Friday, December 31, 2010


On November 4th, Jeff and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. How can you best celebrate? Well of course go eat! We went to a restaurant that is two blocks from my house. Walking distance + wine + great food = a good time! Potager serves organic food that is ecologically grown. The website has a great blurb about their philosophy of farm to table. They also try to stick to foods that are local, and therefore, in season, so the menu changes every couple of months. I walk by the menu taped to the inside window of the restaurant at least once a week as I walk to the grocery store and want to try so many things. I may go broke!

Jeff studying the back of the wine bottle. We loved this wine!
Checking out the menu. Decisions, decisions!
Pumpkin ravioli. Usually when people cook with pumpkin, they add so many spices that the pumpkin flavor gets lost. Not these ravioli, they had a distinct pumpkin flavor with a little brown sugar butter sauce for good measure.
Candied walnuts, glazed pear and blue cheese souffle. Funny story about this one: I took a big bite of the souffle and exclaimed, this tastes just like eggs! Jeff then informed me that souffles are usually made with eggs...I am convinced that every time I speak, Jeff sighs in his head.
The only way to describe this is a cheese pie with coleslaw. Jeff thought the coleslaw was a miss, but I was a little more open to the idea.
PIZZA! The toppings, including mushrooms and pumpkin, were so spread out on the pizza that each piece was different. Jeff was bummed that he couldn't get every topping in one bite. I was happy because we just got 10 kinds of pizza for the price of one!
Dessert: Basically a giant peanut butter cup with ice cream....uh yum!
Jeff and my new favorite wine. You should really check this one out.
It was one of the best anniversaries we have had (which is an odd statement because they have all been wonderful). I am so lucky to be with a person who really gets me, loves to make me happy and is fun to be around. He is a true gentlemen and has a huge heart. A toast to Jeff and many more anniversaries.

Have a happy and safe New Year, see you next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Funnel Cakes

I was under the impression, as I am sure others are too, that Funnel Cake is really difficult to make and must only be purchased from Eliches or Water World. I am here to tell you that the information you have been given is entirely FALSE. Funnel cakes are actually easy to make and require very few ingredients. I got to thinking, most food they serve at amusement parks are just that; easy and cheap, so it makes sense that the funnel cake follows suit.
A few tips:
-You can use a sandwich bag instead of a funnel to pipe the batter out
-The oil needs to be pretty hot, try not to be afraid like I was
-Once the oil has cooled, save it in a container for another time
-Get creative with toppings...whip cream, cinnamon, cherries etc.
-Make sure you have guests to come over or you will sit there and eat the whole thing by yourself (I am not judging!)

Funnel Cakes
• 1 ¼ cups flour
• 2 Tbsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• ¾ tsp. baking powder
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 egg
• ¾ cup milk
• Vegetable oil, powdered sugar
Combine dry ingredients: add egg and milk, beat until smooth. Heat ¼ in oil in skillet. Pour ¼ cup batter into oil from funnel moving funnel slowly around the skillet. Fry 2 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cupid Rings

I hope everyone had a great Holiday! It was so nice to be around family and loved ones. It was also a hard week, some bad news came about and I going to try and take these life lemons and make lemonade. Or I might just throw them at the wall! Grrr!

...but back to the holiday spirit...I made Cupid Rings on Christmas morning for my family, as well as my Mom's Breakfast Casserole we have been having since before I was born! She has official passed the torch and I am now the official breakfast casserole chef for Christmas morning. It is some serious pressure.

The cupid rings are so easy to make, anyone could do it.
Cupid Rings
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 can biscuits
• 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Combine sugar and cinnamon, melt butter, grease cake pan or ring mold. Crop biscuits in butter, then roll in cinnamon mixture, lay coated biscuits into pan. Bake 10-12 minutes at 425°. Loosen edges and turn out into plate. Eat.

