Tag Archives: healthy

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Now after last week’s Thanksgiving feast we all need a good salad.   You need it because this salad is fabulous, easy and just what your scales ordered.  Anna introduced this particular Caesar salad to me years ago.  It’s great as a side dish or add your favorite chicken, fish, or grilled steak on top and it is a crowd pleaser.  It was one of my Thanksgiving side dishes this year.  I made homemade croutons that I will share later.  They were great, but forgot to take a picture of them alone.   Now without further ado let’s get it going –  my favorite Caesar Salad from Anna and myself to you!

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Filed under Salad, salad dressing

Chicken Fingers

I don’t know  many people who don’t love chicken fingers especially children.  In my case it is teenagers and GI Joe and  I’m telling you that my students loved these.   I found the recipe in the magazine Dash that sometimes comes in the Sunday paper. It has everything that cooks love. They are easy and delicious.  I almost forgot these chicken fingers are baked.  Continue reading


Filed under Main dish

Kale and Potato Soup

Ten years ago I didn’t know what kale was. And for sure had never eaten it.   Having fresh vegetables delivered weekly has opened up a whole new chapter in my  food life.   If you can you should subscribe to a CSA in your area for more reasons than just eating fresh vegetables that are good for you.  I have been on the receiving end of these great deliveries for four years and I can tell you that I have prepared foods that would have never entered my kitchen.  It has been a wonderful experience.  I love the fact that I am supporting the local farmers in our area, but I am amazed at how much I have learned about produce and how to prepare it.  I am proud to be a part of  farm to table.  Please participate if you can.  You will be rewarded in more ways than you ever imagined.   Now to the recipe. Continue reading


Filed under healthy, Soup, Soup from scratch

Cajun Gumbo Soup

This is an easy Gumbo.  You can put it together in less than 30 minutes and let it simmer for 3o minutes. It is better the next day.  The flavors have time to develop and the zucchini can thicken the gumbo.  That’s right!  The squash is a substitute for okra which is usually used in most gumbos.  It is hard to find fresh okra in the winter so the zucchini is perfect.  For me this soup ranks right up there with this and also with this.  It  has been a favorite for years while  the other two are new kids on the block.  

Pair this with cooked rice and crunchy buttered toast and you will satisfy any hunger.  

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Filed under Chicken, Gumbo, Italian sausage, Soup, Soup from scratch, Zucchini

San Francisco Salad

For about six years GI Joe traveled to Savannah once a month for National Guard duty for the Air Force.  Many of those weekends I traveled with him and spent the time on Tybee Island.  One of our favorite restaurants to visit was the Sundae Cafe.  It is a little funny how we found out about this restaurant.  I was buying gas at the local BP station and when I paid I asked the clerk if she knew of some good places to eat.  She said, ” Well the place next door must be good because there is always a crowd there.”  I would never chosen the restaurant unless someone had recommended it.  It is located within a  a strip of four stores.  The local liquor store is on one side and the BP on the other. We became frequent customers because the food is excellent and it is very nice and elegant on the inside.  So you can’t judge a restaurant by the cover!   One of my favorite dishes to order is the spring salad.  I have tried many times to duplicate it, but failed.  Thanks to Anna,  I have found the recipe !!  

Last weekend we had dinner with our long time friends.  It was a fantastic meal!   Anna served this San Francisco Salad that was  extraordinary!  I love the flavors of the feta and the tart cranraisins with the texture of the toasted walnuts.  Together with the  salad dressing adding  the  right amount of sweet and tangy and red onion gives it the little kick.    So thanks to Anna we can all enjoy this scrumptious salad!    

San Franciso Salad

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/cup sugar
  • 1  tablespoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup cranraisins
  • 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 bag of mixed greens (or enough for 8 servings)

Melt butter.  Saute walnuts 5 minutes or until golden.  Drain.  Mix sugar and pepper together and roll walnuts in the mixture.  Cool.

Place cheese and nuts over mixed greens and pour dressing over salad.


  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup oil

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake until mixed well.  If preferred, dressing  can be  served separately and spooned over each salad.

Recipe can easily be halved for four servings.



