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.