Roasted Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts, ready for the oven.
Slice an 'X' through the Chestnut shells prior to roasting. 
Skip this step and you'll be sorry...

Ever roasted chestnuts? Fresh from the oven, with a dash of sea salt, they're quite delightful.

And, pretty easy to do, if you follow directions. Last Christmas I bought a pound of fresh Chestnuts and decided to give this tradition a try. The outcome was not nearly as cozy and romantic as I expected.

They explode! In unison!

When you remove them from a hot oven and they hit the cooler air it's like 4th of July all over the kitchen. So, that was not good. But, the remnants were quite tasty.

Our jazzy Christmas table settings.
Roasting Chestnuts:
  • Slice a criss cross into the shells.
  • Place on a baking sheet.
  • Cook in a 375 (F) oven for about 30 minutes
  • The criss-crossed shells will curl back letting you know when they are done.
  • As soon as they are cool enough to touch, pop them out of their shells. (It's a lot harder to remove them when they're cool.) 
  • Spritz with a buttery flavored cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt.
What I've learned:
* In the mountains, try a cooler oven. Bake at 375 (F) vs. the 425 you see in directions all over the web.
** No need to soak them in salt water. That's a waste of time since the moisture and salt permeate the shells, not the chestnuts, and you're throwing the shells away.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell: 
Chestnuts are one of the healthiest nuts you can nibble. Low in calories, low in fat, rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. Nutritionally similar to brown rice with loads more flavor.


Sparklers, Sangria plus a Miracle on Bourbon St.

A Toast to the Holidays! Live, Laugh & Loaf.
I'm feeling SUPER special today because my lame cooking blog is getting some attention! A PR agency (from New York City!) sent me pics and recipes for holiday cocktails.

Yeah, yeah, I'm being a little facetious. It's easy to become overly-sensitive when you live in Utah, where no booze is allowed to cross state lines. (Bye-bye free samples.) Where everyone just assumes you're a hick. Even when you're not.

I used to work in New York. Produced many a television commercial there. Not always by choice! As low woman on the totem pole, I got saddled with a December TV production project every single year. Because my boss.. and, my boss's boss... and, my boss's boss's boss much preferred to stay home for the holidays.

But, enough about that. Manhattan is a magical place at Christmas time. So, I was delighted to see these very clever uptown concoctions. Ideal for the many parties we've been invited to.

  • 4 oz. VOGA Sparkling Pinot Grigio
  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • .5 oz. Raspberry Liqueur
  • .5 oz. Soho Lychee Liqueur
* It's practically impossible to substitute the unique flavor of Lychee, an exotic Asian fruit. (To get close, mimic a combo of grapes, strawberries and watermelon.)
** If you have never tried a sparkling Pinot Grigio before, you might be surprised. Less sweet than champagne. Delightful.

  • 2 bottles VOGA Merlot (Or, try an old vine Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • 1 blood orange (cut into sections)
  • 1 very tart apple (cut into sections)
  • 1 cup of cherries
  • 1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Let this percolate in your refrigerator overnight, allowing plenty of time for the fruit flavors to blend.

Miracle on Bourbon Street
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4 dashes of angostura bitters
  • 1/2 shot of bourbon
  • Top up with VOGA Premium Sparkling Pinot Grigio

Midnight Kiss
Midnight Kiss
  • 2 oz. VOGA Italia Sparkling
  • 1 oz. apple cider
  • .5 oz. ginger vodka
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 apple (sliced)
VOGA is a collection of Italian wines, very reasonably priced, all quite tasty. Bottled as such to attract attention. Will it work? I dunno. Especially with the name VOGA, which sounds like vodka... and a bottle that looks like vodka. Well, I'm stumped. And, slightly relieved I don't have to produce their t.v. commercials.

But, who cares? Wow your buds with some clever uptown libations. 'Tis the season.


Skier, Snowboarder Bodacious Breakfast

Here's a best kept secret about skiing and snowboarding.. the pros recommend a high carb breakfast to give you the energy to play this hard all day long. (You'll burn 1,700+ calories and you won't even notice.)

