Crustless Tomato Pie Recipe

Combine the Goodness of Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Lots of Cheese

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Crustless tomato pie right out of the oven
Crustless tomato pie right out of the oven
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I love to come up with new recipes. I’m especially partial to baking bread and comfort food casserole-type dishes. This tomato pie recipe was prompted by the fact that the tomatoes in my garden are coming in fast and furious. No complaints about that, but it’s use ’em or lose ’em; am I right? This year my vegetable garden is home to red and yellow tomatoes as well as herbs like basil and lemon balm, which not only makes great tea but has medicinal benefits. Using as many ingredients from my own garden means I can be sure they are organic. Anyhow, on to the recipe.



Crustless Tomato Pie Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes sliced, about 1/4 inch
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup onion (I like red ones)
  • 3/4 cup bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (that’s right out of my garden as well)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, plus extra for sprinkling over top
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Tomato Pie Preparation
Tomato Pie Preparation

Preparation Steps

  1. Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on plates. Sprinkle lightly with pink Himalayan salt and let them rest for 30 minutes. This step is important to leech out excess water.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions, and saute until they are soft.
  3. Transfer mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in the eggs, cheese, bell pepper, pepper, and cilantro.
  5. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Spray cooking spray on your casserole dish. I used my 2 1/2 quart Corningware.
  7. Tilt your plates to spill off the excess water. Then, lightly press down with paper towels to remove even more water.
  8. Line the bottom of the dish with tomato slices and spoon a thin layer of the mixture on them. Keep going, in like fashion, building up layers. Spread a final thin layer of cheese across the final, top layer.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes. It’s done when lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before serving.

And there you have it. There are other versions but this is my crustless tomato pie recipe. Are there other possible ingredients? Sure, depending on your taste. Try serving it with something like a raw Tuscan kale salad.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Baked Eggplant Fries Recipe

Eggplant is an Overlooked Vegetable That is Low-Calorie and High in Nutritional Value

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Baked eggplant fries
Baked eggplant fries
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You say, “Fries that aren’t potatoes? Blasphemy!” Well, call them whatever you want; baked eggplant fries are good. Unless you’re talking about Eggplant Parmesan, this nightshade vegetable gets comparatively little air-time. But it should. There are many varieties but at the end of the day, it originally came from India and Asia, where it grows wild to this day. Eggplants made their way to Europe with the Islamic empire in the 7th and 8th centuries.

Eggplant Nutrition?

This vegetable really stands out in this department. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of eggplant has:

  • 25 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 0.2 grams fat
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams fiber (we all love regularity, right?)

It’s also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. It has antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which help protect your cells against damage. It’s also high in natural plant chemicals called polyphenols, which may help cells do a better job of processing sugar if you have diabetes. It’s also rich in acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps lower blood pressure.



Baked Eggplant Fries Ingredient List

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray (or the spray of your choice that you have on hand)
  • Marinara sauce or your choice, for dipping

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place the whisked eggs into a shallow bowl and season them with a little salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs onto a plate, add the parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs, toss to combine.
  • Wash and cut off ends of eggplant.
  • Slice down the middle and keep slicing until they are about 1/4″ thick.
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Coat each slice with the whisked egg, coat it with panko, and arrange them on the cookie sheets. You might have to change out the moist panko for fresh dry. Keep the wet panko!
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove and enjoy!

Additional Notes

Of course, I had some whisked egg and wet panko left over. So, waste not, want not. I mixed the two, added another egg, some grated cheese, and baked it. Not exactly a souffle, but the next best thing. Just throw in whatever you want. Well, that’s the Baked Eggplant Fries Recipe. Enjoy!



More Recipes to Try (and Some Nutrition Info Thrown In)


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Recipe

How to Make These Popular Store-Bought Cookies at Home

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies
Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies
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Although I love to cook, develop bread recipes, and eat copiously, I’m not real big on “sweets.” My wife, (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed), on the other hand, enjoys her special treats. In particular, she likes Lofthouse Sugar Cookies. I do have a thing for dark (unsweetened) chocolate, and that dovetails nicely in my blood pressure control program because it’s good for that.

