Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Diet Coke habit

I don't feel nearly as bad now about how much diet coke I drink. 2-4 2 liters a day? Wow!


There is something to be said for cutting soda out of your diet though.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Follow up to Turkey Brining


No seriously..... I will never cook another turkey without brining it first. I'm not fond of turkey. Generally speaking it's not my favorite food on Thanksgiving. If you look at my Thanksgiving plate I'm loaded up with all the side dishes and a very small portion of turkey. BUT this turkey was probably the best turkey I have eaten for Thanksgiving hands down. It was tender, juicy, and flavorful.... even the breasts and we all know how dry they can get.
If I can locate a decent picture of said turkey I will upload it but I'm pretty sure that I was so distracted with everything else going on that I neglected to take pictures.

So lesson learned here: Always Brine Your Turkey

Lasagna Soup

My family loves pasta, pretty much any time and anywhere. I stumbled across this recipe - Lasagna Soup while pinning on pinterest (I've found a lot of recipes on there lately). I don't have a photo of the soup as by the time I got home it was already gone, that's a testament to how well this was received. :)
Here's the recipe:
Lasagna Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the bonus cheese:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Servings:  8

Source:  adapted from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds, as seen in the February-April 2011 edition of At Home with Kowalski’s magazine

My Notes!
This was easy (according to my Mom, she actually made this recipe I just bought the ingredients) and quite tasty.  Definitely a keeper. I think you could freeze this if you didn't add the pasta or bonus cheese in until you were actually ready to serve.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tequila Tasting at Cantina Laredo

Recently my parents, Jeff and I have a friend who is a GM of one of the Cantina Laredo locations in our area. Periodically they host a Tequila dinner with a brand of tequila, this time it was Patron. They have a special menu for the dinner. Our meal this go round was Quesadila Poblano, Spinach Salad, choice of Porkchop or Crab Poblano Enchilada and Queso Blanco Flan for dessert.
Each course had a cocktail to go with it not to mention a about 1/2 an ounce of each tequila that was used to make the cocktails, strictly for tasting of course. ;)

Our Menu
I (read as Mom, Dad Jeff, and I) made notes as we progressed through the meal.
The first part of our meal we had Patron Silver Green Apple Sangria - this cocktail looked and tasted sort of like an apple-tini. I personally found it to be too sweet/tart for my tastes. But I do not like sweet drinks. My Mom liked it, as did Jeff. It was served with the quesadila poblao which was a tasty little quesadila with chorizo. They were tasty but I didn't eat both of mine, I wanted to save room for the rest of the meal.

For our salad we had a spinach salad with that had a tangy vinaigrette and cranberries. It was tasty and not over dressed as some places tend to do. The cocktail we had was a Patron Silver Tropical Cocktail. It was carmaly, coconutty, and very smooth.  We tasted the Silver by itself, it was fresh, smooth and went down easy. It complimented the salad and dressing nicely.
Patron Silver Tropical Cocktail

For our main course we had the choice of Crab Poblano Enchiladas (with arbol sauce, served on a bed of veracruz vegetables) or a Porkchop (with Pipian rojo sauce, served on a bed of poblano mashed potatoes). I chose the crab enchiladas and Jeff had the pork.
The pork was grilled, the sauce was mild with and earthy flavor. It was delish. The pork was served with potatoes and they had a good flavor with poblanos in them.
Crab Poblano Enchiladas
The crab enchiladas were awesome. I wish that they were on the regular menu, I would order them every time. They were rich, but not too rich. The sauce had more bite than the pork, it was creamy and made my mouth water just to look at. They were served with a creamed corn that was sweet and spicy, it worked very well with the sauce on the enchiladas.  We had two cocktails with this course a Patron Reposado PAMA Margarita and Patron Anejo Ultra Luxuria Margarita. It's about here that my notes get a tad hard to read. The general consensus of the reposado was it was earthy, had a little more bite than the silver but it was still smooth. The anejo didn't smell like tequila, my Mom said it smelled more like whiskey and that it burned her eyes. I was not a fan of the anejo. My Dad said he could sip this tequila. I thought it had almost a smoky flavor.
For dessert we had Queso Blano Flan and Patron's XO Cafe. The Flan was awesome, it had more of a cheesecake consistency. The tequila was neat, it had a rich coffee flavor and was like having dessert in a glass. Mom and I both thought it could be used like kahlua.
Queso Blano Flan

