Monday, February 22, 2010

Make Your Own Chicken Noodle Soup or Stop and Watch the Robins in the Snow

                                                  "Only the pure of heart can make good soup."  --Beethoven

Sometimes you're home sick.  It's been snowing and gray for three days.  Three days.
You have to make your own soup. (boo hoo)
You try to work. (Surely you can read or write.)
You can't.  Your nose keeps running and your head feels like about a hundred people are living in there.

You make tea.  You read.  Take some Tylenol.  Try to forget about the book review you're supposed to be writing.   Take a nap.  You suck on a zinc lozenge.

You look out the window because you can.  There's a flock, yessir, I said a FLOCK OF ROBINS cavorting in the tree in your front yard.  Sometimes they just sit all puffed up trying to keep warm. Other times, they're flying, swooping and gliding and then dive-bombing one another.  They seem to be in love with the air currents and the blowing snow.  Are they nuts?  Are these robins, harbingers of spring?  All of them?

Just goes to show you what you'll see if you have to sit still a while.

Still, you feel awful and go search out a frozen chicken.  You can make your own chicken soup, by golly.
And you do.  Here's how:

Make Your Own Chicken Noodle Soup
     serves 6-8

8 qts water
2 t kosher salt
2 T black pepper corns                                                               
1 small whole chicken (or pieces if that's what you have)
2 onions cut in half, peels on
4 stalks celery, whole
4 whole cloves of garlic, papers off, but whole
4 large carrots, whole and unpeeled                                                           a chicken in every pot is good
2 large parsnips, whole and unpeeled
2 medium turnips, whole and unpeeled                                                        
4-5 sprigs fresh dill (or 1t dry)
1 bunch (1 1/2 c?) Italian parsley, whole                                    
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 2t dry)

1 onion, minced
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated                                                              draining the chicken and veg
2 c Kluski's egg noodles
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste                                         
4-6 drops Tabasco, or to taste

Place all of the ingredients in the first section into a 12 qt stock pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook until chicken is falling off bone.  1 hour or so if the chicken is fresh.  2-21/2 if chicken is frozen.
Put a large colander on top of another big stock pot and pour soup through, catching chicken, vegetables and herbs.  Remove vegetables and herbs to a food processor, disgarding peppercorns,  and pulse until you have a fine babyfood texture; you might need to add a ladle or two of broth so that it processes easily.  Put the babyfood back in the stockpot. Bone and shred chicken and add it to the pot as well. 

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetables from the second section, chopped onions, carrots, garlic and celery.  Lower heat a little and let soup cook until vegetables are about half-way softened.   If soup seems too thick, add some water or canned broth.  Bring soup back to a boil and add noodles.  Cook until noodles are al dente.  Season with salt, pepper and tabasco, as needed.  Serve as hot as you can eat it.

Cook's note:  About the vegetables.  I used what I had in the house.  You could skip the parsnips and turnips and only use carrots, celery, etc.  I also threw in a leftover bunch of green onions because they were going to go bad.  Use your imagination, but skip things like broccoli and cauliflower for making the first part (the broth)  of the soup.  If you have them and want to use them, add them near the end.

There are many ways to make chicken soup; this is just one of the easier ways.

making the "baby food"
                                (above: shredding the chicken by hand, not by cutting)                  (above:  all back in the pot again)

Chef's Snack (had to try it)

Sing a new song; heal your own self.  See something new.........look out the window today,

And news from the Two-dog Kitchen, just in case you're missing Gab and Tucker:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Almost Veg Pasta a la Lindsey Vonn and Elizabeth's Gwendal

Had to have something really fast for dinner two nights ago. Inspired by a super new book I'm reading (buy it:  LUNCH IN PARIS by Elizabeth Bard), I  decided to make a pasta dish a la Elizabeth's husband's non-recipe with what was in the house.  I quickly rifled through the small freezer and then through the veg bin.  Leftover fresh pasta (enough for me) was in the freezer/big smile.  There was, lo and behold, a small package of yummy, thick smoked bacon.   The veg bin was a little more confusing.  There were a few carrots (not even limp); there were even a few very straight and tall stalks of celery.  Good so far.  Onions?  In the bag under the mudroom sink.  Garlic?  Shallots?  In cappucino cups on the counter with the olive oil.  Ok, that's a start, but we're missing something that's going to pull it all together.  I then remembered some baby broccoli in a bag on a shelf and, praise, praise, there were three fresh tomatoes needing to be eaten SOON.  The skins were already a little crepey.  Great for the saucepot.

