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I made this cornbread to go along with my Two Bean-Two Corn Chorizo and Poblano Chili on our “no poultry” day (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving).  But is equally delicious served with leftover turkey and gravy or with a creamed turkey mixture served over the top.

I even toasted a half slice and had a poached egg on top for breakfast, it is that versatile, so top it with anything you would like.

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November 25, 2011   1 Comment

no poultry

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, the last thing any of us wants to eat is turkey or chicken! In fact, today – the day and night before Turkey Day – is the biggest day for pizza delivery for the entire year! Bigger than Super Bowl Sunday, bigger than New Year’s Eve (we always ordered delivery pizza for our kids that night just as we were heading out the door), bigger than any other day! Why??? Because everyone is sick of cooking, the refrigerators are full, and we are all anticipating cooking and eating turkey tomorrow!

In honor of the “no poultry” unwritten rule, I’ve got some spicy chili for your dining pleasure. I purchased a package of chorizo bolita at the Mexican market thinking I was going to be trying some new and exciting style of chorizo.  After some internet research, I learned that chorizo bolita is just regular chorizo in little links. Bolita means pellets. Oh well, I tried, and it turns out it is a convenient way to buy chorizo. You can cut off as many links as you need and then repackage and freeze the rest in smaller amounts. I used 3 pellets, or about 5 ounces, for this chili recipe. Plus I really wanted to cook and slice the chorizo as links instead of cooking and crumbling it as I usually do.  Removing the casing very carefully and then cooking the links in a bit of water, gave me the exact result I was looking for.

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November 23, 2011   4 Comments

knock-off

Last Monday morning, once Marissa had left for work and I returned to her apartment after taking Dave to the airport, I sat down to eat lunch. It consisted of a boxed salad I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s the day before. My plan was to eat half of it and save the remaining half for lunch on Tuesday – that didn’t happen.

I scarfed down the entire tasty thing.  Monday night, when Marissa came home from work, we jumped in her car and headed back to Trader Joe’s to do her “big” grocery run.  She would finally have stocked shelves, refrigerator, freezer, and wine rack and could stop eating like a “third grader with a drinking problem.”

Instead she is now a young woman with healthy choices and plenty of nice wine to accompany her adult meals. (Did you know that in California “Two Buck Chuck” is actually two bucks, well actually $1.99?  Not that the $2.99 we pay in AZ is a bad deal, but I always wondered why it was called “Two Buck” when it really cost three bucks… now I know.)

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August 8, 2011   5 Comments

Christmas or anytime

Just because I’ve named these Christmas custards, don’t think that they wouldn’t be good anytime of the year… in fact – it has been requested that I make them again for New Years Eve, and I just may!

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December 28, 2010   No Comments

fusion

I wouldn’t actually call this true “fusion” cooking, but the idea is mixing two cuisines, in this case Italian and Mexican.  According to Wikipedia, Fusion cuisine combines elements of various culinary traditions while not fitting specifically into any. The term generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.  So, true fusion cooking would do a bit more than just add pepper jack cheese and corn to risotto!  No matter, it’s delicious anyway. [Read more →]


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June 5, 2010   No Comments

summer colors and classes

Today is the final day of the first week of kids’ summer classes. I had a great group, 9 darling girls and 1 adorable boy. Connor is a fantastic assistant, so all is well and wonderful. Wednesday was “Mexican Day” and this beautiful and fresh salad was one of the featured dishes. Quite a bit of slicing and dicing, but after the initial prep work, it comes together in a matter of minutes, making it a great do-ahead choice for a summer menu.

Nine of the 10 kids from week 1 - with their creative individual pizzas


Another happening on Wednesday was my appearance on Valley Dish with Tram Mai.  It was a bit more hectic than usual, what with cooking with the kids all morning, cleaning up from class, then prepping and packing to go to the station…  So a couple items were forgotten at home, but we managed to make it through the show. My friend, Sharon Salomon, who is a writer for Edible Phoenix, interviewed Tram a couple months ago and their article is in this summer’s issue.  The editor of the magazine, Pamela Hamilton, generously drops off a box with 100 copies each summer for me to hand out to my students.  I took a dozen copies to Tram yesterday and upon reading the article found the sweetest quote from her right about in the center of the page. Here is a link to the article that made my day.  And if you’re local, Edible is a wonderful local resource, I highly recommend subscribing to it!

