Take Way to the Sea

Man on the sea
He’s following me.
Glory to all his days
weaving paths along the way.

He wishes he could go back to a simpler time
when the waves would show you the way;
the markers of the compass,
but the water is rough.
Too hard to hold on
and the boat begins to sway…

Take him back to the good times,
sun beating down on his neck,
freckles on his back,
where the waters were calm
and he was all alone
but loved it nonetheless.

All he needed to do was tell her how he felt,
but his virtue was his pride
while stubbornness and terror were his only vices
(you’ll never know what that means).

Some would say,
and as legend tells it,
look for the North Star
You will see his friendly grin
and one day, he will ring the bell
and set sail for one last ride.

all rights reserved. ©

Berry Good!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie


approx. 12 small to medium sized strawberries, cleaned and cut in half

1/2 to 1 medium sized banana, sliced

1 (serving) vanilla Yoplait light (or dannon light) yogurt (minus 2 teaspoons) (or any non-fat yogurt)

1 to 2 tablespoons light agave nectar

1 large glass of ice cubes


1. Slice strawberries and banana and add to blender.

2. Add yogurt.

3. Add a bit of light agave nectar.

4. Add 1 glass of ice.

5. Add a bit more light agave nectar.

6. Mix on “smoothie” setting until blended well and no ice remains. About 2 minutes.

7. Add more light agave nectar to sweeten.

8. Pour into a glass and enjoy this delicious smoothie! Garnish with a strawberry for a nice clean decoration.


  • Try other fruits and berries – including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries – or any fruit you like
  • Use frozen fruit if you do not have access to fresh
  • For a non-dairy alternative, replace yogurt with apple juice
  • Add flax or hemp seed as an enhancer


Dr. Alfredo

Dr. Alfredo: Alfredo Sauce with Peas & Tomatoes


Make any jarred Alfredo sauce special with just a few easy steps!

The Problem = Jarred Alfredo sauce can be too thick, too thin, one note and plain. It lacks depth and can be very overwhelming, ergo, sickening.

The Solution = Doctor it up! Mix Alfredo sauces, add a variety of herbs and spices, in addition to canned vegetables! Easy, quick, inexpensive and a perfect fix for that hearty, creamy sauce craving (which I KNOW we all get once in a while!). As I once heard Geoffrey Zakarian say on Chopped, “it gets the funk out of it” – you can do the exact same thing with jarred sauces by adding your own ingredients, using up anything you have in the pantry!


1 box (1 lb) of pasta, your choice (I used Rigatoni)

2 full jars Alfredo sauce (I used Creamy Alfredo and Four Cheese Alfredo)

Ground black pepper, to taste

Low sodium salt, to taste

Dried parsley, to taste

Dried basil, to taste

Oregano, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

1 can sweet peas, drained

1 can diced tomatoes, drained


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large sauté or sauce pan on low heat, add both jars of sauce. Stir with rubber spatula or spoon to get out any clumps.

3. Add spices (salt, pepper, parsley, basil, oregano and garlic powder). Stir well.

4. Cover sauce and allow it to heat through on low to medium-low heat, just until it slowly begins to bubble.

5. Uncover and peas and tomatoes. Stir well and allow vegetables to heat through.

6. Add any extra spices, if desired. Mix cooked pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese, a bit of cracked black pepper and a dash of parsley. You’re ready to enjoy!


Oh My, Sweetie Pie!

Sweet Potato Hash Browns



2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cleaned, peeled and shredded

Grape seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

1 tsp or more (low sodium) salt

1 tsp or more ground black pepper

1/2 tsp or more paprika (optional, to taste)

1/2 tsp or more ground cinnamon (optional, to taste)

1/4 tsp or more nutmeg (optional, to taste)

1 tsp butter or margarine (optional)


1. Clean sweet potatoes and bake in microwave on high for 1 minute.

2. Peel sweet potatoes with a knife or vegetable peeler.

3. Grate sweet potatoes (with a cheese grater or a mandilon) into a medium sized bowl.

4. Heat large skillet or pan on medium heat. Add grape seed oil or evoo (about 3 tbsp).

5. Add spices (salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg).

6. Mix hash browns and allow them to cook on low to medium heat to absorb any moisture. Allow them to brown a bit before flipping them in the skillet or pan. Repeat. They may be a bit mushy and will lighten in color (orange to a yellow-orange).

7. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. If they begin to burn, turn to low heat and let them crisp up.

8. Top with cinnamon, a dollop of margarine/butter or sour cream. Or, my favorite, heinz tomato ketchup (optional) and enjoy!

Verdict: A healthier, and tasty, alternative to regular baked potato hash browns. Made them on a whim and they turned out excellent. Sweet, with a bite of crispy, these hash browns will make you wish you did not make more. Scramble a few eggs or eat them alone, they certainly would be a crowd pleaser. An excellent way to get potassium into your diet, while still being a bit gluttonous! They remind me of the holidays, when all I used to eat at Thanksgiving was potatoes! A wonderful, delicious side dish for any occasion. Serving size: 2

Suggestions: If you want to make the sweet potatoes not as sweet, add granulated garlic or onion to them. These potatoes would make a creative a casserole dish as well, paired with onions, mushrooms, peppers and sausage. Also can be used as a base for a sweet potato pancake.

*Note: I apologize for the terrible photographs. Poor lighting can really do some damage!

Gettin’ Saucey

Vodka Sauce (With Shrimp & Baby Bella Mushrooms)


I have made this three times, and each time I used different tomato sauces as the base. I will share the ingredients I felt were most successful in the completion of this dish. My tip: use up what sauces you have in the kitchen pantry – the texture may be a little different each time, but it does not stop you from enjoying what you intended to do in the first place – make a delicious, home-cooked meal! 🙂

Originally found on, and adapted from, Rocco DiSpirito: http://www.oprah.com/food/Penne-Alla-Vodka


16 ounces (one 1 lb box) Barilla pipette pasta (up to preference) (The amount of sauce being made can withstand 1 1/2 boxes pasta, if you would like a higher pasta to sauce ratio)

1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Hearty Tomato sauce

1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Tomato & Basil sauce (or Traditional Tomato & Basil sauce)

1.5 oz (one shot or more) Kettle One vodka (any brand of vodka can be substituted, up to preference)

8 ounces (1 container) mascarpone cheese (Beligioso)

1/2 tsp or more ground and/or crushed red pepper, up to preference

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Oregano, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

6 tbsp Italian cheeses

1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

12 or so extra large shrimp (26/30), cooked and deveined (optional)

3 Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly (optional)


1. In a large pot, cover salted water and allow it to boil. Cook pasta according to boxed directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium to large saucepan, heat both jars of pasta sauce on low to medium-low heat.

3. Heat through, add vodka. Stir well, and allow sauce to simmer.

4. Add spices (crushed/ground red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper).

5. Add mascarpone cheese and stir well. Sauce should be a light red color, not yet blush.

6. Spice more to taste. Too much red pepper will overwhelm your palette, so be sure not to add too much unless you are ready to sweat! As an option, add heavy cream to make more of a blush sauce.

7. Add shrimp and/or mushrooms to sauce. You can also sauté the mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil first, with a few dashes of salt, pepper, and garlic.

7. Toss cooked pasta in sauce. Mix well. Sprinkle with Italian cheeses. Enjoy!


Better Than Applebee’s

Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Referred to Martha Stewart’s Hot Spinach Dip recipe


Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for sautéing and to coat baking dish)

1 medium sized Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

18 oz (2 9 oz bags) fresh spinach

5 or 6 (about 1/2 a can) artichoke hearts, washed and drained

Light margarine (to add to spinach and artichoke sauté)

1/2 cup water (to add to spinach and artichoke sauté)

1/4 cup milk (any type, or can substitute heavy cream)

8 oz (1 bar) 1/3 less fat Philadelphia cream cheese

4 oz (or about 1 hefty spoonful) Breakstone sour cream (can substitute reduced fat or fat free)

Hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Worcestershire sauce, to taste (optional)

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cup (Kraft) Italian shredded cheese (1 cup for mixture and 1/2 cup to top)

Tostitos Scoops! tortilla chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 8×8 glass baking dish. A ceramic dish would also work fine.

