Monday Motivation: Super Easy Mexican Yumminess in the Slow Cooker

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

So good!

My family loves slow cooker Monday!

I doubled the original recipe so we could have leftovers. I mixed a little white rice and the chicken mixture in a bowl, and placed it in a warm tortilla. I garnished it with a Mexican mix cheese and sour cream. Yummy!

2 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
2 large chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 1/2 lime
Spray and then grease bottom of crock-pot with cooking spray.
Spread corn into the bottom of the pot and lay chicken on top. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning. Layer on tomatoes and then black beans.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
When done, shred chicken with two forks (it will fall apart easily).
Mix in cilantro and lime juice.
Serve in tortillas with rice, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

Attribution: Garnish and Glaze. Recipe Source: adapted from cookbook “365 Day of Slow-Cooking” by Karen Bellessa Petersen

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Why Not… Savor Sweet Strawberries

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

What is the best thing about a Florida winter?

Yes, the weather dips way down into the forties at night. Five times. During the day we suffer through the sixties, seventies, and maybe a couple of days we’ll hit the eighties. Blue skies and palm trees and cocktails by the pool. Winter is grand.

What really makes a Florida winter sublime? The strawberries from Plant City. For your reading and eating pleasure, here is a short story and a family recipe I will share with you.

Shortly after hubby and I became engaged I was invited to visit his grandmother “Grammy” in Florida. I brought my mother with me, and when we arrived at her beautifully appointed home in Lakeland the mouth-watering smell of dinner almost knocked me over. After two helpings of a scrumptious pot roast, we cleared the table and she presented dessert.

“The third crop of strawberries is the best,” she said. “These are only the second. I hope you like it. I call it Strawberry Glacé Pie.”

Like it? I’m a pie girl. I stared at this layered creation of perfectly sliced strawberries topped with Cool Whip. (Grampy had worked for Swift’s, so only company products entered their home.) Somewhere in my stuffed stomach I found room for not one, but two slices of pie. Past pie encounters receded in my mind… This was and still is the best piece of pie I have ever eaten. After we washed and dried her Havilland china I took a long and necessary walk.

Grammy was an amazing cook. She was raised on a farm in Missouri, and she knew how to do anything that would make a house a home. I believe she would be happy to know that her recipe is still honoring the bounty of Plant City strawberries we are lucky to eat picked fresh from the field.


Grammy’s Strawberry Glacé Pie


1 – 9 inch baked pie shell, 1 cup sugar, 2 quarts fresh Plant City strawberries, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup water, whipping cream


Rinse the strawberries thoroughly. Crush enough berries to make 1¼ cups of juice. Slice the remaining berries lengthwise, removing the green stems. Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Add crushed berries and water. Cook stirring constantly, and add lemon juice. Continue cooking until it thickens. Arrange sliced berries in piecrust. I go in a circle from the outside ending in the center. Pour glacé over the berries. Chill thoroughly and serve with whipped cream.

Grammy’s advice: It is best when prepared the night before so the sugar can sink into the berries below the glacé and the pie will hold together better.


Exciting business news — now you can shop with me online! I have been given a secure mobile number that interacts with through an app we call TextStyle. My secure mobile number is 813-452-4497. By completing a few simple steps you will be able to communicate with me before accessing, and can ask me questions regarding merchandise you are interested in purchasing. I can also send you photos or information regarding products you prefer that arrive in the store. It is a seamless way for me to deliver a superior shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Grammy used a Pyrex pie plate just like these.


The After-Party: Gasparilla Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Pot roast fit for a pirate!

This is big party weekend in Tampa. The pirates take over downtown — protect the women and children! It is Gasparilla, and Tampa celebrates with a parade and glittering balls and krewe parties that go on for days. It is also going to be a cooler weekend weather wise, and this recipe is perfect for the buccaneer who wants to come home to an amazing dinner after enjoying the festivities. It is also great for alcohol absorption. Have fun and be sure to uber if you’re partying.

One 4-pound beef chuck roast, or larger
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine, at least
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
Sprinkle the roast all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper. Coat in flour and shake off excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. (You have to watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn) Add the flour and wine and whisk with a plastic whisk until thick. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking slowly, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Pour the gravy over the meat into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables will be tender.
Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. 9Meat should always rest before cutting — it allows the juices to go into the meat) Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Stir the parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables buffet style, and serve the remaining gravy on the side. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens


Turkey and Oyster Gumbo by The Spoiled Spouse

Thursday, November 24th, 2016
One of my wife's turkey platters.

One of my wife’s turkey platters.

Hope your Thanksgiving dinner was delicious—ours certainly was! If you’re lucky you have leftover turkey, and The Spoiled Spouse has an amazing solution. This recipe will certainly raise your home cuisine beyond the dreaded creamed turkey casserole. Let us know how it turns out.

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

By The Spoiled Spouse

Turkey and Oyster Gumbo

Many families enjoy the blending of oysters into their turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving. This recipe provides a twist on that theme by adding leftover turkey to a traditional gumbo. It will hit the spot once you grow tired of sandwiches and leftover stuffing.

