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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Southwest Hoppin' John

Prosperity in the new year requires some planning as well as luck. In the South, we eat Hoppin' John on New Year's Day for luck. I enjoy a Tucson Southwest version - a little more kick for the New Year. This recipe is quick and easy.

                                                Southwest Hoppin' John

1 ham hock (You can substitute 8 slices chopped bacon or 1 cup diced leftover ham from the holidays)
1 tbl spoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup red or green pepper
1 Serrano pepper, seeded, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1# black-eye peas, soaked for a few hours
1 qt. chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 shakes hot sauce
salt/black pepper to taste

3-4 cups white rice to serve it over.

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Sear ham hock or diced ham on all sides. (If using bacon, don't add olive oil.) Add onion, celery, peppers, garlic and sauté 4 minutes. Add black-eye peas, bay leaves, Old Bay, thyme, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil: then reduce heat and simmer 45-50 minutes until peas are very done. Stir occasionally. Salt and black pepper to taste. Add hot sauce to taste.

Serve over warm white rice.

Happy New Year and good luck!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

Tired of turkey and ham? Burned out on dressing and sweet potatoes? Do you want something different over the holidays? Try this easy slow cooker recipe.

      Pork Roast with Kielbasa, Potatoes and Sauerkraut

2# boneless pork loin. Remove silver skin.
2 Tbl spoons olive oil
1# Kielbasa, sliced into 2-inch pieces
4# sauerkraut, drained.
2 large potatoes, thick sliced
1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp fresh chopped dill
salt/pepper to taste

In a heavy saute pan, heat olive oil on med-high. Sear pork loin on all sides and remove.

Arrange kielbasa pieces in bottom of slow cooker. Next, layer potatoes. Place pork loin in center and sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper. Surround and cover with sauerkraut. Sprinkle with dill.

Cover and cook on high 5 1/2 hours.

Delicious and savory one-pot meal. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast with Crouton Dressing

Bacon, Turkey. What's not to like? This easy turkey breast recipe is great for small gatherings or snacking.

                     Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast

3# turkey breast
8 strips thick-sliced bacon
2 Tbl spoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix minced garlic, sage, and thyme with olive oil. Rub over turkey breast. Lay bacon over top of turkey, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle bacon with salt and pepper.

Lay carrots and celery stalks on sheet pan. rest turkey breast atop carrots and celery. Cover with aluminum foil tent and roast in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 1 hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes or until bacon is slightly crispy. (Save drippings for gravy)

                            Crouton Dressing

2 packages seasoned croutons, crushed
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups chicken stock

Slightly smash croutons in package with mallet. Leave chunky. Add cranberries, seasoning and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup chicken stock. let sit 15-20 minutes until absorbed. Add more chicken stock until soft but not floating. (May not need all of second cup.) Place in greased or buttered casserole dish. Bake in 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Serve with cranberry sauce or gravy.

Easy gravy

1/4 cup fat (Turkey juice, butter, etc.)
1/4 cup flour
3 Tbl spoons heavy cream
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Take juice from cooked turkey. Add enough butter to equal 1/4 cup. Melt in skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup A.P. flour (Use white rice flour for gluten free). Cook while stirring until beginning to change color. Add stock a little at a time while stirring. Cook 15-20 minutes until thickened. Add cream. Season with thyme, salt, black pepper. Serve over turkey or dressing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Southwestern Turkey Chowder

Thanksgiving is over and you have leftovers. Here's a quick and easy recipe for a delicious chowder.

                                         Southwestern Turkey Chowder

1 1/2 cups shredded turkey
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 roasted Anaheim peppers, roasted,peeled, and chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped  (Reserve 2 tablespoons and mince)
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (reserve 1 Roma tomato and diced very small)
1 cup mashed potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup corn (Can use frozen if no leftovers)
1/4 cup chopped carrots (If already cooked add later)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sage
1 tbl spoon lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 stick butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt/pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, add turkey, peppers, onion, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, corn and carrots (If not cooked).  Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes. Stir to incorporate mashed potatoes.

