Recipe Thread: Winter Cooking Blues

As promised..

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

Bonus Recipe:

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce: 

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.


And of course, bonus puppies. There is a complete update and lots more photos here.

What’s on your menu tonight?

Friday Recipe Open Thread: Super Bowl Favorite Snack Recipes

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos

JeffreyW’s Awesome Nachos

By request, I’m posting some snack recipes.

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.

It has become a tradition to repost these recipes, some of my favorites. I’ve added JeffreyW’s Hot Wings to the group. Click here for his deep fried wings (pictured above) and Bleu Cheese Dip. For all his Hot Wing variations, click here.

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients.

Read more

Saturday Night Recipes

Been a busy week with Scout and work. She’s settling in nicely. The obligatory photo is at the end of this post. ;-)

I had someone request my recipe for Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup and you can find that here.

Meanwhile, I had a friend request meatloaf, so it gave me a chance to test a new recipe.  JeffreyW linked to this recipe originally and I had been looking for an opportunity to give it a try. When I went to make it, I adapted it to what I had on hand and keep it gluten free for my friend. I have to say, I’ll probably continue to make it this way going forward.

Read more

Crumb Structure! (Open Thread)

Aside from my family’s annual Drunken Aunties Cookie Night event, I didn’t used to bake very often. I’ve always loved cooking, but baking was too scientific for my taste.

But something about our present age has driven me to arm myself with flour, yeast, salt, oil, etc., to hold the darkness at bay. There’s something rational and comforting about the measuring and timing.

Is it because the fussiness of it makes sense in the chaos of a country gone mad? Or maybe it was binge-watching the Great British Bake-off that set me off?

Anyhoo, here’s some bread! Bread makes everything better, right?

Open thread.

Bleeding Heart (Open Thread)

I nominate this as the official vine of the jackals: It is called a “bleeding heart” vine, yet it’s tough and prickly as hell:

We’re watching the Saints vs. Panthers (Geaux Saints!) and contemplating dinner, which will be sole meunière, rice pilaf and sautéed Brussels sprouts. (Pro-tip: If weight loss is among your 2018 New Year’s resolutions, do NOT read Julia Child’s “My Life in France” memoir.)

Hope your evening is at least as pleasant! Open thread!

Saturday Night Recipe Thread (Bonus Puppeh)

This is such an easy dinner. Season bone-in chicken thighs (you can use breasts if you prefer, bone-in is key) with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I gently pull up the skin and sprinkle spices underneath and replace the skin. I brush a bit of olive oil over them and then place them on top of halved potatoes and zucchini, also brushed with a bit of olive oil. Roast at 375 degrees.

Pear Crisp is delicious. It is my basic Apple Crisp recipe (below), added some walnuts and yum!

apple-crisp-cast iron

This is such a great crisp. I’ve been transferring it to a glass baking dish before baking – I think I get a more even crisp topping that way.

Cast Iron Apple Crisp

  • 2 lbs apples – mix of sweet and tart (about 3 apples)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (more as desired)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

10 inch cast iron skillet and small mixing bowl

Core and cut apples into small pieces (about 1/2 inch). Peeling is optional, but with this method the peels cook nice and soft, so it isn’t necessary.

Melt butter in skillet, add apples and sugar, stir until apples are well coated. Cover and cook on medium heat until apple mixture is soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. About 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until top is crispy golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.

What makes this so good is that because the apples are cooked on the stovetop, you can use a much higher heat in the oven and get a good, crisp top without drying the whole mixture out or under cooking the apples. Really, this is one of the best apple crisps I’ve made.

Alternately, if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the cooked apple mixture to a glass baking dish, add topping and bake that way.


Ok, I know you skimmed down here to see bonus puppeh, didn’t you? Here is Scout, 8 weeks. 12.2 lbs (by comparison – Bixby was 22.2 lbs at 8 weeks):

There are more photos of her and Bixby and a bit of how our first days have been at this link.

What’s on your  menu this weekend? Cooking anything yummy we should know about?

Open thread.

Did Someone Say Soup? I Need Some Advice

I believe Betty C did….

While her husband was making her a nice healing batch of soup, I was doing the same. This one to be exact. I made it as spicy as I dared to help fend off a persistent virus.

And it became clear that my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker is not long for this world. The safety release valve has been failing and there is no reliable replacement part available, I suppose due to the age of the cookware. The one they had available, they pulled because it was defective.

So now I’m stuck. I don’t really want to (nor can I really afford at the moment) to pay another $200 for a pressure cooker AND I am intrigued by the electric ones as a more affordable alternative.

My question is: who has an electric pressure cooker (often called instant pots), what brand (Insta Pot seems to be the one all my friends have) and how do you like it? It will be in heavy rotation in my kitchen, so durability is a concern.

Help a cook out if you can…

Bonus puppeh:

As I’ve been writing this, the ducks keep wandering past my window. Probably looking for a warm spot in the sun. I get the feeling they are blaming me for the cold snap.

Happy New Year!