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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Beef, easy, on October 17th, 2021.

This is a post from Sara. FAST & FLAVORFUL.

These days I am without the hustle and bustle of chicks at home as we are officially Empty Nesters.  But I am amazed at how little time I have to make dinner.  So I find myself searching for new quick and healthy recipes.  This is a recipe I found online that is SUPER easy.  I mean 20 mins start to finish easy!  And so tasty.  I was looking for something to do with the ground beef I’d bought that wasn’t tacos, or hamburgers.  And this recipe fit the bill perfectly!  It is so flavorful with a hint of heat.  I added the steamed cauliflower to satisfy my need for veggies.  You could add any type of cooked veggie, frozen would work easily too.  This also made excellent leftovers for lunch the next day.

Starting with the rice since it usually takes 20 mins.  Then I cut and cleaned the fresh cauliflower, dropped it into the steamer to cook.  I began browning the beef and garlic in a shallow pan.  While that was cooking, I mixed the sauce ingredients.  When the beef has no more pink, I added the sauce and let it cook on low for a few mins.  Then I fluffed the rice and was ready to assemble.

I used a bowl, layering the rice, beef then cauliflower.  I topped it with sliced scallions.  My husband enjoyed this dish with a bit of siracha to kick up the spice and a nice IPA (well, not with the leftovers at work!)

This will be a repeat in my rotation for sure!  I imagine one could substitute ground turkey or chicken for the beef, but you may need to increase the spices to give it more flavor.

printer friendly pdf and mastercook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Korean Beef and Rice

Serving Size: 4

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
3 green onions — thinly sliced
2 cups cauliflower — steamed

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and garlic over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar, soy sauce, oil and seasonings.
2. Stir sauce into beef, heat through. Serve over rice and cauliflower.
Per Serving: 551 Calories; 26g Fat (43.3% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 85mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 1st, 2021.

It’s not often that I repeat a recipe, but this one is just too good to forget.

Way back when, I posted this recipe, one that came from a cooking class with Phillis Carey. And as an aside, Phillis still isn’t doing any in-person cooking classes, and I’ve decided that if I can’t attend a class and taste the food, well, I don’t want to go to an online class. Phillis always made me think outside my box, serving ordinary food but with a different twist or ingredients that I might not have matched with one thing or another. Leeks and salmon are one of those combinations, but I’m telling you true, this is a match made in heaven. My friend Linda T, who lives about an hour south of me, is a big fan of my blog (we’ve been friends for over 30 years), and it may not be a stretch to say that this recipe is one of her all-time favorites.

One of the things I like about it is how EASY and quick it is. All made in one pan. First it’s the chopped leeks (I buy Trader Joe’s because they’re already cleaned – all I have to do it trim the ends and chop) gently sautéed in butter. Do this over low heat so they don’t burn (like mine did, see photo above). Then the salted and peppered salmon is laid on top of the leek bed, and you add in some dry white wine (I used vermouth), grated orange rind, thyme and some cream. The salmon is very gently simmered (covered) for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness). I used my instant-read thermometer and it was thoroughly cooked in 8 minutes. If using wild salmon, 5-7 minutes probably. Meanwhile I’d cooked some rice with a tad of lime juice and more orange zest, and a pan of sautéed zucchini too. The original recipe called for a little tiny bit of sugar, but I didn’t use any, and I can’t say that it made a difference. I did have to add a little more cream, as most of it boiled away during the gentle simmering. Add water, cream, or a bit more wine if yours dries up. I’d made a half of a recipe and 2 leeks needed a bit more liquid to make it all come together.

Dinner was prepped and done in about 25 minutes total time. My granddaughter Taylor nearly licked the plate. Seriously. I did, too. Fortunately, I made enough for 2 meals, so we’ll have leftovers in a night or two. This is certainly a meal fit for company, and easy enough for a weeknight family meal also. Do make pasta or rice on the side to sop up any sauce remaining on the plate.

What’s GOOD: first off, it’s all about the leeks. Once cooked and simmered, they take on a very mellow flavor, but they add startlingly lovely accents to this sauce. Altogether delicious.

