I am a country girl, born and raised on a farm in Central Iowa. I am the youngest of three children by 9 and 14 years….I was the OOPS! Being younger had its advantages in that I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and nephews. My Father died from a farm injury when I was 12, which forever changed my life and strengthened my bond with my Mother. I tagged along with my Mother to visit older people in our community and learned about their lives in the early 1900s, enjoying the many wonderful traditional foods and family stories.
I graduated from a class of 25, which gave me the advantage of being involved in sports and clubs that would not have been possible in a large High School. At that time, Home Ec was still an elective and I loved the cooking lessons (not so hot on the sewing classes). While at the University of Northern Iowa, I began to collect and read cookbooks. Perhaps it was the absence of Mom’s home cooking that drew me to dream about cooking (and eating) wonderful food. After college I moved to St. Joseph, MO and then to Scottsdale, AZ and began to experiment with traditional recipes and discovering those of my own. It was such an adventure to discover new dishes and restaurants in historic St. Joseph, Kansas City, then Scottsdale, Phoenix, San Diego…and the list goes on.
In the early ‘80s, I moved to Denver, got married, started my telecommunications sales career and discovered the fabulous restaurants in Denver and Aspen. My career took me to cities never before experienced and the seafood in San Francisco, Cajun fare in New Orleans, Tex-Mex in Dallas, Italian in New Jersey, etc. are experiences I will cherish. In 1986 our first daughter, Megan, was born and then Sarah in 1988. Instead of indulging in dinners out, we were cooking more at home and seeking ways to have good meals with limited time. Dinners went from adult gourmet to more kid friendly meals. Megan’s tastes were more basic while Sarah adopted a gourmet palate at an early age. At age 6 her favorite meal was steamed artichokes and crab legs with drawn butter…still her favorite. Megan’s tastes expanded rapidly when she went to college and started cooking for her roommates and now loves to whip up gourmet dishes.
I am blessed to have many gal pals that also share my passion for good food. I love to try new restaurants and look forward to the ‘pot luck’ feasts at our book club meetings and other gatherings. It isn’t just the good food that brings us to together, but the great love and admiration we all have for each other.
We are addicted foodies…but we try to remember our 12-step foodie program is needed.
God grant me the serenity to only eat the food that I LOVE,
the courage to walk away from junk food,
and the wisdom to recognize the difference. Oh YEAH!
Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots. Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy. It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.
The Slovak Honey Cookies are traditional Christmas treats and I had to try them. They are very similar to our traditional Gingerbread cookies, using honey instead of Molasses. They are absolutely delicious and a new favorite for the holidays.
SLOVAK HONEY COOKIES
3 cups (400 g) plain flour
1 cup (140 g) icing sugar
4 tbsp (60 g) butter softened
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix
3 tbsp clear honey
Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Line a baking tray with paper.
Sift together the flour, icing sugar, soda bicarbonate and spices.
Add butter and honey to the dry ingredients along with the eggs, and mix well to form a soft dough.
Wrap in a cling film and leave overnight in the refrigerator to chill.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of half a centimeter.
Cut out with your desired cookie cutter and place well apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with icing if you wish.
1 egg white
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Whisk the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.
Add more sugar if needed and have patience.
Spoon your icing into a sandwich bag, twist the bag tightly until the icing wedges into one corner, and then poke or cut a tiny hole into the corner. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before beginning to decorate.
Butternut Squash is a fall favorite. Roasting the squash for this delicious soup sounded amazing, and it was. I did not roast the Squash with bacon but chose to keep it a bit healthier, only adding bacon bits to the final product. It is delicious with goat cheese but I also tried it with shredded Monterey Jack (shown below) and it was equally as good. Think of this soup as a spoonful of autumn in your mouth. Yum!
Roasted Butternut Squash & Bacon Soup
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 slices bacon, diced (I did not add bacon to the roasted squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
Place butternut squash, onion, bell pepper and bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender, stirring at halftime.*
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add butternut squash mixture and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chicken stock and puree with an immersion blender.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately, garnished with bacon, goat cheese and chives, if desired.
