Snow Storm and Bean Soup Mix

October 30, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Posted in Soup | 31 Comments
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Bean Soup. I know it doesn't look like much, but it's delicious

As I’m writing this, we have 23 inches of snow on the ground.  In another hour I’ll be able to officially say we have two feet.  Denver is no stranger to large snow storms, it’s just unique for October.  I mean Alaska probably hasn’t even had over 10 inches of snow yet.  It’s just beautiful and I love our big storms.  At the end of this post, you’ll find a gallery of photos of our Denver snow storm to get you in the mood for some soup.

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About 5 inches on the Weber

So, let’s talk about snow storm food.  Haven’t we all received  bean soup mixes for gifts?  You know the ones, a bag of dried beans accompanied by an herb mix and they’re usually cleverly packaged.  Some in cute little bags, some in whisky looking jugs, some in Mason type jars.   A few of them are pretty good, but a lot of them are pretty darn bland.

Well, with a little effort you can prepare your own dried bean mix and have it ready to go all Winter and I can guarantee you won’t call this mix bland.  It’s bursting with flavor and the secret is to follow the instructions for the herb mix.  Don’t skimp or skip anything.  Actually, I don’t think my current stash has any lavender, but everything else is there.

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Herb Mix, Bean Mix, Dried Veggie Mix

Herb Mix

To make a not quite full quart of Herb Mix for Bean Soup mix together the following:

  • 1/2 c. dried parsley
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 T. dried summer savory
  • 1/4 c. cumin seeds
  • 2 T. each:  fennel seeds, caraway seeds, dill seeds, cracked coriander seeds, sweet basil, and dried chervil (if available)
  • 1 T. each celery seeds, dried thyme (lemon thyme if available), sage, oregano, rosemary, lavender, sweet marjoram.
  • 1/2 – 1 t. cayenne pepper

Now for the fun part, the bean mix.  Take a trip to your largest supermarket with a bulk section and stroll the bean section.  Buy equal quantities of each and every dried bean you see.  Don’t forget lentils and split peas.  A good store will have some lovely calico beans, tiny red aduki, and reddish-orange lentils.  Just grab everything you see.

When you get home mix all the beans together fearlessly, hopefully you’ve got at least ten varieties, sixteen or twenty even better.  Make sure you have a container with a tight-fitting lid that will hold the loot, preferably clear, so that you can admire the beans colors and shapes.  Whole Foods has a dried vegetable mix in the bulk section.  I grab about two cups of it to add to the soup.

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About 10 inches on the Weber

So there you have it.  When the snow starts flying here’s how you turn it into a delicious soup:

  • 2 C. bean mix
  • 7 Cups chicken stock or water
  • Soup bone, either from a ham, or I usually buy ham hocks and use 2 – 3 depending on size
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh Anaheim chili, thinly sliced
  • 2 T. herb mix (from above recipe)
  • 1 large onion, coarse chopped
  • 1 – 3 cloves garlic, pressed with garlic press
  • Salt and plenty of ground pepper
  • 16 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 rib celery with leaves, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh green beans, sliced
  • 3 T. Pickapeppa sauce (or Worcestershire if you can’t find Pickapeppa brand)
  • 2 drops honey
  • 1/4 cup dried vegetable mix

In a large heavy soup pot soak the beans in stock or water to cover overnight.  If using chicken stock be sure to refrigerate.

The next day, add enough water to pot to cover beans by 1 – 2 inches.  Add the soup bone, bay leaf and chili.  Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to very low and let simmer, covered until the beans are tender.  1 – 3 hours. 

Add the remaining ingredients, simmer, covered, until the vegetables are covered.  About 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove soup bone, shred meat off bone and stir back into soup.  Remove the bay leaves and take a potato masher and give the soup about 10 good mashes to crush some of the beans and veggies. 

This really is delicious and tastes even better the next day.

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About 15 inches on the Weber

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We're now up to 23 inches. The Weber is no longer a good source to measure as snow is no longer making its way through the slats of the deck roof.

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Marge Simpson. Oh, no wait, that's my bird bath buried in the snow with 23 inches piled high.

