Thursday, December 28, 2006

What is it about a stormy day, trapped at home, that brings out your inner junk food cravings? It's like maybe you won't survive the storm so you might as well live it up and eat anything and everything you normally avoid -- like a pan of homemade fudge or a huge bowl of Frito pie.
With the snow peppering down today, my thoughts are turning to doing some cooking and eating on the weekend if, indeed, we get stuck in another blizzard like last week. How about you?
I'll start by making an easy five minute fudge (recipe below) in the morning so it can be cool enough to slice by early afternoon. We'll set up the Monopoly board, pop up a big bowl of salty popcorn and wash down the fudge and popcorn with diet soda. Why diet soda? It's a little nod to controlling the bratty inner junk food freak's calorie count. By late afternoon the crash from the sugar rush is the perfect excuse to take a nap and forgive myself for selling off Park Place - and eating like a fool.
After a little snooze it's time to hit the kitchen to whip up a big pot of "Gordon's Chili," (recipe follows) the best base for Frito pie on earth. It's a recipe from a 2002 March issue of Saveur magazine.
If either of these ideas appeal to your naughty-snacky-inner-junk-food eater, you'd better get to a grocery store NOW, while there's still some food left on the shelves. And, if you do try these recipes let me know what you think of them. Or, if you have other closet junk food stories let me know those, too.

2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoong salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, vanilla, and nuts. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour into an 8-inch square buttered pan and cool. Cut fudge into squares.

Yield: 8 servings
4 pounds boneless beef chuck, coarsely ground or finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups homemade or canned tomato sauce
2/3 cup ground ancho chiles
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt to taste
About 5 cups water
2 tablespoons masa harina
1/3 cup warm water
Heat a large enameled cast-iron casserole or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-10 minutes. Add onions, garlic, tomato sauce, chilies, cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne and salt to taste and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover meat by 1/2 inch (about 5 cups), increase hit to high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Put masa harina into small bowl and add 1/3 cup warm water, stirring until smooth. Add moistened masa to chili, stirring until well combined. Continue cooking chili over medium-low heat until meat is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes more. Adjust seasonings. If desired, use chili to make Frito Pie: Slit open a bag of Fritos (or another brand) corn chips, spoon warm chili over chips, and sprinkle with chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

That old boy scout motto, "Be prepared," should be heeded as a forecast of yet another snowstorm looms over us.

Last Friday, my friend, Linda Henderson, e-mailed that she had finally gotten out of her snow-drifted cul-de-sac to swing by and pick up her 90-something mother, Lois Hayna.
"We need to get to the grocery store to pick up a few things for our Christmas dinner," she said. "When we got to the store Mother took one look at the produce section and said it reminded her of how stores looked during the war. There was hardly anything fresh left and what was there wasn't worth buying."

With a repeat of last week's weather in the forecast today, I dropped into the Safeway in Rockrimmon to see if they had recovered from last week's storm. There were still plenty of empty sections in the produce section. Almost all of the pre-packaged salad greens were gone. The frozen meat section looked sketchy, too. Fresh meat was on the slim side and the dairy case was only about one-third full. The cheese section was almost bare, as was the refrigerated biscuit section.

If this Safeway is any indication of how other grocery stores have recovered from the last week's storm, you'd better make plans NOW to get to a store near you to get what's left, just in case the predicted storm materializes.

Personally, I always keep a few cans of clams in the pantry so I can whip up white clam sauce to toss with pasta. Nothing could be easier and more filling. Following is my emergency recipe. How about you? Do you have a recipe you can fix in a snap when a trip to the store is out of the question? Please pass it along.

White Clam Sauce and Pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon flour
4 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams, with juice
1 (8 ounce) package dry pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, in a medium skillet heat olive oil and garlic. Add seasoning and flour, stirring mixture about 2 to 3 minutes. Add clams with juice and continue to cook 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture is bubbly. When pasta is al dente, drain and toss with clam sauce. Serves 2.

Monday, December 18, 2006


The Busy Cooks Web site is offering some last minute menus for Christmas brunch, as well as cookie recipes and short videos covering such topics as How to Throw a Holiday Pary. The Waffle Quiche recipe caught our eye and we added it to the bottom of this blog.
For the rest of the tips, go to the site -- -- or click on the links below.

Christmas Breakfast Menus
Holiday Crockpot Recipes
Chocolate Caramel Roll French Toast
Filo Sausage Egg Bake
Tiny Caramel Rolls
Five Ingredient Holiday Recipes
My Favorite Christmas Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sweet Rolls

Holiday Survival Strategies
Watch these helpful videos for tips on surviving the holiday season.
2-Minute Relaxation Technique
How to Throw a Great Holiday Party
Controlling Holiday Food Portions
Gift Idea: Portable Video Players
Dressing for Special Occasions

Waffle Quiches
6 to 8 frozen waffles (depending on size)
1 cup chopped ham
1 cup shredded Havarti cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure that the waffles are solid and don't have any holes. Toast waffles until crisp. Then place on a baking tray with sides.
Sprinkle ham and Havarti cheese over the waffles.
In medium bowl, combine eggs, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and beat until combined. Spoon egg mixture over each waffle, being careful not to overfill the waffle indentations. You may need to use more waffles for this amount of egg, depending on their size. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until egg mixture is set and cheese is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

If you're still scratching your head about a cool culinary gift this holiday season, has compiled a list of the best selling kitchen tools from its online store. Here is the Top 10 Most Popular List, based on reviews from customers.
1. Electric Griddle/Grill Combo by Cuisinart $129.95 (sku# 220499)
2. Professional Belgian Waffle Iron by Waring $79.95 (sku# 203041)
3. Sandwich Makers by DeLonghi (Panini from Retro Collection) $59.95 (sku# 203195)
4. Stand Mixers by KitchenAid (Professional 6 quart 600) $399.95 (sku# 309154)
5. Bread Machines by Zojirushi $199.95 (sku# 205876)
6. Everyday Pan w/glass Lid by Calphalon (Commerical Nonstick) $39.99 (sku#119296)
7. Food Processors by Cuisinart (14 cup Custom Brushed Stainless) $199.95 (sku# 188796)
8. Ice Cream Maker by Cuisinart (1.5 quart) $129.95 (sku# 624217)
9. Santoku Cutlery Set by Calphalon $29.95 (sku# 741145)
10. Hand Blenders by KitchenAid $89.95 (sku# 310302)
If some of these items strick your fancy, you'll be happy to know is offering free shipping on orders of $79 or more through Thursday, December 14th. For more great gift ideas, visit at

Have you had it with traffic snarls in parking lots? Long lines at the cash register? This just might be the answer for you:
This newly launched Web site has ended the shopping nightmares of grocery store customers everywhere. The online market carries a broad selection of premium foods including wines, imported cheeses, exotic meats, pastas, desserts and more, all in one store. In addition to traditional fare, is featuring a gourmet gifts section, including themed gift baskets, desserts, kosher gifts, fruit baskets, gourmet chocolates and even cigar gift sets. In anticipation of forthcoming New Year resolutions, the site is ready with more health conscious choices that include natural seafoods, gluten- and wheat-free products, organics, health supplements and weight loss aids.

