Sunday, March 2, 2014


For this year's Mardi Gras, I decided to try my hand on making Jambalaya. This recipe is based loosely on recipes by Emeril Lagasse (a celebrity chef from Massachusetts) and my Aunt Mary (born and raised in Louisiana).

Most of the ingredients I used were organic. The chicken and sausage are from Applegate; the vegetables are from Green Yums. Both are NJ-based companies... hence the title "Jersey Jambalaya."

This is a great recipe to use up leftover meats and veggies (I threw in some cooked carrots I have left over... although I will acknowledge using veggies that are not in the Holy Trinity makes it more Jersey than New Orleans). And although I have brown rice listed, most recipes call for white. What I'm trying to say is that it's hard to miss this one up.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!



  • 2 cups of brown rice 
  • 4 cups of chicken stock 
  • 2 cups of water 
  • 1 package of andouille sausage (12oz)
  • 1 package of chicken strips (8oz)
  • 1/2 lb sea scallops or deveined shrimp
  • 1 large white onion, diced 
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 bunch of scallions or two celery stems, chopped 
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter 
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes  (14-16oz)

Seasoning mix
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped bay leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper  


  • Melt butter in a dutch oven. 
  • Add onion, scallions, and peppers to pot. 
  • Saute until onions are golden and translucent. 
  • Add tomatoes, seasonings, chicken, sausage, water, broth, and rice. 
  • Stir until well mixed. 
  • As you can see, it will look very soupy.

  • Put the lid on the dutch oven. 
  • Bake at 375ยบ for 25 minutes. 
  • Stir. 
  • Bake for 25 more minutes. 
  • Stir and add scallops. 

    • Bake for 10 additional minutes. 
    • Serves 6 hungry revelers.
    NOTE: This may be a bit too much for Northern palates. If that is the case, have some extra plain rice or greek yogurt on the side to temper the spice.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    The Dirty Dozen: Fruits and Vegetables High in Pesticides

    The Environmental Working Group has determined what produce items have the highest amount of pesticides this year. If you are not able to buy all organic, consider only purchasing organic versions of the following: 

    • Apples
    • Strawberries 
    • Grapes 
    • Sweet bell peppers 
    • Nectarine (imported) 
    • Spinach 
    • Celery 
    • Peaches 
    • Cucumbers 
    • Potatoes 
    • Cherry tomatoes 
    • Hot peppers

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    DOLLAR DINNER SERIES The "What Came First" Soup (Chicken/Egg)

    I will start posting some of my budget meals in this blog. 
    And I thought I would start with this... Because I love soup. 

    Not as much as I love my family and friends. But pretty darn close. Some days I would eat soup at every meal, and not because I was sick.

    Leftovers are the perfect excuse to make soup. See what's in the fridge, throw it in a pot with some broth and rice or noodles and voila: Soup! Today I made what I call "What Came First" Soup: chicken noodle - egg drop soup. It was very filling and easy to make.

    Ingredients (Feeds 4-6)

    • 2 large pieces of cooked or fried chicken (leftover Acme "Cheep Chicken" Special $5.99/8)
    • Quart of water
    • 2 large chicken bouillon cubes ($.99/8)  1.50 .25 .10 .42 .25 .50 .26
    • 1 diced onion (Acme Produce Sale $1/10)
    • 8 oz egg noodles (the 2nd 1/2 of a bag $1/2)
    • 1 cup diced carrots (Acme Produce Sale $1/4)
    • 1/2 avocado (Aldi $2.49/3)
    • 2 eggs Aldi ($1.65/12)
    • Optional: Hot sauce such as yellow pepper sauce (Aji Amarillo)


    Fill pot with water. Place on medium heat. Add bouillon cubes, carrots, onions, avocado, and diced chicken (skin removed).  Heat until boiling. Add noodles and boil for about 10 minutes. Crack eggs into broth and quickly stir.  Add hot sauce to taste.

    $3.28 total (per serving $.55 - $.82)

    Don't forget to add vegetable scraps and the rinsed eggshells to your compost pile.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Happy Valentine's Day

    Part of what I love about Valentine's Day is that it's so simple to make an everyday meal into something special just by making it heartshaped. In Middlesex, just about a mile away, there is a great little Italian deli (Sapore's) that makes fresh ravioli and cheeses. Being a local store owner myself, I try to give my business to other local small businesses. But this is definitely NOT A SACRIFICE in flavor or service. Everything there is made with love.

     Sapore's, Middlesex, NJ  heartshaped ravioli and tomato sauce 
     For Valentine's Day, they offer heart-shaped ravioli (either plain cheese or lobster). Both are delicious... Especially with their homemade marinara sauce and a refreshing glass of Manhattan Special. At least that's how we do it every year :)

    Want to do something special for breakfast instead? How about this egg sandwich...
    egg inside the basket  heartshaped valentine's day breakfast

    However you celebrate Valentine's Day... may it be a happy day!

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    A New Year, A New Way

    As I did winter cleaning in the kitchen, I came across some canned food that had passed their expiration dates. Unfortunately they had to be tossed which of course upset me (Yes, they were reallllly over. How I had missed them last year, I don't know!). Community FoodBank of NJ volunteer seventeen years and counting.

    So I'm thinking this year, I am going to concentrate more on avoiding food waste. I already started last summer when I created a compost bin. But I know we need to do more. Came across this article: 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste.  And it had several good tips. Like how to use up fruit before it goes totally bad. Wish us luck.

    For some stats: Check out this infograph from  Door-to-Door Organics.

    food waste graphic infograph
    PS: Kudos for Cory Booker eating his burnt sweet potatoes instead of tossing them during his food stamp challenge. But I wish he had done better with planning. His mom should come up and teach him how to cook. :)

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Newark Mayor to go on Food Stamps

    As you may know, last year my husband and I took the seven day foodstamp challenge.

    This year, Cory Booker decided to follow our example and do it as well, right after he gets his fill of his mamma's cornbread stuffing.

    It wasn't easy staying on a $60 budget (for the 2 of us), but aside from the difficulty getting enough fruits and vegetables, it wasn't that painful. HOWEVER... I do have some nutritional knowledge (my dad wrote a nutritional diet book back in the '90s); it would be a lot harder for someone who didn't know to get the pasta that contains a serving of vegetables, etc. AND since I had transportation to a discount supermarket I was able to get more for my money.

    Three things I'm looking forward to seeing with Mr. Booker's challenge:
    • How he stays vegetarian (I see lots of rice and beans) on the imaginary SNAP funds.
    • If he will have a nutritionist to show that his diet is on line with the government's current dietary recommendations
    • How he will obtain the food from his residence's neighborhood (since many on SNAP do not have transportation and have to rely on local bodegas).
    To wish him luck, I share with you this vegan foodstamp challenge menu.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Hunger Action Month

    Bruce Springsteen performing at Roskilde Festival 2012. Photo credit: Bill Ebbesen.
     September is Hunger Action Month. Did you know 1 in 6 people in America face hunger?
    Consider volunteering at your local food bank. Start a collection drive. Or you could donate at the Springsteen concerts coming to the Meadowlands later this month. I will be at the Friday show (just look for the gal with custom dillyboppers) with my white Community FoodBank of New Jersey plastic bucket. Can't believe I've been "working" Bruce's shows for over a decade!
    And if you are still looking for a ticket, check Living Social for a deal.

    *Bruce Springsteen performing at Roskilde Festival 2012. Photo credit: Bill Ebbesen.