just a cookie or two

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 11.38.43 AM

What to do on a rainy afternoon?  Bake cookies and have a friend over for tea!  That’s how I spent my Saturday afternoon a couple a weekends ago.  After having spent the morning slowly drinking coffee while reading the paper at the local coffee shop (yes I have accepted the fact I have hit that age. In fact the other couple setting reading papers and drinking coffee was easily 70…mmmhmmm I’m old and I like it.) I decided the best way to spend the rest of the day was baking goodies for a tea date with a friend.

Back in the day (yeah told you I’m ok with being old now) I was the queen of cookie baking.  Any band that stayed at my house left with some fresh baked treats for the road.  My recipe collection started to become a bit extensive. I mean I couldn’t give the same cookie to everyone or let alone give the same cookie twice to the same group of musicians.  Yet as the bands faded away and my life got busier with work, learning bread making, pasta making, whiskey infusing, the cookie baking fell to the wayside.  Now when I randomly bake up some treats I get excited. I forgot how easy most cookies are.  And how nobody can eat just one.  So what’s now on the cookbook shelf?  But yes of course a cookie cookbook.  Once that final pasta has been made I’m ready to go with the next cookbook challenge…Cookie of the Week here I come.


Coffee on the Porch


In my free time I cofounded a non-profit. Yes us Hearty Eaters we like to have a to-do list a mile long most days. For the last 2 years my non-profit has been running a monthly event called Coffee on the Porch.  Its a simple concept.  Have your morning coffee with your neighbors.  The idea is to get people talking to one another in one of the most economically diverse and racially diverse areas in Baton Rouge, Mid City. Because if you read this blog you know that Hearty Eaters see food as the connector.  We all love to eat and drink and once that starts happening stories, laughter all flows.

My organization, Mid City Studio,  floats around this 40,000 peopled area, picking a new porch or stoop or yard to setup in each month and serve free coffee to anyone who shows up.  This year we added a little extra component, a map.  We like maps.  Maps help tell the story of a place.  And frankly you can live your whole life somewhere and not know a lot about it.  We’ve made maps so far that feature bike-able public art tours, homeless services, and local civil rights history.  In June we made one of my favorites so far.  The Soul Food Map of Baton Rouge. The qualifier for being on this map?  Can I get something smothered with mac & cheese as my vegetable.  And for desert check out our August Map tracking the best and tastiest Snoball stands.   mmmmhmmmm tis good.

I’m Getting the Hang of This


I’ve got about 40 pasta recipes under my belt as I work my way through the Pasta Bible.   Making one recipe out of each chapter before starting back at the beginning again.  When I hit the stuffed pasta section I have the same thought every time…….”wait what was it that worked really well last time”  Ravioli, man, if you don’t do it all the time you forget the little tricks that really helped stuff, hold together, cook them, etc from the last time.  But I must be remembering a thing or 2 that’s working.

This last go around were spinach-ricotta ravioli in a butter cream sauce.  To me the ravs were too big, sloppy looking and I was praying they would hold together as they boiled.  However I got a huge complement which made me realize I have been over obsessing with making super perfect ravioli every other month. Friends were over to dine on these guys, when one friend looked in her bowl and exclaimed “wow look at how consistent these are in shape!”  Bo-ya consistent shaped ravioli…its the little things y’all.

One day my kitchen will be like……


Catch yourself thinking of what would be in your dream kitchen every time you are in your kitchen?  Or maybe you have a tiny apartment size stove so why bother cooking anything real?  Or there is no counter space so you only do simple 3 ingredient recipes.

Feels like there are so many excuses about why people choose not to cook to the level they want to because the kitchen just isn’t up to par, no gas 6 burner stove, no granite counter tops.  19 is when I got my very own kitchen in my first apartment that was the tiniest apartment and kitchen, in the top of an old victorian house with no ac.  Since then I have had around 10 more kitchens, all with their perks and faults. There is one thing I have realized in all these kitchens…..you can make 5 star food no matter the kitchen.

This made me decide I wanted to de-mystify the idea that to make great food you need a big fancy kitchen.  I have, for 14 years, made 100s of raviolis, roasted turkeys, ducks and chickens, baked french pastries, and infused enough booze to run my own distillery all in kitchens that have been used and abused by tons of renters.  If you want to cook great food you can do it anywhere.

In the next few months I’m going to feature tiny, small kitchens that produce meals worthy of bon appetite on a weekly basis.  These home chefs have come to realize the same thing that I have….if you want to cook you can work with whatever you have. With each kitchen feature there will also be a recipe to their favorite item to cook.  Because if they cook it in there kitchen you can too no matter your kitchen.

Kicking it off is my own kitchen.  Its lacking in counter space, was not thrilled by the glass top electric stove, and digging for the right pots and pans is a rubic’s cube puzzle every time.  But I’ve baked breads, made homemade pasta, pan-fried dove breasts and did a small stint with cooking authentic indian cuisine.

My favorite dish so far in this kitchen has been Penne Pasta with Cream and Smoked Salmon….trust me make it your kitchen can handle it!


serves 4


3 c dried penne pasta

4 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon

1 tsp fresh thyme

2/3 c extra thick creme

salt and pepper to taste

  • cook penne pasta till tender
  • while pasta is cooking slice salmon into thin strips
  • melt butter in a pan, stir in cream with a quarter of the salmon and thyme, heat gently for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly
  • drain pasta, toss in cream & salmon. top with remaining salmon and thyme serve immediately










Strawberry-Fresh Basil and Feta Scones


Having spent 2 and 1/2 years where every Saturday morning I got up and baked bread, I still sometimes savior the fact that Saturday mornings can now be lazy.  I love the option of getting up early hitting the farmers market, or going for a bike ride or maybe just drinking coffee till noon in pjs reading magazines and the newspaper.  And then some Saturdays there is still the need to bake.  I know I have written now so much about how mixing flour and kneading dough is the best form of zen therapy ever, but its so true.

