Pie Crust Cookie Search

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chicken Bacon Pitas

Chicken + Bacon is really good. One week for my Sunday dinner, I really wanted to do something with chicken and bacon so I made the following recipe. It developed over a few weeks into one of my favorite dishes. You can also create variations of the recipe for new delicious creations. I have never tried it (yet) but I think it would be good to add hash browns with the chicken, bacon, and onion mixture, and add a fried egg on top -- essentially a chicken bacon brunch hash. Today I added mushrooms and it was delicious. You can also serve it on bread, tortillas, or rolls.

Finished product

After I added the onions, chicken and bacon together

Folding the cheese into the mixture while it melts


Chicken Bacon Pitas

1 teas cumin
1 teas  rosemary
2 garlic cloves
1 T butter
2 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
½ lb of bacon
2 yellow onions
1 red onion (use another yellow onion if no red onion available)
Mozzarella cheese (or another soft cheese)
Pita bread or rolls

Slice the onions in thin medium long slices. (I usually will slice the onion and then cut the onion in half.) Slice the  chicken breast into cubes. Saute the onions and chicken breast in different pans with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the bacon in another pan. When the bacon is finished, drain the bacon grease saving 1 tablespoon of grease. Then chop the bacon into ½ inch cubes. When everything has finished sauteing, mix together the onions, bacon, leftover bacon grease, and chicken. Add cumin, garlic, rosemary and butter and saute until butter has melted. Stir in the herbs.

Next in another saute pan, heat until hot and then add a cup or so of the mixture (enough to fill a pita) and add the cheese. Stir cheese until melted. Then add to a pita or roll and serve.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

And here's my other favorite way to prepare asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus

Source: Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs thin asparagus, tough ends snapped off
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F. Place the asparagus on a large baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over them and toss gently with your hands to coat each spear from end to end. Spread the spears out in a single layer over the baking sheet.

Roast in the preheated oven, shaking the pan once or twice to turn the spears, until the asparagus are lightly browned, 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Variation: Roasted Asparagus with Rosemary and Garlic

Add 2 medium garlic cloves, minced, and 1 teas minced fresh rosemary leaves to the oil, then coat the asparagus with this mixture.

Note from Betsy: This recipe is quite forgiving. I have used thick asparagus--just cook it a little longer. I almost never remember to shake the pan halfway through cooking. Most of the time I throw the ingredients together without measuring, and it always turns out delicious.

Pan-Browned Asparagus with Butter

We're eating lots of asparagus these days, so I thought I'd share one of my two favorite ways to prepare it.

Pan-Browned Asparagus with Butter

Source: Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 4

2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs thin or medium asparagus, tough ends snapped off
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Place the asparagus in the skillet in a single layer (or as close to one as you can get--when the asparagus overlaps, I have not had any problems with it cooking as it should). Season with salt to taste. Cover and cook until they are crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook the asparagus, shaking the pan occasionally to turn them, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Season with pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mole de Olla—Beef Stew in a Pot

New information (December 2015):

A couple of years after posting this recipe, I watched an episode of Pati Jinich's PBS cooking show ( and I was excited to see her explaining how she makes Mole de Olla. For years I assumed this was not an authentic Mexican dish since I couldn't find it in any cookbook written by an expert. I'd originally discovered the recipe in the late 70s, in a "Mexican" cookbook, likely by Better Homes and Gardens. Since the 90s I have relied on books by Rick Bayless and, less frequently, Diana Kennedy, both Americans who made Mexican cookery the focus of their lives and careers. However, Pati Jinich was born and raised in Mexico City and she states that although this dish isn't a typical mole (the thick, spicy sauce flavored with chocolate), it is an old traditional recipe and there are many variations in Mexico. I feel slightly embarrassed I care so much about authenticity when what really matters is that this soupy stew is really tasty.

I cook this soup every summer when corn on the cob is at its best. I've also started freezing 1-inch pieces of corn so I can enjoy this in winter (the corn isn't quite as firm, but still flavorful). Don't be tempted to add corn cut off the cob. I feel certain that the cob adds flavor. Corn on the cob means this soup must be eaten with both a spoon and a fork (or fingers).