The Teacher Cooks


Filed under easy, healthy, quick, Recipes, Salad, salad dressing

Chicken Salad

Here is what I cooked up for lunch today!  Very quick and very good!

Yesterday when preparing another chicken dish I had an extra boneless chicken breast.   Being extremely busy with  two  recipes going at once I put the chicken breast in a small saucepan and cooked in water for about 10 minutes.  Cooked, cooled and put in the refrigerator.  Job done!  I  did not want to waste the chicken.  Really I had no plans for it until I was on my way home from work starving!!

I do love chicken salad.  One of my favorites is on the menu at the  Swan House in Buckhead along with their frozen fruit salad.   Anyway cooked chicken is so versatile it can put together in many combinations.  So go for it! It  is a perfect dish for the novice cook.  All cooking required is the chicken.  And really you don’t even have to do that.  Use a rotisserie chicken!  In some stores you can buy them for a cheaper price than you can cook at home.  So don’t be afraid go make an original chicken salad that you and your family can enjoy.

Here is how I put this together:

  • 1 large cooked chicken breast ( Use leftover chicken or turkey) cut into chunks
  • 1/2 celery stalk thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green onion top thinly sliced
  • 10 red grapes halved
  • 8 pecan halves broken into pieces
  • Hellman’s mayonnaise enough to make slightly creamy
  • Paula Deen’s seasoned salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve over salad greens and enjoy every bite!  Serves 1 hungry person.

Happy Cooking,

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Chicken, chicken salad, Cooking, easy, fruits, grapes, healthy, quick, Recipes

Bran Muffins Dianne’s Style

It is the start of a new year, a new semester, new students and new excitement in my classroom.  With all this newness I still have to be organized and ready to go.  I have one day of professional learning and a work day before the new invasion.  This weekend I made my favorite Bran muffins to freeze and have ready for breakfast.  These are great muffins and they make a lot!  I mean a lot!  One of my very dear friends and her daughter brought food over when my daddy died 3 1/2 years ago.  JHM  made the best meatloaf and  these muffins.  Of course I had to have the recipe.  It came from her Aunt Dianne.  I have added a little to it, but here it is for you to enjoy.  By the way the batter will keep for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.  I always get rave reviews when I have guests for breakfast and bring these things out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave.  YUMMY!

Start with 3 cups of all-bran cereal

5 cups of bran flakes

Add 1 quart of buttermilk to the cereals and let it sit for about 30 min.

Mix together 5 cups of plain flour, 5 teaspoons soda, 2 teaspoons salt and 3 cups sugar

whisk together 4 eggs and 1 cup of oil

Add eggs and oil to cereal and buttermilk mixture. Stir!!

Add dry ingredients and stir!!!

 I usually put cereal and buttermilk in a huge Tupperware bowl, then measure dry ingredients in a separate bowl,  and eggs and oil in a measuring cup.  I do all the mixing in the Tupperware bowl.  Store the mixture in the Tupperware bowl for up to six weeks.  Because I was taking photos just look at all the bowls I used and my dishwasher was already full!

Too many bowls and not enough washers!

 Here is where I changed Dianne’s recipe a little.  Really I just added a few goodies.  As an afterthought I wish that I had added a little cinnamon with the apples and raisins.  These muffins are almost like apple cake without the frosting! 

I took out some of the batter,enough to make 24 muffins.  I didn’t measure it, but I am guessing it to be about 6 cups.  My medium mixing bowl was about half full.

Added about 1/2 cup of raisins

1 medium apple diced

Fill muffin tins and ready to bake for 15-20 min. at 400 degrees

Ready to eat or freeze for later!

Here is the recipe ready for you to make and enjoy!

Bran Muffins

  • 5 cups bran flakes
  • 2 cups All bran
  • 5 cups plain flour
  • 5 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 cup oil

Soak cereal in buttermilk for about 30 minutes.  Add eggs and oil.  Stir in flour, sugar, soda and salt.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 -20 minutes.  Mix can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

Happy cooking,

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Cooking, Muffins, quick, Recipes

Hoppin’ John – Black-eyed Peas and Rice – Means riches for the new year!



What are your traditions for the New Year?  Do you eat certain foods for good luck in hopes of increasing your wealth ?   I have always had black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day.   It was for good luck for the rest of the year I was told.  

