Random Quote + Superheroes + Contemporary Shepard’s Pie


Today I was struck by a marvelous quote. No, it’s not particularly inspirational. It’s way over 140 characters long, so it’s not a good ‘tweetable’ quote and it’s probably not the type of quote you’ll find on Pinterest. It won’t change your life…but it will make you think.  I quote Gabrielle Palmer, from The Politics of Breast Feeding:

If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by the consumers’ needs, the very announcement of their find would send their shares rocketing to the top of the stock market.  The scientists who developed the product would win prizes and the wealth and influence of everyone involved would increase dramatically.  Women have been producing such a miraculous substance, breastmilk, since the beginning of human existence.  ~Gabrielle Palmer

This quote was referred to  in a talk on The Role of Infant Feeding in the Prevention of Obesity, presented  at the North Carolina regional dietetic meeting by Lindsay Hurd, MS, RD, LDN, IBCLC.  It makes me feel good about having breast fed my own children,  supporting young mothers who want to breast feed their infants  and reminds me that women are truely superheroes!!!

But, after sitting in a meeting all day, I don’t feel like a superhero, and I don’t feel like making dinner.  It’s beautiful outside. Enough said.  Fortunately, I anticipated what I’d  feel like late Friday afternoon  and I prepped a make-ahead meal earlier in the week. Today’s post is that meal. . . I have taken a dated recipe for shepard’s pie and made it contemporary.  The origial recipe must have come out  the 50′s when it was hip to throw a can of soup in with some other ingredients and serve a casserole.  I replaced the canned tomato soup in the authentic recipe with grape tomatoes, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. The result is a less processed casserole with an ‘in vogue’ taste.

Breast feeing as a nutritionally superior way to feed our babies has stood the test of time. Casseroles made with canned soup as a quick way to get dinner on the table, not so much.

Shepherd’s Pie

serves 4-6

by Diane Boyd


  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound green beans, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese


1. In a large skillet, cook meat and onion till meat is lightly browned and onion is tender. Drain off fat.

2. In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add green beans and steam for about 10 minutes.

3. In a second skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in green beans, cooked beef, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

4. Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes.

5 At this point you can refrigerate for up to two days.

6. Remove from refrigerator and top with  grated cheese.

5 Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

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Copycat Ginger-Sesame Braised Chicken Meatballs

IMG_8265IMG_8276IMG_8293Yesterday I enjoyed running my errands.  The sun was out. It was eighty degrees! So I purposely parked a distance from my destination to fit in a little window shopping at the Mayfaire Town Center.  I don’t know about you, but for me, gazing at the the Williams- Sonoma display is eye candy. Springtime inspired dishware, patterned linens, and pastel placemats loured me in! Resisting impluse, I left with only the April 2014 catalogue. In addition to the beautiful images, this issue has several nice recipes.  Today’s recipe is one of them. I made a few substitutions, omissions and my very own ginger-sesame braising sauce. My daughter calls it swoon worthy. Hope you enjoy!


Copycat Ginger-Sesame Braised Chicken Meatballs

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (serves 4)

    for the meatballs

    • 1 pound ground chicken
    • 1/4 cup panko
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 1/4 cup thinnly sliced green onions
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • nonstick cooking spray
    • 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
    • 1/2 pound baby portabella mushrooms, quartered

    for the ginger sesame braising sauce

    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon Dijon style mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

    to serve

    • steamed white rice
    • steamed snow peas
    • oyster sauce to taste
    • garnish :toasted sesame seeds and green onions


    1.In a medium bowl combine chicken, eggs, panko, ginger, green onions, garlic, and sea salt. Stir well and form into one inch meatballs.

    2. Add the meatballs to a saute pan sprayed with cooking oil, and cook over medium high heat. When browned, place meatballs into a slow cooker.

    3. Add one tablespoon of canola oil to saute pan and cook mushrooms over medium heat, until they release liquid. Add mushroom to meatballs in slow cooker.

    4. Mix ingredients for ginger-sesame braising sauce and pour over meatballs and mushrooms.

    5. Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring once halfway through.

    Serve over steamed rice and steamed snow peas. Finish with oyster sauce and garnish with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

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    Baked Tortilla Chips with a Hint of Lime inspired by the Love of the Sport

    IMG_8224.2IMG_8217 IMG_8225IMG_8225IMG_8225IMG_8225IMG_8217My favorite taste testers have arrived! That’s right, and they’ve traveled over 1,000 miles to get here in search of warm weather on their Spring Break. Unfortuantely,  my son, Boomer,  and his wrestling teammates  from the University of Missouri haven’t found what they were hoping for.  But althought the temperatures are cold, their appetites are not!