Christmas Breakfast Casserole
• 1 lb bulk pork sausage (I use spicy)
• 6 hard-cooked eggs
• ¼ cup butter or margarine
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups milk
• 1 – 1 lb can (2 cups) whole kernel corn, drained
• 1 cup soft bread crumbs (I use the food processor for this)
Lightly grease 9x18in cake pan. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Peel hard-cooked eggs and cut up. Cook sausage; drain. In saucepan, melt butter: blend in flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and dash pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir sausage, corn and cut up eggs into sauce and heat through. Sprinkle with soft bread crumbs. Bake at 375°F for 20 to 30 minutes or till heated through and bread crumbs are browned. Serves 6.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tacos and Vadalia Onion Pie

For your reading pleasure, I have digressed to my old self; bumbling around the kitchen and making mistakes left and right. I had a couple of friends coming over and I planned to make Wisconsin cheese fondue, Chicken Divan and Vidalia Onion Pie, but wait...I already posted the fondue and chicken, alright, what's up?!
So I tried to make the Vidalia onion pie, but made such a ghastly mistake that I had to take the whole dang thing and chuck it in the trash! Near tears on this one. Jeff spent a long time chopping up vidalia onions to fill the pie. I spent loads of time inefficiently crunching up cracker crumbs for the crust. Then I mixed up milk, cheese, an egg and a can of cream of mushroom soup to be added to our lightly browned onions in a delightful cracker crust. Hmm this sure does seem a little soupy...oh well, I will dump it in! So generally, I paste all of the recipes I am working on in a Word document for easy access. Apparently, that lead me to glancing at the wrong recipe! The cream of mushroom soup was NOT part of the recipe, it went with the Chicken Divan. Rookie mistake!
After I realized my mistake, I maybe said a word my mom would not approve of, stormed over to the oven, pulled out the pie and dumped it all in the trash. I look up at Jeff with little drops welling in my eyes. By this time, Jeff is prepared for the meltdown. He says, "no crying! I will go to the store, buy onions, crackers and another soup can and it will be fine." I insist that I don't want to make the onion pie anymore, I loathe the onion pie and I won't be subjected to cracker crunching again (at least not tonight). We settle that we will make the onion pie the next night and take some time to 'cool off'. So fast foward to the next night, the tacos are great and the vidalia onion pie is easier now that I have done it once before. Now I know I said I 'loathed' the onion pie but I don't mean that. The onion pie is one of my favorite recipes in the book; crunchy, salty, cheesy, savory and right up my alley!

Treasure Island Tacos
• 1 ½ lb hamburger browned
• 1 cup onion chopped and browned
• 1 clove garlic chopped and browned
• 1 – 8 oz tomato sauce – 3 sauce cans water
• 1 small tomato paste
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• 1 tsp. accent
• 1 tsp. oregano
• 1 tsp. cumin
• ½ tsp. sugar
• Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste
Simmer for ½ hour. Before serving add 1 to 1 ½ cups of cooked rice, lettuce, cheddar grated, onion and tomato.

Vidalia Onion Pie
• 1 cup cracker crumbs
• 5 Tbsp. melted butter
• 2 ½ cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste
Press mixture of cracker crumbs and butter onto an 8in pie plate to form crust. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes. Sautés onions on oil and skillet until tender, spread in pie shell. Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper in bowl and mix well. Spoon over onions, top with cheese, bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Let rest before slicing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


First off: THIS RESTAURANT IS GREAT! Whew, glad to get that out of the way. I went with Jeff's family to celebrate his new job! He doesn't start until late January, but we wanted to celebrate anyway. Jeff's brother lives in Boulder, so we all trekked up to eat there. Aji is a traditional South America restaurant that reminded Jeff of his trip to Chile. The service is impeccable, the restaurant is a mix between fancy and fun, and the food is wonderful and authentic.
Jeff and I started our with some cocktails. Jeff got the tradition South American drink, a Pisco Sour. Pisco is a liquor made from grapes. So like wine only stronger, I guess would be the way to put it. The Pisco Sour contains Capel Pisco, fresh lemon, egg white, sugar and nutmeg. It is a real dangerous concoction...tastes really great but packs quite the punch. My drink was pretty much pure lime juice (the real squeezed stuff) and some alcohol. The taste was so fresh!
Hmm, cheese, sausage and can it get any better?
Fresh baked bread is brought out (including banana bread).
If you like ceviche, it may be the best decision you ever make to try it here. Ceviche is fish that is cooked using the acids of citrus rather than heat. Jeff's dad enjoyed our first order of ceviche and was quick to order a second one even though he hadn't planned on it. Some of the best ceviche he has ever had!
The cocktails were so fresh and used real ingredients. Their variety is great and the choices are authentic, so it is a good way to try something new.
Take a moment to process Jeff's dish here...Bistec de la T- grilled T-bone steak, roasted fried sweet potatoes, peppers rajas, sunny egg, chipotle, ancho broth. Jeff was happy as can be. The meat was cooked great, the egg was poached perfectly and the flavors all stewed together to create this masterpiece.
Jeff's dad, now on a seafood kick, ordered this dish....Moqueca do Frutas Del Mar - Brazilian seafood stew, clams, shrimp, mussels, bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, fried kale, jasmine rice, spiced coconut broth. He said it was some of the best seafood he has ever had, and we are in the middle of a landlocked state! He was having a lot of 'best' moments.
This is what Jeff's mom ordered. I can't remember what the heck it was, but it sure looks great.
My dish: Humitas Peruanas - roasted zucchini, bell pepper stuffed Peruvian tamale, red quinoa, pickled red onion, butternut squash puree. Vegetarian Kori! Aren't you proud? I have never seen red quinoa before, it was very good.
So this is the point in this post where I kick myself, I didn't get a picture of the dessert!! We ordered three desserts that were amazing:
-Panque Argentino - mascarpone dulce de leche crepe
-Bunuelos de Naranja - crispy Mexican doughnuts with agave orange butter, cinnamon chipotle ice cream
-Crema Quemada de Pera de Nopal - prickly pear creme brulee

