Archive for the ‘Recipes and Such’ Category

I was out last weekend with some friends, and it seemed that I kept seeing beet and goat cheese salads on various menus around town.

I’ll admit I had never tried that combination and it intrigued me…

Hello Goat!

Hello Goat!

Hello Beets!

Hello Beets!

Well, now that we’ve greeted everyone…

Beets and goat cheese are some of those oddball foods that people generally seem to either love or hate. If you love them, then this is definitely the post for you. If not, don’t worry, there will be other salads for you, I promise! Also, since you won’t be making this particular salad, you might want to pop over to this adorable King Arthur blog/recipe  about making amazing banana fudge cookies instead.

So the pairing of the beets and the goat cheese, though not obvious (at least to me), are quite remarkable. Really, they are. The creamy, creamy pungency of the goat cheese and the earthy, corn-y (meaning they kind of taste like corn to me not that they tell bad jokes ) flavor of the beets just compliment each other. Really. They do.


Beet and Goat (Cheese) Salad

Easy, Serves 4-6

:: 1 large head of Romaine or 2 smaller ones

:: 2 large handfuls of Spring Mix lettuce (about 2-3 cups)

:: 6-8 steamed beets, peeled

:: 1 cup goat (cheese) crumbles

:: 1/2 cup candied pecans

:: 1 cup homemade vinaigrette or your favorite dressing

Slice each beet in half and then cut each half into fourths. In a large bowl, combine roughly chopped romaine with Spring mix or any of the the more bitter lettuces. Add dressing and toss. Add beets, cheese, and nuts. Okay, now give it a try…


Yummy, right?!


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I know what you’re thinking. Really? A pizza, hold the cheese? Um, no thanks. And while I understand, do hear me out…

There is a subject we are all quite loathe to engage in but, well, someone’s got to. And here it is. Sometimes dairy products and bread together with your assorted processed meats can cause all manner of mischief in (some) people’s bellies. And by mischief I mean…well, I think you can guess what I mean. I think I’d better keep this space family friendly and not go into the “explosive” details.

Does cheesy pizza taste like heaven? Absolutely. Is there true joy in a gooey string of cheese stretched betwixt your slice and your mouth? No question. But is it a fact that (some) people have to loosen their belts or feel compelled to wear trousers of a stretchy nature when engaging with pizza? The answer is Yes.

But there is a solution and that is to drop that cheese like it’s hot and instead make yourself a pie that looks a little something like this:

(N0)Cheese Veggie Pizza

Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we, with a simple crust that one can make in the comfort of one’s home, I recommend the kitchen but there are no rules, except the rule to eat pizza and not have your pants balloon out like that little girl that turned into a blueberry in Willy Wonka.


I use the Quick Beer Crust from the always amazing King Arthur Flour. This recipe will make two pizza crusts.

1) Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you’ve made a smooth, soft dough.

Hello, Dough!

2) Cover the dough, and allow it to rise for 30 minutes, or for up to 2 hours.

3) Preheat the oven to 450°F with the pizza stone (if you’re using one) on a lower rack.

4) Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 10″ to 12″ round.

Pizza Dough(s), Roll Out!

5) Place the rounds on parchment paper, if you’re going to use a pizza stone. Or place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. For thin to medium crust, bake the pizzas immediately. For thicker crust, let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes.

6) Transfer the pizzas, parchment and all, to the baking stone. Or place the pans in the oven.

7) Bake for 5 minutes.

Next, Sauce

This step is fairly simple. You can always start with your favorite jarred sauce and doctor to up a bit. Or, if you are like me and you have a lot of time and limited interests, you can make it from scratch and freeze some for later.

When I make it from scratch, I like to make Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce, which you can find here.

Oh, it is so good.

Now, Toppings

Really, you can put anything you’d put on a regular pizza. I, myself, personally enjoy veggies.

Here’s what I put on ours…


Assemble pizza like you would a cheese-ful one.

Spread your preferred amount of sauce onto the crust and then add your veggies.

Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the bottom crust is crisp and the cheese is bubbly and browned…just kidding on the cheese!

Serve hot and enjoy the calm and peaceful (intestinal) experience of eating delicious pizza!

Bon appetite!

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I don’t know about you, but for me, there are few things in life as homey and comforting and just downright delicious as Homemade Bread. Yes, it is a bit more time consuming and, yes, you can mess it up if you’re not paying attention but Y-E-S, it is totally worth it! Homemade bread is much healthier, more affordable, and makes your house smell heavenly…with all these benefits, why not give it a try?

I personally love this recipe, it’s everything you’d want from a loaf of bread. Hardy, light, sweet but not too sweet, delicious and keeps well in an airtight bag. How can it be all those things AND be homemade, you ask? The answer is, I do not know…but it is.

Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Delicious Oat Bread

from the book, The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule

*- indicate my own changes

2 cups warm water

2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsps)

*4.5 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

5 cups flour plus an additional 1 cup for kneading

1 cup rolled oats (not instant and not steel cut)

2 teaspoons salt

*4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

olive, canola oil, or cooking spray, of the bowl and the bread pan

Okay, begin by pouring the warm water into a mixing bowl. Then add in your yeast, honey and brown sugar and whisk until everything is well combined and starts to get frothy. Set aside for ten minutes or until it begins to get foamy.

Next, mix the flour, salt, oats, and butter in a large bowl. Next, using your hands, mix in the butter until it is worked all the way through.

As always, you want to use a nice, high quality flour. I always like to use His Majesty, King Arthur Flour.

Your Highness...

Next up, pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix until it is thoroughly integrated. You can add a bit more of His Majesty (flour) if the dough is too sticky. Now, pour the dough out onto a kneading surface and knead for 8-9 minutes, you can add up to a cup of flour to prevent sticking if you knead to…I mean need to. The dough is ready when it starts to feel a bit elastic.

Place your doughy friend in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour. Punch down the dough gently, and let it rise for another half an hour. Now turn the dough out, again, onto a floured kneading surface and divide it into two balls for 2 loaves. Gently, knead each ball for 2-3 minutes and place in lightly oiled bread pans. Use the back of your hand to gently press down the dough and shape it to fit each pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough with some oats. Cover again with a damp cloth and place pans in a warm place to rise for another half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until the tops of the bread are golden, about 37-40 minutes. For me, 38 minutes is just perfect!

If you can restrain yourself, let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack. If you can’t, treat the burns with butter but only after you’ve buttered your hot, delicious bread. Priorities, People.

And there you have it…delicious, homemade bread…you did it! Well, done. Now, slap some jam on a slice of that grainy goodness and enjoy! You can do your Jane Fonda tomorrow to work it off…

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{an old plastic cookie cutter used to cut out heart shaped bread, the heart shaped bread, Lauren in the spirit with heart themed clothes and a great book (Clementine), beautiful, fresh strawberries…always romantic, Sam catching up on some light Superhero reading, a Valentine lunch of turkey and cheese on Hearts, strawberries and Fruit Dip, even water tastes better in a cup covered with hearts, Cooking Class…the kids learned how to make and decorate sugar cookies from scratch (this was super fun!), Laurie sporting her new heart tights, a healthy snack to offset all the sugar)

Well, hello there!

I hope you all had as amazing a day as we did yesterday! It was easily our best Valentine’s ever! Of course, any day around here consists of lots of homemade food but on special days the from scratch goodness just multiplies. With a ton of heart shaped food and enough pink to last us all (especially our Boys!) a good long time, we were certainly feeling the love and you know what the Beatles say, love is all you need. I think I also need Chocolate Lava Cake.

Here are a few of our Greatest Hits from yesterday and they are not just for Valentine’s Day, they can be adapted to any holiday theme…in fact I think I feel a bit of an Irish jig (and maybe some shamrock shaped bread) comin’ on with St. Patty’s just around the corner…

Heart Shaped French Toast-Makes 12 pieces, serves 4

You will need:

~ 8-12 pieces of whole wheat bread

~ 1 large heart shaped cookie cutter or really any shape you’d like to use

~1 cup of milk

~ 3 large eggs

~ 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

~ butter or nonstick spray for the skillet

Using a cutting board, place cookie cutter in the middle of one piece of bread and push down using the same pressure you use when you make cookies. Repeat with the rest of the bread. In a medium sized, shallow bowl, mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla with a whisk or fork. Over medium-high heat melt butter in skillet (or spray skillet with cooking spray), once the butter is melted pick up the skillet and gently tilt in both directions until bottom of pan is coated. Dip bread in egg mixture and place in the skillet. Cook on one side until golden (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook for an additional 1 minute or until golden. Repeat until all the bread is cooked. Serve warm with butter and warmed (real) maple syrup or honey.

Berry Delicious Dip

~ 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened to room temp.

~ 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar (you an add more, a teaspoon at a time if it doesn’t taste sweet enough)

~ 6 teaspoons of milk

~ 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

~ the juice of half an orange

~ a few drops of food coloring ( use red if you want it to be pink)

~ 1 pint of fresh strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth and creamy (I left mine a bit lumpy this time). Add about 5 drops of food coloring and mix until well combined. Add coloring 1-2 drops at a time and mix until desired color is achieved. Serve with fresh strawberries.

Love Potion

You will need:

~ frozen pink lemonade concentrate

~ raspberry sherbert

~ 30 oz lemon lime soda

Okay, this one is a FULL of sugar so don’t make the mistake I did and serve it with dinner! It was kind of fun and foamy though and the kids loved making it.

Make lemonade as directed. Into each cup, pour about a cup of lemonade and add to it one large scoop of sherbet. Then add soda to taste.

