Main Courses, Sides

BBQ Pinto Beans

We have had a busy couple of months, the details of which I will share later. For now, we are in need of easy comforting food in our house. Very few things are as easy and comforting as a pot of beans.

BBQ Pinto Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans

4 cups water

2 tablespoons chicken base

2 tablespoons Rudy’s dry rub

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce

1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)

2 onions, chopped

Combine all of the ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook on high for thirty minutes. (If you have an Instant Pot, use the bean setting.)

Main Courses, Pasta

Peas and Penne

I’ve got it in my head to try and eat more vegan-like, although I can’t seem to go full-vegan. I’ve been buying Vital Farms eggs for more than a year now, and I can’t help but believe that these eggs are not a breach of ethics to consume. In the end, I’m trying to eat ethically, and I’m not really sure what that means yet. It has been a long journey. And that journey has taken me to Kite Hill cheese. Enjoy


Peas and penne

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cup cleaned and sliced morel mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 package Beyond Meat grilled chicken strips, thawed

2 tablespoons vodka

2 oz Kite Hill soft fresh original

1/2 cup dry penne, gluten free

12 oz frozen peas, thawed

1 pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Saute the mushrooms in the oil in a pan until crispy and slightly browned at the edges. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, and deglaze the pan with the vodka. Add the chicken and the garlic. Saute the chicken and garlic in the oil until warmed. Add in the peas and the mushrooms. Toss with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Add the cooked penne. Serve warm with slices of the Kite Hill.

Main Courses

Eggplant Stir Fry with Amaranth Griddlecakes

I tried making a salad from amaranth a few weeks ago, and I learned a valuable lesson. Amaranth does not make a good salad, the grain is a little too sticky for a salad. It does, however, make a great griddlecake. Add a little flour and egg and you have a great little base for a savory topping. We added an eggplant stir fry – perfection.


Eggplant Stir Fry with Amaranth Griddlecakes

1 cup amaranth

3 cups water

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion minced

2 medium eggplant, skinned and cubed

1 bunch scallions, sliced on the bias

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons neutral oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon grated piloncillo sugar

Make the eggplant stir fry. Saute the onion in the 2 tablespoons of oil until soft. Then add the eggplant. Up the heat on the saute pan to medium high and add the salt. Saute the eggplant until it is soft and browned. When the eggplant is cooked through lower the heat in the pan, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the pepper and the coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and sugar. Cook until the sauce is well mixed into the vegetables, and then add the scallions until just wilted.

Make the griddlecakes. Bring the water to a boil and add the amaranth, then bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. When the amaranth is done, set aside to cool. Whisk the amaranth into the eggs. Whisk in the baking powder, corn flour and the tapioca flour. Mix in the milk and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fry in batches as you would pancakes, in oil and flip after bubbles form. Eat these immediately and top with the eggplant.

Main Courses

Texas-Style Chili

My family moved to Texas when I was in the third grade from Missouri, and we left after sixth grade. Growing up there meant that cowboy boots and red-lacquered nails were common place. Ladies served white-frosted hummingbird cakes, and the men drank Shiner Bock (well, so did the women). Mexican food was really Tex-Mex, but different from the “Tex-Mex” that you find in other states. People ate tamales and Christmas, and decorated their yards with luminarias. And then there was the chili. Texas Chili is built with large chunks of meat, no ground meat here. No beans either. This is about the meat and the gravy. Dig in.


Texas-Style Chili

4 pounds stew meat, cubed

1 onion, roughly chopped

3 jalepenos

2 poblano peppers

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup masa flour

2 tablespoons coco powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon powdered cumin

1 tablespoon powdered coriander

2 tablespoons dried and powdered chiplotle

10 dried pequin peppers, crushed

3 cups water

56 ounces diced tomatoes

Neutral flavored oil


Brown the meat in a little oil. You don’t need to cook this all the way through, you just want to establish a little brown crust on the meat. When you have that, remove the meat and place in a crockpot.

Add the onion to the pan and brown in the remaining oil. If you’re out of oil, add a little more. Deal with your peppers. Address your heat level, if you’re not someone who likes hot, maybe you don’t add jalepenos at all. If you like heat, wash and dice your peppers. Remove the skin from the poblanos first by scorching them over high flame on a gas grill or gas burner. When the skin is black, put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about twenty minutes. After that period of time, you will be able to remove the skin easily. Rough chop the poblanos and add these with the jalepenos to the onions. When the onions are translucent,  add the tomato paste, and cook until the paste is well mixed and fragrant. Add the spices, including the coco powder and masa, and stir to combine. At this point, add 1 cup water and mix to create a paste. Simmer for five minutes, then pour this paste over the meat in the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Add the remaining water and the diced tomato.

