Dice an Onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic, two carrots, a handful of parsley and an entire clump of celery. trim of the bottom of course and any brown tips. But dice up the leaves as small as you can, the heart of the celery and the leaves are where all the flavor is. put that all in a pot with some Olive Oil (Extra Virgin) of course and saute for a few minutes. Add some salt to help draw out the moisture. after the carrots have softened and everything else is basically translucent, add a tablespoon or two or three of Butter, add equal amounts of flour and stir like mad the flour will burn if you let it sit still or have too much heat, but you do want the butter and flour to brown a little. Then add a box of chicken stock. Or a couple of cans, or 3-4 cubes of chicken, or vegetable bullion. or whatever you have on hand. If you added cubes, then you will want to add some water to make the broth. At this point I pull out the immersion blender and have a little party in the pan. You could however pour the contents into a blender or a food processor. when you have a thick non chunky consistency, pour back into the pan (if you poured out), and over med-high heat add a cup of cream or two. this combined with the flour under heat will cause the soup to thicken. I then salt and pepper to taste.

Done Deal.
Oh yeah, I also like to set aside a few diced celery pieces, and a few diced carrots, and add them back into the soup after you have blended it. They will soften up before you serve it, but they add a little more texture. I garnished mine with diced spring onions, and the awesome recipe for bread bowls I got here
I used the recipe for Italian bread bowls. It made six perfect sized and very tasty bread bowls. I actually only cooked four of them and after letting the bowls rise the first time, punching them down and then shaping, I froze two, so it will be interesting to see how they cook after being frozen.

For our Halloween Party tonight, we made mini caramel apples. They were absolutely darling. And yummy.

Here's how we did it.

Fine a large glass, microwavable bowl. Add 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1 cup butter and 1 can of Sweet and Condensed Milk. Microwave for 2 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Stir. Microwave for 3 minutes and stir again. (stopping to stir is IMPORTANT to evenly distribute the heat). Repeat the 3 minute microwave and stir. Repeat again. Repeat again. Voila! Homemade Caramel.

Next get the assembly line ready. You will need some apples...preferably tart ones. You will also need a melon baller, some bamboo skewers, and some fun sprinkles and nuts and other decorations. Oh...it's also very helpful if you have little candy paper things. (see picture above)

Use the melon baller to scoop out balls of apple. Skewer the apple on the part that shows the skin. dip in the caramel. roll in the sprinkles. Put on your beautiful platter in the papers. Serve at your party. Watch the guests admire and enjoy!

Today I made Alan and Becca's "Ghost Chili". Isn't it pretty? It was yummy too! And, yes, I will admit, I did NOT win the chili cook-off. It was a bit of a disappointment, but let's be honest here....Who were the judges anyway? They picked a chili that had bacon in it. Bacon? in chili? I'm sure it was tasty in a traditional chili type of way?? But my chili had character and STYLE. It's halloween...it was Ghost Chili! I mean, that's FESTIVE! I'm not bitter.

Anyway, on to the recipe! :)

Start by chopping up one onion and three jalepeno chili peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs of the jalepenos, unless you want a lot of kick! Then go ahead and toss the seeds and ribs in! Throw caution to the wind! Put the onions and jalepenos into the pan with some olive oil and sautee til the onions are translucent. Oh...and do not take any deep wiffs over the pan during this process unless you have a death wish for your eyes. The jalepenos can be kind-of potent! Oh...I almost forgot...I also diced up 3 large garlic cloves and added them to the sautee half-way through the process. (they sautee faster than the onions and you don't want the garlic to burn!)

I should mention...if you prefer, you can add 1/2 tsp of garlic powder instead of the fresh garlic, and you could add canned chili peppers instead of fresh.

**(I did not get any photos of the next step as I was solo in this cooking operation and was touching raw chicken, and well, raw chicken does NOT mix with my camera!)

Next add 1 pound of diced chicken to the pan and brown it on all sides. Once the chicken is browned, add chicken stock to the pan. It will look like this:
Truthfully, it doesn't look like much at this point...but it does smell good!

Next, open your 2 cans of Cannelli (or Great Northern) white beans, drain them and add them to the pot.