I usually try to cook recipes that can be completed during a Seinfeld rerun. This recipe however, requires about an hour or so of work but it can be easily completed in phases while watching your favorite football team on the post Thanksgiving weekend.  I have broken the recipes into phases –Pre-game, Break between 1st and 2nd Quarter, Halftime, 2 Minute Warning, and Postgame Wrap-up.

You should turn off the heat between phases. However, you can run them all together like a no-huddle offense if you wish.


2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 8 cups chicken/turkey stock

1 pint oysters, 1 tsp. thyme

1 lb. sliced frozen okra, 1 tsp. basil

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. cooking oil, ½ tsp. sage

½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. black pepper

1 -2 cups chopped onion ( to taste)½ tsp. white pepper

1 cup chopped green bell pepper, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ cup chopped celery, 2 tsp. salt

2 small cans chopped tomatoes, 1 bay leaf

¾ lbs. Andouille sausage sliced into rounds

Phase 1 — The Pre-game show

Sauté okra in a large skillet in 2 tablespoons of oil for 15 minutes.  At the same time, heat ½ cup of oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir frequently until the paste (or roux) becomes the color of dark chocolate. Immediately dump in the onions, bell pepper, and celery and sauté. Stir until vegetables are tender and onions are carmelized.

Phase 2 — Break between First and Second Quarter

Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, Andouille sausage, and okra. Cook and stir for 15 minutes. Dislodge any caramelized vegetables off the bottom of the pot with a metal spoon . These juicy bits provide great flavor.

Add spices (bay leaf, thyme, basil, sage, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, salt) and mix well.

Phase 3 — Halftime

Add chicken/turkey stock. Bring to a slow boil and heat for 1 hour.

Phase 4 — Two Minute Warning

Add the turkey and oysters and simmer for 15 minutes. (Add the oyster liquor for a tangyer broth)

Phase 5 — Postgame Wrap-up

Serve in large bowls over steamed rice.

This is an amazing stockpot to put on your Christmas list:

All clad stockpot.

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
Grouper Piccata

Grouper Piccata

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

By  The Spoiled Spouse

Like many men of a certain age, I grew up in a home where Mom cooked a majority of the meals and those cooked by Dad involved a great deal of red meat, charcoal briquettes, and flammable liquid.  I inherited the cooking gene from my father. I refined it somewhat during college by including large doses of ground beef and Ramen noodles.

Fast forward thirty years, and I find myself married to a wonderful cook who, unfortunately, must work several evenings during the week. She and I no longer appreciate the fine culinary qualities associated with the barbecue and Ramen diet. In an effort to avoid starvation and bad blood work, I began to look for recipes that matched my love’s skill but generally allowed me the freedom to observe my favorite sporting events during preparation. So, I will periodically present a recipe which has quality that far exceeds the effort that went into the preparation. Please enjoy!

Grouper Piccata

Grouper is a meaty, white fish found off the gulf coast of Florida. Any other fish with similar texture can be substituted.


  • 1 lb. grouper fillets
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Cut grouper into 4 small pieces. Mix salt and pepper with flour. Dredge fillets in flour until coated.

Heat olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter in medium high heat. Brown fillets on each side. 4-5 minutes per side. Place grouper on warm dish.

Add wine, capers, lemon juice, and remaining butter in the pan. Stir with spoon to scoop up the small pieces of browned coating.

Neatly arrange filets on plates and cover with sauce and parsley.

Serve with white rice and your favorite green vegetable.

Pour the remaining wine in your best crystal and enjoy with your appreciative partner!

Editor’s Note: Once or twice per month Spoiled Spouse  will share a recipe with us. I’m hoping the next recipe is a gumbo.

Here is a new favorite cookbook:

She's the Best!

She’s the Best!

Salmon with Crème Fraîche and Asparagus

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

unnamed-2My husband is used to eating well.

While raising our two wonderful children I cooked my way through a personal collection of seventy-five cookbooks, exploring the favorite recipes of diverse cultures. I became a firm believer that in order to truly understand what makes up a sublime plate one must be able to do more than boil water.

Flash-forward to the present—I am always looking for another challenge that involves personal growth. I am currently working as a jewelry stylist for Nordstrom while still writing, presenting to various groups at local libraries, and caring for my thirty orchids. Yes, I’m crazy busy and have less time to cook, which is why it is so nice when my husband discovers a gem of a recipe like this one. He has made it a number of times and has changed a few critical aspects. He has become a confident cook, unafraid to adjust a method that seems less than satisfactory. He has a couple of suggestions: The cooking time in the original recipe is way too short unless you want to eat raw salmon. Also, his method for preparing the potatoes is superior. He bakes the potatoes rather than boiling them. The potatoes are drier in texture, and form a crunchy platform on which to place the asparagus and the salmon. Try both methods and let us know what you think. Enjoy!


4 medium red-skin potatoes
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch jumbo asparagus, tough ends trimmed and sliced on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vermouth or white wine
¼ cup crème fraîche
Paul Prudhomme Veggie Magic
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and boil until just tender, 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and flake into bite-size pieces. Set aside to air-dry. (Bake potatoes until cooked, cool, and chop into bite size pieces.)

