because what is life without good food?


Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

My friend gave me a bit of this lovely roasted pepper tomato tapenade she made. Ooh it was delicious! I tried spreading it on toast with melted cheese over top. Yum. I put it on a sandwich. Oh yes! I imagined all the things I could do with this scrumptious spread: it would be lovely in lasagna and all sorts of appetizers (little toasts! yes!) and pizzas and things. I only had a tiny bit that she gave me … but … she had told me what she put in it … tomatillos, sundried & fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil … hmmm …

I still had four of the tomatillos she gave me and a couple fresh garden tomatoes, and oh yes, peppers from mom’s garden … and I even had some of the “sundried” tomatoes (that I dried in the oven), so I thought I would see if I could make a tapenade.

I threw in some fresh herbs and capers for good measure. It’s not exactly like her tapenade, but even if I had had her recipe on hand, I am sure I wouldn’t have followed it precisely. I just can’t properly follow a recipe!

I want to thank my dear friend Denise for giving me her marvelous tapenade … which spurred me to try making it. What a wonderful spread!

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

The best way to roast the peppers, tomatillos and tomato for this tapenade is on the grill, but you could also roast them in the oven.

  • 1 medium fresh garden tomato
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 hot pepper (I used this big hot red pepper my mom gave me similar to a New Mexico Green Chile, only it’s red … but I think you could use any hot — or not so hot — red pepper)
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Several sprigs of rosemary
  • A couple sprigs of tarragon
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons capers


  1. Heat up the grill and set the tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers directly over the heat. Roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and black (make sure you turn them to roast all sides of the vegies!) and the tomatoes are soft. This should only take a few minutes if your grill is good and hot.
  2. Let the roasted vegies cool for a bit till they are cool enough to handle, then cut out the stem & core of the peppers and tomatoes, leaving the charred skin ON.
  3. Pop all the ingredients except the capers in a handi chopper or food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Pour the tapenade into a bowl and stir in the capers. Add salt if you like … I didn’t think it needed any.
  4. Serve on toast or crackers, use as a sauce for pizza, stir it into the ricotta mixture for your lasagna, use it as a tasty sandwich spread … or just let your imagination run wild.

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowTasty Tuesday, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe Linky, Gala Dinner Party, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and All my Bloggy Friends.

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

Red Magic Seasoning

I am on a quest for low sodium, but delicious food lately. Food that will appeal to a teenager. I never never never thought I would have to worry much about sodium … my blood pressure is low. My kids, well they’re kids! You don’t have to worry about salt too much with kids, right?

But you see, my daughter (who is ALMOST a teenager) has been having dizzy spells. It started last fall … she missed two weeks of school. I was terribly worried about her, took her to the doctor, had tons of tests done. At the end they couldn’t find anything wrong with her and this is what they said, “she needs to drink more water.”

So we had her drink more water. But the dizzy spells continued. They would come and go. Sometimes she would be fine, but they got to be so bad last month that she couldn’t dance and sometimes they would go on for a whole week. If you knew my girl, you would know she lives to dance. She has been dancing since she was able to stand on two feet, I believe. When she was 3 I enrolled her in dance classes and she has been dancing ever since. Since she’s gotten older, our lives have started revolving around her dance.

But dizzy spells in a dancer are a very very bad thing. And she was SO miserable! I did some research into the symptoms she is having and one of the things that may help is to lower her sodium intake to 1,000 mg/day. When you look at how much sodium is in salt and so many of the foods that we eat, 1,000 mg is REALLY HARD.

I have used a lot of Red Robin Seasoning in our food so she is used to that flavoring. I thought I would try to make something similar to that one, with a lot less salt. The real magic in it this is … I think I like it better than the original Red Robin Seasoning! Red Robin Seasoning is loaded with salt, while this one is loaded with flavor. My girl loves it. I can season salmon or chicken with this and she is happy! She will eat it! I’m even sprinkling it on some of my own food now …

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

I found the tomato powder at our local coop food store. It’s basically just dried tomato, ground into a powder. I was looking for low-sodium tomato soup mix, but all I found was tomato powder, which I think is so sooo much better. And if you can’t find it, I think all you’d have to do is put some sundried tomatoes through a spice grinder to make a fine powder.

  • 6 Tablespoons tomato powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Lite Salt (or 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt)
  • 5 Tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder

Mix all ingredients together into a bowl. Funnel into a spice jar. Use to flavor chicken, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, popcorn … whatever you normally would use salt on.

