Panko Baked Cod

I love fish. I think it is a nice, healthy, protein, IF you don’t muck it up with a lot of fancy sauces or deep-frying… Not that I wouldn’t love all the mucking it up…but I’m talking about it being a nice healthy protein.. I know all the top chefs on the Food Network say “make sure you know your fishmonger…”  Well… guess what? I DON’T have a “fishmonger”… So, what is the everyday Costco shopper cook to do…? Buy what you like, that you can afford, and make it your own… 🙂

I love halibut, but it is getting a little too pricey for my budget, even at Costco… I like cod too, if it’s baked just right…. I buy it frozen, at Costco, and this is one of my favorite ways of preparing it.

You will need:



Chili Power

Black Pepper


Panko Bread Crumbs

I buy Wild Alaskan Pacific Cod frozen at Costco


Thaw the cod in the refrigerator

Beat two eggs and add paprika, black pepper, chili power to taste. Dip the cod in the egg mixture making sure to coat both sides well.

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Put panko bread crumbs in a bowl and add chili power, black pepper and paprika to taste just like you did for the egg mixture. Dip cod in the panko bread crumb mixture making to coat all sides evenly.


Line a baking pan with foil, spray a cooling rack with cooking spray and set the rack inside the baking pan. Put the breaded cod on the cooking rack and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. Do not over bake or the cod will be dried out and that is never a good thing.


When the cod is done it should have a lightly browned crust.


I served the cod with broccoli/cauliflower salad (if you don’t know how to make it, just google broccoli salad and you will find many, many versions). I used the Taste of Home broccoli salad recipe but added cauliflower and lightened it up by using lite mayo and lite sour cream. Yum!


I also had some garlic mashed potatoes leftover from another dinner earlier in the week so I made garlic potato pancakes out of those mashed potatoes. Yum, Yum, Yum!!!


Put this all together and you have a dinner that would make the best food network chef blush!!!

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If you try this recipe I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

Stay Tuned!

Fun In The Lab

My daughter, Shantel, has a big, final, biology project that is due in a few weeks. The assignment was to plan and execute an experiment from beginning to end. The requirements state the experiment must be documented each step of the way including pictures of each stage of the experiment. Then, when the results of the experiment are analyzed, and finalized, the entire experiment has to be pulled into a power point presentation for the class.

Shantel decided to run an experiment on hair relaxers and their effect not only on hair, but skin tissue, and also it’s effect on the environment.

The first step was to purchase the hair relaxer solution from the beauty supply store. Then, decide what would be used as samples in the experiment. Shantel used fresh chicken to represent the effect of hair relaxer on skin. She also asked me to cut a piece of her hair, from the under section of the back of her head where it would not be noticed. This of course would represent the effect of hair relaxer on human hair. She used a soda can, and a plastic grocery bag, to represent the effect of hair relaxer on the environment.

Even though this is a biology project, Shantel’s chemistry professor invited her to do the experiment in her chem lab, because she said it would be much safer than trying to do it at home. This was a huge plus as the lab is equipped with all sorts of high-tech equipment, like scales that are so sensitive you have to hold your breath when placing the item to be weighed on the scale, because even breathing on it will change the results. Who knew? She also supplied goggles, lab coats, gloves, and all the glass beakers needed to mix, stir etc. Shantel started the experiment with a classmate on Thursday. They weighed and labeled each sample item. Then they put each of the sample items in a separate container, and added the hair relaxer solution, covered them, and put them in a non-working oven used to store things so they won’t be disturbed. The sample items had to stay in the hair relaxer solution for twenty-four hours.

Classes run Monday-Thursday so Shantel asked me if I would take her to the chem lab on Friday, as her professor said she would be there, and we were welcome to come in and complete the next step in the experiment which was to rinse the hair relaxer solution off each sample item, and let them all dry out over the weekend. The professor told Shantel I was welcome to come and assist Shantel since her classmate would not be in that day. I was happy to help.

When we arrived at the chem lab the professor greeted us warmly, and provided our goggles, lab coats, gloves, and began showing me how to operate the high-tech scale.

Since we had to have a way to rinse each of the sample item without losing even the smallest piece of the sample, the professor suggested we use cheese cloth to put each sample in to be rinsed. She provided a beaker with a funnel. We were to put the cheese cloth in the funnel then place the sample item in the cheese cloth and begin running water over it until all the hair relaxer solution was gone. If any of the hair relaxer solution remained on the sample item, it would change the weight results from the beginning of the experiment. We even had to weigh each piece of cheese cloth so we could subtract that weight from the final weight after the sample items had time to completely dry… I was so glad the professor was there to tell us all this because I would never have thought of all that… Would you?

