Salsa-Black Bean Dip

…for garlic lovers only

I’m not a football fan. At this point in my life, I don’t think it’s going to change. I’m occasionally somewhat nasty or worse about it, but skip that here because in the U.S., if there’s a get together on any Sunday afternoon in January or early February, it’s likely to involve football. Hmm. The Super Bowl (February 13, 2022–6:30 pm ET) is coming like a freight train barreling down the track to your family room as well as to your kitchen and mine. So just to get my two cents in, I usually make a concerted effort to at least add something tasty and even healthy to the game day food lineup. This year, it’s an addictive, pantry-centric southwestern black bean dip that’s perfect with a cold beer at kickoff or even for dinner some other time. (Why can’t we have dip for dinner? I think we can. I’ll write you a note.)

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Ham and Blue Cheese Spread for Game Day

One day it’s brats and beers on the sweltering deck. The next you’re turning on the heat along with the tv and searching for game day snacks. (Which still could be brats and beers.) It doesn’t seem as if that would be possible, but in Colorado, it often is. We could see just such a weather change several times over the course of any September. But there’s always one metamorphic day when our whole world definitely changes from summer to fall and that’s when “the mountain” (better known to the rest of the world as Pike’s Peak) looks like Brigadoon from my front yard:

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Colorado Bean Dip for Memorial Day

In 2020, our ubiquitous all-American cookouts — which roar on ad infinitum Mother’s Day through Labor Day — were often a tad sad little affairs if we had them at all. Instead of the jumbo party packs of burgers and brats, unending veggie or cheese trays, boxes of big cupcakes, and the super-sized bag of red, white, and blue paper napkins to last all summer long, we were buying a single pound of ground beef, 4 buns, a pint of vanilla, and left the colored napkins on the shelf. Fireworks, if available on the 4th, were viewed from apartment building balconies or hillside decks. We were masked and our celebrations felt the same.

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Herbed Goat Cheese Spread (French Tarragon Class, Part 2)

Travels well!

In southern France, I’m reading they’re already cooking the first of the courgettes (zucchini) and beans while here on the edge of the Rocky mountains snow will fly tonight and we’re damned lucky to have the first of our garden’s bounty, which is always herbs. When spring is trying ever so hard to be sprung in Colorado and my herbs have just begun to come on, there’s nothing like focusing on all of them (and little else) to make an herbaceous melody of a cheese spread perfect for favorite crackers, grilled baguette, vegetables, stuffed tiny sweet peppers or cherry tomatoes, omelet fillings, and more.

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It’s Too Hot to Cook. So Don’t. (plus what I’m missing/not missing)

just add #rosé or a cold beer

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT CORNER: Kalamata olives, hummus, potato chips, tortilla chips, sliced cucumbers, Triscuit Thin Crisps, sweet cherries, Green Chile-Pimento cheese, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, and onion dip.

Americans, in the heavy heat of summer, are known for flocking to cold-cold air-conditioned restaurants for dinner–and staying a while. Maybe a long while. (Like until it cools off at home.) I mean, who’s going to turn that stove on when it’s that warm? Even if you have AC (and a lot of Americans do), it makes no sense to make that blessed machine work any harder now, does it? In Covid-Time, though, quite a few of us are still not going to restaurants–at least not to sit inside. We may do drive-throughs or pick-ups, but restaurant dining rooms are still kinda high up on the scale of risk factors. In some places, they’re closed again. Let’s face it, I’m thinking it almost sounds as if it’s not quite worth it, despite my desperately wanting to support my fave local eateries. And even if we do go, we can’t stay there; that’s only fair. There are fewer tables and, in restaurant parlance, “They need to turn.” In other words, you need to eat and git. Drink and run. Maybe, until a few more things move around, it’s still better to spend most dinnertimes at home. Yeah. As in the past four months.

Save Restaurants — read up here.

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Deviled Egg Dip

1 SmartPoint (WW) per 2 tablespoon serving–see recipe notes for details

Just a quick post this morning…

There’s always something precious stowed away in the fridge after a holiday. I won’t dare call them leftovers, as that word has a nasty connotation to a lot of people who, in fact, frequently state, “I don’t like leftovers.” Think about a ham bone that will soon grace a pot of bean soup, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie waiting for Friday’s sweet breakfast, or the Christmas roast beast chilled and ready for late night sandwiches.

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Individual Shrimp and Feta Pizzas on Mini-Naan Flatbread (Baby Naan Pizza)

Americans consume more than 3 billion pizzas a year. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that 13% of Americans eat pizza on any given day and over a quarter of young males are eating it daily.

info courtesy restaurantmealprices.com

I’m wondering how many are homemade? A minute fraction?  (If you’d like, take a little class right here on the blog and make your own “regular” pizza right in your kitchen just like my student in the photo below.)

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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

Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Eggplant Spread

Ina Garten’s appetizers are, like all of her recipes, lovely and luscious, but while making this I kept remembering how often Ina speaks about simple, store-bought appetizers like

  • olives
  • nuts
  • chips
  • cheese

and so on. The show sometimes drives along with Ina into town to pick up the ready-to-go food and I have to admit I’m always jealous of the shops she has available.   Her point is often that if you have too many nibbles with your apertif or sparkler, you’re full.  Not only that, who wants to spend not only the whole day getting ready for company, but making yet another recipe?  I not only agree with her, I follow those rules for entertaining and make things easy on myself.  I’ll also admit I adore potato chips and champagne. Continue reading