Alexa Joan

Enjoying life with Food

The non-chicken Chicken WING!


My husband is a vegetarian…so I need to make sure I create good and tasty meals that incorporate whole foods and proteins.  My children and I are not vegetarian – they like chicken! Therefore, when we are craving chicken wings, my husband has to leave the house because he is not able to eat CHICKEN WINGS. It isnt even the chicken he wants, it is the sauce and the crispiness of the chicken wing that he desires.

Well I found out for myself how I could please my husband and my children with an easy dish! BAKED CAULIFLOWER WINGS. Some of you are familiar with this great snack, however, did you know you can make this dish and add a kick of protein?

Here we go:

  • 1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1.5 cup garbanzo bean flour*
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1/2 – 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2t coriander
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/4 stick melted butter, or ghee
  • 1/3 c hot sauce
  • 2/3 bbq Sauce (if desired)


Preheat Oven to 450 F. Prepare your pan, Spray lightly with Pan Spray or use Parchment Paper.

In a Medium sized bowl, combine flour, water, seasonings, salt and pepper. Stir or whisk well to combine all ingredients.

Toss Cauliflower into batter to make sure each piece is coated well, the flour will be thick so be patient. Then place each piece on a lightly greased sheet pan.

Bake for 20 minutes – meanwhile combine your melted butter, hot sauce and bbq sauce (if using).

When your timer goes off, remove the cauliflower from the oven and gently toss each piece into the sauce.  Your coating will be fragile and some make come off – dont worry about it 🙂 Place the cauliflower back on the baking sheet and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until it becomes crispy.

Once complete, allow your cauliflower to cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.  Obviously you cannot have wings without a sauce! We did blue cheese “Of Course” and we had carrots and celery to go with it.

This recipe is Vegan and Gluten-Free

Enjoy! and thanks for checking out this recipe.

Alexa Joan

  • Note 1 –  Garbanzo bean flour can be found in the grocery store in the gluten free baking section.  It is also known as besan or gram flour.  (If you are feeling adventurous you can make your own, by simply grinding dried chickpeas in a high powered blender or food processor)
  • Note 2 – You can mix up any seasoning you want for your flour mixture, try a new spice blend that you make up yourself.  The worst that can happen is that you dont like it and have to try again next time!
  • Note 3 – I had fun with my flour mixture, I combined Garbanzo bean Flour, Lentil Flour and a Gluten Free Flour.
  • Note 4 – The Sauce possibilities are endless… next time I make these I will post some more.



What’s for Dinner: Spinach! Spinach!

On my trip to Guercio’s on Friday (purpose: to get ’00’ flour for pizza!) I picked up some fresh baby Spinach, spinach couscous and leeks. So today I picked up some Wild Caught Perch and Flounder for Dinner.
What came out of all this? Spinach Couscous, fresh Spinach, leeks, slivered almonds, kalmata olives along side garlic lemon fish!!! And everyone enjoyed it, even asked for seconds! That’s one for the books.


Looking for the “best” Peanut Butter Cookie!

We all have cravings. Some remain the same, some change like the weather in the city of Buffalo.
Lately I have been craving a peanut butter cookie! Years ago it may have been chocolate chip, but I can’t eat those anymore. An old school mate and my husband reminded me of the DELICIOUS peanut butter cookies at our high school (City Honors). Rich peanut butter taste. Crisp, but chewy. Mmmmmm.
I started looking for a basic recipe that would provide the product I desired. Well of course there are TONS of recipes with authors claiming they are the best. The “best” is relative, the best for one person may not be the best for another! Knowing this I want to find out what is the best recipe for MY family.
So I polled my family “can you describe what your perfect peanut butter cookie would be?”

Dreys: Soft; but stiff with a snap
Eman: Soft and chewy
Emeka: Crispy, soft and chewy
Alexa: Chewy, crisp on the edges

I have made two batches so far. Pretty much the same recipe, however, the first night I didn’t have enough peanut butter so I had to incorporate some Nutella! Not a bad idea. I also used brown sugar. I added some Grey sea salt from France on the top. Yummy! Tonight I am working on the tried and true recipe:

1 cup Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 egg
* 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla (optional)

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 20 min. Make a 1″ ball press with fork. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes about 15-18 cookies.

First up: Modified basic recipe with brown sugar and Nutella. No refrigerating.


