Great Healthy Eating Diagram to Add to Your Recipe Binder

healthy eating plate diagram

This healthy eating diagram published by Harvard is such a major improvement over the USDA’s version, mostly because the USDA has the conflicting jobs of promoting health while also promoting the American refined grain and corn syrup industries.

I plan on including this in an upcoming free recipe binder printable (click that link to see others already available). I love a nice cherry pie, but I think when cooking you also need to keep nutrition at the forefront!

Wedding Custom Recipe Binder Gift

Wedding Recipe Binder gift

First off, yes, that is my own wedding photo. 🙂 Happy, happy day.
Now then, if you’re reading this, you like recipes and you like to organize them. And maybe, just maybe, you are lucky enough to be attending a June wedding this year. Why not give the gift of a nice customizable recipe binder or personalized recipe box that lets the happy couple add a photo to the front? The merging of two families represented by the joyous co-mingling of two recipe collections! Glorious! (The groom’s collection may only consist of  Del Monte Sloppy Joe mix and the phone number to Domino’s, but never mind. I’m trying to be romantic here!)

*Bonus* Well, nobody asked for it, but here’s my wedding party. I love this photo.

Cold soup for you!

The New York Times has a fantastic collection of cold soup recipes on their site. The secret to cold soup is that it has to be ICE COLD, not luke warm. Not even kind of cold. It must rattle your teeth with its icy goodness!

I took the above screenshot of the page because I just loved the layout. Follow the link to learn all the recipes, but here’s my favorite:








Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot. Add 3 peeled and cubed potatoes and 3 trimmed and chopped leeks. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add 4 cups stock. Boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Purée, then let cool. Stir in 1/2 cup or more cream before serving. Garnish: Chopped chives.

(And yes, the title of this post is a slight allusion to one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes.)

Sneaky binders

I think instead of alcohol I’d stash some raspberry chocolate cake. Just so the boys don’t eat it all…. 🙂


Recipe Binder Freebie: Kitchen Conversion Chart

Want to know how long to boil an egg to produce a creamy yolk? How long to cook a steak to make it medium rare? How many tablespoons are in a half cup? We put it all together in a simple-to-use and quite pretty conversion chart click here. It will fit in many of our beautiful recipe binders.

I posted about this a few years ago, but it seemed like a nice time to refresh it for our much larger audience.

We also sell the same information on pre-printed cards. Click here to go to the half page conversion chart:


….and here’s the full page conversion chart:

Why buy them when you can download the same info for free? Well, they already have the holes to fit in your binder, they are on a heavy durable card paper stock, and they are only $0.99. So why not?

Lastly, if you’d like the same information easily visible on your refrigerator, might I introduce you to our handy one-of-a-kind refrigerator magnet chart:

Here’s a little Youtube video we made of our binder charts, in case you are interested:

Free Grocery Shopping Checklist to Keep in Your Recipe Binder

Want to show up at the grocery store with a pre-filled out shopping checklist? Download this simple acrobat file and you can print it out and fill it in by hand, or just click the check boxes on your screen and then print it:

We posted about this about 4 years ago, and since then it’s become a top result for the google search “grocery shopping checklist.” But as we add a lot of visitors to our blog and users on Facebook, it seemed like a great time to let people know again.

Our focus is really on getting you the best recipe binder or recipe box or other recipe organizer possible. But I had to make this for my own binder, so I thought I’d give it away to everyone!

Make a Cookbook for $8

After buying our cookbook software, you can easily print off your cookbook at home for free. But of course it’s not really free, what with toner and paper and such. And you still might want to bind it together in something other than one of our nice recipe binders.
So here’s a great place where you can make your cookbook for around $8/each (6 books). The specs I’ve set out in the link give you 50 pages (black and white) with a color front and back cover, spiral binding and a clear plastic protective sheet over front and back. These folks do great work!

Our Recipe Binder Tab Dividers

Here’s a short little vid we made of our nice dividers and labels. Use them with your own binder, or add them on when you buy one of ours!

You can buy the half page recipe dividers here.

You can buy the full page dividers here.

And here are our very handy recipe tab labels, which make it very easy to customize any recipe binder tabs so that they match your own tastes.

Recipe Binder Conversion Chart Sheets

I just put together a short video about our very popular recipe binder cheat sheets:

Here’s the link to buy our full page recipe binder conversion chart.
Here’s the link to buy our half page recipe binder conversion chart.

You can download and print them from home here. 

8 Ways with Black Bananas

Stashing overly-ripe bananas, aka black bananas, in the freezer for safekeeping is a common occurrence at my house. One that happens so often that I now have an over abundance of black bananas. What to do with too many black bananas?

Here are 8 ways with black bananas:

● Black banana nut bread
The darker the ripe banana, the darker the bread.

● Chocolate chip black banana cake
There’s nothing like the flavors of good chocolate and bananas!

● Black banana milkshake or smoothie
Make it with low fat ice cream or yogurt for a healthy version of a classic.

● Black banana muffins
Add some nuts and raisins for more nutritional value.

● Black banana cow
A beverage with banana liqueur, Crème de Cocoa, Gran Marnier, and whipped cream, Yum!

● Black banana pancakes or black banana waffles
Several drops of good vanilla and heaping teaspoons of cinnamon can bring out the full banana essence.

● Black banana mango ice cream
Twist it up with another favorite tropical fruit and top with shredded coconut.

● Black banana pudding
For a more powerful pudding, cook the overripe bananas in a little bourbon and rum before combining with vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers.

Granted, none of the black banana dishes named above has earth-shattering originality, but I’m glad I have a big list to help me use up all my black bananas. This weekend I’ll defrost all of them and see how far down the list I get.

