May 2, 2015 – Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…



This post will be short and sweet, but wanted to get this down on paper before I forgot the particulars – after a long day of Septic inspection, mentally planning where everything will be situated within the confines of our 1 acre, we came back to the RV park to crash and have something simple. And, here it is – if you try this soup combination, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did and will again tonight!

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup and…
May 2 Rst Peppr Soup
Simple, Easy, Fast, and Delicious!

Divide between two bowls:
(I use SST bowls so I can heat the soup baine marie style)

1 box Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
Sriracha, a couple squeezes for each bowl

Cover one dish and refrigerate until next day.

Heat other bowl of soup and enjoy!!

Each bowl serves 2 generously
And, Chardonnay is delicious with the soup

a Chef’s Journey recipe – May 2, 2015

Short and Sweet! Now, to finish the Chardonnay and crash!

April 30, 2015 – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!!

To back up a little and fill in the blanks – Last July, we put our house on the market with the plan of taking our time over a couple months to plan our strategy in selling what we didn’t want to keep (as we wanted badly to down-size) and what we would put in storage to wherever we finally decided to put roots down.

With St. Joseph buried in the back yard to (hopefully) insure the house sold in a reasonable length of time…. Our house sold in 3 days and the buyers wanted in A.S.A.P. – Panic time. So, after a scramble of a few weeks, we packed up the travel trailer and headed out on Highway 2 with the intention of driving across the northern U.S. and see new sights and old friends. We made it to Minnesota where snow was predicted – in September, for God’s sake!! After visiting with and being fed like royalty by our friends, Laura & Brad Behrendt in Rogers, MN, we hightailed off Highway 2 plans and headed south.

We gave it a bloody try to go south and then east to Florida and be able to head north up the eastern coast. But, after roosting for 3 months in Louisiana waiting for good weather and road conditions, we gave it up as a lost cause.

O.K., that’s the background to where we are today. We left Louisiana traveling west stopping here and there to visit friends and kids and landed back in Washington April 21st. We started our search for a new home Sunday, April 26th AND found the house with the Denham name on it that first day!! If you haven’t noticed Roy and I do not move in slow motion – when we see what we like, we know it and act.

This little farm was calling our name and we knew it the minute we drove in the drive way – this is us!!
Apr 26 the view
and, the bilious blue house, which will morph into a Barn Red farmhouse SOON!
Apr 28 the house
Apr 26 Apple trees  Now is the time of waiting – offer accepted and paperwork crawling along thru all departments it needs to travel. Anyone who has ever bought a house knows how this is just the slowest, agonizing time of waiting……

Hence, the question – What to do While Waiting for Purchased Home to Close!
The answer is – COOK!

I’m filling my days by cooking all kinds of goodies to have pkg’d up and in the freezer so when the house closes, and we are swamped with moving in and beginning remodel, we will have fast food available to us.

Today was a marathon of cooking and remember we’re in a travel trailer. Hope the following pictures don’t bother anyone –

Started yesterday with a Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib dinner from Ruhlman’s new Braising book which is over the top delicious!
Apr 29 Brised Short Ribs  Apr 29 Braised Short Ribs Plated
This morning, I started with a crockpot of Chile Colorado Burrito filling – a recipe which a number of friends (Daphne, Blane and ‘Trixxee’) have made over the last couple of years and we all really enjoy! I plan to use for topping pasta, sandwich and taco filling. Because I lack space in the travel trailer, the crockpot needed to go in the bathroom!
Apr 30 'bathroom' Crockpot

Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes – I’ve used this mixture in sandwiches topped with Fontina cheese, also Garlic jam as a condiment and slices of candied Jalapeno peppers slipped inside. This one braised in the kitchen oven.
Apr Hawaiian Beef Cubes

