Glazed Baby Vegetables

I've been deputized, by Sandy, to host Easter dinner. Clearly I am slipping. For years, I've suckered her into doing all that hard work.

This, of course, has inspired a cleaning frenzy, indoors and out. It's also prompted me to stir up a few side dishes recipes that take no time at all.

Easter Side Dish: Sweet Baby Veggies
1/2 lb. miniature carrots
1/4 lb. miniature zucchini
1/4 lb. patty pan squash
3 tbs. butter
2 tbs. dark brown sugar
Sprinkle with lemon pepper and chopped fresh chives

Steam veggies to crisp-tender. Melt butter and brown sugar in a stir-fry pan. Toss baby vegetables for about 5 minutes, until warm and nicely glazed.


Cornbread Skillet Breakfast Recipe

This oven-baked beauty is a real stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. Great fuel for a full day of fun on the ski slopes. Works best with a heavy, cast iron skillet.

Cornbread Skillet Breakfast Recipe
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped small
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
6 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup skim milk
12 oz. premixed cornbread, with 1 tablespoon flour

Cook bacon, sausage and onions. Toss in the peppers for the last few minutes of cooking time. Prepare cornbread mixture, adding 1 tbs. flour to adjust for high altitudes. Give cast iron skillet a good spritz of nonstick cooking spray. Pour half the cornbread batter into the skillet. Add the cooked meat and veggies. Whip the eggs, milk and cream cheese together. Pour over the meat and veggies. Cover with the Cheddar cheese. Top this delightful mess with the rest of the cornbread batter.

Bake @ 400 degrees (F) for about 30 minutes.

* In the mountains, cornbread and other quick breads can sometimes brown too quickly on top, before the batter underneath is completely done. Cover loosely with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes.


Natchitoches Meat Pies

I may live in the mountains, but I dream of the Deep South. I have family in New Orleans and I've spent a whole lotta time enjoying the downright crazy lifestyles of the folks who call Louisiana home.

So why would I bastaradize their time-honored tradition of the fried meat pie? I didn't! My aunt did.

For as long as I've known her, this life-long resident of Metairie, LA. has been trimming the fat off Louisiana cooking. (In this case, not much fat at all.)

Natchitoches Meat Pie
* The real Natchitoches meat pie is a hand-held, oil-fried masterpiece of flavors. Aunt Florence lightened this up with ground turkey vs. beef, baked vs. fried, pre-made puff pastry vs. homemade pie crust. So, I guess when you get right down to it, this thing tastes nothing at all like that famous pie. :)
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • Hot pepper sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Puff pastry sheets
Cook turkey, pork, yellow onions, with the garlic and olive oil in a heavy skillet. Half-way through this cooking process, toss in the peppers and green onions. Spice it up however you please. Stir in the flour.

Drain any excess liquid from skillet, allow mixture to cool. Spoon this delightful mess onto a puff pastry sheet, roll it up. (Or, use puff pastry squares to create individual pies.) Brush with a mixture of egg and water. Bake @ 375 (F) for approximately 35 minutes.

Until the real ones are available west of the Mississippi, this recipe will have to do.

Cool place to stay in Natchitoches.


High Altitude Yeast Bread

Behold the fruits of my labor. 7 hours of labor, to be exact. Rocket science is child's play compared to baking yeast bread at high altitude.

Everything encourages yeast breads to fail at high altitudes. Yup, everything: dry air, thin air, aggressive kneading, water softeners... your apron is probably causing trouble, too. Yeast breads are just that temperamental high in the mountains.

  • The terms 'instant' and 'rapid rise' yeast are relevant to people who live at the bottom of the hill. High altitude baking requires patience. Let yeast percolate slowly in the 'frig for a few hours.
  • Use bread flour vs. all purpose flour.
  • Water softeners fiddle with yeast magic, try bottled water. (I use sparkling water since it's always in my 'frig.)
  • Terra cotta planters or terra cotta saucers make great bread pans.

Artisan Bread Recipe
4 cups bread flour
2-1/4 teaspoons instant rapid rise yeast
3 teaspoons honey
10 ounces bottled, filtered, or sparkling water
3 teaspoons salt

Create a liquid yeast mixture: Combine 1/4th of the flour and ALL of the yeast, honey and water. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Now the fun begins...
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the liquid yeast mixture. Let rise for 30 minutes. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Knead it by hand. It's great exercise. (Just try it on a timer, if you don't believe me. 10 min. is a long time!)

Create a humid environment:
Fill your largest casserole dish with hot water, stick it in the oven.
Put bread dough on upper oven rack, let rise for about 2 hours.
Humidity + clay baking pan = 1 perfect loaf of bread!

Knead gently, let dough rest for 15 minutes. Repeat. Give terra cotta pot or saucer a non-stick spray. Let dough rise about 1 hour.

Brush with egg white and water.
Bake @ 400 (F) for about 1 hour.


Chop Chop Salad Recipe

I should have been born a man ~ my favorite meal is steak and fries.

So, I was pretty excited when we went to Ruth Chris Steakhouse last week.

If you've ever flown anywhere, you've probably spotted their ads in the flight magazines. Ruth Chris claims to serve the best steak you'll ever have the pleasure of eating.

They do! Though, it's a little anticlimactic.

They serve their steaks on a platter of sizzling butter. I mean... really... melted butter makes anything taste fabulous.

What truly impressed me was their signature Chop Salad. It was so delicious I begged and pleaded until the server literally threw up his hands, sat at our table and wrote out the recipe.

* The key to this yummy salad is to chop everything into tiny pieces. Refrigerate for about an hour after mixing with the dressing.
4 cups Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup radicchio
1/4 cup red onions
* Chop these ingredients into thin slices.

1 cup mushrooms
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 small can hearts of palm
* Chop these ingredients into small pieces.

1/4 pound crisp-fried bacon
1/2 cup blue cheese

1/2 cup plain croutons
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Crispy fried onions

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/8 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice

It is out of this world...