Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  I'm ready, are you?  We get a lot of trick-or-treaters here, over 100 every year since we've lived here.  I made these little treat bags this year....100 of them, plus a big bowl of extra candy.  And I still run out almost every year.  It's a lot of fun....we get lots of little ones all dressed up and they all say "Thank You!"

We are expecting rain this evening, so I hope they can still get out or Jim's office is going to get a carload full of candy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Calico Cornbread

Since it is officially chili season here, that means it is also cornbread season (leftovers for Thanksgiving dressing, anyone?)  We have settled into two different recipes, Jim's favorite and mine.  This is his, and it is a close second for me.

I could make a meal out of this all by itself and I have to stop myself after a piece (or two).  I love it with goat butter, but it is wonderful with honey butter, too.  A great side dish anytime of the year, but especially good right now!

CALICO CORNBREAD (8-10 servings)

1 cup AP flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (not cornbread mix)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
2/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 (7 oz) can Mexicorn
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) chopped onion
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable cooking spray

Place a 9" cast-iron skillet in a 450F oven 5 minutes or until hot.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.  Combine buttermilk and next 4 ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

Coat skillet with cooking spray; immediately pour batter into hot skillet.  Bake at 450F for 20 minutes or until golden.  Cut into 8-10 wedges.

Recipe Source: Cooking Light "Light and Easy Cookbook" (1997) p. 207

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pineapple Salsa Verde

This weekend Jim and I ate at Abuelo's, the chain Mexican restaurant.  Since the last time I'd been there, they had changed one of their salsas and it was so good and refreshing.  I did some searches trying to find a copycat recipe, but ended up combining several different recipes.

It's quite quick and simple and easy to adjust to your tastes.  I used a half of a small poblano pepper because we're more sensitive to heat, but you could bump it up a bit using a jalapeno or serrano pepper instead.  Also, my personal preference is to go a bit lighter on the cilantro.

This would be especially nice during summer.  I think I'll also try it with some grilled fish or salmon and some kind of Tex-Mex side dish or a chicken taco salad.  A nice, refreshing change from traditional red salsa.

PINEAPPLE SALSA VERDE (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

1/2 pound fresh tomatillos (about 4 medium), husked, rinsed, and quartered
1/2 oz fresh chili pepper, your choice, depends on level of heat you prefer
1/2 large white onion, cut into large chunks
8 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 of a lime

Combine tomatillos, chilies, onion, and pineapple in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.

Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add cilantro, salt, and lime juice and pulse until desired texture (it will be runny).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sugared Shortbread Cookies

We are quickly approaching Halloween!  Our colors are starting to turn here and we've even had two nights below freezing.  The flannel sheets are back!

I was trying out some new cookie stamps but they didn't work too well on this recipe.  I'm anxious to try them again because I do have some cute designs.  Will try the snowflake stamp next time.  These were supposed to be pumpkins, hence the orange color which I made by using 5 drops of red food coloring and 35 drops of yellow.  Unfortunately the impression really faded during baking.  This did not, however, have any affect on the taste of the cookie.

It's a basic shortbread recipe.  And could anything be wrong with that?

SUGARED SHORTBREAD COOKIES (makes 1 1/2 to 2 dozen cookies)

1 cup salted butter, softened to room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus additional sugar for rolling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 3/4 cup AP flour

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Cream butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and powdered sugar; beat until fluffy.  Add vanilla, cornstarch, and flour and mix well.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.  If dough is sticky, add more flour.

Roll dough into 1 1/4" balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place 3" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet or sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper.  If using cookie press, press down or use fingers to flatten.

Bake 15-17 minutes or until bottom of cookie is very lightly browned (edges may be slightly brown, but the top should not brown.) 

To make evened edges, cut a biscuit cutter and cut when cookies are still warm.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ice Cream Bites

No recipe here....just a cute idea for a fun dessert.  I ran across this idea a few months ago, tucked it away, and forgot about it.  But it's so easy and you could make a bunch pretty quickly.

