Tacos al Pastor

July 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Mexican/Southwest | 40 Comments
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It seems like Tacos al Pastor are everywhere lately…my favorite little taco joint here in Denver has them on the menu…Rick Bayless sent over a recipe via his newsletter…Food and Wine Magazine talked about them in their taco truck article…Gourmet Magazine referenced another Denver Mexican restaurant with Tacos al Pastor as a “must order”. So it seemed like this was a “must make” for me. 

I mean really, who can resist slow roasted pork slathered in a Mexican Red Sauce served on steamy corn tortillas topped with sweet grilled pineapple and carmelized onions.

Continue Reading Tacos al Pastor…


Green Beans Bolognese

July 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Vegetables | 14 Comments
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Swimming in fresh green beans? Already out of new ideas on how to prepare them? Hopefully this will be a new-ish take on a green bean side dish for your repertoire.

Remember my recent post about that fabulous specialty store in my neighborhood, Tony’s? Well not only do they have the best shopping experience around, they also have a wonderful website chock full of meal ideas and recipes. I am a Culinary Club member so receive weekly updates about sales and meal planning via email. Love this service. This green been recipe came over the wires last week, gave it a try and loved it. 

What’s so special about this recipe? The addition of the meat goes without saying, I’ve been adding bacon to beans forever. But with the addition of the broth and uncovering of the pot and boiling off the liquid to concentrate the flavors, gives you a nice carmelized coating on the beans, not to mention that special hint of clove flavor for a very tasty end result.

I usually think of Bolognese as a meat based tomato sauce for pasta.  However, Wikipedia tells us: Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce, but authentic recipes have only a small amount of tomato concentrate. 

I think the next time I make this I’ll add a chopped ripe tomato from the garden at the end…why not, I’ve been known to do wilder things than that.

Thanks to Lynne Rossetto Kasper for her take on turning Green Beans into a Bolognese and to Chef Mick from Tony’s for bringing us this recipe.  Which by the way, if you’re not familiar with Lynne Rossetto Kasper you’re missing out.  She has a show on Public Radio, The Splendid Table and some cookbooks that are wonderful.  Vickie in Montana sent me “How To Eat Supper” as a gift and it’s a wonderful cookbook. 

Green Beans Bolognese:

2-3 TBS olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound green beans, halved crosswise
2 oz. Italian mortadella, thin fingers (I used cubed applewood smoked ham that I needed to use up)
1 cup chicken stock
pinch of ground cloves
salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add the onion and saute over medium high heat 4 minutes, or until wilted. Then add the beans and cook over high heat for 8 minutes, or until the onions are a deep golden brown, stirring frequently.

Stir in the mortadella, stock, and cloves, and bring to a gentle bubble over medium low heat. Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Watch for sticking and if the beans threaten to scorch, stir in 1/4 cup water.

Concentrate the flavors by uncovering the pot and boiling off all the liquid, turning and stirring to protect from sticking. Once reduced to a thick sauce, turn into a warmed bowl.      -Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Green Beans Bolognese,

It’s How To Dress Up Those Summer Green Beans!

Rocky Mountain National Park, More Camp Grub

July 24, 2010 at 2:31 am | Posted in Camping Food | 22 Comments

Our last camping trip took us to Moraine Park in majestic Rocky Mountain National Park.  Located about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Denver, we’re truly lucky to have such a beautiful and sought after vacation spot so close to home. 

To get to RMNP we head north out of Denver to Loveland then turn west through Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park. Sound familiar? Some of you may remember that name from the tragedy, the Big Thompson Flood. On July 31, 1976 a storm dumped nearly 8 inches of rain in one hour, and up to 12 inches of rain in just a few hours, causing the event that claimed 144 lives and destroyed more than 400 homes. 30,000 cubic feet per second and more than 13 million gallons of water per minute swept through the canyon that night.

This was before I lived in Colorado. Vacationing the next year I drove through the canyon the very week it was reopened. I’ll never forget the devastation that was still visible. To this day when we make that drive, I solemnly look at the steep canyon walls with respect, look for the few homes and businesses amongst the rebuilds that survived, and feel heartsick at the horror all of those people went through that night. Just breaks my heart to think of how scared they must have been.

