Sunday, May 26, 2019

Arizona Restaurants Under Review

I recently tried out two restaurants I had driven by but never stopped and ate at. 

Heading home from some shopping, my best friend and I stopped at The Oink Cafe in Tempe, Arizona. 

I was very pleased with the bright, cute, clean cafe. The wait staff was attentive and efficient and really seemed to love their work. The booth was comfy. The setting was bright and fun. 

My best friend ordered a mac and cheese with monterey jack cheese, green chilies, chicken, bacon, and avacado slices on top and it was HIGHLY addictive! I'm usually bored by mac and cheese but this was sticky, tasty, hearty. Wow!

They offer a few kinds of bacon to make recipes your own twist. I ordered the BLT and tomato basil soup and it was the best lunch I've had in a very long time.

I will definitely be back for breakfast or lunch soon!

The next day, my best friend and I headed out to do some antiquing and there was a restaurant in downtown Chandler, Arizona I had my eye on for some time. It is called "The Perch Brewery." 

The setting was my dream - outdoors with dappled light and open garage doors in the bar area that allowed you to be on a charming patio with birds chirping in cages around you.

The staff is efficient, friendly, and really seem to love working among the cages of exotic birds. 

I didn't try the brews, but I have heard they are excellent. I was focused on the sandwich I ordered, a wrap with arugula, grilled chicken, bleu cheese vinaigrette, candied walnuts, cranberries, and tomato basil tortilla. It was amazing!!! 

I definitely will be back here, hopefully on a date night. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Speakeasy Bars

Going underground, dark and atmospheric, chic and formal, speakeasy bars are the biggest trend and so much fun. Anyone can go to a noisy bar, but a murky, secluded speakeasy with unusual and very expensive cocktails feels very exclusive and very sexy.

Tesla-Inspired NYC speakeasy
HR Giger Museum in Switzerland
PDT (Please Don't Tell) in NYC - you enter through an old phone booth
Ladies and Gentlemen in London

Start looking around your area for speakeasy bars. They are a fun date night location that your lady or gent will love!

If you stay home, turn down the lights, get some mason jars and glow sticks, and try one of these Speakeasy Cocktail Recipes. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

My Favorite Summer Cocktails

Summer begins vacations, moments in the hot outdoors, and parties that make our minds turn to refreshing cocktails. I'm going to share my favorite summer ones - 


My all-time favorite summer drink is the mojito because I adore lime and mint and it is so fresh and clean and easy to drink. 

I like the recipe Bicardi uses -

2 parts Bicardi rum
4 lime wedges
12 fresh mint leaves
2 tsp extra fine sugar
1 part club soda
sprig of fresh mint for decoration

Squeeze limes wedges into glass and add the skins. Add sugar and press them together. Bruise mint leaves in your palms to release oils, rub them on the rim of the glass and drop them into the glass. Fill glass halfway with ice. Add the rum and stir. Top with crushed ice, a sprig of mint and club soda. 

Bikini Cocktail

Put pink lemonade into a pitcher. Add Malibu Coconut rum and Amaretto. You can add a scoop of sherbert on top if you want. 

Dirty Pirate Popsicles

I absolutely love pureeing fresh summer fruits like pineapple, watermelon, berries, and make popsicles with added liquor like coconut rum, but my very favorite popsicle cocktail is the Dirty Pirate. 

Mix 2 parts Coke, 1 part rum and 1 part Kahlua. Put in popsicle forms and you are ready to have your drink in frozen form. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Summer Popsicles For Cooling AND Healing

Taking advantage of fresh fruits and hot season, I decided with all the garden work and high temps, I would make some popsicles that take advantage of what's in season while also providing cooling relief and some health benefits. Since I get sore working on the weeds, I made anti-inflammatory popsicles of strawberries, pineapple, turmeric, and ginger in coconut water, whirled and then poured into molds. 

Think about health benefits for you and your family to enjoy fresh fruit in season, cool off, and get nutrient-dense benefits for all kinds of ailments.

Berries and cherries for anti-inflammatory benefits.
Turmeric and ginger for anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bananas for anti-stress benefits.
Turmeric and lemon balm for anti-stress benefits.

