Zatar spice mix Za’atar

Za’atar is a flavorful condiment to sprinkle over soups, salads, hummus, roasted vegetables, olive oil for bread dipping and croutons.

1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, freshly ground
1 tbsp sumac
½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes if you like heat

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Homemade Adobo Seasoning Recipe

What I like about making the adobo and sazon seasoning mixes myself is I can control the sodium. I use less because I typically add soy sauce.  Some add chili powder to these, some add cayenne pepper.


1/4 cup Sea Salt
1/4 cup Onion Powder
1/2 cup Garlic Powder
2 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp White Pepper
2 tbsp Spanish Paprika
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
2 tbsp Cumin
1/4 cup Coriander
1/3 cup Dried Oregano
1/8 cup Achiote (ground annato seeds) or substitute turmeric


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Szechuan Peppercorns

I learned something today. I love kung pao chicken. I always avoided eating the little red chilies in it thinking they would be too hot for me. Yet I like the numbing sensation. So today I learned it’s two different foods. I was researching make a spicy sauce for some bland chicken I cooked last night and that’s when I read about the difference between the Szechuan peppercorns and the dried red chilies. They said the peppercorns are not hot but they do have the mouth numbing quality. A friend said he usually grinds them and uses them in any dish he’d like to give more heat and a slightly floral flavor. They aren’t hot as much as they have a somewhat punchy and mildly fruity flavor and they give that mouth numbing effect.

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Kung Pao Chicken

This is the sauce. Use half for marinade.
1. Simmer sauce until thick
2. Brown chicken fast in wok with the ginger, scallions, garlic and red chilies.
3.  Then add a chopped red pepper, half a chopped onion and half a chopped zucchini.
4. Then add sauce and 1 small can of diced water chestnuts and a handful of unsalted dry-roasted peanuts.
5.  Before serving, drizzle with 1 tsp sesame oil (don’t cook sesame oil, add it before serving)   
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Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup with Homemade Cajun Spices

For this recipe, you’ll use the packet of 15 bean soup mix but you will NOT use the seasoning packet. I like a highly flavored soup but I don’t care for all the sodium contained in the seasoning packets. I’ve learned it’s just as easy to make my own (link here for Homemade Cajun Spice Mix. You’ll notice the cajun spices are also the recipe for homemade chili powder.

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Homemade Cajun Spice Mix — Homemade Chili Powder

Mix and store in an airtight container. Prepare a day ahead of time for best flavor development. Note: this is also the recipe for homemade chili powder.

YIELD: About 3/4 cup


2 tablespoons kosher or pink Himalayan sea salt. If you use table salt, use only 1 tbsp.

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder

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Crispy Lowfat Vegetarian Okra Pie and Okra Eggplant Burgers

Crispy Okra Pie

Mmmmm, sounds yummy, right? You’d be surprised. The way I usually make okra is CRISPY LOW FAT OVEN FRIED OKRA  where I take thawed out, cut frozen okra and dip it into beaten egg then into breadcrumbs and bake in a 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes in a metal pan sprayed with olive oil Pam. I spray the tops with more Pam so they’ll brown.  This time I tried something different. Again, I had a 12 oz bag of frozen cut okra that I took out 6 oz of it to thaw. I made a

LOW FAT VEGETARIAN OKRA PIE (think cheesy bread without the heavy crust)

First, saute in olive oil one big chopped onion along with 2 chopped celery stalks, few chopped garlic cloves if you have them. Once they are golden they’ll add great flavor to this dish.

Put the sauteed onions, celery and garlic into a large mixing bowl with the thawed okra along with 1/2 tp each salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and 1/4 tsp each crushed fennel seed, basil, tarragon, curry powder along with one beaten egg.    Continue reading

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A Guide to Making Dashi

My fave way to use dashi is in miso soup, add 1 tbsp yellow miso to one cup dashi

A recipe for dashi can be as simple as water and kelp, but adding bonito makes the dashi more complex and complete. In Japanese cuisine, all roads lead back to dashi, the base stock made from dried kelp (seaweed) and dried fish. Even in a sushi class with Morimoto , he demoed the proper preparation of dashi well before he broached the topic of fish. Perusing through a Japanese cookbook, you reach the same conclusion: without dashi, most of the recipes could not be executed.   Continue reading

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Grief Relieving Soup

As I was growing up, my mom worked at Western Union from 11am to 9pm. She’d cook dinner each morning and leave me with instructions to heat it up when I got home from school.  Sunday mornings my dad would make french toast and scramble eggs but that was the extent of his cooking.  Then we began raising rabbits and he got into the cooking of it.  It made me a little sad at first but he explained about circle of life. He said not only were the animals happy to fulfill their destiny, the onions and carrots and wheat and all plants were as well. They lived on through us as they gave their life so ours could continue.  That was the reason we prayed before eating.  Many relatives and friends passed during my childhood.  One way my dad dealt with his grief was by cooking.  He said cooking and eating reminds us we are alive even though we feel a piece of us is gone. His grandmother passed when I was in my teens, and he embarked upon a quest to duplicate Kentucky Fried Chicken‘s original recipe. We had a new version every single night for weeks, months while he experimented. That was fine with 4 hungry teenagers and boy, could my brothers scarf food down. When my youngest brother bobby passed in 1976, my dad began making sourdough rolls. By hand, no bread machine. Hundreds of them, maybe thousands. By giving them away to friends and family, he was sharing his son with everyone.     Continue reading

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