My sourdough needed feeding, so used the extra for a loaf of Sourdough bread and a focaccia. Stove was too hot with oven on to rise my bread, so found a sunny spot on the bed!
Apr 30 Bedroom Bread
Apr 30 Sourdough Bread loaf
Lastly, with all the nice flavor aromas floating around this trailer, I was in the mood for a simple pasta and tomato dish – and, a new favorite was born! This is such an easy to put together flavorful Mediterranean-style dish and will be called upon in the coming months as we work our aging butts off with no energy to make complicated dinners!!
Apr 30 Pasta w tom, capers, kalamata, wine
Tomorrow will be an easy day of making rice to pkg. up to be added to the different burrito dinners. And, figure out what’s for dinner as everything is in the freezer!!!!   Now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine and beat my loving husband at a few games of Cribbage!

P.S. I need to pass along a tip I was reminded of when reading the Braising book – Michael Ruhlman’s “How To Braise” – when braising, topping the pot with a regular lid allows the  contents to come to a boil, which is counterproductive to a braising  method. The meat and veggies can fragment and loose valuable flavor.
Apr 29 short rib parchment
A parchment paper lid is a perfect solution; one which I learned in culinary school and have completely forgotten over the years!! Cut a circle of parchment paper and cut a little hole in the center of the paper for steam to escape and keeps the meat/veggie from drying out. I hope you all will give this a try and find how well it works.

Here are a couple of the above mentioned recipes –

Chile Colorado Burritos
This recipe is from a blogger – and it is delicious!

2 lb stew meat
1/2 cup of tomato sauce (if you’re out of tomato sauce – mix 1/2 tomato paste & water for a substitute)
1 Tbs Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate (easily found in the Mexican section of grocery stores)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbs chili powder
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
flour tortillas
shredded cheese

Make enchilada sauce. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, flour and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Place stew meat in 6-quart slow cooker. Cover with enchilada sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred beef. On an oven-proof plate, lay out a tortilla. Top tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the meat and some shredded cheese. Roll up into a burrito. Pour some enchilada sauce from the crock pot over the burrito to cover it. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly, about 2-4 minutes.
Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Cubes
This recipe is very flexible – can be doubled, tripled; whatever your needs are. I made this with no clear idea of what to do with it after….So, I’m still looking for ideas other than sandwiches and topping pasta or a pizza. I adapted this recipe from one given to me by my cousin, Lynn Shelledy and we bless her every time I make it! Serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Beef chuck roast, cut in chunks, 1” to 1 1/2″ size
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha, optional – but so good!!

Spray crockpot with cooking spray for easier clean up later.
Combine all together, cook in Crock-pot 6-8 hours…that’s it! Done!
Pasta with Tomatoes, Capers and Kalamata
Serves 2 generously

It can be a bit tricky cooking angel hair pasta. You have to pay close attention to cooking time. Here’s the trick: Cook this pasta to just below al dente, drain, and toss it with just enough olive oil to avoid stickiness. Then add the pasta back to the pan, and heat it through quickly so the pasta does not overcook. It is worth the attention because when you get it right, this dish is sheer perfection. This tip is from The Fast Diet Cookbook for Weight Loss.

4 oz Angel hair pasta
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (or if you have them, 2 T. roasted garlic cloves)
3 tomatoes, rough chopped
1 Tbs capers, rough chopped plus 1 tsp. of the brine
8 Kalamata olives, rough chopped
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken stock
Chives for garnish
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions, drain, toss with
1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil until shimmery. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, and basil, salt, and pepper, and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the vegetables and toss to combine.
Add the chicken stock and reserved brine; stir well to coat the pasta; continue over heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve the pasta sprinkled with chives on warm plates and pass the Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
Enjoy! Come back and visit – I’ll be making some easy summer dinners for a while and I’ll share the best ones with everyone.

April 23, 2015 – Freezer Clean-out Time

Since we’re winding down on this trip, I took everything out of the freezer and I could not believe what all I have in there. I won’t list everything, but suffice to say – we could probably live off this inventory for 2 months!!

