Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Remember me?

The one who's goal every year is to simplify?

The one who hasn't posted in ... awhile?

I'm also the one who is now going to give you a perfect recipe for the new year.




Mexican Starter.

It's a basic meat mixture that can be used for dozens of other recipes.

You're very welcome.

We ate it this week and even the kids downed it.

(adapted from

1 pound ground beef
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup salsa, your pick
1 small can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, cored and chopped
2 tsp. taco seasoning
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Brown beef in oil, add garlic, onion and peppers. When beef is brown add tomato sauce, salsa and seasonings.

Simmer 30-45 minutes or prepare in slow cooker.

This starter can be used for: (ahem, this is the awesome part)

° Mexican Buffet: add sides of beans, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, onions, cheese and serve with taco shells or tortillas.

° Serve on sub rolls, topped with shredded cheese. Broil on high heat until cheese melts.

° Serve over pasta or rice.

° Use as a topping for nachos. In a casserole, layer tortilla chips, top with meat mixture and cheese. Bake at 375° until cheese melts.

° Mexican stuffed peppers. Combine with equal part cooked rice. Fill large red or green bell peppers and bake at 350° until peppers are tender.

° Chili. Add 2 cans of red kidney beans or pinto beans. Adjust seasonings as desired.

° Mexican Shepherd Pie. Prebake a pie shell for 10 minutes. Fill with meat mixture and top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are browned.

° Quesadillas. Fill corn or flour tortillas with cheese and meat mixture. Bake or grill until cheese is melted.

° Burrito lasagne. Fill 10 inch tortillas with meat mixture and top with shredded cheese. Roll and fill casserole dish. Spoon taco sauce or salsa over burritos and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 375°.

° Spicy Mole Poblano. Combine meat mixture with 8 oz. jar of mole sauce. Broil poblano peppers until charred and blistered. Chop into mixture. Serve over rice.

° Mexican squash boats. Scoop out zucchini or squash centers and fill with meat mixture. Top with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until squash is tender and cheese is bubbly.

° Bean dip. 1 part meat mixture, 1 part canned black beans, 1 part sour cream onion dip, season to taste, serve with chips.

Or, our favorite from this week....

° Sloppy Joes. Add a little more brown sugar, don't add the salsa, mix in a can of black beans, serve on rolls or hamburger buns.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Most Wonderful Time of the Year


1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water 3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half cream

1. Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot (scalding), but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.
Top with marshmellows or the following delicious whipped cream:
Whip 1 pint whipping cream with 1 cup of sugar.
Mix in 1 box of crushed candy canes,
1/2 bag mini marshmellows and
1 drop of red food coloring.
soooo good!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cookies 2010

Last year I baked and baked and baked. Then we delivered and delivered and delivered...and only had one neighbor turn down the plate of baked goodness. Seriously, he refused to open his door. Maybe it's because it was dark, or really, really cold, or maybe he's Jewish. I don't know. Needless to say we won't be trying to deliver Christmas cookies to that house again.

But, it's time for Christmas cookies again. Which means more baking, more delivering and more neighbors and friends who hopefully appreciate buttery & sugary goodness.

This year on the list? We're going retro, or traditional if you will. We're bringing out the Thumbprint Cookies and the Chocolate Crackle Cookies. We might throw on some of my Grandma's famous fudge, my mom's Melt-aways and some of my mother-in-law's pretzel/rolo/pecan snacks. Like I said, we're going traditional.


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter shortening
3 large eggs, separated
2 tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup jam, jelly or preserves of your choice

Preheat oven to 350°. Adjust rack to middle position. Coat 2 cookie sheets lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat brown sugar and shortening in medium bowl with mixer for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl,. Add egg yolks, water, vanilla and salt. Beat until well combined. Add flour on low speed until well blended.

Beat egg whites in a shallow bowl until foamy. Place pecans in a separate bowl. Measure about 2 teaspoons dough for each cookie. Form into balls by rolling between your palms. Dip each dough ball into egg whites, then roll into pecans. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Using the back of a teaspoon or your thumb, (because they are called 'thumbprint cookies'...) make a rounded indentation in the top of each cookie.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. It may be necessary to make the indentation again with a spoon. Place about 1 tsp. jam/preserves into the indentation of each cookie. Bake an additional 5 - 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for several minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.


1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat brown sugar, shortening and vanilla in large bowl at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.

Combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Heat oven to 375°. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar to coat completely. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One More Week

I swear I'm not trying to neglect my passions in life. Like blogging. And cooking. And blogging about cooking.

One more week and I don't have school hanging over my head. School was great, but it's time to get back to my priorities.

Today in the crock pot? A new recipe I've been wanting to try. Peach Curry Glazed Pork Chops. I'm trying it in the crock pot even though it's not written for slow cooking. Sundays are all about easy and lazy. This recipe fits the bill perfectly.


1/2 cup sliced canned peaches, syrup set aside
3 tbsp. peach jam
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 boneless pork chops
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

1. In a bowl, mix the peach syrup, jam, mustard, curry powder, and honey.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the pork chops 8 minutes, or to desired doneness.
3. Mix the green onions into the skillet, and cook 1 minute, until tender. Spoon the syrup mixture and peaches over the pork chops. Continue cooking until heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro to serve.