This is a picture of the chicken used to represent the effect of hair relaxer on skin/tissue. The one on top is the chicken after being in the hair relaxer solution. The chicken on the bottom was the raw chicken before hair relaxer was added. You can see the chicken that was in the hair relaxer solution was starting to “cook”. Imagine what that does to your skin and how it can get into your pores. The other pictures next to the chicken is the metal. The hair relaxer solution was starting to have an effect on the metal, but there was little change to the plastic bag which you can see in the two bottom pictures. I guess that is why we should not use plastic bags. It seems noting can destroy them…

Bio project

This next picture is the sample of Shantel’s hair.  The bottom picture with the hair in the cup is before the hair relaxer solution was applied. The top picture is her hair after being in the hair relaxer. If you look closely, you can see where the hair sample started disintegrating, all the dark area around the piece in the middle are little pieces of hair that look more like splinters.


This is a picture of all the documentation we did to record starting weights, weight of cheese cloth, and where we will document the final weights when I go back on Wednesday to help Shantel record those final results.


I found this experiment fascinating, and I was amazed to find out the main ingredient in hair relaxer, Sodium Hydroxide, is the same main ingredient in Drano drain cleaner. OMG! I was also shocked to find out there is hair relaxer’s for babies and young children. I can’t imagine anyone, in their right mind, putting these harsh chemicals on babies and young children!

I was glad to be invited to help Shantel with this project… and, it was a real fun day in the lab!

Stay Tuned!

Back Off

Easier said than done!

In recent posts I talked about the “transitional journey” I’m on with my daughter, Shantel, as she continues to talk more and more about wanting to move out on her own. She will be twenty-one years old in June, and will be starting Grand Canyon University next year. Believe me when I say I want nothing more than for Shantel to be “happily independent” from Bill and I. Both Bill and I know we have helped Shantel have the best start in life that we could give her, and we know she is ready when she finds the right roommates to share housing with which is in the works now…

The biggest problem I’m having with my “transitional journey” is backing off, and not jumping in and getting involved in the things I took care of for Shantel all of her life. As an adult, now she can handle her own affairs right? Well, here are a few examples of what I am trying to back off from…

I drove Shantel to Grand Canyon University (GCU) yesterday so she could meet with their Disability Services Department to determine what accommodations they will provide to her next year. Before we even left the house to go to GCU, I asked Shantel if she had a list of questions she wanted to ask the Disability Services person we were meeting with. Shantel said “no, I don’t need a list, I know what I want to ask… ” OK… but I, on the other hand, would have had a whole agenda typed out with copies for anyone who might need one…In fact, that is exactly what I did each and every time I ever attended a meeting at Shantel’s Grade School, or High School, and for sure whenever I attended one of her Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings… But, that’s just me, and the way I do things… I’m finding out it is also for sure NOT the way Shantel does things…

As the meeting at GCU started, Shantel was doing a great job of advocating for herself, but I just could not stop myself from making sure “we” understood each and every action item that needed to be  followed-up on after the meeting… I was taking notes, and interjecting things I thought needed to be addressed that Shantel hadn’t brought it up… I could tell Shantel was getting “less than pleased” with me, because she started cutting me off when I would start to ask a question… It was a bit annoying to me seeing how I was just trying to be helpful… but, it wasn’t annoying enough to make me stop trying to help… I tried, I really did try…

Picture me “zipping my lips” and holding tongue  until I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head from all the build up of unasked questions pressure… I kept telling myself to just “back off“, and let Shantel handle the meeting on her own. After all, when she moves out, she won’t have me around to be “helpful” to her in meetings etc… right?

So, I started looking out the big picture office window trying to distract myself. I couldn’t help noticing the buildings just across the street looked like really nice apartments, and I began wondering to myself if they were on campus housing for GCU students… Shantel of course couldn’t see them so I felt compelled to ask if they were in fact on campus apartments for GCU students, and OMG…, they are!!! How were we to know that if I hadn’t asked right? Well, not only did that one question let us know they have apartments on campus for the students but, OMG…,they are building individual dorm rooms on campus as well just across from the office where we were meeting. Single dorm rooms so you don’t have to have any roommates… How were we to know that either if I hadn’t asked??? So, naturally, I had to ask all about that too. I wanted to know how much they cost, is there a waiting list etc… Shantel cut me right off again saying “mom, I’m not living on campus, I will live in an apartment or house with roommates. She said there is no way a dorm room would be included in the financial aid she will get from  Voc Rehab… I said “But listen, Shantel, if you could live on campus then you wouldn’t have to worry about Dial-a-Ride to and from school… and you never know, you could get a scholarship or something to help pay some of the costs that Voc Rehab doesn’t pay…I said “you know you just have to ask for these things and believe they will happen…” To my surprise, Shantel simply said “mom, can we talk about all that when we get home?” OK, but I would not have left that meeting without asking for something in writing that tells all about the on campus housing so I could provide that information to Voc Rehab… but, that’s just me, and how I do things…

