Category Archives: food

A match made in heaven

No, I’m not talking about Russ and me. (Quick grammar lesson: It’s “Russ and me” because “me” works without the “Russ and”.  You wouldn’t say “about I”. Got it? Good!) Although that would be true too. (All together now, awwwwwww!) I’m talking about black beans and sweet potatoes. Mmmm. Hmmmm!

I’ve made black bean and sweet potato chili and black bean and sweet potato enchiladas . So the jump to a southwestern calzone filled with sweet potatoes and black beans wasn’t that far.

By the way, have I mentioned that I’ve given up sugar and alcohol for Lent? It’s making me a little crazy. Just letting you know that as a warning. The Communion assistants at church keep their eyes on me now. They don’t like me taking that extra long drink from the common cup. I also spend lots of time perusing recipes for sweet baked goods. And I keep opening the pantry just to gaze at the box of Samoas sitting there on the shelf. Food porn! (I just mentioned Communion and porn in the same paragraph. I am doomed. Step back from the screen in case the lightning should travel through the interwebs!) I’ve been joking that Easter breakfast is going to be Samoas, jelly beans and bourbon. Only lately, it’s been less about joking and more about planning out how to make that actually happen…

Anywho. Sorry. Awkward.

When I took the calzone dough out of the freezer this afternoon, I wasn’t all that excited about plain old pizza calzones for dinner. Then I had a revelation! Why not make a southwestern calzone with sweet potatoes and black beans as the filling? Why not indeed!

The calzone dough is Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe. Such a great and easy recipe. I’ve made it multiple times and it turns out great every time. Sometimes I make it with the cornmeal and sometimes I make it with whole wheat flour and sometimes it’s all white flour. I really like the crunch of the cornmeal. Today’s dough was an all white flour batch. (mostly because I forgot to substitute cornmeal for part of the flour. Lack of sugar in my bloodstream makes me forgetful.)

The calzones just sitting there waiting for their turn in the oven.

And here is my calzone just sitting there waiting to get in my belly!

The recipe is not a real recipe, more just a mishmash of what I had here. Next time, I will make sure to have cilantro on hand and maybe a nice roasted poblano. I didn’t have either, so this is the bare bones recipe. But not half bad, if I say so myself!

Here ’tis:
One recipe of Bittman’s pizza dough, cut into four pieces after it has finished rising
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
half an onion
cumin, few shakes
chipotle chili powder, about 2 teaspoons
pinch of cinnamon (secret ingredient!)
salsa (I used some Frontera salsa. I love it!)
oil to saute the onions
shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack)
Preheat oven to 350.

Microwave the sweet potatoes. Let cool a bit and mash with a fork; set aside. Heat oil in a skillet, add the onion and season with a bit of salt. When the onions begin to soften, add the cumin, cinnamon and chili powder. Let them bloom in the oil. Add the black beans and let them cook in the spices for a bit. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, stir to mix. I added a touch of chicken broth here to help make the mixing easier. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings.  I had to add a bit more cumin and some salt. Set aside.

Roll out one of the balls of dough into a big oval-y shape and add the black bean/sweet potato mixture to desired fullness on one side of the dough; make sure to leave room at the edges to close the calzone. Top with salsa, if you like, and cheese. Fold dough over itself and add a bit of water to the edge of the dough. Seal the calzone by folding the edge over on itself, pinch together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with extra salsa and sour cream, plain greek yogurt or crema.

The filling made more than enough for 2 calzones. I plan to eat the rest for lunch tomorrow! It would easily fill all 4 calzones.

Hope you enjoy!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear the Samoas calling my name. I’m just going to go do some heavy petting with them. Nothing below the boxtop.


Filed under food, ravings, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

Pi day recap/Caution overwhelming cuteness ahead

I’m pretty sure that after my last post, I said I would be back “on the morrow with a recipe”. Um, yeah. It’s way past morrow. More like a fortnight. And today I have a recipe for you, but it wasn’t the one I had planned to share. I’ll save that for another post.
It seems like time has flown by! We’ve been busy with strange work schedules and school conferences and hormonal crying jags (oh wait, that was just me. I’m better now) We also had visitors from the Lone Star State last weekend. It was so much fun to see my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and my great niece! The great state of Missouri actually had a fluke snowfall the first night they were here. We know how to welcome visitors here in the midwest!
Since the Texans were here over Pi day (3.14), I thought it would be fun to make a pie with Janae. She’s 2 and a half and full of energy and smiles and is talking up a storm. Such a great age. And cooking with kids is so much fun. Just make sure that you are prepared for spills and mishaps and all will be good.
I decided that we would go with a no-cook pie. Janae is so young and instant gratification is a good way to keep littles from being bored whilst cooking. Pudding pie-perfect!
Here’s the recipe in pictures:

Take a chocolate graham cracker crust...

