Life, Love and my passion for cooking

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Carson City, NV, United States
I grew up in Illinois in a small town. I moved to California in May of 2000.In that time I have experienced life, love and my passion for cooking. We now live in Nevada. I hope to take my passion for cooking to a new level.


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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beer Crust Pizza

Beer dough: this makes two large crusts.
  1. 3 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 cup wheat flour
  3. 1 packet yeast- Highly active yeast
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary and oregano finely chopped
  5. ¼ cup brown sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon pepper

Liquid Ingredients:  heat to 105-110 degrees
1 cup warm beer- boddingtons is my favorite.
1 cup warm water

Toppings: this is my favorite combination of toppingsJ
½ cup sliced red bell pepper
½ cup sliced green bell pepper
½ cup sliced yellow bell pepper
½ cup sliced orange bell pepper
2 cups pizza sauce- mine is homemade but it’s a secret!
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
1 pound lean good quality hot Italian sausage- slice sausage in half and cook in a pan until slightly pink.
2 large cloves chopped garlic
About 6 slices fresh mozzarella for the top.

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the first 7 ingredients- mix well.
  2. Warm beer and water in a glass purex measuring cup about 1 minute in the microwave.
  3. Add the warm beer and water to the dry ingredients
  4. Place dough with flour and knead a few times just to shape into a nice round ball. Add about a tablespoon of Olive oil to the bowl and coat the dough. Cover tight with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until it doubles in size or until it fills up the bowl.
  5. After the dough rises take the plastic wrap off and punch the dough down. Separate it into two rounds put the other round in a ziplock freezer bag and let most of the air out and you will have one for next time. Unless you are making two.
  6. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. There is plenty of dough to make a thick crust or roll out thin and make two smaller pizzas. Roll out so that it fits onto your pizza stone or pizza pan. Spread the pizza sauce then top it with shredded mozzarella, the bell peppers, garlic, and Italian sausage. Then add the fresh sliced mozzarella to the top.
  7. Place into a 350 degree oven for 20-25 min. Let cool slice and enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Snack Bars

Chocolate fruit snack bars

Courtesy of

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened puffed wheat cereal or what ever puffed cereal you have on hand.
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped medium-fine- I used walnuts
  • 1/3 cup salted roasted pepitas (I used unsalted).
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries. (I used a mix of dried fruit from Trader Joes).
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds- I used flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 300°F. Line an 8-inch-square pan with parchment paper, letting it overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Toss cereal, pecans, pepitas, cherries (or cranberries), sesame seeds and ground flaxseeds in a large bowl.
  3. Combine honey, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the honey is more fluid and the salt is dissolved. Pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and fold until everything is moistened and sticky. Let cool for 5 minutes. Fold in chips (or chopped chocolate) until evenly distributed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a fork. Using the back of the fork, press the mixture very firmly all over. (Alternatively, cover with parchment paper and press firmly all over.)
  4. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 35 minutes. (If in doubt, take it out so the honey does not burn.) Run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan to detach the bars. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Use the ends of the parchment to lift the bars from the pan. Gently peel off the parchment. Use a heavy sharp knife to cut into 16 bars or squares.

Italian chicken soup

Italian Chicken Soup 
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman
  • 1 box Ditalini Pasta (very Short Macaroni-type Pasta Noodles)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken
  • 8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 whole Fresh Jalapenos, Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 can (28-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes (I blended mine up)
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Oregano- I had dried oregano.
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese Shavings, For Serving
Preparation Instructions
Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.
Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and set meat aside.
Dice canned tomatoes and return them to their juice. Set aside.
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and oregano and turn off heat, stirring over the next minute to keep oregano from burning. Set this aside.
Either pour off chicken broth into a separate container or use a new pot to saute onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta,  and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.
Serve with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on the top--the more the better! Crusty Italian bread is good, too.
I did not add heavy cream to mine. A little low fat sour cream might be good mixed in. I am not a big fan of creamy soup. This soup was amazing without it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Farmers Market

