Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related



garden chili with turkey… eating a rainbow.

So this is a quick thrown together “off the cuff” fresh twist on traditional chili that allows you to use a pound of lean ground turkey and a whole host of colorful vegetables.  Our goal, when able, should be to eat a rainbow… so this is an effortless way to achieve that goal.   Start with olive or avocado oil,  so your base is healthy.  I like to make dishes like this that i can freeze into lunch sized portions for an easy and smart choice the following week when strapped for time.   I wrote this recipe as i cooked it, which is what i often do… and the documentation you see here is purely from memory recall and a couple of photos i snapped during and after.  I love cooking this way and it’s what i like to refer to as ‘being in the zone.”  some of my best creations have been from daydreaming about ingredients and pairing flavors and textures in my head, hours later bringing them mind to bowl.  I always say, if i ever became one of those lucky lotto winners, i’d do three things. ONE:  I’d travel around the world exploring various cuisines and cooking methods, soaking up as much real-time knowledge as i can.  TWO: i’d do medical missionary work in places like Guatemala to maintain my nursing skills and be of true service in remote locations.  I’ve done this once and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.  THREE: when not traveling and home spending time with family in SW Pennsylvania, i’d love to collab with a younger, like minded foodie with loads of entrepreneurial spirit, in need of bankrolling… and find an old church to rehab and turn it into a wicked kewl local brunch spot.  It would be called Soul in a bowl and i’d help create some of the most fantastic spoon worthy dishes you would ever have the pleasure of eating!!  It would be open from 10:30 until 2:30 four days a week.  Of course i’d be using all of my culinary knowledge acquired from number ONE above!  Never stop dreaming, right? you need to have a plan should the universe drop something in your lap.  True story. 

What you need:  (please read entire recipe before beginning so you understand the process)

1 lb ground turkey 

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz large can)

Half a can of tomato paste (maybe two heaping tablespoons?) 

Half of a large onion diced 

Two or three large carrots peeled and small dice

One yellow or red bell pepper small dice

Four cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced

Half a head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced

Four large leaves of swiss chard, sliced and thinly chopped (bite size the leaves)

Any fresh herbs you have… stir in at end.  (think basil, parsley, fresh thyme or cilantro) 

Any shredded cheese you have for topping once you serve it up.  (i used shredded gouda from Aldi) 

Diced green onions optional for topping at end

1 cup of quinoa, cooked per package instructions. 

Chicken stock or broth (carton)  you may not use all of it, you will be adding it later


1 tsp ground chili powder

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt (add more after if you like)

½ tsp black pepper (add more if you want)

I added a few shakes of turmeric,  chipotle powder, coriander and nutmeg. 

You do you… think about how you want it to taste. 

Same with dried oregano, etc… just pepper in to your taste. 

Get a large dutch oven and do a generous swirl of olive oil.  Once hot, add some red pepper flakes.  Add in your ground turkey and cook until pink is gone.. At that point add your onions and bell peppers and cook them over md high heat along with the turkey, stirring frequently.  Par cook the onions and peppers this way… and then add in all of your dried spices and stir… allowing them to hit the high heat a bit and activiate.  At this point you can start to add in all of the other ingredients… the veggies, the can of tomatoes, the beans… give a stir to combine.  Add enough of the chicken stock just to cover the contents of the pot and give everything a liquid in which to cook.  Think about the fact that you’ll be stirring in cooked quinoa at end, so you want enough extra liquid to accommodate that, but you don’t want a soup either.  Doing things like this where you have to think ahead and consider vegetables absorbing some of the liquid etc, will increase your cooking confidence and have you flying “off the cuff” on a regular basis.  Allow this to come up to a light boil, and then stir lightly & place a tight fitting lid and reduce heat to md/low.  Set timer for 15 mins.  After 15 mins give it a stir and add in the cooked quinoa and any fresh herbs you like.  If you don’t want to add all of the quinoa, you don’t have to.   You can reserve some for salads, etc through the week.   Allow to sit and cool a bit on the stove, lid off… and then serve up a bowl with some shredded cheese and a cold beer or glass of iced tea!  You’re gonna love it and it is super good for you!  Eat a rainbow yo! 

Peace and love.  Spags


Just a little dish.