Reduce heat to low, add cumin, sage, salt and pepper. Add carrots if pre-cooked. Heat 10 minutes. Slowly stir in butter and cream.

Add cilantro to reserved minced onion and Roma tomato. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste

Top chowder with cilantro mixture when serving.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I love soup. Soup is a hearty, one-dish meal suitable for any occasion, especially in colder weather. One of my wife's favorites is Butternut Squash Soup.

                           Butternut Squash Soup

5 butternut squash
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cartons chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbl. spoons butter
2 tsps. dried thyme
2 tsps. pumpkin spice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. white pepper

To peel butternut squash, divide long top from rounded bottom. Peel like a cantaloupe, from top to bottom, with a paring knife. Slice bottom in half, remove seeds, and dice into smaller cubes. Dice upper portion the same way.

In a soup pot, melt butter on medium-high heat. Saute onions until soft. Add carrots and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add squash and stock.

Cook 1 hour until squash is soft. Buzz soup with blender stick until creamy. (For really satiny soup, strain through a sieve to remove pulp). Add thyme, pumpkin spice, salt, and pepper. If too thick, add additional water or chicken stock. Cook twenty minutes on low heat.

When reheated, additional stock may be needed to thin out cold soup.

Top with maple cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

                                     Maple Cream

1 cup whipped cream (Bought or hand whipped)
2 tbl. spoon maple syrup

Mix thoroughly.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yukon Gold Potato-Basil Soup

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy a hot bowl of soup. If, like me, potatoes are your comfort food, then there's nothing better than potato soup, unless it's Yukon Gold Potato-Basil Soup.

                  Yukon Gold Potato-Basil Soup

6 large, Yukon Gold potatoes, chunked not peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
2 boxes or three cans chicken stock
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces butter
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsps salt  (Salt to taste if more needed)
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Wash and dice potatoes, peel and small dice carrots, and fine dice onion. heat stock pot to medium, add half the butter and sauté onions and carrots until onions wilted (3-4 minutes).  Add potatoes and stock. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Reduce heat and buzz potatoes. Leave slightly chunky, but you want a good thick soup.

Add salt, pepper, and basil. Simmer soup for 30 minutes. Add heavy cream and remainder of butter. Stir in hot sauce. Serve with shredded cheese or sour cream topping. I usually serve with cornbread muffins.

Each time you reheat, additional stock will be required.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken-Corn Chowder

It's beginning to cool off outside, a perfect time for soups and chowders. One of my favorites is Slow Cooker Chicken-Corn Chowder. It's quick , easy, and delicious.

                     Slow Cooker Chicken-Corn Chowder

1 chicken breast, medium diced
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
2 medium potatoes, peeled and small diced
1/4 cup small diced white onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Anaheim peppers, small diced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil

Add chicken, corn, potatoes, soup, stock, peppers, and onion to slow cooker. Add only HALF of salt, pepper and spices. retain other half for later. Set to Low and cook 4 hours. Add cream and remainder of spices and cook 1 hour longer.

(Anaheim peppers are not hot, but flavorful. I add 2-3 shakes of hot sauce or a dash of cayenne pepper for additional heat.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

English Cottage Pie

Let's go British for today. A quick and easy meal is Cottage Pie. The British use beef or kidney. I prefer ground beef.

                                   English Cottage Pie

1# lean ground beef
1 small white onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 Tbl spoons A.P. Flour
2 Tbl spoons dried Italian herbs
1 tsp. cinnamon (Optional)
2 Tbl spoons fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 Tbl spoon tomato paste
S/P to taste

Sauté ground beef over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add onion, celery, carrots and for 5 more minutes, and then add herbs and flour. Mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, mix beef broth and tomato paste. Add the ground beef mixture. reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes or until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.

