Blog Archives

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



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: Pastas and Sauces

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

I did not step in my kitchen this week, except to put together a salad or reheat some (homemade) soup. Allergies, pets, friends and work ate away all my time and energy. So for tonight I went into the archives and combined a couple of exchanges to come up with tonight’s recipes.

Let’s start out with JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce (recipe here) because, well, it’s awesome.

Want something a little simpler and quicker? How about his San Marzano Sauce, click here.

And his Shrimp & Pasta Formaggio (here) is a quick and easy alternative to red sauce.

When everything is in season, I like to make my sauce with fresh ingredients, so I have a Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce (recipe here) that’s lighter and fresher than tonight’s featured recipe.

If you like meatballs with your favorite sauce, my favorite recipe (pictured above) is here and also at that link are several other styles of meatballs from JeffreyW, so you should find something you like.

When it comes to pastas, I favor two options, a nice spiral (fusilli or rotini) or a quick cooking Angel Hair (capellini), but if I can get it fresh from the farmer’s market, I’ll take what I can get, which is usually a linguine. It’s all tasty.

Now sauces can be risky and start a great debate, because every family has their version. So hit the comments with your favorite pasta sauce recipe, and for that matter, pastas, because there are so many choices. Like many things, I’m not all that concerned about the right pasta for the right sauce, I say, use what you enjoy and ignore the purists.

Food should be fun. For that matter, so should wine, beer and scotch. What’s on your plate this weekend?

_DSC5118 [1024x768]

For the featured recipe, I went with my traditional family sauce, the one I grew up with, but with a few tweaks. Now, even in my family, half of which are Italian, even the most basic sauce has as many different variations as there are cooks, so this is just a place to start, add your own touches to make it your family tradition. This is a hearty sauce and my go-to in the colder months when fresh ingredients are not readily available. I always double this and freeze half for a later dinner.

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or 1/2 beef and 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one – I prefer the carrot, myself.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (opt) to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

For the full menu that I created for this recipe, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.

That’s it for this week. I’m thinking apples next week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



Dinner Menu: Cranberry Grilled Chicken

Cranberry Chicken 3_Snapseed2

Continuing  my week of highlighting recipes that have low salt content. This homemade sauce is tangy and sweet, plenty of flavor without added salt. To reduce salt even more, use low-sodium ketchup (or homemade ketchup) and a dash of red wine vinegar. Hoping to get a Bixby update later today.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cranberry Chicken
  2. Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower
  3. Steamed Rice (I like Jasmine with this menu)
  4. Ice Cream Sundaes

Cranberry Chicken

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*

9×9 glass baking dish, greased and skillet

Heat butter in skillet, sauté onions until golden brown. Arrange breasts in one layer in baking dish. Mix together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, mustard & onions. In a blender, coarsely chop cranberries and add to sauce mixture. Spoon over chicken. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, until chicken is 180° in center.

*As anyone who reads the blog knows,  I keep cranberries in the freezer, having stocked up during the holidays. If you can’t find whole cranberries, use whole, canned and omit the brown sugar.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp curry
  • 1 tsp salt- or substitute 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon, quartered


Add cauliflower, 1 inch of water and ¼ cup lemon juice in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is just tender. Drain. In saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter, sauté onion until golden, then add flour, stirring until smooth. Add milk, seasonings & cheese, stir until well mixed and smooth. Add cauliflower, stir well. Reduce heat and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Serve with lemon.   The lemon in this really brightens the flavor.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*
  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 oz milk
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon
  • rice
  • 1 quart favorite ice cream
  • Sundae toppings

Also: butter, flour, curry, salt, red wine vinegar

Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up Some Steaks

DSC_4803 [1600x1200]

JeffreyW is always making magic with steak. Here he shows off his Cheesesteak.

A big work project came up this week, as a result I have barely been in my kitchen. So for the featured recipe, I pulled up one of my prettier projects, Flank Steak Pinwheels. Not as much effort as it looks. Although I save them for special occasions.

If you’d like something with a bit less work, how about a Spicy Grilled Flank Steak? (Recipe here)

JeffreyW whips up some Cheesesteak Sandwiches (instructions and photos here)

This week’s dinner menu is Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub and Blueberry Coffeecake (menu, recipes and shopping lists here).

