Chili de Salchichas - Sausage Chili

December 31, 2014

sausage chili, chili de salchichas, chili con carne, chili
Chili de Salchichas (Sausage Chili)
Chili is one of my favorite cold weather one pot meals.  It's probably one of the first meals I ever made after moving out on my own (oh those many, many years ago) but it's been around since the 1880's.  It's amazing how combining a few bold ingredients can turn them into something completely different and hearty.   It's a versatile dish that can be made many different ways depending on your taste, mood, or even where you're from:  Chicken with white beans, also known as White Chili, Chili Verde, made with chunks of pork and slow cooked in a green chili sauce,  and even Vegetarian Chili are common variations.

Equally diverse is what you put under your chili.  While some people choose to have it plain, Cincinnati style is served over spaghetti noodles and topped with cheese.  In the South, it's commonly served over rice with a side of cornbread.  This particular recipe is for Sausage Chili - or Chili de Salchichas as my dear friend, Michelle calls it.

What favorite or regional versions do you make at home?  Respond in the comments and let me know!

Note:  This recipe works great in the crock pot too!  Just be sure to brown the meat on the stovetop first, then transfer straight to crockpot.  For the recipe, click below.

Italian Meatballs

December 27, 2014

Italian Meatballs

Meatballs - real Italian Meatballs - are among my favorite things to make and I like to have plenty on hand.  While they're not terribly difficult to make, they take more time than I typically have on an average weeknight so I like to make them in advance on the weekends.

Pasta and meatballs are a staple here, and are especially perfect for busy nights when I don't have a lot of time.  You know the kind of nights I'm talking about - the ones where you have to take the kids to three different practices and you spend all your time driving and fantasizing about how much easier your life would be if you just hit one of the ten fast food drive throughs you pass on your way home from work?   Don't do it!  With a little advance planning, you can have a hot meal on the table in just a few minutes that is so much better than anything ever passed through a drive through window.

When I make these, I usually make enough to roll out about a hundred meatballs in any given batch.  I know that sounds like a lot, but if you already planned to make meatballs, and have everything out, it doesn't take that much more time to make a big batch.  I always have my kids help with this part, and we can roll out a hundred in about fifteen minutes.  I freeze them on a cookie sheet, then vacuum seal the frozen meatballs by the dozen.   I like to think of it as feeding the freezer, and this method gets me through on even the busiest nights.   In fact, I use this method of cooking so often, I'll be dedicating an entire section of my blog to feeding the freezer over the coming year.

I'd love to know how you survive busy nights and hungry kids?  What's your favorite meal to serve?  Click below for my meatball recipe.

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark

December 21, 2014

Salted Chocolate Toffee Pretzel Bark
Salted chocolate toffee pretzel bark is one of my favorite things.  The taste is out of this world, and it makes a perfect hostess gift to bring to your holiday parties.  With a red ribbon and some crushed candy cane as a garnish, it looks like it took all day to make.  It'll be your secret that it really took only 15 minutes from start to finish.

I love how this photo turned out, and I have to give credit to my lovely daughter, (tall) Amanda.  Thanks to her creative spirit and food styling skills, we were able to pull the elements of the season  into our shot.

Click below for photos of each step and the recipe - but before you do, what are your favorite hostess gifts to bring to your holiday gatherings?  Respond in the comments.

Interview on Dishfolio

December 20, 2014

I've been waiting to share some news with my readers all week, and am very excited that I have the green light to finally spill the beans.   Earlier this week, I was interviewed by Dishfolio about my blog, and last night the interview went live on their website.  You can check out the interview here:
Elizabeth Obsesses interview on Dishfolio.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Dishfolio, here is an excerpt from their website describing what they're about:
At dishfolio, we love food - and food photography. Our motto is "eat. share. drool." and we aim to do just that with every single image we post.  
Our goal is to provide you with a portfolio of high quality food images and related recipes from around the food blogosphere. We want the general public to be able to search our site and find, not only delicious-looking images of perfectly prepared foods, but also links to many food blogger's sites and their wealth of recipes.  We hope you will participate in our food community by posting your own images and recipes or by browsing through the many "dishfolios" we have to offer. Our photos change all the time, so stop by frequently to be sure you don't miss some great photography and food.  
Dishfolio is also interested in helping you become the best you can be at food photography. We hate it when people get discouraged when their submissions get declined. Yes, we know it isn't fun to be rejected, but our intention is to help you improve your submission so it gets published. To do this, we try to make it as easy as possible to resubmit your photo with our recommendations. We also offer one-on-one assistance if you are having trouble, so please don't be afraid to ask for help. Our goal is to provide you with clear, consistent and useful feedback should your photo get rejected so that you will know exactly what you need to do to get it published next time. We hope you share our love for food and photography.
I hope you'll take the time to check out my interview and let me know what you think of it in the comments!  While you're there, take a look around their site.  It's filled with beautiful images of food that links back to other amazing food blogs for the recipes that accompany the images.

