Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Guests

You just never know who is going to show up on a sunny winter afternoon.

First, a fox.

He ran off because the coyote showed up.

Who knows what'll show up next!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deep-Fried Pickles

We love deep-fried pickles!

Serve them with spicy Ranch dressing, or whatever you prefer. We cut this recipe in half and used 3 large sliced pickles instead of using spears. The recipe originally came from Maggie's Pickle Cafe in Hot Springs, AR.

Makes: 24 pickle spears
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 24 pickle spears, chilled
  • Oil, for frying
  • Spicy Ranch dressing

For the egg wash:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of lemon pepper
  • pinch of dill
  • 1 T pickle juice

For the breading:
  • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup lemon pepper
  • 1/2 cup dill weed
  • 4 t paprika
  • 2 t garlic salt
  • cayenne pepper, to taste

1. Combine all egg wash ingredients and whisk together.

2. Mix breading ingredients in a pie dish.

3. Dip pickles into egg wash and then coat with breading and place on a wax paper-lined sheet pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

4. Heat oil to 375° F in deep fryer or Dutch oven.

5. Carefully add pickles to oil, in batches, and deep fry for about 3 1/2 minutes or until golden. Remove to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

6. Serve with dressing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chorizo Breakfast Burrito

You can add lots of different things to these to make them your own. For us, we just topped them with salsa verde. Next time, I think I'll do half with salsa verde and half with hot salsa. And maybe some jalapeños. These hit the spot!

Makes: 2 burritos
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1/2 pound Mexican Chorizo sausage
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 10" tortillas (flour preferably)
  • Fresh grated cheddar
  • Toppings (salsa, peppers, whatever you prefer!)

1. Crumble the chorizo into a large pan over medium high heat. Cook until done.

2. Crack eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly. Add to chorizo and cook until done. Season to taste.

3. Warm tortillas in oven or on stove top. Spoon in egg and chorizo mixture. (You can also add salsa inside at this point!). Top with some cheese and roll up. Top with more cheese and place under broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is fully melted.

4. Serve topped with salsa as desired.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Citrus Salad

I found this recipe while watching Mark Bittman's weekly podcast. I made a minor change to it since Anita can't have grapefruit. You can mix and match your favorite fruits.

This was simply delicious, and well, simple to make!

Makes: 2 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute
Printable Recipe


3-4 oranges (I used a blood, cara cara, and I think a navel)
1/2 small red onion or 1 shallot, diced
1 T sherry vinegar (I substituted a good balsamic vinegar)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t honey
Lemon juice to taste
1/4 t fresh tarragon, chopped, or a pinch dried

1. Remove peel and pith from orange and cut into wheels. Remove any seeds.

2. Layer orange slices onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt and garnish with chopped onion or shallot.

3. Whisk remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over oranges. Serve.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beer-Battered Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce

I found the recipe for these shrimp in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Cookbook I picked up recently. I love deep-fried shrimp. For that reason I think saying that this recipe yields 4 servings is a real stretch.

I used some 16-20 shrimp I found. You could use smaller ones, but don't get less than 26-30s. Make the cocktail sauce right before serving. Enjoy!

For the shrimp:

Makes: 2-4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound unpeeled large fresh shrimp (if frozen thaw first)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Oil for frying

1. Peel shrimp, leaving tails intact, and devein. Pat dry.

2. Heat 2" of oil in a Dutch oven or deep fryer to 375° F.

3. Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt

4. Add beer, butter, and egg yolk and stir until smooth. The batter should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter.

5. Dip shrimp into batter. Fry a few at a time until golden. Drain on paper towels.

For the cocktail sauce:

Makes: Just enough for the shrimp, above
Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes


  • 1 cup chili sauce (chilled before using, if desired)
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T prepared horseradish
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
  • hot sauce to taste

1. Mix all ingredients.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Espresso Brownies

I don't make a lot of sweets. But, when I found this recipe by Giada, I had to make them for the SILs and niece. Well, the SILs loved them at least! They have a nice chocolate/coffee taste.

