warm waffle cookies topped with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.)

And what a surprise to discover this class included a birthday surprise for Violet!  So of course we sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY over our desserts...and then we watched while she opened her gift bag from her friend Adeline...

Let's just say all three of the ladies were THRILLED with the never-ending parade of items that spilled from that gift bag!!


And all too soon it was over, and the little chefs and their Moms headed dream about their new kitchen skills and the FUN they had in Miss Patty's Kitchen.

BRAVO Little Chefs!  You ALL got A's in MY class!

Chocolate WAFFLE IRON Cookies

FYI...your waffle iron is NOT just for breakfast anymore...
Here is a new way to make DESSERT!


1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
5 tsp. cocoa powder

Mix well in order listed and refrigerate batter (if you have time) before baking.

Heat waffle iron and SPRAY GENEROUSLY with cooking spray (Both upper and lower grates.)
Place a heaping Tablespoon of batter in the middle of each section of the hot waffle iron and close the lid.  Cook until done...approx. 2 minutes.  

You may want to make one "test cookie" to see how long it takes to cook in your machine. My waffle iron has settings 1 through 6, and I use setting #5.  And you can change the size of the cookies, too. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Remove from waffle iron and sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle with icing, if you prefer.

You can also use these cookies as a cake-like base for other desserts.
Let your imagination run wild...and ENJOY!

Roasted Acorn Squash

Simple recipes are best...


Cut squash in half..CAREFULLY! And scoop out seeds with a large spoon.

Place cut side down in roasting pan and add about one inch of water.  Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, or until tender.  

Flip squash over and add about a tablespoon of butter, a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar, a sprinkle of both salt and cinnamon.  Place back in oven for 10-15 minutes...

Remove from the oven and carefully mix all the goodness together...

Ahhh....Autumn in a shell...on a plate...