Leftover and Some Left – Check these ideas out, Sarah Chesters!

A few days ago, I posted a pic and comment on cooing a pot roast on FaceBook. I received some complements and a few comments about pot roast nostalgia. There also was a request from my friend Sarah Chesters for ideas on what to do with left over pot roast because she, too cooks for one.

It all began with discovering a recipe a Peppery Beef Stew in the new issue of Cooking Light magazine. I wanted to try it because it had turnips and celery root and no potatoes among the vegetables. It was different from my usual pot roast or stew and it is a keeper recipe!

The recipe called it a stew. Starting with a 2+ chuck roast, I call it a pot roast!

Peppery Beef Stew with Root Vegetables
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb trimmed chuck roast (about 2-1/2 lb untrimmed)
2 tsp black pepper, divided
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups unsalted beef stock* 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted tomato paste** to recipe.
4 thyme springs
2 bay leaves
1 lb small turnips, peeled and cut into wedges (about 3 cups)
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1-1/4 lb celery root, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cubs fresh pearl onions, peeled, or thawed frozen pearl onions (about 8 oz)***
1 cup water
2 Tbsp chopped flat leave parsley
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high. Sprinkle roast with ½ tsp pepper and ½ tsp salt.  Add roast to pan and cook until browned – about 5 minutes per side.
Remove roast from pan and set aside. Add garlic to pan; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine to pan; cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to loosen browned bits.
Whisk flour and stock together in a small bowl. Stir stock mixture into wine mixture; cook stirring often until thickened. Stir in tomato paste, thyme, bay leave and remaining 1-1/2 tsp pepper and remaining tsp salt, remember to taste for salt if using salted stock and tomato paste. Nestle roast into stock mixture. Cover and bake at 350ºF on hour and 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Add turnips, carrots, celery root, onions and 1 cup water; toss carefully with gravy in pan. Cover and bake at 350ºF until vegetables are tender and sauce is thick and glazy, about 1 hour. Coarsely shred beef; discard thyme and bay leaves
*If you cannot find unsalted beef stock, use low sodium stock and don’t add salt to liquids until later in the cooking process, then taste and adjust salt.
**Treat salted tomato paste as recommended above for salted stock
***If you agree with me that peeling fresh pearl onions is a hassle, use about 8 oz Mexican green onions – white bulb only, halved or cut in wedges instead.  They are attractive  and easy to manage. You can also use wedges of a small white onion.

Left overs 1

Still enchanted with the root vegetables, I deduced to thicken the sauce of the roast/stew and serve it with Amish-style thick noodles and even more black pepper. The vegetables were even better after a couple of days in the fridge!  Below is a technique I use for making a basic white sauce in the microwave to thicken something.  If I am going to make a white sauce to serve as a major part of a recipe, I do the traditional roux-building process.

Amish-style noodles, a handful of English pease and cubing the beef make the left over pot roast new again!

Jim’s Quick-Zapped Thickener White Sauce
Equal measures of fat and white flour (butter, pan drippings or neutral cooking oil in a pinch)
Cream, half and half, milk or cooking liquid as noted below.
Blend fat and flour in a two-cup microwave safe measure or bowl. Zap for thirty seconds, stir and taste. Continue to zap at thirty seconds until mixture thickens and does not taste like raw flour. The amount of fat and flour you star with will determine how many zap cycles you will need.

Add your liquid of choice in small amounts, stir and zap. It will thicken rapidly. Add more liquid, stir until smooth and zap again.  Repeat until you get a smooth texture of white sauce in your measure or bowl. Do not over thin in your measure, you want the white sauce to thicken what is in your pan or pot! Add mixture in small amounts to liquid in your pan or pot. Stir to keep it smooth as it thickens to desired texture.

This is not a roux or gravy base. It is a simple white sauce thickener that I find easier to work with than dealing with a roux for some recipes. Getting the flour cooked is the critical factor for flavor.