Simply let some ice cream soften a bit.  Take two mini pretzels and place some of the ice cream to make a pretzel-ice cream sandwich.   Sprinkle some nonpareils on the outside and set on a tray and place back into the freezer to firm up.  Yummy!

A side note having nothing to do with food!  If you have dogs and cats and haven't seen this video, you have to watch it!  I've never forwarded any youtube/video stuff here, but this is just too cute not to pass on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mocha Cinnamon Chip Cookies

With autumn here and holidays approaching, you'll be able to start finding the specialty baking items like chips and Hershey's kisses in seasonal flavors.  I love cinnamon chips and look forward to them every year.  I always make cinnamon chip/oatmeal cookies, but decided to try something different this year.

Vastly different than my other choice, this has a much richer, deeper flower due to cocoa powder and coffee extract.  It's a great combination!

MOCHA CINNAMON CHIP COOKIES (makes about 5 dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp pure coffee extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups AP flour
1 cup cinnamon baking chips
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat butter and sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and coffee extract; mix well.  Add baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder; mix well.  Stir in flour and then the cinnamon chips and walnuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2" apart on baking sheets lined with Silpat or parchment paper (or ungreased cookie sheets).

Bake 9-12 minutes or just until cookies are set.  Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes.  Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Six Layer Salad

I gotta admit....this is Salad 101.  This is the salad that was recommended with the fabulous pasta dish posted yesterday.  It's just about as basic as you can get.  Just a few notes on it, however.

First:  iceberg lettuce.  Iceberg has gotten such a bad rap over the last 20 years or so.  And I don't know why.  Really, the nutritional difference between iceberg and romaine (per serving) is minimal.  And I don't know about you.....but I adore the crisp crunch that comes with iceberg.  Of course, you must "prepare" it properly.  This is how I do it:  core the lettuce (whack the core on the edge of your sink....the core will pop out).  Run cold water so it fills the head of lettuce between the layers.  Turn it over and let it sit in the sink for about an hour to completely drain.  Wrap the head in a clean kitchen towel (washed without softener), and then wrap it in a plastic grocery bag.  Let it chill in the frig for at least a couple of hours.  I guarantee will be a crisp head of lettuce that will last for a long time.

Second:  using garlic Texas toast for croutons.  I will say that as a staple, I use Panera bagels (diced and coated with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt and baked at 325F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally) to make my croutons.  I had only bought frozen garlic Texas toast one time.  ONE TIME.  Never again.  It was just awful.  But at the demo, Publix had used their own bakery Texas toast....fresh, not frozen.  Diced and then baked in the oven.  The croutons were just great.

Third:  dressing.  I almost always make my own dressings, creamy or vinaigrettes.  But this salad was so good and it used Marie's brand found refrigerated in the produce section.  Of course, you could certainly use your favorite dressing here, but this one really worked.

Lesson Learned:  You can teach a middle-aged dog new tricks....even simple ones.

SIX LAYER SALAD (4 servings)

3 slices bakery garlic Texas toast
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato (or grape tomatoes, halved), coarsely chopped
4 oz reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cooked bacon pieces
Marie's Creamy Italian Garlic dressing, to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut bread into bite-sized cubes.  Place in baking pan lined with parchment paper or Silpat.  Bake cubes 4-5 miutes or until toasted.  Set aside to cool.

Layer salad in serving bowl or on individual plates in this order: lettuce, cheese, bacon, and tomato.

Top salad with dresssing and croutons.  Toss (if desired) when ready to serve.

Recipe Source:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sausage and Cheese Ravioli Saute

This was a recipe being demo-ed at Publix a few weeks ago.  Even as a grocery store sample, I couldn't believe how really good it was.  I grabbed the recipe but didn't really look at it until I decided to make it last week.

When I looked at the ingredients I thought they surely must have made a few substitutions when they made it.  I went by again and asked and they told me they prepared it just as instructed.  On paper I simply couldn't see how this was going to come together, but that sample was so good I forged ahead.