This has a broader selection than similar sites I've seen, and the prices seem pretty reasonable for what you get -- high-end gourmet foods. The photo above is the "Taste of Ireland" basket -- 4 pounds of goodies in a pretty copper tub for $70.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If we're to believe the weather forecast we could be waking to a snowy morning. What better way to chase the cold than with a steaming mug of hot chocolate? Here's a collection of recipes to help you out.
The first three are for making your own chocolate mix. It's great to keep this sort of instant mix on hand all winter for a quick cup of creamy hot chocolate. Or put it a mix in a pretty jar with a festive bow to give as a gift from your kitchen.
So pick a recipe, snuggle up and watch the snow fly.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
10-2/3 cups instant nonfat powdered milk
6 oz. jar powdered nondairy creamer
4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bag mini marshmallows
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place. This makes 17 cups of mix.
For one serving, stir 3 tablespoons Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix into 1 cup of hot water or milk until dissolved.

Jacques' Hot Hot Chocolate
3 pounds bittersweet chocolate
1 pound 2 ounces whole dry milk powder
Cayenne pepper
1 large stick cinnamon
Finely grate the bittersweet chocolate. Place the milk powder, grated chocolate, and cayenne pepper, to taste, in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into attractive tins or jars and tie the cinnamon stick to the jar. Label the jar with the following instructions:
Use 1/2-cup of chocolate mixture with each cup of hot milk or water. When making the hot chocolate, be sure to boil the chocolate milk for at least 15 seconds. Use the cinnamon stick to stir. Serving with marshmallows is optional.
Source: TV Food Network's Jacques Torres

Jacques' Orange Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely grated
1/2 cup whole dry milk powder
1 orange, zested
Pinch cinnamon, to taste
Marshmallows, optional
Tip: I used the fine side of a box grater to finely grate the bittersweet chocolate.
Place the milk powder, grated chocolate, orange zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into attractive tins or jars. Label with instructions to use 1/2 cup of chocolate mixture with 1 cup of hot milk or water.
To make hot chocolate: Pour milk into a saucepan and heat until hot but not boiling. Stir in the hot chocolate mixture and bring to a boil. You can also use a cinnamon stick to stir the hot chocolate. In that case, do not add the ground cinnamon in the recipe. Serving with marshmallows is optional.
Source: TV Food Network's Jacques Torres

Alcoholic Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
3 1/2 ounces best-quality dark chocolate, bittersweet or semisweet, as preferred
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
tablespoons dark rum, or to taste
Put the milk into a saucepan and break the chocolate into pieces and add to the milk along with a cinnamon stick, honey, and sugar and heat gently until the chocolate is melted.
Add the vanilla and mix with a small hand whisk and still whisking, add a spoonful of the rum first and taste to see if you want more. Add more sugar if you want this sweeter, too. Take out the cinnamon stick and pour into 2 cappuccino or caffe latte cups.
Yield: 2 servings
Source: TV Food Network's Nigella Lawson

The Best Hot Chocolate
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand
3 cups whole milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup good quality Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place milk and half-and-half in a saucepan and heat to a simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon. A few teaspoons at a time, stir the hot milk into the cocoa mixture to make a smooth paste. Scrape the cocoa mixture into the saucepan with the milk and simmer 2 minutes; do not let it boil. Stir in the vanilla and keep warm in a thermos.
Pour into small serving cups and place 4 mini-marshmallows on each serving or spritz them with whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Source: TV Food Network's Gale Gand

Monday, November 27, 2006


If you’re a fan of decaf coffee, here’s some news that might put a jolt in your day: You might be getting more caffeine than you think.Here’s the story, which came across Sunday from Cox News Service:

If your decaf java is giving you a bit of a kick, it’s probably not your mind playing games on you. Almost all decaf coffee contains some measure of caffeine, according to a new study by University of Florida researchers.
And while the punch is often mild, decaf coffee is not the same as caffeine-free. It’s more like caffeine light.
The University of Florida analysis of caffeine levels in 10 16-ounce decaffeinated drip-brewed coffee beverages from nine national chains or local coffee houses found every serving but one - instant decaffeinated Folgers Coffee Crystals - contained caffeine, ranging from 8.6 milligrams to 13.9 milligrams.
In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee typically contains 85 milligrams of caffeine.
Bruce Goldberger, a professor and director of UF’s William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, said the findings could be a concern for people who are advised to cut their caffeine intake, such as those with kidney disease, hypertension or anxiety disorders.
Others who are sensitive to caffeine may now understand why they toss and turn all night after enjoying cup of decaf with an evening dessert.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One of my favorite chefs and cooking teachers is California-based John Ash. I just got his electronic holiday newsletter and thought many of you would enjoy seeing it. It's jammed packed with recipes, with special attention paid to sustainable foods -- one of Ash's passions. Just click on the links to get to the recipes and find more informaiton.

Happy holidays! I hope you are able to celebrate this festive time of year by spending it with your loved ones. Sharing a meal with someone special is truly one of life's greatest pleasures! For a memorable meal, here are some Favorite Holiday Recipes that have been requested over the years.
Remember to buy at least $10 of locally grown food each week! John Ash

"One can say everything best over a meal."~ George Eliot

Favorite Holiday Recipes

I've gotten several requests for recipes posted in the past so here they are. Hope you'll enjoy them over the holidays!
Holiday Menu For a memorable meal - three starters from three cuisines:Wild Mushroom Pate Shrimp and Noodle Soup with LaksaAhi Tuna Ceviche with Mango and AvocadoMaple Brined Roast Turkey Salad of Roasted Beets and OrangesFlourless Walnut Cake Sangrita ~ Hot "Zin"
More Recipes

