Friday, October 31, 2014

Design Can Be Scary

Happy Halloween!

Have you seen the Ashley Furniture commercial yet? Oh my gosh! This made me laugh and smile for hours later. This little girl is getting a scary design lesson. 

I agree this dining room is not attractive at all. But as a designer I get scared by both things that don't match and things that do match. Good design includes repetition of pattern, form, or color and focal points or the unexpected object.

Sometimes matching things or as I say "Matchy Matchy Foo Foo" is just too much. It can be dull or just plain scary. Sometimes it can hide an architectural flaw or make a space appear larger than it really is. A single color can be soothing not boring.

Is this too much? or Is it covering a irregularity in the right wall?

One color is soothing and fresh. But notice 
the texture and pattern created by the variety of tile size.

You need variety in design to create character and individuality. But if everything is different is it distracting or exciting?

 This would be a boring room if all the chairs were the same. 
There differences make this room exciting.

These fabrics do not match. But there is repetition
of color and the scale of the patterns are similar.
I love the merging and alternating of two different chair styles.

Lesson is don't go out and feel you have to get the whole matching suit or collection of a certain line of furniture for good design. You can collect things of interest over time. Don't feel the drapery must match the furniture. It does not have to be the same fabric.

Don't be scared to be an individual. Scary is thinking you have to follow the crowd or that you must do it the way everyone does it. Frightening is conforming to a trend because everyone is doing it. Do use wallpaper if you like it. Don't be discouraged from the purchase because your neighbor said wallpaper is out.

Go out and scare someone with your own personal style and design.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Asian Spaghetti Squash

I sort of feel the same about spaghetti squash as I do lettuce wraps. I always feel like I am doing something great for myself when I prepare it; so healthy and low carb. This recipe was inspired by a Taste of Home recipe for Asian Spaghetti. It was so good, but I was making it too often. So adapting it to a veggie side dish with all the same great flavor seemed necessary for me. I have to admit at first bite I thought no I like the original. But once it cooled a little I really really liked it. This dish is more about Asian flavors and the spaghetti squash. I really enjoyed the squash, it wasn't all about the sauce on top. This is great as a light meal or as a side. It would be wonderful with grilled fish, chicken or pork. I plan to add shrimp next time, I think it would be brilliant. I did experiment with the leftovers and let me tell you it is great cold or re-heated. I LOVE it with an over easy egg and Sriracha on top! It is the recipe that keeps on giving. You could make it on the weekend and have at least three different lunch options during the week. Definitely a keeper.

Asian Spaghetti Squash
4 to 6 Servings


1 spaghetti squash
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
a heaping 1 tsp. garlic chili sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tsp. Sesame oil
4 green onions, sliced and divided
2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Optional garnishes:
Sriracha sauce, to taste
More sesame seeds


To prepare spaghetti squash: Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place cut side down in a microwave safe dish, add 1/4 cup of water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes (You may have to do each half separately, I do). When squash is cool enough to handle, pull the squash into spaghetti like threads.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, sugar and sesame oil.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms, snow peas and carrots stir for a few minutes until veggies are tender crisp. Pour soy sauce mixture over vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Remove from heat; add spaghetti squash and half of the green onions toss to combine. To serve remove to a platter and sprinkle with remaining green onions and sesame seeds.

Got Leftovers?

Also delicious as a cold salad with or without a splash of rice wine vinegar.

AMAZING! reheated with a over easy egg and Sriracha on top.
The running yolk adds a great richness to the squash strands.

Last but not least reheat in low sodium chicken broth with a shake each 
of white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and kosher salt. 
It is warm and "Ramen" like. The mushroom flavor
is so obvious in the broth. So good!

***UPDATE 10.31.2014***
Tried re-heating in broth as above and topping with the egg and Sriracha. Ooooo! Really really good! Umm umm ummm!!!