Add one super cute little girl and a box of chocolate instant pudding...

Let the cutie put the pudding mix in a bowl (with just a little help so that most of the mix ends up in the bowl)

Add the milk and then let the sweet girl whisk (please to hold the bowl so that it doesn't end up on the floor!)

The beautiful smile adds an extra touch of sweetness to the pie! Whisking...

More whisking. More bowl holding.

Pour the pudding into the crust and then you get to EAT THE LEFTOVER PUDDING!

I believe this may have been Janae's favorite part! Smart girl!

Garnish with squirty whipped cream and TA DA! Pudding Pie for Pi day!

Then, if you are super lucky like Janae, you get to sit on Grandma's lap and enjoy the fruits of your labors!

Having family to love is awesome, si?

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Filed under food, Holidays, Recipes

Silent Sunday-some things are worth the work

Beginning the assembly

We made this pastry cream. We MADE it. True story.

Just look at that sponge cake, willya?

Ike begins to pour the chocolate glaze

Isn't it beautiful?

Slowly, it spreads


mmmmm, chocolate

This cake is a thing of beauty

Boston Cream Pie-yes!

Sam! Let us cut the thing first!

Plate-lickin' good!


Find the recipe here




Filed under food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

The No-pocalypse

The STORM OF THE CENTURY turned out to be the storm of the week here in the St. Louis area. We did get 3 inches of sleet, which was pretty impressive, but no blizzards or cannibalism or major citywide chaos of any kind like the weathercasters were predicting. Frankly, I was disappointed. BRANG IT, I kept saying whilst beating my chest with my fists. C’mon Mother Effin’ Nature, BRANG! IT! She, rightly so, chose not to take me on in all of my badassness.

It was enough winter weather to cancel school today, though. (Flurries are enough to close school around here, so that’s not saying much.)Which means that for the umpteenth time this year, the boys are home. What makes it different today is that Russ is home too. He decided to take a vacation day to avoid driving on the sleet-covered roads and the extreme cold that came along with the sleet.

The three of them cooked up a plan that cookies should be made. HAD to be made. In order for the survival of the family, cookies were needed.  (Actually, Ike wanted a pie. Alas, I have no butter to make pie crust [please do not speak to me about making pie crust with shortening, I will not hear of it. And yes, I know your grandma’s pie crust was the best ever and SHE used shortening, I just prefer butter. End of discussion. Also, I have nothing against shortening as you will see momentarily if I can ever find my way out of all of these parenthesis and brackets…])

So, everyone washed their hands and we all began the cookie making. The recipe I use is from the Butter Flavored Crisco container. See, I like the shortening. I like the butter flavoring. I know that some of you may scoff at Crisco. I know that some of you will freak out that it is butter *flavored*. I care not. I only know that these cookies are the softest, best chocolate chip cookies ever. I rarely tell people the truth when they get all crazy over them. I never want to admit that they are made with Crisco. But now, the secret is out and you can think of me what you will.

Ike is a championship scooper

Look at that cookie dough just layin' there like a log. Maybe I should eat it! (Cook a Doodle Doo-a fantastic kid's book. Go buy it now.)

Two thumbs up!


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
  • OR 3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)


  1. HEAT oven to 375ºF.
  2. COMBINE shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
  4. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.
  5. TIP* If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I never put nuts in the cookies I make only because no one here wants nuts in his or her cookies. You do what rocks your socks off.  The only other advice I would give is to beat the shortening, brown sugar, milk, vanilla and egg until they are fluffy. Then only beat the flour in until blended using the lowest speed on your mixer, or do it by hand. Overmixing the dry into the wet leads to flat cookies. Oh and, chewy all the way here at this house, so 8 minutes and then they are out of the oven.

And now, I must do the work that I am supposed to be doing  but am totally procrastinating on by posting here.

Happy Groundhog Day!



P.S. Cook-a-Doodle Doo can be bought here. It seriously is a great book. Seriously. With a recipe for strawberry shortcake at the end. Can’t beat it!


Filed under food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

Music Monday: The food edition

Something amazing happened today. Mark Bittman declared his undying love for me via twitter. He also told me he wants me to go to Spain with him when they reprise the “On the Road Again” show. I’m hoping we don’t have to have that Gwenyth Paltrow with us this time. Not that she’s not a lovely person, I’m sure she is. I just would prefer she not come along.

What? Well. Ok. “Declaring his undying love” is going a bit too far. I tend to have a touch of the hyperbole. What he said was that he didn’t think one meal of pot roast was going to kill me. (Which I say shows how very much he cares about my well-being.) And then the second message poohpoohed my comparing him to the pope but said, “Yes, this is really me.” Oh my. He wants me to know it is really him. I was going to send him a message back that said, “this is really me”. But then it was pointed out to me by the almighty twitter gods that I cannot direct message people who do not follow me. So there. We were at an impasse, it appeared. I keep checking, but so far he hasn’t started following me. Certainly it’s just a matter of time before he does. In the meantime, I may never wash these computer keys again.