Left overs 2

Fish the left over hunk of pot roast out of the storage container.  Cut a few thin slices across the grain and blot them with paper towels to remove cold sauce.  Return the bit hunk back to the container and refrigerator.  Schmear a couple of slices of your favorite bead side to side with mayonaise, then add a generous schemer of whole grain dijon mustard on one slice. Top with a slice or two of a good shop cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato onion and /or sliced kosher dill pickle and enjoy.  If you are feeling fancy, toast the bread first. And remember, a cold roast beef sandwich tastes best when eaten over the kitchen sink. And don’t for get a side of milk and chips right from the bag, if you have them.No incriminating photos of enjoying a sandwich over the sink were taken.

Left overs 3 and some left

This idea includes leftover and some ingredients left on hand from other dishes.

Part of the left over roast was cut across the grain into a couple of thick slices.  I had a few baby potatoes left from previous recipes, and part of a head of red cabbage left from another. Microwave the potatoes for 4 minutes, then cut them into wedges. Light spritz the wedges with cooking spray and finish to crisp and brown a bit in a hot skillet.  Call them instant sort of Frenchish Fries. Remove from pan and set aside.  Cut a few shreds of red cabbage and toss with a mix of equal parts mayonnaise and cider vinegar, a good spoonful of dijon mustard, salt and pepper and a couple of generous shakes of garlic powder to make a colorful cole slaw. Heat roast slices in the skillet and add a few spoonsful of a good barbecue sauce.  It will tend to splatter, so be careful!

I have an interesting olive, raisin and almond mix from Whole Foods that I love. I served this “barbecue plate” with a he olive mix to temper the spicy elements.

Barbecue plate from leftover pot roast and a few ingredients left from other recipes. I should have added a few onion slices – maybe next time. The pot roast barbeque was a little on the tender side, but the flavor was very good.


A New Season Means New Experiments and New Favorites

Still making many adjustments to all the facets of a new season, but things are moving along…

It is fun to pare down a recipe, even when you know it might have been a little better at six or eight servings. Sometimes, it is great to whip up something from what you have on hand and enjoy the creativity.  And, at other times it is good to visit something from the past and reimagine it.

Being only slightly removed from generations of Texas and Arkansas farmers, I’m very fond of okra in many variations.

Back in May of 2014, I started grilling okra on skewers. I like that it retains some texture and that it loses the sticky secretion of boiled okra and doesn’t make the mess of fried okra.  I’ll love fried okra wherever I find it on a menu and am thrilled when I don’t have to clean up the mess of frying.

Grilling red okra in 2014. Heat changes the red chemical color and it turn out green. Threading on two skewers makes it easier to turn. Elevating the skewers on clean bricks get’s it off the grate and helps it cook more evenly.

I found okra at the grocery store the other night and, since I was grilling chicken thighs, thought it would be a good side.  I have a stainless steel thingy I put over my old grill grates and decided to try grilling okra on that  instead of on skewers. It occurred to me I should  grill some tomatoes and onion at the same time because I know that works!

I cut the stem ends off the okra, sliced some onion and washed some grape tomatoes.  If you feel you need a recipe here’s how I did it! I used a dozen pods of okra, two sliced of onion separated into ring and 10 grape tomatoes. I tossed it all with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. and put in on the grilling thingy over medium heat.  I kept an eye on it, tossed be veggies as the cooked and tested the okra’s doneness with a fork.  I wound up with a light char on tender vegetables. The tomatoes softened and wilted. When pierced with a fork, they yielded a hot delicious tomato juice to mix over the other vegetables. My chicken thighs cooked on another part of the grilling thingy at a higher temperature.

I like to have two or three very small potatoes as a side ( inch to inch and a half diameter). That satisfies my potato craving without a serving the size of a football.  I cheat with them. I microwave them for a few minutes (remember to pierce the skins or they will explode in your oven) then split them and finish them on the grill for a little color and extra flavor

Grilled chicken thighs, okra, onion and tomatoes with grill-finished potatoes. The okra was tender but with a little texture and now sticky secretion. Delicious with the onion and tomatoes and reminiscent of boiled tomatoes and okra without the slick texture.

