Homemade Ranch Pretzels


Extra delicious.  Extra.

Beats any grocery-store bought Ranch flavored chips, cheese curls, pretzels, corn nuts, sunflower seeds, etc…

Takes about 10 minutes to make and packs unbelievable taste!


Put about 26 ounces of pretzels into a large brown paper bag.


Take 1 1/2 teaspoons dill weed and


add to medium bowl.


Grab one packet of this flavor bomb and


add to dill weed in bowl.


Next add 1/2 cup vegetable oil.


Whisk ingredients together.


Pour over pretzels in bag.

Close the bag and shake, shake, shake until all the pretzels are coated with this super-seasoning.

Taste, taste, taste!  Yummmmmmmmmmm……..


Now if there’s any leftover after you and your family are done tasting, store them in a covered container!

Bono Appétit, Ma Chérie!

No more tears – Onions in the Kitchen


Here’s another one of life’s little bothers that I’ve lived with forever, tried a million and one ways to eradicate and finally just threw my hands up in the air in defeat.

Crying when you chop onions.  Or shallots, especially shallots!  Or scallions.  Or leeks.  Most anyone from the onion family reduces you to tears when you slice into them.

It’s not just the crying and the running mascara that’s a pain in the you-know-what.  It’s the persistent stinging and cloudy film over my eyes that makes me crazy.

I’ve tried all sorts of “home remedies” over the years, all to no avail.

  • Clench a wooden matchstick in between your front teeth while you’re chopping the onion.  – This not only made my eyes water, but my mouth too!  I spent the entire time I was chopping the onion with drool cascading down my chin onto the floor.
  • Light a candle before chopping. – Did nothing.
  • Hold your tongue up to the roof of your mouth while chopping. – Tongue fatigue along with the weeping.
  • While chewing gum. – Not only do you still cry, but now you’re mouth tastes like a combination of fresh mint and onion….so gross…
  • Freeze the onion first.  – Well, first of all, you have to remember to freeze the onion before you chop it.  Or freeze all of them.  But then you compromise the flavor, texture and intensity of flavor and good luck peeling a frozen onion!
  • Cut under running water. – Quite a pain in the neck. Slippery onion, pieces washed down the drain, not sustainable!
  • Etc, etc, etc……


The answer???????????


ONION GOGGLES!  The most phenomenal kitchen tool that you shouldn’t live without.

I don’t care who comes over for dinner, my boss, the President, the Pope, when it’s time for me to chop up those shallots I proudly sport these, looking like a dork for a few minutes and yet preserving my perfectly made-up eyes for the evening.

I bought some for my Mom and my 2 sisters.  Unfortunately, my Mom wears glasses and couldn’t use them, as they don’t fit over glasses.  They should really make prescription ones!

However, as it turns out, wearing contacts acts like the barrier between the chemical irritant released by the cut onion and your eyes.  So, it’s worth it for my Mom to put in her contacts before she starts cooking.

If you don’t have a need for contacts however, and would like to avoid any eye burning in the future, get your hands on a pair of these.

If you weren’t sure just how much you loved me before, you will be serenading me with your love songs after you try these out!



YOU plan your romance


I’m here to tell you to plan your ideal romance, romantic date or romantic getaway.


he’s never attempted it.  Or he’s never gotten it right.  Or he doesn’t think about it.  He’s not creative or ambitious romantically, so you always end up at the movies.

That is reality!

The “romantic” ones are either gay (all the good ones usually are, no fair!) or taken, or too experienced with romance, if you catch my drift, or cheesy or they just don’t exist, or

your guy

just. ain’t. like. that.

Don’t wait for something that isn’t gonna happen in this lifetime and then be resentful.  You’ll both be miserable.  Don’t force him or guilt him into being someone he’s not or doing something he’s uncomfortable with.

Grab the reins!

My Mom’s best friend was my surrogate Aunt and someone who just told it like it was.  I hadn’t been married long and hadn’t had kids when she died at the age of 59.  Waaaaay too young.  I miss getting the “real deal” from someone, about life and its many quandaries. My Mom is wonderful, but she likes to tell you how she thinks things should be.

Well, my Aunt used to say that she planned EVERYTHING.  “You think there’d be any romance in my life if I left it up to him?”, she’d squawk, while pointing at her lump of a husband sitting mesmerized in front of a football game on TV.  She’d say that if she hadn’t scheduled nights out, vacations, day trips with their kids, etc, they’d have never done anything.

Plan it.  Your loved one will be relieved not to have the pressure on him.  He’ll love the idea of it, especially if it’s something you love the idea of and since he hasn’t stepped up to the plate with a better one!

Plan the romance you wish for.  Sure, you cannot put words in his mouth, but you may inspire romance with your well-thought-out, well-executed plan.


