Friday, November 11, 2011

MMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Clean, green winter CSA spinach! It's divine! This evening's "batch" is tossed with craisins, sugared pecans, cucumbers, red onions. . .and served alongside tortellini with homemade tomato cream sauce and Purple Cowboy Cabernet Sauvignon for the chef! CHEERS!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What's for lunch today?

"Gourmet" Chef Salad, that's what! :) Complete with pecans. . .mmmmm!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A favorite in this household: Loaded Baked Potato Soup

If you love loaded baked potatoes like I do, then you'll love this recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Soup! :) It's a favorite in my household. It's starting to be soup season, aka fall! :) I have not tried a low fat version of this recipe but I cannot imagine that it would be hard to substitute low fat ingredients.

Enjoy! It's delish!

I do double this recipe (except the bacon, as the amount given is plenty for a double batch!) to feed my family of four and to have a few lunches for the week as well.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

1 lb. bacon, diced (you can use about 1/2 lb. if that 1 lb. amount freak you out!)

1 onion, diced (I sometimes add a bit more!)

5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 c. chicken stock (I have used veggie stock as well)

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 1/2 c. milk (I'll be honest here and mention I use half and half)

3 green onions, sliced

3/4 c. shredded cheese, divided

1/2 t. black pepper (or slightly more. . .I love using cracked black pepper!)

Sour cream for garnish

1. In large pot cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 T. of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.

2. Add potatoes and chicken to the onions in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place potatoes in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside. These will act as a thickener for the soup.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir in mashed potatoes.

4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, 3/4 of the bacon, and 1/2 of the sliced green onions to the pot. Add pepper to taste. Stir to combine all ingredients. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with shredded cheese, bacon, green onions, and sour cream.

Bon appetit!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Popovers - Simple, yet Divine! :)

Many years ago, when I lived in Texas, my mom and I would treat ourselves once or twice a year to lunch at the lovely dining room at Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth, Texas. They would serve these delightfully delicious, GIGANTIC popovers to those dining with them. . . as an "appetizer"! It was such a nice treat! My mom discoverd this great recipe in her Culinay Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, complete with oldschool orange, hardboard cover (original publication was 1948!). She was able to find an updated copy of this cookbook in paperback several years ago for me. . .and I swear by it for this recipe for popovers, as well Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, and several others. Popovers are requested in my household for special occasions and when guests stay with us or join us for breakfast! This time around I made them for my son's 15th birthday weekend Sunday breakfast! I swear they are EASY to make and they will most certainly be a hit in your houshold!


1 1/2 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk (I use skim)

Sift flour and salt. Beat eggs, add milk, and stir gradually into the flour and salt mixture to make a smooth batter. Beat thoroughly with egg beater/mixer. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake in very hot over at 450 degreses F for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven's temperature to moderate at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Makes 12. **Serve with Strawberry butter (mix equal amounts of softened butter with your favorite strawberry jam) . . .or any other "butter" is yummy with this as well. Can also be served with honey.**

*I double this recipe for two muffin tins full. . .lots of hungry tummies to feed!*

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last of the Z Garden Harvest. . .before the frost

So . . .here's the last of our homegrown, organic veggies from our garden: spaghetti squash, green peppers, cucumbers, a miniscule zucchini (I think these really finished producing last week or slightly before that), jalepenos, thai chilis, green beans, a few cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes, yellow heirloom tomatoes. . .MMMMMMMMMMMM. My son gathered them before the frost that is supposedly here this evening. . .not pictured are ALOT of green tomatoes that we'll ripen in paper bags. SIGH. . .I will surely miss all of these yummy, fresh veggies. . .but I'm glad it's feeling like fall outside! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

End of Summer Salad

I will be so sad when we don't have garden fresh veggies any more. . .it won't be too much longer. We have had an abundance of yummy, organic veggies from our garden this year: green beans, peas, zucchini, cucumbers, some okra, green peppers, jalepenos, thai chili, hungarian peppers, eggplant, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, herbs (Basil, oregano, chives, mint). I especially love garden fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil and will be super sad when these are finished.

On tonight's menu: chicken or lamb gyros with toppings and this salad!

End of Summer Salad
(1) can Northern beans, drained (can also use chickpeas/garbanzo beans)
(1) large jar pimentos, drained
(2) roma tomatoes, chopped
(1) medium-sized pickling cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 small green pepper, chopped
(1) small zucchini, chopped (skin-on)
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
(1) small red onion, chopped
salt/pepper/dried oregano to taste
3-4 T olive oil
juice of (1) lemon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, toss. Serve chilled, either as a side dish or as a meal on chopped greens. Yummy with pita crisps, too! **As a side note, you can also add some crumbled feta to this salad!**

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thai Waterfall Beef Salad

Thai Waterfall Beef Salad with Sauce

1 lb. top sirloin beef, grilled to your liking, cooled, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces

(we typically grill "too much" sirloin the night we grill steaks to purposely have leftover

sirloin so we can make this salad the next day!)