This is absolutely going into my Top Five favorite pasta dishes.  It tastes so decadently delicious but in reality, it's not nearly as sinful as you would think.  I used chicken sausage and reduced-fat gorgonzola, yet it tastes like it is full of cream.  I couldn't figure out the use of the pears, but they simlpy add another depth of flavor and texture .  If you are a fan of mushrooms, gorgonzola, and asparagus, I hope you'll give this a try.  I served it with their suggested simple green salad which I'll post tomorrow.

NOTE:  The ravioli they/I used is the fresh pasta found in the dairy section.  If you can't find a cheese-filled pasta with mushrooms, a plain cheese ravioli would be an adequate substitution.


2 Bartlett pears, 1 pear coarsely chopped, 1 pear coarsely grated
1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears, tough ends removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 links chicken (or pork) Italian sausage, mild or hot, your choice (6 oz), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp canola oil
8 oz pre-sliced baby portabellas
1 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1 package (8-9 oz) cheese-filled pasta with mushrooms
2 Tbsp herb garlic butter (or used regular butter with a bit of minced garlic)
4 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, then add sausage and mushrooms; cook 2-3 minutes or until mushrooms and sausage have browned slightly.  Add chopped pear; cook 1 minute more.

Reduce heat on pan to medium.  Stir in wine, grated pear, asparagus, and pasta; simmer 3-4 minutes or until pasta is tender and wine has reduced by two-thirds.

Remove pan from heat; stir in butter and cheese until well blended.  Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Warm Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

This salad just screams autumn!  And with so much of what I love, arugula, butternut squash, pork cracklins (!), I knew I had to try it.

And I've always been fascinated by fennel, but have never had much luck with it.  But in this recipe, you saute it which, for me, made a huge difference.  It softens it but still leaves that subtle hint of anise.  And pork cracklins for croutons......who'd a thunk it?!!!  What a great idea!  Actually, I don't think cracklins aren't quite right here, especially if you have "gentle" teeth.  Cracklin's are quite hard and could chip or crack a tooth, while pork rinds are so much "fluffier."  It's a personal preference.  I like them both, but as a substitute for croutons, personally I lean toward the rinds.


2 Tbsp EVOO
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1 lb butternut squash, cubed into 1/2" pieces and cooked until fork-tender (I roast mine, place halved, seeded small squash meat-side down, with a bit of EVOO and water, cover with aluminum foil and roast at 450F....check at 30 minutes.  If you can pierce the skin with a paring knife, it's ready.  Or cook to your preference)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 (5 oz) package baby arugula
1/2 pomegranate (seeds left whole)
1 (3 oz) bag pork cracklins or pork rinds, broken into small pieces

2 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 pomegranate (juice & seeds)

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add the onion and the fennel and cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until fennel is to the tenderness you desire.

Add the cooked butternut squash, S&P, and saute, stirring occasionally, for another 6 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the heat and place into a medium-sized mixed bowl.  Add 1/2 of the dressing, toss, and set aside.

Place all ingredients into a smaller blender or food processor and process until fully combined.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh colander, or a colander lined with cheesecloth.  Store the dressing in the refrigerator until needed.

To assemble the salad, place the arugula in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 of the dressing and toss.  Add the warm vegetables and toss again.  Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and pork cracklins/rinds over the salad and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: search "David's Recipes"

Chia Chai Granola

Are you a granola eater?  I never have been.  I think the first granola bar I had was probably back in the 70's and it was one of those break-your-teeth hard bars.  Not particulary tasty and really not very healthy.

And then a few years ago I heard of a recipe that intrigued me (see 11-14-11 post).  And I loved it.  And it's all I've been making since.  But when I heard about a chai-inspired granola, I thought I'd try it.  I love these little tiny bits of the chia and flax.  I also added some amaranth to it for one more bit of tiny crunch (I was easily able to get these at my local health-food market in the bulk section so I didn't have to buy more than I needed).  I love to snack on it as it is, but it's also wonderful in yogurt or ice cream.  And the chai flavor really complements the cooler weather.  It all just works.

