Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Venison Stew

A new friend asked me for a recipe that included Venison.  Since my only experience with venison is as a tenderloin or a sausage, I decided to use a tried and true recipe that mimicked a New England Pot Roast dinner, but to finish the dish with a decidedly different twist and create a stunning gravy for a majestic creature, the deer.

Servings:  6 - 8
Time:  Approx. 3 hours
Difficulty:  Easy

3 pounds venison, cut into 2 -3 inch chunks
3/4 cup flour, set aside 1/4 cup
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
Vegetable oil
3 Bay leaves
3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 quarts chicken stock
1 medium yellow turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
1 pound of baby red russet potatoes, washed
12 ounces of button mushrooms, whole
1 pound of pearl onions, frozen 
1/4 cup room temperature butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 300' F

  1. Begin by drying off the venison in paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and toss the meat with the flour mixture, set aside.  Heat the Dutch oven on the stovetop on medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to the pan to coat the bottom.  Shake off any excess flour before placing the meat in the pan to brown.   Begin browning the venison in small batches, and set aside on a platter.
  3. When all the meat has been browned, turn the heat on low, place the meat back in the Dutch oven and add the bay leaves, fresh rosemary, dried oregano and garlic and cook on low for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cover.  Bring to a slow simmer then add the turnip and transfer the pan to the oven.  Let this cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and russet potatoes, cover and cook another 45 minutes in the oven.
  5. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions, cook another 45 minutes.  At this point, check the meat for desired tenderness.  If the meat is not as tender as you would like, return the stew to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.  
  6. Once the meat is tender, remove the meat and veggies onto a serving platter with a large slotted spoon leaving as much of the cooking liquid as possible in the pan.
  7. Mix the 1/4 cup flour with the 1/4 cup butter until a paste forms.  Place the pan back on the stove top on medium low heat and add the butter and flour mixture, whisking to incorporate.  When the sauce thickens and turns glossy, taste for seasoning, pour the gravy over the platter of meat and vegetables and serve.
  8. Most importantly, fish out the bay leaves so your guests won't have to.
Serving suggestions:
  • Serve in a hollowed out bread boule or with a rustic and hearty bread broken into chunks.

  1. Be sure to remove excess moisture from any meat the you cook.  This will keep the meat from "stewing" in it's own juices and will help the meat to brown.
  2. Be sure to season the flour that coats the meat.  Seasoning at this stage helps set the depth of flavor in motion throughout the entire dish.
The addition of the buerre mariner (butter and flour paste) really made this dish stand out.  It created a glossy and smooth sauce with a great mouth feel.  

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hat Tossing Time!!!

Ladies and Gents,

Paula Deen is looking for the next Deen Team Blogger.  With that in mind, I am going to toss my hat into the ring.  My red hair is on fire and my creative juices have shifted into overdrive....or overhaul....well, maybe a little of each, so here goes.

Paula has asked that applicants demonstrate why we think we are the best candidate.  Let's start with the basics....I'm a short, round redhead with tons of personality, I am not shy or retiring, I love to mix things up, especially from a culinary standpoint, my recipes are easy and delicious...and I can write.  I have been published in Plano Profile Magazine and my Turkey, Cranberry and Chipotle Tamale recipe has travelled through the Chef and Publisher blogs.  I am working on my first cookbook.  I have been described as "very creative" and "open".  I have a way of connecting with and engaging with people, both in person and in writing.  I know how to address any subject in a polite and appropriate manner, and with or without humor.   I know how to say please, thank you, and I'm sorry....and mean it.

But the most important thing is - any blog should not be solely about the writer, it has to include the reader / follower.  Each blogger needs to be able to connect with their audience, tell stories, talk about how things developed for the recipe or situation and provide the reader with the impetus to try and the confidence to succeed.  A blogger needs to be able to be open and have the ability to share information about themselves, their successes and failures so that people can connect with them and with each other, in other words, a blogger is a facilitator.  A blogger also needs to be able to receive feedback graciously, whether it is positive, identifies an opportunity for improvement or is more critical feedback.  Blog content should also include mishaps, challenges and opportunities and what we did about them and what we learned so that readers / followers know it is OK when these things occur, that it is not always going to be right the first time.

My role, as a food blogger, is to inspire.  One of the things that I am looking forward to is holding cooking classes in a casual but structured environment so that people can connect via a common meeting ground.  Whether the food is good, bad or great, food brings people together.

Food and cooking can:

  • Facilitate relationship building because it is a subject that everyone is familiar with  
  • Open communication in a way that no other vehicle can because food is a universal language, we all speak "food" no matter what our background
  • Express love, offer comfort and rebuild broken bridges
  • Inspire creativity, enhance fun and be a stress reliever
  • Be comic relief, break world records and bring communities together
  • Raise money to feed the hungry
  • Help heal the sick and offer hope
Now that I have shared my personal philosophy, I would love to hear from y'all.  What are your thoughts about food and its expanded role in society?  What do you think food and cooking can do?  

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

OMGoodness!!! She's back and with a Breakfast Pizza

Hello to Everyone,

Wow...it has been quite a while since I have posted on my blog.  Working full time (50+ hrs a week), going to school and singing in choir is probably more than anyone should try to do along with attempting to make progress on a cookbook and blog.  I have always taken on too much and every once in a while, I need to step back and take a break.

