Sunday, December 30, 2012

COMPROMISE Chunky Chipotle Chicken Chili
Hoping that our elected officials can make a deal that we all can live with.
COMPROMISE Chunky Chipotle Chicken Chili
Everyone wins with this recipe:  it’s easy to prepare, it serves a crowd, and it’s healthier than most chili recipes.
Makes 16 (1 cup) servings
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (19 oz. each) black beans and kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen whole kernel corn
4 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin

Place all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on HIGH 2 hours, then reduce heat to LOW and cook 3 to 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro.

For milder chili, use fewer chipotle chilies.
Use reduced fat shredded cheese and sour cream for a healthier dish.  Try no-salt-added diced tomatoes and tomato sauce if you're trying to reduce sodium.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soul-Searching Spanish Salmon Sauté

Is it really pointless to search your soul and figure out what's wrong with your agenda?

Soul-Searching Spanish Salmon


If you search your soul, you know it's best to eat heart-healthy fish a few times a week.  This is a dish that is not only healthy but delicious.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 oz.) mild diced tomatoes with green chilies (Ro*Tel)
1-1/2 lb. salmon fillet (3/4-inch thick), seasoned with salt and pepper
1 fresh lime, halved
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in medium skillet on medium-high; add garlic.  Cook 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.

Add tomatoes; bring to boil.  Add salmon.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until barely pink in center.  Squeeze half of lime over salmon; sprinkle with cilantro.

Serve salmon with crisp green salad and remaining lime, cut into 4 wedges.

If you prefer a spicier dish, use hot diced tomatoes with green chilies, or add 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and minced, with tomatoes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MEDICARE Mai Tai Punch

MEDICARE Mai Tai Punch
Makes 22 servings, 8 oz. each

After a few of these, even Lawrence Welk is entertaining!

1 bottle (1500 ml) dark rum (or 2 bottles, 750 ml each)
2 cans (46 oz. each) pineapple juice
1 can (16 oz.) frozen orange juice concentrate
¾ cup each freshly squeezed lime juice and lemon juice
8 oz. grenadine

Mix all ingredients in 3-gallon punch bowl; chill.

To serve, fill glasses with ice and add punch.


Garnish punch bowl and drinks with orange slices and maraschino cherries.

Prepare ice cubes or a ring of ice from some of the punch mixture and float on top of punch bowl to keep cool without diluting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatillo Salsa

FISCAL CLIFFHANGER Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatillo Salsa
Makes 8 servings

No suspense involved...this inexpensive dinner always turns out well.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Tomatillo Salsa (recipe below)
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock
2 bay leaves

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet.  Add thighs, skin-side down.  Brown both sides, 4 minutes on each side, adding carrots, celery, onion, and garlic halfway through.

Add salsa, cilantro, broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 30 minutes.

Serve over rice or other hot cooked grain.
Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 2 cups
10 tomatillos, papery husks removed
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves peeled garlic
2 serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
Place tomatillos in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.
Place tomatillos, lime juice, garlic and chilies in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.  Stir in onions and cilantro; season with salt.
Cool in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Whoever you're rooting for, there's a cocktail to carry you through the returns this evening.

BLUE Cosmos

1 bottle (750 ml) lemon vodka (e.g., Citron)
1 cup blue curaçao
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup white cranberry juice
Fresh orange slices, maraschino cherries and lime wedges

Add all ingredients to a 2 qt. pitcher.

Pour mixture into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish drinks with fresh orange slices, maraschino cherries and lime wedges.

RED Sangria

1-1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 bottle (1500 ml) dry red wine (merlot, cabernet, beaujoulais, zinfandel)
4 oz. brandy

Mix together juices and sugar in large pitcher 2 min. or until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in wine and brandy; chill.

To serve, fill glasses with cut-up fruit and ice and pour sangria over.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Candy Corn Jell-o Shots

I'm taking a break from the election today.  I am dedicating my blog to the swing states for the rest of the week.

Candy-Corn JELL-O Shots

24 clear plastic shot glasses
2-3/4 cups boiling water, divided
1 pkg. yellow gelatin
3/4 cup vodka
12 drops yellow food coloring
1 pkg. orange gelatin
3/4 cup Butterscotch schnapps
4 drops red food coloring
3/4 cup clear liquor (vodka or clear Creme de Cacao)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Place shot glasses on flat tray.