1/4 cup sliced red onions

3-5 Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (or chopped), depending on how spicy you like it!


1/4 cup fish sauce (can be found at an Asian market)

1/4 cup fresh sqeezed lime juice (approx two medium limes)

1 T sweet dark soy sauce (can be found at an Asian market)

3 T finely chopped fresh garlic

3 T minced fresh ginger

3-5 T combination of chopped fresh mint/basil/cilantro

1/4 c chopped green onions

1 T sesame oil

1 T regular vegetable oil (can also use chili oil - spicy!)

Combine all ingredients. You can serve this with Jasmine rice, even though it's room temperature, which is our favorite way to eat it . . .or . . .you can serve on lettuce greens with 1/4 c chopped or sliced cucumbers and 2 roma tomatoes (chopped or wedges), just toss beef salad with these ingredients and sauce and enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

No words needed

Hungry yet? A FEW of the reasons why I love the food in Texas . . . Tex Mex is the bomb. . .fried catfish, fried okra, hushpuppies, pinto beans. . . CB's Sandwich Shop for the old-fashioned cheeseburgers (family, diner environment . . .it was my dad's favorite and it's ours) . . . OH MY!!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Apricot Wine Spritzer to Cool You Off!

Need some "inspiration" to cool you off on this HOT, HUMID day? Here's a quick easy recipe for a wine spritzer.

Apricot Wine Spritzer
Your favorite wine glass
Apricot Nectar
Your favorite white wine (I used Riesling. . .I think Pinot Grigio would also be nice!)
Plain mineral water (Perrier, Mendota Springs, Apolinaris, etc)

Take your wine glass, fill halfway with ice, and then apricot nectar so it fills half of the glass. Add your wine (1/4 of the rest of the glass) and mineral water (1/4 of the rest of the glass). OILA! That's it - SO SIMPLE it's ridiculous! ENJOY!! STAY COOL!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Are you a basil pesto lover like I am? Well, I'm glad to hear it! We just harvested a lovely "batch o' bunches o' basil" from our garden! Perfect timing for me to make some pesto!

Please note: I make my basil pesto "dry" so I can freeze it or put it in the fridge (it will last almost one week-the basil might discolor but this will happen when it is frozen as well. . .this does not take away from the taste or the appeal whatsoever!). I add the olive oil as I use the basil pesto "paste"- do not freeze the pesto with the olive oil already mixed in!

I think this is a great way to have a "sauce" ready for a quick mid-week meal and it stores well in the freezer!

Jen's Basil Pesto

Bunches o' Basil, triple-washed, stems and all! (I have found that if you don't grow your own basil, Asian stores sell bulk basil and some of the Asian growers/stands at the Madison Farmer's Market - Downtown also sell basil by large bags full) - enough to fill the bowl of a large food processor - DO NOT pack the basil in the bowl, though!

2-2/12 cups raw pignoli nuts (pine nuts) - you can also use raw walnuts, which I love as well

6-8 cloves garlic, peeled

8 oz grated Parmesan cheese - deli grated Parmesan is a good choice, or you can use already grated cheese found in the pasta sauce section of your grocer store, no worries!

*I do not add any salt as the Parmesan cheese has enough of a salty taste

Place all of these items in your food processor and chop until well incorporated and mixed together. The mixture will resemble bread crumbs when it is the right consistency - crumbly, somewhat dry. If you want to add more basil at this point, you sure can. I know some people like a really green pesto . . .so . . .feel free to add more after the first batch of ingredients has been combined!

This makes a large batch of basil pesto! I spoon this dry mixture into approx (7) small round Gladware containers and place in my freezer until ready to use (the individual serving size, like what you would put an individual serving of salad dressing in). You can unthaw the night before in your refrigerator. Add olive oil to reach the consistency that you enjoy to make a lovely sauce for pasta - just toss with your al dente noodles in bowl and it's ready to eat . . .top with more Parmesan. I also use pesto as a bruschetta topping, topped with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped tomatoes. Bueno appetito!

Garden Harvest #2 from the Z Garden

Just a glimpse of the second harvest of greens beans and peas from the Z Garden . . . MMMMMMMMMM! I love summer and summer veggies! My hubby, Ali, does fabulous job at planning our gardens. And taking good care of them. Me? Well I like to choose what veggie plants we'll have and then I like to pick the veggies/herbs when they are ready. I'm not so good at the "in between care" or planting or cultivating. I'm glad he likes to do these things, as our gardens give us yummy goodies to eat! We should be harvesting 900 zucchinis and cucumbers and tomatoes soon - GOODNESS I've never seen such GINORMOUS zucchini plants! EEK! And we think we have curtailed the pesky rabbits. Silly rabbits. . .Anyway, here's a wee glimpse of our harvest. . .how to decide what to make with them!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curry . . .In a Hurry! :)

By definition (thank you, a curry is a spicy dish of oriental, especially Indian, origin that is made in many ways but usually consists of meat or fish prepared in a piquant sauce. Curry powder is a spice mixture with many different spices that are combined together, three of which usualy are turmeric, coriander, and cumin.

