Steel Cut Oats


I normally enjoy a bowl of old fashioned oats for breakfast. Trying to be a bit healthier, I recently added steel cut oats to my breakfast repertoire. But what is the difference?

Old fashioned oats take less time to cook. They take a total of three minutes on the stove top. Nice! Who doesn’t have three minutes to spare in the morning? The reason for the quick cook time is that the oats are steamed and flattened when processing. This process does away with the bran and other nutrients that take longer to absorb water when cooking.

Steel cut oats take 15 to 20 minutes on the stove top. Oh, well that is a bit longer, isn’t it. Why do the steel oats take longer to cook? It has to do with the processing of the oats. The steel cut oats are made by chopping hulled oat grains into small pieces with a steel blade, hence the name – steel cut. This allows the oats to retain bran which needs more time to absorb the water when cooking.

Steel cut oats, while creamy, are chewy and hardier than the old fashioned oats. They also have a nutty texture that reminds me of eating bulgar, but creamier than bulgar. By the way, steel cut oats are also known as Scottish or Irish oats.

My take on steel cut oats…It’s a thumbs up from me. I like the texture. I like the bonus nutrients. I do not even mind the extra time. I have gotten used to putting them on the stove before I start fixing my other breakfast items. Oh yes, I have quite a spread for breakfast. I think it may be my favorite meal of the day.


Korean Hotdogs (aka Corndogs) Review


What exactly is a Korean hotdog? It is similiar to a corndog but without cornmeal. The batter is made with yeast and flour instead. After the batter is applied, it is rolled in panko crumbs and deep fried. Toppings vary but the Korean way appears to be a coating of sugar.

I found the recipe for the Korean hotdogs and decided to give it a try. I liked how the batter turned out. It was sticky yet managable and easy to roll around the hotdog. I actually rolled the batter with a tiny rolling pin, being careful not to press down too hard as the dough was supposed to be sticky and I did not want to add flour to it. After surrounding the dogs in the batter, I rolled them in the panko which adhered easily. Some recipes for regular corn dogs have left me with such a mess. The batter usually gets all over and is hard to keep on the dogs. This was not the case here. I was enjoying the process. Making the Korean hotdogs was easy and did not take long except for the hour rise time for the batter.

As for the taste of the Korean hotdog? I liked them. They are not as sweet as corndogs. (unless rolled in sugar) They crisped up very nicely when fried. I dipped mine in ketsup and mustard as I would a regular corndog.

Give it a try! I found the recipe at:

As always, Bon Appetite!

My Take on…The Apprentice My Life in the Kitchen- Jacques Pepin

Book Reviews

I was gifted the book The Apprentice My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin. It is a biography written by Jacques Pepin of his life, how he came to be an apprentice in the kitchens of France, how he came to America, and how he became a televsion personality and cookbook author. And what would a biography of a famous cookbook author be without recipes sprinkled throughout the book? This book does not disappoint.

Jacques Pepin had me hooked on this book from the beginning. It is far from dull! Pepin, obviously a humorous man, told laugh out loud stories from his childhood and beyond. There were also interesting looks into the life of the little boy he was during war torn France during WWII. Of course, there were plenty of details into the life of an apprentice in the many kitchens of France. Upon coming to America, Pepin, always a hard worker, detailed the many jobs he had and the choices he made that led him to become a famous chef. Every chapter highlights a recipe with an introduction, in Pepin’s own words, as to what makes the recipe special.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Apprentice My Life in the Kitchen! What a fascinating life. I would say a lesson learned by reading this book would be to do what you love and to enjoy life to the fullest. And of course to eat good food. I highly recommend reading a copy of this book. It would also make a wonderful gift to anyone interested in cooking.

As always, Happy Reading!

Making English Muffins


My husband and I decided to make English muffins. Could these compare to those bought in the store? We had to find out.