Think about it! Just how often in our healthy-eating-obsessed US of A do we get permission to dive headfirst into a high carb meal??

Well, today you get to do just that! Provided you can prove you bought yourself a lift ticket.

Ski Bum Bodacious Breakfast:
* This is a great 'weekender' breakfast for house guests, prior to hitting the slopes. Serves 8 normal people or 4 Lindsey Vonn wannabes.

  • 4 cups, uncooked, hash browns*
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped ham, or cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup lite sour cream
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese 
    • Add a little oomph with 1/2 c. cheddar and 1/2 c. pepper jack cheese.
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots 
  • 2 chopped green onions, tops and all
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rounded bottom glass or coffee cup. (More on that, later.)
How To:
*Sighs heard 'round the world* With this recipe, you really do have to follow directions.
  1. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish, press a very thin layer of hash browns (about 1 cup) into the dish.
  2. Bake @ 350 (F) for about 10 minutes, until the hash browns are crisp. (This is your crust. :)
  3. Melt the butter, brown the shallots, turn off the heat. If you use a very large pan, this warm pan can double as your mixing bowl when you stir up the rest of the goodies. 
  4. Mix in hash browns, ham, milk, sour cream, green onions and cheese. 
  5. Pour this mixture over the crispy hash browns in your baking dish.
  6. Grab that rounded bottom drinking glass and make 8 depressions into this delightful mess. Crack 1 fresh egg into each of the 8 depressions.
  7. Pop it in the oven. Bake @ 350 F for 30-40 minutes.
1 full ski day burns 1700 calories!
Hash Browns:
I use the refrigerated grocery store brands, to save time. Shredding your own is great. Buying dehydrated or frozen works okay, too. Refrigerated or shredding your own, of course, provides the most nutritional value.

Ham and Bacon:
There is much ado these days about nitrate-free meats. A BETTER BET is to simply purchase low sodium products.
~ No bacon or ham brand is nitrite-free, no matter what the label suggests. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but this also includes Whole Paycheck Whole Foods.)
~ Nitrite is toxic to microbes, including the bacteria that causes botulism, so it's an important preservative that hasn't caused a true health risk since the 1970's (after which nitrate levels were drastically re-formulated.)


Moderation is Overrated: Sublime Crab Dip

It was touch and go for awhile there but we did manage to pull off a simply fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.

The biggest mess occurred when I was too busy watching t.v. to notice that the Pomegranate Molasses something or other [that goes on top the turkey] was boiling over on top the stove.

In spite of it being a crispy, crunchy mess it added a terrific bit of fruity flavor to an otherwise ho-hum main course.

We went whole hog on the turkey this year. Buying a free range bird that cost a princely sum.

And, I hate to even type this... but IMHO it wasn't worth the money. Didn't taste all that great.

However! I think that might be us and not the bird. This family has never had a turkey that wasn't mass (read: mean) produced and injected with all sorts of flavor enhancers... We'll continue down this organic path and hope to get it right next year.

It may not look all that pretty but it was 2 die 4.
Our most mouth-watering delicacy of the day was conjured up by daughter, L. She concocted a super tasty and oh, so Zesty Crab Dip. (That's crab with a 'C' not a 'K', the moniker for faux crab.)

L calls this her Cheesy Gut Bomb. I refined the title to have appetite appeal for blog visitors! (If I ever get some.)

Moderation is Overrated Crab Dip
* Bake this in a 350 (F) oven until it's all ooey gooey.

  • 1 pound real deal Blue Swimming crab
  • 1 cup Mozarella cheese
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise (Yes, light! Gotta trim calories somewhere!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Wasabi
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 4 tablespoons roasted garlic (the kind that comes in the jars.)
  • A dash of Worcestershire
  • A spritz of lemon juice
Scoop up this delightful mess on toasted Baguette slices, dripping with melted Parmesan cheese.