I wasn’t going to admit this on any ‘social media’ – but, then I realized some good recipes and ideas are coming out of this cleanup project, so like everything else in my life, I’m hanging these ideas out for everyone.

The bad part is, I will be making dishes I can’t possible duplicate; as in the dish we had today – a dish from Noble Pig’s blog: Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom Pasta.

The following is a statement I make so often upon seeing a recipe which sounds too good not to make, but…….

But, I don’t have Bowtie pasta, bacon, or ham, or sour cream… …

Here’s the recipe and I think the original would be very tasty, but with the revisions I had to make, I think it was wonderful!! I made kind of 1/2 a recipe of the below –

Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom-Leek Pasta – Altered to fit our ingredients Author: Noble Pig, 12/28/12

1/2 lb bowtie pasta, dry (I used 4 oz. Spaghetti Rigati)
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced (I used 1/4 cup prosciutto bits)
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced (no leeks, I used 1/2 on onion)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used dried morels and porcini)
2 cups leftover ham, cubed(no ham, used ~2 cups seasoned alligator bites a cook gave me in Louisiana and I froze)
8 Tbs butter (~ 3 T. clarified butter from freezer)
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (used green)
1/2 head purple cabbage, shredded(no purple- didn’t use)
Garnish with: freshly ground black pepper (added Truffle Salt – great addition of musky flavor.)
dollop of sour cream (had none – not needed)

1. Make pasta according to package directions. Let sit in the water to keep warm. Kind of bastardized the method from here, but pretty much close:

2. Sauté bacon over medium heat until slightly brown. Add leeks and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more. Add mushrooms and ham and cook until done. Remove from pan.

3. Without wiping the pan, melt butter and add cabbage. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add bacon-ham-mushroom mixture to the cabbage as well as bowtie pasta. Toss together and serve immediately. serves 6
Apr 22 Alligator, Mushroom Pasta 1  Onions, reconstituted morels and porcini mushrooms
Apr 22 Alligator, mujshroom pasta 2  Cabbage, pasta and sautéed alligator added to the onion mixture –
Apr 22 Alligator, mushroom pasta plated a great combination of flavors: Morel and Porcini mushrooms, prosciutto bits, sautéed cabbage and onions tossed with pasta and chunks of Louisiana seasoned alligator and seasoned with Truffle salt and lots of freshly ground pepper – what a dish!!

And, because we have so many goodies in the freezer, I don’t think we’re going out for Mexican tonight after all, as we had planned. In fact we may not have dinner at all…also found some Vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I have bourbon, maple syrup and peanut butter….know where I’m going with this?????????????? Probably will be our dinner.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
Dec 1 P.Butter Honey Bourbon Milkshake
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we use frozen yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
More dishes which turned out very tasty from leftover packages:
Apr 21 Hawaiian Pork Tostada Hawaiian Pork and rice from a Medford, OR restaurant – diced the pork, added the rice and a can of refried beans spiced up with taco sauce and packaged up in 1/2 cup baggies. One morning, spread the filling on a crispy corn tortilla topped with tomatoes, green onions and cilantro for a Tostada dinner.

Apr 18 Hawaiian Pork burrito For brunch, used the filling in a burrito and topped again with tomatoes and green onion and served with a grapefruit and banana salad. Four more pkgs. are left to think about.
How easy can a dinner or brunch be for a busy family?

Apr 21 BBQ Rib Pizza A pkg. of BBQ Ribs with sauce morphed into a wonderful pizza! Brush a pizza dough round with BBQ sauce, then layer chopped rib meat (or BBQ Pork roast meat), cheese slices (I had Taleggio cheese), tomato slices, dried basil and red pepper flakes sprinkled over and baked. Sprinkle with green onions as it comes out of the oven.

It was a good feeling to scratch out a few items on my list of freezer goodies, but I have a couple pages to go yet, so I’m anxious to see what dishes  develop out of this little experiment. I’m thinking the real challenge will be to have on hand some of these same packages again so when I have to go freezer diving, I can recreate them.  More to come……

April 19, 2015 When Grandkids grow up – Grandparents Have Fun!!