Normally, I buy them at the local Kroger when I’m out hunting and gathering. For the past few weeks, they haven’t been selling them. Unfortunate, right? So I decided, hey, why not make them myself? I found many copycat recipes on the internet, took the best of the elements, rolled up my sleeves, and went to work. Here’s what I came up with, and I hope you try it as well. Share the good news, I always say.



Lofthouse Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup organic pure cane granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (more than other copycats specify, but yum)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (some copycats specify cake flour; your call)


Salute to Baking Experimentation

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment paper. I used 2 baking sheets for some really big cookies, seen in the photo above, and that only used up 3/4 of the dough.
  3. Use your mixer in a large mixing bowl to cream together the butter and sour cream until smooth.
  4. Add in the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix until just combined.
  5. In a much bigger mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (if you are using it). Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three additions, mixing well after each.
  6. Keeping your hands wet with water, form drop cookies. Roll dough into 2″ balls and place 2″ apart on the prepared cookie sheet/s. Using a flat-bottomed glass dipped in water, press the cookie balls flat.
  7. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cookies just begin to set up and the bottoms are lightly brown; this is really the critical step. After the first 5 minutes, check every minute. Immediately remove them from the cookie sheet/s and let them cool completely on a cooling rack before applying the frosting of your choice.


I hope you enjoy this copycat Lofthouse sugar cookie recipe as much as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed did. Let us know in the comment section and vote in the survey on the right.

More Info and Recipes!


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Recipe

Traditional Homemade Tex-Mex Comfort Food

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade chicken enchiladas
Homemade chicken enchiladas
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Enchiladas are originally from traditional Mexican cuisine, but the ones I make have sort of crossed the border to Tex-Mex. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or usually, a combination. The sauces are usually chili-based sauces, like salsa roja, various moles, or cheese-based sauces, like chile con queso. The recipe I present here is the one I made a couple of nights ago, but feel free to indulge in modifications!

Chicken Enchilada Ingredients

  • 6 – 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 lb. cooked, shredded chicken; I simply used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to expedite the process.
  • 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 – 4.5 oz diced green chilis with their juice
  • 1 14 oz. can oz mild red or green enchilada sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced red onions
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican, Four Cheese, or Colby Jack)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives
  • Optional: chopped jalapeno, serrano, or (whew) habanero peppers to taste


Chicken enchiladas in the pan
Chicken enchiladas in the pan

Enchilada Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. Add all ingredients except for the cheese and the chicken into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix completely.
  5. Transfer 1/3 of the mixture into another mixing bowl.
  6. Add the chicken and 2 cups of your cheese to the 2/3 bowl and mix in well.
  7. Generously add contents of the 2/3 bowl to the center of each tortilla and roll up tortillas tightly. Arrange them in your dish as you go.
  8. Pour the reserved 1/3 of sauce over the tortillas, spread well, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese (you can add more cheese if you desire).
  9. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400˚F for 35 minutes.
  10. Remove and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Cheesy Chicken Enchilada recipe as much as we do. I always get an opinion from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and this dish got two thumbs up! Next time I’ll experiment a bit more. The basil in my garden is really taking off now so…



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Lemon Balm: Uses, Benefits, Growing

A Medicinal Herb That Does Double-Duty as a Pest Control

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Lemon balm next to a tomato plant
Lemon balm next to a tomato plant
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Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the mint family. It is a perennial and its leaves have a light lemon fragrance. The herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it’s cultivated around the world today. As with many popular herbs, it is highly regarded for its medicinal qualities. But don’t worry, you won’t need a shaman to administer it. Keeping a plant in your garden provides a steady supply of tea.

Here’s another important use — it doesn’t just have to be relegated to your herb garden, it can be planted anywhere because it offers a fringe benefit. In addition to its health properties, it acts as pest control because it repels mosquitos. Hello, outdoor barbeque!