I didn't have any espresso powder on hand, so I took some coffee beans and ran them thru the grinder twice to get a really fine grind. I think espresso powder would've dissolved better for the frosting, but the taste was still great.

Makes: 36 bite-sized servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 t water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 T plus 2 t espresso powder
  • 1 box brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 T unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

3. Whisk together 1/3 cup of wter, oil, eggs, and 2 T espresso powder in a large bowl. Add the brownie mix and stir well.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips and transfer to the baking pan. Bake until done, testing with a tooth pick. As soon as nothing sticks to the toothpick, the mix is done. This should take about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

5. Dissolve the remaining 2 t of espresso powder in the remaining 2 T of water in a medium bowl.

6. Whisk in the vanilla, sugar, and butter. Continue whisking until smooth.

7. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until set. Cut into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fiesta Tea

I'm a Fiestaware fanatic and my sister commissioned this beautiful quilt for me for Christmas. My niece, Michelle, made this beautiful Fiesta Tea wall quilt. I have it hanging in my kitchen and it pops! I love it! Michelle also makes beautiful baby quilts. Check out her goods here. She also has a page on Flickr.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lobster Chowder

I found this recipe in Nuevo Cubano Cooking, a cookbook I picked up at an antique mall for $5. The original recipe called this a bisque. I think bisques are puréed, which this is not, so I think it is more of a chowder instead. Either way, it is very delicious.

You can make this with lobster meat or any firm, white-fleshed fish such as cod, snapper, or monkfish. You could probably make it with catfish as well.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 3 T butter
  • 10 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 t dried thyme
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 T fresh lemon, zested (I used about 1/2 T since I'm not a huge lemon peel fan)
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 T dry sherry
  • 1 pound lobster meat or substitute
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 T red bell pepper slivers for garnish
  • Pinch of paprika for garnish
  • Oyster crackers to serve

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the celery, onion, thyme, pepper flakes and lemon. Cook until veggies are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the flour a little at a time. Slowly stir in the milk and broth. Cover and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

3. Add lobster or fish, cover and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

4. Season with sherry, salt and pepper. Garnish with red pepper slivers and paprika and serve with oyster crackers.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sweet-n-Sassy BBQ Almonds

You always need a little something around to snack on. I found this great recipe over on Patio Daddio's site. I don't think these will last long.

Makes: 6 servings, or so
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes plus 10 minutes to cool
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound almonds, raw
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (we subbed Splenda brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (we subbed Splenda white sugar)
  • 1/8 cup BBQ rub (we used Dizzy Pig's Shakin' The Tree rub)
  • 1 T bacon salt (in the spice aisle at your local grocery)
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 t water
  • 1 cayenne
  • 1/2 t chipotle powder
  • 1/4 t allspice

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.

2. Line a large sheet pan (including sides) with parchment paper.

3. Mix all dry ingredients except cayenne in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the dry mixture.

4. Whisk the egg white, cayenne, and water together in a medium bowl until frothy.

5. Add the almonds to the egg mixture and coat well.

6. Spread almonds over parchment paper in a single layer.

7. Bake for 15 minutes. Using an oiled spatula, stir the nuts and re-arrange into a single layer.

8. Bake for 10 minutes and again stir and arrange into a single layer.

9. Spread reserved dry mixture over nuts and bake for 5 minutes.

10. Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wild Rice and Wild Mushroom Soup

Anita really enjoyed this soup. It has a really good wild mushroom flavor. Makes me want to make a wild mushroom risotto. Well, it makes me want to ask Anita to make a wild mushroom risotto. Lots of work goes into a risotto. This soup, on the other hand, was easy to make!

I found this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Autumn cookbook I found at Webb's antique mall. The set of 4 was written by Joanne Weir. I think I got all 4 for like $6 or something like that. What a steal.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 t salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 oz dried wild mushrooms (get a variety)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (can sub chicken or veggie stock)
  • 3/4 pound fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 T fresh parsley, chopped

1. Rinse and drain the wild rice several times. Place in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water and 1/2 t salt. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and add 1 cup boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes and drain, reserving the liquid. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.