* Might as well butter the bread before you toast it. I mean... if we'z gonna die of a fat-induced coma, let us go out with a bang!

Here's hoping you had a simply marvelous Turkey Day. And, 3 cheers to you, if you found a way to wiggle outta doin' the dishes.


Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Living in a ski resort makes me super popular. The local hotels are ridiculously over-priced, prompting phone calls from people I haven't spoken to in years. They're hoping to score free lodging and I always say yes. Even when I don't want to. :)

'Twas all these overnight guests that inspired me to become a pro at breakfast casseroles. Egg bakes are a great skier's breakfast and super easy on the cook. (That would be me.) Just toss it in the oven and sip coffee until it's done.

That is... IF it ever gets done.

Egg casseroles, baked the normal way ~ in traditional metal or glass pans ~ don't behave very well. The edges cook way too fast. The center cooks way too slow.

That used to drive me nuts until I figured out that baking egg dishes in a bundt pan works like a charm. Evenly distributes the heat. Speeds up the whole baking process. House guests think you're a rock star. Which is great! Unless, of course, you don't want them to return.

Overnight Breakfast Casserole
* You can mix this up in a jiffy, but it should be refrigerated overnight.
  • 1 package Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage crumbles (this stuff is fully cooked.)
  • 1 package zesty Italian croutons (I use Pepperidge Farms.)
  • 1 cup asparagus tips
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon sweet basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 cups liquid eggs (like Better 'n Eggs or Eggbeaters.) Or, a dozen shell eggs.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
Stir all these goodies together. Spray the bundt pan with buttery flavored (fat-free) cooking spray. Pour this delightful mess into the bundt pan and refrigerate overnight. Bake @ 350° (F) for 40 to 50 minutes.

* If you're in a hurry, you can buy ingredients that are good to go and prep this in about 5 minutes. The turkey sausage crumbles I listed are fully cooked, which saves a lot of time.  The liquid eggs are not as messy, plus they're half the calories of shell eggs. (So you can add more cheese! :)


Roasted Squash with Sage Cream

I am concomitantly blessed (and cursed!) with a freelance job of writing for a number of food companies. The cursed part is how they expect me to write all sorts of annoying health tips for the holidays. For crying out loud, it's Thanksgiving!

Helloooo! The whole point of the holidays is NOT to be healthy. This is the most wonderful time of the year because we finally have a legitimate excuse to buy pounds and pounds of real butter, heavy whipping cream, and bacon galore!

Jump start the feeding frenzy with this little goodie.

This beauty is a Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash with a Sweet, Sage Cream Sauce:

Yummy Squash: 
  • 2 pounds Butternut squash (Here's a handy dandy guide so you don't mess up on the kind.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the icky junk inside and then slice the squash into wedges.

Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet @ 350 (F) for about an hour.

Delightful Sage Cream:
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 8 fresh sprigs of sage
  • 2 tablespoons, or 3, of real maple syrup (I add 2, taste it, and decide if it needs a bit more.)
Simmer heavy cream and sage sprigs in a saucepan over low heat for about 30 minutes. Remove the sage sprigs. Bring the cream to a boil and cook until this aromatic mess is reduced to about 2/3 cup.

Place your pretty squash wedges in a serving dish. Drizzle with sage cream. And, stay outta the line of fire. 'Cause they'll be fighting over this one...

Serves 8 polite guests or 4 ill-mannered friends.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell:
1) There has never been a study proving the association of saturated fat consumption to heart disease. (Even though the entire low fat, no fat food industry is based on this premise.)
2) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published the results of a major study on saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease (58,453 men and women over 14 years.) They found that people who ate the most saturated fat had the same heart attack risk as those who ate the least.

Kick Ass Cookies

Gram started this tradition, then Mom, now me. Whenever we need a chocolate fix.
I'm munching on a Kick Ass Cookie as I type this. For breakfast. I wouldn't recommend that. Unless you, like me, find yourself home alone. (So nobody catches you in the act.)

