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Showing posts from 2014

Edamame Spread

Edamame is a good thing.  It's one of my favorite parts of going out for sushi.  And, it's one of the few things you can replicate in your own home with much success!

At some point on a grocery shopping trip, I made the mistake of purchasing already shelled edamame.  I vastly prefer it with the shell on, for preparing at home.   So, I have had this random bag of shelled edamame rolling around in my freezer for a long time.  I decided now is the time for figuring out what to do with this unwanted veggie.

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Ted Allen's book In My Kitchen.  I really like this cookbook.  It has a great balance of easy and fussy, and everything I've tried so far has come out beautifully.

Ted's recipe called for fresh ricotta, and I didn't have it.  So I opened up the icebox and started dragging things out that needed to be used up.  It's amazing the weird things you can find when you start looking in your icebox.  I found a sad littl…

A New Chili Recipe!

We love chili around here.  I crave it whenever the weather outside gets overcast and cold.

The recipe I normally use, I got from my friend Diane years ago.

I like it because it's simple.  I brown a pound of whatever ground meat I have around (my favorite is turkey or chicken) with a chopped onion.  When the meat is done, I dump in a can of hot chili beans and a can of either Rotel tomatoes, or just plain canned tomatoes.  I can make it feed more people by adjusting the number of cans of beans and tomatoes.  Then I just let it fester on the stove for however long I can stand to smell it and not dive in!

If I had one criticism of the recipe, it would be the thickness.  Sometimes I add a cornstarch slurry after it simmers for a while in order to tighten it up a bit.  I have also used equal parts flour and butter.  Both thickening methods work fine.

I was wandering around on Pinterest a few days ago, and I came across a blog entry on one of my favorite blogs, "Food Pusher"…

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones

It was a snowy day here in Colorado.  I'm fine with that, as long as I don't have to run around in it.  It was the kind of day that makes me want to bake.  And make chili.  So I did both.

These scallions are outrageously good.

I followed the recipe exactly, except I ended up having to add way more buttermilk to get the dough to come together.

I am planning on serving these babies with a big bowl of chili.  I found both of the recipes on Pinterest, so if the chili comes out edible, I'll post it here.  But for now, just feast your eyes on these beautiful scones.

I bet these would be good with any combination of ingredients... bleu cheese and proscuitto,  pancetta and feta... you name it.  Maybe even cheddar and chorizo.  This is making me really hungry.

I found this recipe on a blog called "Love to Cook."  This is the first recipe I've tried from this site.  But I'm really impressed with this first project.  After dinner, I'm planning to curl up on the…

Knitting Project

So, my niece Taylor is having a baby soon.  I decided I would knit a blanket for the new baby.

When I was a kid, my father's mother was the fiber arts person in the family.  She crocheted afghans for all the kids, and cross stitched birth announcements, etc.  Nana past away several years ago.  I started thinking about the kids who will be born in the family in the future.  Who would make heirlooms for them?

I figured, even though I'm not nearly as talented as my grandmother (actually, both of my grandmothers crocheted), I can knit, so I should pick up the mantle and continue the tradition.

I started this project a while back.  I am shocked I actually finished it before the baby is born.  I kinda figured I'd give it to the baby when she graduated from high school. :)

It came out very nicely, but the yarn I used was awful.  It's called Baby's First by Lion Brand.  It is really thick, but the strands come apart and break easily.  I think I'll send this one to be …

Baked Oatmeal

This stuff is amazing!  Most people who know me, know I really don't like oatmeal.  My preferred delivery platform for it is cookies.  Unfortunately for me, my husband loves it.  I make it for him every weekday morning.  Then I make something different for me.

When I saw this recipe, I got excited.  I was hopeful that this might be the magic recipe that makes oatmeal palatable to me.

I was right!  This is so good, and it is pretty flexible, as well.  You could add anything to it that you normally throw in your bowl of morning oatmeal.

The recipe is here.  It's from a blog called "Food Pusher."  I love this blog.  When I read it, I always come away hungry.  I've made several recipes from here, and they've all been very successful.

