Eric’s Huevos Mexicanos

Huevos Mexicanos is easy to make and can be quickly prepared using inexpensive and readily available ingredients. This recipe serves 4 to 6.



6 to 8 eggs, whipped

1 medium onion, chopped and divided into 2 parts

1 tomato or a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped

handful of cilantro, stems removed and chopped

1 15-ounce can of pinto beans

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

2 tablespoons high heat safflower oil, divided

1 cup salsa

4 to 6 whole wheat tortillas, warmed


Chop onion, and divide into two parts. Put 1 tablespoon oil into medium frying pan set on burner turned to medium heat. Add half the onions to the pan and saute a few minutes.


While onions are frying, drain and rinse beans.


When onions are slightly translucent, stir beans into onions in pan and saute a few more minutes. Turn heat to low. Mash beans.

mexicano blog

Grate cheese and sprinkle over beans in pan. Cover and let cheese melt.


In a separate pan, warm remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Saute remaining onions a few minutes. Then add tomatoes and saute a few more minutes. Add eggs.


Cook and scramble egg mixture.


Chop and add cilantro.


Serve eggs hot with beans, salsa, and whole wheat tortilla.


Savory Butternut Squash Soup with Gorgonzola Salmon on English Muffins


Baking the squash enhances its flavor and produces better texture than you can achieve with boiled squash soups. Sauteed sage, onion, and garlic lend the soup a turkey-stuffing-like flavor. Paired with crisp English muffins topped with salmon and melted gorgonzola cheese, this duo makes an extraordinary yet simple and nutritious meal. This meal’s especially easy to assemble with leftover salmon. I used blackened baked salmon from last night’s supper.

Ingredients for Savory Butternut  Squash Soup:

butternut squash  (about 4 pounds)

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves

salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon high heat safflower oil

1 tablespoon dried sage

Water or chicken or vegetable broth (enough to produce the consistency you prefer)

Chicken or vegetable bouillon cube (optional, instead of broth)

Preparation of Savory Butternut Squash Soup:

Cut squash into chunks. Scoop out seeds and set aside. (Seeds may be toasted for garnish.)

Melt butter. Brush melted butter onto surfaces of squash (not on peel). Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper.

Bake squash in 400 degree oven until tender (about 25 -30 minutes).


While squash cooks, heat oil in small pan. Add and sauté onion and garlic a few minutes to release flavors. Add sage and sauté a few minutes more.


Put sautéed onion mixture into blender with 1 cup of water or broth. Puree.


Scrape pureed onion mixture into large soup pan.

Remove squash from oven. Cut off peel and cut into smaller chunks.

In batches, add cooked squash to blender with water or broth. Scoop blended squash into soup pan containing onion mixture. Turn burner to medium heat. If using bouillon cube, add it now and stir to dissolve.

Taste and adjust spices. If needed, add more water or broth to achieve desired consistency. Once soup is simmering, turn off burner and serve hot.

Ingredients for Gorgonzola Salmon on English Muffins:

English muffins, 1/2 or 1 per person

Gorgonzola cheese, about 1 tablespoon per person

Salmon, cooked (leftover is perfect), enough to cover English muffins

Preparation of Gorgonzola Salmon on English Muffins:

Use fork to divide muffin tops from bottoms. Crisp muffin halves by setting inside oven a few minutes while squash bakes. Be careful to avoid burning!

Remove muffins from oven. Flake salmon over each muffin half.  Top salmon with gorgonzola cheese.


Slip muffins back in oven to warm salmon and melt cheese. Broil or bake a few minutes, until cheese begins to brown. Again, be careful to avoid burning!


Melissa Tosetti: Smart Spending, Rich Living

My interview with Melissa Tosetti, author of Living the Savvy Life: the Savvy Woman’s Guide to Smart Spending and Rich Living, will air tomorrow  at 1 PM and be rebroadcast Monday, Jan. 23rd at 8 AM.  Listen live at KRUU to hear Melissa discuss how to achieve financial security by avoiding both overspending and excessive frugality. After Jan. 23rd, this interview will be posted here, on Writers Voices, and on KRUU’s archives.

At businesswomen’s conferences in San Francisco and Sacramento, Melissa’s chaired panel discussions on balanced spending and financial security. She founded the online magazine, The Savvy Life and coauthored Living the Savvy Life with the magazine’s managing editor, Kevin Gibbons. Melissa teaches courses on savvy living in the San Francisco Bay area and also at Chabot College in Hayward, California. Melissa also teaches Kung Fu and Fearless Fitness classes. Her hobbies include traveling with husband Paul and son Dante, horseback riding, gardening, and cooking. She’s a lively, accomplished woman with lots of tips to share. Tune in tomorrow!

Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast

Baking instead of panfrying French toast is great on cold winter mornings, especially if you’re making breakfast or brunch for guests. Prepare the dish at night and bake the next morning while assembling healthy accompaniments, like fresh fruit and sauteed spinach. This recipe produces four to six servings.


3 eggs

¾ cup half-and-half (or whole or 2% milk)

½ cup skim milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon turbinado sugar

2 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (or walnut dust, i.e., the residue that settles at the bottom of a container of walnuts)

1 tablespoon butter

5 or 6 large slices challah bread (enough to cover bottom of 9-x-12 glass pan)


Lightly grease 9-X-12 glass baking pan.

Collect walnut dust and/or finely chop walnuts.


Sprinkle walnuts (and/or walnut dust) onto bottom of greased baking pan.


Slice enough challah bread to cover bottom of pan.


Melt butter.


Brush melted butter onto both sides of each slice of bread. Lay buttered bread in pan, gentlyly pushing it onto walnuts.


Whip together eggs.


Whip in dairy products.


Whip in vanilla.


Pour liquid mixture over each slice of bread. Then, with spatula, gently turn each slice over.


Grate nutmeg.


Sprinkle nutmeg over each slice of bread.

Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until most liquid is absorbed, overnight is okay.

Remove pan from refrigerator and uncover. With spatula, very gently turn each slice of bread over. Sprinkle each slice with turbinado sugar.


Bring pan to room temperature by placing on top of oven while preheating it to 425 degrees Farenheit.

When oven is ready, bake for 20-25 minutes, until bread is puffy and slightly browned.

Serve hot with drizzles of maple syrup.

Linda Egenes: Writing Nonfiction Books

Linda Egenes

Linda Egenes

My friend Linda Egenes authored Visits with the Amish: Impressions of the Plain Life and co-authored four other nonfiction books. Her most recent release, coauthored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D., is Super Healthy Kids. Linda holds an M. A. in Professional Writing and has written over 400 articles for publications such as AAA Living, LA Yoga, and Family Fun. Linda occasionally teaches writing workshops and recently shared tips with me on how to write a nonfiction book. Here’s my summation of Linda’s advice:

1. Clear whatever you can from your schedule so you can focus on researching and writing the book.

2. Develop a general working knowledge of your topic. Decide on an angle pretty early on.

3. Develop a schedule and a timeline and stick to it.  Set reasonable goals.

4. Do research on an as-needed basis

5. Regarding recorded interviews, ask yourself, “What really struck me?” Then write from memory as much as possible. Afterwards go back to the recording for quotes and facts. “I start putting together the article [or chapter] from the things that grab me, that spark me,” Linda said.

6. Make a contacts list of everyone you interview. Note when the interview occurred and what you discussed. Later, you may need to contact your interviewees for permissions or follow-up questions. Consider creating a separate address book on your computer for each book you write.

7. To organize the book, brainstorm, using whatever technique works for you, such as clustering or mapping ideas. Formulate a working outline. “In a nonfiction book, you definintely have to have a roadmap,” Linda explained. “Things change as you go, but have as much of an outline as you can.” Think of it as a table of contents, she suggested. List subcategories. Some people use sticky notes on wall charts while outlining.

8. When you start writing, take Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird approach to heart. “You cannot write the whole book while you’re thinking about the whole book,” Linda stressed. “Once  you start, you cannot continue to think about the whole book every moment. You have to shut that off, and you have to think of one chapter. Treat that as if it’s an article. Forget that you’re writing a book. Trick your mind. Think, ‘All I’m doing is writing this article. I’m going to grab all my resources. I’m going to put everything I have into writing this article,'” Linda said.

9. Write the first draft quickly. “You don’t have to start with chapter one. Start with the easiest chapter,” Linda suggested. She sometimes prints chapters and puts them in a tabbed looseleaf notebook.

10. “To do a big project, to overcome all the doubts and the fears, which you will have, you have to plow through it and make it happen,” Linda emphasized. Starting first thing in the morning helps with this process.

Linda recommended two books, How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen and The Writer’s Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats by Dian Dincin Buchman and Seli Groves.

Thanks, Linda, for all the good advice!

Elaine Duncan – 100 Paintings Saved!

After fire ravaged the Fairfield, Iowa, building containing her art studio in November of 2011, artist Elaine Duncan at first believed all 700 of the drawings and paintings she stored there had perished. Two weeks later workers clearing debris from the building unearthed a soggy surprise. Last week I interviewed Elaine; my article about the miraculous recovery of 100 of her paintings and her efforts to repair the smoke and water damage they sustained will appear in the February issue of The Iowa Source.

elaine blue fire

Elaine Duncan with Recovered Art Work