Colorado Two-Potato Stew with Roasted Chiles and Cheese

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In late summer in Colorado and New Mexico, there are chile roasters on busy street corners and if you haven’t the time or inclination to buy and roast your own chiles, this is the place you stop for our homegrown goodness. The aromas wafting around the intersections will call you even if you haven’t seen a roaster in years. Can’t eat them all right away–just warmed and layered with cheese, eaten with tortillas or tortilla chips?  Then it’s time to gently tuck the chiles into small or large containers and freeze them for winter cooking.

Come cold weather, I like to pile up a big slow cooker full of sliced fresh salted and peppered pork loin, chopped onions and garlic, sliced or canned tomatoes, and the thawed or still frozen roasted chiles.  At the end of  a snowy day, we hit a fresh tortilla place on the way home and walk into the house full of blasting hot southwest aromas hitting us in the face. Tortillas go in the oven and a big bowl of pork and chiles is ladled out for each person.  Time to sit down to summer complete with a cold beer.  Meanwhile, we watch the wind whip down out of the mountains, screaming cold, cold, cold. Yes, it’s rather heavenly-sounding, isn’t it? Continue reading

Late Summer Egg White Frittata or What to Do With Leftovers from a First Birthday Party

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My nearly daily breakfast is an egg white omelet or frittata, which is just the Italian word for an open-faced omelet. It’s fast, luscious, nutritious, and maybe best of all uses up my odds and ends of raw or cooked vegetables, restaurant leftovers (pizza toppings, too), bits of meat, and even a grate or two of cheese.  I try and blog one of these a couple of times a year just to give a high five to

  • eating healthy foods continually
  • using up leftovers
  • not throwing food out
  • eating vegetables for breakfast
  • getting a good start on the day.

There are times when I’m on a fresh fruit and Greek yogurt jag and even eat that with some of my homemade low-sugar granola, but this summer finds me working hard to lose weight and I’ve cut back both my fruit and my dairy in hopes of finding success. It seems to be working! I’m down a size or more and perhaps have taken off 20 pounds. No scale in the house; the clothes are the indicator.

Last Saturday, I made a brown and jasmine rice salad to take to my granddaughter’s birthday party (see below for opening presents through playing peek-a-boo, to eating cake and the very-necessary after cake sink bath–sorry for phone pics) mostly like any luscious summer pasta salad but with a combination of brown and jasmine rice added to a huge bowl of vegetables and a spicy mustard vinaigrette.
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Quick Provençal Summer Vegetables on Rosemary Couscous

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I try to eat as many meatless meals as I can. It’s hard; I love meat.  My husband Dave is perhaps even more of a carnivore, but snarfed this down as fast as he could the other night out on the deck. In Colorado, our al fresco dinners are numbered.  Within a couple of weeks, lunches outdoors will work wonderfully, but dinners will simply be too cold.  In the meantime, we’re loving every meal we can get at the patio table with something fun on Pandora going and the dogs running around enjoying the breeze.

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IMG_2729This meal is will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Did I say very happy, too? It’s fast, luscious, full of happy-mouth flavors, and is like a whole Mediterranean diet on one plate. Easily vegan or Gluten-Free, it’s also filling without making you feel stuffed.  Try this:

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 Quick Provençal Summer Vegetables on Rosemary Couscous

4 servings

The vegetables are changeable; if you have red bell peppers, add them.  Mushrooms? Sure. This is my favorite combination and is like a tiny and easy stovetop pan of ratatouille plus fresh greens.  No huge vegetable prep and no hot oven heating the kitchen like the big pan of ratatouille would.  Keeps several days well-covered in the refrigerator and is lovely on its own, with scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, with pasta, or as a side with some grilled fish, poultry, or meat.  Just good to have on hand.  In about 20 minutes, dinner is served.

This dish is vegan without the cheese or anchovy garnishes and Gluten-Free if you make rice instead of couscous.

  • Olive oil–any
  • 2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced (save fennel fronds for garnish if you like)
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled, trimmed, and chopped into 1-inch cubes (If you use 2 small, young eggplants you may not have to peel them.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow or summer squash, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or more to taste
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes–fresh or canned (save juice for another use if using canned tomatoes)s
  • 1-2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence – to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup kale or other greens, sliced very thinly (stems, too)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Garnishes:  Chopped fennel fronds, fresh basil, olives, anchovies, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese–your choice– none, any, or all.

