Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taco Soup

Two things are happening: it's cold and it's Thanksgiving week.  It was with both of these in mind that I made Taco Soup for my meals this week.  I followed the recipe other than using 2 cans of black beans instead of pinto beans.  The cans of rotel bring some heat so if you are a wimp, proceed with caution.  The warm soup full of vegetables will be filling and comforting during this first week of cold weather.  It will also help me reduce my calories before the eating fest of Thanksgiving arrives.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blue Cattle Truck Trading Co. Butterscotch Bars

This recipe for Butterscotch Bars was in the Wednesday edition of the Houston Chronicle.  For $5 a month I receive the paper on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Mostly the paper drives me crazy but I do appreciate the Food section and the coupons.  

I wanted to make this recipe because it has a meringue like topping.  There is a sugar cookie base, middle layer with butterscotch chips, pecans and coconut and on top, the brown sugar meringue.  It all blends together so the layers are not distinct and this results in a delicious bar that makes you wonder what all is going on here?!   Yum

The recipe should say that the butter is melted.  Also, I used the whole bag of chips.  I had about 1/3 cup of toffee chips and I put those in too.  I think the kitchen sink could be in that middle layer!  These are decadent.  No need to serve with cream or ice cream as suggested.  Unless you want to go into a diabetic coma.

(photo by Gary Coronado/Houston Chronicle)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Angelica's Chili

YEARS ago, Angelica made this delicious chili and ALMOST won a competition at work.  And I say "almost" because the organizer of the competition thought awarding 1st place was not sufficient, but that she needed to rank the chilis from 1st to 13th place (poor J.J.)  

I think Angelica's second place chili was the tastiest and she was robbed.  

"I am passing along my CHILI recipe to share. I doubled the recipe and added ground chuck in addition to the turkey, also for a lighter broth you can use one can of chicken broth instead of 2 (1 each) cans of tomato sauce/paste. I used as a guide and personalized it. I put all the fixings on the side and made cornbread muffins, everything was a hit!  Hope you enjoy a bowl of homemade chili."


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground chuck                   
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans low sodium tomato soup
  • 1 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Pkt. McCormick Chili Mix

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground paprika
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place turkey in the skillet, and cook until evenly brown; drain.
  2. Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray, and mix in turkey, tomato soup, kidney beans, cannellini beans and onion. Season with chili powder mix, chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, allspice and salt.
  3. Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls

I have made these cinnamon rolls before, but it has been several years. Other than requiring a few steps to allow the yeast to work, this is a simple bread recipe with no kneading!  Also, once you make the dough you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days!  That is what I did, and I only "punched" it down a couple times a day and it was fine in my covered dutch oven.  

I made one gigantic log with all of the dough, spreading it on my counter, making sure to have flour underneath and on the rolling pin.  The only trick is to make sure the dough is dry enough to work with.  Pour on the melted butter, sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon and roll into a log.  Mine looked like a baby boa constrictor.  I cut each roll using a flour scraper.  No need to transfer to a cutting board.  The only thing I did different from the recipe is I did not add coffee to the icing.

These are delicious and so much different than the kind you buy in the tube.  You can really taste the bread and these are sweet enough that you do not even need the icing.  Your house will smell amazing as these bake too!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 25, 2015

We met at Tonya's house on a rainy, cool, Sunday amid Hurricane Patricia.  

Appetizer: Mary, Sweet Potato Corn Cakes 
Salad:  Angie, Honey Crisp Apple Salad 
Main:  Peach and Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
Dessert:  Angelica, Apple Crisp

Dinner with guest, Vivian.

Mary pan-fried these crispy, sweet potato corn cakes at Tonya's to ensure that they were hot and crispy.  To the dipping sauce recipe, Mary added Srirachi sauce.  Very yummy and a beautiful presentation.  The sweet potatoes are a subtle flavor and the corn adds some crunchy texture.  The cayenne pepper adds a kick!

For the salad, I picked one with apples, which are a fall staple.  The recipe calls for frisee however my Sprouts store  did not have any.  The produce worker scoffed when I asked for it "hardly anyone carries frisee".  HA!  I should have substituted endive but instead I used spinach.  I had not realized until later that frisee is in the endive family.  You learn something new every day!  I added some Gorgonzola cheese, pear (thanks, Mary!) and dried cranberries.  The dressing is not overly sweet with some spice from the cumin and curry.

For the main dish, Tonya picked beautiful pork chops.  Even Cookie the cat could hardly resist!  

The pork chops were rubbed with spices, seared and then finished in the oven with the peach glaze.  The glaze was not overly sweet due to the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and dash or two of Srirachi sauce.  This pork chops were tender and juicy, thanks to the bone in and watchful eye of Tonya and her trusty thermometer.  This is definitely a "company worthy" dish.  The pork chops were served with simple white rice, with some of the glaze spooned on top.

I was so excited about Angelica's apple crisp that I forgot to take a photograph.  It was a typical crisp with apples covered in a crispy oatmeal and pecan topping.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall dessert

My dad requested Caramel Apple Streusel Squares for dessert this weekend.  I asked how he picked the recipe, thinking he would mention fall and apples, but no, he said he did a search for "recipes with sweetened condensed milk".  Oh.  Well, I thought it was the perfect fall dessert... not that it feels like fall right now, BUT IT IS.    

I had all the ingredients on hand except for the apples.  I used my new Pampered Chef mandolin to slice the apples in thin, uniform slices.  I used the 2nd setting though next time I will use the 3rd setting to have thicker slices.  I have also decided that I will always use the guard because I do not want to cut off any of my fingertips.   Mandolins are scary!  

This dessert is all about the crust and topping.  It is sweet with brown sugar and spicy with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  The apples are nestled between the layers and the caramel mixture ties it all together.  I put some extra caramel sauce on top because the top seemed a little dry.  This addition just made the bars even more delicious.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dinner and dessert

Unstuffed cabbage casserole should really be called unstuffed cabbage ROLL casserole.  It has all the components of a cabbage roll but deconstructed and mixed into a casserole.  I hate when chefs on cooking shows make things deconstructed, like chicken pot pie.  NO!  What makes chicken pot pie delicious is it is prepared and served exactly as it has been for 100 years!  

In this case, deconstructed just makes it an easier recipe to fix and with less steps.  Skip the step of blanching the cabbage.  I cut it in thin strips and it cooked through in the oven.  I also used canned, diced tomatoes, skipped the dried mint and added Italian seasoning.  It turned out very good, with lots of flavor and reheats beautifully for left overs.  When I make it next time I am going to add some hot Italian sausage because I think the fennel in the sausage will be really nice with the other Italian spices.

For dessert (i.e., one for me, the rest for the office), I made these peanut butter blondies.  The recipe seemed too simple for these to be good but in fact, they were AMAZING.  I have been on a quest for the best recipe for peanut butter cookies and these bars are it. Bars, cookies, same difference, right?  I used chunky peanut butter and the nuts added a nice texture and not noticeable as a coworker told me "chunky peanut butter would be good in these".  Did that!  Chocolate chips in these would be sinful.