Author Archives: TaMara

Friday Night Dinner Music: Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You



Happy Thanksgiving!

We are ice and snowed in. Happily tomorrow is the day I spend with friends for Thanksgiving. Today we’ll just hang out and watch movies and stay warm. Hope your holiday is filled with fun, family, and good food.  – TaMara



Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey finishSometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

I tryout various new methods a few days before the big day, just to spice things up and make sure there are leftovers in my frig. This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free. My brother is going to prep one of his two turkeys similarly, but smoke it instead.

I put it together today so I could get the recipe up in time for your holiday.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara



Little Sunday Night Music: Jennifer Hudson, And I Am Telling You


A Little Saturday Night Music: Just Like a Star, Corinne Bailey Rae

Just added this to my music collection:


Pushing the Limits: One Pot Dinners

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JeffreyW plates up a good-looking Pot Roast Dinner

I love to cook in my pressure cooker – rice, beans, soups – they all get their start in my pressure cooker. But my favorite thing to do is that quick dinner that tastes like it’s been in the slow cooker all day, even though I completely forgot to even take the meat out to thaw.

My usual meal is to add about 1 cup of water to the pan, add a bunch of spices and herbs to the water, put the tray in and then layer halved potatoes, FROZEN skinless chicken breast or thighs (boneless or not, doesn’t change cooking time much), throw a couple of halved carrots on top and pressurize. Twenty minutes later, dinner is ready. The spices and herbs in the water infuse everything with flavor. It’s not as complex as roasted chicken, but for a quick dinner, it’s great.

Today I was wandering through the freezer, reorganizing to make room for holiday stuff and counting my bags of cranberries – which I stockpile in case there is a great cranberry shortage in the future. I pulled out a nice chuck roast I bought on sale a few weeks ago, half of which I used for the beef stew last week, half I tucked away for a nice pot roast dinner. I thought it would be nice to make tomorrow. Then I decided I wanted it today.


This is the newest model comparable to the one I own. Pretty.

So I pulled out the pressure cooker. This would be a first, starting with a frozen roast. It was either going to work or I was going to end up with one tough piece of beef. But I wouldn’t know if I didn’t give it try. (I do these things so you don’t have to).

I put the roast on the tray, poured a little bourbon over it (since it worked so well with the beef stew) added water, bay leaf, salt, pepper, onion, halved potatoes and carrots. I pressurized it for 55 minutes. I was guessing at the time because I wasn’t sure with it frozen how much extra time I should add.

At the 55 minute mark, I turned off the heat and let it depressurize slowly (instead of cold bath method). When I opened it, the beef was perfect. Again, the flavor was not as complex as if I had been able to brown it ahead of time. But it was tender and moist.

The carrots and potatoes were good, although if I did it again, I would probably add them at the twenty or thirty minute mark and re-pressurize for another twenty minutes.

So I’ll mark this down as a win and know that if I need a quick dinner, I can put pot roast on the list of recipes that will go from frozen to dinner in an hour.



Friday Recipe Exchange: Breakfast Pizzas

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I wanted to tackle breakfast because with lots of people visiting over the holidays, it can be fun to do something special for breakfast. I had a breakfast pizza recipe tucked away for a while and I was on the hunt for the perfect crust. I finally stumbled upon some terrific flat bread, something I have been looking for since moving to Colorado. I was spoiled in Boston and LA, where every store had a locally made brand stocked. So with a nice flat bread I was ready to tackle tonight’s featured recipe.

But let’s begin with something sweet that was great fun to get the kids involved with, French Toast Rollups, recipe here.

I like this Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake because, well, pecans and streusel, but also because I can make it and leave it out for everyone to enjoy at their leisure with coffee.

I also have a Blueberry Coffee Cake, along with a full dinner menu and recipes here (because coffee cake, not just for breakfast).

Finally, for Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes, click here.

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What’s on your plate for the weekend? If you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, what’s on your menu?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I snagged some of JeffreyW’s photos (top and middle of the post) to illustrate the many forms these pizzas can take. I made single pizzas, topped with an egg and lots of cheese. The ideas are endless. But below is a recipe for the basics.

Breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizzas

Crust: flat bread, naan, pita bread or a pizza dough

Toppings: I used olive oil, breakfast sausage, mozzarella, spinach, garlic and an egg for each individual pizza.

To assemble: on a baking sheet arrange the crusts, brush lightly with oil, then spread roasted garlic, add crumbled (uncooked) breakfast sausage and shredded cheese, leaving a space in the center for the egg. I used the sausage and cheese to create a well for the egg.

