Archive for April, 2013

coco's Special Cheese Dressing Feeling very proud of the heads of lettuce growing in two small planters in my backyard, I announced to my husband that we were having a very fresh salad for dinner. With lettuce that fresh, I wanted to serve it with a good homemade salad dressing instead of a bottled dressing. Coincidentally, earlier in the day, while flipping through the pages of a book, I found a newspaper clipping containing a recipe for a requested salad dressing from the Coco’s restaurant chain. Finding the recipe and having all the ingredients on hand, I felt destined to make it. Sometimes the moon and the stars align and everything works out perfectly!

Coco’s Special Cheese Dressing
Recipe from Kathy Shepard

1/4 to 3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
4½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine milk, mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk. Whisk until blended.
2. Place vinegar in cup and stir in garlic salt and pepper.
3. Add to mayonnaise mixture and blend in cheese.
4. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups

Linnell’s Notes:
To keep this salad dressing on the healthier side, I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream.


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Superman Romeo With his blue cape flipped up, Romeo is just a dog wearing a “cone of shame.” But, with the help of his creative mom, when he wears his blue cape flipped down, he becomes Super Dog — because that’s exactly what he is to his family. To his dismay, he must wear his cape everyday, ever since a chondrosarcoma tumor in his nose became his kryptonite. By taking him for daily radiation treatments, Romeo’s family hopes to help him regain his powers. Like Superman, Romeo must go through darkness before he can see light again. He endures the drives to the veterinary hospital, the shaving of his muzzle, the change in his feeding schedule, the side-effects of the radiation, and the wooziness from general anesthesia and drugs, but, like any superhero, he could use some plain old luck.

#1 – Use your Brain and Feed a Hungry Person
With a little luck and some smarts, you can play a game that helps feed people around the world. More specifically, answer questions in Humanities, Math, Foreign Languages, Human Anatomy, English, Chemistry, Geography, and SAT Test Preparation and for every correct answer you get, Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. Check out the website to test how smart you are and to learn how your answers could help feed starving people.

#2 – Creative Typography
Here’s a different take on creative writing — how about creatively writing words? Ji Lee, designer and former creative director of Google and currently the creative energy at Facebook, challenges us to “Create an image out of a word, using only the letters in the word itself without adding any extra elements.” Watch this video to see some of his extremely creative examples:

#3 – Ingenious Stuff to Make
A basketball purse, a cutlery clock, and a broom-head pencil holder are some of the ingenious DIY projects that can be found on 7 Ingenious DIY Designs You Can Make At Home.

#4 – Be Lighter
With summer just a couple of months away, it’s time to get in shape for bathing suit and short season. That also means it’s time to think about those little things called calories. Here’s an infographic with everything you need to know about calories:

#5 – Light From Within
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This weekend, light up from within by helping someone in need!

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Korean Barbecued Hamburgers

Instead of eating ordinary hamburgers on a bun, take your hamburger dining experience to a whole new gastronomical level. By creatively substituting and adding different elements, you can successfully fuse together the flavors of different cultures. Last weekend I created Korean Barbecued Hamburgers for a weekend backyard barbecue. Soy sauce, sesame seeds, brown sugar, and chopped green onions flavored the hamburger meat. After grilling the patties, the fun began! Spicy kimchi topped the burgers instead of traditional pickles and a small handful of fresh pea shoots, instead of alfalfa sprouts, added a nice crunchy texture. And, in lieu of ketchup, I substituted Korean Ssamjang sauce. Ssamjang sauce is a thick spicy condiment normally made from doenjang (Korean soybean paste), gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste), sesame oil, onion, garlic and green onions. With everyone asking for MORE, these tasty burgers were deemed a huge hit!