Cook on low in the crockpot for  six hours.

Main Courses

North African Inspired Stuffed Peppers

I’ve never been a huge fan of stuffed peppers. They always seem dry and bland, stuffed full of lean ground beef and rice. The idea, however, of a pepper (which I do love) stuffed with things (which I also love) is too good of a base idea to discount it completely. So I marched down to the local grocery store, stocked up on peppers and ended up with this.


I decided to use ras-el-hanout, a North African spice blend to liven up the peppers. The ingredients in this blend do change from seller to seller, but often you find warm woodsy flavors here. If you can not find a blend, try mixing some cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper.


North African Inspired Stuffed Peppers

Ten large bell peppers

2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons ras-el-hanout

2 medium zucchini, washed and grated

1 onion, minced

1/4 cup neutral flavored oil

1/4 cup masa flour

13.5 ounces coconut milk

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast


Brown the beef until cooked through. Mix in the spices and cook until fragrant. Remove the beef to a large bowl.

Add the onions and the grated zucchini to the pan. Cook until the onions are translucent, and the zucchini has yielded all of its moisture. Remove the vegetables to the bowl with the beef.

Pour the oil into the pan, and swirl to heat. Add the masa to the oil, and stir briskly. When the masa is completely incorporated into the oil, add in the coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Stir until combined. Add this mixture to the beef and stir to combine.

Wash and core the peppers and arrange in a large baking dish. Fill the peppers with the mixture. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the dish to give the peppers a little room to steam. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.



Main Courses

Turkey Curry

When I was small, curry meant one thing: a small glass jar filled with gold powder labeled “curry.” So, naturally, I thought that this was the only curry. As were the other things found in small glass jars, dried dill and mint leaves and the small dimpled dots of black pepper. Which of course is not true at all, there are as many curries as there are ways to make barbecue sauce. This one starts with  paste made with fragrant cardamom, fresh shallots and chilies, which is poured over turkey in a crock pot – because new year, new dedication to a svelter you, am I right? This would just as well with chicken or pheasant I imagine. Or, this might be the perfect paste to rub on fish on the grill.


Turkey Curry

4 shallots, skins removed and roughly chopped

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

10 small red chilies, crushed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 teaspoons powdered cumin

2 teaspoons powdered cardamom

1/2 teaspoons powdered cloves

2 teaspoons powdered coriander

2 pounds turkey breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 14 oz can coconut milk

2 onions, diced

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup masa flour (optional)

Dump the shallots, the lemon juice and zest, the grated ginger, the chilies, the salt, pepper, cardamom, cumin, cloves and coriander into a blender and blend until you have a uniform paste.

Dump the paste, the turkey, the chicken stock and the onions into a crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours. Add the coconut milk and the masa (if using) and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve on rice with cashews.

Main Courses

American-Style Cassoulet

This is a cleaning out the freezer dish. I have a husband who frequently brings home animals: rabbits, pheasants, quail, venison. This is a perfect way to clean out the odd bits of things that have found their way into your home, and a great way to address some of the issues that lean wild meats have (low fat content). Hours of cooking in the liquid tenderize the meat, and make it fork-tender. This does take a while to get going – but be patient – this one is is worth it.

Why “American-Style” this French dish would never involve whiskey or slab bacon. This is Mid-west America’s answer to the classic.


American-Style Cassoulet

1 lbs dried great northern beans

1 lbs nitrite-free bacon

4 lbs meat (this is largely up to you – you want a mix of fatty meats and lean meats in here. We regularly use about 1 1/2 lbs of game bird like quail and pheasant, 1 1/2 lbs of venison sausage, and 1 lbs of pork. You want a neutral sausage, don’t use a maple sausage.)

1 lbs carrot, peeled and diced

2 large onions, diced

16 cloves garlic, large dice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

14.5 oz can diced tomato

1/3 cup whiskey

1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 bay leaves

4 cups broth (chicken)

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water. You want to use about six cups of water, and for the beans to be well under the surface of the water. Soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan, and saute the carrots in the bacon fat for five minutes on medium heat. After five minutes, add the onions. Cook the onions for about five minutes for another five minutes, then add the garlic. Let the vegetables sit in the pan for a few minutes, then add the salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and oregano. When the spices are well-incorporated, add in the tomato paste and cook for five minutes. Add the whiskey and cook until the whiskey is evaporated. Finally add the can of tomatoes. Mix this vegetable mixture into the beans. Chop the bacon into small chunks and add to the beans. Mix to combine well.

Brown whatever meat you are using in a pan with a little olive oil. You do not need to cook this all the way through, you just need to establish a crust on the outside. When I use a loose sausage, I form the meat into small meatballs and fry them on all sides.

