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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



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


Friday Recipe Exchange: Bourbon Beef Stew

Bourbon Beef Stew

Just got back from an awesome play date for Bixby and lunch with friends for me. It sounds like we are in for a big snow storm next week and I am not ready. But the weekend is supposed to be nice, so we’ll get out and enjoy it while we can.

Speaking of snow, we had our first real snow this week, along with thunder, wind and rain. Although the inch of snow is long gone, the temperatures stayed cold enough for several days to make soups and stews the recipes of choice this week.

I began the week out by making Cream of Chicken Soup, recipe here.

Next up, the weekly dinner menu was Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese, full menu, recipes and shopping list are all here.

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JeffreyW went with the ultimate comfort food (above), Baked Macaroni and Cheese, click here.

And if you want to spice things up, my friend Alton (not that one) makes Carne en su Jugo, recipe here –  there is also a full dinner menu and recipes at that link.

For the pet lovers, there is a Bixby update this week – he discovered piles of fall leaves.

How is your Friday the 13th going? What’s on your menu this weekend? We have a new movie theater opening, so that and a pottery show are on the agenda here. Are there good things cooking in your kitchen? Share your favorite soups and stews, I can always use something new for my recipe box. Especially with more cold on the way.

For tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at the top of the post), I played around with my basic stew recipe to make it bit more fun when friends came over for dinner this week. I didn’t have any wine handy, but always keep a bottle of good whisky in the pantry, so that became the little something extra for this one.

Bourbon Beef Stew

  • 1 lb chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (more as desired)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga or parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

skillet, dutch oven or slow cooker

Trim fat from chuck roast and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add beef and quickly brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add beef and garlic to dutch over or slow cooker. Deglaze skillet and add liquid to the beef mixture.

Add bourbon, vegetables, bay leaf and then add enough water to cover everything.

For stove top, bring to a low boil and stir occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low cover and cook for 1 hour (longer will give you more flavor – reduce heat to low after 1 hour).  Stir occasionally.

For slow cooker – cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Then add the thickening sauce (below) and cook on high, uncovered, until thickened.

To thicken, heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1/4 quarter cup flour in skillet, stirring constantly until the flour is golden. Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup broth from the stew until smooth. Whisk mixture into the stew, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until stew is thickened. Reduced heat and let simmer 10 minutes and serve.

That’s it for this week. Have a terrific weekend – TaMara








Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and a Couple of Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

This is one of my favorite menus, perfect for a chilly week.

For a different take on grilled cheese, JeffreyW makes Inside Out Grilled Cheese here.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009


Snow Is Gonna Fly So It’s a Cream of Chicken Soup Night

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They are predicting a quick hitting snow storm for tonight and tomorrow with some locations having blizzard-like conditions. Seemed like a good time to make a batch of soup.

Because I have a vita-mix,  most of the soups I make start with a thick vegetable broth. It gives a great depth of flavor. It’s also chocked full of nutrients and anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t eat enough vegetables, so I do what I can to up my daily veggies. But you may not want to go to that trouble, so you can substitute 4 cups of chicken broth for the vegetable broth in the recipe below.

Cream of Chicken Soup


  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 2 stalks celery (with leaves), rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped (or frozen sliced)
  • 1 cup cut green beans (I use frozen)
  • 4 cups of water


  • 2 skinless chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless, doesn’t matter it will be shredded)


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk


  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

small saucepan, dutch oven or large saucepan, blender

Stock: In the blender, add rough chopped carrots, celery and green beans, spices, 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Add to dutch oven or saucepan.

Add chicken breasts and 2 additional cups of water to the saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Add diced carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the liquid and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender crisp.

While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in the saucepan, add onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Whisk in flour and cook about 2 minutes or more. Turn the heat up to medium-high, slowly stir in milk and bring to a low boil, whisking until thickened. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to use two forks and pull across the grain of the meat in different directions. You can then use your fingers to break apart any large pieces.

Once the vegetables are tender crisp, whisk in the white sauce and then stir in the chicken. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve with parsley garnish.

Makes about 6 cups.


Friday Recipe Exchange: Brought To You By Butter

Mmm, Dinner FinalTonight friends are coming over for dinner, so this will be a modified recipe exchange featuring the recipes from tonight’s menu. When I was putting together the shopping list I realized butter was making an appearance in a big way. I usually go through about a pound of butter every two or more months. I cook mostly with olive oil and unless I’m baking sweets the butter languishes in the freezer. Tonight I anticipate going through almost three-quarters of a pound. No one said it was going to be a low-cal night.

Skillet Cookies

As promised, here is a photo of the cute little skillet cookies. I had to make a test batch for cooking times. Sometimes the trickiest part of a dinner party is timing everything out. They are going to be warm from the oven for cookie sundaes. It’s a good thing I tested – needed to double the amount of cookie dough per pan and additional baking time.

Cookie sundae

I think the sundaes will be a hit. I’m not gonna lie, the test sundae was yummy.

Pictured at the top of the post is fairly close to the rest of what I am planning tonight.  Here are the recipes:

Buttered Potato Pie – click here (and there is an entire menu, recipes and shopping list at that link)

Roasted Asparagus (still debating on adding the cheese or not) – click here.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookiesclick here

The appetizer is going to be fresh baked bread with a variety of dips, including roasted garlic, which is in the oven right now and making the house smell delicious, and there will be a side salad.