Although the rest of the food can be a little pricey, the dessert was $15 for all three! I dare say, and I don't say this often, that was some of the best creme brulee I have ever had. (Uhg Jenna, enough with the 'bests' already!)
And just in case I haven't talked you into this place yet...their coffee comes out in your own personal French press.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wisconsin Trio and Chicken Divan

I am really pumping these recipes out! I am getting so close to the end that my motivation has increased substantially. I am cooking two to three times a week and sometimes two to three recipes each time. I am so happy to have  friends who are willing to come over and scarf down. I know, it is a difficult friend duty. Pat and Ryan came over and Jeff and I made a delicious combo for dinner.
Jeff concentrated on the Wisconsin three-cheese fondue as he is a fondue expert. Once it was time for the picture, things got a little hairy. In order to get good light, I usually hold the dish up by the stove light with one hand and take the picture with the other. Making sure the whole time to hold steady so I don't end up with a blurry photo. I tried to do it on my own, but low and behold...I don't have three hands. Ryan volunteered to step in. I held the bowl and the camera while he dipped a piece of bread in the cheese...over and over and over again. You would have thought I was from Hell's Kitchen, "No, hold it, hold it, okay dip again....not so hard, no really turn it in the cheese, now pull up, SLOWLY!" Ryan was a great sport and the above picture is the last one we took. I am so glad we got the shot!
I made Chicken Divan which is a recipe that comes from my great aunt Jean. This recipe is pretty easy, mostly healthy and tastes great!

Chicken Divan
• Steamed Broccoli (about 10 large piece with stems)
• 6-8 boneless breasts of chicken cooked and cubed or sliced
• 2 cans cream of chicken or 1 each chicken and mushrooms
• ½ cup Mayonnaise
• ½ tsp. lemon juice
• ½ tsp. curry powder
Mix all but broccoli, Put broccoli in bottom and on rest. Top with grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mike's Meat Sauce for Pasta

This recipe is easy in the sense of ingredients and preparation, but difficult because you need a lot of cooking time. The cooking instructions are ALL DAY! I could have started it in the morning and left it until after work, but I didn't trust an orange, furry little creature to leave it alone. If you are not cooking for a small army, I would recommend cutting the recipe in half or freezing portions for later.
The flavor is good on this sauce! There is something to be said for a sauce that simmers all day. Only one problem; I guess my arm has a little more gusto than it should and I ended up with red sauce on not one, but two shirts. I am thinking I should wear a full body plastic bag when I cook :)
Mike's Meat Sauce for Pasta
• 1 lb ground beef
• 1 lb Italian sausage
• Medium onion, chopped
• ½ bell pepper (red or yellow)
• 1 small can tomato paste
• 3 gloves garlic, finely chopped
• Mushrooms, chopped
• 1 large(industrial size) tomato sauce
• Sugar or red wine to taste
Sauté onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet in a little olive oil. In the same pan, brown the meat. Empty the sauce into your largest pot. Stir in tomato paste and sugar and wine. Add meat and vegetables. Simmer all day.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I have had meatloaf for weeks! Don't get me wrong, I love meatloaf...but there is only so much a person can take! Below are two recipes that are different from each other but both good in their own way. To make my meatloaf a little healthier I try to use grass-fed beef and spelt breadcrumbs. Speaking of bread crumbs, did you know that a coffee grinder works great to make bread crumbs out of any bread? Give it a try :)