3. In a soup pot, melt the butter. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft. Raise heat to high and add wine and reduce to 2 tablespoons.

4. Lower heat to medium and add all of the mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occassionally, until the mushrooms wilt, about 15 minutes.

5. Raise heat to high and add the stock and reserved mushroom liquid. Reduce to medium heat and cook uncovered until mushrooms are very soft, about 20 minutes.

6. Add the rice and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Season.

7. Serve in bowls and garnish with parsley.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chorizo Nachos

Oh me, oh my, these were so good! If you can't find chorizo (and we're talking Mexican chorizo, not Spanish) in your area, substitute sausage but not before complaining to your grocery store!

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: overnight* plus 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 1 T garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 5 large jalapeños, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish, if desired
  • Tortilla chips (I used a mix of yellow and blue restaurant-style chips)

* I used dried pinto beans and let them soak overnight. You can skip this step if you use canned beans.

1. Preheat overn to 450 F.

2. Crumble the chorizo into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin and garlic and stir and cook until the sausage is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain.

3. Add the pinto beans, chili powder, salt, and 1 cup of water (more or less, depending on how moist your beans are) to the pan and cook over medium heat until warmed through.

4. Smash the beans with a potato masher or the back of a spoon until chunky and smooth. Remove from heat.

5. Grease or spray a large baking dish.

6. Layer chips on bottom of dish. Top with 1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the sausage, cheeses, onions and jalapeños. Repeat with another layer.

7. Bake until cheese is melted, about 8 minutes

8. In a small bowl combine the sour cream and lime and a pinch of salt.

9. Serve topped with sour cream mixture.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sweet Potato Scallops with Caramelized Onion

I found this recipe in an old Food & Wine anniversary cookbook. I love how these sweet potatoes come out looking like scallops. It's a nice change to how sweet potatoes are normally done.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin

1. Cover the potatoes with water in a large saucepan and boil over high heat until just fork tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and let cool, then peel and slice into 1" rounds.

2. Heat 1 T of the oil in a medium skillet. Add half of the potato slices and cook over medium high heat until well browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Cook the remaining potatoes with the remaining oil.

3. Add the onion to the skillet, cover, and cook over low heat until soft and browned, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Season and scatter over sweet potatoes and serve.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

These are very easy to make and taste absolutely great. I found the recipe over on Deep South Dish, a site definitely worth visiting. I did make some minor changes to amount of sauce because I'm a big fan of sour cream sauces.

We had the enchiladas with chorizo refried beans and some sweet corn leftover from the summer's farmer's market. On a cold day, the sweet corn brings back memories of a warmer time, that's for sure.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Printable Recipe


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 T jalapeños, chopped
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Remove any fatty areas from the chicken. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add salt. Add chicken and return to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, remove, drain, and set aside to cool. Do not overcook the chicken as you want it to be very tender.

3. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender.

4. Combine the soup and sour cream in a bowl, mixing well.

5. Add the jalapeños and chili powder to the onions and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 3 T of the soup and sour cream mixture, blending well.

6. Cut the now-cooled chicken into thin strips and gently fold into the pan. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions.

7. Spray a large glass baking dish with non-stick spray.

8. Prepare tortillas by spooning mixture along edges and rolling up. Place into baking dish, seam side down.

9. Spoon the remaining soup mixture over the tortillas and spread evenly with a spatula.

10. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and uncover and sprinkle with the cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visitors in the Snow

A few does showed up today at noontime. They were feeding off the remaining berries on our bushes.

There was actually a third, much smaller, deer by the house, eating our evergreens.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs

My oh, my these sure are good! I was worried they were going to be too mustardy, but the maple syrup balanced everything out just great! I've become a big fan of chicken thighs over chicken breasts, though I'm sure you could make this recipe with butterflied breasts.

The original recipe came from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger on the Food Network.

Makes: 3 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 T grainy French mustard
  • 3 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 t dried marjoram
  • 3 T pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Rinse chicken and pat dry (this is important!). Place in a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.

