Chili

Chili

The fourth Thursday in February is National Chili Day.  Kind of perfect because chili is perfect for February. Actually, in my house, I think The Carnivore would like to designate EVERY Thursday a chili day. But maybe that’s just him. Chili is one of those soups that anyone can make and everyone should try. There are so many variations, probably because of the many cultural influences. Though typically attributed to Mexican cuisine, chili also incorporates Spanish and Native American culinary traditions, as well as regional influences from across the US. No two chilis are alike, which makes it a perfect

Jambalaya

Simplified Jambalaya

When you say “Jambalaya” most people will smile and say they love it. But a lot of people don’t make it. Why? Perhaps because it sounds exotic and the ingredients are sometimes hard to find. Andouille sausage, for instance. Not widely available. So, many years ago, I set out to make my own easy version of Jambalaya using readily-available ingredients. I call it: (What else?) “Simplified Jambalaya” just to keep the purists from reacting to non-traditional ingredients. LOL. Jambalaya traditionally has 3 different meats: sausage, seafood, and chicken or pork. I use chicken, so we can check that box. For

Dutch Baby with Fruit and Raspberry Sauce

Dutch Baby

with Raspberry Sauce and Fruit This week is Mardi Gras, the beginning of Lent. And I thought a Dutch Baby recipe would be perfect for this week. Let me explain: Many of us have heard that “Mardi Gras” is also called Fat Tuesday. Do you know why? (No, it’s not body shaming). Fat Tuesday is the last chance to “feast” before the Lenten season, traditionally a time of fasting. However, few know that Fat Tuesday is also called “Pancake Day”(true!) so apparently we’re supposed to start our day with pancakes and keep gorging right through dinner! Tough job….somebody’s gotta do

Impeachment Margarita

Impeachment Margarita

(Im-Peach-Mint) February 22 is an interesting date. Not only is it George Washington’s actual birthday (as opposed to the “observed” day), but it also happens to be National Margarita Day. And for this year, what better way to recognize both those commemorations and a singular event of our times than with an Impeachment Margarita. No matter where you stand on impeachment (and “trials” that don’t call witnesses), we can take pride in the founding fathers who built safeguards – although imperfect – into our political process to bring the holder of the nation’s highest office to account. No matter the

Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup

Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup

I’m always on the lookout for new flavors, especially in soup. We all seem to crave a warm bowl of comfort soup this time of year, but don’t always have the hours for cooking. So any soup that  comes together in 30 minutes or less will pique my interest. Enter: Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup! This soup has a lot going for it: Vegetarian? Yes! Vegan? Yes! Gluten-free and dairy-free also! For those looking to embrace more “clean” eating, this soup from healthyfamilyandhome,is clean-tastic. The taste comes primarily from coconut milk mixed with spices: garam masala, cilantro, ginger and turmeric.

Sweet Cherry Pie

Washington Sweet Cherry Pie

Happy President’s Day! For some, a holiday. But for everyone, a chance to remember the visionary men who founded this country on principles of democracy, which we try to uphold today. And what better way to commemorate this day than with a pie? But not just any flavor, because – I cannot tell a lie – I love Washington Sweet Cherry Pie. Most every school age child has heard the story of six-year old George Washington, who received a hatchet for his birthday and proceeded to cut down his Father’s favorite cherry tree. When confronted, he reportedly fessed up: “I

meringue heart

Meringue Hearts with Raspberry Sauce

Meringue shells, also known as Schaum Tortes, were a staple of my childhood. On our farm we had a steady supply of eggs and cream so when the strawberries were in season these tortes were our go-to dessert. So simple: make a meringue shell and layer that with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream. Easy. And so delicious. I loved them so much I would sometimes just eat the shell, like a big oversized cookie. The shell is extremely light and airy. Beaten egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Straight from my Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s the same way you