I got a small stockpot going with water for the pasta and turned on the Olympics.  Now, I'm not a huge sports fan, but I like the Olympics as well as the next girl.  Especially the winter olympics.  I skated quite a bit as a kid (really) on the long-time frozen pond behind our house and the love of the glide and the wind (and the scars-not) is still with me.  It just happened that as I made this, ok, it was lovely, pasta, Lindsey swooped down that slope with me holding my breath as I sauteed the onions and celery.  I nearly burned the garlic as she hit that one curve, but it all came together  in the end as she cried for joy over just having finished the darned run.  I would have cried, too.  Oh.  Maybe I did.  Phew.  I was so glad for Lindsey, and for me... that it was over..and that dinner was ready.  Of course, it was nice that she won that gold medal, too.  Go, Lindsey!!!  Go, Gwendal!!!

Here's what I did:

 Almost Veg Pasta a la Lindsey Vonn and Elizabeth's Gwendal
     serves 2-3

First, set your small (6q) stockpot to boiling with about 4 qts of water and a little salt.  Cook your pasta and, while it's cooking...

In a deep, large saute pan, cook until about half-way done

2-3 strips bacon or 1/4 cup smoked ham, thinly sliced   in  1T olive oil

Then add

1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bunch baby broccoli, "   "

(Meantime: check your pasta.  If it's nearly done, drain it, saving a 1/2 c pasta water for sauce.)

Cook until softened and then add

3-4 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 c mixed chopped fresh parsley and basil (or 1 t each dry oregano and basil)
fresh ground pepper to taste
kosher salt   to taste

Let the sauce cook down for 3-5 minutes.  Dust with a little more ground pepper.   If you haven't drained the pasta yet, do so now, and add the half-cup pasta water to the sauce.   Fork up some pasta into your bowl,  top with a big ladle of sauce and then add some

Parmesan cheese,  coarsely grated    

I  also like this topped with a few chopped fresh herbs. Parsley and basil are nice. 
Gardening note: Neither one of those herbs is growing in my south window right now and I have to buy them.  Currently doing quite well through the winter are thyme (three pots), sage (huge pot three years old), rosemary (two smaller pots with slow-growing plants) and almost frozen dead mint. 
You won't win the Olympics with this dish, but you'll sure be happy, warm and full.  You'll also have  all of your veg for the day at one meal.  The bacon didn't hurt a bit. (Thanks, Elizabeth!)

Wine:  any  red.  I liked a Syrah.
Dessert:  One square of dark chocolate (Lindt --about 50 calories per) for your health, of course
Sing a new song; win a new medal,

                                Gabby and Tuck had the big kid from next door sleep over--Meet Moss!

                                         We know how to share a meal, well...maybe just a bone.
How long do I have to live in the kitchen?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shrove Tuesday Jambalaya or No Pancakes, Please

In my world, and for some of you, this is the day when traditionally we clean out the beautiful, fattening rich things like butter and dairy.  Adding flour (and whatever else), we come up with stacks of pancakes and, oh, ok, bacon or sausage...Drooling maple syrup (only the real kind) and maybe a few bananas or even leftover frozen and grated cranberries with toasted pecans and a tish orange peel, my personal favorite.  My own church has a pancake supper tonight at 6 with lots of bacon and lots of fun.  Check out First Congregational Church, nw corner of St. Vrain and Tejon in Colorado Springs.   ( pancake photo:; jambalaya photo: Alyce Morgan)

Christians are getting ready to begin Lent...and, it's not a time to sit around and think about how bad we are. That's old school.  Now, it's an opportunity to review who we are and we stand right now...and even to think about wiping our own personal slate clean so that we can be drawn new. To maybe see a few goals for our spiritual existence or personal life.  It's a fine time to commit to prayer, to renewed study and to see what comes of it.  We are assured that, as we model ourselves on our Lord and savior, we too can begin again, live again, fall into depths doubting and shouting... and rise once more. Ever hopeful, ever-changing.  40 days of saying to oneself sometime during each day's prayer-life, "I want to change this one thing; I'm commited to it."  In other words, Lent is a positive, proactive experience.  Make me new.  Help me take the time to think about what I am, who I am and what I would like to change, who I would like to be...  There's no crying in Lent (or baseball.)