Blueberry Pie With Braided Crust

December 14, 2014

Blueberry pie with braided crust

I also call this recipe Blueberry pie with a LOL crust.  My oldest son, Ryan, devours blueberry pies.  If I were to make a blueberry pie - just for him - every day of the week, he would never get tired of it.   I love how easy it is to throw a pie together and have it ready in no time, although I'm still perfecting my crust technique, as shown in the photo above (it's ok, I laughed at it too).

I've described this before when I wrote about peach pie...and apple pie... and even turkey pot pies.  You don't even need to measure things.  Just add sugar and flour to the desired fruit, dot with butter, and add it to the waiting pie crust.  Bake until it tells you it's done.  It tells you when you can smell it...and by bubbling out of the vent holes...and when the crust is golden brown.  It's easy peasy.  Click below to read more.

Sweet Potato Cookies

December 11, 2014


Sweet potato cookies made from leftover sweet potato casserole
Thanksgiving is over, but the memory of beautiful, cinnamony sweet-potato casserole topped half and half with southern praline and oven toasted marshmallows is still fresh in my mind.  It’s aroma wafting through the corners of our house if only as a ghost of Thanksgiving past.   I thought for sure that whatever we didn’t eat on the big turkey day, we’d eat as leftovers.  Sadly, that never happened.  I used up all the turkey in our (Leftover) Turkey Pot Pie, and I just couldn't get the kids to eat the leftovers without the turkey.

With a family of six, I’m always looking for ways to save money.  Beyond saving money, I hate to waste money, and when you get right down to it…food is money.  So I came up with a plan.  I would give the casserole a leftover makeover.   With just a handful of ingredients that I already had on hand, I turned the leftovers into fabulous cookies.  And best of all?  The kids never knew the difference.  



Click below to read more.

American Twist on Julia Child's Potato Leek Soup

December 9, 2014



Potato Leek Soup with an American twist

Potato Leek Soup has been around in some form or another for hundreds of years, but it was made  famous by Julia Child, an American woman who wrote the book on Mastering The Art of French Cooking.  She had several different televised cooking shows in the 1970s and 1980s.  Her version, a deliciously creamy soup dubbed Potage Parmentier, typically served either hot or cold, is famous the world over.

My Americanized version features the heartier flavors of smoked bacon and rich sour cream in addition to the fresh herbs and vegetable base made famous in her soup but is equally delicious served hot or cold.  I also included fresh lime juice to brighten the flavor.  It pairs perfectly with the velvety broth.  So, what's your favorite soup on rainy nights?  Please respond in the comments!  Click below for the recipe.

Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla in Jim Beam Black Bourbon

December 7, 2014

Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla in Jim Beam Black Bourbon

When I was a child, I remember laughing with my family whenever the subject of my grandmother's pumpkin pies came up.  You see, she would add a bit of whiskey to her pumpkin filling, and was convinced that it made the taste smoother and evened out any bitterness that the canned pumpkin might have.  What made us laugh was imagining this tiny, sweet white-haired woman drinking shots of whiskey as she baked.   Of course, that never happened...at least I'm pretty sure it didn't.  

As I grew up I continued the tradition of adding whiskey to my own pies, and found that I preferred this recipe to other versions of pumpkin pie by far.  This Thanksgiving, I took that concept and added a little twist to it. 


Homemade vanilla extract using vodka, spiced rum, and bourbon
Earlier this year, I made up three batches of homemade vanilla extract using Medagascar Vanilla Beans.  Each batch was extracted in a different kind of alcohol for about 10 weeks.  I made some with Vodka, some with Spiced Rum, and some with Jim Beam Black Bourbon.  

The vanilla extract in Vodka is most like what you would get if you bought a bottle from a regular market, although commercial brands would be about 35% alcohol and would likely contain high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, too.

I use my vanilla extract exactly the same way I use store bought, except the homemade version tastes so much better.

