I manage several food blogs including Tasty Planner and Adventures in a Bento Box! I am also a graphic designer & I love cooking. I love fine dining almost as much as I love good conversation, so cooking and blogging are my favorite things.

  • Website
  • Location: Boonsboro, MD
  • Favorite foods: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Eel Avocado Sushi, German Chocolate Cake, Greek Salads, Gourmet Sandwiches, Soft Tacos, Fresh Peaches, Milk Chocolate, Reese's Pieces, Cranberry Orange Bagels, Cranberry Juice, Chicken Kurma
  • Last bite on earth: My last bite on earth would probably be some sort of Indian food. Hot diggity is that good.

Latest Comments

How to Be Gluten-Free at a Gluten-Filled Thanksgiving

There is no way my family would make anything gluten-free for me or my husband since we are on a GF and very low sugar diet by choice (health reasons, but not allergy related). I just convinced my mom to get a non-corn-fed free-range turkey this year, which was a big step forward. I really do love all the options and ideas suggested above though! I am 30 weeks pregnant with our first so when the little one gets here, I will totally be using these ideas for our own Thanksgiving.

9 Days Until Thanksgiving

IfYouCookIt - That is bizarre because I just did a massive cleaning yesterday and I also threw out an old jar of apricot jam I bought for glazed pork chops and never opened again. I consolidated multiple dijon mustards, dumped empty jars of olive and pickle brine (how does this happen?), and reorganized so that the condiments we actually use (soy sauce, mustard, salad dressing, home-made jam, apple butter) are now at the top and the ketchup and A1 are at the bottom of my fridge door.

I am also no longer afraid of my crisper because I finally decided to extract the liquid celery stalk that had been forgotten...

The Food Lab: Herb-Roasted Turkey With Stuffing

I was very confused by the idea that you can't get a delicious moist turkey and stuff it safely at the same time. My mother has been doing it for years and her birds are always huge, moist, and tender and the stuffing is always delicious and piping hot. No cheese cloth, pre heating, or brining necessary. My whole family insists she cooks the bird, because she simply can't screw it up. I'll have to ask her secret because apparently she is a genius as this basic turkey/stuffing concept eludes so many in the food community.

In Season: Mint

Fresh mint, fresh strawberries, and greek yogurt. A delicious breakfast.

Video: Making Corn Tortillas in Mexico

About a year ago I started making all bread products from scratch, bread, tortillas, buns... It's so much cheaper and tastier.

What's the Difference Between English Walnuts and Black Walnuts?

Growing up, I never knew there were walnuts that weren't black walnuts. My grandparents had them growing sporadically throughout the wooded area on their 40 acre farm and my mother collected them as a child. She then shared that memory and taste with her children. I, honestly, never liked walnuts (still not a favorite of mine) but that was what we ate in brownies. Eating English walnuts as an adult was a shock because they are strikingly similar yet worlds apart.

Still don't like them though.

Cook the Book: 'Serve Yourself'

The last time I was alone for a meal was about 3 years ago when my husband still worked in his office. Now we both work from home... together... no kids yet... all day... together... just us two...

Anyway, when I did have a lunch to myself I opted for a quick and easy standby. Bread and water. Not like locked-in-a-cage-moldy-bread and stagnant water but home-made cinnamon raisin or spicy autumn bread with sweet potatoes mashed in it and a glass of fresh cold water with lemon, lime, or handful of crushed berries in the bottom. Easy, fast and good.

Survey: What Pizza Topping Is a Dealbreaker for You?

I'm not that picky when it comes to pizza, but going to Spain I found I really dislike tuna on pizza. It's not a "dealbreaker" because I will eat it if the locals are, but I wouldn't choose to eat it.

Hey, Foodies: (Some) Chefs Hate You

I cook food. I eat food. I love food. Does that make me a foodie? I don't really care. Does learning/knowing anything about cuisine give me the right to be obnoxious? Nope. Just like it doesn't give chefs license to be dismissive either.

And doisedois is right, I work in the design field and we get the same types of people. If you work with computers, same thing; "I read a blog on this once, so I can totally handle that" BSOD. Work on a farm and an urban treehugger stops in... guess what? They already know about farming and how it all "works".

No matter what field you work in you are bound to get jerks who think they know whats going on. This is the price you pay in the internet age when knowledge is so freely spread.

Stop crying chefs, we all have to deal with idiots.

Does This Food-By-State Map Look Accurate?