What’s NOT: only that you must have leeks and cream on hand to make this work.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Salmon Fillets with Orange and Leeks

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor
Serving Size: 6

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large leeks — halved, white and pale green parts only, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
6 pieces salmon fillets
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dry white wine — or orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh chives — cut in 1-inch lengths, garnish

1. Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sprinkle with sugar and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté 4 minutes. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until very soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
2. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Arrange atop leeks and sprinkle with orange zest. Add cream and wine. Cover pot again and cook until fish is opaque, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer fish to plates and keep warm. If using thinner (wild) salmon, cook for 4-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Fish is done when the internal temp reaches 135°F.
3. Boil sauce until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over fish. Garnish with chives.
Per Serving: 678 Calories; 32g Fat (43.6% calories from fat); 82g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 342mg Cholesterol; 219mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 103mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1849mg Potassium; 1164mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Desserts, easy, on August 2nd, 2021.

What is more beautiful than summer fruit topping a cake?

A post from Carolyn. This recipe has been hanging around in my to-try file for awhile. It came from Beth Hensperger from her book: Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and More, I don’t own the book and can’t find a reference online to this recipe, but it’s a keeper. I think I must have borrowed the book from the library and entered it into my MasterCook program. Her recipe only contained peaches. I had nectarines, and I also had about a cup of blueberries that were on the over-ripe side, so decided to add those in also. The other change I made was to substitute 3/4 cup of artificial sugar (I use So Nourished brand Erythritol Sweetener Granular – 1:1 Sugar Substitute, Keto – 0 Calorie, 0 Net Carb, Non-GMO). And then I rounded out the quantity with 1/4 cup of real sugar. Otherwise, I used her recipe. You know, of course, that baking is all about chemistry. You don’t want to adjust measurements of dry ingredients or wet ingredients, or you’ll throw off the chemistry of it all. I used less nectarines (or you can use peaches) but then added in the cup of blueberries, so it all works out.

Beth’s recipe had you halve the peaches (after peeling and removing the pit) and simply lay them on the top of the batter. I cut the nectarines into wedges instead (peel on) and sprinkled the blueberries all over the top too (first). Some of the batter baked up beside the fruit. Makes for a very pretty dessert. There at right is the photo of the raw batter with the fruit on top. I didn’t mind the peel on the fruit (isn’t it good for us?) and I thought it looked more beautiful that way. I love the color contrast of the blueberries nestled in amongst the nectarine slices.

See, I couldn’t decide which photo was better – the cake whole at the top, of this photo below of the slice of torte.

The dry ingredients include almond flour – her cookbook was published before the recent craze for all things non-wheat flour, so instead of grinding up raw almonds, I simply used almond flour from my big bag of Costco’s blanched almond flour that I keep in my freezer. There’s nothing low calorie about this cake – it has a cup of butter in it and 4 eggs as well. I served 3 pieces the evening I made this. The recipe said it’s best eaten the day it’s made, but I can say that the next day (left out at room temp, covered) it seemed fine. But for me, baked goods don’t like hanging around very long before they begin to stale, hence I froze the remains. I served the cake with some vanilla ice cream.

What’s GOOD: everything about this cake was good – very tender, tasty. Loved the almond flavoring and with peaches or nectarines in season, so delicious. It probably could be frozen whole – but the top of the batter is kind of wet (from the juice of the fruit). If you do freeze, reheat it briefly. Freeze what you haven’t eaten after 2 days.

What’s NOT: nothing at all, really. Pretty easy cake/torte to make. I’d definitely make it again.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Peach or Nectarine Almond Torte with Blueberries

Recipe By: adapted from Beth Hensperger, The Best Quick Breads
Serving Size: 8-10

3 large peaches — about 1 pound OR use a 29-ounce can of peaches, drained, patted dry
1 cup blueberries — fresh
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter — room temp
1 cup sugar — (or substitute artificial sugar or part or all)
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. If using fresh peaches, fill a deep, medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add peaches and blanch them for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool under running water. Place on a cutting board, slip off the skins, cut peaches in half and pit them. Drain on paper towels. If peaches are very tart, sprinkle them with some sugar and set aside at room temp. If using nectarines, peeling is not necessary.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. Combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add almond extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat well until fluffy, smooth and quite thick batter is formed. There should be no lumps or dry spots. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Cover surface evenly with blueberries, then add nectarine slices in a spoke pattern or place peach halves over the batter, with flat sides down.
4. Bake in center of oven until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, the center springs back when gently touched, and a cake tester inserting into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before removing the springform ring. Serve warm or at room temp, cut into wedges. This cake is best eaten the day it is made. It will keep for a day, covered, at room temp. After that, freeze. When defrosted, warm cake in a 200°F oven for about 10-12 minutes.
Per Serving (based on 8 servings): 547 Calories; 34g Fat (53.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 55g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 154mg Cholesterol; 108mg Sodium; 32g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 138mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 306mg Potassium; 257mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on June 2nd, 2021.

