Skinny Butternut Curry Ginger Soup

There is something about creamy soup that makes fall complete, especially if the ingredients come from the mitten state.  This version of my skinny butternut curry ginger soup taste amazing, and it’s filling, and basically healthy for you.

This little bundle of love butternut squash came 1316 miles from Hudsonville Michigan to get into my bowl of soup & I love him, not to mention the apples coming 1471 miles, from Traverse City Michigan.  Now that it’s November and much cooler, (mid 80’s) the garden has been planted and we can grow some of our own produce.  I can’t even imagine a potato growing in our swampy state!  Sorry I’m leaving a small carbon footprint, sometimes it’s almost impossible to eat “local” in Southern Florida!  Although there is no better place in the states to get produce than in Michigan, just sayin’ 😉

One butternut squash, two sweet potato, one sweet onion & two apples all peeled makes enough for 3 batches of soup, you can freeze whatever you wont be using.

All the ingredients are cut and sliced put in a large roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil, thyme, kosher salt & fresh pepper, then roasted for 1 1/2 hours on 350 degrees.

After they are roasted you can run it through a food processor or even a blender if you don’t have one.  Not the most appetizing photos….taste amazing though.

This is Mr Kitchenaid, he is one of the reasons I love spending time in my kitchen!

Each container (3) of puree makes enough for 4 nice size bowls of soup.  I can’t break down portions because the big guy eats in one serving what more than most families consume in a day!

These are the only other ingredients I use.  I’m sure you could add butter or cream although this is my skinny version.

To finish the skinny soup, use about 3 cups of the roasted vegetable puree,  put in sauce pan and add, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of curry powder.  Everything can be adjusted to your liking.  Or you can use ground ginger and curry paste, anything works. 😉  The amount of broth depends on the consistency of the soup your looking for, you may need to add more than a quart of broth, you can also use vegetable stock if you prefer, this is just what I had in the pantry.  Keep sampling the soup as you go…..and never trust a skinny chef.

Mix the ingredients well and bring to a simmering boil on medium heat.  Serve in large soup bowls and add a dollop of sour cream and raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) to your liking.  You can also sprinkle more curry powder for added flavor.

Bon Appetit!

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Perfect Iced Coffee

I’m sharing the best tasting, easiest iced coffee recipe ever, since I’m way too frugal (yes, I’m a cheep ass, I won’t pay $4 for a coffee) to run down to the local barista for a cuppa’ Joe or  too embarrassed to stand in line & make people wait while I quietly recite my high maintenance java drink such as, “I’ll have ahhh….. Venti, two Pump, three shot, extra skinny soy, no foam, no whip, iced, light caramel drizzle, Caramel Machiatto (pronounced mah-kee-YAH-toe) and can you use French roast coffee with that, please?”  I have read several blogs stating they have simple ways of making iced coffee, some running the water and grounds through a sieve, some using cheese cloth, funnels & other random cooking utensils.

It’s the end of October and still in the 80’s so Iced coffee is still in our vocabulary…..

All you need to brew your coffee is  a tea kettle to heat the water, espresso ground coffee (you can grind your own dark roast beans) and a French press.  You can make your coffee straight up or add cream and spices  and sprinkles to your liking.

I like to use Cafe Bustelo espresso grind, if I’m not grinding my own beans (dark roast). It works well in the French Press & makes a smooth not bitter cup of coffee.

I use 4 HEAPING scoops of grounds, you want it strong so when you pour the coffee over the ice it’s not weak. And just in case your wondering, I’m wearing OPI Plugged-In Plum nail polish, a fall favorite! 😉

Hot water steaming & ready to pour over espresso grounds.

Pour the hot water into the French press filling it to the bottom of the silver rim.

I give it a couple stirs with a wooden spoon because sometimes the dry coffee will rise to to top and not brew.

I let the coffee brew for 4 minutes before I press the coffee.

