Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pea, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese

This was going to be my self-imposed week off from writing my blog.  However, I just made a salad that I LOVED and wanted to share it with you.  The Pea, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese is a beautiful summer salad.  The good news is that you may already have the ingredients at home.  If not, you will want to put this salad on your menu plan for next week. 

I subscribe to many food blogs and websites.  One of my favorites is FOOD52.  This particular recipe is a partnership between FOOD52 and California Avocados with a Los Angeles-based food blogger, Adrianna Adarme, who writes the blog, A Cozy Kitchen.  I adapted it to be yeast free by switching burrata for goat cheese.  Normally, I do not eat any type of cheese, unless it is vegan.  However, I can tolerate goat cheese.  You can always leave it out of the recipe.
Pea, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese (Serves 4)

For the dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 California Avocado
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 4 mint leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 jalapeno 
For the salad:
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 8 spears of asparagus, trimmed and shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 head of purple and/or green butter lettuce, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 California Avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons of crumbled goat cheese (original recipe called for 1 ball of burrata)

1.  To make the dressing:  In a blender, add the olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt, avocado, poppy seeds, mint leaves, and salt. (add the jalapeno, if you like a little kick).  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender, and then re-blending one last time.  Give it a taste and adjust the salt to your liking.  Thin the dressing with 1/4 cup water; add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed.

2.  To make the salad:  To a large mixing bowl, add the peas, shaved asparagus, and butter lettuce leaves (purple and/or green to add color and depth).  Pour the dressing atop the lettuce and toss, using your hands until the dressing is evenly distributed.

3.  To plate this salad, add a handful of salad mixture to a serving bowl.  Top with a beautiful abundance of avocado slices and goat cheese.  Garnish with a pinch of poppy seeds.

Pea, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad with Goat Cheese
This salad is not only delicious, it is beautiful.  I used bagged butter lettuce which was both green and deep purple in color.  The salad is extremely creamy with the dressing and the added avocado slices.  I was able to make the salad and the dressing in under 30 minutes.  

Let me know if you make the salad and if you have any questions.  It makes me so happy when I find a great recipe that we can enjoy and stay on our yeast free plan.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Superfood Pitaya Bowl from The Pretty Dish

Is it possible to be in love with a fruit?  Eating the frozen pink dragon fruit, known as pitaya, is about as close as I can come to admitting love for a fruit!  I never tried anything made with pink dragon fruit before the pitaya bowl.  Now, I'm totally hooked.  I'm actually going to make it again today for lunch.  It is a great breakfast or snack to have in the summertime, too.  You still have time to go out and buy your frozen pitaya, and have this bowl on the 4th of July tomorrow.

Pitaya Bowl Ingredients: (pages 36-37 in The Pretty Dish)

  • 1 package (3.5 ounces) frozen pitaya--(Picture below of PitayaPlus)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup milk (cow's, almond, coconut, etc.)--I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
Sliced banana
Granola--(I used Bear Naked Vanilla Almond; It is a little off plan.)


In a high-powered blender, combine the pitaya, peaches, banana, milk, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.  Blend until thick and creamy.  Scoop the smoothie into a bowl and top with sliced banana, berries, and granola.  Eat immediately! 

Pitaya Bowl from #theprettydish

This recipe makes one generous serving.  It is so delicious.  And, the color is absolutely beautiful!!  Be sure to buy the frozen pitaya and not the fresh pink dragon fruit.  Don't worry if you don't have a high-powered blender.  I don't have one, and the bowl turned out just fine.

Here is the frozen pitaya I found in Orlando, Florida.  I found it at Lucky's Market on East Colonial Drive.  They are expanding Lucky's Markets to other places in Orlando.  The pitaya comes in 4 pre-measured 3.5 ounce packages, which makes it convenient to use for this recipe.  Each package contains only fruit; no added sugar.  


So this 4th of July, try something different, beautiful, and tasty!  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!  As always, a big thanks to Jessica Merchant, author of The Pretty Dish, for the recipe and inspiration!


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Blackened Barbecue Salmon with Mango Salsa from The Pretty Dish

In Florida we are getting used to our afternoon or early evening rains.  It does cool things down for the rest of the day, so that is a plus.  My yard is still green and my crepe myrtles started to bloom this week.  So far, Milo has tolerated the storms just fine.  We have yet to have a real bad lightning storm, so the verdict on his storm behavior is still to be seen.

