A short story of a young cook.

I'm not a 4-star chef.  I never took cooking classes.  My mom never showed me secrets in the kitchen.  Actually I was never allowed in the kitchen when I was younger.  It was my moms domain and no one was really allowed to just stroll into there and grab what ever the wanted.  When I was 18 I left my parents house but didn't live where I had a stove or oven.  I just had a George Foreman and a microwave.  So you can guess how simple my cooking was at the time.  It wasn't till I was nearly 20 that I started actually cooking in my own place.  I always wanted to spice things up, add something unique and try something new.

There was a lot of trial and errors.  There were dishes that astounded me and who ever might have been eating it with me, and there were other dishes that I ended up having to throw away cause it tasted horrible and there was no turning it around.  I've burnt a ban with no food in it, I've charred rice and turned noodles into mush.  I've under cooked baked chicken, I've over salted chili.... Now when I say I over salted chili.  I don't mean a little bit.  This was the first time working with salt, and I didn't think at the time that salt, onion salt, garlic salt, would just turn out to be A LOT of salt!  I tried to balance it out with pepper but I had over done it to much.  I was a horrible cook.  I gave up for awhile.  But then I wanted to try again.  Cooking was just to intriguing for me.  It resembled an art and I liked that. The creative process from prep to plate.

So I started working at a small town restaurant in the valleys of south Minnesota near Winona. Since I had absolutely no kitchen skills he wanted to start me on Dishes just like any non culinary school inspired cook will start. So I did that for about three-four weeks and I begged to start cooking.  So he gave me a key and had me open the place up at 6am turn everything on get prep going, get things ready and he would be there by the time we opened to help me cook.  So breakfast was my first challenge.  I'd cooked eggs plenty of times.  But if I screw up in a pan for my own food... say I break a yolk, I just turn it into a over hard or scrambled no biggie.  You break the yolk when your trying to make a over easy/over medium in a kitchen for someone else you start over till it's correct.  Plain and simple.  I got yelled at over and over.  This was probably when I was about 22 yrs. old. I didn't work there for long.  Maybe a few months.

That was an on going problem with me.  I never liked to stay at one place for to long. I kept changing jobs, and places.  But it wasn't the last time I cooked in a restaurant.  That was my first job.  The Alba House.  small little valley restaurant in Alba, MN.  I grew up about 20 min. from there. After that I worked at a Subway, which A. wasn't really a restaurant, but I learned some new skills. Then Grandma Links Kitchen in Minong WI. After that I moved back down to Plainview, MN and started working at a Deli/Catering company. When I moved to help a buddy do DJ in Byron, MN I started working at a family restaurant called the Bears Den.  Shortly after that I moved up to Minneapolis for schooling in music.  After school i needed a secondary job and something to supplement my income so I moved to Burnsville and shortly after that started working at a huge pool hall cafe called Shooters Billiards.  That was three years ago, and I'm still here. 


Help to keep your calories per day in check.

Trying to keep each meal and snack in control when you are working on cutting calories can seem like a pain.  You may eat to much one meal and feel you have to skip one or cheat and try again tomorrow.  But this is an easy way to help you eliminate or at least make these problems become less frequent. 

One of the best ways to keep your diet in check is to take the amount of total calories you want to intake within a day and divide that by the amount of meals you usually have.  This will give you an average of how much you should consume per meal.  Now take into account snacks and food consumption per meal.  Understanding that you should eat the most during breakfast to kick start your days energy and metabolism.  At the least people snack at least 2-3 times a day.  Between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner, and after dinner. So keeping in mind that if you eat healthy snacks you can control those calories and still keep you feeling satisfied between meals.  For dinner you should always try to make a 1:2 ratio for meat and veggies.  1meat:2veggies. This will help keep calories down for your last meal and keep you healthy and your metabolism running a little longer through out the night.

If you would like help The Automatic Meal Planner is an amazing little helper that can show you the calories and foods you can have for how ever many meals you punch in. check that out at www.eatthismuch.com\



Spinach Artichoke Dip


  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach (10 oz. thawed and squeezed dry)
  • 8 oz. fat-free cream cheese
  • 1 c. reduced fat-free sour cream (8 oz.)
  • 3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesian cheese (3 oz.)
  • 1 can water-packed artichoke hearts (14 oz.), drained and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 c. shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz.)


Lightly coat a large nonstick pan with spray and warm over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 5 min. or until soft. Stir in the spinach and cook for 5 min. or until heated through. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream cheese and sour cream just until blended and smooth.  Throw in the Permasian and artichokes until blended.  Remove from heat and stir in the salt, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes.

Transfer to a 1 1/2 qt. mircrowaveable bowl and top with Monterey Jack. Microwave for 2-3 min., or just until the cheese is melted.  Serve warm and enjoy!


Watermelon Feta Salad

Don't let summer slip away to fast!  Get out there and enjoy the warm weather while you can!  And with that warm weather comes refreshing fruit.  This salad brings together three of my favorite summer farmers market fruits and blends them perfectly with feta, fresh mint, and olive oil to add delicious depth. This is a healthy little snack or served along side pork chops, green beans, you name it. It will surely add a light refreshing palate to a 2-3 course meal, served at a get together, or how ever you prefer.  This recipes is fast, easy, and healthy.


  •  1 seedless watermelon
  • 1 c cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 c feta
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cucumber


dice the watermelon into 1" peaces. Cut the tomatoes in half, and slice the cucumber down the middle, then diced in 1/4" peaces.

chop mint and gently toss fruit with olive oil, mint, and feta.

serve immediately

See not to much going on here.  You're done!  Time to go play.  Enjoy!


