leftover heaven

We had a very large bowl of leftover mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry sauce from our Thanksgiving (or, should I say, Thanksgivingukkah) feast and I like a little variety in my life so when I stumbled onto this recipe for Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes I smartly suggested to Ryan that it might be a great thing to try. What better way to celebrate the marriage of both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, after all?

Instead of using scallions, we used shallots – because that’s what we had in the fridge. And instead of using sour cream to top them with, we used our leftover homemade cranberry sauce. It was delicious! In fact, to be honest, I actually liked the potatoes better in this form than I did in their original mashed potato form…shhh…don’t tell the mashed potatoes I said that.

by Valerie | 12.01.13 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

Life (and biscuits) is good!

Life is good…& biscuits are definitely good! When we woke up this morning & I announced that I’d like biscuits for breakfast & to eat later with the homemade Broccoli Cheddar Soup we’ll be making for lunch, Ryan whipped up a batch of piping hot, delicious, rosemary thyme biscuits posthaste. I topped my breakfast biscuits with margarine & cherry jam – yum! What is it about a good biscuit that just makes your soul feel good?

by Valerie | 01.08.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

Fried Polenta w/Peppery Tomato Caper Sauce

Polenta with Peppery Caper Tomato Sauce

I always forget how easy it is to make polenta and how tasty it can be. It is also fairly versatile; it makes a nice appetizer, a good first course for a meal, or it could be a meal all by itself. If you’re really inventive you could probably find a way to turn it into dessert, though I haven’t tried that yet. This dish could be used for an appetizer or a meal and is easy to make.

polenta ingredients

  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp buttery spread
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • 1 tbsp rosemary rapture
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh grated parmesan
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil (or more to sufficiently cover the bottom of a skillet for frying)

sauce ingredients

  • 5 tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup sauvignon blanc
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 oz of capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 heaping tbps (or 1 1/2 tbsp) of butcher’s pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • salt

to make the sauce

Core and deseed the fresh tomatoes. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine. Set aside. Heat a sauce pan or large skillet to medium heat. Heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions begin to be translucent. Add the capers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, the course ground pepper, and dried oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

to make the polenta

Heat a sauce pan to medium heat. Melt the butter and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for a few minutes. You want it to slightly brown but not burn. Add the veggie stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the rosemary spice blend, let boil for 1 more minute. Reduce the heat and add the instant polenta by stirring constantly and pouring the polenta in small batches. Add the parmesan, incorporate it completely into the polenta. Pour the polenta into a 9 x 9 square baking dish and spread even. Set in the fridge to set and cool.

Once firm remove from pan. Cut the polenta in half and then 1″ pieces. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, it only needs to be slightly shallow, the idea is not to fully immerse the polenta in oil. Add the polenta sticks and fry for about 3-4 minutes, flip over and fry the opposite side for an additional 3-4 minutes. You want the polenta to start to lightly brown and get a bit crispy on the sides.

Top the polenta with the sauce on a plate and enjoy.

by Ryan | 03.06.11 | Recipes | 3 Comments »

Easy Fiesta Rice

Easy Fiesta Rice

I wanted some rice to make tacos with our leftover  seitan con mole, but was a bit uninspired to cook just plain white rice. While perusing the Mexican food section of Busch’s for some tortillas today I saw something called Fiesta rice. I actually don’t know what Fiesta rice really is, but I assume by the package of pre-cooked rice that it has corn and peppers in it. Long before we started cooking more often, and before we acquired a rice maker, I thought making rice was something that takes way too long and too much effort and would have bought that package of rice. But times have changed and my version of easy fiesta rice was born.


  • white rice (about 3/4 to 1 cup, we have a special cup measure for our rice maker)
  • veggie stock (about 1 cup, again it is based on our rice maker)
  • half a red bell pepper diced
  • half a can of corn (drained)
  • 1+ tbsp of buttery spread (eg. Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of green chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper

Cook the rice using whatever method you choose. We chose our Zojirushi Rice Maker and just substituted water for veggie stock. Let cook, fluff when finished. Leave it on warm.

In a pan over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the red bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the corn, cumin, and green chile powder. Cook until corn is cooked all the way through and even starts to brown. Reduce heat to low, add the rice and some additional buttery spread (makes it yummy and helps prevent burning and sticking to the pan). Add salt and pepper to your taste preferences. Serve it when finished.

Rice Cooker

by Ryan | 02.20.11 | Recipes | No Comments »

Faux-rizo Smashed Potatoes

Dinner plate

Val loves potatoes; I like them a lot too. I wanted to make them more than just plain potatoes, so with that our side dish for our Valentine’s day feast was born. Note that in the photo here, the potatoes are underneath our Mole Rojo con Seitan.