Berries for blood sugar benefits.
Cinnamon and ginger for blood sugar benefits. 

Play around with these combinations and make some great combos - even consider avacadoes and nuts! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Bitters: Aiding Digestion

Although I am not a certified health care worker or nutritionist, I was a medical transcriptionist for 21 years, studied nutrition, and am an avid health-minded individual who does her research. My mother taught me how to make Appalachian curative teas and I have forever held a fascination with how products from nature make me feel. This is also partly why I garden organic veggies, fruits and herbs, for health benefits and taste.

Bitters primary effect is to promote digestive juices such as stomach acid, bile and enzymes to breakdown food and assist in the absorption of nutrients. Eclectics promote digestive bitters for improved detoxification, healthy skin, improved joint pain and healthy mood.

I make my own bitters. Not a hard process. 


Dry hibiscus tea leaves or lemon peel (the bitter element) I use about 25% this element in the mix.
Grain alcohol (to make tincture) or vodka - 100 proof is best.
Ingredient of choice (depending on health benefit need) - cilantro, parsley, lavender, orange peel, ginger, chamomile, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, etc... You can use spices, herbs, nuts, fruits, cocoa or coffee beans.

I take a small mason jar that has been sterilized and I add perhaps half full with cilantro and then add the bitter agent and fill with the alcohol and close. If Im doing a cinnamon stick, I might put several sticks in the jar. 

Once closed, set these jars in a dark cool place and shake now and then. Let sit for days or even up to a couple weeks or so. Open it now and then and smell. If it smells strongly of the ingredient (i.e. cilantro, cinnamon, etc), it is ready to strain.
I put them in sterile cleaned dropper jars. You can find the dark dropper jars on places like Amazon. The dark bottle helps to protect them from aging in the light. I store in a cabinet with my teas.  

Add 10-30 drops to tea, cocktail, or even water and use for various ailments and issues and also to promote healthy digestive process and processing nutrients in your foods. If you want an anti-inflammatory effect, you might do 10 drops ginger and 10 drops turmeric, for example. 

For cocktails, you can make some specialty flavors; a bit of rosemary or cilantro can punch up a cocktail's flavor. 

If you're not feeling crafty, try going to the alcohol aisle and finding the mixer "angostura bitters" used for cocktails and also as a vitality booster and digestive aid. Win/Win.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Future of Food Products: Helping Disease Processes

As my cilantro goes to seed in the warmer weather, I wait to harvest the coriander seeds. They could be used for seasoning in cooking, but I am saving them for replanting when weather is a bit cooler again. 

It's not a lot of work to grow a cilantro plant or gather its seeds. The benefits of having cilantro are great and I dry what is leftover at the end of the season when it's flowering so I can cook with it.

It dawned on me that we are moving out of harmful plastics, harmful trans fats, harmful corn syrup, and harmful artificial sweeteners as consumers more and more are unwilling to buy these items.

So, what is the future of food manufacturing? 

What if we manufactured a nutritional bar that is created for a particular condition, such as high blood pressure or blood sugar problems utilizing organic ingredients that Native People have long known work for these issues? 

Sure, I am sneaking turmeric powder into tea and eating ginger, but what if someone made anti-inflammatory food products with these items? 

Why is sugar so bad? It's okay in sugar cane form, but once you concentrate it, you get something super sweet that isn't natural. It becomes something abhorrent to your body's health. But, what if we concentrated cilantro/coriander? Cinnamon? Turmeric? Parsley? Rosemary? Cloves? We could use a touch of it in food preparation with lots of nutrients and flavor.

It could be as simple and convenient as a block you drop into your water and stir. It dissolves and you get a mix of cinnamon, cilantro, parsley and other diuretics/blood sugar control/anti-inflammatory components. 

What if you loved baked potato chips but they were sprinkled with flavoring that included potassium-laden herbal compound that allowed you to diurese from the salty item you just ate?  

We will always have shelf-happy items in the grocery store that can be stored for a long time and that's okay, but we can also begin to fill them with healthy components we might not get around to eating in the produce aisle.

What if that mixed salad bag you get has components and dressing that allow you to keep your blood sugar even or maybe lower your BP or even relax you? 