CHIA CHAI GRANOLA (makes about 6 cups)

4 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 cup sliced almonds (or whatever nuts you like....I used pumpkin seeds this time)
1/4 cup amaranth, optional
2 Tbsp golden flax seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp coconut oil (I used to have to get this in a health food store, but have recently found it in my local supermarket)
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 300F.  Prepare two cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, grains, and spices.

In a smaller microwave-safe bowl, combine honey and oil.  Heat for about 30 seconds and stir to combine well.  Add to dry mixture and mix well to coat.

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.  Stir whites into granola mixture, folding to coat.

Evenly distribute mixture between the two baking sheets, spreading evenly.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking to prevent edges from burning (it is also a good idea to switch racks halfway through).

Allow mixture to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

OKLAHOMA Fried Onion Burgers

Last week before the BIG OU-texas game, I was searching for some themed-ideas for the game.  You know, something like Sooner Spinach Dip or Bevo Burgers (did you know that Bevo is sterile?!!!)  And then a Cook's Country magazine arrived featuring these fried onion burgers.

Growing up in OKC we made frequent trips to my parent's hometowns in SW OK, almost always making a stop in Chickasha for the best fried onion burgers you'll ever have.  It was a small diner-type restaurant that was counter service only with those wonderful twirling stools.  If you're over 50, you've got to remember those places, weren't they grand?

Anyway, back to the burgers.  It's such simplicity and truly great.  You have a heap of onions with a heap of beef, squished down and fried.  I'm a dyed-in-the-wool believer that burgers should only have onions, pickles, and mustard on them.  This recipe also calls for American cheese (a blasphemy to me....but I gotta post what I found).

Oh, we won't mention this year's score, but I will leave by saying that OU blew texas out of the water the previous two years.  GO BOOMER SOONERS!!!

OKLAHOMA Fried Onion Burgers (serves 4)

1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8" thick (use a mandolin)
12 oz 85% lean ground beef
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese (optional)
4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
yellow mustard (my recommendation)
pickle chips (my recommendation)

Combine onion and 1 tsp salt in bowl and toss to combine.  Transfer to colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Using tongs, transfer onion to clean dish towel, gather edges, and squeeze onion dry.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp pepper.

Divide onion mixture into 4 separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet.  Form beef into 4 tightly packed calls and season with S&P.  Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so onion adheres and patties measure 4" in diameter.

Melt butter with oil in 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Using spatula, transfer patties to skillet, onion-side down, and cook until onion is deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around edges, 6-8 minutes.  Flip burgers, increase heat to high, and cook until well browned on second side, about 2 minutes.   Place 1 slice cheese on each bottom bun (if using).  (NOTE:  At this point, I would suggest you place the cooked burgers on a paper towel to drain and dab the onion side to absorb excess oil).  Place burgers on bun, add desired toppings, and serve.

Recipe Source:  Cook's Country sample magazine

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bon Bons

OK, let me preface this post by saying I have made these numerous times and they've come out cute as they could be.  They use to look like mice.  The batch I made this time, well, let's say they were maybe nuclear mutant mice.  The weirdest-looking batch of critters I've ever turned out!

This is basically a Hershey's kiss enveloped in a tasty cookie coating.  Now, in the past when I've made them, I've stuck a couple of mini-chocolate chips in for eyes and a couple for ears and then put in a piece of black string licorce.  But for some reason this year, the chocolate chips just looked like for shiny spots on a round ball with a black tail!  The last batch I switched to white chocolate chips so hopefully they would look like eyes, but, well......

Anywho...... if you have a more creative hand than I do, give it a try.  Or if you are just want a simple melt-in-your-mouth treat, forget about the adornments and just make the bon-bons!  Also, there are a variety of Hershey's Kisses....use any that you like....they all taste wonderful.