In a large, deep sauté pan (I used 5.5 quart) with lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat for a minute or two and add onions and sliced fennel. Let cook down 2-3 minutes, stirring, and add eggplant, squashes, and garlic.  Lower heat a bit and let cook another 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are softening; add tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, and wine. Add more olive oil if necessary.  Let simmer another few minutes or until wine has cooked down; add kale. Season well with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper.  Cover and cook until all vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold over rosemary couscous* or rosemary rice for Gluten-Free option. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, if desired, and with your choice of garnishes.

*Rosemary Couscous:  I take the easy route and make a box of Near East Couscous–Olive Oil and Garlic variety albeit with a couple of additions. Here’s how:

To a 2-quart sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium flame.  Sauté 2 tablespoons medium dice onions and 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary until onions are tender.  Add 1 1/4 cups water, a tablespoon or so of the seasoning packet, and bring to boil; add couscous, cover, and let sit 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork before serving.

*Rosemary Rice for Gluten-Free Option:  Follow directions for making 3 cups of rice, but add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons  finely minced onions, and 1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary with the water before bringing to a boil and adding rice. You’ll have about 3/4 cup rice for each serving. 

Wine:  If it’s cool enough, red Côtes du Rhône.

Dessert:  Sliced melon and berries

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Sing a new song for meatless Mondays,

Alyce

Grilled Cantaloupe with Goat Cheese, Maple Syrup, and Toasted Almonds

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My book, SOUPS & SIDES FOR EVERY SEASON, has a chapter with easy and quick dessert recipes and one of my favorites is Grilled Peaches or Figs with Cheese, Honey, Thyme, and Black Pepper. It’s on the blog, too.  While figs aren’t often available in Colorado–more’s the pity– our Palisades peaches are plentiful, juicy western slope wonders.  (Scroll down for more info about our peaches and see about attending the upcoming Peach festival. I’ll stay up here where it’s just a bit cooler, heat wuss that I am. In fact, I’m heading to Santa Fe where it’s both higher AND cooler. But you go on west.)

One day last week even our famous Colorado peaches weren’t terribly pretty–just temporarily, you see; the melon, however, was drop dead gorgeous.  And if our peaches aren’t your favorite fruit, our Rocky Ford melons might be. I brought one home, scrubbed it up really well, and cut into it.  We couldn’t eat it all for breakfast with yogurt and granola or for snacks, so, gee, I had to make dessert out of it as well.  I took a page out of my own book, used melon instead peach, turned the original recipe a bit Maineish with the blueberries and maple syrup, and now can’t wait to make it again.

If it’s hot at your house and you’re grilling dinner, why not continue to grill for dessert? You needn’t even spell cantaloupe correctly, but it might help. I ended by looking it up to be sure.

Try this:

GRILLED CANTALOUPE WITH GOAT CHEESE, MAPLE SYRUP,  BLUEBERRIES, AND TOASTED ALMONDS

serves 4 very generously

  • 1 small, ripe cantaloupe, scrubbed well*, cut in half, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch slices (Rocky Ford melon if you can get one)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I like Haystack Mountain Boulder Chèvre.)
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

Heat grill to high, brush cantaloupe slices with oil, and grill for about 2 minutes on each side, turning after deep, dark grill marks appear.  Divide cantaloupe between serving bowls and drizzle with maple syrup.  Sprinkle each serving with a few almonds and a tiny bit of pepper.  Add 1/4 cup blueberries to each bowl and garnish with herbs. I used chives as I had them, but you might like basil or thyme better.

*Store cut cantaloupe in a refrigerator with a temperature under 40 degrees Fahrenheit for safety.

Melon safety tips from the CDC:

Safety tips for eating melons

Get specific safety information about the Listeria outbreak in cantaloupes here.

FOLLOW THIS GENERAL FDA ADVICE FOR MELON SAFETY:

  • Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.
  • Scrub the surface of melons, such as cantaloupes, with a clean produce brush under running water and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Be sure that your scrub brush is sanitized after each use, to avoid transferring bacteria between melons.
  • Promptly consume cut melon or refrigerate promptly. Keep your cut melon refrigerated at, or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best), for no more than 7 days.
  • Discard cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

WINE:  I’d drink a little Moscato d’Asti if I were looking in the sweet direction.  If not, a prosecco or cava would be lovely on the porch with this dessert. Best glasses, please, just to show off your dessert!

Sing a new song; grill some cantaloupe,

Alyce

About those peaches!  

It’s a hot part of the west this time of year out at the place where Colorado meets Utah, but if you’re up for it, you might want to visit for the yearly Peach Festival next week and see what the excitement is all about…and eat some peaches while you’re there. Bring home a few more.

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One of the most popular events is the Feast in the Field Dinners. Local chefs create five-course, farm-to-table meals celebrating Palisade’s delicious peaches and pair courses with locally grown wines. The finishing touch is that the meals are hosted out in orchards for an added layer of ambiance. For 2015, there are two opportunities — on Friday, August 15, and Saturday, August 16 — with food prepared by Chef David Fitzpatrick of Berna B’s and with different local winery pairings each night. Tickets are $105/person for the Feast in the Fields Dinners and are available on eventbrite.com or by calling the Palisade Chamber of Commerce at 970-464-7458.

For more information about the Palisade Peach Festival, visit www.palisadepeachfest.com

– See more at: http://www.visitgrandjunction.com/palisade-preps-peachy-time-august#sthash.wkGQMQ2T.dpuf

Grilled Eggplant Lasagna

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IMG_7824 So you love summer grilling but are getting a little bit tired of it all.  That pot of chili simmering on the back burner or a chicken casserole in the oven is beginning to sound like something you want. (Smells, good, huh?) Salads truly make you a happy camper, but your mouth is just a wee bit sick of chewing…chewing…chewing. Welcome a new girl on your cooking block:  grilled eggplant lasagna. You might rather think of it as Eggplant Parmesan Stacks or just Eggplant Parmesan–and you can– but as I recently realized: there’s mozzarella in this gorgeous and quick summer dinner.  Which makes it  more like lasagna, right? You call it whatever you like, but make it.

This meal looks and feels like pasta, but there’s no pasta in sight, making it perfect for a gluten-free meal.  Seems a bit like meat, but the meat stayed at the store while the vegetables came home to play. (Scroll down for notes for both G-F and vegan.) There’s little to it but grilling the eggplant and zucchini, topping the eggplant with fresh mozzarella, then layering it all on the plate with warm marinara and shaved Parmesan. A few flakes of crushed red pepper add zing, if you like, and a plate lined with greens tidies the whole thing up and makes it both beautiful and healthful.  Try this, even if you’re unsure about eggplant: Continue reading

Peach-Avocado Salad with Basil

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My larder at any time of the year includes a good number of fruits and vegetables in a basket or on the counter to the right of my range. (As one cooking friend admits, “I’ll forget about them if they’re not out there in plain sight.”)  An embarrassment of riches sometimes produces a meal I hadn’t expected or thought of before –especially in the summer — and that’s exactly how we ended up with this eye-candy salad. My original thought was a sort of bastard caprese as I had beaucoup fresh mozzarella as well as a big bag of avocados and a box of ripe peaches.  I’m a rich girl.  But somehow in the making of the dish — I was racing Dave, who was grilling meat — I just forgot the cheese.  Add it if you have some or covet protein or calcium.  I’m sure it would be great, but this is a stunning plateful without any additions. While I’m a committed carnivore, the meat was nearly superfluous.  Try this:

PEACH-AVOCADO SALAD WITH BASIL

makes 2 generous servings

If you’d rather have this for dessert, try a drizzle of local honey in place of the olive oil. 

  •  2 handfuls of fresh greens–I used spinach
  • 1 large ripe peach (Of course I prefer Colorado western slope peaches!), pitted and sliced
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh grapes

Line a small serving platter or dinner plate with the greens and alternate all of the slices of peach and avocado.  Add a leaf of fresh basil every other pairing or so.  Drizzle with orange juice and olive oil; sprinkle with pepper.  Garnish with grapes. Serve immediately.

IMG_7809Sing a new song,

Alyce

Blueberry-Strawberry Pie with Lattice-Crust for Mike’s Birthday

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There’s this odd baker’s conundrum every summer and it’s all about having the best fruit of year on the days when it’s really too hot to bake.  Even with air conditioning.  I usually get up really early –you’ll know this if you’re a regular reader– and get it done before light comes over the eastern plains horizon.