Potato Crust

(Instant potatoes will suffice instead of hand-mashed, but hand-mashed are tastier.)
4 potatoes, peeled and diced 
1/4 cup butter or margarine.
3/4 cup milk
s/p to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, boil potatoes for 15 minutes until soft. Drain, mash and add butter and milk, Salt and pepper to taste. Spread potatoes over meat pie mixture. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches

Summer grilling is the perfect opportunity to connect with friends and family, but there is no need to spend hours grilling or break the bank cooking out. Sandwiches are great for conversation. Guests aren't tied to the table. Grilled potatoes make an excellent side dish. This recipe is quick, easy, inexpensive, and satisfying.

                         Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches

2# flank steak (should make 6 sandwiches)

Marinade mix

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbl. spoon brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients in plastic baggie. Add steak and marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour. Remove steak.

On medium-high grill, cook steak ten minutes on one side and six on the other side. let stand ten minutes before slicing. Slice thinly against the grain using a bias cut that exposes the inside of the steak.

While grilling steaks, wrap 3 garlic cloves in aluminum foil. Grill with steaks. Allow to cool.

Grilled Potatoes

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thin, peeling on
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbl spoon fresh rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsps. salt

Bring 6 qts, water to a boil, add sliced potatoes. Cook for two (2) minutes. Allow potatoes to cool. (Can be prepared ahead of time). Toss slice potatoes in the seasoned olive oil mixture. Allow to drain. Spread out potatoes on grill. Grill for three (3) minutes on one side.

Sandwich Spread

1/2 cup Mayo
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 roasted garlic cloves cooked with steak, mashed and minced

Mix ingredients.


4 large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 head Iceberg lettuce, shredded

Use whatever bun or sandwich roll you prefer. Brush with olive oil and lay face down on grill until warm. Spread with Sandwich spread, add meat, sliced tomato, and lettuce.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tortellini with Gorgonzola Sauce

This past weekend I made an easy pasta and cheese dish that received a lot of nice reviews. Tortellini with a Gorgonzola cheese sauce is a hearty meal that can be served alone or as a side dish with a meat dish.

                       Cheese Tortellini with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce

1 pkg. cheese tortellini (Fresh or frozen If frozen, allow to thaw before cooking.)
1 tsp olive oil
1 qt. heavy cream
1 tbl spoon butter
1 tbl spoon flour
5 oz. Gorgonzola cheese
4 oz  Parmesan cheese
1 tbl spoon chopped fresh basil
salt/pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, heat butter on med-high heat and add flour. Stir until mixed. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add heavy cream slowly, stirring to reduce lumps. Allow cream to simmer for 20 minutes to reduce and to cook flour in roux. Whisk occasionally.

Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and add both cheeses slowly while stirring to prevent curdling. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bring 4 qts. water to a boil. Add 2 tsps. salt and 1 tsp olive oil. Add tortellini. Cook until pasta floats. Remove from pan and drain to eliminate moisture. Add to sauce and mix.

Ladle onto plate and sprinkle with chopped basil to serve. To reheat leftovers, add 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream and heat slowly.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Easy-As-Pie Greek Pasta

Sometimes you need a break from the same old boring Italian dishes (Not to knock Italian food - I love it). Try this easy Greek pasta dish to shake up your taste buds.

                                          Easy-As-Pie Greek Pasta

4 Greek sausages, sliced (Freeze sausages for 30 minutes to make slicing easier)
12 oz. penne or fusilli pasta
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup Feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced fennel
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbl spoons olive oil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt/pepper to taste

Cook pasta per instructions (Usually 4 quarts boiling, salted water)
Preheat oven to 350.
In an oven-proof sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook sausage until almost done (about 15 minutes). Add onions, peppers, zucchini, fennel. Cook until onions soften (about 5 minutes). Add garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add olives, tomatoes, herbs and pepper flakes.