  • 2 baking potatoes (good Idaho ones), with the peel.
  • lots of buttery spread (2-3 tbsp worth)
  • 1 package of chorizo style seitan
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tbsp buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I used my smoked chili powder and La Mesa dark 50/50 blend)
  • 1 tsp of butcher’s pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • some shredded mahon cheese (optional, but recommended)

Prepare the faux-rizo first. Heat an oven to 425 degrees.  Place the tomatoes (removed from the vine) on a baking sheet and into the oven. Roast the tomatoes until the skins begin to wrinkle and brown a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before handling. Once cooled to where you can handle it, core and deseed the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a food processor with the chili powder, salt, and pepper and puree. Heat a skillet up to medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Add the chorizo seitan and cook until it is cooked through. Add the tomato puree and cook until it is completely incorporated into the faux meat. If you need additional salt to taste you can add it.

Prepare the potatoes however you want – microwave, bake, or boil. Once cooked in a bowl cut them open (this cuts the peels into smaller pieces), add the buttery spread, and mash the potatoes to a texture of liking, I left ours somewhat chunky. Add in about a cup of the faux-rizo and mix into the potatoes until well incorporated.

When you plate the potatoes top with a fair amount of the shredded mahon (or for vegans find a good salty cheese substitute). Enjoy.

Note, this dish makes enough potatoes for 2-3 people with left over faux-rizo for the next day’s breakfast. Also if you wanted to make some rocking taco meat, this is a good first step in my attempts to deconstruct Rick Bayless’ taco skillet sauces. I’d add some additional things like mexican oregano and some kind of chile like a jalapeño or something if I went that route. More to come on that.

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Recipes | 1 Comment »

Beans and Rice: the Crusades edition

Beans & Rice

I wanted to title this dish Bloody Moors and Christians, since it is loosely based on the cuban dish Moors and Christians, but felt that no one reading that title would really want to eat it. And given the fact that there is no real blood in this dish I felt it might let those fans of other blood dishes, such as blood pudding, down. This dish is inspired by Pope Urban II who in the First Crusade asked the Christians in Spain to not join the fight in the Middle East against the Muslims, but to take arms against the Muslims in their own country. And so began many bloody campaigns with estimates of death totaling 300,000 to 600,000 throughout Europe. So with that history lesson in mind this tomato-based dish inspired by Moors and Christians came to fruition.

  • 1 1/2 tbsp of butter, or whipped non-hydrogenated oil
  • 1 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of course ground black pepper
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 pan roasted jalapeño
  • 2 cups of long-grain rice
  • the juice and zest of 2 limes
  • salt

In a pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds. You know they are close to finishing when they become very fragrant. Remove from the pan and using a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder, or the bottom of a glass) crush them up into a coarse grind. Add the butter to the pan and heat to medium heat. Once melted add the onions and garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Then add the dried oregano, pepper, and cumin. Cook until tender. Add the beans and the tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. At this point you can either transfer the ingredients to a slow cooker on low and let simmer for several hours (like 6 or 7) or let simmer longer in the pan as you prepare the rice and other goodies. I used the slow cooker because I wanted things to stew for a long long long time.

In a pan heat up some olive oil to medium heat. Add the jalapeño to the pan whole. Fry it on all sides until they start to brown and the jalapeño becomes tender. This is just a faster method roasting peppers instead of on the grill on in the oven. When finished, place in a paper bag to steam for about 6-8 minutes. When finished remove the seeds, if you want to, and dice the pepper.

We have a Zojirushi rice cooker so I just prepared the rice as directed. Feel free to choose your own method of preparing the rice in this dish.

Once all the ingredients are ready add the bean mixture and the rice together along with the jalapeño, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Chow down and feast on the blood spilt on your rice in true Christian spirit! Enjoy!

by Ryan | 01.10.11 | Recipes | No Comments »

Thanksgiving Feast


Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, spend time with your family, friends, & loved ones, & to fill your bellies with lots of delicious eats of course! Every family has their own special Thanksgiving traditions & foods that they always include on the Thanksgiving table; here are some that Ryan & I include on our Thanksgiving table each year…

Grilled Turkey Tenderloins with Spice Rub
When it’s dinner for two, you just don’t need a whole turkey, & we eat little to no meat anyway so this has been a great option for us at Thanksgiving as several turkey tenderloins do the trick & save us from eating turkey for the next year; this is pretty simple & also takes WAY less time than cooking a whole turkey, so it definitely has it’s advantages!

Boneless Turkey Tenderloins, Extra Lean
Olive oil
Rudy’s BBQ Turkey Spice Rub
Blackening Spice Rub (see recipe below)

Coat turkey tenderloins lightly with olive oil. Rub turkey tenderloins with your spice rub of choice – homemade or store bought will both do the trick (we like Rudy’s BBQ turkey spice rub – their BBQ sauce is excellent as well, I might add, & is also delicious on turkey!) & we usually also make a blackening spice rub; we make half the turkey with the Rudy’s spice rub & use the blackening spice rub on the other half of the turkey. Grill these outside on your charcoal or gas grill or grill them inside in a griddle pan on your stove top.

