Back to Basics

The Secret to Perfect Sushi

I’ve been on a bit of a French kick lately, and rightly so. We need to indulge and vicariously live through our food while Andrea is living there. However, after the big Thanksgiving bash shared with my side of the family, all foods consumed were heavy American classics, I’ve been feeling like a light cleanse is in order while my body prepares for the next barrage of feats…. to happen during Christmas vacation with the man’s side of the family.

In preparation for the next calorie dense party week, two things can be found on my menu: alternate between warm veggie laden soups and Eastern meals with fish as the star. Namely, Sushi!  It’s neither difficult or scary to make yourself at home. In truth there’s only one trick…. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes, Seafood We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

A New Chapter in Our GF Journey – Learn from a PRO!

Since it’s the weekend and Andrea and I are taking a break from sweatin’ it in the kitchen, we thought this would be a great moment to share with you our new section in our gluten-free living page. If a gluten-free (GF) diet is something that is important to you, if you or a loved one is going through food changes, or if you’re just curious what all the talk is these days with the GF movement, read on!

Larry Penner with grandson Tama (Andrea’s boy). Tama used to go by “Mowgli” because of his great hair and free spirit.

Larry Penner is Andrea’s father, and he is truly a pioneer in the world of food sensitivities. He has been living with sensitivities to foods and chemicals for most of his life. Today he shares with us all the valuable things he has learned over the years. So much wisdom is to be found from him, he’s experienced it all and has taken everything in stride with kindness and love. Our hope is to help others who are new on the same path, those who are seeking a community of understanding, and to educate the families of people with gluten and other allergies so they can better support their loved ones.

To read his amazing and truly inspiring story, you can visit his page here, or you can browse through the links below to discover what he’s learned in the specified sections. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Dairy Free, Gluten-Free Meals We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Roasted Red Peppers Simplified

Roasted red peppers are everywhere in great cuisine. They are found in the traditional dishes of multiple cultures across the globe. Lately they can be spotted somewhere in a dish on most menus as the push to better health grows. Red peppers are wonderful in the raw, but roasting them gives another level of flavor as it seems to deepen the intensity of the pepper flavor but softens the bitter edge. Teya, my oldest, can’t handle them raw but loves them roasted.

Roasted Red Peppers Simplified simple easy recipe

Yet the more recipes I saw for roasting red peppers the more I began to wonder: why so complicated? Many of the instructions out there say to spread oil all over them first. There just seemed to be a lot of unnecessary steps thrown into the process. During my time in Europe, the way we roasted peppers was much simpler and easier.

Roast several at once so you can fill a jar to keep in the fridge for a week. You’ll find when you have them on hand, you’ll be throwing them on salads, in paninis, blended into sauces, on cold cut sandwiches, dice in your rice for dinner or rolled up with some cheese inside a chicken breast for a great surprise. The possibilities are literally endless, and if you have a fresh jar in your fridge those possibilities will actually happen. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Spreads and Sauces, Vegetables We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Date Night Cheese Platter, Treats for the Adult’s Time

Let’s make this simple. No detailed stories or fancy words today. Easy concept, easy pictures.

Weekends are a bit anti-climactic for me right now. The Bod is working 70 hour weeks,  which means he’s also putting in 12 hours every Saturday, and as a result he’s (understandably) a zombie come Sunday. This also means there’s no husband help around the home on weekends, and no time away from the kids, which results in my equal exhaustion. But we still want to go on dates together, so the all-glorious couch dates have become our sweet sweet heaven.

Adult time is the best. It’s the top priority. I don’t think I need to preach this either, I’m quite confident you all know what I’m talking about and feel the same way. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Snacks and Healthy Treats We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Mini Italian Quiche

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, which gives a good excuse to make these perfect bite size quiches! And if you are the mom that these should be made for… I suggest printing off the recipe and giving it to someone to make it for you– because you deserve it!

I made them for dinner the other night and my husband went crazy over them. He said, “There’s just one problem, I wish there was more!” I only made half the recipe which I guess was a mistake. Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Back to Basics, Breakfast, Sides We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Basil Chiffonade

This is aback to basic tip for you. I want to take two seconds to share a cutting skill that is fun and fancy. It also simplified my life when I first saw it and that, for me, is a reason to love anything.

To chiffonade a bunch of basil, mint, or any other leafy herb is the trick today.  Chiffonade means “made of rags” in French, not that it has any significance to learning the method, but who doesn’t want to broaden their French vocabulary?!

So here we go:

1- Make a quick stack of your leaves, larger on bottom to smaller on top. A stack of about 10 leaves is a good place to start.

2- Roll the leaves lengthwise in a cigarette-type fashion.

3- Take your sharp knife and slice from the end of the roll. About 1/4 inch is a general size, but thinner looks delicate and fine as a garnish, thicker if it’s going to be cooked in the dish.

4- Fluff the pile of cut leaves. The edges will darken fairly quickly, so should be used as a garnish right away (if it goes in the cooking that matters less).

Et Voila! There you have your new quick-life-simplifying-trick!   **See it used in a recipe here.

what does chiffonade mean, how to chiffonade basil

Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Leek & Garlic Wild Rice

Garlic & leek Wild Rice

Wild rice is nutritious, nutty and aromatic. Paired with shallots and garlic, it is rustic, and makes a beautiful addition to any dish! Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Back to Basics, Gluten-Free Meals, Sides We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Crepes: Traditional and Gluten-Free

The question is, can a crepe be gluten-free? I say, of course it can! As long as you understand what needs to happen to your batter to get a good crepe, and with the abundance of alternate flours our there, it’s possible to get a satisfying “paper pancake” without the gluten.  However, not everyone out there is gluten-free and mastering the traditional crepe is a great skill to acquire.  Today I want to share both recipes, I feel it’s best to understand the original to get the alternate versions just right. With a little practice you’ll get the hang of it, and it seems to impress family and guests though it takes little effort!

