Saturday, October 15, 2016

Easy Low Country Boil

I have been making this Low Country Boil for several years now and my guys totally love it. It is extremely easy and made right on the stove top in one large pot.

The original recipe is from a cookbook that I have by Paula Deen. The original recipe can be found on Food Network, too.

I make a few changes from the original recipe, though. I use kielbasa instead of smoked sausage links, change the quantity, and because of the change in type of sausage...adjust the time cooked. I also peel and de-vein the shrimp ahead of time and use cobbettes instead of full ears of corn. You can easily change the quantities to reflect the amount of people you are feeding, too.

This is extremely easy to make gluten free when using gluten free kielbasa.

Here is the way that I make this easy and tasty one-pot meal:


Old Bay Seasoning, 2 tsp per quart of water
12 red new potatoes
2 packages of Kielbasa (cut into 3 inch pieces)
6 half-length cobs of corn
3 pounds fresh uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined (or unpeeled, if desired)


  1. Fill a really large pot with enough water to cover all of the ingredients.
  2. Add the Old Bay Seasoning and bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  3. After the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the kielbasa. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Add the corn. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes. The shrimp will turn pinkish and a bright white. Do not over cook.
  7. Drain and serve with a crusty bread or baguette. I like to serve with Udi's French Baguettes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quick Blackberry Lemonade ~ Only 2 Ingredients

This Blackberry Lemonade is so quick and easy that it feels weird calling it a recipe. I just had to share this 2 ingredient creation, because it is so refreshing.

It was inspired by a flavored lemonade I got at a local food truck called All Wrapped Up this summer.

All you need is your favorite lemonade (I like mine really tart) and some blackberries.

You muddle the berries in the bottom of the glass and then pour in your lemonade and stir.

It can be made with homemade lemonade, a mix, or a good quality store-bought lemonade. I prefer mine with fresh squeezed or the Costco's Kirkland Organic Lemonade.


4-6 Blackberries
Lemonade (enough to fill your glass)


1. Muddle the rinsed blackberries in the bottom of your glass. Muddling is a gentle mashing of the berries. I just used a fork.
2. Fill your glass with ice-cold lemonade.
3. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

United Nations Jambalaya - Ethnic Fusion Recipe - Easily Gluten Free

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.} 

This flavorful concoction was developed quite by accident last night.

It was inspired by what little I know of jambalaya and gumbo and is a fusion of Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian.

Here's the situation that caused this creation to materialize:

  • I needed to get dinner on the table really soon.
  • I didn't have a plan for dinner.
  • I was out of at least one important item for all of my go-to recipes.
  • I was starving and craving some major flavor.
  • I had been watching Chopped and Chopped Junior for a few hours (a cooking show where they have to create their dishes with surprise ingredients).
I went "shopping" in our big freezer and first noticed a package of ground Basque chorizo. I then spotted a package of peeled shrimp. That's when it started to come together. 

I had seen the first few minutes earlier this week of Sunny Anderson on The Kitchen cooking her Quickest Sausage "Gumbo" Ever. I went online to try to find it, but I didn't even know the name of the recipe. (I didn't find her recipe until a couple of hours ago.) 

When I thought about a mixture of sausage and shrimp, Sunny's recipe of "whatever" kind of merged with the Low Country Boil by Paula Deen that I have made many times throughout the years. (When making a Low Country Boil, I usually use two packages of kielbasa instead of the smoked sausage links.)

That was when it started to really come together! I then grabbed a package of kielbasa as well as a couple of cups of Basque Sauce and headed back to the kitchen. I thought it obviously also needed a lot of sauteed onions.

The very little that I knew about jambalaya....which this was beginning to resemble in my opinion...needed to be served on or mixed into some kind of rice. I have been craving rice noodles a lot lately, so it had been decided.

I mass-produced thawed meat quickly and started to brown and heat everything. Still not knowing what all was going in the dish or how it would turn out.

I started with browning the Basque chorizo and threw the thick slices of onion in when the chorizo was about halfway through the browning process. I sliced the kielbasa into thin coins a little over 1/4 inch thick and found about a cup of pre-cooked chicken to throw in, too.

I then started the "cooking process" with the rice noodles. Mine just needed to soak in hot water for 10 minutes.