EASY! Have salmon? Asparagus? Cream? Yogurt, cilantro, ginger and curry powder? Plus some red curry paste (Thai)? You can make this in a jiffy. 

A post from Carolyn. What I had on hand was a nice, big piece of salmon. And I had asparagus. But no recipe. I decided to “wing it,” and I’m so glad I did. I was in the mood for curry, and this was so very easy to make. Of late, I’ve wanted to simmer fish over very low heat on the stovetop rather than baking or grilling it – mainly because I love the smooth silkiness of salmon that’s been poached. And I overcook fish too often when it’s oven baked or grilled. It’s a turn-off to me to eat a piece of overcooked (aka: dry) fish. This way, it’s moist, tender, and just so easy to eat that way.

First I dug out my jar of ghee, and slowly warmed a dollop of it in the pan while I chopped up half an onion and added it. Then I grated some fresh ginger and added that into the mix. Then I minced up some fresh garlic, sprinkled in a bit of salt and pepper. Curry powder and red curry paste were added, along with Greek yogurt (don’t use nonfat) and some cream. I let that simmer for about 5 minutes over very low heat.

The slab of salmon was added, and I spooned the sauce over the top of the salmon, put on a lid and let it heat up, allowing it simmer for about 6 minutes. I checked how it was doing, and when I could still see that the salmon wasn’t quite cooked through, I took it out. I knew the salmon would continue to cook as I continued with the dish.

The asparagus I prepped differently – I left a few spears whole (but trimmed), and the rest of them I cut up into little pieces. Both were added to the sauce still in the pan. Once the pan came up to a simmer again, I put the lid back on and let it bubble away, slowly for about 4 minutes. I tested the asparagus and when a knife would slip easily into the asparagus, it was done. I removed the asparagus to the serving plate(s), then poured the sauce over the salmon and added a few sprigs of cilantro. Done. The whole meal took about 20 minutes. Yeah! Serve with rice on the side too – I didn’t – but it would be great to sop up all the rest of the sauce on the plate.

What’s GOOD: how easy this was – start to finish, about 20 minutes. Really lovely, subtle curry heat and lots of flavor. Asparagus was crisp-tender and went well with the fish. I have leftovers and will do nothing but reheat in the microwave. Because the fish was just slightly under-done, I think the fish will reheat without overcooking it. This recipe is a keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing, unless you don’t have all the ingredients.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Salmon in Creamy Curry Sauce with Asparagus

Recipe By: My own concoction
Serving Size: 2

1 tablespoon ghee
1/2 yellow onion — diced
1 large clove garlic — minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger — finely minced salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon Thai red chili paste
3/4 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — unflavored, unsweetened
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces salmon
6 ounces asparagus
2 tablespoons cilantro — chopped, for garnish

1. In a large skillet, melt ghee and bring it up to medium heat. Add onion and ginger. Cook for 2-4 minutes until onion is translucent. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Add chili paste, curry powder and stir until combined. Add yogurt and cream and stir until mixture comes to a low simmer.
2. Add salmon (leave whole or cut into serving pieces) and spoon sauce over top of salmon. Bring back to a low simmer; cover and continue cooking for about 6 minutes, until outer edges of salmon are cooked through. Interior of salmon may still be “rare,” but will continue to cook once it’s removed from the pan.
3. Remove salmon and set aside.
4. Cut half of asparagus into small pieces, leaving 4-6 spears whole. Add to simmering cream sauce; cover pan and keep on low heat until asparagus is cooked through, but not soft, about 4-6 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus).
5. Cut the salmon into serving pieces and spoon sauce over the top, along with the spears and chopped up asparagus on the side. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 594 Calories; 41g Fat (62.1% calories from fat); 42g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 244mg Cholesterol; 194mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 95mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1029mg Potassium; 577mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Soups, on October 29th, 2020.

IP_broccoli_cheese_soup

SO easy and quick.

While my grandson Vaughan was visiting with me, he was doing online school, and at about 11:15 one day I realized he was going to have his lunch break in exactly 10 minutes, and I hadn’t started the soup. Fortunately, the lunch break lasted for 35 minutes, and I was able to get this soup prepared in time. Whew.

I used an online recipe as a base, but I added different ingredients and quantities. I’d purchased a package of Velveeta about 2 weeks ago. It’s not something I really like to eat, but when a recipe calls for it, it’s usually necessary, as I didn’t want stringy cheese in this soup (like you would get with grated cheddar). There are a few cheeses that melt easily, like Fontina, for instance. And I had some of that, but it wasn’t going to give the same flavor as cheddar, so the Velveeta was the ticket.