We had a great time, met interesting people, and ate wonderful food! I've said it before and I'll say it again. Any time Cantina Laredo has an event I am so there. They never fail to please and the service is always great. One of my favorite places to eat hands down. And I think Patron might be my new go to tequila.

Arsenic and apple juice


After reading that article I kind of want to throw out the apple juice in my fridge.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Sorry everyone, I have several posts in the works but I've been traveling for work and haven't had the time to tweak them. I will get them up soon. In the mean time..... anyone like canned meat?


Vienna sausages.... yum. Or not. I honestly cannot say whether I like them or not. It's been many a year since I've had them. Maybe I should rectify that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Brine or not to Brine

Good morning all,
I was thinking about (read as dreading) post topics (what to write, when, how) earlier and then I realized this morning that with Thanksgiving on the horizon I have plenty to write about. I just wasn't taking in my surroundings. For instance, my parents are going out of town this year for Thanksgiving. I decided to make the meal myself this year and by golly we are smoking a turkey. Which means Thanksgiving is at their house... without them. Awkward? Maybe. But there is no way I am going to move that smoker over to my house. Plus they have more room.
That being said I have done my research on smoking turkeys and have settled on this website as my instructor du jour. Now while I know that many people advocate for brining meat (Alton included) I have never felt it to be a necessary process. But I am giving it a try this year. I am using this recipe

Apple and Spice Brine
1 gallon water
3 qts apple juice
3 qts orange juice
1 1/2 C kosher salt
1 1/2 C brown sugar
10 whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg

Simmer spices in the orange and apple juices for 15 minutes. Boil the sugar and salt in the water until dissolved. Cool both, combine, and refrigerate overnight before adding turkey.

*Note - I didn't read the directions right and did not simmer the spices in the orange and apple juices for 15 minutes. Oops. In my defense I had Jeff installing a light over my sink and it was proving to be a distraction.

Here's a video about brining featuring Alton of course.
Here is an article I found on CNN that was interesting as well.

My 13lb turkey is going in the brine tomorrow morning and will be yanked when I get home on Tuesday evening. My instructions are a little vague on how long to do this, it says you can brine from 8-24 hours depending on the size of your turkey and a 14lb bird will probably need 12 hours. Ok. But then it says something about for a less-salty smoked turkey - brine for less time. Well I don't like overly-salty foods so I'm not 100% sure long to do this brining thing but I think from 7pm-5pm will suffice. If not the bird can stuff it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Curried Corn Bisque

Curried Corn Bisque
8 servings (1C) | Active time 25 minutes | Total time 25 minutes

2 t canola oil
1 C fresh or frozen chopped onions
1 T curry powder
1/2 t hot sauce, or to taste
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 16 oz packages from corn
2 C chicken broth
2 C water
1 C "lite" coconut milk

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to coat the onions.  Stir in corn, broth, and water. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from the heat and puree in a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) into a homogeneous mixture that still has some texture.  Pour the soup into a clean pot, add coconut milk and heat through.  Serve hot or cold.  Variation - make Curried Sweet Pea Bisque by substituting frozen peas for the corn.

138 calories; 4g fat; 2g sat; 1 g mono; 1 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbs; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 121 mg sodium; 291 potassium

Tips & Notes
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or free for up to 2 months.

My notes
We both really liked this. I think my immersion blender would have done a better job of puree-ing the soup than my blender but since it's broken we make do. I was kind of concerned about the amount of spices but it was a nice balance, not too hot but just a little bit of bite.

