Happy New Years!

I love traditions, especially ones that involve food! This year, we did the same thing as last year (all most previous years) by making my favorite Black-Eyed Pea Soup. I like the soup better than just plain peas, plus, we add a lot of meat to it. This year we added 1 lb of beer braut German sausage and about 6 slices of bacon. We also used a handful of peppers from our last batch of peppers we picked on our plants before we cut them down. They were all very small and a mix of jalapeno, poblano and serrano peppers.

New Year Day black-eyed pea soup

New Years Day black-eyed pea soup

We also tried something new today – baking cookies from scratch. Curt found some whole-wheat pastry flour at the store and was going crazy waiting to find something to do with it. Well, he ended up making Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. They turned out really good, especially for a first attempt.

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the newness category, we also made homemade biscuits from scratch. I know, this isn’t anything special, but it was both of ours first attempt at biscuits from scratch. I’ve only made them from the pre-made rolls that you buy in the store. It was easier than we thought so we made two batches. The first is a buttermilk biscuit and the second was the standard regular biscuit recipe on the flour package.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

Homemade biscuits, buttermilk on the left, regular milk on the right.

I hope you have a great new year and aren’t afraid to try new things but still hold true to the traditions that make you who you are.


Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

This recipe is a variation of the Tomatillo Green Sauce that I posted a few years ago. In this one, you don’t need a grill and you still get a great sauce. For our broth, we used a home-made broth that we made with the bones from a smoked turkey. I love the smokey flavor that comes from a broth like this. You can use whatever broth you want. The peppers we used are all from the last harvest from our plants that we picked just before our first freeze. A lot of the peppers were pretty small so we wanted to use them up before they go bad.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce


  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
  • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 small (or 1 large) green bell peppers
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only
  • 1 cup of chicken or turkey broth
  • Zest and juice of 2 lime


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the seeds from the poblano peppers and bell peppers. Also, since the seeds and inner membrane contain the heat, remove the seeds from some of the jalapeno peppers. We leave the seeds in 2 of the jalapeno peppers to keep some heat in the final sauce.

I will note that we cooked our peppers first and this made removing the seeds harder. The peppers get slimy and the seeds stick to the cooked peppers so make it easier on yourself and remove the seeds before cooking.

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers

Roasted jalapeno, poblano and bell peppers. As you can see, we are in the process of removing the seeds from the roasted peppers. It would have been much easier to remove them before we roasted them.

Once you’ve taken the seeds out of the peppers, put the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, poblano peppers and onion into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. We put about a teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Prepare your baking sheet by putting a layer of foil on it and giving the foil a light coating of olive oil. With all the vegetables coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper, spread them onto your baking sheet in an even layer. Take care to make sure the cut halves of the tomatillos are facing up. This will keep all (or most) of the juices from the tomatillos from spilling out.

Tomatillos, jalapenos, poblanos, bell peppers, onions and garlic before being roasted.

This is our baking sheet with all the vegetables spread out before we put them in the oven to roast. Notice that the cut sides of the tomatillos are facing up. This keeps the juices from spilling out and making a mess.

Place the baking sheet in the center of your oven and roast until the vegetables are soft. This will probably take at least 20 minutes but might be longer. Ours took about 30 minutes until the tomatillos were soft.

Once roasted, put the vegetables into a large pot or dutch oven. Add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and broth. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven.

Here are the tomatillos, onions, garlic and cilantro in our dutch oven. At the time, we were getting the seeds out of the peppers.

Now, use your immersion blender to turn this into a sauce. You can use a food processor or blender if you don’t have an immersion blender.

The immersion blender while making the tomatillo sauce.

Here is sauce while we were using the immersion blender. I hope you can tell it’s pretty liquefied with just a little amount of chunks.

Once it is cooled, you’ll have a great sauce for chips or using as a base in Mexican dish. We’ll be mixing ours with grilled pork for a pork stew.

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Our Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

You can use it immediately, store it in the refrigerator for a few days or put it into a freezer bag and freeze it for a later day.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

This twist on a classic pie comes from our realtor’s monthly magazine, American Lifestyle. We decided to add the bourbon to kick it up a notch. It’s the holiday season, so why not take it over the top! The bacon is really the cool element and it really adds an interesting flavor to this pie. In our recipe, we used a light maple syrup instead of the dark. I think the dark will be better but it did taste great. We also over chopped the walnuts and it probably would be better to have the larger pieces of a courser chop for some texture in the pie.

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie

Bacon-Maple-Bourbon Walnut Pie


For the crust:

  • 4 ounces of thin-cut bacon slices
  • 5 tablespoons of solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of very cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

For the filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of dark maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups of coarse chopped walnuts


Preheat your over to 350 degrees.

First, make the crust. It’s a simple process similar to the patte brise, except you add BACON! Start by frying the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until they crisp. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Once crisp, transfer the cooked bacon slices to a paper towel. Now, save the bacon fat from the pan. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and then put the rest of the leftover bacon fat into a heat-safe measuring cup. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then add in enough shortening so the total volume is 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons).

Now that the bacon fat and shortening are ready, pour your flour into a bowl and add the fat from your measuring cup.  Cut this in with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse cornmeal.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cold water and the vinegar together and then add to the flour mixture until a soft, non-sticky dough forms. Form the dough into a ball, dust it with flour and roll into an 11 inch circle. Place a pie plate in the center and trim the edges.

Now that the pie dough is ready, start on your filling. Beat the eggs together with maple syrup, sugars and vanilla extract into a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. Mix in the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat and the bourbon.

Crumble the bacon into small pieces in the bowl. Stir in the walnuts and then pour the filling into the pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, until puffy and brown. There should only be a slight jiggle in the center. Let cool before slicing.


Fennel, Onion & Sausage with Penne

This post is long over due. We fell in love with fennel over this past summer. We were at the farmer’s market and went to the booth of our favorite farmer. We always get peppers from him because he has the best variety, especially the shishito peppers. He talked us into getting a couple really large pieces of fennel. We didn’t know what to do with it but said “OK” and took some home with us. As luck would have it, later that weekend we saw an episode of Lidia’s Italy using fennel in a sauce with sausage and serving it with ziti pasta. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe so we tried it, and really liked it. It’s amazing how much the fennel changes when you saute it.

We’ve adjusted this recipe from Lidia’s, just because we can. You can find the original recipe on Lidia’s website. The original recipe calls for a pound of pasta but we find that 1/2 pound is plenty and allows the fennel and sausage to be the stars of the dish. Plus, it gives plenty of pasta for 2 grown men to have dinner and have some left overs for lunch on a later day. We also like using the sliced link sausage instead of ground sausage for the same reason. We usually get the best sausage we can get. This time we’re using Hot Chicken Italian Sausage. We served this with steamed summer squash with red pepper flakes.


Fennel Sausage Pasta


  • Salt for the pasta water
  • 1/2 pound penne
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, we use linked sausage
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into half-moon slices
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or pecorino cheese


Heat a pot of water to a boil and add the sausage. Parboil the sausage for 5 minutes and then put it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking it. It would be just as tasty grilling the sausage.

Save the water and use it for the pasta. Skim the water to remove the fat floating at the top and add some fresh water to get enough for your pasta. Heat the water back to a boil and then cook your penne following the directions on your package. Reserve 3 cups of the pasta water to add later for the sauce.

To prepare the fennel, trim the bulb and remove any tough outer parts. Reserve the fronds. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise, remove the core and then slice each half in 1/4 inch thick lengthwise slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the bottom and then cut the long slivers in half, so you have about 3 cups of 2 inch long slices of fennel.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until they sizzle and wilt. Next, add the fennel and cook for another minute or two. Once the fennel has started to soften, add the garlic. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon if salt and the red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Now, push the onion & fennel to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste in the spot you added it to for a minute or two until it is sizzling, then stir it in with everything else.

By  now your sausage should be finished cooking. Slice your sausage links into 1/4 inch slices and then add it to the mixture in your skillet.

Ladle in the reserved pasta water and stir well. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the mixture cook until the flavors meld and the sauce is thickened, about 6 minutes. Add more water if the sauce reduces too rapidly.

Add the cooked penne into the sauce and gently fold it into the sauce. Allow it to meld for few minutes. Now add the fennel fronds and mix it into the sauce.

Once it is ready, sprinkle on the cheese and allow it to melt. Then serve into warm pasta bowls.


