Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Life Changes and Cooking Like Crazy these days....

 So....now that I am retired and have my daily chores to keep the household running, I also have a little more time to cook and experiment a bit.

I fielded some Hatch Chili peppers and we love to stuff them with shrimps and bread crumbs. Lately though I have been experimenting with various meat fillings. Last night I used hamburger.  Actually I went to the store early and picked up a few Hatch's to use for dinner last night along with the last Poblanos from the garden. Instead of stuffing the peppers because they were not as large as I like, I decided to make a lasagna out of everything with a nice Green Poblano Sauce. 

Hatch Chili Lasagna

So first things first, Peppers under the broiler with a shmear of olive oil to blacken the skin, turn and blacken the other side, about 4 minutes total. Watch like a hawk. Once thoroughly blackened, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam so the skins can be scraped off. I used 3 large Hatch chilis but would have used six if I was thinking right, 3 for each layer, 

For the filling:

One pound 85% ground beef.

One medium onion diced

2-3 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 to 3/4 cup cream

3/4 cup Monterrey Jack

Salt and Pepper

Saute the beef till brown and crumbly then add the onion and garlic till the onion is translucent. Add the cream and cheese and stir until all is well coated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside. Use pan for the sauce. 

For the Creamy sauce:

3   4 inch Poblano peppers, blackened and skinned

1   2 inch Jalapeno diced  Remove seeds and membranes to adjust heat but I left them and it had a nice bite. 

3/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2

2 T flour

2 T butter

1 cup milk

2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed

2 slices of Processed Swiss or 1/2 cup you favorite white cheese like a sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack. 

I used my immersion blender and blended the Poblano and Jalapeno peppers with 3/4 c 1/2 and 1/2 until a nice puree formed. Great green color. 

To the pan add the butter and melt then add the Flour. Cook the roux for a minute or two then add milk and whisk out lumps and cook till sauce thickens. Add the garlic to perfume the sauce. Add the pepper mix and cook till it begins to thicken again. If it needs help I always like to use Wondra to move it along. Add the cheese and allow to melt, salt and pepper to check seasoning. Remove the garlic. Set aside.

For the Lasagna:

No Boil Lasagna Noodles, wetted  (9 total)

2 Cups Monterrey Jack, divided

3 Hatch Chili skinned and opened flat, seeds rinsed out

Filling and Sauce from above. 

In an 8 x 11 Ceramic casserole dish, sprayed with Cooking spray, later 3 Noodles to cover bottom. 

Spoon half the filling, top with 1/4 of the shredded cheese, and the Hatch chilis, Repeat another layer, just sauce and cheese then top with remaining noodles,  Pour sauce over all and top with remianing cheese. 

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes covered then uncover for 15 minutes till brown and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes so its easier to serve.Cut into 4 or 6 servings

 Top servings with Sour Cream and Salsa. Makes 4 servings. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Spatchcocked chicken with white sauce.

For chicken
1 (4-pound) whole roasting chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
For rub
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked or sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
For white sauce
1 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste

After I brined the whole chicken in 1/4 cup salt and 4 cups water I dried it off then hit it with the spice rub and olive oil. I placed on the hot  grill with off set heat and added a chunk of pear to do some smoking at about 300-350. I moved it to the hotter side after 30 minutes and turned the skin side down for some crisping up. Server with the white sauce (very tangy) and Fondant potatoes. Another recipe I found that day.

Fondant Potatoes 

YIELDServes 8
PREP TIME10 minutes
COOK TIME45 minutes


  • medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • cloves 
  • tablespoons 
    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon 
    kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon 
    freshly ground black pepper
  • tablespoons 
    canola oil
  • sprigs 
    fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup 
    low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth


  1. Peel 4 russet potatoes. Trim the ends, then cut each potato in half crosswise. You should now have 8 flat potato rounds. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature to remove excess potato starch. Meanwhile, heat the oven and prepare the garlic and butter.
  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly smash and peel 3 garlic cloves. Cut 4 tablespoons unsalted butter into 8 pieces.
  3. Drain the potatoes, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Season the potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes cut-side down in a single layer and cook until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip the potatoes using tongs and add the garlic, butter, and 4 sprigs thyme. (If the potatoes are sticking to the pan, let them cook 2 to 3 minutes more until they easily release before flipping.) Cook until the butter is foaming and starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth.
  5. Bake until the potatoes are fork tender and lightly browned on the sides, 30 to 35 minutes. Garnish with more whole thyme sprigs before serving, drizzled with the pan juices.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Salmon and Peas in a lemon cream sauce

Tonight is our meatless night and I  had about a 1/2 pound of roasted salmon and a side of peas from last Thursday's dinner.  About a 1/2 of a lemon in the fridge got me to thinking. So with a little pasta on the stove, I started a luxurious sauce with a roux and skim milk, the zest of a 1/2 lemon and its juice. Of course the milk got weird but about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream straightened that out. A pinch of salt and pepper and 2 slices of processed swiss  created a smooth, creamy,  lemony sauce that hit the right notes with flakes of the salmon and peas floating in it. Over a bed of spaghetti makes a nice meatless meal for a Tuesday night.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Blueberry Scones


Lately my lovely bride has had a hankering for scones. Who am I to deny her pleasure? She found the above recipe and I have been making a batch every few weeks. One gets consumed and the rest frozen for future breakfast treats. They are heavenly with butter and cream and plump frozen berries. Topped with a lemon glaze, out this world.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Butter Chicken...this recipe was a keeper.

Not at all for the faint of heart, Butter Chicken has a lot of local competition for me, my kids all have their favorites. I must master this skill. I think i did tonight but it took 2 days. I started on Friday, grinding spices and prepping the chicken for the double marinade. Was it worth it? Totally.
 It took a lot of time mostly waiting for marinades to work their magic and doughs to stop snapping back on me allowing adequate rest time. I made naan and paratha too. Delicious fresh breads to compliment the gravy and sop up whats left. It was good, really good.  Here’s the link to the recipe I used:  https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/murgh-makhani-recipe-butter-chicken/

Paratha in a dry skillet after the first turn.

Naan in front some with garlic and cilantro. Paratha in the rear, coils of buttery layers.
To be fair, I have an incredibly well stocked Indian pantry. I had cilantro on hand as well as Greek yogurt. A few years ago, one of our third year fellows went home for a few weeks to India and knew my interest in the culture and food (I have a Indian playlist) so he brought me  bags of spices. The Garam Masala I ground from the raw spices into a redolent mix of Indian nirvana. The bag looked like potpourri and some of the spices I had never seen in their whole form.
With the chicken marinating over night I started the breads this morning while Brenda was at work. I took the chicken out, placed it on non stick foil and oven grilled it till dark spots appeared on the surface. I set that aside and began working in earnest on the gravy. Lots of microplaning fresh garlic and ginger (from my freezer) the a quick saute of the spices,  adding tomatoes that had been pureed with raw cashews. After cooking down the gravy, I added back the chicken and juices then into the oven for an hour.  Once out of the oven I added the last of the spice mix of Kashmiri Menthi (fenugreek) and garam masala. Then the magic of heavy cream. Not a lot, about 1/2 cup or so and a quick spin of the immersion blender to smooth out the gravy. Adjust the seasoning for salt and heat. A bit of tomato paste to redden the gravy a bit and a big squirt of Siracha to bring up the heat. I had Kashmiri Chilis but opted out for a gentler burn. Silken divinity in a pot. Tender chunks of chicken and to die for gravy.
The bread had to start about 3,  so first the parathas were made and cooked in a dry skillet. I used Serious Eats web site which showed me how to laminate the dough and I found my tortilla press makes very thin paratha and naan and saved me rolling it all out by hand. A little wax paper and cooking spray made the job easy and non stick.  Brenda helped cook the breads while I squashed the next one. The paratha was so flaky and buttery. The naan soft and pillowy. My favorite jalapeno beer was not on hand so I added jalepenos and their liquid to a Corona on hand which worked just fine. Jalapeno beer is the best with Indian food.  Cheers everyone to a great Saturday night meal.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Chickpea stew

It's Lent and I took a chance. This vegan stew was actually quite tasty. Loaded with anti inflamatory tumeric, and crispy chickpeas, it was thick and creamy from coconut milk.