Korean Hamburger Elements
Korean barbecued hamburger patties (recipe below)
Hamburger buns
Lettuce leaves
Tomato slices
Pea shoots (AKA pea sprouts)
Ssamjang-Mayo sauce (recipe below)

Korean Barbecued Hamburgers
Meat recipe revised from the Favorite Island Cookery: Book II

1 lb. ground beef
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ T. soy sauce
Dash pepper
1 egg
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2-inch piece of ginger root, minced
1 tsp. sesame seed, toasted
1 tsp. sesame seed oil

Combine ingredients and form into patties. Broil 3 to 5 minutes on each side, pan fry or grill them on the barbecue.

Yields 3 to 4 servings

My Ssamjang-Mayo Sauce:
2 T. mayonnaise
1-2 T. Ssamjang sauce, depending on desired level of spiciness

Mix both ingredients together in a small bowl.

1. Spread Ssamjang-Mayo sauce on buns.
2. Add lettuce leaf to bottom portion of bun.
3. Place hamburger patty on lettuce leaf.
4. Place tomato slice on top of hamburger patty.
5. Put a few slices of kimchi on top of tomato.
6. Place a small handful of pea shoots on top of the tomato.
7. Place top portion of bun on top of shoots.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I always double the meat recipe when serving 5 people.
2. Kimchi, Ssamjang sauce, and pea shoots can be purchased at most Asian markets. Kimchi and pea shoots can often be found at Trader Joe’s and I’ve purchased pea shoots at farmers’ markets, although they’re more expensive there.
3. If you can’t find Ssanjamg sauce, any chile garlic sauce like Sriracha can be used.
4. Recipes for two great side dishes to accompany these Korean Barbecued Hamburgers can also be found on this blog:
Asian Coleslaw
Asian Cucumber Salad

Enjoy these flavorful burgers and make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand!

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Peace Rose

Peace Rose by Linnell Chang

My high school photography teacher used to say that black and white photography was an art form that required a fair amount of skill, whereas, color photography required less skill, because it got an assist from Mother Nature. I agree with him. My photograph of a Peace rose is nice, but Mother Nature did the lighting and the color for me. For this to be a good black and white photo, more forethought would have been necessary prior to the shoot. When color is stripped away, the viewer’s appreciation of the subject matter changes. A black and white photo, with its shades of grey and exposed lines and angles, bares its soul and tells a different story. What do you think?Peace Rose in black and white

#1 – Who Is Vivian Maier?
As a longtime fan of black and white photography, an old news feature caught my attention. Until recently, Vivian Maier’s existence as a photographer was unknown. She lived on the East Coast in the 1950s and was a nanny by profession. Decades later, when the contents of a storage locker went up for auction, her skills as a street photographer would be revealed to the world. Watch the video to learn more about the interesting discovery of her work and check out the Vivian Maier website to view historical social commentary through her black and white photographs.

#2 – Re-purpose Plastic Bottles into Gift Boxes
plastic pillow box repurposed from plastic bottles Who doesn’t have plastic bottles at home waiting to be recycled? How about making pillow boxes out of them? Pillow boxes make great gift boxes and storage containers. Follow the tutorial provided by Too Good To Waste and re-purpose some plastic bottles today!

#3 – 10 Winning Words
If Scrabble is your game, you’ll want to learn these 10 words and keep them in the back of your head:


To learn more about these words and to check if I spelled them correctly, read 10 Words That Will Win You Any Game Of Scrabble.

#4 – Fork Bows
This is one of those ideas that needs to be shared – how to tie perfect little bows using table forks. If you’re clever, you’ll find a way to extrapolate this knowledge and create bows on a larger scale. I’m already thinking about wood pasta rakes and pitchforks!

#5 – Life’s Challenges
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
Bernice Johnson Reagon

Have a perfectly lovely weekend!

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DIY Bookend Using Wine Corks

My trash to treasure imagination came alive while I was checking out the status of my husband’s office remodel. “Office supply heaven,” I thought to myself as I walked around and looked through piles of stuff. A few mismatched metal bookends sat dejected-looking on the floor. “Are these up for grabs?” I asked my husband. While giving me the I-knew-I shouldn’t-have-brought-her-here look, he replied, “Sure, take them.”