If you’ve been around a while, you’ll notice these are recipes I’ve made on several other occasions. I wanted tonight to be pretty casual, so items I’m very familiar with and can make without ever consulting the recipes, means I can spend more time with friends and less time stressing about presentation. Also, each recipe is a favorite of one person or another, so added bonus.

Ok, you’re on your own tonight. What’s on the menu? Are you prepared for the Halloween onslaught? I dread the leftover candy, how about you?

I almost forgot, there was a Bixby update this week for the pet lovers.

Finally, here is the main dish of the evening. It’s usually served over buttered noodles, but the potatoes are a favorite and worked well the last time I paired them with the chicken, so I didn’t hesitate to do it again. Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules.

Tonight’s feature recipe:

Chicken Piccata

  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into very thin slices*
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh snipped parsley
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

bowl, skillet

Combine breadcrumbs, basil, zest, and pepper in bowl. Mix ½ tbsp oil and garlic together. Coat both sides of chicken with oil/garlic and dredge in breadcrumbs. Over medium-high heat 1 tbsp ea. of butter and oil in skillet, add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken – keep warm – add lemon slices to pan, sauté 30 seconds, add water, parsley and juice, boil for 1 minute, spoon over chicken.

*Scrub well before slicing.

Just for fun, JeffreyW has a bit more traditional take on this recipe here.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, stay safe and don’t let the goblins get you – TaMara





Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s in the Pantry?

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The sun is peaking through the clouds after two days of excellent rain. A little thunder, a steady drizzle and snow in the mountains, perfect Colorado fall.

Tonight’s recipe exchange was prompted by a friend of mine who recently lost her husband. I was working at her house and she asked me to come into the kitchen and began going through her pantry, freezer and refrigerator and filling a bag for me with things she didn’t think she’d be able to use. She doesn’t really like to cook much and cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s when I had an idea. I asked her if I could come over every once in a while and cook for her and use up a lot of these amazing ingredients. Her husband was a bit of gourmet, so the whole kitchen is filled with mouth-watering things.

What sold her on the idea was my desire to just pop in, look around the kitchen and come up with something on the spot based on what ingredients sparked my imagination. She thought that sounded like fun and I agree. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is using the black rice. I’ve never cooked with it before.

So for tonight, I went looking through my recipe files to find the ones that started out as a “whatever is in the pantry” meals. They are rarely the same thing twice, but I put the basics in a recipe.

Here are a few:

Pineapple and Bacon Fried Rice is one of the reasons I keep Ponzu Sauce on hand. Click here for that recipe and click here to see all of JeffreyW’s photos and recipes for a variety of fried rice dishes (including the one pictured above).

Pasta is always a great base for a quick dinner.  Here is my Pasta Rustica, (basic recipe here), that can include any number of items from your vegetable drawer or freezer.

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Of course JeffreyW has a great photo of Beef and Broccoli. Yum.

Spicy Beef and Broccoli (click here) is one of my favorite dinners to make with sirloin. And it’s great if you forgot to take the meat out to thaw until late. There is also a full menu, recipes and shopping list at that link.

I thought I hated vegetables, until I had Stir Fried Vegetables in a Bread Bowl, (recipe here) at a local restaurant. Quick and easy, serve over rice or noodles if your basket weaving skills are minimal (that would be me).

Finally, the weekly dinner menu starts with a basic recipe that you can jazz up with whatever you have on hand, Beef Vegetable Soup and Apple Pumpkin Butter. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What are your go-to “raid the pantry” meals? Are there ingredients you always keep on hand for quick dinners? What’s on the menu for the weekend? I’m not sure there will be a recipe exchange next week, I’m hosting a dinner. Stay tuned…

For tonight’s featured recipe, I kept it as simple as it gets. If you can’t find pineapple salsa, JeffreyW has a recipe for it.

Frijoles Ananás

  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz pineapple salsa
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder (start with 1 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4  tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To serve:

  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 6 to 8 taco size tortillas, warmed


Add beans, salsa and spices to a saucepan, bring to a low boil for 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, add cilantro and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with cheese and tortillas.

If you want to make it a one-pot meal, add corn or cubed zucchini to the mix for a complete dinner. Serves 4 generously.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



Really Quick Dinners: Pasta Rustica

Scrolling through my recipes looking for ones I pulled together by rummaging around the pantry, freezer and refrigerator and came up with this one. Quick, easy and versatile.

Pasta Rustica

  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine pasta
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 4 green onions
  • ½ tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ lb sliced pepperoni or ¼ lb cubed turkey

saucepan, large skillet

Fill saucepan with water and bring to a boil.

Chop tomatoes, pepper and green onions (use greens and whites).  Heat oil in skillet, add onions, garlic and pepper, sauté until onions are golden, careful not to let garlic burn.  Add pepperoni and turkey.  Let simmer on medium to low medium heat.

Add pasta to water while ingredients simmer in skillet.  Cook according to pkg. instructions.

Once pasta is al dente, add tomatoes to skillet, sauté 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or pasta spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, letting most of the water drain before transferring. There should be just enough water on the pasta to create a nice sauce. If it seems too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water. Stir and serve with grated Parmesan.



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