Online Resources for Your Holiday Cooking

National Turkey FederationAll the turkey basics; everything you need to know from buying to storing to cooking. Reynolds KitchensRecipes, tips and timesavers. Grilling your turkey this year? Weber has some great tips and recipes for grilling your holiday bird. Betty CrockerBetty Crocker has outdone herself again! Everything you need to make your holiday meal, complete with videos, menus, recipes and a holiday calendar. Butterball , hotline: (800) butterballA good resource for everything you need to know to buy, prepare and cook your turkey, including a turkey calculator! USDA Meat and Poultry, hotline: (888) 674-6854A great resource for safe food handling.
Photo courtesy of
Holiday Resources

Heritage Turkeys

Interested in Cooking a Heritage Turkey?
Heritage Turkeys are the ancestors of the common turkey that you find in the supermarket today. These birds are a part of American history and are making a comeback. In order to promote these breeds, they need to be reintroduced onto holiday tables. They include the Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, Narragansett and White Holland. Most importantly, they are delicious: their meat is tender, succulent, and extremely flavorful!Slow Food, Presidia: Saving Cherished Slow Foods, One Product at a Time Information on Heritage Turkeys and sources Local Harvest Information on Heritage Turkeys and sources
Holiday Resources

Sustainable Resources
Two resources dedicated to childrenÂ’s health:
A program of SeaWeb, KidSafe Seafoods provides information on seafoods that have been thoroughly tested for mercury and other toxic pollutants and found to be the safest, healthiest available. 90 Tips for 90 Days: ChildrenÂ’s Health Environment Coalition (CHEC) Web site dedicated to finding everyday safer solutions to reduce exposure to chemicals, toxins, and pollutants.
More Links
Quick Links...
John's Books
About John Ash
Wine & Food
Join John in a cooking class

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Way back in March, Jennifer Jasinski, executive chef at Rioja in Lo Do, was searching for traditional Thanksgiving ingredients to prepare dishes for a Food Network challenge, the Ultimate Thanksgiving Feast.
She was one of four top chefs tapped to cook their hearts out for a shot at a $10,000 prize. The chefs were asked to put their own creative spin on such classic ingredients as sweet potatoes, cranberries and butternut squash. They each had five hours to show his or her signature turkey plus five side dishes to a panel of tough judges.

The winner will be revealed on the Food Network at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.

We got the scoop about Jasinski's turkey recipe: She prepared it two ways. One is a turkey breast that is brined, butterflied and stuffed with apricot dressing then roasted. Another is turkey sausage stuffed inside a boned and roasted turkey thigh and leg. Her side dishes include fennel, apple and pomegranate salad; moscato and rosemary glazed veggies; potato quince gratin; and pinenut sage stuffing baked into muffins.

Judges were Jill Davie of Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. and John Besh of Restaurant August & Besh Steakhouse in New Orleans, La.

If you can't catch tomorrow's airing, it will air again Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.; Nov. 18 at 5 p.m., Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Nov. 20 at 11 p.m.; Nov.22 at 6 p.m.; and Nov. 23 at 1 a.m.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Looking for some help with the big feed on Nov. 23? Let executive chef Mark Monette of the Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder do the heavy work for you. He'll do the shopping and prep for a four-star Thanksgiving feast, then have it shipped overnight so you can have it ready to pop in the oven.
Orders must be placed by Nov.16, online at, or by calling the restaurant at 1-303-442-4640. Cost for the gourmet dinner for four is $188, plus overnight shipping and handling charges. All orders will be shipped fresh and by overnight delivery on Monday Nov. 20 to arrive beforeThanksgiving.

Here is Monette's Thanksgiving Dinner for Four—From Soup to Nuts

· Colorado-grown organic roasted butternut squash soup, gently seasoned with winter spices. Just heat and serve.
· Fresh organic free range turkey with Monette’s personally prepared seasoning pack, ready to roast. Allow about 2 ½ - 3 hours roasting time.
· To accentuate the turkey’s juices, Monette has included his specialty port wine sauce, which is an all natural veal reduction sauce that contains no additives or preservatives. Before shipping, this signature sauce goes through a 36-hour reduction process at the restaurant to give the sauce its beautiful sheen, flavor and texture. Just simmer and serve.
· A creamy gratin of thin-sliced Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes, layered and blended with nutmeg, tarragon and cream. Allow about 45 minutes warming time.
· Especially for the holiday, the Monette family is sharing its traditional dressing made from brioche bread and seasoned with sage, rosemary and thyme. Allow 45 minutes warming time.
· In place of traditional cranberry sauce, Monette’s dinner includes a unique tomato jelly made from a family recipe of fresh tomatoes, sugar, white wine vinegar, and cinnamon and clove-infused lemon rind. Ready to serve.
· The Flagstaff House’s dinner rolls complement the meal. Ready to heat and serve.
· Pumpkin Chai Cheesecake with macadamia nut crust.

Here are several more sample recipes from the Colorado Dietetic Association's new cookbook, "The Best of Simply Colorado," that there wasn't enough space for in the Nov. 8th food section. The book costs $19.95 and is available in major book stores or online at or

Appetizers, Snacks, & Beverages
Smoked Salmon Pate
Fancy enough for a special occasion—easy enough for anytime!
¼ c. chopped pecans
1 14 oz. can salmon, drained
1 8 oz. tub light cream cheese
2 T. grated onion
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. liquid smoke
¼ c. finely chopped fresh parsley
Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 350 for 5 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Let stand until cool. Mash the salmon in a bowl. Add the cream cheese, onion, lemon juice, horseradish, salt and liquid smoke; mix well. Chill, covered for 15 minutes.
Shape the salmon mixture into a ball. Roll in the parsley. Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the ball and press lightly. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until serving time. Serve with crackers.
Yield: 12 servings
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 108, protein 9g, carbohydrate 2g, fat 6g (saturated fat 3g), cholesterol 22mg, fiber <1g, sodium 300mg