The spiced rum and bourbon vanilla extract are a little fancier and I  use them both in different ways.   For example, the bourbon vanilla has some darker flavors with strong caramel undertones, and it makes pumpkin pie stand up and sing.  It's that good.

If you don't have vanilla extracted in bourbon, try simply adding some bourbon separately.  If you like it - or even if you don't, please let me know in the comments.  I'd love to know what you think.  What else do you put in your pies to enhance the pumpkin flavor?

Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla in Jim Beam Black Bourbon Recipe

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extracted in bourbon OR 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 15oz can Libby's 100% pure pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk (hold back the volume of the vanilla/bourbon you're adding)
1 unbaked 9" deep dish pie crust


Directions

1.  MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. 
2.  Beat eggs in bowl of stand mixer. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and vanilla bourbon.
3.  POUR into pie shell.
4.  BAKE in a 425F F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. 
5.  Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. 

(Leftover) Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich

December 4, 2014

Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich on Sourdough Bread
Turkey and cranberry sandwiches have not always been high on my list of favorite foods.  In fact up until about five years ago, I didn’t even like cranberry sauce at all!  But every year I’d try just a little taste of my mother’s homemade version until one day it just happened.   Finally, I realized what everyone else already knew:  cranberry sauce is the perfect accompaniment to roast turkey! 
From the moment I became enlightened, I couldn’t stop thinking of ways to pair the two, and quickly imagined how yummy a turkey sandwich would taste on fresh Sourdough bread with slivers of fresh red onions and this gorgeous Cranberry Raspberry Sauce on top.  This sandwich helps you to make the most of Thanksgiving leftovers and is arguably the easiest and perhaps most satisfying way to use up turkey leftovers after the big meal.
Paired with tart Granny Smith apples and thin sliced cheddar cheese, it makes a perfect lunch for the busy holiday season.

Recipe for Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich

Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich on Sourdough Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 slices sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Red onion, cut into thin slivers
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce

Optional

  • Arugula
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced tomatoes


Directions

1.  Spread mayonnaise on one slice of the bread and cranberry sauce on the other.

2.  Add sandwich ingredients/optional ingredients in the following order, omitting or   substituting however you prefer:  Mayonnaise, red onion, turkey and sliced bread with cranberry sauce.

3.  Serve with sliced apples and aged cheddar cheese.

(Leftover) Turkey Pot Pie

December 2, 2014

(Leftover) Turkey Pot Pie
I love this recipe because it’s a “no rules” kind of meal.  The ultimate in comfort food, it can be made with literally any kind of leftover meat and veggies you have on hand.  In this case, I’m using as many of my Thanksgiving leftovers as possible along with some very basic staples like onion, carrots, celery, and chicken broth and flour.  Even the pie crust is made from the uncooked scraps I had after making my pies this year, which earned it the nickname, Frankenstein Pie.  Don’t worry if you have to piece your pie crust together (just use water to seal any seam).  After it’s baked, it will have a charming, rustic appeal that is impossible to get from store bought foods. 
Gather up your leftovers - you'll need about a half stick of butter, 3 cups of diced meat, 1/2 cup flour, 3 large potatoes diced, one onion chopped, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley, leftover veggies like green beans and fresh corn off the cob, a 32oz box of broth and of course, pie crust.  When using herbs, fresh is always best.  I keep them fresh for weeks at a time using this simple method.

In a large Dutch Oven,  melt the butter and sautee the onions, celery, and carrots until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour to the pot and allow to cook for a few minutes then add broth, being careful to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to release any of the flour that may have begun to stick.  Add potatoes to the pot, cover, and allow them to boil on medium low heat until they begin to get soft, about 20 minutes.

The broth should be thickened at this point and should coat the back of a spoon well.  Add 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, 1/2 each of teaspoon minced sage, rosemary and thyme.  As a final step, add the turkey, corn, and green beans to the pot.  You're just heating the meat and veggies at this step.  Take care not to over-stir at this point because you don't want to break up the turkey or veggies.  They're fragile because they've already been cooked.

Roll out your pie crust and place into a deep casserole dish.  Piece it together if necessary, just be sure to seal the seams with water.  Fill the crust with the contents of the Dutch Oven, and top with the rest of the pie crust.  The truth about this particular crust is that it's store-bought Pillsbury pie crust.  I had a crust and a half leftover from my Thanksgiving pies, and set them aside just for this purpose.  As you can see, my Frankenstein pot pie, has a spot where the pieces of crust don't quite meet up.  No worries!  This will just serve as the vent.  If yours doesn't have this "feature," make sure you cut some vent holes into it before cooking.