Ah, Pennsylvania. PA is divided into 3 sections: Pittsburgh, Philly, and Pennsyltucky. To sum up the snack state as being represented as a cheesesteak is ridiculous. You want a PA food? Try pretzels, hard or soft! You can get good ones from Pittsburgh to Philly AND we have a ton of snack factories here.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 154: A Simple Weigh-In

If you have a problem with peanut butter, why don't you try Better 'n' Peanut Butter (you can find it at most Targets) or PB2? BnP has half the calories as regular peanut butter and PB2 is literally peanut butter with no oil at all. It is a powder that you mix with water to make peanut butter. Its sounds gross but it is actually pretty good. You can buy it online from Bell Plantation. Both are nice options for people who want peanut butter but don't want all the "negative" effects of PB.

However, the best way to avoid PB is to just not buy it. That's what I had to do with Nutella, potato chips, soda, and ice cream. There is nothing nutritionally redeeming about any of that, so I stopped buying it. Solved my problem right away, helped me lose weight and my family is better for it as well. After about a year, I bought 1 jar of Nutella and enjoy it about once a month as a dessert. I now don't buy PB2 either. I am back to regular peanut butter and it doesn't bother me to have it in the house. It makes a nice quick breakfast, but I don't crave it all day like I used to. Now, 30 lbs lighter than I was less than a year ago, I am happy at my goal weight and maintaining fine.

But just remember, its not about the food. Its about your relationship with food vs your relationship with your body. Until people decide that their body is more important to them than food is, they will never lose weight. And just remember that every meal, every snack, and every bite is a choice you are making about your health. I had to decide that my family was more important to me than my taste buds and after that it was smooth sailing.

Homebrewing: Essentials for Your First Brew

I got my husband started with a Coopers kit a few years ago. Now he's brewing all sorts of crazy stuff and finding that he enjoys brewing wine more than beer so he's on to that now. He made his own mash tun out of a cooler last year and made some various wheat beers with it. Although he destroys my kitchen each time he makes a big batch of something, I get to enjoy some homebrew so its worth it. :-)

How to Choose Wine for Thanksgiving

My husband has been brewing a spiced mead specifically for Thanksgiving. It was bottled 2 months ago and will be perfect for the holidays. What I especially love about home-brewing is that we don't need to buy a case, we just brew the amount we will need, and fill the family donated empties. The table will be covered with pretty bottles and the glasses with slightly chilled home-brew. Seriously can't wait!

Cook the Book: Masala Chai

Yea, this recipe is seriously lacking the spiced part of masala chai. I always go with fresh ginger, cloves, whole cinnamon sticks, whole mace, fresh nutmeg, green (sometimes black) cardamom pods, black pepper, allspice, star anise (or fennel seeds in a pinch), and a vanilla bean (or real vanilla extract if I don't have a bean) with Assam tea leaves.

I use wildflower or orange blossom honey (seems richer tasting than clover honey) to sweeten. If I ever had whole milk, I would mix it with that, but I don't, so I mix my chai with unsweetened soy or almond milk. I also make chai by the gallon and mix milk as I drink it. Always have a bubblin' pot on the stove all winter long!

Seriously though, this recipe is terrible.

Weekend Giveaway: 'Eat Tweet'


Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 140: Can Dried Fruit Be Diet Food?

Dried fruit is diet food in the way that fruit juice is a diet drink. You have to be careful because both dried fruit and juice can be packed with sugar and both do spike your blood sugar (see comments above). However, if you are replacing a bag a chips with a handful of unsweetened dried baby pineapple or replacing a can of Coke with 8 oz of 100% apple juice, then yes, I guess they are diet food.

I really don't think any food is "diet food" is the sense that it will help you lose weight. There are better choices you can make when regarding food, but none that specifically help you lose weight.

I have been sort of confused reading through your Serious Diet blog. Are you trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight? Looks to me like you are eating a diet to maintain your weight as dried fruit and nuts are awesome maintenance foods.

Name Change for HFCS: 'Corn Sugar'?

It is not just how much HFCS you consume, it is also your body's response to it. Your body does not break it down like sugar, so you never feel satisfied. Your satiety center is never happy on HFCS so you consume more. Then there is a problem.

What Do You Grab for a Midnight Snack?

Celery and peanut butter, though the crunching can wake you up even more...

Confirmed: The New Sun Chips Compostable Bag Is Crazy Loud

We bought these when going camping and thought the bag was ridiculously loud. Then, at about 3:00 am, we heard from our tent the atrociously loud bag being crumpled, waking probably everyone within a 1/4 mile radius for sure. Oddly enough, it didn't deter the raccoons at all...

