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Tortilla Española – Egg and Potato Omelette {Recipe}

February 6, 2011
Tortilla Española
Tortilla Española

Eggs are a great way to get dinner on the table quickly. They’re fast to cook, inexpensive, and a great way to feed a hungry bunch.

Tortilla Española is the Spanish version of an egg and potato omelette. The Spaniards took this simple recipe to Mexico where it was named “tortilla española” since it was round like the Mexican tortilla. Then the name stuck in Spain. This tortilla can be eaten as a dinner, or smaller pieces can be served as “tapas” (snacks).

My grandmother Francisca from Spain cooked this dish often. My mother remembers:

My mom used a chunk of ‘unto’ with a fork stuck in to grease the pan . There were 7  to feed and not mucho dinero, but we always ate till we were full–no one ever went hungry. My mother must have been a good money manager.  I remember grandpa making $25 a week forever!

Francisca y Antonio
Francisca y Antonio, circa 1920s

My mom, one of the hungry 7, learned how to cook this and passed down the recipe down to me.  This recipe is relatively fast, but you’ll need some cooking time for the potatoes.  Some modern tips to speed things up – chop the onions and potatoes the night before – keep the potatoes submerged in cold water in the fridge, then drain before cooking.  You can also cook the entire tortilla ahead of time and it will heat up nicely in the microwave.

Francisca’s Tortilla Española


  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced, and halved
  • 4 to 6 eggs


  • Use a good pan that won’t stick
  • Heat  olive oil
  • Add 1 large onion chopped. Cook on medium/high until translucent.
  • Add sliced/halved potatoes
  • Cook potatoes until tender but not falling apart
  • Beat 4-6 eggs and pour over cooked potatoes
  • Cover and cook slowly for 5-10 minutes until set
  • Flip over with spatula or….flip by covering pan with a large dish. Turn pan over so eggs are on plate.  Slide eggs back into pan. Try to not break the omelette
  • Brown other side
Close Up
Close Up


This Tortilla Española recipe was originally posted on


Have You Ever Had a Cake Wreck?

December 13, 2010
Pony Cake Wreck

Pony Cake Wreck

Have you ever had a Cake Wreck? A cake wreck is when a cake you make (or buy) looks a lot less beautiful than you had originally planned. My daughter’s birthday inspired me to make my first “cut-out” cake. It was supposed to be a pony. I’m not sure how I made it this long before I attempted one of these cakes, but let me assure you: This Pink Pony Cake from Family Fun is not as easy as it looks.

Here is a summary of the comments I received:

  • “That’s not a pony.”
  • “That’s not purple.” (True…It looked more gray in person)
  • “It’s a turkey” (2 votes)
  • “It’s a pigeon” (1 vote)
  • “It’s a pig” (2 votes)
  • “It’s a wolf” (2 votes)
  • “What angle are you supposed to look at it from?”

I may submit it to Cakewrecks.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee and check out the horrendous cakes!

Here’s somebody else’s cake wreck, just in time for Christmas.  What’s up with the crazy Santa eyes? Thanks sarah_pants for the laugh!

Santa Cake Wreck: Photo by sarah_pants on Flickr

This was updated from the original 2008 post. My pony cake was such a disaster I had to post it again for a laugh!


December 4, 2010
Little Hand Reaching for Aebleskiver

Little Hand Reaching for Aebleskiver

Aebleskiver (pronounced EB-el-sku-wyr) is best likened to a spherical pancake with a  little delight inside – apple slice, jam, Nutella…let your foodie imagination run.

This morning I pulled out my Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver cast-iron pan and made us a breakfast treat.  Learning how to make aebleskiver takes a little patience.  My first attempt wasn’t too slick – there’s a certain technique using a skewer (you can also use a knitting needle) to turn the batter so it cooks on all sides.  Watch this great video to learn how hone your aeble – skills!