Boulder Black Bean Soup
This is the perfect supper after an awesome day of skiing!
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ c. onion, chopped (optional)
½ c. shredded, reduced-fat Monterey Jack Cheese (optional)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in oregano, thyme, cumin, and pepper; cook one minute longer. Place half the beans in a blender and puree until smooth, adding chicken broth as needed to make a smooth puree. Add puree, remaining whole beans and broth to saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; then simmer uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve garnished with tomatoes, onion and shredded cheese.
Yield: 8 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 – 35 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 94, protein 6g, carbohydrate 18g, fat 2g (saturated fat < 1g), cholesterol 0mg, fiber 6g, sodium 225 mg
Quick Taco Salad
Keep these ingredients on hand to make a light Mexican dinner during the busy holiday season.
1 15 oz. can beans with tomatoes, peppers and Mexican spices
6 c. shredded lettuce
½ c. (2 oz.) shredded, reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
4 oz. baked tortilla chips
Place beans in a saucepan and heat thoroughly. On a serving plate, layer lettuce, beans, cheese, avocado and tomato. Arrange tortilla chips around edge; serve with your favorite prepared salsa.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: ¼ of recipe
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 375, protein 14g, carbohydrate 53g, fat 17g (saturated fat 3g), cholesterol 10mg, fiber 12g, sodium 706mgSweet Potatoes with Tart Cherries
This delicious sweet potato dish was adapted from a recipe served at Washington Park Grille in Denver.
½ c. dried sour cherries
1 c. hot water
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 pears, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 T. honey
1 T. olive oil
¾ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cherries in a small bowl. Pour enough hot water over the cherries to cover. Let stand for 2 minutes; drain. Combine the cherries, sweet potatoes, pears and apples in a large bowl and mix well. Spoon cherry mixture into a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan. Combine the honey, olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well. Microwave on medium for 30 seconds and stir. Pour over the sweet potato mixture, stirring to coat. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
Yield: 8 servings
Serving Size: ½ cup
Preparation Time: 20 – 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 161, protein 2g, carbohydrate 37g, fat 2g (saturated fat <1g), cholesterol 0mg, fiber 3g, sodium 6mg
Orange-Cranberry Scones
Perfect to serve for holiday brunch.
1½ c. flour
⅔ c. rolled oats
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
grated zest of 1 orange
3 T. butter or margarine
½ c. low fat buttermilk
3 oz. dried cranberries
2 T. orange juice
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and zest in a bowl and mix well. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbly. Combine the buttermilk, cranberries and orange juice in a bowl and mix well. Stir into the flour mixture with a fork. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface 8 – 10 times. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and pat the balls into ½-inch thick circles. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Arrange the wedges 1-inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until light brown.
Yield: 12 servings
Serving Size: 1 scone
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 – 15 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 139, protein 3g, carbohydrate 24g, fat 3g (saturated fat 2g), cholesterol 8mg, fiber 2g, sodium 231 mg
Pecan Wild Rice
A delicious side-dish for holiday meals.
⅓ c. chopped pecans
1 T. olive oil
1½ c. long grain and wild rice mix, uncooked
⅓ c. chopped onion
2½ c. chicken broth
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
Spread the pecans in a round glass baking dish. Toast at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or until fragrant and light brown. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the pecans and parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: ½ cup
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 380, protein 9g, carbohydrate 59g, fat 11g (saturated fat 1g), cholesterol 0mg, fiber 2g, sodium 636mg
Salmon with Tarragon Sauce
So elegant, they’ll think you’ve been cooking all day.
4 (6 oz. each) salmon steaks
cooking spray
½ c. dry white wine
1½ tsp. dried tarragon, divided
1 c. plain nonfat or low fat yogurt
3 T. Dijon mustard
lemon slices
fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse salmon; pat dry. Place salmon in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour wine over fish; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon dried tarragon. Bake fish for 10 – 15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork. Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, slowly warm yogurt, mustard and 1 teaspoon tarragon, stirring occasionally. Divide sauce among 4 heated plates. Place salmon on top of sauce and garnish with lemon slices and fresh parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 6 ounces
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 300, protein 39g, carbohydrate 8g, fat 11g (saturated fat 2g), cholesterol 95mg, fiber <1g, sodium 380mg
Game Hens in Orange Sauce
Ginger and cinnamon add a subtle spice and fragrant aroma to this special occasion dish.
2 each Cornish hens, cut in half
½ tsp. salt
3 T. canola oil
3 T. flour
¼ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. salt
1½ c. orange juice
¼ c. water, if needed
¼ c. almonds, sliced
⅓ c. raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove skin from Cornish hen halves; rinse and pat dry. Season hen halves with ½ teaspoon salt and place in shallow baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and place in preheated oven; roast for 30 minutes. While hens are cooking, heat oil in a saucepan; combine flour, cinnamon, ginger and ¼ teaspoon salt; add to heated oil to make a smooth paste. Cook 1 – 2 minutes, or until slightly browned. Slowly whisk in orange juice; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in almonds and raisins.
At the end of 30 minutes, remove foil from hens. Spoon half of sauce over hens and roast uncovered for an additional 25 – 30 minutes or until hens reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Keep remaining sauce warm until service; add ¼ cup water, if needed, to keep sauce from sticking to pan. Remove hens from baking dish and place on serving platter. Spoon remaining sauce over hens and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: ½ of hen and sauce
Preparation Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 55 – 65 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 365, protein 27g, carbohydrate 25g, fat 18g (saturated 2g), cholesterol 109mg, fiber 2g, sodium 520mg
Jalapeño Honey Pork Tenderloin
An easy entrée that’s bursting with flavor.
⅓ c. honey
3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 T. grated fresh ginger root
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 12 oz. pork tenderloins
Combine the honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, chiles, ginger root and red pepper flakes in a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Add the pork and seal tightly. Shake to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours, turning occasionally; drain. Grill the pork over medium-hot coals until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the pork registers 145 degrees. Remove the pork to a cutting board and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Cut diagonally into ¼-inch slices; serve.
Tip: If you do not have access to a grill, or prefer to cook indoors, place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees.
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 6 ounces
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Marinating Time: 8 hours
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 228, protein 25g, carbohydrate 17g, fat 6g (saturated fat 2g), cholesterol 67mg, fiber <1g, sodium 302 mg
Cranberry-Glazed Tempeh
A delectable vegetarian entrée for the holidays.
2 8 oz. pkgs. wild rice tempeh
1 15 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
½ c. water
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. dry sherry
1 T. grated fresh ginger root or 1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
cayenne pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each block of tempeh into 4 triangles. Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Combine the cranberry sauce, water, maple syrup, soy sauce, sherry, ginger root, allspice, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds for a smoother sauce. Pour over the tempeh. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 4 ounces (2 triangles)
Preparation Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 – 55 minutes
Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: calories 409, protein 22g, carbohydrate 66g, fat 9g (saturated fat 1g), cholesterol 0mg, fiber 8g, sodium 505mg

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My lettuce crop in the tabletop AeroGarden is flourishing. It's been producing for about two weeks. Now, don't get me wrong -- it's not a huge harvest. But it yields enough tender, delicious leaves to make two small side salads.
My daughter, who is a chef at the Broadmoor, tipped me off that the Cheyenne Gourmet, a culinary store at the hotel, is selling the AeroGarden, too. They're currently growing a crop of tomatoes and have grown the salad greens, too. So if you're interested in getting one but not interested in waiting to get it via mail, you can get one at The Broadmoor store for $195. The store also carries some of the seed kits, too.
When I got mine, the literature that came with it promised strawberry seed kits in the future. I'm hoping they get them soon. I'd love to try that next and be picking fresh strawberries in February.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We love newspapers, but the printed page has one major limitation: space. Wednesday's Food section had so little of it, we had to slice and dice our listing of foodie events till little was left. But in the online world, space is virtually unlimited, so we're taking advantage of that today by publishing the entire "What's Cooking" calendar for the week.