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckTalent Show TuesdayA Crafty Cook’s April Link PartyMelt in your Mouth Mondays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

(an almost wordless Wednesday post)

Today I am grateful for mornings. No matter how bad yesterday was, today is a new day and I get a fresh chance to start again.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Recipe and photography inspiration from Not Rachael Ray

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Mix spices together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Red Robin Seasoning (Copycat recipe)

and a wealth of other seasoning mixes from my friend Carla

Red Robin Seasoning (Copycat recipe)

In general, I am not fond of chain restaurant food–I prefer to sample the local fare wherever I am–but there are a couple places I do like, and Red Robin is one of my favorites.  It’s basically a burger joint, but their burgers are SO good (just thinking about that California Chicken burger makes my mouth water) and their fries are SO crunchy and tasty. I think a big part of what makes them so special is the seasoning they use. Oh it is SO good!

They are also amazing mixologists at Red Robin; in my bartending days I “stole” one of their menus (with permission of course!) just to take it home and try to recreate some of their yummy mixed drinks. I still have that menu. My mother got in trouble when she tried to throw it out when she helped us move one time.

If you ask them at the restaurant, they will usually let you buy the seasoning. I have done that many times.

But what do you do if you live nowhere near a Red Robin? (Like me, now.) You either do without the seasoning, or you find a way to make your own. One day I stumbled across this copycat recipe for Red Robin Seasoning and I had to try it. While it tasted pretty authentic just the way it was, I adjusted it a little to my tastes. And scaled it up–because I use a lot of Red Robin Seasoning. Now I have to keep my dad supplied with this seasoning because he has become about as addicted to it as I am. (And I need to have some on hand when I am cooking at their place!)

I use this seasoning on just about everything I cook  in place of salt (the savory dishes anyway!) It is amazing on potatoes and eggs. And meats. Fish. Chicken. Um, yeah, just about everything. I refill my Red Robin Seasoning shaker with it, which reminds me of all the good times I’ve had at Red Robin.

Red Robin Seasoning

Copycat Red Robin Seasoning

  • 3 packages cup-a-soup tomato soup mix (about 7 1/2 T.)
  • 10 T. salt
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 4 T. granulated garlic
  • 1 T. basil
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 t. freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the seasonings together in a bowl. Funnel into a spice shaker because you are going to want to shake this stuff on just about EVERYTHING!

A Wealth of Seasoning Mixes from Carla

I’ve also collected a bunch of helpful seasoning mixes from my foodie friend Carla at Carla’s Kitchen Confessions. If you are on Facebook and you haven’t liked her page, go do it. She is awesome. If you ever need a seasoning mix in a pinch, she will help you out!

~HOMEMADE SELF-RISING FLOUR~ 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoons salt = 1 cup self-rising flour.

‎~HOMEMADE TERIYAKI SAUCE~ 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons ground Ginger, 2 teaspoons ground mustard or yellow mustard, 6 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons), salt to taste. Mix together & use to marinate meats. Store in the refrigerator.

‎~HOMEMADE BAKING POWDER~ 1/3 teaspoons baking soda & 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter.

‎~”ALMOST” EMERIL’S ESSENCE~ 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Mix well & store in airtight container.

‎~HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIE SPICE~ 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground Ginger, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/2 tablespoon allspice. Mix well & store in airtight container, will keep for about 6 months.

‎~HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING~ 1/3 cup dried minced onion, 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoon dried oregano. Mix well & store up to 6 months in an air tight container. Makes 1 cup mix. Use 2 tablespoons per 1 pound of meat. {you can adjust the amount of the red pepper flakes}

‎~Paula Deen’s House Seasoning~ 1 cup salt, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup pepper. Mix well, store in airtight container.

‎~HOMEMADE SEASON SALT~ 1 1/2 cups salt, 1 cup onion powder, 1/2 cup white pepper, 1/2 cup garlic powder, 1/2 cup paprika. Mix well & store for up to 6 months in an airtight container. {You can use black pepper, if you wish. It only changes the flavor slightly!}

‎~Homemade powdered sugar~ 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 1 cup granulated sugar. Run through blender or food processor until powder forms. {Never get caught without it again!}. You could make up several batches at once & store in an airtight container.

‎~ Salt Substitute #1~ 2 Tablespoons dry mustard, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon ground thyme, 2 tablespoons crushed basil.~store in airtight container.

‎~ Salt Substitute #2~ 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon marjoram.

‎~ Salt Substitute #3 ~ 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon crushed celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

‎~ Apple pie spice substitution ~ 1/8 tsp. Allspice, 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg. {for extra kick, 1/8 tsp. Cardamom, optional}

‎~ Apple pie spice substitution#2 ~ ‎4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground cardamom


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