I suspect the use of herbs and spices, roots and the like will be a big business for the food industry. Even to say that they have these components in their food is a huge boon. Instead of hiding the issues with fake sugar in a soda, they could actually tout a soda that is based on the clean exciting taste of ginger and cilantro with concentrates of the healthy elements in each can.

I look forward to the population throwing up their hands at pharmaceutical dollars spent and pills to solve issues and begin to ask for a diet that can support a health population that is capable of digging ditches, carting boxes, fighting enemies, and being fit and capable, long-lived, and contributing their massive knowledge as they age, knowing their brains continue to be bright and alert. 

Here's to the future of the food industry and the aging populations' influence!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Passion Fruit

Passion fruit, rich in vitamin C, super immune system boosting.

I'm growing this on a screen door I hinged onto my patio edge as a lattice.

Here's how it looks when it takes over (above) - not my yard.

In the drugstore, you can get tincture of passionflower. About 20-30 drops in a drink or under your tongue is equivalent to an Ativan (anti-anxiety drug). 

I use it for when I have to fly or if I am having bouts of insomnia. It is great for lowering BP and helping depression/anxiety and insomnia.

In the Phoenix area, this can grow quite well. It likes the heat and sunshine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pineapple Benefits and Uses

Oh, to have fresh pineapple is a super delight. It's a fruit so sweet, it's great to add to smoothies. A container of diced pineapple in the refrigerator can go quickly. In summertime, this is the craving. Here's some uses - 


pineapple with cottage cheese for breakfast

pineapple with yogurt and granola

sauteed pineapple with brown sugar and butter poured over pancakes or french toast

pineapple smoothie with vanilla yogurt and coconut water


pineapple chunk wrapped with bacon and held in place by toothpick. 400 degree oven cook 25-30 minutes, dousing with a glaze of brown sugar, soy sauce, cayenne, ginger, and pineapple juice.

Side dish and salsa

pineapple with cabbage slaw, mint, cilantro, lime juice, and red onion.

crushed pineapple in rice, soy, and green onion with stir fry.

tropical salsa with mango, pineapple, red pepper, papaya, lime juice, red onion OR green onion, jalepeno, cilantro, chili powder, salt, pepper.

sliced pineapple grilled and put atop a burger with teriyaki sauce.

pulverize in Magic Bullet or Nutribullet to make popsicles.

pineapple daiquiris.

added to salad. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Going Vegan: Adding Vegan Plant-Based Principals Into Any Diet

I wrote my ebook "Going Vegan" to express how important it is to bring plant-matter and micronutrients into your diet. It even has a great deal of information on how to add vegan practices to a meat-eating diet, as well. 

It's all about realizing how vital the "gatherer" aspect of our hunter-gatherer nature is to our health. I share a lot of tips and tricks for sneaking more veggies into your family's diet, as well.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tropical Party Popsicle and Tropical Soda

When you live in the desert, the first 100-degree day, you are looking at the water temperature, dragging out the swimsuits, and making cold drinks. Here's two I love to make - one is frozen!

I cut up watermelon, pineapple and mango and put into a magic bullet mixer and add coconut rum. Whirl and pour into popsicle molds. 

You can do all kinds of variations. Sometimes I add cilantro or ginger for zing.

The best soda I've ever had is made with no sugar added. Tonic water has a natural sweetening taste to it when mixed with fruit. I put watermelon, ginger root, mango, and pineapple chunks into a bottle and put in fridge. Now and then I turn it upside down to help mix the flavors. This is so much like real soda taste that you feel super guilty.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Steak-Tasting Beer Beef Stew

Best beef stew begins with a good stock. This was made with t-bones from steak at a previous meal. While I ate the meal, the bones cooked in water, salt and pepper on the stove for a good hour at least. Then, I put it in a container and froze it for later use. 

Butter and oil both in pan. Dredge stew meat in flour and cook on pan with onion, garlic and celery until meat browns. 

Put in put with beef stock in pot. Add pre-boiled potatoes and carrots. 

Mix beer with flour to thicken it. 

Add worstershire, parsley, rosemary, pepper, salt. Can add dash of A1 sauce or Heinz 57.

Cook until thickened and veggies and beef are ready. Can do in a crockpot. 

