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!

I Wanted to Write a Foodie Mystery

I love to cook. I started out as a baker. Out of five children, I was the one who baked the cookies, made the brownies, and baked the cakes from scratch.

My dad was a great baker. He made a buttercream coffeecake that was out of this world. Every weekend in winter, he would be in the kitchen baking bread. When I was old enough, he taught me. I still remember the first time I baked it by myself. We took a loaf down the street to Grandma, and she proclaimed it to be as good as Dad’s. I was overjoyed.

Sometimes he would surprise me, and after we had made the bread, we’d make cinnamon rolls, or on rare occasions, homemade raised donuts.

I don’t remember when I crossed over from baker to cook, but I do remember my very first cookbook was Trader Vic’s Book of Mexican Cooking. My family acted as some pretty great guinea pigs while I worked through that book. I still use many of the recipes today.

At one time, I had over 100 cookbooks in my collection, and I didn’t just collect them, I cooked from them. I’ve thrown a few large parties and cooked all of the food myself. I think I’m a good candidate to write a foodie mystery.

But I have nothing. I think on it and dream on it, and there’s nothing there. There is poisoned food in my thoughts, and I’ve chopped people up with butcher knives. Blech! I’m not going there.

So, I did the next best thing. In my books, Susan and her neighbor across the hall, Darby, do a lot of cooking together. They make a lot of the same things I make with the same results – stunning failures or fantastic successes. They put their best recipes in a recipe box and call it the Keeper Box.

I put the Keeper Box on my Breezy Books web page. Clicking on it takes you to a page of some of the recipes that were cooked in the books. When the fourth book is done, I’ll have two more recipes to add – Summer Chicken and Rhubarb Pie with a Never-Fail Pie Crust.

I guess in my own way, I’m writing foodie mysteries after all.