new year, new me right? wrong. truthfully, i’ve always disliked that saying. to me, it indicates you’ve saved a bunch of positive changes for the turn of a calendar page. beat. often times, on the treadmill of life… we tend to adopt a ‘future’ mindset. across the board… “oh once the kids are older i’m going to leave him”… “next week i’m going to start eating better and join a gym”… “i need to start writing again someday”… “i need to get clean” … the list goes on. trouble is, next week turns into next month, and there you are at the change of a season again with the earth making headway around the sun… and you, left standing still. it’s worth noting, there is never a ‘perfect’ time for anything. the sooner the better. tomorrow may never come. recently i read a brilliant quote: today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. i cannot recall anything ever making more sense to me. whatever you seek to change or tackle… try to start NOW. even if today is simply writing about it or forming a plan. get it down, get the mental ducks lining up… organize those thoughts and flip those switches. ok so let me sidebar here for a minute: i want to be clear that i am in no way a wellness guru or life coach… although wow, both of those career paths are insanely attractive to me, and i find myself gravitating more toward that type of occupation as medicine becomes more about the almighty dollar and insurance big business. sorry, yes, i said it. it’s becoming so bad, it embarrasses me at times to be in medicine. nursing is not what it used to be. nevertheless, it’s my right now, and writing remains a passion. hence this blog outlet. so as i scribble and jot thoughts, ideas and feels on paper for days on end… sometimes when i gather them into paragraph form, they sound preachy. then comes the fun of finessing them and applying them to real world situations to create a story of sorts… so my readers can apply them to something they may be dealing with in their own lives at the moment. on a personal level… i remain single and dating, with a lot of free time afforded by my three day a week nursing gig. my job is also one that i do not have to think about when i’m away from work, so my time is truly, my time, allowing me to be fully present in the moment. days can be a blank slate more often than not. this is a blessing and a curse at times. so to prevent myself from being bored or falling into a tailspin of loneliness when i crave the company of a significant other, i’ve been throwing myself into fitness and self care routines… mind, body and spirit. funny enough, it actually carries through to my interactions with friends and mates, and i am finding that i have more to offer because of it. i bring more to the table so to speak, and conversely, i tend to tolerate less BS and negativity from folks i’m dating. it’s the quintessential “know your worth” adage. it’s walking away from things that don’t elevate you or enhance your life. i’ve recently been done so wrong by a mate, it left my head spinning. total mindf*ck… and it took me a solid week to pick it apart and try to understand the psychology behind the why. hard fact: sometimes people’s traumas are so deep, they will sabotage things that feel too healthy because they are waiting for the other shoe to fall or do not believe they are worthy of the love and beauty you plate up for them. it’s a tragic thing to witness. this personal tidbit leads me, in a round about way, into the dish sesh i’m about to throw down. i think about how important it is to work on ourselves, our traumas, our insecurities… before we project them onto others when dating. it’s been said that until you truly love yourself, that door remains closed to someone else… and i believe the shit outta that. i’ve witnessed it. hell i lived it for fifteen years in a marriage. it’s so draining. ok onward to some thoughts and life stuffs.

i’ve found that words are useless without an action. they’re just words, longing for motion to latch onto. ok so maybe you make a post, make a statement, lay out some feels for a mini declaration… and then you stick to the usual scripted routine. whether it’s the bad habit of sabotaging your sleep each night by scrolling and trolling facebook, we all do it when we should instead be paring down for the night… or the pantry full of oreos and pringles when you desire to improve your eating habits. in general, our intentions are good. it’s the follow through that snags our pants. set out to be your own damn role model. screw societal influence. give yourself something to hold onto that you, yourself have created. discover things about yourself you didn’t know. random examples: ‘holy hell i can walk three miles and my doggie loves it!’ or: ‘wow i am really good at helping people overome obstacles!’ try to stop using self limiting words and behaviors. always… never… need… can’t. those words matter, because they create rigidity. they matter because they indicate a predicted outcome. instead, flip the script. create an atmosphere of possibility and start to swim in it. repeat positive things about yourself and watch your power awaken. be passionate even when behind a closed door, alone. own you. but know this: if you’re doing it right, everyone is gonna get a different version and element of your being. you are a beautiful and dynamic human… so be malleable. be manipulative. not in a bad way… in the BEST way. some parts of me would turn off some folks. those same parts may light up and create a glow in others. read the room and act accordingly. i’m not suggesting you put on a show, but life is, indeed, a play. we are all actors in a general sense. never lose yourself in the song and dance. it’s ok to be fascinated.. and fascinating… but don’t sell your core values for anyone or anything. let the most ridiculous people and actions be your teachers. learn from them. that heartbreak, sure it sucked, but at least now you know what you DON’T want. try to be awake every moment. forgiveness is so important, and a key element to full awakening. you don’t have to forget.. but seek to forgive. otherwise you become a prisoner in your own mind and that hate you harbor becomes an unruly inmate with the potential to start a riot at any given time. free that inmate with forgiveness. have the hard conversation. even if it takes three hours. try to replace hate with understanding and compassion. those energies are lovely and amazing. transforming really. forgiveness has the power to squash negative emotions. be real with yourself. you’re not going to be the next mother fucking theresa or ghandi, but you can empower yourself with small changes that truly create what and how you think. we can only control and understand ourselves. we try to understand others, but honestly… their actions are based on a series of battles they’ve waged that we know very little about. so start in your mind and go to your heart. write down how you feel and things that trigger you as they occur. take note of all the ‘tests‘ you encounter throughout your day. accept that you cannot change him/her/this/that… but you can change the way you react. we all make mistakes. we all fall from grace. we all react inappropriately at times. the stock is in paying attention to these reactions and getting better at walking away from situations that don’t serve us. situations and people that zap our energy and shine. getting better at selecting the people, ideas and information we expose ourselves to so freely each day with the swipe of a fingertip. be picky when turning on that vacancy sign. tip: it’s looking in the mirror and smiling, saying “hey beautiful… i see you.”

just a little dish is something i came up with to allow myself to spill some words that aren’t in any way attached to a recipe or an actual edible dish. just food for thought.

bite off as much as you’d like… their shelf life is infinite.

peace and love. spags.
 all these feet on fire... 

heavy are your eyes, and the weight on your shoulders. 

chasing after time...  something you can't touch, but you know when it's over. 

don't control.... when you're running blind... 

all we know, is what we've left behind. 

darlin' you gotta keep breathin... lose yourself in the feelin...  just be slow.  just be slow.

take it back to that moment... before you start to feel broken.  just be slow.... just be slow. 