Lemon Garlic Kale Salad is a favorite salad, especially when I had fresh kale from my garden but it is wonderful with kale from the grocery store, as well. My good friend, Maribeth, introduced this recipe to me a few years ago and it continues to be a favorite.
Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
2 cups almond slices, toasted
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon Juice (2-4 lemons)
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife, peeled and left whole
10 to 12 ounces washed and dried kale leaves, thick stems removed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
In a toaster oven or oven, toast almonds until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine lemon juice and 1 heaping teaspoon salt.
Slowly whisk in olive oil.
Add garlic cloves and set aside to steep.
Working in batches, cut the kale into thin ribbons: gather a large handful of leaves, bunch together tightly, and use the other hand to slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces. This need not be done very precisely or neatly; the idea is to end up with a kind of slaw. (Recipe can be made up to this point 1 day ahead. Keep kale and dressing refrigerated separately.)
Place chopped kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and then cheese.
Remove and discard garlic cloves from dressing. Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss. Taste for dressin and salt and add more as needed, tossing to coat thoroughly. Serve within 1 hour.
NOTE: I typically make a much smaller salad. The dressing keeps well in the refrigerator. I have also minced the garlic and added to the dressing.
Over the past year, I have tried several versions of Hungarian/Slovak/Czech Goulash. This recipe used pork and a lot of paprika and marjoram. At first I was hesitant to use that much spice but, trust me, it’s worth it. This flavorful Goulash soup is wonderful paired with a crusty bread.
1 ¼ lb. pork shoulder (you may substitute with beef or use half pork and half beef) into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. lard or cooking oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tbsp. ground caraway seeds
1 tbsp. marjoram
12 oz. potatoes
1 medium carrot diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 medium parsley root diced (I substituted 1 chopped red pepper)
1 large tomato chopped (I substituted a 16 oz. can diced tomatoes)
1.5 liter (or 4.2 cups) water
Salt and pepper
Heat oil or lard in a large pot and cook the onions until translucent.
Add the meat and fry until it is pale brown and sealed.
Add parsley, carrot, celeriac, paprika, marjoram tomato and simmer over low heat until the meat is half cooked. (I added garlic at this point vs. later
Add water and simmer gently for another 30-40 minutes.
Add potatoes and cook for further 10-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
At the very end, add the crushed garlic and cook for another minutes.
Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage and Goat Cheese is such a treat. My daughter, Megan, suggested I make it when I asked what I could make with leftover canned pumpkin.
The recipe is so easy and is plate of fall goodness complimented by a great salad and bread. Easy peasy dinner that will please a family or guest!
Pumpkin Pasta Dinner with sausage and goat cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
15-ounce can pumpkin puree or a scant 2 cups of pumpkin puree
A few fresh sage leaves and a few sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
A good pinch of ground nutmeg
1 1/2–2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve with 1 pound al dente linguini pasta, or any cooked pasta you like.
Well-browned ground Italian sausage
Goat cheese crumbles
Toasted pine nuts
Red pepper flakes
To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook gently until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and chopped herbs.
Increase heat to medium and add all of the spices. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until thickened to your desired sauce consistency. Add more stock as you see fit. Taste and season with salt and pepper (and even more spices) to your taste.
Toss boiled pasta in the warm sauce. To serve, top with sausage or sausage alternative, goat cheese crumbled (or parmesan), toasted pine nuts (or any kind of crunch) and chopped parsley.
Cabbage Pie is a new recipe, similar to a Frittata. I had cabbage that I needed to use and the other ingredients were on hand. What a simple, delicious recipe. It’s easy to imagine my ancestors making a similar dish from these simple ingredients. I did not add cheese to my pie. Next time I would experiment with different cheeses and herbs.
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
one small onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup flour
Shredded cheese (optional)
Combine sliced cabbage and onion in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Beat 3 eggs and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over cabbage and onions.
