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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Monday, October 14, 2013


Italian Polenta bowls


1 bag of polenta- I used bobs redmill

6 cups of water

2 cups polenta

3 cups roasted peeled tomatoes- fresh or good quality organic canned or a good jar of store bought tomato sauce works just as well.

2 cloves garlic minced

large bunch of fresh basil- I use a 4oz container from Trader Joes. Set some aside for a topping.

Parmesan cheese for topping

Herbs for polenta- dried oregano, thyme, pepper, basil and salt. All herbs are seasoned to taste. I change it up everytime I make this dish.

I start with the tomato sauce. I blend the tomatoes in a food processor along with a nice large bunch of basil. I season it with my favorite italian herbs.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and stir. Then turn the heat down a bit and add about 1/4 cup of red wine and two tablespoons tomato paste. Using a whisk make sure you blend the garlic, wine and tomato paste together well. Turn the heat down and add the blended tomatoes. Stir well. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 min.

Cook the polenta as directed on package. I boil 6 cups of water to 2 cups of polenta. You will stir constantly for 30 min. It is a nice workout for your arms:) When the polenta is nice and thick add your favorite italian herbs and spices. Scoop into bowls and top with the tomato sauce, basil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Helpful quick meal suggestions:

This recipe makes a nice amount of polenta. I usually get about 4-5 meals. If you only need a small amount of what you cooked, polenta refrigerates well and saves for a few weeks. I also will pour the polenta into muffin cups and refrigerate overnight. The polenta is a great quick breakfast with an egg on top and a side of salsa.

Easy cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

1/2 cup butter (room temp) good substitutes are Earth Balance or Greek yogurt.
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup brown sugar- if you like less sweet use 1/4 cup
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg or egg white, or flax meal egg substitute
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups all purpose flour- or a mixture of gluten free flours.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
Preheat the oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. I use a stone for baking but if you don't have one a regular cookies sheet works great.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Beat for a good 3-5 minutes. This helps with the texture and baking of the cookies.
Then add the molasses and egg. Then stir in the pumpkin. Beat 2 min.
In another bowl add flour, baking soda and spices.
Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture. Make sure the flour is blended but don't over mix. If the batter seems a bit dry add a tablespoon of water or milk.
Scoop the cookies onto the baking sheet with a large spoon or small baking scooper. Bake for 11 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an air tight container. Refrigerate after a few days.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Spicy slow cooker beans

6 cups dried beans- black, pinto, aduki, white northern beans.
Rinse the beans a few times. Then add them to a large mixing bowl and cover them with water about two inches above the beans. Soak them overnight. Most of the water will have soaked into the beans by morning.
I have a 7 quart crockpot. If you have something smaller like a 3-5 quart I would use 2 cups for a 3 quart and 4 cups for a 5 quart.
The next morning rinse the beans again. Then add them to your crockpot. Add enough water to just cover the beans. I don't like too much water because I like my beans thick. If you want a little sauce add water about an inch or two above the level of the beans.
6 cups soaked beans- 7quart crockpot
4 cups soaked beans- 5 quart crockpot
2 cups soaked beans- 3 quart crockpot
1 large sweet onion
2 bell peppers- I like yellow and red
2 hot peppers of choice- Jalapenos or serranos- I leave the seeds in them and it gives the beans a nice warm heat.
NOTE: you can add any combination of herbs and spices. These are my favorite.
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 oz shot of whiskey- any kind. I use rebel yell or Jameson. The whiskey gives the beans a smokey sweetness that is amazing!
Add all of the ingredients to the beans and water give it a good stir. Put the lid on the crockpot and set the temp to high for the first hour. Then low for the rest of the day. If you don't have time to do this just leave it on low and the crockpot with do the work. You will have left overs unless you are having a party! so these beans freeze very well in quart size ziploc bags. They also keep for over a week in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
My favorite toppings for these beans:
Queso fresco cheese
Red onions


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ice Cream

Chocolate Coconut Cherry Ice Cream

2 cans of coconut milk- I used the light from Trader Joe's

1/4 cup sugar
I left the sugar out the first time I made it. The ice cream had a nice light sweet taste from the coconut milk.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup fresh chopped cherries

In a pot over medium heat, add all the ingredients and stir. Allow it to simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Place in a container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Add the cherries right before you add the mixture to your ice cream maker.

Add the mixture to your ice cream maker bowl. Let it churn for 20-30min. No longer. It will have an airy light fluffiness to the texture.

When you are ready to serve let the ice cream sit out for a good 10 min before serving. Add a few scoops to your favorite ice cream bowl and sprinkle with coconut. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gluten Free Cookies

GF & Vegan Coconut Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup gluten free oats

2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries chopped

1/2 cup chocolate chips- nestle dark chocolate chips, or vegan chocolate chips.

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon water or almond milk

1 egg white or egg substitute: 2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 1/4 cup water- let sit 5 min.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl including the brown sugar and chocolate chips. In a separate bowl stir coconut oil, water or almond milk and the egg substitute together.

Then add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir. The mixture will be sticky. Wet your hands before shaping the cookies. Then place them on the baking sheet and bake 15min. They should be slightly golden brown when done. Let them cool on a baking rack.