Arrange your browned meats into three plates or bowls – one of the leaner meat, one of the fattier pork, and one of the sausage.

Arrange one-fourth of the bean mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Arrange the leanest meat on top of the beans. Arrange another one-fourth of the bean mixture on top of the meat. Arrange the fattier pork on top of the beans. Arrange the leanest meat on top of the beans. Arrange another one-fourth of the bean mixture on top of the meat. Place the sausage on top of the beans, and pour the remaining beans on top of the sausage. Press the mixture lightly with your hands to even the whole beast that you’ve created. Stick the four bay leaves into the beans. Pour the stock over the beans. You should just barely see the liquid through the beans.

Cook, covered, for two hours at 350.

Main Courses

Broccoli Cheese Soup

When it is cold (and it is); When you are hungry (and you are) – I grab for a bowl of soup. I realize that soup can be a little bit of a tough sell to the general public, but broccoli cheese soup is something that everyone likes. Plus, this comes together quick and is full of broccoli!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 1/2 pounds broccoli

1 small red-skinned potato

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups shredded Gouda cheese

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pepper

Prepare your broccoli. Chop the florets from the stem, and peel and chop the stem. Arrange your broccoli pieces in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast the broccoli for five minutes at 425. After 5 minutes, toss the broccoli on the sheet pan and roast another five minutes.

Sweat the onion in the remaining oil. Add the potato and the broccoli and add the stock. Simmer until the broccoli and the potato are fork tender. Blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and the cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted.

Main Courses, Sides

Cauliflower Gratin

We attach a stigma to certain foods. For example, only a vegetarian would eat tofu. This is such a silly premise. If you haven’t tried tofu, I urge you, please try tofu. Try it in sticks and eat like french fries with a curried ketchup dipping sauce – divine. Here’s another – only a vegan would eat nutritional yeast. Egad. I am not a vegan; I love nutritional yeast. It is not strange. It is delicious. (My office just recently realized that the vegetables that I eat for lunch almost every day are covered in a nutritional yeast sauce.) Don’t hesitate, make this recipe. This makes a great lunch with a little salad, or a side to a main course.

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Cauliflower Gratin

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup masa flour

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 cloves garlic, minced

13.5 oz full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1 head cauliflower

Optional – two onions, sliced and caramelized

To make the sauce, pour the oil and the masa into a sauce pan and whisk to combine over low heat. When the masa is fully incorporated into the oil, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the nutritional yeast and whisk to combine. Now what you have in the pan is a pretty thick paste! Gradually add the stock a dribble at a time, whisking to combine each time. When all of the stock is added, stir in the coconut milk. Add the spices, and salt and pepper to taste.

Clean your cauliflower and remove any leaves that remain on the cauliflower head. Remove as much stem as you can while keeping the head intact. Sliced the cauliflower into slices that are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You are going to have some slices that are bigger, and some that are smaller. At the end, you are going to have lots of mismatched and odd pieces. That’s fine. Arrange your cauliflower slices into layers in a small baking dish. A gratin dish is perfect – but if you don’t have that try and find something about as deep as a pie plate, but a little wider.

Pour the nutritional yeast sauce over the cauliflower, and top with the onions if using. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Main Courses

Hotdog Chili

What is it about hotdogs? We love them, and we love to hate them. We might get a little squeamish seeing Pizza Hut’s latest option, the “hotdog pizza,” but we all relish the opportunity to eat one slathered with mustard at a baseball game. This chili is dotted with hotdogs (think chilidog) and full of flavor. Try this with your favorite hotdog toppings – mustard, diced onions and maybe a little chopped pickle.


Hotdog Chili

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

3 fresh fresno chilis

2 chiplotles in adobo, minced

15 oz canned tomato sauce

28 oz canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes

2 pounds ground venison (or beef)

2 packages of 8 hotdogs (we use Applegate)

Olive oil

Toppings of your choice (try chopped raw onion, yellow mustard, relish, sauerkraut)

Saute the onions in two tablespoons of olive oil. When the onions are translucent and softened, add in the tomato paste and the spices. Cook the onion mixture until the tomato paste has browned. Dump the onion mixture into a crockpot.

Brown the ground beef or venison. Add to the crockpot.

Prepare your fresno chilis. Wash the peppers, and remove the stem and seeds. Chop the chilis into a small dice. Add the fresno chilis and the minced chiplotles to the crockpot.

Add the canned tomato sauce and the canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes to the crockpot and stir to combine. Cook the chili on low for six to eight hours.

Chop each hotdog into fourths and fry in oil until the hotdogs are browned. Add the hotdogs to the crockpot and stir to combine. Cook the chili with the hotdogs for 30 minutes.

Serve with your desired toppings.