Easy-peasy homemade peanut butter

Homemade peanut butter is a quick & easy money-saver that’s fun to make…

There was a short little article about making homemade nut butters in my local newspaper about a week or so ago. When I saw how ridiculously easy it is to make I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done this before. I was now on a mission to make my own peanut butter so I ran up to the grocery store to grab a few ingredients. The peanuts happened to be on sale BOGO (buy one get one free) and I also had two coupons – score! I was excited just about making some yummy peanut butter, but now this was going to be a lot less expensive than buying a store brand – double score! When I returned home with the ingredients, I got out my food processor and literally in minutes I had delicious and creamy, homemade peanut butter – no banana was safe at this point. The texture was not the same as store bought PB, but I actually liked this better. It just tastes so fresh and natural, not “commercial and processed”. I put the remaining peanut butter in an airtight, hinged jar, wrote the date on the bottom and popped it in the fridge. And I am happy to report, nearly three weeks later, the peanut butter is not separated or hard-as-a-rock like many store-bought natural brands I have tried. This would be a great thing to do with kids and when placed in a decorative jar, it also makes a nice little gift for someone. I brought a jar over to my mom and she loves it. Here is all you need to do to have your own fresh peanut butter in minutes…

Standard-size food processor (a mini one will not give good results)

  • 16 oz. Unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 4-6 Tbs canola or peanut oil
  • 2 Tbs honey (optional)
  • ½ tsp sea salt, or more to taste

Here’s what to do:


Greek garden couscous

Everyone needs a quick and delicious go-to side dish for busy weeknights, to bring to a pot-luck or for a light lunch, so you can throw together a healthy dish in a pinch.  This is one of my all time favorites and I make it at least once a month.  It comes together in minutes and is light, yet flavorful.  Enjoy it as a side dish to sautéed chicken, a grilled steak or your favorite baked fish or try it for lunch: stuff the center of a large tomato and serve it with some baked pita chips and fruit.

Serves: 4-6                   Cook time: 10 min                  Prep time: 15 min


  • 1 C water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt; kosher or sea salt
  • Pinch of fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅔ C couscous
  • ½ C tomatoes, chopped or sliced
  • ½ C cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • ¼ black olives, chopped
  • 2 Tbs red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs crumbled Feta cheese, plain or flavored
  • 2 Tbs of a lite Greek vinaigrette or dressing


First, prepare the couscous by bringing the water, oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder to a boil.  As soon as it is boiling, add the couscous and give it a quick stir to combine everything. Put the lid on the pot and remove it from the heat.  Wait five minutes, remove the lid, fluff with a fork then transfer to a mixing bowl and allow the couscous to cool a bit.  Once cool, add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives and onion to the couscous; mix to combine. Add in the crumbled feta cheese and the Greek dressing. Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute everything and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

Note: If you are making enough so you have leftovers, divide the mixture and do not put the Greek dressing on the portion to be refrigerated, do that when ready to eat.

Cherry walnut rice

Fruit, Pasta & grains | June 15, 2012 | By

This recipe just came to me the other night while I was preparing dinner.  I’ll admit that we eat a LOT of chicken, brown rice and veggies for dinner at my home, and with good reason: it’s healthy, quick, easy and a great value if you buy the chicken on sale and stock up your freezer. The challenge here is to keep a good basic healthy meal from becoming boring. The easiest way to accomplish this is by mixing it up with a variety of different flavors.  When you take advantage of the bounty of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits in your local markets and grocery stores, you can quickly and economically transform a “blah” dish into a delicious dish. Seasonal fruits and veggies are also typically much lower in price, and best of all they taste the freshest.

Right now scrumptious, juicy cherries are in season.  Cherries are generally in season late spring into summer, and recently I have been seeing them week after week in the grocery store and it started me thinking about different ways to start incorporating them in some dishes.  Here is one that is so simple, yet so delicious.  I hope you enjoy it…


Blueberry Banana Nut Bread

I have to say, I was hesitant to mess with my banana nut bread recipe.  When I brought it up to my daughter, who has grown up eating this on a regular basis she flat out said “No mommy… don’t do it.”  Well I did it and she really liked it…

This is pretty much the same as my orignal Banana Nut Bread recipe aside from a few adjustments and of course the addition of yummy blueberries.


