Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I found this recipe while surfing the net. The poster claimed that this was "THE BEST" stew recipe. She (or he) got me on THE BEST comment. I had to try this.
It was interesting that the recipe calls for wrapping the veggies in foil and cooking them on top of the meat in the crock pot. It also uses tapioca for the thickening agent.  The result was great. THE BEST...well I don't think so, but really good. The foil technique worked out well. The potatoes and carrots had a nice texture and quickly absorbed the flavors of the broth. I will make this again but next time I will add some minced garlic to the broth. 


*Serves 6-8

5 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
2 cups frozen peas

After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. No need to cook it all the way through – just get some great brown color all around.

 Toss the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). 

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth, soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker, pouring it over the meat.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. On the counter, lay out a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (use two sheets of regular foil on top of each other if you don’t have heavy-duty). Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker.

 Stir the tapioca into the slow cooker. Place the foil packet of vegetables on top of the stew, cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.

When the stew is finished cooking, carefully remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Discard the bay leaves from the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (be careful of steam that may escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Stir in the frozen peas and let them rest in the stew for 5-10 minutes, until they are heated through. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Melskitchencafe.com

Monday, February 21, 2011


I have been wanting to try this recipe for months now. It sounded so interesting and much easier than stuffing and making cabbage rolls. The idea of a sweet and sour sauce intrigued me.

I tried it yesterday and we loved it. If you try it, taste the sauce and adjust to your liking. I added a little more vinegar so it was more sour and less sweet.

This was really good with a side of steamed rice. I used brown rice.

                                     UNSTUFFED SWEET-AND-SOUR-CABBAGE

1 (2-pound) head green cabbage, quartered lengthwise and cored
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place cabbage in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet with broth, 1 garlic clove (sliced), and a rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cook, covered, turning cabbage occasionally, until very tender, about 20-30 minutes. (Add more broth or water if necessary.)

Meanwhile, cook onion and remaining garlic in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in ground meats along with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes with their juice, cranberries, vinegar, and brown sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt.

Pour sauce into skillet with cabbage and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I love aioli. I LOVE anything TRUFFLE. Put these two together and you have a match made in heaven.

I made Portobello fries to go with this but I think French Fries would be awesome. I think I'll try oven baked potato wedges too.

The recipe is very straight forward, you make the aioli (which is similar to mayonnaise) and then add the truffle oil at the end. If you don't like the taste of truffles just omit the truffle oil and enjoy some yummy aioli.

Be sure to drizzle the oil slowly into the egg yolk mixture so it won't separate.

                                                  TRUFFLE AIOLI

2 large egg yolks
2 TBSP. lemon juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 TBSP. white truffle oil
Fine sea salt, to taste
Pepper to taste

In a blender combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and garlic. With the blender on medium, drizzle the canola and olive oil into the yolk mixture in a slow steady stream until the aioli is emulsified and well blended. Season with truffle oil, salt and pepper.

Recipe by Eric Ripert

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Oh My Gosh.....this is so good. It's not really Corn Bread, it is more like a casserole, but it is DELISH.

I make this once every year or two. It usually takes me that long to collect 1/2 cup of bacon fat. Yes, 1/2 cup....but that is what puts this recipe over the top. I just pour my bacon grease in a container and keep it in the freezer until I have enough to make this.

                                                   MEXICAN CORN BREAD

1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, well beaten
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1- 16oz. can cream style corn
½ cup bacon drippings

¾ lb. hamburger meat
1 medium onion
½ lb. Cheddar cheese
4 jalapeno peppers

Mix first 7 ingredients and set aside.  Brown and drain hamburger meat.  Chop onion, grate cheddar cheese and chop jalapenos. 

Heat cast iron skillet, grease and sprinkle with corn meal.  Pour in half of corn batter, and then layer meat, cheese, onions and peppers, then rest of the corn batter.

Bake one hour at 325~

Make sure to beat eggs before adding to batter so it will hold together.

My friend Bart gave me this recipe many years ago.


I hope everybody had a Happy Valentines Day.

We had a cat and flower thing going on.

This year I wanted to cook for my Valentine.

We started with my favorite French Cheese, Saint Agur. It is a strong, creamy blue cheese. It went really well with an eleven year old Cab that Ron found in the cellar.

The rest of the menu was Fillet Mignon, Roasted Asparagus, Garden Greens, and Portobello Fries with Truffled Aioli.

I wrapped the fillets in bacon and then opened the package of portobellos. I couldn't believe what I found.

This mushroom was definitely in the spirit!

We still have plenty of greens growing in our garden so I picked a fresh salad.

I made a Truffle Aioli to serve with the Portobello Fries.

The Truffle Aioli was to die for.

For dessert I had Crush Cakes make a Smore Cupcake. It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


This is a great crockpot recipe for split pea soup. Sharon gave me the recipe and it's my go to recipe every time.

It also freezes well.

                                               SLOW COOKER SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 (16oz.) package dried green split peas, rinsed
1 meaty ham bone, 2 ham hocks, or 2 cups diced ham
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 TBSP. seasoned salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
1 1/2 quarts hot water

Layer ingredients in crockpot in the order given. Pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-10 hour until peas are very soft and ham falls off the bone. Remove bones and bay leaf. Mash peas if desired to thicken soup.

Serve garnished with croutons.

Serves 8

Recipe by Diana Rattray.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This is a tasty and easy appetizer. Great with a nice Chardonnay.

It's called Broo-SKEH-tah. I just thought I should share the proper pronunciation with all of you who call it Broo-SHET-ah.

Go hang your heads low and join me in the corner.