???????????????????????????????   ???????????????????????????????  We spent the afternoon with our oldest Grandson, Jimmy/James, his fiancé, Amber and his best friend, ‘Abe’ and had just the best time!! Introduced them to wine tasting and these beer drinkers took to it like champs; picking up the nuances of matching wines they weren’t particularly liking with food which brought a sparkle to their eye as they discovered how food can change the whole perspective of liking vs. disliking a particular wine.
Apr 19 wine taste 3  Apr 19 wine tasting 4
And, a new experience for Roy and me, after years of wine tastings, we were introduced to a  new way of tasting. Instead of ‘bellying’ up to the bar for one taste after another, we were given wine flights of the wines we chose to taste. 2 Hawk winery, in Medford, OR, also offered a bistro-style menu, which we took advantage of and this was the best possible thing we could have done. Ordering an Artisan cheese and charcuterie platter plus an Olive mix of three varieties served with Pita triangles gave the perfect introduction for the ‘kids’ to mix and match flavors with wine.

Manning the wine tasting bar, Amy was knowledgeable and ready with the history of the wines, winery and the beautiful building housing the tasting room. Had to go with a bottle of their Red-Tail Red

Tasting notes: “Released in November 2014, Red-Tail Red is a proprietary blend with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit used was sourced from the Rogue Valley and the wine was aged in both French and American Oak barrels, blended specifically for 2Hawk. The nose on this wine is full of black cherry and currant; the flavors on the pallet include tangy berries, black cherry, wood spice, and herbs. This is a full-bodied red with ripe flavors. The firm tannins are off-set nicely by a touch of oak on the finish. This wine will pair wonderfully with just about any meat dish you might put a glass of it next to!”
When you are in the Medford, OR area, you will miss a real joy of a winery if you don’t stop in for the beauty of the winery itself plus superb wines. And, tell Amy hello!

Two other wineries we experienced the same day were:
picked up a bottle of Semi-Sparkling Rose Jolee  –

Tasting Notes: “A lovely pink shade, with soft aromas of rose and mango provide a delicately balanced wine perfect for summer fun. The sweet fragrance is enhanced by the flavors of grapefruit and strawberry. Completed with a slight spritz, this wine provides joy with each sip.”

On to Ledger David Winery
Had to buy two bottles here of their 2012 Epitome of Three (a blend of Syrah, Sangiovese and Tempranillo) – what a luscious wine this is.

Tasting Notes: “Our proprietary Syrah-based blend is redolent of raspberry jam, briary black fruit and distinct pepper notes. Oak shadings are noticeable on the palate behind the concentrated ripe fruit and round tannins giving the wine a feeling of delicate balance and substantial density.”
Apr 19 wine tasting 5  And, back to our daughter’s for grilled burgers and winding down after a full day of enjoyment with family.

Thank you Jimmy, Amber and ‘Abe” for making us such proud grandparents!

April 18, 2015 – Two Week Food Regime

We have been on a 2 week ‘food regime’ aka  diet – a word I hate to use. We survived and survived very well, too!! The selected foods we were allowed made it easy to be creative and overall got us thru this ordeal! The reason for all this?? The wonderful food we have been eating and cooking on our road odyssey since last July. But, it was so worth it. We are almost ‘home’ where we will be starting the next chapter of our adventure. Looking for a house in Port Angeles to remodel and settle in to a little (please God) cottage. And, because P.A. has come into the real world, go back to raising chickens!!

Here are a few pictures of making our ‘regime’ more palatable and surprisingly the challenge was fun, also.

The ‘diet’ is an extreme one and probably not thought to be healthy by the medical world, but it is the only one I’ve ever been able to continue for the entire 2 weeks.  We are given one week’s list of foods and you repeat the week once. It is never advised to continue it any longer. So, I won’t post the ingredients – I don’t want to suggest anyone else try it, I just know it works for me. It’s called the Air Force diet and I’ve been resorting to it every few years since the 1960s.