But, instead of the ubiquitous pancakes, why not whip up a Mardi Gras special before Lent starts tomorrow?  Even if you don't know Lent from "Rent," it's a great time for this dish.  With a little New Orleans background of my own, I was born with what they call the trinity (onions, green peppers and celery) in my mouth.  I'm talking Jambalaya, an easy one. The orignial recipe here is from honored Cajun food writer Maude Ancelet, but comes to us through Andrew Scrivani's sweet blog  Mark Bittman (NYT) mentioned it a little over a week ago and I've made and tweaked it, clarifying a few things and changing it up a teense.

In the food world, my recipe will be called "a riff on it." I will also say I'm in the process of tweaking it even more. I'd like to try it as an oven dish because to find a dutch oven or covered skillet large enough for all of these ingredients (and for them not to be stacked 6 inches high in the pan) is difficult.  I covered my 14" frittata pan with an assortment of cookie sheet, foil, etc. to getter done.  A bit cumbersome.  Never-the-less.  You may have different pans!  Your dutch oven may be larger or, in any case, you can brown the chicken in batches if you need to. Just make it; it's delish.  Phew.  Great for ... Shrove Tuesday.  Here's my version:                                                                      (Oh, and it's time to rent "Chocolat.")

serves 4-6 easily

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1# sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2" pieces
2T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, ditto
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dry oregano
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
1 # rice
1/2 t kosher salt-or to taste
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper-or to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 c each sliced green onions (use tops) and chopped parsley*

In dutch oven, or large skillet (will need a lid), brown chicken and sausage in oil over medium heat, turning to cook evenly on all sides.  Remove meats to paper-towel lined platter when nicely browned, but not done.  Add the onions, pepper, celery, garlic, oregano and bay leaf to pan.  Saute well for 10 minutes or so until softened.  Add water, rice, salt  and pepper.  Return the meats to the pot  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.  Keep covered and let steep a little while, serving "piping hot."  In a small bowl, mix the green onions and parsley and let folks help themselves to these for a garnish.
*option:  top with some shrimp grilled with a little bit of Old Bay seasoning

WINE:  California zinfandel.  You also might like a  Beaujolais, often known as a "fun" wine.
DESSERTSomething "sinful" like a hot fudge sundae or 2 pieces of apple pie and ice cream.

Happy Mardi Gras, Happy Shrove Tuesday.....
May your Lent be all you need it to be..............

Sing a new song (definitely for the next 40 days),

And, of course...  NEWS FROM THE TWO-DOG KITCHEN....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today's Love Birds on the Mesa in Colorado Springs

Check out the resident golden eagles looking for something to fill their tummies right off our deck...

What a world!

Meatloaf Panini or I Always Loved YOU (and Meatloaf Sandwiches)

Meatloaf, though well-loved (like you--Happy Valentine's, friend)  is often the source of ridicule.  People laugh about it, call others by its name and while they eat it without turning up their noses (in fact, they really want it), it perhaps is wolfed down with a little snotty, eye-raising disdain.  When they mention it, their voices lower and, sotto voce, with eyes slanted, they run on about the meatloaf their mothers made with ketchup.  On the other hand, if no one is really listening, they are hot on the trail of a good recipe.  If you bring up meatloaf at the hairdresser's, ten women will soon be surrounding you, wanting to know how in the (well, you know) you make it and just how good is it?  Do you use a mixture of meats?  Turkey? If so, how do you flavor it?  They want it now.

And so on.

Bring up mashed potatoes and boiled carrots (then sauteed in a little butter and honey and thyme) and the world is at your feet.  It's like talking biscuits.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Beef stew. Chicken and dumplings.

