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Sweet and Spicy Chili

January 16, 2011

A play on the classic vegetarian chili, the sweet potato and tomato jam make for an interesting version of the warm winter classic.  Perhaps it can serve as an interesting vegetarian alternative to Super Bowl Sunday offerings.

All of the parts, ready for a long trip in the crock pot...


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4+ cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can each chick peas, kidney beans, and black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint tomato salsa
  • 1 pint spicy tomato jam
  • 4 cups water

Here’s an easy one: combine all of the ingredients in a 5-quart or larger crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with sour cream and hot sauce (I recommend Frank’s Red Hot).

8 hours later...ready to eat!


Crockpot Turkey Ragu Sauce

January 14, 2011

So, I got a crock pot for Christmas.  You can all anticipate seeing a slew of crock pot recipes now, as I am in crock pot honeymoon phase.  My first trial was to make a slow-cooked tomato sauce without having to sit and stir a pot all day, Italian grandma-style.  I think the results were quite satisfactory!


  • 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. 93/7 lean ground turkey
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 24 oz package of mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 quart jars of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (you can omit if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon sugar (or plain sugar)

Ahh, the aroma of sauteing mushrooms...

Heat half of the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and turkey, and saute until the onions are transleucent and the turkey is browned.  Transfer this to the crock pot.  Return the pan to the stovetop, adding the remainder of the olive oil and the mushrooms.  Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes, then transfer to the crock pot.

Pre-cook down

Add the remainder of the ingredients to the crock pot and set the crockpot to low.  Cook for 8 hours with the lid slightly ajar.


Add to some pasta and enjoy!

Lemon Apple Cookies

January 12, 2011

These cookies are an interesting blend of the simple sugar cookies with the flavors of lemon and apple.  The bits of lemon add a nice bite, while the apple butter adds a richness and fluffy texture.

Components of cookie awesomeness

Recipe: I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light:

  • 2  cups  lemon sugar, plus 1/2  cup  set aside
  • 8  tablespoons  butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/3 cup apple butter
  • 2  teaspoon s vanilla extract (I make my own by combining 160 proof alcohol in a washed out spice jar with 2-3 vanilla beans)
  • 2  large eggs
  • 3-1/2  cups all-purpose flour (about 14-2/3 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt


Preheat oven to 375°.  Place flavored sugar, apple butter and butter in a bowl; beat with an electric mixer until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla and egg; beat until well blended.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.   Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until just combined.

Yea, some of the dough got eatten instead of baked...

Place remaining sugar in a small bowl.  Measure out dough into tablespoon portions.  Shape each portion of dough into a ball. Roll balls in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Transfer baking sheets to the freezer for 10 minutes before placing in the oven.  Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Assembly of the cookies

Holiday crafts

January 6, 2011

I knit a few items for the holidays this year, so I couldn’t post them until they were given out as gifts.  Still to come: the second sock for my sister (yea, she only got one sock for Chistmas…)

Beret, blocking over a pie plate

Circle scarf

Fair Isle hat

Maybe we can get some action shots of the recipients wearing their new knitted items!


Lemon Sugar

January 5, 2011

Remember all those lemon peels from the lemon-honey simple syrup used in the Lemon-Honey Whiskey Cocktail?  Well I couldn’t bear to throw them out.  Instead, I let them sit in a quart jar layered with sugar for a week, and then tossed with more sugar.  A quick trip through the food processor chopped up the peels to create a lovely lemon-scented sugar.  I can’t wait to use it in sugar cookies, in mixed drinks (perhaps a short cut version of the aforementioned drink), or to line the rim of cocktail glasses.  While the season of lots of gift giving is waning, I may file this away to give out next year.

Big bowl of lemon sugar!

If you don’t have lemon peels left over from making the simple syrup, zest 10 lemons.  Let sit in 1 quart sugar until moisture has been distributed, and then mix with an additional quart of sugar.  Store in jars.

Expect some drink recipes using this to come soon…

Wide mouth jars work well for lining the rims of wine and champagne glasses...

Beer-Braised Top Round Steak

January 4, 2011

Who doesn’t like recipes that keep your oven on for a few hours when it is this cold and snowy outside.  I used local beef and some of our own homebrew for this, for extra local-eating brownie points!  By using a less expensive cut and cooking it at a lower temperature for longer, you not only get lots of flavor, but also can enjoy local meat without breaking the bank.

Yeah beer!


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. top round steak or other cheaper, tougher, more flavorful cut- I got mine at the Tucker Square Farmers Market from Stony Mountain Ranch
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • About 20 Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered
  • About 8 small new potatoes- I used a mix of colors
  • 2 bottles of stout
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dried rosemary

Ready for the beer!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  On the stovetop, heat the oil in a large dutch oven.  Add the beef and brown on both sides.  Add onions, continue to cook for 3-5 more minutes.  Add the potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Cover with the beer and bring to a simmer.  Add the salt, pepper and rosemary, cover, and move to the oven.  Cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the potatoes are cooked.

mmm...finished dish!

Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

January 3, 2011

I love oatmeal cookies, but I do not like raisins all up in there.  Gross.  This recipe is a nice alternative, while still (maybe?) having some healthiness to it.

Who took a bite out of that cookie!

Recipe (Adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1  cup  all-purpose flour (about 4-1/2  ounces)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2  cups  quick-cooking oats OR rolled oats pulsed through a food processor several times
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1 -1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 3/4  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup apple butter or applesauce
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 2  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  sweetened dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cookies, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours,  oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg in a bowl. Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, apple butter or sauce and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, then chocolate chips and cranberries; stir until combined. Shape dough into 36 (1-tbsp) balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Place in freezer for at least 10 minutes, the bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until almost firm. Have trays of cookies freezing while others are cooking for optimized efficiency.  Let stand on the baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets; cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: About 36

Yay cookies!