~Harrison Storm - be slow

heartstrings and hamstrings and the feels in between…


christ on a cupcake, it’s been eighteen months since my last blog… and these are my confessions.  i’m not sure i’ll discuss food in this post, food for thought, yes.  OK maybe i’ll get to my gardening, which i’m digging majorly by the way.  i haven’t produced enough to warrant canning of any sort, but perhaps next year.   at this point i’m consuming all that i grow, cooking it into sauces and fresh salsas and gifting friends.   it brings me smiles.  many things do, even after they’ve ended, and that brings me to my musings today.  i continue to date, post divorce, and i’m two years in at this point!  oh the fun i’ve had!  i’ve gotten my heart broken a few times, one in particular left a scar i still trace my finger along from time to time.  tis life… and it is what it was.  or so that’s what he says.

these days i’m manifesting something compatible, with some light, feel good, easy vibes…  and slowly.  it literally almost feels TOO easy… which ironically was what i’ve been praying for.  it’s new for me, indeed.  i like it.  that being said,  i’m paying close attention to my head and heart, and certain emotions that sometimes get the best of me.  i’ve owned up to some lingering feelings – and i’m slowly closing some doors, even if only an inch at a time.  it’s the pace my heart can handle right now, even though my head is being super bossy and always reminds me of why i needed to detour in the first place.  i’m embracing the pace yo.  sometimes love has a way of putting people on a pedestal, one even higher than they may place themselves… and perhaps forever there they’ll live… idyllically high,  even when you’ve witnessed their repeated falls from grace.   the beauty lies in successfully awakening to your self worth, and loving yourself enough to do the right thing – even when it stings like a mother.

my journey has been interesting, that’s for sure… two years in and continually learning each day.  i build and grow off of the lows,  ride the highs until the wheels fall off, and then log the lessons in my mental and physical journals.  i could seriously write a book.  i’ve realized it takes about 7 dates to begin to see someone’s true colors.  which is usually about when i duck out it seems!  bible: everyone is on their best behavior dates 1 to 4.  i’ve remained friends with so many,  it’s beginning to be my personal joke.  those fellas, and they know who they are… still text me, send pics, still joke, ask after me on a regular, and still respect my advice on many things including their lady troubles!  i love it.  they’re my tribe.  we shared a genuine connection, and just because it didn’t work out for whatever reason, we both still enjoyed the friend vibe greatly and held that shit near and dear! friends are such a gift.  i don’t trust people who have no friends.  there’s usually a reason.  life doesn’t always allow for the social life we all dream up in our heads,  but i can say for sure that i have a whole handful of girlfriends and guy friends that i could ask for darn near anything and they’d be there in my time of need.   that is ‘blessed’ my friends.  when you put yourself out there,  heart on your sleeve, vibes raw and unapologetic… you’ll be shocked at what you can manifest.  for anyone who is just breaking into the dating scene, or who’s been out of it for a spell and thinking of hopping back in… my free advice to you:  be yourself.  don’t make excuses.  put in the time, even when you’re exhausted.  be honest, even when it hurts.  don’t settle.  ever.  guard your heart, but don’t build walls around it.  let it out to play on a regular basis, and get good at repairing it.  pick up a mate that enjoys many of the same things as you, but still can pull you out of your comfort zone and make you squirm sometimes.  trust your gut.  don’t try to change or fix people.  they’re perfect for someone else… just not you.  hahaha!!  listen to what they aren’t saying… and hear that shiz.  don’t fall in love with someone’s potential.  fall madly in love with yourself first… otherwise that door is locked to someone else.  as soon as you feel a connection,  buy small thoughtful gifts, consistently.  say i miss you if you do.   men are born to pursue women, let them.  journal… you’ll forget mishaps and the fucked up shit people will do… but the journal will remind you.

they say there’s a lid for every pot.  i’m ready to cook up something wonderful  and everlasting over a slow and low heat.   no more flash searing and ending up burned.  hell, i’m a seasoned chef at this point.  i know my recipe for success and it’s been tweaked and revised over the past two years.  the joy of cooking!  let’s eat!


peace and love.  spags.

a bit on spiritual eating… and one spicy and spectacular sausage and lentil stew.