• 2 lbs Hamburger
• 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
• ¾ cup bread crumbs
• 2 eggs
• ⅓ cup Ketchup
• ¾ cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom of 9x13in pan. Mix all ingredients together. Shape into a loaf and put in 9x13in pan. Can top with barbecue sauce. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Li’l Cheddar Meat Loaves

• 1 egg
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
• ½ cup quick-cooking oats
• ½ cup chopped onion
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 lb ground beef
• 2/3 cup ketchup
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 tsp. mustard
In a bowl, beat the egg and milk. Stir in cheese, oats, onion and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight loaves; place in a greased 13x9x2in baking dish. Combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; spoon over loaves. Bake uncovered, at 350°F for 45 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and a meat thermometer reads 160°.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kate's Wine Bar and Rent

Jeff and I went to see a live performance of Rent in downtown Littleton. IS WAS AMAZING! The singing was absolutely fabulous and the dancing was great too. One of the male performers (who was wearing 5 inch heels) has a scene where he does a dance number. He jumped up and down off of a 5 inch heels! I was amazed! The story was really good and there was not a dry eye in the house.

Although, I could go on and on about the performance, that is not what you came here for. On to the food! Before the play, Jeff and I stopped at Kate's Wine Bar in downtown Littleton.

The atmosphere was great, a small place with wooden accents and cute accessories. The candles on the table were places in old wine bottles.
Here is a look at the inviting and warm atmosphere.
Jeff pouring himself over the wine menu. They had a pretty good selection.
Although this place does not serve dinner food, they have a variety of small plates. We just ordered a few and it was plenty for dinner. Below is a cheese and meat plate; the meats were cured and tasted great and the cheese was good as cheese always is.
Hmm, nothing better than warm spinach cheese dip with flat bread and crisps for dipping.
Whisky Apple Cider you say? I had never heard of it. This is a drink that has two goals: comfort and to warm your insides. Perfect for a cold night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanksgiving - Sweets

I have a secret for family has a HUGE sweet tooth! Well actually many sweet teeth :) So of course, we have desserts coming out of our ears!
This Creamy Pumpkin dip recipe is from friends of Rob. The dish is...well...creamy, pumpkin flavored and a dip! So I guess the name works out. Plus, it fulfills a sweet craving as it is more of a dessert dip.
Now I do not have the recipe for these guys below, but darn it I will get it! This is from Jennifer's boyfriend Christan. He is from Romania and this is one of his mother's recipes. The best I can describe the dessert below: flaky, sweet crust filled with peanuts and fruit (I don't know which kind of fruit). For me, sometimes desserts are too sweet, but this one is a nice blend of peanut and fruit flavors and a touch of sweet.
These are Sticky Buns from Liz. This recipe is definitely going to stick as a favorite for me. I love the mixture of the doughy texture with the sweet cinnamon glaze. Heaven!
Fry bread. This tradition is fairly new and by fairly new I mean a couple of years. Most traditions in my family have been in place since 'before I was born'. I am hoping this tradition continues to stay, though, because these are awesome. I mean come on, fried bread!
Do you remember when I tried (and failed horribly) at making Heath Candy? I was spared the embarrassment of a junkie picture in the cookbook when Jenny decided to make her Heath Candy recipe herself. Redemption!

Creamy Pumpkin Dip
• 2 – 8 oz pkgs. cream cheese – softened
• 1 – 16 oz pkg. powdered sugar, sifted
• 1 – 16 oz can pumpkin
• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and chill serve with ginger snaps.

Sticky Buns
• 2 cans Pillsbury biscuits
• ½ cup whipping cream
• 1 cup brown sugar
• Cinnamon
Cut each biscuit into quarters. Mix cream and brown sugar on bottom of 9x13in pan that has been greased. Put biscuits on top and turn to soak both sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Invert pan into foil right away.