So, now all I have to do is figure out a way to replace the oil in this recipe with something slightly more healthy.  Coconut oil, perhaps?  When I figure something out that doesn't compromise the quality of the recipe, I'll…

Pear Jam with Chocolate

I have found I really enjoy small batch canning.  I don't have the room (or the budget) for large batches of things- plus I get tired of things before I finish a huge jar.

A while back a purchased a book entitled Preserving By the Pint by Marisa McClellan.  When it arrived, I immediately read through it and marked this recipe.

I bought pears at the store this week specifically to use in this recipe.

I was a bit disappointed with the finished product.  The chocolate flavor was not present enough, and the pears were still too structured for me.  When I was reflecting over the process of making it, I decided that I would give it another try, substituting real chocolate for the cocoa powder called for in the book, and adding cinnamon.  I also thought it would be better if I used an immersion blender to break the fruit up a little better.

Imagine my surprise, when I was looking to see if the recipe was published on the internet, (I always check, because if I got the recipe from a book…

Cabernet Cranberry Sauce with Blueberries

So here's part one of Thanksgiving prep.

I made the cranberry sauce today.  I found the recipe here.

I did not have cabernet, so I substituted Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel.

I think it turned out just fine.

I also used frozen blueberries and cranberries- cuz I had both of them in the freezer and I didn't want to go out in the snow to get fresh.

I think it tastes really good.  It certainly made the house smell lovely this morning.  It didn't make a huge batch, which is probably good.  I hope there's enough left to get at least one really good turkey sandwich out of on Friday!

The Plan...

Here's the plan for Thanksgiving this year.  I'm really excited, because this is the first Thanksgiving I've ever hosted in my own house!  And it only took 46 years...

It may be a bit ambitious, but I'm planning to put as much together before hand as I can, so Thursday will be dedicated to the turkey and baking things off.

To be honest, I don't really have a recipe for what I want to do with the turkey.  I want to butterfly it and stuff it with fruit and veggies and bread, then make it into a roulade.  I saw it on TV the other day.  How hard can it be?

I suppose the worst that can happen is that 5 people don't get turkey, but fill up on the other 75 things on the menu.

No matter what happens, it will be an interesting day.  And hopefully, it will be the first of many holiday gatherings at our table!

Shrimp and Grits

I love shrimp, and I love grits.  Thankfully, the two go together swimmingly.

I've eaten shrimp and grits at just about every place I've ever seen them on the menu, because... well, it's shrimp and grits!

I'm sure there are tried and true recipes for this dish out there on the interwebs, but I'm really not interested in them.  I like my grits a certain way, and I'm pretty sure this version is much less fussy than all those others.  As a matter of fact, if this post makes you crave shrimp and grits, you should make them just the way you like them.  Grits are a personal thing, y'all.

When I originally made this, I was looking for the quickest way to get from hungry to fed.  When left to my own devices (and when on Southern soil) I prefer stone ground grits.  They aren't quick, but they are the best of the best as far as I'm concerned.

Unfortunately, on this particular day, I was not on Southern soil, nor did I have the patience to cook award winning …

A Busy Morning...

I've been busy so far today.  I just bought a book called Preserving By the Pint by Marisa McClellan.  I have been reading her blog "Food in Jars" for a while now.  The thing I like about this book is the recipes are for small batches of preserves.  I have a small house, and there are only 2 people in it. I can't store (or consume) 3 bushels of apples turned into butter.

One of the more successful plants in our garden this year was habanero peppers.  The problem with habaneros is, they are hot. I mean really hot.  I've never seen a salsa recipe that calls for more than 1 at a time.  So as I was leafing through my new book, I came across a recipe for raspberry habanero jam.  I decided that would be my first attempt at solo canning.

I made it earlier today, and I have to say it's good.  It isn't very spicy, but it tastes very fresh.  Next time I will cut more slits in the habanero, so more spiciness gets into the jam.

After my success with the jam, I decid…

Garbage Frittata

Another horrible iPhone picture of a really good breakfast.