Mole de Olla—Beef Stew in a Pot

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 T cooking oil
3 c water
1/4 c snipped fresh parsley, or 1 T dried parsley
2 teas salt
1/8 teas pepper
1/2-1 teas crushed red pepper (or to taste)
1 (16-oz) can tomatoes
1 medium onion, cut up
1 c water
2 T sesame seed
2 cloves garlic
1 teas instant beef bouillon granules
1/8 teas ground cumin
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, or chayote cut up (1 pound)
2 pounds small waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1 inch pieces
3 ears fresh corn, cut in 1-inch pieces (I often add more since we love it)

In large pot, brown meat, half at a time, in hot oil. Return all meat to pot. Add the 3 cups water, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cover; simmer 1 1/2 hours or until the stew meat is tender. In blender container place undrained tomatoes,  crushed red pepper, onion, 1 c water, sesame seed, garlic, bouillon granules, and cumin; blend till nearly smooth. Add liquid to beef mixture along with potatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add corn and replace lid. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are nearly cooked. Add squash for last 5 minutes of cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 8 to 10 servings.


If you can find it, substitute chayote squash for the zucchini. Its texture is more dense and holds up better but should be cooked longer--10 minutes or until done. Also, I find that waxy (often red) potatoes work better in soups than russets which tend to fall apart into mush if they are overcooked.

Pati Jinich's version is much the same as the recipe I offer here, although she doesn't include potatoes. She uses both zucchini and chayote--I think I'll chose one or the other. And she uses green beans, cut up. Pati also roasts whole tomatoes and tomatillos and garlic before blending them and toasts the sesame seeds until they start to pop. She puts a halved white onion in the cooking water for the meat. She also toasts and boils until tender some ancho chile pods then blends them to make a chile sauce to add to the broth. This results in final product that looks slightly thicker than my version. Go check hers out and try it. I'm going to do the same but I'm going to hang on to the potatoes.

Salmon Cakes

This recipe uses canned salmon which I haven't used much in the past but I trust the author of this recipe and have found it to be a quick meal made of pantry ingredients. I usually splurge and buy good quality wild salmon but it isn't necessary.


Salmon Cakes 

Adapted from: What We Eat When We Eat Alone  by Deborah Madison
Serves two but can easily be multiplied.

1 (7 1/2 oz can) salmon, about 1 cup
1 1/2 T minced scallions or onion
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 teas grated lemon zest
1 T mayonnaise
1/2-1 teas mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1/2 c plus 2 T breadcrumbs, fresh or dried
olive oil for frying
optional: arugula, lemon wedges, sour cream, horseradish, or additional mayonnaise as topping

Drain the can of salmon; place in a bowl. Break it up with a fork and pick out any bones that bother you. Most of them will be quite soft because they've been canned and they'll add calcium to your diet if you happen to eat them. Add the scallions, parsley, lemon zest, mayonnaise, and mustard, and mix everything together. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir the egg into the fish followed by the breadcrumbs.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet and coat it with the oil. Shape the salmon mixture into patties. Carefully place them in the skillet and let cook for 5 minutes per side. They should be brown and crisp on the outside but moist and tender on the inside. Serve on a bed of arugula with lemon wedges and sour cream or mayonnaise or horseradish.

Note for the beginning cook: Grating the zest off any citrus means to take the color off the skin, leaving behind the white. You can do this with a rasp grater (such as a microplane), the smallest section of your box grater, or by peeling of sections with your peeler and then chopping with a knife. It is worth the effort. I advise against using dried lemon. Substituting lemon juice itself adds acidity and too much moisture. The zest provides lemon flavor without its tartness.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Central Grocery’s Muffuletta Sandwiches

Years ago I visited New Orleans and fell in love with the Muffulettas at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. I bought two bottles of their olive salad to bring home with me but they didn't last long. I felt lucky to find online a recipe that tasted remarkably like Central Grocery's signature sandwich spread. It's been so long I'm uncertain, though, where I found it.

