"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hotplate: Jack Monroe's Wine and Mushroom Risotto

Updated 11/19/19

See notes below after recipe.

I appreciate Jack Monroe's views on food and cooking. She wants people on a tight budget to learn how to cook healthy meals.

On their blog, Tin Can Cook (https://cookingonabootstrap.com/), she offers recipes, books and opinions.

Jack is creative and funny. They make cooking fun.

Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto
(Adapted from: https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2018/10/05/red-wine-mushroom-risotto-recipe/)

Finally, I made a Jack Monroe recipe. But, of course, I had to adapt it to my situation.

Opps, as I began, I forgot to convert the milliliters and grams to ounces, almost threw off the whole recipe. (See: https://www.metric-conversions.org/.)


A Dab Olive oil
1 Sprinkle Garlic powder
1 Tomato bouillon cube
14 oz Bottled water
1 6.5 oz Can of mushrooms, drained and rinsed in can
1 Cup long grain rice
2 oz Red wine
1 Tspn of each: thyme and basil, dry and crushed between palms
S/p to taste


Add tomato bouillon cube to water in microwaveable container. Microwave for 1-3 minutes on high to dissolve bouillon cube. Set aside.

Add a dab of oil to skillet.
Add garlic powder.
Add mushrooms.
Add herbs.
Stir thoroughly.
Cook on medium-low temperature.
Cook for a few minutes.

Add rice.
Stir to coat rice in oil.
Cook for a few minutes. Do not burn the rice.

Add wine.
Stir continually.
Cook for a few minutes to let the rice absorb the wine. By this time, the mixture should be at a simmer, a slow, low boil.

Add 1/3 of tomato liquid slowly to mixture.
Continue to stir.
Cook for a few minutes.

Add 1/3 tomato liquid.
Stir and cover.
Cook on simmer

Add 1/3 tomato liquid.
Stir mixture thoroughly.
Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Check frequently and stir, again.

Stir each time you check the mixture.

Update 11/19/19

I have revised this recipe. The order of the ingredients has changed, some of the quantities have changed slightly and a few of the instructions have changed.

I made this recipe again, to see if I could make the risotto creamier. Also, I only used Thyme and Parsley, this time.

This time the risotto came out much better, softer and creamier. I think it is because I added the bouillon in smaller quantities and over a longer period of time. Also, I stirred the mixture much more frequently.

More on Jack:

Canned Foods Helped Her Through Poverty
Washington Post

Meet Our Bloggers
The Guardian


Thursday, December 13, 2018

What's Next on the Blog

After announcing I was going to publish volume 2 of Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook based on my continuing experiments with cooking, I don't see another cookbook in all this because while I have expanded my repertoire, I have not elevated my cooking skills. I can still burn water.

Over the last few years, I tried to expand my cooking skills while still using a hotplate and a microwave.

I did increase my menu options to include: mug recipes, toast toppings, popsicles, salsas, crazy salads, slaws, and more.

Also, thoroughly enjoyed all the recipe and cookbook searches and research. Found a few gems like The Great Little Cookbook and Jack Monroe's cookbooks and website.

Learned to make a grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and mac & cheese multiple ways.

Got more comfortable using substitutions and spices even if I got it wrong sometimes.

While I don't have another cookbook yet, I have enough ideas to continue writing about cooking for a long time.

Plus, I am expanding my topic choices to include a Staycation series, more articles about writing and publishing, and more.

Afredo Pasta -- Nora's Recipe

This recipe is from a young, talented, creative baker, Nora. You can find her bakery at: https://www.facebook.com/norasbakery/

I met Nora at Starbucks on Paseo de Montejo, when I mentioned I could not cook, she was eager to help me learn how to cook an easy recipe, Alfredo Pasta.

Alfred Pasta
from: Nora the Baker


8 oz Fettuccine pasta
2 Liters Agua
poco aceite
1/2 Cebolla
Media Crema
100 gr de parmesano
10 camarones pelados
2 dientes de ajo finamente picados
poco romero
150 ml Vino blanco
1/2 taza perejil picado


Cocer la pasta en dos litros de agua, add sal, aceite y romeo hasta que este cocinda y suave.

En un sarten con un poco de manteqilla echar ajo y cebolla, luego el perejil y los camarones hasta que eren rojos.

Agregar crema, vino blanco y queso parmesano. Mezclar con la pasta. Cocida y listo!!

My Favorite Mexican Meal - Salbutes

I like Toast Toppings because they remind me of Yucatán Salbutes.

