Grandma Taylor’s Cabbage Rolls

It’s summertime and there is nothing better than cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes and some sweet corn for a memorable dinner. Hope you enjoy this family tradition.




1.the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2.realization in advance; foretaste.
3.expectation or hope.
4.previous notion; slight previous impression.
5.intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.
Origin:  1540–50; (< Middle French ) < Latin anticipātiōn- (stem of anticipātiō ), equivalent to anticipāt ( us ) (past participle; see anticipate) + -iōn- -ion
Why did I start my blog off with the definition of anticipation?
To enrich my readings vocabulary?
Sure…but I am confident you already frequent this word in your daily life.
To educate you in the origin?
Ok….I do love finding the derivation from a source.
To make my readers wait just a few more seconds for my most requested recipe?
SO… it is the most requested recipe.  When I make these or my mother makes these for parties everyone asks “Can I PLEASE have the recipe?”
BUT…before I divulge the secret,  I have to tell…

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Mediterranean Bean Salad | Skinnytaste

Time has gotten away from me since my last posting. So many changes (all for the good!) I read this recipe and decided I needed to share it with all my Challengeu2cook friends. Keep checking back. I will catch you all up on what’s been going on.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,


Mediterranean Bean Salad-6


This Mediterranean Bean Salad is so light and fresh, made with lemon juice, mint and parsley. This can be served as a side dish, perfect for potlucks or to make it a main for lunch serve it over spiralized cucumbers.


  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 medium lemon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, garlic, onion, parsley, and mint.
  2. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice until smooth and emulsified.
  3. Pour the dressing over the beans and veggies, add ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste and carefully toss with a large metal spoon. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so flavors combine.


Pasta Alla Norma

Another great sounding recipe from Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide! I love sharing recipes that are quick and easy but make your guests will think you were in the kitchen all day😉 Enjoy and Happy Cooking, Vonnie

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

That is a twisty noodle That is a twisty noodle

This is a quick and simple way to use an eggplant. The sauce is fantastic over fusilli pasta but any long thick noodle will work.

The recipe was inspired by the New York Times one here.

Pasta All Norma

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 cayenne peppers chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 lb fusilli pasta
  • Olive oil

Slice eggplant into 1/2″ thick rounds and sprinkle with salt. Place in a colander in even layers, put a plate on top and weigh them down for 30 minutes. In a large saute pan heat 4 tbsp olive oil. Cook eggplant in batches until browned on both sides and remove to a plate adding more oil as needed. Add onion to pan and saute until golden. Add garlic and…

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It’s that time of year when the gardens produce a bountiful amount zucchini. This is a great recipe to help use up some of that crop.

As always, Enjoy and Happy cooking,



  • Unsalted butter, for coating the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces zucchini (about 2 to 3 medium zucchini), ends trimmed, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 1/2 cups)


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter and flour, tapping out any excess flour; set aside.
  2. Place the measured flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.
  3. Place the eggs, sugars, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until the eggs are broken up and the mixture is thoroughly combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the zucchini until evenly mixed.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan and turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely.

Warm Pear Salad

Hello Challengeu2cook followers! I want to share a great sounding recipe! I can not wait to make this. The simplicity of this salad is so perfect, and it would be a dish to take to your Easter Dinner gathering. Enjoy and Happy Cooking, Vonnie

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

It really should be called blueish green cheese It really should be called blueish green cheese

We concocted this on a day so cold, we even wanted our salad to warm us up.

Warm Pear Salad

  • 1 bosc pear, thinly sliced and cored (Peeled or unpeeled)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp fig jam
  • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 4 cups fresh spinach torn in bite sized pieces
  • almonds, pecans or hazelnuts

Divide spinach among four small plates. Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet. When starting to bubble throw in the pears. Saute for about five minutes. Pears should be tender, but still have some bite. Stir in jam and toss to coat. Turn off heat and sprinkle with blue cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Divide pears among four plates. Sprinkle with a few nuts if desired.

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A day in the life of a cook in her kitchen

macaroni and cheese

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Sometimes the simplest dinners are the best dinners. I made this macaroni and cheese dish last week. It was a huge hit with all of us…SCORE!! It is perfect for our new Fall daylight savings. It comes together very quickly. … Continue reading

Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

Happy Monday!

I wanted to share a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago. We were hosting a surprise 21st birthday party for my daughter’s boyfriend. I needed to make something I could put in the crockpot BUT it also needed to be gluten-free. I saw this recipe on and knew I could sub out the 2/3 cup panko and it would be perfect! I needed to find something that was gluten-free but that wasn’t heavy or would take away from the taste and texture of the original recipe. I decided on Food Should Taste Good’s All Natural Multigrain Tortilla Chips. I pulsed them in the food processor until I had the same texture as panko. They worked perfectly! THe dish was  a big hit, everyone loved them!