I love Hoppin’ John!  We were discussing food traditions in class one day and I mentioned Hoppin’ John and I was surprised that so few were familiar with the dish.  History says it came from the Charleston , South Carolina area.  The name from children hopping around the table before eating, or a saying ” Hop in John”  meaning for a guest to sit down to eat or a cripple named John hawking peas on the streets of Charleston.   

I have been using Emeril Lagassse’s  recipe since 2002.   I love this stuff!  But I am one of those that grew up eating butter beans over rice as a snack after school. It  is very inexpensive to make.  Pair it with some hot cornbread and it is better than dessert!!   I like to make it a day ahead because the flavors develop.  Anyway I am eating 365 peas for good luck and I am going to enjoy every one of them. 

Happy New Year to all! 

Start with a pound of dried black-eyed peas

  These will have to be soaked overnight then rinsed.  I have tried the shortcut method of boiling them first, but it just has never worked for me. 

Soak in water overnight

 Make sure that you put enough water because these little peas will double in size.  That means a lot of water. 

After soaking all night then drain and rinse with cold water.

! cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped green pepper

Tablespoon of chopped garlic

Now it’s time to start cooking !! 

Sear large ham hock in olive oil

This one looked pretty scrawny to me so I seared 2 small ham hocks.  I really do not know how to judge the size of ham hocks.  Use your best judgement here! 

Searing 2 ham hocks in olive oil

Add green pepper, celery, onion and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes.

Add peas

Add about 1 1/2 qt of chicken stock

Add seasonings now!  Bay leaf, 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. 

Add seasonings

Now be patient and let this simmer for about an hour or until the peas are nice and soft.  Be careful not to use a really high heat because the boiling will tear the skins of the peas.  You want the peas to be soft and creamy.  Yummy!! 

Cover and simmer for about an hour.

Cooked rice

Follow the directions for cooking the rice that are on the package and you cannot go wrong.  You will been 2 parts water and 1 part rice.  Bring 3 cups of water to boil and add 11/2 cups of long grained rice.  Bring back to a boil and turn to simmer.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Perfect! 

Now pair this with your favorite cornbread! 

Looks good

You can crumble it up and add to the broth.

 Hoppin’ John 

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large ham hock
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 teaspoons dry thyme leaves
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 8 cups of cooked rice

Heat oil in large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear all edges for about 4 minutes.  Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes.  Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour until the peas are creamy and tender,  stir occasionally.  If the liquid evaporates add more water or stock.  Adjust seasonings .  I like to add Tobasco sauce for some heat!  Serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with green onions. 

Makes about 10 servings 

Happy New Year! 

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Blackeyed peas, Cooking, Hoppin' John, Recipes, Rice

Vegetable Pizza


Here is the winner!

We are making vegetable pizza today in class.  Really it is salad on top of rolls with some original Ranch Dressing.  Very good!!

 The lab today was one of the best!  All was quiet on the work front as the students were dicing and slicing.  The results were fantastic as you can see.

Not all are created equal when working in the kitchen.  Some know very little and some know a lot.  With this in mind I try to give out as much information as I can to help the know very little.  Today it was all about buying, storing and preparing fresh vegetables with the accent on lettuce. 

The trick is to wash the lettuce at least a day ahead.  Wash in cold water and let it drain really well.  Wrap in paper towel and store in a ziplock bag,  It will keep for a week.  This works well with Romaine, Greenleaf and Redleaf lettuces. 

I rarely use Iceberg lettuce maybe for a  wedge.  For storing iceberg take the core out by hitting on the counter and give it a turn.  It comes out easily.  Run cold water where the core was, turn over shake the water out and let it drain.  Store in a lettuce keeper or in a bag with paper towel. 

Enough about lettuce.  Here is how to put together the Vegetable pizza which is a great appetizer to serve at  a holiday party having a lot of green and red!

Chopped vegetables

Chop vegetables of your choice with lettuce as the base

Use 8 oz. of softened cream cheese and mix part or all of a packet of the Original Hidden Ranch dressing mix.  I only use 1/2 the packet.  The flavor is very intense.  Make it to your liking.