    Now before I share a wrestler inspired recipe, I want to reveal why I have grown to like this sport, aka grappling. You see, I didn’t always like it. Well, actually, I felt it didn’t like me. It often left me feeling disenchanted. Let me explain, first there was the writer from the newspaper who wrote a wrestling article that appeared in our local paper the year Boomer started wrestling (kindergarten). The writer’s conclusion, “This may be what gets  him (Boomer) in trouble when he’s all grown up.” Say what? I thought sports kept kids out of trouble! Then there was  the second grade teacher who couldn’t get over the fact my son was turning down a birthday cupcake on a Friday afternoon, in anticipaion of a Friday night weigh-in for a wrestling tournament he was participating in. Geez! And then the final heart breaker, when my son chose a  college wrestling career over golf and many of my  family members and friends asked “Why?”  So you see,  wrestling isn’t very well understood, and even associating with wrestling  has been a bit of a go.

    So why do I like it?  I cannot honestly cheer for another sport with the same intensity that I do for wrestling. I don’t get goosebumps before the kickoff of any big game.  I have no feelings for a bunch of men (whom I don’t know) running up and down the hardcourt. But  I do get butterflies before the NCAA wrestling tournament. Thoughout the years, I have come in contact with countless wrestlers. I have seen them injured, seen them healthy. I have housed them, cooked for them, washed their clothes. I have seen them on their good days and their bad. I’ve watched them evolve from awkward middle schoolers to powerful collegiate athletes. Some have gone on to become All Americans, National Champions  and even Olympians. Yet, they remain down to earth. I credit their humble sport for this.  Yes, passion for the sport is something they all exhibit. The sport offers limited money and /or material gains, but garners intangle rewards that teach the athletes life lessons.  They wrestle for one thing: the satisfaction of the effort.

    While many cheer for the colors of their school, I cheer for those I have watched battle against the odds. Those whose journey I have been a part of.  One of the significant parts of the journey for wrestlers is managing weight, which brings me to the recipe I am sharing today.  Wrestlers must be smart about how they fuel their bodies and I’m all for  fitting in some of the wrestlers favorite foods, including cupcakes. And yes, I do have a recipe for that! But  today I sharing my  a recipe for tortilla chips. These are baked, saving calories for the weight conscience wrestler or anyone else loking for an indulgent snack minus some of the calories.

    IMG_8208_edited-1 copy

    IMG_8234Baked Tortilla Chips with a Hint of Lime

    by Diane Boyd


    • 10 6-inch corn tortillas
    • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • juice from 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    2. Cut tortillas in half and then in quarters.

    3. Spread tortillas in a single layer on a baking tray.

    4. Using a mister lightly spray tops of tortillas with oil (or use a brush and brush lightly) and then season with sea salt.

    5. Drizzle with lime juice.

    5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tortilla chips turn crisp and golden.

    6. Remove from oven. Allow to cool and serve with salsa.

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    Recipe Redux | Naturally Delicious

    IMG_8118.6IMG_8116IMG_8122 copyEating more green food is good, right? If it’s fruit, or better yet vegetables! When St. Patrick’s Day rolled around this year, I was pleased to see many food bloggers, like Snack Girl, promoting real green food as oppposed to the fake, artifically green colored stuff which has become synonymous with the holiday. You know what I mean… how much green beer have you  consumed under a banner reading, Erin Go Bragh?

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for celebrating Irish heritage!  Although the holiday is over for this year, the Recipe Reduxers are celebrating the ‘patty’ all month long! If you visit food photo sites, like Healthy Aperture,  you’ll see this craze played out with images of stacked patties of all kinds: potato patties, quinoa and black bean patties and chocolate peppermint patties, to name just a few. And so this month, we continue to stack ‘em up!

    You can plainly see I’m stacking the salmon patty, aka the salmon cake or salmon burger (and pairing it with something naturally green).  Each week I bake off enough fresh salmon for two meals; the first night I serve it with a salad and  a side. The second night I incorporate the leftover salmon into a soup, salad or other salmon inspired dish. Today’s  patties are my second meal made with this healthy and delicious fish.

    Why do I prepare it twice a week? Well, my daughter accuses me of preparing foods I like. Imagine that. But  she’s right! That’s the overwhelming reason why my family gets a double dose of it weekly.  Nevertheless, I’d like to suggest you incoporate it into occasional meals for the health benefits.  No, it’s not magically delicious, but salmon is naturally low in salt/sodium,  a good source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and selenium. Furthermore, salmon is an important source of omega-3 fattty acids, known to reduce cardiovascular risk and decrease inflammation. Recommendations are to comsume 3.5 ounces of salmon per week for cardioprotective benefits.

    Please spread the Irish spirit with this patty, or one of the patties in the links below, for a wholesome meal fit for the health conscious,  Leprechauns included!