Most importantly, Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog for the first time and to everyone who has returned to my blog over the past 2 months.  I appreciate each one of you and your visits.

Even though I have not been blogging on a regular basis for this brief respite, I have been cooking.  I have several new recipes to post, including:

  • Breakfast Pizza, 
  • Buffalo tenderloin with blackberry & sage wine sauce,
  • Cornbread & chili muffins,
  • Green chili & chicken pasta
  • Dark chocolate and caramel sandwich cookies, 
  • Pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies, 
  • Peanut butter and jelly cookies,
  • And....a few other wonderful items.
So, with that list in hand, here is the Breakfast Pizza:

I decided to make this easy on myself and purchase some really great pizza dough from a local grocer.  Pizza shops who make their own dough are usually willing to sell it to you, if you ask.  

This makes 16 servings, or 8 if you are especially hungry.  

1 ball of pizza dough, preferably fresh
1 - 8 ounce jar of medium picante sauce
1/8 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
12 ounces of bulk chorizo
8 eggs
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
2 cups queso fresco, crumbled
1 - 16 ounce jar of red salsa
1 cup of Crema Mexicana - can substitute Creme Fresh 

Preheat your oven to 350' F and use the middle rack. 

In a large nonstick skillet on medium, add the olive oil and let heat for 2 minutes
Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes
Add the chopped jalapeno to the pan, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes
Add the chorizo to the pan and break up the meat into small, bit size pieces and let brown

While the chorizo is cooking, crack open the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk with the garlic, salt and pepper

When the chorizo is cooked, remove excess fat from the pan and add the egg mixture.  Cook the eggs gently, scrambling as they set until the eggs are done.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a jelly roll pan, scatter 1 tablespoon of cornmeal.  Using 1 ball of pizza dough, roll it out into a rectangle and place the dough in the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.

When the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and spread the picante sauce over the crust, scatter on the egg and chorizo mixture and cover with the cheeses.  Return this back to the oven until the cheese melts and becomes golden brown.  Remove from the oven, spoon on the red salsa, drizzle with the Crema and serve hot.  

This was delicious - spicy and substantial for a breakfast pizza and there was no skimping on toppings.  

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hatch Chile Festival is here!!!!

I feel like Steve Martin, in the movie "The Jerk".....except my mantra is "the Hatch chile pepper festival is here, the Hatch chile pepper festival is here"!!!!

Over this coming weekend, I will be stocking up on hot and mild varieties of chiles, raw and roasted, Hatch salsa, Hatch tortillas, Hatch soap (I don't really think they make this), Hatch whatever.  And, yes....I will be making my own recipes and will be using a few from Jane Butel's book, "Real Women Eat Chiles".  Jane is a very accomplished chef and cookbook author and a great inspiration to me.  Check out her website at:

I will be roasting, stuffing, baking, frying, chopping and cooking chiles in a variety of ways.  I also have a new tamale recipe that I am working on that will feature chiles in some way....not sure yet what that will be, but y'all will be the first to know.

In the mean time....keep the home fires burning by using chiles in unexpected ways.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A different kind of pizza......continued

Last week, I was working on some sauce recipes for my book and was playing with traditional mole` ingredients.  What I was looking for was a simple sauce with great flavor.  As I looked at various mole`s, I realized that I could significantly reduce the number of ingredients, simplify the sauce and use it for something other than a condiment for roasted meats or tamales.  Now, don't get me wrong..... I adore mole`, it is a complex sauce and I don't always have the time to devote to making it.  So, I came up with the following 2 sauces and strained them to make them nice and smooth.  I know you will enjoy these recipes.

For the red sauce:
1 bag (about 16 ounces) of dried ancho chiles or other spicy red chiles that have been dried.
Remove the seed pods, seeds and the veins, place in a large pan with enough water to cover
Add 1 medium yellow onion, cut into chunks
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
Cover and bring to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes
Remove the cover and let cool for about an hour
In a blender, add the solid ingredients to about half way up the container, add 1/2 cup of the liquid, cover and blend until smooth.  You may or may not need a little more liquid

Using a wire mesh strainer over a deep bowl, pour the contents from the blender into the strainer and stir until only the solids remain in the strainer.  Discard the solids and repeat the process with the remaining peppers, onions and garlic.  Stir and taste for seasoning.  If you like a little sweetness to the red sauce, you can add either agave syrup or a touch of honey.  Taste for seasoning.

For the green sauce:
Roast, peel, seed and devein 8 poblano peppers and place them in the blender
1 medium yellow onion, cut into chunks and sauteed in 2 Tablespoons olive oil until soft
3 cloves of garlic, chopped and sauteed in 2 teaspoons olive oil until soft
1 bunch of cilantro, rinsed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1 cup water

Pour in 1/2 cup of water, half of the remaining ingredients and process all the ingredients in the blender in batches.  You may or may not need a little more water.

Using a wire mesh strainer over a deep bowl, pout the contents from the blender into the strainer and stir to remove any solids.