2. In a large skillet or sauce pan (or a medium sized pot), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, just until glossy, before they brown. Then add minced garlic. Cook for a total of 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add artichoke hearts and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add spinach in four additions, adding a bit of water after each addition. Finish with a dollop of margarine.

4. Drain spinach and artichoke sauté in a strainer or colander (this step is optional, it would be fine to add the sauté drippings to the mixture, and would certainly taste delicious).

5. In the same saucepan, heat milk over medium to low heat. Whisk in cream cheese and sour cream. Be careful not to burn the mixture or let it curdle.

6. Toss in spinach and artichoke mixture, in addition to salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in Italian cheeses.

7. Add contents to oiled glass dish, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or put on low broil for about 10, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

8. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!


  • Can use frozen spinach instead of fresh (thawed and drained)
  • Serve with baguette slices or crackers of choice

Verdict: Being that this was the first time this recipe was attempted without following any exact directions, it was delicious! Creamy, with just the right amount of artichoke to spinach ratio, this dip will definitely serve as a great appetizer for a party or a cheesy snack. The only thing I thought should be done differently would be to put in more hot sauce, to give it some extra heat. Otherwise, this dip certainly turned out better than expected, but I cannot complain about that!






*Second Edition*

When made a second time, I used:

2 1/2 (9 oz) bags of spinach

1 full can artichokes, drained

all heavy cream (substituted for milk)

Verdict: much heartier than last time, but the extra spinach and artichoke was spot on!

Better with Butter

Garlic Butter Sauce



Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Pasta Extra Wide Noodle-Style (about 1/2 a bag)

5 tbsp unsalted butter (or margarine)

1/3 to 1/4 cup Lucini’s extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Black pepper, to taste

Oregano, to taste

Peas and carrots, steamed

Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions (boil water, salt water; at rapid boil, cook noodles for about 10 minutes or until tender)

2. Meanwhile, steam peas and carrots (10 to 15 minutes)

3. Make sauce when pasta is almost finished cooking, and when vegetables are almost done steaming, so it does not sit.

4. In a large skillet on low heat, melt unsalted butter and then add oil.

5. Add chopped garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.

6. Add pepper and oregano, in addition to other seasonings, if desired.

7. Toss in cooked peas and carrots. Then toss the pasta in the same sauce pan. Add a bit of parmesan cheese (or any dry shredded cheese).

Simple, easy and very quick! Using whole wheat pasta is a great way to add fiber to your diet (even if it is not 100% whole wheat)! Adding vegetables to your sauce and pasta is also a sneaky means to get your daily recommended servings. Plus, it tastes delicious. 

In An Upside Down World, Try Pineapple


Ever since I saw this episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack in 2009, I have quoted and sung it on and off again (to myself, to my friends, to my mom, and to my dogs). It has stuck to me like maple syrup. I decided enough was enough and I was going to actually attempt to make a pineapple upside down cake.

Pineapple contains an enzyme called “bromelain” (primarily found in the fruit’s stem) which aids in digestion through the breakdown of proteins. This cluster of fruits possess anti-inflammatory benefits which help prevent blood clots and can help soothe arthritis, as well as act as an immunity booster. In addition, it can help improve breathing in asthma patients. It is also used to stop cold beer from clouding!

About pineapple, bromelain and baking:




I am not a huge fan of cake (although I do love raw cake batter and LOVE pineapple), so I did not want to go to the extremes of making this a huge ordeal. I had found a recipe on EasyBaked.net and wanted to give it a try. I made some of my own adaptations, and experimented with a few different ingredients. I wanted the cake to be moist and fluffy, so I added an extra egg and a packet of instant vanilla pudding, in addition to Lactaid milk in substitute for water.

The troubles: The cake took a while to bake, and I had to turn the oven up half way through the baking process to ensure it would cook through. In addition, the syrup began dripping out of the bottom of the springform pan I used, and burned. It definitely steamed up the kitchen in a way I would rather not recreate again. I would highly recommend using a different dark, non-stick pan, one with a solid bottom that will not leak.