ok… I know what you’re thinking… sausage and lentil stew?  how good could it be?  TRUST me… it is beyond good. Tis amazing.  absolutely bursting with flavor in every bite, super duper healthy and full of vitamin rich ingredients!  best of all… very easy to prepare, so that most anyone can whip this up on a weeknight, no problemo.   this freezes wonderfully in small 16oz containers… making for stellar lunches at any given time, or a quick little dinner for a willing friend.   I love feeding others.  it’s my thing.  I love to hear what they say about the dish… how much they enjoyed it… and it makes me smile knowing I was able to nourish another, physically… but possibly mentally as well.  allow me to spill on that a bit.  people are busy.  we all have jobs, maybe kids, pets, homes, bills, cars,  the list goes on.  when you make time to see and connect with friends and family in your life… you’re saying something.  you’re letting that person know that they are important.  they are a priority.  their presence in your life, hopefully, brings you comfort and joy.  it’s why you make time, right?  do me a favor.  think back to the last noteworthy home cooked meal you may have had with say, your mom… or your sibling… or a significant other… that food, more than likely, was prepared with love.   when you cook with love and compassion and your soul is happy… all of that shows up in your dish.  ie: the people who eat it can feel that shit.  it is a mindful practice… where the cook is thinking fondly on those who will consume their dish… and they long to nourish that person inside and out… it becomes almost a spiritual culinary experience.  taste goes beyond flavor.  it involves all of the senses… sight, smells, sounds, touch and texture… the company for the meal…  your head space as you nosh… right??  all of it plays a role in your food experience.  are you sad? are you content? are you rushed? are you relaxed??  all of these affect the taste.   I love this… and it’s why I love feeding others.  it is also… why I love foods that require one utensil.  soups, stews, shallow bowls full of rice or pasta swimming in deliciously flavorful sauces.  things that can be eaten with one spoon, or one fork.  things that can be carried to a favorite chair or couch or beside a fire… and enjoyed with both hands… one holding the vessel, and the other doing the work to bring food to mouth.  easy.  comforting. simple, but memorable.  these are the types of foods I enjoy sharing with others.   experiment with your dining experiences, and notice the way food tastes differently in various settings.  I can be by a bonfire on a crisp cool night with a few friends and a few beers… and the hot dog I roast over the flame can taste better than a fancy steak almost every damn time.  it’s the setting.  the vibe.  pizza on a rooftop patio with Edison lights strung about vs. inside the sterile pizza shop in a tomato red booth with fluorescent lighting.  food on vacation vs. food after a stressful work meeting…  we know the answer to that.  don’t even get me started on music…. haaha!   food is love.  feel the love yo.  anyway…. enjoy this stew.



a little  over a pound of bulk (loose) hot sausage

cup of dried lentils (cooked according to package directions)

half of a butternut squash, peeled and diced (or buy it pre packaged and already prepped)

two large carrots (peeled and diced)

two large stalks of celery (leaves included: diced)

three cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

one large onion, diced

one bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)

one 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

one 14oz can chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1 heaped tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

pinch of turmeric

Prepare all vegetables.  Wash, peel, chop and set aside in a large bowl.  You will be adding them all at once, so don’t worry about keeping them separate.  This way, once your stew gets rolling and you brown your sausage, you’ll be ready to add them.  if you’ve never prepped a BN squash, lop off the top and bottom with a sharp, sturdy knife and stand it on it’s bottom.  Carefully cut it straight down the middle top to bottom.  Spoon out seeds and discard.  with a vegetable peeler, carefully peel off the outer layer of skin.  you are now ready to chop it up into bite sized chunks.  you could also buy pre peeled and chopped “ready to cook” if you are feeling lazy.

cook lentils as per package. drain and set aside.

add a generous swirl of olive oil in your favorite dutch oven.  turn on your flame and begin to brown you sausage, careful not to burn.  break it up with your spatula and stir frequently.  once you are sure it is browned and cooked through, remove it onto a place with a slotted spoon, keeping juice and grease in the dutch oven.  you will be cooking your veggies in this grease. set aside.  add your vegetables and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  add a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of chicken broth and all of your spices.  stir together to combine. bring up to a boil.  add your sausage back in and stir to combine.  turn heat down to medium low and cover it, letting it simmer for about ten minutes. uncover, stir, and check your carrots and celery for doneness. cook few mins longer if necessary.  once these are cooked to your liking, cut the heat and add in the cooked lentils. stir once more and serve it up! I like to add a large handful of chopped fresh parsley.  fine without though. Enjoy! you will enjoy this stew for days… I’ve even been known to eat it for a late breakfast.   for the most part… pretty easy… and very very comforting…  the way life SHOULD be, if we’re doing it right.

peace and love.  spags.