As a lover of Indian cuisine, it is sometimes a bit daunting to me to cook. So when I discovered a recipe for Ginger and Tomato Shrimp Curry (which my family really enjoys), I thought, why not tweak it and make it with chicken? That is what I did for tonight's dinner. I am sharing this pretty quick and easy Indian-inspired curry dish in hopes that you will enjoy it as well.

Tomato and Ginger Chicken Curry

olive oil (a few Tablespoons, enough to cover the bottom of your pan)

(1) package Trader Joe's Curry Chicken Tenders, approx 1.6 pounds, cut into big bite pieces (yes when I use "short cuts" I will be sure to let you know - they are already marinated in a yummy curry, very fragrant and I love that they are ready to use!)

(1) medium yellow onion, peeled and diced

(1) jalepeno pepper, diced with seeds (now if you like it a bit spicier, feel free to add more!)

(5) cloves garlic, minced

1/2-1 t. turmeric powder (remember this can stain, so be aware!)

1 t. chili powder

1 t. freshly grated ginger

(6) kaffir lime leaves (optional - can be found at a local Asian market - used to flavor, a bit non-edible like bay leaves)

1 can crushed tomatoes

2 large, fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 T. tomato paste

1/4 cup or so of water

zest and juice of (1) lime

1/4 cup - 1/3 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: the greens of fresh scallions, finely chopped

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil (use enough to cover the bottom of your pan, a few tablespoons). Add the chicken tenders and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, jalepeno, and garlic. Saute for about 4 minutes, or until onion is tender and translucent. Add the turmeric, chili powder, ginger, lime leaves, chopped tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water. Simmer for about 5 minutes or so. Stir in lime zest and juice and cilantro. Season according to your tastes with salt and pepper.

Serve over white jasmine or basmati rice (cooked according to rice directions) and garnish with scallions. This is a nice dish paired with a dollop or two of plain, organic yogurt on the side to cool your palette . . . or. . .if you're ambitious use the yogurt to make a raita as an accompaniment! DELISH!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spaetzle. . .where do I begin? Spaetzle took my heart quite awhile ago . . .and has had my heart ever since I ate it for the first time. . . I believe it was on my German trip with my high school German class when I was a sophomore (1986). It's a yummy, doughy German-style noodle/dumpling that, to me, it so simple to make and you can turn it into so much goodness!

I have German heritage, I was born in Bitburg, Germany in September 1970 (yes, that's lil' ol' me when I was about a year old in the picture above in a German dress and fancy leather "walking shoes"!) when my parents were stationed there in the Air Force (they loved living there and fell in love with it and I latched on to their enthusiasm to learn as much as I could about the country/town they fell in love with), and I consumed myself with learning German all four years of high school and all four years of college (I lived in Heidelberg, Germany from fall of 1988-early summer 1989 while I was a freshman in high school, studying at an International University: Schiller International University). And living in Wisconsin and considering Wisconsin my home, Wisconsin has alot of German influence as well.

I would love to share a simple spaetzle recipe with you. . .The options on how you can serve it are ENDLESS!


2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1 c all purpose flour

1/2 t salt

dash of pepper and nutmeg

To boil the spaetzle: 2 quarts water and 1 t salt

To serve, simply: 2 T butter, melted (I use European style, non salted butter!) and fresh chopped parsley (just a teaspoon or so to garnish)

Mix eggs, milk, flour, 1/2 t salt/pepper/nutmeg (batter will be thick). Heat water and 1 t salt to boiling. Press batter through a large-holed colander a few tablespoons at a time or place batter on a cutting board and "cut" the batter into the boiling water with a large, sharp knife. Stir once or twice to prevent sticking. Cook until noodles/dumplings come to the surface and are tender, approximately 5 minutes. Drain. Drizzle with melted butter and fresh chopped parsley to garnish.

*You can pan fry these noodles once they have cooked in the water and drained in butter in a saucepan, cooking until noodles become a bit crispy on the bottom! We have also served them with a yummy homemade mushroom sauce, you can use them like "regular" noodles in homemade macaroni and cheese and bake it in the oven to make it crunchy . . . YUM YUM YUM! See, the possibilities are endless.*

This is such an easy, foolproof recipe! I hope you'll give it a try!