Reduce heat to medium and slowly stir in tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Add drained, cooked pasta and stir in. Cover with crumbled Feta cheese and place in oven until cheese melts and sauce thickens. (10 minutes)

Serves 4.
Serve with warm garlic bread. Try it with a nice Greek red wine. You can try Ouzo, but be prepared for a kick.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Savory Souithwestern Meatloaf Meatballs

I like meatloaf as a comfort food and I like meatballs, but sometimes meatballs are just too bland without pasta and red sauce. This recipe offers the best of two worlds - meatloaf savoriness in meatball form. Adding a bit of heat with Ancho chilis gives it a nice zing. Perfect for pot luck dishes or large gatherings.
                      Southwestern Meatloaf Meatballs


3# ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)

1 egg

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup chopped celery

1 roasted Ancho chili, chopped

¼ cup breadcrumbs (1/2 cup if Panko)

¼ tsp dried thyme

½ tsp cumin

2 Tbl spoons tomato paste

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper


Sauté onion and celery until soft. Allow to cool. Crumble ground beef into bowl. Add all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Form into 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch balls. Place in greased baking pan or foil-lined sheet pan. Cook in 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Save juice.


2 oz flour

2 oz butter

4 cups beef stock

¼ tsp thyme

¼ tsp chopped rosemary

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Salt/pepper to taste

In large pan, heat flour and butter to form a roux. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until roux a light brown color. Add juice from meatballs and stock. Stir to avoid lumps. Add herbs, salt and pepper. Cook until thickens, about fifteen minutes.

Place meatballs in gravy and serve with mashed potatoes or rice.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July Apple Pie

I usually don't do deserts - too many measurements - but this apple pie is quick and easy and tastes great. I use Pillsbury packaged pie dough to save time, Their dough is consistent and tastes good.

                                                     Fourth of July Apple Pie

1 package Pillsbury pie dough
1 packaged pie crust
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
3 Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 T butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 T All Purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix sugar, flour, and spices in a bowl. Place apple slices in a bowl and add lemon juice. Combine apples and spice mixture and place in a 9 inch pie shell.

For a nicely decorative ornate lattice top, cut pastry dough into 3/4 inch strips. It is better to assemble lattice on wax paper on a cutting board than on top of pie. Make sure dough is cold.  Lay 1 strip across middle of board. Cross with 2nd strip. Weave strips basket-like to edge of wax paper - 9 inches. If dough warms, return to refrigerator to cool. Reverse wax paper lattice strips on top of pie. remove wax paper. Melt butter and brush across lattice top. You can sprinkle on a little sugar for sweeter crust.

Cook in 450 degree oven for 10  minutes, and then reduce temperature to 350 and cook 30 minutes or until crust edges are brown. 

Allow to cool before slicing. A little whipped cream or ice cream over the top brings it up a notch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Orleans-Style Gumbo

In honor of my recent visit to New Orleans, home of Creole and Cajun cooking and the recent WHC horror convention, I offer this recipe for Chicken-Andouille Sausage Gumbo

                                                    New Orleans-Style Gumbo

3# chicken breasts and thighs (White and dark meat give a deeper flavor)
1# Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2" slices
2 tbl spoons and 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1# Fresh or frozen okra, thawed, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup AP flour
1 can tomatoes (Diced or whole)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp file powder
1 tsp hot sauce

Cover chicken with water and simmer until chicken is done (Approx. 20 minutes). Strain chicken, reserve liquid. Remove chicken from bones and rough chop.

In a heavy pot, add 2 tsps. oil. Cook okra over medium heat until no longer slimy (20 minutes). Add remaining oil and flour to make a roux. Stir until mixed. Add onions, peppers, celery, and garlic. Cook roux until dark blond. (10-15 minutes) 

Add Andouille sausage, tomatoes with tomato juice from can, and add 4 cups reserved broth from chicken. Add bay leaf and half of all the spices. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming occasionally to remove fat. After 1 hour, add remaining spices. This layers the spices and enhances flavor.

Add chicken and simmer for additional 15-20 minutes. This late addition keeps chicken from falling apart. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and hot sauce.

