Groovin' in the kitchen, dancin' in Missoula.

Month: October 2010

Feta Stuffed Chicken

Feta Stuffed Chicken

Warning!  The following post may not be suitable for vegan eyes or people who think raw chicken looks icky. Ok, you’ve been warned. I’ve seen, and made, recipes similar to this one.  In comparison, I think this stuffed chicken left a little to be desired. […]

Bagels: An In Depth Look

Bagels: An In Depth Look

Remember how I told you I love my bread machine? Well, I wasn’t as forthcoming as I ought to have been. I really, really, really love my bread machine. Isn’t it beautiful? Ok, so it’s a little bit bulky. But it works magic! Honey Whole […]

Easy Chili–A learning experience

Easy Chili–A learning experience

The last time I attempted to make chili, it was quite the long and daunting process.  There was a crock pot involved, turkey, cayenne, beans…Sounds like a good time, right?  Well, I tried to get too fancy.  There was also coffee and chocolate.  In the chili.  Yeah.  Although I love those things, very much, I think I love them more when they’re not in my chili.

I’ve been thinking about chili again as the weather is starting to get cooler around here.  Actually, make that cold!  And we needed some cans to make some fancy bread that Nick wanted, so I went and bought some beans.

What happened next was kind of a blur, so I’ll tell you what I did, but then I’ll tell you how I’ll do it differently the next time.  (It was a blur because I was basically shootin’ from the hip, meaning I wasn’t following a recipe.  I did remember to take note of the amounts of ingredients though.)

In a large skillet, I sauteed onions and celery in a tiny bit of olive oil.  I should have also added a few minced cloves of garlic and some diced bell peppers at this point.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any bell peppers on hand.
Onion & Celery

When the onion and celery were just starting to get soft and opaque, I removed them from the skillet and set them aside. Then I put a pound of ground turkey in the skillet.
Ground Turkey
You’ll notice that there are onions in this photo.  I decided that there just weren’t enough onions in the first go-round, so I quickly diced some more and threw them in.

When the turkey started to brown, I threw in some cayenne pepper.  Unfortunately, I added the cayenne before I drained the fat from the skillet, so a lot of the flavor was lost when I drained the fat.

The Cayenne, of course
This was my second round of cayenne. Next time, wait to add seasonings until AFTER I drain the skillet. Ok!

When the turkey was 99% brown, I added the sauteed veggies back in.  While everything was getting cozy in the skillet, I drained and rinsed a large can of black beans and a large can of kidney beans.


I threw those in a large pot and turned the heat to medium-low. I added the turkey mixture to the pot, along with 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon.
Tomatoes & Green Onion
Does anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?  There should be 5 times this amount of tomatoes and green onion!!  Ok, maybe not 5 times this amount, but a lot more than I actually used.

As the contents of the pot started to slowly heat, I diced some green onion and cherry tomatoes.  You could use regular tomatoes, or even a can of diced tomatoes.  Just be sure that if you use the juice from the can of diced tomatoes that you reduce the amount of water that you add to the beans.

When everything was in the pot, I added 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and 1 teaspoon of chili powder.  This was actually the point where I added the garlic, because up until this point, I hadn’t even thought about garlic.  You won’t make my mistakes though, right? Then I added a sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper.

Oddly enough, when I brought the heat up to medium-high and the chili started to boil, it seemed like the level of broth went waaay up.  I even asked Nick if he’d added more water when I wasn’t looking.  What happened, in fact, was that as things started heating up, the moisture came out of the beans and veggies and probably even the turkey.  So, I just let it simmer uncovered for a bit longer (about 15-20 minutes total) to let the water evaporate.

I had to let the chili cool down quite a bit.  When it was at an eatable temperature, I grated some colby-jack cheese, and served it up!  It was quite yummy, and perfectly hardy.

The nice thing about this chili is that I didn’t have to wait seven hours to eat it.  It was quick enough that I could make it after work, and–surprise, surprise–you can modify it to your tastes!  This is a super basic recipe, so you can use it as your base, or keep it as is and still have a really good chili.  It also makes really really yummy leftovers

Here’s the recipe as it ought to be made:

1/2 large onion, diced
4-6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 pound ground turkey or beef
14 oz can each of black beans, garbanzo beans and kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cups water
2 tsps Better than Bouillon
2 tomatoes (or many many cherry tomatoes, chopped. You could also use 1 can of diced tomatoes)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoons cayenne (divided)
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a large skillet, heat a glob (that would be about 1 tbsp) of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery and bell pepper.  Heat the vegetables until just soft and opaque, then set aside.  In the warm skillet, add minced garlic and allow it to heat briefly before adding in the ground turkey.

When the ground turkey is almost completely brown, add 1/4 tsp of cayenne, then the sauteed vegetables and allow the turkey to finish browning.  Pour the beans in a large pot, add 2 cups of water and 2 tsps of Better than Bouillon (or 1 cup of water and 1 can of diced tomatoes, or heck, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth.  Whichever combination floats your boat).  Add the turkey/veggie mix to the pot, along with the tomatoes, green onions, chili powder, the rest of the cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn the heat to medium-high and allow everything to come together while it simmers–about 15 minutes.