I think the frittata deserves more credit than we generally give it.  It is a blank canvas, to be populated with whatever bits of stuff we have lying around.

This one was particularly good.  And, it was particularly strange.

I have been struggling to use up the garden's last gasp this weekend.  To that end, I fried a batch of green tomatoes Friday, and made a huge pot of mashed potatoes.  I served them with a couple of brown sugar glazed pork blade steaks.  I had leftover bits of all those things floating around in my ice box, so I decided to throw them in a frittata this morning.

There isn't really a set recipe for a frittata.  I started by roughly chopping the fried green tomatoes and the blade steak, then warming them in the skillet with about a tablespoon of butter.  When they were warmed through, I beat 4 eggs with a good splash of heavy cream, salt and pepper.   I added a handful of grated Irish cheddar to the …

Roasted Vegetable Galette

I found a new cooking magazine at the store the other day.  It's called "Fine Cooking."  I was perusing the latest issue earlier today when a recipe caught my eye.  I say it was a recipe, really it was a technique.  It consisted of roasting a pan of whatever veggies you have on hand, then wrapping them in a cream cheese based pastry and baking until golden brown.  I knew right then, I had a winner of a dinner.

I don't remember what veggies the magazine used.  I used summer squash, red peppers, potatoes, onions and swiss chard.  I chucked in some rosemary, thyme and lemon set, and roasted them in a foil covered brownie pan at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  I put the veggies aside to cool while I made the crust.

The pastry crust was pretty simple.  I put 1 1/2 cups of plain flour, 6 oz of unsalted butter (cut into little pieces), 6 oz of cream cheese (also cut into little pieces) and about a teaspoon of salt in my food processor.  I pulsed it about 20 times, then …

Pizza Toast

Ah, pizza toast, how I love you!  Pizza toast reminds me of being a kid.  When my sister and I were old enough to come home from school and fix our own snacks, this became a favorite for me.

My childhood version was slightly less cosmopolitan.... It usually consisted of a piece of white sandwich bread, a swipe of Ragu Pizza Sauce straight from the jar, and a pile of shredded cheddar cheese.  Popped into the toaster oven for about 5 minutes- this constituted gourmet after school dining!

Fast forward about 30 years (really? ouch!) and I've updated it a bit.  I mentioned in an earlier post today that I bought a loaf of soft French bread to make the bananas foster French toast.  It worked like a charm, but that means I had more than half a loaf of bread left to do something else with.  Whilst rummaging around in the ice box searching for something to throw together for lunch, I spied the wrapped loaf on one of the higher shelves.  Suddenly, I had a blast from the past, and thought ab…

Bananas Foster French Toast

This was really good.  And it wasn't all that difficult.  But I can assure you it will be added to our weekend breakfast rotation.

A few weeks ago, we went to my favorite new restaurant in Glenwood Springs, Smoke.  We went on a Saturday, so they were serving brunch.  Devin ordered the bananas foster french toast.  He has a wicked sweet tooth, and this played right into it.

When I tasted it, I knew I could recreate it at home, I just needed to do a little research.  I went to Pinterest and searched "bananas foster french toast."  I saw lots of recipes, but none of the pictures really grabbed me.  So, I took off the french toast part of the search.  Low and behold, I found a pin I really liked, and it was from an old favorite- Pioneer Woman.  She had the recipe for bananas foster, which she intended to serve over ice cream.

Fast forward to this morning.  I purchased a loaf of soft French bread (because I can't get challah in my little dinky town) and decided to try my…

Sushi Salad

When am I going to learn not to take blog photos under my stove light?  It makes everything look yellow and boring.  Sigh.

So this is sushi salad, or as the blog I stole it from called it, "Lazy Sushi".  I like this idea for several reasons.  First, I'm lazy.  Second, it would make it possible for me to eat sushi way more often than I presently do.  Thirdly, there are literally thousands of variations you could dream up for this.