On the drive home, I decided I would see if Shantel has heard from her Voc Rehab counselor who is supposed to be working on the financial aid information for Shantel to attend GCU next year. She is also supposed to let Shantel know when they need to meet to complete the paperwork that supports Shantel’s major, and all the other information necessary for funding approval… Shantel said she sent the counselor an email but she hasn’t responded back to Shantel yet. Again, I just couldn’t stop myself from telling Shantel that she needs to stay on top of the counselor and keep following up with more emails until she gets the time/place of the meeting… I reminded her that these things don’t just happen on their own you have to make them happen. I told her if I learned nothing else while I was managing Shantel’s IEP meetings etc. I learned  you have to stay on top of everything and document everything if you want to make sure you have what you need in a timely manner… blah, blah, blah… Shantel said “I know mom, just don’t worry about it, I’m taking care of it.” Kind of like saying “Back Off” right?

This is me “zipping my lips” and trying, really, really, hard to “back off.”

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… 🙂

Stay tuned!

Parkinson’s Disease

My mother has Parkinson’s Disease. For her, it has been a slow progressing disease that has taken many twists and turns along the way. One day she is fine and acting like her normal self from years ago. But, recently, I’ve seen the disease progressing, and taking a much bigger toll on her ability to function in her daily routine.

This is a nut shell version of the information I was given on Parkinson’s Disease after my mother was diagnosed over seven years ago, and what her doctor’s tell me is happening to her now…

Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s are:



Weakness of face & throat muscles. Speech becomes softer and monotonous.

Loss of movement in the muscles in the face can cause “fixed, vacant facial expression, often called the Parkinson’s mask, or stone face.”

Freezing or sudden, brief, inability to move.

A person with Parkinson’s disease may develop dementia and confusion similar to Alzheimer’s late in the course of the disease.

Depression can further contribute to memory loss & confusion. Memory loss, hallucinations, and vivid dreams may sometimes be caused by the drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Psychosis – Some people in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease have problems telling the difference between what is real and what is not real. Again, sometimes this is caused by the drugs used to treat Parkinson’s. We have experienced this with mom…

An example of how I’ve noticed the disease progressing with my mother is that I visit her weekly, sometimes several times a week. My brother, Danny, told me he is noticing the same progression of the disease in mom as well on his weekly visits.

I usually visit my mother on Wednesday. However, this past Monday, I was at the store when my cell phone rang and it was my mother. I answered it saying ” hi mom” she responded by saying how did you know it was me? I said I saw your name on the caller Id. She said “what is that”? Then she said ” are you driving?” I said “no why?” She said “I’m calling you on my cell phone.” I said “I know mom.”She said “how do you know?” I said “because you only have a cell phone to call from.” Then she said “I’ll call you back later.” I said “why did you call mom, do you need something?” She said “I just wanted to know if I have a cell phone.” I asked if she was alright and if she was on any new medications. She said “I have to go now, I’ll call you later, but when are you coming to see me?” I said “I’ll be there  Wednesday like always.” She said “OK I’ll call you later.”

I decided I better go see what was going on with mom so I went to see her on Tuesday instead of Wednesday because I wanted to be sure if she was on some new medication the staff knew it was having a negative affect on her like it has in the past and if she wasn’t on any new medication…I just wanted to be sure she was OK…

When I arrived at the Care Center, my mother was in the activity room sitting by herself. She didn’t even notice as I approached the table she was sitting at even though I was waving my arms and saying “hi mom.” When I got to her, she looked confused for a moment or two, but then she realized it was me and said she was surprised to see me. I told her I decided to come a day early because I had to take our daughter, Shantel to Grand Canyon University on Wednesday to meet with disability services, and their advisement center regarding her attendance next fall.

The activity of the morning that day was a volunteer, Jim Bing, who was providing music entertainment for the residents. He was a joyful man, and he provided many joyful sing along songs for the residents to participate in and enjoy.

