Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe: Red Wine Poached Pears

Red wine poached pears


6 ripe pears, cored

1 cup red wine — pinot noir, or something fruity

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Red wine poached pears

Red Wine Poached Pears


Place cored pears in a baking dish. In a sauce pan, whisk sugar and wine, until dissolved. Add butter, mixing thoroughly. Pour over pears. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream. Delicious!


Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mexican Cake

Mexican Cake

Mexican Cake

Easy peasy recipe if you have house guests and need a quick no-frosting cake:

Take one chocolate cake mix (I like Betty Crocker triple fudge)

Add 3 eggs, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of cayenne, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, 1/2 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of water. Mix thoroughly. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in a well greased bundt pan. Serve with ice cream, or alone. Watch guests inhale.

This cake is slightly spicy, earthy and incredibly moist. It is absolutely delicious and a super simple answer when entertaining.


OH ginger SNAP!

Stop what you are doing right now and bake these cookies. They are the best cookies I’ve ever made and were inhaled by dinner guests this week.  

January Dinner Party Fun

Poof! Gone.

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

January Dinner Party Fun

Not kidding. Best. Cookies. Ever. 

So good I just lifted weights for an additional hour so I won’t feel guilty about making another batch. So good I’m drooling just thinking of them.

Getting the picture?

I think the only way to make them better would be to make 2 batches so you can let a few get stale. I love a crunchy gingernsap.

Good work, Country Living peeps. Good work, indeed.




Recipe: Best Soup Ever

Potato poblano soup

Stop what you are doing right now and figure out how you can make time to create a culinary masterpiece. That’s right. Throw humility out the window, hit the market and buy:


3 large carrots

3 stalks celery

1 large yellow onion

2 vegetable broth boullion cubes

1 large golden yukon potato for each person being served

As many roasted Hatch or poblano chiles as you can find (I’d go with 4-5)

1 small container of cream cheese

Potato poblano soup

Now, if you’ve got all day to smell a lovely pot of magic bubbling on the stove, take this slow. (If not — it will cook in an hour or so too.) Start with a large Dutch oven. Add a dash of olive oil. Dice up your carrots, celery and onion. Let those cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Then add 64 ounces of water, along with your 2 broth cubes. Bring this mixture to a boil while washing and cutting up your potatoes and chiles. The size doesn’t really matter — you are going to blend this soup to perfection. Add the potatoes and chiles, let simmer with the lid on for 30-45 minutes. Again, let it go all day if you have the time. About 20 minutes before serving, add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin. Then throw in your cream cheese and bust out the immersion blender. Carefully as to not send potato soup all over yourself — ahem — blend that pot of gold glory into the yummiest soup you’ve ever eaten.

Potato poblano soup

And oh, it’s vegetarian. And possibly vegan if you leave out the cream cheese, but why would you do that?

The Best Soup Ever is even better the next day, reheated. Get after it, people. You’ll be thankful you did.


Recipe: Bill’s Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush

Baba ganoush

My friend Bill mentioned a couple weeks ago that he makes his baba ganoush by starting at the BBQ. With a hot grill and a bit of olive oil, the smoky flavor of charred eggplant comes through beautifully. When I ran across eggplant at the market a few days later I thought I’d give it a try. If you like baba ganoush, this recipe couldn’t be easier. Just give yourself enough time to let the plants cool before trying to open/scrape them into the food processor.


1 eggplant per person served, brushed with olive oil

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup tahini

1 lemon, juiced

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smoky paprika for garnish

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Baba ganoush


Grill eggplant until charred. Let cool. Slice, scoop out inside of eggplant into food processor — adding as much or as little of the charred exterior as desired. (I added very little and this was sufficiently smoky.) Add other ingredients and pulse. Top with paprika, enjoy with pita, vegetables or grilled meat. Easy, delicious and the presentation is fabulous for a dinner party.


While you have the food processor and the tahini out, might as well whip up some hummus too.


Both go well with chips and a summer appetizer board on the patio.



Red Tomatoes and Happy Guests

A great thing about moving from the blast of a hot oven (Phoenix) to the cool summer breeze of the Rockies (Golden)* is your calendar is quickly booked with loved ones high tailing it to a more pleasant climate.

I’ve had family and friends come through by the handful this summer. (I think 10 different visitors, at last count.)

Alma's visit

Alma’s visit last week was a blur of activity. Our friendship is one of those rare gems that requires little maintenance. It also helps the girl loves to hike, shop and cook. I thought at one point our ears might fall off from the constant chatter. Or my pocketbook might shrivel up and die from all the “bargains!” I found.

Alma planned her visit during a very good week.  First Red Tomato Day is something celebrated with gusto around these parts. And oh, did we celebrate.

Alma's visit

Alma's visit

Alma's visit

Yeah. That basil is a little holey. So it goes with organic gardening. We like our caterpillars fat and spicy.

Alma's visit


A few shots from one of several meals we whipped up with ingredients from the garden — including tomatoes, basil, and arugala.

Alma’s pesto recipe is worth sharing:

“It doesn’t matter if you get these amounts precise. Just go for the desired consistency.”


2 handfuls of washed basil leaves

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon diced garlic

1 small container of feta — preferably Athenos feta with basil and tomatoes

dash of pepper, salt

Pulse in the food processor. Serve with toasted bread, pita chips, or barbecued salmon. Try not to lick the bowl.



*It is really only a matter of perspective. The few summer days we’ve had here over 100 degrees have been miserable. I’d take Phoenix heat with ample air conditioning over the heat waves in the Rockies where I’m trying to sleep and it is 93 indoors.