I think the Blackened Barbecue Salmon with Mango Salsa is a perfect summertime recipe.  All of the ingredients are easy to access in the summer, and this has to be one of my favorite recipes from The Pretty Dish.  One of the women who made the recipe and raved about it on the Facebook page "The Pretty Dish Book Club" said it is "restaurant quality", and I agree with that statement.

Here is the recipe:

Mango Salsa
  • 1 mango, chopped (pineapple or peaches could be substituted; I made it with mango.)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons silver tequila (this could be for your friends not following the Candida diet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Barbecue Salmon
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (I used Truvia Brown Sugar blend.)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (see below for my recipe for barbecue sauce)
Barbecue Sauce

Note:  I found this recipe for barbecue sauce from the The Genius Kitchen
I love it, especially because it does not contain sugar.  It makes 1-1/2 cups of sauce, so I used it later in the week on chicken.
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water (or a bit more)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Braggs liquid aminos (I used 2 tablespoons.)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder (I used 1 tablespoon.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 1 teaspoon.)
  • 1 tablespoon Braggs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
  • 1-3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated (I used 1-1/2 teaspoons.)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon Truvia powder (I used 1/4 teaspoon.)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin (I did not use this.)
Lime Butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Directions to Make the Mango Salsa:

In a bowl, combine the mango, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, lime zest and juice, tequila, and salt.  Toss well.  Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Directions to Make the Barbecue Sauce:

In a small saucepan, whisk the water into the tomato paste.  Add all other ingredients and cook over low heat 5-10 minutes or long enough for the flavors to meld.  Be sure to taste to see if you want to add more chili powder, etc. 

Directions to Make the Barbecue Salmon:

Preheat the broiler to high and set the oven rack about 6" below it.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar (Truvia), paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the salmon fillet. Brush with the barbecue sauce.

Broil the salmon for 6 to 8 minutes, or until just opaque and flaky.  

Directions to Make the Lime Butter:

In a bowl, stir together the butter, lime zest, and salt until combined.  

While the salmon is still hot, pat the lime butter over the top and let it melt.  Top with the mango salsa and serve.

Blackened Barbecue Salmon with Mango Salsa

Isn't it beautiful?  I have all two pounds of salmon on that plate, so I divided it up for several meals.  It is delicious!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  

Of course, I have to show you my latest and cutest photo of Milo.  He is getting so big!  I just love him!  Have a wonderful week!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Remembering Michael Oro and his Legacy

Today's blog post is dedicated to the memory of my nephew, Michael Oro.  Below are the two posts I've written in the past about him and the recipe he created which I call "Michael's Sauce".  He would have been 31 on Friday, June 22nd.  Michael died of an accidental overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl on July 23, 2015, but he was so much more than his drug addiction.

Michael was a true friend.  He was able to help others with their addictions, but couldn't save himself.  Michael loved children and was a special friend to my collie, Abbey.  He helped me pack and unpack my classrooms so many times during my teaching career, that I've lost count.  He loved working out at Planet Fitness and LA Fitness.  He made lifelong friends at his job at Chick-Fil-A in both Waterford Lakes and Winter Park.  And, in my opinion, he was a fantastic barista at the Belle Isle (Conway) Starbucks.  Michael became interested in writing electronic music.  He was completely self-taught, and I remember one of his friends calling him a "beat genius".

Michael was finishing his AA at Valencia College and our family recently received his degree posthumously.  He wanted to major in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where his mother works.  His mother, Glenna Oaldon Oro and some special donors established the Michael M. Oro Memorial Scholarship at UCF in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.  The scholarship is open to full-time undergraduates majoring in Computer Science.  Preference will be given to graduates of Timber Creek High School, where Michael attended high school in Orlando, Florida.  The scholarship will be awarded in September.  If you know of anyone who would like to apply, here is a link to the scholarship page.  The window to apply will be in the fall, so check back to the link often.  If you would care to donate to Michael's scholarship, please click the link  Under the "Search for a Fund" box, there is a drop down menu and the Michael M. Oro Memorial Scholarship is listed.