3. Combine all remaining ingredients and spread evenly over the chicken.

4. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until chicken is done and a slightly hardened crust has formed on the top.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Sometimes you just have to eat your veggies. I found this recipe on a Vegan A Go-Go podcast I was listening to one day.

Next time, I'll grill the veggies and add some red pepper flake, but that's just me. As it is, it's a good recipe for a cold day. This might also be good in the summer, served cold.

Makes: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 t dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Spread veggies out on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

3. In a saucepan, add some oil and cook the garlic for a minute. Add in the veggies, broth, and thyme. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer (BTBRTS) for 5 minutes.

4. Add salt and pepper and serve.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kicked-Up Chicken Chili

This chili is outstanding! I do warn you, it has a serious kick to it. If you want to cool it off a bit, cut down on the chili powder.

You can also let this thicken up and put it on tortillas! Yummy!

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, choped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 (14 1/2 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 2 (4 oz) cans green chiles, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated cheddar (recommend Tillamook)
  • parsley for garnish

1. Melt half of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown until cooked. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Add remaining butter to the Dutch oven and stir in flour, creating a roux.

3. Stir in the peppers and onion. Then deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and add in the heavy cream. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened.

4. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, pepper and salt.

5. Add the beans, green chiles, and the chicken and simmer until completely heated, about 8 minutes.

6. Mix in the sour cream, serve, and top with fresh grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Arkansas Razorbacks Hot Sauce

Since the Razorbacks won the Liberty Bowl last night, I figured it was time to celebrate and open up the hot sauce!

Go Hogs!

Cranberry and Pistachio White Chocolate Bark

I found this recipe on the Closet Cooking blog. I highly recommend the blog and this recipe. I made it yesterday for my SILs and they loved it.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound white chocolate (see my note)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled

Note: I only had a 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips on hand, so I used 3/4 cup each of the cranberries and pistachios.

1. Melt chocolate in microwave (30 seconds at a time, stirring each time), or with a double boiler.

2. Mix in the cranberries and pistachios.

3. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Smooth out.

4. Let cool and harden in the fridge. It was very cold here when I made these, so I just sat them in the garage for 30 minutes.

5. Break into large chunks and serve.

Many thanks to Closet Cooking for the great recipe!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bubba Gump

When we went to Gatlinburg, TN, back in September we ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory. I had the New Orleans shrimp and Anita had Mama Blue's Southern Charmed Fried Shrimp. The food and service were excellent. While we waited for the food and had a few adult beverages, the waitress tested us with trivia from the movie. We got most of the questions correct.

Anita got a free 'glass' with her dinner. It was plastic. With lights in the base. It wasn't that exciting. But we still have it, so it wasn't that bad.

A few weeks ago, when we were at the Exit 76 Antique Mall, I ran across the official Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Cookbook! $3! You can't beat that with a stick! I am definitely going to be making recipes from it soon!

After dinner we went across the street to the arcade, where Anita promptly spanked me bad in several games of NASCAR racing. I am not happy about that. We will return soon so I can attempt my revenge.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chorizo and Shrimp-Stuffed Poblanos

We love chorizo. And poblanos. And shrimp.

So, when I found this recipe from Guy Fieri, I just had to make it, with a few minor changes.

Serve these with some chorizo or jalapeño refried beans.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Printable Recipe


  • 1 T oil
  • 1 pound chorizo (Mexican, not Spanish)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Serrano chili, minced (can substitute a jalapeño)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 T garlic, minced
  • 1 cup rice (I used a long-grain organic rice)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or just use more chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 large poblanos
  • 1 1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded (recommend Tillamook)
  • 1 cup Monterrey Jack, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. In a saucepan heat the oil and chorizo and cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the red and green peppers, Serrano, onions, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.

4. Add the rice and stir until the rice is coated.

5. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is done.

6. Roast the poblanos by placing them on baking sheets and placing in the heated oven for 15 minutes. Let cool, then cut in halves and remove seeds and ribs.

7. Add shrimp to rice mixture and stir. Do not cook. Take rice mixture and fill poblano halves on a baking sheet.

8. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Combine cheeses and spread over poblanos and return to oven for 3-5 minutes to melt the cheese.