For the Pizza:
Preheat the oven to 350' F
Using a Mediterranean or Eastern Indian naan, place 1/4 to 1/3 cup of your choice of sauce on the bread and spread it over the surface.  You may or may not need a little more sauce.
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sliced purple onion
Shredded chicken, cooked chorizo or other choice of meat
Sliced black olives
Crumbled queso fresco

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pizza crust is crisp and the toppings are heated through.

Drizzle on some crema Mexicana, chopped cilantro and add sliced avocado and enjoy.

From  the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A different kind of pizza

I am working on a recipe for a very easy southwestern style pizza.  Unfortunately, it will have a case of culinary confusion.....elements from the desert southwest, the mediterranean, Mexico and possibly one other culture added, just for good measure.

The base is a ready-made flatbread, like pita or naan.   Now, I'm not talking about the commercially prepared "pita pocket", but a more traditional flat-bread that is soft  and in 1 piece that will bake beautifully and crisp very nicely for a thin style pizza.

Sauces will be available in 2 colors, red and green, made from dried guajillo chiles and one from fresh green chiles, flavored simply with garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and maybe just a touch of agave.

Toppings may include chicken, black beans, onions, cheese, fresh chiles, fish and one or two other options that I am playing with.  As the weekend progresses, be on the lookout for something wonderful and easy.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Have a great evening!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Zatziki

Hello Everyone!!!

It's been a while since my last post......it's been a whirlwind in my neck of the woods between work, school and church activities.  I get dizzy just thinking about it.

4th of July is coming and what better way than to celebrate America's independence than having a cook-out with burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, watermelon and apple pie?

But......this year, I am doing something a bit different.  I am serving a Greek inspired meal in recognition of one of the many groups of our immigrant forefathers and mothers, who made America what it is today.

Servings:  6
Time:  Approx. 1 hour
Difficulty:  Easy

For the Chicken
6 chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut into 4 pieces each
Liberal sprinkle of Montreal Steak seasoning, yes folks....this is what I used.
1/3 cup olive oil

Place all the pieces of chicken in a large bowl and liberally sprinkle on the seasoning and the olive oil, stir to coat each piece of chicken
Heat a grill pan on medium heat, place pieces of chicken on the pan, about 2 inches apart.  this gives them plenty of room to cook without being crowded.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Zatziki Sauce - with lots of fragrant olive oil
4 cups Greek style yogurt, strained
2 cups sour cream, strained
1/2 cup cream
1 cup, finely diced English cucumber
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup very good olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the chicken.

I will be serving this with my Greek inspired orzo pasta salad and Mediterranean flat bread.  And, for dessert.....baklava, of course.  OPA!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Monday, June 11, 2012

Blue Corn Polenta

Tonite, I came home from work and my husband asked...."what's for dinner?"  My snappy retort was, "Whatever you fix, dear."  After a moment of shocked surprise on my husband's face, he realized that I was sort of kidding and sort of serious.   I eventually caved in and suggested polenta with sausages, peppers, onions and a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce.

I went to the freezer to get out the stone ground corn meal and only had about 1/2 cup left in the bag.  I hunted and searched and only found some blue corn meal that I had recently purchased.  I looked at what I had and decided......what the heck.  If Alfred Hitchcock can serve an entirely blue meal, I can sneak in some blue corn meal.  This turned out fabulously creamy and very tasty.

4 cups water
2 cups milk
1 stick of butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place everything in a pan and heat on low, stirring occasionally until the utter melts and the liquid is hot.

Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups  corn meal
Once the cornmeal is incorporated, continue to cook on low, stirring constantly until thick.  This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.

Ladies and gents, this was delicious and had a very nice, soft texture.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, enjoy!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spicy Cream Cheese Dip

There is a store not far from where I live that sells something called "Love Dip".....and I just LOVE it.  i have served it at parties, had it for a snack and even served it with grilled chicken and pasta.  I do not know exactly what the store puts in it, but I do know that it is creamy, spicy, cool and is great with veggies, pasta, chicken, turkey or pork or your favorite chips.

I wanted to try to make a version of this that was cool, creamy, spicy and rather flavorful.  Here is what I did:

Prep time: approximately 20 minutes
Servings:  10 servings, 1/4 cup each
Temperature:  N/A
Difficulty:  Easy

1 eight ounce package of low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup low fat sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 - 2 chipotle(s) in adobo, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl  and stir until well blended.  Let sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend and serve.

Serving suggestion:  For a great dinner, mix about 1 cup of the sauce to 1/2 pound of cooked, hot pasta, add sliced grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli....YUMNESS!!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,Enjoy!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Red, White & Blue Fruit Salsa

In honor of Memorial Day here in the US, I wanted to put together something very American.  We have all kinds of patriotic themed desserts, but I have not seen this version of a sweet fruit salsa.  There are no jalapenos in this, but if y'all wanted to add some, go right ahead.

Some serving suggestions that come to mind are:

  • over shortcake with whipped cream
  • used as a salsa with corn chips to satisfy that "sweet/salty" flavor craving that we all get from time to time  
  • with ice cream 
  • on cheese cake 
  • in a salad with goat cheese and raspberry walnut vinaigrette over baby field greens
  • with your favorite yogurt
  • or any other way that suits your personal fancy
Servings:     About 6
Time:     45 - 60 minutes
Temp:    Room temperature
Difficulty:     Easy

1 cup chopped fresh Bosc pears, about 1/4 inch
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries, about 1/4 inch
1 cup blueberries, not chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
Juice of 1 lime

Mix all ingredients together, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.