Next came the idea of adding a can of Okra and Tomatoes. If I had two cans, I probably would have added the second one. I thawed and heated the Basque Sauce in the microwave. I get my Basque chorizo and Basque sauce at Villa Basque Cafe in nearby Carson City. We stock up on these, as well as tamales and chorizo links whenever we go to Carson.

I served this starting with a base of these rice noodles. I topped those with some Basque sauce. This is basically a tomato sauce with cooked onions and peppers as well as some seasoning that I have not yet figured out. That's why I still try to have some of theirs on hand. None of the recipes I can find online seem even close. The good news is that this sauce is optional. I had leftovers earlier today without any sauce and it was almost just as tasty. If doing this without the sauce, I would likely just double the Okra and Tomatoes. By the way, if you do not have access to Margaret Holmes Okra and Tomatoes, you could probably use a can of diced tomatoes and about a 1/2 cup of okra (double these if you want it more saucy).

I finished with tossing in the shrimp. Next time, I will either saute these in the skillet first thing and then set aside until the last few minutes or saute them in a separate skillet and then add at the end, because it took quite a bit longer to make sure they were all cooked due to the skillet already being full.

The concoction of meats then was spooned on top. Yummo!

Hubby and "Buddy" both really loved it. Buddy had his separated (rice noodles beside the meat concoction, not on top and without the sauce. It's one of his Aspie things). He didn't mind the mixing of the concoction so that was a big win! Buddy was upset when he found out that we are now almost out of leftovers and told me I need to make it again soon! That's what I love to hear.

I served ours last night with green beans and some Brazi Bites. I get my Brazi Bites at our local Natural Grocers and the Okra and Tomatoes at one of our local Walmarts. For those in the Reno/Sparks area, I usually can find these at the Walmart just off of 395, but occasionally have seen at a couple of other area Walmarts.

No additional seasoning was needed with all of the flavors already going on in the individual ingredients.

I had NO idea what to name this dish. Ed, a friend and fellow church member, was clever enough to come up with the "United Nations" part. Thank you again, Ed!

United Nations Jambalaya
Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian Fusion


1 pound ground Basque chirizo ~ gluten free if needed
1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled, deveined, and tail off)
1 cup pre-cooked chicken (chunked or shredded) - optional
1 package of kielbasa - gluten free if needed
1 large yellow onion
1-2 cups Basque sauce - optional
1 or 2 cans of Okra and Tomatoes - I use Margaret Holmes brand
1 package of rice noodles (about 6-7 oz)
Avocado oil or olive oil - if sauteing shrimp first or separately


  1. In a large skillet, saute thawed shrimp in a little oil. This will only take a few minutes. When the shrimp is pink and white, it is done. Set aside on a plate. (Keep skillet for cooking additional ingredients.)
  2. Meanwhile, begin slicing the onion (cut in half and then thickly slice) and slice the kielbasa into little coins about 1/4 inch thick or slightly larger.
  3. In the same (now empty) large skillet over medium-high to high heat, start browning the ground chirizo, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. About halfway through the browning process, add the sliced onions to the skillet. Keep stirring, as necessary.
  4. Cook or moisten your rice noodles according to the package in a separate bowl or pot.
  5. Once the chirizo is cooked and the onions are soft, add the chicken (if using) and sliced kielbasa. Turn the heat down to medium-high (if previously cooking over high heat).
  6. Once the kielbasa and chicken begin to heat up, add the okra and tomatoes. Stir well.
  7. Heat the Basque sauce, if using.
  8. Add the cooked shrimp to the skillet for the last few minutes. You do not want to over-cook shrimp or they will become chewy.
  9. Serve by laying a bed of rice noodles on a plate. Top that with some Basque sauce, if using. Finally, top with some of the meat concoction. 
  10. Enjoy!

What interesting ideas have you come up with when put on the spot to get something tasty on the table? Please share yours below in the comments area.

United Nations Jambalaya - Gluten Free - Basque, Polish, West African, Southern, and Asian Fusion Recipe

Friday, August 19, 2016

Concussions and Head Injury Infographics

These three infographics are packed full of useful information!

As someone who has had 3 hospital-worthy concussions as well as quite a bit of other head trauma during my childhood and teen years... this is such an important topic to learn about.

