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Food for the Soul

Ms. Food Hacktress

Dianna Parkman aka Ms. Food Hacktress shares about her business journey along with some of her favorite recipes.

You can call me Ms. Food Hacktress, ready to break the code to traditional recipes, remixing, adding flavor, and making them my own to satisfy your taste palettes with a twist! Are You a Food Hacker?

Now known as Ms. Food Hacktress

My real name is Dianna Parkman, born and raised on the southside of Chicago where the aroma of morning breakfast complete with buttermilk pancakes, apple smoked bacon, toast, and grits were at the heart and soul of my family’s routine before heading to Sunday School. Growing up with loving parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I remember that meals and memories were always made in the kitchen.

In my career

 I have navigated and climbed the corporate ladder where I found my niche in Human Resources, a very rewarding avenue in helping others. Also, serving on two boards has brought me joy. However, something was missing in this career path from a full and whole perspective. I found cooking in the kitchen, remixing traditional recipes, and watching various local and celebrity chefs on TV quite interesting and therapeutic. I often found myself cooking for hours to praise and worship music while taking generations of traditional family recipes and making them my own.  

Understanding my purpose

Over this past year, I have shopped, cooked, and delivered warm meals to my family. I often refer to one of my grandmother’s cookbooks, dated over 20 years ago, with bookmarks and scriptures throughout that have positively impacted my life in ways unimagined. When you realize your calling, it does not feel like work; instead, it is refreshing and endless joy. That is when I realized that God was steering my path.   

When you know you know

I celebrated my 40th Birthday this year at a place where my siblings have encouraged me to activate my dream and passion of cooking. One of my sisters hosted a “Kissing my 30s Goodbye” themed birthday party for me and invited close family and friends. Lights, Camera, Action – the cameras were on! It felt amazing instructing a virtual cooking class. My mom and aunt were a part of my studio audience. They encouraged me to pursue my passion and prayed with me in speaking it into existence. As for me, the moment the camera turned on and the spotlight was on me, I knew it was God’s calling for me to follow my dreams as it felt so natural and we had so much fun while recording.  

Walking in my Purpose

You do not know your strength until you trust God. “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures” (Job 36:11). These days, I find pleasure in spending time with my two loving children and family while taking on food challenges, girlfriend check-ins, and virtual cook parties, helping others become Food Hackers as well.

Food for the Soul

I want to thank MB Magazine for believing in me and sharing my story and inviting me into the family. In this food column, you will find some of my favorite traditional soulful recipes with a twist by adding in a secret ingredient: brown sugar. Have fun in the kitchen and remember to drizzle it all with love!  

Let’s get cooking!

Not your ordinary Greens “Charred Collard Greens”

  • 2-3 bunches of Collard Greens
  • 1 Whole Red Onion – Diced 
  • 1 Whole Green Bell Pepper – Diced 
  • ½ Pack of Lipton Onion® Powder 
  • 1 Tbs – Olive Oil 
  • 1 Tbs – Minced Garlic 
  • 1 Tbs – Dark Brown Sugar
  • ¼ Tsp – Italian Seasonings
  • 1 pinch of Sea Salt (Pink Himalayan preferred) 

Remember, we are food hacking; additional seasonings are encouraged to your taste as necessary. 

Prepare – Rinse and clean Collard greens, drain. Add olive oil, diced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic to hot skillet and sauté. Add in cut greens (keep some stems), Lipton Onion®, Italian Seasonings, and toss. Greens will darken and become charred. Add in ¼ teaspoons of water to keep moistened and mix to steam. Once done, drizzle with brown sugar then serve! Cook Time: 20-25 mins.

Mac and Cheese with Cheese Please! 

Yes, that is right, its cheese drizzled with more cheese!