Now bring it to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes or so....

Lastly add 1/2 cup of cream & 1 cup of sour cream to the mix. (no photos...sorry!)

And then add some seasonings. I added 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to the mix. Oh, and as a last minute effort at winning the cook-off (futile!) I also threw in 4 oz of cream cheese. . . .

It was yummy!

This is my peach crisp, adapted from the pioneer woman
I didn't get a picture of all the ingredients together, mostly because I was tired, and doing this kind-of on the fly...
But you start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Then measure into a medium bowl 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar (I only had 1/4 cup, so I ran with it - it was fine), 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg.
I was so excited...for this gave me an excuse to use the fancy schmancy nutmeg grinder that Wendy gave me for Christmas! Although, I will note, and ask those of you who regularly use these types of nutmeg grinders...how exactly is one supposed to MEASURE 1/2 tsp of nutmeg coming out of one of these things? I just guessed...I'm more into the "Less precise" when it comes to the science of cooking anyway! Oh....and I added about 1/2 cup of oats as well (this differs from the Pioneer Woman...but I love oats on a "Crisp" so I ran with it!)
Next add 1/2 cup of butter, and cut that in with your handy pastry cutter.

Next take those delicious tree-ripened peaches that you got at the farmer's market on Friday and de-skin and cut them up. toss them with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice...and if you have a fresh lemon the Pioneer woman says you should add lemon zest too. (it was Sunday, I didn't have a lemon, and didn't think I could borrow one from a neighbor either) Then add about 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff.....not aunt Jemimah)
Add your topping to the peach mixture...and bake for approx. 45 minutes.

Serve with the Pioneer Woman's maple cream sauce - or if you are me, and it's Sunday and you don't have any cream....settle for some vanilla ice cream from your freezer. Yummy!

I made the yummiest Sweet and Sour Chicken on Sunday! I thought I would share the recipe. I have a picture of the final result, but none of the process until I make it again...I was by myself and the whole breading process made it not reasonable to use a camera at the same time.

Anyway, to begin, here is what you need: 3-4 chicken breasts, 1 cup of corn starch, 2 eggs (beaten) salt and pepper. First you chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, then salt and pepper for seasoning. Next you coat them in corn starch, then dredge in the eggs. Then into the frying pan with a little bit of oil. If you aren't careful (which I wasn't) you will end up with a LOT of batter stuck to your fingers. If you have a non-stick pan you can get away with a smaller amount of oil here. All you are going to do is let them brown up a tiny bit, but not cook all the way through. Then, pull them out of the pan and put them in a baking dish.

Next we mix up the sauce. In a small bowl combine 3/4 Cup of sugar, 4 Tablespoons of Ketchup, 1/2 Cup of vinegar ( I use rice vinegar) , 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce, and 1 tsp of Garlic Salt. Then pour the sauce over the chicken bites and bake the whole thing at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

The result? Yummy!

At our house we periodically have what we call "Mexican Saturday". We love Mexican food so we will have a Saturday filled with our favorite Mexican foods. We usually start off with Mexican shrimp cocktails and lots of tortilla chips with fresh Salsa and Guacamole. We then move on to other dishes like fish or shrimp tacos, and more often then not burritos filled with potato and green chili.