So, if you’ve been dying to learn how to salsa dance or bird watch in them marsh, if your idea of romance is taking a cooking class or a couples massage or jumping out of an airplane together holding hands, put your plan in motion.


Just be sure to honor your loved one’s fears and aversions…don’t take him to trap lobsters if he gets seasick just looking at the ocean, no matter how badly you want the adventure!

Wondrous Watercress Soup

You can count on the smell of this glorious soup wafting through the kitchen in every household in Northern France, at some point during the winter.

My Mémé made this on a number of occasions and every time I taste the first spoonful, I’m transported back to being 8 years old and sitting in her white tiled kitchen with its large farmhouse sink, in love with her delectable cooking and warm embrace.


It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of watercress before, have never had it or think you might have and don’t think you like it.  I have served this to my Father-in-Law who A) doesn’t like soup and B) doesn’t like anything but hamburgers, steaks and potatoes and he brought home all that was leftover in the pot.

This is wondrous.  Just wondrous.

And is simple to make.  And takes about 1 hour, start to finish.

The blessed trinity of a food dish, amazing taste, ease of execution and done in a flash!

Let the savory adventure begin!


You will be searching for 2 bags of watercress, about 8 ounces in total.  They usually come packaged as 4 ounce bags.  They’ll most likely appear in the bagged lettuces and spinach section of the grocery store.

Open the bags and as you would with spinach, snap off the woody stems, until you’re left with this beautiful pile of them.


You will need 2 red potatoes, medium-sized,


peeled and chopped.


In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons salted butter, over medium-low heat.


Add the potatoes,




a pinch of salt,


and a pinch of pepper.


Cut a piece of parchment paper about the size of the lid of the pot.


Place the lid over the parchment paper and cut around the lid, leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang.


Butter the round of wax paper,


till it looks shiny and pretty.


Place the buttered side of the wax paper facing down into the pot of goodies and place the lid on top of it.   (Not looking as pretty here, let me tell you!  Looks a bit suspicious and if anyone comes over during this cooking process, I guarantee that you’re the talk of the town…”she mixes up all types of things in those potions she makes in that cauldron of hers; leaves, paper…”)


Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Add 6 tablespoons of flour,


and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.


Add 6 cups of Chicken broth and


bring to a boil, simmer and stir occasionally, for another 15 minutes.


Placing a dish towel over the top of the blender before turning it on, purée the soup in batches,


return it to the pot.  Continue until you have this gorgeous color and texture, making sure not to purée all of the potatoes so that you get little bits in every bowl of soup!


Add 1 cup of heavy cream, taste it, and add salt (slowly, tasting between each addition) and pepper to taste.

Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, stirring.


Serve your “witches’ brew” to the townspeople and really give them something to talk about!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

Sure-fire Hiccup Cure

There are two types of hiccups you can get.

  1. The ones that don’t hurt…

2. and the ones that do.

Now the ones that don’t hurt usually only hang out for a few minutes.  They announce themselves by way of a burp and then come on steadily.  These hiccups can be fun, and even funny!  They’ll probably cause you to be the butt of many a joke and make you the popular grown-up among the kids.  And the wonderful thing about them is that just as soon as they arrive, they peter out…

and you breathe a sigh of relief.

The ones that do hurt…these hiccups are absolutely no fun.  They can cause a stabbing pain in your chest, and eventually bring about back pain and even a headache!  And they usually produce an unattractive croaking sound from your mouth without warning.

Hiccups usually present themselves when you have either eaten too quickly, or if you’ve eaten or drank too much.  There are many old “remedies” to the common case of the hiccups, but speaking from someone who experiences them a lot and who has tried all of these, there’s only one that works every time.  Some of the old “remedies” that haven’t worked are as follows:

  1. Swallowing a spoonful of straight white sugar.
  2. Swallowing a spoonful of peanut butter.
  3. Swallowing a spoonful of vinegar.
  4. Swallowing a spoonful of dill.
  5. Swallowing a spoonful of hot sauce.
  6. Swallowing a spoonful of hot chocolate powder.
  7. Swallowing a spoonful of honey.

Let me just save you the torture and tell you that the only thing that’ll happen when you swallow these “spoonfuls” is unquestionable weight gain, bad breath, dry mouth and a bad attitude.  Oh yes, and of course you’ll still be suffering the annoyance of your hiccups.

8. Pulling on your tongue.  (This remedy must be real old.  Like, we’re talking Medieval times…I’d rather have hiccups, thank you very much.)
9. Breathe in and out of a paper bag.  (Yeah.  Because those are readily available at the office, etc.)
10. Have someone scare you.  (Look, how can someone scare you if you know it’s coming?  And besides, are you always around people when you get the hiccups?)

