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This week I tried recipes from a few of my go-to girls.  If you’re in a meal-planning rut, or simply need to avoid doing something tedious but infinitely more important, the following reviews might be just what you need!

  • Cranberry Applesauce, by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes:  I don’t know what was better, the fragrance of cranberriesthis sauce as it cooked or the sweet, slightly tart taste of the final product.  Oh, it was delicious!  Three more points in its favor: it was quick, easy, and the kids loved it.  From start to finish it took about thirty minutes, twenty of which were hands-off cooking time.  I served it warm with a pork roast, accompanied by mashed potatoes, Caesar salad and these rolls…
  • Buttered Rosemary Rolls, by Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman:    I bought a 12-inch, pre-seasoned cast iron skillet just to make this recipe and it was worth every penny. The melted butter slid down between the rolls to the bottom of the pan where it worked with the hot skillet to give an almost crispy texture to the bottom of the rolls.  I used the frozen Rodes rolls that Ree recommends  and a coarse-grained sea salt that can be found in any grocery store.  I can still taste that first salty, buttery bite.  Bread, butter, rosemary and sea salt.  Is there anything left to say?
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas by Lisa at Homesick Texan:   I’ve been eager to make this recipe for
    chicken-enchiladas

    Photo courtesy of Homesick Texan

    several weeks. When our family dined at a “Mexican Food Restaurant” near our new home the other night, I knew it was time to make these enchiladas. What a hit!  The filling is pretty basic, so it’s all about the sauce.  The texture was pleasantly creamy and neither too thick nor too thin.  But best of all was the perfectly balanced flavors.   The combination of freshly roasted tomatillos (you can also used canned), hint of cumin, and fresh cilantro lifted it far above the pale, over-salted sauces too often found on a Tex-Mex plate.

How much did we love these dishes?  Well, they’ve all earned a place in the family cookbook.  And that’s as good as it gets around here!

Happy eating!

~K

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Chili Weather

 Chili PowderAs soon as there’s a discernible chill in the air, I hoist my crockpot onto the kitchen counter and dump in a few ingredients for one of our family favorites, a hearty meat-and-bean chili.  There are a lot of reasons to love this recipe, not the least of which is that it reminds us of the lovely couple, Tony and Marie, who first shared it with us. 

But, since you don’t know Tony and Marie, you might be more intrigued by these facts:  it’s tasty, easy and economical.  And that’s a culinary trinity that’s certain to get me into the kitchen! 

Please, give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

Crockpot Chili

This makes a large batch.  With two adults and three young children, we always have enough left over for at least one more meal.  So I usually make this once a month and freeze half of it to enj0y a couple of weeks later.   One of my favorite uses for the leftovers is Taco Salad.  Delicious!

1.5 lbs lean ground beef or turkey

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3  (15.5 oz.) cans beans, drained (I use all black beans, but you can use a different type or three different kinds altogether — it’s your chili!)

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles (such as Ortega)

2 Tbs. cumin (ta-da! the star ingredient, here!)

1 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste)

Garnishes and sides:  shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, pico de gallo, saltine crackers, sweet yellow cornbread, Fritos, Tortilla chips, warm corn or flour tortillas

Put it Together:  Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium heat.  After the meat starts to brown, add in the chopped onion.  Dump the meat and onion mixture and the remaining ingredients into the crockpot and cook 6-8 hours on low heat.  If you want this to be ready a little faster, cook the meat all the way through before adding it to the crockpot, then heat all ingredients together for 3-4 hours on high.

 

Enjoy!

~K

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CookbooksJust give me a good cookbook.

I like food.  I like thinking about food. I like to think about what I have eaten, what I am planning to eat, what I would like to eat and even what other people are eating.

Ah, let’s hear it for sensory memory.  Recalling a favorite ingredient or succulent dish is not a cold mental exercise.  It evokes the memory of fragrance, texture and taste.  Even better: memories that marry good food and important relationships.

The best book on my kitchen shelf captures this combination between its checkered cover.  Beverages like the simple Hot Chocolate that my children beg for as soon as the outside temperature dips below 90.  Dinner favorites, like the homemade pizza crust upon which countless Family Pizza Nights have been built. 

I began this  collection when my husband and I were dating.  It was nearing Christmas.  I was a poor college student and  wanted to give him a unique  gift that cost approximately nothing.  We occasionally enjoyed home-cooked meals together in his apartment so I decided to record the recipes for some of our favorites and  include a brief note about something memorable associated with each dish. 

One of the first entries was for the Chicken Provencal that my not-yet-husband made for me one night.  I took a study break so that we could enjoy dinner together and I could watch one of his favorite movies for the first time.  The romantic memory associated with this lovely dish?

“…We watched Spartacus while we ate.  I won’t soon forget biting into a moist, tender piece of Chicken Provencal while Laurence Olivier’s character speared the Ethiopian.”

 Yummy!  We have yet to have that dish again.  But it was a fun night and the memory is captured forever.  (Which is more than I can say about one child’s first birthday party.) And if we  ever go twenty-four months without watching Spartacus, I might try making Chicken Provencal myself.

There’s no  snobbery in this cookbook, by the way.  Among the homemade goodies are recipes for favorite treats, like a store-bought fried pie:

 

1 all-night convenient store

$3.50

About 12:00 a.m., when you’re in the middle of an all-night study session, sneak down to the aforementioned store and buy a couple of fried pies.  Optional garnish:  one quart of chocolate milk.

 

Please, don’t worry.  I have no plans to turn this into a recipe blog.

Whether it’s homemade chocolate mousse served in delicate dessert cups with orange-scented whipping cream, or a roll of refrigerated cookie dough and a couple of spoons, this cookbook is all about the foods we love and the unique (or mundane) occasions and private jokes that make the memory of eating them special.

Eat joyfully!

(And please tell me what you’re having so that I can savor it too.)

~K

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