Most were vacationers. Many that survived were forced to climb those canyon walls to be plucked off the mountain top to safety by helicopter the next day. If you’re interested in more take a look at this website. http://www.casfm.org/papers/big_thompson_tom_browning.htm

Moving on. At the top of the canyon you putter through picturesque Estes Park and then arrive at the park. Before we get to some scenery shots, let’s talk about the food.

I am loving our camp grill. Don’t know how I lived all these years without it.  And how easy is it to cook a steak at the camp site? Easy! Sprinkled with a  little of your favorite seasoning, alongside a handful of asparagus, a head of romaine for my favorite Grilled Romaine Salad…and the hills are alive with the sound of music. Ok, I got carried away.

Add a little shrimp and some green onions, drizzle the romaine with the dressing and you’ve got yourself a campground feast!  The one rib eye was enough for both of us.

Look who’s coming to dinner.  This Magpie swooped in and right under our noses grabbed an olive out of the container and flew off with it  faster than we could yell “SHOOO”. Not even enough warning  to wave our arms in protest. Olive container was promptly covered. Still didn’t keep him from returning to peck at the lid in protest…sheesh, where is Campground Security when you need them.

One evening’s dinner was a grilled ham steak with a mustard glaze, which beautifully turned into some hash for breakfast the next morning. I parboiled two potatoes at home, then cubed them on sight, sautéed them with some onion, added in cubed ham, some paprika and seasonings and it turned out to be easy and delicious. Can’t have breakfast hash without two sunny side up eggs.

I love our French Press for coffee in the high country.

Next up, a few scenery shots and I’ll have you out of here in no time.

Just a little shot of the campground from our area so you can wrap your arms around the place.

Campground cook hovering over the warming grill.

14,259′ Longs Peak looms as a scenery perk from the campground.

A day trip to the Alluvial Fan area. Again, the scene of a failed earthen dam above caused boulders the size of cars to tumble down the mountain to create an alluvial fan effect in 1982. Interested in learning more?  Take a look at this website.  http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/colorado_nature_series/84172

This leads you up the famous highway, Trail Ridge Road which takes you over the continental divide and over and through those peaks that tower more than 14,000 feet high. Forget those bad seats in the arena…you are officially in the nose bleed section here.

Near the top, we’re looking down on the valley from where we came. To the left you can see that alluvial fan where the last photo as taken. Pretty awesome. To the right the switch backed highway that winds you up the hill.  Feeling the altitude yet?  🙂

White knuckled and down off the highway in the sky, treat of the trip was to find a group of female and baby Big Horn Sheep grazing in a wet meadow.   These treasures were closely guarded by Park Officials, so this was as close as I could get for a photo-op.  How COOL is this?

Back at the campsite, clouds swirl around the sun to threaten an afternoon shower.  Now I understand why we call it God’s country!

Welcome to Kansas, Vegetable Salad

July 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Vegetables, Welome to Kansas | 9 Comments
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I come by my love of cooking honestly, as my mom and her two sisters were constantly whipping up some of the best country cooking you can imagine when I was growing up on the farm in Kansas. Then gathering us all together around a long buffet table of dish after casserole dish of food, we’d eat until we were “fuller than ticks”.

I have a family cookbook full of these recipes and want to start posting more. Last road trip home, I pulled over to take a photo of this sign just inside the Kansas-Colorado border to use for these posts. Just a side note, did you know there’s a town on the border called Kanorado? Clever.  Population 222, 119 males, 103 females…thank you Google.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Lena. Actually her name was Lois, but we called her Aunt Lena. Come to think of it her husband’s name was Marion and we called him Uncle Frank??? Then there was my Mom’s friend Wallace but we called him Wig. My Aunt Laura who we always called Aunt Tootse. Very confusing for my husband when he started visiting my family. Always questions like “well then which one is Marion?”

Anyway, this is an easy delicious side dish. I’ve used canned vegetables for this batch because here it is the end of July and Colorado still has no fresh Colorado produce. This last week we did just see some sweet corn.. finally!  Very soon I’ll be blanching up fresh veggies for this recipe.

This simple sweet tangy flavorful mixture will pair quite nicely with any piece of meat that comes off your grill this summer.