Cook Street School of Fine Cooking: 1937 Market St., Denver. Registration: 1-303-308-9300 or
-- “Wine Label Lingo,” 6-9 p.m. Thursday Oct. 19, $49.
-- “Classic Techniques: Italian,” 6-9:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 24 and Wednesday Oct. 25.
Cooking School of the Rockies: 637 S. Broadway, Suite H, Boulder. Registration: 1-303-494-7988, 1-877-249-0305 or
-- “Caribbean Flavors,” 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 21 and Sunday Oct. 22, $190.
-- “Basic Cooking Techniques,” 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 19, $595.
Creative Cakes candy classes: 2925 Galley Road Classes, 7-9 p.m., $14. Registration required: 597-4667.
-- Peanut butter cups, turtles, hard candy suckers and more, Tuesday Oct. 24.

International Wine Guild: Metropolitan State College, Auraria Campus, Plaza Building, Auraria Parkway, Denver. All classes are 6:30-9:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Wine classes include six to 10 wines, light food and a presentation. Wine-and-food-pairing classes include a two-course meal and six wines. Registration: 1-303-296-3966 or
-- “Components II,” Thursday Oct. 19, $50.
-- “Intro to Saké,” Friday Oct. 20, $50.
-- “Components I, II and III in a Day,” Saturday Oct. 21, $127.50.
-- “Rare Wine: Clark-Claudon Vertical,” Saturday Oct. 21, $75.
-- “Intro to Spain and Portugal,” Tuesday Oct. 24, $50.
-- “German Wine and Food Pairing,” Wednesday Oct. 25, $60.

Nutritional Bread Baking Supplies: 7455 Winding Oaks Drive. Registration: Phyllis Stanley, 528-7098 or
-- “Wholegrain 101,” 10-11:30 a.m. Friday Oct. 20, free.

Paragon Culinary School: 3125 Sinton Road.Registration required: 578-5740.
-- “Tapas! Food and Wine of Spain with Chef Jason Miller,” 2 p.m. Sunday Oct. 22, $65.
Paravicini’s Italian Bistro: 2802 W. Colorado Ave. Registration required: 471-8200.
-- Noon Saturday Oct. 21, $25 per person.

The Passionate Palette: 9623 E. County Line Road, Englewood. Registration required: 1-303-754-0005 or
-- “LASTing Impression — Desserts,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday Oct. 19, $55.
-- “Pizza Fusion,” 11 a.m. Saturday Oct. 21, $55.

The Seasoned Chef: 999 Jasmine St., Suite 100, Denver. Registration: 1-303-377-3222 or
-- “French Home Cooking” hands-on workshop, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday Oct. 19, $60.
-- “Culinary Techniques Series: Cooking 101,” 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 24 and Wednesday Oct. 25, $125.

Wild Oats Natural Marketplace: 3180 New Center Point. Reservations required: 622-1099.
-- “Kids Wild About Cooking,” 10 a.m.-noon Saturday Oct. 21, $5 per person.
-- “Gluten-Free Baking,” 3-4 p.m. Saturday Oct. 21, $5 per person.

Williams-Sonoma: 1885 Briargate Parkway. Call for costs. Reservations required: 593-0261.
-- “Braising,” 10-11 a.m. Saturday Oct. 21, free.
-- “Quick and Easy Thanksgiving Dinner,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 24 and 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday Oct. 25.

OCT. 18
Wine tasting: 5:30-8 p.m., The Ranch Steakhouse and Market, 575 W. Garden of the Gods Road. Proceeds benefit Southern Colorado AIDS Project. $25 includes hors d’oeuvres, wine, entertainment. Reservations required: 473-9463.
OCT. 19
Scotch tasting: 5:45 p.m., The Blue Star, 1645 S. Tejon St. Cost is $15 per person; 632-1086 or
OCT. 20-21
Colorado Springs 2006 Oktoberfest: 6-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Phil Long Expo Center, 1515 Auto Mall Loop. Free admission; 867-6635.
OCT. 21
-- “Wines of Argentina” wine tasting: 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., Powers Liquor Mart, 5847 Palmer Park Blvd., free. Advance registration required: 596-4700.
-- “Holiday Wines” wine tasting: 4 p.m., Antonio’s Ristorante, 301 Garden of the Gods Road. Cost is $35 per person. Reservations required: 531-7177.
-- Arthritis Foundation’s 14th annual “Jewels of the Vine” wine tasting — “A Visit to the Roaring Twenties”: 6:30-9:30 p.m., Antlers Hilton hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave. More than 200 wines, vodka martinis and hors d’oeuvres, live and silent auctions, music. Tickets are $55 in advance/$60 at the door;, event code: jewelsvine or 520-5711.
-- Wine dinner — “France”: 7 p.m., The Warehouse Restaurant, 25 W. Cimarron St. Five-course dinner, five wines. Cost is $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations required: 475-8880.
OCT. 23
-- “Ghoulish” wine dinner: 6 p.m., The Blue Star, 1645 S. Tejon St. Cost is $60 plus tax and gratuity. Registration: 632-1086 or
-- “Back to Basics — A Blind Tasting”: 6-8:30 p.m., Gertrude’s Restaurant, 2625 W. Colorado Ave. Four-course dinner with eight wines. Guest speaker will be wine expert Darby Gould. $49 per person. Reservations required: 471-0887.
OCT. 24
Classic scotch tasting: 6:30 p.m., The Melting Pot, 30-A Pikes Peak Ave. $45 per person, tax and gratuity included. Part of proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Reservations required: 385-0300.

OCT. 25
-- 14th annual March of Dime Signature Chefs benefit event: 6-9:30 p.m., Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort, Colorado Ballroom, 3225 Broadmoor Valley Road. Silent and live auction and food prepared by almost two dozen area chefs. Tickets are $100 per person, $1,500 for corporate table. Reservations: Ann Giambalvo, 439-2564 or Shannon Brinias, 649-8789.
-- First annual “People’s Choice” chef dinner: 7 p.m., Black Bear Restaurant, 10375 Ute Pass Ave., Green Mountain Falls. $59 for food only. Hosted by Paragon Culinary School. Reservations required: 684-9648.