No real Bixby update this week, but I did finally receive and assemble my new motorized standing desk. It fascinates him, so of course there is video here.

What’s on your plate for this last weekend (how did that happen) of August? Are you sad summer waning or is fall more your season? Most importantly, whatcha cookin’?

Flank Pinwheel Prep Final

This steak can be prepped the day before, just wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap. Makes it great for a date night, anniversary or small dinner party. I pan-seared and finished in the oven because with the cheese, I thought grilling them wouldn’t work as well. The reward was great pan drippings when I was finished, which I drizzled over the potatoes before serving. If I was going to grill, I’d probably use a grilling pan to avoid flareups.

Flank Steak Pinwheels Final

Flank Steak Pinwheels

  • 1 large flank steak, butterflied
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed garlic (at least 2 cloves)
  • 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 bunch washed and dried spinach leaves
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • olive oil

Cast iron or oven proof skillet

You can ask the butcher to butterfly your flank steak, which  is what I did. But it’s fairly easy to butterfly. You want the grain running up and down in front of you and then you’ll slice it in half, NOT slicing all the way through. When you’re done you’ll lay it open, flat, basically making a larger, thinner steak.

Once you have it laid out flat in front of you with the grain running left to right, you’ll want to tenderize it, pounding it flat. I use my pronged Tenderizertenderizer, so I add the spices first and use the tenderizer to help infuse the meat.

If you haven’t already, once it’s pounded, add salt, pepper and garlic evenly over the meat. Layer the spinach over the meat. You want it to be several leaves thick, because it will reduce as it cooks.

Next layer the provolone cheese slices, two to three slices thick, over the meat.

Now it’s time to roll.  Roll tightly in the direction of the grain. Add a skewer every 2 inches and then slice between the skewers, so you have 2-inch thick pinwheels.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil in large skillet, reduce heat to med-high and add pinwheels, flat-side down. After a minute, using the skewer (you may also need a metal spatula to get all the cheesy goodness) flip over, sear additional minute.  The usual method of waiting until the meat moves easily to flip will not work with this because the cheese is sticky. So just do one minute each side, it will be fine.

Place the skillet in the oven, turn the oven off and let the steak finish for 10-15 minutes for medium rare. These are thin and don’t need a lot of cooking time and you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes.  You can then use the great juices in the skillet to make a gravy if desired. I just drizzled them over the steak and potatoes right before serving.

My steak made 4 pinwheels. If you have more, you may need to finish cooking on a baking sheet after searing them in groups.

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend, I’m sad to see August go, but fall in Colorado is stunning. – TaMara

Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub and Blueberry Coffeecake

Blueberry Coffee CakeBeen busy with my new motorized standing desk. I haven’t even stepped in the kitchen today. Had to put the desk together, then actually get some work done. I’ll post more about it tomorrow, it’s very cool. Until then, here is one of my most requested recipes:

From August 2013

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Mix together all spices. Lightly rub each steak with oil and then coat liberally on both sides with coffee rub. Now you can cook in a pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat, 5 to 7 minutes each side for medium rare. You can broil in the oven, using the second slot down from broiler, for 5 minutes each side, again for rare to medium rare, longer for medium. Or if you’re lucky (sigh) you can grill them outside. Cooking times will vary no matter which style you choose, so watch carefully and you’ll probably have to use a meat thermometer to really judge, because the rub makes it a little harder to eyeball it. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Green Beans w/Bacon & Onions

  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans (if fresh, snap off ends and snap into smaller pieces)
  • 2 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Sm. Saucepan, steamer and Skillet

Steam beans until slightly crisp, but tender. While beans are steaming, begin browning bacon until crisp. You can drain most of the bacon drippings, leaving 1 tbsp to lightly coat beans. Add onions. Drain beans and dab with a paper towel. Add to bacon mixture, mixing well, until beans are coated in bacon drippings. Cook on medium-low for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are heated through.

Blueberry CoffeeCake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder (or 1 cup butter milk  & omit water)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz frozen blueberries


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup flour

8×8 baking dish, greased

2 bowls

In bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk and mix well. Make a well in the center add egg, water & oil. Stir quickly until all everything is mixed well, but don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries. Spread batter evenly in baking dish. In bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of batter. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Shopping List:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (a good one)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 4 green onions
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder or 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg
  • 8 oz blueberries

Also: brown sugar, butter, flour, vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, baking powder, sugar, fresh ground pepper


Friday Recipe Exchange: On The Road

_DSC9406 [1024x768]

An unexpected family event means I’m on the road this week camped out at my brother’s house. So while everyone is at work and school I’m putting together dinner tonight.