When I got home I pulled out a plastic bag filled with wine corks that a neighbor gave to me before she moved. I’d been trying to think of something I could make for her new home with these corks and my newly acquired bookend inspired an idea. After I completed the project, I presented her with a combination bookend and mini cork board.

Wine cork bookend Bookend(s)
Wine corks

1. Gather supplies.

2. Place the upright side of the bookend down flat on a piece of paper and trace around it with a pen. This will be your template for cork layout.
make template

3. Because wine corks are different lengths and circumferences, you’ll want to play around with their arrangement before you settle on your final layout. Arrange the wine corks on the paper to your satisfaction, remembering to place their best-looking sides facing up. Carefully cut any cork with a sharp knife to make it fit. template

4. Lay the bookend flat on your work surface, with the side to be decorated facing up. Allow the stand/support portion to hang over the edge of your work surface.position bookend

5. One by one, remove a cork from your layout paper and glue it to the bookend. Repeat until all the wine corks have been glued to the bookend. Let dry.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The bookend I used flared out slightly at the bottom, so one row of corks looks tilted. It’s okay, though, because nothing’s perfect in life. Right?

2. My former neighbor immediately recognized her corks. Though not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, I was glad I could rework something of hers into something more useable for her new home. I figured some of the wine corks must hold a few special memories for her.

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Purple Violas

Purple Violas by Linnell Chang

Although small in stature, purple violas dominate a bed of flowers. Their deep rich colors and delicate yellow centers beg for attention and ask you to take notice. Do you stop to appreciate them or do you walk on by? Do you take their beauty for granted? Do you take the colors you see for granted?  Wake up your senses and adjust your attitude. Be grateful for the beauty around you.

#1 – Psychology of Color
There’s no doubt that color adds joy to our lives. Imagine how depressing it would be to live in a world devoid of color. This Psychology of Color infograph points out their different meanings and how they affect our lives.
Psychology of Color Infographic
#2 – Lemon Zest
Lemon zest adds bits of color and flavor to food. For recipes that call for any type of citrus zest, try using this method. Hold the microplane upside down while you lightly run it across the peel. This method catches the zest – which makes collecting it much easier than scraping it out of a bowl. Zesting a lemon

#3 – Random Acts of Kindness
If what goes around, truly comes around, then we all need to spread more kindness in the world. Be inspired to perform random acts of kindness today by reading 101 Ideas For Random Acts of Kindness.

#4 – Seeing in Color

phan Thu Trang

Painting by artist Phan Thu Trang

Artist Phan Thu Trang “always tries to use color and light to create different sensation for each piece of art.” Through her colorful and seemingly simplistic artwork, she tries to describe how she feels about everyday scenes in her native Vietnam, rather than just documenting what she sees. Check out this site to see more of her artwork.

#5 – Colors of the Day
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

This weekend, admire and be grateful for all the color in your world!

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Lemon-Rosemary Crumb Cake

The strong flavors of rosemary and lemon can oftentimes dominate a recipe. Not so, in this case. From the crunchy lemon crumb on top to the tender cake speckled with bits of rosemary, this cake is delightful from top to bottom. With its perfect blend of flavors and its ease of preparation, it will quickly become one of your “go to” cakes. Serve it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, or dessert!

Lemon-Rosemary Crumb Cake
Cooking Light Magazine, May 1998

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3/4 teaspoon water
Rosemary sprigs (optional)
Lemon slices (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Reserve 1/2 cup flour mixture for topping; set aside.

3. Combine remaining flour mixture, rosemary, baking powder, and baking soda; add buttermilk, lemon juice, and egg. Beat at medium speed of a mixer until blended. Spoon batter into and 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Combine reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture, lemon rind, and water; stir with a fork. Sprinkle crumb mixture over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings or 8 wedges

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I used butter instead of margarine. Why not splurge on flavor since the recipe only calls for a 1/4 cup of it?