Monday, May 21, 2012

"Fluffernutter" Bread Pudding with Chocolate Ganache

It seems that the trend is to make new breakfast foods and deserts from the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich flavors.  I'm going to go in a little bit of a different direction tonite.  I grew up eating PB&J sandwiches, but I had a different favorite that was called a "fluffernutter".  For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a marshmallow fluff and peanut butter sandwich.

To make this a more "grown-up" version of this classic American childhood sandwich, I decide to change it a bit.

Yield:    8 servings
Temperature:   350' F
Time:  2 hours (Prep time approximately 60 minutes, cook time 30 minutes)
Difficulty:  Easy

For the Bread and Filling
8 slices of white bread
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff.  If fluff is not available, use mini marshmallows

For the Custard
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Chocolate Ganache
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
1/3 cup heavy cream

1.  Liberally grease a 5 x 7 loaf pan with butter (glass works best for this recipe)
2.  Spread 3 slices of bread with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of fluff or sprinkle on the mini marshmallows and cover with the remaining slices of bread, cut into wedges.
3.  Arrange the wedges in the bottom of the loaf pan and set aside while making the custard.
4.  Whisk the eggs until well beaten, add the milk, sugar and vanilla and whisk to incorporate.
5.  Pour the custard mixture over the "sandwiches" in the baking pan, cover let sit for 30 minutes.  Then bake at 350' for approximately 30 minutes in a hot water bath, or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.  This should be soft in the center.
6.  While the bread pudding is cooling, make the ganache by heating the cream to scalding, then pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.  

To Serve
Using martini glasses, divide the bread pudding by the spoonfull among the glasses and drizzle with the chocolate ganache.  Serve warm.

For those of you that are familiar with "fluffernutters", this will bring back wonderful memories.  For those of you who are new to this flavor combination, I know you will enjoy this rather decadent dessert.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, enjoy!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Obsession - yep, I definitely need treatment for this!!!

OK...now for a simple and delicious pizza.  No red sauce, no white sauce.  The only"sauce that is on the pizza is pesto.

This makes one 12 - 14 inch pie, which will serve 2 to 3 people, if served with sides.  If not, it will serve 1 to 2 people.

Using your favorite pizza dough or prepared crust, spread about 1/2 cup of pesto on the dough,
Sprinkle on 1 and 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
Spread on 1 1/2 cups roasted, peeled and diced red peppers
1 cup of diced tomatoes
Bake at 375 until the crust is golden and crispy

Once removed from the oven, add 2 sliced or diced avocados that have been drizzled with lime juice and dig right on in.

This is really good!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obsession with flavor combination

OK....I admit, I have now gone completely over the edge of reason.  I posted a sandwich recipe the other day and for some reason, can't get enough of the flavor combination.  So, I did a few other things with the ingredients:

1 pound of cooked mini penne pasta
1 - 12 ounce jar of roasted & peeled red peppers, julienned
1 cup of basil pesto
1/2 cup of sun dried tomato strips packed in olive oil...be sure to use the oil
2 large avocados, diced
3 cups of shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts

While the pasta is still warm, mix all the ingredients together and serve.  This makes 6 servings and can be served warm or at room temperature.  Since there is no mayonnaise used in the recipe, this should work well for a picnic.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Soft, Creamy and Flavorful Sandwich

I must say that this sandwich was a bit of a surprise for me.  I normally always have meat in a sandwich but recently, I had some pretty significant oral surgery done and could only eat soft foods.  So, I decided to do a take-off on a Caprese salad and make it into a sandwich.

I love the traditional tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, but wanted to add some creaminess to the sandwich idea.  Here is what I did:

2 slices bread of your choice
2 tablespoons of mayo mixed with 1 tablespoon of basil pesto, spread that on the bread.
Then place 1-2 slices of provolone cheese, a few slices of thinly sliced tomato and strips of roasted red peppers that have been julienned.  Now comes the best part......avocado...place 4 slices of avocado on the sandwich and then cover with the other piece of bread.  Place in a panini press and cook until crisp and golden.  Slice and serve.

If you are any thing like me, I don't have a panini press.  I find that an old fashioned griddle works just as well.  I have even pulled out my George Forman grill to make sandwiches on.

My husband LOVED this sandwich when I made it and he is very much a meat and potatoes kind of man. He has also asked if I would make it again......"score" one for the Pookie!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Messy Miguel's

As a child of the 60's and 70's, I grew up eating "Sloppy Joe's".  For those that may be unfamiliar with this, it is a mixture of ground beef, tomato sauce and some spices, cooked until the sauce becomes very thick, a scoop of this concoction is served on a hamburger bun and it is mainly a food for children....well, children of all ages.

I was watching an old movie and in one of the scenes they are serving this meal to a bunch of kids at camp.  I couldn't help but think.....what can I do to update this?  Knowing that I lean towards the flavors of the Southwest U.S. and Mexico, I decided to turn this into a more adult, spicier version of the meal.  Then came the name.  It's kind of cute, dontcha think?