Feeding six people for years and years led me to think about and try many kinds of meatloaf before settling on a rather pedestrian, (embarassing to admit I still use an envelope of dry onion soup mix in it),  but very quickled snarffed down and s-i-m-p-l-e (also cheap) version.  Later, I began making meatloaf for the homeless when we fed them at our church.  I sometimes made it just so we'd have meatloaf sandwiches to travel with when we were on the way to a camping spot or traveling across country.   We were kind of the meatloaf bunch back then.

When the kids walked (or ran) off, one by one, I found I made it less often.  How much meatloaf can two people eat?  It went the way of big trays of biscuits and dozens of homemade blueberry muffins for dinner every night.  It went the way of 12 qt pots of spaghetti sauce. In the place of those cooking for the masses dishes,   I started cooking 3 quarts of Tyler Florence's bolognese. (And still had to freeze some.)  I began to fall in love with tiny lamb chops served over barely warmed arugula with slivers of parmesan and almonds...all served with mind-warming Pinot Noir from Oregon.  I fixed saute pans full of sole and plates of quickly grilled vegetables topped with feta and fresh basil.  No need for big ol' pot roasts and 2# meatloafs...or was there?  I adored (and yet do) cooking for two.  Yes... but, then again.......

One day, I just couldn't stand it any more,  I had to have meatloaf.  And potatoes. And carrots.    So I made it.  I made it all.  And, of course, it was mostly all still there the next day.  I said, "Let's not cook tonight; let's have meatloaf sandwiches and watch a movie in the basement."  Dave was all over that.  I told my good friend, Sandy, about it and she, too, was enthusiastic.  "Oh YES and have a nice, round red with them."   Which sounded fine.  I adored meatloaf sandwiches.  But...

As I went to fix them, the new cook in me, the one who cooks for two,  pulled out the grill pan.  She grabbed the cast-iron, wooden handled press (my cheap panini maker) that we used to cook meat camping.  She searched out a little spinach, some fresh basil, a jar of salsa and whatever cheese was in the cheese drawer.  And here's how she did it because, friends, she made

Meatloaf Panini with Sauce for Dipping
serves 2!  (orignial meatloaf recipe below--keep reading at end)

                        Make it with cheddar, serve salsa for dipping.
                        Make it with provolone, serve marinara for dipping

4 slices whole wheat bread (large slices); I like them with seeds
1T butter
2T coarse ground Dijon-style mustard
3-4 thin slices meatloaf (your choice)
4 slices cheese (provolone or cheddar, depending on the sauce)            
1/4 c fresh basil leaves
1/4 c fresh spinach leaves

1 c marinara or salsa for dipping (depending on which sandwich you make)                                                                                          


Heat a grilling pan (or large cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat.  Butter each slice of bread on one side.  On the other side of only two slices, spread the mustard.  Place one slice bread on the pan and lay on the  meatloaf, cheese and basil and spinach leaves.  Top with other slice of buttered bread.  Repeat.  Lay something heavy on top (a grill press or a heavy pan or plate) and grill until toasty brown on one side.  Turn over and grill until the other side is just as brown.  Eat while it's hot!!!-- right away, each served w/ 1/2 c  desired sauce in a ramekin or small bowl.

SIDES:  Chips, pickles.  Right.
WINE:  Rhone.  (We drank a California Rhone called "Incognito."  Whoo Hoo.)
DESSERT:  Small piece of dark chocolate with the rest of the wine.

Porque no?
Pourquoi pas?
Happy Valentine's Day! 
Sing a new song; grill a new sandwich,

Meatloaf recipe:  1# lean ground beef, 1# bulk breakfast sausage, 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced finely,  1 15 oz can tomato sauce, 1 ex-large egg, 1 envelope dry onion soup mix. 2 slices bread (torn in small pieces) 1/2 t ground black pepper, 1T dry basil, 1T dry oregano.  In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients well using your great hands.  Pat meat mixture into 9x5 loaf pan (I like glass) and bake at 350F for an hour.  Pour off grease.  Let meatloaf remain in pan, covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes before cutting.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Coconut Frosting or Riding on the City of New Orleans

"Yes, by Saint Anne; and ginger shall be hot i' the mouth, too."
                                                                  Shakespeare, TWELFTH-NIGHT,  Act II, Scene 3

It was a great day for city of New Orleans and a better day for the Saints.  As a good chunk of my family lives in that area (my dad was born nearby), I have some pretty good smiles myself this morning thinking of how he'd feel if he could hear yesterday's Super Bowl score.  Naturally, while the game was definitely great,  the food was, to me, a little more important (ha) than the game...  Well, it's true.


