In the Kitchen

My new kitchen. Note the fire extinguisher on top of the refrigerator. I’ve already caught a kitchen towel on fire but handled that one myself. The orchid is a gift from my son.

I’ve always loved to cook. As a teenager, my very first cookbook was Trader Vic’s Mexican Cookbook. I used my family as guinea pigs while I cooked many of the recipes in the book. Dad wasn’t a fan, but Mom and siblings were on board.

Today, I’m only a slightly intuitive cook, so I do use a recipe for the groundwork, but I’m not afraid to make changes or additions based on personal taste.

My cooking abilities seemed to miraculously ratchet up a notch during the pandemic. … Actually, it was because I became hooked on watching YouTube videos of people cooking great food. I couldn’t write recipes down fast enough.

The menfolk couldn’t believe all the good food I was turning out, and unless they requested something specific, we easily went six months without eating the same thing twice. Every meal was judged against this statement: “I’d be happy if I got this in a restaurant.”

I made monthly menus and categorized each day of the week – Sunday Dinner, Italian (Monday), Chinese (Tuesday), Sandwiches (Wednesday), Mexican (Thursday), One Pot/Casserole (Friday), Pizza Day (Saturday). Homemade pizzas were so good, we never had any desire to call and order one.

I became addicted to kitchen equipment. I spent way too much money on a Dutch oven. I love it for baking round loaves of rustic bread. A Kitchen Aid mixer? You betcha. And I’ve yet to use it for mixing anything. I bought the pasta attachments, and I make my own pasta. I always have homemade spaghetti in the freezer, ready to drop in boiling water and on the table three minutes later.

I make my bread dough by hand but let my bread maker produce my pasta dough.

Because it’s all the rage, I had to have an air fryer. Probably the one purchase I have some regrets about, because I only use it for wings. However, now that I’m by myself, and the air fryer is on the kitchen counter instead of tucked away in a cupboard, I might use it more often.

Oh! And a carbon steel wok. I love this wok! My Chinese food was great coming out of my large Farberware skillet, but the wok makes it so much easier and faster. The last Chinese dish I made was Orange Chicken. It was fantastic.

I keep my handwritten recipes from YouTube in three-ring binders. I won’t overwhelm you, but I’ll pull a few recipes I think are winners from each category. Maybe you might want to try them, too.

To start:

Spicy Chili Oil (I love this stuff and am not afraid to put it on anything!)


Creamy Tuscan Chicken

Pasta Alla Norcina (I make my own Italian sausage for this.)


Orange Chicken

Spicy Ginger Beef Stir Fry


French Onion Soup Potato Gratin (Oh my! So good! I made this for Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was a hit.)

Spanish Stuffed Zucchini with Cheese

Sunday Dinner:

Chicken Pan Pot Pie (Made in a cast iron skillet. Awesome!)

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Garlic (Lemon Gravy! This chicken is fantastic. I cut all whole chickens this way now – even Cornish game hens.)


Taco Bell Copycat Red Sauce (I use loads of this in Mexican dishes.)

Spicy Chicken Taquitos

Chili Con Carne (From Trader Vic’s cookbook.)

One Dish/Casseroles:

One Pan Chicken and Dirty Rice

Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Bake


Farmhouse Loaf in a Dutch Oven (I love this water/slap-and-fold method for making bread. So easy.)

Ciabatta Bread for Sandwiches (Another favorite. The recipe doesn’t say to, but I use the same water/slap-and-fold technique when making these.)


Low Sodium Deli Style Roast Beef (My go-to protein for in my salads.)

OMG Burgers (A little work, but they are super tasty.)

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese


Beer Pizza (One hour pizza.)

Mushroom Pizza with Fresh Herbs


What are your favorite kitchen items? Will you try any of these recipes? If you do, pop back in and let me know what you think!

20 thoughts on “In the Kitchen

  1. I absolutely love my air fryer! I have mine on the counter because I use it several times a week. I have done everything from pork chops, sausages, and asparagus to cornish hens in it! I use it more than any other kitchen appliance I own. I have found you can cook whatever you want pretty much in it. It’s much better for you than frying and so much quicker! I may have to try some of your recipes, they all sound yummy! Hugs to you!

    • I wonder how my blackened sardines and herring would turn out in the air fryer? I will try that today! For science! 🙂 I think one of the drawbacks for me has been cleaning the darn thing. But maybe wings are the worst and everything else would be easier. I even have the precut parchment paper for it.

      I bookmarked another recipe last night. I watched some guy make French onion soup that looked divine. Hugs to you, too, Jackie. I’ll shoot you an email later on today.

  2. I like your kitchen especially the towel bars. Now we want to see the kitchen when all the pots and pans etc are in use.
    I don’t like to cook that much. Make a lot of stew type things in the slow cooker. My husband cuts and I cook. 🙂
    I looked at the One Pan Chicken recipe and do make something similar, but rarely follow a recipe.
    At this very minute I’m writing, hubby is chopping things for black-eyed pea soup. It will be thick and very tasty and no recipe needed. And the good part is we can eat it for days and even freeze some for later.

    Your friend,
    The Lazy Cook. 😉

    • Oh, how lucky are you to have a sous chef! I wish someone would do all my chopping and dicing and slicing for me. 🙂 I’ve never had black-eye pea soup. I do have some large jars of vacuum sealed split peas. I want to try to make some soup with those soon. Do you put meat in your soup – like ham or bacon? I was actually a little horrified at the color of the countertops and the floor, but they’re growing on me. I’ll come back and drop a picture for you when I have something awesome going on the stove. 🙂

      • We put some low fat little sausages into both green pea soup and black eyed pea soup. Plus carrots, onions, parsley and celery and a can of tomato sauce. We make it on stove also.
        I always add a spoonful of hot sauce to my bowl. Some crusty Italian bread and an apple or banana does it for us.
        I find one can get used to about anything and it all seems natural after awhile.

  3. I like to cook but not much since the stroke. Hubby is the cook. My son says he misses my cooking, I think because I would make something every night and hubby doesn’t. lol I have been using my Kitchen Aide Mixer for baking or rather stirring cake stuff. I grew up with my grandma making everything from scratch, a cook at an old folks home. It was yummy and I rarely got sick. Good cooking no box meals. That’s cool you cook more. Recipes sound devine, will try some.

    • Julia, I’m still so sorry the stroke happened to you but am so impressed with how you are improving day by day. Your husband is a dear to step up to the plate. Show your son how to cook. He can do what you tell him, and he will learn to cook and be proud of his accomplishments.

      You were fortunate to grow up with your grandmother. It sounds like she was a wonderful cook and a remarkable woman. If you try any of my recipes (or if your son does 🙂 ), let me know!

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