Serve with cooked rice.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grilled Feta-Lamb Burgers with Tomato, Fennel, and Cucumber Salad

Burgers are ideal for summer grilling. If you're tired of chicken and hamburger, try something different. I recommend lamb. It is both tasty and low in fat.

                                                              Grilled Lamb Burger

1# ground lamb
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
2 large tomatoes, sliced
Bibb or green leafy lettuce
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt/pepper to taste

Roast garlic cloves over medium heat in skillet for 5 minutes, tossing often. Let cool, peel and mash. Combine ground lamb, Feta cheese, roasted garlic, oregano, thyme and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and pat out into four patties.

Preheat grill to high, wipe with oil and place patties on grill. Cook 5 minutes per side until done.

Greek Dressing:

1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp chopped mint
2 tbl spoons red wine vinegar

Mix ingredients and spread on bun. Top burger with tomato slices and lettuce. Serve with a side of Greek Salad.

For Greek Salad:

1 large fennel bulb, sliced
1 large white onion, diced into small cubes
4 large tomatoes, diced into small cubes
2 large cucumbers, peeled, diced into small cubes
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, or large black olives sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup chopped mint

Grill sliced fennel with lamb burgers until done, 2-3 minutes per side. Dice. Add grilled fennel, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and olives to bowl.

Mix red wine vinegar, sour cream, yogurt, mint, salt and pepper together in separate bowl. Add to veggies. Let chill for 30-45 minutes.

Serve with burger.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings are a great comfort food. Dumplings can be made from scratch biscuits, but if you're like me, I prefer quick and easy. Bisquick works just as well.

                                                Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 box Bisquick mix
Small amount of flour
1 cup thin-sliced carrots
1/2 cup thin-sliced celery
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 tsps. butter
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt/pepper to taste

Cook chicken, carrots, celery, peas, and corn in pot large enough to cover breasts with water. Cook until tender (30 minutes). Remove chicken from stock. Let cool and cut cooked chicken into 1"  pieces.

Follow directions on Bisquick mix to make dough. Sprinkle flour on counter top and roll out dough until thin sheet (Approx. 1/4 inch) Slice into 1" squares.

Replace chicken in simmering stock. Add dumplings slowly so stock doesn't cool. They will rise to the surface when done. Add dill and thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream and butter. Make sure to submerge dumplings so they are coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chicken and Dumplings are even better for a cold or flu than chicken soup.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with Roasted Corn-Black Bean Salsa

I love Mexican food. Quesadillas are fast, easy and delicious. My favorite side is Roasted Corn-Black Bean Salsa, but sour cream or guacamole are great too.

                                                     Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 medium flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Pepperjack or Mexican cheese
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
salt/pepper to taste

Mix dry ingredients and coat chicken. Place on oiled grill on med. high heat for 20 minutes, turning once, or bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with lime juice. Let stand 15 minutes, and then slice thinly across the grain.

Roast Corn-Black Bean Salsa

1 ear fresh corn
1 can cooked black beans
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1 red bell pepper, small died
1 large tomato, small diced
3 small jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt/pepper to taste

Place corn on oiled grill at med. high heat, turning as it chars. Remove from grill, allow to cool, and slice off kernels into bowl. Drain black beans, add to bowl. Add dry spices, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. Allow to rest in refrigerator while you cook chicken or about 30 minutes.

To each tortilla, add sliced chicken and cheese. Fold in half. Toast on grill or in lightly oiled medium heat skillet until cheese melts. Slice each quesadilla into thirds, making wedges. Place two sliced quesadillas per plate with salsa in the middle.

Serve with a good Mexican beer, such as Corona or Dos Equis, but plain iced tea  works just fine.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ancho Glazed Grilled Pork Ribs

Summer! It's a lovely time, a season for grilling outdoors. Here's a treat for friends and family that's sure to please.

