Category Archives: D.I.Y

My new Kindle ebook “Not So Vanilla: Easy Recipes to make Leftover Store-Bought Vanilla Ice Cream into Something Extraordinary!”

For those of us who don’t like it too vanilla 😉 Here’s the ‘scoop’:

“Not So Vanilla” By Kendra Valentine Kindle ebook Cover

“So, it’s someone’s birthday and you’ve bought a tub of vanilla ice cream to go with the cake. Afterward, not only do you have leftover ice cream, but you realize that you already had a freezer burnt nearly finished batch already in the fridge from last summer’s blueberry pie.

This has been happening to me for years.

This little inspiration recipe book came through a lot of research trying to find a solution to the never-ending carton of vanilla ice cream. Inside you’ll find some pretty cool ideas to capitalize on leftover ice cream… so much so you might end up buying vanilla ice cream specifically for these recipes. All the recipes and ideas in this book are exclusively simple & easy ways to make that boring vanilla ice cream into something extraordinary. Like most of my recipes and solutions, this book is merely a guide! Let your creativity flow and use what you have on hand. And don’t worry…there are just as many grown & sexy recipes as family-friendly ones…

Included: A free downloadable handy little cheat sheet to put on the fridge… it’s so cute you’ll leave it up even after you’re a vanilla ice cream hacking expert.”

Let me know how you feel about vanilla ice cream and help out the cause at the same time by grabbing a copy for just .99 cents and reviewing the book on Amazon. I’m counting on reviews from the fam so download a copy for some cool ways to shift down to ‘chill’ mode for the summer! Or do it so I will stop with the puns. Your choice.

Soul Food Thanksgiving: What to Prep the Day Before

Thanksgiving happens to be one of the only holidays, specific to the Americas. In these trying times, when your neighbor is getting seemingly further away despite the world getting smaller, it can be the simple things that we all share which remind us we’re united, if only for one day. Here are my tips on prepping for the big day if you are cooking my Soul Food Thanksgiving menu!


Go Shopping in the morning! (If you didn’t do it earlier)

The market will be a crazy place if you live in the U.S, but you got that list I made for you, that was included in the back of the Soul Food Thanksgiving book, and as a separate download in the enhanced version.

Now, it’s time to concentrate on cooking/prep:

  1. Make Turley Brine (Needs time to cool before using at night)
  2. Make Pecan pie (can leave on countertop)
  3. Make Sweet potato pie
  4. Make cornbread for Dressing  (can leave on countertop)
  5. Make breadcrumbs for Dressing (can leave on countertop)
  6. Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  7. Make Potato Salad
  8. Pick & Wash Greens (put in Ziploc bags and throw in a cool place, outside on the balcony works to save fridge space, unless you live in the tropics or Southern hemisphere, lucky.)

Extra time? Do some chopping: onions, celery, peppers, etc. (you can also throw this outside to save fridge space. Nothing will go bad.)



Brine Turkey

*Jellied Cranberry Sauce

*Potato Salad


Then get some rest because it’s on tomorrow!  #SoulFoodThanksgiving

Chewy Granola Bars Experiment

I’ve never made granola bars before… so this was a real experiment! Nice tart cranberries, roasted toasted almonds, and creamy peanut butter made these granola bars come together… literally and figuratively!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup soft dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Magic Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe for chocolate chip cookies has all the goodness of classic chocolate chip cookies but with a magic weapon… ground OATMEAL! The oatmeal doesn’t make the cookies taste like oatmeal cookies, it does something else magical to the cookies and elevates the entire situation: you’ll just have to try it to understand what I mean!

You’ll need:

    Makes about 3 dozen small cookies (4 cm. diameter)

  • 1 cup (225 grams) butter
  • 1 cup sugar (2 dl)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (2 dl)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. real vanilla extract (or 1 tsp. vanilla sugar)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups oatmeal or Harvregryn (This is measured before it is blended into powder)
  • *½ tsp. salt (if your butter has no salt)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (Bicarbonat in Swedish)

Tip: Don’t have chocolate chips? Just chop up a milk chocolate bar!

Taco Bell Mild Sauce Copycat Recipe!

There’s no Taco Bell in Sweden, so I started making a homemade version of the mild hot sauce that comes in those little packets. Don’t judge me: Taco bell is my vice, my love, my old friend… and that mild sauce is golden.

  • 3 cups (7 dl.) water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 6-ounce can (175 ml. tube) tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Tip: You can of course use this sauce on tacos, but also makes a good enchirito (enchilada + burrito) or wet burrito.The sauce is a little thick for a hot sauce, so it works well. You could also use a bit in chili con carne or in a soup base. It’s totally worth the effort!