Since Michael's death, my sister and I have learned so much more about drug addiction.  The opioid crisis in our country is ongoing.  The stigma and shame many addicts feel is one of the main reasons they do not seek help.  Families suffer right along with the addict, not knowing what to do or where to seek help.  Sometimes help is extremely hard to find, and if you do find it, it may not be the help that individual needs and in most cases, assistance is not covered by insurance.  There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for addiction.  What works for one person may not work for another.  It is extremely complex.  It is important to try to find that moment of clarity the addict has to try to intervene.  They have to want to be helped.  No one can do it for them.  Here is a link to the National Helpline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.  That is a good place to start.  Here are links to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Michael had dreams and goals for his life.  He always wanted to be married and have a family.  He wanted a degree from UCF and a career.  He dreamed of having his own home and a Siberian Husky. He wanted to name his dog, Ayla.  All of his dreams vanished in a second.  The message here is that drugs do not discriminate.  Anyone can become addicted.  If you are, I implore you to go to a family member or friend and ask for help.
Michael Oro

Michael's Sauce (See recipe below.)

Links to Michael's electronic music:

"With You"

"The Halo Effect"


"Melodic Tears"--dedicated to the innocent children and staff who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary






(First published on August 6, 2015)

This blog is bittersweet today.  It is written in memory of my nephew, Michael Oro, who recently passed away.  Among Michael's many loves was cooking, especially healthy cooking.  Michael enjoyed cuisine from all over the world.  He especially liked octopus from Galicia in Spain.  Our family also enjoyed going to Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine Restaurant in Winter Park, Florida. We would all normally order the Chicken Adana Kebab dinner.  On that evening, I would usually cheat a bit on my yeast-free lifestyle and have the naan bread.  However, Michael was really proud of the fact that I was sticking to yeast-free living about 90% of the time.  He enjoyed working out at the gym, writing electronic music, and making everyone laugh.  Michael was loved by his family and friends.  So, I am running the post "Michael's Sauce" again as a tribute to him today.  This remains one of my favorite dinners.

Michael Oro

(First published on March 30, 2014)

Last night I made one of my favorite yeast-free dinners.  Then I realized that I never shared it on this blog.  I actually got this idea/recipe from my nephew, Michael.  He was making this sauce one day when I was over visiting him.  He works out and eats a healthy diet, so it was normal to see him cooking with ground turkey.  He doesn't know it (I guess he will when the blog is published), but I am naming the recipe "Michael's Sauce".

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tsp. of Italian seasoning 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (a few)--Optional
Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook until softened.  Add garlic. While the onion is cooking, in a separate pan, brown the ground turkey.  Add the cooked ground turkey to the onion and garlic mixture.  Begin to add the spinach a few handfuls at a time to the turkey mixture until the spinach is wilted.  Add the spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Simmer for 10 minutes or so until the sauce is heated.

Serve over quinoa or brown rice.

There are many variations you can make to this recipe.  Mushrooms can be added if you are not on a yeast-free diet.  Also, green, yellow, or red peppers can be added.  In addition, you could add fresh tomatoes.  Broccoli can be used instead of spinach.  What is nice about this recipe is that you can use leftovers you may have in your refrigerator or pantry to complete the sauce.  I actually had most of a yellow onion and part of a jar of spaghetti sauce leftover which I used for the recipe I made last evening.  All I had to purchase was the bag of fresh spinach.  Everything else I had on hand.  That is why it is one of my "Go-To" recipies now.

I hope you enjoy making "Michael's Sauce" as much as Mike and I do!

 "Michael's Sauce" over brown rice

Michael at St. Augustine Beach

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cream of Spinach Soup from #theprettydish

Welcome to the daily rains in Florida!  Sometimes it rains in the late afternoon.  Other times it is in the evenings.  The great thing about the rain is that now all of our ponds are filled, some swimming pools are actually overflowing, and our lawns are green!  During one rainy day, I turned to The Pretty Dish Cookbook and found a comforting and tasty soup. Cream of Spinach Soup is found on page 132-133 of #theprettydish.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 16 ounces baby spinach, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (I used vegetable broth.)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt (I used plain full-fat Greek yogurt.)
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes and stir.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallots are softened.  Stir in the spinach.  Add the stock (broth) and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Very carefully transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.  (You can also use an immersion blender here!)  Return the soup to the pot and heat it over low heat.  Stir in the yogurt right before serving.  Top with a dollop of yogurt and serve with Mary's Crackers.