Every morning the breakfast was the same for the 2 weeks – eggs, toast, grapefruit  & coffee
An example of one of the lunches – 2 eggs, tomato, lettuce: I hard cooked the eggs, chopped them, combined with the chopped tomato, wrapped in butter lettuce and drizzled with balsamic the first week and the brine from Peppadew peppers the second week. It was fantastic and I’ll be doing this off the regime, too!
One dinner – Catfish, combination salad, dry toast & grapefruit: again with the balsamic drizzle – I swear I may never go back to salad dressings, this is so good! For our fish day we had catfish both times!!
One Lunch: combination salad s/drizzle Balsamic, grapefruit, coffee – decided to just go for a chopped salad and we really enjoyed it!
Another lunch was fruit salad – and this being April we are just beginning to see beautiful fruit in the markets and we really enjoyed this –
???????????????????????????????  Can anything say summer better than this lunch????
The most interesting days were the 7th and 14th  (last day)  – dinner food called for: chicken, tomatoes, cooked cabbage, celery, vegetable soup, grapefruit. I always have the most fun with these ingredients.
.??????????????????????????????? 1st week’s chicken dinner
The 1st week with this dinner, I sautéed the veggies, added chopped chicken breast meat then added the can of undiluted vegetable soup mixed with Sriracha – wonderful stir-fry type dinner.
??????????????????????????????? 2nd week’s chicken dinner
2nd week – got a little more inspired and I was missing doing some real cooking, came up with this dish and I’m so glad I wrote it down, because it will become a staple in our lives, it’s that good!

CABBAGE “GUMBO” OR STIR-FRY:   Sauté 2-3 cups shredded cabbage, 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, 1/2 cup chopped onion, and seasoned with S&p, dried basil & oregano. While this cooks mix together 2 T. Mirin with 1/2 tsp (to taste) Sriracha and add to the cabbage mix.
(Note: Instead of adding oil, other than just a tad to begin the veggies cooking, I added 2-4 T. water – they will steam a little while finishing cooking – the water along with the mirin mix will keep all from sticking or browning)
When the veggies are crisp tender, add 2 rough chopped tomatoes and a can of undiluted Campbell’s Vegetable soup and continue cooking until heated thru. I oven-roasted chicken thighs seasoned with ‘Cook’s Seasoning’ (which is a staple: 2 parts Kosher salt/1 part granulated garlic/1 part white pepper) and served on top of the ‘gumbo’ this time instead of adding to the dish.

We finally gave in and weighed ourselves yesterday and low and behold we are at the weight we were when we started on this adventure!! Success!

And, just a closing note: we found (on the days I cheated) –  Chardonnay is very good with grapefruit!! Who knew? J

April 15, 2015 – It’s Almost Basil Time!

Basil Jelly – a Chef’s Journey recipe
It’s almost time to plant our basil and then not much longer before we can start taking advantage of our ‘harvest.’ It’s great to have this jelly in your pantry  during the winter and be reminded of this wonderful summer flavor.
Basil Jelly 2

4 cups water
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves — finely chopped
1 package powdered fruit pectin — (1-3/4 ounces)
3 drops green food coloring — optional
5 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, bring water and basil to a boil. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Strain and discard basil. Return 3-2/3 cups liquid to the pan. Stir in pectin and food coloring if desired. Return to a rolling boil over high heat.

Stir in the sugar. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; skim off foam.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids.

Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: 6 half-pints. Allow jelly to set up 5 days before using.
Note: The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Add 1 minute to the processing time for each 1,000 feet of additional altitude.

Using Basil Jelly:
An old friend, Labs, suggested: Layer slice of mozzarella on a cracker, top with a dab of basil jelly and tomato jam – Caprese Salad takeoff.
Topping a cream cheese cracker.
Melt over low heat combining a few red pepper flakes and use as a sauce or glaze when grilling,
Slather a toasted bagel.