Linking to:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: Freedom Fridays with All My Bloggy Friends
The Diary of a Real Housewife: Friday Favorites
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This weekend?
Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays
Back to Basics: Tuesdays with a Twist
Yesterfood: Treasure Box Tuesday

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chicken Carbonara Tortellini Soup

Calling this soup a carbonara soup may cause an up roar. I know there are no eggs or bacon in the list of ingredients. But it sure taste like carbonara. It is rich, cheesy and the ham gives the broth a savory smoky flavor like bacon. I decided to go with a name that suited the flavors not a list of ingredients that would make for a long rambling name. This is another speedy souper supper inspired by Sunny and Rachael's 10 Instant Supper Soups. It is also inspired by a Easy Chicken Manicotti recipe I made once. The flavors were so good but it was a time consuming dish. This easy soup has all the same great flavor and can be ready in less than 20 minutes. And as a bonus it is even better the next day. All the tortellini soups I have made just get better the next day. So make enough to have leftovers. Double the recipe if you have to. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Chicken Carbonara Tortellini Soup
Servings:  6


6 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
9 oz. package cheese tortellini
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup diced ham
10 - 12 oz. frozen peas
1/2 cup half and half
Black pepper (3 to 4 grinds)
Ground nutmeg (just a sprinkle)
Parmesan, shredded to garnish


Place broth in a stock pot, bring to a boil. Add tortellini, simmer 9 minutes or according to package directions. Add chicken, ham, peas and seasoning, continue to cook until peas are defrosted and chicken is warm through. Add half and half and taste for seasoning, adjust to taste. Do not let the soup simmer after adding the half and half. Keep warm on low heat. Serve garnished with Parmesan.

Linking to:
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
The Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?
Back to the Basics: Tuesdays with a Twist
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
My Turn for Us: Freedom Friday with All My Bloggy Friends

Southwest Chicken and Vegetable Soup

This soup is a modification to the Chicken Tortilla Soup I have already posted. Years ago I was looking for a way to reduce carbs and fat in the recipe. So I altered my original recipe to resemble a restaurant soup I had somewhere. The exact restaurant escapes me now. Oh well... It did inspire one great soup. This taste of the southwest is spicy and loaded with veggies. The zucchini and squash breaks down a little in the soup and makes a slightly thick broth. So good! The brown rice makes this soup a meal and also adds a great chewy texture. This pot of soup is made with all low/no sodium ingredients. I roasted my own chilies and added them to the can tomatoes to simulate rotel tomatoes. But if you are looking for a short-cut? Well I have great news. I have made it many times with one can rotel original tomatoes with green chilies and one can diced tomatoes. You can do the same just omit the roasted chilies and substitute a can of rotel for one of the cans diced tomatoes. More good news I have found no salt added rotel at Wal-mart this week. So you can have both convenience and low sodium. If you want to get this soup on the table fast use leftover chicken or chicken from a store bought rotisserie chicken. I have made all these substitutions and it always turns out delicious. I hope you will think so too.

Southwest Chicken and Vegetable Soup 
Servings:  12


1 or 2 Hatch or Anaheim (California) green chilies
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast 
Olive oil spray
1 med. red onion, quartered and sliced
1 lg. or 2 sm. zucchini, halved and sliced 
1 lg. or 2 sm. summer squash, halved and sliced 
2 (14.5 oz.) cans no salted added diced tomatoes, with liquid  
6 cups fat-free, unsalted chicken broth 
1/4 tsp ground cumin 
3/4 tsp Seasoned Pepper 
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic Seasoning 
Kosher salt to taste (omit for a low sodium diet)
1/2 cup instant brown rice 
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 


Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

To grill the chilies: Place chilies on the grill. Grill for five minutes on each side on medium high heat. Remove chilies and cover with plastic wrap. When chilies are cool enough to touch, peel off the skin of the chilies. Cut chilies in half from stem to tip, remove seeds, stem and veins. Chop into small dice.