Mike (next-door--great big tv) said he'd do some pulled pork (Remember all of those Yahoo! trending searches where "pork recipes" was near the top?--Mike was there.) and so I said I'd do a great dip with veggies and something for dessert.  Yes, and then when I got home from church, I had to do something about all of that.  Super Bowl.  Cold, icy, snowing up here on the mesa in the Springs.  Visibility low.  Pretty gray.  Good game coming..  (Don't ask me, really, I  usually read the NYT and eat.)

I knew we needed to be ready early because we were walking (carefully, carefully) down to June and John's for a pre-game  glass of wine first.  Oh, famous last words, I had plenty of time.  Why is it then that, as if often the case,  I barely have time to brush my teeth before we either leave or friends arrive?  When I had "plenty of time."   

The dip was no problem; I had been drooling over Melissa Clark's Greek Goddess dip from the Wednesday NYT food section.  She notes "serve immediately," so I left off making that as it was full of fresh herbs and appeared to come together in the food process fairly quickly. (It did.)  There wasn't anyone who didn't eat and eat that dip. (I did add a tish salt, a few drops of Tabasco and skipped the mayonnaise..this for future cooks.)   I also made my own pita strips,  not chips, by slicing up whole wheat  pita bread, spraying them with Pam and then sprinkling on either black pepper and sesame seeds or black pepper and paprika. (Bake 350 F, about 12 minutes, turning strips over once, half-way through baking.)  Both were yummy.   That wouldn't take long, would it?  Still, chopping up the veg for a big tray WOULD be time-consuming; I left Dave to it.  He even got down a great big platter and washed it.  I married the right guy. You knew that.

But, the dessert.  What was I to make?  I flipped through my own mind's recipe file and came up with homey trays of cookies or brownies (Super Bowl fare ain't creme brulee.) or big, house-sniffing pies.  I fanned through the indexes of Ina Garten's books for fun and wondered about ice cream, as I had heavy cream.  Chocolate and espresso was sounding good.  But I had made gingerbread with a little whipped cream for Friday night's dessert (and part of Saturday morning's breakfast)  after making
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya from the lovely blog  That gingerbread kept calling me back.  I  wanted it again, but I wanted it differently.  Weird, I have a sweet tooth typically only tuned to the chocolate station.  What was this about? was cupcakes calling.

What about cupcakes?  What about cream cheese frosting, as in carrot cake?  And what about some coconut?  Coconut cupcakes call people.  They just do.  If they like coconut, that is.  So I'd make some with and some without. (No problem after all; everyone liked coconut.) Make 'em, bake 'em and take 'em today. *  You'll have a rock band playing in your mouth after you eat these.    Here's how I did it:

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Coconut Frosting
   makes 20 cupcakes

1 3/4 c boiling water
1/3 c brown sugar
1 3/4 c molasses
2 eggs, well beaten
12 T unsalted butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)

3 3/4 c all-purpose, unbleached flour
2T ground ginger
2 t cinnamon (I like Vietnamese)
3/4 t ground cloves
1 t finely fresh ground black pepper
2 t baking powder
1 t salt

Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour muffin pans (makes about 20).  If you want to line the cups with paper wrappers, you can.  I think they take the moisture out of the cupcake or muffin and make the cake steam in a way I don't like.  I like the hot metal on the batter for a firm, crispy crust.  Try it once.