the girl with kaleidoscope eyes

greetings.  it’s been a spell.  things have changed.  greatly.  time to spill on it a bit.  I won’t overshare… but you’ll get the gist of it via my verbiage.  i’m reading oscar wilde again.. the picture of dorian gray.  my all time fave.  it corrupted my tender psyche years ago, and it will do so again.  my daughter desperately wants to read it, but mostly because I’ve told her she cannot do so until she is eighteen.  a quote: ‘I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter, and grow sad.  I want a breath of our passion to stir their dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain.’  the book is riddled with beauty and thick loveliness… I long to fall into its pages and take long naps on rich, burgundy velvet bedding. enough about the book.  enter a changed, but still genuine me.  let’s talk about it.  i’m single now.  I modified my equation this past may.  I did the hard work.  my kiddos did the hard work.  we can do hard things.  i’m proud of us… proud of me.  I can now be a more genuine version of myself.  my happy is a more authentic happy.  it’s an inside job.  i’m on it… daily.  who am i?  listen up yo.  my motive is to draw from people. allow them to seep into me.  let their personalities recreate a new mode of thought and expression.  some I see nothing in, some too much.  people are funny that way.  I know pretty quickly and act accordingly.  i’m perceptive af.  I find balance extraordinary, and absolutely necessary.  a useful passion is priceless.  a useless passion even more so.  having zero passion is a deal breaker.  I broke said deal, in fact.  I loathe dull people.  first time blogging about it actually, but the dread became unbearable, the gray, all consuming.  I watched my light begin to flicker, and I grew absolutely terrified.  he never even noticed the fear.  no longer could I allow my soul to be under the microscope of such blindness and misguided opinions.  did you ever dedicate time to someone or something, only to reach the sad, long, drawn out conclusion of “it’s hopeless.”  so heart breaking.  in particular when the time spent nears two decades.  tis life.  time is a gift.  I do not enjoy wasting it.  I absolutely adore meaningful exchanges, and engage as often as I can with friends and family.  I love flattering others, if it’s warranted…. and often find strange pleasure in saying things I know I will regret.  but the rawness of it… it’s irresistible.  if someone has pleased you, be it words, or touch, or a gift… tell them.  don’t wait.  worse still, don’t ever assume they know your gratitude.  expression is essential to a happy life.  be with someone who loves to hear about all the fantastical ideas in your head.  be with someone who loves sharing their soul AND their body, on equal levels.  for the two should never be separated.  to do so is mad.  I want a lover and a friend.  (isn’t that a song lyric? LOL)  truly, I do.  someone who can set their heart right in the middle of the dinner table next to the bottle of red we’re sharing and our kiddos glasses of milk.  no games, no drama, just real as real can be…. real AF.  ready to grab some happiness every day.  somedays your hands will be more full than others.  somedays your hands are empty… but if thoughts, feels and daydreams were matter and tangible… you’d need a basket.  I see things differently than most.  i’m a bit intense at times.  there is no lack of imagination, but still desire to be taken seriously.  I do not long to be the adornment on ones coat… but the whole damn coat itself… purposeful and necessary and desired for optimal comfort.  I bore at tedious, but will endure if I see a light or a prize at the end.  I am in love with love.  with a warm embrace, the bad of the day can be washed away.  this I believe.  have you ever been in the comfort of someone’s arms, and it felt so perfect and so god damn right that you wanted to curl up and remain?  I have.  recently actually.  it caught me off guard.  I’ve started dating again.  a small handful… and all very different… (well, two of them can juggle LOL)  it’s fun, and a bit scary.   i’m trying to have fun with it and not take it too seriously…. while staying true to myself and knowing who and what my end game looks like.  it looks like comfort.  it looks like the black and white insert in a picture frame.  it’s full of love and respect.  it’s full of acceptance.  it’s a blended family.  it’s loud at dinner time, but a shared knowing glance for what comes later.  it’s packing lunches and managing schedules and taking hikes and snow sledding and going out for ice cream and planning summer and winter vacations.  it’s four kids plus four of their friends and music thumping through the house and sleepovers and making 28 pancakes the next morning.  it’s taking sick days for sick kiddos.  it’s quiet nights at a favorite restaurant, or walking through the door with take out and craft beer sixers.  it’s sharing your most intimate thoughts and fears.  dreaming together.  opening yourself up to be discovered without fear of critique.  it’s taking a risk when you’re terrified.  it’s leaving your comfort zone behind every now and again and overcoming obstacles together.  never needing… but always wanting.  NEED is a strong word, with a fuck ton of pressure… and peril in the periphery.  I would never want anyone to NEED me.  now WANT me morning, noon and night.  giddy up.  I can get on top of that shit.

so life is lighter now.  (understatement of the year)  I have my own little place.  it’s so cute I want to punch it in the face.  I knew I had to have it about three minutes into the tour.  my poor realtor.  she saw me light up as if there was an aura around me.  it’s an adorable little plum purple arts and crafts bungalow… and I firmly believe that the universe led me here.  here’s the rub:  (lol, a guy I dated said that, and i’m hooked on it now)  (he also said ACES and liked ALL the same music as me… but the timing was off for us- and that timing can be a real motherfucker.)  anyway… here’s the rub.  the owner lived here for 26 yrs.  her initials were KLS.  mine were SLK.  (maidens for us both)  she moved here when her kids were 11 and 9,  as did I.  she left her marriage and her A frame home that she lived in for ten years… AS DID I.  she poured her heart and soul into that A frame and it killed her to leave it.  same same.  she left a man who made her feel small and who never fully appreciated all that she was.  same same.  crazy right?  we are both hopeless free spirits with hippie souls and madly creative and strong willed women.  the house knew I needed to live in and love on it…. and here I sit.  having dropped crazy attention on it already in a short four months, including a name.  LITTLE PURPLE BUNGALOW.   I know.  this is my life now…  and  i’m embracing the pace.

even still,  life is confusing sometimes.  timing is everything.  synchronicity baby.  you can work magic, do the time and connect… and someone from the past can come out of left field at the last minute and shoot that shit down like gangbusters.  trust in yourself, trust in the process, and be open to what comes next.   a last quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray… ” the aim of life is self development.  to realize one’s nature perfectly– that is what each of us is here for.  people are afraid of themselves nowadays.  the have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self.  their own souls starve… and are naked.”