I love salbutes. They are a mini-meal on a small deep-fried tortilla. While each vendor makes them a little differently, I like the ones made at Castillo at Parque Santa Ana in Centro.

They are the perfect meal. The deep-fried tortilla offers a little crunch. Toppings include a variety of items and flavors like Yucatán pickled onions, bits of tomato, avocado slices, shredded turkey, chicken or pork. Sometimes you will get lettuce. Add hot sauce to your taste. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salbute)

Salbutes are a satisfying meal. So far, the Toast Topping - Pseudo Huevos Florentine is one of my more satisfying meals.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Scrambled Egg with Spinach, Guacamole and Salmon

Scrambled Egg with Spinach, Guacamole and Salmon
(Adapted from WW Egg and Avocado Toasts with Smoked Salmon, p161)


1 Slice of multi-grain bread
Olive oil
1 Egg
1 Can salmon, drained
4 TB frozen spinach
2 TB Guacamole, from a jar
Ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Note, there will be leftover mixture.


Toast bread in skillet, first.

Wow! I toasted my bread differently this time.

I used a quarter of a clean cloth napkin, I had cut into four pieces. I don't use paper towels. I poured a small dollop of olive oil onto the cloth and smeared the skillet bottom with the cloth to spread the oil in a thin layer.

I set the hot plate on 2 which is medium-low heat and toasted the bread on both sides and it came out evenly browned and not overly oily.

I thank Yasmeen for this tip.

Place toast on plate.
Microwave frozen spinach in a small covered dish on high for about 3 minutes.
Add a dollop of olive oil to the skillet.
Crack the egg into the skillet, add spinach and guacamole.
Scramble mixture until egg is cooked.
Top toast with layer of egg/spinach/guacamole mixture.
Add about 2 TBs of salmon on to top layer.
Sprinkle paprika, ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese over toppings.

This was delicious. I think it is partly because I used olive oil to make the toast, and the guacamole and salmon added a lot of flavor.

Updated: 12/17/18

Toast Topping: Pseudo Huevos Florentine

This is a Use What you Have recipe and it is only for the brave who want to try something experimental.

Toast Topping: Pseudo Huevos Florentine

I created this recipe from the idea of Huevos Benedictos, by making a version of Eggs Florentine which is a variation of Eggs Benedict.

To start with most variations of Eggs Benedict recipes call for Hollandaise Sauce, a sauce carefully cooked with egg yolks.

There was no way I was going to attempt to make Hollandaise Sauce. So, I got the idea to use mayonnaise as a base for a sauce. See below.


1 slice of integral bread or Pan Tostado Integral (a pre-toasted slice of bread)
Olive oil (for toasting bread)
1 Egg
3 TBspns of bottled water
4 TBspns of frozen spinach or mixed vegetables
1 Slice Turkey lunchmeat, cut in quarters (optional)
1 Tspn salsa, canned (optional)
Meridaise Sauce (See recipe below.)
Imitation bacon bits
Ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese


Normally, I use a skillet to toast bread by adding a dollop of olive oil to a skillet and placing a slice of bread in skillet. Then flip it so both sides gather a little olive oil. Cook and flip until each side is toasted. Set toast on a plate.

But, this time, I used a slice of Pan Tostado Integral, pre-toasted bread.

In a small bowl, add water. Crack egg into water. Place in microwave. Cover. Cook on high for 40 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove egg to drain any water off the egg. Set aside.

Place spinach or mixed vegetables in a small bowl. Place in microwave. Cover. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes.

Spread a layer of spinach/vegetables over top of toast.
Place pieces of lunchmeat over vegetable layer (optional).
Top with poached egg.
Add salsa on top of egg (optional).
Pour Meridaise Sauce over egg.
Sprinkle toppings liberally with bacon bits.
Sprinkle with ground black pepper.
Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese

Meridaise Sauce

Lime juice concentrate
Plain yogurt
Hot sauce
Ground black pepper

I used a jar of mayonnaise that had about 2-3 TBspns of mayo left in the jar.

I added a capful of lime juice concentrate, a capful of basic vinegar, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a dash or two of hot sauce. Then I added a few grinds of ground black pepper. I put the lid on the jar and shook it vigorously to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

The slice of pre-toasted pan was crunchy. Since I don't use salt, it could have had more flavor, maybe add basil, next time.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Toast Toppings inspired by WW Freestyle Cookbook

My sister has had great success with Weight Watchers (WW). She had an extra WW cookbook, so I thought I’d try a few recipes.