                                                           Ancho Glazed Pork Ribs

Ancho Glaze

2 tbl spoons Onion Powder
2 tbl spoons garlic powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbl spoons smoked paprika
2 tbl spoon salt
1 tbl spoon black pepper
1 tbl dried thyme
1 tbl dried rosemary
2 tbl cumin powder
1 tbl spoon chili powder
1/4 tomato paste
3 tbl Worcestershire Sauce
From a can of Ancho chilies in Adobo sauce, mince two small anchos and add 2 tbl spoons Adobo

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix both together. Let stand for 30 minutes.


Take 4# pork ribs, clean silver skin and cut into portions, 2-3 ribs per portion
Place ribs on a sheet pan or large baking pan. Add 2 cups chicken stock and cover with foil. Cook in 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours or until tender.

On a medium heat grill, baste ribs and place on oiled grill rack. Turn after 15 minutes, basting each side evenly. Cook for 30 minutes. ( You can finish ribs in the oven with same procedure, but reduce heat to 275 degrees. Baste one final time before serving.

Mashed potatoes or baked potatoes go well with ribs, as does grilled vegetables or asparagus. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Angels and Devils Pasta

Who doesn't love shrimp? Seafood pasta is a break from heavier Italian sausage or meat pasta. This recipe is light and zesty.


                                                   Angels and Devils Pasta

1 package Angel hair pasta
1# medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbl spoon olive olive oil (Reserve 1 Tbl spoon for garnish)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsps. red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
juice of 1lime
1 tsp grated lime zest
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in 4 qts. boiling water until tender (7-8 minutes)

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tbl spoon olive oil. Saute shallots for about 4 minutes until soft. Add sliced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add shrimp. Saute until white, about 4 minutes, tossing to keep coated with oil. Add tomato sauce, herbs, seasonings, and pepper flakes. Bring to simmer and remove from heat.

Portion Angel hair pasta on plate. Top with shrimp and sauce. Squeeze lime juice over shrimp. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on zest. Top with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with buttered and toasted bread.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tucson-Style Tilapia with Black Bean-Corn Hash

Fish should always be a part of your dinner menu, but if you don't like the heavier taste of salmon or tuna, try tilapia, a white-fleshed fish that's mild in flavor. I like to spice things up. Here's the way I serve it in Tucson.

                                   Tucson-Style Tilapia

4 pcs. tilapia (2 per serving)
1 1/2 tbls olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 tbls flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbls butter
salt/pepper to taste

Place flour and spices in plastic bag and shake to mix thoroughly. Add fish 2 pieces at a time and shake to cover thoroughly. In a medium skillet, add 1 1/2 tbls olive oil. Cook tilapia 6 minutes per side until meat is flaky. Remove fish. Add butter. Stir skillet to loosen bits. Add white wine to de-glaze. Cook until wine is reduced by half. reserve liquid for hash.

Black Bean-Corn Hash

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, not drained
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Rinse and drain black beans. Add black beans and corn (with liquid) to a pot over med-high heat. Add spices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes while tilapia cooks. Drain. Add liquid from tilapia. To plate, cross 2 tilapia fillets on top of black bean-corn hash. Drizzle with lime juice. Top with salsa. (Recipe follows)


1 small onion, small diced
1 tomato, small died
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsps lime juice (Save lime)
salt/pepper to taste

Mix ingredients ahead of time. Let sit 30 minutes. Add 2 tsps salsa per portion.

Serve with white wine or beer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ragin' Cajun Feast

I love Cajun cooking. I lived in the Louisiana swamps for a few years and got to know the people and the food. I'll be in New Orleans in June for the World Horror Convention. This recipe is just to whet appetites.

                                               Jambalaya and Stuffed Peppers 


2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, diced
8 oz Andouille sausage, diced
2 tbl olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tbl chopped garlic
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 bay leaves
1 tbl Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
salt/pepper to taste

In a heavy sauce pot, add olive oil at medium heat. Saute chicken and sausage for 5 minutes until brown. Add onion, peppers, celery, garlic and seasonings. Cook 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add tomato sauce. Add rice and chicken stock. Stir. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Finish with hot sauce and salt/pepper

Stuffed Peppers

1 cup water
1/2 cup Arborio rice
2 green bell peppers, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise (Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. Cool)
1 tbl olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbl Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup shredded cheese (Your choice. Cheddar is good)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cook rice and set aside.