To make the English muffins, we started the day before as they needed time to rise and rest. The dough was made using a stand mixer with dough hook. No kneading involved. Gotta love that! The dough was set to rise and then divided into twelve balls and placed on a sheet with cornmeal and covered with plastic wrap. The next step was interesting. Another cookie sheet was placed on top of this, to weigh down the muffins. All this was set in the refrigerator to rest overnight.

In the morning, my husband and I browned batches in cast iron pans on the stove top, flipping to cook both sides. The muffins were then put into the oven to finish cooking until they reached around 205 degrees when poked with a thermometer.

So, how did the English muffins turn out? I really enjoyed them. They were delicious. Mine was cut in half and toasted in the toaster. I then smeared margarine on top. This is my muffin topping of choice. In my opinion, these were much better than any brand of English muffin I have purchased before. The texture was good, they toasted well, and they were fresh. A keeper, I would say.

The recipe (which includes helpful pictures) can be found in the cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen – Bread Illustrated.

My English Muffin

As always, Happy Baking!

Homemade Sushi


My daughter likes sushi and decided to make her own sushi at home. This was new to our kitchen, so she found a recipe on-line and we watched a video on how to accomplish this dish. But first she needed supplies.

From the video, we could see that a sushi mat (small pieces of bamboo tied together into a bendable mat) would be an essential tool in the making of the sushi. So, we ordered a set to pick-up curb side. The set was very nice. It also came with a flat, fat wooden spoon to smooth the rice onto the mat and a pair of cute chop sticks. All for under four dollars.

Next, for the food items. She would be using sushi rice (rice especially made for sushi because it turns out nice and sticky), fresh alvacado, cucumber, wasabi, lemon juice, sheets of dried seaweed, and instead of the traditional imitation crab legs, canned salmon. These are the basic indredients for the California Sushi Roll. No raw fish for us.

My daughter made the sushi by first covering the sushi mat with saran wrap. Do not skip this step if deciding to try this at home. This keeps the rice from sticking to the mat. The mat is basically a turning/rolling device that helps to form the rolled sushi. Next, she used the wooden spoon to pat down rice onto the mat. Then she put a sheet of seaweed on top. On top of this, she added the alvacado mixed with lemon juice, cucumber, and salmon. Now it was time to roll it all up. This step required a bit of patience. I think watching a video of the process helped out a lot. After rolling it into a log, my daughter put it in the refrigerator overnight.

My daughter, the sushi chef, hard at work.

The next day for lunch, I was offered some sushi to try for myself. Not a big fan of seaweed, I opted for a small bite. My daughter sliced the log into bite sized portions and squeezed a bit of wasabi onto the plate. I was told only a small bit of this was needed as it was very hot. She also put soy sauce into a dipping bowl to dip the pieces of sushi into before eating.

I sat down, ready to wrinkle my nose up a bit. I tried using the chop sticks, however, I think I need to practice with those a bit more. A spoon ended up being my utensil. With a bit of wasabi on top, into the soy sauce it went, and then into my mouth. My daughter was right, only a bit of wasabi is needed. It was hot but tasted good. To my surprise, the seaweed did not taste like the ocean (maybe the wasabi covered the taste) and I actually enjoyed the sushi. Job well done daughter dear!

As always, Happy Cooking!

Baking Bagels for the First Time


I decided to try making homemade bagels. I opted for a recipe I found for Montreal Style bagels. The recipe looked simple enough, and it was.

The bagels were put together quickly using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. After that, they were set to rest for half an hour, shaped into bagels, and set to rest for another half hour. They were then tossed into a pot of boiling honey water, flipped to boil the other side, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and popped into the oven for fifteen minutes.

My taste testers agreed that they were good enough to make again. I was quite pleased as to how fool-proof they were to make. I think I shall be trying other versions of bagels soon. My son has requested his favorite cinnamon raisin bagel. I am sure the options are endless…

Boiling the bagels.
Out of the pot and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Ready to eat!