I hear music… it stirs me as do words.  there is magic in both.   words beautiful words.  I shall shoot my arrow into the sky and see if it hits my mark.  that is all.

peace and love.  spags.

Slow and Low Chicken wings!


three years ago, almost to the day, funny enough… I stumbled upon these here chicken wings while cruising recipes online.  I love looking at food blogs, and I definitely have my favorites, however this one came from a site I hadn’t visited before.  the dude’s blog was/is called Macheesmo, and I got to clicking around on it back then when trying to locate some great chicken wing recipes for my son, Eli, who is a wing aficionado!  the way he described them being almost effortless struck a cord (i’m all about the path of least resistance in certain instances!) and I decided to give them a go.  well guess what… they were AWESOME, and we’ve been enjoying them ever since!  I take them to parties, and they are usually the first thing to go.  I typically serve them with ranch, mostly out of habit, but honest to pete they are absolutely fabulous right as they are with zero sauce.   you need three pounds of wings.  now this recipe is for the split wing, not the whole wing.   I have always used fresh… (see pic below)- but I am assuming one could thaw a bag of frozen wings and use those just as easily! just pat dry before starting.  ALLOW FOUR HOURS COOK TIME FOR THESE WINGS! that being said, this IS something you have to time out.  the prep is like fifteen mins- and then once they’re in the oven you’re golden- you just have to flip every hour.



3 pounds of wingettes

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Ranch or favorite dipping sauce




combine all of  the spices into a large bowl.  stir to combine.  take your chicken wings and toss to coat, working one package at a time.  once coated, place them on a wire baking rack that you have placed on top of a foil lined baking sheet for easy clean up.


place wings into a preheated 275* oven and set timer for 4 hours.   flip them every hour.   they will come out falling off the bone juicy and delicious.  you will love these, and seriously… how easy was that!?  enjoy!


Healthy Hippie Stew


SWEET MAGNOLIA  it has been almost two years since i have blogged.  this makes me want to cry and smile at the same time. cry because i love love love writing and blogging and collecting thoughts in print… and smile because this just shows that my life, this beautiful life, is consuming me and filling me right the hell up so that blogging has slipped my mind entirely!  that being said, my new years resolution was to blog more, so giddy up on that.  also, i plan to buy a go pro with some of our income tax money- so i will likely be sneaking in a few cooking videos on here. i know for a fact i have said such things in the past and never followed through, but i think i’m feeling it this time.   i have shut down both of my ETSY shops, just not feeling it anymore, and the fees- albeit small, do add up when you have lots of listings.  the nice thing is, they leave the shop intact, so that when you want to come back- all is as you left it.  sooooo, yeah- recent events:  March in Pittsburgh means more snow just when you become sick of snow.  it also means 60’s one day and 25 degrees the next.  it’s bananas.  i looked out the window this morning and the roads were clear.  i heard my dog barking like a loon an hour later, and the roads were covered and a car had wrecked and flipped over across the street!  i’m telling you, Pittsburgh weather is bananas.  we just got back from an amazing ten day tropical vacation on a small island forty minutes off the coast of Belize.  it was called Caye Caulker… and it was amazing.  i booked our little cottage on Airbnb and then secured some flights.  the exchange rate was fantastic, 2 to 1!  i highly recommend visiting that island if you are looking for something off the beaten path and free of huge resorts, huge hotels and large shopping malls- etc.  this place is tiny.  you can bike one end to the other in under fifteen mins, but it lacks nothing.  there are bars, restaurants, little markets, a bank, two cemeteries- but no hospitals- lol.   it is super authentic Caribbean, with a hippie vibe and lots of smiling happy faces.  which brings me to my dish i created.  HIPPIE STEW.  when in caye caulker, we ate a lot of what they called- “stew chicken” which was traditionally served with red beans and rice as well as coleslaw.  it was beyond delicious, yet so simple.  it inspired me to create a dish that i could enjoy eating for many days, and even freeze portions for quick lunches.  i wanted to be able to make it in under an hour- and have this large return for my time.  i succeeded!  this is also quite inexpensive to make- and actually gives you a whole extra chicken breast to create another meal with!  i made my husband a tomato based sauce with capers and sauteed onions and spices and added the chicken and served it to him in a bowl over linguine! (he loves pasta!)  i was happy with my healthy hippie stew and he was happy with his pasta!  win-win.


one package of bone in, skin on split chicken breasts (two breasts in pack- usually around five bucks total- maybe less)

1 cup of lentils (green or red- whatever)

1/2 cup white rice (not minute rice people… real rice)

1/3 cup orzo pasta (or pastini if that’s all you have)

1 tsp of curry powder

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

1 large onion diced

1 large carrot diced (2 if smaller)

2 celery stalks diced

1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1 small zucchini diced

large handful of fresh bagged spinach (chopped)

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried thyme

few squirts of hot sauce


fill a large dutch oven halfway full with water. mine is a 6 quart pot.  adjust accordingly.



bring water to a boil and add your TWO skin on/bone in chicken breasts.  turn heat to medium and let these go for about a half hour uncovered.  prep all of your vegetables at this time.  slice/ dice your heart out.  put them into nice little organized cereal bowls so you’re ready to add to stew at given time.

this recipe is crazy versatile.  if you don’t like zucchini, don’t add it.  wanna use kale in place of spinach? DO IT!  hate chick peas?  Add black beans! celery turn your stomach? double up on carrots! you feelin’ me?