The okra was so good, I decided to make it again the next evening.  The store where I bought my first batch, was out.  I went a sister store in the chain and found some.  It looked a little long and I was concerned about it being stringy and tough.  It was, but at least it photographed well.

I was a very hot evening. Still over 100 at 6:30 p.m.  Too hot to stand over a grill, so I decided to cook on a sheet pan in the oven.  That gave me a chance to try making a roasted onion flower I had been wanting to try.

Oven roasted onion flower, tomatoes and okra. Delicious and not sticky.

Pan roasting the vetables at 425 until tender worked.  I cut a thin slice off the stem end of a smallish onion, then carefully removed the roots.  I sliced the onion almost to its base six times to make reasonably narrow petals. I drizzled the vegetables with olive oil before cooking and a couple of times while they cooked. The okra was done before the tomatoes and onion, so I removed it and set it aside until time to plate.  I want to find small red onions next time I have guests and make little onion flowers to put on top of something. My white flower was tender and delicious with the okra and tomatoes and a pork chop. Left from the other night. Part of this New Season is cooking enough of a protein to have a second serving a couple of days later. I warmed the cooked pork chop for a few minutes while, the vegetables finished cooking.  In the upper right corner, you see the tip of a roasted ear of corn.  At eight ears for $1, I had to buy one for this meal.

I will be doing more grilled okra this summer but only using smaller tender pods.

Brussels Sprouts and Winter Squash Made Great with Pomegranate


Sometimes you read something and you have to say WHAT THEY HEY?! The idea is so startling you have to read it over a couple of times to let it soak in.  Then you screw up your nerve, go shopping, come home and give it a try.

The thought of sweet winter squash, the bitterness of roasted Brussels sprouts and the tart yet sweet bursts of pomegranate arils all brought together with pomegranate molasses is hard to grasp. But it works and is wonderful.  It also is beautiful to look at.  Add a little rare sirloin and all you can do is sigh with every bite.

You can do this recipe a couple of ways.  I used kabocha squash, but butternut would work as well.  I chose to pull the leaves of my Brussels sprouts and roast them for a lightly crisp texture.  You could just cut them in half.  I din’t have a red onion, so I used a yellow one and no-one would notice the difference without being told. You might have to go to a middle eastern grocery to find pomegranate molasses.  I found it at the large Specs liquor store on Sunland Park. That store carries some great foodstuffs in addition to adult beverages.

By the way, I had enough squash left that I picked up more Brussels sprouts and a red onion so I can have this dish again tonight!

Brussels Sprouts, Winter Squash and Pomegranate


1 medium to large winter squash (butternut or kabocha)

1 lb Brussels sprouts

½ medium red onion

2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp chile powder

¼ cup pomegranate molasses

1 cup pomegranate arils (seed)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400°

Butternut squash: Cut top and bottom off squash, peel, halve lengthwise and scrape out seed. Chop into small cubes and spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Kabocha squash: Cut squash in half vertically and scrape out seed. Cut halves into half-moon wedges and spread in one layer on a baking sheet.

For either squash: Peel and cut onion into strips vertically. Separate and sprinkle over squash. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chile powder, toss to coat with olive oil.

Trim stems of Brussels sprouts and separate leaves from stem. You’ll have to trim the stem a couple of times as you separate the inner leaves. Place on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, and pepper.

Roast squash 30 – 35 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Toss squash about halfway through cooking. Halved Brussels sprouts can be roasted with the squash.

Roast Brussels sprouts leaves 5-7 minutes an toss. Return to oven for 3 minutes more. Remove from oven when leaves are tender and have a little bit of char.

When squash is tender, remove from oven. Put sprouts, squash and onions into a serving dish, drizzle with pomegranate molasses and toss. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils, toss and serve immediately.



Scooped! It’s what happens when someone beats you to a posting and has the nerve to plagiarize, too!

Are you ever at a loss for what to fix for dinner? Same old beef, pork, chicken and salmon at the grocer… really not in the mood for clams, shrimp or mussels… wandering around waiting for inspiration.