In honor of the magnificent Mark Bittman (and I say that in all sincerity. His book “How to Cook Everything” opened up a whole new world of cooking to me. I’m no longer afraid to try just about anything. And it’s the first place I check for any kind of recipe, be it pizza dough or gougeres, waffles or roasted root vegetables. Go buy it here.), today’s music Monday selections are both food related.

Go get a snack and enjoy the music!



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Filed under books, food, Music


Silent Saturday is hereby interrupted for the following announcement: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled Saturday full of  shhh.

First dinner of 2011


This is a recipe I cobbled together from several different recipes. Next time, I will add some spinach and maybe bacon (gasp!). At your house, you may get to use mushrooms, but here they are verboten by the rest of the family. Even without all of the extras, it was pretty tasty in all its simplicity.

Savory Bread Pudding

6 cups stale bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (I used leftover dinner rolls. It has to be a pretty hardy bread product to stand up to the liquid.)

2 cups milk (I used skim. It worked fine.)

4 eggs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheese (use what you like.  I had a hunk of gouda hanging around the fridge, so I shredded that up.)

salt and pepper to taste


Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan. Place bread in the pan. Whisk the rest of the ingredients to combine and pour over the bread. Submerge the bread into the liquid by placing a plate or another 8 inch dish on top and weighing it down with a can of vegetables or some other weight. Let sit 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or just until the pudding is set.

I’m coming back tomorrow with some resolutions.



P.S. I’m apparently no good at the whole *silent* portion of Silent Saturday.

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Filed under food, new year, Recipes

I’m Jonesin’

Hello, my friends. I am here to admit to you that I may have a slight problem. I dreamed about gnocchi last night.

Not just once, but three times. THREE times. Gnocchi was part of three different dreams. Once I had made it (go me!), once it was offered at a cafeteria (um, ok) and the last time I was taking it to someone’s home and I was trying to keep the dog from eating it (No, Charley! Leave it!). THREE dreams. Clearly, I need more therapy.

I’m afraid I may need an intervention. Or I just might have to go to Taste and live in the corner of the room and have them bring me gnocchi every hour on the hour until I can get past this…this…obsession? flirtation? fixation? lust? on/for the gnocchi they serve there.

Seriously, who dreams about gnocchi?

But this gnocchi was far superior to any I’ve ever had before. It wasn’t dense little pillows of potatoey pasta goodness (which I love, btw), this was the lightest, most delicate (delicate! no one ever uses the word delicate when describing gnocchi!), softest down pillows of pasta. This is the gnocchi that angels in heaven make from clouds and enjoy on a daily basis. This is the gnocchi that enchanted me and hijacked my dreams last night. This gnocchi quite literally (really literally, not the fake literally that you hear so much about these days) melted in my mouth.

I wonder what time Taste opens today…

The dinner afterward at Niche was absolutely delicious too, but somehow I’ve been seduced by those tender, soft, delicate, amazing dumplings of goodness. If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

One more note, if you ever get a chance to drink Beaux Freres Pinot Noir, please do so. It’s a beautiful wine.



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Sweet Sunday

What a great weekend, seriously. Yesterday was the sugar bunning and today was gingerbread house and train building  and pretzel dipping. This weekend has softened my cold, Scroogy heart and the best part is that no visits from scary specters were required! Me=Christmas spirit filled.

Today was such fun!  Another day filled with loved ones and sweet chocolate and candy and love and laughing and good food and fun and more chocolate and there was a visit to Santa (my Beth and I, not the kids) and a wonderful yoga practice. 


The house before the landscaping


The plain train


I've got to concentrate, concentrate, concentrate!


The beginning of the train decorating


The house gets a wreath


And some shingles


The boys hard at work


More boys working hard


Charley, I totally see you trying to snag some candy off the table!


It's coming along nicely!


The train has a car full of red hot coal!


The finished products!


Aren't they great!!


The artistes and their creations!



Mmmmm, chocolate! If you are one of these children's aunts, please pretend you don't see this. And act surprised when you open your gift, mmkay?


Look at the drizzling arm on that kid! He is a natural!


Some of the finished treats. They look great!


I am one thankful lady right about now.

There is no recipe for the pretzels, friends.  Get you some almond bark, melt it, put it on the pretzels and then decorate them. You all knew that, though, didn’t you?