My Instant Pot came out, and I sautéed an onion and some celery in butter. Then added the carrots, garlic and lastly the flour, which you need to stir around so it doesn’t lump when you add liquid. Stir frequently as it warms and thickens. Then add the broccoli, paprika and mustard. At this point, put on the lid and pressure cook for about 5 minutes on high. Quick release, stir the soup, then add the dairy. Start IP to sauté to heat the soup through, then you add the Velveeta, cut into big cubes. Stir it continuously until the cheese melts. Fortunately, all that took about 20 minutes, and I was able to serve Vaughan a bowl at his laptop and he was able to finish it on the stroke of class restarting. He was so cute – he muted himself and told me 3 times how good the soup was. I got quite a kick out of watching him over the course of his online school day. He got a couple of breaks, and he has 2-3 friends who play Minecraft, and they managed to play the game during the breaks, and at the exactly as class re-started, he was tuned back into school. One of his friends has a server, so they play together and also use their phones to talk at the same time. All kinds of multi-tasking.

You can add topping to this soup – grated cheddar, croutons, hot sauce, chives, crispy bacon. I didn’t have time, so straight soup was what we got.

What’s GOOD: loved the soup. Simple, straight forward, easy, and just good comfort food. I think the mustard adds a lot of flavor depth to this – if you didn’t know it was in there you might not be able to taste it, but because I knew, you can barely discern it. Now I need to buy another block of Velveeta so I can make this on the fly another day. Another plus, the fact that I could get this made in a matter of about 25 minutes.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. You can adjust quantities to suit your family’s taste. More broccoli, more carrots and celery, more onion? It’ll work. Add shallots instead of onion, no garlic. Whatever suits your fancy.

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Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from an online recipe
Serving Size: 5

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup carrots — diced
1/2 onion — chopped
1/2 cup celery — chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour — or gluten-free
3 cups low sodium chicken broth — or more if needed
2 cloves garlic — diced
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon spicy mustard
4 cups broccoli — cut into small florets and finely dice the stems
1 1/2 cups half and half — or use about 1/2 cup heavy cream (bring to room temperature)
8 ounces Velveeta — diced into cubes – or use cheddar

1. Start IP on Sauté setting and allow it to heat up slightly. Add butter and once melted, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring a couple of times or until onion is softened.
2. While still hot, add flour and stir briskly for 30 seconds.
3. Add chicken broth in 2-3 batches stirring with a whisk so there are no lumps.
4. Add the seasonings and mustard, stir through and add the broccoli florets.
5. Close and seal the Instant Pot. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 5 minutes, and adjust to HIGH pressure.
6. Once the timer is done, use the Quick Release method to let the steam off and open the lid.
7. Stir the soup, then add cream (microwave it slightly if needed). Mix through and use a potato masher to roughly puree the cooked vegetables into the liquid.
8. The soup may be hot enough to serve without reheating. If you want the soup to be super-hot, press the Sauté function key again to bring soup back to a simmer. Immediately turn off once soup begins to simmer and add the cheese in 2-3 batches, stirring well until it’s fully melted and combined into the soup. Velveeta will sink to the bottom so stir thoroughly. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a bit more chicken broth.
9. Serve with toppings of your choice, such as shredded cheddar, chopped broccoli, hot sauce, sour cream, chives, crispy bacon, croutons and so on. Storing the soup: Keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat well and whisk to restore its creamy texture. The soup freezes well. Thawed broccoli cheese soup may have a slight change in texture because the cream may separate during freezing and then thawing. Simply whisk the soup back together and add some more cream to bring it back to life. Refresh the seasonings with salt and pepper and enjoy. One tip is to use evaporated milk instead of cream if you plan to freeze this soup.
Per Serving: 421 Calories; 27g Fat (54.8% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 867mg Sodium; 12g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 404mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 1105mg Potassium; 654mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Fish, on October 16th, 2020.

steamed_salmon_butter_sauce_spinach

Such an easy dinner – and so savory. Salmon is super tender.