These things are awesome! It might sound like a weird combination of flavors but they really are amazing. We used go to Puerto Penasco several times a year and we would buy these from food vendors on the beach.
You will need several potatoes, Anaheim peppers, bacon, one onion, 2-3 cloves of Garlic, some flour tortillas, and some cheese.
So find a pan and fry up some bacon. Use as much or as little as you like, this is not the main ingredient we are just rying to add some flavor and provide some fat to cook later ingredients. You could even skip this part and just use some olive oil.
While the bacon is getting happy in the pan you need to burn/roast
the Anaheim peppers. These are my favorite peppers. They are very versatile,with good flavor and they are still cheap. I substitute these for Bell peppers all the time. I love buying them down in the South where I live too. Every time I'm at the check out stand the cashier will pick up the peppers and ask me what they are. I tell them and they quickly grab their little cheat sheet to look up the code. Surely there are other people that buy them too. I can't be the only one. However They always ask me every single time.
Anyways, I roast mine on the grill to intensify the heat and give it a smoky flavor. You could use green chilies from a can, but they are not as good, more expensive, and there just isn't any fun in it. I fire up my barbecue grill and toss them on the rack. Pay close attention and turn them when the skin begins to blacken. It should only take a couple of minutes. You could just use a blow torch or hold them over you gas burner on your stove if you have gas. (I could make a joke here, BUTT Ill refrain) let them cool off for a while as you continue with the other goods.
Oh yeah you should have your potatoes in salted boiling water. This should probably be the first step.
Your bacon should be nice and crispy by now so pull it out of the pan and crumble it. And uhh depending on how much bacon grease is in the pan you might want to drain some off, or not, that depends on your diet plan, not mine.
The above picture is one onion diced and three cloves of garlic diced soaking up the hot bacon grease and all the bacon bits left behind. Doesn't that look yummy, well it would if I had any photo skills but I don't, (I do have some numb chuck skills but we wont go into that) so you will just have to imagine the smell and taste of it. Cook it until it is nice and translucent. I would say cook it until its browned, but there were enough bacon remains in the pan that it looked brown when I put it all in.
If you read this whole post and realized that boiling potatoes is the first step then you will be in good shape and your potatoes will be nice and soft. Cut them into cubes and add them to the pan full of grease, onion, and garlic. Now brown those potatoes. oh yeah and add some salt and pepper. Don't be afraid of the salt, potatoes can suck up more salt than the dead sea! This is how potatoes were meant to be cooked. Sure you can cook them millions of other ways but they really were meant to be put in hot bacon grease! So while the potatoes attain the state of nirvana, you have a few minutes to peel off the blackened skin from your peppers. the skin peels off really easily. then gently cut them open and lay them out flat. You can now use a knife to scrape all the seeds out. then dice and you have green chilies, they will look just like they came out of a can, except greener, fresher, smokier, and obviously more flavorful. These babies are what makes this dish so make sure you get them right.
Now add these babies and the bacon into the mix and you will truly have some awesome flavors and smells in your kitchen.
Next for assembly. I'm no expert in making burritos, but I have watched other experts. (at Taco Bell) Its simple really just place all the goods in the center of the tortilla and roll it up and fold the sides over. Right? Lets see how I did...
We must not forget the cheese, whats a burrito without cheese! Oh yeah the cheese melts faster and it all tastes better if the tortillas are warmed. If your gonna go all out make your own tortillas, and cook them enough to have some of those brown and black spots on them. Mmmm. Or if you live in Phoenix AZ then head on over to Carolina's. I have eaten a lot of tortillas in my day but I have never, ever, ever, ever had any that taste as good as theirs do. prepare yourself for a bit of a scary neighborhood, and a total hole in the wall restaurant, however it is well worth it. While buying your tortillas I recommend getting a potato and bean burrito and a Machaca double wrapped.

Not bad if I don't say so myself, I think I might be qualified to roll burritos for Taco Bell.
Now go eat that thing and enjoy, or add some salsa, and then eat it.

Ok so this is so easy...
So Yummy...
Super versatile...
and it freezes really well.
What could be better than coming home from church (on a Fast Sunday)
and Dinner is done, and smelling up the whole house.
I made this on Saturday night, along with some Country Whole Wheat bread with Herbs. I have been craving some homemade bread for a while and I always like to try out new bread recipes.