P.S. And, this year, I’m going to add a couple jalapenos to the mix!!


April 13, 2015 Half A Pie – Apricot & Pineapple Goodness

A couple of years ago I bought a pie pan that has become the number 1 used in my kitchen. Because there is just the two of us, I rarely baked pies because we found ourselves pigging out every time! This clever half-pie pan solved the problem for us. They are readily available online. I ordered mine through Amazon.
half pie plate

Add a scoop of ice cream – and, in my case with apricot pie, I want chocolate – and I have a perfect dessert. Be easy on yourself, Pillsbury makes wonderful, easy pie crusts.

For the Crust:
1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
Make your own crust
For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh apricots, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, juice squeezed out as much as possible (optional)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar for sprinkling, or as desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Carefully open the crust pkg. and fit one half the crust in the pie plate allowing the other half of the crust to drape over straight edge. Set aside in refrigerator to keep cold.

In a medium bowl, combine the apricots, pineapple and lemon juice.

In another small bowl, mix the 1/2 cup sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle over the fruit and gently combine. Spoon the apricot filling over the pie crust in the pan, and fold the draped half of crust over. Crimp the edges of the crust together with a fork, and cut slits into the pie to allow steam to escape. Cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of foil to prevent burning the crust.

Bake on center rack of the preheated oven until the pie is browned and the filling is bubbling and thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool and sprinkle top with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
Apr 29 Apricot Pie ready to bake  Apr 29 Apricot  pie 2

Won’t you feel virtuous not eating an entire pie??

March 26 – March 28 – A Visit with Wonderful Forever Friends

The Young’uns were our neighbors when we lived in the ’barn on the hill’ and the mature couple – Coleenie has been one of my closest friends since the early 70s, such a large part of my life and her husband, Roger. While new friends over the years are treasures, old friends who have walked your life path with you are so precious you never want to lose touch with them. Thanks for a wonderful visit!! (even if you did send me to bed for 10 straight hours!!)
???????????????????????????????  Our Kelly multi-tasking….
Mar 26 Roy Brent Discussing 2   Roy & Brent ‘discussing’

Mar 26 Roy Brent discussing 1 ….and, still discussing before Brent turned to me and picked on the ‘bleeding heart liberal’ in his life. 🙂

Next leg of our journey took us to Healdsburg, where we lived for six of our greatest family years – ever!!

Coleenie took a break from K.P. duty and we visited some interesting food stops in the Healdsburg/Windsor area. First stop was Kin and lots of dishes to share and taste.
???????????????????????????????  Pea Puree with Mint Bruschetta ( pea, mint, goat cheese and radish)Could  have made a meal on this one.
???????????????????????????????  My Charcuterie plate – soon to be a Pizza topping

???????????????????????????????  Roger & Coleenie and we all shared Blueberry Crisps.
???????????????????????????????  Coleenie infusing our coffee with Kahlua!! To get us started the next morning. Then on to an Omelet place to have brunch – 3 of us had the Red Flannel Hash and it was excellent with an egg topping.

As I said, we were able to catch up on our beauty rest with 10 straight hours of sleep and we’re ready to go again… I think. A few more days here to catch up with son Matt and our wonderful d-I-l, Wendy and hopefully more of the kids…


March 22, 2015 – A Few Dishes From the Road To Be Remembered!!

We will pay for it later, but my Goodness, we are having a ball tasting our way around the U.S. and it didn’t end when we arrived back to the West Coast. I defy anyone to find more luscious produce depts. than  we have on the West Coast. I wanted to buy one of everything I saw! Even with all the wonderful new dishes we had been enjoying, I was beginning to feel deprived of the produce/fruit choices I am used to.