Blackening Spices
Dried Oregano
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
White Pepper
Cayenne (use lots of Cayenne to make it really spicy!)
Dried Thyme
Kosher Salt


Mama Talbott’s Mashed Potatoes
I LOVE my Mom’s mashed potatoes (the basil & coarse ground black pepper really give these a nice twist) & my Thanksgiving plate usually consists of a HUGE pile of these with a teeny, tiny, miniscule sliver of turkey on the side – I’m really all about the potatoes, people!

Russet Potatoes
Dried Basil
Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

Clean, peel, & chop LOTS of Russet Potatoes (we REALLY like our potatoes, so we always fill a large spaghetti pot with these!). Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water until they are tender & easy to pick apart with a fork. Drain the water out of the pot. Add a couple sticks of butter (more butter makes it better!), a splash or two of milk (as needed – this helps to make them nice & creamy too), & blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in a generous amount of kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper & dried basil flakes (add to taste, I like LOTS of salt, pepper, & basil in mine, but this isn’t for everyone) & then mix again to incorporate.


Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes & Basil
This is a recipe I got off foodnetwork.com, by Giada de Laurentiis, & that we’ve enjoyed making for holidays; they’re really fresh & delicious!

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Liquor
If you aren’t a fan of cranberry sauce & you’ve never made it fresh, I urge you to give this a try; this will kick the stuff in the can’s butt any day – enjoy!

1 Bag Fresh Cranberries
1/4 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
Dash of Cinnamon
Splash of Orange Liquor (i.e. Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec)

Rinse 1 bag of fresh cranberries well. Add water, fresh orange juice, & sugar to a sauce pan & bring to a boil. Add cranberries to the pot & bring back to a boil. Add orange zest & cinnamon. Stir & then simmer until most of the cranberries have popped. Add a splash of orange liquor, stir, & let simmer for about a minute more. Transfer to a serving dish & let cool in the fridge before serving. Garnish with a twist of orange peel on top.


Deviled Eggs – We Don’t Need No Stinking Mayo!
I HATE mayo & sour cream & I do my best to steer clear of these at all costs; so I’ve adapted & have a special place for these delicious, mustardy Deviled Eggs in my heart – I hope you like them as much as I do!

Dill Pickle Relish
Yellow Mustard
Stone Ground or Spicy Brown Mustard

Boil as many eggs as you’d like to serve in a pan of water; I add them to a pan of cold water, then bring to a boil & let boil for about 10 minutes – keep in mind that 1 egg = 2 Deviled Egg halves. Drain the boiling water & cover them with cold water to help speed up the cooling process. As soon as you’re able to, while they’re still hot/warm is best (doing this while they’re still warm will make it easier to remove the shells, believe me!), crack the eggs & remove the shells. Slice the eggs in half, length wise, & scoop out the cooked yolks, setting them aside in a separate bowl, & place the halved egg whites facing up on a plate or serving platter. Using a fork, mash all the cooked yolks up. Quantities of mustard & relish to add will vary, based on how much cooked egg yolk you have to work with of course, but you’ll then add a combination of yellow mustard, spicy mustard, & dill pickle relish to the cooked yolks & mix all together well. Scoop the yolk, mustard, & relish mixture into the cooked egg white halves & top with a sprinkle of paprika. Salt & pepper to taste.



Bourbon Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream
This is a recipe I found online & we’re making for our Thanksgiving Feast this year – yum!

Our Thanksgiving feast will also include lots of rolls. Happy eating!

by Valerie | 11.26.09 | Holidaze, Recipes | 7 Comments »

Summertime Fresh Grilled Veggies


A quick trip to the store yielded a good crop of delicious vegetable goodness. In light of that some veggies tacos were made (see Señor Choppington’s Guacamole for a pic). This quick and easy to do recipe is perfect for those who don’t want to spend too much time cooking, its mostly prep work. For this dish it really is the zest and the nopales that make it delicious.

1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 nopales pads (prickly pear cactus pads), make sure to clean them real good
2 red bell peppers
1 poblano pepper
1 purple onion
1-2 garlic cloves
the zest of 1 lime
the zest of half a lemon
1 lemon juiced (yields about a 1/4 cup)
olive oil
kosher salt and course ground black pepper

Halve the zucchini and squash, then slice into 1/4″ pieces. Chop the nopales into 1/2″-1″ squares. Chop the poblano into 1/2″ squares. Chop the bell peppers and onion into 1″ pieces. Rough chop the garlic. Throw everything into a grill basket, lightly coat with olive oil, add the lemon juice. Lastly add in the lime and lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. I recommend about a tsp of both salt and pepper. Grill until veggies are thoroughly cooked. We use a charcoal grill so grill temps and settings are a mystery to me, but basically when the coals are nice and glowing grey it takes about 10-15mins.

by Ryan | 07.17.09 | Recipes | 2 Comments »

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