I made this soup twice.  The first time I used my regular blender (not a high-powered one) and vegetable stock.  I made the soup again mainly because I felt it did not photograph well, although it was tasty.  When I made the soup the second time, I used vegetable broth to lighten the color of the soup and an immersion blender.  I really liked the taste and color of the soup using the vegetable broth and the immersion blender.  I feel that the immersion blender made the soup a lighter, frothier texture.  Instead of making the shoestring fries (which I wish I could have had, but I was trying to stay true to yeast-free living), I had the soup with Mary's Crackers.  

Cream of Spinach Soup

Milo also likes to chill out during rainy days with his toys!

Also, these days are great to curl up with a good book after eating Cream of Spinach Soup.  What are you reading this summer?  These are the books I read in May.  My two favorites were The Light We Lost and The Heart's Invisible Furies.

May Books I Read

I just finished How to Walk Away and am now reading My Oxford Year.  I really enjoyed How to Walk Away and I really like My Oxford Year, too!  I don't want to spoil them for you!

Here's to summer rains, summer cooking and summer reading!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Frozen Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca from How Sweet Eats

I was looking for a mocktail that had watermelon, would be refreshing, and had just a few ingredients.  Of course, I went to Jessica Merchant's website How Sweet Eats and found exactly what I wanted!  The recipe is called "Frozen Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca" and it was published on her blog/website on June 22, 2017.

Here is the recipe:
  • 1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest, plus extra for topping
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I left it out.  You could use Truvia if you need more sweetness.  I would start with one packet and then add more, if necessary.)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups of ice
For serving:
  • lime wedges
  • watermelon wedges
  • Place the watermelon, lime juice and zest, sugar (Truvia), salt and ice in a blender.  Blend until you have a slushy consistency and the mixture is cold and frozen.  Again, you can taste and add more sugar if desired.
  • Pour into glasses and top with a sprinkle of freshly grated lime zest.  Add a lime wedge and watermelon slice.  Serve immediately.
Isn't it beautiful?!?!
This recipe serves four.  When I made my mocktail, I made 1/2 of a batch.  I do not have a high powered blender, and my drink turned out frozen and slushy.  
This mocktail is as refreshing as it looks. It is so delicious and would go with any summer event.  Of course your family and friends could always add a little silver tequila to their batch to make it a true summer cocktail.  That is the beauty of yeast-free living.  We can still have great tasting drinks, just minus the alcohol. 

Of course, I had mine while I was watching Milo in the backyard.  My grass is so green now from all of the rain.  My flowers are blooming, too.  After this photo was taken, Milo ran by the planter of flowers, took a mouthful of them and ran away as fast as he could!  Puppies!

Milo enjoying the sunshine in the backyard!

I hope you will try the Frozen Watermelon Lime Aqua Fresca.  I plan on sharing more mocktails this summer.  Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Atlanta Road Trip to Attend Jessica Merchant's Book Signing!

Surprise!  I actually met Jessica Merchant, author of The Pretty Dish, the cookbook and recipes I have been featuring on my blog.  I found out that she was going to be in Atlanta for a book signing at Eagle Eye Book Shop on May 19th.  So, accompanied by my sister (who is also a fan) we set out on a 4-day weekend to Atlanta.  The definite highlight of the weekend was the book signing.  Jessica is as down-to-earth in person as she is in her blog.  She is very humble, especially about her photography, which everyone there absolutely LOVED!  Jessica was able to tell us how #theprettydish came to be published, how her readers were able to vote on her cover, and the ins and outs of blogging and styling for food photography.  I loved every minute.  The best moment was the actual book signing and meeting her. 

A Great Moment

I have to give a shout out to Eagle Eye Book Shop.  I loved the bookstore.  It had great sales, as well as a wonderful selection of new books.  I bought my first summer reading book there, The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews.  Ms. Andrews is actually going to be speaking at the Aurora Theater on Sunday, June 3rd at 6:00 p.m. if you are in the Atlanta area.  The event is free and is sponsored in conjunction by the Gwinnett County Public Library.

One more thing!  Mary Kay Andrews loves to cook and has a cookbook out called The Beach House Cookbook.  I'll have to check it out!

The Perfect Summer Reading Book!!

What have you made lately from The Pretty Dish?  What are you reading this summer?  Let me know!