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!
This flavorful dish is like a burst of autumn in your mouth. Each bite is full of flavor. The addition of raw apple kicks it up a notch. What a wonderful dish to share at holiday gatherings.
This main dish is delicious on its own but, if you prefer more protein, add a bit of pork, chicken or beef. I had leftover pork roast and added a few slices and thought it added even more to the dish. This has become a real favorite and one I’ll be making over and over again.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts Salad with Maple Butternut Squash, Pumpkin Seeds & Cranberries
1 ½ lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes (Yields about 4 cups of uncooked cubed butternut squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup optional
Optional: Add sliced cooked pork, steak or chicken
Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Make sure Brussels sprouts have trimmed ends and yellow leaves are removed. Then, slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (to taste), and toss to combine. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast in the oven at 400 F for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even browning, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened.
Roasted butternut squash:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the foil-lined baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash (peeled and seeded),1 tablespoon of olive oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and toss to mix.
Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way through baking, until softened.
Note: You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on 2 separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven.
In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries, and mix to combine. (OPTIONAL): For more sweetness, add 2 or 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, if desired – do not add all maple syrup at once, start with 2 tablespoons, then add more, if desired, and toss with the salad ingredients to combine.
Lemon Bars in the Spring and Cranberry Lemon Bars for the holidays! With a bag of lemons and a large bag of cranberries on hand, I decided to make these delicious bars. I forgot to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but I was too anxious to taste them. They are tart with a burst of flavor from the cranberries. The bars were a real hit!
Cranberry Lemon Bars
FOR THE CRANBERRY LAYER:
1 (12-ounce/340-gram) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
Start preparing the cranberry layer: Combine the cranberries, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Zest 2 of the lemons directly into the saucepan; reserve the lemons. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture is jammy, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with one large sheet of heavy aluminum foil, making sure there are no gaps or holes, then generously coat with cooking spray.
Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the vanilla into the butter, then pour over the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in a mass. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges and dry and golden on top, 17 to 20 minutes.
While the crust bakes, begin preparing the lemon layer: Squeeze the juice from the 2 reserved zested lemons. You should have 1/2 cup. Squeeze the juice from another lemon, if needed.
Whisk the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and whisk gently just until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and stir gently with the whisk just until smooth.
Let the crust cool for 5 minutes, then spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Carefully and slowly pour the lemon mixture on top to create two distinct layers.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Using the foil, slide the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares, wiping your knife between cuts for clean slices. If desired, sift confectioners’ sugar over the tops just before serving.
Cabbage must be a part of my Czech/Slovak DNA because I love cabbage and sauerkraut. Cabbage rolls are so delicious, but I don’t have the desire to make the rolls, just enjoy the savory ingredients. This recipe was just what I was looking for. Even my 3-year-old granddaughter likes it. She must have inherited that piece of my DNA as well!
I made half of a recipe and used half ground pork and half ground beef, no veal.
Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage
1 cup uncooked white rice (or any rice of your choice)
2 pounds green cabbage, cleaned, cored and cut into two-inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces raw bacon diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tart red wine such as Merlot
1 pound lean ground beef (90/10)
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal (if you can’t get ground veal, increase ground pork to one pound)
3 cups tomato juice (or for a more intense flavor, use V-8)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry thyme
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup drained sauerkraut
Cook rice according to package directions. Try to time the rice so that it finishes cooking as the preparation of the dish nears the end. If rice is finishes too soon, fluff and leave at room temperature to cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch cabbage chunks for five minutes. Drain, cool and set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, place olive oil and bacon and cook until bacon is almost browned, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add onions and sauté for three minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add red wine and deglaze the pan.
Move the cooked onion mixture to the edges of the pan and place all three meats into the center. Keep moving the meat around to brown and slowly work in onion mixture until the meat is fully browned.
Add tomato juice, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Reduce to medium and simmer for five minutes.
Add in sauerkraut, cooked rice and cooked cabbage. Bring back up to heat and simmer for five more minutes.
Caramel Cookie Bars should be classified as a sin…but a very delicious one! Daughter, Megan, made these to take to friends that recently had a baby and she shared a piece with me. Oh my gosh! They are decadent and perfect for a special occasion.
Caramel Cookie Bars
1 cup salted butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips/chopped chocolate use your favorite (I like a combination of milk and semi sweet)
Iowa Chops in the Slow Cooker has become one of my go-to recipes. It’s easy to prepare and simmer throughout the day. Serve with steamed baby potatoes or boiled perogies. I also served with roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts. The pork is so fork-tender and will melt in your mouth.
Iowa Chops in the Slow Cooker
4 Iowa chops (thick boneless pork chops–I get mine at Costco)
Who doesn’t love a Gingerbread cookie, but bump it up a notch with pumpkin AND chocolate chips! These cookies are delicious and a great fall treat. I added more flour to keep the cookies from spreading, perhaps because of the gluten-free flour I used. I would make these again and try with all-purpose flour and they would equally as good!
Soft Batch Pumpkin Gingersnap Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter or vegan butter, softened to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/3 cups gluten-free 1:1 or “cup for cup” baking flour blend (I added 1/2 cup additional flour after baking the first pan–see before & after photo below)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, divided
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels (I used Nestle)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees then line a half sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
Add butter and 1 cup sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer or large glass bowl if using a handheld mixer. Beat until lightly and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree, molasses, and vanilla then beat until combined. Add egg then mix until just combined.
In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, ground cloves, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until just combined before adding the second batch. Add dark chocolate morsels then mix until just combined.