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June 4, 2010   3 Comments

convenience

On Sunday, my friend and neighbor, Ronnie had a party to introduce and welcome new neighbors to “the hood”.  She made this colorful fresh and flavorful salad that we all went crazy for. It is inspired by a recipe she found in a cookbook by Rick Rodgers. I had two servings, and would have had a third if I could have gotten away with it! The original recipe called for 3 ears of corn to be roasted on a grill. This simple take on that uses frozen roasted corn kernels found at Trader Joe’s.  One medium cob of corn yields about 3/4 cup of kernels. So that is convenience item number one.  And here is number two … a new way to freeze and store chipotle peppers. As you know, chipotle peppers are sold in cans and they are packed in adobo sauce. The sauce is just about as good as the peppers themselves, spicy and smokey and just so addictive. I can’t think of a time when you would use an entire  7-ounce can of the peppers, generally recipes call for just a few peppers and then you have the rest of the can to deal with.  In the past I have  placed the remaining peppers on a small greased baking sheet, frozen them, then removed the frozen peppers and placed them in ziplock bags to freeze. But now… I have an even better way. In the majority of recipes the peppers are very finely chopped, so why not freeze them that way? First place all the remaining peppers and all the adobo sauce left in the can in a food processor and puree it. Next, carefully spoon the puree into the little holes of an empty garlic cube package. What is a garlic cube package, you ask. In a prior post, I told you how much I love to use the minced garlic cubes sold at Trader Joe’s. My freezer is full of them… so I reuse those empty containers and now I always have chipotle cubes on hand too.  One chipotle cube equals about 1/2 chipotle pepper.  Plus they pop out just as easily as the garlic does.

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March 31, 2010   3 Comments

casserole – are you excited or disappointed?

layering

Say the word “casserole” and you will generally get one of two typical responses… a huge smile filled with excitment from the person who knows that something hearty, filling, and tasty is about to come their way… or a turned up nose and rolling eyes from the person who envisions a sticky, gooey, mess of food about to be forced upon them.

Because of that second reaction, I was tempted to call this dish a “Bake” instead of a “Casserole”.  I even searched through online thesauruses looking for an alternate name, but call it what you may, it’s a casserole.  And exactly what is that?  A casserole is an ovenproof dish sometimes with a tightly fitting lid, made from earthenware, glass or metal. The word ‘casserole’ also refers to the mixture of food itself which is prepared in the oven in this dish. The word is derived from the Old French word casse and the Latin word cattia meaning a “frying pan or saucepan.” As often happens, the name of the cooking utensil was used for the name of the dish.

So, if the word if derived from a French word, then how does it end up sounding so pedestrian? Maybe it is because, when some of us were growing up, the contents in the casserole dish were often called “surprise”, as in Turkey Surprise, or even worse, Spam Surprise; almost a guarantee that this would not be a happy or delicious “surprise” at all!

As with many casseroles, this one is made using leftover meat, pork from Christmas dinner, to be exact. Feel free to use another leftover meat, such as chicken or beef in place of the pork. Additional vegetables can be used as well; bell peppers, green beans, kidney beans, or whatever you have on hand or dream up. I used a mix of three different “green” salsas to get my 3 cups needed, do the same if you have a mix of jars in your refrigerator.  I hope the only surprise you receive upon making and tasting this casserole, is that it makes your taste-buds sing!
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December 30, 2009   No Comments

thanksgiving corn gratin

corn gratin

A perfect Thanksgiving side dish inspired by a recipe in a 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. Pictured above are the two main parts of the dish, the creamy corn mixture and the topping consisting of breadcrumbs, bacon, green onions and fried onion rings. They may be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated separately.  Also pictured is a package of the instant or “quick-cooking” grits used to thicken the corn mixture.

The fried red onion rings are delicious and well worth the effort, but if you wish to take a shortcut – substitute with the prepared fried onion rings you find in the grocery store. You know, the ones used in the classic Green Bean Casserole. If used, eliminate the 1/4 cup flour, the red onion, and the 1/2 cup olive oil from the ingredient list and eliminate the 3rd paragraph from the procedure portion of the recipe. Use 1 1/2 cups purchased onion rings in their place.

Triple Onion Creamy Corn Gratin with Bacon

6 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green portions), divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
8 cups frozen corn kernels (about 2 1/2 pounds), thawed
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 packed cup grated Monterey Jack  or Pepper Jack cheese

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November 25, 2009   No Comments

soup with leftover wild rice

Wild Rice Soup

Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of hearty soup and a slice of warm crusty bread. This chunky soup has a long list of ingredients but actually comes together quickly.  Especially if you use the leftover wild and brown rice (from the Rack of Lamb dinner post on October 2 on this site) and meat from a rotisserie chicken.  As usual, I use Costco’s rotisserie chicken, which yields about 1 3/4 pounds of meat, after discarding the skin and bones. Chop up the dark meat for the soup and refrigerate the breast meat for salads or sandwiches for another day.  The chicken Andouille sausage used here was found at Trader Joe’s but any cooked sausage you prefer (such as kielbasa) is fine.  Although the sausage is fully cooked, it is sautéed with the vegetables to lend them more flavor before liquid is added to the pot.  Today was my first opportunity to use my new “Elite” Cuisinart, and I must say, it was amazing, can’t wait to really put it to the test with a big ol’ day of cooking! With the holidays fast approaching, that will be very soon!  Speaking of the holidays, this would be a perfect soup to make with leftover turkey meat and turkey stock made from the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, so keep it in mind.

1 3/4 pounds meat from one Costco rotisseri chicken; breast meat on the left, dark meat on the right

1 3/4 pounds meat from one Costco rotisserie chicken; breast meat on the left, dark meat on the right

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November 5, 2009   2 Comments