While the chili is cooling off, you can prepare whatever toppings you like.  Freshly grated cheese or a dollop of sour cream are always excellent choices.

There you go!  If you notice any discrepancies with my recipe, please let me know.  Like I said earlier, the whole thing was sort of thrown together, so I hope I got it all straight.

Happy eating!

Copy Cats and Cheaters? Sort of.

Copy Cats and Cheaters? Sort of.

Welcome to my rant!  I know that for some die hard foodies, these are some serious topics.  I hope that you can read this with the same light-hearted intentions I had while writing. I’ve always had a complicated relationship with the “imitation is the sincerest […]

Chips–A 14 Step Plan

Chips–A 14 Step Plan

What to do if you run out of tortilla chips (with pictures): 1.  Wonder how you can end up with salsa, but no chips. 2.  Remain calm, and remind yourself that the store is not that far away. 3.  Remind yourself that you’re lazy and […]

Apple Cookie Epiphany

Apple Cookie Epiphany

Oh Mama!

That’s fun to say.  Try it!  “Apple cookie epiphany.” Now say it five times fast.  Seriously, try it!

I had these cookies once before. It was back when Nick and I first started dating, and it had never occurred to me that you could put fruit in a cookie. Cookies had chocolate, or they weren’t worth eating.  (I was addicted to sugar back then. I sought help, but it didn’t take. Luckily, I discovered that fruit has sugar in it, too.)

Nick has been asking for these cookies ever since he moved out of his parents’ house (now you know how long we’ve been together), but I thought I had to get the recipe from his mom, and I have a terrible memory.  So he’s suffered for years because it never occurred to me that I could make cookies and just put apple in them instead of chocolate chips! The next time you see my husband, tell him that you are sorry he’s had to live with such an unthoughtful wife for so many years.  Give him a hug, and tell him that there’s hope for me yet.

When I had my apple cookie epiphany, I didn’t want to use my go-to amazing oatmeal cookie recipe.  Why?  Well, because it isn’t the most health-conscious recipe.  At all, really.  I mean, it has oatmeal, which is good.  And eggs, which are good too, but it also has quite a bit of butter and flour.  Both good in moderation, but these cookies had never heard the word.  So, I decided to just “tweak” my recipe a bit.

How I did it:
Butter and Applesauce
I replaced some of the butter with applesauce. I figured if you’re gonna make apple cookies, why not go all out with the apple flavor?

Brown Sugar
I reduced the amount of both white and brown sugar. Next time (yes Nick, I plan to make these again!) I think I’ll further reduce the amount of white sugar and increase the brown sugar.

Eggs & Vanilla

After creaming the butter, applesauce and sugars, I added one whole egg, one egg white and some vanilla. And then comes my secret weapon:


I took whole oats, and then blended them to make oat flour

Oat Flour
You don’t want to blend them too fine though, because the oat flour adds the perfect texture, as well as oat flavor.


Oats and Flour

I added the oat flour, some regular flour, baking soda and baking powder to the butter mixture, and then just barely combined all the ingredients. You don’t want to over mix these cookies, or you’ll end up with a dense, sticky, delicious mess!

Honey Crisps

I then took two gorgeous honey crisp apples, diced them and added them to the dough. At this point, I had to switch to a wooden spoon to combine everything.

Apple Batter

After that, I dropped the cookies onto my stoneware pan and baked them.


And then these emerged!


Perfectly soft, perfectly appley.  I loved that the actual cookie wasn’t too sweet, because it really let the apples shine through.  You could eat these with coffee, tea, for breakfast, for dessert… When I asked my poor deprived husband how they tasted, he replied with a quick “good,” but most of the cookies have disappeared since then, leaving me to believe that he likes them.  My son, who did not inherit my sweet tooth, asked for a cookie for breakfast this morning, so you can believe me when I say that these cookies are delicious!

Have fun with this recipe, and let me know how they turn out!

Apple Cookies
Makes approximately 36 cookies, depending on how much dough you eat

3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup sugar (this is the amount I used, not my future amount, if that makes sense?)
3/4 cup brown sugar (same as above?)
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal (this is the amount before blending)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 large apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Cream butter, applesauce and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix. Add flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda and mix just to combine. (If you don’t get the last dusting of flour mixture to combine, it’s ok, because you’re still going to have to add the apples. The moisture from the apples will help grab the last bit of flour.) Add the apples and combine.
Drop onto a cookie sheet or stoneware pan, and bake until golden brown.
The baking time depends on the pans that you use. With my stoneware pans, it took anywhere from 15-20 minutes, but with a metal cookie sheet, the time is shorter–about 10-15 minutes.

I’ve Changed My Name!

I’ve Changed My Name!