Add1 cup boiling water to yellow gelatin in 2 cup glass measure with spout; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in vodka and 8 drops yellow food coloring.  Pour evenly into shot glasses 1/3 full.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.  Clean measuring cup.

Add 1 cup boiling water to orange gelatin in measuring cup; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in schnapps, remaining yellow food coloring and red food coloring. When orange mixture is room temperature and yellow layer is set, pour orange gelatin mixture evenly over yellow layer.  Clean measuring cup. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set.

Pour clear liquor into measuring cup.  Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over the liquor; let stand 2 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup boiling water and stir 2 minutes or until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Stir in sweetened condensed milk.  Pour white mixture evenly over firm orange layer. 

Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.  Serve with toothpicks.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

LAST DEBATE Dark & Stormy

In Florida, the drink is RUM!

LAST DEBATE Dark & Stormy
Makes 1 potent cocktail

If the past two debates have taught us anything, it's that things can get pretty ugly, pretty fast.

1 lime, cut in half
3 oz. dark spiced rum
8 oz. ginger beer

Squeeze juice from half of lime into tall cocktail glass.  Fill glass with ice.

Pour rum over ice.  Fill with ginger beer.

Squeeze remaining lime over top of cocktail and place spent lime half, cut side down, on top.  Drizzle a bit more rum over lime.  Serve with a straw.

Substitute ginger ale for ginger beer.

Brand recommendations:
Goslings Dark Spiced Rum and Goslings Ginger Beer

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"SLOW" TO UNDERSTAND Short Ribs with Garlic Polenta

"SLOW" TO UNDERSTAND Short Ribs with Garlic Polenta
Makes 10 to 12 servings

Slow, because they are slow-cooked while you're at work.  

12 (about 5 lb. total) boneless beef short ribs, excess fat removed
Kosher salt, black pepper
1 Tbsp. oil
6 shallots, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 cups red wine
1 can (14 oz.) reduced sodium chicken broth or stock
2 Tbsp. Minute brand tapioca
2 bay leaves
12 (about 5 lb. total) boneless beef short ribs, excess fat removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Garlic Polenta (recipe below)

In 2 batches, cook ribs (seasoned with salt and pepper) in oil in large skillet on medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Add to slow cooker.

In same skillet cook shallots, carrot, and celery over medium heat until browned, about 8 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and thyme and cook about 1 minute.  Stir in wine; bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half.  Add broth, tapioca and bay leaves; bring to a boil, then pour mixture over meat in slow cooker.

Cover and cook until the meat is very tender, on LOW 8 to 10 hours (HIGH 5 to 6 hours).  With a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to serving bowls with a generous dollop of garlic polenta. Spoon sauce over polenta and ribs and sprinkle with parsley.  


Prepare 1/2 (1 lb.) package of instant polenta as directed, substituting reduced sodium chicken broth for the water.  Bring the broth to a boil in a sauce pot containing 3 cloves minced garlic sauteed in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and continue as directed.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

VP DEBATE GAME Apple Cider Sangria

Select a candidate to drink to:

It doesn't have to be the VP Candidate you plan to vote for - in fact it's often more fun if it isn't. If you are at a party, try assigning candidates randomly to the guests.

Take a drink* every time your candidate says anything on his list

Joe Biden:
General Motors
Middle Class
Bin Laden

Paul Ryan:
Small Business
You Know

Additional drinking opportunities

Start the night off with a gimme – Take a drink for each person or organization that your candidate thanks in his opening remarks.

If your candidate has any type of numbered or multi-step plan – Take one drink for each number.

Each time you see your candidate force an awkward grin or laugh while his opponent is insulting him or disparaging his policies – Take a drink.Here is a perfect fall beverage for the game:

Apple Cider Sangria
Makes 12 servings

1 bottle (1500 ml) pinot grigio
1 qt. good quality apple cider
1 cup ginger brandy
1/2 cup sugar
2 honey crisp apples, chopped
2 Bosc pears, chopped

Mix wine, cider, brandy and sugar.

Stir in fruit.

*Because this may be a high scoring game, a drink is defined as a sip of sangria. Know your limits and please drink responsibly.
Drinking starts October 11, at 9:00pm Eastern Time

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

MORE WARS! Macaroni & Cheese

Mitt is promising us lots of action in the Mid East.

MORE WARS! Macaroni & Cheese
Makes 6 servings

The ultimate comfort food.

4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded pepper-jack cheese, divided
2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained

Heat oven to 375F.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in skillet over medium heat.  Stir in panko and paprika; cook and stir 1 minute or until crumbs are golden brown.  Set crumbs aside.

