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Rediscovering the Pleasure of Cooking

By Mark Mulcahy

"Within every setback or obstacle or disadvantage there is the seed of an
equal or opposite or greater advantage or benefit."
~ Napoleon Hill

I was reflecting on this quote the other day while trying yet another new recipe and enjoying all the fresh organic produce available from Melissa’s right now. One benefit that has come out of everything that is going on in the world these days is more people are cooking at home, eating more produce and trying new and old recipes again. For me, its meant slowing down and appreciating a lot of simple recipes.

For breakfast I’ve reintroduced oatmeal into my breakfast routine with all sorts of variables. Everything from adding diced Melissa’s organic Honeycrisp Apples along with chopped walnuts and maple syrup, to chopped organic dates and shredded coconut. My new favorite way to use the extra oatmeal is to store it in the refrigerator then take it out two days later. I remove it from the refrigerator and cut it into ½ inch oatmeal slices. Then I heat up a frying pan, melt some butter or coconut oil, put a couple of slices into the pan and top with cinnamon. Once it’s browned on one side, I pick it up with my spatula, add a small amount of fat, and flip it over to brown the other side. Because the oatmeal is already cooked, it’s really a matter of how crisp you like it to know when its done. Once I remove it from the heat, I top both slices with plain organic yogurt and sliced Melissa’s organic strawberries. I’m not sure if this is a new idea or an old idea that I’m bringing back, but its darn good.

A simple but lovely dinner is an organic chicken Caesar salad with homemade croutons and homemade Caesar dressing. When I was looking at my grocery receipt the other day, I noticed that I was spending $4.00-$7.00 on store bought croutons and equal amount on dressing. So, I went online and found a simple recipe for each and realized that what I made was so much better tasting and about a quarter of the price. Plus, it allowed me to play with the outcome of each which then truly made them my own.

My family loved it, my budget loves it, and it certainly changed the way I enjoy this simple yet hearty dinner.

Organic Baby Sweet Potatoes

Lastly, I’ve rediscovered oven roasted sweet potato chips. So simple, so easy and so yummy. You can use any of Melissa’s organic sweet potatoes for your chips. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, cut your sweet potato into ¼ inch coins. In a large baking pan, layer the coins and coat with 1.5 tablespoons of melted coconut oil or bacon grease and coat both sides of the coins. Season with salt, paprika and black pepper and put into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Using a hot pad, remove the tray from the oven, flip the coins with a spatula and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Put back into the oven for 20 minutes or until browned and crispy. These are a great side with soup or burgers and the leftovers are fantastic heated and served with a sandwich the next day.

I’m delighted to have found my way back to my roots in the kitchen and am so happy to be sharing all of my culinary adventures with those I love. I hope you do too!

Homemade Croutons
Makes 3 cups croutons


4 cups day old Sourdough Bread
1/4 cup Olive Oil (started with 1/8 of a cup and added as I saw fit)
3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Black Pepper, to Taste

Oven method croutons:

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss well to distribute the ingredients.

Spread the bread cubes out on a sheet pan, giving them plenty of space in between. Bake the bread cubes for about 10 -15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and crisp. Cooks tip - the staler and older the bread the better.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Adapted from Gourmet magazine

Servings: Makes 1-1/3 cups (enough for about 10 starter salads)
Total Time: 10 Minutes


2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup mayo + ¼ cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add the mayonnaise, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. The dressing will keep well in the fridge for about a week.
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