Yield:  8 servings
Temperature:  Stovetop, medium to medium low
Time:  45 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy

1/3 cup olive oil
2 pounds of ground beef
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 medium, purple onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 - 2 chipotles in adobo, minced (use 2 chipotles if you like your food to bite back)
30 ounces of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Shredded cheese (1 cup of pepper jack, 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of mozzarella mixed)

1.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil.  Then add the ground beef and cook until browned.  The meat should be "scrambled" so that there are no large pieces or chunks of ground beef.
2.  Add the garlic, onion and peppers, chipotles and cook until the peppers and onions are soft.
3.  Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
4.  Cook on medium low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thick and holds it's shape on a spoon.

Serving suggestion:
1.  Serve on tortillas with shredded cheese and avocado - 8 servings
2.  Use as a filling for empanadas.
3.  Use as a filling for arepas.
4.  Serve as a dip, using tortilla chips or plantain chips.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, enjoy!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Recipes Coming Soon

Hi Everyone!!!

I have not forgotten about y'all or about posting new recipes.  I have been hard at work on my cookbook with my "mentor".  We have been editing my first chapter and I am almost finished with the first group of edits.  Over the next several days, I will be sending the updated chapter to "J" for review.

Then, it is on to my next chapter and time to begin thinking about publishers and agents......this is so exciting.

I can't tell you what a blessing having a professional Chef and cookbook author as a mentor has been for me.  I am learning so much from such a generous individual.  You may be able to tell the difference in a recent recipe posting or two......we changed the format and structure of the recipes so that they contain some important and vital information that I had not always written into the recipes.

I will keep y'all posted and will post a couple of new and fun recipes over the weekend.

In the mean time, I wish you many blessings!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Southwestern Inspired Cole Slaw

I posted the brisket recipe that I developed just today.  While I was thinking about what to serve with the brisket, I thought that something creamy, but also crisp and cool to go with the tacos would be a great side dish.

Yield - 12 - 1 cup servings
Temperature - not applicable
Time - 30 minutes
Difficulty - Easy

5 cups shredded green cabbage
5 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup julienned poblano peppers (2 peppers cut into thin strips, approximately 2 inches long).
1 1/2 cups chipotle ranch salad dressing

Mix all the ingredients together and let stand, covered in the fridge for 2 hours.

You can also add 1 cup of grated carrots, if you like.  This is delicious, crisp, cool, spicy and very satisfying.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

A Bouncing Baby Brisket

Hi Everyone!!!

Jason and I have a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant that we eat at every Sunday after church.  They sell the most amazing brisket tacos ever made.  Unfortunately, I have been completely unable to wrangle, cajole or otherwise coerce the recipe out of the wait staff or the chef.  So, I decided to make my own version, but with a little more "oomph" by adding a spicy red wine to the cooking liquid.

Here is what I did:

Yield - approximately 12 tacos, 1 to 2 per person, unless you are like Jason...then it is 3.
Temperature - Cook in a crock pot on low
Time - 8 hours
Difficulty - Easy

1 - 16 ounce can of chicken stock
1 - cup of Shiraz
1 - medium onion, chunked
2 - poblano peppers - cut into chunks
12 - whole garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of a spicy adobo seasoning mix
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed chipotle pepper
2 pounds of brisket

Place the liquids and all other ingredients in a crock pot and stir.  Then add the meat, cover and let it cook.

When the brisket is done, take it out of the crock pot, trim and cut across the grain...this will pretty much fall apart.  Be sure to strain out 1 cup of the cooking liquid and store the meat with the juice in a sealed container.

For the tacos:
12 - 6 inch corn or flour tortillas
12 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese
12 ounces sliced purple or pickled onions (pickled work REALLY well in this recipe)
12 slices avocado that have been spritzed with lime juice

To assemble the tacos:
Lay out the tortillas, sprinkle with 1 ounce of cheese.  Add about 1/3 cup brisket and 1 ounce of pickled onion, fold in half and cook on a non-stick surface until the tortilla is warm and lightly browned.  Add a slice of avocado and enjoy.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Southwestern Flavored Dipping Oil

I was inspired by the traditional Italian dipping oils to come up with a much different flavor profile.  As most of you know, I am in love with the American southwest.  I love the land, the sky, the people....but most of all, there is an inner peace that I cannot describe that comes over me when I am there.  Texas is currently my home, but my heart longs for New Mexico and someday, Jason and I will live there.

As a tribute to this wonderful part of the US, here is my version of a flavored dipping oil.

It is a rich and chunky dipping oil that is amazing served over grilled shrimp, chicken or pork.  It can also be used very nicely with pasta.  And...it can be turned into a salad dressing, just add about 1/3 cup lime juice and a drizzle of agave nectar (or honey) and whisk together.

2 cups really good olive oil
1/2 cup, roasted, mashed garlic
1/2 cup roasted, peeled and chopped Hatch Chili peppers
1/2 cup purple onion that has been grilled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried and crushed chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix all the ingredients together and let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature for the flavors to come together.  Then either use of refrigerate.  This will keep in your frige for about a week, but I promise you...it won't last that long.  Once refrigerated, you will need to plan ahead to use this and take it out of the fridge for the oil to soften.