P.S. The black bananas in my freezer got that way because I waited too long to eat them and they started to go black on their own. Once I stashed them in the freezer they went completely black, but did not deteriorate.

Happy cookbooking,


How to Eat a Cupcake

Thought I knew how to eat a cupcake. I bet you thought you knew how to eat a cupcake, too.  Recently I saw a TV food show about the favorite foods of some of the top chefs in the country. One of them gushed about a local cupcake and catering company in her nearby town.

And then she showed us all how to each a cupcake.

Most people think they know how to eat a cupcake. You take the pleated cupcake liner paper off and toss it away (or chew on it awhile). Then you dig your chops into the middle, biting off an equal amount of cake and frosting, often smudging a bit on your upper lip.Continue reading

The Magic of Meringue Powder

A few columns ago, I mentioned using meringue powder as an ingredient in a recipe.
Meringue powder really deserves a little more talking about.Continue reading

Recipe Templates Make Cookbook Making Easy

One of my ladies group friends recently asked me about my cookbook making software because one of the other members of our group had told her that I was the family cookbook making guru.Continue reading

Sugar Skull Sculpting for a Haunting Halloween

Just about this time of year, Ruth and I have a tradition of making sugar skulls for Halloween.  Yeah, I know. You’d think two old ladies would grow up and settle for giving out caramel apples and popcorn balls. Nope. We just love Halloween, and we like to give out little sugar skulls to those whose costumes are special.Continue reading

10 Proofreading Tips for Your Family Cookbook

There is nothing as disappointing as having your family cookbook completed, printed, bound, and distributed to all your family members, and then finding a blaring typographical error on the first page. Your confidence can be shattered from such an experience.Continue reading

3 Top Ways for Dehydrating Fruit & Other Foods

During the waning weeks of summer, it seems a perfect time to preserve favorite fruits of the season by dehydrating them to enjoy later in the year.  My dear friend, Ruth, an expert in dehydrating fruit and other foods, says the process is all about removing the moisture that causes decay. No water means no bacteria and no spoilage, she affirms.

Ruth explains that dehydration occurs best when the drying temperature is between 95°-140°F, with low humidity, and a constant movement of air (that helps evaporate the moisture).  Fruits are especially interesting to dry because many change character entirely after dehydration. For example, dried plums are turned into prunes, and dried grapes become raisins after the drying process.

Although there are several methods for drying food, we’ve picked three of the most popular ways for dehydrating fruit and other foods:

1. Sun Drying
Sun drying is the most ancient way of dehydrating fruit and other foods. Patience and a solid protective cover for the food is important in this process. Slow drying fruit in the sun can take up to 5 days or more, depending on weather conditions. If you aren’t in a hurry and want the true old-fashioned experience of dehydrating fruit and other foods, sun drying is a satisfying (and green) choice.

2. Convection Oven Drying
With convection ovens able to stir the air and keep a controlled temperature, oven drying is another viable option for dehydrating fruit and other foods. Many do-it-yourselfers like using their existing convection ovens for dehydrating fruit and other foods because it is one less appliance to purchase, store, and maintain. Convection oven drying can provide an adequate finished product for home consumption.

3. Drying by Food Dehydrator
A food dehydrator appliance acts much like a convection oven (except your large oven can still be free to use while the dehydrator does its work). The basic parts of a food dehydrator include a fan, air vents to allow air circulation, a heating element, and food trays (screens). Food dehydrator appliances are perhaps the most popular way for dehydrating fruit and other foods. You pretty much set it and forget it, and come back hours later with perfectly dried fruits and other foods.

Helpful Hints
Slice sweet apples (like Fuji or Delicious) or sweet ripe peaches into thin slices. Dip in cold water with ascorbic acid or lemon juice and place in single layer on dehyrator rack. Check your progress every few hours for dehydrating fruit and other foods.  You can also make fruit leathers by pureeing fruit in a blender and spreading them on a flat dehyrator pan

Dehydrating is really easy. I always think of the old backpacker’s original trail mix called GORP (get out the raisins and peanuts) when I think of dehydrated foods.  I like to dehydrate fresh herbs, too. Right now I have a Concord grape vine loaded with grapes.

So, I guess its either harvest and dehydrate, or harvest and make jam. I’ll have to check my family cookbook and recipe box for my grape pie recipe. Granny used to have a really good Concord Grape pie recipe, but that’s another story.

Happy Cookbooking,


3 Ways to Make Croutons Without Stale Bread

Do you ever desire lovely toasted and seasoned croutons, but don’t have time to run to the store to buy boxed or bagged croutons? If you have a fresh loaf of bread, or even one that is not fresh but not quite ready to throw away or feed to the birds, you can turn several slices (or the whole loaf) into croutons without stale bread (the traditional way to make croutons).Continue reading

Edible Plates Make It Easy to Escape Washing Dishes

Maybe you have this same scenario at your house:  I’ll tidy the kitchen in the evening, clearing all the dishes from the sink, only to discover that by morning the sink is littered again with late night snack dishes, used ice cream bowls, and other assorted after-dinner cups, mugs, or glasses. I often wonder if there isn’t a night shift of visitors coming in to take advantage of our home and my good graces.Continue reading

Conserves, Fruit Chutneys & Marmalades

While perusing a food gift catalog recently, my dear friend, Ruth, happened upon a nice selection of conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades that would be perfect hostess gifts for the holidays. “These conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades are so beautiful and sound so good,” she said. “This catalog certainly has me sold.”Continue reading

Lettuce Enjoy Peruvian Dipping Sauce

A dear friend who lived in Peru for many years recently shared this condiment recipe for her Peruvian dipping sauce that is very delicious on just about anything. For that summer get together or family reunion that needs something a little different, try this Peruvian dipping sauce recipe:Continue reading