We have to take a pause in the recipe here for a funny story...
First I submit to you a question. Is it thievery to take some fresh herbs growing in front of a vacant house? I say no, but Bec says yes! As I was saying earlier I have been craving homemade bread for a while and I like to make bread that I can use our Wheat from our food storage in. We have tons of wheat in our food storage. I wanted to make some country whole wheat bread with rosemary. Doesn't that sound good and kind fancy too. Perfect for Sunday dinner. I could always go to the store and buy some fresh rosemary, or I can go down the street to a condo where our friends the Joners used to live and they had a huge rosemary bush in their front yard. So I told Bec that I would be back in a few minutes because I was headed to get some rosemary. She told me that I was stealing and that God was going to punish me. I told her I was only going to snip some if the house was still vacant. If somebody was there I would not do it. So just as I headed out the door this massive thunder storm busts the sky wide open. This is the best thunderstorm that I think I have ever seen. The lightning was striking within a mile for sure. I actually was scared and came back inside to ride out the storm. Amazingly the girls slept through it. And we did not lose power. We did however have the overloaded surge protector that all my computer equipment is hooked up to get reset (twice). My computers are all good, except one of my monitors no longer works. I m sure I can fix it though. So I did go cut some rosemary after the storm was over. Obviously nobody lives in that condo yet. The rosemary Bush is so overgrown its practically covering the front walkway. The way I see it I was doing the landlord a favor in trimming it back a little. I didn't take any pictures of the bread, however it turned out fabulously and was the perfect compliment to dip into our beef stew juices. So now back to the Beef Stew!

This is everything I used apart from some salt and pepper.
2 cans of stewed tomatoes
1 can of corn
2 Humongous (IDAHO) Potatoes - not Wada, Sorry Steve
4 carrots - that was all I had left
1 onion
3 cloves of Garlic

I would have put more carrots in if I had more, I also would have added 4 or 5 stalks of Celery (leaves included), But I didn't have any. I chopped everything up minus the stew meat, it was already chopped, and tossed it all into the crock pot. added a little salt and pepper, put it on low, and went to bed. I don't always use stew meat when I make this. Sometimes when I'm cleaning out the freezer and I find a mystery steak that is looking a little freezer burned, I think... Hmm. Im not going to be grilling this frozen piece of Tundra up. Thats when you have to think of beef stew, cause something like that will work nicely in beef stew. Oh yeah, don't add any water to this, you get plenty of juices from those cans.

After eating two giant bowls I loaded a zip lock and off to the freezer it went. This stuff tastes as good if not better after being thawed. Enjoy! Oh and if you see some guy snipping a few sprigs of herb from your front walkway, don't worry about him, I'm sure he's harmless. Besides who plants herbs next to their front door anyways?

WOW! I can't get enough of this stuff. We will be homesick for AZ now for the next couple of days because we used to go to Nielson's Frozen Custard and eat this. However several years ago I started making my own and now I'm going to share the recipe with you all. It takes some time and effort, but it is so worth it. We make it every year on the 4th of July and then again at thanksgiving as a part of Banoffie pie. I'm not sure if I can let that secret recipe out yet. Anyways here we go!

2 Cups of Milk (any kind I use Skim)
3/4 Cup of Sugar
6 whole eggs
1 Tablespoon Honey
1/4 teaspoon Salt

First Make Custard. This is the hard part. Making Custard is an art that I learned while serving a mission in Ireland. For a while I lived with a guy from England and he taught me how to make perfect custard. You can make it from powder, or you can make it from scratch with eggs. For this recipe I highly recommend making it with eggs. Now there are some people who will tell you to that you need to scald your milk and then mix with your eggs to avoid scrambling your eggs, but I prefer to build up my Popeye muscles by whisking forever! I put all the above listed ingredients into a pot and whisk quickly and constantly on medium heat for about 10 minutes. You will get lots of foam from all the whisking but thats ok. The main thing is not to burn the mixture and especially not to scramble the eggs. When the mixture coates the bottom of a spoon it is done!
Mmmm. thats some good lookin custard. So its important to transfer the pot to a cold or ice water bath and continue whisking as it cools so as not to burn it. Or you could serve it hot like this on top of a slice of Apple Pie. After it cools a bit you can put it in the fridge and it will thicken to a pudding like consistency. Pour the Custard into your Ice Cream machine, maker, hand crank thingy or whatever you use to make Ice cream.

Frozen Custard
2 Cups Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 pot of cooled Custard
Now let it churn for a while. You of course will have to add ice and rock salt if you use a machine like mine...

At this point it is very important to Adhere to my other 4th of July traditions.
Barbeque some ribs and other goods, make some other good eats, and most importantly...
Drink a root beer in a frosty mug.
After 30 - 60 minutes you will have some awesome Frozen custard. It should be very thick and yet still smooth like soft serve ice cream. Its very important to eat it right away before it melts : )
And its always better fresh, then frozen later.
I highly recommend adding fresh strawberries and bananas. Nothing could be better! Enjoy!