Heath Candy
• 1 lb butter
• 2 cups sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 2 – 7 oz herseys bars
• Nuts
Cook over medium heat until 310°F. Pour onto well buttered cookies sheet. Chunk 2 – 1 oz herseys bars on top and smooth when melted. Sprinkle with nuts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanksgiving - Stuffing

Sorry for the brief posting hiatus. You never know when Comcast is going to make a mistake and turn off your Internet....blah!

For Thanksgiving my family all got together and stayed in a cabin at Estes Park, CO. We spend our time enjoying the views of the mountains, playing cards, reading, relaxing and...oh yea...EATING! I don't think anyone will ever go hungry at one of our family gatherings.  On Thanksgiving Day, we had so many dishes to choose from and ended up with three different kinds of stuffing! Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving dish so I was happy to load up my plate with a taste of each.

Uncle Bob's 'Traditional Stuffing for any Occasion'. This is the classic stuffing he has been making for years.
Cornbread stuffing. I made and shared this dish from the recipe book. It is from Amanda's family and is a good twist on a classic.
Meat Stuffing from Brenda and her mother. This stuffing is a bit heartier and has more meat than it does bread crumbs.

All of the recipes were VERY good. Do you have a special stuffing recipe?

Stuffing for ANY Occasion
Use Stove Top or other dry bread crumbs. Corn bread can also be mixed in. Moisten with chicken stock and butter. Adjust the following for quantities of stuffing desired.
• Diced celery
• Diced onions
Sauté with butter until tender then add to stuffing mix
Other great adds:
• Mushrooms
• Cooked sausage
• Dry cranberries
• Raisins
• Almonds
Season to taste with salt, pepper, sage, sweet basil or oregano.
Combine your desired ingredients in a baking dish or a foil pack and bake approx. 1 ½ hours at 300°F.

Quick Cornbread Stuffing
• Large pkg. of Pepperidge Farm Cornbread stuffing (and ingredients to prepare)
• Chicken Broth
• Chopped fresh onion
• Chopped fresh celery
• 1/8 – ¼ tsp. garlic salt
• Salt and pepper to taste
Use chicken broth instead of water and make sure mix is moist. Add chopped fresh onion and celery (to personal liking), Add garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Can either mix in pan on stove top, or place in a casserole dish and put in oven at 350°F until heated through (usually about 20-30 minutes). Make sure to add enough chicken broth so the stuffing is moist and not dry.

Meat Stuffing
• 3 lbs. ground hamburger raw
• 2-3 bags bread crumbs (14oz each) any brand
• 3 cans chicken broth (14.5oz) any brand
• 1 fresh stalk celery (chopped)
• 1 large yellow onion (diced)
In a large mixing bowl, mix raw ground beef and bread crumbs a little at a time by hand until all bags of crumbs are mixed into meat, then add diced yellow onion and the celery into mix. Once it is all mixed together you then add your 3 cans of chicken broth one at a time (to personal moisture desired)and continue to hand mix it all. When mix is complete it is now ready to be put into Turkey or Chicken to be baked and any leftover mixture can be put into a baking dish and baked separately on the side. If baking alone in baking dish, coat dish with Pam cooking spray or oil and bake in the oven at 350'F for at least 45 min. or until ground beef is browned and top is slightly crisp.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Green Chili

Homemade Green Chili, brought to you by my cousin Brenda. When I asked for this recipe Brenda said I would just have to come over and watch the process. This recipe was passed down to her by her mother. She learned by watching her mom in the kitchen and didn't follow text on a page to create this spicy sauce.

The recipe is a labor of love. Step one is to roast the green chilies, which you can bag and freeze for later. Then when you are ready to actually make the chili, you must set aside 2-3 hours because the sauce has to simmer as you go to ensure all of the flavors come out. I was asked to taste test during the process and let me just say and I am the biggest spicy wimp! I almost started crying it was so hot! For most people it would be considered a 'good spicy' but my taste buds are as wimpy as they come.

Jeff was so excited to eat this chili that at my family's Thanksgiving trip to Estes Park, CO that he smothered most of his food with it. Have you ever had green chili on eggs and bacon?

One of Brenda's family's favorite way to eat the green chili is on mashed potatoes. For someone who grew up just eating butter on mashed potatoes, this is sure to be an experience!
The recipe for the green chili is in the recipe book and Brenda was alright with sharing all of her secrets with me. I will, however, abstain putting it here. Sorry everyone! You will need to wait for the recipe book :)