I pinned the recipe from a blog called Lea's Cooking.  I followed her recipe pretty exactly and it turned out great.  The only change I will make next time (and there WILL be a next time) is, I will leave out the canned tuna.  It was ok, but honestly, I would just use the crab or maybe even throw in a few sautéed shrimp.  The tuna didn't see to fit in.  I think I might also throw in some edamame next time.

I added the baked egg roll wrapper crackers.  I like the different crunchy texture they brought to the party.  You could fry them, b…

Weekend Silliness

Devin and I have made a pact that we will try to get out more on weekends and do fun stuff, so our day jobs don't drive us certifiably insane before we have a chance to retire.

To that end, we headed to Glenwood Springs yesterday for their little Oktoberfest celebration.  Our friends Greg and Jan went along for the ride.

The event itself was fairly low key.  It was really more like a craft fair with German oompah music, than an Oktoberfest.  There was only 1 beer tent.  Wha???????

That said, though, I had a nice time.  We went to one of my favorite new restaurants in Glenwood, Smoke, for lunch, then walked down the street to the festivities.  I was designated driver, so no beer for me.

We watched some older couples dancing to the traditional German music, and ate donuts from a relatively new bakery in town, Coloradough.  I had an apple fritter, which was arguably the single biggest pastry I've ever seen.  I couldn't eat all of it, because it was so sweet and greasy and …

Spicy Fried Quinoa

I love having this for dinner!  It's another clean out the ice box meal.

I made a batch of plan quinoa in my rice cooker (1 1/4 cups of quinoa and 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth/water).

I then used the same technique I use to make fried rice.  I stuck with leftover veggies for this, but if you wanted, you could put any kind of protein you wanted in it.

I usually don't include traditional recipe formats with my blog posts, but I'm going to give it a go here.

Spicy Fried Quinoa
Served 1

1 large egg
Coconut Oil- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
Onion- half of one small, chopped
Garlic- one clove, minced
Thai Birds' Eye Chile- thinly sliced
Fresh Ginger- about 1 tablespoon, grated with a microplane grater
Corn- 1/4 cup (I used frozen white shoe peg corn)
Peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen)
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
Cashews- 1/4 cup (unsalted)
Sesame Seeds- 2 tablespoons
Cilantro- one handfu…

Thai Red Chile Garlic Lime Wings!

How comes it seems like the best tasting food I make is always difficult to photograph?

I love wings.  My husband doesn't.  So when he goes out of town, I always make sure I grab some at  the store so I can gorge on them while he's gone.

This was another one of those clean out the ice box deals.

I bought a big bag of frozen wings at the grocery store.  They were huge!

I grabbed 4 of them and put them on a foil lined baking sheet and threw it in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.  I didn't even defrost them!  I did rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper before they went in, though.

After about an hour I pulled them out of the oven and began contemplating what flavor I wanted to make them.

I put about some olive oil in a skillet and grated about a tablespoon of fresh ginger in the oil.  Then I minced about 5 cloves of garlic, zested a lime and dropped some Thai red chile paste in with it.  I turned the heat on medium and let the oil and seasonings begin to sizzle.  Afte…

A New Favorite Snack- Plentils!

After deciding to cut back on gluten and dairy, I am on a mission to find snack foods that are better for me than the normal salty, fat-ridden things I usually go for.

While looking around at Natural Grocers today, I found these.  They are called Plentils.  They come in several flavors, but I chose the light sea salt variety.

They taste really good!  And I don't mean they taste good for a health food.  I mean they really taste good- addictive, in fact.

I can't wait to go back and try some of the other flavors.  If you want information about them, visit their website and find a store near you.  If you can't find one, you can order them online!

Keeping Up with the Garden

This is about the amount of stuff I get out of our garden every morning.

If I had a big family, I'd run through this stuff easily.  But I don't.

So it's about this time of year when I desperately comb Pinterest looking for ways to use summer squash and peppers.

So far I've been able to keep up.  I've been roasting the peppers and freezing them.  I've found enough summer squash recipes to keep my head above water.

I certainly don't want to sound as if I'm complaining.  After all, we plant the garden every year so we can get food out of it.  Sometimes it just seems so overwhelming to avoid wasting anything!