OK so after about a half hour, remove cooked chicken to a large plate and set aside to let it cool down.  turn heat up to high again and add the ONIONS, LENTILS, RICE AND ORZO.  cook these over high heat,  stirring occasionally for about five or six minutes.   Then add the carrots, celery, spices/herbs/salt/pepper/hot sauce,  and chick peas.  return to boil.   once this comes back to a boil, turn heat down to a low simmer, cover and let cook for 15 mins.  stir it once during cooking.  water should be starting to be absorbed by the grains a bit.

while it is cooking, take and prepare your chicken.  you are only using ONE of the breasts here folks.  we used TWO in order to properly flavor the broth- but all of that chicken would be waaay too much in this, so do as i said and utilize it for another meal.  ((shred for chicken salad, use it for chicken and waffles, make the kids chicken quesadillas with cheese,  whatever you can dream up.))   OK- slice or chop or shred or however you choose to create bite sized pieces of chicken to add back into the stew.  set it aside and be ready.

uncover the pot after the 15 mins and add in your zucchini, chopped spinach and prepared chicken.  stir well and cover again.  let cook a few mins more over medium heat and then turn off heat, leaving lid intact.   at this point i like to tidy up the kitchen and get ready to enjoy some hippie stew!  ladle yourself a small portion, allow to cool a bit and then taste.  tweak accordingly with salt/pepper or maybe some hot sauce.  take a picture and attach this blog post!!  let me know how it turned out.  i love to hear from people who have cooked from my blog.  food is love.  enjoy!!


“life is either a daring adventure… or nothing at all.”  ~helen keller


Allow your soul to rest,  stop and be amazed by the sea.   

Don’t listen to what i say… go and SEE !!

embrace the pace yo.  spags.


Pasta Carbonara ~ a new fave!


about a month ago I yanked this recipe from a website as I was surfing along food sites, jumping to and fro between blogs and ingredient research… as I usually do.  this activity usually leaves me salivating and chomping at the bit to get in the kitchen and CREATE!  I printed this particular recipe, and decided I would make it the very next  night for my pasta loving Italian hubby.  the guy would eat pasta every night if i’d let him.  hell who am I kidding- so would I!!   so this recipe came from a website called – and believe it or not, I followed it to a T.  so this is pretty much a reblog…. giving full props to whoever wrote this recipe, because they’re a friggin genius!  when I first thought about pasta carbonara, I thought it had cream in it… probably based on looks alone… I mean how creamy does that pic look above?? yeah, no cream. not a drop.  what creates that beauty is the raw egg quickly combined with grated cheese and scalding hot starchy pasta water. (you gotta work fast with this one people, be ready… and giddy up.)  it’s comes together like magic.  -and I can happily say…. this is now my  husbands FAVORITE pasta dish that I make. follow the instructions verbatim, especially the procedure for cooking the bacon (which is genius) and you will be in noodle nirvana in less than an hour.  get busy yo.


8-10 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (just leave it how it is outta the package and slice it up, no need to separate the pieces.)

1/2 cup of water

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 lb. linguini or spaghetti (we like linguini)

1 and a 1/4 c finely grated parmesan cheese (don’t you DARE use that shit in the green can, spring for a package of grated parm at your cheese counter people)

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp each of salt and pepper

chopped fresh parsley for garnish



Add bacon and 1/2 cup of water to a large non stick skillet and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Allow it to simmer like this (stirring occasionally) until the water evaporates and then switch to md-low and cook until crispy (stirring occ).  Place a fine mesh strainer over a glass bowl and strain bacon, reserving all of that money oil…  set aside. to that very pan, add a tsp of the fat back in, while the pan is still hot.  take your minced garlic and saute it in the oil for about thirty seconds… then add it to a medium sized mixing bowl.  set aside.  here is a pic of the bacon once I strained it….

IMG_7605now here is what I want you to do next.  get out a sturdy pot, and add 8 CUPS of water to it.  no more, no less, because you want the ultimate starchiness from this water once you cook the pasta in it.  bring it to a boil and add your pasta, cooking according to package directions. WHEN YOU STRAIN THE PASTA IN YOUR COLANDER…. DO SO OVER A LARGE BOWL SO THAT YOU RESERVE THE PASTA WATER!!! be careful…  do not get burned people.