cheesy potato soup

Cheesy Potato Soup

Weather denial comes to a screeching halt in February: winter is definitely here! And some days all I want to do is curl up in a chair with a nice warm bowl of soup. This cheesy potato soup is perfect for that! I developed this recipe years ago, and started with something a little different: Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup. I love that soup, but I wanted a “just potato” version. So I used the BC&PS as my starting point and fine-tuned it over the years. One thing you might notice is that I use red potatoes. I do this

crust

Pie Crust Baking Tips

Making pies is an art. And learning how to make pies is a trial-and-error process. Take it from someone who’s experienced both the trials and the errors. Crust is a trick in itself. It tends to either burn or undercook. And, it sags, sogs, rips and plain wimps out. Part of the challenge is that there are so many different pies and so many crusts that accompany the pies. For instance, when I posted my pie crust recipe, I was focused on pumpkin pie. Those pies require an unbaked crust which is filled and all baked together. Others require a

superfood breakfast egg

Superfood Egg

One of the healthiest activities I’ve ever tried is joining a team wellness challenge at work. The program awarded points for various good health habits, like trying a new type of exercise. Or having a healthy breakfast within 2 hours of waking up. I was determined to get that one “breakfast” point each day, so I needed to create a meal I could enjoy and make quickly. From this, I created my superfood egg. I had a few personal requirements for this breakfast. First, I needed protein to keep me satisfied through the morning in order to resist the constant

Nutella fat bomb

“Nutella” Fat Bombs

February 5 is World Nutella Day and I couldn’t let that pass without recognition! Nutella is so good! Chocolate and hazelnut in spreadable form, what could be better? Well, before I give up my seat on the Keto Bandwagon I thought perhaps a keto version of Nutella fat bombs is in order. Now, if you read the nutrition label for Nutella the first ingredient is…sugar. Hmm… To state the obvious, if you’re on ANY kind of diet, this will be a problem. Lucky for us, there are now sugar-free alternatives. I found the original recipe for “Keto Nutella Bars” at

mushroom risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Happy February! It was just Groundhog Day. Did the little guy see his shadow in your area? This has always confused me because if he sees his shadow and gets scared, he goes back into his burrow and we have 6 more weeks of winter (therefore, no early spring). That puts spring at about mid-March, which, if you live in Wisconsin IS an early spring! And people wonder why Wisconsin is the largest consumer of brandy in the nation. But really, ever since Bill Murray did the movie “Groundhog day” it’s a term associated with living the same day over

Low Carb Chicken Noodle soup

Low Carb Chicken “Noodle” Soup

I started out this month with a spaghetti squash so it only seems fitting that I close with one more recipe using that cooked squash. In January I have focused on low carb recipes. And it’s National Soup Month and the height of cold and flu season so, of course, a low carb chicken noodle soup is what the doctor ordered! When making a low carb soup, caution signs appear for noodles. Too many carbs! The typical substitution is zucchini noodles, or “zoodles.” However, I wanted to use spaghetti squash as the noodle replacement (And I think spaghetti squash noodles

keto salmon patties

Keto Salmon Patties

I love salmon, and typically have a simple filet with a squeeze of lemon and green vegetable. But sometimes there are leftovers. And somehow, re-heating the filet is not the same. What to do? Salmon patties! As I’ve mentioned before, I am part of a salmon CSA from Sitka Salmon Shares , which guarantees I’m regularly eating healthy and reaping the benefits (hello Omega-3 fatty acids!). And just as regularly dealing with leftovers. Getting my salmon directly from Alaska ensures that it is wild-catch and sustainably harvested, supporting independent families, similar to small family farms that contribute to vegetable CSAs. 