Sometimes  the past comes to the rescue. It was a cool evening and something from the oven sounded good.  Chicken pot piece to mind.  I did a mental inventory of what was on hand and what I needed to pick up to make it happen.  No recipe around, so I put together what would work and moved forward. It was getting late and I did decide on a short cut – a boxed baking mix I could mess with and improve a little.

Chicken Pot Pie, right out of the oven. My baking dish held nine biscuits; three extra on the sheet pan were good for a little extra gravy sopping!




4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed

onion, celery and carrot

1 tsp Better Than Bullion Low Sodium Chicken Bullion Paste per cup of water used. (Better Than Bullion comes in beef, chicken, vegetable and fish versions. It is an excellent flavor base. I think the low sodium version is plenty salty, so taste after you get you chicken and vegetables going before adjusting any seasonings.)

Small bag frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 tsp dried thyme or a few springs of fresh thyme if you can find it

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour (maybe a little more)

Bisquick baking mix in a box  (baking mix is the short cut. Buttermilk makes the biscuits better.)




Heat oven to 450º.

Place package of frozen thighs in warm water. While they defrost, dice about 1/2 medium onion, two celery stalks and two carrots into 3/8-inch cubes.  Mix bullion paste into a cup of hot water.  You’ll have to stir vigorously to mix it all well. Place bullion and another cup water in a a good sized sauce pan, bring to a simmer and add diced vegetables.

When chicken thighs are pretty well defrosted, cut the meat into 3/4 inch cubes.  Add to vegetables in pot and simmer until cooked through.  Add frozen vegetables and heat through.  Add thyme. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Follow biscuit instructions on Bisquick box side panel.  Substitute buttermilk for the plain milk  Stir to mix and put dough on a flowered counter top and knead about 10 times.  Roll or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits.  I use a tomato sauce can with both the bottom and top ends removed as a biscuit cutter to get biscuits that are a comfortable size for holding gravy or butter and jelly.  The recipe makes a dozen biscuits that are almost as good as biscuits made from scratch! Allow the cut biscuits to sit a few minutes.

Put butter in a glass measuring cup and heat it in your microwave in 20 second bursts until it is melted. Stir a couple of teaspoons of flour at at time into melted butter. Zap again at 20 second bursts.  Flour will thicken in the butter.  Repeat until all flout is absorbed.  Then, add Tablespoons of broth from the chicken and vegetable pot and mix it we’ll into the butter/flour. You want to have a smooth, thin paste in your measuring cup.  Then slowly add a couple of spoons full at a time back to the cooking pot.  Stir well to mix into the pot liquid.  It will begin to thicken.  Add more until you have a somewhat thick “gravy” in the pot with the chicken and vegetables. Empty chicken and vegetable mix into an 8X8-inch baking dish, top with biscuits and place in oven.  Biscuits will rise and become golden brown on top in about 10 minutes.  When biscuits are done, remove dish from the oven and let rest a few minutes to set up.

My mother always made chicken pot pie with just chicken and chicken broth gravy. She would make huge pans of it as an alternative dish for the annual Order of Eastern Start Enchilada Supper, and it would sell out every time. I like to add vegetables to my pot pie and I can still her telling me that that’s “just not right.”

The other night, after supper, my friend Jack scooped me by posting a picture of my pot pie on FaceBook before I could write this article for the blog or post my own pictures on FaceBook. And, he even plagiarized my “Dinner at the Doublewide” category from here.  What are friends for?

Still Playing with My Food

You’ve held up well to many versions of greens and beans, a favorite quick and easy dinner fix for me. Here’s another way to do it – without a recipe!

I simmered three beef sausages covered with water for about 15 minutes, per package instructions.  I set them aside, dried the pan and sweated some chopped onion until translucent. I stared out cooking the onion in scant splash of olive oil and as it began to soften, I added a healthy splash of chicken broth. As it finished cooking the onion, the broth developed a little more flavor.  When the onion was ready, I added a chopped kale and chard mix and some garlic chips with more broth and simmered it all until the greens were tender.  I like the chips of steamed onions as a surprise bite in the greens. Then, I stirred in a can of rinsed cannellini beans and a healthy couple of splashes of white wine vinegar. I stirred it up until the beans were warm and plated it in a bowl with the sausages – one and a half sausages peer serving was enough to counteract the health benefits of beans and greens.