Melt remaining butter in large saucepan on low heat. Add flour, salt and pepper; mix well. Cook 2 minutes or until bubbly. Gradually add milk, stirring until well blended. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Add 1-1/2 cups of the cheese; cook until melted, stirring constantly. Add macaroni; mix lightly.

Spoon into 1-1/2-quart casserole; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly around edges.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

SMALL MONEY Oats with Honey

I'll believe it when I see it.  The logic is sound, but big money can buy so much!

SMALL MONEY Oats with Honey
Makes 1 serving

There's nothing small about the flavor of this simple breakfast, perfect for a cool autumn morning.

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 Tbsp. honey, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or raspberries

Combine oats, milk, water, 1 Tbsp. honey and cinnamon in 1 qt. microwaveable bowl.  

Cook on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.  Stir in fruit.

Spoon into serving bowl; drizzle with remaining honey.

  • This is really good with a pat of butter on top.
  • If you prefer sweeter oatmeal, substitute brown sugar for honey.

Monday, October 8, 2012


None of this should be taken to imply that the situation is good, or to deny that we should be doing better — a shortfall largely due to the scorched-earth tactics of Republicans, who have blocked any and all efforts to accelerate the pace of recovery. (If the American Jobs Act, proposed by the Obama administration last year, had been passed, the unemployment rate would probably be below 7 percent.) The U.S. economy is still far short of where it should be, and the job market has a long way to go before it makes up the ground lost in the Great Recession. But the employment data do suggest an economy that is slowly healing, an economy in which declining consumer debt burdens and a housing revival have finally put us on the road back to full employment.
And that’s the truth that the right can’t handle. The furor over Friday’s report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Mr. Obama that good news for the nation’s long-suffering workers drives its members into a blind rage. It also revealed a movement that lives in an intellectual bubble, dealing with uncomfortable reality — whether that reality involves polls or economic data — not just by denying the facts, but by spinning wild conspiracy theories.
It is, quite simply, frightening to think that a movement this deranged wields so much political power.

Makes 12 big muffins

Made with Honeycrisp apples, these are truly delicious!

2 cups flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 container (6 oz.) vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 large Honeycrisp apple, chopped (1 cup)
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375°F.  Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In separate bowl, mix butter, yogurt, milk, eggs and apples.  Stir in dry ingredients and pecans until just moistened.  Spoon evenly into 12-cup muffin pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.  Serve warm.

You can replace the pecans with walnuts if you like, but be sure to toast them.  Toast nuts in the preheated oven on a baking sheet for 5 to 7 minutes, or toast in a shallow microwave-safe dish in microwave for 3 to 4 minutes on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

THE TRUTH Toddy for Two

He said it.  He meant it.

THE TRUTH Toddy for Two
Makes 2 servings

This election has become mean and hurtful; sometimes I feel entitled to have a strong drink.

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup amaretto

Heat cider in small saucepot until just simmering at edges.  Pour evenly into two cups.

Add 1/4 cup amaretto to each mug.  Serve with cinnamon sticks.

Friday, October 5, 2012


78% ?  Is this an accidental typo?  Methinks it's 7.8%!!!

Depending on the spin...

Makes 8 servings

When I make homemade pizza, my kids think it's positive news, indeed!

1-3/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast
3/4 cup hot water
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. honey
3/4 lb. bulk Italian sausage
2 cups (8 oz.) Italian blend shredded cheese
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine bread flour, salt and yeast in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade.  Pulse to combine.  In glass measuring cup combine water, 1 Tbsp. oil and honey.  With processor running, pour water mixture through feed tube.  Run processor 1 minute (after about 15 seconds the dough will come together in a ball and whip around the work bowl). Remove dough from bowl (dough will be sticky) and knead on counter or other hard work surface with a little bit of flour.  Stretch into a 6x8-inch rectangle.

Pour remaining oil in 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.  Place dough in pan and turn over to coat both sides with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until double.

While dough is rising, cook Italian sausage in large skillet until not quite cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Stretch dough to sides of pan.  Cover and let rise 40 minutes.  Heat oven to 500°F.

Top dough with cheese blend, then dollop with sausage.  Top with combined tomatoes, garlic, oregano and half of the pepper.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining pepper.  Bake 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted.  Cut with scissors to serve.

I love pizza with a slightly chilled pinot noir.