Our tomatoes aren't doing so hot this year.  I've gotten the handful of pear tomatoes you see in the picture, and our heirloom bushes have a few blooms on them.  Tomatoes seem to be the one veggie I don't mind having a ton of!  Last year I roasted and froze them, which means I had a great start on red sauces for the rest of the winter.

Ev…

Quick Breakfast and Some Dietary Changes

In addition to always being on the look out for summer squash recipes, I'm also constantly searching for quick, easy breakfast ideas.

As much as I hate to face it, school will start very soon, which means my days of leisurely cups of hot tea and late breakfasts are over.

This summer I've been trying to cut back on the amount of gluten and dairy I eat.  I have had numerous conversations with my doctor, and although I'm not allergic to either one, the inflammatory reaction caused by both of those types of foods can make life unpleasant.  Some of the aches and pains I contribute to getting old, could be mild reactions to gluten and dairy.

Now I will tell you right up front, I won't give either up entirely.  There are just some things that need gluten and a healthy dose of cheese (macaroni and cheese, anyone?).  But if they aren't necessary to the quality of the meal, I am trying to avoid them.

So I've been experimenting with some gluten and dairy free products.  …

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

My garden is producing more yellow squash than I could possibly ever eat.  We have eaten squash in some form pretty much every day for the last week.

Because of this, I'm constantly on the lookout for new ways to use squash.  And when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it.

I knew from past experience that yellow squash and corn play very well together.  Making a soup out of them is a no-brainer!

I got this recipe from a blog called Cooking Classy. It was very easy to do, and the leftover soup just got better after sitting in the icebox overnight.  It made an even better lunch the next day!

The only thing I added to the recipe was a liberal dash of hot sauce.  I really felt that once the milk and cream were added to the soup, there needed to be something to punch through the richness.  I might also add some roasted poblano or even jalapeño pepper next time I make it.  And there WILL be a next time!

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

In my opinion, life would be bleak without roasted chicken.  It's one of those things that makes you feel better.  It makes you feel like a good cook.  And luckily, it's easy.

I usually by a package of 8 thighs and roast them all at once, then put whatever doesn't get eaten for dinner in the ice box for later in the week.

The prep is very simple.  I loosen the skin on each thigh, and rub down the flesh and skin with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then I put a slice of lemon and sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme under the skin.

I put a thermometer in the largest thigh and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

Usually my husband likes these with molasses bbq sauce.

I served these with corn on the cob and sautéed swiss chard.

Corn on the Cob

When I make corn on the cob, I always think of my mother.  She could sit and eat corn on the cob and nothing else for dinner.  Just make sure she had butter and salt, and she was good.

I am the same way.  To me, nothing says summer like a few ears of super sweet, tender, buttery, salty corn.

I make it the way my parents made it.  I bring enough water to cover the corn to a boil, then drop the ears in and add about a tablespoon of honey.   I cook it for about 6 minutes, then turn off the heat.  I let it sit in the water until the rest of dinner is ready.  Of course, it wouldn't be the same without some butter and salt!

Super Crunchy Tofu Tacos with Mexican Rice

This is one of those recipes that's a game changer.  Seriously.  I have been attempting to cut back on my consumption of meat, and tofu is something I turn to fairly often.  However, I'm not at all confident about how to cook it.  This will forever be my go-to prep method for tofu.

I can not take credit for the recipe.  As with most of the wonderful food that comes out of my kitchen, I found this recipe on Pinterest.  The name of the blog where this recipe resides is The Woks of Life.  After reading this recipe, I added the blog to my reader feed and have seen several other things I want to try.

The thing that makes this recipe so great is the absolute crunchiness of the tofu.  And the recipe really isn't fussy at all.

The basic technique is to cube the tofu, then marinate it for an hour or so in a combination of sriracha sauce and honey.  Then you coat the cubes with a seasoned cornmeal mixture and shallow fry them in a black iron skillet.  You don't even have to pr…

Bedtime Snack

So.... the other night I was getting ready for bed.  When I walked out of the bathroom, this is what I saw.