Molten Lava Cake– serves 8-12, adapted from this delectable recipe.

You will need:

~ 1 cup unsalted butter

~ 8 oz semi sweet chocolate squares (or chips) cut into bite sized pieces

~ 5 large eggs

~ 1/2 cup sugar

~ pinch of salt

~ 4 teaspoons flour

~ 8-12 silicone muffin cups

  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl in double broiler or in the microwave. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Divide batter among muffin cups.
  3. Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Mine cooked in about 9 min. 30 seconds. Carefully lift cakes from cookie sheet onto a work surface and let them cool about 2 minutes, then take silicone cups and gently turn upside down onto dessert plates. Cakes should slide right out. Serve immediately, Lava Cake needs to be served warm, with Vanilla Bean ice cream or fresh berries.

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Hello Friends!

Yesterday, I did try to write you all about these granola bars but the WordPress website was protesting some anti-piracy bill thereby causing every WordPress article to be blacked out and read “Censored”.

Personally, I didn’t care for this at all because it gave the idea that everything one writes about is illicit and inappropriate.

I do want to assure you, Dear Reader, that every effort has been made to keep this Granola Bar article as clean as possible.

Granola bars have to be some of my favorite snack food, maybe my most favorite, but in truth we have always had a complicated relationship. I admire, obsess, plot and plan; the Granola overcooks, hardens, and crumbles. Rebellious is the word that most comes to mind when I think of making Granola Bars because when I ask them to stay together they, quite rebelliously, will themselves to fall apart. I confess I do not know just what granola has against being in bar form.

However, I do know that I have something very much against commercial Granola Bars, not only are they  expensive and positively soaked in high fructose corn syrup (wait a minute…so that’s how you keep them together…soak them in chemical laden sugar water!) but they also don’t taste very good. It has been a dilemma of mine for sometime.

So, I decided to go back to the drawing board and the ever obliging internet was chock full of information on the subject.

Okay, so through my research I have come to find out that the first rule of Granola Bars is that we do not use regular oats. And that the second rule of Granola Bars is that we do not use regular oats. We always use quick oats, instead. If you don’t, the bars will instantly crumble into a delicious pile on the counter when you cut them and then, like me, you will be sorry. My understanding is that you can use regular oats if you whiz them around in the food processor a couple of times to break them up a bit, which will help them stick together more. But why waste your time? Since most of us have access to quick oats, my advice would be to use them.

Quick Oats...don't forget!

Okay, here’s the recipe, adapted from Another Lunch:Chocolate Chip Granola Bites

(Will Probably)Stay Together Granola Bars

  • 2 1/2 C. quick oats
  • 1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 1/4 C. honey
  • 3 T creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips and mix until they are very well combined and look a bit crumbly. If the mixture is too dry at this point you can add a bit more oil or honey. Then, mix in chocolate chips and press mixture into a well greased 8×8 pan. I did what the author suggested and used a bit a parchment paper so I could get the bars out easily and I would highly recommend it so after you spray the pan, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom of pan, up the sides, and to stick out a bit from the top so you can use it like handles to help loosen the bars. Now press the mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 21 minutes. Bars should just be starting to look a bit golden on the top.

The next step is to leave them overnight. Really. I read this and thought it was a joke but it was not. If you don’t they will crumble into a delicious pile on the counter. If you do, they will stay together in the shape of bars. Like this…

Cut into bars using a long knife and store in airtight container or ziploc bag.

Or, you can wrap them in wax paper and seal them with a sticker or with tape and a ribbon…the kids LOVED this!

These ARE the droids you're looking for!


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It can not be that Thanksgiving was last week, it just can not. It seems like so much has happened since then…

Sam finished construction on a fine dog house for Dash, for which he is still working out the exact measurements…

Tim Tebow led our Broncos into yet another victory…

More snow…

It was so cold yesterday, I actually drove 25 mph the entire ten miles back from violin lessons…Lauren was deeply displeased with my “old ladyness” and vowed that when she was a mom she would not fear the ice. Ahhh, youth…

This is supposed to be a road...

And, of course, all of the usual “this time of year” traditions have commenced…

~ Pumpkins and leaves have disappeared to be replaced by Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and candy canes.

~ The Denver Talent Education Christmas Concert will be tomorrow, with Samuel on cello and Lauren on the violin.

~ The temperature for Monday says: High of 18, Low of 4…4?!

~ Hot drinks and Soup currently abound in our kitchen

~ From those we love there is talk of Christmas trains and name exchanges and Christmas brunch menus

~ Most importantly, we scurry to finish up the first half of our school year with excellence and so we read and write, conjugate our Latin verbs and double check all of our math facts so that we can move into our Christmas break…

With nothing on our minds except…

What kind of snowman to build!

See you all next week…Have a Wonderful Weekend!