Put the casserole on a cookie sheet and pop it into a 400F oven until the crust is golden brown and the contents can be seen bubbling out of the vent, about 50 minutes or so.

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Shots from the "Christmas No" File

November 30, 2014

From the "Christmas No" file
In our family, I take our holiday photos using a timer and a tripod.  We all get a big laugh as I count backwards from ten while running to make it into the shot in time.  But getting the perfect shot is a lot harder than just making it in the photo.  In fact, it can be really, really hard to get all six of us in the shot, and looking forward.  To get all six of us to smile and not blink is nothing short of a miracle.  And if someone happens to have an aversion to Santa hats, it makes my job that much harder.   As I went through the photographic gold at the end of the day today,  I made two files.  One for "keepers" and one called the "Christmas No" file.  These are some of my favorites from this year.

From the "Christmas No" file
Sometimes I ask the kids to do something dangerous to get the perfect shot.  As you can see from my youngest Amanda on the right side of the photo, she thinks she might be 50 feet up in the air.  This could be incredibly dangerous, and I'm glad to see her using extreme caution at these heights.

From the "Christmas No" files
However, I encourage fellow photographers not to point out to their subject that they have not climbed as high as they think they have.  Doing so may result in their subject's total withdrawal from the photo shoot.

From the "Christmas No" files
After a change in scenery, I'm happy to see that all four of my children are completely focused and ready to go.

From the "Christmas No" files
Tall Amanda is goofing off here, and I'm pretty sure that Tiny Amanda is telling me to get that camera out of her face.

From the "Christmas No" files
I've read that in rare cases, having the sun shine into your eyes causes your tongue to stick out instead of making your eyes squint.

Christmas 2014
But in the end, it's all worth it when you get that one shot.  The shot that can not only go on the Christmas Card, but also on the wall.  And even better than getting the shot is getting the memories that go along with it.  I am so incredibly thankful that I get to spend my life with these people.

How to Store Fresh Herbs: Transform Mason - Wide Mouth Frog Lid Inserts

November 28, 2014

Transform Mason - Wide Mouth Frog Lid Inserts
I love the taste of fresh herbs, and use them in just about every meal I make.  Thankfully, most of my herb garden hasn't perished with the frost, and I'm still able to enjoy them.  During the Autumn, when I'm not quite sure how much longer my herb garden will last, I like to cut big bunches, and store them inside until I'm ready to use them.  I have found one of the best ways to keep them fresh is by using the Mason Jar inserts by Transform Mason.  Click below to read more.

French Onion Soup

November 25, 2014

French Onion Soup

Caramelized onions have got to be one of the greatest inventions on Earth.  Seriously, I wonder what culinary disaster must have been happening at the exact moment when it was discovered that these slow cooked onions were, in fact, not burnt but had transcended their typical mundane existence and achieved greatness previously unknown.  Click below to read more.

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving with Raspberry Cranberry Sauce

November 24, 2014

Raspberry-Cranberry Sauce
It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the cranberry sauce, right?  My mother made cranberry sauce every year for as long as I can remember.  I always loved the color, but didn't care for the taste. It made no sense because I really wanted to like it, ya know?  But no dice.  Still, I tried just a little taste of it every single year of my life.  And guess what?  About 5 years ago, it occurred to me that this stuff was actually really good!  In fact, it's fantastic and now I can't live without it!  It only took a few decades, but it finally happened.  I became a cranberry fan girl.  Click below to read more.

Delaware Chicken and Slippery Dumplings

November 23, 2014

Chicken and Slippery Dumplings

Dumplings.  The word can be traced back to the 1600's in print, but was surely around long before that!  While there are many different techniques for making dumplings, their purpose was obvious.   They were invented solely to fill hungry bellies cheaply.   

The fact that they're still around is just a testimony to how tasty they are.  In fact, every country in the world has some kind of dumpling as part of it's cuisine.  From Afrikan Fufu to Scandinavian Klubb, these meals all consist of rolling or dropping some type of starchy dough into some boiling liquid.  Click below to read more.