Stir together remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 3 teaspoons ground ginger in a bowl then scoop cookie dough by the Tablespoon into the mixture and roll to coat. Place onto prepared baking sheet then bake for 7-8 minutes (7-1/2 minutes were perfect for mine.) Rap the sheet pan on the counter (aka drop the sheet pan from a couple inches above the countertop onto the countertop) then let cookies cool slightly before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.
Sopa de la Casa is a recipe I discovered in the early 1980s. It reminded me of the scrumptious tortilla soup that I first enjoyed at Tijuana Tilly’s, in Tijuana, Mexico. Sopa de la Casa was a regular on my table before my daughters were born and it was time to revisit this easy, delicous recipe. It was just as I remembered!
Sopa de la Casa
8 slices bacon, diced
1 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 1/4 c. finely chopped celery
2 green peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
1 can (31 oz.) refried beans
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. chili powder
In a soup pot, cook bacon until crisp. Move cooked bacon to a separate bowl. Drain half of the bacon drippings. Add onion, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook until tender.
Blend in chicken broth, cooked bacon, refried beans, pepper and chili powder. Bring to boil. Remove from heat.
Garnish with tortilla chips and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
I live for soup season and enjoy trying many different recipes. This Italian Sausage Butternut Squash Soup sounded like the comfort food I needed. It was very good but next time I will blend all of the squash to make the base even silkier.
Italian Sausage Butternut Squash Soup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground Italian Sausage, (I use Hot Italian Sausage in casings)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic minced
2.5 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch cubes
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 can (15.5 ounces) great northern beans, well rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heavy cream, for garnish, optional
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a dutch oven or stockpot set over medium heat. Add onions and peppers; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in sausage and cook for 10 minutes, or until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage into crumbles as it cooks.
Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage mixture from the pot and set aside.
Melt remaining butter in the pot set over medium heat; add squash to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Then stir in chicken broth; add bay leaf, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and continue to simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Start checking around the 10-minute mark. Note: The larger the chunks of butternut squash, the longer it will take for them to soften.
Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. Remove couple handfuls of butternut squash chunks from the soup and set aside (next time I would blend all of the squash). Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. You can also blend the soup in a blender. Return soup back to the stockpot.
Return the butternut squash chunks back to the pot. Set stockpot over medium heat. To the soup, add beans, tomatoes, and previously prepared sausage mixture; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.
Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly. Drizzle with cream. Garnish with parsley. Serve.
Harvest Bowl is one of my favorite recipes of all times. There are a multiple of flavors and textures to enjoy. I added bits cooked pork roast, a delicious addition. However, the bowl with a meat addition is equally delicious. The best temperature for serving is slightly warm. Leftovers are great for 3-4 days, slightly warmed in the microwave. This the first time I’ve cooked with fig jam and I loved it. For a different twist, it could be interesting to try apple butter. Anyway you make it, you’ll love it!
Wild Rice Harvest Bowls with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup wild-brown rice blend (I recommend Lundberg)
1-3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth
3 cups 1” butternut squash cubes (about 1 small squash)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon
salt and pepper
9 oz thinly shredded brussels sprouts
1 large or 2 small apples, chopped
3 oz white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
1/3 cup sliced almonds or pepitas
1/3 cup dried cranberries
For the Fig Dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, microplaned or minced
2 Tablespoons fig jam
salt and pepper
Add rice and chicken broth to a small saucepan then bring to a boil, place a lid on top, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes or until rice is al dente (verify liquid amount and cooking method with rice package directions.) Set aside to cool slightly – can be done a day ahead of time.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add butternut squash cubes, 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool slightly – can be done a day ahead of time.
Meanwhile, line another half sheet pan with a silpat or foil then spray with nonstick spray if using foil. Add shredded brussels sprouts, remaining 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper then toss with your fingers to evenly coat. Add to oven after stirring the squash then roast together for 8-10 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender and golden brown.
For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette: Combine ingredients in a bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid then whisk or shake to combine (might need to microwave for 15-20 seconds to help melt the fig jam.) Taste then add more salt, pepper, and/or fig jam if desired.
In a large bowl combine cooked rice, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apples, cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries. Drizzle Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette on top then toss to coat and serve. Leftovers are good for 3-4 days.
What smells more like fall than the roasting of Hatch Chiles? This easy pizza recipe is a real delight with an abundance of flavor. I love the Hatch Green Chile Cheddar Dip from the grocery store or Costco and decided to use it as the base for this yummy pizza. What fun to experiment with new toppings…get creative!
Daughter, Megan, an I made it again the other day and used Stonefire Pizza Crust (or any premade pizza crust). Megan suggested that fresh sweet corn would be a great addition, along with the yummy caramelized onions.
Pizza with Hatch Chiles, Bacon & Caramelized Onion
Pizza Dough (from your favorite recipe or available in grocery stores)
Hatch Green Chile Dip (Available at Grocery Stores or Costco)
Cooked Bacon (4-6 slices) broken into pieces
One Large Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Roll the pizza dough to your baking pans dimensions. Sprinkle baking pan with cornmeal. Place dough on pan. Use fork to poke holes in pizza dough.
Prebake pizza dough for 5-6 minutes at 400 degrees.
Cook bacon until crisp.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add sliced onion. Cook slowly until onions are brown and caramelized.
Remove pizza dough from oven. Spread with Green Chile Dip. Sprinkle with bacon bits and onions.
Bake for another 5-10 minutes until dough is brown and cooked through.
A suggestion from my good friend, Maribeth, and addition of caramelized onions suggested by my daughter, Megan. We have a winning combination!