Sometimes I serve beans and greens  with lots of broth as a soup and the addition of a little pasta.  At other times it is thicker as a sauce for linguine. And sometimes it is served with almost all the liquid cooked off as a side dish.   I primarily use cannellini beans, but I’ve been known to use pinto beans and red pepper flakes for a southwestern touch. Good flavor combos are very flexible.

Kale and chard greens and beans with sausage was just right for a cloudy evening with a slight hint of fall in the air. I do have to have a splash of hot sauce on my greens for a little extra kick.


While the beans and greens and sausage were prepared without a recipe, I must confess that there is an out of the picture side made with a recipe.  Southern corn bread for sopping up the bean juice!

I use the recipe on the Quaker Corn Meal container, but I eliminate the sugar it calls for.  This is corn bread, not cake!  For this meal, I followed the recipe.  At other times, I add green chile salsa or corn kernels or chopped crisp bacon just for the fun of it.


Meanwhile, Back at the Doublewide… in Manhattan?

The Bon Appétit website has a feature called Cooking Without a Recipe that I enjoy very much. I’ve even purloined the idea with a blog category I call Play With Your Food – Cooking Without a Recipe. BA Test Kitchen Manager Brad Leone recently shared a quick supper treat I really enjoyed.  I’ve copied his description of making this hearty meal below and put his words in quotes. His greens and sausage seems more like a Dinner at the Doublewide than a New York City meal!

‘Taters, sausage and greens. You’d think it was supper at the doublewide instead of a food magazine idea.

Crispy Sausage and Greens

“Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the stems from one bunch of Tuscan kale and tear the leaves into 1″ pieces (mustard greens, collards, spinach, and chard are great, too).

“Coarsely chop half a head of green cabbage. Combine the greens in a large baking dish and add 4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Adding some sliced onions and shiitake mushrooms at this point is optional, but highly recommended (I’ll sauté the onions and mushrooms in a cast iron baking dish right on the stove before adding to the greens).

“Coat the greens with some olive oil and pour ½ cup chicken stock or broth over everything. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the greens are wilted, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and season with salt and pepper. Continue to bake until cabbage is tender, about 20-25 minutes more.

“Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Prick four sweet Italian sausages with a fork and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. When the greens are done, slice the sausage and toss into the greens with a splash of your favorite vinegar (I like sherry or red wine).”

Combining bitter greens and cabbage was a g00d idea for flavor and texture. The addition of a shot of vinegar balanced the greens. Since there was no “recipe” I had to add my own touch to the meal.  Taking advantage of the scant pan drippings from the sweet Italian sausage to sautéd some chopped onion and new potato coins to serve as a side for the sausage and greens.  Per Mr. Leone, I used mustard greens and sherry vinegar. At the table, I splashed some Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on the greens for a little extra kick. We always had hot sauce on our greens growing ups so it seemed the right thing to do.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil and the Whiney Customer Gets Great Chops!

I caught one of the good meat cutters at the market the other night.  I fussed at him about having found no good looking pork chops in the meat case for a while. I don’t like boneless center cuts, especially if they are thin enough to read through.  I like my chops at least an inch thick, and on the bone.

Last night, I was delighted to find several packs of inch to inch-plus thick bone-in center cut chops. They were beautiful and I grabbed a pack of two 8 ouncers. and headed home to the grill. I decided top make the chops and sides “home” flavored.

Grilled pork chop with a white sweet potato and beans and greens… comfort food for sure.

I used Chef Vivian Howard’s Red Eye Coffee Rub on the chops. The rub includes brown sugar, ground coffee beans, coriander, cumin, garlic and a little New Mexico red chile.  I let the rub sit on the chops while I worked on the sides.  I zapped a couple of small white sweet potatoes which got buttered at the table.  I minced a few garlic cloves and steamed them with torn mustard greens in a little chicken broth. I used a little salt and pepper and a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar on the greens when they were tender.  The vinegar makes the greens less bitter. I then stirred in a can of rinsed cannellini beans.  If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am really fond of beans and greens both as a side dish and in soups. I kept the sides warm while I worked on the pork chops.