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Bart Simpson. Oh no, wait, that's my platform bird feeder.

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I hope Donna over at Tasty Treasures doesn't see this one. It's actually our patio furniture with snow oddly sticking to the top of the umbrella

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Why does our little dog have snow on only one side of his face?

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Pines in the back yard

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Our cheerful neighbor Miguel cheerfully making his way to his pickup.


Blue Spruce across the street, I think that's their mini van under that lump of snow

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Here comes the comes the sun, and I say ...It's alright....

Bean soup adapted from Dairy Hollow House


Just Grilled – Nibble Me This

October 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Posted in Just Grilled - A Blog Interview | 11 Comments

Welcome to the 2nd issue of “Just Grilled”. The purpose of this series is to introduce to you to some blogger folks out there that I’ve run across that have inspired me, are incredibly interesting, informational and so entertaining that I can’t pass up the chance to introduce them to you . Hopefully you’ll make some new friends along the way.

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I’d like to introduce you to Nibble Me This. Chris, or “the guy with the green egg” as I call him, lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. I really enjoy his blog because I’m learning a lot about those Big Green Eggs. Yes, Chris owns a Big Green Egg, you know those odd green egg-shaped things that are a combination smoker, grill, convection oven and for all I know will also wash and dry clothes? Now every time I walk into my local Highlands Ranch Ace Hardware, and see those green egg-shaped cooking devices, I think of Chris and all of those wonderful recipes he churns out.

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I think my favorite post of his was “It’s been a burger kind of week”. Man, take a look at that photo he took of that hamburger, featured alongside photos of his son at football practice, made me want to wave the American Flag, grill a burger, make some potato salad and listen to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud To Be An American”. You can see the entire post by clicking here:

Check out, or better yet, subscribe to his blog, you never know, there might be a green egg in your future.


So Chris, if you would step to the microphone please

Name:  Chris G

 City:  Knoxville, TN

 Blog url:

 How long have you been blogging? I’ve been food blogging since January of this year.  I did have a general/personal blog prior to that for several years but it was more of a journal.

 Six words to describe the food you like to cook:  live fire, experimental, not pretentious, amateur.

Six words to describe you:  food curious, athletic, empathetic, incorrigible, clown.

 Proudest moment in the kitchenThere have been so many “WOW, this is the best I’ve ever made…” moments, but the proudest moment was cooking a full BBQ menu for a family who was going through an incredibly tough time in their lives, I mean more than you can imagine.  A friend knew them and approached me about helping him cook dinner for them.  I ended up cooking for 15 people.   It was great getting to do something I liked to help someone else that I didn’t even know.

 Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen:  I was cooking 3 racks of spare ribs and using a new thermometer in my Egg.  Well, the new thermometer probe was longer than the others.  The temp kept reading low so I kept opening the bottom and top vents to try to get the heat up to 250f.  It just wasn’t adding up, it should have been hotter.  After about an hour, I opened the top to find a searing hot inferno inside.  Turns out the longer temp probe was touching the rib meat when the lid was closed, giving a false low reading.  The real temperature?  It was 500 degrees!!!!!!!!!  Yeah, they came out like shoe leather.

 Rules of conduct in your kitchen:

-Recipes are just a reference point.
-When possible, cook it outside.
-Don’t put things away that I’m still using!
-Have fun, don’t take myself so seriously (although I still get mad when I screw something up!)
-If it calls for milk, they meant half and half.  If it calls for half and half, they meant heavy cream.

Favorite ingredient:  That’s like asking me which child is my favorite!  I guess I’d have to go with pork in general, because there are so many things you can do with various cuts of pork.  And that includes BACON! 

 Most overrated ingredient:  Hmmmmm.  There’s many I wouldn’t care to use and some I have not yet used, But I’m not sure about over-rated.  shallots maybe, just because they sound fancy and they’re really only onions. 🙂

 Favorite local ingredient:  Products from Lay’s Meat here in Knoxville.

 Weirdest thing you ever eaten:  My father once ate canned rattlesnake and I can’t top that.  The weirdest thing that I have eaten was frog legs.  They didn’t taste bad but my eyes watered and my gag reflex threatened to fire with each bite.

