intuitive cooking...

i've been experimenting with recipes for a few years now.  i also pay attention to how my favorite cooks do things.  i've watched my mom make her awesome thanksgiving dinner, magalotti make roast chicken and steak with blue cheese and basil leaves.  carol has introduced me to the world of grains,  veggies and all things pickled.  pinterest has been a windfall of recipes.  fellow bloggers have taught me how to roast beets and bake crispy tofu.

so now i'm experimenting more.  cooking by intuition.  winging things a bit.  it's fun.  and i'm ok to throw out a meal and order pizza.  it helps that my husband is game to try new foods prepared in different ways.

this morning i took some kale i bought (and didn't know what to do with), the leaves from a bunch of beets, and i threw them into the crockpot with some frozen roasted chicken, chopped cipolini onions, some red pepper flakes, a spoon full of brown sugar, and a dash of liquid smoke.  they turned out great!  but they stunk the house up, and weren't as good left over.  next time i'll get a real smoked turkey leg and do it right.

this is "refrigerator oatmeal".  i didn't invent it.  i found recipes for it on pinterest.  i never really followed the recipes, i just throw it together and it's good.  i use an old mason jar and pour in some steel cut oats, then add vanilla almond (or soy) milk, some splenda, and then fruit, seasonings, raisins, etc... my favorite it chopped up apple with pumpkin spice.  it's best heated up in small portions.

this is my strangest "salad".  roasted beets, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts, as usual.  but i roasted the beets with sea salt and they turned out way too salty.  so i chopped up a pear to balance the salt, and WOW, it's good.  i know it sounds weird, but it's quite good.

today's lesson learned:  kosher salt is good, himalayan pink salt is best, and sea salt is super salty.


Cheesy Chicken Mexican Dorito Casserole

(weird japanese doritos bag, not what i used)

this is the trashiest thing i've ever made.  and it's good.  weirdly good.  it would be fun to bring to a potluck.  but not something i'd make regularly.  

 2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of cream cheese
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes with jalepenos or jar of salsa
1/2 packet taco seasoning (or more- to taste)
Bag of doritos

 1. Pre-heat oven to 350-f degrees.
 2. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except doritos.
 3. In a 2 qt baking dish, put a layer of crushed doritos (about 2 cups), then a layer of the chicken mixture.
4. Repeat once more, ending with a layer of chicken mixture.
5. Top with more shredded cheese, cover, and bake for 30-35 minutes, till bubbling hot.


roasted beets & salad ideas...

so i'm completely obsessed with beets.  not raw.  not pickled.  roasted.  they must be roasted.

here's how i roast mine:

i buy a bunch and scrub them.  then i peel them.  some people peel after they roast, and they are wrong.

after i peel them, i chop 'em up.  then i toss them in olive oil, coarse pink himalayan salt, and a little garlic powder.

i roast them at 400 degrees until they smell done to me.  they emit a lovely sweet smell.  usually around 30 minutes.

they are the best hot out of the oven.  when there are leftovers, i like to toss them with some crumbled stinky cheese (blue or goat) and add walnuts or pine nuts.  YUM!

leave out the cheese and it's vegan.

some people cook the leafy greens that come with the beets.  i haven't tried it yet, but i bet they'd be great super slow cooked with some butter and garlic.

slow cooked western ribs

5-7 lbs. western style pork ribs
1 bottle sweet baby ray's BBQ sauce

bake western style ribs, uncovered at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
drain off excess fat.
continue baking at 350 degrees for 1 hour, covered.
drain off excess fat.
put sauce on one side, cover, bake for 30 minutes.
put sauce on other side, cover, bake 30 minutes.
if not brown as desired, broil for a few seconds.

pumpkin pie martini

ice cubes
2 ounces (1/4 cup) vanilla vodka
2 ounces (1/4 cup) crème de cacao
1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
large spoonful of pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
whipped cream & graham cracker crumbs, for garnish


fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. add the vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, heavy cream, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.  shake well.

dip the rims of 2 martini glasses into a bowl of whipped cream & then graham crackers. strain the cocktail into the glasses. add whipped cream on top.



corn & black bean salad

i love throwing this together with whatever's in my fridge.  i always have corn in the freezer and cans of black beans.  the trick is to roast the corn first.  if corn is cheap & in season, buy it fresh and roast it in the oven in its husks.  you can roast canned or frozen corn too.  just put it in a pan with a little olive oil & sea salt and roast in the oven.

my favorite ingredients:
roasted corn
black beans
grape tomatoes
orange pepper
fresh cilantro
a dash of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
a squeeze of fresh lime
champagne vinegar

chocolate covered bacon

chocolate covered bacon:

preheat oven to 400 degrees

bake thick bacon for 20 minutes, until crisp

allow bacon to cool

heat chocolate (dark, milk, white)

crush nuts and peppermint candy

drizzle chocolate over bacon and add fancy sprinkles, nuts, etc...

i added some cinnamon to the white chocolate, yum

also, it really tastes better chilled.


best roasted tofu recipe yet!

I got this recipe from "this is not a diet"'s blog.  I've tried many variation on roasted tofu and her recipe is amazing!!!

Here ya go...


Before marinating and roasting, it is a good idea to drain the water from the tofu if it is water packed. Some people soak up the water using paper towels, but I try not to use those unless it’s really necessary. (Too wasteful!) I put the block of tofu in a pasta strainer that has a flat bottom and I rest a pot of water (for the weight) on top of it for 10-15 minutes.


After straining excess water, cut tofu into approximately 1 inch cubes.

In a bowl large enough for tossing the tofu, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, grated fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin, and peanut oil.

I can’t emphasize enough how delicious peanut oil is, especially for Asian flavored dishes. Toss the tofu in the marinade and let sit for 15 minutes or longer. I never seem to plan ahead enough for longer and the tofu soaks up liquids easily, so a long marinating session isn’t really necessary.

Arrange cubes on a roasting pan with space in between each cube (for optimum golden crispiness). 

Roast for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and flip each cube. Depending how patient I’m feeling, I’ll either flip each cube using tongs or use a spatula and hope for the best.

Roast for 20 more minutes until golden.

how to make a cheaper, healthier pumpkin spice frappuccino!

cold brew some coffee in a french press.  freeze some of the coffee in ice cube trays.

put the coffee & coffee ice cubes in a blender, add vanilla almond milk (or soy or skim), a few spoons of canned pumpkin, some splenda (or sugar or stevia) and a dash of pumpkin spice spice.

blend it and drink and tell starbucks to go to hell!