Recipes from friends! Chicken Tortilla Soup

My friend Scott recently posted a picture of some chicken tortilla soup the other day. It looked really good and he was kind enough to post the recipe!
Here's what he has to say "Recipe to Mom's Chicken Tortilla Soup. Got it years ago from Joan Lunden's Healthy Cooking cookbook. Our only change is to add more chicken. Delicious is all I can say."

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes about 7 Cups

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1C)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2t)
2 T vegetable oil
4 oz can green chiles, chopped
15 oz can italian style stewed tomatoes, chopped, reserving the juice

4 C chicken broth or canned reduced sodium chicken broth
1 t lemon pepper
2 t worcestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t hot sauce or to taste
4 T all-purpose flour
1/2 C water
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast cut into small cubes
1/3 C nonfat or low-fat sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla strips
Chopped fresh coriander (otherwise known as cilantro) for garnish

In a large saucepan, cook the onion and the garlic in the oil over moderately low heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the chilies, tomatoes with their juice, broth, lemon pepper, worcestershire, spices, and hot sauce and simmer the mixture for minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the flour with the water and whisk it into the soup. Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes or until it is just cooked through.  Stir in the sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish each portion with the tortilla strips and the coriander if desired.

1C per serving - 219 calories
Tortilla strips
4 corn tortillas cut into 1/4 in strips
nonstick vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 400. Arrange the tortillas strips in one layer in a baking pan sprayed with vegetable oil. Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes or until they are lightly toasted and crispy.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired.

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Mushroom Chili

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Mushroom Chili Stew
From EatingWell: Winter 2004
10 servings (1C) | Active time 25 min | Total tie 6.25-9.25 hrs

1 lb dried black beans (2 1/2C), rinsed
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 C mustard seeds
2 T chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin seeds, or ground cumin
1/2 t cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
8 oz tomatillos
1/4 C water
5 1/2 C mushroom broth or vegetable broth
1 6oz can tomato paste
1-2 T minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 1/4 C grated monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese
1/2 C reduced fat sour cream
1/2 C chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

Soak beans overnight in 2 qts water. (Alternatively place beans and 2 qts water in a large pot, bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hr.) Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid.
Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom in a 5-6qt dutch oven. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds.  Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos, and water.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juicy, 5-7 minutes.  Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.  Add broth, tomato paste, and chipotles; mix well.
Please the beans in a 5-6 qt slow cooker.  Pout the hot vegetable mixture over the beans.  Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, 5-8 hours.
Garnish each serving with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.
306 calories; 10 g fat; 4 g sat; 2 g mono; 20 mg cholestrol; 40 g carbs; 18g protein; 13 g fiber; 415 mg sodium; 735 mg potassium

Tips & Notes
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 day for freeze for up to 3 months.
Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapenos peppers.
Tomatillos are tart, plum-sized green fruits that look like small, husk-covered green tomatoes.

My notes
This is a VERY earthy chili stew. The flavor is interesting. The vote is still out on this one but it wasn't bad. But the flavor wasn't what I was expecting. I think I will play with this one a little bit and see what I can do. I'd like a little more spice.... maybe chili powder.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Road Trip Food - Oklahoma Style

So I went on a short road (motorcycle) trip with my Dad this weekend. Despite the blustering wind, we had fun. We rode up to Medicine Park, OK, the village (I don't think it qualifies as a town) is very charming. It's small, quiet, and scenic. The Wichita Mountains are very close and make for nice photos. I would like to go back again and maybe do some hiking on the trails and some more sight-seeing.