1/4 cup olive oil
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 large chopped yellow onion
2 inch hunk of peeled ginger chopped
1 1/2 teasp tumeric
1 teasp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans drained chickpeas (use the liquid, aquafaba, in the soup if you like)
2 cans coconut milk (I used Lite)
2 cups veggie stock (less if you used the aquafaba from the peas)
1bunch Swiss Chard, shredded with stems

Cook the onion in the oil till it softens then add garlic, ginger and tumeric.
The recipe called for adding the chickpeas and cooking 8-10 minutes till crisp. That never happened. Remove a cup, dry them and crisp them in a separate pan, reserve till the end. Add the rest of the peas and cook 8-10 minutes then mash them before adding the milk and stock. The peas should thicken the soup but I used a bit of Wondra to help it along. Simmer 30-40 minutes then add the shredded chard and cook till just tender. Check your seasoning. Add the crisped peas and serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Mashed Potato Salad...Who knew?

Was watching early a.m. TV and Martina McBride has or had a cooking show. Ok but potato salad with mashed potatoes?  It’s pretty tasty it turns out with a tweak or two. I did not use much sugar and forgot the celery. I had Famous Dave’s Hot pickle relish that is sweet as well. Since I had ribs on the menu today, I did a little experimenting with some recipes. Added jalapeños to my corn casserole and used mashed spuds for the potato Salad. Rather than rewrite the recipe, here’s the link:


Great stuff.  Corn Casserole? You know this one with spaghetti and velveeta? Just add a handful of pickled jalapeños for a little bite and interest. Yum.

A Recipe Worth Repeating....


Two years ago I posted this recipe that we had at the Fangman’s on New Years. This year we entertained our buddies, Mike and Cindy Baumer and I made this bisque to start the meal. What a pleasure it was and I followed the original recipe with a few minor exceptions.

Firstly, I again made my own stock using shrimp shells, onion, carrot and celery with a half head of garlic. I seasoned it and set it aside, tasting to make sure I liked it. I added a teaspoon of Fish sauce and a tablespoon of Better Than Bullion's Lobster base before being satisfied.

The day of serving I made the rest of the soup, making the portion larger as we had some additional guests. It was smooth and velvety with small bits of shallot and large chunks of shrimp. I added a tablespoon of tomato paste, mostly for color but it made a subtle variation in taste that was very pleasing.

Lastly, after heating the bisque,  I added the cream, then the champagne. Exquisite flavors, just enough salt, creamy and smooth and simply unctuous. The Champagne made all the difference, topped with fresh chives, it was a triumph. Delicious!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Eating Omaha...Block 16

We were in the neighborhood a few weeks ago and decided to get some lunch somewhere new, for us.  Block 16 is a hard to describe burger joint? That somehow does not fit but the food was amazing. We split a burger and I ordered the Duck Duck Goose Fries.

The were fries topped with duck confit and a gooseberry gastric with mozzarella cheese. Brenda is not a duck fan so more for me. Yay, it was yummy. There are lots of things to explore on the menu and they have daily specials outline on Facebook. Love it.

Looking Back and Forward...

My second year as Mr. Claus brought a lot of new experiences for me. I was privileged to visit the NICU at Children’s Hospital here in Omaha and held a lot of very sick and recovering babies. Such an honor that these parents allowed me to intrude in their lives for a moment. Mackenzie took some great pics for Mom and Dad.

We extended the studio time this year to two days and had a lot of fun getting all those pics taken and then some showing up in our mail as Christmas cards. So fun and a little surreal. Made lots of new connections this year and got called out a lot in stores by young shoppers whose parents were a little embarrassed but what’s a kid to think when they see me out and about, usually wearing red?

I did a daycare one day. What a line up and great fun. 150 littles in 2 hours, it was a well oiled machine. A few Christmas parties hired me to appear and I was so thrilled with all the kiddies and their imagination and gift ideas.

Brenda and I are now considering the Santa Convention in August at Branson for grins. I joined the Santa network


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