TV Cooking Demos / Cookbook Author / Motivational Speaker

 

Welcome to my website, dedicated to sharing with you my passion for the inspired art of cooking. What is inspired art of cooking? It’s viewing cooking, not as an obligation, but as an inspired, creative art form. It involves taking a few ingredients and creating a masterpiece. When I say masterpiece, the meal doesn’t have to be a fancy, elaborate, gourmet dish. Your masterpiece can be small with a couple of ingredients, as long as you put your heart and imagination into it. From that, you will hopefully be inspired and experience fun and creativity while cooking.  Recipes are born out of creatively mixing your favorite foods and flavors together or by recreating a special dish shared in memorable places or moments with someone special. Inspired art includes experimenting and learning from mistakes. Even though you may feel that you have no cooking skills now, all it takes is a little practice, perseverance, and creativity.

We all feel tired at the end of a long day, and most of us just want to pop something in the microwave to serve for dinner. Maybe you don’t know how to cook or have no interest in it. Yet, inspired art of cooking is not about the food in and of itself. It’s about the blessings you can provide for family, friends, and even yourself. Providing a meal not only brings others joy and smiling faces, but it touches you much more in return. It’s about the sense of community when coming together around the dinner table and sharing in delicious food and togetherness.

Please check back often or subscribe to my website. I’ll be posting new recipes, cooking tips, fun food facts, and my future cookbooks and products. I would love to hear from you! Please share your own thoughts, stories, experiences, and tips.  Also, you may contact me directly through the contact page.

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Holiday Cake Truffles

I know this cooking demo is delayed getting posted on here but life has been crazy busy. On this cooking demo, I am promoting my 2nd cookbook that will be coming out soon. Due to my life being so busy the past few months, the book will not be ready for purchase until May or June.  It is being designed as I write this and I will let you know when you can purchase your copies.

If the video does not show up, click here to watch.

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Seafood Au Gratin – WVLT Chef Walter

I recently cooked with Chef Walter on WVLT Knoxville, TN, making my Seafood Au Gratin recipe from Be Your Own Chef.

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Repelling Mosquitoes with Food

bug sprayLike me, many of you are probably mosquito magnets. Since I despise wearing nasty, sticky bug spray, I figured there had to be some non-sticky options. Interestingly enough, several foods, plants, and herbs are natural mosquito repellents, making that icky bug spray something of the past.

Examples include lavender, rosemary, citronella grass, basil, lemon thyme, lemon balm, lemongrass, cat nip, and pennyroyal. The scents and oils in them act as a repellent to mosquitoes.

Crush the leaves of some of these herbs and plants to bring out their natural oils and fragrances. Then rub them on your body where you tend to get bitten, and those pesky mosquitoes will go and haunt someone else. Before doing this, make sure they are safe for children, as well as woman who are pregnant.

In addition, when you eat a substantial amount of garlic, the fragrance comes through our pores and naturally prevents mosquitoes from wanting to feast on us. Another trick is to rub a cracked clove of garlic on your skin, making sure the oil from the cracked clove is what is going on your skin. Also, by taking a vitamin B1 supplement (25 to 50 mgs three times a day), which is also known as thiamine, it will allow the aroma to come through your pores.

By simply growing marigolds, lemon balm, rosemary, mums, and garlic, just to name a few, the aroma can prevent those pesky mosquitoes from coming around.

Photo Courtesy: Håkan Dahlström

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Getting The Most Out of Your Asparagus

asparagus

What to Look for When Buying Asparagus

  • Choose firm, bright green stalks with tightly closed tips and that are plump in size. If the color is fading or they are limp, that is a sign of being old. Also, check the stems at the bottom to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled up or dried out.

How To Store Asparagus for Longer Shelf Life

  • Fresh Asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. Do not wash your asparagus before you cook it.  You want to keep it in a cool and damp location. One way to store it is to place the unwashed stems/bottoms upright in a container in a few inches of water. Then place a plastic bag over them and loosely cover them. Let them sit like that in a refrigerator until you eat them.
  • Another option is to wrap the unwashed ends/bottoms in moist paper towels, place the bundle into a plastic bag, and place it in the refrigerator.