Now look at all of these “remedies” and tell me which you could convince your 2 year old to do in the midst of their hiccup bout?

Here’s the ONLY method I’ve found that works, every time…


Put a paper towel over a glass of water; cover it completely.  Drink through the paper towel.  Count, “one one-thousand, two one-thousand, etc” till at least 10. 



You’re welcome!



Parmesan Baked Potatoes


Oh my.  A must-have as a go-to!

Crunchy, slightly cheesy, salty and utterly amazing…

Let the savory adventure begin!


Peel 7 medium white potatoes and chop into chunks.

Place in a large bowl of water while you assemble the seasoning bag.


Roll down the sides of a plastic, ziploc bag and add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to it.


Then add 1/2 teaspoon salt,


1/2 teaspoon Lowry’s or Season-All seasoned salt,


a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a heaping 1/4 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.


Drain potatoes and place them all in the seasoning bag.   Don’t try the next step without first “zipping” up!  Ok, now you can shake the potatoes and try, try, try to evenly distribute the seasonings.  You want each little cube of potato to impart that salty, cheesy splendor…


Put a little vegetable oil, 1-2 tablespoons, in the bottom of a cookie sheet/sheet pan.  And then (Oh yes I did!) you dot the potatoes with butter.  Plenty of butter dotting going on here.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, turning once during baking.  Turn heat up to 425 degrees and cook them for about 10 more minutes, scraping the bottom of the sheet pan with your spatula, to get that beautiful crisp to each side of them.

Add salt….and enjoy!


Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

Crime & Punishment was Murder!


In the beginning of January, I was sitting down at my favorite local Mexican joint, enjoying a cold cerveza, and trying really hard to concentrate on the hefty read I had in front of me.  I don’t know what it is about the onset of winter, probably that the cold weather forces me to spend many hours indoors, but I always find myself making a list of classics I want to read before beach weather.  I was approached by a man who said “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but why did you choose to read Crime & Punishment”? I proceeded to tell him that I was looking to read a bunch of classics that I feel as though are constantly referenced in conversations.  And he joked, “Conversations with English Lit majors?  Because that’s about all that major was good for…discussing Dostoyevsky…case in point…(pointing to himself)!”

Ok. I realize that this should have probably been read in high school, or college. When it’s expected that you have to read absurdly long, dry books with numerous ponderings and monologues and soliloquies. When you have the time to do it and when being introduced to the philosophies of most classics is fresh and new and exciting for you.  And you have others to discuss it with.

Not gonna lie…this was an arduous read.  It does feel like an accomplishment that I finished it!

This book tackles the human conscience.

It follows the protagonist as he commits 2 murders and lives with it, a prostitute practicing against her will and a rich scoundrel preying on unsuspecting young women.

It shows how humans cope when their actions go against their moral values.

  1. Suicide
  2. Turning to Religion
  3. Making Gods of themselves – above it all; consider themselves someone to whom more is permitted than to others
  4. Justification – others have seized power through awful, dishonest means & have not been persecuted for it, why can’t I?
  5. Trying to make amends by doing more good things to make up for the bad.

It portrays the difference between characters who feel remorse vs those who feel no remorse.

And for the character that doesn’t feel remorse, the end of the book promises the possibility of a resurrection, or a new life view.  Life replacing logic.

Interesting discussion points, but not certain what the big deal was with this book!

Get the cliff notes if you haven’t read it and want to speak intelligently about it…


Silky Lasagna

Have you ever heard of it described this way?


Ah.  Well then, you will need to experience its silkiness firsthand.


Let the savory adventure begin!


****Preheat the oven to 350 degrees****



Add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.


Once the oil is hot, add in 1 small yellow onion, diced,


and 2 garlic cloves, minced.  Stir and cook until onion begins to become translucent and your house smells like Italy, about 5 minutes.IMG_8608

Stir in two 16-ounce cans (or 1 28 oz can is fine) of whole, peeled tomatoes,


a 6-ounce can of tomato paste,


1 tablespoon sugar,


and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.  Stir together.


Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, till sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.


While your pasta sauce is resting, pot on a large pot of very salted (as in as salty as the sea) water to boil for the lasagna noodles.


Cook until barely al dente, as they will keep cooking when in the oven!  Drain.



In the meantime, you will need to chiffonade 2 tablespoons of a basil, (which basically means slicing basil into ribbons…super-easy…let me show you how it’s done!)

Take a bunch of basil leaves,


roll them up tightly into a little log,


and slice into thin ribbons…that’s it!


After the 20 minutes is up, puree the sauce in a food processor.  Return to saucepan.