On Saturday afternoon we stopped for lunch at a famous destination - Meers Store & Restaurant. The place is a dive, but charming nonetheless. They are famous for their Meersburger, apparently it is as big as a pie plate. They are very proud of their burgers.  The owner happens to have his own longhorn herd and makes the burgers from said longhorn. Yelp reviewers have rated this a 4* overall. In my opinion they are overrating it. Especially the people raving about it being the best burger they have ever eaten. Sorry but you need your taste buds adjusted.
I saw an article posted in the restaurant about the Meersburger being rated in the top 8 of this documentary in which the researchers tasted 500 some odd burgers. Not sure I agree. Off the top of my head I can think of a few better burgers....Adair's for one and Ye Old Butcher Shop for another. Maybe I should do a post about my top rated burgers. I shall think on this.

We waited a ridiculously long time to get in and eat. Dad and I both had a 1/4 lb burger not the huge burger. The meat tasted good.... like meat. It didn't have any fillers which I appreciate. However, it was over done. Dryness is disappointing. Again, in my opinon any good burger should be served medium. Well done is just too done. All in all it was a decent burger, accompanied by somewhat decent fries. I tried an onion ring and that was pretty tasty. I think the huge burger is sort of gimicky and possibly why people come to eat.... to say they've eaten a burger as big as a pie plate.

If you would like to see pictures of our ride, including Meers Store and Restaurant go here and click on the Medicine Park 2011.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"You're making me into a food snob"

Jeff and I went to eat dinner last night, while sitting at our table he said, and I quote "You're making me into a food snob".
Actually he muttered it. As IF this is a BAD thing.
I in turn said "There is nothing wrong with being a food snob. That just means you know what good food is."
Then he said "<silence>" and scooped another bite of my bliss-filled brisket burrito into his mouth.
Then I said "before you met me, you didn't know what constituted good food."
He in turn shoveled a bite of his chicken enchiladas in his mouth. I think what he was trying to say is, "before I met you food was food and I ate it".
Now with me food is an experience!
Look what I have done for him. He should be thanking me.

To bee or not to bee.....Honey?

I apologize for the title. I couldn't help myself.
So apparently the honey that we buy at the store may not in fact be honey....


Strangely enough a Honey Badger is neither honey nor a badger. Coincidence? I think not!

Now, I like honey.... real honey that is. My honey is purchased at my local farmers market and it is harvested locally. It even comes with a honey comb inside of it. Every time I go to the farmers market, the farmers market dude is quite happy to extoll the virtues of honey to my health. Mainly as a natural anti-histamine. He even has a laminated informational sheet that spells out all the benefits. He also sells bee pollen by the jar.  Apparently bee pollen is the next biggest thing. It has great health benefits. Not sure I'm buying into that but you never know.
Oddly enough he has not mentioned the fact that you (you meaning an child under the age of 1 or 2) can get botulism from honey. Not to mention TOXIC honey. Toxic? Really? Wikipedia says depending on the type of flower that bees get their pollen from can make honey toxic. Isn't that comforting.

Something else I like? Honey Buns. But that is a blog for another time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I found a neat website today while reading an article on The Consumerist. A commenter menionted Supercook. The site allows you to input ingredients you currently have in your pantry/fridge and it comes up with recipes that you can make.
Every time you add an ingredient it updates the recipe list, pretty cool!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chili - beans vs. no beans

"If you know beans about chili, you know chili has no beans," by Jerry Jeff Walker
My last recipe sparked a bit of a debate.  Chili - beans or no beans?
I personally will eat pretty much any kind of chili if you put it in front of me. But I guess there is a bit of an issue as to if the dish that contains beans can actually bear the name "chili".