CONTACT US: Please send information at least two weeks before you would like the item to run. Mail to P.O. Box 1779, Colorado Springs 80901; fax to 636-0202; or e-mail to attachments).
Looking for some new ways to prepare pumpkin? Look no further. Here, from Carolyn Clark of Yahoo Buzz, are 30 Ways to Eat a Pumpkin --- Top Searched Pumpkin Recipes. Click on any of these and you'll be linked to even more recipes.
Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Cookies
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Roll Recipe
Pumpkin Cake
Canned Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Bars Recipe
Pumpkin Jam
Pumpkin Dip
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Pumpkin Butter Recipe
Pumpkin Spice Coffee
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Pumpkin Brownies
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll
Pumpkin Dump Cake
Pumpkin Ale
Pumpkin Desserts
Pumpkin Cupcakes
Pumpkin Crème Brulee
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe
Pumpkin Fudge
Pumpkin Beer

Thursday, October 12, 2006

There must be a reason the word "roll" appears in Rollie Wesen's name: He just seems to roll from kitchen to kitchen. Just yesterday, I had a post on this blog telling you he was at Via Italian Trattoria & Bar in Denver. Scratch that.

No sooner than I could say whisk, he will be leaving there by the end of the month, less than six months after taking the job. That update from his wife, Claudine Pepin. "It's amicable," she said. "We needed to move on and it's fine."

As a refresher, Wesen came to Colorado Springs from Portland, Ore., to be executive chef at the Summit at The Broadmoor. There was much hullabaloo surrounding his arrival because he is the son-in-law of celebrity chef Jacques Pepin. He never really got much of a chance to heat up a saute pan before it was announced he was leaving that position. The Broadmoor press release explained that "he wanted to move back east to be nearer family." However, when I talked to Wesen he said, "No, I love Colorado and want to stay here. We (he and The Broadmoor) have creative differences."

Then, he landed that job in Denver, again with a lot of media buzz about his famous in-law.

I'm not sure what's really going on: whether he's not living up to expectations, or getting too restless and can't stay in one place. Whatever the reason, he's building a reputation of job hopping. I think he should try to downplay his connection to Jacques Pepin, take a chef job without divulging the identity of his father-in-law, then do good work and build his own cooking reputation.

"We just want to get a job," said Claudine, "in a hotel, maybe."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Name a food, any food, and there's probably a month set aside to celebrate it. October has its fair share of such designations - including (in a coincidence of unfortunate timing) National Spinach Lovers Month. If you want to celebrate it but are still nervous about eating fresh bagged spinach, grab a bunch of fresh Colorado spinach or a box of frozen spinach. Or there are plenty of other ways eat up a month's worth of starring foods or support some worthy culinary organizations. Here's a list of other October celebrations to whet your appetite.

It's ...
Cook Book Month
Gourmet Adventures Month
Hunger Awareness Month
National Apple Month
National Applejack Month
National Caramel Month
National Chili Month
National Cookie Month
National Country Ham Month
National Dessert Month
National Health Care Food Service Month
National Pasta Month
National Pickled Peppers Month
National Pizza Festival Month
National Popcorn Poppin' Month
National Pork Month National Pretzel Month
National Seafood Month
Vegetarian Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Remember John Broening? He was the excellent chef at the acclaimed downtown Colorado Springs restaurant Primitivo, which fell on hard times and went out of business several years ago. Broening was snapped up by a Denver group that opened Brassiere Rogue to rave reviews from restaurant critics in the Mile High city. But in less than a year that place folded, too. Broening then went to work at a bakery and sandwich shop called Udi's, and it turned out to be kismet: He met Udi's pastry chef, Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, and the two have hooked up to open Duo, a restaurant at 2413 W. 32nd Ave. in Denver. They also write about their food and travel adventures and offer recipes at their web site Check it out.

Another chef with brief ties to Colorado Springs, Rollie Wesen, is also wowing diners in Denver. Wesen, the son-in-law of famed chef Jacques Pepin, created a hubbub when he moved here to become chef at the Broadmoor's Summit restaurant. Less than a month before the opening, however, he was shown the door. His job search took him to Denver where he's opened Via Italian Trattoria & Bar - which is in the former location for brassiere rouge - 1801 Wynkoop Street. He's getting a lot of positive Denver press about his food. Check out the menu at

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's been said that cleanliness is next to godliness. When it comes to chefs teaching public classes, they should make that their motto. However, I think when they get in front of an audience, they get too busy to pay attention to their sanitation habits.
I've been to a couple of cooking classes where there were some pretty shocking examples of not living the godly life.

Tasting: It's the core of being a great chef. The food has to be tasted and tasted and tasted. Please, chefs -- use plastic spoons and toss them after each taste. Plastic spoons are cheap. Double dipping is gross. And, yes, I did watch a chef at a class use his tasting spoon over and over.
Plastic gloves: Are a good thing, but they must be changed between tasks. Again, I watched a chef French ribs of rack of lamb, then wipe his gloved hands on a cup towel and turn around to "stir" a pan of roasted peaches without changing gloves! That's gross, too. It wasn't like the chef only had one pair of gloves. He had brought a box of them to the class.
Cross contamination: Don't use the cutting board for fresh food that has been used to cut raw meat. No it's not good enough to wipe the board off after smearing blood all over it. It has to be sanitized with bleach, rinsed and dried before using it again to cut up fresh veggies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How the garden grows

I got my AeroGarden (a tabletop hydroponic garden system) and have my first crop of salad greens sprouting. It was amazingly easy to assemble the gizmo. Even though my husband offered to help, I didn't need it. The directions were clearly written with excellent illustrations to lead me along the way.

The glow from the grow lights is sort of eerie, casting a bright flood of light that keeps the kitchen looking like it's noon all day. The grow light is on 16 hours then goes off for 8 hours. Everything is automated. When the water needs to be added a light will tell me. When the nutrients need to be added a light will tell me that, too.

The unusual toy has prompted comments from the family (peanut gallery). My daughter joked that we'd be eating less salad if we rely on this as the only source.

I have to admit, it does look like a pretty small production, but the photos in the directions shows a bounty of leafy greens. Time will tell.

And, my granddaughter wondered about the price comparison of store-bought greens versus the cost of running the bright grow lights for hours.

Stay tuned for answers as I progress with my new adventure.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Here is Weblog worth making a favorite.

