KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake

What is it about making brunch at home that feels extravagant and comfy all at the same time? We’re all over planning changeable, healthy dinner meals complete with menus, shopping lists, and Sunday prep, but morning fare is relegated to nearly the same dish over and over again. Folks literally eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day. Or peanut butter toast. Yogurt and granola. Whatever. But take us to a swank brunch buffet at a fancy hotel and we’re putting soft poached eggs on smoked salmon dill biscuits and snarfing down raspberries in Grand Marnier with dark chocolate waffles as if there were no tomorrow. And then there’s the bottomless mimosa, isn’t there? When we finally decide to put on an at-home morning spread–for Mother’s Day, say?– that takes more thoughtful preparation than slamming down bread in the toaster and manage some actual day-before cooking or baking, it’s amazing how pampered-rich, how homey and cosseted we feel. Kinda like, “Well, isn’t this nice?!” And it is.

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FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab Spread

Both my mother-in-law, Lorna Morgan, and my good friends Sue Hall and Audie Dunham are known to occasionally have popcorn and wine for dinner. After all, why not? Popcorn is healthy and full of fiber; wine is made from fruit, isn’t it? (Wink, wink.) There’s no reason we can’t swap in snacks or appetizers for meals once in a while, but if you’re really hesitant, I’ll write you a note. The last Friday Fish of the season, Cheesy Crab Spread, is one of those dishes typically served before a meal (and it is an easy starter), but that also totally works instead of a meal —particularly if you serve it with some raw veggies along with some whole grain chips or crackers. Great on a day when there’s no time to cook or on a hot day when even the stove refuses to work. It mostly whirrs together in the food processor in just a minute or two (use an electric mixer or a wooden spoon if you like) and before you’ve poured your wine, dinner is ready to go. It’s also perfect to take to an Easter potluck or the first picnic of the year because it’s made ahead and travels well. Is it just me or is it always hard to think of an appetizer? Keep this one in your back pocket and you’ll know just where to look when you need one.

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Green Chile-Chicken Cheeseburgers

My good friend Sue has a little something simple but memorable she’s been saying for just about as long as I’ve known her, which is way over 40 years now. It’s this:

“Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger.

And it’s true, isn’t it? Even if you’re way past the age of running through drive-throughs late at night with your friends or have stopped putting burgers on your summer menus once a week because the kids are all gone now and fish is trending at your house. There are still days when nothing else will do except a cheeseburger. After you’re done reading and cooking here, I’m hoping it may be Alyce’s Green Chile-Chicken Cheeseburger you’re jonesing for if only because it’s chile time in the southwest –and hence nationwide, my friends. Whether you’re a local Pueblo, Colorado chile fan (these are actually Mosco Mirasol chiles) or a New Mexico Hatch chile aficionado (Hatch chiles are like spicy anaheims, though there are milder varieties), you’ll be happy you found a new use for your favorite late summer peppers roasted up to perfection.

17th Annual Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival: September 24-26, 2021/Union Avenue Historic District

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A typical summer blue cheeseburger at our house.
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Tarragon Vinaigrette (French Tarragon Class, Part 3)

To make the Zucchini-Tomato Salad, layer thinly sliced zucchini+tomatoes in a circle, add flaky salt, fresh ground black pepper and drizzle with my Tarragon Vinaigrette. For best taste, cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

This is the third recipe from my French Tarragon Cooking Class. If you’re interested in the other two recipes, here they are:


Not far from our house in Colorado Springs are three yummy “French” restaurants whose names each contain the words, “La Baguette.” It may be that when we first moved to the city they were owned by the same person, though I think they no longer are. We have plain old La Baguette, in Old Colorado City, which is not only the cafe but also a top-notch bakery — still for all 3 locations, I think — and is closest to me. Then there’s La Baguette and Espresso Bar downtown on Pike’s Peak, but only a stone’s throw away. Last, but certainly not least, is La Baguette French Bistro a few miles to the north and east on Chestnut, which is all decked out with Parisian memorabilia and is a favorite “girls” lunch spot, though husband Dave and I have been known to hit them up for dinner occasionally. While the très tasty menus are these days varied from place to place, in my memory at least, they all still serve up a fresh-fresh side salad — just greens — that comes with a lovely tarragon vinaigrette. Tarragon vinaigrette is nothing more than a basic vinaigrette with fresh tarragon added.

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Peach Dream Ice Cream

…a little like a peach and a little like a dreamsicle…

I never make peach ice cream that I don’t think of my friend Sue. I can’t remember all of the details or the occasion, but she once upon a time made a whole big mess of peach ice cream with her dear buddy, Father John Reedy, long-time much-loved editor at Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame University. Somehow no one got the memo and so there were no takers for dessert. The two were left with more ice cream than you could wave a scoop at. Needless to say, I don’t see Sue eating a ton of peach ice cream these days.

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Bacon and Green Onion Tuna Steaks on Cannellini Bean Hash

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For years, my good friend Sue Hall has made a favorite dish of white beans topped with grilled tuna… It might have been enhanced by some earthy fragrant rosemary or a few onions, depending on the day.  Healthy, luscious, I remember this plate of goodness as one of the perfect al fresco summer meals.

When I bought some cryovac-packed tuna steaks at my local grocery (frozen fish=good idea in Colorado/great value), I thought of Sue and wondered how many times I’d seen her make this tuna meal albeit with fresh tuna.  While I’m not at the beach where Sue loves to cook, I’m happy to be home cooking in my own kitchen…

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after two weeks of restaurant and cruise food. Even Italian, Greek, Turkish, or Croatian restaurant and cruise food!

(Below– from our trip: Yummy Izmir, Turkey breakfast with honey and orange marmalade where I put a big piece of what I thought was cheese on my bread and found out it was a half-inch thick, 4″x2″ piece of butter-see bottom of photo!)

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Here’s my spin on this happy fish meal.  I filled it out with a root vegetable hash mixed with time-saving canned cannellini beans, placed it on a frame of asparagus for greenery, and topped the tuna with barely steamed scallions along with the bonus: a huge thick piece of crispy bacon. Thanks, Sue! (From top left, clockwise:  Sue, Lani, Kim, and I at our last beach trip.) Continue reading