I brought peaches from Palisades, but they will not make it into a recipe, they are too good by themselves and I didn’t have enough room (thanks Bixby) to bring an entire flat with me. But they are still the main ingredient in tonight’s featured recipes.

Speaking of peaches, Mrs. J’s Famous Peach Pie is pictured above and the recipe is here.

And if you have the grill going anyway, throw some peaches on for Grilled Peaches (recipe here)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m making Chipotle-Orange Glaze Grilled Chicken (recipe here), Cucumber-Tomato Salad (our traditional family style recipe here) and of course grilled corn steamed rice (someone forgot the corn on the way home from work).

For the pet lovers, Bixby had quite the adventures last week as a bunch of us celebrated my birthday. He wishes every week was like that. You can read about it here.

How’d your week go? Any fun plans on the menu this weekend? Anyone heading out to a state fair and want to report back on what they’re trying to deep fry this year? Share your tales of gastric adventures.

Peaches and Strawberries 2

For tonight’s featured recipes, I’m posting two of my favorites to make when the peach basket overflows with Palisade Peach bounty. They are great with grilled chicken or pork, and the salsa makes a great side with fish.

Peach Salsa

  • 2 cups diced peeled peaches (2 to 3 peaches)
  • 4 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 medium lime
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced hot or mild green chile pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • dash ginger
  • dash garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon orange or pineapple juice
  • dash freshly ground black pepper

Mix together and let meld together for about 30 minutes or more before serving.

Peach Chutney

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp minced fresh
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste

small sauce pan

Add all ingredients to sauce pan, heat to boiling – stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until slightly thickened.

That’s it for this week. Excuse me while I try to figure out how to turn down the heat on the Chipotle-Orange glaze before my family disowns me.  Whimps – TaMara




Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilled Herb Steak Tacos

DSC_6746 [1600x1060]

I was planning to put together a salad for dinner on Wednesday after a long day, but when I looked around I had all the ingredients for tacos and that inspired both dinner that night and tonight’s recipe exchange.

For my tacos that night, I used homemade fajita seasoning (recipe for seasoning and fajitas here) instead of packaged taco seasoning. The recipe makes a lot, so I always have some on hand.

On the taco front, not to be missed are JeffreyW’s awesome Fish Tacos (pictured above, recipe and photo directions here).

Earlier in the week, an excellent and creamy, sharp goat cheese was the center piece of my Stuffed Burgers (recipe here) for dinner. So easy to make and full of juicy flavor.

The Dinner Menu was a given, since Olathe Sweet Corn finally arrived in stores. This menu was also the first one I put together many years ago, because it was and still is, a summer staple. Menu, recipes and shopping lists here.

For the pet lovers, here’s Bixby awaiting our lunch guests and a bonus Greek Pasta Recipe.

With that I leave you to the comments. Tacos, burritos or fajitas, what’s your favorite? And what’s on your weekend menu as we move into the last month of summer?

Now for the featured recipe:

Grilled Herbed Steak for Tacos or Burritos

Notes: Serve with either corn or flour tortillas and stuff with fresh garden items, such as tomatoes, lettuce, diced zucchini, grilled corn, and top with Fresh Garden Salsa (recipe here). And if you don’t like cilantro, there are alternatives offered at the bottom of the recipe.

Herb Paste

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves*
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 medium jalapeno, quartered – remove veins and seeds for milder, otherwise, use it all
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh limejuice

Pulse in a food processor or blender, cilantro, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, and cumin until finely chopped. Add oil and process until mixture is smooth and resembles pesto. Transfer 2 tbsps of the herb paste to medium bowl; whisk in lime juice and set aside.


  • 2 lbs flank steak – cut lengthwise (with grain) into 4 equal pieces (cooks quicker this way)
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Using dinner fork or tenderizer, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place in large baking dish; rub all sides of steak pieces with salt and then coat with remaining herb paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before cooking.