    What’s your favorite ‘patty’ recipe? What naturally green food do you pair with it?

    IMG_8124Salmon Patties (makes 4-6 patties)

    by Diane Boyd


    • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover cooked salmon
    • 1 small finely cut onion
    • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • 1 cup panko
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil or enough to spray pan
    • lemon wedges


    1. In a mixing bowl, flake cooked salmon with a fork.

    2. Add onion, lemon juice, egg, salt,and peppers. Mix to combine.

    3.Add just enough panko to bind the mixture together (1/4-1/2 cup).

    4.Shape into 4-6  patties and coat exterior with remaining panko.

    5. Place on a non stick cookie sheet or one that has been sprayed with olive oil.

    6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    7. Bake 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned.

    Serve with and lemon wedges and a fresh green salad.

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    California Dairy Delicious



    I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

    Don’t tell Mom! Has your family ever pulled that one?  S0me of the best stories actually start like this. Like the time I was enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and never realized I was sitting next to funny man Danny McBride. Ok, so I was focused on the food; and for good reason.  I was enjoying the world’s most luscious lime ice cream!  And ever since that night, it’s been my life’s goal to recreate something as delectable.

    Finally, I believe I have  realized my aspiration. I have thought long and hard about the best time to roll this one out, and the time is right, because this week the Recipe Redux is showing you how easy it is to enjoy the taste of eating right when you include California dairy products. The California Milk  Advisory Board (which represents over 1500 dairy families) and their nutrition partner, the Dairy Council of California, is celebrating “dairy good”.  Dairy plays a vital role in contributing to an overall healthy diet and we want to encourage everyone to adopt  healthy eating habits that include dairy!

    Enjoying California dairy foods with meals is a delicious and inexpensive way to meet daily protein needs necessary for maintaining or increasing skeletal muscle mass, and improving body composition (increasing skeletal muscle and decreasing body fat). Dairy with meals helps meet the requirements for important nutrients many Americans are lacking: calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Given the multiple benefits of dairy, it should not surprise you, the recommendations are for 3 servings daily. You can read more about the health benefits of dairy at  RealCaliforniaMilk.com and about the higher nutritional standards in milk/dairy produced in California at healthyeating.org.

    Real California milk and dairy products are sold nationwide and can be identified with the Real California Milk or Real California Cheese seals on packaging.


    Today I ‘m thrilled to  show you how easy it is to to lighten up one of my  favorite dairy desserts (the cannoli) with real California dairy. Easy as in, it  takes 20 minutes to make (30 minutes to chill)  and it’s no cook. Traditionally, this Italian dessert is made with a pastry shell (often fried) that’s stuffed with a mouse like filling (usually made with ricotta cheese, heavy cream, and sugar). A light version can be made by simply swapping full fat ricotta cheese for California reduced fat ricotta cheese and eliminating the fried shell. Oh, and  about the lime ice cream that had me ‘ice cream absorbed’ and was this recipe’s inspiration; I’m drizzling the ricotta mouse with a fresh lime sauce and serving it  ’inside out’ with crisp wafer cookies. Please note: YOU can lighten up any dairy recipe by substituting all or half of the full fat dairy ingredient with  a reduced fat or fat free dairy ingredient. This WILL MAINTAIN THE  NUTRITIONAL PROFILE AND BENEFITS of DAIRY  (without the fat)Note: using dairy alternatives or substitutes  will not deliver the same nutrients found in dairy.

    California dairy products are both nutritious and delicious on their own, and can be used as  ingredients in a myraid of recipes, from sweet to savory. Please check out the bottom of this post for more light California dairy delicious ideas!

    What dairy recipe will you lighten up with California dairy?


    Inside Out Cannoli with a Twist of Lime (serves 4)

    by Diane Boyd


    • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1 cup California heavy cream
    • 1 cup California reduced fat ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
    • chopped pistachios, for topping
    • plain crisp wafer cookies, for serving


    1. Stir fresh lime juice into sweetened condensed milk and set aside.

    2. Combine ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, and lime zest in a large bowl and beat with an elcetric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

    3. Pour heavy cream into another bowl and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. (Test the stiffness by pulling a beater out of the cream. The whipped cream should hold its shape and cling to the beater.)

    4. Fold one third of the whipped cream into ricotta mixture with a rubber spatula until combined and uniform. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.

    5. Spread half of the ricotta mousse into a pie plate or loaf pan. Drizzle with half of the lime sauce. Repeat with remaining ricotta mousse and lime sauce. Chill, uncovered 30 minutes or up to overnight.

    6. Spoon ricotta mousse mixture into cups or bowls and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve with crisp wafer cookies on the side.

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