BON BONS (makes approximately 60 bon-bons)

1 (12 oz) cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag (12 oz bag....about 60 kisses in each bag)
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts, optional

In medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips and butter.  Cook and stir over very low heat until chips are melted and smooth.  Add sweetened condensed milk.  Mix well.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup.  Level off.  In medium bowl, combine flour, nuts (if using), chocolate mixture, and vanilla.  Mix well.

Heat oven to 350F.

Shape 1 Tbsp of dough around each kiss, covering completely.  Roll into a smooth ball between your hands.  Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.  Cookies will be soft and shiny, but become firm as they cool.

NOTE:  If using licorce, place the strings into the bon bons within a minute or two after coming out of the oven and they will slide right in.  If using chocolate chips for ears and eyes, wait several minutes or the chips will simply melt.  But don't wait too long or the chips won't stick.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Baked Pepperoni Dip

This is one fabulous dip and absolutely perfect for game-watching or movie night.  And it couldn't be easier to put together.  It is so creamy and savory and, well, just so yummy.  I really lightened it up by using reduced-fat cream cheese, reduced-fat cheese, light sour cream, turkey pepperoni and served it with Baked Tostitos for a guilt-free football snack.


8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp minced garlic
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of salt
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or Italian blend), divided

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  In a separate bowl, mix tomato sauce, herbs, S&P.

Layer cheese mixture on the bottom of a baking dish or pie pan.  Spread tomato sauce over cheese mixture.  Sprinkle on chopped pepperoni. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.  Top with reserved 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

Serve with tortilla chips, corn chips, or veggie sticks.

NOTE:  Bottle pizza or marinara sauce can be used instead of the tomato sauce mixture.

Recipe Source: (NOTE:  This recipe was featured in The Best Blog Recipes!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fried Corn with Smoked Sausage

I think the name of this dish is a bit of a misnomer.....the corn isn't really fried, simply sauteed with peppers and onions.  Regardless, it was wonderful, easy, and everything except the onions came out of my freezer!!!  I am really on a mission to use stuff up and I made a pretty good dent with this dish.

I thought I had more colored peppers than I did so mostly I used green with the one small piece of orange pepper (2 things gone!) and smoked turkey sausage (ding! one more thing gone).  Oh, and for a side dish, mashed potatoes that I had frozen (and forgotten about).

Ahhh.....such a sense of accomplishment, plus is came out wonderfully!


2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1" pieces
1 (16 oz) package frozen corn kernels
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp black pepper

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion, peppers, and smoked sausage in the butter until hot, 1-2 minutes.  Add the corn and reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until the corn is tender, 5-7 minutes. 

Season with salt, powders, and pepper, toss to combine.  Serve hot.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wing Zzzingers

Well, we are well into football season (or autumn, if you will....YEA!!!).  Do you love wings like I do?  I do enjoy a batch of traditional Buffalo Wings, but every once in a while, something a bit different is nice.  This is a really yummy grilled version swathed in herbs and seasonings.  A great tailgating or football-watching treat.

You can mix the dried seasonings ahead of time and then simply mix the sauce and then toss everything together.  I serve them as I do traditional wings, with carrots and celery and ranch or blue cheese salad dressing.

WING ZZZINGERS (for 2 pounds of wings)

Hot Sauce:
1/3 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vinegar with peppers
2 Tbsp butter

Chicken Seasoning:
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
dash cayenne

2 pounds chicken wings, remove tips, divide flats and drummettes.  Remove any excess skin.

Melt the butter with the hot sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.  

Mix the seasonings together.

Pour some of the sauce over the wings and toss well.  Add add of the dried seasonings.

Place on top level of a grill, temperature on low.  Close grill and cook for 15 minutes. Brush remaining sauce on top of wings and turn.  Grill for another 15 minutes.

Grill Note:  I used our George Foreman grill on #4 and this worked fine.  If you use a gas or charcoal grill, you may need to adjust the time and/or heat to your liking.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard

This is a vegan recipe a friend shared with me and it is absolutely delicious!!!  Talk about nutritious: low-fat, high-fiber, full of so many good-for-you ingredients.  And quick to make.  If you can, make it ahead of time as it's really better the next day.