Kitchen Aid Customer Service

November 20, 2014

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

A few weeks ago, my wonderful husband bought me the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer of my dreams, and it isn't even my birthday!  For years, I have longed for this mixer.  With a bowl capacity of 6 quarts, it's can hold up to 14 cups of flour and can hold batter for up to 13 dozen cookies.

Truth be told, I have owned a "Heavy Duty" Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for well over 10 years.  I have made hundreds of dozens of cookies, cakes, and breads in it over the years, and it has never let me down.  The only "problem" I have with it is that it has a capacity of 4 1/2 quarts.  With the amount of cooking I do and the size of my family I just wanted something bigger in terms of both power and capacity.

He bought at Costco and I couldn't wait to get it home and open it!  However,  there was a problem.  The bowl has tabs that fit onto pegs to facilitate the bowl-lift.  The tabs were about 3/4" off, and wouldn't line up with the pegs on the mixer without extreme force.  So the next day, we went back to Costco and exchanged it another one.

Once again, I was excited to get home with my new mixer.  When I opened this box, there was yet another problem.  I wanted the color, Liquid Graphite.  The picture on the box showed the right color, as did the label.  But the mixer in the box was white.  I could have cried!   So the next day, we went back to Costco and exchanged it another one.

The third visit to Costco was a little scary because we couldn't find the right color box for a few minutes.  Before we left the building, we checked to be sure that the contents of the box matched the color advertised on the outside.  Thankfully, it did.  When we got home and took it out of the box, it was clear that while the pegs on the bowl lined up a lot better than the first one, it was still just a little off, as can be seen in the picture.

I don't like to force the bowl on the mixer, and after the ordeal we went through to find the right one, I felt compelled to call Kitchen Aid to share my experience.  I called the 800-number and reached a customer service representative here in the US.  Within five minutes, she registered my complaint and had made arrangements to have a new bowl (retail value of $59.99) shipped directly to our home within the next 5 business days.  Kitchen Aid is not charging me for shipping and is not making me jump through any hoops either.  They are simply rectifying the problem - no questions asked.

Customer Service is so important to businesses, and it seems like more and more of them are contracting that portion of the business out to companies overseas.  The result is that the consumer has a much more difficult time getting resolution for whatever problem they may have.  I wish more companies adopted (or went back to) Kitchen Aid's business model for customer service.  It's just the way things should be.

UPDATE December 12, 2014
The replacement bowl was delivered today.  It was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition.  It fits right on the pegs the way it's supposed to.   Great job, Kitchen Aid!

Homestyle Beef Stew

November 9, 2014

Homestyle Beef Stew
Beef stew is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes.  In addition to rich beef stock, fresh herbs and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon make this dish even better than the beef stew you remember from childhood.  It's sophisticated - but not so much so that the kids won't eat it.  In fact, my kids race one another to be "first in line" to fill their bowls.  Paired with some rustic bread or biscuits, and you have a hearty meal that warms you up from the inside.  Click below to read more.

What's for dinner? Why not try a Mac & Cheese Bar?

November 6, 2014

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Let's face it, while most people love creamy homemade macaroni and cheese, not everyone wants tomatoes in theirs.  Some people prefer ham.  Others, bacon.  The point is, the possibilities are endless!  Knowing this, and the fact that kids love any kind of "build your own" bar,  I've been known to make a macaroni and cheese bar for dinner from time to time.  To read more, click below.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

November 4, 2014

Pumpkin, pumpkin bundt cake, autumn desserts
Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Autumn is my favorite time of year, and nothing helps usher it in better than pumpkin desserts.  Of course, the most famous pumpkin dessert is pumpkin pie.  While I am a big fan of it myself, nothing beats this simple bundt cake that boasts an entire can pumpkin puree.  It's simply amazing.  The cream cheese icing with flecks of real vanilla bean adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this moist, delicious cake.  To get the recipe, click below.

Eastern Carolina-style Pulled Pork Sandwiches

October 29, 2014

Eastern Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Pulled pork sandwiches in the South are an amazing, yet polarizing meal.  While most of North Carolina considers pulled pork to be a tender, juicy, messy style of sandwich whereby the meat is smothered in barbecue sauce, along the Coastal Carolinas this little gem reigns.  Still tender and juicy, it's flavor is primarily achieved through a combination of different vinegars and spices.  You control just how spicy it is, so don't worry about making this for little ones.  Click below to read more.

Creamy Pasta Alfredo

October 27, 2014

Creamy Pasta Alfredo

Pasta Alfredo is a great side-dish to keep in mind for nights when you don't have the time to make potatoes, and want something that presents a little nicer than rice.  Best of all, it can be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand.   Click below to read more.