Sometimes I just have to pinch myself, ladies.  There is so much awesomeness in this photo, it defies description.

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta and Zucchini Sauce

Some dishes are not very photogenic.  This is one of those dishes.  Or maybe it's just that I need to read up on food photography.  Whatever- this pic does not do this meal justice.  It looks like my dog vomited on a white plate, but please believe me, this is some good stuff!

The chicken part was insanely simple.  I defrosted 2 frozen chicken thighs in the microwave, then liberally sprinkled both of them with blackening spice.  I covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the ice box to hang out while I put the rest of dinner together.  I ended up throwing the chicken on the grill until they registered 170 degrees.

Now for the fun part...

I won't write out the whole recipe here, but go here to find it.  I did not make the full recipe because I was afraid if we didn't like it, we'd be stuck with it for a week.  Now, I wish I had made the whole thing.  The only substitution I made was using zucchini instead of the eggplant called for in the recipe.  Dev doesn't…

My Trip Home to Georgia

I didn't blog very much while I was gone.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One-  I was too busy eating to stop and blog anything.  Two- I wasn't really sure what to say.

I've been in Colorado for 8 years now. You would think after 8 summers home, things would get easier.  But they don't.  I always have a great time at home- eating wonderful fresh seafood and spending time with friends and family.  I'm usually home for about a month, which is just long enough for my skin and hair to adjust to the extreme humidity.  It's also just enough time for me to realize just how much I miss home.

Homesick blog posts aren't very fun to read.

So what I decided to do this time around, was just link to my flickr account, so people can just browse through all the pictures I took while I was there.  The vast majority of them are food.  This shouldn't shock anyone.

That's about all I want to say about my summer trip home.

Cavalcade of Fun- brought to you by...chicken!

Day 2 of the Cavalcade of Fun 2014!
I woke up about 7am. Mom had an appointment with her lung doctor- and we were going to check one of the guilty pleasures off my summer list... Chicken biscuits from Chick-Fil-A.
I know it's awful. I don't agree with the politics of Chick-Fil-A's owner. But I have intense cravings for his chicken biscuits and I allow myself one a year.   And today was the day. 
We got good news at the doctor's office. Mom can travel to Colorado!  It will probably take most of this coming year to plan and save up- but I can't wait to show her the life Devin and I have built.
We met my niece for lunch at a local restaurant classic- Spanky's. I checked two other guilty pleasures off my list- real cherry coke and chicken fingers with honey-horseradish sauce. I dream about them- and Savannah is the only place you can get them.  The picture at the top of the post does not do them justice. 
For dinner, it was a group effort. My sister's husband, Marc,…

Cavalcade of Fun- Prelude

Today was a travel day for me. I hate flying. I don't think hate is a strong enough word for how I feel about flying. 
Nevertheless, I was fortunate that all 3 of my flights were on time. I really expected to be stranded in some airport for hours. 
During my middle flight, I was trapped between 2 very large people. I'm not small by any means, but these people dwarved me. I had no armrest, no place to put my arms or hands.  It was the longest 2 hours of my life. Did I mention neither of them spoke English very well, and neither had bathed recently?  That made things better.
The only bright spot was finishing the second Harry Potter book. I set a goal to read them all this summer. So far- so good.
Now it's late, I'm lying in the bed at my childhood home, looking forward to chicken biscuits in the morning.  
This makes it all worthwhile! :)

Chilaquiles- I can cook it better than I can spell it.

So I love things like this for breakfast. Not only does it satisfy my savory breakfast craving, but it also allows me to clean up bits and pieces of herbs and such out of my ice box.

You can totally skip the made from scratch part and do this with your favorite jar of salsa.  I just had part of a can of tomatoes and part of a can of chipotle peppers open, so I needed to use them up.