Stopped for lunch at a Macaroni Grill where we haven’t been for years and I was pleasantly surprised at the offerings that were not so very unhealthy – items not over-laden with starchy/cheesy pastas. Roy had a Sausage and potato dish that was both spicy and satisfying with grilled potatoes and veggies.
My choice was Pan Seared Branzino with Lemon Chardonnay Sauce – except they did not add the sauce. The kitchen didn’t even know they were to use it! A cook sent a cup out and it made all the difference in the dish. Also, loved the grilled lemon squeezed over the fish.
Guess I’m a little ahead of myself – after we’d decided on lunch choices, I happened to see on the menu, “Mac & Cheese Bites with Truffle Dip” and decided we couldn’t possibly pass that up and good sales person that we had for a server, she mentioned that appetizers were 2 for some good price….so had to add Goat Cheese stuffed Peppadews.
???????????????????????????????  Ran out of ‘Mac & Cheese’ before the Truffle dip, but a spoon took care of that – the dip was just wonderful!
??????????????????????????????? I didn’t even know I like Peppadew peppers – they are great and with the goat cheese and drizzle of Balsamic reduction…WOW!

Both were just wonderful and I’m anxious to duplicate the Truffle dip which is an Alfredo sauce with Asiago cheese and truffle oil. (P.S. Few days later, I found a deli which offered fresh peppadews, so I have everything to play with this appie!!)

Next leg of our trip was to get to Sonoma and Placer counties to visit friends for a couple of days. En route we detoured off the freeway in Davis for a light brunch which turned out to be humungous….a bacon cheeseburger to beat all!
??????????????????????????????? Even I couldn’t get my mouth around this one, but I sure tried!!
Then back on the road.

March 21, 2015 – 2 For 1 Dinner – For Two

For many of us our kids are out of the house and we’re cooking for two now. It’s a whole new world of not taking advantage of some recipe(s) because of the quantities or using 1/2 cans of whatever. So, I’m finding more and more that it is more interesting to do something a little different with leftovers like this. (but, then I love leftovers!!)

This is one of those 2 for 1 dinners and to top it all off, the two only take 1/2 the original recipe! Because of that, the remaining black beans, enchilada sauce and black olives get used, so no waste.

One is from yesterday – the dip was a very informal “sit around the deck with a glass of wine and chips” dinner and this morning’s champagne brunch was burritos, taking advantage of the remaining dip mixture – we really enjoyed both. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything blog.

Chicken Burrito Dip and Burritos – a 2 for 1 Dinner

For the dip – 1st entrée:
1 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup cooked white rice (minute rice works great here)
1/2 (14.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (10 oz) can Old El Paso mild enchilada sauce
1/2 cup corn kernels (from a can or frozen)
1/2 can (4.25 oz.) sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, divided
Tortilla chips for dipping
For the Burritos – 2nd entrée:
the remaining dip from above
Finely chopped jalapenos to taste – if candied jalapenos are available, these add a great flavor
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
4 6-7-inch Flour tortillas, wrapped in foil and heated for 10 minutes in a 350°F. oven
Additional grated cheese & sliced green onion for garnish
Fresh Cilantro for garnish

For the dip (1st dish):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the cheese. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the cheddar cheese. Pour mixture into a pie plate or another small cooking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dip is hot and bubbly. Serve with chips. 6 servings or 4 servings (using 2/3 of the above mixture) if making the 2nd entrée.

To plan on making the 2nd entrée, hold back 1/3 of the dip from above.

For the Leftover Chicken Burritos (2nd dish):
To the leftover dip, add the amount of chopped jalapenos you prefer plus the remaining black beans, enchilada sauce(holding back 3 T. to drizzle over burritos before baking) and the black olives.
Combine well and divide between 4 tortillas. Roll up burrito style and place in a baking dish, seam side down, which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle the held back enchilada sauce over and bake in the oven until heated through. Place 2 burritos on each plate and top with the garnishes.

Off to check out the refrigerator and see what leftovers are awaiting me. 🙂