It's also easily adjustable.  After reading reader's comments, I upped the amount of cumin and chili powder a tad, and also used a bit of chipotle chili powder in lieu of a bit of the regular for a touch of heat.  Also, I can't find Swiss chard here, so I used kale instead.

This is delicious with some sour cream, although it would no longer be vegan.  I didn't try cheese because I liked the sour cream so much, but it, too, would be yummy.  I even used a bowl of it as more of a dip, served with tortilla chips.  You could also use chicken broth if you prefer.  A wonderful dish for these lovely, cooler autumn days.


2 Tbsp EVOO
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 tsp minced garlic
2 1/2 cups 1/2" pieces peeled, diced butternut squash (from a 1 1/2 pound squash)
3 Tbsp chili powder (I used 2 Tbsp+2 tsp regular and 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbsp cumin
3 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes in broth (I use petite diced tomatoes)
3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard or kale leaves (remove spines before chopping)

Heat oil in heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute until tender and golden, about 9 minutes.  Add squash, stir 2 minutes.  Stir in chili powder and cumin.  Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chard or kale; simmer until leaves are tender, about 4 minutes (kale may take a few more minutes).  Season to taste with S&P.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sauteed Mushroom

I could eat sauteed mushrooms everyday.  I've sauteed them in oil/butter/oil and butter. This recipe had just a few more ingredients so I decided to try it.  While these would be wonderful with a grilled steak or a baked potato, I prefer mine straight-up.  I scaled down the ingredients just a tad....I want to taste the mushrooms and not seasonings.


3 green onions with tops, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 lb fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter in large skillet.  Saute green onions in butter until tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Recipe Source Adapted from:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

What screams autumn like those wonderful root vegetables like pumpkins and squash?  So what more perfect sweet treat than these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies?  These are soft and cake-like.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, but next time I think I'll just use the entire 14 1/2 oz can.....why let perfectly good autumn-time pumpkin go to waste?


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)....or the entire can if you prefer
3 cups AP flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups chocolate chips (your choice, semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin and mix until combined about 3 minutes.  Slowly add in the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by large, rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 13-15 minutes (I rotated the pan at ten minutes) or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire cooking rack and cool completely.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

It's so nice when Jim comes home!  I get to try recipes I've been holding onto for weeks. We do love our fish and seafood in this house and swai/tilapia are at the top of the list because of their versatility.  I ran across this recipe when I noticed that it is the most researched on Rachel Ray's website.  It calls for paprika, but I used smoked paprika....well, just because I love it.  A handful of ingredients and just a few minutes and voila!!!  A wonderful meal served with some rice or potatoes and a green vegetable and you are ready for a fantastic weekend meal.


2 fish filets, about 4 oz each
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp grated or shredded parmesan
1 tsp (smoked) paprika
1/2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
S&P to taste
lemon wedges

Prepare a baking sheet (I use a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray).  On a plate or in a bowl, mix parmesan, paprika, and parsley.  Season filets with S&P. Drizzle fish with EVOO and dredge in parmesan mixture.

Place filets on baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon Tacos

Well, it's been a while since I've had one of my favorite meals: Fish or Shrimp Tacos.  And then I ran across this recipe and realized I'd never used salmon before.  Duh!!!  Why not?  One of my favorite dishes with a favorite seafood I try to eat at least once a week.  What a perfect combination!

You could certainly use any fish or shrimp, but this is quite a hearty glaze, perfect for a full-flavored seafood like salmon.  I served this with the Crunchy Coleslaw (see 9-18-13 post), but added a bit of sesame oil to the vinaigrette to give it that Asian flavor.  And since I had bagged cole slaw mix, I just used some of that (undressed) for the tacos.