If  you order the Hatch Chili Pepper Bread from Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you will be amazed at how awake your taste buds will be.  Please visit  www.goldencrown.biz to order the bread and other wonderful goodies.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Healthier Recipe - Sausage & Egg "Muffins"

As y'all may know, I recently had the opportunity to speak at a special meeting for people who are very health conscious.  In fact, it was a group of individuals who were considering or have had weight loss surgery.  I had such a wonderful time with them.  

In keeping with a promise I made to them and myself, Here is a new recipe that is simply wonderful, tasty and very figure friendly.

Makes 12 "muffins

Preheat oven to 350' F                  '
1 pound of ground turkey breast
1 1/2 teaspoons of rubbed sage
1/2 heaping teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 heaping teaspoon of anise seed
1/4 teaspoon each of salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, if you like
Mix all these ingredients together and cook in a non-stick skillet until done
Drain off any liquid

1 quart of your favorite egg substitute, I personally prefer EggBeaters
12 tablespoons of  low fat shredded cheddar cheese

Spray a standard muffin tin generously with your favorite cooking spray
Divide the sausage evenly between the 12 muffin tins
Divide the egg substitute evenly between the 12 muffin tins

Bake for approx. 20 to 30 minutes, or until the egg substitute is no longer "jiggly".
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the cheese and serve hot.

These will freeze beautifully.  When reheating these little gems, let them defrost and then cover with a damp paper towel and heat on 50% power in the microwave until hot.  This will take a few extra minutes, but they are well worth it.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple Quesadilla - when time and ingredients are in short supply

Lately, I have been working some pretty long hours at my full time job.  I also began singing in the church choir, which has between 500 & 600 members.  Yes, ladies and gents....that is not a typo.....and......our church has greater than 30,000 members spread amongst 3 campuses.  So, my time has been in short supply.

I came home from work late and was really hungry.  So, I was rooting around in the fridge and found everything in very short supply.  But, what I did have was flour tortillas, onions, jalapenos and cheese.  So, I sliced the onion and 2 jalapenos and sauteed them in a little olive oil with salt & pepper.  I laid out a couple of tortillas, put some shredded cheese on the tortillas (a combination of pepper jack, cheddar and mozzarella) and piled on the onions and jalapenos.  Folded the tortillas in half and cooked them until golden brown on medium-low heat in a cast iron pan.  They came out wonderfully and only took about 15 minutes to prepare.....talk about fast food!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Monday, February 13, 2012

Culinary Confusion - A different kind of Chicken Enchilada

Hi Everyone!!!

Sometimes, I can't decide what culture I am going to cook from.  Sometimes it is on purpose, and sometimes, it is because of necessity.  I think by now, y'all know that my favorite foods are from the desert southwest and Mexico.  Don't get me wrong, I fully enjoy other flavors and cultural foods as well.  But there is something so comforting to me about the desert southwest.  The first time that I stepped off of a plane in Albuquerque in 1995, I was "home".  I can't fully describe the pull that this part of the country has for me.....but some day, I am going to live in New Mexico.  Jason and I adore Albuquerque and the surrounding area, Santa Fe and Taos.  Plus, it gets us that much closer to Sedona, which is only about 4 1/2 hours from Albuquerque.

Well, that was a little bit of a tangent, but we'll get back on track.  A few days ago, I promised Jason that I would make chicken enchiladas.  I had everything in the house, or so I thought.  I had a bunch of Hatch chiles in the freezer that had been roasted and peeled, so I defrosted them in a bowl and threw them and the liquor in the blender with a little salt and pepper and processed them until they were smooth.  I used about 6 cups of chiles to end up with about 4 cups of sauce. This is my version of a very simple and straight-forward enchilada verde sauce.

The filling for these enchiladas is:
2 1/2 to 3 pound rotisserie chicken, skinned, boned and the meat shredded
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed in a little olive oil until browned
4 cloves of garlic, minced and added to the onion after it is browned
4 Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cups of shredded cheese (1cup each of cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella), reserve some for the topping

Once the onion and garlic have been cooked, add the black beans, cilantro, chiles and cumin and heat through.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Once cool, add the cheese and mix well.

Take your tortillas......this is the point in the evening when you realize, something is missing and it is a main ingredient for your meal.  As I frantically searched the refrigerator and freezer, all I can find are left-over cooked and frozen giant pasta shells from making stuffed shells a few weeks ago.  So, I put 1 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of 2 baking dishes, defrosted the shells, stuffed them with the filling, lined them up in the baking dishes, poured over the remainder of the sauce, sprinkled them with more cheese and baked them at 350' for about an hour, until they are nicely browned on the top.

They came out amazing and as soon as I can get the picture downloaded from my iPhone, I will add that to this post.

This recipe will make 26 stuffed shells.  In honor of this wonderful meal, I am going to don a sombrero and sing, "That's Amore"......

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Simple Baked Potato

How many times have we baked potatoes?  If you are anything like me, it been hundreds of times.  But, how many people wrap the potato in tin foil and then put them in the oven?