I grew up on this recipe. My Grandmother made these cookies for her daughters. Mom made them for me. I make 'em for my daughter... I made her a batch just last night! Though that's a pretty lame excuse. Seeing as how she's out of town this weekend.

Kick Ass Cookies
This recipe makes between 0 and 2 dozen, depending upon how much cookie dough you eat. The order in which you combine these ingredients really doesn't matter. However! If you begin with sugary butter, you can start nibbling from the get-go!

Mix Up:
6 Tablespoons Butter
3/4 Cup Sugar

Add In:
6 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Egg

Last but not least:
1 1/4 Cups Flour

* Bake @ 350 (F) for 12 minutes.  

I'm not sure what makes these cookies so delightful. Perhaps because they're so simple? We're in the midst of a food trend where everyone is trying to out-do one another. Recipes are bigger, better, and unnecessarily decadent. (Good luck trying to find a chocolate cookie that does not include mocha, chocolate chunks + 3 kinds of nuts for good measure... But, hey! There's flax in it so it must be healthy...)

Here's the deal: I've exchanged this recipe a million times and always get the same response: We ate the whole batch!

And, the moral of this tirade? Cookies are Good Food. You should eat some every day.

Buon Appetito.

* Are you thinking about lowering the fat in this extra special recipe? Get off my blog.
** Looking to satisfy a sweet tooth? Double the sugar. This family loves chocolate, but not sweet treats.


Low Fat Stroganoff Recipe

First week after the end of our blessed daily light savings time... when it starts getting dark around 4. And, it feels exceptionally cold and miserable ~ even when it's not.. well, that's the hardest time for me to watch what I eat.

I need want heavy foods and cozy casseroles and why not add a whole stick of butter? Fat not only tastes good. It feels good! Right up until I try to hoist myself into last year's ski pants.

This favorite 'comfort food' recipe evolved out of necessity ~
1) Real beef stroganoff is so high in fat I had to kick it off the menu. Permanently.
2) I'd be lost without an oven. I rarely, if ever, have the time to monitor a stove top recipe.

Give it a shot... I don't think you'll be able to tell this is low fat. My family couldn't.*

Low Fat Beef Stroganoff Casserole
It doesn't look nearly this pretty when I make it.
* If you do this up right, the whole thing should come in at around 7 grams of fat, per serving which is about 20 grams of fat less than the real deal.
  • 1 lb. beef chuck roast cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 bunch, chopped green onions, tops and all.
  • 1 container sliced Baby Bella mushrooms.
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic. Or, 2 tsp. roasted garlic that comes in the glass jars.
  • 1 can fat-free cream of mushroom soup + water.
  • 3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce.
  • 1/2 package No Yolk pasta noodles.
In a teflon pan, with cooking spray, stir fry the beef, garlic and shrooms for about 5 minutes. Don't bother boiling the noodles, they'll cook in the sauce. Add the other goodies, put this mess in your favorite casserole dish, covered. Bake @350 for approximately 30 minutes.

What they don't know what hurt them.
* 'Low Fat' is a very bad word in this household. Therefore, I never utter it out loud. No Yolk noodles are lower in fat and they can't tell the diff.


Quickie Yeast Bread

In winter, I bake a lot of bread. Because I have a fabulous track record of failing about 50% of the time.

The upside to this is all the birds who call my garden 'home.' (They get to peck away at my rejects.) Since fewer birds are migrating south these days, they're quite delighted when I screw up.

Dry air messes with my breads. High altitudes do, too. Yeast breads rise much faster at 7,000 feet. When bread dough rises that quickly, the flavor doesn't have adequate time to develop.

Here are two hot tips for tackling high altitude bread baking. And, a breakthrough recipe. I really loved the flavor of this one. So much so that the little birdies will go hungry this week.