After you press the filter through the espresso grounds it’s ready to pour over a full glass of ice.

The hot coffee will melt the ice and dilute it just enough for a prefect iced coffee.  If you have leftover coffee keep it in the refrigerator and add just a little water with the ice so it’s not too strong,  this is all done by personal preference.  One pressed pot last a couple days, I love not making coffee everyday because it’s in the fridge ready to go! It still taste fresh too. 🙂

You can add your favorite cream, this season I have already been through pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha, and now on to gingerbread latte.  When the cute little creamers are not available and I have a craving I just use hazelnut or vanilla and add my own sprinkles of ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, peppermint or vanilla extract depending what I’m craving at the moment. You can create any season of your own special coffee for just a couple of cents.

Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream works well too!



Dégustez votre café!

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Mom’s Famous Caramel Corn

Just in case you wanted to know, my mom makes the best caramel corn East side of the Mississippi.  I can remember having popcorn balls as a kid at Christmas time and they were even better than Kilwins!  Mom’s still making caramel corn, sending it in Christmas packages from St. Francisville Louisiana, it’s still absolutely amazing and doesn’t last longer than a day or two.  I’m going to share her not so top secret recipe that she has given me, I have only tweaked it ever so slightly.


  • 2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup (I use dark)
  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (my idea) 😉
  • 6 Cups Popped Pop Corn  (air popped)

Optional:  1 Cup Peanuts

Method to the Madness:

Air popped popcorn works best, I take a medium size brown paper bag, put 1/2-3/4 cup popcorn in it & tape the top shut microwaving it until the popping slows down to about 5 seconds between pops. I do this process twice and it makes enough for this recipe.

In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, salt and cream of tartar.  Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add soda.  Beat down and pour over popped popcorn in large mixing bowl. Stir into corn so all corn is covered. Spread caramel corn parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake 1 hour in 200 degree oven. Cool and store in plastic bags or airtight plastic containers.

Note; If peanuts are used, sprinkle them into caramel corn mixture.

I use my cast iron wok to mix the caramel corn, it’s the largest mixing bowl I can come up with.  A couple times I used the wok to bake it for a hour, I just pulled it out every 15 minutes to stir.

Laid out on a lined parchment paper cookie sheet ready to bake slowly for a hour.

We have Caramel Corn!

Bon Appetit!

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Tis The Season…..Fa la la, Fa la la, LA LA LA

Seriously….. how could I resist these cute ( 32 oz) creamer bottles with scarves?  I *giggle* when I open the fridge.  I almost brought home the whole collection, of course I had a hand full of coupons too!   I forgot my glasses, so I couldn’t even read the writing on the scarves that .50 cents of each bottle purchased will go to Toys for Tots or Coats for Kids Foundation!  You just need to register the UPC code from each bottle online.  This certainly makes me feel better about my sinful purchase!  As for reading, I already know the ingredients in the cream, we won’t even talk about that, out of  sight out of mind!

I opt for full sugar & full fat….I figure I can use high octane version because I watch everything else I eat & drink! 🙂

This is my first Pumpkin Pie Spice cream for java of the season, we’re still drinking iced espresso in the subtropical south, someday soon, we hope it gets below 81 degrees, then maybe we can have hot coffee!  I purposely made myself wait until October because I decorated for Halloween the first week in September….my punishment (timeout).

Iced Pumpkin Pie Espresso Recipe to soon follow, perfect for Indian Summer sippin’ ;D…..

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Summer Wedding Number Two

Now that Aimee has found/captured (pick one) 😉 her prince charming Brandon, summer of 2009 at her cousin Rachel & Andy’s wedding in Michigan.  I think wedding bells were ringing in her head from the first day of that special weekend.  With Aimee living in Michigan & Brandon in Maine, they both acquired a million frequent flyer miles in a short period of  time.