The T-bone stock creates a very steak-scented stew. It's intoxicating! 

Adding Homesteading To Suburban Life

Most people have a wee homesteader inside of them. It might be appreciating repurposing cast-out items, fixing things around the house and yard, constructing things, experimenting with cooking and canning, growing vegetables and the like. 

The sense of independence and industry, time with nature and mastery of skills are intoxicating.

I grow an organic garden with herbs, veggies, fruits, roots, you name it! But I also look to creating interesting artwork for the yard made out of found objects and interesting trellises to grow vines up.

The homeowner where I live decided to throw out the screen door, but I saw a trellis.

Now, pole beans having a support and it adds some architectural interest to the patio. As he is wheelchair bound right now, he will appreciate being able to pick beans off his porch.

As well, I am growing a wall of corn and melons along the patio that both shade the patio from heat, give privacy, and make a place for him to pick. 

There are grapevines growing along the corner post of the patio where I have a pot of flowers lined by empty wine bottles that catch the light. I put hooks on the posts of the patio with twine pulled taut for the grapevines to grow up and block sun off the porch.

This birdfeeder above was made from an old headboard post found out in the desert and a piece of broken composite board painted in southwest colors and a bird feeder attached to it. 

I took an old terra cotta pot and painted it with southwestern colors and added a white platter with water for a bird bath.

There are so many things you can work with to put a little homesteading in your life.

Consider - 
*making compost
*growing a garden
*repurposing household items as garden art or practical places for plants to climb
*making wine or beer
*using herbs for healing
*making healing bitters
*canning extra produce
*utilizing architectural elements like windows, doors and gates for garden art.
*make a potting shed out of found items. (go on and find out what your neighbors might be getting rid of if you haul it away, like taking down a gazebo and using the wood or garden rock).
*call your landscapers or city for free mulch that they dump on your driveway and you can haul to your garden and put where you need it.
*learn how to quilt and sew.
*try your hand at making pottery.
*make a koi fish pond.
*get some chickens for your yard and to love.

There is something about a sense of self reliance, the physical industry that goes into homesteading that makes you feel young and strong and in control of a life that sometimes feels like it's in your boss's or family's hands. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ham and Cheese Croissants

Got a roll of croissant dough? Make a sandwich. In this case, I took thin sliced ham and shredded cheddar and mustard. 

Roll up and cook by directions at 350 degrees. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hashed Brown Brunch Cups

I love these for brunch and a little Tabasco to douse on them.

Thaw a bag of frozen hashed browns. Spray muffin tins well with cooking spray. Press the hashed browns into cups to make cup shape. 

Cook at 450 until crispy and dried out - they will pull away from the cups when they are done.

Put in tiny diced tomato with garlic salt, pepper, salt tossed with it, bacon crumbled, cheddar cheese. Beat some eggs and put some egg mix on top. Cook in the 450 oven x 5 mins. 

They pull right out of tin. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Surf and Turf Leftovers

If you're doing Surf and Turf, you know it's expensive!! One evening for a celebration, my friends and I got t-bone steaks, jumbo shrimp and king crab legs. Total cost? Over $100. The next day, I was determined, we would enjoy it again without a replay of the day before and utilizing all the tastiness.

When we ate the steaks, the bones were set on a plate. The shrimp tails and crab shells were put on a plate. Many of the legs' meat were not eaten, so I removed the meat. I boiled the shells and tails in water to make a stock. The bones were equally done the same in another pot of water. The stocks were frozen for later use.

The next day the steak was cut in thin slices on diagonal and put in a hot pan with cheddar and heated. They were put on whole grain bread with a mix of Heinz 57 sauce and a bit of horseradish.

I heated up the stock made from the seafood and extra crab. I added some fresh parsley, a couple cloves of minced garlic, some sauteed onion. Then I made a medium golden roux of butter/flour and added milk to thicken. A dash or two of tabasco. I added 2 tsp of Cowboy Spice Company's Orange Black Pepper Trail Seasoning.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Raw Smoothies: Health Insurance in a Glass

We don't usually get around to raw fruits and vegetables unless we have a token salad at some point during our week. 