Keep them in an air tight container for storing. They last up to 1 week in the refrigerator and a few days on the counter.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Asian Tuna Lettuce Wraps

Black rice cooked- 1 cup rice to 1-1/4 cups water bring to boil. Cover and simmer 40min. I buy this in bulk at Sprouts or you can find it in bags at the grocery store.
1 head of butter lettuce
2 cans tuna- no salt, no oil added. I buy the Trader Joe's brand.
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Nori seasoning for topping.
Trader Joe's also has a great seaweed topping in a small bag, if you can't find nori seasoning. It adds a lot of flavor to this dish. I buy the nori at Ralph's grocery store in the Asian food isle.
Mix the Tuna, sriracha, oil, vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl with a fork. If you like a little extra spice add more sriracha. If the tuna seems a bit dry for your taste add a little more sesame oil.
Place a few butter lettuce leaves on a plate. Add a few spoonfuls of tuna and then rice. Top with Nori seasoning and sriracha and enjoy!
Perfect for a hot summer day!

Special note:

I decided to make the font purple today in honor of a sweet little girl we knew named Layla who lost her battle to neuroblastoma. Today would have been her 10th birthday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

 Homemade soft pretzels and rolls


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water (microwave about 1 min)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package rapid rise yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups  all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil for bowl and work surface
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt or kosher salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using a small spatula fold the mixture together until the dough is soft and pulls away from the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans or one large sheet pan. with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope or rolls. I decided to make 4 of each.  Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Ideas for the pretzels and rolls:

The rolls can be made into a delicious sandwich. Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches are always really good for those hot summer evenings.

Pretzels with mustard and a beer also go very well together! enjoy!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tuna Melt

Leaha’s healthy Tuna Melt

Serving s-  3 sandwiches

3 cans Trader Joes tuna- drained. This tuna is in water no salt added.

½ cups chopped bell peppers- I used red and yellow

1 jalapeno chopped with seeds

2 tablespoons chopped onion- red or sweet onion

2 tablespoons Trader Joes fat free sour cream

¼ cup horseradish mustard

2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro

1 small garlic clove chopped

Dash of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Melting cheese- I like fontina cheese or sharp cheddar.

Bread: Miltons or even a soft rye bread.

Butter for the bread

Mix the 10 ingredients in a bowl. You might need to add a little more sour cream, you can decide. Cover and refrigerate for a short time to let the flavors come together. Get your bread, cheese and butter ready for grilling. Butter your bread then place it into your grilling pan. Place the tuna on the bread then the cheese and top it with the other slice of bread. I would say about 2 minutes each side until the cheese is melted and the sandwich is nice and brown on the outside.  

Friday, March 8, 2013


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting


3/4 cup Cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar- I used brown sugar
1- tsp baking soda

12oz Stout beer- I used Murphy's Stout- they come in 16oz cans I measured 12oz and enjoyed the rest.
1 stick melted butter
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
2 eggs- I used egg whites- set your eggs out to become room temp.
3/4 cup fat free sour cream

Frosting: Double the recipe if you like more frosting.

1 4oz package of cream cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 small drops of green food coloring
4 tablespoons brandy or Baileys Irish cream- I used Brandy because that is what I had. Baileys is kind of expensive for cooking with.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Spray the liners lightly with non stick cooking spray.

Sift flour & cocoa powder into a bowl. Then add sugar and baking soda. set aside.

Before I combined the liquid ingredients I made my frosting so it has time to set up in the refrigerator.

I softened my cream cheese and butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Then added the brandy and peppermint extract. I scooped the mixture into a plastic bag then put it into the refrigerator. I use the bag for piping the frosting on. I just cut a small opening in the corner of the plastic sandwich bag and decorate.

Combine stout, butter and vanilla in a small pan. Heat on low until the ingredients just blend together and everything is the same temp. DO NOT SIMMER OR BOIL the ingredients! let the mixture cool. Then whisk in your eggs one at a time. Mix in sour cream. Mix dry ingredients into the wet. Add the dry one cup at a time so the batter is nice and smooth.

Fill the 12 cup paper lined muffin tin with the batter. I used a 1/3 cup to fill them. You will have batter left after filling the 12 cup tin. If you have a second muffin tin fill it up with the rest of your batter. I had a mini muffin tin so I made mini cupcakes.

After you have the batter into the tin bake them at 350 for 12 minutes. Then turn the pan around and bake for another 12 minutes.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before decorating. Pipe the frosting on and sprinkle the top with green sprinkles! now you are ready for St. Patricks Day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Macaroni with no cheese!

Cheese is one of my favorite things to eat. I love cheese dip, grilled cheese, cheese on crackers, cheese with wine I could go on. This year I decided to cut down on my cheese intake I have come up with a great a mac and no cheese. It has flavor without the extra calories and fat. I hope you will try it and let me know what you think. I made this dish for my husband who likes his food to be real and tasty and he loved it.

Mac and no cheese
1 box pasta of choice- I used Gemelli pasta
Cook the pasta according to instructions on the package.

The sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups Almond milk
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 jalapeno or hot pepper chopped with seeds
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Nutritional yeast seasoning

In a 3 quart pan melt butter. Add the flour and whisk them together to make a paste. Then add the Almond milk whisk until it becomes thick. Add celery seeds and salt and pepper. Then fold in the nutritional yeast seasoning and the hot pepper. Then fold in the cooked pasta. Serve in a bowl sprinkle with a little yeast seasoning and enjoy!