About a week ago my grandson, Vaughan, age 13, came to stay with me for about 5 days. He lives about an hour or two away and his parents were taking a quick trip to Montana, and he would have had wi-fi difficulty there as he is doing middle school remotely for now. He’s been a joy to have around, and on top of that, he knows how to cook. His parents are foodies, and I’ve posted numerous pictures and recipes from Karen, my daughter-in-law, and of my son Powell’s grilling pursuits. Vaughan’s not like a lot of kids, unwilling to try new things. Nope. He’ll try most everything, and even likes vegetables (most, anyway). He asked if we could have salmon one night – sure, I said. Had some in the freezer, so he told me what he needed. Usually he makes this with watercress, but that I didn’t have, so we used spinach instead.

vaughan_cooking

There he is, stirring the lemon butter sauce, and the salmon is in the closer pan, lidded for steaming.

This recipe is so very easy. You could pull this together in a matter of about 20 minutes with no difficulty at all. It helps if you have everything out and ready, mis en place. The salmon is salted and peppered. You bring about an inch of water to a boil in a pan large enough to hold the salmon, and tall enough so the lid won’t rest on the salmon (like mine did). Use a steamer basket or rack. We used a small metal rack, then I put the salmon on a piece of foil, poked about 20 little holes in the foil and put that in the pan. The lid went on and we started a timer for 5 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan (the one he’s stirring) he melted butter, then added just a little jot of lemon juice (and add more, he says, if you like a more lemony taste). If you have thicker salmon, it might need an extra minute, or if your salmon is thinner, maybe 30-60 seconds less time. Remove the salmon when it has reached 135°F.

Once the salmon was cooked – we tested it  – we removed the salmon and the rack. If you want, tent the salmon with foil to keep it warm. We poured out the water from the pan, then melted more butter and cooked the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper.

Simple – plate the salmon, place the spinach along side, then gently pour the butter sauce over the salmon. If some of it dribbles over the spinach that’s fine. Thank you, grandson Vaughan, for a delicious dinner!

What’s GOOD: for me, the fact that the dish was SO easy and quick to make, and it was so delicious. The salmon is super tender – just right. And the lemon butter sauce – not only is it hardly a cooked sauce, it was quick and added lovely flavor to the salmon.

What’s NOT: Nothing, really. The next time I make it I won’t have my grandson doing all the cooking!
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Steamed Salmon with Lemon Butter and Spinach

Recipe By: Adapted from Food & Wine
Serving Size: 4

SALMON:
2 pounds salmon fillets — cut into 4 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
LEMON BUTTER SAUCE:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice — or more if you like more lemony flavor
SPINACH:
1 pound spinach — tough stems removed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: Select a pan or pot that will hold a steamer rack or similar device and be tall enough that the lid won’t touch the salmon. Or use a steam setting on a rice cooker or instant pot.
1. In a large pot, bring about an inch of water to a boil.
2. Season the salmon fillets with ample salt and pepper. Place them in a large steamer basket, skin-side down. Or improvise with a rack, a piece of foil that you poke about 20-30 holes in, and place that on top of the rack.
3. Place the steamer basket with the fish over (not in) the boiling water and cover the pan. Reduce heat to a full simmer and cook the salmon until it is just barely done (the fish should still be translucent in the center), about 5 1/2 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Do not over cook. Use an instant read thermometer and it’s done at 135°F.
4. Meanwhile, in a small stainless-steel saucepan, melt the butter. Add the lemon juice plus a dash of salt and pepper. Taste sauce to see if it needs additional lemon juice; if so, add in small increments. Keep warm.
5. Remove salmon, tent with foil, then empty the pan of water. Add butter and melt it, then add the spinach, pressing and nestling the spinach until it’s all in the pan. Stir well and continue cooking until spinach is fully cooked. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve the salmon with the lemon butter sauce poured over it and spinach on the side.You may use frozen spinach for this.
Per Serving: 426 Calories; 23g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 49g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 206mg Cholesterol; 227mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 142mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 1618mg Potassium; 703mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Chicken, easy, Healthy, on June 2nd, 2019.

One of my go-to quick, easy and healthy weekday meals. 

This post is from Sara:  I found the original recipe on Delish.com which is a favorite healthy recipe website for me.  I mostly plan my week’s meals out on Sunday and shop accordingly so that I don’t have to make several trips to the grocery store after work.  However, there are those days that I am not in the mood for my plan or life happens and dinner plans change.  This is one of the fast, easy and healthy recipes I love to make.  It’s a one-pan dish and I usually have everything on hand as it’s fairly common ingredients, at least in my household.  If I don’t have fresh basil, I almost always have pesto sauce that can be substituted.

I serve it with a salad and some balsamic vinaigrette that I add a tsp of pesto sauce to bring up the flavor.  You could also add pasta if you don’t have an aversion to carbs.  Or, like me, you have teenagers that need more calories.  I love this dish because of the fresh ingredients.  I always have grape tomatoes in my fridge as I eat them as a snack daily.  I used fresh mozzarella because I prefer it but regular mozzarella or provolone would work.