To see all three infographics full-sized and to download your own copies, go to The Crash Reel.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Difference Between Parkinson's and Parkinsonism ~ As Well As My New Diagnosis

Please note that I am not a doctor or in anyway an expert. I am simply someone who has been diagnosed with Early-Onset Parkinson's since I was 42 while having all of my symptoms since I was 39 years old. It took 3 years to get a diagnosis. Theoretically, I had Early-Onset Parkinson's for the last 9 years.

My New Diagnosis and The Process of Figuring It All Out

I am now 48 years old and just today was confirmed to have Parkinsonism instead of the traditional Parkinson's. I had gotten suspicious about three months ago and started studying the possibility. I then went to my neurologist with my facts I had uncovered and why I thought it might be possible. He quickly agreed that I might be right after we discussed everything.

We decided to start by me going off of the Carbidopa-Levodopa. I was on two pills twice a day. When I was diagnosed years ago, there was an obvious benefit when I was put on the Carbidopa-Levodopa. It was like night and day and that fact seemed to show that I had the more common Parkinson's Disease, although I had it at an earlier age.

My suspicions began when I realized that my symptoms didn't just stop getting worse, but I was actually getting better. With Parkinson's, you do not improve (other than a bit with medications) and it is progressive. Mine was no longer progressing for well over 2 years. That's not "normal".

What had changed other than me going gluten free over 3 1/2 years ago?

I initially went gluten free to help my Parkinson's because many especially with Early-Onset Parkinson's believe that going gluten free can help reduce your symptoms. It did help mine quite a bit, but I also discovered that I actually have a gluten intolerance, too. I went off of medication for IBS, within about a month. I had been misdiagnosed as having IBS and before that as having Gastroenteritis. I had these two mis-diagnoses for well over 10 years and with 3 doctors.

I had also had a change in many medications. Over 2 years ago, I went off of Fluoxetine as well as some other medications that a previous doctor had me on (it turns out unnecessarily). He had me SO overly medicated. My current doctor took me off several and reduced other amounts as quickly as possible and I quickly got a lot better in many ways. I actually did not have depression, but was on 2 anti-depressants. I was in pain and fatigued, because I have Fibromyalgia (or something very similar with the same treatment according to my current doctor). Since my previous doctor was one that did not believe in Fibromyalgia, he treated me for some severe depression. It did not work. Go figure.

I have also had 4 concussions (from 4 different types of accidents in 1986, 1987, 1995, and 2013) worthy of hospital visits as well as quite a bit of head trauma throughout my childhood and teen years due to being in an abusive home where a common "discipline" was being slapped upside my head often causing ringing in my ears.

I have read in many locations that all three of these activities (medications, gluten issues messing up things between the gut and the brain, and head trauma) can cause Parkinsonism. There are actually other causes like different diseases, strokes, brain inflammation, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

So I am not certain which of these causes is the culprit for me. My doctor and I think maybe a mixture, but it's likely mostly due to medication. It appears that the symptoms often go away within in a couple of weeks but almost all symptoms that will disappear do so within two years. My concussions were not at the correct times to be the culprit in my case, but a lot of head trauma in general may have helped set me up for this. I do know that my first one caused something else that I am currently in the process of being diagnosed with. That will be addressed on another post.

My going gluten free definitely helped my symptoms. The fact that I started doing the same with or without the Carbidopa-Levodopa did not happen within the first two years of going gluten free, I do not think that was the main culprit.

The improvement did, however, happen in the timing of me going off of the Fluoxetine (Prozac). It was about 21 months after stopping it that I got to my present level of symptoms...almost 2 years. To me, this makes it look like I will keep my symptoms at this current level.

Parkinsonism is not supposed to respond to Carbidopa-Levodopa like Parkinson's Disease does. So, why did I improve so much with it and now I do not? My doctor said that it is possible that the Carbidopa-Levodopa may have nullified some of the effects of the medication that caused my symptoms. That totally makes sense to me.

It is possible that some of my symptoms will get worse simply with age. I also read a few places that I could still get a diagnosis later of Parkinson's (because some do) and then progressively get worse. Either way, I see this as at least a reprieve. I won't be progressing right now and that is an amazing feeling! I honestly believe that if mine does get worse it will just be because of aging. I do not think I will go into traditional Parkinson's.

