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Posts from the ‘Food & Drink’ Category

Bangkok Street Food

I am of the firm belief that some of the best food in Bangkok can be found on the street being sold by vendors set up on seemingly every corner.  I have sampled the most delicious coconut ice cream, served with coconut meat and chopped macadamia nuts and the tastiest “mini pineapple” which my daughter proclaimed was better than any candy.  The following pictures prove my point that whether it was from a cart on the street or inside a market or from a boat that was part of a floating market, food in and around Bangkok may be the best when you are looking at the person who prepared it!


If I could eat on thing over and over again, it would be this Pad Thai.  With a Singha to wash it down!

If I could eat one thing over and over again, it would be this Pad Thai. With a Singha to wash it down!


The epitome of chicken satay. What I’d give to find that on a street corner in my home town!



Nature's Candy!

Nature’s Candy!


Heading to the floating market.

Heading to the floating market.


And to wash it all down...

And to wash it all down…

Deciding what you want to eat at the floating market is the hardest part!

Deciding what you want to eat at the floating market is the hardest part!

Dessert!  Sticky Rice with tamarind and an amazing topping of caramelized coconut.

Dessert! Sticky Rice with an amazing topping of caramelized coconut.

Dessert for Breakfast?

I’m sorry if my title is misleading.  You may have assumed I would be rationalizing eating pie or cake or cookies for breakfast. If you need any help with your rationalization, mine usually goes something like this “if it’s home made, it’s probably healthier than a donut…”  or “if I drink a glass of milk with it, I’ll get some protein.”

But today’s dessert as breakfast discovery is a Cacoa/Avocado Smoothie.  Hear me out on this.  This taste treat was like drinking the most delicious dark chocolate mousse/pudding/truffle for breakfast and being left energized and ready for your day—not ready to crash from your pumped up blood sugar.

Some of the ingredients used in a Cacao Smoothie

Some of the ingredients used in a Cacao Smoothie

I started by looking through the new cookbook from Gwyneth Paltrow “It’s All Good” and found an awesome recipe for a Creamy Avocado + Cacao Smoothie.  Gwyneth doesn’t need my help promoting her cookbook, but I must highly recommend this one.  My wonderful husband gave it to me on Mother’s Day–I think he purchased via the web site, and it was even personally inscribed by Ms. Paltrow.  As a collector of cookbooks, my autographed ones are highly prized and bring back lots of memories for me.  There are also many, many great recipes on the web site–delicious and easy to prepare once you start keeping the ingredients in your pantry.

"It's All Good" Gwyneth's new cookbook.  Via

“It’s All Good” Gwyneth’s new cookbook. Via

So, back to the smoothie–alas, my almond milk was expired.  Plus I was debating adding protein powder for that extra boost to keep me powered through a long Saturday morning of activities and errands.  Here is what I ended up with:


Cacao Smoothie

1 small container goat milk yogurt, plain (giving me that protein boost!)

1 ripe avocado–pitted and scooped out of the peel  (also boatloads of protein here)

1 c coconut water

1/2 t almond extract

1 T raw honey

1 small packet XyloSweet (a xylitol sweetener) or your sweetener of choice

1 T raw cacao powder

1 small scoop ice
Blend all together and presto chango–healthy breakfast!
I’m telling you, this is super delicious.  If you haven’t tried an avocado in a smoothie you really need to get on that bandwagon.  Gives it a great smooth texture and you don’t taste it at all–even with fruit.  I think the pickiest of eaters would even like this if you didn’t tell them what was in it!

Thai Coffee



I’ve been out and about lately–when I found myself in LAX every weekend for four in a row, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Not what you might expect me to say, I know, but if I’m in an airport that means I am coming or going from an adventure and that makes me happy.



When I travel, I love to experience food.  Really, food is my souvenir.  A recipe I brought back from my trip is for Thai Coffee.  This really helps a person make it across time zones, believe me!