Central Grocery’s Muffuletta Sandwiches

Serves about 6, depending on how much salad is spread on the sandwiches

Rolls--the authentic sandwich is made on a thin, disk of bread and cut into four servings, but I substitute hoagie rolls if I don't have time to make a loaf.

Lunchmeats, such as ham, prosciutto, genoa salami, mortadella

Provolone cheese

Olive salad:

2/3 c green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2/3 c black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 (16-oz) jar Italian Mix Giardiniera, juice reserved, vegetables chopped
1/4 c pimientos, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 filet anchovy, finely chopped or mashed (or 1 teas anchovy paste)
1 T capers
1/3 c parsley, finely chopped
1 teas oregano (or1 T chopped fresh oregano)
1/4 teas black pepper
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Mix ingredients together and add some of the reserved Giardiniera liquid if desired (I usually don’t—the olive oil makes it juicy enough). It would be best to let it sit for an hour or so to blend the flavors but if you are in a rush, use it as soon as it is mixed. Spread some olive salad on sandwich rolls. Layer meat and cheese on rolls and serve—or let diners build their own sandwiches.

Note from Colette:  If anchovies are unfamiliar to you, don't hesitate to use them. I've tried this without the anchovy and its absence was noticeable. Anchovy is an important flavor component. In the grocery store you'll find these near tuna fish cans in small bottles or tins. I hear that Italian varieties are the best but haven't done my own testing so can't verify that rumor. Once you open a tin, move the filets to a small jar and cover with olive oil. If you buy a jar of anchovies, ensure they are covered with oil as well. This will help them to store for a very long time in your refrigerator. Tubes of anchovy paste are convenient and mess free, but I don't find them to last as long as jarred anchovies.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bubble n' Squeak

I've long held the belief that this dish is Irish and that the name comes from a sound made when the vegetables are cooked together. A google search reveals that it can also be British and is a way to use leftovers. What ever its origins, it has been a mainstay in our recipe collection for a good many years.


Bubble n’ Squeak 

Source: Washington Post
Serves 4-5

1/2 medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 c cooked, cubed ham
1 T butter
3 c potatoes – baked, cooled and thinly sliced—peel or not according to your taste
1/2 teas paprika salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or sauté pan at medium heat, cook cabbage in a small amount of water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; remove cabbage and set aside. In same pan, sauté bacon and onion until soft; add ham and cook until heated through. Stir in butter, then add the cooked cabbage and potatoes and mix well. Season with paprika, salt and pepper and let cook until browned. You can change this recipe to suit your needs by increasing or decreasing any ingredient. If you increase the cabbage or potatoes a great deal, increase the paprika, too.

Note from Betsy: this is truly a one hour recipe if you have leftover baked potatoes. Or you can microwave the potatoes.

Cauliflower Gratin

Michael does not like cauliflower, but he loves this gratin. The kids wouldn't try it, though, darn it.


Cauliflower Gratin

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook
Serves 4-6

1 c panko bread crumbs (or other good quality bread crumbs)
1 T olive oil
1 1/4 lbs cauliflower florets, cut into 1-in pieces (you will need a 2-lb head of cauliflower to yield the right amount of florets)
1/4 c water
1 (5.2 oz) package Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 teas salt
1/4 teas pepper

Heat oven to 450F. Toss panko with oil and spread onto rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring often, until golden, about 2 min.

Microwave cauliflower and water together in a covered bowl until tender, 8-10 min. Drain cauliflower in colander; set aside.

Wipe bowl dry, add Boursin, cream, salt, and pepper and microwave, uncovered, until cheese is melted, about 1 min. Whisk Boursin mixture until smooth, then add drained cauliflower and toss to coat.

Transfer cauliflower mixture to 2-quart gratin dish and sprinkle with toasted crumbs. Bake until hot and lightly bubbling around edges, about 7 min. Let cool slightly before serving.