Crepes are such a staple in France they’ve taken to calling the holiday which celebrates the return of Spring (“La Chandeleur”) as “Crepe day.” On this day if you wish for good fortune all year, toss the first crepe of the batch, usually a dud anyhow, on the top of your kitchen cabinets and leave it there all year!  My dud-crepe is sitting atop a cupboard as we speak gathering a load of dust and good luck for my family. Give it a try, I’m betting you wouldn’t mind an extra push for some fortune yourself… Click here to Read More

Posted on by Tawny in Back to Basics, Breakfast, Desserts, Gluten-Free Meals, Main Dishes We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

Cheesecake Tips, Tricks & Recipes


Before I ever made a cheesecake I used to think to myself, “now that is one thing I am just too scared to try!” I don’t know what it is but they just look intimidating. Well after a while it started bothering me that I was scared of it and so I decided to tackle it head on!

I began reading different recipes, looking at reviews, reading articles on how to make the perfect cheesecake, and it all was a little overwhelming.

A few days later I was talking to a neighbor of mine, and she mentioned she knew how to do it! She gave me her tips, and I said to myself “okay I am just going to trust this is going to work and go for it”. I picked a recipe with good reviews, used my neighbor’s cheesecake tricks and poof… right before my very eyes sat thee most perfect looking cheesecake!

I could not believe how easy it was! It worked! So, I did some more research, made a bunch of different cheesecakes and decided that I needed to share these simple tricks with everyone who needs a little confidence booster in the cheesecake department. Right now… you are going to learn how to be a Cheesecake Genius!

Rules of the Cheesecake…

#1. Treat it as you would a newborn baby… think gentle, with care and without trying to disturb it too much.

#2 When mixing the ingredients- try not to over mix-this will cause the cheesecake to crack in the end (if you do though… not a big deal! You can fill those cracks with fudge or whatever is delicious to you! No one will ever know it once had some blemishes!

#3 The water bath… take a pan, set it on the rack right under the one that has the cheesecake on it and pour water into that pan- this allows moisture in the oven which helps prevent cracking and the crust from burning.

#4 After it baked in the oven for aprox. 75min.-jiggle the cake pan and if the cheesecake wiggles a little in the middle, and  its firm on the edges and the top is starting to brown- its done.- Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in there for 1-2 hours more.

#5 Transfer the cheesecake from the oven to the fridge and let sit for another 6 hours- the reasons for rules 3 and 4 are because you are lowering the temperature of the cake gradually which prevents cracking and cheesecake needs time to ‘set up’. This is going to produce a beautiful creamy consistency. The longer you let it sit the better. I make mine the night before so I am not tempted to poke at it-which also creates cracking!

In conclusion the thing to remember is… If a baby was sleeping you wouldn’t wake it right? You would be gentle and try not to disturb the sweet angel as much as possible! Just think baby… baby that cheesecake and its going to be good to you back I promise! And guess what… that’s it! You are now officially a Cheesecake Genius! You are capable of a Cheesecake masterpiece!

I mostly use one cheesecake recipe but alternate it to create completely new tasting cheesecakes. So far I have made, Turtle Cheesecake, Roca Butterscotch Cheesecake with Salted Butterscotch Frosting, Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache, Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chocolate Frosting, Candy Bar cheesecake with Caramel Drizzle, and Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake.

Another thing, cheesecakes store really well!  You can put them in the freezer and it will last months or in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Here is the recipe for the plain cheesecake. Let’s call it the “Blank Slate cheesecake”

Blank Slate Cheesecake

Ingredients for Blank Slate Cheesecake


3 cup (2 pkgs) Graham Crackers (crushed)

1/2 cup Margarine (melted)


3-8 oz pkgs Cream Cheese

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

3 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Vanilla


Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter in bowl with fork & press into bottom & 1-1/2 inches up sides of spring form pan. 
Just do the best you can.

Beat Cream cheese and condensed milk together until creamy.

Add remaining filling ingredients until well combined. Do not over mix.

Bake at 300 for about 75 minutes-until light golden on top , edges are firm and middle moves slightly- giggle pan gently. (Put a pan of water underneath to prevent burning the crust and  for extra moisture).

Once done, turn off oven and leave the cheesecake for another 1-2 hours. Then move to fridge for another 6 hours. Remove outer ring and serve as is or top with desired toppings and serving!

Want to make it Fancy and Layer cheesecake flavors? It is so easy and here is how…

When you have the mixed cheesecake batter, take a cup of it and set it to the side. Melt ¾ cup of chocolate (white, milk, or dark, or butterscotch chips) and mix into the cup of batter. Pour half the plain batter into the crust and then the chocolate batter and top with the rest of the plain and swirl.  This creates a layered effect! Do this with as many layers as you would like! Have fun and get creative!



Posted on by Andrea in Back to Basics, Cakes and Cupcakes We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.

How To Cut Open An Avocado

How To Cut Open An Avocado…

I will never forget the first time I saw someone (as much as my pride doesn’t want me to admit…my husband) man- handle an avocado. It was genius, and I have used this simple technique ever since. Not only is it super speedy, it is efficient, mess free, and no squishing of the avo has to take place!

1. Slice all the way around the seed starting at the tip

2. Twist halves in opposite directions and pull apart Click here to Read More

Posted on by Andrea in Back to Basics, Vegetables We truly love to hear from you, Please Leave Us a Comment.