Place chicken in a 3-1/2 quart pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. At the first sign of bubbles lower to temperature to low. Poach chicken for 30 minutes. Discard cooking liquid and shred chicken. Set chicken aside. Rinse pot and return to heat. (You may use leftover chicken or pull chicken from a store bought rotisserie chicken.)

Sauté onion in olive oil spray until they start to get transparent. Add the squash and zucchini. Sauté until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes, chilies, broth and seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add chicken, rice and cilantro. Simmer until rice is cooked. 

Serve garnished with more cilantro, sour cream or sliced avocado.

Linking to:
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
The Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?
Back to the Basics: Tuesdays with a Twist
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
My Turn for Us: Freedom Friday with All My Bloggy Friends
My Pinterventures: Souper Bowl 2015 Party

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Low Sodium Ramen Noodle Salad

When I originally posted my recipe for Oriental Ramen Noodle Salad I had no idea how popular it would be. I mean I thought everyone had their recipe for this simple salad. You know it still remains the most viewed recipe on my blog. Of the two years I have been blogging nothing has been able to de-throne it. 

Well get ready to toss that high sodium flavor packet. I have developed a low sodium version of this popular salad. I have substituted a sodium free bouillon packet and my own spices for the little packet that comes with the ramen. It worked so well. I did add a little more vinegar too. As I mention before vinegar is a great way to add brightness to a dish like salt would. I left out the sunflower seeds and doubled up on the almonds. It can be hard to find unsalted sunflower seeds. Honestly ... I forgot to even look when I was at the store. I did not miss them, the almonds have great crunch too. The fact that I left out the seeds did inspire the sesame garnish. They really add a finishing touch to this salad. I was really pleased with this low sodium make-over. Dear sister even said she did not miss the salt in this one. Well there you go a salt shaker stamp of approval. It is definitely worth a try real soon. Don't you think?

Low Sodium Ramen Noodle Salad
Serves 6 to 8


1 pkg Ramen noodles any flavor
1 large package Coleslaw mix
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup silvered almonds
Black and white sesame seeds, to garnish

1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 packet sodium free chicken bouillon granules
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. dried chives
1/8 tsp. five spice powder


Toss or save ramen flavor packet for another use. Break noodles into pieces and mix with coleslaw mix, onions, and almonds in a large bowl. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake vigorously. Pour over salad, toss and chill for several hours. When ready to eat, toss again to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
The Chicken Chick: Clever Chicks Blog Hop
The Tumbleweed Contessa: What'd You Do This Weekend?
Memories By The Mile: Treasure Box Tuesday
Stone Cottage Adventures: Tuesdays with a Twist
Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday - Picnic Food

Hayride Bean Soup

from FB page Remember in
Shreveport when...

I was very young when I first heard about the Louisiana Hayride. I never had the opportunity to see or attend a performance at Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium. I did however frequent the Hayride Kitchen in Bossier City, Louisiana. In fact I thought that was the Hayride. We would go there for dinner and I would see the stage and the sign. That is what the Louisiana Hayride was to me. It was Hayride Kitchen, the restaurant where music played as you ate bean soup served in tiny cast iron kettles, BBQ (I remembered fried fish but the family said BBQ) and drank iced tea in mason jars.

It wasn't until I was in high school that I started to understand the amazing history of both the Louisiana Hayride and the Municipal Auditorium. In high school we learned the auditorium was built in the 1920s, and the architect who designed it was Samuel Weiner. It is admired for its intricate brickwork and as a fine example of Art Deco construction. It is significant for hosting the Louisiana Hayride radio program, from 1948 to 1960. It has been said, that the Hayride is where artists such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, performed and possibly got their careers started. When the Hayride left the municipal, it was later broadcast and kept alive at the Hayride Kitchen until 1987. The municipal remained open all that time as a event venue. As a high school graduate, I like every senior in Caddo schools walked the Municipal's stage to receive my diploma. Still at that age I did not fully understand the importance of this auditorium. 