This would be a great meal on those nights that can get overloaded during the busy school year. I made it for dinner for my family last week (and I chose to do the gluten-free version.) I served Seeds of Change’s Certified Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice with garlic, and a simple salad with fresh veggies out of my garden.

Below is the original posting on

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,


This is my favorite recipe for classic crockpot turkey meatballs. They’re spiced just right, incredibly tender, filled with tons of flavor, and there’s hardly any work involved.

Yield: about 25 medium-size meatballs

prep time: 35 MINUTES

total time: 6 HOURS 35 MINUTES

This is my favorite recipe for classic crockpot turkey meatballs. They're spiced just right, incredibly tender, filled with tons of flavor, and there's hardly any work involved.


  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound 97-98% lean ground turkey*
  • 1 pound 92-93% lean ground turkey*
  • 2/3 cup (40g) Panko*
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (22g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion sweet onion, sliced
  • two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • chopped fresh basil for serving, optional


1) Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, Panko, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix everything up just so the ingredients are combined – avoid overmixing. Roll into desired size balls – mine were slightly larger than a golf ball. Some people prefer them larger, some prefer them smaller. Place all rolled meatballs on a large baking sheet.

2) Place onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, topped with 1 can of crushed tomatoes.

3) Coat a large skillet with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Lightly brown the meatballs (only 6-8 meatballs at a time) for about 1 minute on each side. Do not skip this step – read above for why. Layer the meatballs into the crockpot as you’re browning each batch. Once all browned meatballs have been added to the crockpot, pour remaining can of tomatoes on top.

4) Cover and cook on low for 6-6.5 hours. Serve with pasta, as meatball subs, plain, etc. No matter how I serve them, I always top with a little chopped fresh basil. Store leftovers covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Traditional Potato Salad

potato salad

When summertime is almost upon us I always think back to the dinners my mom would put on the table when I was a child.  We ate out of the garden almost every night .  Sliced tomatoes or green fried, stuffed peppers, zucchini, squash, green onions, corn-on-the cob, cucumber-onion salad and my mom’s wonderful potato salad. There were always boiled potatoes cooling on the counter and along side were a couple of hard boiled eggs.  My mom didn’t have a recipe for her potato salad. She would make a mixture of the yokes, yellow mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. She would stir in her diced potatoes, chopped onion and celery. Whola!! Potato Salad.  I came up with this recipe in hopes it would be similar. I think it’s a close second!  
This salad is a favorite with my families-on-the-go. Fried chicken, potato salad, cucumber onion salad and brownies for dessert! 

Serve this at you next picnic, gathering or better yet, just a regular weekday dinner! It does have mayonnaise, so be sure to keep it cool. I think it always tastes better the next day. 
Hope you enjoy and Happy cooking,




2 pounds potatoes (I use redskin potatoes)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP. yellow mustard
1/2-1 tsp. salt (I like a little more salt so I use closer to 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet pickles, finely chopped plus about 1 TBSP. of the pickle juice ( Use Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips if you can find them) or 1/2 cup sweet or dill pickle relish
1-2 hard boiled eggs, yokes set aside and whites finely chopped ( I only use 1 hard boiled egg but my mom always used 2)

In a medium pan place the potatoes, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 2 large eggs. Add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer and cover loosely with pan lid for 20- 25 minutes or until potaotes are fork tender. Remove eggs first and then drain potatoes. (You can run a little cool water on the potatoes and eggs if you want. Set eggs and potatoes on countertop and let cool.(Just like Nancy!) When everything is cool and you are ready to assemble the salad, use a large bowl and combine, egg yoke/s, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in celery, onion, pickle, pickle juice, and egg white/s. Add diced potatoes and toss gently. Cover and chill for at least a few hours before serving.

Zucchini Boats with Bulgur

Everyone knows how much I love to read and try the recipes from Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide. This sounds like the perfect summertime Meatless Monday meal!

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

Longer boats are coming to win us Longer boats are coming to win us

This is a fun and simple grain stuffing that works well for eggplant as well. I like a 50/50 mix of the grains but for those who want a little less bite then do 3/4 bulgur.

Romano can always be grated on top before and after baking for those who want a little bit of cheese.

Stuffed Zucchini

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 cup cracked wheat
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

In a three-quart sauce pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil and saute garlic and cinnamon stick over medium until fragrant, about two minutes. Add grains and quickly toast then add stock, bring to a boil and then cover and turn heat to low. Stir occasionally until all liquid is…

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CoffeeCon Chicago

CoffeeCon Chicago…               

I had no idea what that even meant before I had the opportunity to attend, but it involved coffee and I figured if “Con” meant convention, which it did, How could I possibly go wrong? I’m no coffee expert and I was looking forward to becoming, at least a little bit, more knowledgeable about it.                                   