At this point you have two choices, you can leave it on the baking sheet or move it to the oven rack. Because I was using flat bread and it was stable, I moved it to the oven rack and then added the egg into the well (I cracked the egg into a bowl and then transferred to the pizza, it seemed a smarter way to manage it all). You can also scramble the egg and pour slowly over the ingredients.

Bake at 450 degrees until the egg is cooked. I lost track of time and let the egg cook too long, I would have preferred a soft yolk. Remove, top with chopped spinach and serve immediately.

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week because I’m assuming we will all be in a food coma. Have a great weekend and an excellent holiday. – TaMara

And for those who missed it, dinner menu this week is Spicy Potato Soup and Mocha Cake, menu, recipes and shopping list here. Great for a non-turkey meal to serve to company.



Breakfast Treat: Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Photo from Martha Stewart

Photo from Martha Stewart

When I’m expecting company for the holidays, I usually indulge in baking sweet treats that can be enjoyed with coffee for breakfast, at people’s leisure. I love a good coffee cake. Add pecans and I’m sold.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans


  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cup whole pecans


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps orange juice

4 mixing bowls

Bundt pan, greased and floured

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure the mixture if fully combined.

For the streusel, crumble the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl (I use a fork or pastry cutter). Gently mix in pecans.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together, adding a more OJ if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.




Dinner Menu: Spicy Potato Soup and Gooey Chocolate Treat

Spicy Potato Soup_Snap2Well, in parts of the Front Range there was 10 inches of snow. Here…rain. Bixby was disappointed but I was not. Still cold enough to keep the soups going.

I rifled through my files and decided on another soup for the dinner menu this week:

When the cold weather hits, it is great to hunker down with some hot soup, buttery biscuits and finish with some melt-in-your-mouth cake warm from the oven. This is my go-to potato soup, over the traditional cream of potato soup; I like the spiciness and the sautéed onions add a deep, rich flavor. The garlic biscuits are a nice complement to the soup. I was going to find a healthy dessert for tonight, but then thought to heck with it, it’s cold and we need chocolate.  Rich, gooey, chocolaty goodness.

JeffW's awesome biscuit photo. So beautiful I wouldn't even try to compete with my own.

JeffW’s awesome biscuit photo.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Potato Soup
  2. Garlic Biscuits
  3. Salad
  4. Mocha Cake

Spicy Potato Soup

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage, browned and drained
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (opt)
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes, well scrubbed, unpeeled and cubed
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, about five minutes. Add sausage, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, garlic, broth, & potatoes. Mix milk & flour, add. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until potatoes are soft. If it’s too thick, add water. With a potato masher, slightly mash a few of the potatoes. Serve with cheese to garnish.

Garlic Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp buttermilk powder*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup milk*

bowl and baking sheet or cast iron skillet, greased

I prefer using butter over shortening because it gives the biscuits a buttery, garlic flavor that is irresistible.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter, stir in garlic, add milk. Stir quickly with a fork until completely moistened, don’t over mix. Knead gently on floured surface for 10-12 strokes. Roll out to ½ inch thick, cut into biscuits. Place on baking sheet or cast iron skillet, and bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

*or substitute 1 cup buttermilk,  then omitting buttermilk powder and milk.

Mocha Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee**
  • 8×8 inch baking dish, lightly oiled

Preheat oven to 350°

This is a pudding style cake, so you don’t want to over bake it. You’ll serve it warm and directly from the pan. When you cut into it a thick, gooey chocolate center will be revealed.

From the top list: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Combine milk, oil, & vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir well. Pour batter into baking dish. From the bottom list: combine sugar & cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir. Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched, do not over bake.

** for a stronger coffee flavor, double the ground coffee to water ratio, or use espresso.

Shopping list:

  • Salad fixin’s
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes (russets work best)
  • 5-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • Coffee or espresso to make 1 strong cup

Also: flour, sugar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, cayenne, salt, pepper, baking powder, oil, vanilla

Originally posted on February 2011


A Family of Talented Bakers


I have Aunts and Uncles who love to bake elaborate cakes for birthdays and other occasions. I was unaware it had filtered down to my cousins. Clearly it did not filter down to me. I thought I’d share the latest creation, which I thought was stunning. My cousin Bret made it for his niece, Harper.


Each layer looked delicious.


So very, very cute.


I’d say it was a success.  Can’t wait to see the next one.


Which turned out to be the next day, for his seven year old son. Per his request, Batman!

My cousins Bret (left) and Eric (right)

My cousins Bret (left – baker) and Eric (right – father of the birthday girl)





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