Completely off the paleo track for a moment, I recently had a crust competition to see which pizza dough was better. The prized “no knead” dough that graced the recent cover of Bon Appetit started this nonsense. And while I had the best of intentions for making fabulous homemade bbq chicken pizza, I made a fatal cooking error: I didn’t read the entire recipe beforehand.

BBQ chicken

Imagine how much patience I had for a dough recipe that needed 18 hours to rise when I’d spent the previous 5 days away from home working, including the night before sleeping on the floor of a rather dirty airport? (By sleeping, I really mean trying to doze with one eye open for ax murderers.)


Out of patience, I sat down at the computer to find another crust recipe and quick. My guest would be arriving in a matter of a few hours, only about 14 short of the 18 required for the recipe I had in mind. Nonetheless, I tried both dough recipes.

The no knead, without sufficient time to rise, was neither aesthetically nor flavor pleasing:

No knead

(Unfair, I know. I didn’t give it the time it needed.)

QUick rise

The quick rise dough? Super pretty and tasty. Winner, winner pizza dinner.

However neither dough held up well for leftovers. Anyone have a great pizza dough recipe that makes their summer gardens full of tomatoes and basil that much more fun? Share. Please!


{H4} Recipe: Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies

Cosby Sweater Party Awesomeness

What’s that? You are going to a Cosby sweater holiday party with your bestie BJ and you don’t have anything to take to the potluck? Looking around the kitchen you notice way, way too many left over pretzel pieces from your other holiday exploits. And so the conversation goes a bit like this:

“Hmmm. I need to bring a dessert. I’ve got pretzels. I love brownies. Safe to say, nothing bad can come of this.”

H4: Recipe: Pretzel crust brownies

In fact, these were rather delicious. For those who enjoy the sweet and salty combination, I’d go so far as saying they were a delight. An easy chicken fried rice, goulash, gumbo, kitchen left-overs inspired dessert:

Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies


2 cups broken pretzel pieces

1 cup peanut butter, warm + melty

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt (Sprinkle the top with kosher salt for a kick when you pull it out of the oven)

1 cup unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups of dark chocolate chips, melty

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter/spray a casserole dish. Place pretzel pieces at bottom of dish. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Melt butter. Add chocolate chips and peanut butter until mixed well. Slowly add sugars and mix until no longer grainy. In a third bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir just until combined. Add chocolate mixture. Pour batter over pretzels. Bake for 40-45 minutes. These are better under vs. over cooked, so be mindful of checking them every few minutes after 35 minutes. Let cool. Enjoy!

Pudding pop shots

{But of course, the real winner of a dessert at the Cosby party were the pudding pop shots. Wowzers!}


{H4} Recipe: Yoga Pretzels


Yogi Pretzels

I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately. A ridiculous amount, really. Someone once said, “When in doubt, take more yoga.” So be it. I’ve even had one or two of those Elizabeth Gilbert moments toward the end of practice when I’m in savasana and tears are pouring down my face.

Yogi Pretzels

Why, hello emotion I’d completely forgotten. So glad you’ve arrived at this very public moment. 

Yogi Pretzels

I got myself into a pickle last year with my church when I wrote a note to the congregation’s national magazine defending yoga as part of my practice as a Christian. Let’s be honest — if there are two things in this world that I’ll never simply “be,” it’s a Christian and and a yogi. I’ll always be practicing — each day with a new twist and turn. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it blows your mind and pumps your system full of so many endorphins, you run outside sweaty, exhausted and completely oblivious to snowy weather.

Yogi Pretzels

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying yoga is a great as God. I’m saying God is so awesome, He gave us ways to connect with the holy spirit — if we so choose. For me, one of those is yoga. Deep in the pigeon pose when I feel like my hiney is en feugo and it is all I can do to take one more breath to stay in the stretch, with sweat pouring down my brow, and then BAM. Grace. Everything releases. My muscles stop spasming. My eyes stop twitching. My breath flows. My heart sings. Doves release and Prince comes out of a cloud to sing one of my favorite songs.

Yogi Pretzels

Okay. Maybe not the last part. But I can say regularly practicing yoga (and my faith) means there are days I grind my teeth to get through it and there are others when I feel like I’m soaring. It’s effortless. I walk away feeling like my life is full of meaning, and this yoga/faith practice has something to do with it.

IMG_0742Yogi Pretzels

What does a yoga girl give as a holiday present? Pretzels, natch. What? It can’t all be symbolic.

Fold yourself into this recipe and enjoy. It’s simple, elegant and a great holiday treat. For the yogis, the Christians, and everyone in your life who is still practicing.

Yoga Pretzels


1 bag of chocolate chips — the better quality chocolate, well — the better.

1 tablespoon of shortening

1 bag of giant salty pretzels

Toppings of your choice. I went with coconut. And made a “Mexican spice” batch where I added a dash of cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne.

Directions: Melt the chocolate in the microwave with the shortening. Stir every 20 seconds or so. Remove while the chocolate is still a bit chunky. Stir until smooth. Add spices if desired. Dip pretzel by pretzel in the chocolate, stopping to dunk in your topping if you so desire. (Peanuts, kosher salt, sprinkles, bacon) Place on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil. Freeze for 30 minutes. Enjoy!




Recipe: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip bacon cookies

I know. The title sounds nuts. Bacon is the cliche ingredient in far too many recipes these days. But let me assure you, for those who love a bit of sweet and salt and are willing to try an unconventional dessert — the reviews are astounding. Folks love these cookies.

Chocolate chip bacon cookies


Your traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe (I’m a fan of Nestle Toll House’s. Why mess with what works?)

1 pound of bacon, cooked until crispy, drained and broken into dime-sized pieces

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Combine, cook for 8-10 minutes, serve with milk or bourbon. As breakfast or a post-dinner surprise.