Not bad. Pretty tasty. Everyone liked it fresh out of the oven, it was pretty unstable though, crumbly. The Nutella made it darker (you cant tell in the picture) The sea salt is definitely a winner! While eating the day old cookies Eman said, “Now this is my type of cookie”.

Now today: The tried and true recipe, with a bit of sea salt on top. I used Peter Pan natural PB. (3g of sugar)


First off, they look very different. Not as thin. The texture appears different as well. After the taste test…it tastes like a Reese’s peanut butter cup! Mmmmm very rich. Edreys says a little too much salt. I thought it was the perfect salty & sweet combo. The boys tried those without the salt. All in all a good PB cookie…but was it the BEST?

What is your perfect PB cookie? If you feel the urge send me a recipe, I will see if it is the best for us!!!

My Meditation…

…is something I need to work more at and with. It brings me peace, tranquility, and joy. It begins with a few lines and the. Becomes more than I imagined. I go into a trance and get lost in the work. When I emerge, it is like I am centered, reborn, renewed, recharged, reenergized!!!
This is my meditation. Still in the works.


It’s has been a while….

I am home, obviously! I have been home for about 1.5 months. I have a lot to catch everyone up on and I don’t think I will do it all in one post.

The general summary of my experience:
1. Approach new experiences with an open mind and be ready and willing to learn.
2. To make great food, take your time, use fresh ingredients and make it simple. Most of the dishes I made and ate only had maybe 3-5 ingredients. If more ingredients only a few.
3. If you are going to do something you love and want to do with the support of your loved ones; enjoy it to the fullest with no guilt!

When I got back home, I think I sleep for a week! Every time Edreys turned around I was on the couch sleeping, knocked out! I would wake up and had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA where I was. It took a few seconds for me to get my wits about me.

My boys are still attached to my hip, I really like that. They also want to cook and create things like jewelry. Hey, no complaints from me!

Right now I am back in school for one more year. I am working in the schools restaurant which is open to the public. You can get a three course meal including drinks for under $20. I will keep you posted on that as well.

Next time I will share more photos of food for you, as well as, my signature dish that I made.


(Some things the boys have been making and working on)








Life abroad…Limited Technology

When we have a lot of technology around us, we can’t live without it. On our hip, in our hand, in our ear…we are consumed by being connected. In fear that we will miss something in this fast paced world of ours.
As I prepared for this journey,I knew I didn’t need a laptop. I figured my phone would be good, mainly for quick photos and easy access to the internet (no voice service or data plan), a tablet for books so my luggage doesn’t weigh me down, and a camera. That is the extent of what I brought. When we arrived in Positano, we asked about internet access and were told, just get it where you can and save the passwords!
After a little bit of withdrawal (what am I going to do without internet); I realized it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t have to check for my phone every 5 minutes, I won’t be checking my email and worrying about what I am getting or not getting!!! It is a good thing, no immediate concerns or worry.
Unfortunately I can’t reach out to my family as frequently but I can reach them when I need to!
So I became dependent on my iPhone, pictures, notes, recipes, blog entries, Facebook, research, etc. I have an adapter to charge my phone – USB. For some reason after two months they decided they didn’t like each other and I believe my phone is fried!  I am not going to count it out u til I get home but…I am no longer using it!
Thankfully I have my back up, my kindle and it is coming in handy. Not as convenient as my phone but I am good!  So that is one reason my posts have been limited. Also, I am not sure how many photos I will be posting but I will do my best. The kindle only has one camera so maybe you will just get photos of me!!!!! LOL
There you have it, an update from me. Still having fun still meeting GREAT people, still enjoying my experience!
Thank you for your well wishes and support! Only a few weeks left, Ciao!!!

Staff Meals at La Taverna del Leone

This stage/internship is not only about learning and cooking… They feed you too! That is a pretty good deal! And I mean they FEED you to the point you have to say “ENOUGH!”
I have even had the pleasure of cooking a few meals!
Here is a list of some of the things we have eaten for staff meals along with some photos:

Meatloaf with French Fries and salad
Pasta with tomato sauce served with mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto (ham) and cooked.
Rice salad
Pasta Napoli (olive oil, garlic, red pepper, basil)
Pasta with parsley pesto served with pan fried mozzarella
Pasta Sicily (eggplant, tomatoes, Parmesan)
Pasta with calamari
Pasta with Fresh anchovies
Pasta with salted anchovies
Chicken cutlet with fries and salad
Pasta fagioli
Pasta with beans and chicken
Pasta with deep fried mozzarella sandwiches
Fried Calamari, salad and fried anchovies
Pasta Carbonara (Traditional)
Pasta Carbonara ( with truffle butter)
Eggplant Parmesan
Sausage with pasta
Grilled Alici
Sausage patties with salad and fried potatoes
Sri Lankan fried rice with Chicken

Pizza with eggplant and bell pepper sauté

Sri Lankan Fried Rice

Italian Rice Salad

Marinated Alicis

Parsley Pesto Pasta with freshly made bread.