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Because once it does, it gets hot fast. Last week, even on a couple of cool, 75-degree F rainy days, my deck thermometer said 112 degrees Fahrenheit by 8am. (Soon it cools off back there, but not soon enough for coffee outdoors, more’s the pity.)

There are, however, days when bake you must.  The fruit calls; it’s Mike’s birthday and Mike LOVES pie. (Is it a guy thing?)  The berries in our shops last week were at the top of their form (the Oregon berries are among my favorite), which meant they were cheap.  This also means there are jars of blueberry jam coming soon. Very soon. Like today.

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If you love blueberry pie, you might love it even more with a few strawberries thrown in for color and flavor; the orange rind does what lemon juice could if it were smart.  Make someone happy and make a pie.  I won’t tell if you buy the crust (shh!), but it’s tastier, cheaper, and faster to make your own.  Try this:

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BLUEBERRY-STRAWBERRY PIE with lattice crust

Continue reading

BBQ Pork Chop Salad

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Our rainy Colorado summer continues. Each day, not all day long, but typically in the afternoon or evening, we’re nearly overwhelmed by lightning storms and great, heavy rains we are unaccustomed to. Most years, a desperately needed now and then drizzle qualifies as a Colorado summer rain.  Instead of that sweet pitty-pat every couple of weeks, there are regular and torrential downpours creating gullies and near-ditches where none have gone before. Streets are closed due to flooding; cars are stuck in rising water.  Potted plants float and are emptied repeatedly and still rot.  My two precious pots of rosemary (brought in over the winter and taken outdoors in the late spring) don’t know how to act; one has nearly expired.

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While Rosie, our labradoodle puppy, has no trouble with the rumbling, grumbling, crashing, thunder or the moaning or beating rain, Tucker is a wreck–a new behavior for him.  I can barely console him and often find 75 pounds of golden retriever in my lap. I know; he needs a thunder blanket. Sometimes I’ll “kennel” them together. We don’t use a real kennel but have our mudroom baby-gated and that seems to comfort him. Poor puppy.

One of the gorgeous things about near-mountain life (we live in the Front Range of the Rocky mountains up on the mesa on the west side of Colorado Springs), is the plethora of rainbows. We have many each year even with just a little rain; this year, we have bookoo displays weekly.  The above beauty –they’re so hard to photograph– was snapped just off Highway 24 up near Cascade by my husband Dave while I was a church board meeting. Faithful Christian folk call rainbows, “God’s promise.” (Think Noah.) I can never help but think it.  Right after I think about the pot of gold, that is. (Think Fred Astaire in “Finnian’s Rainbow.”) Continue reading

Mini Cheesecakes with Berries–1 Minute in the Microwave!

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IMG_7720If you’ve looked at the dessert section in my cookbook, you’ll know I’m really fond of very fast and simple sweets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake; I’m my mother’s daughter.  But there’s something fine and easy about a really good tiny after-dinner something or other that doesn’t take a couple of hours to concoct.  To say nothing of being able to pawn off the dessert “chore” to children or the beauty of keeping the heat out of the kitchen on warm days.  Peach pie always sounds so wonderful until the peaches are ripe, filling the bushel basket in the mudroom with dripping goodness, and it’s 90-frigging degrees outside.  Who’s turning on that oven?  Not me.  Heat is not Alyce’s friend. On the other hand, I have a hub who adores a dessert and I like to make this guy happy.  I make a big cheesecake for him every third of July at 0’dark early for his birthday and he doles it out for himself a bit at a time to make it last a long week or more. I have one small piece and that’s about it. IMG_6084 But what about the rest of the time? The days when there isn’t a three-hour time frame for mixing,  baking, and cooling?  Or for folks who are never going to make that big cake no matter what? Or for sweet addicts who really would eat the whole cake if there weren’t individual portions? Enter these tiny bites of fruit-topped goodness that are done before you can say, “What’s for dessert?” Mixed very quickly with a hand-held or standing electric mixer or food processor (my preference), the cakes come together easily, cook for a minute in the microwave, and cool in just a few minutes as they’re so small.  Who doesn’t like individual desserts?  Easy to serve or transport; there’s no cutting or plates. It’s just you and your fork or spoon. Try this: Continue reading

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