marinated shrimp appetizer

Marinated Shrimp and Olives

(Playoff-worthy shrimp appetizer) This is the final week of the football season and I have loved doing an appetizer each week of the season. During these playoff weeks we expect our teams to “up their game” so our appetizers should follow suit! And for me, I’m going big with small: a shrimp appetizer! Now, you could just stick with cooked shrimp and cocktail sauce, a perennial favorite. But for playoff-worthy appetizers you can produce a snack with lots of wow and little work. The best kind 😏. I found this recipe at Taste of Home and – so easy! Start

strawberry fat bombs

Strawberry Fat Bombs

You’ve seen me rhapsodize about chocolate cream cheese bombs. Naturally, that led me to another favorite taste: strawberry. I thought the transition from chocolate to strawberry fat bombs would be relatively simple. And I was right, although it did take some experimentation. My first couple of approaches were unsuccessful. Something was missing. Somehow, the “strawbs” weren’t sweet enough. So I reached for a dependable, old school reliable: Jell-O! Sugar-free, of course, to keep things keto-friendly. The addition of strawberry Jell-O provided the added burst of flavor these strawberry fat bombs needed. Just as with the chocolate version, assembly is simple.

spaghetti squash casserole

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Many times when I make spaghetti squash, I use only half of it for the intended dish. Ratatouille, for example. Somehow we manage to eat an entire batch of ratatouille and only use half a spaghetti squash to go with it. Half a cooked squash sitting in the refrigerator sticks out like a sore thumb. So, I began experimenting. This spaghetti squash casserole is one of the happy results. Actually, the combination of ingredients was a result of cleaning out the fridge. Half a box of mushrooms, one zucchini and one green onion? Great combo! The magic is in the

avocado fries

Avocado Fries

If you told me 10 years ago that I would absolutely LOVE avocado fries, I would have considered you crazy. But I really do love them, and in my quest for keto supremacy, I was led to making these “frites,” as the French call them. I’ve seen recipes several places. The one I follow is from tasteaholics. There are really only a few decisions involved in making this: 1) How many avocados would you like? 2) What’s your cooking method? And, 3) Dipping sauce or no? The original recipe is for 3 avocados, which makes a LOT of avocado fries.

cauliflower tacos

Cauliflower Tacos

When I first heard about cauliflower tacos I was skeptical, but once I tried them at a local restaurant I was really impressed. And, that wasn’t the only surprise I discovered with this recipe. Cauliflower provides such a perfect blank slate for flavors, and really lets the taco spices shine. And the fixin’s – mmm, best part. So many ways to dress your taco and make it your own. So I was delighted to see this recipe from Bon Appetit. I think I first made it 24 hours later. It happens to be vegan, which made me pause. As you

keto chocolate

Chocolate Cheesecake Keto Bombs

If you’ve heard of “Keto” then you’ve probably also heard of “Fat Bombs.” Some, who don’t like using the “f word,” call them “Keto Bombs.” That’s the curious thing about the Keto diet. We have been told for years that fat is bad. Now, the opinion-tide is turning and the consensus is that SUGAR is bad. And fat?  Maybe not so bad. The heart of the Keto approach is to ensure you are consuming fat instead of sugar (carbohydrates). Crazy, huh? I’m not an expert by any means. All I know is that limiting carbohydrates really works for me. I’m

keto crackers

Keto Snack Crackers

I’ve really been enjoying all the low carb/keto recipes I’ve tried out this month and REALLY love the results! But let’s face it, nothing delivers like a cracker. There’s the crunch and the salt . . . Can’t be beat! That’s where these carb-friendly, keto crackers come in. They only require two ingredients (plus water) and are incredibly simple to make. Win! I found this recipe at Kirbie’s cravings and love how it comes together. One caveat: it does call for a food processor to mix, and I have only made this using my mini food processor. So I cannot

keto pecan cluster

Pecan Clusters

Keto/Low Carb Most traditional approaches to losing weight follow a simple formula: eat less, exercise more. But in my case, the more I exercise, the hungrier I get! Sigh . . . So, it’s crucial for me to find snacks that satisfy my urges and stay within my dietary goals. That’s what I love about keto – I get to eat what I love! That includes yummy sweet treats like these Pecan Clusters, found at heyketomama.com. It’s one of the few keto bombs I have found that are not based on cream cheese (like chocolate or strawberry). Just think: crunchy