Do you understand what they are saying?….

… Of course… Well… Kind of… Sorta? I am still learning. This is the question I received today that prompted this post. Thank you Jack! Jacks’ family came into La Taverna del Leone for a cooking class today (Cooking Vacations). Father Mike, Mother Tricia, son Jack, unfortunately their daughter was not with them. It was a pleasure to meet them and spend the morning with Jack. It was a welcome change to have a little boy around and I think everyone in the kitchen would agree. I have two boys at home and I KNOW how much energy they have and require. Anyway Jack and I talked all morning, about his trip, school, grades, books he read, minecraft, his famous dad and awesome mom! 🙂 and he was an excellent helper. Now, hanging with Jack made me think even more about my family and my boys!
About midway through our morning Jack ask the question “Do you understand what they are saying?” It actually made me think… I may understand about 25% of what my kitchen is saying. The rest is hand gestures, sounds, charades, listening and watching closely. Thankfully italians use their hands a lot when they speak. THANK GOD we are in the kitchen so I can relate to what is being said (not the jokes though!!).
In the kitchen the majority of the conversation during the day is of Food and ingredients, obviously. This is not only here in Italy where I don’t speak the language but anywhere. That is one great thing about culinary arts. It transcends culture, ethnicity and language. I took a 10-week italian language course before I came here. Not long enough especially considering the different dialects, however, I learned the basics and most important things; ex. I need help, Where is…?, How much does this cost…?, Names of fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, etc… Kitchen phrases…etc.. Knowing these basic things is what prepared me for this trip, and of course I am still learning. My husband told me to watch italian TV to help me learn the language, and it did actually help.
So, in the kitchen, it is said that you need more than just utensils/tools to cook, you also need all of your senses; sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. This is the absolute truth, you have to pay attention and be aware at all times as well. Understanding this has made this experience even better for me. I can enjoy what I am going through because I am not overly concerned with words, I understand and communicate in other ways!
The other thing that has enhanced this experience for me is knowing that there is always something to learn.


A portrait of me crafted out of mashed potatoes, by one of the chefs. See I am smiling, I am doing alright!!

Dove Vai?

I am here is Positano, Italy for an “extended stay”. My commute is pretty much the same 6 days a week. So if you are a worker in the Piazza here then you see me almost everyday. As I mentioned in a previous post, people are getting to know me by sight. I mean lets face it, there are not many brown skinned women with locks here. Okay you got me, I am the only one. Therefore, when people see me for more than a month with book bag in tow they know I am not a vacationer!
Well the other day must have been the month mark because several people asked, in kind of an exasperated but pleasant way, “Dove Vai?” Translation: “Where do you go” or “Where are you going?” I then begin my practiced italian response. I guess I have practiced it so much that it sounds authentic and then the conversations really begin…without me. I have to catch up and try to grasped the words I know and stutter through my responses, I must be doing pretty well. Then I tell them I only speak a little italian and they say “oh” some will slow down and repeat what I didn’t understand, some will just repeat it in the same fast way. There are many who speak as much English as I do Italian and do it VERY well. They always say, I am sorry I don’t speak English very well and I respond oh yes you do!!!
Whenever I tell the locals I work at La Taverna del Leone, they always say that I am at the best place!! Best food, the best people, the best place to learn. I definitely agree with them. I will have to bring my family back here to visit!
The other cool thing about being American overseas is that people “just know” that you are American. For better or for worse. Thankfully I am experiencing only the better.
I am meeting some really great people from the US and from other countries (Australia) that come through Positano and the restaurant. They are excited for me and are very encouraging. I share my blog with them so they can follow my experiences. So if you are out there, and you remember me from the kitchen at La Taverna del Leone, thank you for your kind words and warming smiles, they really mean a lot to this culinary traveler.

So the phrase of this week is “Dove Vai!” Ciao, Ciao for now!


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