After a quick google search of "chili standards" which on a side note resulted in 9.1 million results. Wow. Strangely enough one of the top results was ChiliProject which happens to be project management software.... I digress. That's a topic for a later/diff blog.
So I explored a bit and came across - chilicookoff.com otherwise known as the International Chili Society (ICS). I figure these people know what they are talking about. They are a society after all.
The website says the ISC is a "non-profit organization that sanctions chili cookoffs with judging and cooking rules & regulations". Apparently they are recognized worldwide. I'll admit, that certainly sounds like a SME (subject matter expert) to me.
Alas, the very first rule on the rules & regulations page states:
"Traditional Red Chili is defined by the ICS as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden".
So what gives! What's with the hatred of beans? All you vegetarians out there are SOL.
I found a different article here, it mentions historically speaking chili did not have beans mainly because dried beans can be time consuming to prepare for the cowboys while on the cattle trail.
Now THAT makes a little more sense to me.  Even still.... we are not cowboys on the trail. And I like beans.
What I gather is that in a competition it is not acceptable to toss some beans in your chili.
However! The Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) does allow for an "other" category in which your chili can have other 'fillers' such as beans among other things.
My next question is that if historically beans were not added to chili, when did this start happening?
This article from ezineearticles.com says
"Chili with beans could have come about during the Great Depression as an inexpensive way to stretch out the dish, because by the 1950's, the controversy had began."
I can buy into that theory. It makes sense. This leads me to believe that beans came out of necessity. That sounds odd. Anywho....
Wikipedia has a lot to say on the subject. Basically wikipedia says "Texas style chili" has no beans. Well played wikipedia. I accept your qualifier and will use it as my own.
Therefore... I do not make Texas style chili (well I do but that's another post). I make Nichole style chili. And I like it that way... with beans.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Pasta
From EatingWell: November/December 2008

6 servings (1 1/3C) | Active time 35 min | Total time 35 min

8 oz whole-wheat penne
2 C 1/2 in cauliflower florets
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C dry white wine
3 C low-fat milk
3 T flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground pepper
1 C shredded gruyere or swiss cheese
3 C shredded cooked chicken (12 oz)
1 t dijon mustard
2 T chopped fresh chives or scallions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower florets and cook until the pasta and florets are tender, about 4 minutes more.  Drain, rinse, and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender, 2-3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 min. Whisk milk, flour, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl and add to the pan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until smooth.  Stir chicken and mustard into the cheese sauce; cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Stir the sauce into the drained pasta and cauliflower.  Served sprinkled with chives or scallions.

433 calories, 13 g fat; 5 g sat; 5 g mono; 75 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbs; 34 g protein; 5 g fiber, 491 mg sodium, 483 potassium.

Tips & Notes
To poach chicken breasts, place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan.  Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pick in the middle, 10-12 minutes.

Notes from me!
Jeff thought this needed more seasoning. I thought it was pretty tasty, I'm thinking maybe he wanted more salt. I would not dump all the cheese in the sauce at once, slowly stir in small amounts. I also did 1/2 C gruyere and 1/2 C swiss. On a side note this dish was not appetizing to look at. See:
So I will have to do something to make this more appealing to the eye. Maybe corn, bell pepper, carrots, spinach, mushrooms? We will have to see.

Ultimate Beef Chili

Ultimate Beef Chili Stew
Jeff staunchly maintains a stance that chili does not have beans in it. I personally do not have a problem with beans in my chili. But to make him feel better I changed the name of this to stew... but to me it's chili.

From EatingWell: January/February 1999
12 servings (1C) | Active time 1 hr | Total time 3 1/4 hrs

1 lb beef round, trimmed and cut into 1/2 in chunks
1 1/2 T canola oil, divided
3 onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
6 cloves garlic, minved
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 T ground cumin
2 T chili powder
1 T paprika
2 t dried oregano
12 oz dark or light beer
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
8 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil) nipped into small pieces
2 bay leaves
3 19 oz cans dark kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
2 T lime juice

Chopped peppers and onions
Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 t oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add half the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 2-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat with another 1 1/2 t oil and remaining beef.
Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 1/2 t oil to the pot.  Add onions and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, 10-20 minutes.  Add garlic, jalapenos, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and oregano.  Stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
Add beer and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaves, and reserved beef.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hrs.
Add beans; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, 30-45 minutes.  Remove bay leaves. Stir cilantro and lime juice.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

235 calories; 5 g fat; 1 g sat; 2 g mono; 24 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbs; 17 g protein; 11 g fiber; 496 mg sodium; 582 mg potassium

Tips & Notes
Make ahead tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.  For a hot, smoky chili, add 1 T chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.