ratatouile

Ratatouille

If you like plant-based meals, here is a veritable vegetable feast! This Ratatouille (adapted from allrecipes.com) is as colorful as its name and so flavorful you might lose sight of its incredible health benefits. One thing about planning this dish is vegetable size. Ideally, the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash would all be about the same diameter. But, in the real world, almost impossible. Eggplants are big. I mean, like, watermelon big (Well, not that big, but they do get large). When I find a small one I feel I’ve totally scored! The most work-intensive step to this dish is

tuna salad boats

Tuna Salad Boats

Sometimes, an appetizer is just a different way of presenting favorites. Tuna, a fish food favorite (say that fast five times!) and the deliciously sour crunch of a pickle make a fast and easy tuna boat that will sail through the shoals of just about anyone’s tastes. And, if you tack carefully, you can make a tuna salad that will navigate your nutritional goals. Using water-packed tuna and low-fat mayonnaise, you’ll find smooth sailing and low calories. Greek yogurt boosts protein. And, the choice of full-fat, low-fat or no-fat Greek yogurt give you the opportunity to ratchet up or down

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti Squash

Happy New Year! Anyone want to admit to a New Year’s resolution? One of the most common relates to dieting. My version: I want to weigh what it says on my driver’s license. 🤪 I am coming off a couple months, several months, oh let’s be honest, a whole year a stretch of over-indulgence, and it’s time to reset! Therefore, I will be focusing on low-carb choices this month, and spaghetti squash is one of my favorites for this. There are many ways to make spaghetti squash. The fastest by far is the microwave. I’ve tried this two ways: cut

Keto Cream Cheese roll-ups

Low Carb/Keto Cream Cheese Roll-ups

It’s almost a new year and for many of us that means new resolutions. According to Inc.com, the top 3 resolutions last year were: eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight. Sounds about right. It usually takes the first two to accomplish the third. And for me, the best dietary approach to promote weight loss is to shed carbohydrates. Low-carb diets have been around for a while. But “keto” takes it to a whole ‘nother level. In the past, I avoided keto diets. My impression was that they were a version of Atkins, with an emphasis on bacon and red

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

With winter in full swing, I’m declaring it soup season! And this Chicken Tortilla Soup is not only warm and satisfying, it’s incredibly easy to throw together. Perfect for these busy days! Only six ingredients are required. One is cooked chicken. Disclosure: The original recipe on allrecipes.com calls for canned chicken. My personal preference: Cooked chicken. And it’s so easy. Leftover turkey from a holiday meal? PERFECT! Use that instead! And, if I don’t have any leftovers I just cook up some salsa chicken in my Instant Pot and shred it before adding all the other ingredients. Rotisserie chicken also

Hamburger Barley Soup

Hamburger Barley Soup

Despite all the trends, old-fashioned comfort food is still a mainstay and this Hamburger Barley Soup is an old reliable. It combines some pretty common pantry items into a hearty and satisfying soup. I adapted this recipe from one on allrecipes.com many years ago. Before that, I almost never bought barley, but now I make it a habit to have it in the pantry. As well as V8, which I stock in the winter to make my beef stew. Other than that, you probably have the rest of the ingredients on hand right now. Barley doesn’t get much attention these

Salmon Dip

Salmon Dip

Today’s recipe for Salmon Dip includes a small lesson in French that I learned while making this. I thought I’d share it with you. No, you don’t have to wear Coco Chanel or Dior while making this, but – why not? This recipe  for a classy salmon appetizer is so simple you actually could wear your best. Perfect for the holidays when you get caught short and have to quickly improvise. Many salmon dips use smoked salmon, which is very popular. This one, from saveur.com, uses baked salmon, which I think gives it a fresher taste. Comme ci, comme ca