Consumer Reports has launced a blog called Consumer Reports on Safety The blog offers analysis of important safety issues and provides need-to-know information for keeping families safe from preventable injury or illness.

The blog is written by Don Mays, senior director for product safety at Consumer Reports, and Caroline Mayer, former Washington Post consumer issues columnist and 2006 Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award winner.

Among the initial posts on Consumer Reports on Safety is a story offering reliable information to consumers in the wake of the E.Coli outbreak in fresh spinach.

Friday, September 22, 2006

There's little that's worse for a restaurant or commercial foodservice business than a food-poisoning outbreak. Now there's a way that commercial enterprises can test for two of the more vicious sources of food poisoning: salmonella and E.coli.

Magna Medical has developed E.coli and salmonella test strips that allow grocery stores, delis, food service operators and others in the business to spot-check cooked foods for those germs. There's also a way to use them on fresh produce, too --like spinach, according to Lowen Kamp R&D Laboratories, which ran an independent test on them.

In fact, Magna Medical general manager Robert Greenhim he said he had sent samples of the strips to Dole last year, and they decided not to buy them -- a move someone might be regretting in light of the recent E.coli outbreak from bagged spinach. "I can't talk much about this but I've been subpoenaed in the lawsuit against them in this latest outbreak," Greene said. "It's going to be interesting to see how this develops and what industry does."

For now, the strips are available only for commercial use, but they could become available for home use after further testing and development.

The salmonella strip is the easier of the two to use, and Greene says it can detect 50 of the most common and deadliest strains. The strips are submerged in food samples, and if the organism is present the strip will change color in less than 20 minutes.

The E.coli or salmonella strips cost $3.25 each.
For more information call 1-866-596-TEST (8378) or visit the Web site:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Once a month, my husband and I gather with eight other people to share a dinner. The person who brings the entree also designs the menu and gets the recipes to the group. Last Saturday, that person was Jeff Hodges, (our bachelor member), and he selected a Cuban theme.
Pat Krieger (our bachelorette member) was assigned soup and salad detail. Her salad, Ensalada de Aguacate y Cebollas (avocado red onion salad) came with a very simple dressing recipe. But Krieger, a veteran cook, had a better recipe: Celery Seed Dressing. We were all impressed with her zippy change.
She wasn't surprised.
"Here's the recipe for the salad dressing," she wrote in a note,. "It's from Mary Mecede's 'Magic Recipes' and everyone I've served it to begs for the recipe. For the salad we had for the dinner I sliced one large red onion and added it to the dressing to marinate in the fridge. That helps take the bite off the onion. Then I drained the onions and tossed them with two sliced avocados."
So you won't have to beg, here it is.
Celery Seed Dressing
Makes 1 pint
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup tarragon wine vinegar
1/4 medium-sized onion
1 cup salad oil
1 tablespoon celery seed
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


If you'd like to get a peek at what Safeway is doing to upstage the competition, plan a visit to Boulder to check out the chain's newest store. It's like a Wild Oats and Whole Foods on steroids. Within the 76,000 square feet space, the store has significantly expanded its organic food offerings, displayed its ready-made foods more attractively and added a sushi bar and demonstration kitchen. Located at 3325 28th St., it’s truly something to behold and is slated as a prototype for other new Safeways.

I've written about the Savory Spice shop in Denver and wanted to get out the word of a second location at 2650 W. Main St. in Littleton. The store stocks more than 300 herbs, spices and seasonings that are ground weekly at the original Denver location. The nice thing about this store is that you can buy as much or as little as you need, starting at a half ounce. They also have one of the best selections of vanilla beans. The Tahitian bean is my favorite. It’s plumper with seeds and has a stronger vanilla flavor than the other varieties. When I added the seeds from one bean to a boiling pot of cranberries, the aroma was amazing. It certainly elevated the flavor of the sauce, which quickly became the star of my holiday table.
Check out the Web site at

Monday, September 18, 2006

O.K., tell me I'm overreacting to the fresh spinach scare or that I'm just looking for an excuse to buy a new culinary toy, but I have just placed an order for an AeroGarden.
Some months ago I'd torn out a page from a Frontgate mail order catalog about this interesting looking gizmo. You use aeroponics, which is their term for hydroponics (the science of growing plants in liquid mineral solutions) to grow a little garden inside what looks like a space-age tabletop planter. The device makes sure the plants get the perfect amount of water, light, oxygen and nutritents.
I kept looking at it and thinking it would be fun to grow herbs during the winter. Then I saw one in action at the Cook Street cooking school in Denver and got even more interested in the idea. The chef there said they loved the herbs they were growing right on their kitchen counter top.
When the story about bagged spinach being tainted with E. coil broke last week, I decided to place my order, but instead of zeroing in on herbs I decided to get the salad greens kit. Once I get the garden set up in three weeks I should be harvesting. They say I will be able to continue harvesting for 4 to 6 months.
It costs $149 for the complete set: the AeroGarden and a choice of salad greens, herbs, cherry tomatoes or chile peppers. Additional seed kits cost $19.50 each.
You can view a video about the garden at Enter 11896 in the product search area.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Pears are in season, and you can find them for as little as 70 cents a pound on sale. The bad thing about pears, though, is that they can start to get mushy fast. Here's a quick way to use up pears that are starting to turn: pear sauce. My daughters love this stuff warm or cold, and it makes a great side dish for pork. You can also drain off some of the liquid, add a little cornstarch and use it for a cobbler or with puff pastry. And there's no need to wait till the pears get mushy: fresh-off-the-tree pears will work just as well.

5-6 Pears (if you use more, increase cooking time)
lemon juice

1. Put pears in a bowl and puncture skin with a fork in several places. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or wax paper and microwave for about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. Remove skin (it should slip off easily, or use paring knife), stem and core. Mash pears and add cinnamon and ginger to taste. Add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice. Serve warm or refrigerate.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fair food
No this isn't about average food. It's about the bizarre stuff eaten on fair grounds across the nation - namely food that can be held in one's hand and consumed while on the move: Food-on-a-stick.
Think of the possibilities! The obvious corn dogs and ice cream bars. But creative minds have come up with much more: Chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie-on-a-Stick, Spaghetti and Meatballs-on-a Stick or Macaroni & Cheese-on-a-Stick.
I got a press release about a Web site,, that has a video showcasing all the foods sold on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair. It's highly entertaining -- and less fattening than actually eating such delights.
Visit the site and click on archives. Then click on September 8 - video on a stick.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Nuts give baked goods a nice crunch, but a lot of people are allergic to them.
If you're among those with nut allergies,here's another way to get that crunch in your sweet treats.