Let me just make a note here to anyone reading this that I asked permission to take pictures of the residents, and I asked my mother if I could share her picture on my blog that was going to be about Parkinson’s Disease. She asked why, and I told her I wanted to bring awareness to other people who may be dealing with the same thing. She agreed.

This is Jim Bing, singing his heart out to the residents of the Care Center.


My mother and I were enjoying the music. We were singing along and clapping our hands to the tunes….but all of the sudden, my mother just became still like a statue…and it was several minutes (like ten) until she responded to my voice asking her if she was OK… This is what Parkinson’s looks like up close and personal…My mother just stopped moving… it was like she was suspended in space…


This is my friend Sharon, in the purple, sitting slightly to the end of the table, singing and enjoying the music. Both mom and I love Sharon…OMG, Sharon kept asking for more and more music…God bless her happy soul…


This is Gracie, one of the aides who has worked at Archstone for 10 years, and who always interacts with the residents in a joyful way… Gracie is the one who helps those who need one-on-one feeding, she paint’s the residents finger nails, she helps the residents walk if physical therapy is in order… Gracie goes through the Care Center and says “good night to each and every resident before she goes home for the night… What a GREAT, unsung hero employee Gracie is…


I came away from my visit with my mother knowing she is OK, or as good as she can be given her condition…. For those family members who are interested….if you want to see my mother while she can still appreciate your visit…you might want to start planning that visit soon…if you can…She is 87 yrs old, and I’m just saying …. if you want to see her…now might be the time…But of course…you decide for yourself… I just report what I know… Everyday is different… You decide… XXOOO to all…

Stay Tuned!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is located 55 miles east of Phoenix, in the Arizona Upland division of the Sonoran Desert. The Arboretum lies along Queen Creek, an intermittent desert stream which flows through a picturesque canyon. The Arboretum is nestled against the base of the 4400-foot-high Picketpost Mountain.

The Arboretum was created from 1923-1929 as a museum of living plants to help instill in humanity an appreciation of plants. The chief attraction at the Arboretum is the system of native trails, with over two miles of combined length that weave through the botanical gardens. These gardens represent the “living museum” of plants capable of living in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. A series of Interpretive Ramadas are located along the Main Loop Trail to provide information to Arboretum visitors.

The founder, William Boyce Thompson, was born at Virginia City, Montana on May 13, 1869. He attended the School of Mines a Columbia University, becoming a mining engineer. He created a fortune by studying mines and selecting the most promising for development and investment. He was the founder and first president of Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company at Globe-Miami, Arizona and Magma Copper Company at Superior, Arizona. He died on June 27, 1930. The Arizona Legislature stated that it was “profoundly appreciative” of the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum as a “scientific institution for the purpose of experimentation and research in the matter of native vegetation of the state and the Southwest.”

As you approach the Arboretum you are greeted by volunteers who will provide a map of the walking trails. On you way out you can purchase many, many, varieties of the plants you will see on the trails, if you like.


Just inside the Arboretum is a gift shop with a nice selection of southwestern items. Holly and I were not interested in shopping, we were anxious to get out on the walking trails…


I will share with you a sample of what you will see and experience at the Arboretum.

Like breathtaking views.


There are lots, and lots, of little side attractions where you can learn about native birds, plants etc.


And information stations where you can read about native southwestern history.


There is a children’s learning section that houses everything you can imagine to help children learn about native plants and animals.


This colorful sun has a rainbow at the bottom and interaction information to help children learn about the importance of the sun, water, and the weather, in keeping plants, animals, and humans alive.


Beautiful flowering plants are everywhere, and more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place.


Lovely waterfalls beckon you to come, and sit a spell.


Ayer Lake is a storage reservoir designed to hold 3,680,000 gallons (10-acre feet) of water for irrigation and was constructed in 1925.


So much beautiful desert scenery to enjoy.


But be careful, and pay attention to the signs…


Spectacular rock formations.


And shady areas all along the mountain side. There are even picnic areas with picnic tables and grills available for use. Who could ask for more?


Benches tucked into rock caves to sit, rest, and relax.


Just know that not all areas will be accessible to everyone. Like this ridge that takes you along the mountain side on the main trail loop is not wheelchair accessible.