Aebleskiver Batter

Aebleskiver Batter in the pan

Aebleskiver cooking

Aebleskiver cooking


Close Up Aebleskiver

I like making aebleskiver at home because you can control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of fat (oil) in the pan. Such a fun breakfast or brunch treat!  Take a look at this homemade recipe for Aebleskiver batter: Danish Pancake Balls (Aebleskiver) from My kids prefer aebleskiver without the apple inside –  just plain with powdered sugar or with maple syrup.

Several months ago, I won this unique pan by participating in a fun and informative phone conference by Kitchen Wizard Mari on how to cook this Danish treat.   Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver didn’t ask me to write this post.  It’s purely my opinion and I really like their product.

Would you like to make Aeblskiver?  What would you put inside?

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12 Tips: Green Holiday Shopping

November 28, 2010

Snowy river

Since we’re in the thick of the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about how to “green” our holiday shopping. Many love to shop during this time – I get it. I’ve done it too and got some great bargains. Here are my suggestions as you venture out:

  1. Buying Food as Gifts
    How about a bottle of fancy olive oil or vinegar for the foodie in your life? Check out farmer’s markets for small batch specialty foods. For Twin Cities residents, take a trip to Midtown Global Market and the Local D’lish happenings at Mill City Farmer’s Market.
  2. Making Food as Gifts
    Try your hand at homemade chocolate truffles and chocolate dipped pretzel rods.  A lot of holiday treats freeze well so you can make them ahead of time. Buy some little boxes and bags at a craft store for fancy packaging.
  3. Remember reusable bags
    Check out the huge and convenient IKEA shopping bags for 59 cents and use them during your shopping spree. I’ve got 3 of these and use them all the time for shopping and for makeshift laundry baskets!
  4. Shop locally
    If you usually shop at big box stores, try at least one stop at a locally owned store. You will likely be amazed at the selection that you can’t get in any big box location.Some of my Twin Cities local favorites are: Patina, Nokomis Shoes, Bibelot, Electric Fetus, Cooks of Crocus Hill and Creative Kids Stuff. Be sure to check their sites – some have online deals if you can’t shop in person.
  5. Buy consignment & reused
    Turn Style and Half Price Books are great places to browse and pick up something for yourself too.
  6. Skip the drive-through
    Eat at at a locally owned restaurant after you’ve shopped. Buy some gift certificates for your friends and family if you like the place.
  7. Buy original art as gifts
    Artists will appreciate your business and you’ll give something unique to the person who has everything.
  8. Give the gift of a cultural experience
    A gift certificate to a world cuisine restaurant or tickets to a cultural event that heightens your interest. If you don’t know where to start, check out event schedules from local colleges and universities.
  9. Invest in rechargable batteries
    We haven’t done this yet. This might be the year!
  10. Order online
    My favorite way to shop – it saves gas and time. The Post Office, FedEx, and UPS know the most fuel efficient routes,  much better than we do.
  11. Think about last year
    How did you handle holiday shopping last year? Did you like your choices? Did it make you cringe? Remember what you liked and didn’t like and set some green improvement goals.
  12. Last and most importantly – if you’re heading out holiday shopping
    • Be kind to others
    • Be polite to the store staff, and
    • Give a smile to those around you.

A little kindness goes a long way.

What are your suggestion for “greening” the holidays?

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This was originally posted in 2009 and updated.  Lovely snowy river photo by rkramer62

Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans

November 21, 2010


Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans

Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans

You have the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, the potatoes, and the pumpkin pie all planned out.  But what about the green beans?

Do you love green bean casserole like I do, but don’t like the calories in that innocent looking dish?  Give this lighter and simpler recipe a try:  Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans. And don’t save it for just Thanksgiving – this side dish is easy enough for any day.

You can sometimes find bags of fresh (not frozen) green beans in the produce section that say “steam in bag”.  I bought a bag and used it for this dish.

Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans

Recipe by Striving Bean


  • Fresh green beans (not frozen). As many as you think you’ll need for your guests.
    Snap off ends of green beans.
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (or toast your own from these instructions).
    Can add more if desired.
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Boil a pot of water, large enough for the green beans
  2. When water is boiling, carefully place green beans in pot
  3. Blanche (boil) green beans for 2 minutes.  This is to quickly soften the texture of green beans. Don’t skip this step.
  4. Drain green beans.
  5. Heat sesame oil in a pan, medium high heat.
  6. Place well-drained green beans in pan.
  7. Add sesame seeds and sea salt.
  8. Sautée for a few minutes.
  9. Serve warm.