Benefits of Lemon Balm

  • Stress Relief. Lemon balm is said to soothe symptoms of stress, boost your mood, and help you to relax. Just the thing after a day of dealing with proponents of Critical Race Theory. In a study, the National Library of Medicine found that, “The results showed that the 600-mg dose of Melissa ameliorated the negative mood effects of the DISS, with significantly increased self-ratings of calmness and reduced self-ratings of alertness.”1
  • Treating Insomnia. Combining lemon balm with valerian may help alliviate restlessness and sleep disorders such as insomnia. In addition, drinking lemon balm tea can help with disturbing dreams such as Corona Virus dreams.
  • It May Boost Cognitive Function. MDPI.com published a study that concluded, “active lemon balm treatments were generally associated with improvements in mood and/or cognitive performance, though there were some behavioral “costs” at other doses and these effects depended to some degree on the delivery matrix. The results indicate that Lemon balm delivered in foodstuffs can have positive behavioural effects which may be used in applied health settings.”2

  • Healing Cold Sores. According to WebMD.com, “Lemon balm ointments have been found to help heal cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).”3 Using lemon balm cream may help prolong the intervals between cold sore outbreaks.
  • Soothing Digestive Problems. Compounds in lemon balm may help with gastrointestinal problems like bloating and indigestion. Try adding 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie.
  • Help With Menstrual Cramps. A study reported in the US National Library of Medicine concluded that, “the results of the current study showed that M. officinalis capsules were effective to reduce the intensity of PMS symptoms.”4


Health Risks

Although lemon balm is considered safe; the American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook lists lemon balm as a “class 1” herbal product. Some sources recommend limiting it to 3 weeks use, 1 week off. Here are some interactions:

  • HIV Medication. Lemon balm may interact with HIV medications, but sufficient studies have not been conducted.
  • Sedatives and Thyroid Medication. There may be some interaction; consult with your doctor.
  • Glaucoma. Some reports say that lemon balm may increase eye pressure, impacting glaucoma.

Growing Lemon Balm

Plant lemon balm during the warm weather of late spring, once all chances of frost have passed. Space plants 20 to 24 inches apart in an area with partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. I only have one plant so spacing is not an issue.

Begin by mixing several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil. Check your soil moisture every few days and water when the top inch becomes dry. You’ll be doing your garden a favor if you install and use a foliar feeding with compost juice or Medina Hasta Gro. Harvest the leaves once your plant is 6 to 8 inches tall; avoid harvesting any more than one-third of the plant at a time.

Lemon balm is a must-have plant in your herb garden (in my opinion). For a small purchase price, you will reap a wealth of health benefits. It is so easy to grow, like other members of the mint family, that not green thumb is necessary.

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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

References

  1. David O. Kennedy, Wendy Little, Andrew B. Scholey, National Library of Medicine, Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15272110/
  2. Andrew Scholey, et al., MDPI, Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods, https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/11/4805/htm
  3. WebMD.com, Health Benefits of Lemon Balm, https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-lemon-balm#1
  4. Marzieh Akbarzadeh, US National Library of Medicine, Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557408/

Running in the Heat & Humidity

Working Out in Hot Weather Can Lead to Dehydration and Heat Stroke

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Running in the summer heat
Running in the summer heat
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If there’s one thing runners in Texas understand, it’s heat. Some seem to tolerate it more than others, but too much of it can be deadly. Have you ever wondered exactly how and why it affects you like it does? OK; let’s look into that. It’s a completely different animal than cold weather running. Here are factors to focus on.

  • Thermoregulation. This concept involves maintaining adequate heat production and sufficient heat dissipation; a balancing act, essentially. Your normal skin temp: 33°C (91°F), range 32-35°C. MedlinePlus.gov says, “Some studies have shown that the “normal” body temperature can have a wide range, from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C). A temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) most often means you have a fever caused by an infection or illness.”1 But during strenuous exercise the body’s heat production may exceed 1000 W. Some of the heat produced is stored, raising body core temperature by a few degrees. Evaporation of your sweat and an increased skin blood flow are highly-effective mechanisms for the dissipation of heat from the body, however dehydration hampers your ability to sweat and lose body heat.
  • Exercise. Your core temperature increases during exercise in relationship to exercise intensity. Obviously, a slow, easy run will have less effect than speedwork. Heat production is 15-20 times greater than when you are at rest. It has been said that it’s a blessing in the wintertime, and a curse in the summer. Why is it harder to get a head of steam up on hot days? As much as 70% of energy produced is released as heat instead of energy for muscles. This causes an increase in core body temperature by 1°C for every 5 minutes of exercise without heat loss.
  • Heat and humidity. Your heart rate increases up to 10 beats per minute when the temperature is in the range 75-90°F. Your heart rate increases up to additional 10 bpm when humidity is 50-90% because of decreased evaporation. Your performance can decrease by ~20% when temps are above 80°F.