Pot Roast - the perfect one pot meal

October 26, 2014



Sunday night supper:  Pot roast, and mashed potatoes and gravy

Pot roast is a great choice for lazy Sundays when you want a special meal, but you don't want all the work.  With just a little bit of prep in the morning, you can just pop this in the oven and cook it "low and slow" all day long.  The end result is simply perfection.  And best of all - nothing beats a good roast beef sandwich made with the leftovers.  Click below to read more.

Grilled Honey Chipotle Lime Chicken

October 25, 2014

Grilled honey chipotle lime chicken served with grilled onions and peppers and guacamole
Tex-Mex style food is probably my most favorite style of cooking (and eating).  I have all sorts of recipes from this genre in regular rotation in my kitchen, but one of the all time bests is this recipe.  The spicy heat of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is offset by the sweetness of honey, and a good dose of fresh lime juice and orange juice brightens up the flavor and tenderizes the chicken in a way that is impossible to achieve otherwise.  To read more, click below.

How to make the best guacamole

October 23, 2014

Fresh Guacamole

 It never ceases to amaze me how a handful of simple ingredients, when thrown together in just the right way, can turn into something so delicious.  Guacamole has got to be one of the most perfect foods on Earth!  It works perfectly as an appetizer when served with chips, but it's also an amazing accompaniment to grilled chicken steak.  As a dressing, it's creamy flavor and chunky texture makes even the most mundane salad more interesting.  Click below to read more.

How to make your own homemade daily shower spray

October 20, 2014

This is all you need to make your own Daily Shower Spray
Spraying your shower down with daily shower spray, like this one from Tilex, is a great way to keep your shower looking, feeling, and smelling great in between deep cleanings.  But it's not cheap!  One 32 oz. bottle can cost over $3, and it will only last for a week or two at the most!  For just a few dollars more, you can purchase the ingredients to make many gallons of daily shower cleaner.  Click below to read more.

Fried Rice

October 16, 2014

Fried Rice


Fried rice is an awesome way to use up leftover rice.  If you also happen to have some left over meat, dice it finely, and throw that in the wok too.   It doesn't matter if it's beef, chicken, or pork - it all works.  I made this particular batch of fried rice to go as a side dish for my Orange-Sesame Chicken but I have been known to serve this as an entree when I add meat to it.   To read more about this click below.

Orange Sesame Chicken

October 13, 2014

Orange Chicken
My husband has been wanting Asian food for weeks now, and I haven't had the chance to make it for him.  One of the reasons why is our deep fryer, which is used to fry the chicken, is neatly put away.   Since I used it yesterday, I thought it would be a great idea to keep it out and use it again this afternoon to make Orange Chicken.  Except I forgot to share my wonderful idea.  My husband cleaned it until it looked brand new again and then put it away.  Now I need to ask him to get it back out for me.  This seems to happen all the time, and he never complains.  He is so good natured about things like that - this is one of the reasons I have still huge crush on him.  Click below to read more.

Hand Cut French Fries

October 11, 2014

Hand cut french fries with flaky sea salt

These here are the real deal.  Just like board-walk fries but even better.  I don't know anyone who doesn't love real hand-cut French Fries.  I'm not talking about limp, fast food fries or the flash frozen ones you can get at your local supermarket.  I'm talking about real, honest-to-goodness hand cut french fries.  They're so good they're worth the extra hassle involved in making 'em...and I'm not gonna lie.  It takes a few hours to get crispy perfection like this.  But once you eat them, you'll understand what I'm talking about.  Click below to read more.

Creamy Barbecue Dip

October 7, 2014

Flecks of freshly ground pepper are visible in this creamy barbecue dip


Creamy Barbecue Dip

I love this both because it tastes so good and because it's so easy to make.  I use this dip primarily with oven-warmed potato chips, but it would be good for just about anything - my son loves it on his chicken fingers!  Click below to read more.