I grew up with potatoes baking in the oven, but never wrapped in tin foil.  My mom simply scrubbed the potatoes, poked them with a fork in a couple of places and baked them directly on the rack at 350' (F) for at least 90 minutes.  The potato skins were always crispy and wonderful.  She would then cut them in half, scoop out the potato into a bowl, add butter, salt & pepper and mix.  While the potato skins were still hot, she would put a pat of butter in each half and let the butter melt.  The potato skins were served along side of the buttered mashed potato.  When we would bite into the potato skins, the butter would end up dripping out onto our plates.

I made baked potatoes tonite to go with dinner (brined and sauteed pork chops with roasted asparagus) and fixed them this way.  My husband ate all of his before he ate anything else on his plate.

If you have never tried potatoes baked this way, I think you will be surprised at how good they are.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Adapting Recipes for a Healthier Lifestyle

I am always looking for ways to change or update recipes to enhance flavor.  One thing that I have given lots of thought to is how do I keep all the flavor of my recipes but reduce sugar, fat and carbohydrate content.  

Tonight, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking with a group of people that is very focused on improving their health using multiple tools and methods.  In preparing for this engagement, I took several of my existing recipes and modified them for a healthier lifestyle and created a booklet to hand out to the group.

I made a pot of my sausage soup, but with much less fat.  When I tasted it, it had all of the flavor of the original version.  I did add rice, but one of the participants in the meeting suggested that I use white beans instead of rice.....what a great suggestion to decrease quick burning carbs and boost nutritional value and fiber!!  

I also made a few great connections with meeting participants and look forward to developing friendships with these lovely ladies.

While we can eat anything that we want any time we want, the question is....should we?  What are we doing to ourselves when we make these choices?   

I would love to hear your suggestions and requests for recipes.  If you have come up with any great recipes, I would love to hear about them.  

All this to say that I will be adding healthier versions of my recipes to this blog and will devote time to this important need.  

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pumped up popcorn - the sweet stuff

Some of the best snacks are those that satisfy multiple sides of our personalities.  Part of me likes the sweet and part of me likes the savory.  I have discovered over the years that I like to mix sweet and savory a lot.

I will admit it....chocolate covered anything is a delight.  This list includes bacon, pretzels, potato chips and popcorn.

This is a "tip of my tiara" to chocolate bark, without so much chocolate.

Chocolate, Cherry and Toasted Almond Popcorn

This is a great treat for Valentine's day.  And gentlemen (ahem) it is so easy to make.
Makes 2 - 3 servings....or possibly only 1 serving, I'm just sayin'

6 cups popcorn, popped - your favorite brand
1 cup of chopped white chocolate - melted
1 cup of chopped dark chocolate - melted
1 cup of dried cherries - chopped
1 cup of sliced almonds - toasted

To melt the chocolate - place the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 15 second increments, stirring after each.  Heat only until the chocolate is just warm and soft.  Chocolate burns very easily, so be patient and gentle when melting chocolate.

Spread popcorn in an even layer on parchment paper
Scatter the cherries and almonds over the popcorn
Drizzle the dark chocolate over the popcorn then drizzle the white chocolate over the popcorn

Let sit until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes, break into pieces and then simply dig in.

I hope y'all enjoy this simple and delicious treat.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pumped up Popcorn - the sweet stuff

We have a really bad batch of thunderstorms moving through our area, so I will post the sweet versions of the pumped up popcorn either later or tomorrow.  I'm going to practice safe electricity and turn off the computer.

Have a great nite everyone!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pumped up Popcorn

I was reading some friends posts on facebook and they were talking about how wonderful the smell of popcorn is.  And, I have to agree.  There is something so comforting about a hot bowl of popcorn, fresh out of the popper.  I'm not talking about the semi-popcorn-like stuff that comes out of a microwave or the gunk laden stuff from the movie theatre.....I am talking about the kind of popcorn that you cook in some oil in a large pan until the kernels start popping and sound like hail on a tin roof, then melted REAL butter is pour over the popcorn and you sprinkle with a favorite seasoning mix.  When I was a kid, it was simply butter and salt.  But as I grew older, I added black pepper and then began experimenting with other flavors.

A few of the other savory flavor combination that I have made are as follows:

  • 1 - 2 teaspoons Chipotle pepper flakes, drizzle of honey and 1/2 cup pine nuts; drizzle the honey first, sprinkle on the chipotle and the pine nuts and toss before serving.
  • Olive Oil, Chipotle, garlic and cilantro:  drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and freshly chopped cilantro.   Toss and serve.
  • Olive oil, basil and sun dried tomato - drizzle with olive oil, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomato, toss gently and serve.
  • Olive oil, oregano, feta cheese:  drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, and toss in 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese.  If you like, you can also add 1/3 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • Garlic chips, parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper - 1/3 cup garlic chips, 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon black cracked pepper, toss gently and serve
  • Butter, truffled salt and fresh cracked black pepper - melted butter all over the popcorn, sprinkle with truffled salt and freshly cracked pepper.
This is the "adult" version of popcorn.  