Thai Kah-Fe

1 double espresso

2 T sweetened condensed milk

Spoon the condensed milk into a glass of double espresso and allow the milk to settle at the bottom of the glass.  Serve hot with a coffee spoon and stir to combine the coffee and milk before drinking.

Also, completely delicious over ice!!!

This recipe is courtesy of “At the Table of Jim Thompson,” an amazing Thai cookbook.





Lunch & Dessert in NYC

On our recent long weekend in NYC, we spent a fun day strolling from SoHo to lunch in Greenwich Village at Minetta Tavern to dessert at Milk & Cookies.  It was the perfect way to recuperate from the overindulgence of the night before (and I will speak for myself in that department…) and to get a little bit of fresh air.  Although maybe we should have started with lunch and the restorative cheeseburgers and fries and ended with shopping because, really, our hearts and heads were just not into the shopping…

Cozy interior of Minetta Tavern.  It's probably never this empty except when closed!

Cozy interior of Minetta Tavern. It’s probably never this empty except when closed!

Minetta Tavern looks unassuming from the exterior, but the inside was hopping and full to the brim.  It seems that reservations are crucial–at least at noon on Saturday.  The menu is stocked with delicious brunch items and one person in our party veered from the cheeseburger/fries to experience the ham/grits/eggs combo.  The beverage menu looked worth exploring–but Diet Coke is such a perfect complement to a cheeseburger that I couldn’t resist.

Next stop:  Milk & Cookies!  I love this cookbook and was so excited to actually enter the bakery that chef Tina Casaceli put on the map.  It was quaint and adorable and evidently a stop on many walking tours.  It was rated 4.8 out of 5 on the Foods of NY Tours by over 180,000 guests!

We're Open!!!!

We’re Open!!!!

Too many cookies, too little time!

Too many cookies, too little time!

Now that I’m home, I plan on getting out my cookbook to savor some memories from last weekend.  I love the way the cookbook leaves room for some creativity–by providing recipes to five different base doughs, then having examples of how to elaborate on them.  I’ve gotten fond of throwing in my own mix of goodies, depending on what’s laying around, into the various bases.  Try it on a cold winter day!

Happy 100th Birthday Grand Central Station!

On a cold, cloudy day, it was warm and toasty inside!

On a cold, cloudy day, it was warm and toasty inside!

I had never been to Grand Central Station until last weekend.  What was I waiting for?  Even though we weren’t catching a train, we made a pitstop at Grand Central to admire the beauty and grandeur of the structure.  Got treated to a quick flash mob singing Bob Marley’s “One Love.”  It was a perfect Valentine’s Weekend moment!  My only tip would be to plan your visit around the hours of the Campbell Apartment–we missed it by a couple and it sounds like a heavenly place for an old-timey cocktail!  There’s always next time!

Happy 100!  They just don't build them like this any more....

Happy 100! They just don’t build them like this any more….

Easy, Impressive Winter Meal

We’ve had some friends in from Chicago the other evening who are total foodies.  We love to eat, drink and be merry with these guys and their visit was coming mid-week, so going out and about didn’t seem like the preferred option.  While I consider myself a good cook, there was the added pressure of coming up with something delectable and special for these two.  Also, cooking mid-week doesn’t lend itself to anything too elaborate.  It seemed like an impossible challenge–find some quick to prepare, easy to execute recipes that are impressive AND delicious.

Ina Garten and Ree Drummond to the rescue!

I must say I love each and every cookbook I own that these two have published.  They are my go-tos and my fall backs.  Here is the menu I ended up making:

From “The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Food from my Frontier”:  Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cornmeal Cakes and Roasted Vegetables.  For the vegetables I roasted chopped carrots, parsnips and butternut squash. I used fig preserves for the sauce and while I did use the 1 cup of water called for in the recipe to make the sauce, I then needed to boil it WAY down to get the consistency I wanted.  In the future I will start with 1/2 c and see how it goes.