It wasn't until I got the opportunity to work on the renovations there that it started to sink in. Recently I worked with a team of architects who helped to preserve this fine old building. I got to walk the halls, dressing rooms, basement (not all of it, the basement is one of the haunted areas) and stage. The same areas all those stars began their careers. The halls are lined with photos of all the performers that performed there. There are little closets that have been turned into exhibits showing what it was like in those hay days. 

My little part of the renovations was helping to select new seating to replace some old 60s seating that had seen better times. We choice something that looked more like it had been there from the very beginning. There are still two sections left that are the original wood seats and backs. The municipal staff did an excellent job of restoring these areas with all the original components available. This was one of those jobs or projects that I will always remember. It was an honor to work on a little part of history.

Old 60s Seating

Well I kind of got side tracked didn't I? This post was suppose to be about the Bean Soup recipe from Hayride Kitchen. But I had to tell you about the history of the Hayride and the name sake of the soup, right? Anyway, if you want to know more about the Municipal Auditorium and the Louisiana Hayride check out these great links.

Back to the soup. I really have no way to know for sure if this is the actually soup recipe. I got the recipe a few years ago from a Facebook page Remember in Shreveport when... Since then I have seen other recipes using cans of beans and even soup that claim to be the Hayride recipe. So don't hold me to it. I am more of a foodie and not a historian. I can tell you this soup was delicious. It did bring back great memories of the restaurant. It made me want to go buy some little iron soup kettles. I did make a double recipe and substituted some low sodium ingredients so I could share it with the entire family. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The only thing I might add next time is a bay leaf. I just love bay in beans. Oh and I really really want those little iron kettles! It just made this soup special as a child. Thanks for letting me ramble on. I hope you enjoy this soup and the history.

Hayride Bean Soup
Makes 10 servings


2 pound Navy Beans
1 package low sodium bacon, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning
4 tablespoon parsley


Rinse and sort beans. Cover with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and let stand, covered for 1 hour.

Return beans to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook beans until tender. Sauté bacon until brown, remove bacon and add to the pot. Remove all but one or two tablespoons of bacon fat. Saute onions, garlic and celery in bacon fat. When veggies begin to soften add to beans. Add more water at this time to desired soup constancy (I added about 5 cups). Cook 2 more hours. Add other ingredients and cook another 20 minutes, then take 1 cup of beans out, mash and return to pot. Cook 10 minutes longer.

Here is the recipe as copied from Facebook:

There is something about the colors in these photos 
that reminds me of my Maw Maw (Dad's Mom). 
Specifically her kitchen or maybe her coffee cups? 
That has nothing to do with this recipe but I just had to share.

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
The Chicken Chick: Clever Chicks Blog Hop
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
Memories By The Mile: Treasure Box Tuesday
Stone Cottage Adventures: Tuesdays with a Twist

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Low Sodium Italian Sausage Soup

Here is another experiment in eliminating sodium from a tried and true soup recipe. I borrowed the spice mix from my Low Sodium Italian Sausage recipe and used it to make turkey Italian sausage. It works perfectly and reduced the sodium in this favorite Italian Sausage Soup. I also used unsalted chicken stock and no salt tomatoes. But I kept the Parmesan for a garnish. It was really really good! Maybe a little spicier than the original, but I liked it. Definitely a soup that adapts well to a low sodium diet.

Low Sodium Italian Sausage Soup
Makes 6 servings


1 tsp. olive oil
19.2 oz. 93% lean ground turkey
1 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed
3/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 cups unsalted chicken broth
2 (14.5-oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 cup uncooked small shell pasta
4 cups bagged baby spinach leaves
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil


Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, turkey, garlic and seasonings to pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

Add broth, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and basil. 