High Altitude Bread Tips:
  • Never let your bread dough double in size. Check after 30 minutes and punch it down. If your bread dough is rising like crazy, it's okay to punch it down twice (vs. once at lower altitudes.) 
  • Salt is your friend. Worry about your sodium intake with other recipes. Salt is a yeast retardant and a cook's blessing when it comes to high altitude bread baking.
Light texture. Great crunchy crust.
Quickie Yeast Bread Recipe:
~ Stir 1.5 tablespoons dry yeast into 2 cups of warm water. Let it rest for a few minutes. Until you see some foamy action in the bowl.
~ Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 cup light vegetable oil to the yeast/water mixture.
~ Stir in 2 cups of bread flour.
~ Sprinkle flour on your counter top. Rub a bit of cooking oil onto your hands to avoid the stickies.
~ Plop the loose dough onto this floured surface and knead 2 more cups of bread flour into the dough.
* Depending upon your elevation, you might want to add one more cup of flour to this recipe. Judge this by how elastic your dough feels. We don't want the dough to feel stiff.
~ Rub your dough ball with a little bit of oil. Place it back in the bowl, in a warm spot, and check it about 30 minutes. Punch it down.
~ Shape it into 2 loaves. Let it rise again. Bake @ 400 (F) for about 30 minutes.

* Bread flour, which is higher in protein, contains a little bit of barley flour. This helps the yeast work properly and provides a more delicious texture.


The I Say, You Say, Kielbasa Bake

Roasted Veggies with a Delightful Sage Seasoning
A birthday dinner (mine) with the girls last week inspired this roasted veggie concoction, created by my oldest and dearest friend, Haze.

Do you futz with recipes? I always do. For me, that's half the fun of cooking. No matter what the recipe tells me to do I'll doll it up to suit my fancy. The funny thing about this is my super silly double standard... I can't resist re-doing a recipe. But, if people tell me they've messed with one of my recipes, I get mad! :)

And, I'll bet Haze does, too. So, I thought I'd let you have her original recipe plus notes on all the ridiculous changes I made to it. Which just might inspire you to make some changes of your own..

Whatever path you choose, I can pretty much guarantee your family will love this.

Roasted Veggie and Kielbasa Bake
* Chop veggies into bite-size pieces. Chop brussels in half. Cut Kielbasa into 1/2 inch slices.
  • 4 cups brussel sprouts
    • (I did 2 c. brussels and 2 c. broccolini)
  • 1 large red onion
    • (I did shallots, sweet onions and elephant garlic cloves)
  • 16 oz. Kielbasa
    • (I did 32 oz. turkey Kielbasa)
  • 2 Yukon potatoes
    • (I did 1 Yukon and 1 sweet potato) 
  • 2 baking apples
    • (I did 3 Granny Smiths)
  • 6 carrots
    • (I used 3 carrots, not chopped, and 3 parsnips, not chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
    • Haze! Aren't you proud of me? I did not mess with your sage! :)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Spread out these goodies on a cookie sheet. (You may need two.) Drizzle with 2-3 TBS olive oil. Roast @ 400 (F) for about 45 minutes.

* Kielbasa is a very flavorful Polish pork sausage. I opted for turkey kielbasa - not to lower the calories - so we could eat twice as much and not feel guilty. :)

** This recipe takes a good half hour of prep work but it's well worth the effort. The sage-y aroma coming from the oven inspired some seriously grumbling tummies. And, the whole thing disappeared in the blink of an eye, the second she placed it on the dinner table.


Edamame: My Mean Green Appetizer

Edamame: I'm so lazy I buy them already shelled.
Edamame is a prettier name for soybeans. And, I'm a soybean nut. Shunned them for years because they looked like peas and.. Boy! Do I hate cooked peas.

I began purchasing frozen, shelled Edamame a few years ago at the supermarket and it quickly became a side dish staple. I roast 'em, stir fry 'em, slip them into casseroles. I pretty much try everything under the sun with soybeans ~ with no complaints. (Hey!)

So why not a dip? It's quick. It's yummy. And, it's also very different. You know what that means... tons of compliments!