  • 1 – Box small Macaroni Noodles (use any noodle you like) 
  • 2 – 8oz Blocks of Kraft® Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese 
  • 1 – 8oz Block of Kraft® Colby Cheese
  • 4 oz – Smoked Gruyere Cheese 
  • 2 – Cans of Evaporated Milk (or any milk substitute of choice) 
  • ¼ Cup (1/2 Stick) of Unsalted Butter (preferably Irish Butter) 
  • ¼ Cup (1/2 Stick) of Margarine 
  • ½ Cup of Parmesan Cheese 
  • ¼ Tsp – Lemon Pepper 

Remember, we are food hacking; additional seasonings are encouraged to your taste as necessary. 

Prepare – First, start by boiling your noodles for approx. 12 minutes. While boiling pasta, grab a pot, add margarine, butter, and evaporated milk on low heat. Then, cut and dice all cheese, adding a handful of cheese pieces into the pot to melt, stir. Drain pasta, grab a casserole dish, and begin layering. At the bottom of the dish, add in your pasta, pour your pot over layer, add shredded cheese, then drizzle in some parmesan cheese and a dash of lemon pepper, and repeat until you have used up all ingredients. Bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook Time: 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling, then serve! 

Pan Seared – Honey Glazed Grilled Lamb and Pork Chops

  • 3-4 Pork Chops 
  • 3-4 Lamp Chop shoulders 
  • 2 Cups of Mushrooms (Chopped) 
  • 1 Pack – Lipton Onion® Powder 
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Tbs Spicy Dijon Mustard (or plain Dijon Mustard) 
  • 2 Tbs Dark Brown Sugar 
  • 1 Tsp – Italian Seasonings 
  • 1 Tsp – Onion Powder 
  • 1 Tsp – Garlic Powder 

*Remember, we are food hacking; additional seasonings encouraged to your taste as necessary.

Prepare – First, start by Cleaning both Lamb and Pork Chops (the secret is to scrub with a lemon). Once cleaned, glaze chops with spicy Dijon mustard and honey, then add in all seasonings on both sides. Use a grilling skillet to gain the best results. Pan sear for about 5 mins, carefully without burning (honey will cause it to brown quickly). Once flipped, add in mushrooms and drizzle brown sugar. Use compatible bakeware that can withstand up to 400 degrees. Bake: 15 minutes. Cook Time: 15 minutes in the oven, then serve! 

Twisted Yams – Sauteed Sweet Potato Chips 

  • 2 Large Sweet Potato
  • ½ Cup – Dark Brown Sugar 
  • ¼ Cup – (1/2 Stick) of Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Tsp – Pineapple Juice 
  • Dash of Sea Salt 

Prepare – First, start by rinsing and removing potato skin. Next, slice the potato into chip shape. Add butter and potatoes to skillet. Sauté for 5 mins, then add in pineapple juice and brown sugar. Stir for an additional 8-10 minutes. Drizzle sea salt and serve! Cook Time: 13-15 minutes

No Bake Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake 

  • 1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust – If choose to make homemade, great job!
  • 1 8oz Package – Cream Cheese 
  • 1 Can – Sweetened Condensed Milk 
  • 1 Cup – Lemon Juice 
  • 1 Cup – Pecans (or any crushed nuts of your choice) 
  • 1 Cup – Maraschino Cherries (in heavy syrup) 
  • 4 Tbs – Chocolate Syrup (prefer sugar free)
  • 3 Tbs – Lime Juice 
  • 1 Tbs – Pure Vanilla Extract

Remember, we are food hacking. You can use other extract flavors to create different cheesecakes such as Key Lime, Banana Foster, and more! 

Prepare – Mix cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, lemon, and lime juice in mixer. Start mixer on low speed to reduce splash. Blend until texture is smooth. Pour half the mixture into pie crust, then add in 2 tbs of chocolate syrup, then add the remainder of the batter. Add lid and freeze for approximately 4 hours. Once hardened, drizzle chocolate syrup, pecans, and cherries over the top, cut, and serve! 

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