Having the need for a little baking therapy the other Saturday there were just the right combination to make scones that will blow any tea party out of the water.  Its summer and sweet basil with strawberries you can’t quite get enough of. Oh but wait you need something a little savior to balance off all that sweetness, the answer came from the cheese drawer….feta.  The best smell is when the strawberries start warming up in the oven filling up the whole house with sweet summer baked smells. These have been awesome for breakfast all week but I also recommend eating them with chicken salad or a savior caesar salad.


12 Scones


2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 tbsp butter –  melted

3/4 c milk

1/3 c feta

1/2 chopped strawberries

1 tbsp fresh basil


In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt together, toss in strawberries, feta and basil.  Add butter mix, and in milk need till forms a dough.  Roll dough out till 1/2 inch thick, cut scones into traditional triangles. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.









Every Kitchen Needs a Bit of Character


Every kitchen needs just a little bit of character.  The last 3 years my kitchen as slowly turned into my artistic studio.  My actual artist studio got packaged up and my creative career went down a new path. When some christmas lights went up in my last kitchen and then inspirational clippings started appearing on the walls I realized my kitchen was no longer just a kitchen it was a my new studio.

My Louisiana kitchen has morphed and changed these last 2 years.  Starting off mimicking my kitchen in the Ozarks to make a little bit of home in a new environment. Then a drastic simplification, and then each appliance slowly crapping out in the last 6 months.

2 weeks ago my landlord showed up with a brand new fridge for me.  The clean white surface was my blank canvas and thus began the placement of the magnets.  Now the collection of magnets started years ago.  My inspiration came from my aunt’s fridge. Since my birth her fridge has been a masterpiece of magnets, newspaper clippings, old photos.  It was and still is a fascinating living timeline of our family.  When I began my magnet collection I made the conscious decision only to have magnets on the fridge.  My favorite magnets to collect are museum magnets with my favorite pieces of art from that museum.  Not shocking since the magnets collected, has been friends that bring me back magnets from their own journeys…Cape Cod, Spain, Asheville, Seattle and on.

Sometimes I think maybe I’d want one of those clean crisp modern looking kitchens, but then I imagine my fridge without its magnets or the aprons not on the wall and I have that overwhelming feeling that the kitchen would feel lonely without all my creative inspiration, it would feel neglected no longer the creative nexus of my home.  It maybe a little cluttered, maybe a little crazy but its mine and me, my family and my friends wouldn’t have my kitchen any other way.



Sometimes I just need to take it easy.

I think all of us who love to cook and cook well, sometimes find it a little hard to say, take the easy route.  The frozen skillet dinners, the precooked mashed potatoes or oh lord soup from a can; why eat them when we know we can cook something so much better.

A realization I have had to make is:  working a full time day job and operating your own non-profit in your “free time”  and not wanting to eat dinner at 9pm means sometimes you got to cook the easy way.  And you know what there ain’t no shame in it.  The balance I have been working on developing in my kitchen is to take it easy during the week, plus eat up leftovers, while on the weekends I get my culinary fix and COOK, COOK, COOK.

Some of these easy dishes have turned out looking not so easy.  The latest one was a BBQ Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice. That honestly after I looked down thought “what did I just make?!”  But it was yum!


BBQ Chicken Pineapple Fried Rice

Serves 6


1 bag Trader Joes Frozen Jasmine Rice

1 bag Trader Joes Frozen BBQ Teriyaki Chicken

1 Fresh Pineapple

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped cashews

1/4 cup shredded carrots

2 tbsp coconut oil

  1. Heat up coconut oil over med-high heat in a skillet.  Add in frozen chicken slowly cooking till chicken becomes tender.
  2.  While chicken is cooking halve the pineapple, dice up and scoop out inside pineapple chunks. Forming pineapple bowls
  3. Add green onions, pineapple, carrots, and cashews to chicken.  Stir.  Add bag of jasmine rice, cook till rice is tender.
  4. Stir in BBQ sauce packets, allow for pineapple fried rice to heat another 10 minutes.
  5. Evenly place BBQ Chicken Pineapple Fried Rice into halved pineapple bowls.
  6. Serve to company and let them oooohhh and ahhhh at your culinary greatness.





Getting my Brunch on


Lately I have been getting some serious Brunch on at my house.  Sundays traditionally I don’t like to leave my house at all.  Its a day for chilling and relaxing and getting caught up on life.  And now brunch has worked its way into the weekly Sunday Agenda.

So what’s been on the menu?  Well…..

Firstly I’m not a huge fan of mimosas I like to go with a pinosetta aka red grapefruit juice with champagne.  Try it you won’t regret it.

Last Sunday I did scrambled eggs with onions, peppers, and topped with goat cheese, fruit and everything bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Week before that was one of my favs Eggs BanditO. My tex mex version of eggs Benedict.  I take an english muffin top it with avocado and tomato, a poached egg and for the sauce a goat cheese chorizo sauce.  mmmm hmmmm.  Paired this one with some sweet potato fires.

And the meal that started it all was corn-cakes that had goat cheese brie, salmon and fresh thyme in them.  Served with maple chicken sausage, yeah it was good.

Years ago I used to host a weekly Monday dinner ….. I’m now seeing this Brunch thing turn into a regular gathering.