Add ribbons of basil to your tomato sauce in the saucepan, stir and set aside.  It’ll be introduced to the meat momentarily, and ohhhhhh, will they ever get along well!



Brown meat in a large skillet, over medium heat.  Drain excess fat.


Add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crumbled in your hand to release the flavor, to the meat.


Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and


1/2 cup dry red wine (Please, please use a wine that you would drink yourself, not a “cooking wine”.  It’ll make all the difference and you can do like Julia Child and have a little glass as you cook!) and cook and stir for about 5 minutes, until all of the alcohol has been cooked off.


Stir in the reserved pasta sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.




In a medium bowl combine 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, with 2 eggs,


a 15-16 ounce container of Ricotta cheese,



a heaping 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,


and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.


Mix together thoroughly.




On the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan, spread 1/2 of the meat mixture.


Top with half of the lasagna noodles.


Spread 1/2 of cheesy mixture on top of the noodles and


sprinkle with half of the 4 cups (1 pound) of mozzarella which you’ve shredded.


Repeat the layers, starting again with the meat sauce,


and ending with the remainder of the beautifully shredded mozzarella.

Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes, till bubbly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Just so you know, as mind-blowing as this will be the first night that you serve it, it will only get more delicious with each passing day!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!


Double Chocolate Brownies


Oh. Yes. I. did.

I have made delectable brownies into something heaven-sent!

No, they do not have a cakey consistency.

No, they do not have a fudgy consistency.

They have a perfect, brownie consistency.


Perfect as in the first time I made them for my Mom, she asked me if they were a box mix!


Let’s Bake!

You’ll need 1 stick of unsalted butter,


cut into 1 inch pieces,


and melt in microwave.  Set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups white sugar,


3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder,


(I use Ghirardelli cocoa because it’s the most delicious cocoa possible, but you can use any that you’ve got on hand!)


and 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Whisk together.


Pour in cooled butter, in steady stream, whisking constantly.


Whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.


Now add 1 egg, and whisk with all your might.


Ok.  Now add the other egg and whisk, just as forcefully!


Almost done!  Just keeps getting more delicious from this point on…

Gently mix in 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, until just combined.


Take 1/4 pound of glorious, semi-sweet chocolate (I’m using Callebaut, which is French for “no comparison”, is magnifique and can be found in most grocery stores now) and


using a serrated knife, saw into it to get some uneven chunks and shavings,


like so.


Gently fold all the chunks and shavings into the brownie batter, sneaking in a few bites of chocolate and a few licks of the spatula, of course.  Do not overmix!


Scrape batter into a greased 8 x 8 x 2 ” pan.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is cracked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.


Cool in the pan.


Serve warm or cool, with or without ice cream, and try your best to share them!

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!



Bacon with a side of Lilac Blossoms?


Yuck!  Where did that combo come from?

Well, let’s start with the delicious smells that come from your kitchen when you cook…

Ahhhh.  The smell of fresh garlic cooking in butter on the stove.  The aroma of bacon frying.  Or meatballs steeping in tomato sauce.  Or apple pie straight from the oven.  Or the chocolatey smell of warm brownies. Or the smell of a Bounce sheet, shoved up your nose, while you’re trying to enjoy your shrimp scampi….

Wait, what?

That’s right, that wonderful scent of fresh laundry, the Bounce sheet or “Fluffy Towels”, overwhelming your entire sense of smell while you are attempting to eat dinner.

The two worlds of scent, though both so very lovely each in their own right, collide like oil and water.  They just do not mix.  Nobody wants a strong whiff of pine tree sap when they are cutting into a delectable rib-eye.

Whether your aim is to cover up an unpleasant odor in your house or in a room in your house, or you seek to transport yourself and/or guests to a tropical oasis with your “Bahama Breeze” candle, please, please, please make sure that you extinguish it at least 1/2 hour before you serve any type of food!

It can be extremely unappetizing to bite into a sausage stuffed mushroom, which has an incredible savory flavor, only to be assaulted by a waft of the cloyingly sweet and floral notes of “White Gardenia”.

Don’t be afraid to let the aromas of food be the “candles” in your house.

There’s a time for everything.  And around the time that you mean to serve any type of food at all, even if it’s candy and nuts and cheese and crackers, is not the time to have a lit, scented candle as the centerpiece of your table.

But, if you do love the ambience that scented candles evoke, by all means, have them lit when guests arrive.  Then, extinguish them a half hour before you put any food out and enjoy the rich perfume of all the herbs and spices.

And, if you’d like, light your candles back up after all food has been put away and everyone has had a chance to forget about it!

Bottom line:  go ahead and get that candlelit dinner for 2 ready for Valentine’s Day.  Just make sure they’re unscented!