Beat well together the liquid ingredients in a medium bowl or 8 cup measuring cup.  In large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Add liquids and stir until barely combined.  Using a large pammed ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup no more than 3/4 full.  Bake about 15 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.  Cool completely before icing.  After icing, dip tops, using a rolling motion,  into a shallow bowl filled with the  coconut.   Store in tupperware or on a tray carefully covered with foil (stick toothpicks in a few cupcakes to keep foil from sticking.)  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

*This recipe developed from reading two recipes and  creating the cupcake recipe with my own additions/changes.  1.THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK  Marion Cunningham, p 325, "Soft Gingerbread" and  2.THE SPLENDID TABLE'S HOW TO EAT SUPPER by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, p 310 "Dark and Moist Gingerbread."

Cream Cheese Frosting
   from Grace Herson, chef extraordinaire, Woodlawn Plantation, Mt. Vernon, Virginia--Grace gave me this recipe in 1985 in a cookbook she and others wrote for me..

4T unsalted butter, softened
8 oz package cream cheese (low-fat), softened
3-4 c powdered sugar (start with 3 c)
2t vanilla

Place butter and creamed cheese in mixing bowl, and using electric mixer, beat together for 2 minutes.  Stop mixer, add 3 cups powdered sugar, starting the beater slowly, combine and then  and beat well.  Add vanilla and beat again 2 minutes.  Add more powdered sugar to desired thickness.  Use frosting immediately and refrigerate leftovers.


wake up and play with me

Sing a new song; eat a new cupcake,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sooper Bowl Chili-Chop and Stir-Into the Crockpot for Half-time

I don't know where the idea of chili for Super Bowl came from, but it's a hit most places if you're not having pizza.  If you're not having pulled pork.  (I noticed that top Yahoo! searches were including "pork recipes" this last week.)  So maybe pulled pork, but maybe ribs.  The pork case at the market looked like July 3, it had so many racks of ribs in it.  Prices weren't bad either.  Still, I was on the path to chili...could I be led away?

I was drawn to a recipe in the NYT (Mark Bittman)  for Chicken Sausage Jambalaya.  Actually, I think it first came from a site called; it's in the left side bar under blogs I follow.  Chicken, sausage:  it all sounded so good.  Rice.  Hmm.  But, chili beckoned.  I haven't made chili since Halloween and I usually make it pretty often.  Somethings just yelled.

At the store...

Italian sausage (Sara's-made right up near Palmer Lake) hit the cart.
VEEEEry lean beef fell in on top of it.  I know; it should have been turkey.  But, hey, it's the Super Bowl.

Did I have enough canned tomatoes?  Italian ones?  Beans?  Unsalted, organic?  I knew I had dried beans, but had a thought about a Super quick chili using canned beans.  Up the canned aisle; it's not my favorite place. (Produce is my favorite.)  No big cans, so I grabbed 2 pinto and 1 black.  I can never bear to make chili with only one sort of bean.  What else?  Nothing.  OH, I had to have (and this is critical)


Fritos are good, too, especially with cheddar cheese on chili.  But tortilla chips... hmm.  Just right. I actually like to eat this chili with tortilla chips, not a spoon.  I rarely eat chips of any kind, still... Oh well.

Grab some Dos Equis or make a pitcher of margaritas?  I might be the only one who likes zinfandel with chili and I thought I had a sweet bottle of Seghesio. Still, the better half probably needed his Dos Equis; the winter ales in the garage frig were going to pale compared to a Mexican brew. (not bad, eh?)  Note to self:  hit the liquor place next door before going home. Oh, and go back through produce (yeah) and get limes.

By then, the cart was a dead giveaway; anyone going by (and aren't there a lot of cartsnoopers?) knew I was making chili.  Like, regular old Irish kinda chili.  Not fine Texas fare with big hunks of beef slowly simmered in a thick, spicy sauce; not NM green, mild, hot or in between.  Just the kind of big pot my learned-to-cook-during-the-depression mom made, using her own home-canned tomatoes, some jars of which were  full of other small goodies like celery, green pepper, etc.  We had a ferocious garden out back.  Summers were literally  full of "what a row to hoe."  Of course, over the years, the recipe morphed.  (There never was a written recipe, just we kids' memory for the pot, the shelves full of quart jars-"Run bring me a jar of tomatoes."- and its smells.) Nowadays, I like lots of different vegetables. I like different kinds of meat. I like wine in it.  Lemon.  Dijon mustard. Cinnamon, just a tish.  Yeah, it's a bit different than mom's.  It smells as good.  Even the milk man smelled it outside. 

