Search This Blog

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Year in Review 2021



2021 started off on the rough side when our sweet Andy-dog passed of heart failure. While no flying trips happened, we did do some road trips to Ely, MN (ice fishing), Missiouri (hog hunting) and Pierre, South Dakota (bird hunting). A new furry soul joined our small pack in July, and if you've ever had a puppy, ya know how busy those first 3-4 months are. Not a lot of time for hobbies.

Our newest family member:

Chet at 5 months

Notable traveling adventures:

Missouri - March
The Husband signed us up for a hog hunting trip in Southern Missouri. Missouri (and numerous southern states) are having a dreadful time with these invasive animals and the destruction a herd of hogs does to a farm field. We enjoyed a stop in Hannibal to tour Mark Twain's birthplace, five state parks, and a Civil War battle site in Iowa on the way home.

Highest Point in MO - Tam Sauk St. Park

Pierre, SD - October
A trip to the state capitol of South Dakota to hunt prarie chicken and sharptail. The Husband did the hunting, I was back-up dog handler. Trip did involve a pop over to see the Badlands National Park.

Mankato, New Ulm, St. Peter, MN - November
Home Free concert was the impetus for this jaunt down to Southern MN.

Books Read (Novels, Novellas, Novelettes, Short Stories)

2021 - 62 (16624) pages approx)
2020 - 80 (19537 pages)
2019 - 101 (25567 pages)
2018 - 122 (31568 pages)
2017 - 122 (29857 pages)
2016 - 119 (32652 pages)
2015 - 89 (25726 pages)
2014 - 89 (28442 pages)
2013 - 98 (28277 pages)
2012 - 129 (32617 pages)
2011 - 115 (30365 pages)
2010 – 80 (21848 pages)
2009 – 45 (16094 pages)
2008 – 45 (14456 pages)

New Recipes Made
(yes, some of these are failures...)

2021 - 109
2020 - 123
2019 - 111
2018 - 106
2017 - 100
2016 - 133
2015 - 98
2014 - 109
2013 - 125
2012 - 100
2011 - 95
2010 – 82
2009 - 92
2008 - 129
2007 - 120
2006 - 103
2005 - 137
2004 - 143
2003 - 154

A Smidgen of Knitting
(Ravelry Links)
Reyna  (made three of these)
 Temperance (made one, with another on the needles)
Vivid (started)


A bit of Sewing

The Husband and I spent the summer watering the garden in record temps and drought conditions for our area, enjoying some time on the porch watching the world go by (mostly just sweating in those record temps), and adjusting to having a puppy again. My work kept me busy, my yoga classes at the Y kept me grounded, and I enjoyed learning some new sewing techniques.

After 14 years of blogging, I've decided I need a break so posts will be much less frequent this coming year, if I do any at all.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Recipe Review from 12/13/21 and 12/20/21

A couple of busy weeks with a trip down to Mankato, MN, kept the meal plan super simple. Week one was predominantly slow cooker meals and week two was soup. Mankato was a Home Free concert, a vocal group the Husband found this year and really enjoys their videos. We missed the concert in Duluth as we were in South Dakota, but tickets were still available for Mankato. I haven't been to Mankato since, oh, 1990/1991, so it was an opportunity to explore!

This posting will conclude the 2021 Recipe Reviews. Hard to believe another year has gone by! Lots of great recipes this year, new cook books explored (I HEART Milk Street!), and so many new cooking gizmos tried out (smoker, sous vide machine, instant pot...)!

Dundee, OR, 2018

The Meal Plan 12/13
Sat (L) leftover fennel, tomato and wildrice soup (S) Sausage and squash
Sun (L) leftovers (S) Veggie pot pie
Mon (yoga) leftovers
Tues - leftovers
Wed (yoga) - leftovers
Thurs (snowstorm!) left for Mankato
Fri - Mankato

Lunches - Quinoa Chili with cornbread muffins

The Meal Plan 12/20
Sat - Mankato
Sun - Mankato
Mon (yoga)- Eastern Carolina Fish Stew
Tues - leftovers
Wed (yoga) leftovers
Thurs - take n bake pizza
Fri - leftovers

Lunches - sandwiches

I made three recipes out of this cook book: The Great American Slow Cooker (Goodreads link). My dharma must have been off because I managed to goof up one thing in each recipe, two things in the pot pie dish. Frustrating.