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taco Tuesday. . .Oh, ok, well it's Wednesday! Taco Pasta

Ok, yes, it's actually Wednesday instead of Tuesday. . .but here's a fun way to change up Taco Tuesday . . .with a
. . .PASTA!

I am posting the recipe according to how I made it. . .with my tweaks included. A few other suggestions are at the end of the recipe!

(I did 1.5x the recipe as I have a hungry family sometimes!)

Taco Pasta

1 lb ground beef/ground turkey/ground chicken
8 oz dry pasta noodles
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
(1) 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can chili beans (or black beans or pinto beans), drained, but reserve 1/2 of the liquid for the sauce (I don't like to discard if I don't have to - seasoning is in the sauce if you're using chili beans!)
4 T taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese, cubed (can use "light" cream cheese, aka Neuchatel cheese)
1/2 c. sour cream (can use "light" sour cream)
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish options: 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, two chopped scallions, a few T. fresh, chopped cilantro, 1-2 T. of fresh, chopped jalenpenos (depending on how spicy you'd like it!)

Bring to boil a large pot of water for the noodles. Cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, drain. . .reserve 1/2 c. of the pasta water. Set both aside.

In the meantime, in a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium high heat until it is no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion and garlic (here you can add chopped green or red peppers - amount in options below). Cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in diced tomatoes (drained), beans (drained) and taco seasoning (and another other additions, like in options list below) and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese cubes, sour cream, reserved liquid from can of beans, and reserved pasta water, allowing cream cheese and sour cream to melt and incorporate into a sauce. Once this happens, add in the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste, lightly "tossing" ingredients together, simmering over medium low heat 3-5minutes to reduce the sauce a bit. Sprinkle with garnishes. . .serve! MMMMMMM Enjoy!

Options: You can totally make this a vegetarian option by omitting the meat and adding more veggies. . .frozen kernel corn for example. . .chopped red or green peppers (1/4 cup approx, add when you add onions and garlic) . . .The options could be endless! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hummus = YUMMUS! :)

I had a request for my hummus recipe so I thought I would share a little history on the yummy, garlicy dip . . .

Did you know that the earliest known recipes date back to 13th century Egypt? Hummus was a cold puree of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons, nuts, herbs, spice, and oil - no tahini. It was rolled out and left out overnight, which would probably lend itself to a different texture than how we know it today. Tahini wasn't added to the recipe until much later. The earliest documentation of hummus iteself comes from 18th century Damascus and it appears it was unknown elsewhere at this time.

Interesting eh?

Here is my tweaked recipe for hummus, as we enjoy it in my household:

(1) 14.5-19 oz can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) - drained.

2 T. - 1/4 c. tahini (sesame paste) - according to your taste (some people like it with a strong sesame paste . . .if that is the case, add the 1/4 c. . .less if you don't like such a sesame taste, use less)

extra virgin olive oil to taste

1 t. ground cumin

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped - you can always add more if you like garlicy hummus!

course salt to taste

1/2 lemon, juiced (or more, according to taste)

Pita bread wedges for dipping

Combine chickpeas, cumin, garlic cloves, salt and lemon juice in food processor bowl and grind into a smooth paste. As you are grinding, slowly add the olive oil to the ingredients. Add the olive oil according to the consistency that you enjoy . . . I tend to like a smoother hummus (less chunky), so I add a good amount of olive oil. Check the consistency and flavor between splashes of olive oil - add more salt, cumin, lemon juice just according to your taste if needed.

Serve in a dish with warm pita wedges. Makes a great appetizer or snack with veggies! This is always a hit at a party!

Note: For a spicier rendition I add crushed chili flakes. . .or you can also add some Sriracha according to your taste.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Reason to Love Austin!

I love Austin, TX for many reasons. . .and here is another to add to my list! :)

Click on the link to read this great story (thank you to an art friend, Kim, who shared it on facebook)


Hello everyone! Welcome to my Food Love blog! I'm excited to share my love of food with you! My love of food began as a child, sharing family meals with my parents, going out to eat, learning how to cook at home with my mom and dad, traveling between Wisconsin and Texas, and making foods my mom and dad learned how to cook when they were kids. Follow me on my journey as I share my love of cooking and food . . .I do not consider myself an expert or connoisseur . . .but I do know what I enjoy (Tex Mex, Thai, American, Persian, Southern - as in Southern USA!, and Italian just to name a few kinds of foods that have my heart!)! I will share tips and tricks, food news, gardening tips (from my hubby!), food/tablescapes, healthy bits and tips, restaurant reviews, recipes (my own and those I may tweak or those that I LOVE and have to share!), travel info based on food, culture tidbits, and much much more! I'm glad you're here. . .I hope you'll find your journey with me worthwhile! :) XOXO, Jen