1/4 cup honey
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 pound salmon fillet, skinned
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup green cabbage, shredded
1 cup mango salsa (recipe below)

Preheat grill to medium high or oven to 400F.

In a small bowl, whisk the honey, lime juice, chipotle powder, cumin, paprika, and cilantro together.

Place the salmon in a foil "basket" and cover with the glaze.

Place the salmon on the grill or into the oven for about 30 minutes.

Shred the salmon with a fork and place into a warm corn tortilla.

Top with a drizzle of the glaze, mango salsa, and cabbage.


1 mango, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime, juice

Add the mango and tomato to a small bowl.

Add the onion, jalapeno, and cilantro.

Squeeze the lime juice over the top and mix together.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Yes, I am still violating my "no-autumn-foods-until-highs-are-under-80-degrees-rule."  But doggone it, really.....butternut squash at $1 pound?!!!!   I had to make it.  It was screaming to me.

This is just about as simple as it gets.  And it would be hard to think of anything this wouldn't make a wonderful compliment to.  It's a fantastic side dish, a wonderful snack, or a great meal by itself, especially if adding a crusty piece of bread to use as a dipper.  OK, it wouldn't hurt if it had a hunk of butter on it (the bread, that is).

BUTTERNUT SQUASH and APPLE SOUP (4 entree servings)

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/8# butternut squash (1 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 1" cubes
2 1/8 cups vegetarian (or chicken) broth, plus more if needed
1/2 gala apple, peeled, cored, diced
1/4 cup apple juice
light sour cream
chopped fresh chives
pumpkin seeds, optional

Melt butter in pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and nutmeg; saute until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add squash, broth, apple, and apple juice.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until squash and apple are tender, about 30 minutes. 

Puree soup in blender until smooth.  Return soup to pot.  Season to taste with S&P.

Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more broth if desired.  Ladle soup into bowls.  Garnish with sour cream and chives.

NOTE:  After savoring a cup of this wonderful hit me!!!  Add some pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch and extra texture.....I do loves me texture!!!!

Recipe Source:  www.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Autumn Chopped Salad

Ahhhh!!!!  Welcome Autumn!!!!  My favorite time of the year (especially here in beautiful Chattanooga) and my favorite dishes......comfort foods, soups, chowders, and chilis, root vegetables.  I've got quite a few new dishes I can hardly wait to try.  I defied my own rules about autumn cooking (high temps cannot be over 79 degrees for an entire week!), but this salad has been sitting on the top of the stack glaring at me for weeks now.  And since I had everything but the pear on hand, I couldn't stop myself.

This is somehow a light and lucious but hearty and filling entree salad.  I was surprised when it called for peanuts instead of walnuts (a traditional pairing with apples and pears and it would certainly work here), but due to a couple of more intense flavors in the salad like the balsamic and feta, it kind of needed the stronger flavor of the peanuts to add another dimension.  This salad needs nothing more than a crusty baguette or loaf of artisan bread and a glass of wine to welcome this wonderful season.


1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped (about 6 cups)
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cups peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
poppy seed salad dressing, to taste
balsamic vinegar, to taste

Mix lettuce, pair, apple, peanuts, cranberries, and feta cheese in a large bowl.  Add dressing and vinegar to taste.  Toss well and split between two salad plates or bowls.  Top with crumbled bacon.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Muffin and Nellie

So sorry for not posting anything new in a  few days.  When Jim came home this weekend, he was so very sick that all he could do was sleep.  So my weekend cooking plans didn't materialize, but know that I am locked and loaded and ready for autumn!!!

I've got a stack of recipes I've been saving for cooler weather and it is so close.  Mornings are wonderfully chilly requiring a light jacket.  We're still hitting mid 80's this week here in southeast Tennessee, but the weekend highs will be back in the 70's and maybe even 60's!  Chili and Ginger Molasses cookies are on their way.

In the meantime, I caught this incredible shot of Muffin and Nellie last night.  I have never seen this before.  Muffin must have been worn out to have allowed Nellie to sleep on her!  Isn't it precious?