I fired up the grill and let all four burners get it good and hot. I put the chops on one side and gave them a few minutes on each side to sear them and get some grill marks. After turning them once, I turned off the two burners under them, lowered the temp on the burner closest to them to half and left the fourth burner on high.

I rotated the chops a couple of times while the cooke on the “cool” side of the grill so they would cook evenly.  After about 20 minutes, they reached an internal temperature of 135º, I took them off the grill, tented them and allowed them to rest for about 10 minutes.  The rub darkened and caramelized while they cooked.

Many sources say cook pork to 145º. I’ve dropped mine down to 135º because they will continue to heat while they rest.  The remain a pale pink and are juicer than when I cook them to the higher internal temperature.

Medium, pale pink and most pork chops from the grill. Hot and cool sides of the grill give the meet color and cook it evenly all the way through.

I’ll be praising the meat cutter at the store and keeping my eye out for more of those lush thick chops!

Avocado Fries Rethought

Toro Burgers and Bar has moved closer to where I live. That is a mixed blessing of convenience and temptation. The Toro logo is branded onto their buns. They offer 21 designer burgers on  including game, chicken and, allegedly, crab. The menu features creative appetizers and sides, too. We’ve grown fond of the avocado fries – battered and deep fried avocado slices with a chipotle cream dipping sauce. Very rich and very good, and a bit on the wicked side, calorie wise.

Meandering through foodie sites on the web, I found recipes for oven-fried crispy avocado fries and a chipotle dipping sauce. Of course I had to give them a try. For this meal, I considered the avocado as both a side dish and a fruit serving accompanying a pan-roasted chicken tampequeña entree for dinner. Panko crumb breading was the starch in the meal. Baking them works and yogurt in the dipping sauce lowers the calorie count considerably.

Pan roasted chicken tampequena and baked avocado “fries” with chipotle dipping sauce for dinner.

The baked avocado slices were crispy and buttery delicious on the inside. They’ll be popping up again for sure. I’m already contemplating adding some Tajin chile lime power to the Panko crumbs, nest time.

Crispy Baked Avocado Fries


1 Avocado per person – ripe but on the firm side for ease in breading

1/4 Cup flour

1 egg, lightly beaten.  I like to use a boxed  yellow egg product when breading.  It is easier to add more egg from a box than to stop, wash my hands and beat another egg if I run low while breading.

1 Cup panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp oil

Fresh lime juice (optional to prevent darkening of avocado during cooking)

Pre-heat oven to 400º F. Line a sheet pan with foil. Drizzle pan with some of the oil and spread it over the pan with a pastry brush.

Peel and slice avocado.  I find it easier to halve the avocado, remove the pit and slice the half into thirds while it is in the skin. The slices can be easily removed from the skin by carefully using a soup spoon. Sprinkle avocado slices with lime juice, salt and pepper. Dredge slices in flour, dip in egg and coat with panko crumbs.  Make sure the slices are well covered in panko.

Place breaded slices on the greased sheet pan. Drizzle with remaining oil or cooking spray to help the slices crisp in the oven.

Bake 15 – 20 minutes until the avocado slices are golden and crispy.

Serve with chipotle dipping sauce.

The recipe says the fries will last up to 24 hours and then reheated in a toaster oven.  That made me laugh out loud. No chance for left overs of these babies in my house!

Chipotle Cream Dipping Sauce


1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce pause 1 tsp sauce (or more to taste)

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1/3 Cup plain Greek yogurt (or light sour cream)

1/4 Cup chopped cilantro

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt to taste.


Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Keeps covered in refrigerator up to four weeks.

My dinner partner ate the leftover dipping sauce with a spoon and said if it were a little thinner, it would be as good as the chipotle crema enchilada sauce at the Carnitas Queretaro restaurants.