  • Heat dissipation. What areas of body are most important for heat dissipation? Your forehead for one Do you wear a bandana or a cap? Your upper limbs, trunk, and lower limbs are next in line. I’m a big fan of going shirtless or wearing a wicking or cooling shirt like the one below.

Heat is transported by blood from muscles to skin primarily by sweating. This is the first step in the cooling, evaporation process. 75% of evaporated fluids comes from your skin and 25% from respiration (breathing). ScienceDirect.com tells us, “In humans, roughly 1.6 to 5 million sweat glands are found in the skin, and the amount varies between individuals as well as anatomic sites. The region with greatest sweat gland density is the palms and soles of the feet, which contain 600–700 sweat glands/cm2. The primary function of sweat glands is to keep the core body temperature at approximately 37 °C by releasing sweat in a hot environment or during physical activity.”2 So, your soles don’t help matters much. We sweat an average of 1.4 L/hr (max 3 L/hr). Don’t forget to re-hydrate. By the time you get thirsty you are already behind the ball. Use a large water bottle; fill it with filtered water before you leave home.

Your body also dissipates heat by increased skin blood flow (convection). It transfers heat from your core to your skin and stimulates the sweat response.



  • Heat related illnesses. According to the CDC, “Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this fact, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year.”3 There are 3 main types of heat-related illness that get progressively more serious. The first is heat cramps-sharp stabbing pain typically in legs or diaphragm. This is caused by electrolyte deficiencies/imbalances. The common treatment is to stop running, ingest a sports drink to replace fluids/electrolytes, and cool your body. The second illness is exertional hyperthermia. Symptoms are a core temp 39-40°C (102.2-104.0°F); excess sweating causing fluid volume loss of 6-10% of your body weight; headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and an elevated heart rate (a real issue for those with high blood pressure). The treatment? all the things mentioned above plus cooling the body via immersion and elevating feet above level of the heart. The third illness is exertional heatstroke. This is characterized by all of the symptoms mentioned above plus core body temperature greater than 40.5°C (104.9°F), mental changes such as confusion, disorientation, and loss of consciousness. Seizures and coma are also likely, and in especially bad cases, death. Treatment includes all of the above but do not take fluids if unconscious/severely disoriented/seizing, etc.
  • Are there risks factors for developing a heat related illness? You bet! These include low fitness level, dehydration, being unacclimated to heat and humidity, overweight/obese (BMI or Body Mass Index greater than 27), medications or supplements, and even lack of sleep.
  • Prevention methods. The first thing to do is be realistic and adjust your pace. Refer to this chart.
Running pace adjustment due to heat and humidity
Running pace adjustment due to heat and humidity

Take walking breaks regularly and often, especially during your weekend long run. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Thirst is not an accurate indicator of dehydration but increased HR and dark urine are. Your body absorbs liquids best when they’re cold (40℉ is ideal); cold fluids will also help reduce your core temperature. Take liquids with electrolytes, eat small amounts of foods w/sodium 12 hrs before running. Acclimate yourself to warmer weather beginning in the spring. 2 weeks of moderate intensity exercise, 30-100 min in duration in the heat, is a good rule of thumb. Keep to a regular schedule; adaptations can be lost in as little as 10 days. Trade in your hat for a visor.

These are the basics of running in the heat and humidity. A little common sense and precautions can go a long way. Above all, have fun; running is good for the soul!

References

  1. MedlinePlus.gov, Body temperature norms, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001982.htm
  2. ScienceDirect.com, Sweat Gland, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/sweat-gland
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Extreme Heat, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html

Further Reading


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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Taco Beef and Cheese Sopes Recipe

Not as Well Known as Tamales or Enchiladas but Sopes are a Fast, Versatile, Delicious Mexican Food

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Taco beef and cheese sopes
Taco beef and cheese sopes
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So, there is Mexican food and there is Tex-Mex food. In many parts of the country, the two terms are used interchangeably. (Gasp! How unenlightened!) There is some overlap and no clear delineation for all practical purposes. However, whichever one you call it, it’s comfort food all the way! In my opinion, sopes fall on the Mexican side because, unlike the ubiquitous enchilada platter, the further you travel north from Texas, the least likely you are to find them on the menu. But don’t despair, with this recipe you can’t go wrong!

Although the sopes themselves are the basis of this recipe, what you choose to put in the filling can be almost anything. Want an entrée? Want a desert? Bases covered. This recipe is reminiscent of pizza or a taco. Bonus? Even the kids will love it! What a way to sneak some veggies into their diets. As always, use organic ingredients when possible.

Sopes Ingredient List

Taco beef and cheese ingredients
Taco beef and cheese sope ingredients

Endless Crop of Green Onions, Chives

How to Propagate Organic Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Green onions grown from cuttings
Green onions grown from cuttings
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Do you like to use green onions or scallions in your recipes? Do you like them as fresh as they can be? Do you prefer organic produce? Do you like to save money? Are you really big on convenience? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need this gardening tip! It applies whether your vegetable or herb garden is outside or if you rely on hydroponic gardening for those fresh edibles all year round.

Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives, What’s the Difference?

To begin with, green onions and scallions are the same thing, different name. That one and chives look and taste quite similar, but they are different plants. They have different practical uses as well as different nutritional profiles.

The primary difference from a botanical point of view is that green onions are a vegetable but chives are considered an herb like basil is. Surprisingly, chives also have a higher nutrient profile than green onions do. This makes sense because since herbs in general usually have a denser nutritional content.

Botany can be perplexing and befuddling for us mere mortals. For example, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal.”



How to Get Your “Free” Produce

You will be amazed at how simple this is! When most people (almost all, actually) cut off the root section, they throw it in the trash; they don’t even compost vegetable scraps including these gems. Composting is important, especially if you are a prepper, homesteader, or just living off the grid.

So, here’s the process. Cut off the root section as usual, leaving about 1/2 inch of the bulb on it. Plant it, root section down, about 2 inches deep. As you can see from the picture at the top of this article, a simple ceramic pot works for my needs. Yes, I’m ready to put some fresh hardwood mulch in there. A top-dressing of compost periodically is a good idea. The idea is to harvest the biggest one, plant its root section; it’s a two-minute operation, easy-peasy. Water daily. Check out the size of my home-grown organic scallion (I’m making Panamanian-style ceviche today).

A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion
A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion


Well, that’s just about all there is to generating and enjoying an endless crop of green onions (scallions) and chives. Do it in your herb garden, kitchen window, or hydroponically. It’s all good in the culinary universe.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Oatmeal Coconut Flour Bread Recipe

A Hearty New Combination of Baking Ingredients

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Oatmeal coconut flour bread
Oatmeal coconut flour bread
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Developing this recipe the other day, I started with the oatmeal, which I usually do for its fiber and cholesterol-lowering properties. Then I decided to have a go with the coconut flour, having heard so much about it. The result is this interesting oatmeal coconut flour bread recipe.

Why Coconut Flour?

It’s gaining popularity among the low-carb diet crowd and those who have a gluten intolerance. It has an impressive nutrition profile and may offer several additional health benefits. These include increasing blood sugar stability, better gut digestion, heart health, and even weight loss.

Ingredient List

  • 3 cups coconut flour
  • Whole wheat flour as needed
  • 1 cup quick steel cut oats; I used the HEB brand but any will do.
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 cup wheat bran
  • 1 tablespoon gluten (optional)
  • 3 cups water, heated
  • 1/2 cup nuts of your choice, chopped (optional)
  • 1 packet yeast

Preparation Steps

  1. If using fast-rising yeast, preheat oven to 425℉.
  2. Combine the oatmeal and 1 cup of very hot water in your mixing bowl. Allow 15 minutes for the oatmeal to soften.
  3. Mix in the remaining cups of warm water and the yeast.
  4. Mix in the egg, salt, sugar, flaxseed meal, wheat bran, gluten, and nuts.
  5. Mix in the coconut flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough will look a bit different that what you are used to with just wheat.
  6. Begin adding in the whole wheat flour and mixing until you have a nice, workable dough ball.
  7. Turn the dough ball out onto your whole wheat floured kneading surface. I’ve become a big fan of silicone baking mats.
  8. Continue to add whole wheat flour as needed as you knead. I do about 30 folds.
  9. If you did not use fast-rising yeast, let it rise for a couple of hours, and punch it down. If you did, just preheat the oven and proceed.
  10. Gently shape and press the dough into a rice flour dusted Banneton proofing basket.
  11. Turn it out onto a prepared (I use spray olive oil; butter will do as well) baking sheet (I use a pizza sheet).
  12. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Start checking at 30 minutes.
  13. Let the loaf cool on a rack and enjoy!

So that’s it for the oatmeal coconut flour bread recipe. It makes a very heavy, compact loaf. If you take a look a the picture at the top of the loaf you’ll notice a very unusual texture, not porous at all. Take that, wimpy store-bought white bread!



Additional Reading


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Pink Himalayan Salt Health Benefits

Is This Table and Cooking Condiment Worth the Added Expense?

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
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Looking at most recipes, there are commonly five kinds of salt you will see–table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Celtic salt, and pink or Himalayan salt. In all honesty, I don’t find much difference in flavor between them. The choice you make boils down to personal taste, price, degree of cultural hipness as you describe your dish to your guests, and other factors.

What Makes Himalayan Salt Different?

The most obvious characteristic is that it is, well, pink! I’m not a big fan of the color pink (there’s my toxic masculinity showing again!) but this condiment wears it tolerably well. The two most important distinctions are its origin and its health benefits.

According to Fooducate, “Himalayan salts is actually not from the Himalayas. It is sourced from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, about 300 miles to the west of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This salt mine is the second largest in the world, and has been a source of salt for over 2000 years. Despite this lengthy history, the “Himalayan” brand gained popularity in the Western world only in the past 15 years.”1



What are the Health Benefits of Pink Salt?

People have made many nutrition claims about Himalayan salt over the years. Some insist salt lamps help purify the air. Some say it can detoxify the body of heavy minerals. Some (optimistic) mountebanks have even suggested it can increase libido.

  • Iodine naturally occurs in Himalayan salt. The chemical element iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of our thyroid gland.2
  • It is about 96% sodium chloride, the same as table salt. This is what makes it conveniently interchangeable with table salt in, say, your favorite whole wheat bread recipe.
  • The remaining 4% are potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as tens of additional trace minerals.
  • It prevents hyponatremia, meaning low sodium levels in the blood. Eating enough sodium through a healthy diet is vital to preventing this dangerous and painful condition.
  • It plays an key role in your small intestine’s ability to absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water.
  • Sodium also assists your stomach in breaking down food which releases nutrients for absorption.

So, despite having trace minerals that other salts might not, do the health benefits really register or is it all just marketing hype? WebMD says, “research has not demonstrated that Himalayan salt has any unique health benefits compared to other dietary salt. The mineral impurities that give it a pink color, often promoted as healthful, are far too low in concentration to be nutritionally beneficial. You would have to eat a lethal amount of sodium to achieve helpful quantities of the other minerals.”3



Additional Reading

Resources

  1. Fooducate, Himalayan Salt – 10 Things to Know, https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/Himalayan-Salt-10-Things-to-Know/57A355B1-7CE7-3C26-48D8-A9A1BBA83175
  2. Steve Fentress, Moment of Science, Why Does Table Salt Contain Iodide?, https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/table-salt-iodide.php
  3. WebMD, Himalayan Salt: Is It Good for You?, https://www.webmd.com/diet/himalayan-salt-good-for-you#1

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I Can Fix Up My Home

The Green Frugal

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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.