Butternut Squash Chowder

Butternut Squash Chowder

Sometimes recipes come from unexpected places. This vegetarian Butternut Squash Chowder is one of those. My daughter had pictures of a recipe card and directions from a friend of hers, who subscribes to a meal kit delivery service. The service sends you meal ingredients in the right amounts and step-by-step cooking instructions. If all the recipes are like this one, I might have to sign up! However, I did have two small problems with the directions. The first was that quantities were not given for all the ingredients. But that was pretty easy to figure out. The second was that

Bread

No-Knead Bread

If you’ve ever made bread before, particularly the old fashioned way, you know you’re going to need this no-knead bread recipe. Throughout history, this food staple was a basic necessity, but it was labor-intensive. I have memories of my mom spending all day making bread. Lots of steps involved. It seemed like she was forever kneading the dough, covering it, letting it rise and then kneading it again. Now, there’s no “knead.” (See what I did there?) This recipe, courtesy of New York Times Cooking, is very easy. It does not require kneading, and the ingredients are very simple. Not

Brie Stuffed Mushrooms

Brie Stuffed Mushrooms

If you need a recipe sure to please, stuffed mushrooms work great. As in most of my recipes, I look for something that is easy and delivers great taste. That’s what I love about this recipe, courtesy of Pioneer Woman. Here are the ingredients: Mushrooms (duh 😀), Brie cheese, onions, parsley and garlic. Oh, and butter…don’t forget the butter. So good. I tried two different types of mushrooms for this: simple white button mushrooms, and Baby Bella or Cremini mushrooms. I fully expected the Cremini mushrooms to win the taste test, but after cooking I preferred the common white button

Minestrone

Vegetarian Minestrone

Minestrone is a wonderful soup of Italian origin. It is primarily made of vegetables, however, it is common to also use a little cured meat as a flavor base. I have made this many times using pancetta, described as the Italian version of bacon, although some feel its more like ham. Anyway, this version, adapted from one found on All Recipes, is vegetarian and is only meant to be a starting point for your own special brand of soup. I have often seen that Minestrone translates to “Big Soup.” Online translators do not reproduce this, but per Wikipedia: “In modern

poinsetiia cookies

Poinsettia Cookies

Tis the season! Cookies and Poinsettias! So why not Poinsettia cookies? This recipe comes from a cookbook I’ve had for a long time called Short+Sweet by Gale Gand.  What caught my eye was a way to make pinwheel cookies, using pastel sugars and popsicle sticks. A cute idea for kids’ parties or any summer get-together. But the note about poinsettia cookies really caught my attention, and I knew this would be a great Christmas cookie. The dough is straightforward: cream cheese, butter, and an egg yolk creamed together. To this, mix in flour and baking powder. Once all the dry

grinch holiday appetizer

Holiday Appetizer: Grinch Kabobs

Time for another cute holiday appetizer! Remember the penguins? If you enjoyed those little guys you’re gonna love these Christmas Grinch kabobs, courtesy of CNM Catering. Contrary to their personality, this Grinch appetizer is sweet because we can’t let the Grinch bring us down. Right? This Grinch’s sweetness comes naturally, from fruit. A little more sweet plus the cute comes courtesy of a mini marshmallow. The hat? A strawberry works well, although strawberries can be a challenge to find this time of year. So I tried both strawberries and raspberries. Looking closely at the picture you can see the two.

Moscato Truffles

Moscato Truffles

The month of December brings a whole ‘nother level of busy to our lives. In addition to the typical hustle and bustle, we are expected to attend holiday parties, plays, buy presents and bake cookies. Time is at a premium, which makes this recipe for holiday truffles a life-saver. Or, at least a time-saver (So dramatic!) These no-bake treats can be made the night before and kept in the fridge. No one needs to know how little effort they required. The original recipe comes from delish.com. When I read the reviews, it seemed that more than half the people had

Puff pastry

Chicken (or Turkey) in Puff Pastry

I make this meal year-round, but it’s especially useful when you’ve got a bunch of leftover turkey. I adapted this recipe from Pepperidge Farm years ago. The original calls for cooking halved chicken breasts and then wrapping each in a piece of puff pastry. After making this many times, I found that I preferred using cooked shredded meat. Not only is it easier to assemble in the pastry, but it’s also much easier to eat. The fact that shredded meat can be plentiful after Thanksgiving or from any poultry meal makes it a huge bonus! No one’s going to call