{Cape Elizabeth Maine}

{Spring Break Siesta}

{Gladly she said “Yes”}

{Engagement}   Photo by J Isabel Photography: click here

{Engagement}   Photo by J Isabel Photography: click here

Wedding number two of the summer was Aimee & Brandon just four weeks after Dewey & Ashley’s.  The day started downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel getting beautiful, then on to Post Family Farm in Hudsonville for the wedding ceremony and then downtown Grand Rapids to celebrate at WMU.  Here are just a few of the special day & evening…..

{Make-Up & Hair}  Artist:  Ashley Jo click here





{Poparazzi Jace & Co.}

{Videographers & Photographers}




{Patiently Waited}

{Feeding Goats Before Auntie’s Weddin’}

{Beautiful Carriage Puller}

{Grady & Adlee}

{Arriving Carriage}





{The Lermans}






{Aimee’s Turn}

{Hat, Yodeler & Travolta}

{Oh Boy}

Buckle up, to be continued in Maine……

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Simple Chipotle Salsa

This is a simple smokey zippy chipotle salsa that you can use for chips or slather over a slow roasted pork shoulder & wrap in a warm corn tortilla with avocado slices.  I can’t bring myself to buy gourmet salsa for $3.00-$6.00 a jar when you can pick up jars of marinara sauce two for one every other week at the local grocery or just $1.00 at Target everyday!

I have slow roasted roma tomato’s in the oven with salt, pepper & olive oil, peeled them & chopped to make a wonderful salsa, it’s not tomato season in the deep south so I’m all about jars of cheating sauce. (Oh there’s the Sandra Lee in me,,,*hic*) 😉

These are the ingredients for the chipotle salsa, you can add fresh cilantro to your liking, even peaches or pineapple for a fruit salsa, that always complements the pork or a chicken quesadilla.  Other ingredients I’ve used were black beans & corn over rice.  Use you imagination & go crazy!


  • 3/4 Jar Marinara
  • 1 Can Chopped Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Amber Agave Nectar (can use sugar or honey)
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Thyme
  • 1 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 Tbs. Chopped Cilantro

Method To The Madness:

Mix all ingredients together in a medium size glass bowl with a wooden spoon & serve.  Wow that was easy!  I would only keep in a air tight container for a week, I’m sure you can freeze it in freezer bags as well.

Bon Appetit!

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Two Weddings, Three Receptions, One Summer

Now that it’s the first day of fall I thought I better get blogging on the fantastic summer events that took place!  This post could go on forever, I thought I’d skip right to the wedding photos…… of course after a couple of courting & engagement.

Above is my son Dewey John, along with his lovely bride to be Ashley Jo (don’t ya know)!  This is a classic favorite photo of mine, the “look” is just priceless!  I believe this is early winter 2007.

Spring Break Siesta Key Vacation 2010 proposal eve day. 😉

{Boom} Ashley’s on cloud 9….. How’s that for getting right to the wedding photos?!

I literally took over a thousand photos of the weddings & receptions.  I did steal a couple from Ashley though….. 😉

Dewey, Adlee & Ashley.  I ain’t gonna lie, they are a beautiful family!

They were married on June 10, 2011 at Stonewater Country Club in Caledonia, Michigan.

Adlee, “Say Cheese!”  Ashley’s gown was just breathtaking,  although she could make yoga pants look designer!

Yes, Adlee thought it was {her} photo shoot…..

{Bride & Groom}



My daughter, aka Auntie Aimee & Adlee.



{Michigan Spring}







{Fab Hair}



{I do}

{Entertainment} **twinkle twinkle little star**





{Me & My Johnny}

To be continued:  Aimee & Brandon July 9, 2011 wedding number two to follow………


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Faux Chicken Pho

This is a short and sweet version of Vietnamese Pho (pronounced Fu) that I whip up in no time.  This will be the Sandra Lee version, well almost, minus the booze!  I call it chicken noodle soup that has real flavor.  This recipe is a conglomeration of several recipes that I have tried & liked.  Anything can be substituted, use your imagination & go crazy!


