Sunday, November 29, 2015

Smoked Salmon Crostini

As far as I am concerned, the day of Thanksgiving begins the holiday season. This is a good appetizer that travels well to gatherings and is really yummy.

What you need and what to do:

Take the following and combine and refrigerate for one hour:
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 TBLS olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1-1/2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
1 TSP ground black pepper
3/4 lb cold smoked salmon, mashed up with a fork

Slice a French baguette in 1/2 inch slices, you can toast them if you want, I did not. Spread a layer of Alouette light garlic and herb spreadable cheese on the baguette, then top with some of the salmon mixture and garnish with dill sprig. Mine made about 30. That's it, and it's pretty. Happy holidays! Adapted from Cooking Light

Thursday, October 29, 2015

White Chicken Chili

What you need and what to do:
3-15 ounce cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
cups chopped cooked chicken
cups chopped red peppers (2 medium)
cup chopped onion (1 large)
fresh jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 TBLS ground cumin
cloves garlic, minced
teaspoon salt, more to taste at serving
2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
3 1/2 
cups chicken broth
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Broken tortilla chips (optional), or a fresh served tortilla

In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine drained beans, cooked chicken, sweet peppers, onion, jalapeño peppers, cumin, garlic, salt, and oregano. Pour broth over mixture in cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4-5 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-4 hours. Your crock pot may differ, it's done when the peppers and the onion are cooked.

Top each serving with cheese and/or tortilla chips or a fresh tortilla on the side.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pike's Peak Spiked Apple Crisp

In 1978, The Junior League of Denver put out a cookbook called Colorado Cache. My first copy literally fell apart and a friend in Leadville was kind enough to send me her copy which she said she never used. Well, it remains one of my favorite books and this recipe comes from there, slightly adapted. 
I made it gluten free for a dinner we were going to but you can put white flour in it if you so desire.

Preheat your oven to 350, and grease a 2-quart casserole.
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour (I used gluten free oat flour), 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup butter cut in small pieces. Use a pastry blender to make it crumbly.

Peel and slice 5 cups apples, use a more tart apple such as a Granny Smith or Jonathan. Arrange the slices in the casserole.
Pour over this, one shot glass of Amaretto and one shot glass of Grand Marnier (I mixed them together first)
Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of grated orange rind and 2 tsps of grated lemon rind on top and then lightly sprinkle cinnamon over that.

Spread the four, sugar mixture over the apples, then sprinkle about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts over that. Bake for about 1 hour or until it's brown on top and the apples are cooked. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash

I love squash season, all kinds of squash. This is a good recipe, and filling. Full of flavor. Yum. Oh, no need for the little mozzarella I threw on the top (as seen in the picture) because I had a bit in the frig. Doesn't need it. At all. I made only 1 squash cut in two for the two of us, double to feed 4. I served it with a spinach salad. P.S. I think this would be a great stuffing for a roast chicken or turkey.

1 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp ground sage, divided
3/4 lb hot Italian sausage links, casings removed (I used Mulay's)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped (use a more tart apple like a Granny Smith)
1/4 cup plain panko crumbs (or gluten free crumbs)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + a sprinkle for the top
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the melted butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp sage. Brush the inside and outside of each squash with the butter mix. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate, set aside. To the skillet add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the apples and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the skillet then remove from heat. Season with 1/4 tsp sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in the panko and parmesan. Sprinkle top with a bit of parmesan.

Divide the stuffing evenly among the squash halves, you may have a bit leftover. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Yield: 2 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 395 calories; 15.8 g. fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 413 mg. sodium; 45.3 g. carbohydrate; 5.5 g. fiber; 23 g. protein
Adapted from

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our hometown community dinner

There is just something about having dinner with 2,500 people, there just is. Buena Vista had their 2nd Annual BV Strong Community Dinner on Main Street last night. Wow...It takes a strong community to pull together in adversity, realize we really have something special here, and then to go on to celebrate. 

This year, I understand that thanks go to so many including the BVSCD Planning Team: Brian Yates, Lisa Yates, Leslie Quilico, Amie Urbine, Brett Wingo, JayMac Davenport, Ross Kontz, Brandon Tattershall, Ritchie Molitor, Chris Gaston, Amber Gaston, Micah Salazar, Cindi Foreman, Mary Chupp.