 Favorite kitchen gadget:  Big Green Egg (It’s technically in my outdoor kitchen, work with me here.)

Everybody loves it when I cook:  Yes they do.   Oh, you mean something specific. I’d have to say fillet mignon with brandied cream sauce or pulled pork. 

 Favorite all-time restaurant:  Puleo’s Grille in Knoxville.  It’s run by Steve Puleo and consistently wins best restaurant each year.  His vision statement of Southern Roots/Italian Heritage combines for a fantastic menu.  Their Shrimp and Grits and their fried asparagus are two of the best foods I have ever put in my mouth.

 Favorite Cookbook:  Probably Joy of Cooking  because it was the one I primarily used when I went from being single to married with two children overnight.  I had to start cooking for someone other than myself and JOC helped me as a struggling family cook.  I like how they gave information about certain foods and techniques, not just listing recipes.  A recent favorite has been Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book that came out this year.  Chris Lilly did a great job writing that one.

 What music do you like to cook by:  It varies.  When cooking I like mostly rowdy and fast paced music.  Some of my favorites are:
Smokin’ With Some BBQ – Kermit Ruffins
Anarchy in the UK – Sex Pistols
Anything by Linkin Park

 If I owned my own restaurant, I would name it:  “I’ve Done Lost My Mind”  because that would have to have happened if I thought I wanted to run a restaurant.  That is TOUGH work and I think I’d lose my love for cooking.  I’ve catered four gigs and have sworn after each one, never again because of all the stress.

 What famous person would I love to invite over to lunch (living or deceased):  Alton Brown, he’s such a nut and smart as all get out.

 If I were President who would I appoint as my Chef:  Nobody.  Cooking is my therapy and if I were president, I’d need all the therapy I could get.

In my opinion my best blog post was:  (provide url link)

Either this one, because I nailed the food styling and it tasted fantastic:

Or this one, because it’s consistently my best dish:


So there you have it, I thought the interrogation was fairly painless.  Thanks to Chris for being my 2nd raked over the coals, grilled blogger!  And readership, please don’t hesitate to take a look at  you’ll be glad you did.

Eggs with Mushroom Cream Sauce

October 28, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Breakfast, eggs, Seafood | 30 Comments
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The very generous and food blogger friendly folks over at Marx Foods sent me samples of dried mushrooms. The shipment included several exotic types that I’ve never heard of and some that I have. I can’t wait to try them all.  Just click on their logo below to visit their web site. 


Let’s start out with a variety that I’m familiar with, Chanterelles. The idea for this recipe started by reading a post from Elizabeth over at Cook Appeal.  Click HERE to visit her site.  Never a dull moment at Cook Appeal. When I saw her post of an English muffin, topped with spinach and melted cheddar cheese, I left a comment saying  “I’m going to throw an egg on top”… So let’s get started.









Place a few of the chanterelles in a shallow bowl. Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and place a plate on top for weight to submerge mushrooms in the water. Let them soak and soften for 1 hour.



Once the mushrooms are ready, we’ll start the preparation of our breakfast. I poach eggs using these little silicone pods that I purchased at Sur La Table. Just spray them with Pam and they poach eggs beautifully. Place the pods in gently boiling water. You don’t want a rolling boil or water will jump into the pods.










My favorite English muffin is Bays brand. When toasted the texture stays crunchy on the top while maintaining that chewy softness inside.










Once the eggs are close to done, working quickly place fresh spinach leaves onto warm toasted muffins. When you top with poached egg, the heat from the muffin and the egg will wilt the spinach leaves.












Slide poached egg from pod and place on top of the spinach.


Spoon the Mushroom Cream Sauce on top. (recipe below)


And enjoy. Look at that perfectly poached egg! The creamy egg when combined with the delicious earthy mushroom sauce is just plain elegant and delicious. My husband took one bite and said “this is the best breakfast I’ve ever had”. 