Vegetable Pot Pie
This recipe was a disaster of my own making. I used my instant pot slow cooker - which I KNOW tends to cook significantly cooler than my regular slow cooker - and I realized at the 4 hour mark that it was NOT going to be done in 5 hours per the recipe. Even when on high. I switched everything to a dutch oven on the stove, where the sauce mixed proceeded to burn to the bottom of my pot. Argh.

I *thought* that I might be able to sub filo for the puff pastry as I had half a box languishing in the freezer. I thawed, buttered, sprinkled with Parmesan and baked. It was a very meh substitution.

Then I forgot to add the green beans, my pea substitute.

This has the potential to be good and I think I would try it again when I am perhaps not quite as distracted as I was.

Serves about 6

(4-5 1/2 qt slow cooker)
1 1/4 lbs fennel, trimmed and chopped (I cut into slices)
1 lb carrots, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds (I used baby carrots, chopped)
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp dill
1/2 tbsp thyme
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 tbsp all-purpose flour (or gf substitute)
3/4 cup green peas
4" frozen puff pastry squares, thawed

Combine fennel, carrots, potatoes, onion, dill, thyme and salt and pepper in slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, mix with a whisk evaporated milk, wine and flour until flour is completely dissolved.

Cook on low for 5 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add the peas.

Bake puff pastry squares according to directions on the package.

Serve, topping bowls with puff pastry.

Sausage and Winter Squash
I realized as I was typing this that I forgot the raisins. They would have been a nice addition - a hit of sweet against the spicy sausage and a counterpoint to the squash.

This is a chop, plop, and walk away dish. You could serve it alone or over rice. I served over rice. Recommended!

Serves about 4-6 (definitely 6 with rice)

(4-5 1/2 qt slow cooker)
2 tbsp butter
2 lb sausage cut into 2" lengths (I used andoullie)
1 lb winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cube (I used butternut)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup raisins (oops, forgot these...)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp saffron
4" cinnamon stick
1 3/4 low sodium chicken broth

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage pieces and brown, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Cook in batches if necessary.

Add the squash, onion, raisins, coriander, ginger, cayenne, saffron, and cinnamon stick to the slow cooker. Toss everything together and add the broth.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until the squash is tender.

Black Bean and Quinoa chili
In this recipe, I forgot to add the tomatoes. This cooked up beautifully, I did have to add some more broth at the end to make it more "sauce-y" and that's when I looked over to the counter and saw the unopened can of tomatoes. Argh.

This still came out very good - good texture, good flavors, super easy to make (chop and plop) and I absolutely would make it again. I made it for my lunches for the week and had enough left for one lunch for two on the weekend. Serve with some warm cornbread.

Serves about 6 - 8

(4-5 1/2 qt slow cooker)
2 (14.5 oz black beans, drained and rinsed (I used cranberry beans)
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed (recipe called for black quinoa, I used red)
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt added crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, cored and chopped
1/4 cup celery
2 tbsp jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp molasses (unsulfured)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
Cilantro (optional)

Combine beans, broth, quinoa, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, chili powder, molasses, cumin, coriander, oregano and salt in the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until the quinoa is cooked.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Looking Glass WarThe Looking Glass War by John le Carré
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: John le Carré's classic novels deftly navigate readers through the intricate shadow worlds of international espionage with unsurpassed skill and knowledge, and have earned him unprecedented worldwide acclaim. THE LOOKING GLASS WAR Once upon a time the distinction had been clear: the Circus handled all things political while the Department dealt with matters military. But over the years, power shifted and the Circus elbowed the Department out. Now, suddenly, the Department has a job on its hands. Evidence suggests Soviet missiles are being positioned close to the German border. Vital film is missing and a courier is dead. Lacking active agents, but possessed of an outdated mandate to proceed, the Department has to find an old hand to prove its mettle. Fred Leiser, German-speaking Pole turned Englishman -- once a qualified radio operator, now involved in the motor trade -- must be called back to the colors and sent East....

Read as an audio book.

While I enjoyed the narration, I did have some troubles following who was who and some of the transitions. It was as if the reader skipped the pauses that would indicate a change in POV.

Dovetailing on the audio quality, I either zoned out or missed a key point on the *why* of the overall plot. I *thought* the impetus was going to be to find out why an agent was killed, the importance of a set of photos, and where those photos went. The whole premise ended up being something completely different which left me vaguely bemused for a goodly portion of the book.

I think I may have enjoyed this more if I had read it rather than listened to it, and I may yet go back and re-read.