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Filed under food, Holidays

People who don’t like butter, don’t like butter

Today we carried on a tradition that goes way, way, way back in our family-Sugar Bun day!  It’s a day that makes my heart do this-

I’m too tired to say much and it’s supposed to be Silent Saturday anyway, so I think I will just say that there was much laughing and cooking and many children and lovely family and love and silliness and butter! and more butter! and some sweet sugar and I now feel like this really is the hap-happiest time of the year!  No more grinching from me. I’m ready to hold hands and sing dah-who-doraze with y’all.

Seriously, what could be better than cooking, children and laughing? Nothing, I tell you.

One more important point to make, people who don’t like butter, don’t like butter. Try and argue your way out of that one, why don’t you? 

Ian and his mama get to sugaring the buns


Everyone is working diligently!


Sam and Ashley-when did my boy get so big?


The non-sugaring bunners


Visions of sugar buns danced in our heads




We are nothing if not strict with the hygiene of our workers! Or this is alternately titled-What happens at sugar buns, stays at sugar buns!


Happy ladies!


You just have to be a kid at heart to enjoy the sugaring of the buns!


Look at the form of this girl! She's a natural!


Alien head dough with cool shadows


Some of the finished product-delicious!


The swollen stollen!


My bunners! This picture makes me happy!


The recipe for the dough is about 80 years old and it is a very good, sweet, tender dough. It’s very forgiving, which makes it perfect for children.  We used this master dough to make sugar buns-dough rolled out into long thin ish strips, buttered, sugared (or cinnamon sugared) folded in on itself from both sides, buttered again and sugared again, and then cut into buns-and stollens. The stollens were filled with brown sugar and chopped pecans. You can be very fancy and do orange zest and mix up lots of different fillings for the coffee cake.

Here’s the recipe-

Mom Pape’s Coffee Cake dough (No one seems to know who Mom Pape was, but I salute her, whoever she was!)

Dissolve 1 yeast cake (or packet) and 1 TBS sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.

Cream 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup shortening and 1 or 2 eggs.

Scald 1 pint of milk, cool.

Add 1 TBS salt (I will admit to you that I didn’t see this ingredient on the handwritten recipe until JUST NOW and so my 2 batches didn’t have it. And we didn’t miss it.)

Add the milk and salt to the creamed mixture.

Add about 6 cups flour and stir to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic (about 6 minutes).  Put in a bowl and let rise until doubled-45 to 60 minutes.

Punch dough down.

Shape and let rise about 45 more minutes.

Bake at 350 for however long it takes to get done.  Sugar buns take about 15 minutes.





Filed under food, Holidays, Recipes

Souper Science Fair Project Sunday

Look, it’s Science Fair Sunday, the terriblest, horriblest, worstest, no-goodest, very baddest day of the year. Fer realz.  There isn’t much good to write about today.  There was pouting and procrastinating and quite a lot of looking at the Science Fair Manual to ensure the proper placement of things on the board and  after I finished doing all that, Ike and I got down to business and finished the cursed thing. 

And then I went to the kitchen and started some soup.  It seemed the only way to remedy this day.  And it worked.  The soup and the walk with the dogs saved the day.  There was a small incident with a new lawn ornament during the dog walking.  Santa in a hot air balloon.  And dudes, I could not tell if that Santa was real or not! He was a “life-size” blow-up replica of the real saint standing in a hot air balloon.  Or I suppose it is, I have no idea how tall Mr. Kringle is. But I can tell you that this rendition was anything but right or jolly.  It was straight up creepy!  And when we got close, Charley lost his mind and turned me completely around when he tried to run behind me and out into the street.  Way to protect me, Charles!  Thanks eversomuch!   

The good news is that I had started the soup before I left for the walk, so it was ready when we got home.  I’m giving you the recipe and then I’m going to put on my feetie pajamas and going to read before bed.  I don’t actually have feetie pajamas.  I do have some pajamas, but I can’t find them.  I have no idea where they could be and in any case, they have no feet in them. But I digress.

The recipe is from

Home-Style Chicken Soup


  2 tsp olive oil   
  2 medium leek(s), trimmed to white and light-green parts, cleaned, and thinly sliced   
  1 medium carrot(s), thinly sliced   
  1 medium onion(s), finely chopped   
  1/2 pound(s) skinless chicken thigh(s), or skinned and trimmed of all visible fat   
  3 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth   
  1 Tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped   
  1/2 tsp table salt   
  1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground   


  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrot, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Remove the chicken from the bones and chop; return the chicken to the soup. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is heated through, 2–3 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving.


  • We use chopped fresh parsley in this recipe, but you can also try chopped fresh thyme, dill, or a combination of the three

I doubled the recipe and doubled all the veggies too.  It could have used some garlic-but I think just about everything could use some garlic. I also used the fresh thyme. It is very tasty! 



P.S. If this makes absolutely no sense, I apologize.  Science Fair Sunday slays me.


Filed under dogs and cats living together, food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike