Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Great Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Roasted Pecans

This is a particularly good chicken salad recipe. It tastes even better the second day.

1# cooked chicken breast, cubed. You can also use a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Just skin it first.
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1-1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • a little sugar
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for a while to combine flavors.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes 

Quick and easy shrimp coated in a crispy golden brown coconut, served with sweet chili sauce for dipping.*

         1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
         salt and pepper
         1/3 cup flour 
         2 eggs, lightly beaten
         3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
         3/4 cup shredded coconut 
         oil for frying

Chili Sauce
Equal parts of bottled sweet chili sauce and marmalade


  1. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, dredge them in flour, then dip them in egg and coat them with a mixture of the breadcrumbs and shredded coconut.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the shrimp until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, before setting aside on paper towels to drain.

*The original recipe from Closet Cooking specified sweet chili sauce. Straight out of the bottle, it was too strong and garlicky for me. I added an equal amount of marmalade and it was perfect.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Susan's Blue Cheese Coleslaw

This recipe was given to me by my good friend Susan Colwell...a true Southern girl. I've tried other recipes but this one is the best.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw


Mix together:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 T sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar


Toss ingredients in large bowl.  Then mix in dressing.

1 16-ounce bag shredded coleslaw
2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
½ to ¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans

 Optional: salt and pepper

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Spicy Shrimp Fajitas and Watermelon Salad with Feta and Basil

Super easy. Great for summer nights.

Spicy Shrimp Fajitas

4 servings

8 small Soft Flour Fajitas
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced fresh mango
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (to taste…I used less)
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
Fresh lime wedges, as needed

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ranch dressing and Sriracha. Refrigerate until serving.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine shrimp, salt, black pepper red pepper flakes, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
3. Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium high heat until hot. Add olive oil, then the shrimp, and saute until pink and cooked through (about 2 to 3 minutes), turning often to cook evenly.  Cut shrimp in bite-size pieces before assembling tacos.

To assemble tacos, place about 4 warm shrimp into each tortilla and top with 1 tbsp. diced mango and 1 tbsp. diced onions. Drizzle with Sriracha ranch dressing and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges to be squeezed over top.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Basil

4 servings

6 cups watermelon cut in 1-inch cubes
½ c shredded basil leaves
salt and coarsely ground pepper
4 oz. cubed feta cheese

lime juice

Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How to pack for a month in one suitcase

How to pack for a month in Europe in one bag

Last year we visited Italy for a month…3–4 days each in Rome and Florence, then two weeks traveling throughout Tuscany with a small group tour, then on our own for another day in Florence, then several days in Venice. The group tour bus was small and we were restricted to one suitcase each that could fit in the smallish compartment under the bus, plus one small day-pack that could fit on the overhead rack on under the seat.

We traveled by taxi, plane, train, sometimes on foot. (Taxis were on strike the day we left for Venice, so we had to walk a mile to the train station. If we had had more than one wheeled case and a small shoulder pack each, we would have been in real trouble!!)

Clothes for one whole month in one suitcase?  How could we possibly do that???  We had to really think this out. I started by reading blogs and information from pros like Rick Steves, for example, as well as tips on Pinterest.

Here are tips on how I packed. My husband did the same, but with a man’s wardrobe.

1. Buy a small journal. 

Years later you will be glad you have a written record of where you went and what you saw when you are going though your photos.

I like these journals from Moleskin. I use the thin paperback ones for shorter trips, and the thicker hard-cover ones for longer trips.  The 3.5 x 5.5 inch size easily fits in a purse or pocket. There’s a ribbon marker, an accordion pocket for business cards, etc. in the back, and an elastic band to keep it closed.

Available at Barnes and Noble.

2. Plan out what to pack ahead of time.  

Do not do this the day before. I recommend at least several days (or longer) before you leave.

Limit yourself to a simple color scheme. For me, that was black, white, with one bright for an accent—I chose a citrusy yellow-green.  (Yours could be navy/white with red. Brown/tan with orange. Use your own wardrobe as a guide. You probably have favorites. If you crave color, add another scarf or two…they pack flat and don’t take up too much space. But exercise some discipline here. Strive to choose items that will mix and match.) 

3. Restrict yourself to clothes that can be washed in a sink and hung up to dry. 

No ironing. No sending out to have them done. No wasting valuable time at a Laundromat. See additional notes on laundry below.

 4.  Make a written plan in the back of your journal.

Use these clothes to come up with options to vary the looks. This is where scarves can help provide some color and pattern.  I repeat, write these ideas down! Not only will it help you remember outfits you put together, it is a record of what you packed if your luggage should get stolen. Also, these lists are helpful for future trips.  (My list is below.)

5. Accessories.

In addition to some scarves, pack a few pieces of cheap costume jewelry that you won’t be heartbroken if lost or stolen.

6. Give up the idea that you can’t repeat outfits. 

No one cares what you are wearing. Most people, even if you are travelling in a group wouldn’t notice anyway. (Test this out. Think of the last event you attended. Try to remember what everyone wore. I bet you can’t.)

7. Limit the number of shoes. 

I packed one pair of versatile, comfortable sandals that worked with a skirt or pants, and one pair of plain black Toms (Galapagos Toms are black with black soles. They are dressier than the ones with white soles, so they are more versatile.) I threw in a pair of dressier flats at the last minute and never wore them.

8. Use Packing Cubes to make packing easier and more organized. 

When I first saw these I thought they were a waste of money. There are several manufacturers. I found some that were less expensive online. These packing cubes made living out of a suitcase SO MUCH EASIER. I had one for pants/skirt, one for tops, one for underwear and nightgown, one for accessories. When I needed a top, I only had to go to the one case, unzip it to see what I needed.  These are available in several colors.

9. Roll your clothes.  

This is another thing I thought was silly until I tried it. Fold the item in thirds, folding sides in toward the center. Then start rolling from the hem to the top. Not only did the clothes not have pressed-in folds from having been folded and stacked, they were organized in the packing cubes like little cylinders so you could see everything practically at once. 

10. Stick to your written plan. 

At the last minute, I broke my own rules and threw in a few extra things since I had room, such as a dress and a pair of dressier flats. Never wore either. My skirt worked wherever a dress would have been appropriate. And my sandals worked as well as the flats. It was a waste of space and weight.

11. Save some space to bring back things you buy. 

You will be glad you did.

12. Pack your suitcase the day before

The exception is your toiletry case. But this should be ready to go.

13. Work out of your packed toiletry case case the day you are leaving. 

That way you will know that you will have everything you need while on the trip and haven’t forgotten anything.  Rick Steves advises that you get a case that can hang from a doorknob or shower rod. Many hotels in Europe especially, have limited space on the sink counter.  I bought this one from the Container Store.


The number one thing you can do to save space on packing is to pack less and wash clothes along the way. Only pack things that can be laundered in a sink. Plan ahead. If you are going to be in one place for few days, launder any dirty clothes on the first day you are there. That way the clothes have time to dry before you move on. I used hotel shampoo for soap.

Buy these handy items:

Nylon laundry bag.  This one weighs next to nothing. You can keep your dirty clothes away from your clean ones.

Sink stopper. Must have! Some sinks do not have a stopper already!

Travel Clothesline. You will need to be creative with where you hang this depending on the hotel. The line comes with Velcro tabs. Buy some carabiner clips (at a hardware store) to attach at each end so you have an option depending on what you have to work with.

Or this one:

Laundry hooks and folding hangars. We ended up using both of these. You can hang your clothes in the twisted loops on the clothesline, but I like these better. The small clips are good for things like socks or underwear. Two of these can be used to hang pants…use one at each end of a waistband. The black plastic ones unfold and can be used to hang shirts.

Microfiber towels (2 per person depending on the size). These are very lightweight and take up little space. They are important for being able to wring out your wet clothes and they dry quickly. (Otherwise your hotel towels will be wet.) Lay a towel out (they are pretty small). Place an item of wet clothing on the towel. Roll the towel up and wring the towel so as much water as possible comes out. You may have to do this more than once to get the item as dry as possible. Then shake the item vigorously before hanging and smooth out any wrinkles.

We hung the clothes on the line at night, then put them in the closet during the day so the maids could clean. Then hung them up again on the line the next evening. Everything dried by the end of the second night.

NOTE: I made the mistake of buying the towels in white. If I were to do it over, I would buy a color. We ended up hiding our towels from the maids because we were afraid they would be confused with the hotel towels.

Available on Amazon from many sources at varying prices. Search Microfiber towels.

What I brought and wore

I am partial to knits. Just about all of these tops are knit.  J Jill has a line called Wearever that packs very well. They are stylish and mix and match.

For bottoms, you can’t beat Chicos’ Zenergy line in their Neema fabric. It weighs next to nothing and is not clingy, shiny and heavy like their Travelers line. I have been collecting the Neema pieces when I find them. They are my go-to travel clothes.

I took several cardigans for warmth and to mix things up a bit.

This may not look like a lot for a month when it’s in a list, but it was plenty and took me through several climate changes.

White v-neck tee
White scoop neck tee
White tank
Black v-neck tee
Black/ivory tunic length sleeveless top
Black silk sleeveless tunic length tank
Ivory/black stripe tee ¾ sleeves
Lime/black stripe tee ¾ sleeves
Green crinkly silky fabric tank
Long-sleeve striped tunic: gray, black and white

Black/grey leopard — light weight
Mustard yellow silk knit — medium weight
Black silk knit tunic length—heavier weight

Black Neema skirt
Black Neema capris
Black Neema slim long pants
Black knit skinny pants (great to wear on the plane)
White pants (could have lived without these)

Cream & black beaded necklace
Black large chunky beaded necklace
A few pairs inexpensive earrings

Lime green crinkly scarf
White crinkly scarf
Black/gray leopard print scarf
Long super skinny giraffe print scarf
Large square black/white/beige/green animal-print scarf

Undergarments (enough for 6 days)
Camisoles for extra layer…black and nude
Two nightgowns
Small folding umbrella
Foldable visor hat
Raincoat (lightweight, very packable)
Small lightweight folding umbrella

Black sandals. Mine are by Arche. Expensive (even on sale), but I have had them for years! They are super comfortable and wear like iron. I have a winter style that are closed-toe slip-ons. This brand is a real splurge but worth it in terms of comfort, durability, style and versatility. I have worn them so many times they are paying me back. You can try eBay. I recently bought a nearly-new pair for $50. Note: The sizing is European. 

Black Galapagos Toms (black with black soles. Dressier that those with a white sole.) Great for walking, and wearing on the plane. Very light weight. Search Galapogos Toms online. Nordies has free shipping.


• Any black top, black skirt. Works with green, white or leopard scarf. Sandals
• Any white top. Black skirt. Sandals. Or Black capris and Toms. Black chunky necklace
• Black/ivory tunic. Skirt. Cream/black beaded necklace.
• Black sleeveless tunic. Skinny pants. Large scarf.
• Black tank tunic. Skirt. Yellow cardigan. Black/cream necklace or giraffe scarf. Sandals.
• White tee. Leopard scarf. Capris. Sandals.
• Lime crinkly top. Capris. Toms
• Yellow cardi. White tank. Capris. Necklace or Giraffe scarf. Toms
• Long pants. Long black tank. Yellow cardi. Black/grey leopard scarf. Sandals.
• Long pants. White tank. Leopard cardi.
• Gray/black stripe tunic. White jeans (or leggings). Sandals or Toms.
• Black tunic tank. White scarf. White pants. Toms or Sandals.
• White/black stripe tee or green/black stripe tee. Black long pants or capris. Toms.

I actually could come up with more variations, but you get the idea. A limited color scheme. A basic bottom. A top. Add some accessories. Of course you will have more variety when you are home. 

Not having to lug around a ton of luggage and having to keep track of a lot of clothing is worth repeating some pieces.  Good luck.