Aunt Lena’s Vegetable Salad

1 can corn — white
1 can green beans — french style
1 can peas — small
1 cup onion — red, chopped
1 whole green pepper — chopped
1 cup celery — chopped
1 jar pimentos
1 cup sugar — 1/2 to 1 cup (to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs water

1. Heat sauce slightly to melt sugar. Pour over vegetable and let set overnight.

Servings: 12

Aunt Lena’s Vegetable Salad.

It’s What’s for a Summer Side Dish.

Summer Omelette

July 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Breakfast | 15 Comments
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Can you tell I like some eggs with my pepper?  Three eggs, three dashes coarse ground pepper, a dash of salt, a sprinkling of fresh lemon thyme from the garden and about a tablespoon of cream… ready to be turned into an omelette.

Do you eat breakfast? Or are you one of those “I can’t eat in the morning…I don’t eat until 10:00, I can’t stand the smell of food in the morning, I skip breakfast to lose weight” people?

I eat breakfast. Actually I wake up hungry! With a full-time job, weekday breakfasts are usually fruit and oatmeal, or leftovers from dinner the night before. Oh yes, I can most certainly eat pasta, pizza, chicken or steak early in the morning. Anything but seafood… it just doesn’t sound good at 6:00am.

On weekends I try to whip up at least one big morning meal. Serving up a late breakfast holds us all day, no need to eat again until dinner. 

I’m a firm believer in the Julia Child omelette. If you’ve never watched her video on the topic you’re in for a treat. It works! It works every time and it worked for me the first time I ever tried it.

For the “omelette” this past weekend, it was more of a custard event. Using Julia’s method with large chunks of yellow summer squash, rough chopped green onions and tomato wedges, your delicate layer of eggs would more resemble a paper towel that had been thrown into a washing machine with tennis shoes and rugs.

So, I increased to three eggs (still looks like it got a little mangled in the wash) and added about a tablespoon of cream.  Heating a combination of butter and olive oil, I sautéed cubed summer squash almost tender. I then added the green onions and cooked until  fragrant. 

At that point I poured in the slightly stirred egg mixture and swirled, lifting edges, jiggling a bit and finally covering with a lid until almost set. Then I added the fresh tomatoes, folded the omelette, turned off the heat, covered with the lid and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I love chunks of tomatoes in an omelette, but not cooked. Just warm. On serving, I sprinkled with a little grated Parmesan.

Hub and I split the omelette, split the croissant, and with some fresh fruit and a sprig of parsley for ambiance, it was delicious fresh breakfast. 

We’re still waiting for Colorado Produce to hit our markets.  We just now have new to market sweet corn, but that’s about it. 

Omelette with Fresh Summer Vegetables…

It’s What’s For Breakfast.

I Heart Tony’s

July 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Beef, Markets | 36 Comments
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As you know, I’ve self-banned myself from any markets, gourmet food or specialty stores, and farmer’s markets until I use up some of the stockpile in my pantry and on my refrigerator door.

That lasted exactly 4 days,  16 hours and 12 minutes. 

My favorite Specialty Food and Meat Market, Tony’s  had a “Local” event yesterday, featuring Colorado gourmet food vendors. A silly “self banning rule”, wild horses and temperatures above 100 degrees couldn’t keep me away. 

We are so fortunate to have a store like Tony’s in Denver. Locally owned and operated, Tony Rosacci and his family owned business support local farmers, merchants and gourmet food vendors. I like that…a lot. I’ve been going to Tony’s so long, I can remember when it was nothing but a meat counter that offered unparalleled customer service and a superior product. 

Today, the best butcher shop in town has grown to become a wonderful gourmet store with several locations, offering an extraordinary array of beautiful specialty products…and that customer service is still unparalleled. I’m lucky to live just a few miles from the original market. I Heart Tony’s.

Stick around and take a tour with me.

Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Step up, take a number and get in line for Tony’s wonderful “Tony’s To Go”  pre-made dinners. Always a tasty and beautiful selection. My favorite is the long-time available twice baked potatoes.  Yum.

Fabulous seafood department.

Connected to the finest meat department in the city.

A great selection of frozen products.

Now do you see why my refrigerator door looks like it does?

Look at those baskets of impressive dried pastas that line the meat cases.

How on earth are you supposed to decide which cookie you want?

A beautiful produce section.

A mountain of Chocolate anyone?  And look at all those packages of meringue cookies.

