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

Get the Emergency Tiara!

In case you were wondering, I do in fact have the emergency tiara:

(What? You think on what Cole pays us I had a real tiara?)

Last night around 10 PM I went out to the fridge in the garage to get the boneless leg of lamb out so I could prep it to roast today. Just a basic kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper rub so it formed a nice pelicule overnight before roasting. I open the fridge door and what greets me? The rank, rancid smell of dead and heavily decomposing lamb. Sometime between when I put the cryovaced leg of lamb in there last Monday and last night the compressor in the back up (18 years old) fridge died. The light still works. The fan is still blowing. But it ain’t chillin! I won’t belabor the clean up process other than it involved a breathing mask and lots of bleach, but I needed something else to make for dinner tonight. So I broke the glass on the emergency tiara box on the wall, got into uniform, and decided that since I have frozen ground beef, that I’d make the meatloaf recipe that TaMara posted last night.

I made three changes. 1) I used all ground beef – no pork, no sausage. 2) I don’t have rolled oats in the house. I only use steel cut or pinhead. So I substituted a 1/2 cup of steel cut oats for a 1/2 cup of pinhead oats. 3) I am, apparently, out of cider vinegar. I used balsamic instead. I also only have a 10X5 loaf pan, so this came out more like a meat ingot than a meat loaf. I served it with Valencia rice and sautéed squash and zucchini. Everything tasted great even with the substitutions.

(The meat ingot resting)

(Dinner is served!)

Open thread!

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

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.

Who’s Hungry? A Hearty New Year’s Day Meal

I was inspired by all the discussion in the pressure cooker thread and made beef stew for dinner. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I did this in my stockpot on the stove top.


3 lbs of stew meat cut into 1/2 inch chunks

2 sweet onions cut in half and sliced thin

1 whole head of garlic cloves, peeled

5 turnips (I used these instead of potatoes, if you’re a potato person, use potatoes) chopped into cubes

1 bag of carrots chopped

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Concentrated beef jus to taste

Worcestershire Sauce or A1 to taste

1/2 a bottle of your favorite dark beer (or if you prefer red wine)

12 cups of water

Roux (melted butter and flour) or cornstarch as a thickening agent – cook’s preference

(stew meat and veggies cooking down)


Take a large stockpot, place over medium high heat, and once hot coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and 1/3 of a stick of unsalted butter. Once they are hot add the meat with salt and pepper, mix, and sauté until the meat is browned. While the meat is browning, chop, slice, and peel your vegetables. Add the sliced onions and the hole cloves of garlic to the meat, stir, and sweat off the onions and garlic. Add the concentrated beef jus (I used the better than bullion brand) and the Worcestershire or A1 and combine. Deglaze the beef, onions, and garlic with 6 to 8 ounces of the dark beer (I used Guinness stout today because they were out of Chimay Blue at the store) Add the chopped root vegetables, combine, and cook down. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Once the veggies have begun to soften add 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then cook until the meat and the root veggies are fork tender. Check to see if you need to adjust seasoning and do so if necessary. Then add your thickening agent of choice to bring the stew broth to your desired thickness. Serve and enjoy.

Open thread!

Who Wants Dessert? Peanut Butter Cup Pie

I did a wee bit of baking for today. My sister in law requested that I make her a peanut butter cup pie. Which I did. I also made another salted caramel cheesecake (recipe at the link). So I hope everybody wants dessert!

(sorry about the lighting…)

Peanut Butter Cup Pie


1 and 1/2 cups of crushed chocolate graham grackers

1/2 stick of sweet unsalted butter melted

Coat a 10 inch wide, as deep as you’ve got pie pan with cooking spray or wipe with sweet, unsalted butter. Combine the crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Spoon into the greased pie pan and pat down from the center to the sides and then up the sides. Place in the freezer.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Base

4 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie crust from the freezer. Pour the ganache into the bottom of the pie crust and with an offset spatula (or a non offset spatula if you prefer), gently work the ganache around the bottom of the crust and up the sides before it sets. Place in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Filling (Mousse)

10 ounces heavy whipping cream

20 ounces of peanut butter

2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar

Whip 10 ounces of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks and then place in the refrigerator. Whip 20 ounces of peanut butter – whatever type you prefer – until the color begins to lighten and it becomes very, very smooth. Add between 2 and 3 tablespoons of sugar (to taste and depending on how sweet the peanut butter you’re using is). Continue to whip for another 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated.

Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the whipped, sweetened peanut butter. Once the whipped cream and peanut butter are thoroughly incorporated remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and fill the crust with the peanut butter filling (mousse). It should look like this:

Place the pie back in the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least four hours (I let mine sit overnight).

Now we make the top.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Topping

8 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

8 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. It must be cold. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the center of the pie and then use an offset spatula to work the ganache out to the edge of the pie so it mates up with the top of the crust. It should look like this:

Place it back in the refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour before serving so the ganache can finish setting up on top. When ready to serve, remove the pie from the refrigerator, slice it, plate it, and eat it. Or if you’re really hard core just eat it straight from the pie pan (you know who you are…).

What I really need to do is get a silicon pie mold. Then I can chocolate ganache the entire inside of the mold, then fill it with the peanut butter mousse, then ganache the top. Once it is all set I can just pop it out of the mold and have a very large, stand alone peanut butter cup.

Anyhow: open thread!