For next time: Besides baking the cake from scratch, I would obviously use a different pan. However, the cake came right out of the pan when I flipped it over, and it turned out better than I had expected. Apparently Duncan Hines calls for egg whites to bake their classic white cake, however, the box did not specify – that probably would have been a good idea. According to my mom, “See, shows you that you can do whatever the hell you want” – and that is what baking and cooking should be about – taking risks and trying new things. If it comes out, great. If not, whatever, at least you tried!

Keep pushing through those difficulties, especially in the kitchen, they may serve to further in the end. You always learn a lesson for the next go around!


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Adapted from: http://easybaked.net/2012/07/05/mini-pineapple-upside-down-cakes/


  • One boxed white cake mix (plus 4 brown eggs, Lactaid milk, and vegetable oil to make the cake) (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 packet (1 oz) of Jell-O sugar free instant vanilla pudding (added to cake mix)
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter, unsalted
  • 1 fresh pineapple, cut into rings then cut into chunks (you won’t need the entire pineapple)
  • Maraschino cherries, to top (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (I started at 325, but turned the oven up to 350 mid way through)
  • Spray the bottom of the pan (I used a round springform) with a non-stick butter spray
  • Spoon half of the sugar mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan, spread evenly
  • Place the pineapple chunks at the bottom of the pan, spread evenly
  • Melt the butter and mix with the dark brown sugar to create a semi-thick paste
  • Prepare cake mix according to box with a stand or hand held mixer (for a moister and fluffier cake, try something along the lines of 4 eggs, 1 cup Lactaid milk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 1 package of instant vanilla pudding)
  • Spread the batter evenly into the pan on top of the pineapples, ensuring they are covered
  • Place pan on a cookie sheet (important– these will leak a little!!!)*****(this is ESSENTIAL – the syrup will burn!)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes
  • Allow pan to set and cool (I flipped it right away and only a few pineapples stuck to the bottom of the pan)
  • Pour what is left of the melted butter and dark brown sugar mixture overtop of the pineapples and cake (you may have to heat the mixture in the microwave for a few seconds to regain its texture)
  • Top the cake with cherries (optional)
  • Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes, eat while warm or save for later. Enjoy!

get-attachment-5 get-attachment-4

Black and Blueberry Crisp


My father was gifted some beautiful blueberries today, and right when I saw them, I knew I had to make a sweet dessert with them. At first, I was contemplating making a blueberry muffin, but the more my innovation began to churn, the more I wanted to attempt something a bit more difficult. Then it stunned me – a blueberry wine reduction. A blueberry crisp, ureka! What a wonderful treat for a warm summer night.

I did some research before attempting, and followed the basic jist of these recipes:



One of my favorite desserts is apple crisp (mostly the crumb topping). I had at least half a bottle of a beautiful, locally fermented blackberry wine that I have desperately been wanting to use in a baked dessert, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test the waters.

This dish is seriously delicious. I was hesitant to put more crumble on top before baking, and I wish I did! The blackberry wine gives it a unique fruity and sweet undertone which makes this dessert truly one of a kind. The cookie dough type crumble adds a different texture that complimented nicely with the fresh berries. Top with a vanilla ice cream or eat it directly out of the dish – the choice is yours.


Black and Blueberry Crisp

Crumble topping:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (8 tbsp)

1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed down)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Honey Maid graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used vietnamese cinnamon that I purchased from Whole Foods)

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg


1/4 cup Blackberry wine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

16 ounces (2 cups) fresh blueberries, washed

6 ounces (0.75 cup) fresh blackberries, washed


1. Set oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×9 ceramic baking dish lightly with unsalted butter.

2. Make the crumble topping and set it aside:

  1. Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a stand up (or hand held) mixer.
  2. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in the flour and graham cracker crumbs until they are well incorporated into the batter.
  3. Fold in the oats.
  4. Add cinnamon and nutmeg.

Tip: Use your hands if necessary. You will not only be able to see if the texture of the dough is forming correctly, but it will also be easier to incorporate all the ingredients.

The topping should be very similar to a cookie dough. Do not fret! The dough will be moist, but it will bake through.