Why there is even a suspended, shaky bridge, that will take you across the Queen Creek. That was fun… 🙂


We were told the entire main loop trail takes about an 1 1/2 hours to walk. But if your with your “sister” or BFF, or anyone you enjoy being with, or even just out enjoying the walk alone… I’m sure you will find yourself stopping to take in the views and just relaxing and enjoying your time together, or alone, in the beautiful, beautiful, surrounding of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. If you’ve never been there you owe it to yourself to go, and if your like me, you will love it so much you will want to return again and again…

Hope you enjoyed the tour, I know I did, and it was another beautiful, fun-filled, “Holly day” with my sister, Holly. Thanks Holly! XoXo

Stay Tuned!

Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls

My family LOVES cabbage rolls. I posted a step-by-step recipe on 7/29/2012, of how I make my mother’s “real roll up” cabbage rolls so the recipe would be documented for Shantel, or anyone else who might be interested…Even if you ever thought you didn’t like cabbage, or sauerkraut, you owe it to yourself to at least try this recipe… I can’t tell you how many family members said “I don’t like cabbage…. but when they ate these cabbage rolls,  they couldn’t get enough of them… sounds crazy but it’s true…so at least give it a try… you never know what you may be missing… 🙂

Yesterday, I planned to make cabbage rolls for dinner. I told the family that was what we would have for dinner so that is what I knew they would be expecting…. I had the meat thawed in the refrigerator, a fresh head of cabbage ready to core and steam in the microwave so it would be easy to peel the leaves without breaking them, and all the seasonings gathered and ready to start… However, my day just absolutely got away from me, and before I knew it, it was too late to go through the entire process of making the “real”, roll them up, cabbage roll recipe. What’s the cook to do when time is running out and the family is expecting cabbage rolls for dinner?

Thinking quick on my feet, I remembered I’ve seen Rachel Ray, from the Food Network, do all kinds of “deconstructed” meals. I even recall her making a “deconstructed cabbage roll”, although Rachel’s recipe is different from mine in several ways. So, I thought if it works for Rachel Ray…, it will work for me…

Introducing my version ofDeconstructed Cabbage Rolls. (remember I don’t measure so use according to taste or texture):


Ground beef, turkey, chicken, or whatever ground meat you like.


Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

Chili Powder

Fresh Garlic (or garlic powder if you prefer)

Fresh onion

Tomato Sauce (I used 4 cans because that is what my pot would hold)

1 whole package of Good quality Sauerkraut, juice included (I don’t use canned because I think it gives everything a metal taste)

1 Fresh head of cabbage

Fresh ground pepper

Salt to taste (I don’t use salt because the sauerkraut has salt in it)

Olive oil

Combine the ground meat (I used ground turkey), egg, chili powder, ground pepper, and rolled oats in a mixing bowl, and mix well.


Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until just tender (careful not to over cook or the garlic will be bitter)


Add ground meat and cook until browned. Set aside in a bowl.


Chop cabbage and sauté in same skillet you cooked ground meat in adding a little more olive oil if needed. Cook cabbage until just tender being careful not to burn.


When cabbage is tender, transfer cabbage, and meat mixture, into a dutch oven, and add in sauerkraut. Fold gently to blend all ingredients.


Add tomato sauce (be generous as you don’t want anything to stick and the tomato sauce, along with the sauerkraut, is what really makes the flavor POP!!!) Gently fold everything together to merry all the ingredients.


Bring to boil, then cover, and reduce to low or simmer and cook on top of stove for 1-2 hours, or until ready to serve. Serve with a side of your favorite rice and you are all set.

Note to cooks: This recipe will hold for hours on low/simmer. Just be sure you add enough tomato sauce so nothing sticks. And, I’ve even learned if anything does stick to the bottom, just remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool down just a bit, then gently stir. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suppose you could put this in the dutch oven, covered, in a low oven, for several hours, or better yet, in a crock pot on low all day… Prepare in the morning, put it in the crock pot, and go about your day… When it’s dinner time you will be the shinning star, as it tastes like you worked over the stove all day…  Hey, I won’t tell 🙂

My family LOVED this Deconstructed version of my mother’s cabbage roll recipe just as much as the real “rolled up” recipe…. In fact, both my husband, Bill/Bro, and our VERY picky eater, Shantel, said they actually liked this version better, because it’s already cut up for you, and it seems like all the ingredients are blended together better… WOW!!! Who knew… 🙂 Bonus….it takes less time and can be done on any night of the week if you use the crock pot method… So, now all our kids who always want cabbage rolls, but say they don’t have time to make them….,now you do… Thanks Mom!!! 🙂

If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it, and that you will let me know what your thoughts either way.

Next Up:

My “Holly Day” at Boyce Thompson Arboretum Stat Park. Oh what FUN we had!!!

Stay Tuned!

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