To cook: Scrape excess herb paste off steak and sprinkle all sides of pieces evenly with sugar and pepper. Sear steak pieces on the grill for 3 minutes, then turn and grill the other side for 3 minutes. Continue to cook (don’t turn more than one more time) until internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees, usually an additional 2 to 7 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

To Serve: Using a carving knife, slice steak pieces across grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with herb paste-limejuice mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with tortillas and choice of vegetables, shredded cheese and salsa, etc. Garnish with additional limejuice if desired.

*If you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute celery leaves or fresh basil, or try a mixture of both.

That’s if for this week, have a terrific weekend – TaMara


Friday Recipe Exchange: Just a Little Salsa Flavor

Photo by JeffreyW

Photo by JeffreyW

I have lost my cooking mojo. I have a stash this <————> big of recipes I want to try and share with you, but every time I look at my kitchen I go,“meh”. So next week I’m going to begin blogging in a bit of a different way and hope it brings back enough creativity to overcome my kitchen ennui. I hope you’ll check in and see how it’s going. There will probably be plenty of notes on Bixby antics. He’s become quite the clown. Spoiler alert, he has a girlfriend.

Until I can rediscover my kitchen magic, here are some recipes from 2012 that take advantage of garden bounty:

I am not a fan of canning. When I am overrun by tomatoes, I lean more towards freezing bags of pureed cooked tomatoes to use in sauces and soups later on. I also love to make a batch of salsa each week when the produce is fresh. Since I was faced with an abundance of tomatoes this week, I felt it was time for some salsa.

I have a Vita-Mix, which means if I’m not paying attention, salsa quickly goes from chunky salsa to picante sauce in the blink of an eye. Tonight my first batch went to full juice before I realized what I was doing. I’ll pulse my next batch and pay closer attention. Not sure what I’m going to do with the juice – but it sure tastes good.

Tonight’s recipes are all about tomatoes and what to do with the bounty from the garden or farm stand. I bet everyone has a favorite salsa recipe, I like mine fresh and simple. JeffreyW has a good salsa recipe and a nice Salsa Verde in case you’re tired of tomatoes, recipe here. He also makes and cans batches of his Awesome Sauce™, recipe here.

I love tomato season – sliced on a plate, grilled with olive oil, pasta caprese salad (recipe here), or just going out to the garden and eating the grape tomatoes right off the vine.

Are tomatoes a summer favorite? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? Anyone (besides JeffreyW) canning? And I know you have some salsa recipes to share…

Featured tonight, salsa recipes:

TaMara Fresh Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ to 1 bunch cilantro, remove stems
  • 2 to 4 jalapenos*, remove stems
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • dash of limejuice if desired

blender or food processor

In blender or food processor, add all ingredients and coarsely chop until blended well**.  If you can make a day ahead, it gets even better.  Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

**If you prefer a chunkier style salsa, you’d be better off chopping vegetables by hand.

JeffreyW’s  Salsa:

DSC_7740 [1024x768]

(Oh, you wanted his recipe…)

Couple of the jalapenos, a smallish onion or two, those green peppers, and most of the tomatoes.  Added a couple of dried ancho peppers all snipped small, a dash of chili powder, a few garlic cloves, a good squirt of lime juice, a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper

(I think this is why I write the recipes and he takes the photos – both of us working to our strengths)

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


Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes and Peppers3

From May 2012. Updated with photo.

I know I promised to start a series on basic cooking techniques this week, but as I will explain later in the summer, my work situation is changing rapidly so this week has been consumed with those changes. Thursday’s recipe exchange ingredient is going to be potatoes, so I’m getting the ball rolling tonight with foil wrapped grilled potatoes and sweet peppers. Absolutely one of my favorite grilled vegetable recipes.  Yummy. Now I’m going to have to go make some.

Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes:

  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion (opt. Vidalia or Walla Walla sweets if they’re in season)
  • 4 lg. red potatoes (peeling opt)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • foil

Seed peppers.  Slice peppers & onions into thin rings.  Slice potatoes into thin slices.  Tear 4 sheets of foil, large enough to hold ¼ of all ingredients and fold over.  Add ¼ of peppers, onions & potatoes to each sheet of foil.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper, then drizzle over each serving.  Fold and seal foil.  Grill over medium heat (not directly over flame) for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender, flipping halfway through.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 737 other followers