Tomorrow nite, I'll post the sweeter side of the popcorn for adults.....see y'all then,

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slightly new twist on an old favorite

Today was a rainy and cold day here in North Texas and it just felt like a great soup day.  I was in the mood for chicken tortilla soup, but didn't have everything in the house.  So, I improvised a bit and took a very basic chicken soup recipe, added chopped jalapeno and chopped cilantro and ended up with a nice "middle of the road" flavor.  Not too spicy, not to "standard".  Here is what I did:

4 quarts of chicken stock
1 package of your favorite pasta
6 boneless chicken breasts, skinned, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ribs of celery, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
6 carrots, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
1 large purple onion, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 large jalapenos, seeded, deveined and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon each of salt & pepper

In a large soup pot, on medium heat, bring the olive oil up to temperature
Add the onion and let saute
Add the diced chicken and let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the remainder of the diced veggies and the chicken stock and stir
Cover and let cook on low until the chicken is cooked through, approx. 30 minutes
Add the pasta, stir, cover and let the pasta cook gently, approx. 10 - 15 minutes

Check to see if the pasta is cooked and taste for seasoning.

I know that this is really simple, but the cilantro and jalapeno made a big difference in the flavor profile.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Amazing Black Beans, Black Beans & Rice and Chile Rellenos

My mom used to make the most amazing black beans in a crock pot.  She would make them about every 3 weeks and my dad, brother and I just loved them.  I still have the recipe in her original hand-writing and I have very fond memories of cooking with my mom.  I even have her old milk-glass bowl, her favorite wooden spoon, "my" Piggie cookie jar and a few other cherished items that were such a part of my childhood.  Come to think of it, I have a cast aluminum Dutch oven and several kitchen utensils that were my grandmothers, from the 1930's and 1940's.....oh my goodness!!!

Thinking about the wooden spoon.....should I admit that this spoon is about 35 years old and I still use it?

My mom passed away in 2002, but using her recipes and kitchen tools somehow makes me feel like she is somewhere close by, watching and smiling while I make her favorite recipes.

For these beans, you will need:
1 pound of black (turtle) beans
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2/3 cup of tomato paste
2 cups of tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, diced

Start the crock pot on high for about 1 hour, then turn to low.  Cook for approx. 4 hours or until they are done.

If you are pressed for time, you can use canned black beans, just rinse them, add all the ingredients to a pan on the stove, and heat on low until hot.  You may need to simmer them a bit to let some of the liquid reduce, just keep an eye on them and stir occasionally.

1.  Use this version in "black beans and rice".
2.  Mix the beans with with rice, add cheese and stuff poblano peppers with the mixture and make chile rellenos.

To make the rellenos:
Heat enough oil to comfortably fry peppers in, about 350' F.
Preheat the oven to 350' F, place 8 poblanos on a cookie sheet and cook the poblano peppers in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, just enough to soften them.  Then, let them cool a bit, cut a slit down the side of the pepper, trim out some of the seed pod inside, but leave the stem intact.  Stuff with the rice, bean and cheese mixture with enough room to close the pepper and overlap the edges slightly.  Gently press the pepper around the filling and mold back into the conical shape of the pepper.  Set the peppers aside.  In a large bowl, beat 6 egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 2 yolks, one at a time and beat until incorporated.   Dip the peppers in the egg whites, coating all the way up to the stem and gently place them in the oil to fry.  Take them out when they are golden brown, serve with your choice of salsa, spicy ranchero sauce and a drizzle of  crema Mexicana.  I also serve with a nice salad with avocado, seeded diced tomato, purple onion on shredded lettuce and tortilla strips along with a spicy chipotle ranch dressing.

Your taste buds will definitely stand up and SING!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Texas Caviar - my version

Texas caviar is simply a black eyed pea salad.  I ate it for the very first time yesterday and liked it, but y'all know me - I can't leave a recipe alone.

It just needed more......  Here is what I did:

3 cans black eyed peas, rinsed
1 can sweet corn
1 small jicama, diced to be the same size as the peas and corn
1 diced red pepper, 1 diced yellow pepper
4 scallions sliced thinly
1 small purple onion, diced and rinsed under cold water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 poblano peppers that have been roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
Juice of 2 - 3 limes
1/2 cup really good olive oil
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning.

Also, be sure to dice up an avocado and add it as a creamy and cool surprise in this salad.  I promise you that no one will be disappointed.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Decadent Dark Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream and Amaretto Syrup

This is the richest, darkest and most decadent chocolate pudding you will ever have, lightly topped with snow-white whipped cream and drizzled with amaretto syrup.....a little will go a very long way.

This recipe will make 6 servings

3 rounded tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces dark (70%) chocolate
1 1/2 cups each heavy cream and milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix it all together in a sauce pan on the stove and cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is hot and has thickened.  Cover the pudding with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to avoid forming a thick, tough skin.  Set aside.

Amaretto Syrup
While the pudding is cooking, in a separate sauce pan with high sides, pour in 1 cup of amaretto then put the pan over the heat source. Simmer until reduced to a thick syrup.  Keep an eye on this as it will tend to bubble up.  If it should bubble up, remove the pan from the heat source and let the bubble subside.  Set aside and let cool

Whipped Cream
1 cup of cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form

To Serve
Place 1/2 cup of pudding in a martini glass, top with a nice dollop of whipped cream and then drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of amaretto syrup, garnish with toasted, sliced almonds and a mint leaf.

I just served this today and it was a hit.....all I could hear at the table as everyone took their first taste was...."mmmmm"......SUCCESS!!!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,