Cream cheese holiday appetizer

Holiday Appetizer: Cream Cheese Penguins

There’s something about holidays . .  . I just love cute food! Fourth of July, Halloween, and now Christmas. It can’t be helped, just have to go with it! This holiday appetizer is suitable all winter, really, which, BTW, seemed to start this year in October (Where’s my fall?!). I found this holiday appetizer on allrecipes.com and – I can’t help it – just makes me laugh whenever I look at it. It combines two sizes of black olives, cream cheese and carrots to make the most adorable little penguins. If you want to get REALLY fancy, make a cheese

Cranberry Spritzer

Cranberry Spritzer

Happy Black Friday! (That sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) For some of us this is a day of (un)rest, right after Thanksgiving. If you’re not out shopping, you’re dealing with leftovers. In either case, this Cranberry Spritzer from Thug Kitchen comes in so handy. That’s because this drink uses leftover cranberry sauce. Can you believe it? Clever! And yet another serving with your particular stamp of originality. Do you have a cocktail shaker? That will make this easier. But if you don’t, just get yourself a big jar with a tight fitting lid. As long as you can close it and

Pot pie

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

There’s one thing almost guaranteed after Thanksgiving: leftovers. Turkey sandwiches are very popular in my house. B-u-u-t, that gets old. So, I turn to turkey pot pie. I got this recipe years ago from a co-worker, and I think it was originally adapted from campbells.com, due to its use of canned soup. Pot pie has a somewhat checkered history; evoking those days of beer can pyramids and dry, tasteless frozen TV dinners. But this recipe redeems the humble pot pie, especially when home cooked. It’s a great way to use a bunch of leftover turkey – any poultry will work

Beer Cheese Dip

Beer Cheese Dip

I live in Wisconsin, the land of breweries, cheese factories and two of our favorite-est football teams: The Packers and the Badgers. So any recipe that combines beer and cheese during the football season has my attention. And what do we call such a recipe? Why, Beer Cheese Dip – as natural as a cheesehead at Lambeau Field. Now, I love a good Brie appetizer, but I know it’s not for everyone. And probably anything made with quinoa or feta cheese will scare off a few. Some think the ideal game time appetizer is beer and pretzels. Others say .

Cranberry-Apricot Sauce

Cranberry sauce, a staple of the holiday table, has frequently been the center of debate: jellied vs. sauce? This recipe, courtesy of Good Housekeeping, may tilt the argument in favor of sauce because it adds a new twist: apricot. You may be among those who already tart up your sauce with oranges. We’re keeping the oranges and upping the ante. Now, with apricots, we’re taking it, in Buzz Lightyear’s words, “To infinity and beyond!” To start, grate the zest from one orange (about 2 teaspoons). To a medium saucepan, add this plus the juice from two oranges. Then, add a

crust ready to bake

Pie Crust

Tis the season for holiday baking! There’s a  good chance you’ll want to make a pie for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (In my case, both) For many years I used pie crust  from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It was reliable, and while it wouldn’t win any awards, it was at least decent. Then, something changed. At first I thought maybe I got a bad batch. I bought some more, still it wasn’t right, something had changed with the texture, the look, even the smell was different. Every time I opened a package, I didn’t like what my

Raspberry Brie appetizer

Raspberry Brie with Honey and Almonds

Today’s appetizer is a great option for all upcoming holiday get-togethers. It combines warm and melty Brie with almonds and berries in a sweet-yet-tart sauce called Raspberry Brie with Honey and Almonds. This recipe comes from my neighbor, Karen, who brought it to our monthly Bridge-Club-Where-We-Don’t-Play-Bridge-But-Just-Eat-and-Talk get together. And it was devoured! I couldn’t wait to make it myself. The recipe, of course, starts with Brie, a nice base, with the many other flavors taking the taste to a higher level. To start, toast sliced almonds in the oven for 6-10 minutes. I chose 8 minutes and they were perfect.