  • 4 Quarts Organic Chicken Broth (No MSG)
  • 1 Whole Chicken Breast Cooked (leftovers with no bones)
  • 16 oz Rice Noodles
  • Large Knob of Fresh Ginger
  • 4 Star of Anise
  • 2 Tbs Colander
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • Small Sweet Onion Cut in Half
  • 1 Stalk Lemongrass Pounded
  • 4+ Tbs Fish Sauce (could use salt aprox 1.5 tsp)
  • 1 Palm Sugar Cake or 3 Heaping Tbs Raw Sugar

Method to the Madness:

  • Pour the chicken stock in a large dutch oven, add fish sauce, and palm sugar.
  • In a mesh cheese cloth wrap up the sliced ginger, onion, cut short lemongrass, anise, colander, cloves & cinnamon.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for a 1/2 hour or more.
  • While simmering, tear up leftover chicken to add to the stock & soak the rice noodles in boiling water according to directions. Sometimes you can’t read the directions because they are in Vietnamese!   Then just Google it!
  • Add the chicken to heat through just before serving, and take out the mesh cheese cloth and discard.
  • In large soup bowls add the drained noodles and a couple cups of broth with chicken over the noodles, garnish with the ingredients below.


  • Mung Bean Sprouts (Asian Market)
  • Thai Basil
  • Lime Wedges
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sriracha Sauce

Bon Appetit!

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Pad Thai (With Shrimp) Kung Sod

Thai food is on the top of my food pyramid love list, it’s everyone’s favorite noodle dish, maybe because it’s the only thing anyone can pronounce on the menu.  Stir-fried noodles with shrimps, egg & chili flakes in a spectacular sauce, garnished with ground peanuts, bean sprouts, chives & lime juice.  Pad Thai mingles, tangy, spicy, sweet & sour together in my mouth, it’s what I think is a perfect harmony of flavors.  Using all fresh ingredients, this is a perfect throw it all in a wok, stir it up dinner.

There are so many recipes for Pad Thai, this one is adapted from a cook book that was given to me from a cute little girl at our local Asian market in Sarasota, then I’ve adjusted it to my liking.

You can substitute chicken breast for the shrimp if you don’t like shellfish.


  • 8 oz Thin Dried Rice Noodles
  • 3/4-1 Pound RAW Shrimp or Prawns
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Bean Sprouts
  • 1/4 Cup Chives (can use green onion)
  • 1 Shallot (can use sweet onion)
  • 2 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Tbs Chili Flakes or a couple squirts of Sriracha Sauce (Rooster Sauce)
  • 2 Tbs Ground Roasted Peanuts
  • 2 Tbs Palm Sugar (can use raw sugar)
  •  2 Tbs Tamarind Juice
  • 2 Tbs Fish Sauce
  • 4 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • Lime Wedges
  • Cilantro

Method To The Madness:

  • Soak rice noodles in boiling that you just took off the stove for 2-3 minutes, or until soft
  • Clean Shrimp
  • Fry chopped shallot & garlic in 2 Tbs of oil over medium heat until fragrant.  Add palm sugar, tamarind juice and fish sauce: stir together.  Remove from wok and set aside.
  • Heat 2 Tbs of oil in wok, add beaten eggs and stir until the eggs are almost set, add shrimp and saute until done.  Add rice noodles, stir for 2-3 minutes and pour the sauce over and stir again.  Follow with bean sprouts and stirring for 2 more minutes.
  • Spoon onto plates & sprinkle with peanuts and chili flakes, cilantro & more bean sprouts along with fresh lime wedges.

A couple key ingredient, fish sauce, made from the first pressing of fermented salted  anchovies & tamarind best described as sweet and sour in taste, and is high in acid, sugar and B Vitamins and, interestingly for a fruit, calcium.  Nom Nom Nom!