Our pasta cooking in the pot


Thanksgiving dinner

Let’s state the obvious, I love Thanksgiving, especially the foods associated with this holiday. Just to be clear, I’m talking about the US Thanksgiving holiday on the 4th Thursday of November. In Texas, it’s usually just starting to get cool enough to feel like autumn and really start enjoying the hearty cold-weather foods. Plus, you’ve got the flavors that start showing up in autumn. Pumpkin. Butternut squash.

Basically, the whole idea of this blog came about because of Thanksgiving recipes. We went to visit Curt’s family in California and he couldn’t find the recipe for the stuffing that we liked and I got the idea of saving it online. This was way before social media or online storage so I created a personal website on Time Warner Cable’s system where they let you create a little personal site. When they killed that program, I brought it to WordPress.

Here is our a list of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and we do most of them every year.

TURKEY – we used to brine and roast the turkey every year. However, last year we bought an electric smoker and we smoked a turkey (OK, 3 of them) last year. We’re going to smoke some more this year.

DRESSING – this cornbread dressing is our favorite. In fact, all other normal, traditional ones taste so bland after this cornbread, chorizo, butternut squash recipe.

Green bean casserole – this one is best when made with all fresh ingredients. Yes, it OK with canned green beans but it’s so much better with fresh bean like in this Green Bean Casserole.

DESSERT – Neither of us are big dessert fans but one of my favorites is pecan pie. However, it’s so sweet, I can only eat a small piece. Curt found a recipe for 1/2 pecan pie and 1/2 pumpkin pie. It’s a great mix of the two pies and kind of the best of both. I’ve never posted that recipe so once I do, I’ll add a link to it here.

The whole point of this post is that I hope everyone who reads this has a great Thanksgiving with great food, but more importantly, with great family and friends to share it with. The best part of spending so much time in the kitchen making great food is sharing it with people who are important to you.

Happy Thanksgiving from our table to yours!


Spicy Garlic Aioli

A lot of the cooking shows have someone preparing an aioli and it always seems risky. I know there are only a few ingredients but they frequently separate and it seems intimating to home cooks like us. This recipe comes from a necessity in that we ran out of mayo and I wanted a sauce to go with roasted brussel sprouts and grilled asparagus. I found a bunch of recipes online but the “simple” aioli recipes used mayonnaise as a base. I found a recipe that said it is a simple 2 minute aioli, so I went for it. I did spice it up with Sriracha sauce but everything else is the same. I always thought making an aioli was complicated and risky but doing it this way makes it so easy.

The original recipe states that you shouldn’t use the immersion blender with the extra virgin olive oil because it can become bitter. The other note is that for the 1/2 cup of lighter oil, you can use light olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil. We chose to use vegetable oil because that’s what we have most at hand and it turned out great.

For this recipe, you will need an immersion blender with a cup attachment in order for this to turn out right. The original recipe has instructions for using a blender but I haven’t tried that method so I can’t endorse it.


  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of light oil – use light olive oil, vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon  Sriracha pepper sauce
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Put the egg, garlic and lemon juice in the mixing cup and let it settle for a few seconds. Then, add the light oil. Put the immersion blender in the cup at the bottom and turn it on. As the cream forms, tilt the cup to make sure all the oil gets emulsified. This happened a lot faster than I was expecting.

Transfer the aioli to a medium bowl. Start whisking the aioli and slowly drizzle in the exra virgin olive oil and then the Sriracha. This should just take a few seconds. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

We drizzled the aioli over grilled asparagus and then the next day, used it as a spread for sandwiches. You can cut back or completely eliminate the Sriracha sauce depending on how you’ll be using it.



Fusion Hot Pepper Sauce

Here’s an interesting hot sauce from one of the bloggers I follow in Italy. I can’t wait to try this one out.

Being Britalian

Each year I grow hot Italian chillies and as I harvest them I sun-dry them in batches for use throughout the year. Once dried they store in an airtight jar for a year or so. Just make sure when you pick some out that your fingers are dry, a tiny drop of water in the jar will spoil them. As my chillies in the orto are almost ready to harvest I decide to use up some of last years to make way for the new crop.

I’ve also been growing some Jamaican Scotch Bonnets, the plant is in its second year and after a not so good season last year, I took advice and potted it up to restrict the roots and it’s bearing lots of bright orange fruits this year. So using these two varieties I thought I’d create a Caribbean-Italian fusion hot pepper sauce.

The ingredients I used…

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