Health Benefits of Nuts and the Ultimate Grilled Cheese

I love adding nuts to pretty much everything, including my ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. Check out my secret for always have totally melted cheese.

I absolutely love nuts, all kinds of nuts, and I put them in pretty much everything. Nuts are a healthy addition to your diet (good thing for me) and add flavor and texture. Some tout them as a healthy snack but the problem with nuts is that they are high in calories. I find it hard to control portions when I’m snacking on them so I prefer to add them to my food. I put them in salads, stir fries, frittatas, pasta, and even my favorite grilled cheese sandwich, which I call the ultimate grilled cheese. Health Benefits of Nuts I think most people have heard that nuts are “heart healthy” but they also have other benefits. Research shows that people who eat nuts tend to be leaner and less prone to some diseases compared to people who don’t eat nuts. Nuts are packed with protein and most nuts contain at…

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Cooking for One — My Favorite Meal

When you are single, cooking for one can sometimes be a challenge. Here's my favorite go-to meal. It's quick, easy, with clean up that's a snap.

When you are single, cooking for one can sometimes be a challenge. Sure, I like casseroles, soups and roasts and have my freezer stocked with leftover meals, but a single person can’t cook like that every night. The freezer would be overflowing in no time. And what do you do if you forgot to start the slow cooker or even take something out to thaw? Of course, you can thaw one of your leftover meals in the microwave but what if you want something fresh and simple? When I buy chicken thighs/breasts, pork chops or salmon, I lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once they are frozen, I seal them with my FoodSaver. I can take them out one or two at a time and they thaw pretty quickly, but I can also give them a little help thawing in the microwave if I…

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Pasta with Pumpkin Cream – Not Just for Fall!

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage - my version of a delicious dish we had at Villa Toscano from Chef Tim Benham.

Several weeks ago, the Vineyard Vixens had a pasta dish for lunch at Villa Toscano that we all just loved. Executive Chef, Tim Benham, explained his process to us and told us the ingredients but didn’t give us any specific amounts. I played with the recipe and tweaked it until I came up with a version that I find quite yummy. I’m calling my version of this delicious dish Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage. The original dish had an even longer name! One of the ingredients of the dish is soy sauce soaked, roasted pumpkin seeds. There weren’t any on the portion I got from the buffet at Villa Toscano so I didn’t get to taste them. I thought this sounded like an odd ingredient but, what the heck, he’s the chef, right? So I made them. You just might want to make up a bunch for…

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5-Minute Microwave Fudge

Here is the microwave version of my Vino de Mocca fudge as promised. I think you'll love this quick and super easy microwave fudge.

For a while now I’ve been promising a microwave version of my Vino de Mocca fudge. I love that old-fashioned version but I learned the hard way why it is considered an “expert” level recipe. The first time I made it, it was perfect. The second time, my arms started giving out and I didn’t stir it the full length of time. It turned out like a brick! That really spurred me on to work on this microwave version. I had this 5-minute microwave fudge recipe ready a while back but I’m so glad I didn’t get the post finished until after I visited Allspicery in Sacramento. The habanero sugar I purchased there added such a special touch. This microwave fudge recipe is a version of a recipe my mom used for years — probably since microwaves were invented in 1947. Well, maybe not that long, but I had no idea that…

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Don’t Throw Out Your Sourdough Starter – Dutch Baby Pancakes

Instead of throwing out your sourdough starter when you feed it, try these moist, creamy Dutch baby pancakes. They are great for any meal and dessert!

I enjoy each and every one of my Saucy Sisters meetings but when I learned that we were going to be doing sourdough I was kind of excited. I haven’t done sourdough since I was in my 20s. Hmm, is that a theme? So many things I haven’t done since I was a young woman that I’m starting to reconnect with. Anyway, as I was saying, I was pretty excited about our sourdough meeting. I first started doing sourdough after a trip to San Francisco and bringing home a San Francisco sourdough starter kit. Like most things I do, I jumped into it with both feet, and started making sourdough bread almost weekly. And then I remembered why I quit doing sourdough. In order for your starter to be ready for you to use, your container has to sit out on the counter and you have to feed your starter daily. As someone on another…

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Alternate Ways of Baking Pizza

Ever since I got to make pizza in a wood-fired oven I've been craving it. I didn't want to turn on the oven so I researched alternate ways of baking pizza.

Ever since the Saucy Sisters baked pizza in a wood-fired oven for one of our meetings, I’ve really been craving pizza. I hardly ever have pizza for a couple of reasons. First, it isn’t the most low-calorie food. Second, as a single person, I always have so much left over. I do like leftover pizza but baking pizza fresh is so much better. I don’t have an outdoor oven yet, and probably won’t get one until next spring. It’s been so hot I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven so I experimented with a couple of other ways of baking pizza. The Pizza Dough To make this a really simple process, you could buy already made pizza dough or frozen dough but I like doing things from scratch — most of the time. Ever since I discovered the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day way of making bread, I…

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Wine Lovers Vino de Mocca Fudge

Vino de mocca is a luscious dessert wine infused with natural coffee, chocolate and orange flavors and makes this fudge recipe especially decadent.

Kelly and I were headed back up the hill after a day at Horse Expo in Sacramento. Since it was still early, we decided to stop off at Drytown Cellars. I had been wanting to get some of their Vino de Mocca ever since I first tasted it a few months ago and just kept forgetting to stop and get it. Kelly tasted it at the Divine Affair fundraising event we attended at Jackson Rancheria recently and she liked it too. It is a luscious dessert wine infused with natural coffee, chocolate and orange flavors that pairs deliciously with chocolate. Almost Local Vino de Mocca I’m going to be heading to a pet blogging conference in about a week and I thought it would be fun to take a local wine to share with some of my blogging friends that I’ll be meeting up with. Turns out, the Vino de Mocca is not as local as I…

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Not Your Mother’s Oatmeal

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet up in Santa Rosa with a friend from Southern California. It’s almost a three hour drive for me but a lot closer than Southern California so I was excited to get together with her. It was her 65th birthday and she was having to spend it at a work conference. She came up a couple of days early to do a little celebrating and asked me to join her for part of the weekend. After a rocky start, including a three hour wait to get a taxi from the airport and a less then suitable room at the hotel, she finally had accommodations she was happy with, had been out on the town for the evening, and had a good night’s sleep by the time I arrived. She needs two hip replacements as well as a knee replacement and it’s hard for her…

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