* Toss this mess into blender, or food processor, and voila! Super tasty with New York Bagel Chips.

Edamame Dip ~ Oh. So. Easy.
  • 1 bag frozen, shelled edamame (It's maybe 12-14 oz., available at most grocery stores.) Microwave the bag (per bag instructions) and then let it cool.
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (including the green stems.)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic (The Spice World jars you see at the market. Fresh, chopped garlic cloves are tasty, too.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley.
  • 1/2 tablespoon miso (I use the dry powder from miso soup. Miso is soybean paste.)
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder.
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice.
* Salt, pepper, and wig out this recipe with garlic and cayenne 'til the cows come home. I hope you enjoy it.

Soybeans may look expensive, but they are super filling, compared to other veggies: 11 grams of protein + 9 grams of fiber in 1 itty bitty half cup.


    Autumn Apple Pot Roast Recipe

    We've had the most delightful autumn weather this week. Deep blue skies and gorgeous, colorful leaves greet me at every turn.

    It's remarkable how our tastes seem to change right along with the leaves. Abandoning salads in favor of hearty, heavier meals.

    This idea was inspired by an email I got from a new Park City resident, who dolled up one of my recipes with apples.

    Hmmm... I thought to myself. I've got apples coming out my ears! Two trees laden with fruit that I've been picking every other day and... feeding to the horses. 

    I guess it's about time we humans enjoy this plentiful harvest...

    Autumn Apple Pot Roast ~ Crock Pot Recipe

    • 1 - average size pork roast. Or, beef chuck roast (I tend to buy whichever is on sale.)
    • 3 or 4 - chopped shallots (Or, a half average size yellow or white onion.)
    • 5 or 6 - garlic cloves, chopped into bits (I tend to go hog wild with the garlic...)
    • 2 - tart apples, sliced into wedges
    • 1/2 - cup applesauce
    • 1 - 32 oz low sodium beef broth
    • 2 tablespoons oregano
    • 1 tablespoon parsley
    • 1 teaspoon basil
    • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • Dash of celery salt and/salt and pepper to taste

    IMHO you don't need to be very exact when you're tossing goodies into a crock pot. I let this simmer for about 6 hours. It was sweet and tender and really quite delightful.

    Buon Appetito!


    Vipeteno Knodel

    Knodel: A South Tyrolean Delicacy

    Have laptop, will travel. Last month, I had the great fortune of living and working in the northern most part of Italy. In the picturesque town of Bressanone, a hop, skip and a jump from the Austrian border.

    I arrived expecting spaghetti and such but quickly discovered South Tyrol has a cuisine and culture all of it's own. Their fabulous foods are a blended bit of Germany and Italy. A big highlight for me was this little goodie, the Knodel (a potato and bread dumpling). It's so popular the neighboring town of Vipeteno holds a festival to celebrate it's goodness.

    Suffice to say it is to die for. So, when I came home I attempted to re-create these on my own, serving up an authentic, South Tyrolean meal to a few good friends.

    Knodel Potato and Bread Dumplings
    * This is an American's bastardization of the Famed Vipeteno, Italy's Knodel
    1.5 pounds raw white potatoes - peeled and grated
    1 bag Idahoan Ramano Cheese Potatoes
    1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
    1 cup boiling skim milk
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons flour
    4 tablespoons roasted garlic
    1/2 - 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (enough to give the dumplings substance for molding into small balls.)

    How To: 
    ~ Pour the boiling milk over the raw, grated potatoes and let this set for about 5 minutes.
    ~ Mix in the Idahoan potatoes packet (just the dried potatoes, don't add liquid.)
    ~ Add the flour and egg and stir it up.
    ~ Make small, ping pong size balls.
    ~ Poach in chicken or beef broth for 15-20 minutes.
      * I served them with a topping of browned butter, breadcrumbs and green onions with pork tenderloin and everyone went bonkers.