Quick Tomato Stew


Quick Tomato Stew

Adapted from a recipe by cookbook author Marion Cunningham
Serves 4-6

4-5 strips smoky-style bacon (or as much as you want to use)
1/3-1/2 c chopped ham (optional and amount can vary)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 28-oz can stewed tomatoes, including juices in can (or two 14-oz cans)
2 /3 c tomato juice (you can substitute with 2 T tomato paste and ½ c water)
1 ½ teas sugar
¾ teas salt
pepper to taste
3 slices white bread, torn or cut into bite-size pieces (if you are cooking this quickly, crumble the bread)

Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook in a large saucepan over medium heat until slightly browned. Add onion and turn heat to medium-low and cook until soft. Reduce heat if needed to stop over-browning. (If mixture is starting to burn, add a tablespoon of water.)

Add the tomatoes and juice (or substitution), sugar, salt and pepper. Stir. If the chunks of tomato are large, you can mash them with a fork as they cook. (I found that Hunt’s brand had lots of tomato cores in it so I will avoid it.) Raise heat and bring to a low boil. Then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for several minutes.

Add the pieces of bread and cook, mashing the bread into the juices. The bread will absorb some of the juice and thicken it. The longer this simmers, the more the bread melts into the “broth”. You can either let it cook 15-20 minutes (or longer—you might have to add some more water if it gets too thick) or you can cook it 5-10 minutes if you need it quickly.

This tastes great with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Note: I've found that I can use other crushed or diced tomatoes and I've blended tomatoes to make the juice. I think the key is to have at least 4 c tomatoes and juice. I've also used some roasted tomatoes that I have frozen. You don't have to skip this recipe because you don't have the specific ingredients.

Portuguese Sausage and Tomato Soup

One of my favorite soups, a true comfort food I love to eat in the winter. Of course, it can be eaten all year round.


Portuguese Sausage and Tomato Soup

adapted from Emeril Legasse

Serves 5-6

3 slices bacon, diced
½ pound linguisa sausage, thinly sliced
½ pound chorizo sausage (Spanish or Portuguese), sliced or crumbled
    or a full pound of either
1 c finely chopped red onions (I’ve made it with yellow onions and it was fine)
¾ teas paprika
½ teas oregano
½ teas thyme
¼ teas cayenne pepper
½ teas freshly ground black pepper
½ (or less) crushed red pepper flakes
4 -5 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
4 cups chopped tomatoes, or a 28 oz can with juice, or an equivalent amount of frozen
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth (or equal amount of homemade broth)
1 can white beans (of any type) rinsed and drained, optional
several potatoes, diced and cooked, optional (can be added raw 20-25 minutes before finishing)
2-3 handfuls of coarsely chopped kale or chard
salt (taste before adding since bacon, sausage, beans and broth are all salty)
¼ c finely chopped fresh cilantro

Note:  This soup is great without optional items, but I find it more hearty with some of them, at least. Also, these sausages can be quite spicy. If you need to keep heat under control, cut down the cayenne and red pepper flakes. This can be easily doubled for a crowd.

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large saucepan until nearly crisp.  Add the sausage and cook with the bacon until browned.  Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add the spices and herbs and let bloom for about 1 minute.  Stir in the garlic and cook about half a minute until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, chicken broth and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes (I like to let mine cook longer, if I have time).  Stir in beans, potatoes (you can add them earlier, if you want to let them cook in the broth--give them 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the cubes) and kale and let cook until the kale has wilted.  Stir in the cilantro and serve.  Serve with crusty bread.

Rich Hot Chocolate

When you drink this hot chocolate, you'll feel like you are drinking a chocolate bar.

Rich Hot Chocolate

 Per person mix in a sauce pan over medium heat:

1 cup whole milk
1 oz  (or a scant ¼ cup) good chocolate chips, semisweet or bittersweet, or chopped chocolate
1 T brown sugar, or less (this is too sweet for me)
1 T cocoa, preferably Dutch processed

Place ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally until smooth and steaming.  Mix in the flavoring of your choice. I use extracts or oils, such as almond, orange, mint, cinnamon, or vanilla, or powdered chile (not chili powder). Since everyone usually wants a different flavor, I add the flavoring to the mugs not the saucepan. I use about ¼ teas extract per serving or a few drops of oils.  You can always add more. For a special treat float a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Grandma Betty's Old Fashioned Zucchini Bread

By including the words "Old Fashioned" in the title I am winking at my mom and Betsy's grandma, Betty Hayes Peterson. Not only is the title a little joke, this recipe came from my mom, given to her by a family friend Beverly Hilemon. The addition of coconut makes a particularly tasty loaf.