But, it's super easy to have 4-8 servings of raw fruits and veggies, herbs and roots a day without any daily stress. 

First, get an individual-sized Magic Bullet or other pulverizing device. This one (below) is around $32. 

Buy your organic fruits, veggies, herbs and roots and clean and cut them up, mix them up, and put them into small freezer bags so they are ready to use. 

Whirl up your breakfast and it's already in the drinking mug or mix up a snack in seconds. If this is your breakfast and two in-between-meal snacks a day, you've gotten your fiber, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting and disease- fighting needs met for the day. 

Tip: Keep some bags of frozen fruit on hand for when you need a quick blend - berry mix is great and melons.

Here's some elements of mixes - 

Liquid - water, coconut water, almond milk
Protein - Greek yogurt, nuts, milk
Fiber - chia seeds, raw oats
Veggies - spinach, kale, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, greens
Herbs - cilantro, parsley, ginger root
Fruits - seasonal - watermelon, berries, pineapple, bananas, dates, grapes, mango, peach, orange

My breakfast whirl is raw oats, banana, cinnamon, and almond milk

Dessert-like shake: frozen dates, almond milk, cocoa powder.

Snack mixes: I always use ginger for anti-inflammatory and the heat cuts through "yucky" veggie tastes. 
I also add a sour - in summer I use granny smith apples and in winter I use cranberries. Sour cuts through the taste too. 
I try to mix lots of colors and greens for most nutrient dynamics.

For something everyone will drink - spinach and orange. It sounds weird, but the taste is amazing. Granny smith, cilantro and ginger.

Depending on how you feel health wise, mix it up differently. 
For cleansing - greens. 
For colds and tiredness - ginger and orange.

This is such a simple way to recharge your health. Drinking one of these gives an instant ALIVE feeling, as if every cell is doing a happy dance. It's like caffeine without quickened pulse and super let-down. 

Side effects: healthy skin tones, moister skin, fantastic bowel regularity, diuresis/lowered BP, mental clarity, boosted metabolism, better health, refreshing sleep, clearer vision, and much more!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

ShRed's Chicken Enchilada Soup

I've had a blast working on this recipe. Here's how it goes - 

I take 4 thin half chicken breasts and slow cook them and tear them apart.

Then, 1 T. vegetable oil in a pan to cook 1 diced clove of garlic and 1/2 c. diced onion.

Mix 1 c. masa harina and 3 c. water (can find this in a bag in the cooking aisle or Mexican food aisle, like flour) in a large pot.

Add the cooked garlic and onion, 1 c. enchilada sauce, 16 oz of velveeta cheese, 1/2 tsp of hot sauce (I use buffalo sauce), 1-1/2 tsp Cowboy Spice Company Red River Fajita seasoning, 4 c. of chicken broth, 1 tsp salt. 

Add the chicken and 3/4 c. frozen corn.

Bring to boil and reduce heat to low and simmer 30-40 mins covered. 

I take corn tortillas and cut into thin strips and deep fry to put atop the bowl of soup. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Buffalo Fried Chicken with Buffalo Gravy

I was feeling like fried chicken and gravy but the weather turned hot and the thought of typical country fried chicken and gravy with biscuit sounded a bit, well, blah. 

I took the chicken, cutting it into tiny strips and marinated in a mix of buffalo hot sauce and milk. 

In one bowl, I put flour with salt and pepper. In another bowl I put eggs mixed with Buffalo hot sauce. In another bowl, I put cracker crumbs mixed with 2 tsp of Cowboy Spice Company Sweet Heat

I dipped chicken into flour mix, egg mix, then cracker spice mix. I heated up the oil and fried it. 

I made a gravy with a roux of 2 T butter, 3 T flour, and when it was golden, I added 3/4 c milk, 1/4 c. buffalo sauce and 1/4 c. chicken broth. If gravy gets too thick while heating, add more milk.

I put the chicken on the plate with an open biscuit, added some of the cracklings from frying pan to the gravy and put that over the chicken and biscuit. Then, drizzled with ranch dressing.

This was a pretty mind-blowing experience! 

Arizona Restaurants Under Review

I recently tried out two restaurants I had driven by but never stopped and ate at.  Heading home from some shopping, my best friend and...