Monthly Archives: February 2016

Chicken Tamale Pie

I keep adding more Mexican dishes to my everyday recipe collection.  Most people are surprised to hear that I don’t cook Mexican food.  I didn’t grow up with it.  Argentina is thousands of miles away from Mexico.  The U.S. is right next door.  I bet you never thought of it like that before.  Every Hispanic country has their own foods and ways to prepare them.  Argentina does not have much in the way of Mexican foods or restaurants.  When I taught high school, my students were always amazed hearing that I ate my first taco at 19 years old.  I think I got it from a Taco Bell.  I found that burritos were more of my taste and I would indulge in them often but only from Taco Bell.  I didn’t know how to eat a tamale.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the corn husk.  It wasn’t until my neighbor, from across the street, who brought me a dozen for Christmas one year, that I got the courage to ask how to cook and eat them.  They are not my favorite but I do enjoy going to a Mexican restaurant now that I have experimented a little more and find the food delicious.  Nothing spicy for me, though.

So, back to this recipe.  I find that Mexican food is so flexible and many ingredients interchangeable, making it ideal for those people who are watching their calories and their macro-nutrients.  This tamale pie is easy and you can add or take off anything to make it work for your palate or caloric intake.  We eat this one pretty often.  One of these days, I’m going to make the cream-style corn and the green salsa from scratch.  For now, I’m going the fast and easy route.  Hope you like it.


1/2 cup Cornmeal

1 – 14 3/4 oz. can of Cream-Style Corn

1 lb. Cooked Chicken, shredded (See note below.)

1 – 16 oz. jar mild or medium Green Salsa

1/3 cup Black Olives, sliced or chopped

1/3 cup low-fat Mexican-blend shredded Cheese

1 Tomato, sliced (optional)

Cilantro, Green Onions, Chili Powder, Avocado slices, Sour Cream or Yogurt to your liking

NOTE: The cooked chicken needed is about 3 cups of shredded meat.  You can use a rotisserie chicken from the store.  I often will make boneless, skinless chicken breasts the night before.  I put a few extra on and save 3 for this recipe. The other thing you might try is making Chicken Broth and using some of the meat here.


In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups Water to a boil.  Add the Cornmeal slowly, whisking continually.  Once it’s all incorporated, reduce heat to medium and continue to whisk for 3 minutes.


Add the can of Corn and return to boil.  Then, reduce heat to medium-low, stirring so it doesn’t scorch for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, set the oven to 400 degrees.


In an 8 x 8 or 2 quart baking dish, mix the Chicken, Salsa and Olives.


Spoon the Cornmeal over the Chicken.


Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.


Sprinkle the Cheese over the Cornmeal and continue cooking 10 -15 more minutes until it’s bubbling hot.


Pull it out of the oven and add any topping you would like.


Serves 4 at 407 Calories, 33.3 grams Carbs, 12.1 grams Fat, 38 grams Protein a serving. (Without adding optional garnishes and tomatoes.)


Buen Provecho!


Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe comes directly from  The recipe is called Monogrammed Cream-Filled Cupcakes on their website.  I changed it to look like the traditional Hostess Cupcakes.  Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of cakes or cupcakes at my home.  Mom was into pastries, buttery goodness.  When I grew old enough to cross the street to the local supermarket, I remember buying Hostess Cupcakes.  I continued purchasing them through my teenage years.  A few years back, I thought to try them again, for old time’s sake.  Well, let me tell you, either my mind has enhanced my memory or they have become tasteless.  So, I was pretty excited to come across this recipe.  It is in no way, shape or form healthy.  It’s not from scratch but it brings back so many memories and it tastes so much better than the commercially made ones.

I made these often when I taught high school.  Teenagers love them.  It’s just so cool to have the cream filling in the cupcake.  It’s a little time consuming but still quick and easy. I have promised myself that one day I will create a recipe from scratch but for now, they do the trick.  I hope they bring you good old or new memories.





1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Devil’s Food Cake Mix (I have substituted for any chocolate cake mix.)

1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs



1 cup Betty Crocker Whipped Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup Marshmallow Creme


1 cup Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate Frosting (Any chocolate frosting will also work.)

1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

2 tsp. Corn Syrup

3 Tbl. Betty Crocker Whipped Vanilla Frosting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in 24 regular-size muffin cups.  Make and bake the cake mix as directed on the box.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cooling rack.  Cool completely, about 30 minutes.