Cornbread: Southern Skillet Recipe

Cornbread is classic Southern (U.S) eats! It goes with everything from soup, to stewed greens, to rice & beans: the prefect compliment to any dish with a little juice! Jiffy boxed mixed is popular, but you pay extra for a premix using low-quality ingredients, and a long list of preservatives: this is the upgrade!


You’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup (1.5 dl.) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (1.5 dl.) yellow corn meal (polenta)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cream or milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (optional)

Tip: What’s that nice flavor Jiffy flavor come from?
Jiffy has HYDROGENATED LARD. A low grade way to get good flavor. Lard is rendered pig fat, and is not as bad for you if it’s unprocessed… unlike shortening or hydrogenated oil. I use bacon fat (plus butter.) It’s like lard but with a salty smokey flavor: this is a plus in my book.  However, if you’re not a fiend like me and don’t save bacon fat, then just stick with the butter.

Faux Pho: Fast Vietnamese Noodle Soup!

When I was younger, I used to eat pho up to 3 times a week! Now, when I’m craving pho, I want it fast! So I came up with a solution and call it “faux pho” GET IT??? Actually the flavors are right on! The most important part of the recipe: use beef consommé or stock: NOT BROTH! Watch the video to learn why…

You’ll need:

Makes 2-3 Bowls

  • 5 cups (1 L.) Beef consommé or beef stock
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon allspice (kryddpeppar)
  • 1 chunk ginger sliced in half (ingefära)
  • 4 thin slices of yellow onion
  • 200g or (1) medium sized steak (I like entrecote/ribeye) or sirloin or lövbiff
  • 200g rice noodles

Toppings (All optional, take your pick! For me, bean sprouts and coriander are mandatory):

  • Bean sprouts
  • Coriander (or cilantro: see the bog header!)
  • Spring onion
  • Sweet Thai Basil
  • Lime
  • Red chili

Sriracha on the side!

Tip: The difference between beef broth, stock, and consommé… told simply:

These terms are somewhat, but not completely, interchangeable. I keep track this way…..

Broth is the liquid that remains after meat, seafood, or vegetables have been cooked in water. It may be served alone or used as the base for a light soup. You can also call this bouillon… bullion cubes are condensed & dried broth. And not nearly as rich and delightful as a liquid broth.

Stock is more intense than broth, cooked slowly to extract as much flavor as usually from BONES. A stock is used as an ingredient or base, not served alone….

Beef consommé is if you take stock one step further, and get fancy. Beef consommé is a clear and deep flavored and you get it by clarifying homemade stock.

For our soup, we want deep beef flavor to start and then we will add the specific flavors we want, so stock or consommé is best. Beef broth would not have a much beef flavor and would already have spices in it that don’t match the flavors we want…

Classic Macaroni & Cheese!

This is how you make a quick macaroni & cheese! This recipe is somewhere between the boxed macaroni & cheese and the old fashioned baked version… quick & easy but still gooey and delicious. The ultimate comfort food!

You’ll need:

  • 2 servings macaroni pasta (elbows, shells, cavatappi, or ziti)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup (2 dl.) milk
  • 1 cup+ (2 dl.) shredded cheese (I used cheddar, gräddost, feta, and Parmesan)
  • parsley (optional)
  • a little cornstarch (majsmjöl)

Tip: Having a hard time getting your cheese sauce to melt smoothly? This is often the case with cheddar cheese. A little trick is to mix in a sprinkle of cornstarch into the shredded cheese. This helps to keep the shreds from clumping together when they melt!

You can use nearly any kind of cheese, but if mixing different cheeses try to use something sharp (like cheddar or Monterrey jack), something that melts well (like Gruyere, provolone, or Gouda), and something salty (like feta or Parmesan).

New to cooking? Check out my kid-friendly cooking instructions in this blog post: “Happy Birthday Mac & Cheese!”

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Thai red curry might be the easiest and fastest dish I’ve ever cooked. Seriously. I was furious that never tried to do this before, and instead thought I needed secret take-out wok skills to pull this off with ease- I was wrong.

You’ll need:

  • Thai red curry paste
  • Coconut milk
  • Chicken breast meat, sliced
  • Veggies, fresh or frozen (green beans, baby corn, bell peppers,etc.)
  • (optional) sliced red chili
  • (optional) Some cilantro or coriander- see my blog header!

Baked Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

These baked cheese stuffed jalapenos have extra flavor & a garlic twist so you don’t need a special dipping sauce. Jalapeños are the most used chili pepper in America, and jalapeño poppers are one of my favorite things to eat! Great snack for a party or with a nice beer on the weekend.

You’ll need:

  • 10 Jalapeño chili peppers
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • feta cheee
  • marinated garlic (or lightly cooked in oil)
  • crackers (about 2 handfuls, old are fine!)
  • Oil for hands
  • sour cream (optional)