How to Prep Your Asparagus

  • To trim the stems/ tough ends, pick up one spear and hold it from each end. Then gently bend it with your hands, and where it snaps or naturally breaks, is where to cut off all the other stems.
  • Wash your asparagus only before cooking it by submerging it in warm water to remove any sand or grit.
  • If you purchase thick asparagus, you may need to peel them if the skin is tough. To do so, use a vegetable peeler to peel until you get to the more tender stalk underneath. Do not peel the tips.

How to Cook Your Asparagus

  • Boiling -  In a large pot, boil them in salted water for 5-8 minutes until they are tender crisp.  Salt is optional for added flavor
  • Steaming -  Either keep the asparagus long or cut diagonally into 2-3 inch pieces. Place them in a large pot with a steamer basket, adding water up to the steamer basket.  Steam them for 2-8 minutes or until tender crisp.
  • Sauté -  Cut each stalk diagonally into 2-3 inch pieces. Then place them in a skillet over medium to medium high heat with extra virgin olive oil.  Sauté for about 3-5 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Roasting – After washing them, pat dry and lay them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or on a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with a seasoning of your choice. Using your hands, make sure to evenly distribute oil and  seasoning all over each one.  Then, place in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Cook until tender crisp.
  • Grilling – After washing them, pat them dry. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with a seasoning of your choice. Using your hands, make sure to evenly distribute oil and  seasoning all over each one. Then, place in a grill basket or lay perpendicular in a single layer on your grill so they do not fall through the cracks. Turn every few minutes, making sure you evenly cook each stalk.  Grill them until slightly brown in color and still crisp.
  • Microwaving-  After washing them, place them in a microwave -safe dish, adding about 1/4 cup of water to the dish. Then, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, stopping and stirring every few minutes.

Photo Courtesy: goosegrease

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Overcoming Life’s Difficulties – Speaking Thalia Lynn Baptist, Virginia Beach, VA

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New Recipe – Asian Lemon Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

1 package whole wheat noodles

2-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4-6 chicken breasts (one breast per person)Asian Lemon Chicken Pasta

ground black pepper and salt to taste

1 sliced onion

4-8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms

2-3 lemons

1-2 cloves grated garlic

½ – 1 inch grated ginger

2-4 Tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tsp sesame seed oil

2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds

2-3 green onions, chopped diagonally into ½ – 1-inch pieces.

 

Preparation

  1. In a pasta pot/stockpot on stovetop, bring pasta to boil in water on high heat until al dente (almost done).  Optionally, add salt to water to flavor pasta when water starts to boil.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet on stovetop over medium-high to high heat. When oil is hot, brown chicken in skillet, turning only when chicken pieces release themselves. Flavor with salt and pepper. Once brown, remove and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet over medium-high to high heat, add 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, along with mushrooms and onion. Sauté until onion is translucent.
  4. After veggies are sautéed, add chicken back in, along with lemon juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds.  Mix well.
  5. When noodles are al dente, drain water. Add noodles to skillet with chicken and vegetables. Stir and combine well. Mix in green onion. Serves 4-6 people.

 

Alternatives

Original Ingredient:

Replace With:

whole wheat noodles

brown rice pasta, semolina pasta, or any type of spaghetti pasta

extra-virgin olive oil

canola oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, melted butter/margarine, or non-hydrogenated non-dairy butter

chicken breasts

boneless chicken thighs, steak, pork loin, tofu, or mushrooms only

onion

any type of onion

shiitake mushrooms

any type of mushrooms

lemons

limes

garlic

⅛ – ¼ tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp minced garlic

ginger root

galangal or leave out

soy sauce

Shoyu soy sauce, gluten-free soy sauce, tamari sauce, or teriyaki sauce

green onions

¼ – ⅓ large container chives (chopped)

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Overcoming Life’s Difficulties & Ultimate Layer Dip Demo

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Vitamin D and Weight Loss

Sandbridge

Anyone out there need to shed a few winter pounds with swimsuit season upon us?

Did you know that combining vitamin D and calcium helps your body to maintain and regulate your blood sugar levels, feel full faster, burn fat, and store less fat, which in turn helps you lose weight? Of course you can get vitamin D from both the sun and in supplement form, but the best ways are to eat foods high in vitamin D.  The following foods provide excellent sources of vitamin D:

Fish – Raw fish typically contains more vitamin D than cooked fish. Look for fattier cuts. Also canned fish packed in oil will contain more than when packed in water.  Examples of fish high in vitamin D include raw or cooked Atlantic herring, pickled herring, canned or fresh salmon (raw or baked), raw or canned mackerel, canned sardines, oil-packed canned or fresh tuna, sushi, red and black caviar, oysters, and shrimp.