IMG_7604OK so while your pasta is cooking, get back to the bowl with your garlic in it.  Add to it a Tablespoon of the bacon fat. (I think I added an extra teaspoon, bc I love the bacon-y flavor!)  then add in your eggs, salt and pepper and your parm cheese. whisk this all together nicely. now you are ready to focus on your pasta. don’t overcook it yo!

once you strain the pasta over a large bowl, carefully give a shake to the pasta and set the colander aside. now take a one cup measuring cup and scoop out a cup of HOT water. (I took an extra cup just so I had back up in case it spilled or some shit.)  empty the rest of the water down the drain and then transfer your pasta to that hot bowl.  head over to your egg/cheese mixture and while whisking, pour in about a half cup of HOT water…. whisk whisk whisk…. this is cooking the eggs…. then immediately pour this mixture OVER the hot pasta…  and add the bacon.  toss toss toss…. more cooking of the eggs… more magic happening right before your eyes as this turns into a beautiful creamy dreamy dinner. take and drizzle more HOT water in as you toss as needed. this is an eyeball thing… if it looks good to you and isn’t clumping, you’re golden. Oh, toss in the parsley if you want, or take and garnish with a little parsley shower each individual bowl you serve up.  either way, you do you.   let pasta rest for two to four minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little bit before you serve it.(however, this IS best served HOT)   Just enough time to open a bottle of wine and pour two glasses and toast your accomplishments!  (if you’re anything like me, the bottle is already half empty, as I like to imbibe while I cook!!)

enjoy!!  peace and love, spags.








Hearty and Healthy ~ Chicken Farro Stew

powerhouse dinner
powerhouse dinner

So i met Farro last year… i was thumbing through a magazine and saw a lovely rustic one pot meal involving some browned sweet sausages, bright and beautiful spinach and carrots and something called ‘farro‘… what in the hell, i asked, is FARRO??  (linked wiki there for ya)  so i got to googling it and hopping around on food sites, and long story short, i was in Whole Foods later that afternoon buying some in bulk!  -and i’ve been cooking with it ever since. it is the most amazing and easy addition to various soups, stews, salads, etc.  you literally toss it into a pot, add water until level is about two inches above that of the farro, and bring it up to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins. drain and set aside.  that’s it!!  then you can take and add it to whatever you have in mind!  OR, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, adding it on top of salads, mix it into your morning yogurt, stir it in with some oatmeal, add it to wonton soup when you get Chinese…. you feelin’ me?!?  Farro makes an already healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner choice all the more healthy… and it’s great post workout too, to help the body recover. WHY? it contains lots of B3’s (niacin) which helps your body break down fats & carbs like a motha.  it has tons of magnesium for muscle support too! it’s protein and fiber rich- and it has a fantastic nutty and chewy texture!  get on board yo!

so the other day i was thinking… “spags, you have some leftover tortellini in there, you have some farro in the pantry, you have plenty of canned tomatoes, a fridge full of veggies, fresh thyme in the garden begging to be used and some tomato paste in a little baggie in the freezer you’ve been meaning to use up.”  visions of a stew started to dance in my mind…. totally could have gone ‘meatless’ here PS. -and please do if you desire!  i happened to also have two bone in chicken breasts begging me to rub them down and roast them. so they got invited to this soiree.

HOPPING ON SOAP BOX….  if you have never been educated by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa on how easy and mouth watering it is to roast bone in chicken breasts for use in almost any capacity…  then you need to listen to this.

basically you are lining a baking sheet with either foil, parchment, or silpat –  rubbing the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper,  and place it into a 350* oven for 45 mins. walk away! that’s IT! no fussing, no mussing.  take it out, let it cool on the pan or a plate- and slice it up later to use in your recipe- or serve as is… with some garlic mashed potatoes and freshly steamed green beans!  the possibilities are endless here folks.  i added some fresh thyme to mine, just under the skin.

ready for the oven.
ready for the oven.

Finito! yummy.
Finito! yummy.

next up- get your Farro going.  just like i told you up in the first paragraph. giddy up.

i used one heaping cup of dry.
i used one heaping cup of dry.

While the farro is cooking, chop up some vegetables.  IDLE HANDS YO…. i used :

  • one large carrot, diced
  • one large onion, diced
  • half of bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups or so of fresh spinach leaves (roughly chopped) 1 small bag is fine! use it all.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Then you need:

a bag of tortellini- (cook according to package instructions and set aside to cool), olive oil, red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp), a small can of tomato paste, 28oz can diced tomatoes, 1 can chicken broth,  1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp nutmeg


in your favorite cooking vessel… heat up a glug of olive oil… add to it your red pepper flakes. once they dance around, begin adding your chopped vegetables. (NOT the spinach)  saute them over medium heat until they start to look tender and delicious.  see below:

i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you...
i used a big sprig of fresh thyme here and just fished it out at end. you do you…

then take and add your can of chicken broth, your can of tomatoes, your tomato paste and all of the spices. bring up to boil, and then immediately reduce heat to simmer and cover.  cook like this for 15 mins.


Then give it a stir, and add in your chopped chicken, if you are using chicken.  see below.

even one breast would be adequate here... make some chicken salad with the other one!
even one breast would be adequate here… make some chicken salad with the other one!

Then go ahead and add the spinach and the farro and stir well to combine! Lastly, add in the tortellini, and stir gently to combine.  Replace the lid and simmer for ten more minutes and then it is ready to serve!!


don't even need to use the whole bag... just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!
don’t even need to use the whole bag… just enough to cover the stew, as shown. save the rest for a salad the next day!


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