I’d like you to meet Ann. Ann is a professional photographer. She took all the photos of my bare chest during reconstruction for my upcoming breast cancer book. She’s used to seeing me naked. That’s why she has no problem walking into my house while I’m still in my pajamas, and I have no problem letting her.

Besides being a rockstar photographer, Ann is also an amazing cook, our own little Appalachian Pioneer Woman. Earlier this week, Ann popped over for an early morning visit. She sat down at my counter, scanned the 487 ingredients waiting to be prepped and said “What’s all this?”

“I laid this out so I could start cooking this morning, but looking at it makes me tired.”

“How many different things are you making???” she wondered.


At that point, she broke out into hysterics and kept whisper-chanting, “It’s so cute!”

She hid her face so I wouldn’t see the laughter tears running down her face.

Ann pulled it together and started by teaching me how to cut a bell pepper and an onion. I’d teach you, but I’m a slow learner, so you better just google it — or call Ann.

Thanks to Ann’s kindness (and her willingness to step in and just DO IT!) we did make two delicious meals. Before I share the recipes, here are a few takeaways from my new cooking adventure that may help you, too:

  1. Buy whole grain minute rice. Don’t try to make it yourself.
  2. When the recipe says “1 can of beans” don’t buy a bag of beans and try to boil them yourself just because it’s 20 cents cheaper.
  3. If you’re a newbie like me, it’s less confusing to do just one recipe at a time.
  4. Make sure your husband has already left for work or he will pontificate about how easy cooking is and then demonstrate with his granola and yogurt parfait.

I got so caught up in the chaos of the actual cooking that I forgot to take a picture of the finished recipes. EEK! Here’s one of them mid-process though!

Thank you to Julie who commented on Facebook and suggested I try making zucchini boats! Here are links to the recipes for Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats and Spiced Raisin and Pine Nut Barley Salad.

Bon appetit!