Recommended as it's book four in the Le Carre George Smiley series.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Salvage Crew by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

The Salvage CrewThe Salvage Crew by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: They thought this was just another salvage job. They thought wrong.

An AI overseer and a human crew arrive on a distant planet to salvage an ancient UN starship. The overseer is unhappy. The crew, well, they're certainly no A-team. Not even a C-team on the best of days.

And worse? Urmahon Beta, the planet, is at the ass-end of nowhere. Everybody expects this to be a long, ugly, and thankless job.

Then it all goes disastrously wrong. What they thought was an uninhabited backwater turns out to be anything but empty. Megafauna roam the land, a rival crew with some terrifyingly high-powered gear haunts the dig site, and a secret that will change humanity forever is waiting in the darkness.

Stuck on this unmapped, hostile planet, lacking resources, and with tech built by the cheapest bidder, the salvage crew must engineer their way to payday...and beat Urmahon Beta before it kills them all.

Experience this space exploration adventure told from the perspective of a snarky artificial intelligence you won't soon forget.

Read for November 2021 book group. Read as an audio book and regular book.

Touching on the audio - loved Nathan Fillion as narrator, but unfortunately, however it was recorded, I couldn't understand what he was saying. His voice ended up being muddled and mumbled. I did read and listen for a while, then just abandoned the narration and read as normal. Which was a major bummer. Consensus was the same with others in book group.

I greatly enjoyed this. Loved the premise, interesting characters, interesting world building, a bit of an unconventional plot where it's not all rainbows at the end. AMBER ROSE's sarcasm was fantastic, I loved SHIP even tho she had such a minor role, the human characters were interesting and behaved like, well, realistic humans. The Buddhist concepts were a delightful change from the usual Jesuit's in Space that show up more frequently in SF.

I did hit a stumbling block about two-thirds of the way through after a major reveal. The overall plot became more narrative and a bit blah blah blah and I found myself skipping pages. One book group member concurred, and three others said that was one of the best parts of the book. Interesting interpretations.

I'm trying very hard not to drop any major spoilers, so going to end here and say, well worth reading, but skip the audio.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 13, 2021

Recipe Review from 12/6/21

Three new recipes this week, only one that I'm posting because I ran out of time to type out the others. Everything turned out splendidly!

Spanish Ratatouille is from Milk Street Tuesday Nights and I would absolutely make this again. This dish would be even better with fresh veggies from the garden in the fall. One note - I forgot a zucchini so I subbed roasted butternut squash and I think that was an even better flavor profile. I had in my meal planning notes to put an egg on top for some added protein, and I completely forgot. Which would be a trend going into the weekend...

The Fennel and Tomato Wild Rice Soup was good and the fennel is definitely more of a smell than a taste. Anise is not my favorite scent, so it was a tich disconcerting, but the soup itself was quite delicious. The Great American Slow Cooker cookbook is one of my favorites and a definite go-to for meal ideas.

The Meal Plan:
Sat (L) Leftover soup (S) Horseradish crusted salmon
Sun (L) pasta (S) Gochujang tofu with Roasted Potatoes & Broccolini
Mon (yoga) leftovers
Tue - Spanish Ratatouille (Milk Street Tuesday Nights)
Wed - leftovers
Thurs (yoga) leftovers
Fri - take n bake pizza

Lunches - Fennel and tomato wild rice soup (Great American Slow Cooker Cookbook)

Gochujang [Tofu] with Roasted Potatoes & Broccolini (Eating Well, Dec 2021) vegetarian
Easy, fairly tasty, nice and spicy! I did find the broccolini on the tough side, and it might have benefited from a quick blanching, but that kinda defeats the simplicity of this dish. I did sub in tofu for the steak (a bit to the Husbands dismay) and I really liked the spicy sauce against the creamy tofu. I would absolutely make this again.
Photo from

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered lengthwise, depending on size
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
1 medium apple, coarsely chopped
½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, chopped, whites and greens separated
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 pound steak tips OR 1 lb extra firm tofu
1 pound broccolini, trimmed

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line another baking sheet with foil.

Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Carefully transfer to the hot baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack, flipping once, until the potatoes are browned and tender, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine apple, onion, scallion whites, garlic, brown sugar, gochujang, soy sauce and vinegar in a blender. Puree until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup for serving and pour the rest into the bowl; add steak tips and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Combine broccolini, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl; toss to coat.
Arrange the broccolini on one side of the foil-lined baking sheet and the steak on the other side. Roast on the upper rack until the broccolini is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the steak registers 125°F for medium-rare, 10 to 14 minutes. Turn the broiler to high and broil until the broccolini and steak start to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve the steak with the broccolini, potatoes and reserved sauce. Garnish with scallion greens.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Vicarious by Rhett C Bruno

VicariousVicarious by Rhett C. Bruno
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: The real world is only where you breathe…

In High Earth, entertainment is everything. Virtual Worlds. Games. Steaming shows. Simulations—there’s something for everybody. You don't ever even have to leave your home.

For Asher Reinhart, nothing compares to Ignis: Live, a reality show that pushes human beings to their very extremes. As a volunteer director, he closely monitors the lives of those living on an Interstellar Ark, believing they're the last of humanity.

Mission is the show's brightest young star. Born in hiding, her intelligence and near-perfect genetics have allowed her to rise up the ranks faster than any before her. But now that it's her turn to provide for the Ark, everything changes...

With Mission's life placed in danger, Asher is forced to choose: between the show he loves, or the woman whose existence has been the focus of his attention since the day he was born.

The 100 meets The Truman Show in this science fiction story about the power of human connection, from USA Today Bestselling and Nebula Award-Nominated author Rhett C. Bruno. It’s perfect for fans of Hugh Howey, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Michael Crichton.

Read for Oct 2021 book group. Read on audio.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book.

What I enjoyed:
The over all concept - interesting world building, interesting future speculation, interesting characters especially with the protagonist Asher and a very interesting conclusion.

The depths to which human society has sunk as relates to virtual reality and reality TV is cause for despair. Which is part of the overall point - just look at reality shows on TV today. Where will society stop when it comes to entertainment and human depravity? Interesting question...

Where I struggled:
Some of the nuances or details of the book didn't mesh with the future society and this may be hard to describe if you haven't read the book. The main item being conditions on Ignis - shared birth control? ICK and not entirely realistic beyond a handful of generations (hormonal life span). Expecting the entire population of Ignis to abstain from sex till their appointed "breeding time"? Unrealistic and implausible. If this is such an advanced society (despite being stuck on a fake ship), use artificial insemination to achieve population and birthing objectives, not "hey, you're 20 and never had sex, here's your 50 year old partner! Enjoy!". WTHeck. Massively ick. So, some issues with the execution of Ignis.

The extremes between High Earth and the Outcasts was almost too extreme? I still waffle on this one.

The antagonist (Asher's boss and the creator of Ignis live) was almost laughable in his evil villain role.

So. I quite enjoyed this book, with aspects that at times kicked me out of the story and made me so frustrated. Kudo's to the author for eliciting such a response. This is a book you need to read and decide for yourself. Recommended with some significant reservations.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 6, 2021

Recipe Review from 11/29/2021

Welcome to December! I can't believe how fast the year went.  Only two new recipes this week. The salmon croquettes are from the Irish Pub Cookbook and we make these about once a year. Spaghetti was a place holder for meatballs and sauce, which we did over a hoagie bun and then over egg noodles. I made the meatballs ahead on Sunday, nice and simple, ready for the week.


The Meal Plan:
Sat (L) leftover burritos (S) salmon croquettes
Sun (S) leftover burritos (S) salmon croquettes
Mon (yoga/bkgrp) - spaghetti
Tues (haircut) - sablefish and grits
Wed (yoga) -
Thurs - sablefish and grits
Fri - ??

Lunches - slow cooked turkey wild rice soup

Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Damn Delicious blog)
Most excellent! For myself, this is what I like in a creamy wild-rice soup. My only modification was I used 1 1/2 lb wild turkey breast, which I kept whole and let cook in the stock mixture. I removed, shreaded and proceeded as written with adding the milk and half 'n half. I would absolutely make this again! Recommended.

About 8-10 servings.
photo from

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup wild rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker.

Stir in chicken stock, wild rice, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Add mushrooms during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and half and half, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir chicken and milk mixture into the slow cooker. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Creole Spiced White Fish with Cheddar Grits (Sitka Salmon)
I made this twice because I followed the directions on the back of a package of Bob's Red Mill Grits/Polenta, which makes 4 servings. I set aside the extra in the fridge and on the second day, I re-heated the grits in the oven while the fish baked. I think I liked the second day a bit more, but it didn't have the pan sauce which was tasty. So...stink up the house by cooking the fish on the stove? Or, bake in the oven and forgo the pan sauce? One could take the juices from the oven and do a quick pan sauce, but now you have an extra dish to clean.