Love, love, love their selection of fine cheese.

Always a clamor at the deli. Man, do they make up some great sandwiches and offer some high quality deli meat.

Yes, you can pick up staples like eggs and milk.

…omg, look at the beautiful dessert selection….sigh.

Just a shot of the store so you can somewhat feel that browsing ambiance.

Is that my car back there that’s getting ready to burst into flames?  Did I mention it was over 100 degrees out?  I had to chuckle, to get this photo I was standing next to a blazing hot grill, on the blazing hot cement in the blazing hot sun….at least I wasn’t dressed in black like this guy was, blazing up ribs all afternoon.

Tony’s Catering was out front grilling/smoking up some delicious ribs…

So I picked some up at the meat counter. All I had to do is reheat when I got home and man were they GOOD. Love the rub they used and I just slathered on some more of Tony’s BBQ sauce.  Delicious ribs. 

This is one of the local vendors featured at the event.  Meet Kim of  Kim’s Gourmet Sauces. Offering a two for one, I bought her spicy peanut sauce and a bottle of spicy teriyaki. They were serving up samples of these sauces on fried dumplings. What a delicious treat. Can’t wait to make them at home.

The cute couple representing their Sticky Brand Sauces. Again, look at all of those samples. It was hard to decide, but  with the two for one price tag I bought their Tangy Wing and Mild BBQ Sauce.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

July 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Fruit | 20 Comments
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Watermelon, can you imagine a summer picnic without it?  I remember as a kid mom giving us big old slices of juicy watermelon and making us eat it outside so we wouldn’t make a mess in the house.  So juicy you’d have to lean forward to eat it so it wouldn’t run down your arms or get all over your clothes.  And then there was the seed spitting mess.  Hurrah for all the delicious seedless varieties now available to in our markets.

 I found this recipe a couple of years ago, tweaked it a bit and now it’s my “take everywhere all Summer long” dish. I love a sweet and salty combination. When I was in my 20’s and didn’t care what I ate, I used to pile potato chips on top of a candy bar to get my sweet-salty fix…ah, those were the days. 🙂

Let’s address a healthier combination, how about sweet watermelon, salty olives and creamy feta. I think you’ll find it addictive and a real crowd pleaser.  Take a look:

Watermelon and Feta Salad:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp harissa or other hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs seedless watermelon, rind removed, fruit sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pitted Moroccan or other oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and harissa and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the watermelon slices on a platter and sprinkle with the onion, parsley, olives and feta. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve.

Servings: 4

Sending this to paradise for Deb’s Souper Sundays!

Watermelon and Feta Salad…

It’s What’s For Summer.

Lemon Refrigerator Cake with Pink Lemonade Glaze

July 13, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Posted in dessert | 19 Comments
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Look how moist..and lemony.

Chris over at Nibble Me This recently noted that you didn’t see many desserts on his site because he really doesn’t like desserts that much. Same here. I don’t think I have a sweet tooth in my head, but give me a bag of potato chips….oh, don’t get me wrong, there are desserts that are absolutely delicious and I love them, ice cream being my favorite. And then there’s that darn strawberry pie that Larry makes, but I think I fill up so much on the meat and potatoes and just don’t save room for the sweet stuff.

Speaking of sweet teeth, you need a whole mouth-full  for this Summery cake. I like to refer to this as a “kids cake”. It’s easy enough that a kid could make it and sweet enough for the them to go bonkers over…like bouncing off the walls bonkers.  It’s SA-weet and loaded with flavor. 

The proof is in the pudding. I made this last week to take to one of my client’s open house luncheons. I sent the leftovers home with her for her kids and she emailed me the next day, They ate it like hogs“.  🙂  ya gotta love that.

Years ago, I published a family cookbook.  My cousin-in-law Kathy submitted this recipe with this comment: “This is my favorite summer dessert. It is so cool and refreshing on a hot summer day. I got the recipe from my mom, Deeva Christie” 

By the way, isn’t that a rock star quality name?? Deeva Christie?  Thank you Deeva Christie for this cake recipe, straight from the heartland of Kansas:

Lemon Refrigerator Cake with Pink Grapefruit Glaze:

  • 1 package lemon cake mix
  • 3/4 C. water
  • 1 small package Lemon Jell-O
  • 3/4 C. oil
  • 4 eggs

Pink Lemonade Glaze

  • 2 C. sifted powdered sugar
  • 6 ounces canned pink lemonade

For the cake: Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well for five minutes. Pour into a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and pierce entire cake with a meat fork. Pour lemonade topping over cake, working into holes.