36 slices (1/2 inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz. Gorgonzola, sliced, or you can use crumbled

4-6 TBSP. honey, use more if you want

Preheat the oven to 400~

Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil.

Bake until the bread is pale, golden, and crisp, 5-10 minutes.

Spread the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Drizzle the toasts with honey.

Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Use this basic recipe and make as few or as many bruschettas as you like.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentis.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


These little Pizza Puffs are really easy to make and quite tasty.

 Make the batter and then stir in your favorite pizza toppings. Heat up some Marinara sauce and you have some super quick hors d` oeuvres.                                                     

                                                               PIZZA PUFFS

3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/4 cup Italian Cheese Blend
1/8 tsp. hot pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

4 oz. of your favorite pizza toppings, like chopped pepperoni, cooked Italian Sausage, chopped Canadian Bacon and pineapple. Use your imagination here. Just be sure your ingredients have been cooked before adding.

2 TBSP. chopped fresh herbs, such as fresh basil, thyme, or Italian parsley.

Pre-heat oven to 400~

Lightly grease a mini muffin pan (24) with olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together, stirring until completely mixed.

Spoon into the prepared mini muffin cups.

 Bake at 400~ for 15-18 minutes.

Remove and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Recipe adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've been waiting a WHOLE YEAR for SUPER BOWL. The one day a year when I cast all thoughts of calories and fats to the wind!

Do you like Buffalo Chicken Wings? Hot and Spicy? Try this dip and you will have the great taste of a chicken wing without the hassle of those ugly little wing bones.

Use hearty chips for scoopers but even better, scoop the dip with a piece of celery and make this dish really healthy....*wink*wink*

Start with all the ingredients, I used a rotisserie chicken, ate the skin :) :) :)  and picked off the breast meat.

Be sure to use Franks Red Hot Sauce. It tastes like the real deal. Maybe it is the real deal?

I served it with chips and celery pieces for dipping. Both were really good.

                                                            BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

1 lb. cooked chicken breasts. Cook anyway you like and then shred.

6 oz. Franks Hot Sauce. Do not substitute for anything else.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. Ranch dressing

4 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack or a combo of both

Celery or chips for dipping or use both

Pre-heat oven to 375~. Combine the cooked chicken and the Franks Hot Sauce together. Spread in an oven proof baking dish to form an even layer.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream cheese and Ranch dressing, stirring until hot and smooth. Pour mixture evenly over chicken mixture.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Then sprinkle cheese on top and bake another 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Do not over bake or the cheese will get browned and harden.

Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with celery cut into cross-wise pieces or sturdy chips for dipping.

You can also use half blue cheese dressing and half Ranch dressing, and half blue cheese and half cheddar cheese in the topping.

This recipe doubles easily.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


These are fall off the bone, lick your fingers good. The trick is to find good beef ribs. Most of the time they have been previously frozen. I found some fresh ribs at the store and I grabbed them. One fresh  package amongst ten frozen. JACK POT!!

Many years ago I became a friend with the butcher at Von's. When I would shop the meat department and he would see me, he would bolt out of the back, put his arm around me and walk me through the meat section. He would tell me what was on sale, and then go in the back and cut me a custom cut. What a guy. What I really loved about him was our rib relationship. We had an agreement. I got the Prime Rib bones. When he would cut Prime Rib Roasts he would cut extra thick ribs for me, meaning killer, thick, meaty, Prime meat bones. Woo hoo. I gave him my home phone number and he would call me once a week with something special, usually ribs.

He was an old guy, but he was passionate about his job and his customers. That's what I loved about him.

 He retired and I moved. My woo hoo became my boo hoo. But so it goes.....

This was so easy. I used a store purchased bbq sauce, added some liquid smoke, some smoked salt and some Sriracha sauce. Layered the ribs in the crockpot and cooked for 8 hours on low. I would say a bottle of BBQ sauce, a TBSP. of liquid smoke, 1 tsp. of smoked salt, and a small squirt of Sriracha.

I love Sriracha. It is a sauce made from sun ripened chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic. It is very hot so you just need a tiny bit to add some zip to your meal. I like it mixed with mayonnaise, or added to soups. You can do so much with this sauce.

I have been using it for many years. I used to have to drive to Indo China Market to buy it, but now it is on the shelves of most grocery stores.

This was Ron's plate after 10 hours in the crockpot.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


What's not to love about pasta, cheese, butter, cream, eggs, and BACON?

Crispy bacon is tossed with hot, buttered noodles, whipped egg and cream, and a whole cup of Parmesan cheese! You stir it until the heat of the pasta cooks the egg mixture. Top it with some fresh, chopped parsley and you are good to go.

You can use spaghetti or fettuccine, but I used perciatelli. They are heartier than spaghetti and work really well with the rich sauce.

I served it with steamed broccoli that I dressed with olive oil, zest of a Meyer lemon and Parmesan cheese.

And a Caesar salad.

                                                        PASTA CARBONARA
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Serves 8

1/2 pound bacon cooked until crispy (I put it on a baking sheet in a 400~ oven for about 15-20 minutes)
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream at room temperature
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces dry Perciatelli, spaghetti, or fettuccine pasta
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
ground black pepper to taste

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

In medium bowl, beat together eggs and cream just until blended. Stir in cheese and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan. Toss with butter until it is melted. Add bacon and cheese mixture and toss gently until mixed. Top with parsley and pepper to taste.

Be sure to add the egg, cream, and cheese mixture when the pasta is still hot so it will cook the eggs.

I save my bacon fat in a container in the freezer. It is great to have for frying eggs or pan fried potatoes.