Tag Archives: Cooking

Recipes for making the most of what you have

Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

These are some of my favorite recipes and ideas for making the most of what you have.  I’ve been using these while trying to work around not being able to buy certain ingredients.  Thought you might find these helpful to extend the food you have on hand or make do with what you’ve got during the pandemic.

Soup — recipes are flexible or you can just use what you have for the types of meat, veggies, grains, etc.  If you have bags of dried lentils, beans or dried peas check for recipes on the bag.  You might also want to read my article on Making Soup from Leftovers.

One of my favorite simple recipes is my Mom’s Potato Soup.

Egg Salad Without Eggs makes a good substitute for egg salad if the stores are out of eggs and you have a can of chickpeas on hand.  If you have mayo you may use it instead of the dressing in the recipe.

For a sweet treat, if you have access to peanut butter you might want to try my Power Balls.

A few of my favorite ways to extend or replace meat include salmon patties or loaf, meatloaf or veggie loaf, stir fry, veggie burgers and let’s not forget casseroles.  Check your recipe files or search online if you need recipes — there are many to be found out there.

I have posted many more recipes here over the years.  Use the search engine on the toolbar to access them.

Happy cooking!


(NOTE FROM BOB: Rogene, your hostess here at Espirational.com has written several cookbooks with foods specially created for those of us with food sensitivities like not being able to have sugar, milk, and gluten. You can review these books at Amazon.com and, if you like, get your own Kindle Web copy to read right on your own computer to help you get creative in your own kitchen.

If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited you can use these cookbooks free; otherwise, we have these books at the low price of only $2.99 each to help everyone out with the current money crunch. Click here to see the list of Rogene Robbins’ books.

The Secret to Cooking Good Healthy Food

Last year a culinary instructor named Todd Mohr gave a free webinar on how to cook like a chef.  It was not what I expected.  Instead of talking about all the “secrets” and difficult recipes we think professional chefs know he talked about how home cooks make things too difficult.  The focus of his webinar was learning basic techniques, cooking methods and spices then using your own fresh ingredients to create original dishes.

My Rocky Beginnings

When Bob and I first started living gluten free I was scared to death.  There were already a number of foods we didn’t eat for health reasons and I was sure there would be nothing left to eat…  So I started with stir fry and kept working on figuring out all those difficult gluten free recipes and exotic ingredients.   I eventually began to convert my own recipes and realized it really wasn’t that difficult, but I kept collecting recipes trying to find new, different and perfect recipes that met our needs.

Already Heading in the Right Direction

When I heard what Chef Todd had to say I realized I was already heading in that direction.  I was already putting together my own ingredients to create new soups and salads. I rotisserie whole chickens and use the meat for various dishes and boil the bones to make stock. Then I realized I had my “magic mixture” which was usually black beans, onion, corn, salsa or canned tomatoes and chili spices and sometimes chicken.  This ends up on baked potatoes, gluten free pasta, spaghetti squash, salad greens and most recently with rice rolled into a gluten free wrap for burritos. Sometimes I add rice for the closest thing to a casserole I do now.  I like to make a big batch to have on hand.

The Gluten Free Wraps and a Discovery

The gluten free wraps were part of a prize package from Toufayan Bakeries which I won through a drawing at the Gluten Away Online Expo.  The first couple of days after the package arrived we enjoyed some wonderful deli style sandwich wraps.  I even made a special trip into town for good deli meat, goat cheese and condiments.

Then I started looking for different ideas and went to the Toufayan website where I found the recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Freezer Burritos. When I realized I already had the basics down all I needed to do was think a little outside the box and wrap the stuff up in a tortilla or other flat bread, I felt a little embarrassed. But this was an excellent illustration of Chef Todd’s point just a few days after listening to him.

When I made these I cut eat one in half and wrapped them in plastic wrap then put in a freezer bag.  I ended up with two bags of these. Quite a bit of work, but good to have on hand for a snack or meal emergency.

Burrito wrap w/ filling.
Copyright 2017


Burritos ready for freezer.
Copyright 2017

Do you Make Things too Difficult?

Home cooks do make things way too difficult. We try to impress people with our skills or some sort of secret recipe or knowledge that only we have. Add food restrictions such as wheat or dairy to the mix and things can really get crazy. It is easy to panic and wonder what on earth you are going to eat.

My suggestion.  

  • Focus on techniques. Review or learn basic cooking methods such as baking, roasting, steaming, sauteing, braising, grilling, stir frying, etc.  These I have mentioned can all be done gluten free and dairy free.
  •  Then bring in your own fresh ingredients and seasonings and mix and match to your hearts content.  You might also want to play around with sauces and toppings.

The benefit of cooking this way is that you get to choose your own ingredients.  I think this is the easiest way to cook for special diets.

All you have to do is get started. It is a different way of thinking about food and cooking than many of us are used to. Take that first step and get started. Don’t be afraid to play a little and get creative.  Things will get easier as you go along and you will eventually find yourself thinking, I really made this?  This is so good!

What is your secret to cooking good, healthy food?

It’s National Ice Cream Month!