Lea Ann’s Eggs with Mushroom Cream Sauce (inspired by Elizabeth and Marx Foods):

  • 2 tablespoons butter
    ¼ cup chopped onion
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    6 whole Marx dried chanterelle  mushrooms, soaked, cleaned and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 – 2 cups milk
    Salt and pepper

I had some left over Mushroom Cream Sauce so for dinner I sauteed two cod filets in olive oil until browned on each side and flaky inside. I drizzled the mushroom cream sauce over the filets and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. The mushroom cream sauce worked very well with the fish. 


Thanks again to Marx Foods.

Nick’s Italian Cafe Minestrone Soup

October 26, 2009 at 1:05 am | Posted in Soup | 29 Comments


Nick’s Italian Cafe is just about my favorite restaurant on earth. Just something about good times, good food with good friends make for good memories.  Nick’s Italian Cafe has been feeding Oregon wine country since 1977 and serves up entrees that compliment the state’s signature wines of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.   You can check out the menu by clicking HERE

Saveur Magazine did an article on Nick’s a few years ago.  When we were there last summer I took this photo of the article proudly framed and displayed on the wall.


I love this quote from the owner, Nick Peirano, who thinks that simple connections are at the center of everything. “Cooking is a craft, not an art,” he says. “It’s fuel for the body and, hopefully, for the spirit. It’s like the difference between pottery and fine art. Food should always think of itself as pottery. Architectural food drives me nuts. Food has to recognize it’s serving a basic need.”

Since that article was printed Nick’s daughter, who has been in culinary training in San Francisco, has now taken over the kitchen.  I think she’s gradually sneaking in a little bit of that art 😉

Included in this article was a reprint of Nick’s signature Minestrone Soup.  I made this soup this weekend and I must say, it’s delicious.  Remember when I said I have an arsenal of soups, some easy and some extravaganza’s???  Well this falls into the extravaganza category and well worth it.


Coarse cut vegetables and place in a food processor and pulse until chopped.  I messed up and put all three carrots in at the first.  There should only be one, adding two later. 


 Place chopped vegetables, parsley and salt pork in a large soup pot.  Look at those fresh vibrant colors.


Serve the soup with fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  Yum.

Here’s the full recipe:

This soup, a longtime fixture on the prix fixe menu at Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville, Oregon, is served tableside from a tureen and topped with a generous spoonful of fragrant, freshly made pesto. “The heat,” Nick explained, “makes the aroma rise.” After the bowls are filled, the vessel is left on the table so that guests can help themselves to more, if they like.

3 carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and
coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded,
and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
Leaves of 1/4 bunch parsley
1/2 lb lean salt pork
1 14 1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup beef stock base
1/4 cup dried basil
1 Tbs dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb string beans, trimmed and
cut into 1″ pieces
1 1/4 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
Leaves of 1/2 bunch basil
Leaves of 1/2 bunch parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1 tsp pine nuts
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. For the soup: Coarsely chop 1 of the carrots and put into a food processor. Add onions, celery, peppers, and garlic, pulse until vegetables are finely chopped, then transfer to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add parsley, salt pork, and 3 quarts water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 6 hours.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salt pork to a food processor, then process until fat liquefies and meat turns into a paste, about 30 seconds. Pass salt pork through a sieve back into pot, using a rubber spatula to press as much paste through the sieve as possible. Skim off and discard fat from broth. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock base, basil, and oregano to pot. Season to taste with 1 tsp. pepper and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for 2 hours.

3. Add 4 cups water to pot, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining carrots crosswise, then add to pot. Add green beans and peas, reduce heat to medium, and simmer soup, partially covered, until carrots, beans, and peas are soft, about 30 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. For the pesto: Put basil, parsley, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino romano, pine nuts, and oil into a food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Put soup into a warm tureen, if you like, and spoon pesto into soup. Serve soup in warm bowls garnished with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano, if you like.

Servings: 6

Souper Sundays2

Roasted Roots

October 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Seafood, Vegetables | 33 Comments
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2551123_blogok,  I DO NOT  want to hear any whining!  We can’t eat cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese everyday! 

dog-gone-it, sometimes we have to eat our fresh seasonal vegetables. 