Having made this a few times, I found that I prefer to slice the chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner slices.  This keeps my portion size down and gives me leftovers for lunch the next day!  Another bonus of this recipe is to make enough for leftovers so I add the cold chicken cut up to a salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bits and the pesto balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

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Chicken Caprese

Recipe By: adapted from Delish.com
Serving Size : 4

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves — cut horizontally into 4 pieces
Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves Garlic — Minced
1 pint grape tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons fresh basil — freshly torn
4 slices mozzarella cheese — use fresh if possible or substitute pesto sauce
12 basil leaves — for garnish

1. In a large skillet over medium/high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden and cooked through, approximately 6 mins per side depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 mins. Stir in basil.
3. return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt.
4. Spoon tomatoes over chicken and sprinkle more fresh basil if desired.
Per Serving: 537 Calories; 33g Fat (55.5% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 167mg Cholesterol; 552mg Sodium.

Posted in easy, Vegetarian, on August 25th, 2017.

grilled_halloumi_tomato_jam

My new cheese love. Halloumi. A meal in itself.

More and more, lately, I’m eating vegetarian meals. I’m an omnivore, but I do love vegetables, and I’m quite happy to make a meal of a variety of different veggies. I eat plenty of cheese too. We all need protein in one form or another. When I’m out, I eat chicken and fish, and occasionally I’ll buy a rotisserie chicken which keeps me in meals for several days. If I eat steak, I usually do it at home because I’ve got it down pat. Once in awhile I crave a hunk of beef or a ground beef casserole. Or a pork or lamb chop. I eat a lot of salads, sometimes with some tuna added, hard boiled eggs, or chicken. Oh, and yes, I do crave a hamburger once in awhile too.

If you read my post about the halloumi salad I had (and subsequently made), perhaps you were intrigued. Or maybe you already know halloumi. I knew of it, but had never cooked it. Once I found a package of it (hard to find) it had enough for 2 meals (the little square of cheese was ample for 4 slices). I made the halloumi salad (with watermelon) and enjoyed it very much. But then I still had 2 pieces left. As I stood at my open refrigerator door I spotted the Tomato Jam I’d made a week or so ago. I’ve frozen a dozen packets of it and have about half a cup in the refrigerator. I’ve had it with a little schmear of cream cheese on a cracker. One evening that was my dinner. I suppose you could say that’s a benefit of living alone (or being a widow) that if I don’t want to make a meal, I can always find something easy in the refrigerator like cheese and crackers.

So this particular night, with the 2 slices of halloumi needing to be eaten, I set my frying pan on low, added a bit of grapeseed oil to it and once it reached heat, I added the 2 slices to the pan. While it sizzled gently, I retrieved the tomato jam, sliced up some basil, grabbed a lovely orange heirloom tomato, EVOO, and the bottle of balsamic reduction, salt and pepper.

The cheese took about 4-5 minutes to cook on both sides (see the nice browning on them). This meal was ready in no time flat. I spread a bit of the tomato jam on each slice, topped it all with basil, then drizzled some of the balsamic reduction (syrup) and EVOO on top. Done. Dinner ready in less than 10 minutes. If you want some carbs, add a lovely slice of toasted artisan bread underneath the cheese. Like an open faced sandwich. My next project is to find another source for halloumi!

What’s GOOD: how easy this was to make – if you have the cheese on hand – and it was really delish. ‘Tis the season for heirloom tomatoes too. (And you can make an open-faced sandwich with adding a slice of toasted artisan bread.)

What’s NOT: the difficulty of finding halloumi. Otherwise, nothing at all! OH, one other thing – have you ever had cheese that squeaks? This cheese does – not when it’s raw, but once cooked, when you chew it, it squeaks. One of my readers, Toni, mentioned that she’d had halloumi once, one bite, but that was it because the squeak was off-putting for her. It doesn’t bother me.

I’m not writing up a regular “recipe” for this. Here’s an ingredient list to serve 2:

Grilled Halloumi with Tomato Jam

4 slices halloumi cheese (about 1/3” thick)

4 teaspoons grapeseed oil, or EVOO

6 tablespoons tomato jam (or other savory/sweet jam or chutney)

1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced (or very finely minced fresh rosemary or thyme)

8 slices heirloom tomato

balsamic reduction/syrup

EVOO to drizzle on top

salt and pepper to taste

————————-

Now, go find some halloumi cheese!