As always, Happy Baking!

Dreaming of Chickpea Soup


This Chickpea Soup is my new favorite. I have caught myself craving it at night. It is so yummy! It is such a quick and easy soup to make. As with most soups, one can add or subtract an ingredient or two as needed. The version in my picture was made the day after Thanksgiving, so I added leftover pieces of shredded game hen. Usually, however, this is a meatless soup for us. Let’s get started…

Chickpea and Kale Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small green pepper – diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch of each: oregano, thyme, basil, sage (dried)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomatoe (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes (canned) (looks pureed)
  • small bunch of kale (rinsed and torn into small pieces)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • freshly shaved parmigiana cheese or crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in a pot. Add the green pepper, onion, garlic, herbs, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are barely tender, 4-5 minutes. (Do not brown the onions.) Add the chickpeas, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add the kale, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of cheese.

As always, Happy Cooking!

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta


Spaghetti with meat sauce is not the only way to eat pasta. I felt like a lighter dish last night. So I decided to head to the Mediterranean.

My recipe for Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is a quick and easy, healthy dinner choice. Ready to try it? Let’s get started…

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

2 cups of dried pasta (I used mini penne…but bow-tie would also be nice)

1 (5 oz.) can of tuna packed in water (drained)

1/3 cup or so Jar of Roasted Red Peppers (drained) (I buy the jar that is julienned)

1/4 cup sliced black olives (drained) {optional}

2 Tbsp olive oil

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Boil water in a medium pot. Cook pasta for 10 minutes or according to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, pour the olive oil in a medium saute pan and heat over medium heat. To this add the tuna, olives, and peppers. Saute for a few minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the boiling pasta water into the pan. Stir and continue to cook until incorporated and slightly thickened. Do not over cook this, or reduce the liquid.

Drain the pasta and pour into a serving bowl. Pour the tuna mixture over the pasta and toss to incorporate. Serve topped with crumbled feta cheese.

As always, Bon Appetite!

It’s Fall…Time For Lentil Soup


It is finally beginning to feel like fall here in SoCal. We received frost on the ground a couple of nights ago, which seemed early for us. The leaves are starting to drop and a few are even changing colors. It is nothing compared to New England, but if one observes closely, the subtle changes are there. With fall in the air, I thought it a good time to make Lentil Soup.

Lentil Soup is an easy meal to make. It does require a bit of time on the stove, however, one can go about their business while the soup simmers. I like to serve warm biscuits or cornbread with my Lentil Soup. Here is the recipe…

Lentil Soup


1 tsp olive oil

1/4 c onion- diced

2 medium carrots – diced

1 green pepper- diced

1 clove garlic- minced

32 oz. Chicken Broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) (undrained)

1 cup dried lentils (rinsed and drained)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

fresh or dried parsley (to taste)


After chopping all the vegetables, heat the oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add carrots, pepper, and onion and cook until softened a bit. Then add garlic and cook until the aroma of garlic is in the air.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and lentils to the pan. Sprinkle in the thyme and salt. Turn the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 60 minutes.

When the timer goes off, add the balsamic vinegar and parsley and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

That’s it!

As always, Happy Cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal


I was in the process of making my morning oatmeal when it dawned on me. We were out of brown sugar. Oh no! I knew we ran out yesterday. Just did not go to the store to replace it yet. That was not a way to start off my morning.

But I was not bothered for too long. A thought came to me of how to save my morning oatmeal. I was already making fried apples with cinnamon. Why not top the oatmeal with these instead!

So, I finished the apples which I was sauteeing in butter with a sprinkling of cinnamon and then decided to add a teaspoon of regular granulated sugar to give it just a bit of sweetness. I usually do not add sugar to the apples, however, since sugar is added to apple pie filling, I thought I would give it a go. I plated the apples and then topped it with my old fashioned oatmeal. Not bad, but I am adding brown sugar to my shopping list.

As always, Happy Cooking!