Grandma Betty's Old Fashioned Zucchini Bread

Yield: two loaves

Mix together:

3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 c oil

Add the following:

1 teas soda
1 teas baking powder
1 teas cinnamon
1 teas salt
3 c flour

Stir in the following:

3 c grated zucchini
1 teas vanilla
1 c coconut
1 c chopped nuts

Place in two oiled and floured 8 X 4 ½ inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350F for 60 minutes or until done. Test with a toothpick stuck in the center.  If it comes out clean, the bread is done.

Note from Colette: My mother successfully baked this bread at elevations ranging from 2700 feet to 5500 feet. When I left home (and Utah) and started baking at sea level, I had no trouble with the recipe. After returning to the mountain west, and realizing that my 25 year collection of sea level baking recipes didn't always work, I researched the effects of altitude on baking. What I've learned doesn't explain why this recipe seems to work at almost any altitude. But instead of scratching my head, I'll just be grateful. That said, I find  at my current elevation (nearly 5000 feet), the texture of this bread is better if I reduce the moisture in the squash by placing the grated zucchini in a clean dish towel and wringing out some of the excess liquid.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is a great way to cook sweet potatoes--low fuss and tasty. I like to slice them even more thinly; 1/8 inch if I can manage it.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 T heavy cream
1/2 teas table salt
1 teas granulated sugar
2 pds sweet potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-in-thick slices
1 pinch ground black pepper

Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in 3 to 4 quart saucepan; cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork, 35 to 45 minutes. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher, or transfer mixture to hopper of food mill and process into warmed serving bowl. Stir in pepper; serve immediately.

Bay Baked Potatoes


Bay Baked Potatoes

Adapted from A Passion for Vegetables by Lorenza De'Medici

Place medium-sized unpeeled potatoes in a baking dish so there is space between each potato. Drizzle with olive oil and  thoroughly rub each potato. Slit each potato almost through leaving about a quarter inch at the bottom uncut. Place a bay leaf in the slit (you may also want to put a drop or two of olive oil in as you do so--but it isn’t necessary). Set in baking dish. Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and bake at 350F until they are done, turning and seasoning the other side after 30 minutes. These will take an hour or so.  You can also do this with small potatoes.

This can also be done with a sprig of rosemary in place of the bay, but then it won’t be called Bay Baked Potatoes.

Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Fast, tasty, and the kids liked it, although I did have to remove the scallions from their chicken.


Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook
Serves 4

1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c water
2 T mirin
2 teas grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teas red pepper flakes
8 (5-oz) chicken drumsticks, skin removed and trimmed
2 scallions, sliced thin

Combine soy sauce, sugar, water, mirin, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add drumsticks, cover, and simmer gently until chicken is tender and registers 180 degrees, about 20 minutes, flipping drumsticks over halfway through cooking.

Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer rapidly until sauce is slightly thickened, 5-7 minutes, turning drumsticks occasionally to coat. Transfer chicken to platter, pour glaze over top, and sprinkle with scallions. Serve.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brownie Bites

The original, sea-level recipe. At my altitude the brownies sunk. Recommendations for adjustments are below. I love that cooking brownies in a muffin tin gives you all edges!


Brownie Bites

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook
Makes 12 brownies

8 T unsalted butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c (7 oz) sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
2/3 c (3 1/3 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 c pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped

Microwave butter and chocolate together in bowl, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes; let mixture cool slightly.

In large bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture until combined. Gently stir in flour with rubber spatula until just incorporated.

Portion batter evenly into greased 12-cup muffin tin and sprinkle with nuts. Bake brownies 18-20 minutes at 350F, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let brownies cool slightly in pan before removing.

Note from Colette about altitude adjustments:

For this recipe at 4300-4500 feet, increase the flour by 2 T, decrease the sugar by 2 T. For elevations of 5000 ft do the same but also decrease the baking powder by 1/8 teas. This is not a foolproof formula for every recipe--but it keeps these brownies from falling.