Carrot Cake Fruit Cream Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins
Carrot Cake Fruit Cream
Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins

July is National Ice Cream Month by Presidential Proclamation 5219, signed by then President Reagan on July 9, 1984.  But did you know that today, July 17 is also National Ice Cream Day?  Ice cream is certainly one way I enjoy my journey through life.

Let’s think about ways we can celebrate ice cream.

  1. Try a new flavor.
  2. Give homemade a try.  There are many different ways and recipes to make homemade ice cream.  It is fun.  Homemade tastes better than store-bought.  Try it.
  3. Create a new recipe either for ice cream or using ice cream as an ingredient.
  4. Do you know the history of ice cream?
  5. Make kick the can ice cream with the kids.
  6. Love chocolate sauce?  Try my Dark Chocolate Sauce.
  7. Can’s eat dairy?  No problem!  There are non-dairy options made with alternative milks (such as alm0nd, rice or coconut).  Some are even made with frozen fruit such as bananas.  Try my Carrot Cake Fruit Cream.
  8. Set up a sundae bar.  Let the kids help.  Don’t forget to include healthy toppings such as fresh fruit and berries.
  9. Get social with your ice cream.  I’m not talking about social media here, invite people over for homemade ice cream or a sundae party.  Get the neighbors involved and have a block party.  It often seems that food divides us, but I believe it can still bring us together.
  10. Finally, be sure to check out the new recipes in my e-book Frozen Fun. We have added a section on smoothies.  Of course we still have the regular ice cream  and fruit cream recipes.   Frozen Fun is available from the Amazon Kindle Store or Espirational Books.

We’re celebrating with a little peach fruit cream I whipped up in the Ninja.  How are you celebrating?

This post has been added to:

Sugar and Spice Link Party

Need Help with Holiday Cooking?

holiday tableTis the season for the holiday food  help lines, hotlines and websites.  Below is a list of companies providing information, recipes and tips for holiday cooking.

Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: 800-BUTTERBALL (Live help during Nov. and Dec.), or via e-mail at talkline@butterball.com  Automated assistance all year.

Foster Farms Turkey Helpline: 800- 255-7227

Honeysuckle White  (800) 810-6325 Recorded answers to frequently asked questions.

Perdue Consumer Help Line: 800-473-7383 or

Reynolds Turkey Tips Hotline: 800-745-4000

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line (800) 637-8537 Year-round baking help, plus recipes.

Betty Crocker Hotline, open Monday-Friday year around, 1-888-275-2388

Crisco Pie Hotline:   877-367-7438

Fleischmann’s Yeast: 800-777-4959

Hershey’s open Monday-Friday, 1-800-468-1714

King Arthur Flour: 802-649-3717 or e-mail questions to bakers@kingarthurflour.com

Land O’ Lakes  800-328-4155 year round.

Libby Consumer Hot Line: 1-800-854-0374  Tips and recipes for canned pumpkin all year round.

Ocean Spray Consumer Help Line: 800-662-3263 year round or www.oceanspray.com

Campbell’s Soups Holiday Leftovers Hotline.  From the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 31 call 1-888-453-3868.

Food Safety.gov has answers to food safety questions, including how to thaw the turkey, cooking temperatures and how long food can safely sit on the buffet table.

Still need a few recipes and non-food celebration ideas?  Check out my eBook Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Canning Season

Preserved food in Mason jars
Preserved food in Mason jars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is you garden doing well this year?  Do you have cucumbers and tomatoes covering every inch of available space? Have you thought about taking up canning?  There is still time to can seasonal fruits and vegetables.

There is a sense of satisfaction when you look at your counter top full of freshly canned corn relish, tomatoes, pickles, applesauce or peaches that you don’t get by picking up a can or a jar from the grocery store shelves.  You also know exactly what is in it because you put it there. You can make your own unsweetened applesauce, juice packed peaches, low sugar jam and no salt added tomatoes.

There are techniques, and safety concerns you need to learn. Your county extension office should be able to provide you with printed information. The Ball(R) Company website (the canning jar people) is also a great source of information. Check it out at http://www.freshpreserving.com

Don’t be afraid to give canning a try. You can do it. Sorry for the pun, I just couldn’t resist.


Time to Kill the Fatted Pumpkin

Scooping seeds from pie pumpkin
Copyright 2011 by R.A. Robbins

Every year around this time I go through the autumn tradition I call killing the fatted pumpkin.  This is when I cook wonderful fresh pie pumpkins and freeze the puree for  the rest of the year.

Cooking fresh pumpkin is easy:

1.  Choose a nice orange pie pumpkin.

2.  Cut pumpkin in half.

3.  Scoop out seeds.

4.  Place cut side up or down (either works) in a baking dish with about 1/2 – 1 inch of water.

5.  Cover with foil and bake 1 hr. at 350 degrees.

6.  Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle scoop out cooked pumpkin.  Mash pumpkin or if very soft just give it a good stir.

7.  Prepare 1 and 2 cup containers of pumpkin for freezer.

8.  Freeze and enjoy homemade pumpkin goodies all year.

This recipe is part of the Sugar and Spice Link Party.