2. Season salmon with salt. Spray a baking dish lightly with oil. Arrange salmon, skin-side down, in dish and cover with aluminum foil. Roast until flesh flakes when lightly prodded, about 12 minutes. Remove skin.

3. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and sauté until bright green, about 2 minutes. Add vermouth and simmer until just tender, about 2 minutes more. Transfer asparagus to a bowl and let cool slightly, 3 minutes. Season with salt and crème fraîche.

4. Set another large sauté pan over medium-high heat and coat with two tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add chopped potatoes and cook until browned, 2 minutes. Season with Veggie Magic. Flip potatoes, add remaining butter and cook until crisped, 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Attribution: Eric Ziebold/WSJ

Watermelon Martini

Monday, June 6th, 2016

13308479_1279321605430315_186613086215570092_oI drive by many farmer’s road side stands on my way to work. At this time of year the stalls are bursting with watermelon, so I challenged my husband to make me a yummy watermelon martini for Memorial Day. I had the day off — not typical for this retail creative. The result was wonderful! Not too sweet, and hubby substituted Dekuyper Watermelon Pucker liqueur for the watermelon schnapps. It was as good as it looks. Enjoy!


salt as needed (he used pink salt)  white sugar as needed  1 cup watermelon juice   1/4 cup vodka   1/4 cup watermelon liqueur  2 tablespoons simple syrup  1 lime, juiced


Combine some salt and sugar in a small bowl, and pour onto a small, shallow plate. Moisten the rims of 2 glasses with a piece of watermelon, and dip the moistened glass rims into the salt and sugar mixture; set aside.
Pour the watermelon juice, vodka, watermelon liqueur, simple syrup, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain using a cocktail strainer into the prepared glasses.

Bartender’s Note:
To make watermelon juice, process chunks of seedless watermelon in your blender and then strain through cheesecloth.


Minestrone With a Twist

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

FullSizeRender-4You all know that in my family we love to eat soup, and I take advantage of the cooler weather to indulge my craving for this comfort food. Lysander’s makes wonderful pre-packaged bean combination with the recipe on the back.

Of course, I don’t like to follow recipes. I washed and separated the beans and set them to the side. I sprayed Crisco in a slow cooker and stirred 1/2 cup of chopped white onion and one clove of minced garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil. I turned the slow cooker to high, and got the rest of the items together. I baked one pound of Italian pork sausage in the oven for forty minutes at 325 degrees. After about thirty minutes I added the beans to the slow cooker, followed by two cans of fire roasted tomatoes, six cups of homemade chicken stock, and three cups of water. When the sausage was cooked, I allowed it to cool and sliced it, adding it to the slow cooker. I added 1/4 cup of dry red wine, and then let the slow cooker go at the highest setting until I had to leave for work. Then, I turned it down to the ten hour setting.

When I got home from work an amazing smell greeted me! I prepared about 1/4 pound of ditalini pasta, and placed the cooked pasta in the bottom of the bowl, spooning the soup over the top. Then, for a bit of healthy green and beautiful color, I heaped two handfuls of fresh organic arugula on top. A dusting of grated parmigiana cheese, and I was thrilled with the result. Try it soon and let me know what you think.

Chicken Chili

Thursday, February 4th, 2016
Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili

Sometimes you come across a recipe and you just know it is going to be delicious! We loved it, and decided it would make a super taco filling.


Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray
2 cans (15 oz each) Great Northern beans
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 can (10 oz each) Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves                                                                                      1/2 cup dry white wine                                                                                               Sour cream and lime wedges, optional


Spray inside of 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. I didn’t have chicken stock so I dissolved one bouillon cube in one cup of water. Place chicken on top of dissolved bouillon cube. Drain beans, pour into slow cooker. Pour in undrained tomatoes, add chopped onion, cumin and oregano; stir to combine.
Cover; cook on LOW 10 hours or on HIGH 4 hours.
Remove chicken and pull into shreds with 2 forks, or if possible take out the thigh bones and pull apart in the slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine, stir to combine. Serve chili with sour cream and lime wedges; this adds an elegant finishing touch.


Farfalle Pasta with Exotic Mushroom Sauce

Saturday, January 30th, 2016
Farfalle with Exotic Mushroom Sauce

Farfalle with Exotic Mushroom Sauce

I was in the mood for pasta. The grey day reminded me of New Jersey in the winter—but about thirty degrees warmer. My dull headache due to the barometric pressure made me think of my friends who suffer migraines during this weather, and I’m thankful mine wasn’t so bad.

I found this recipe on I changed the ratio of ingredients to my taste and because I was cooking for two.

1/2 pound uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
2 tablespoon butter
8 ounces presliced exotic mushroom blend
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup or less whipping cream
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Minced fresh parsley (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, shallots, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook 10 minutes, then add garlic and cook  for 2 minutes. Cook until liquid is reduced and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates slightly, stirring occasionally. Remove the skillet from heat.
Add the whipping cream, toss the pasta until coated evenly, then add the cheese, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Toss gently again to evenly coat the pasta. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Garnish with minced fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.



Serve them in a pretty bowl like this from Williams and Sonoma