Our family weighs in:

  • Everybody like this easy side dish, my husband especially.

Will you be making green beans for Thanksgiving?

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Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts

November 15, 2010


Baked Donuts

Baked Donuts - Plain, Honey Glaze, Sliced Almonds, Coconut, Sprinkles, and Powdered Sugar

How do you make donuts healthier?  You bake them instead of deep frying!  Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts are an experiment born from a snow day at home.  Mid-November brought us snow in Minnesota.  Lots of snow – so no driving, no errands.  Baking, playing in the yard, and hot chocolate.

These Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts are a cinch to make.  I used a Norpro 6-Count Nonstick Donut Pan, which forms nicely shaped donuts.

If you don’t have a donut pan, you can easily make a donut by squeezing out the dough from a pastry bag, or a Ziploc bag with the end cut off. Form the best circles you can on a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Donut Dough

Donut Dough in a Ziploc bag with the end cut off. Like a pastry bag.


When you squeeze out the dough on a baking sheet, try to form better circles than I did!


Donut Dough - not the best circles.

Donut Dough on a Baking Stone. Not the best circles, but it will do.


Donuts on a Cookie Sheet with Parchment Paper

Donuts on a Cookie Sheet with Parchment Paper. Again - try to make better circles than me.


Dough in the Donut Pan

Dough in the Donut Pan


Cooling on a Rack

Donuts Cooling on a Rack

Donut Variety

Baked Donut Variety




"Frosting" - Light Cream Cheese, honey, and pecans

"Frosting" - Light Cream Cheese, honey, and pecans

Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts

Makes about 16 donuts

Recipe by Striving Bean

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (0.25 cup) ground flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.50 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup (0.75 cup) honey
  • 1/4 cup (0.25 cup) milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Optional Ingredients

  • For optional honey glaze, you’ll need: Honey, butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract.  See Martha Stewart’s Honey Glaze
  • If using honey glaze, you can sprinkle on toppings:  sliced almonds, flaked coconut, sprinkles, etc.
  • You can roll donuts in powdered sugar too.
  • Cream Cheese “Frosting” – mix together cream cheese, finely chopped walnuts (or pecans) and honey.


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Lightly grease donut pan.  If using cookie sheet, use parchment paper.  If using baking stone, no greasing necessary
  3. Mix together dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix
  6. Carefully scoop dough into pastry bag
  7. Squeeze out dough into circle shapes
  8. Bake 12- 16 minutes until donuts spring back when touched
  9. Cool slightly before removing from pan/cookie sheet
  10. Optional – Top with Martha Stewart’s Honey Glaze and other toppings or cream cheese “frosting”
  11. Optional – dip/roll in powdered sugar (no honey glaze needed)

Our family weighs in:

  • The kids loved the plain donuts best.
  • Husband loved the honey glaze.
  • My fave was the cream cheese “frosting”

So what do you think of baked donuts?

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How to Cut a Pineapple [VIDEO]

November 10, 2010
Fresh Cut Pineapple

Fresh Cut Pineapple

Our family absolutely LOVES fresh fruit – the kids can’t get enough of it. We have a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter (bananas, pears, cantaloupe) and usually have a pineapple ripening.

One day my mom came over for a visit, and as we were chatting I grabbed a pineapple to start cutting it. My mom looked wistfully at me and remarked, “I wish I knew how to cut a pineapple.” All these years…and I didn’t realize she didn’t know how to cut a pineapple.

This “How to Cut a Pineapple” video is inspired by my mother. Mom, if you’re reading – go to the library (or better yet, come over) so you can watch the video on a high-speed connection.

This is also for everyone who’s looked longingly at pineapples in a grocery store – and passed them by. Don’t let the pineapple intimidate you!


Have you ever cut a pineapple?

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