1/2 way thru
Finished chili - stew

Notes from Me!
I bought top round stew meat. Otherwise I didn't change anything. It's headed to the freezer as we speak.

Slow-cooker Braised Pork with Salsa

I started making this on Sunday. Finished it tonight. We'll be eating it later this week or it will go in the freezer.

Slow-cooker Braised Pork with Salsa
From EatingWell: Winter 2004

8 services (3/4C each) | Active time 7-8 hrs | Total time 7-8 hrs

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder, or butt
1 1/2 C prepared tomatillo salsa
1 3/4 C reduced sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 t cumin seeds, or ground cumin
3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 C reduced fat sour cream

Trim and discard pork surface fat.  Cut meat apart following layers of fat around muscles; trim and discard fat.  Cut into 2-in chunks and rinse with cold water.  Place in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.  Turn heat to high.
Combine salsa, broth, onion, and cumin seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Pour over the meat.  Add tomatoes and mix gently.  Put the lid on and cook until the meat is pull-apart tender, 6-7 hours.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a large bowl; cover and keep warm.  Pour the sauce and vegetables into a large skillet; skim fat. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil, skimming froth from time to time, for about 20 min, to intensify flavors and thicken slightly.  Add the pork and 1/4 C cilantro; heat through.
To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of the remaining 1/4 C cilantro.
Oven method: Preheat oven to 350. Combine pork, salsa, 1/2 C chicken broth, onion, cumin seeds, and tomatoes in a 9X13in  baking dish.  Cover snugly with foil.  Bake until the pork is pull-apart tender, about 2 1/4 hrs.  Skim fat. Uncover and bake until the meat begins to brown, about 15 minutes more.  Stir in 1/4C cilantro.  ladle into bowls, garnish with sour cream and remaining cilantro.

276 calories; 15 g fat; 6 g sat; 7 g mono; 104mg cholesterol; 6 g carbs; 27g protein; 1 g fiber; 211 mg sodium; 413 mg potassium

Tips & Notes
Make ahead tip: cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stove-top, in a microwave or in the oven.

Notes from me!
So, I didn't exactly follow the directions. It got to late and I didn't want to stay up and finish it. So I turned off the crock-pot and put the container in the fridge. This evening I pulled the meat out and shredded it and reduced the sauce like the instructions say. I got out a storage container out and put the meat then poured the reduced sauce on top. I plan on serving this over rice.
Before cooking

Sunday Dinner - Cheese stuffed burgers.

On Sunday we had cheese stuffed burgers, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.

Jeff patted out the burgers he made them a 1/2 lb. Only after that did I realize that I hadn't seasoned them. Oops. We added some pepper, salt, onion powder, and dried minced garlic. Each patty he split in 1/2 and patted them out then he took a slice of cheese per burger fold it up and then put it in between the 2 patties. This burger is the only one that didn't blow a hole out the side. Even if they didn't ooze cheese they were still good. There is more work to be done to perfect these but we have a good start.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Something other than Turkey

Anyone interested in something other than turkey? I bet I know a few people. If you happen to be in a Turkey day rut and don't want to have The Bird on Thanksgiving. Consider this!

The Bacon Pig!
 The Bacon Pig!! Who is in?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Store Quickbreads and Muffins

While looking for a good chocolate quick bread recipe (more on that later) I came across this little gem of advice. I will be trying this!


It has diagrams and charts, super fancy!

Whetstone Coffee

This is my bil's small coffee business. If you are a fan of coffee I suggest you give him a try!

