Pizza Kebabs for The Big Game

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I looked on the blog for my work pizza kebab “recipe” the other day–thinking it would be great for Super Bowl snacks– and couldn’t find it. I had posted it on Facebook, but hadn’t blogged it. Perhaps because you might not really need a recipe for pizza kebabs. On the other hand, you might never have thought of them either.  I had to search out the photo, get the date, and save it to iPhoto as I hadn’t even kept it. A very sorry management practice!

For part of 2014 and nearly all of 2015, I worked as a Jenn-Air and Dacor chef, demonstrating and teaching cooking techniques at the local high-end appliance store.  It was mostly great fun and one of the things that most interested me was the need to invent quick attractive-to-the-masses recipes.

cropped-cropped-wp_20150429_008.jpgWhile I often teach a cooking class about pizza, I couldn’t figure out how to fit it into the time frame of my weekly demonstration. (And yes, in the class you do get to eat your work.  You also take dough home to try it out in your own kitchen. See below. I teach 1/2-sheet pan pizza-making. No special equipment needed. Feeds a bunch.) Continue reading

Quick Chicken and Rice Soup (“In January It’s So Nice…”)

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In January it’s so nice
While slippin’ on the slidin’ ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sippin’ once, sippin’ twice
Sippin’ chicken soup with rice..

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Lyrics (original text) by Maurice Sendak.  Music by Carole King, Really Rosie. (Click here to listen.)  First published in the book Chicken Soup with Rice, part of the Nutshell Library. Continue reading

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup with Bacon and Wine

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I just had a taste for soup. A simple one-pot meal that I could eat off of for a couple of days.  I don’t make cheese soups often.  I’m a soup maker forever, but for some reason have usually skipped making the creamy, sometimes stringy, more-cheese-than-broccoli type soups so often sold in restaurants.  The only thing like that I ever order out is beer-cheese soup in a brew pub and then it’s with a salad because that stuff will stick to your ribs.

I kept picturing the bag of Costco cauliflower florets (2 pounds for $3.79) I had in the spare fridge. And the lovely cheddar my local grocery store cheesemonger had pressed on me recently.  The two needed to meet and mingle, perhaps blend and marry their distinct, but complimentary flavors. Continue reading

English Muffin Chicken Pot “Pies”

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Start with a little music when you only have a half an hour to make dinner.   Perhaps Adele’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.  Maybe a glass of wine, too.  If there’s anyone else home, have them set the table and light the candles.  While this is fast, it’s luscious and homey and that deserves a bit of attention from everyone.  If you love Chicken Pot Pie (and who doesn’t?), but never have the time to make it from scratch –you order it out, right? — this one’s for you.  All of the goodness and none of the hassle.  Try it tonight:

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Sun on pie!

ENGLISH MUFFIN CHICKEN POT “PIES”  

makes 4

Done in about a half hour, this filling and comforting dish will sooth even the most tired cold soul. My version uses home-cooked or rotisserie chicken. Skip the pastry and instead buy English muffins for the bottom and top of the “pie.” Make it as written, or ramp it up with the changes in vegetables noted in parentheses.  A small, peeled and diced potato could also be used in place of two of the carrots.  Alternately, you might use some leftover cooked vegetables. Continue reading

Warm Wild Rice Salad

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IMG_2056Mid-winter, the perverse cook in me always has a hankering for a grilled burger and potato salad.  Mid-summer, I crave chili.  Given the weather in Colorado, I often am able to fulfill my deepest wishes right down to the sun or cold wind to go along with the meal.  It isn’t a real oddity to see 65 degrees in January or 45 in July.  It happens. Somehow out-of-season dishes occasionally rear their pesky heads.

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The other day wasn’t so terribly warm, but it wasn’t cold either. In fact, I was making tomato soup and just wanted something real to go with it.  A couple leeks languished in the fridge next to some waning baby zucchini; a big paper box of mushrooms nearly cried foul from the crisper.

What was a girl to do?

A quick bang of the cupboards–a favorite occupation– showed up a few packages of Minnesota wild rice* and, while wild rice has a truly indefinite shelf life (no joke), it sounded fine, just fine. While I wasn’t quite sure how the meal would come together, I trusted in the spirit of the rice*  and began to cook.  I was sure that by the time it was done — it takes nearly an hour–I would have figured out dinner.  I was right.  Try this luscious bowlful, which just happens to be both vegetarian and gluten-free, and is also simply altered for a vegan version. (See bold green notes for vegan version.) Continue reading

Quick and Lusty Tomato Soup

 

Done in under a half hour, this lusty (I almost said perky, but perky it isn’t) soup just about jumped out of the pot, put its arms around me, and begged me to eat it.  Wonderful for the I-ate-too-many-chocolates post-holiday cooking time,  you can skip the fresh basil, if you still haven’t gotten to the store, and add Herbes de Provence or a combination of dried oregano and basil.  Easily vegan and gluten-free (with a few changes or lack of a garnish), this meal will heat everyone up despite the weather.  It’s sunny, but snowy … Continue reading

Ham and Pea Risotto with Lemony Green Beans and Sautéed Tomatoes

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There are some nights when dinner just doesn’t want to get made. I’m tired or the fridge seems to hold not one good thing despite the fact that it’s full.  And that is occasionally because I’ve told myself I need to use up leftovers even though I’m sick of them after the holidays. Lord. Waste not…

I had ham. I had cooked green beans. Tomatoes. Parmesan.  I thought salad; I thought soup. Sandwiches even.  When I thought risotto, though, the pot came out from the cupboard, I heated a quart of chicken stock, and I began to chop some onions. And that’s because risotto, like quiche or pasta, is the perfect home for the bits and bops you might have lying around in your fridge or on your countertop. And the really good thing? About 30 minutes later, dinner’s on the table. Faster than takeout.  Try this: Continue reading

Piper’s Cinnamon Cookies: Gluten, Egg, and Dairy-Free

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IMG_2020Cookies at Christmas are not typically something difficult for me.  There are your cut-out and decorated shortbread cookies,

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the favorite spicy ginger lovelies (photo at very top of blog), chocolate snowballs, and naturally there are date bars.

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At your house there might be snickerdoodles, sugar cookies, rugelach, chocolate chips, peppermint brownies, or lebkuchen.  Maybe they’re all made from scratch or perhaps your inner baker had a little help from a mix or tub.  However you make them, you’re pretty sure they’ll work and even more sure they’ll all be eaten by New Year’s. Continue reading

Minestra Maritata (The First Course of an Italian Christmas Day Dinner) with Crostata for Dessert–A Class at Home

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IMG_2001My at-home cooking classes typically, though not always, involve either friends or old students of some sort. They may have taken cooking classes with me at Mountain High or First Congregational Church downtown or perhaps they were piano students or in one of my choirs. Some just live down the street. I find cooking with people — or sharing a good or different recipe — is a fun part of life. I hope my students usually go home thinking similar thoughts.

below: photo from the Make a Homemade Pizza class

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Teaching is also hard work; it doesn’t happen easily despite my love for it.  Recipes must be developed, written, or chosen and reproduced. Dates must be booked. Students found. (Sometimes these happen in a different order as students may request classes!) The house needs at least a going-over and the kitchen has to be clean unless I’m teaching at a commercial location. No cleaning to do there except afterward, but there’s lot of packing up on both ends.

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Ingredients are shopped for and are collected, all at-the-ready so I don’t have to dig through 3 cabinets to find a can of cannellini beans. The fridge must be in order. Wine is chosen. Dogs and family members go elsewhere or may be invited to the resulting feast if they’re well-behaved…
Continue reading

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