Posted in Chicken, easy, on June 6th, 2015.

chicken_in_milk_sweet_potatoes

Aren’t we all busy as can be sometimes and we need a quick dinner without a lot of prep? Here’s one.

Defrosting a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts was all I’d done in preparation for dinner. I glanced through my to-try file, and knowing that I had a sweet potato, cilantro, milk, ginger, garlic and Dijon . . . well, that constituted enough to try to make a riff on a Jamie Oliver recipe I had. Really, about all I used from his recipe is the technique, the milk, garlic and cinnamon. The rest I made up as I went along.

You do need to know that when you cook milk, it separates. It just does, and Jamie (and many other great cooks) have shared recipes for meat simmered in milk, so it’s not a new idea by any means. But something chemical in the milk doesn’t allow it to be simmered (boiled) without separating. (If you use heavy cream, it won’t separate even when you boil it, but milk, yes it will.) You could add flour to it to make a thin-type sauce, which would avoid the separating, but I was too lazy. I could have dipped the chicken in some seasoned flour and that would have provided some thickening to the sauce too, that might have kept it from separating. But again, I was lazy and didn’t. I wanted to try it as-is, Jamie’s way. It provides a kind of lumpy, thick-and-thin sauce that’s not exactly pretty. But it tastes good, and especially if you have some kind of carb to put it on.

I had some zucchini too, that needed fixing, so that went in another pan with a chopped up slice of bacon and cooked away slowly while I made the chicken. First you brown (light golden-brown) the chicken in a bit of butter in a big skillet (that has a lid). Once golden brown, you remove it and set it aside. Then you add a shallot, cook that a bit, then add some big chunks of sweet potato, uniformly sliced about 1/2” thick, though, so they cook evenly. Those got slightly browned, then I added in the milk. I also added a little jot of cream – hoping it might help the milk from separating (no, it didn’t). Then I added my seasonings: Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, and the cinnamon. Jamie called for a stick of cinnamon – I didn’t feel like hunting for it, so I just used a pinch or two of ground cinnamon instead. Once simmering, I added the lid and let it cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes were just barely tender. You don’t want to overcook them. The chicken is added back in, simmered for 3-4 minutes is all – until it’s tender and juicy. Don’t overcook those either or it’ll be inedible. (I ordered a Cobb salad the other day, and the chicken meat served on it was so dry I almost choked on it – what a waste.) Just know that chicken breasts don’t need hardly any cooking – check it frequently to make sure you don’t overdo it.

In the cooking time, the sauce, as I mentioned, separates. It’s kind of like curds and whey. You can see some of the curds on the sweet potatoes in the photo. The milk becomes a kind of broth, almost, with the curds in it – my solution was to kind of mush-up the sweet potatoes a little bit, then eat a bit of that, with a bite of chicken and some of the milk sauce. All together. The flavors are subtle – even with the garlic – I expected the garlic to be pronounced, but it wasn’t. I made 2 servings and used 3 garlic cloves, mashed.

What’s GOOD: I loved the taste, that’s what’s important. The visual, well, not so good, and I’d probably not serve this to guests, just because people might be put-off by the separated milk/sauce. I was fine with it, especially since Jamie Oliver tells you right up front about what happens to the milk in his recipe. Milk is a lovely tenderizer of meat, even though the chicken didn’t spend that much time bathed in the milk. It was good. It was simple. All good reasons to make it again. Is it fabulous? Well, no, I wouldn’t put it in that category. It was quick, that’s what I was looking for.

What’s NOT: the only thing is the sauce – some may not like it. I can see children saying “ew, Mom, what’s that?” But if you mush up the potatoes (or serve rice on the side) and the sauce goes on the carb, they might not notice.

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Chicken in Milk with Sweet Potatoes

Recipe By: A major riff on a Jamie Oliver recipe.
Serving Size: 4

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 chicken breast halves without skin — drained, blotted dry
1 small shallot — minced
2 medium sweet potatoes — peeled, halved, 1/2″ slices
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
2 pinches ground cinnamon — (or use a whole stick)
3 cloves garlic — minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cilantro — minced (garnish), or parsley