Whetstone Coffee

He also has a blog on the site related to all things coffee! Here is an interesting article that he posted "How to really taste that cup of coffee"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tortellini Primavera

Tortellini Primavera
from EatingWell: March/April 2010
5 Servings (1 1/4C) | Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes

1 14oz can vegetable broth or reduced sodium chicken broth
2 T all-purpose flour
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 C shredded fontina cheese or 3/4 C shredded parm
1 T chopped fresh tarragon, dill, or chives, or 1 t dried tarragon
1/8 t salt
4C chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and snap peas, or 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 16 oz package frozen cheese tortellini

Put a large pot of water to boil.
Meanwhile, whisk brother and four in a small bowl.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes.  Add the broth mixture to the pan, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occassionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in cheese, tarragon (or dill and chives) and salt.
Add vegetables and tortellini to the boiling water; return the water to a simmer and cook until the vegetables and tortellini are tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain; add to the pay with the sauce and stir to coat.

Notes from me!
I didn't have fresh or dried tarragon.... shame on me. So I used 1 t dried chives and 1/2 t dried dill. This was quite tasty and we all enjoyed it.

Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup

I decided it would be easier for archiving if I put each recipe in a separate post. So here is recipe number 2 from me. Initially this recipe was written for 2 services. I changed it to serve 4.

Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup
From EatingWell: December 2006

4 servings (2C each) | Active time: 35 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb chicken tenders
1 t Italian seasoning blend
1/4 t salt
1/4 dry white wine
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 shallots, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 C orzo
3 C packed baby spinach

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add zucchini, shallot, carrot, Italian seasoning and salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, and orzo (or other tiny pasta); increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8 minutes, or according to package directions.  Stir in spinach, the cooked chicken and any accumulated juices from the chicken; cook, stirring, until the chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.

Nutrition per serving:
261 calories; 8 g fat; 1 g sat fat; 5 g mono; 72 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbs; 31 g protein; 2 g fiber; 335 mg sodium; 483 mg potassium.

Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days of freeze up to 3 months.

My notes!
I think this would be good with mushrooms added.  I also added carrots to this recipe. I happen to love spinach so I'm pretty sure I put more than 3C but I can't be sure because I didn't measure it.


This should be a fun experience! I hope everyone enjoys the recipes and foods that I make here. Please feel free to send me your recipes to try as well. I am particularly interested in discovering new recipes that I can freeze. Most of the recipes that I have found so far aren't the healthiest and they rely on a lot of cream of... soups. Don't get me wrong. I like those soups but you can only eat so many combinations before you get tired of them.

Tonight I made 3 new recipes that I found on eatingwell.com. I made Chile & Beer Braised Brisket, Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup, and Tortellini Primavera. I am particularly fond of eatingwell because the include health information with all the recipes as well as tips and notes.

Chile & Beer Braised Brisket
From EatingWell: March/April 2008
8 servings (3/4 c each) | Active time 30 minutes | Total time 3 1/2 hours

6 dried New Mexico, Anaheim or ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T plus 1 t chili powder
2 t ground cumin
1 t salt
1 C Mexican beer
1 T canola oil
2 lbs trimmed flat, first cut brisket
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed

Tear the chiles into 1-in pieces and place in a large bowl.  Cover with hot water and let sit until softened, at least 20 minutes. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350. Please the tomatoes and their juices, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and the drained chile pieces in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the beer.
 Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add brisket and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total.  Pour the chile sauce over the meat and bring to a simmer.
Cover, transfer to the oven and bake for 2 hours.  Stir in the beans and continue baking until the meat is fall apart tender, 45 min - 1 hr.
Transfer meat to a cutting board and pull apart into long shreds using two fords.  Stir the shredded meat back into the sauce.

Nutrition per serving:
282 Calories, 9 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 4 g mono; 78 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbs; 30 g protein; 6 g fiber; 528 mg sodium; 664 mg potassium.

This can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Notes from me!
I will probably serve this over rice, I am a fan of brown rice personally. I did not have a Mexican beer in my fridge so I used Shiner. I also had a 3lb brisket so I put the whole bottle of beer in for some extra liquid. Before I put the meat back in the sauce I put it on the stove and brought it to a boil and reduced it. Then I added 1T corn starch and water to thicken the sauce. Then I added the meat.