Guacamole: a basic recipe

Quick & easy guacamole

Fruit, Vegetables | May 25, 2012 | By

I was asked to make guacamole for a party a few years ago, and at that time I had never made it before. So needless to say, like most people, I scoured the internet looking for recipes. I never really found “one” recipe that looked quite right so instead I decided to make up my own. Now this is a very basic, easy guacamole recipe, and with good reason: when you have fresh and flavorful ingredients, sometimes less is more, and you should just let what Mother Nature gives you shine…


Oven-roasted plum tomatoes

Vegetables | May 11, 2012 | By

Oven-roasted plum tomatoes

Oven roasted plum tomatoes fresh from the oven

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6-8 ripe plum tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Olive oil


Carrabbas-esque Spice Blend

Ok – I think I did it…I think I finally figured out the highly coveted and secretive spice blend Carrabba’s uses for dipping their delicious bread in while you are unknowingly stuffing yourself silly before any appetizers or entrees even come close to hitting your table.  If you have had it you know what I mean.  I do not eat out a lot, I prefer to know 100% for sure what I am eating, and besides that, I really love cooking.  That being said, and since I am ALWAYS in the mood for Italian food, the few times a year we eat out, for some reason I always find  myself trying to talk my daughter into going to Carrabba’s – and now I know why – It’s the bread dip!  It is ridiculously addictive and the fact that they only dole it out in small measured portions (and give you a look of you ask for more) only makes it all the more alluring…  Here is my recipe, let me know what you think.


Banana Nut Bread

You will never again throw away over-ripe bananas that no one wants to eat because they are mushy.  This recipe will provide you with the perfect solution for using them.  If you are not quite ready to make the bread, take the bananas out of their skins and freeze them in a Ziploc bag until you are ready. It’s such a quick and easy recipe that it will surely go on your “favorites” list. It is adapted from a recipe found in the 1986 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, a few tweaks make it even better. 


Spicy Garlic Chili Cashews

Need a tasty snack for company in a pinch? Looking for something with a little zing? These Spicy Garlic Chili Cashews will fit the bill. They take only minutes to prepare, keep well when stored in an airtight container, and will please even the finickiest of guests.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 10 oz. whole, unsalted cashews (approx. 2 ½ C)
  • ½ tsp. each of sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder & chipotle chili pepper


Homemade Celery Salt


Making your own flavored salts is simple, fun and can arm your pantry with easy to grab splashes of flavor. Having recently assembled a veggie platter for a party my sister was having,  I was left with a pretty good size pile of the leaves from the tops of the celery stalks after I was done with all of the cleaning and chopping.  I was not planning on making anything that week that I could use them in and did not want to just throw all of that flavor away, so I decided to try making some flavored salt.  I have made basil salt in the past so I figured this would be just as easy and tasty – it was!  Here is how you can make it:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Rinse the celery leaves, blot with a towel and then air dry; get as much water off as possible.
  • Line a baking sheet with the leaves and place the pan(s) in the oven for 8-10 minutes – until the leaves are crispy, but not brown.
  • After the leaves have cooled, place in a bowl and crumble with your fingers. You optimally want tiny leaf-like looking pieces, so don’t crumble so much that they turn into dust. Take out any overly large pieces or pieces that just won’t seem to crumble.
  • Add in your salt.  Use approximately 2 parts salt, to one part celery leaves. Then gently, using your fingertips, mix the salt into the celery leaves. You want the pieces to be bigger so you can crumble the salt and celery leaves together when you are ready to use them – it will combine the flavors beautifully ans realease the flavor from the celerey leaves.
  • Store the salt in an airtight container or glass jar with a seal.

If you have a lot of leaves, use two trays so they are not too crowded – they will dry more evenly this way. And it also helps, if you have a lot of leaves, to place the smaller leaves on one pan and the larger on another; that way you can take out the smaller leaves first so they don’t over cook. I used a Murray River Flake Salt, the large flaky salt crystals worked well with the celery flakes – so if you can, try to get your hands on some flaky salt. You can enjoy this salt on a variety of things: chicken, eggs, sprinkled on top of soup, vegetables – absolutely delicious on corn-on-the-cob! Enjoy!

Celery salt: start to delicious finish – YUM!


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