3. Make the berry reduction:

  1. On low to medium-low heat, add wine and sugar to a medium sized sauce pan.
  2. Let it thicken (come to a light boil) and make a simple syrup. (note: this is what I SHOULD have done, but added the berries a minute or so too early)
  3. Gently toss in blackberries and blueberries to the syrup. Let the mixture reduce and start to bubble around the edges of the saucepan.

4. Add the berry reduction to the ceramic dish.

5. Evenly sprinkle the “crumble” dough on top. Make sure the entire dish is covered with the crumble. (Seriously, you will want to, because it is absolutely delicious!)

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the topping becomes a golden brown and the filling begins to bubble. Let it cool for a minute or two, and enjoy!

Update 5/19: Refrigerate up to 3 to 4 days at most. The cookie crumb topping (after 3 days) has retained its texture and has not gotten mushy by any means. The syrup has set and it looks just as delicious as it did after being baked in the oven.






Red Hearts for Mother’s Day

Red Velvet Cookies White Chocolate Chips

mothers jd

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all! A special thank you to all mothers, for whom it gives young and empowered women hope for the future of being what we are destined to be – not only wives, friends, partners and workers, but also mothers (and grandmothers). The life cycle depends on women who can not necessarily reproduce, but who can put the lives of others before their own. I hope one day, I will be able to raise a beautiful family of my own and give my children all they desire and push them into a higher direction with a great role model in mind.


For Mother’s Day, I wanted to bake something special for my mother. She is the absolute best, the one and only person I can absolutely trust with no questions asked, and one of my biggest influences/role models. She taught me how to bake, she has taught me how to cook, and most of all, she puts up with me. The love and care she extrudes goes beyond that which I will ever be able to explain, so the only way I know how to thank her is to do what I love the most in this world: bake. Many of the red velvet recipes I researched involved using pre-made cake mixes, and I did not want to take the easy way out. I finally found one that did not use more traditional ingredients, such as white vinegar and/or vegetable shortening, which in my opinion, should never enter into the baking equation. The substitution of a red velvet bakery emulsion in place of the red food coloring gives this cookie the deep balanced bitter tones I feel are desired in this delectable treat, while still adding the red aspect. In other words, red food coloring adds a very artificial flavor (and color) and the emulsion gives it a nice color and texture, without the dye or alcohol.

With a good dosing of cocoa, this cookie hints at a beautifully sweet brownie, without being too rich or overwhelming. The addition of white chocolate chips gives a certain subtly that balances out the bitter cocoa flavor. I am glad I bought the red velvet bakery emulsion when I saw it, because I checked to see if I had food coloring afterwards, and, not to my surprise, I had zero. Talk about innovation and going with your gut!

This recipe is definitely one for the books. I urge everyone to bake or cook for your loved ones this weekend – it is one of the many things that will always bring sparkle and joy to another’s eyes.

half red

History of Red Velvet: This is quite fascinating! 

1. http://voices.yahoo.com/little-known-facts-red-velvet-cake-456633.html?cat=69

2. http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/2290-the-unknown-history-of-red-velvet-cake

Red Velvet dates back to about 1873, but started circulation in the 1920s!

cookie red


Adapted from: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2010/10/red-velvet-chocolate-chip-cookies-from-scratch/

Found on: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Red-velvet-chocolate-chip-cookies-333824?columns=Infinity&position=1/27

My adaptations are highlighted in bold

cookies red


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

brown egg (Eggland’s Best)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp red velvet bakery emulsion (LorAnn’s)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp low sodium salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder, Ghirardelli

1/2 (to 2/3) cup white chocolate chips, Ghirardelli


1. Preheat oven to 375. (I used a USA baking sheet, coated with Americoat)

2. Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer.

3. Add egg and vanilla and combine until smooth.

4. Beat in red velvet bakery emulsion.

5. Stir in cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt until just combined, scraping down the sides when needed.

6. Fold in white chocolate chips.

7. Using a medium to large sized scoop, scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of dough and set on baking sheet. Spread out on pan about 2 inches apart. Flatten each dough ball, so each is 2 to 3 inches in diameter. 

8. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. On the USA pan, it only took about 9 minutes.

USA Pans: http://www.usapans.com/

LorAnn’s Oils & Bakery Emulsions: https://www.lorannoils.com/c-10-bakery-emulsions.aspx


mix red