Soaking the rice noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

Added the fish sauce, tamarind & palm sugar to the shallot & garlic mixture.

Frying the eggs in the wok, sometimes I beat them first or just let them fry a little before breaking the yolks.  When I cook, there is no right or wrong way, just my way! 😉

Almost set fried eggs ready for the shrimp.

Stir fry shrimp until pink, be careful not to over cook or the shrimp will be the size of a pea.

Shrimp getting pink…..

Now adding the drained rice noodles to the shrimp & eggs.

Adding the sauce & shallot or onion mixture to the shrimp, egg & noodles.

Mix everything together, adding the green onion or chives, sprinkle with red pepper flakes or Sriracha Sauce, add peanuts, cilantro & squeeze lime juice on each plate full.

Bon Appetit!



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Basil & Lime Sorbet

Refreshing icy cold Basil Lime Sorbet is what you make when your given a huge bag of limes in July!  I’m sure I could have made a picture of margaritas & still just might! Our basil is still growing better than weeds this season, last season no one could grow it in Sarasota County, some kind of virus was blowing around and it would just get spots & die. This year we have more than made up for it, I have arranged basil bouquets around the house & also been making hanging bird toys so they have fresh breath. (The Midwest Martha Stewart in me)!

I happen to know a wonderful couple that bring me lemons & limes from the citrus trees in their yard, you can’t even imagine how excited I am to have fresh picked off the tree produce since our HOA’s wont let us have fruit barring trees in the hood.

These limes look pretty perfect so they are getting the TOTAL scrub down!

There’s not a lot that goes into making sorbet, it’s just slightly time consuming squeezing & juicing the limes because when we moved to Florida, I gave my juicer to Goodwill!!  What the hell was I thinking?!  With only three or four ingredients you can make almost any sorbet.

Basil Lime Sorbet


  • 8 Large Limes
  • 4 Cups Basil
  • 2 Tbs Lime Zest
  • 1 Cup Sugar (or less)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water

Method To The Madness:

In a heavy sauce pan add the sugar and water, bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes and let cool to room temperature.   You can zest & squeeze your limes while the simple syrup is cooling. Put the basil in the blender, add simple syrup & with TIGHT fitting lid blend on high for a couple minutes.  Yes, I had a disaster, no photos this time!  Run the juice through a sieve, stir the lime juice & zest into the liquid then pour into a sorbet maker and run for a 1/2 hour.  Scoop slushy sorbet into a glass container & freeze with a lid on.

You can infuse simple syrup with any herbs that you like, maybe mint, lemongrass, even kaffir lime leaves or a vanilla bean to give it additional flavours, just steep your choice in the syrup while cooling.

Ready and waiting for the simple syrup to cool, then mixing it with the basil & blending.

I used 8 limes they were heavy, full of juice & highly acidic.  You can get the most juice from your limes with the least muscle power if you microwave the fruits for 10-15 seconds.

The first burst of power sent green liquid everywhere!  Make sure you get the lid on tight! Just in case you were wondering, my nail polish is OPI Elephantastic Pink! ;D It’s my new summer 2011 pick.

After the bubbles settle, it turns to a deep dark green liquid.

Lime zest is the colored, perfumed and highly flavoured rind of the lime.  Be sure to only remove the coloured rind and not the under-lying bitter white pith.

After straining through a sieve, I then add the fresh lime juice & zest.

Stir together & pour into sorbet maker.  I’m sure if you don’t have one you can just pour into a glass bowl with a lid & freeze for several hours until frozen.  I let this run in the sorbet maker for a half hour until it formed chunky ice crystals.

Spinning in the ice cream/sorbet machine……beautiful!

The aftermath…..

This is still a little slushy before it goes in the freezer, it could be perfect in a glass with a shot of Patron Silver shaken of course.

The seductive sweetness and tangy bite of citrus from the freshest ingredients need not be difficult.

Bon Appetit!

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