I started with the chilaquiles/sauce part.  I had half of a white onion lingering around, so I chopped that up and threw it in my most favorite cast iron skillet with probably 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings (full disclosure- the bacon grease was left in the skillet from breakfast yesterday- my husband swears he will die from food poisoning).  The drippings were especially good because I had cooked thick cut peppered bacon.  So I got a little bump draft of spice in there!

After the onions were nice and soft, I threw in some dried oregano.  I always use Mexican oregano, because I think it has a stronger fl…

Smothered Pork Chops

Seriously- even though I'm not a huge pork chop fan, this recipe made me happy. But I am a big fan of smothering things (not my students or my family or my friends, but most foods). I consider most foods just vehicles for great sauces or gravies or toppings- like baked potatoes.
Look at that. Look. At. That. Gravy.  Hello, beautiful. I wish I had taken the time to go get my big girl camera- but I was too hungry! I served my smothered pork chops over mashed potatoes (rice or buttered egg noodles would be groovy, too).  I chose roasted Brussels sprouts as my veggie because they are awesome and under-loved. 
This is how it went down...
I heated my cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. I added a few glugs of canola oil (non-GMO) to the hot skillet. I dredged my boneless chops (about an inch thick) in seasoned AP flour (salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, oregano) and dropped them in the hot skillet. I let them go about 3 minutes a side. They don't need to co…

Bear and a Balloon

Funny things happen when you tie a balloon to your dog.  Bear ran around in circles in the backyard for about 10 minutes.  Funny stuff.

Tomato Cheddar Toast

This is one of the first snacks I learned to make by myself when I was growing up.  It is a slightly more cosmopolitan version of "pizza toast."  
When I was in middle school, my favorite thing to eat when I got home from school was pizza toast.  I would take a piece of bread, slather it with jarred pizza sauce, then cover it in shredded cheddar cheese.  After 15 minutes or so in the toaster oven, I had an amazing snack!
As I got older, I realized I could make the same thing without the processed pizza sauce.  Now pizza toast has become whole wheat English muffins with sliced fresh tomatoes, cheddar cheese and fresh basil (if I have it around).
This gets served as breakfast, lunch or dinner around my house.  Possible toppings are endless.  It is a quick and semi-healthy snack!  

Parmesan Vermouth Risotto with Sautéed Shrimp

I love risotto.  I mean I really love it.  I'm not quite ready to say it has replaced macaroni and cheese, but it's a really close second.  Right now, everyone is running around making versions of risotto with things like quinoa, faro and other grains.  I have tried some of those versions.  I don't like them.  In my opinion, arborio rice is the only ingredient that imparts that creamy, toothy texture that is such a part of the risotto experience.
My favorite kind of risotto is made with butter, vermouth and obscene amounts of grated parmesan cheese.  And I mean the real cheese, not some imposter.  Real parmesan is so worth the money.  It's pricey, but it lasts a while and the flavor is impossible to match. 
I have posted this recipe before- here's the link.  Over the years, I've cut the amount of butter back by quite a  bit.  It started out as 2/3 of a cup.  Now I use more like 2 tablespoons.  I also add another 2 tablespoons at the very end before serving.  

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

This was a really good caprese salad.  I had been craving it for a while, but here in Colorado, we are still months away from sweet, ripe, yard tomatoes.  Instead of doing without, I decided to use a grocery store tomato, but roast it to develop more flavor and sweetness.
First I sliced a couple of regular tomatoes pretty thickly.  I put them on parchment paper and sprinkled them with olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  Into a 450 degree oven they went.  I think they probably roasted about 15 to 20 minutes.  
I left them alone to cool while I sliced the fresh mozzarella.  I alternated the slices of tomato and cheese, then drizzled them with olive oil and some Italian herbs (basil, oregano and chile flakes).
I think I may like this version better than the fresh tomato version.  Which means I can have this amazing salad any time of the year!

New Fire Pit Because.... Smores!

We have lived in our house almost 3 years.  I have been after my husband for most of that time to build a fire pit in our back yard.

Imagine my happiness, when about a month ago, he went to Lowe's, got the stuff, and built one!  Doesn't it look great?