Tyler Florence has just appeared on my radar. I don’t know much about him, know the name, know he’s a celebrity chef…that’s about it. I’ve subscribed to his blog, have noticed the Tyler Florence Friday club on some blogs, and decided to try my first Tyler Florence recipe. 

I’m starting to think that when Tyler Florence says “Preheat your ovens” we should say “How High?“.  (get it?  a play on jump…how high)    Man does he put out some tasty looking recipes.  

Since it’s the season I decided to try Tyler Florence’s roasted root vetegables.  So let’s put down those hamburger buns, put the mustard and catsup back in the fridge and let’s roast some vegetables.

Tyler Florence’s Roasted Root Vegetables

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Start out with a selection of your favorite roots.  I’ve selected beets, a parsnip, carrot, a turnip and one shallot halved with peel left on. (that’s what Tyler said to do – leave the peel on the shallot…how high?).  With a vegetable peeler, peel skins off of the vegetables.


In a bowl, toss the skinned roots with olive oil, salt and pepper.


In another bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, set aside.

006Place vegetables on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes, pour on honey/balsamic mixture and toss again.  Continue cooking until vegetables are caramelized and tender, about 20 minutes more.  When doing this again, I would try to find a different pan for the vegetables.  The honey/balsamic sauce ran all over the pan.  Maybe my cast iron skillet would keep the sauce closer and within better caramelization range to those veggies?




I served this with seared scallops that were finished with a white wine reduction cream sauce , with chives and toasted, slightly crushed pine nuts stired in.  This was served over fresh spinach that had been tossed with lemon juice and salt and pepper.  When you place the scallops and warm cream sauce over the spinach, it wilts and the flavors meld into an exquisite blend.

I have to admit, the root vegetables were very good, the scallops were out of this world.  But the two were not meant to be on the same plate together.  The vegies belonged next to a big hunk of roast beef smothered in gravy and the scallops belonged  nestled along side fresh steamed asparagus.   However, in the end, our plates were clean.


 Rules of my kitchen:  Always cook with a wine that’s also good enough to drink…


and eat your vegetables…sometimes…

Chicken Picatta

October 24, 2009 at 1:09 am | Posted in Chicken | 28 Comments

This is one of my favorite, easy, middle of the week meals.  I love lemon, love capers, I love chicken and especially when it’s breaded and tenderly melt in your mouth sauteed. 

I remember heading back to Kansas a couple of years ago to visit my Mom.  I wanted to make this for her so headed out to the local Dillons grocery store to gather ingredients.  No capers.  I stood in horror scanning the shelves in disbelief.  Gathering my wits, I decided to ask for help.  Perhaps Dillons, in the middle of Kansas, didn’t think they should be in the olive/pickle/caper section.  Maybe they thought the little green pickled seeds were a canned vegetable, a bottled fruit, a foreign vitamin supplement?  Surely capers were somewhere misunderstood in that store. 

Upon locating an employee I confidently asked “Can you tell me where the capers are?”  He just stared at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  I added “capers!  They are usually found along side the olives”    Other stockers were called in to help with the search, management eventually became involved,  a store wide search ensued, other Dillons stores in town were called.  It became apparent that capers did not exist in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The next trip back home, I packed my own supply, and a bottle of capers which had already traveled from Spain to the United States, also traveled 450 miles from Denver to Kansas so that Chicken Picatta could make it’s way to Kansas dinner tables.  I’m starting to think I’d like their frequent flyer miles.

Last year however, when Bob and I were shopping in Dillons there stood a supply of capers.  Right there next to the olives.  Do you think I am single handedly responsible for introducing the small foreign pickled berry to the farm lands of south central Kansas.   Even though I doubt that’s the case, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


 Pound the chicken breasts so that they are even in thickness.  I use the smaller side of the pounder as opposed to the pulverizing side.


 Salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour, shaking off any excess.


Gather the ingredients.



 Sautee chicken breasts in olive oil until golden on each side.  An important step to the tenderness of this chicken is to cover the skillet and let the meat steam for a couple of minutes.  See full recipe below for complete instructions.


 Deglaze with white wine, add garlic and sautee until garlic is starting to brown.