2. I only have a 9-inch cake pan, so the cake would have been taller if I had used an 8-inch cake pan.

3. Using the larger pan, I was careful to check the cake after 20 minutes. It was baked by 25 minutes.

4. To test the cake to see if it is done, gently press on the top of it with your fingers. If it springs back completely when lightly touched in the center, the cake is done.


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Come Alive
Don’t wait.
Don’t wait for the right time.
Don’t wait for the right time to figure things out.
Don’t wait for the right time to figure out who you are and why you’re here.
Don’t wait for the right time to figure out what special gifts you bring to the universe.
Don’t wait for answers to come to you – you must seek and find them.
Don’t wait, start now – for every day holds promises of discovery.
Don’t wait, it’s within your grasp.
Don’t wait, come alive.

Linnell Chang

#1 – What Type of Person Are You?
For more insight into your personality, take the Jung Typology Test, better known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, offered by HumanMetrics. Answer the 72 questions without overthinking. Go with your first reaction. Hit the “Score It!” button and you will receive your score and a description of your “type.”

#2 – Ocean Pollution Solution?
Ocean Cleanup Array The world needs more creative thinkers to help solve world problems. A 19-year-old Dutch student named Boyan Slat is a prime example of a creative problem-solver. He designed a device called Ocean Cleanup Array to help solve plastic waste issues in the ocean. Watch this young man’s compelling and informative TED presentation and learn more about the enormity of ocean pollution and his project. In his own words, “. . . But we created this mess. Heck we even invented this new material first before we made this mess, so please don’t tell me we can’t clean this up together.”

#3 – Surreal Art
Surrealism mixes fact and fantasy together. Here’s an interesting collection of “12 Stunningly Surreal Sculptures” presented by My Modern Met.

#4 – Great Ideas
a-put-a-large-marshmellow-on-top-of-a-cupcake-before-its-done-and-it-will-melt-for-frostingGenerally, great ideas posted on this blog have to simplify life, repurpose something, bring joy to life, or make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Some of the ideas highlighted in “Simple Ideas That Are Borderline Genius” do all of the above.

#5 – What Matters Most
Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Breakfast Pizza

Pizza for breakfast? Sure, what kid or hungry adult hasn’t eaten leftover pizza for breakfast? But here’s a recipe for a pizza that is covered with ingredients more appropriate for breakfast and is also just as delicious eaten the morning after! This is an easy and wonderful dish to serve at breakfast or brunch, but could be served anytime of the day. The only hard part about this recipe is remembering to defrost the frozen pizza dough in the refrigerator the night before!

Breakfast Pizza
Recipe adapted from DHC Fine Foods catalogue

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound purchased pizza dough, room temperature
Flour for rolling the dough
4 ounces ham, thinly sliced
6 asparagus spears, blanched and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped, optional

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Coat the bottom of a rimmed baking pan with the olive oil.
3. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 9 x 13 inches. Transfer to the baking pan.
4. Arrange the ham slices evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border.
5. Scatter the asparagus pieces over the ham.
6. Carefully break the eggs on top of the pizza. (The asparagus will “trap” the eggs and keep them from rolling.)
7. Sprinkle the fontina and parmesan cheeses over all.
8. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.
9. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley for garnish.

Serves 4

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The next time I make this, I will roll the dough out a little larger and bake it on a shallow rimmed baking sheet instead of a 9 x 13 inch pan. The crust was a little too thick for me when baked as specified.

2. To make it easier to cut the pizza, I cut the pieces of ham into 1/2-inch pieces instead of laying whole pieces of it.

3. An extra egg could have been cracked in the center and would have given more people more egg to eat.

4. Arugula or chopped cilantro would add more dimension to the flavors if sprinkled on top compared to the specified chopped parsley.


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