Fortified Cereals – Read labels to make sure there are no refined sugars or partially hydrogenated oils  included in the ingredients.

Fortified Soy Products - A double bonus – these foods are often fortified with calcium too. Look for fortified tofu and fortified soy milk.

Salami, Ham, Sausages, Bologna, Pork, and Bratwurst are also high in vitamin D. Be careful not to eat too much, as many are high in cholesterol and sodium.

Fortified Dairy Products - Not only are they high in vitamin D, but also calcium. Milk, cheese, and butter are foods to look for.

Eggs and Mushrooms – Slightly cooked white button mushrooms contain the greatest amount of vitamin D.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

2  8-oz packages cream cheese (reduced fat) (room temperature)

½ – 1 cup sour cream (reduced fat)Spinach Artichoke Dip

1-2 cups parmesan cheese (grated and/or shredded)

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (reduced fat)

1-2 cloves grated/chopped garlic

pinch grated nutmeg

ground black pepper to taste

2  14-oz cans artichoke hearts in water (drained and chopped)

1-2 boxes frozen spinach (thawed, drained, and chopped)

olive oil cooking spray

½ – 1 cup tortilla chips (crushed)

2 Tbsp – ¼ cup hot sauce (optional)

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. In a large bowl, add cream cheese, sour cream, ½ mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, and hot sauce (optional). Thoroughly mix with a hand/stand mixer.
  3. Thoroughly combine artichokes and spinach with mixture.
  4. Spray a pie pan/medium baking dish with cooking spray, and add the mixture from the bowl. Flatten so it is evenly distributed.
  5. Add remaining cheeses and crushed tortilla chips on top.
  6. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until top is brown.
  7. Serve with toasted baguette bread, pita chips, tortilla chips, or any type of toasted bread. Serves 8-10.

 

Tips

- Simply grate garlic with a zester/grater to make garlic paste.

- For an alternate way to make garlic paste, peel and finely chop garlic.  Add a pinch or two of salt on top of garlic and rub garlic repeatedly with sides of knife.

- Rub fingers on stainless steel underneath water to remove garlic smell from hands.

- Mashing/cracking garlic first allows for easier peeling.

- When buying garlic heads, look for ones that are tightly held together, firm, and have no give when you squeeze them in your hand.

- If you purchase a whole nutmeg, use a zester to grate.

- To reduce spiciness in a dish, add a little sugar.

- To reduce that burning mouth sensation from spicy foods or hot peppers, drink milk or eat a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt, ice cream, or sour cream. Never drink water, carbonated beverages, or hot tea or coffee to relieve the burning sensation.

- To prevent artichokes from browning due to oxidation, squeeze lemon or citrus juice over top.

- Store dried herbs and spices away from heat and sunlight.

- Store white flour in air-tight containers to prevent bugs. Adding a bay leaf to flour will also keep bugs away.

 

Alternatives

Original Ingredient:

Replace With:

cream cheese (reduced fat)

cream cheese or Tofutti® Better Than Cream Cheese

sour cream (reduced fat)

sour cream, gluten-free sour cream (check labels) soy-based alternative, crème fraiche, soy yogurt, non-fat yogurt, regular yogurt, non-fat Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, or Vegenaise

parmesan/mozzarella cheese

any type of shredded white or soy-based cheese

 (check labels for gluten-free)

garlic cloves

⅛ – ¼ tsp garlic powder or ½ tsp minced garlic

nutmeg

ginger or mace

frozen spinach

fresh spinach (rinsed, sautéed, & chopped) (Sauté spinach in a skillet over medium-high heat with 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, sauté until wilted.)

olive oil cooking spray

Flour of your choice, non-hydrogenated non-dairy butter, or olive oil

tortilla chips

gluten-free tortilla chips (check labels)

hot sauce (check labels for gluten-free)

sriracha, ⅛ – ¼ tsp paprika, cayenne pepper,  crushed red chili pepper flakes, or red chili powder

 

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Finding Your Inner Strength – Speaking at London Bridge Baptist, Virginia Beach

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