With the handle of a wooden spoon, make deep indentation in center of each cupcake.  Be careful to not go through the bottom.  You can wiggle it inside to create a bit of a crater.


In a small bowl, mix Vanilla Frosting and the Marshmallow Creme.  Spoon into a small Ziploc plastic bag.  Cut 3/8 inch tip off on corner of bag.  Insert tip of bag into each cupcake and squeeze to fill.


In small microwavable bowl, microwave Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate Chips and Corn Syrups uncovered on High for 30 seconds.


Stir.  Microwave 15 to 30 seconds longer, stir until smooth.


Dip top of each cupcake into frosting.  Let frosting set.


Spoon 3 Tbl. Vanilla Frosting into a small Ziploc plastic bag.  Cut tiny tip off 1 corner of bag.  Pipe decoration on each cupcake.


Share with your loved ones.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dulce de Leche and Ginger Truffles

Food is love.  I think when anyone goes out of their way to cook or bake for you, there is love.  I know that I enjoy food more when someone else has prepared it for me. My favorite dish, Pastel de Papa, is an Argentinian type of Shepherd’s Pie.  My mom made it perfect every time.  It was my birthday dinner choice.  I learned to make it from her and YET mine never tastes as good as hers.  No one else’s matches my mom’s.  GRRRR…My mom is gone now but the memory stays with me.  Food is love and now that Valentine’s Day is approaching instead of buying a box of chocolates, why don’t you make some truffles for the loves in your life.  It might create an everlasting memory.

This is my original creation.  I’m almost afraid to say that because there are so many recipes out there in the world, that I might not have been the first to discover this combination.  Do you know what I mean?  I read some cookbooks and recipes in magazines.  I’m starting to look more on the internet and on Instagram but I’m not a fanatic.  I’ve never seen anything like these.  These truffles just came into my head, especially because I love gingersnaps and I love dulce de leche and I love a good white chocolate.  That was it!  I put it all together and came out with this treat.

The taste is great but I did make some mistakes along the way that I’ll share with you.  You see, I’m not much of a confectioner, just the little bits I do at Christmastime.  I think these truffles are perfect for Valentine’s Day.  As many of my recipes are, this one is pretty easy and quick, too.  These truffles are very sweet and delicious.  So, make a batch and share with your sweetie.




1 cup Gingersnap crumbs (I used Anna’s Ginger Thins.)

1/2-2/3 cup Dulce de Leche (Look in the Mexican Food section, where the condensed milk is.)

1 Cup White Chocolate Chips (Guittard is the only chocolate I use.)

1 Tbl. Vegetable Shortening or Coconut Oil

Set some wax paper on a cookie sheet. Take 20 Gingersnaps and put in a Ziplock plastic bag.   Crush with a rolling pin until the cookies turn into small crumbs.  If you prefer, you can use a food processor for this step.  I guess I’m just old fashion.  I’d rather do it by hand.


Add the Dulce de Leche and stir until well combined.


Take about a tablespoon and roll into a ball.  It will be a little gooey. Use some confectioner’s sugar on your hands to help with this process.


Put them on the wax paper and prepare the truffle coating.  Microwave the White Chocolate Chips with the Vegetable Shortening or Coconut Oil for 30 seconds at time until smooth.  Stir in between heating.  Don’t overcook.  Then just dip the truffles in the Chocolate mixture.  I used a fork to dip them.


Once the chocolate coating had hardened, I melted a little white chocolate and drizzled over the truffles.  I didn’t use any shortening or coconut oil for the drizzle.  That’s it.

Now here is where I made my mistake.  I always see on TV or magazines that chefs will coat sweet somethings on a rack so the chocolate just drains down instead of pooling under the sweets.  So I used my cookie rack – look at the top picture.  Well, that was a total mistake! See what happened!


I used  a knife to pry those little babies off the grid!  I had to laugh at my attempt to be so professional.  Oh well, use wax paper on a cookie sheet instead.

I hope you will try them and let me know what you think.  You could always use dark or milk chocolate for the coating.  Remember to give some away to your sweetheart.


I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!




Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes

I don’t know if you have noticed, but lately I have been making lots recipes that include lemons and olive oil.  My Meyers lemon tree is full of lemons and I’m trying to use them as much as I can.  This particular recipe I adapted from Lucero’s Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with White Balsamic Icing.  Lucero is a well-known olive oil producer and I have been checking out the recipes on their website.  I loved the idea that the lemon cupcakes are flavored only with lemon infused olive oil. It worked and they were delicious.  I didn’t follow the White Balsamic Icing basically because I didn’t have white lemon balsamic vinegar.  Do you?  I didn’t want to buy a bottle of something that I didn’t think I would use on anything else.  So, I made a simple lemon icing and it actually turned out pretty well.  I used some lemon extract that I had made previously.  If you are adventurous then by all means look up the recipe at and try it out.

I try to bring something every week to my fellow volunteers at the food locker.  You know how you get so much joy from giving.  Giving is better than receiving.  My co-volunteers really show appreciation and joy from tasting all my stuff.  I must confess that I get a big thrill when I receive good feedback from someone who is eating whatever I have made.  Hearing someone say that it’s really good or yummm… or can I have the recipe?, gives me so much satisfaction.  And after I get all the praises and make sure that the recipe is good, I get to do it all over again with you when I share it here.  Blogging is almost as wonderful as cooking for someone in person.  Thanks for reading and being a part of my joy.  Here’s the Lemon Olive Oil Cupcake recipe:




3 Eggs

2 1/2 cups Sugar

1 1/2 cups Lemon Infused Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups Milk

2 1/2 cups Flour

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

3/4 tsp. Salt


1 tsp. Lemon Extract (Mine is homemade. You can always use vanilla extract.)

3 Tbl. Lemon Juice

2 cups Powdered Sugar

Place paper liners in muffin pans.  This makes about 30 cupcakes. Mix the Eggs, Lemon Infused Olive Oil, and Milk.  Sift the dry ingredients, the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt, in a separate bowl.


Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones.


This makes a lot of batter.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center.


Let cool and glaze with the icing.

For the icing, just mix the Lemon Juice, Lemon Extract and Powdered Sugar until smooth.


The CD I’ve been listening to a lot lately when I’m cooking is Seis Cuerdas. It’s beautiful guitar music.  I love it!

I made 24 regular cupcakes and 10 mini-cupcakes.

Each cupcakes contains: 309 Calories, 12.2 grams Fat, 49.9 grams Carbs, 2.1 grams Protein.

Yikes!! but they are really yummy for an occasional treat.




How well do you know your Olive Oil?

Is your olive oil extra virgin as the label says?  It might not be. There has been a lot in the media lately on this particular topic.  Did you read the article in the December issue of Cook’s Illustrated?  How about the 60 Minutes report on Olive Oil in Italy, did you catch that?  If you have been keeping your eyes and ears open, you probably have heard that the Italian Olive Oil that we commonly purchase is not always Extra Virgin.  That’s right!  A lot of the Italian Oil is rancid.  According to the 60 Minutes report, any where between 75 to 80% of it is bad.  People in the industry know this. I just didn’t know that it was the Mafia that was involved in this rip off.

Many of my friends ask me to tell them which oils are the best.  I would always try to steer them away from the Italian ones but it was hard for me to come right out and say that their everyday oil from Italy is probably bad or will soon be for sure.  It’s hard to say that Italian oils are bad because there are so many wonderful oils from there.  If you have ever been to Italy, you know that their food and olive oil is outstanding but it’s what they send to us that is not always of good quality.

So, how do you know that you are buying something of good quality?  How can you tell? That’s exactly what I cover in my Olive Oil Tastings.  I show you what to look for when purchasing.  I tell you some of the qualities that make a good oil.  AND I teach you how to taste oils so you can distinguish, somewhat.  That’s what I do.  I taste oils for sensory analysis.  It’s through the human senses that one can distinguish if the oil is extra virgin or not.  It takes hours of training but I give you an idea of the most common defects found in oils.


I love doing this.  I present for about an hour and then, we all taste oils.  When it’s a small setting of 10 or 15 people, I encourage everyone to bring their olive oil from home so that we can taste them, too.  It’s great fun!  I believe that everyone leaves knowing more about this healthy food.  I dedicate myself to educating others because I have always considered myself a pretty good home cook but I didn’t know the difference between olive oils. I just bought Italian ones.  I use EVOO in just about every meal I make.  I was so taken aback when I found out some of the facts of the olive oils that I trusted, I feel I have to share with everyone I can.

If you would like to learn more or find out about that bottle of oil in your pantry, just contact me. I am now booking Olive Oil Tastings.  I am in Northern California.  Please contact me through this website if you are interested.

Happy Tasting!