Dandelions Down at the Doublewide

It is spring in West Texas when you hear the first robin cough. We’ve had some blowing dust and a few days up in the 80’s  while other parts of the country are getting snow and rain. I’ll take the heat and count on the spring winds subsiding soon. Weeds have begun to pop up in the yard and know I’ll have to dedicate a morning to working on them. One weed I’m happy to see is dandelions, a favorite treat for me! My children were afraid I was trying to poison them when I picked spring dandelions from the lawn and brought them in for dinner. In spite of their protests, they managed a few bites and lived to tell the tale.

The other day, I noticed bunches of large dandelions in the produce department at the grocery. My heart skipped a beat and if I were a few years younger I’d have clicked my heels! I added a bunch of bright green, 12-inch long dandelions to my basket and started planning a Dinner at the Doublewide. We haven’t been down to the doublewide in a while and was time to visit for some good ol’ country cooking.

Doublewide dinner menu:  dandelion greens with minced garlic, diced bacon and bacon drippings;

Black eyed peas with okra and tomatoes;

Corn bread;

Grilled pork chops.

No recipes for these dishes, but there are some hints and tips in the photo captions.

Dandelion greens, steamed with a couple of tablespoons chicken broth and diced garlic; finished with diced bacon and drippings.
Black eyed peas (thank goodness the store has a frozen foods section) with okra, tomatoes and some slivered bacon. I slice the okra and sauté it for a couple of minutes to set the sticky secretion so my okra isn’t slimy. Halved grape tomatoes are flavorful and colorful. A sprinkle of sliced green onion finishes the list at the table.
I use the package recipe for cornbread as a suggestion. Sometimes, I add whole kernel corn or chile to it, but I never add the sugar it calls for. It is always cooked in a cast iron skillet that has been dedicated to cornbread exclusively for at least three generations.
I have groomed my meat cutter at the market to cut me inch thick center loin pork chops that I fix with a dry rub and cook on my grill. He keeps telling me I need to cook for him since I show him pictures the meals I make with those chops.


Of course you know you just cain’t have greens and black eyed peas without a few shakes of Trappey’s Hot Peppers in Vinegar. Trappey’s began in Louisiana in 1898. I know I’ve been enjoying it in Texas for more than 60 years! It is a staple in the doublewide kitchen.


Simple Comfort on a Fall Evening

My favorite chicken is the dark meat. I love it bone in and skin on most of all, either grilled or roasted. Sometimes a leg quarter makes the perfect meal. Especially when you add some comfort sides such as sweet potato and turnip greens.

I’ve discovered Tajin, a Mexican powdered chili and lime seasoning.  It can be used on fruits, vegetables or meats.  I like it on chicken, pork and shrimp. It has a nice flavor and is not too hot to manage.  I’ve been picking out smallish sweet potatoes, scrubbing them and slicing them in half.  I brush the cut side lightly with canola oil because of its neutral flavor and then sprinkle the Tajin powder liberally over it.  Then, it goes face down on a foil lined sheet pan and into a 375° oven for about 45 minutes until the potato is fork tender.

While the potato is roasting, I cut as much fat off the leg quarter as I can without removing too much skin.  The, I brush it lightly with canola oil and put it on a rack on another lined sheet pan and pop it in the oven beside the potation and let it roast and brown while the potato finishes. It is usually done in 20 – 25 minutes.

While they roast, I wash my greens. You can use you favorite slightly bitter green. I like either turnip or collard. I bring water to a simmer in a pot that will hold the raw greens.  I make thin slices of two cloves of garlic and toss them with the greens and put it all in a colander and into the pot to simmer and cook down.

I check the chicken with a meat thermometer as it begins to get brown and when it is about 165° and the juices run clear where I poked the thermometer, I take it out of the oven, tent it with foil to rest while I plate the potatoes and greens. I like a splash of red wine vinegar and salt on my greens or, sometimes, a couple of hits of hot sauce.  That hint of acid makes the greens flavor extra good.

Remember to season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking. This meal is so simple you don’t need a precise recipe.  Just do it and dig in!

Roasted chicken leg quarter with greens and garlic chips and chile-lime seasoned sweet potato – comfort food with a little kick and a lot of flavor.