Sunday's USA Weekend insert included a recipe for Chips and Dips Cookies, created by Tracy Schuhmacher and her son, Danny, 9, of Rochester, N.Y. Their tip for those who are allergic to nuts: Use pretzels.
"They're crunchy and salty," the mom said in the article. "At first, people were like, 'Are you sure those aren't nuts in there?' You can use them as an alternative in lots of recipes, like dessert crusts."

Schuhmacher's recipe, which also uses potato chips, recently won a contest sponsored by AirBake cooking products.

I did a Google search and found another recipe that uses potato chips in place of nuts - though it's not for someone with nut allergies. But I thought I'd include it, just for the fun of using unusual, salty ingredients in cookie recipes. The latter recipe, by the way, won a Betty Crocker cookie contest.

Chips and Dips Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup coarsely crushed potato chips
¾ cup coarsely crushed pretzels
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chips
Preheat oven to 350°
In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Stir in crushed potato chips and pretzels. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 3-inch logs. Place on ungreased cookie sheets, 1½ inches apart. Bake 14 – 18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheets. Melt semisweet chocolate chips in microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring frequently, until completely melted, about 1 minute. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Melt white chips in microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring frequently, until completely melted, about 1½ minutes. Dip the other end of each cookie into the melted chips and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
Yield: about 2 dozen.

Chip and Dip Cookies (Cookie Mix)

1 pouch Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
1 cup crushed plain potato chips
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup finely chopped salted mixed nuts

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water, egg and potato chips until soft dough forms. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart; press each ball to flatten slightly. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and peanut butter chips uncovered on high 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and stirred smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into melted chocolate mixture, letting excess drip off. Immediately dip same half into chopped nuts. Place on waxed paper until set, about 1 hour. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.
I loved watching the weekly episodes of "Top Chef" on Bravo last year and I'm thrilled to learn that it will have a second season starting Oct. 25. It will again be judged by Tom Colicchio. What I like about this series, compared to Gordon Ramsey's "Hell's Kitchen," is that the chefs who are facing off have professional cooking or restaurant experience. The Ramsey crowd come from all walks of life. There's too much on-the-job-training which lead to predictable failures.

So here's hoping the days fly by and Oct. 25 gets here soon. I got a look at the 15 "Top Chef" contestants in my October issue of Food and Wine magazine. Check it out, or visit to see the cast and grab some tidbits about the new season. There are some other blogs there, too, where you can add your two bits for the judges and contestants.
Winning recipes
In today's food section, we've included the winning SPAM recipe from the State Fair and a list of the names of the other winners. We didn't have room in print to run all the recipes, but the infinite space of the cyberworld allows us to do so here. Personally, I'm keeping the Peachy-Berry Pie recipe to use next summer when the peaches and berries will be plentiful again.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship
Kimberly Ortiz of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
Decadent Chocolate Delights
1 cup butter
2 cups regular oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup pecans
1 bag of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and beat well. Add dry ingredients, then vanilla, raisins, pecans and Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips. Roll into balls and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or less.
Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Fleischmann’s Yeast “Best-Ever Baking” Contest
Eleanor Ward of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
Spicy Taco Loaf
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package Fleischmann’s Yeast
Dissolve in 1/4 cup water & 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon dried cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons Chile pequin
2 tablespoons minced smoked sun dried tomatoes
1 jalapeno cored and minced
1/4 medium bell pepper minced
2 tablespoons grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup milk
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons butter
Make taco meat as desired. 1 pound of ground round and seasonings as desired.
Prepare yeast to directions. Heat milk till very hot, add butter and set aside. In large bowl mix flour, sugar, salt, garlic, cumin, cilantro and Chile pequin. Mince peppers and tomatoes, grate cheese and add to flour mixture, toss well. Make a well in middle of flour mixture than add egg, yeast and milk mix and knead dough until soft and smooth. Roll dough in rectangle shape and place taco meat and the rest of the cheese in center, cut edges to make a braid. Let rise for 20 minutes, then place in heated oven at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. This can be drizzled with melted questo cheese. Server as appetizer in large or small pieces.
Can serve up to 10 people.

Pillsbury Pie Baking Championship
Laura Milosavich of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
Peachy-Berry Pie
1 package Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups slice, pitted, peeled fresh peaches
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Additional sugar
In a large bowl, gently toss fruits with lemon juice. Combine sugar, tapioca and salt; stir into the fruit and let stand for 30 minutes. Prepare pie crusts according to directions. Line a 9 inch pie plate with bottom crust. Add filling; dot with butter. Place top crust over filling. Seal and flute edges. Cut openings in top crust to vent. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Sprinkle with sugar before or after you bake the pie.

Hidden Valley Ranch Family Friendly Food Contest
Dolores Vaccaro of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
American Ethnic Potato Salad
4 fresh Green chili – chopped fine – take seeds out
1 small can Pinto Beans – drained (plain)
4 cups Boiled – diced Colorado Russet Potatoes – cold
1/4 cup Fresh Green Pepper – chopped
3 Eggs – hard cooked – diced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons minced Green Onions
4 oz. drained Red Pimento
1 teaspoon prepared Mustard
1 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Red Cider Vinegar
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix
Combine dressing ingredients and mix well together. Add dressing to cold diced potatoes and mix lightly but thoroughly. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to blend flavors. Sprinkle top with paprika. Chill. Serve on lettuce.
Optional: Garnish with tomato wedges and tortilla chips.

Best Boboli Pizza Contest
Melanie Rohar of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
Blueberry Dessert Pizza
1 Boboli Thin Pizza Crust
2 tablespoons butter melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 can 21 oz. blueberry pie filling
1 cup crushed pecan shortbread cookies crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place pizza crust on ungreased baking sheet. Brush 2 tablespoons of melted butter with cinnamon over the entire pizza crust, bake 5-6 minutes. Allow crust to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and softened butter. Add powdered sugar; and brown sugar. Mix well. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over pizza crust. Then add an even layer of blueberry filling. Top with crushed cookies. Serve cool.

Eagle Brand Cookie Bar Bonanza
Melanie Rohar of Pueblo, 1st place, Colorado State Fair
Carmel Drizzle Bars
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt, until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Lightly press crumbs into the bottom of a butter 9 x 13 pan.
14 oz. Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
8 oz. package of cream cheese softened
1 egg
8 oz. chopped dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, blend Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients thoroughly, then pour filling over the crust.
16 oz. tub of Carmel dip
Warm the Carmel dip in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for about one minute, and then drizzle Carmel over the top of the filling.
Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely and serve.