Garnish with lemon slices.  The sauce you see on the plate is the sauce from cole slaw edging towards the chicken.  I’m sure it’s trying to sneak up on those capers.

 Chicken Picatta

4 Chicken cutlets
2 Tbs Vegetable oil
1/4 Cup Dry white wine
1 Tbs Minced garlic
1/2 cup Chicken broth
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1 Tbs Capers drained
2 Tbs Unsalted butter
6 Fresh lemon slices

1. Prepare the chicken for cutlets.  Season the cutlets with salt and pepper; dust with flour, shaking off the excess.  Coat a saute pan with non-stick spray, add vegetable oil and heat over medium high.

2. Saute cutlets 2 – 3 minutes on one side. Flip cutlets over when golden brown on first side.  Cover pan with a heat proof plate and cook 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer cutlets to warm plate; pour off fat from pan

3. Deglaze with wine and garlic.  Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone, about 2 minutes.

4. Add chicken broth, lemon juice, capers.  Return cutlets to the pan and cook on each side for 1 minute.  Transfer cutlets to a warm plate.

5. Finish with butter and lemon slices.  Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets.

6. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Servings: 4

Maple Syrup and Candied Pecan Ice Cream

October 21, 2009 at 2:44 am | Posted in dessert, Ice Cream | 32 Comments


My favorite dessert, hands down,  is ice cream. 

Usually I’m a plain vanilla girl, but with the resurrection of my ice cream maker this summer (which has been sequestered in the basement for the last 5 years – another story, for now let’s just say it was a case of ice cream maker behaving badly and leave it at that)  I’ve really enjoyed testing some new flavors. 

About a month ago, I found a blogger up in Canada, Closet Cooking (that’s the size of his kitchen). Kevin notes that he became bored of making the same things all the time.  Well, he has taken “trying new things” to a whole new level.  Take a look at his blog:    “Kevin in Toronto” (as I call him) turns out recipe after recipe, day after day, week after week – he’s a test kitchen poster child.

Our friends Dan and Teri came over Sunday night for some chili, some soup, some corn bread and some wine.  I served this for dessert and Dan said, “This is the best ice cream I’ve ever had”. 

Maple Pecan Ice Cream

(makes 4 servings)
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup pecans (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
1 splash bourbon (optional) 
1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the pecans, toss to coat, sprinkle on the sugar and heat until the pecans are nice and toasted, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Remove the pecans from the heat and let cool completely.
4. Heat the maple syrup, cream and milk in a sauce pan until it almost boils, about 5 minutes.
5. Reduce the heat to low.
6. Temper the eggs and stir them into the cream.
7. Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
8. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon.
9. You may want to strain the mixture at this point to remove any bits that may have formed while warming.
10. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
11. Freeze the maple custard and toasted pecans according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

Vail Pulled Pork Sliders and Sarge’s Slaw

October 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Posted in pork, Salads, Sandwiches | 35 Comments

P1010626 A couple of weekends ago we attended Connor’s 1 year birthday party. As you can see, our guest of honor got to have his cake and smear it too. He was sporting a Bronco’s Jersey, but that was removed to reveal his cake-smearing shirt. Parents Greg and Cauleen rented the Pavillion at Northridge Park in Highlands Ranch and along with an unbelievable buffet of food, gorgeous fall weather, balloons, and lots of friends, we celebrated the first year of Connor’s life. 

Greg uncovered a large tray of the most delicious looking pulled pork. I immediately asked “did you make that?”  He said “yes”.  Not only did it look scrumptious, it was scrumptious, the most melt in your mouth, tender, wonderful tasting pulled pork that I have ever had. So full of many different flavors. Being the opportunistic blogger that I am, I asked for the recipe.

Greg is in the hotel management business. It seems he was in Vail visiting one of their properties, the Manor Vail Resort. He mentioned to the chef about cooking for Connor’s birthday party crowd and this recipe was offered up.  This dish is compliments Executive Chef, Richard Bailey, at Manor Vail Resort, Vail, CO. I did get permission from Chef Bailey to reprint this recipe and share it all with you. Thank you Chef  Bailey.  Take a look at their website: , bookmark it, and the next time you’re planning a trip to Vail plan to stay at the Manor Vail. 