      Doll them up, South Tyrolean style!
      Add other ingredients, prior cooking...
      • Prosciutto bits
      • Parmesan
      • Spinach
      • Or... turn them into dessert with chopped, dried apricots. (I tried this in Vipeteno and it was quite delightful.)


      Homestyle Hiking Bars

      I'm not a picky eater until it comes to 'health' food. Then I hate everything. (At least that's what my co-workers say.) Last week, I attended an event called Outdoor Retailer. It's a huge trade show where every protein bar, energy bar, faux food company imaginable happily gives away free samples of their goodies. In high hopes you'll love 'em.

      So I tried them all. (It was either that or go back to the trade show booth and do the work they pay me to do.) Tried 'em. Then tossed 'em after just a couple nibbles. I don't get that... why packaged protein bars taste so awful and cost so much when it's so very easy to make your own. Homemade energy bars take about 15 minutes make and you don't even have to bake them!

      This is a very forgiving recipe. Doll it up with whatever strikes your fancy ~ such as different nuts, dried fruits, almond butter instead peanut butter, or a favorite type of cereal. I'm thinking Count Chocula would be quite yummy! But, then I'm not terribly committed to the health movement. :)

      Homestyle Hiking Bars
      Cook for just a couple minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, right before it boils:
      • 1/2 cup honey
      • 1/4 cup sugar 
      Stir in:
      • 1 cup natural peanut butter
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      Pour into a mixing bowl:
      • 1-1/2 cups Rice Krispies
      • 1-1/2 cups Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal
      • 1-1/2 cups craisins
      • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
      • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
      • I sometimes add 1 cup chocolate chips instead of the peanuts
      Mix it altogether and voila! You've got an ultra tasty trail bar that makes Cliff Bars taste like tiles off the kitchen floor. Spread this gooey mixture into a brownie pan, no baking required! Let them cool. Then cut into bite size bars.



      A Simple Sassy Soup

      Are you a chickpea fan? Also called garbanzo beans, everybody loves them in hummus. I love them in soups and stews because they reflect tomato flavors so beautifully.

      I'm celebrating an anniversary! Ten long, lovely years of being self-employed and working from home. Started out as a marketing consultant, evolved into a freelance writer.

      This lifestyle is not for everyone but it certainly suits me. Of all the things I could (and probably should) miss about an office environment, there's really one. Lunch.

      I really, really miss going out to lunch and letting someone else do the cooking. Preparing 3 meals a day in my own kitchen is... well, messy. And, boring.

      So, soup is often my fall back plan. I'll make big pots of it and freeze it in single serving containers. This one was an experiment. It's not a fancy recipe by any means. Made with stuff I happened to have on hand (therefore you, too, could get creative with the ingredients.) But, the end result was so yummy I just had to share!

      Simple Sassy Soup
      1. Finely chop an average size yellow onion + 4 cloves of fresh garlic
      2. Cut an average size pork tenderloin* into small bite-size (soup-sized) pieces
      3. Add 2 tbs olive oil to your skillet and stir fry, with the garlic and onion, until the tenderloin pieces are no longer pink.
      In your soup pot, or crock pot ~
      • 2 - 32 oz low sodium beef broth
      • 1 - 14 oz can whole tomatoes 
      • 2 - cans low sodium chickpeas 
      • 1 - cup water
      • 3 - TBS chili powder
      • 1 - tsp. cumin
      • 1 - tsp. smokey paprika
      • 1 - tsp. oregano
      Add your stir-fry concoction to the soup pot and simmer for about an hour or crock it for the day.

      * You can, of course, use ground pork, beef or turkey instead of the tenderloin but I think that's what made it taste so yummy.
      * Dried herbs are the better choice since this is a slow simmered recipe. They have a more concentrated flavor and they're way cheaper!
      * Last but definitely not least, in winter months whole canned tomatoes are infinitely more flavorful than whole tomatoes in the produce section. Whole canned tomatoes are minimally processed, picked at the peak of freshness (when they're red, not green as fresh tomatoes often are) and canned within a half day of being plucked from the vine.