Archive for the ‘A Writer’s Kitchen’ Category

finished chickenAbout six months ago I became a vegetarian after being scared straight by the movie Okja. I was scared almost straight several years ago after watching Forks Over Knives, and again when I visited my doctor and was told I need to get my cholesterol down. But this time it stuck. Maybe it’s because I have a house full of animals now and just had a couple back then, or because I’m older, or because I’m a Californian now.

I’ve been doing well with the life change and have no interest whatsoever in going back to real meat. Sometimes though, I enjoy a meat substitute. I bought some  Primal Strips “beef” jerky online recently and really liked it. I read that it was made from Seitan. I’d never heard of this before and did quite a bit of research to figure out what it was, how to make it, and how to pronounce it.

For starters, I think it’s pronounced (Say-tahn) accent on the second syllable. My BF calls it Satan because he hates meat substitutes.

Through much trial and error I am posting my recipe and directions for Chicken Seitan. It came out good on the first try and I’ve made it twice since. You can eat it straight out of the steamer, sliced or chopped, but it’s better mixed into something.

Two variations I’ve tried were making into “Chicken” salad. For that I put one of the four hunks of cooked “meat” into the food processor and mixed it with mayo, some BBQ spices and chopped celery. It tasted and felt a lot like real chicken salad.

chicken salad

Another variation was for Buffalo Chicken Dip which I’ll show directions for in another blog entry. We ate it all and I forgot to take pictures.

Below is the recipe for the Chicken Seitan base. Change the spices around as you see fit. Substitute it anywhere you’d use chicken and it should come out just fine. I’ve tried it in stir fry and cold salads and it’s perfect!

Chicken Seitan

chicken seasoning.jpg

  • 1.5 cups cold broth
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1.5 cups vital wheat gluten (You can get this at any grocery store in the baking aisle)
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (I got this at my Sprouts-your grocery store may not have it)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder

Whisk together broth and oil, set aside.

rib mix

Mix dry ingredients and then knead for 3 minutes. I start mixing with a spoon to cut down on mess, then used my hands once it pulled together. It’ll be elastic and you won’t need flour or oil. It’s not sticky.


Let it rest for 10 minutes then knead for 15 seconds. Cut in 4 pieces.  Wrap loosely in foil and steam for 30 minutes. I used my rice cooker on Steam. Super easy.


Let it cool for 30 minutes before putting in fridge.

Store it in zip lock bags. These pieces will stay good in the fridge 2 weeks. You can freeze them for months..




Up until last week, I’d never made biscotti. I’d eaten it from restaurants, and from store bought packages. I was limited to one or two flavors. Though I like to bake, I was intimidated by biscotti, much as I am by pies. I have tried throughout my life to make pies, and except for cream pies in premade crusts, I’ve been wholly unsuccessful.

Though I knew nothing about the process of making biscotti, I was afraid of it. Until now. I stumbled across a handful of recipes on Pinterest, tweaked and tried a couple of varieties, and I think I have mastered it. This isn’t hard to do because it’s only a handful of ingredients.

The key to biscotti I realized lies only in the baking method.

Here is my recipe for Spice Cake Biscotti, but you can use any cake mix. I also made it with a Lemon Cake Mix last weekend and it was delicious too.


Ingredients are pictured here but for ease:

  1. 1 standard Spice Cake mix
  2. 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  3. 1 stick of butter (softened)
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1//4 cup walnuts (optional)
  6. 1/2 cup butterscotch chip (optional but so good)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix first four ingredients with a hand mixer. Dough will become think like sugar cookie dough. You can do this with a wooden spoon but it will take a long time and hurt your hand. IMG_1875

Add in the nuts, chips  or whatever else you want. I think raisins would be delicious but my boyfriend hates them so I left them out. In the picture I put them in the bowl together but I think adding the chips and nuts after would work better.

Shape it onto a greased cookie sheet.  It should be 1/2 inch high and however wide you need it to be for that depth. Ignore those silicon puppy molds. That’s another recipe for another day.IMG_1876

Now here it what sets this aside from a regular cookie recipe.

Bake for 30 minutes until a knife in the center comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and wait 10 minutes. Set a timer.

After 10 minutes, cut the pieces into biscotti sliced wedges, then put them back in the oven (still at 350 degrees) for exactly 10 minutes. Again, set a timer. This step is important.

Finally, shut the oven off and leave the biscotti in there to cool and harden for 30 minutes. I set a timer for this too but realistically the oven would be cold by then probably so maybe it doesn’t matter. I took them out at 3o minutes and they were perfect!

I added a glaze of 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons milk to drizzle.


That’s all there is to it.

If you make this let me know how it turns out.

Happy cooking!


For more of Tracy’s recipes of her first love, writing books and stories, please visit her here.




IMG_3690I’m heading into my third week on the Paleo diet.

I’ve lost 6.4 pounds the first two weeks and know if I don’t keep coming up with new recipes I’ll get bored. I saw a recipe the other day on Pinterest for Two minute Pumpkin Pie. It’s delicious. I’ve made it a few times, but generally leave off the crust to save calories. Inspired by that recipe, and my new mandolin with a Julienne blade, I decided to try something similar with apples.


I large Fuji apple (or whatever kind you like)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Splenda packet (not really Paleo, so use Stevia or honey if you want to be strict)

1 tbl almond flour

1 tbl unsweetened coconut flakes

1 tsp coconut oil

Core and Julienne your apple. If you don’t have this peeler, you could probably chop it fine or put it in a food processor to pulse. Here’s the machine, OXO Good Grips, I bought that I use for everything lately. I highly recommend it.