grape salad

Grape Salad

Thanksgiving is coming and an easy button would be handy for some sides. This grape salad recipe delivers: simple and delicious, it can be assembled in advance. No need for the Break Glass and Pull in Case of Panic switch. The ingredient list is short. Starts with – you guessed it – grapes! I like a mix of red and green grapes, just for appearance’s sake. There are different ways to handle the grapes. Some like the grapes whole, which certainly makes prep time a snap, but I like the approach taken by Country Living, which is to cut at

pepper steak

Pepper Steak

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Pepper Steak is a classic dish that warms you through and through on a chilly evening.  It is often described as “Chinese American” but it feels mostly American to me. I guess soy sauce as an ingredient qualifies it as a little Chinese? Either way, Pepper Steak is simple and satisfying.  I’ve made this many times in a slow cooker and recently adapted the recipe for Instant Pot use, for even faster and more convenient preparation. To start, beef is cut into strips. The recipe calls for sirloin, but I have used many different cuts

pico avocado dip

Pico-Avocado Dip

So you’ve got people coming over and you need a quick snack, a dip of some kind. And perhaps you’ve got some ingredients for Pico de Gallo and guacamole, but not quite enough. Tah-dah! Pico-Avocado Dip to the rescue! The beauty of this recipe is that the base, the Pico de Gallo, customizes so easily giving you free rein to substitute. No cilantro? Skip it! No white onion? Use yellow! Forgot to buy jalapeno peppers? There’s probably a can of chilis or jalapenos buried somewhere in your pantry. Once you make this a couple of times, you’ll get the hang

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

November 9 is the anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, a pivotal event in world history. It seems only fitting to mark this occasion with something German. My first thought was to make a sauerkraut meal (“Crickets, crickets. . .”). Then, I switched directions and got a much more enthusiastic reaction: German Chocolate Cake! (“Massive applause, standing ovation!!!. . .”). Ironically, this cake has nothing to do with Germany. In fact, it’s named after its English-American creator, Sam German. But we’ll go with it, anyway. I found this recipe at recipe-me.com and I like the way it came

meatloaf

Old Fashioned Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a classic meal that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention these days. Did it go out of style? Not in my kitchen. I’m feeding carnivores and meatloaf delivers the goods. In the old days, when I was feeding a family of four and working full-time, I would prepare the meatloaf mixture the evening before and stick it in the fridge. The next morning, I would place it in the oven and pre-set the timer to start cooking before I got home. That way, I could concentrate on side dishes during those precious minutes before serving dinner.

Feta dip

Lemony Whipped Feta Dip

If you like the distinctive taste of Feta cheese, then you will LOVE this Feta dip! With November here it’s time to up our game in the dip department. Be assured, this is not just a “game time decision” for football parties. This can be served any time. What I like is the “different” factor. Feta is not your standard cheese. It is designated a Protected Designation of Origin Product, meaning it can only be made a certain way and in a certain part of Greece to carry the Feta name. First, let’s talk about dip-ability (yes, I made that

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

When I started to move toward more plant-based meals, I knew pasta sauce would be an issue. Who doesn’t love a big old plate of spaghetti? Wonderful stuff. But vegetarian pasta sauce? Hmm. At a restaurant this typically means just a tomato (marinara) sauce to coat your noodles. Tastes great, but that’s a meal of 100% simple carbs. That will not satisfy an appetite, unless you’re training for the Iron Man. I wanted a better solution. My sauce had to be tomato-based, it needed protein and I really wanted veggies in there. I experimented with different combos and found there

queso dip on plate

Queso Dip

(Spoiler alert: Velveeta rant ahead) I think we can all agree: Cheese is a wonderful thing (Why aren’t there more poems to cheese? Are there any poems to cheese?). And it’s even better when melted. Here’s a formula for cheese success: Melty cheese + Tex-Mex flavors = Queso Dip = Delicious! The only problem with recipes for Queso Dip is that 90+% seem to start with a so-called “processed cheese product.” Hmm.. Another curiously bland marketing name for the same thing is, “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.” You know where I’m going, right? Two words: “Vel” and “veeta.” Look – I’m

