Mexican Black Bean Skillet


  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa soaked for 15 minutes or rice
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup salsa or more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans drained
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1# hamburger (or ground chicken/turkey)


  1. Heat the avocado oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper (and jalapeno if adding) and saute, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from skillet and add in hamburger
  4. Heat hamburger until browned.
  5. Add cooked veggies back into skillet.
  6. Add the broth, salsa, chili powder and sea salt and bring to a full boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the black beans and chopped sweet potato.
  7. Replace the cover and continue cooking until sweet potato and quinoa are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Stir well and taste for flavor. Add more sea salt and or salsa or lime juice to taste.

Crispy Oven Roasted Fries


  • vegetable oil spray
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • salt


1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425°F. Generously spray rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Pour oil into prepared sheet and tilt until surface is evenly coated with oil.

2. Halve potatoes lengthwise and turn halves cut sides down on cutting board. Trim a thin slice from both long sides of each potato half; discard trimmings. Slice potatoes lengthwise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick planks.

3. Combine 1/3 cup water and cornstarch in large bowl, making sure no lumps of cornstarch remain on bottom of bowl. Microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until mixture begins to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and continue to stir until mixture thickens to pudding-like consistency. (If necessary, add up to 1 tablespoon water to achieve correct consistency.)

4. Transfer potatoes to bowl with cornstarch mixture and toss until each plank is evenly coated. Arrange planks on prepared sheet, leaving small gaps between planks. (Some cornstarch mixture will remain in bowl.) Cover sheet tightly with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes.

5. Remove foil from sheet and bake until bottom of each fry is golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and, using thin metal spatula, carefully flip each fry. Return sheet to oven and continue to bake until second sides are golden brown, 7 to 15 minutes longer.

6. Sprinkle fries with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using spatula, carefully toss fries to distribute salt.

7. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste. Serve.

Happy 20-10 Boo!!!!

Happy Birthday, Boo!!  It’s so hard for me to believe that thirty years have flown by so fast.  Why it seems like just yesterday I was rushing home from my morning bowling league to change clothes to head off to my afternoon Bridge Club.  Seriously.  It sounds like a sad, dumb drama from the 1980’s, but that was my life.  And I did not realize how unfulfilled it was until you came into my life.

Once I hung up the phone from the doctor asking if we were still interested in adopting I was bouncing off the walls, the ceiling, it was as if I could bounce from one cloud to another.  And the poor doctor?  I am sure he was rushing off to my Audiologist to get his hearing tested.  Pretty sure my screams of joy broke both of his ear drums.  The next twenty-eight hours flew past me in a huge, beautiful, pink blur.  I remember a friend taking me out to shop for supplies to get us through the first night.  But what I really remember was pushing two carts through Wal-Mart both loaded to the brim with bottles, brushes, bottle nipples, onesies, blankets, diapers, sheets, formula, nightgowns, wash cloths, towels, bibs, bath soap, baby lotion, baby oil, baby socks, petroleum jelly, nasal aspirator, baby shampoo, burp cloths, bibs, thermometer, diaper bag, diaper cream, wipes, changing pad, diaper pail, and that did not even start to include the car seat, crib, high chair, and the toys that I just knew you would want.

And then it was 4 p.m. that Thursday, about twenty-seven hours after your birth, and you were taking your very first plane flight.  Your birth parents placed you in the hands of the attorney and he flew you to us and placed you in my hands.  What a joy it was to drive you home, showing you places where you will go and things you will do as you grew up in our town.  Pretty sure I spent that first night (okay, I will admit it probably many more nights) just sitting in your room watching you breathe.  At birth you were only 6# 9.75 oz and 20 1/2 inches long.  Just totally precious.  From the time I was about twelve I just knew what my daughter’s name would be, however as I grew older I realized that when I first looked upon my baby girl it would be then that her name would come to me.  Imagine my joy when gazing upon your sweet face for the first time you opened your eyes, smiled at me, reached your arms up to hug me, and said “yes, my name shall be Megan Kathleen”.  Okay, maybe it did not happen entirely that way, but I do know that you just “looked” like a Megan Kathleen.  So be it – my dream came true in you.

