Sausage and Stuffing balls

6 ounces dried stuffing mix

1 cup water

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 pound breakfast sausage

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the water to a boil. Add the stuffing mix. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit 10 minutes and then fluff using a fork. While waiting, sauté the diced onion in the butter until tender. This should take about 10 minutes. Mix the stuffing with uncooked sausage, cheese, and sautéed onions. Shape approximately 1 tablespoon of mix into a ball. Repeat. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. The freeze very well once baked and cooled.


Spinach and Chickpea Dijon Vinaigrette Salad

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 large English cucumber, diced

1 cup tomato, diced

1 large avocado, diced

1/2 red onion, peeled and diced

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 cup diced cheese – feta or queso fresco or similar

2 cups fresh spinach


1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake fully. Let sit for approximately 30 minutes before using. Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Top with dressing and mix fully. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Chickpea pesto pasta

This is amazing. I made the pesto from my garden basil. I have used the standard pine nuts as well as pecans. Both turned out fabulous but I think we really enjoyed the pecan version better. That recipe will follow shortly.

1/2-3/4 cup prepared pesto

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 pound pasta, cook al dente, cooled and drained

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh chopped green onion

Mix together the pesto and mayonnaise fully. Add in the parmesan. Finally, mix in the chickpeas and pasta.

The Perfect Dinner Rolls

I am not going to lie. It literally took me about 2 years and 40 recipe variations to perfect this. The consistency is flakey, buttery and irresistible. It is like a combination of a Parker house roll and Kings Hawaiian rolls. I made in the initial dough in the bread machine so it was pretty easy. The first 2 hours was all in the machine. I rolled them and then placed half them in the refrigerator to finish the second rise later in the day. The other half were rolled and frozen. I can use these another day after a de-thaw and rising.

4 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons quick rise yeast

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups warm (110 degree) whole milk

6 tablespoons butter – 5 softened and 1 melted to place on top of the rolls

1 egg

Place all of the ingredients in the bread machine based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Place it on a dough setting so that it will not cook in the machine.

This amount should make 24-26 rolls. Separate the dough into about 2 tablespoon portions (slightly less). Tuck the edges of the dough under in a circular manner until it forms a small ball. Place it seem side down and in a prepared baking pan or on parchment paper.

Allow this these to rise another 30 minutes covered. Preheat the over to 325 degrees while the oven is preheating. Bake uncovered for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the tops with melted butter in the last 1-2 minutes of cooking.

****If freezing the rolls, freeze them just after making the balls. Do not allow them to touch during freezing. Once frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag or vacuum sealed storage bag. When ready to use them, thaw them in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. Once ready to use them, place them in a warm area or bread proof oven for 30 minutes.

Borracho Beans – Drunken Beans

I promise that these are delicious and well worth the wait. The photos I took really do not do them justice. I recommend using a good Mexican style beer. These also take a long time to make but easily is enough for 3 dinners. I usually vacuum seal them and then freeze them to use later.

1 pound dried pinto beans, soak for at least 12 hours in water (overnight)

6 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2-3/4 cup rough chopped tomatoes – roma or cherry

2 medium onions, chopped

12 ounces beer

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

2 jalapenos, remove seeds and chop

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano

salt and pepper

Remove any floating or abnormal beans after soaking.

Place the beans in a large heavy bottom pot. Cover them with water by 2-3 inches. Bring this to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Allow these to cook for 1.5 hours.

In a separate skillet, fry the bacon until done. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Leave the grease in the skillet. Add the vegetables (garlic, tomatoes, onion, peppers). Cook for 10 minutes or until done. Return the bacon to the skillet. Add the can of beer. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the cilantro, cumin, and oregano.

Pour the bacon mixture into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for another 30-60 minutes. Covered. Remove and stop cooking when the beans are the texture you enjoy. Serve hot.

Onion rings

onion rings

I grew up in St. Louis. Everyone has one favorite item at each restaurant. My favorite at KC Masterpiece was the giant mound of crispy sweet onions on top of every meal. I think I perfected a perfect replica and I am really excited about them.

1 yellow onion thinly sliced

2-3 cups of whole milk

1/4 cup lemon juice or lime juice

2 cups all purpose flour

salt and pepper or seasoning to taste (I use a lot of cajun seasoning)

Thinly slice the onion. The thinner the better. Place the slices in a bowl. Cover them with milk and the lemon or lime juice. Let this sit for 30-45 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. Season the flour using salt and pepper. Dredge the onions. Make sure to coat them until they are fully dry to the touch with flour. Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Restaurant style red salsa

For this salsa, the spice level will really depend on the jalapeno that you purchase and also if you use the mild or regular Rotel. It is best if it sits for at least 8-12 hours before eating it.

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes, undrained

5-6 small Roma tomatoes

1/4 of a medium yellow onion

1 jalapeno seeded and rough chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili powder – (guajillo)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend to the desired consistency. Make sure to refrigerate the mixture for at least 8-12 hours before eating. Will keep for up to 1 week.

Fresh basil and tomato pasta salad

10 ounces pasta – whole wheat or not

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.

Place the pasta, tomatoes, corn, and fresh basil in a large bowl.

Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Once this is fully mixed, add the parmesan. Allow it to sit for 15-45 minutes before dressing the salad.

Leftover mashed potato balls

These are really like a homemade tater tot but with a different texture. Because they need to be frozen, it would be very easy to make them ahead of time and keep them frozen until needed. See the next photo for the texture inside. The kids really enjoyed them. My mom used to make potato pancakes or fritters. What I really enjoy about these (unlike the fritters) is the fluffy texture of the center.

3 cups leftover mashed potatoes

6 tablespoons egg whites

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

6 tablespoons parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

vegetable oil for frying

Mix the potatoes, egg whites, and flour until well mixed.

Place the panko crumbs and parmesan in a separate bowl. Take approximately 1 tablespoon of the potato mix and form it into a ball. It will be sticky. You wont want it dry. See my photos. Gently roll it in the panko to make it less sticky. Place the balls on a silpat lined baking sheet or on parchment paper.

Freeze the balls for at least 2 hours before frying.

Head the oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. Fry the potato balls for about 3-5 minutes each or until golden brown.

Tom Kha Gai Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, rough chopped

2 cloves garlic, rough chopped

1 whole jalapeño, rough chopped

3 1/4 inch slices of fresh ginger

1 lemongrass stalk or 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste

3 teaspoons red curry paste

4 cups chicken broth

2 cans of coconut milk (light is fine)

2 medium chicken breasts, thinly sliced

8 ounces of mushrooms (oyster or shitake)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 green onions, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice – 2 limes

fresh cilantro for garnish

In a large pot, head the oil over medium heat. Add the yellow onion, garlic, jalapeno, lemongrass, and curry paste. Cook about 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the chicken broth, continue to simmer for 30 minutes.

Now that there is a flavorful base, strain the broth and discard all of the onions, chili, lemongrass, and ginger. Replace the broth into the pot over low heat. Add in the coconut milk, chicken, fish sauce, mushrooms. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Add in lime juice, cilantro, and the green onions. Let sit 5 minutes and then serve.