IMG_3686Place the thin apple strips in a bowl and add the Splenda and cinnamon.IMG_3687

Toss to coat. In a small bowl, mix the almond flour, coconut and coconut oil (which is solid but soft at room temp). Add that to the apple mixture and mix it in.



Heap two small ramekins with the apples. They will shrink on cooking so pile them up.

Pop in the microwave for two minutes. They will be very hot so resist the temptation to eat them straight from the oven.

You can eat them cold or warm. I put a dollop of Cool Whip on mine or a pecan. It doesn’t have a lot of dough like a traditional crisp but the little bit of it mixed in makes it taste wonderful.

Calories are pretty low. This is the calorie count not counting the Splenda and cinnamon. This puts it at about 100 calories per serving which is not bad for something that tastes decadent. And even if you eat both, you’re still just under 200 calories which isn’t bad at all.

Total for ingredients:

Almond flour- 40 calories

Coconut Oil -38 calories

Coconut- 18 calories

Fuji apple- 100 calories





Happy eating!



get-attachment.aspxI’m on a roll, creating new meals with lasagna noodles. Tonight’s is a variation of Thanksgiving Dinner all combined into an easy and delicious noodle dish. Using vegetable broth instead of chicken or turkey, would make this a great vegetarian dish.


  • One box no boil lasagna noodles- I used a 9X9 pan so only needed half a box
  • 1 sweet potato- peeled and cooked -I cooked mine in the microwave
  • Teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • one can chicken or turkey broth
  • one can cream of mushroom soup
  • One jar turkey gravy
  • One box stove top turkey or chicken stuffing, Prepare as directed but use broth in place of water
  • 1 can cranberry sauce (I used about 3/4 of a can)
  1. Mix 1/2 cup broth, jar of gravy and can of soup. Set aside.
  2. Mash sweet potato with cream cheese and garlic in a food processor or mixer. Set aside.
  3. Open the can of cranberry sauce.
  4. Pour small amount of soup mixture into a 9” square pan or 9X 13” pan. Set down a layer of noodles. Add a layer of the stuffing, sweet potato mixture, and top with 1/3 of the cranberry sauce. Pour broth mixture over it. Repeat several times until you run out of ingredients. As these were thick ingredients, I think I made four layers when I ran out and reached the top of the casserole dish.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool for fifteen minutes to firm it up.

I didn’t have enough liquid so my top layer of noodles didn’t soften.  I removed the noodles before taking the picture. I think it’s actually tastier without the noodles as the final layer. Make sure you use foil though so it doesn’t dry up.


get-attachment.aspxHere is another quick and easy meal, perfect for weeknight or weekend dinners.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


  • 1 batch cooked cornbread. I used a box of Jiffy mix, baked in a bread pan, but you could buy it already prepared.
  • 1 cup salsa divided in half.
  • 1 can fat free refried beans
  • about 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup beef broth

In small bowl, mix broth, 1/2 cup salsa, and refried beans

Crumbled  1/3 of the cooked cornbread into the bottom of a 9″ casserole dish. Add a layer of 1/2 the bean mixture. top with 1/3 shredded cheese. Another layer of 1/3 crumbled bread, then 2nd half of bean mixture, then 1/3 cheese.

Final layer will be last 3rd of crumbled bread, remaining remaining salsa, last third of cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and blended together. Serve warm plain or with sour cream.



get-attachment.aspxAutumn Lasagna


  • One box non cook lasagna noodles
  • One large onion diced
  • Butter to cook onion
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • Teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • one can chicken broth
  • one can cream of mushroom soup
  • teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • about 3 tbl hot Saigon Sizzle Stir Fry sauce


  1. Mix broth and soup, wine, lemon juice, and Stir Fry sauce in a pan and heat through.
  2. Cook sweet potatoes (I did it in the microwave). Peel them and place in food processor, with cream cheese, salt, and garlic. Whip together.
  3. Pour small amount of soup mixture into a 9” square pan or 9X 13” pan. Set down a layer of noodles. Add a layer of the potato mixture, and top with onions. Pour broth mixture over it. Repeat several times until you run out of ingredients.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool for fifteen minutes to firm it up.



960026_10201117069956993_1234949632_nI concocted this recipe tonight to create a healthier version of an old favorite.  It’s 174 calories per serving, no fat. I made it as two servings. It could be 4 servings but it’s really good and you’ll have a hard time stopping.

In a large bowl, mix an 8oz can of crushed pineapple (no sugar added in its own syrup), one box of sugar-free pistachio pudding, One can 15 oz of Mandarin oranges packed in water (with Splenda), and 6 spoonfuls of Fat Free Cool Whip.  Mix it up and chill.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Number of servings

Serves  people
Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Kraft – Cool Whip–Fat Free Whipped Topping Jkb, 5 TBSP 38 8 0 0 13 3 Ico_delete
Jell-O – Sugar Free/Fat Free Instant Pudding (Mix Only) – Pistachio, 1 container (4 tbsp ea.) 100 24 0 0 1,360 0 Ico_delete
Dole – Crushed Pineapple-No Sugar Added, 100% Pineapple Juice, 1 cup 140 36 0 0 0 32 Ico_delete
Del Monte – Mandarin Oranges Packed In Water, No Sugar Added , 1.75 cup 70 12 0 1 9 11 Ico_delete
Add Ingredient
Total: 348 80 0 1 1,382 46
Per Serving: 174 40 0 1 691 23