Add flour to cabbage mixture and stir to combine.
Add sunflower or canola oil to a non stick pan. Heat oil over medium heat. Add cauliflower mixture. Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil. Place wooden cutting board (or heavy flat pan) on top of skillet.
Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove cutting board and foil. Flip cabbage pie onto plate and place other side down in pan. Optional: Sprinkle top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.
Remove from pan. Slice into wedges and serve.
Optional: Top with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion.
Cheeseburger Soup on a cold, Colorado day, hit the spot. I love soups and I love cheeseburgers…so what’s not to like?
I modified the recipe a bit and added green beans so there was something green in the soup. After eating it, I decided I will add broccoli next time for a Cheeseburger Broccoli Soup, combining another favorite.
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1-3/4 pounds (about 4 cups) cubed peeled potatoes
4 cups chicken broth (and I added 2 additional cups of water)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 to 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
Optional: Add frozen green beans or fresh broccoli when you add the potatoes
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, cook and crumble beef until no longer pink; drain and set aside.
In same saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, ground beef, and optional green beans or broccoli; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir until bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Add milk, slowly, to make a white sauce.
Add sauce to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper; cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.
Crisp, autumn apples paired with nuts, dried cranberries, feta and salad greens. Yum! The salad dressing is the perfect pairing as well. A great salad as an entree or as a side. It’s Fall Y’all!
APPLE CRANBERRY WALNUT SALAD
6 cups salad (I used a combination of arugula and baby spinach, any spring green mix will do)
1 red apple
1 green apple
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (I used pecans)
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup apple juice
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar in a pinch)
2 tablespoons honey
scant ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup oil
Core and chop apples (thin slices or 1 inch chunks). Toss lettuce, apples, walnuts, feta, and cranberries together in a large bowl.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Toss with salad immediately before serving. Enjoy!
Eggplant = favorite food. My friend, Jan, shared this delicious recipe with me. I love how simple it is and it’s not as rich as many Moussaka recipes. I only had cheddar cheese on hand when I made it, but it would be great with Feta or other mild cheeses.
I made this dish without rice or yogurt, but enjoyed it with a nice class of red wine from my favorite winery, InVINtions.
2 globe eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound ground beef (or omit if Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced/diced
2-3 green or sweet peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 petite tomatoes, diced (I used Compari tomatoes)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil for eggplant and another 1/4 cup for sauce
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 430-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish.
Place cubed eggplant in a bowl. Add salt and 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil. Toss and mix well to assure the cubes are covered in olive oil.
Spread the eggplant over a baking sheet, layered with parchment paper. Bake until brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Add ground beef and cook thoroughly until it is dry. While cooking, crush the ground beef with the back of a spoon.
Add onion and peppers and cook on medium heat until soft, but not browned.
Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes are cooked (turning darker red), add one cup boiling water.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Place eggplant cubes in baking dish. Top with sauce and mix. (Optional: add sliced tomatoes on top). If using dried parley, sprinkle on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to serve without cheese, sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve.
If using cheese, sprinkle on top, and put back in oven until cheese in melted.
Serve as is or serve hot with rice and Greek yogurt.
Autumn and apples are like hand in glove. I love making apple desserts and salads and I needed a Vegan and Gluten-Free dessert for a gathering of friends. This recipe fit the bill and was scrumptious for all.
APPLE CRUMBLE — GLUTEN FREE AND VEGAN
6 large Granny Smith apples (around 1 kilo), peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
½ cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup almond meal
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract2 tbsp. water
Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients making sure that all the apples are coated well.
Spread the apples evenly in an approximately 31x21cm (12.2×8.27inch) baking dish and set aside.
For the crumble topping, reusing the bowl from the apples, combine all the topping ingredients well with a spatula. If you feel like it isn’t mixed in well enough evenly, I like to get in with my hands.
Crumb the topping over the apples evenly and put in the oven to bake for around 45-50 minutes.
Serve warm with some vegan ice cream, cream or even yoghurt.