To be honest, one of the reasons I wanted a fire pit was so we could make authentic smores at home.  So as soon as we had an evening without wind, we built the inaugural fire in the new pit.

I thought we should make the first batch of smores special, so instead of buying Hershey bars (neither Will or I am fond of Hershey's chocolate), I bought Ghirardelli (spelling) dark chocolate squares.  I was not disappointed.  I think using dark chocolate keeps the finished smore from being too sickeningly sweet.

I was really happy with the results!  Now that we have the pit, I'm sure our summer will be full of evenings around the fire, roasting marshmallows for fancy smores!  I'll never go back to Hershey bars again!

Veggie Nachos- My Favorite Quick Lunch

Devin and I have been working in the yard today, and I realized around 1:00, I was starving!

When I get like that (starving), one of my favorite things to throw together is veggie nachos.  It really doesn't get any easier.  They are a great way to clean out odds and ends from your crisper drawer- and take care of bits and pieces of tomatoes that you know you can't refrigerate, but don't want to leave out on the counter forever!

 The process couldn't be easier.  I used a small salad plate (to help control portions- I could eat a whole tray of these) and dumped a few handfuls of chips on it.  I don't like to pile the chips too high, because I hate it when the last few chips don't have any goodie on them.  Then I shredded a handful of sharp cheddar cheese.  I had a tomato heel, a stray piece of green pepper, about a quarter of a small white onion and a few sad, wilt pieces of fresh cilantro hanging around.  All got chopped and thrown on top of the cheese.
I nuk…

Saturday Blahs

Don't get me wrong.... I love weekends as much as the next guy.  But this weekend I just can't get inspired to do anything.

Dev had to work yesterday, but I had the day off.  I decided to drive into Glenwood Springs to do some grocery shopping and have lunch all by myself.  While I was in the grocery store, Dev texted me to let me know that they were finishing up early and he'd be home soon.  So my day in Glenwood was cut short.  I checked out with my groceries and headed back home.

For dinner last night, I wanted to go meatless.  I'm trying to cut meat out of my diet completely, but it's harder than I thought.  I ended up making a frittata.  I've made them before, but I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it sounded really good.  I sauteed 2 medium leeks, and an 8 oz. container of sliced mushrooms in garlic and a little bit of white wine.  Then I stirred in 6 eggs I had beaten with shredded fontina cheese, heavy cream, salt and pepper.  I added a little ho…

Homemade Pizza and Swiss Chard Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Tonight I made pizza for dinner. I really enjoy making pizza, and consider it a personal quest to find the perfect crust recipe.  I'm not there yet, but I learn something new every time I try. I am up to using 2/3 semolina flour to 1/3 all purpose. The texture is good- I just need to get a handle on getting it thin enough.  My toppings of choice tonight were red onion, mushrooms and green peppers.
But the real star of tonight's dinner was the salad.  No kidding- I think this is one of the best salads I've ever made.
Let's start with the dressing. I whisked together some Dijon mustard, lime juice, orange juice, a little red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Then I whisked in walnut oil and a little olive oil.  After tasting it, I decided it needed a little sweetness, so I added some agave syrup.  
The greens were represented by some shaved Brussels sprouts and shredded Swiss chard (stems and all).  
The accessories consisted of toasted Marconi almonds, pine nuts, and shaved Pa…

Valentines' Day Dinner

Dev braised some game hens, and I mashed some potatoes and roasted some Brussels sprouts. Very good!

Valentines' Day Breakfast

This was my breakfast this morning: hot tea (mint), blueberry yogurt and toast with cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. 

2/12/14 Dinner

It was a typical school night for us.  Will had Girls On the Run practice until 5:15.  I took the opportunity to do a little Valentine shopping. While I was out and about, I picked up a rotisserie chicken and some Brussels sprouts. 
Upon arriving home, I trimmed the Brussels sprouts, halved them and tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. They spent 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  As they roasted, I microwaved some frozen peas and cut up the chicken.
Fancy? No.  Really good? Yes.

Photo Challenge Day 1.... Who I Am

Cold.