I cannot thank your birth parents enough for all the joy and love they have given me by allowing me the honor of being your mother.  It was truly very courageous for them to admit that they were too young to raise a child and that they wanted something better for you.  They wanted to give you the opportunity of a future that they could not provide for you at that point in their young lives.  Adoption means love and I do love you.  From the time you were a wee one I always said the word “adoption” to you, so that you could understand that the word “adoption” meant love.  You were conceived in love and shared in love.  As you grew older I tried my best to be sure you understood what a great honor your birth parents gave to you and what difficult decisions they made along the way.  Perhaps some day I will be able to thank them for giving me this most precious gift of being your mother.  They gave me a treasure more precious than silver or gold.  I know that they must have a hole in their hearts that cannot be filled.  I know that God entrusted you into my caring arms that day, 20-10 years ago, and this is a gift I will never be able to repay.  I pray that they know that I am totally grateful for the sacrifice they made and how grateful I am that they did not take the easy way out.  This is a debt that I can never repay, but every day I pray that they are comforted in the knowledge that their sacrifice was not in vein.  You did grow up up in a family that loves you, that cares about your, and has supported you in all your endeavors.  My life would not be the same without you, Boo.

Now, I need to get myself busy making your Birthday Dinner.  We will have grilled ribeyes (from Leon’s Market), roasted asparagus and red peppers, your favorite potato salad and, of course, your Better Than Sex Cake for dessert.  When you were a wee one I made this cake for desert one night when we had some friends over for dinner.  You took such joy and naughty pleasure in telling your friends the next day at school that you had “sex” last night.  Your kindergarten teacher was a friend of mine, who dearly loved her students and their stories they shared with the class.  That day I was not sure who was crying more……….Mrs. F from laughter or me from embarrassment.  Since that time this has always been your requested birthday cake and since it is super easy to make and decorate I was always thrilled to oblige.  Today is no different!

Joy Rising!

Better  Than  Sex  Cake

Prep  Time: 20 minutes (excluding baking time)

Bake  Time: 30-35 minutes  at  temperature recommended on box

Source: Mary Scott


  • 1 box german chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 small bottle caramel sauce
  • 1 large tub of cool whip, unfrozen
  • 6 skor candy bars


  1. Prepare cake as per back of cake mix box.
  2. Once cake completely baked, remove from oven.
  3. Let stand about ten minutes, then using fork poke holes in cake (this will allow the caramel sauce and evaporated milk to seep into and throughout the cake).
  4. Pour over the cake the contents of the bottle of caramel sauce (I usually pour on half, let it soak in, and the pour the remaining half).
  5. Once the caramel sauce has basically soaked into the cake pour on the evaporated milk.
  6. Keeping the candy bars in their wrappers, crush into little bits (I use the bottom of a heavy sauce pan).
  7. Once the evaporated milk has basically soaked into the cake, spread on the Cool Whip.
  8. Sprinkle the crushed Skor candy bars over the cake.
  9. Cut into small pieces to serve (this cake is very rich).

Honey  Dijon  Potato  Salad

Prep  Time: 20 minutes

Cook  Time: 90 minutes

Source: Rachael  Ray


  • 2  1/2# small potatoes, quartered   (I like to use Yukon Gold and I do not peel)
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c dijon mustard
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3  ribs celery, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cover potatoes with cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil and salt the water.
  3. Boil potatoes until just tender  15-20 minutes;  drain.
  4. While potatoes are still hot, combine the honey, mustard and vinegar in a bowl.
  5. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To the bowl of dressing add the potatoes, onion and celery.
  8. Gently stir to coat the potato salad.
  9. Taste the salad to see if you need to add more salt and pepper if needed.


Successful dinner……………..thanks to Leon’s and my Big Green Egg!!!  Love that Egg.