Safeway had pork shoulder roasts on sale for 99 cents per pound, so let’s prepare Chef Richard Bailey’s pulled pork.

We start with the brine process.  I brined two 4 to 5 pound pork shoulder roasts in this mixture.  Use bone-in roasts for more flavor.

  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. salt
  • 12 T. black pepper
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 t. sage
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery
  • 8 bay leafs
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes
  • 2 lemons


In a huge soup kettle bring the brine mixture to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand until liquid is at room temperature. This took over an hour to cool.  Chef tells us that if you place the meat in the hot brine, it will toughen. When the brine has cooled, add the roasts, refrigerate and let cure for 24 hours.


The next morning at 0 dark thirty, preheat oven to 225 degrees. I ladled two big scoops of the brine in the bottom of the roaster pan, just to create a little steam bath (Greg’s idea, I’m telling ya, he’s not just another pretty face).  Sear the roasts on each side.  Place roasts in roasting rack, cover with foil and bake 10 hours.


Shred meat as soon as it is cool enough to touch. 




I prepared some Cole Slaw and made up some little pulled pork sliders. I like to use Sara Lee dinner rolls for sliders. Served with a nice green salad, it made for a delicious little meal.

I call my cole slaw:  Sarge’s Slaw. Years ago, I found a recipe for the The Original Colonel’s Kentucky Fried Chicken’s cole slaw. I tinkered with it and renamed it.

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I used my mandolin to shred the carrots and cabbage.


 Add lemon juice to the mayo and buttermilk mixture.


 I didn’t have celery salt, so used celery seed.


Pour creamy mixture over the shredded slaw and carrots. At this point I don’t even taste test the mixture. Just fold all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours to let the flavors marry. Then I taste test to get it  just like I want it. Adjusting sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper or whatever it needs to be to your liking.

Sarge’s Cole Slaw

8 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbs onion — finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp celery salt

Island Stew

October 17, 2009 at 1:12 am | Posted in Soup | 18 Comments




As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have an arsenal of soup recipes. Some are extravaganzas to prepare, and others easy enough to prepare after work on a week night. This is one of those.  I’ve had this recipe for years. I love the flavors and I don’t know how I ever lived without the combination of coconut milk, cilantro and lime.   This all went so fast that I didn’t get many pictures.  Enjoy!

Island Stew
1/2 pound fresh or frozen cod fillet
12 medium shrimp, deveined, peeled, tails removed
2 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 T. Thai basil, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Your favorite bottled hot sauce
Hot rice for serving

047Rinse cod, pat dry and cut into 1 inch cubes.
In a bowl combine 1 T. olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Add fish and toss to coat. Set aside.
In a pan heat remaining oil to medium high and add onions, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook for 4 minutes stirring occasionally until onion is tender. Stir in the can of tomatoes and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately and simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Stir in shrimp along with fish mixture, Thai basil, and 1/2 of the cilantro. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes or until fish flakes and shrimp are pink.
Serve with hot rice. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and sprinkle on some hot sauce if you’d like.

2 generous servings

I wanted to show you another view of the soup so you could see the consistency of the broth049 next to the rice. 

I’m linking this post to Deb in Hawaii’s blog: for her Sunday event called Souper Sunday.  Click on the link to find out more about her website and the Souper Sunday series.

Eclectic Cook – Just Grilled

October 14, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Just Grilled - A Blog Interview | 17 Comments

I’m starting a new blog segment called “Just Grilled”. The purpose of this series is to introduce to you to some blogger folks out there that I’ve run across who have inspired me, are incredibly interesting, informational and so entertaining that I can’t pass up the chance to introduce them to you a fun Q& A sort of way.    Hopefully you’ll make some new friends along the way. 