"Smells so good in there."   "I'm going to your blog tomorrow for that recipe." (ok!)

Ah, yep.  I'm cookin' chili. Get outta the way, dogs.  Makes me incredibly happy for some reason.  Makes me feel rich to have a great big pot of the stuff cooking away.  Odd what makes us feel rich.  You?

This particular pot of chili can be pulled together in 20-25 min and then thrown in the crockpot, well, not literally.  I do pour it pretty quickly into the crockpot insert in the sink!  Or, make it the day before.  Whichever way, it's an easy meal.  Buy or make some corn bread.  Get some tortilla chips and salsa.  Of course, the Dos Equis.  A pan of your favorite brownies?   A veggie tray and you're on your way.  Why be troubled? 

                                                      We like Manchego with chili.

Can you smell it?                                                                             

Sooper Bowl Chili
serves 8-10;makes a little more than 6 quarts

2T olive oil
1/4 t each: cinnamon, dried red pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, chili powder
2 onions, chopped (food processor if you have one)
4 cloves of garlic, ditto                                                            
4 large celery stalks, ditto
1/2 ea red and yellow peppers, ditto
2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash, ditto
1 lb each:  sweet Italian sausage and lean ground beef
3  15 oz cans no salt, organic beans (pinto, kidney or black)
6 T chili powder (or to taste)
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
2t kosher salt (+/- to taste)
2T each, dried oregano and basil                                                        
2 32 oz cans Italian tomatoes
2T honey
2T Dijon mustard
1/4 c lemon juice
2 c ea: red wine and water

opt: grated Manchego (or cheddar), chopped onions, tortilla chips, hot sauce                                                              

Saute  first five (1/4 t each) spices in the 2 T olive oil over low heat  in a 10 or 12 qt. stockpot while you chop the vegetables (2-3 batches) in the food processor (or by hand.)  Spoon veg out into pot and cover, turning heat up to medium-high.  Meanwhile, brown both meats in another skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir both pot and skillet frequently.  When vegetables are tender, add rest of ingredients to pot. Drain meat well; add to the tomato mixture.  Stir well and taste; season as needed. 

Bring to a boil and turn off the burner. *Place crockpot stoneware insert  in sink and pour chili into it.  Replace insert into crockpot.  Set heat to low and let cook 4-6 hours.  If too thin, take lid off and let cook 15-20 minutes on high to thicken.

Serve with tortilla chips and chopped onions and cheese if you like.
Pass a bottle of your favorite hot sauce for those who want to burn their taste buds.

*Option:  Cook on stove.   Lower heat to medium low and simmer at least an hour.  More, if you'd like.  Some people like to wait and add the beans during the last 15 minutes.

Enjoy the day.  Have a little more if you like.  There's plenty.  You're rich.

no spoon needed

If you still don't know anything about football (I don't want to know; it's a good time to read the NY Times), you can click below and get a very quick lesson on how the game is played....

Sing a new song  (Go Colts?  Go Saints?), as I pray for two dear friends, s and c and for Emi, taking the Biblical Content Exam today at Princeton...........

Here's the newest from the Two-Dog Kitchen--

Gab's all Tuckered out!

Note to readers:  If you'd like to keep up with my local articles (on a national site),  they're listed in my twitter feed  on the left sidebar at the top of the blog.   You don't have to make a separate trip to Article titles say things  like "Super Bowl Pizza..." and you just click on the link that begins with tinyurl...  Thanks!!!!  Also, check out my favorite blogs, links to which are right below the Twitter stuff. 