I assumed that I would be in store for a great education on what make a good coffee bean. I mean, that’s what make good coffee, right? It took all of about 30 minutes for me to learn that there’s a lot more to great coffee than just a great bean.

Sure, the bean is essential, but like great wine or craft beer, the bean is really about what you like. What your taste buds tell you. Do you like a deep, dark roast? Or are you more of a bright, crisp flavor person? The varieties are endless.

What really struck me as soon as we walked in were the amazing varieties of preparation! There are so many methods for preparing a great cup of coffee! Unlike wine or beer that might get poured a certain way or have a particular shaped glass that highlight the flavor, coffee is your chance to actually create. Since I love to create in the kitchen, coffee was the perfect palette.

Counter Culture Coffee, a company originally founded in Durham, NC, has a history of educating people in the finer points of coffee making. Represented by Josh Dug at CoffeeCon Chicago, they presented on a variety of way to manually brew coffee.  Image

Not to say that your drip machine or your Keurig at the counter aren’t fine ways to prepare coffee, but whoa! I felt like I was back in college taking a chemistry class again! Knowing the conversions for volumes and weights, determining the best temperature to brew a particular coffee, depending on the method…did you know that lower brewing temperatures bring more acidity while higher temperatures will enhance the sweetness of your brew? Me either!

If you’re thinking about brewing some coffee, take the time to study a few methods like siphoning or Chemex. Look up the Aeropress online or a traditional French press. It really makes a difference when preparing a great cup of coffee.

Sound complicated? It really isn’t. Like anything the terminology sounds overwhelming because you aren’t used to it, but really once you get a feel for the different options available, it’s really just taking the time to understand why and how temperature, time, beans, grind, method and cup affect the taste and finding the one you love.

If you simply don’t want to learn all of that, there’s a great option out there that gives you the convenience of a fast brew cup while building on some of the important preparation techniques at the same time. It’s called iCoffee by Remington. Bruce Burrows, whom I was fortunate to meet at CoffeeCon, has patented a preparation method that takes advantage of the convenience of the machine while incorporating the importance of steam, time, and immersion in the process to create a better cup of coffee. Currently iCoffee is available at a variety of retailers in their original SteamBrew machine but soon, they will add the convenience of the K-Cup and you will really be impressed. We were treated to a great demonstration of his new machine and could instantly tell the difference. Look for it!         Image

At this point, I thought there wasn’t much more I could learn about coffee, but boy was I wrong. Probably the most interesting and impressive session I attended was by The Alliance for Coffee Excellence, about their Cup of Excellence program, presented by Anna Abatzoglou. First, Anna is passionate about their mission. Cup of Excellence is a competition conducted in 10 coffee producing countries to score and rate coffee, much like a wine rating, and auction the coffee; bringing great coffee to consumers around the world while improving the profit and incomes of local coffee growers.

I didn’t know there was a system for rating premier coffee, let alone one who’s mission it is to bring money back to local farmers. The Cup of Excellence competitions are designed with the mission statement in mind; “By discovering and supporting exemplary coffees worldwide the goal is to provide sustainable economic rewards to high quality farmers enhancing overall transparency, provide top notch education and build quality infrastructure in the global industry”. The level of scrutiny is unprecedented. From the pre-selection through the top ten, the competitors will go through 6 different levels and in each competition, as many as 9,020 cups of coffee will be analyzed! Thanks Anna, for being so passionate about your cause!        Image

Click here to read a bit about the winning farmers.

Of course, what would a convention be without taking a stroll through the vendor’s area and enjoying a few wonderful cups of coffee?

First up was Stone Creek Coffee from Milwaukee, where the motto is “It’s 7am somewhere!” Hailey Herriges, the Shorewood Café manager, was patient with my lack of knowledge and helped me understand the Aeropress, a method much like French press but with results that are more filtered and that uses air pressure to shorten the brew time and extract the flavors from the beans. She made me a cup of Guatemala Lot 20 and it was love at first sip! It had a rich full body, sweet with hints of cocoa, hazelnuts, and bing cherries. I loved the AeroPress so much, I came home with one.                 Image

During my adventure around the vendor area I met Anna Reuss, representing Big Shoulders Coffee. She and her interpreter (sign language) engaged us in great conversation and shared her story. Anna, who is deaf, wanted to attend CoffeeCon as a guest blogger but needed an interpreter for the day. Tim Coonan, owner of Big Shoulders Coffee, wanted to be represented but didn’t have the staff, so Tim paid for the interpreter and Anna represented Big Shoulders well. We were so impressed with the company that Mark and I stopped by on our way out of town for one more cup!      


It was a great pleasure to meet Kevin Sinnott, creator of CoffeeCon and to be included as a guest blogger to this great event. There is another event about to take place in San Francisco and who wouldn’t want to have a great cup of coffee by the San Francisco Bay!

And my sincere thanks to Jennifer Stinnet, who invited me to attend and write about the experience. I hope we get to do more!