Cream cheese on cooled crescent rolls

Ready to spread the cream cheese

Ahead of time bake two packages of crescent on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Just take your finger and lightly press the edges of the rolls together.  Bake according to the package and let them cool completely.   Dot with the cream cheese mixture.

Spreading the cream cheese

Just a thin layer of cream cheese

 Next put your lettuce then all other chopped vegetables of your choice.  Here is the finished product!

2nd Place

Voted as the second best by the viewers!

Happy cooking,

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Appetizer

Sweet Potato Bread

With whipped creamI love this time of year.  Cool crisp mornings,  the color of the autumn leaves in the sunshine, pumpkins,  sitting by the fire, football , hayrides, hot chocolate, the smell of cinnamon,  and nutmeg. 

With this weather it just made me want to make something that  would make the kitchen smell like fall. 

So that is the reason for the sweet potato bread.  At least one of the reasons, the other being that I have an abundance of sweet potatoes from the CSA that I have not used.  I pulled out half of them for the bread and will use the rest for a fall root roast. 

One year for Christmas a student brought me this bread all wrapped up real pretty for a gift.  Now for those of you that aren’t teachers you might not understand this.  Teachers  have to be real careful when it comes to eating food that students bring you from home.  You never know.  You could have made Suzie Q  real mad cause you called her mama for talking back to you or it just wasn’t fair that you sent her to the office because she was half dressed.    Needless to say I am wary of eating anything that I don’t see made right in front of me.  This little cute blonde I trusted her.  No really I knew her mama real well.  So here is the best sweet potato bread that has ever passed your lips.  I promise you.   Eat hot right out of the oven or freeze and eat later.  Whatever you choose you are going to love it!

Coming from the south I have grown up eating sweet potatoes.  Not sweet potato souffle.  I hate that.  Just plain sweet potatoes with butter and salt.  There is nothing better.  My grandparents grew these in their garden.  As a small child I watched my mother with her apron on putting sweet potatoes in a brown paper bag and pushing them in the oven.  I would help her peel them when they came out.  It was almost like peeling a banana.  I could not help myself from putting hot pieces in my mouth as we took the peelings off.  They were so good. 

You can do the same.  Create some childhood memories with your family.  Let them help you make this bread and maybe years from now they will be writing about how good it made them feel to be in the kitchen with you.

                                                                                              Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes ready to go in the oven.

Put in a paper bag on a baking sheet.

Put in a paper bag on a baking sheet.

You have to bake them in a brown bag.  Trust me.  It helps to make the sugars caramelize.  The taste is unbelievable.  Bake at 400 degrees F.  Bake until nice and soft for about 1 hr. and 20 minutes.  It will make your house smell so good.

Cooked Sweet PotatoesHere they are right out of the oven. Soft skins and ready to peel.

Cooked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes peeled and ready to whip.

Whipped potatoes

Whip hot potatoes with mixer.  Do not add a thing.  At this point you can refrigerate until you are ready to make the bread.  Bring to room temperature or heat in the microwave for a few minutes.

My Kitchenaide mixerCream 1 cup butter with 3 cups of sugar.  That’s alot isn’t it.  It will be allright. 

Creamed butter and sugar

 Creamed butter and sugar . Ready to add the eggs.

Adding eggs

Add 3 eggs one at a time.  Beat after each one.

Good Vanilla

Add 1 teaspoon of good vanilla.

DSCN0207 Add 2 cups of whipped sweet potatoes.


3 cups flour, 1 1/2 t salt, 1 t soda, 1 1/2 cinnamon, 1 t cloves, 1/2 t nutmet

Add Flour, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

At this point you can add nuts and/or raisins.  I added both.  About 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 cup of raisins.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Check with toothpick that comes out clean.  Cool for 10 min. before removing from pan.

Baked and ready to serve





I like this picture.  It looks lonely.  Ready for someone to eat. 

Here is the recipe;

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t soda
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t. cloves
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  •  raisins and pecans to taste

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs 1 at a time.  Add vanilla.  Add 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts and raisins.  Bake in a Bundt pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 min.  Check for doneness with a cake tester or toothpick that  comes out clean.

Happy Cooking, 

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Bread, Cooking, easy, healthy, Recipes, Sweet Potato