Recipe Substitution Guide

Ok, so I haven’t done much cooking or baking since my husband died, which by the way, was two years ago last week. But…I may be getting back into the kitchen, so how fortunate was I to stumble upon this recipe substitution guide?



I hope this comes in handy for you, too.



Olive Garden’s Dolcini

A few weeks ago, I took a Jamie drive. (For a definition of a Jamie drive, read this.) I headed south without aim or purpose, and sooner, rather than later, I realized I was hungry. Good thing, I was near an Olive Garden, which used to be a favorite of mine when I lived in Texas, but after marrying someone with a refined and finicky palate, I didn’t frequent the restaurant as much. My late husband, raised in the Bay Area, was used to real Italian food, so for him, the Olive Garden was like cheap fast food. Yes, he was a food snob, so we never visited one together, but usually, if I’m in the area, I make it a point to stop for a meal.

I took advantage of their “Buy One, Take One” deal for $12.99, and ordered Mezzaluna Ravioli to eat at the restaurant and took the Smoked Mozzarella¬†Chicken home (which I highly recommend!). I also had a cocktail, but the highlight of my meal was the dessert. I chose to get three Dolcini, which are little desserts, about the size of woman’s fist made with layers of cake, mouse, pastry creams and berries.

I chose the chocolate mousse (of course!), the Limoncello Mousse, and the Amaretto Tiramisu.

(l-r) Limoncello Mousse, Chocolate Mousse, Amaretto Tiramisu

(l-r) Limoncello Mousse, Chocolate Mousse, Amaretto Tiramisu


Fifteen minutes later:

All gone!

All gone!


I recommend that you try three at a time because it’s less expensive than getting only one, and they’re quite small. Which one would you try?




Drinking Coffee

Are you a coffee drinker?

I’ll admit that I’ll reach for a tea bag before I reach for coffee beans, but my father was a huge coffee drinker. Unfortunately for him, he died before the big coffee boom which made Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Keurig so popular. My father drank instant coffee, mostly because he grew up poor, and even as an adult, he never saw coffee as a luxury food. I remember him drinking cold, black coffee from a pot which had been sitting on the stove since early morning. He didn’t really mind that it was cold, or that it had been sitting out all day. What he cared about was that there was always a pot ready. He drank coffee with his breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. If his cup was empty, he’d either point to it, or lightly thump it on the table, signaling he wanted a refill.


I own a Keurig coffeemaker, which fortunately for me, I can use to make tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, and other non-coffee beverages. I keep different flavored coffee pods for my MIL, and I’ve grown to love mochas, which I admit I drink freely during winter. But for the most part, it’s tea I drink whenever I want a warm drink.

I’ve often lamented that my father never got the opportunity to try the flavored coffee drinks so popular today, but then again, I doubt he’d like the froufrou drinks ūüėČ


Tumeric Braised Chicken – Lawang


When my husband and I started dating, he took me to an Afghani restaurant, where I experienced a culinary delight. I ordered the lamb stew, called Mater Challaw, but my husband always got the chicken Lawang (pictured above). We would share the kadu, a pumpkin dish topped with yogurt and meat sauce.

Going to dinner at this restaurant was something we did on dates, or with friends, to celebrate or just to enjoy good food. I never thought I could copy one of their dishes until my husband found the slow-cooker recipe for Lawang, written by Humaria over at Afghan Culture Unveiled. (For the full recipe, click here.)

Normally, Afghani cuisine takes time, but Humaria found a way to make it easy on those of us who don’t have time. You probably have most of the ingredients in your own pantry, but you may not have tumeric or coriander; never fear, you can find those in the spice aisle of your local grocery store.

Basically, you saute the onions and spices together on the stove, then you spoon the mixture onto the uncooked chicken you’ve put in your crock pot. You cook it for about four hours, then spoon in the room-temperature yogurt. Serve with rice.

I made this last weekend for my mother-in-law. She loved it!


The Omnivore’s Hundred

I was a very picky eater as a child. I wouldn’t eat cheese or milk (unless it was Quick Chocolate milk). I only liked scrambled eggs, not sunny side up or hard boiled. My mother would cook for the family, but she’d make something different for me. I ate little, and in high school, I often skipped lunch and had peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Pretty bland, no?

Some time in my twenties, though, I became more adventurous with my meals, trying foods I never would have eaten as a child. Recently, I found a list of 100 must-eats for Omnivores on a Very Good Taste. I took the test and the results are below.


1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.


The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
Mole poblano 

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

96. Bagel & Lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Have eaten 47 out of 100

10 out of 100 that would never eat

43 would consider eating


Your turn! What have you eaten or will never eat? Comment below.

Banana Nut Bread

It’s 1:30 am and I’m waiting for my banana nut bread to finish cooking. What am I doing up this late baking? Well, I took a nap this afternoon and woke up at 7 pm. I’m not sleepy, and I’m craving baked goods. It’s not weird, is it?

I found two recipes online somewhere and combined them. I don’t have the sources, but here’s what I did.

Banana Nut Bread

1/3 c butter

1 c sugar (the recipe called for 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 honey, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to try that)

2 eggs

2 bananas (the recipe called for 1 1/2 bananas, but what am I going to do with the leftover banana? It’s too ripe.)

1/2 t vanilla

1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 c walnuts

1/4 t cinnamon (I didn’t have any nutmeg, bummer)

1 t salt

I creamed the butter and sugar first, before adding the eggs and bananas. Once that was done, I added the flour and other dry ingredients, then the vanilla and walnuts. I used my hand mixer, then I poured the contents into a greased loaf pan. I used coconut oil to coat the pan since it’s easy to spread and good for you.

Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. (update, with two bananas, I had to increase the cooking time by half an hour, but watch your own oven. It may differ for you.)

10 minutes to go and my late night snack will be ready. Jealous?