The food blog has gone through a dry spell lately so here is a quickie. Bec and I made this cake for the 4th of July. Thats in two days from now, we are eating it early, because its too good to wait. Plus our regular 4th of July traditions include frozen Custard with fresh Strawberries and Bananas. So check back soon to see that Recipe! This was Bec's idea so I have to give credit to her, plus she did most of the work. She got the recipe from my mom in an email, in response to some kind of recipe spam mail that Bec apparently spammed out to everybody in her address book. Thanks for the recipe mom, its delish!

I'm not sure what its called so I'm calling it Super Yummy Flag cake

1. Bake a white cake from scratch, or from a box, thats what I did.

2. After it cools, poke holes all over with a wooden spoon. I used a tooth pick and poked as many as possible.
3. Make Jello - per instructions on box. We used Raspberry. Pour Hot Jello all over cake.
4. Let cake cool in refrigerator overnight or for as long as you think you can wait. ( its hard to wait for some things)
5. Cover with Whipped cream, and have your wife decorate with Blueberries and Strawberries, or whatever sounds good to you.

Ok....so, I didn't have to wait long to have the opportunity to assembly this yummy salad! First of all, let's review the ingredients: Chicken (not pictured, as it was in the steamer, working on getting cooked), rice (also not pictured...also getting cooked), celery, green onion, frozen peas, mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper. Don't they all look happy...so much potential!
So...I like to steam my chicken in this Black and Decker "handy steamer". It's one of my favorite appliances and it gets a lot of use in my kitchen. Chicken, when cooked this way is very flavorful and moist.
So, while the chicken and rice are cooking, let's work on the rest of the salad. First I chopped up the celery. I also chopped up the celery tops (the leafy part). I like the added flavor those leaves give to the salad. Kind-of slightly spicy. Also, I will just note, that if you are lucky enough to own a knife that is celery green like mine...you should definitely choose to use it whenever you have the opportunity to chop celery! I mean, how fun is that? :) In case you are wondering...I got my knife from the Pampered Chef. I really really really wanted a santoku knife, but didn't want to pay as much as they cost. This was kind-of a mini version, and the color is what sold me completely.
Ok...enough about my knife. Once you've chopped the celery, add it to the bowl. (And don't pay attention to my cell phone sitting under the bowl!)
Next add the frozen peas to the bowl. Don't worry about thawing them out. They will thaw pretty quickly all on their own.
Then chop up some green onions....(there's that green knife again!)

Oh! I just realized I also left the cashews out of the ingredient picture. I'm not doing so well today, am I? You are going to need 2 cups of cashews, and that's a lot. I bought this big container at Costco. I like that they are whole cashews and "fancy" at that. But you can use any variety.
Ok....now let's work on the dressing. It's hard to see, but there is mayonnaise in that bowl.
Next we will be adding some curry powder. Those of you who don't love curry...(Alan)...don't worry because there is only a 1/2 teaspoon. Really, that's not much. If you love curry (like me) you can always add a little bit more.
And now a little salt. (note: I use kosher salt)
And add some pepper too. I was busy grinding my pepper, and it takes two hands, so you don't get a photo of that, but you can see that I've put the pepper in...
Did I mention, I LOVE this pepper. :) I didn't used to like pepper at all, and then I discovered this. It's a whole new world of pepper for me!
Hopefully your chicken is done steaming. If you are me, and you are bad at timing your salad making, you probably had to go surf the internet for a half hour or so while your chicken finished. So, now, being careful not to burn your fingers, dice that chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Again, I was not really good at my salad-making-timing this day, and I really needed to leave in about 20 minutes. The chicken was still hot, and the rice wasn't cooling down very well either. Well...I thought you might enjoy my solution...the freezer! We did a quick chill.
Then put it all together and stir. (I was in a hurry and forgot to photograph the stirring) But here is the final result. Yummy!

And here we are at the party....everyone LOVED the salad. And the party was fun too!

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