BLOG AID-RECIPES FOR HAITI --Buy a Copy (or two)

        "Twenty-seven food writers unite and respond to the devastating earthquake..."

to purchase a copy, or for more info, click on the site below

all proceeds to Haiti

To read more about how the cookbook came to be, read the stories at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Salmon on Couscous for Groundhog Day and I have a new job

Last week, I began writing Colorado Springs restaurant/food articles for  The articles are fairly short and cover "Cheap Eats in Colorado Springs."  They might be restaurant reviews, reports on coupons or specials, chef or book interviews or whatever can be crammed into that space about eating more frugally.  There are already a few articles up and you can comment there, too, or let me know right there on the website of a good deal you've seen around town.    You can also follow me on (afmorgan53) and see what I'm up to as I cruise around looking at story ideas.  At the side of this blog, I'm beginning to list the blogs I

It's a new endeavor and way fun.  Examiner has nationwide local info on a variety of subjects.  When you hit the site, you can click on a place to find your city.  Under Colorado and Colorado Springs,  restaurant articles are under the heading "entertainment."  There you'll see my articles with my byline Alyce Morgan, Colorado Springs Cheap Eats Examiner.  It'll take me a while to get my feet under me and figure out everything I want to do or not.   Thanks to those who have already sent suggestions for articles or commented on the site.  Hugs.  Your support is important to me, friends. Smile!

Meantime, dinnertime still comes around and I've got a few things coming up on this blog I think you'll like.  I am happy with  salmon almost any way, but I especially like it when I figure out some different or new way to make it and I do that often.  Despite the farmed salmon debate (and Target has stopped selling farmed salmon, according to a  recent press release), most people love its healthy fat goodness.  It's just as good grilled simply as it is in an elegant presentation.    Leftovers are yummy in everything from scrambled eggs (with dill) to fish spreads for crackers to salad toppings.  Even sandwiches.  So consider making extra and not cooking (much) tomorrow.  Here's how I did it:

onions cooking with spinach and basil

Salmon on Couscous with Golden Raisins
   4 servings

Preheat oven to 250 F and warm the dinner plates there until needed.

For the Couscous; make this first--                                               

1T olive oil
1/3 c onion, chopped finely
1/3 c golden raisins
1 5.8 oz box couscous (I like the Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil style)
1 1/4 c boiling water

Saute onion in olive oil for ten minutes or so, stirring often.  Add raisins, couscous, seasoning packet (if wanted) and stir.  Pour in boiling water and stir well.  Cover and let sit off the heat until needed.  Fluff with fork before plating.

For the salmon; make this second--

3T olive oil, divided
2 medium-large onions, sliced thickly                  
1 lrg shallot or 3 scallions
4 cloves garlic, sliced thickly

2-3 c fresh spinach
1/4 fresh basil (or 1T dry)

4 4oz salmon filets
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Glaze:  4T each best quality balsamic vinegar                                    
 and honey, a few grinds of pepper

  • In a large saute pan, heat 2 T of the oil and add onions and shallots.  Cook down for 15 minutes or so, adding garlic when the onions are almost done. 
  •  Add spinach and basil. 
  •  Rub other 1T oil on the salmon and salt and pepper well.  Place filets in the pan on top of the vegetables and cover if possible.  Cook salmon until barely cooked (a tad rare is fine; they'll cook more as you plate), around 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness. 
  • While the salmon cooks, heat the glaze ingredients, stirring together over medium heat for 1 minute.  
To serve, on warmed plates,  spoon vegetables onto a bed of couscous.   Top with the salmon filets.  Drizzle salmon with  glaze.

Serve with:  Grilled asparagus
Wine:  Pinot Noir
Dessert:  Greek yogurt, blueberries and honey in stemmed sherbets.  Top with a few toasted almond slices.
Reading:  Mimi Sheraton's EATING MY WORDS; Michael Pollan's FOOD RULES: AN EATER'S MANUAL; Nancy Horan's LOVING FRANK (just finished-wow); Barbara Brown Taylor's AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD

and, last, but most


Ok, Ok; Tucker's great.  Of course, he is up three times a night to do his business or just because he's lonely, but he's really beginning to be ok in the kennel and, who wouldn't love...

And, believe it or not, he fetched the paper today.  He IS a golden retriever, after all.  As I write, he has fetched my 2# weights that I use for my hands. 

And, also:  Dog is God spelled backwards.  You already knew that.

Sing a new song; write a new article; love a new dog.