Snickers Pie

Snickers Pie

With Halloween approaching, get ready for the fun part: leftover candy! If you’re serious about trick-or-treating, there are going to be extras. No one wants to be THAT house, the one that ran out of candy. For shame! So, stock up, hand out the Twizzlers FIRST, and ration the Snickers bars because you’ve got to try this recipe: Snickers Pie, found at thekitchenismyplayground.com. To start, you’re going to need 1½ cups of chopped Snickers bars. That equates to about 12 so-called “Fun-sized” bars. For the record, I think the LARGE candy bars should be called “Fun-sized,” don’t you? More candy

Monster Eye Cookies

Monster Eye Cookies

October means Halloween, so what better time to make Monster Eye Cookies? This recipe is courtesy of lillune.com and I can certify: THIS IS A KID PLEASER! Plus, it’s super-simple. Here’s the secret: Use cake mix for the dough. That makes short work of preparation leaving more time for the important stuff, like – (say it with me) – “Googly Eyes!!!” YAY! (Cue cheerleaders and University of Wisconsin marching band). To begin, beat together butter, cream cheese, vanilla and an egg until fluffy. To this, add one box of yellow cake mix. That’s it. The basic dough is now complete.

Silly Apple Bites

These Silly Apple Bites are delightful to all ages. Go ahead, take a look and try not to smile.

Banana Bread sliced

Banana Bread

Anyone can make banana bread, and everyone should! It’s easy and delicious, and the “best-est” way to use bananas that become a little too . . . “mature.” I am the queen of overbuying bananas. I purchase four planning to have one a day, but by the fourth day the remaining banana is just too ripe for me. Problem: what to do with just one over-ripe banana? Solution: freeze it! Just throw the unpeeled banana into the freezer. Once I have at least three frozen bananas, I’ve got the makin’s for banana bread. (Note: Yukky part ahead.) When you thaw

Stuffed Peppers

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Peppers

Halloween is almost here and while costumes and candy distribution get top priority, don’t forget to have fun at meal time! I make stuffed peppers every year, and love to carve Jack O’ Lantern faces into each pepper. It takes only a few extra minutes and turns an everyday meal into a Halloween treat. Spooky good! For a meal as iconic as stuffed peppers, I turn to a trusted source: Betty Crocker. Betty tells us to make our stuffing from one pound of ground beef, one cup of rice, a garlic clove and tomato sauce. When the peppers are stuffed

Pepperoni Cheese Ball

Pepperoni Cheese Ball

Halloween is coming so, of course, we need an appetizer! This Pepperoni Cheese Ball works great because, like all cheese balls, you can pick the shape. So go ahead and make a football for a tailgate party, but if you’re having a Halloween party, use your head . . . or skull shape instead. I adapted this recipe from sugardale.com and it’s a crowd pleaser. Almost all cheeseballs start with cream cheese and shredded cheese, but this one adds pepperoni and a packet of Italian dressing seasoning to rev up the flavor. Green olives are an optional add-in. I added

Split Pea Soup

Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

As a child, I always turned up my nose to Split Pea Soup. Was it the color? Too bad, because I’m sure Mom’s soup was great: starting with a ham bone, cooked on the stove top; the whole bit. As an adult with wiser taste buds, I love this. However, I thought I could do it the way Mom did: purchasing ham on the bone, serving a “normal” meal of ham and then saving the bone thinking I could use it for soup. You know what? HUGE pain! My pot was too small for the bone and I had no

Beef Stew

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

This classic beef stew can be made in a Crockpot or Instant Pot to produce a delicious, warming stew for a cool weather meal.