I am so happy it is Friday. The farmers market on Friday mornings in Whittier is something I really enjoy. The fresh organic fruits and veggies taste amazing. I notice such a difference from grocery store produce. The prices are cheaper and you get to buy organic. Here is a photo of some of my finds at the Friday morning Farmers Market. Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Leaha's Brownies



3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

2oz dark chocolate chips- melted
2 Tablespoons butter or oil
1 egg beaten
2 Tablespoons fat free sour cream
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips- don't melt
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1 t strong coffee
1/4 cup brown sugar

Line an 8x8 pan with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate- if using oil just melt the chocolate and add the oil.
Add the brown sugar and mix until dissolved. The mixture will look slightly grainy. Add sour cream and vanilla then whisk in egg. Stir in chocolate chips.

Fold in dry ingredients. Spread into foil lined pan and bake at 350 for 20min.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burgers
Makes 4-5 patties

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons diced red onion
2 tablespoons diced red bell peppers
1 teaspoon diced jalapeno- if you like spicy put the whole Jalapeno in!
1 1/2 tablespoons diced garlic
1/2 minced carrot or just grate the carrot with a cheese grater.
4 ounces black beans, drained
4 ounces chickpeas, drained
4 ounces white beans, drained
6 ounces rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2-teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 egg

In a medium saute pan over medium high heat add 1-ounce olive oil and all raw vegetables except beans. Remove and cool.
Add veggies to beans and mix thoroughly. I suggest mashing the beans a little with your hands in a bowl so the burgers come together better.  Add all dry ingredients along with the egg. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and form into 4 patties, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. This helps them come together better when you form them.

In saute pan add some non-stick cooking spray, and cook patties 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

Suggestion: I like to buy nice soft sandwich buns and top the burger with a slice of pepper jack cheese and a few slices of avocado and lettuce.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Orzo Pasta

Orzo Pasta
1 box Orzo pasta
3-4 bell peppers chopped small- yellow, red, orange and green.
one bunch fresh parsley chopped.
one bunch fresh basil chopped.
one medium red onion chopped small.
4-6oz of Feta cheese crumbled.
1/2 cup red wine vinegar.
1/2 cup Vegetable oil.

Boil orzo pasta according to directions on the box. I make sure I salt my water and add a little olive oil before boiling the pasta.

While I wait for the water to boil I chop all my veggies and herbs. Then I mix the dressing. I like to mix up the dressing really well. I have a "salad dressing emulsifier" works great! a photo of one is below. If you don't have one a whisk and bowl work just fine to mix the dressing.

After mixing the dressing set it aside. The pasta should be done. Most boxes of orzo take 9-11 minutes to boil. Don't over cook it! When the pasta is done put it in a strainer in the sink and rinse it will cold water until the pasta is no longer hot. Place the pasta in a large bowl and drizzle with a little oil for easy mixing. Then add the bell peppers, onions, parsley, basil and crumbled feta. Stir gently so you don't break up the pasta. When that is done put some in a bowl and add some salt and pepper to taste and drizzle the dressing over the top. Refrigerate the rest for 4-5 days. Keep the remaining dressing on hand for each serving.

Enjoy!- Photos of my recipes will be posted soon.

Eating healthy on a budget

Creating new dishes is sometimes a challenge. We like to eat healthy and eating healthy on a budget requires some thought. Many people feel it is too expensive to eat healthy. So, why not just avoid it and drive through the local fast food joint for dinner? Well, I say it is less expensive to eat healthy at home. I am able to shop for fruits, veggies, fish, poultry and occasional red meat for around $65 dollars every two weeks, this also includes lunches for Adam to take to work the next day.
 I have found a great place to shop for all our needs. I buy all of my fruits and veggies at Sprouts farmers market. Everything is cheaper than the local grocery store. I can buy bell peppers for .$88 cents a piece verses bell peppers that are 2 or 3 dollars each at your local store. When I buy meat I like to go to our local butcher, "Orchards". They carry handmade chicken sausages, chicken breasts, whole chickens, pork roasts and any red meat, also fresh wild caught salmon. If I plan it right I can go on Wednesdays which is 20% off each item if you pay in cash. I then freeze items in ziplocks and take it out as we eat them. This is something simple I can do to save money. Here are the websites for each place.