French Onion Chicken Sandwich

I love french onion soup but ever time i eat it I feel like I've consumed my weeks worth amount of salt and fat.  Soups are considered a healthy cup by most but when you really look into the salt, dairy, and butter consumption one partakes when indulging in a soup you quickly learn that this might not be the case.  I like to make my own soups and when i do I don't let sodium become a huge part of the soup, I let the natural juices from the veggies and meats, as well as the herbs and other seasoning become the main focal point of my soups.  Leaving it tasting wholesome and to what I feel, leave you feeling full longer cause the sodium just dehydrates you and leaves you wanting more soup. Just like soda, this is a negative effect.

This is a healthy alternative to the classic french onion soup.  You can't go wrong with this delicious sandwich. All the flavors you love from the soup is at your hands instead of at the end of a spoon.  Add a side salad with a light vinaigrette for a perfect side to this dish.


  • 4 chicken breasts (if they are to large for a sandwich only use 2 and slice in half)
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 Hamburger buns
  • one onion (slices)
  • 2 Tbsp. Red Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees and get a baking pan ready to the side. 

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly start stirring in the wine. cook till onions are caramelized.  if the sauce reduces before this happens.  Just reduce the heat to a simmer and keep stirring frequently. Remove from heat when done.

Now spray or spread olive oil in your baking pan.  Place the chicken in the pan and bake for 20-25 min. or until thoroughly cooked. 

Turn your oven to broil and add swiss cheese to the top of each chicken breast.  Broil until cheese melts and is golden brown. Remove from oven.

(Optional) Leave the oven on broil and grab a new baking dish and place the buns inside up in the oven till they start to crisp to your liking. 1-2 min.

Top the chicken and swiss cheese with the caramelized onions place in between two buns and enjoy!


Smoked Sausage and Spaghetti Skillet

This is seriously amazing.  We were going to make baked mac and cheese one night and this recipe came along in sight and I had to make it.  It really just sold its self to me with one flying swoop. This is a perfect quick meal to prepare if you need dinner in a flash but you still want to eat healthy.  I added wine but if I'd been at my house I'd had added Gin or Brandy instead.  Either way it was delicious!


  • 8 oz. Wheat Linguine Spaghetti, cooked & drained
  • 1 pkg. Smoked Sausage, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. White wine (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 c. Fresh Basil, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown sausage (3-4 min.).

Add mushrooms, garlic, and seasoning.  Continue to cook until veggies are tender.

Stir in tomatoes, basil, and  prepared pasta. Toss lightly.  Heat thoroughly, serve and enjoy!


Mango Siracha Chicken Kebab

When I think of kebabs I always think healthy.  Cause I picture layers of veggies mixed in with meat on a stick.  What's not to love about that! This spin on an old favorite will send your taste buds soaring sky high as the fruity flavor of the mango, the spice of the Siracha and the zest from the vinegar and ginger help transform this glaze into a wonderful Asian style chicken kebab.  Layer all your favorite veggies that you can think of. Don't let your imagination run short on you.

  • 1 Tbsp. Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 c. Siracha
  • 2 Tbls. Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbls. Seasoned Rice Vinegar 
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Fresh Mango or 4 oz. Mango Jam/Frozen Mango (remember the fresher the better but we are beating it down to a pulp so it's open)
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Pepper
  • 1 Zucinni
  • 2 Onions
  • 3-4 Chicken breasts
Note:  Chop veggies into about 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares.  A little smaller or bigger depending what what you're going for. Same with the chicken.  Keep then to 1/4" thick and 1" - 1 1/2" squares. 

First we'll set the oven to 375 degrees and once it is preheated we will throw the chicken breasts in there for 25-30 min. or till they are fully cooked.  You could also boil them if you'd rather them to stay white and juicer.  This is all about preference when it comes to preparing your chicken.

While we are waiting for the chicken to cook we will make the sauce. Start by peeling the mango and taking it off the seed.  It's okay if it's not perfect we're going to pulverize it any ways. Just remove as much of the fruit as you can and add it to a bowl or mortar and pestle (if you went with jam or frozen mango all this is done for you).

Now take a potato smasher, or spoon, or your mortar and pestle and go to town.  Turning your mango into pulp.  After you are done, place the pulverized mango in a large bowl and add the ginger, soy sauce, Siracha, brown sugar, rice vinegar, olive oil, and curry powder.  stir until well blended.  You could also use the food process at this point. and pulse it till it's smooth.

Set your sauce aside and grab a cutting board and your veggies.  Chop your veggies into roughly 1 1/2" squares. Cut the zucinni into dimes leaving them about 1/4" thick.

When the chicken is done you're going to chop the chicken about 1/4" thick and 1" - 1 1/2" squares.

Marinade the chicken and the veggies in the mango Siracha sauce till you are ready to place them on the sticks.

Start by placing an onion on a stick, then one of each peppers, chicken, then zicinni.  Keep this pattern up till the stick is filled up.  Leaving about an inch or so at the ends for you to manage it and so the veggies don't fall off while turning the kebabs. I place the kebabs on the flames till they have carmalized a little then I place them away from the flames either on the lower or higher rack depending on how hot the grill is.

You can also place these under a broiler if you don't have a grill.  Just remember to check them and to keep flipping till they are done. Enjoy!