Image via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

Image via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

I also made her Crash Hot Potatoes, from the same book.

Crash Hot Potatoes via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

Crash Hot Potatoes via the Pioneer Woman Cooks web site.

My friend commented that the cornmeal cakes reminded her of her grandmother’s mush she used to make her for breakfast with maple syrup!  I only made half of the recipe called for, but what we didn’t eat on our plates, got gobbled up just by dipping them in the sauce!  Any leftovers would have made a great breakfast treat, but we had none!  I will make the entire recipe next time.

For dessert, one of my all time favorites is Ina Garten’s Brownie Pudding, found in “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.”  The recipe garners 5 out of 5 stars on the Food Network web site.  Need I say more?

Buy this cookbook now!  If you like autographed cookbooks, Ina sells them from her web site!  Fun!

Buy this cookbook now! If you like autographed cookbooks, Ina sells them from her web site! Fun!

The intense chocolate dessert has the best consistency–the top forms a somewhat crunchy crust that yields to an amazing gooey delicious mess of chocolate.   My husband and son rose to the occasion and plated the desserts with fresh raspberries and drizzled chocolate syrup on the plates. I wish I would have thought to take a picture of them, but we gobbled them up so quickly that their artistic efforts weren’t memorialized.  Still, it was a perfect end to another memorable evening of friends and laughter.

Ice Cream or Gelato makes a nice accompaniment to the Brownie Pudding

Ice Cream or Gelato makes a nice accompaniment to the Brownie Pudding

Delish Gift Baskets: American Spoon Foods

I sometime struggle with the gift baskets this time of year. So many sweets flow into our homes that I feel it is nice to have a food gift that can be savored later on. Also, I love to share my favorites from my favorite part of the world.

In the past, we’ve shared Sisson’s Main Street Bakery’s amazing Buckeye Cookies and other goodies and packages of Cherry Republic’s dried cherry products. This year, I found 3 different baskets on American Spoon Foods’ web site that not only do I want to share, but I also want for my own!

Bingo!  Easy, elegant, yummy gifts!

Bingo! Easy, elegant, yummy gifts!

First of all the PB & J Perfection Basket with Koeze smooth and crunchy peanut butter. I love that stuff so much my husband once got me a case of it for a Christmas gift! Then the Michigan Wildcraft Collection caught my eye. Wild blackberries, elderflower, raw honey–I could pretend to be a bear and dig into that box.  I also love that local foragers gather these elusive ingredients.


What ended up in my shopping car was the Pick of the Leelanau box. The award winning Leelanau raclette cheese is our family’s all time favorite and when accompanied by a loaf of Stone House bread and strawberry jam I think I’ve found gift box perfection!

Leelanau Raclette gets scarce in the summer.  But it is back in stores up north!  Woo Hoo!

Leelanau Raclette gets scarce in the summer. But it is back in stores up north! Woo Hoo!

Yummy for your Tummy Breakfast

I’m getting ready to bake up the traditional German Lebkuchen this morning and I know in my heart that I won’t be able to resist sampling along the way.  With this in mind, I decided I should at least start the morning off on a healthy foot and not just get jazzed on java.  So, I just made and devoured a delicious, quick, warm breakfast of Nutty Maple Quinoa.

Two of the ingredients for my quinoa.  I devoured it so quickly I forgot to take a pic of the actual dish!

Two of the ingredients for my quinoa. I devoured it so quickly I forgot to take a pic of the actual dish!

This is my cousin’s recipe and I must share:

12 oz. package quinoa

2 c water

1/2 c dried cherries, chopped

1/2 c raw almonds, chopped

1 T fresh ground cinnamon

1 T maple syrup


Place one cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. (I used 1/2 c quinoa and 1 c water and it was perfect for a hearty individual breakfast).  Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes).   Toss in the remaining ingredients and serve as a warm alternative to oatmeal or cereal.