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Yesterfood: Treasure Box Tuesday
Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays
Anyonita Nibbles: Tasty Tuesday
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday
Love Bakes Good Cakes: The Ultimate Soup Recipe List Linky
My Pinterventures: Souper Bowl 2015 Party

Thai Turkey Burgers

I am sure there is not one little thing about this burger that is authentic Thai. This burger is borrowing Thai flavors. My Thai experiences are very limited. I have had Spring Rolls, Pork Noodle Salad and Chicken Basil Cashew. All delicious. What I like about them is how each dish is full of fresh ingredients. This burger recipe is definitely a mash up. Dear sister had the idea. She mentioned that the Thai Style Peanut Dipping Sauce we use for spring rolls would be delicious on my Cilantro Lime Turkey Burgers. She is so right. This burger is AMAZING! I love the spicy peanut sauce with the cool and fresh toppings. It amazes me how the same burger blend can taste so different by just changing the toppings. Dear sister decided to have hers as a wrap with no bun. She really enjoyed it too. She said she would eat anything that had the peanut sauce on it. I am so glad sister made this suggestion. I am ready to make these burgers again this week. So Good!

Thai Turkey Burgers
Makes 4 servings


20 oz. ground turkey (93% lean)
Zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
White pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste
Olive oil
Thai Style Peanut Dipping Sauce [Click here for the recipe]
4 Lettuce leaves
Cucumber, sliced
Carrot, shredded
1 Avocado, peeled and sliced
4 Hamburger Buns


Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine first 5 ingredients gently. Shape mixture into 4 patties, making the patties thinner in the middle then the edge. Coat hands in a little olive oil and rub on the outside of each patty.

Grill, covered with grill lid, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip burger and grill covered for another 6 minutes. Remove from grill cover with foil and let rest while preparing the toppings. Slice all the vegetables and dress with lime juice. To serve spread peanut sauce on both sides of the hamburger bun. Place burger on the bottom bun and top with cucumber, lettuce, carrots and sliced avocado. Finish with bun top.

Dear sister's wrap

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Yesterfood: Treasure Box Tuesday
Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays
Anyonita Nibbles: Tasty Tuesday
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday
Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday - Thai Food

Red Beans and Rice

In our family red beans means smoke sausage and white beans ham. I have already shared the White Beans and Rice recipe with you in another post. Now I am happy to share the red beans. Last week I made this pot of Red Beans and Rice. Dear sister brought me some beef and pork smoke sausage from Bergeron's. I decided to let the sausage contribute the sodium and not add any salt. I was really surprised how much flavor and seasoning can be contributed to the sausage only. I did add black pepper and Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. It is quickly becoming my favorite no sodium replacement for creole seasoning. I personally did not miss the salt. I just added my usual shake of Tabasco sauce and was very happy. I am not going to lie, I saw a little salt being shaken at the table. But who could blame them, I know just how delicious this recipe is prepared the traditional way. So shake that shaker if you can. I am just happy to share a recipe that everyone no matter their health concerns can enjoy. You just can't beat a plate of Louisiana Red Beans and Rice.

Red Beans and Rice
Serves: 4 to 6


1 lb. dried red beans (kidney)
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
8 cups of water
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 ribs of celery, chopped (including the leafy tops)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large bay leaf
Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy and black pepper, to taste (low sodium version)
    or kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and Cajun seasoning, to taste
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (I like more)
White or brown rice, prepared for serving


Rinse and sort beans. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and let stand, covered for 1 hour. Drain beans.

Add 8 cups hot water and return pot to heat. Add sausage, onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer; add bay leaf, Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy and black pepper (or other seasonings except salt). Simmer uncovered for two hours. Do not add salt (if using) until beans are soft. When beans are soft, add salt (if using) and taste for seasoning. Add seasonings to taste. Beans are done when creamy and not soupy. Stir in parsley just before serving. Serve over white or brown rice prepared as directed on the package.

After one hour

After two hours

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
Yesterfood: Treasure Box Tuesday
Creative K Kids: Tasty Tuesdays
Anyonita Nibbles: Tasty Tuesday
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Dizzy Busy & Hungry: Wine'd Down Wednesday

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