NOTES: If you have chicken with skin, by all means use it. Even better, use bone-in chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts was what I had on hand. And chicken breasts cook in a flash, so be careful not to overcook them. You’ll NOT be happy with the results.
1. In a large skillet (with a lid) melt butter. When it begins to sizzle, add the chicken breasts and brown gently on both sides until they show golden color, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
2. Add shallot to the skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes until it’s translucent. Add the sweet potatoes and allow them to brown on both sides, just a little bit, 3-4 minutes.
3. Pour in the milk and cream, then add Dijon, mustard, garlic and cinnamon. Mix well, blending in the mustard. Bring to a very low simmer, cover and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are nearly done. Test them with a knife – you want them to stay together but be barely edible at this point.
4. Add the chicken pieces in the skillet, cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until they are cooked through. Do NOT overcook them or they’ll be dry.
5. The sauce will have separated – it’s not exactly a pretty picture – but it tastes great. If desired, slightly mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher, place chicken on top of the potatoes, then pour the lumpy sauce over both. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.
6. You can also make the chicken without sweet potatoes, but prepare rice or mashed potatoes – and drizzle the separated sauce on top.
Per Serving: 353 Calories; 15g Fat (37.7% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 113mg Cholesterol; 155mg Sodium.

Posted in easy, Soups, on June 2nd, 2015.

taco_soup_trimmings

Is it past soup season? My apologies for forgetting this recipe when it was still cold, and you wanted warmth in your tummy. And perhaps I’m the very last person on the planet who hadn’t ever HAD this soup. Oh my goodness, is it ever tasty! And it’s unbelievably easy too. I didn’t put all the trimmings on the soup when I took the photo – there should be cilantro and Fritos all over the top too.

My best friend Cherrie and her husband go camping (really, it’s glamping) a lot. They have a huge (long) 5th wheel that attaches to Bud’s BIG truck and they go up the coast of California, down the coast and inland too (and to Arizona for baseball spring training). Everywhere. And truly, theirs is big enough to live in. Cherrie is an immaculate housekeeper and the 5th wheel is always decorated as cute as a bug. They have several sets of friends and some relatives that they meet in these various places. And THIS is one of the gargantuan meals Cherrie now fixes for the gang. They usually take turns preparing dinner for everyone. Cherrie raved about it, so of course (and gave me a sample), so then I had to try this myself. Cherrie got the recipe from one of the other glamping couples.

Did I tell you this recipe is EASY? Yes, I did, but it bears repeating. This is SUPER EASY! Get out your slow cooker, friends. Make a huge batch and if you can’t eat it all now, freeze it in family-sized portions. The only thing you’ll have to do later is prepare the garnishes (of which there are a few).

It’s like a chili – you could use ground turkey – but the ground beef one was awfully good. You brown up the beef and onions, then pour everything into the crockpot (beans, tomatoes, corn, olives, chiles, taco seasoning AND, the surprise ingredient: a package of dried ranch salad dressing mix) and let it slow-cook for about 6 hours. Done. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings: grated Cheddar, sour cream (or yogurt if you prefer), Fritos, cilantro and avocado. That’s it. Put out bowls and have at it. My mouth is watering just writing up this post, and it’s been several months ago that I made it (small batch, all gone, none in freezer).

What’s GOOD: if it wasn’t extraordinarily tasty I wouldn’t be going on and on about it. It’s delicious. Really delicious. Tummy warming. And, it’s EASY. You could make it without meat, too – I bet it would be fine. I absolutely guarantee you’re going to hear “mmmmm’s” from everyone. I’m just sorry I don’t have any in the freezer, although it’s getting to be warmer weather and this is probably best in colder seasons.

What’s NOT: there’s no down side to this recipe. Make it.

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Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Recipe By: This one’s all over the internet, but this is
my friend Cherrie’s version.

Serving Size: 10

2 pounds ground beef — or ground turkey
1 large yellow onion — diced
30 ounces canned pinto beans — drained and rinsed
30 ounces canned kidney beans — drained and rinsed
15 ounces canned corn — drained
15 ounces canned tomatoes with green chiles — (Rotel)
15 ounces canned tomatoes
9 ounces diced green chiles
1 1/4 ounces Taco seasoning mix
1 1/8 ounces ranch-style dressing mix
GARNISHES:
Fritos (the small ones)
4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup light sour cream — or Greek yogurt
1 whole avocado — diced
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped

1. Brown the meat and onions in a large skillet. Drain excess fat and transfer to slow cooker. Add beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix.
2. Cook in slow cooker for 6-8 hours.
3. Into each serving bowl place some of the Fritos, then scoop about 2 cups of the soup on top. Serve all the garnishes in bowls for guests to take as they’d like.
Per Serving: 720 Calories; 44g Fat (54.0% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 46g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 127mg Cholesterol; 1814mg Sodium.

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