Straw Poll: Straight or Bendy?

I can see everyone at Serious Eats now, wondering what kind of straw to put on your previous "How to Throw a Lunch Lady Potluck". Arguing over paper straws, and wondering if you should even write a blog about straws.

"Who ever used a paper straw!!" "My God... who has even heard of such a thing!"

There must have been that one person that insisted that straighties are a favorite among readers while everyone else claimed that they all love bendies.

"But every fast food drink comes with a straighty for God's sake!"

The anger building, you fought over who was right until finally you decided to end this madness at the polls...

I totally turned the creation of this post into a crazy drama in my head. I think I have been watching to much TV. Bendies = WIN.

Why Do We Watch Food Television?

Liking food is part of it for me, and yes, I do like the ambient quality of food shows while I do other things around the house, but cooking shows have always taken me back to a time when I was young watching these kinds of shows with my mom. It was a warm and loving experience watching Julia Child and Martin Yan cook away all afternoon. I remember being 6 or so and flipping between Sesame Street and the Frugal Gourmet while my mom took notes on recipes and we chatted about the food.

To this day I still think about all the times I complained about how boring it was to watch those shows with my mom as I grew into my teens. Then, in college, I found myself stopping on Food Network because something looked pretty tasty. Next thing I knew I had graduated, was married, and bought a house and was making an entire Paula Deen Christmas spread for my family.

Thankfully, I had that foundation when I was young to appreciate food. Many people my age don't care about what garbage they choke down because they don't think it is important to understand where food comes from or how it is prepared. I feel like food TV gives everyone the opportunity to learn something new or get excited about something that they once thought was mundane. It gives me hope that we aren't all losing sight of the art of cooking.

Having It Your Way: Is Too Much Choice Ruining Coffee?

If you drink sugar in your coffee, I really don't think you like coffee. Sugar ruins coffee, in my opinion. Sweetening coffee before you sip it is like salting your food before tasting it. Pointless because you have no flavor reference to start with.

I do order skim milk in my coffee though because straight coffee upsets my stomach. A touch of milk totally makes it smooth and way easier for me to digest.

Typically if I ever go to a coffee place (which is only when I'm traveling long distance) I'll order a skinny latte in whatever size I want. I don't think the size specified should have anything to do with having too much choice, however. You can't go to McDonald's without specifying a size anymore.

What I hate is trying to order a latte but being forced to specify "plain". Many places ask what flavor I want, and I used to make the mistake of saying..."well, coffee flavored!" But then I would get 3 shots of fake coffee flavoring in my latte... -_-

Poll: Do You Ask Before Eating Off Your Friend's Plate?

Anyone with siblings knows you have to wait to be asked first or you WILL get a fork wound to the arm/hand/throat. I just assumed everyone would get stab-happy if you assault their plate. That might be because I assume everyone has, at one time or another, been to prison.

My circle of friends (husband included) never ask for something off someone else's plate, but rather offer something from their own plate to see if anyone is interested.

"This is so good, want to try it?" not "That looks so good, therefor I feel you should share it with me..." Maybe we just don't have as many entitlement issues as everyone else. :-D

Is the Coffee Break Dead? Bring Back Mug Time

Traveling around Spain for 2 weeks it was impossible to find "to-go" cups anywhere. Coffee (when ordering a coffee they always gave you a latte) was always served in a mug with a spoon and possibly a small piece of dark chocolate. A far cry from what you get when you order a coffee in the States. They looked at my one companion pretty strangely when she would order a coffee with lunch. Not only would it defeat the purposed of the siesta in an hour, but coffee in a restaurant seemed to be a dessert not a beverage.

We tried everyplace we could find for travel cups, but eventually gave up and started kicking back on our coffee breaks. It is a tradition (much like the siesta) that should be adopted in the US promptly.

I never really did understand why Americans don't take daily tasks more seriously. We eat on elevators, text/call when we drive, email while we drink coffee, watch tv while having dinner, its like we refuse to do tasks one at a time for fear that we might what, enjoy ourselves too much?

We take such little time out of the day for the necessities of life (like eating, drinking and sleeping) that we miss everything from the beautiful laugh of a baby and mother behind us in the bank line to the smell & taste of an ice cream cone in the park on our way home from work.

It is tragic what we miss.


JoanieLSpeak hasn't favorited a post yet.