In a saute pan at medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onions, celery, garlic until soft. Add seasonings, tomato sauce and heavy cream. Reduce to almost dry (Au sec). Stir in cooked rice and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into pepper halves. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cook in 325 degree oven for 20 minutes. 

Makes a perfect side dish to Jambalaya.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Southwestern Black Bean Soup

Winter, a time for hot dishes and warm drinks. Nothing warms the stomach better than a nice soup. Black beans are healthy and taste great.

                                                      Southwestern Black Bean Soup

1 bag dry black beans, clean, soak overnight, drain and rinse.
2 qts chicken broth
2 cups water
1 large carrot, rough chopped
1/2 onion, red or white, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp sage powder
salt, pepper to taste
4-5 shakes hot sauce.

In a large pot, add carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, paprika, sage beans and broth. Add water as needed to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally and add water as needed. Skim foam from pot. Cook covered 2-2 1/2 hours until beans are tender and liquid develops a good black bean taste.

Remove bay leaf. Buzz soup with blender, buzz stick or mash with masher to break up beans and release into liquid. For a creamy soup, strain through large strainer to remove pulp. Flavor with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Top with a pico de gallo, sour cream or cheese.
                                                                         Pico de Gallo

1/4 onion, white or red, small dice
1 small jalapeno, seeded, small dice
2 tbl spoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1 tbl spoon lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
salt, pepper to taste

Top soup with a tablespoon of pico de gallo for added flavor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thick and Creamy Split-Pea Soup

Cold weather requires hot food. Soups are hearty, filling and delicious. Split-Pea soup is thick and creamy.

                                                                  Split-Pea Soup

1 bag dried split-peas
1 small ham hock or 1/2 pound diced bacon
2 tbls oil
1 cup carrots, small dice
1cup onions, small dice
1stalk celery, small dice
2 qts. water or chicken stock
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp hot sauce
salt/pepper to taste (If you use stock, be careful with added salt.

Add oil to large pot and heat at medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook 3-4 minutes. Add water or stock, ham hock or diced bacon and cook for 30 minutes. Add peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour, stirring often. When peas are done, remove ham hock (You can leave bacon) and diced, removing skin and gristle. Buzz mixture to thicken. (Leave some of it with bits and pieces for texture. Add diced ham hock, herbs, more liquid if needed and simmer an additional 20 minutes.  Add hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Goes great with a little sour cream on top.

Yummy in your tummy!  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Southwestern Chili

It finally warmed up in Tucson, but it's cold elsewhere. If you can see snow, it's time for a belly warming treat. Chili has it all and only gets better with each reheat.
Southwestern Chili


3# ground beef (80/20)

3 tbl spoons oil

2 cups beef broth

1 can kidney, pinto or black beans (Drained)

1 can diced tomatoes (Do not drain)

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 med. White onions, diced

1 large red pepper (Seeded and diced) (Green bell peppers can get bitter)

4 Chipotle peppers (Seeded and diced)

5-6 garlic cloves minced

3 tbl spoons ancho chili powder

3 tbl spoons pasilla chili powder

(You can substitute 4-5 tbl spoons  chili powder for ancho and pasilla)

3 tbl spoons cumin

1tbl spoon smoked paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp black pepper

Salt to taste (Careful! Broth is salty)


Brown ground beef, drain fat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add peppers, chili powder (Or dried chilies) garlic, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and bring to boil. Add dried herbs, cayenne and black pepper. Simmer for 2-3 hours. The longer the better. Add more stock if it reduces too much. Salt after it simmers.

(Note) Smoked chilies are smother and tastier. Heat does not equal chili. Flavor does. Adjust heat with hot sauce but try to get it where you want it with chilies.

Try chili with cornbread or tortilla strips.