Several others helped with the details. The meat and rolls were prepared by Frontier Ranch and the BVSD Demon Cafe. The chairs (including some that came from local-Salida and BV rental companies either donated or discounted), and the tables were donated from ALL over the community. 

Many groups came out to help set up, deliver items, serve food, and do the breakdown and clean up INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO the BVHS football and volleyball teams and the cheerleaders, students from The Link School, and many individual students and adults who just showed up to make it happen. The unofficial count was close to 3000 folks in attendance!

Now that’s teamwork…and community…and love. The Lettucehead had the pleasure of hosting two tables and really my ONLY regret is that I didn't get to visit enough. Oh well, there's always NEXT YEAR! And if I know these people, this is a tradition that will live on and on and on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kale Pasta Salad with Pine Nuts

I liked this. Make it with gluten free pasta if you want, but choose a pretty pasta shape!

What you need and what to do:

1 pound pasta (whatever you want)
4 Tbls pine nuts
1/4 cup Olive Oil
6 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 bunch kale, finely sliced
4 ounces or so parmesan cheese shaved or roughly grated (not shaky cheese)
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and add to a large bowl. Set aside.

Add pine nuts to a small skillet over low heat. Toast slowly over the course of 8-10 minutes, tossing regularly. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over low heat so that the garlic slowly infuses the oil. When the oil starts to cause the garlic to sizzle, stir around so the garlic doesn't get too brown. When garlic starts to turn golden, add salt and pepper, stir, and set aside for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, pour the oil mixture (scraping the salt, pepper, and garlic) all over the bowtie pasta. Toss to combine and set aside.

Set the same skillet (without cleaning it) over medium-high heat. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes, or until partly wilted.
Add kale and pine nuts to the pasta and toss it all together. Check to make sure it's no longer warm, then add Parmesan shavings and toss. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

(Optional: May add 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar if desired.) Adapted from Pioneer Woman

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dulce De Leche (Caramel Sauce) via the crock pot

What you need and what to do:
If you are looking for a recipe for dulce de leche or caramel sauce, this is easy. Not quick, but easy.
Take a 14 ounce can of organic sweetened condensed milk and place in a glass canning jar making the lid tight. Place into a crockpot that is deep enough to fill so that it covers the jar(s) with about 1" of water. I had to split my can into two jars.
Turn the crock pot on low, cover and let it be for 10-12 hours until you get the desired color. I like mine dark. Remove with tongs and allow to cool to room temperature before using. I started at 9 in the morning, turned the crockpot off about 8 p.m. and just left them in the crockpot in the water overnight to cool.
Note: If you are looking for a caramel sauce for ice-cream you'll want to stir in vanilla either before you put it in the jar or after, seems flat to me without it. My can ended up in a salted caramel cheesecake and I just used it plain because I was adding it to something. Will store in the frig for a couple of weeks.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Camp Laughing J Baked Beans

No hub bub...just good BBQ baked beans that'll serve a crowd...happily. They are our official camp beans. We love them, everybody loves them. And then hopefully I get a little bowl leftover to eat cold, cause I even love them that way. Happy, happy Colorado summer! You can bake these in the oven or over the grill, you choose.

What you need and what to do:

2 lb bacon cut into 1/4 inch slivers, cooked and crumbled
2 cans (15-oz) black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can (15-oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
3 cans (each 15-oz) vegetarian baked beans or pork and beans, DON’T DRAIN
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced without the seeds
2 cups sweet red barbecue sauce
1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, or more to taste
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray large deep cast iron pan.

2. Empty the cans of black and kidney beans into a colander and drain.  Rinse the beans under cold running water and drain again.  Place all the beans (including the baked beans or pork and beans) in a large nonreactive mixing bowl and add the onion, red and green bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeños  and stir to mix.  Add the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and fried bacon and stir to mix.  Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar and/or mustard if necessary, and salt and black pepper to taste; the beans should be very flavorful.  Transfer the bean mixture to the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 2 hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thick. 

Grilling instructions: I have never grilled them because the grill always has something else on it.

2 cups pecan or hickory chips or chunks soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drain.
You will need a couple of medium sized aluminum foil pans or one large one.

For gas grill place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high til you see smoke, then reduce heat to medium low.

When ready to cook, place the beans in the center of the hot grate away from the heat and cover the grill. Cook the beans until they are thick and richly flavored (about 1 hour). If they start to dry out, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes, then serve. Serves 12-16. This was adapted from several recipes online. They are foolproof if done in the oven, I promise.