The symptoms that I still have are: the slow shuffling and Bradykinesia (often takes more effort to get going...I call my shuffling my Tim Conway shuffle, because it reminds me of his old man shuffle he did on The Carol Burnett Show), tremor (but more noticeable nowadays when holding something - when at rest it is now much better), trouble swallowing, trouble at times forming words, balance issues when eyes are closed or it is dark (MUCH better than it used to be, but still a bit of an issue), spacial judgement and the corresponding clumsiness because of it - includes thinking that my foot is pulled up enough to clear a step or something... and it isn't), my left arm usually doesn't swing when I am walking like my right one does, I also find my left wrist and hand pulled up tightly, muscle issues, and I am likely forgetting something. Most of these are much better than before, but I still have them. They just are not getting any worse, which I am truly thankful for.

So, What Is The Difference Between Parkinson's and Parkinsonism?

Parkinsonism is similar to Parkinson's Disease, but the symptoms are caused by particular medications, other nervous system disorders, or another illness. 

Parkinsonism is also sometimes called Secondary Parkinsonism or Atypical Parkinson Disease. 

Parkinson’s is a disease and Parkinsonism is a range of symptoms that are usually seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms sometimes occur as a result of other neurodegenerative disorders. 

It can easily look like there is a very little difference between the two. They both include tremors, stiffness, balance issues, and slowness of movement. Parkinson's Disease, however, is a progressive and extremely degenerative disorder that causes many other symptoms besides those seen in Parkinsonism.

Parkinson's Disease affects the nervous system. It is caused by a gradual loss of brain cells. Some basic symptoms are muscle tremors, problems with balance and movement, joint rigidity and muscle cramps, sleep problems, depression, partial paralysis of facial muscles, soft voice, shuffling walk, and bradykinesia (which is a delay in initiating movement),

Parkinsonism is a broad range of symptoms that are usually associated with Parkinson's Disease. These include tremors when resting, muscle stiffness, balance problems, stooped posture, freezing in the middle of an action, and slowness to get moving. In order to be diagnosed with Parkinsonism, a patient needs to have at least 2 out the 6 symptoms.

Parkinson's Disease is a type of Parkinsonism, but Parkinsonism is not necessarily Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's Disease makes up about 80% of the Parkinsonism cases. Some types of Parkinsonism are even worse than Parkinson's. (Fortunately mine is a type that is much better.)

In cases of Parkinsonism, unless the symptoms can be attributed to Parkinson's Disease, it is necessary to find the underlying cause and prevent any further damage. Parkinson's Disease is the most common neurodegenerative cause of Parkinsonism.

Parkinsonism has some of the same factors of true Parkinson's Disease, but atypical symptoms are also present. The most common form is Drug-Induced Parkinsonism. Parkinson's Disease does not have a known cause.

Unlike Parkinson's Disease, some types of Parkinsonism may stabilize, improve, or even go away completely (usually between a couple of weeks and 2 years after stopping whatever caused it).

Types of Parkinsonism: Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, Vascular or Arteriosclerotic Parkinsonism, and Drug-Induced Parkinsonism.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Salmon Patty Eggs Benedict ~ Gluten Free

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.}

 I came up with this amazing taste sensation while eating my Simple Salmon Patties with Dressed Up Mashed Potatoes and Brazi Bites awhile back.

I had made extra salmon patties to have them for leftovers and had meant to use them in the place of hamburger patties, as I had done previously. I had, however, been craving Eggs Benedict with my Mock Hollandaise Sauce for the last few days and this wonderful creation popped into my head. It just kept evolving the longer I drooled over the thought of them.   ;)

Salmon Patty Benedict Recipe


(Makes two Benedicts)
  • Previously cooked Salmon Patty or Cake, Gluten Free if needed ~ See GF recipe.
  • 2 poached or steam basted eggs
  • Mock Hollandaise Sauce ~ See recipe below.
  • 2 Thick slabs of ripe tomato
  • Generous amount of fresh spinach
  • 2 halves of an English muffin, Gluten Free if needed ~ I use Glutino's Premium.


  1. Poach or steam baste your eggs as desired. We love ours even runnier than these turned out, but they would be tasty done in any way.
  2. Prepare your Mock Hollandaise (see below).
  3. Toast your English muffins.
  4. Prepare your tomato slabs (really thick slices) and spinach.
  5. When everything is ready, it is time to assemble: Place your English muffins on the plate(s) with the cut sides up. 
  6. Top with a generous amount of fresh spinach and then the tomato. 
  7. Place hot (re-heated if necessary) salmon patty on top. Next top with an egg.
  8. Finally, drizzle hollandaise generously over the top of everything. I like mine covered even thicker than this (but it isn't as pretty then). 

Mock Hollandaise Recipe


  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 4 teaspoons skim or unsweetened almond milk (or whatever you use) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 or 4 dashes of ground red pepper
*  If you need to cook gluten free, just check all of your individual ingredients to make sure that they are all gluten free. Gluten free versions of all of these are easy to find.


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a small pan. 
  2. Cook over medium/low heat until just starting to bubble a bit. Stir often. (This only takes a few minutes.)
* Leftovers are great the next day on any type of eggs you choose.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Introduction to the Percussion Family ~ Non-Pitched

{This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.}

The percussion family has the biggest variety of all of the instrument families.

Percussion instruments make sounds when they are tapped, shaken, or scraped. Some percussion instruments make several different pitches (high and low notes) and some do not.

We are going to start learning about the percussion instruments that do not make different pitches. We call them non-pitched percussion.

If this lesson seems to long for your child, you can easily break it up into two lessons. I would suggest ending with the cymbals the first day if you decide to break it up.

Bass Drum

The bass drum is the largest non-pitched drum. Since it is so large, do you think it will have a low tone or a high tone? Why?

If you said a low tone, you are correct. This is because there is a lot of room for the vibrations to move around inside of the drum. The more room there is or the bigger the instrument... the lower the tone.

Listen and watch The Basses Extravaganza. There are a variety of sizes of bass drums in this performance, so there are a few different pitches; however, each bass drum only plays a single pitch. 

Snare Drum

The snare drum is smaller than the bass drum. Will the tone be higher or lower?

If you said, "Higher," then you are correct. 

The drummer hits the top of the snare drum with drum sticks to make a sound. This starts the vibration inside the drum.

The snare drum also has a set of wires stretched across the bottom that create a rattling sound. These wires are the "snare" and drummers can turn these off in order to make a dull sound (with out the rattling) if they want.

Check out this amazing snare drum solo by a young man using four different snare drums. Again, the different sized snare drums will make different pitches from each other, but each one will only make one pitch. Notice that the third snare drum from our left has the snares turned on. You can hear the rattling sound when he plays the third snare.


Cymbals are two thin brass plates that are clapped together to create a bright crashing sound and to build excitement.

Cymbals are usually about one and a half feet in diameter, but there are also several smaller versions including finger cymbals.

Watch and listen to this drumline (for a marching band) showcase their skills on the cymbals. Note that they do a movement going across their necks at 44 seconds (and lasting about 2 seconds) that may bother some people. It evidently is used in A LOT of drumline cymbal routines. All of the best ones I came across include it. 

Gong and Tam-Tam

The gong and tam-tam come from Asia and are usually made from a mixture of copper and tin. The gong is often about three feet in diameter and the tam-tam is usually about five feet in diameter. 

They are played with a heavy beater covered with felt or wool. The easiest way to tell them apart is by listening to them. The gong makes a "bong" sound and the tam-tam makes a "crash".

The names are often interchanged, because the tam-tam is actually a type of gong. I could not find much that spotlighted the gong and tam-tam online, but these two links will give you an idea. You can listen to a gong being played in a variety of ways and the sound of a tam-tam crash by following the links.


Triangles have been used since ancient times, but joined the orchestra during the Classical Era of Classical Music.

Here is a funny video that showcases the triangle in The Concerto for Triangle


The tambourine has small metal discs attached to its side. You shake the tambourine to make the discs vibrate. You can also tap it.

You can see and hear the tambourine being played during this performance of Romeo and Juliet.

In order to hear almost every percussion instrument possible, check out Rodion Schedrin's "Carmen Suite: Changing of the Guard".

This drumline battle is great to watch, too. There are snare drums, cymbals, bass drums, and more.

You don't have to have expensive instruments to play non-pitched percussion instruments. The rhythm sticks I have referred to in previous lessons are part of this family as well as drums made out of trash cans and other everyday materials. In fact, there was a group of extremely talented high school students that was on Australia's Got Talent a few years ago and did quite well. Here is the group Mac-Cussion performing an extremely entertaining routine on metal trash cans.