I wasn't able to capture her blog header artwork, so will show her latest beautiful picture from her last post

I wasn't able to capture her blog header, so will show this beautiful picture from her last post

I’d like to introduce you to Eclectic Cook, or “Karen in Wichita” as I call her.  Karen’s blog is one of the first blog sites I found when I started blogging in May.  I can’t remember how I found her, I think  just poking around on different blogs to see what other bloggers were doing, what their blogs looked like, what they were putting on their sidebars.  I really liked the look of the Eclectic Cook blog, really enjoyed her writing and then, I saw she was from  “Wichita, Kansas”.  You see, I grew up in Hutchinson about 40 miles to the northwest. That cinched it, I subscribed.  Interestingly enough, she’s a Greek/Irish Canadian that has somehow landed in the Land of Oz. I love Karen’s blog, great recipes, she’s a talented photographer and she always seems to make me chuckle or LOL with her writing style. I can tell she’s got a great sense of humor because she doesn’t get mad at me when I make fun of Kansas. 


So Karen, if you would step to the microphone please:

Name: Karen Moore

City: Wichita, Kansas

Blog url:

How long have you been blogging:  I’ve had this food blog up and running since May of this year. Just a wee bit after you.

Six words to describe the food you like to cook:  Fresh, foreign, fun, playful, kid approved.

Six words to describe you:  Kinda quirky, over curious, cheeky monkey.

Proudest moment in the kitchen:  When I learned/perfected how to flip stuff in a frying pan. Talk about a party trick. And it makes my kids think I’m the coolest mom ever when I flip their over-easy eggs!

Most embarrassing moment in the kitchen:  I have none. I am the perfect cook and nothing ever goes wrong. I also lie impulsively.
Let’s see, the most embarrassing event I can recall occurred when I was newly married and had invited the husband’s family over for dinner. I was looking to seriously impress them with my honed and refined culinary skills. I had made the mistake of telling everyone how I had worked ever so hard to make some wonderful pies for dessert from scratch (for the first time, which I didn’t mention). Unfortunately the pies refused to set up no matter how loudly I yelled at them, and I ended up having to serve them scooped into bowls.

Rules of conduct in your kitchen:  If you enter my line of sight, be prepared to be called upon to chop, dice, mix or fetch. Cooking is a team sport in my kitchen.

Favorite ingredient: I know it’s not a single ingredient, but I’d have to say herbs and spices. I have to resist the urge to use too many in one dish. I have 50 or 60 different ones going at any one time, and I make use of pretty much all of them. Some people collect shoes, I collect spices.

Most overrated ingredient: Tofu the wonder protein. It’s not my best friend.

Favorite local ingredient: Sweet corn in season. Oh me oh my. It doesn’t get any better , grilled on the BBQ, with a couple of choices of flavored butters. I miss summer already…

Weirdest thing you ever eaten: Shark. Texture of a pork chop, not at all fishy.

Favorite kitchen gadget: My microplane zester. If you don’t have one, get one. Sell something, have a bake sale, use your tooth fairy money, but get yourself to the store and procure this fantastic device for yourself.

Everybody loves it when I cook: Potstickers. They are such a pain in the hind quarters to prepare, but when I make them and the dipping sauce that goes with them, there are zero, zip, zilch leftovers.

Favorite all-time restaurant:  Arthur Bryant’s original location in Kansas City. My first introduction to real KC BBQ. There are no words to describe this experience. It was transformational.

Favorite Cookbook: Currently, the Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It has been invaluable as and inspiration for messing around with new recipes and tweaking old ones.

What music do you like to cook by: I listen to NPR. I’m such a geek. I LOVE the Car Talk guys.

If I owned my own restaurant, I would name it: I have no idea, I ‘ll ask my daughter. She said “Mama’s Kitchen”. We’ll go with that.

What famous person would I love to invite over to lunch (living or deceased): Anthony Bourdain. But I would be way too scared to cook for him, so I’d probably order takeout…

If I were President who would I appoint as my Chef: Jacques Pepin! He is ” Le bomb”.

In my opinion my best blog post was: A simple but delicious recipe that went straight from my head, to my kitchen, to my blog on the first try, Hot and Sweet Glazed Pork Chops But the post that means the most to me personally, the one that made me cry while writing it: Mom, Memories and Souvlaki


Thanks to Karen for being my first raked over the coals, grilled blogger!  And readership, please don’t hesitate to take a look at , you’ll be glad you did.

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