Tips for taking "Deli Night" to the next level

October 7, 2014

Deli Nights
Sometimes I'm just not feeling it.  Let's face it - it's hard to cook.  Every.  Single.  Night.  Sometimes, I'm just too tired or have other things that I need to accomplish (like writing a blog post!).  Nights like these are made for what we call "Deli Night" in our family.  Granted, cold cuts aren't the best option, nutritionally speaking, but they're better than some of the alternatives we could be having.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, not so fast.  If I were to simply pull out packages of lunch meat and say "have at it", I think my kids would loose their calcium and fall straight to the floor writhing in agony.  So I take about 15 minutes and dress it up a bit.  I make it seem fancier than it really is and try to trick their eyes into believing that it's a treat as opposed to me slacking, which is far closer to the truth.  The presentation makes it seem like it's something better than simply sandwiches.  Click below to read more.

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

October 5, 2014

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup


Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup
I've been a little under the weather for the past few days with a cold that I just can't seem to shake, and all I can seem to think about is soup!

I wanted a soup using the chicken I had in my fridge, but wasn't in the mood for chicken noodle soup.  So today I made this toasted orzo chicken soup.  My version is adapted from this one by Rachel Ray.  I especially love her method of toasting the orzo before adding it to the soup, as it adds a certain depth to the broth that would be absent otherwise.

Like all hand crafted soups, it's wonderfully simple.  Armed with only a handful of ingredients, a big stock pot and a skillet to toast the orzo, you're all set to make your own comfort classic.

If you're not familiar, orzo is a type of pasta shaped like a grain of rice.  One thing I like about using orzo instead of regular egg noodles is that they hold their shape pretty well and don't turn mushy.  They do expand, however, and you may find that you want to add additional broth to the pot just before serving.

List of ingredients





















Click "read more" for the recipe!

Delaware City Peach Pie

September 28, 2014


Delaware City Peach Pie

Delaware City Peach Pie


Start with fresh peaches
I hadn't planned on baking a pie but as I was running errands yesterday I came across the most beautiful, ripe peaches I have ever seen.  I couldn't pass them up so this just had to happen!

I know that when most people think of peaches, they probably think of the Georgia Peach.  What many people don't know is that Delaware was the one of the country's leading producers of peaches during the early part of the nineteenth century.  Between 1840 and 1880, Delaware City, in particular, was famous for providing most of the East Coast with peaches.  The would ship right from Major's Wharf in Delaware City to ports all up and down the coast.  Isn't that cool?  So in honor of our beautiful little city, I am calling this recipe Delaware City Peach Pie.

A pie is a great "go-to" recipe for when you're
Peeled and sliced peaches
expecting company or going to a potluck because they're completely freestyle.  You just do what you feel!  Take some fruit, sugar, flour, a bit of spice, throw it in a crust and bake until it's done.  If you haven't tried to bake one before, try it!  You may surprise yourself, your family and your friends.

One of the reasons I love this pie so much is that you need practically nothing extra to make it perfect.  Just the smallest amount of cinnamon and nutmeg are there to counter the brightness of the peaches and the sweetness of the sugar.  Simple and natural ingredients.

I started with about 8 giant fresh peaches.  I cut them off of the pit, peeled them, sliced them into a large bowl.  Don't worry if they're all exact.  Just slice them so they're relatively the same thickness.  For this pie, I used about 1/2" slices.  Add some fresh lemon juice to the peaches to prevent them from turning brown.

In a separate bowl, I combined sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  I sprinkled that down onto the the peaches, then folded it in, gently so I didn't mash the peaches.
Poke bottom crust with a fork


I rolled out the crust and transferred it into the pie plate.  Don't worry about leaving the edges of crust hanging off the plate.  We'll take care of them at the end.   Note:  Do not oil or prepare the pie plate in any way.


Transfer peaches and dot with butter
Transfer the peach mixture into the pie plate and dot with a few tablespoons of butter.

Roll out the top crust and transfer it to the pie.   Fold all the overhanging cedes of crust under, then flute moving in one direction until it is sealed all the way around.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut a shape into the top crust. This will allow steam to release, and will also provide a release for the juices that will bubble up.  Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and pop into an oven that has been preheated to 350F.  I usually cover my crust for the first 15-20 minutes, then remove the cover and allow it to cook the rest of the way.
Add top crust and flute edges
Carve a shape into top crust and sprinkle with sugar
Delaware City Peach Pie


Allow to bake 350F oven until the crust is golden brown, it smells delicious, and the insides are actively bubbling up through the vents in the pie. It should look something like the photo when done - but not exactly like the photo because every pair of hands creates a different look.  Just as no two people are the same, no two pies will come out looking the same and that's a beautiful thing.

Now - if you happen to have been inspired to try this pie, please respond in the comments and let me know how you make out.








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