For the Glaze:

Combine powdered sugar and pink lemonade in a bowl. Mix well. After pouring over cake, return to the oven for five minutes to set  When cool, refrigerate.

Kathy didn’t say to, but I threw some whipped cream on top.

Lemonade Topped Cake,

It’s What To Jazz Up Your Summer Sweets!

Noodles with Sauteed Shrimp and Cilantro

July 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Pasta, Seafood | 15 Comments
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I swear, I should never be allowed to go to any grocery story, farmer’s market or specialty market unsupervised. You might as well throw in convenience stores. I’m sure I could find some gourmet fake orange cheese product that I couldn’t live without.

Still trying to work out of the pantry to use up some of my “stock-pile” here’s what I came up with.

Love the combination of flavors here. The salty citrus combined with the cilantro and the sweet shrimp work well here. And the addition of red pepper flakes really BAM it up.  Take a look:

Noodles with sautéed Shrimp and Cilantro:

  • 1/2 pound noodles of your choice, (I used flat egg noodles)
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T. tamari soy sauce
  • 3 T. teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 T. agave syrup (or honey)
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 t. lime zest plus the juice from one lime
  • A sprinkle of crushed red pepper
  • Lime wedges for serving

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a large bowl combine 2 T. of the oil with the soy, teriaki and agave syrup. When noodles are cooked and drained, toss them in the sauce, cover and let marinate while you:

Heat 1 T. of the oil in a skillet. Add shallots and cook over moderate heat stirring until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes  Transfer shallots to a paper towel and in same oil add the garlic and cook over low heat until fragrant and just turning gold (about 2 minutes). Transfer garlic to the paper towel.

Meanwhile combine the lime juice with zest and remaining oil and toss with the de-tailed, de-veined shrimp. Season with a little salt and then saute the shrimp in the same oil until done. 

Arrange noodles in large pasta bowls.  Sprinkle with the scallions, garlic, cilantro and some crushed red pepper to taste.  Arrange the shrimp on top, lime wedges along side.

Good to the last drop.

Noodles with sautéed Shrimp and Cilantro…

It’s What’s for Dinner.

Spicy Chicken and Peach Kabobs

July 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Chicken | 25 Comments
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I’m kabob-inspired after reading over a week’s worth of ridiculously good-looking kabob creations over at Sippity Sup.  That’s right, Greg has been offering up a daily dose of skewered treats. 

This is not one of Greg’s creations. This is my very own which I should  really name “Freeloader Kabobs”. 

With my base of chicken breasts, onions and peaches, I reached for some of those hanger-on-er half-full jars on the refrigerator door. You know the ones. They cost about five bucks each, you bring them home, use a couple of tablespoons for one recipe and then they sit there…freeloading in the air-conditioned luxury of the fridge. It’s quite a diverse group, English mustards, exotic vinegars, dark and mysterious oriental sauces, Oregon jelly, trailer trash bbq sauces, Mexican hot sauces…I just don’t have the heart to throw them out….so they hang…on the refrigerator door.

Here’s what I did:

Basting Sauce:

  • 2 T. orange juice
  • 2 t. soy sauce
  • 2 T. Fischer and Wieser Chipotle Raspberry Sauce
  • 1 T. Oregon Marionberry jelly
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely chopped (Make sure it’s dripping in that sauce)
  • 1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. lemon zest and just a small squeeze of juice

Skewer your chicken pieces, chunks of fresh peach and slices of onions. Baste with the sauce while grilling. Pretty darn good and bingo,  two freeloading  jars gone from the refrigerator door. 

I served this up with some grilled steak fries.  I parboiled the potatoes, skin on, cut into wedges, brushed with some olive oil, salt and peppered and grilled until done.

We paired this with some of the best wine I think I’ve ever tasted.  Penner-Ash Pinot Noir.  You know me and Oregon Pinots. 

Spicy Chicken and Peach Kabobs…

It’s What’s For Dinner.

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