Of course, in real life, one can short cut the recipe by using what is on hand—I had sliced almonds and already ground cinnamon.  I also just drizzled on the maple syrup to taste and sprinkled the cinnamon.  Those of you who free form recipes like I tend to do will recognize yourself.  Those who like to stick to the measurements will also be rewarded with deliciousness!


Recipe Bonus: High Protein Curried Lentil Soup

Nothing is better in the fall than hearty soup.  This recipe is hearty, but oh so healthy!  I found the original recipe on Closet Cooking’s Blog for Curried Red Lentil Soup.  I tweaked this for my own taste buds.  Feel free to do the same!  The recipe is as good or better after a day or two in the refrigerator.


The finished product garnished with plain Greek yogurt and cilantro

High Protein Curried Lentil Soup


2 T olive oil

3/4 c chopped onion

1 c chopped carrot

1/2 c chopped celery

1 T chopped garlic (used pre-minced or dehydrated if you are in a hurry!)

1 T chopped fresh ginger (again, use the ginger of your choice if looking for convenience–I like frozen cubes I recently found at the co-op)

1 T Curry powder–I use Garam Masala a northern Indian curry blend and Madras Curry Powder–combined to get around 1 T)

1 cup lentils (red are pretty, but any you have are yummy)

3 c chicken stock or veggie broth (additional water added to desired consistency)

1 28 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 T chili sauce (sambal oelek or similar)

1 19 oz. can chick peas (drained and rinsed)

1 c quinoa

salt & pepper to taste

For toppings:

chopped cilantro

Plain greek yogurt

To prepare:

Heat oil in pot you will be cooking the soup in.  Add veggies and saute until tender.  10 minutes or so.

Add the garlic, ginger, and curry.  Stir until veggies are coated.  Smell the deliciousness!

Add the lentils, stock, tomatoes, chili sauce, and quinoa.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender and the quinoa is cooked.  About 15 minutes.  You may need to add water at this point to make it the desired consistency.

Add chickpeas, salt and pepper and warm up.

Garnish to taste with cilantro and yogurt.  Pat yourself on the back for making a super healthy meal!

Other Cooking Closet Recipes I will be trying soon:

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa and Roasted Califlower and Aged White Cheddar Gratin–maybe both for Thanksgiving sides?

Latest Cookbook in the Rotation

“The Daily Feast:  Everyday Meals We Love to Share” is exactly that.  This cookbook is authored by the Graber family, Esther Rose Graber and her six daughters.  I picked up an autographed copy (one of my collecting quirks–autographed cookbooks) at Found, the Graber family gallery in Goshen, Indiana.

I guarantee your price per recipe used in this cookbook will be low!

I love the way the book is set up.  Each family member has a section with 3 meal plans:  a favorite soup supper, a favorite family supper, and a favorite guest dinner.  I also love that the recipes are straightforward, have a normal number of ingredients, and explore the world of spices, flavors, and traditions.  The families travels have taken them to exotic locales and it shows in their cooking.  As our world gets smaller, it isn’t strange or difficult to stock kaffir lime leaves or garam masala any more and this cookbook provides plenty of opportunity to use more exotic ingredients in a context of every day cooking.

I’ve recently made The Turkish Style Chicken Kabobs, Turkish Ottoman Rice Casserole, and the Wilted Spinach Salad.  My son gobbled this up and didn’t seem the wiser that I had mixed components of the family supper with the guest dinner!  I’ve also been in a soup mood, so I made the Potato, Kale and Sausage Soup (using super spicy sausage and extra kale)–another hit with my son. Later this week I plan on making the Thai Ginger Chicken Soup–adding some veggies–thinking green beans and butternut squash and the Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake for a friend’s birthday.

Wow, writing all of that down made me realize how inspirational this cookbook is too.  The recipes are fun, easy and delicious to make and I am thinking about hosting a fall dinner party.  You can’t ask much more from a cookbook!

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