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Stack ‘Em Up!

What do tomatillos, Anaheim peppers, pinto beans, and bacon all have in common? Well, judging on a strictly food category basis, nothing at all. However, when combined they make one of the most most delectable and highly requested dishes ever to grace our table and that is the Stacked Enchilada. We can thank genius food writer and home cook, Matthew Amster-Burton for both this recipe and his hilarious book, Hungry Monkey. Which you can purchase…here. (Warning: this book contains some profanity)

Not enough can be said about the flavor of this meal…the smokiness of the beans, the fire-roastedness of the chile sauce, the white meatiness of the chicken all with the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream…well I think you’ll have your Peeps shouting, “Ole’!” and find that when folks want some Mexican food, instead of hitting their local Cantina, they’ll be calling you to find out if you have any reservations left for the evening. And that, as Martha says, is a good thing.

So, a few things you should know before you get started.

One, is that while this recipe is not hard it is a bit time consuming and requires several steps.

Two, this recipe will require you to shred an entire rotisserie chicken.

Three, this recipe is entirely delicious and worth every minute of effort you put in.

So, here we go with…

Stacked Enchiladas

(adapted from Matthew Amster-Burtin’s Stacked Green Chile Enchiladas from the book, Hungry Monkey)

Rotisserie Chicken

You can make this or you can make your life easy and go to Costco and get one

  • Shred your entire rotisserie chicken, cover her and put her in the fridge for later.

Smoky Beans

(Matthew calls them, Cowboy Beans), makes about 4 cups and should serve 4.

  • *4 slices of turkey bacon (you can also use regular bacon, I have some beloved non-pork eaters so I always use turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I added a bit more)
  • *Good garlic powder, 2 shakes
  • 1/2 a 15oz can diced tomatoes, not drained (Muir Glen Fire-Roasted are what Matthew uses and they are the best)
  • 2  15oz cans of pinto beans, not drained (you can also cook the beans from scratch, which I often do which makes this even better)
  • 1 T minced canned pickled jalapeños, optional
  • 2 T minces cilantro
  • Salt, to taste
Actually, I usually quadruple this recipe. I am rarely serving only four people when I make this and the leftovers make excellent lunch and dinner or gifts for your guests to take home.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until it gets crispy. Then add your garlic, and cook about 30 seconds, stirring. Add your tomatoes and cook about 4 minutes, keep stirring to make sure everything gets combined and doesn’t stick. Stir in your beans and simmer uncovered for approximately 15-20 minutes over med-low heat. If your using the jalapeño, add it now. Add cilantro. Add salt, if needed. Your beans will be a bit soupy and that is also, a good thing.

You can make these early, even a day to two ahead and stick it in the fridge. In my humble opinion, the beans taste even better after the flavors had even more time to combine.

Green Chile Sauce

Also makes about 4 cups

Okay, I am a Hispanic woman, and so I must say that this sauce is not going to be like the green chile our Grandmas make but all of the ingredients make it very authentic and you get a ton of flavor without getting the heat that can make it hard for some to eat.

  • 1.5 lbs of fresh Anaheim Chiles
  • 12 oz tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • *1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (I omit this)
  • *2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 T cornstarch, dissolved in 2 T water

First of all you wanna get those chiles roasted, so put them on the grill or under a broiler until they are well blackened. When cool, peel the chiles and remove the core and seeds. Mince chiles and set them aside.

Now, boil a pot of water and add tomatillos. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring once. Drain and puree in a food processor.

Pour puree into an empty pot with chicken broth, chiles, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add your cornstarch, stir and return to a boil. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thickened  and  reduced to about 4 cups.

I usually double this recipe because I really like to smother everything with Green Chile.

Corn Tortillas

  • corn tortillas (as many as you need to serve your Folks, I use 2 to 3 tortillas per person depending on the crowd and how high I am in the mood to stack that day.
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, fry each tortilla 20-30 seconds on each side, until they are just beginning to brown and stiffen. Hold each tortilla over the pan with tongs to drain and place it on a paper towel on a plate.


Okay, just like Kevin from Home Alone, don’t get scared now…

Now, take a plate and put a generous scoop of beans on it (about half cup), top with a tortilla, chicken, green chile sauce and cheese, then repeat thus layering process one or two more times depending on how many layers you would like, finish with a generous ladling of green chile and cheese.

Serve immediately. I always put out shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced onion, Mexican crema or sour cream, and Cholula.

Matthew has a completely different way of assembling and serving these, which involves broilers and crunchy cheese and broiler proof dishes…but frankly, by the time I am done with all these steps, I just want to eat and not broil anything else. If any of you gets a chance to read his book and gives the original ending a try please let me know how that goes, it really sounds delicious…

And to everyone else I offer this alternative version and I wish you a very Happy, Stacked Enchilada Filled Weekend!

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