What follows are my recipe experiments inspired by or adapted from several Weight Watchers (WW) recipes as toast toppings.

In many recipes, I am trying to achieve several purposes. One, I am trying to adapt recipes to fit a GERD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease) menu. Two, I am trying to make low calorie, healthy recipes.

Toast Topping - Chickpea Mixture
(Adapted from: The Essential WW Freestyle Cookbook, p126)

Opps, I see I use Chickpeas, Hummus and Garbanzo Beans interchangeably.


2 slices of multi-grain bread
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 dashes onion powder
1 capful lime concentrate
2 TB olive oil
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash hot sauce
Topping: Paprika

*GERD-Friendly - using onion or garlic powder sparingly does not seem to affect my acid production like real onions or garlic do.


In a bowl, mash chickpeas.
Add all ingredients except paprika. Mix thoroughly.
Toast bread on both sides in a dab of olive oil in a skillet.
Spread 1 TB of chickpea mixture over top of each toast slice.
Sprinkle paprika on top.

This was ok. I would have preferred a more creamy mix.

Variation: Going off the above recipe and taking tips from The Essential WW Freestyle Cookbook, Chicken Sandwiches with Avocado “Mayo”, p16. I made the following:

I toasted two pieces of multi-grain bread.

Then layered them with about 1 TB of chickpea mixture from recipe above to which I had added a TB of mayo and mixed thoroughly.

Then I topped that with a layer of my Avocado Mixture, then sprinkled paprika over the top and added a bit of ground black pepper.

With the Avocado Mixture, I was liberal with the parsley and lime juice. The lime juice gave the whole topping a fresh flavor.

Scrambled egg with Spinach, and Avocado Mixture
(Adapted from WW Egg and Avocado Toasts with Smoked Salmon, p161)


1 slice of multi-grain bread
Dollop of Olive oil
1 egg
4 TB frozen spinach (there will be leftover spinach)
1 TB Leftover avocado mixture
Ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese


Toast bread in skillet, first. Remove and place on plate.
Scrambled egg with some avocado mixture in skillet. Add more olive oil if needed.
Microwave frozen spinach on high for about 3 minutes.
Top toast with a layer of cooked spinach, about 1 TB
Top spinach with layer of egg/avocado mix.
Sprinkle paprika, ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese over toppings.
Optional: add 1 TB of canned salmon, drained, on top

Toast Topping - Leftover Corn Tortillas and more
(Inspired by WW Edamame Tostadas p116)

I hope this inspires readers to look at their leftovers differently.


1 Leftover corn tortilla
Dollop of Olive oil
Leftover spinach/avocado mixture
Leftover hummus/mayo mixture
1 egg
Ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese
Salt/macha mixture


Took a corn tortilla from a doggie bag from previous meal and fried it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.

Spread a layer of leftover spinach/avocado mix over top of tortilla.

Added a layer of leftover hummus/mayo mixture.

Topped with a poached egg (Business Insider Style, add 3 TB water to a small bowl. Crack egg into bowl. Cover. Microwave on high for 40-45 seconds).

Sprinkled with ground black pepper, Parmesan cheese, and salt/macha mixture.

This was a hardy, tasty mini-meal. I am guessing it cost less than $1US.

Egg in a Frame

Egg in a Frame

I remember this recipe from childhood. We called it "Egg in a Frame" but many recipes call it "Egg in a Nest."


1 slice of bread
Dollop of olive oil
1 egg
Seasonings: ground black pepper, dry basil, salt/macha mixture, Parmesan cheese or seasonings of your choice


On a cutting board, use a small mouthed glass or small can to cut a hole out of the middle of the slice of bread.

Place bread in skillet with a dollop of olive oil. I flip the slice over so each side has gathered a bit of olive oil.

I also toast the bread circle removed from the slice. 

On my hot plate, I use setting 3, a medium-high temperature. As the bread is toasting in the skillet, crack the egg and drop it into the hole in the center of the bread slice.

When the yolk is fairly solid, flip the slice of bread over with a spatula. Make sure to slip the spatula under the whole slice before flipping to cook on the other side.

I usually cook the egg until it is almost fully cooked, the yolk is still a bit runny.

Place the cooked toast and egg on a plate and season.

Seasonings: Ground black pepper, basil, salt/macha mixture, Parmesan cheese or seasonings of your choice.