After much contemplation, and a few helpful suggestions from friends, I’ve decided to change my blog’s name.  I figured it would be easier to do early on, when I have about 10 faithful readers (I love you guys!), rather than later when I have 20 […]

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Hello again!  Every now and then, my husband does something so amazing, so wonderful, so delicious that he needs to be recognized.  This is his post.  I hope you enjoy, and are brave enough to try it! I woke up this morning with the itch […]



I have a few confessions to make.

1.  I’ve had a can of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin Puree in my pantry since last fall.
2.  I thought, until yesterday, that bread crumbs on macaroni and cheese were gross.

Let me address my first confession.  Since the end of August, I’ve been reading food bloggers who have been pining away for Libby.  Waiting anxiously for her return to the shelves.  Not necessarily for pumpkin pie (at least, not yet).  No, they’ve been dreaming about pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin quinoa.  Two days ago, I was cleaning out my pantry, and there in the corner was a giant can of Libby’s Pumpkin.  Not even close to expiring!  I remembered buying a three pack from Costco last year before Thanksgiving, and I made a frozen pumpkin pie and some pumpkin bread, but then my husband was all pumpkin-ed out.  I put the can away, thinking I’d wait until after Christmas, but apparently, I forgot all about it.

I wanted to make something with the pumpkin that would be delicious, but that would also mask the taste a bit so that my husband would be less likely to get pumpkin-ed out too quickly.  And then he asked, ever so nicely (if not a bit insistently), that I make macaroni and cheese for dinner sometime.  Like for real–not out of a box.  (Another confession, I really hate mac and cheese from a box)  And then, as if fate was trying to tell me something, a friend of mine mentioned that her favorite un-grownup food was mac and cheese.  I couldn’t ignore the pull of fate!

So, I decided to put my mad scientist skills to work and make Smoked Gouda Pumpkin Mac & Cheese.  I scoured the internets (all of them) looking for cooking times, methods, general ingredients, etc. and came up with my own mish-mash.  Here’s what ensued:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Start the noodles a boilin’. We used penne, because that’s what struck our fancy in the store.

That’s 8 ounces of smoked gouda and 8 ounces of white cheddar. Man I love food processors with fancy attachments! You can buy cheese that’s already grated if you’re pressed on time, but the taste of freshly grated cheese is pretty unbeatable.

Heat two cups of pumpkin puree in a sauce pot. Then add 3/4 cups of milk and heat that through.

You’ll have to excuse the weird color in some of these photos. It was cloudy and my camera was having issues.


Add all the cheeses, and stir until melty. Then add some Worcestershire,  nutmeg, ground mustard and red pepper. I only had red pepper flakes, and I feel like they don’t flavor the dish evenly, so I added some cayenne to the mix. I’m kind of in love with cayenne. But don’t tell my husband. (He gets jealous easily)


At this point, if your sauce looks too thick you can add more milk. Keep stirring and melting, and now would be a good time to check on your noodles. If they’re ready, drain the water, and then combine the noodles and cheese sauce, then place in a baking dish.
Mixed Together
Here’s where the bread crumbs come in.  Mix about 1/3 to 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs with 2 Tbsp melted butter, and 2 Tbsp of parmesan cheese.  Those measurements are just a starting point.  Feel free to add more butter if it looks too dry, and more of everything if it looks like it won’t cover the top of the noodles.  I didn’t want a thick layer because I thought bread crumbs on mac & cheese was weird.  (How could I have been so wrong?)

Before the Oven
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top, and then put the deliciousness in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes (just until the bread crumbs turn brown and crispy). I got super impatient toward the end, and decided to turn the broiler on to speed things up. It worked perfectly:
Crispy Goodness
At this point, my camera decided it was just going to start making up colors. The bread crumbs were not burnt, and the cheese sauce wasn’t nearly as weirdly orange.

And there you have it!

This was so good, and if you didn’t know there was pumpkin involved, it would be really hard to tell. The smoked gouda had a slightly bacon-y flavor, and the bread crumbs gave it some texture and crunch. Everything that had been missing from boxed macaroni!  I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the bread crumbless version.  Especially since panko has a very light flavor–all you get is the texture.  I also learned during this process that pumpkin puree is very low in calories.  The addition of pumpkin puree doesn’t cut the overall calories of the meal, but it does add some awesome beta carotene and potassium.

It was seriously hard to stop eating this stuff.  And!  This is one of those recipes that is really adaptable!  Add some cumin, some chicken even!  Tumeric might be an interesting experiment.  Go wild!!


Just in case you’re not ready to be let loose with this mad cheesyness though, here’s the recipe:

1 Box of pasta–macaroni, penne, whatever floats your boat
2 cups Pumpkin puree (would also be excellent with spaghetti squash puree)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsps parmesan cheese
8 oz sharp white cheddar
8 oz smoked gouda
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Hard Apple Cider, Homebrew Style

Hard Apple Cider, Homebrew Style

Here it is, the apple cider homebrew!  This post is provided by my husband, the brewer extraordinaire.  Enjoy! Making Homebrew is really satisfying, and relatively easy. I took the basic recipe from Instructables, and made some of my own modifications. A few things before we […]