I did use sablefish for this with excellent results. This rich buttery fish holds up very well to the Creole seasoning.

This does come together very quickly, is easy to assemble, and I think has the potential for some variety options (sauteed mushrooms anyone?). Highly recommended.

Serves 2
photo from

One portion white fish fillet (12 to 14 ounces), such as lingcod, pacific cod, sablefish, or rockfish, cut into 2 pieces
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon Creole spice blend or paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup quick-cooking grits
½ cup (loosely packed) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (tightly packed) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ cup dry white wine
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Pat the fish dry with paper towels and brush with oil. Rub the Creole seasoning and a pinch of salt and pepper all over the fish.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring 1¾ cups water to a boil. While stirring, gradually add the grits and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, spinach, and 1 tablespoon butter. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillet. Transfer to a plate.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the wine, and cook until slightly reduced, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the remaining butter and swirl the pan until melted. Season with salt to taste.

Spoon the grits onto plates, dividing evenly. Top each with a piece of fish and half of the sauce. Garnish with the scallions and serve.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Recipe Review from 11/22/21

A couple new recipes to wrap up November. One super simple fish dish and one scone recipe. I recommend both!
A dam fine site - looking downriver toward Pierre, SD, from the Oahe Dam.  Oahe Dam creates the 4th largest made-made reservoir in the US.

The Meal Plan:
Sat (L) Leftover lentil soup (S) pheasant with wild rice
Sun (L) Leftover lentil soup (S) brats
Mon (yoga) brats
Tues - Horseradish spiced salmon with crispy leeks
Wed (yoga) - take-n-bake pizza
Thurs - Cities
Fri - Cities

Lunches - Barley, Corn and black bean burritos

Horseradish-Crusted Salmon with Crispy Leeks (Eating Well, Dec 2021)
A easy, tasty fish dish! A couple of very small modifications:I reduced the cornstarch to 1, maybe 1 1/2 tbsp. 3 tbsp seemed like it would have the potential to be gummy. I was able to find jarred horseradish at the co-op that wasn't full of corn-syrup and soybean oil, and it is SUPER spicy. So I added an extra tablespoon of may to cut the heat a little bit. Perfect for our taste buds! A bit of zing, but not so much so that it overwhelmed all the other flavors. I served this along side a baked wild rice dish. Leftovers reheated very well.

I would make this again. I AM making this again in a week for Holiday dinner with the Folks.

Serves 4
photo from

1 ¼ pounds salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into matchsticks
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Pat salmon dry and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mix mayonnaise and horseradish in a small bowl and brush over the salmon. Roast until the salmon is opaque in the center, 7 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss leek with cornstarch and add to the pan. Cook, separating the leek strands with tongs as they cook, until crispy and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve the salmon topped with the leek.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Scones (Better Homes and Gardens)
I have been on a pumpkin kick lately - pumpkin waffles, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, and now pumpkin scones. The full recipe includes a powdered sugar glaze, orange zest and sugared pepitas. I wanted a simple unadorned scone so I skipped all that, which is reflected below. These were moist, pumpkin-y, with a hit of tart from the cranberries. Next time (and there will probably be a next time) I might try with fresh cranberries.

One modification I did was instead of rolling out and cutting into wedges, I used my cookie scoop and dollup-ed onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I got about 12 nicely rounded, perfectly portioned scones this way.


Made 12 following my notes above, makes 8 following directions below.
photo from

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cut up
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk
½ cup canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees °F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and toss well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the 2 eggs, half-and-half, and pumpkin. Add pumpkin mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut circle into eight wedges.

Place wedges 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl combine the 1 egg with the 1 tablespoon water. Brush wedges lightly with egg mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from baking sheet. Let cool for 5 minutes if adding any topping or glaze (follow link for glaze).

Monday, November 22, 2021

Recipe Review from 11/15/21

One new recipe from last week. As the Husband was pheasant hunting in the western side of the state, I had plenty of leftovers from the week previous. We had fresh pheasant sauted with mushrooms and onions served over grits to wrap up the week.

More wide open spaces in SD

The Meal Plan:
Sat (L) leftover Fasolada (S) dinner at the Folks
Sun (S) leftover German dumplings and gravy (S) breakfast naan pizza
Mon (yoga) leftover dumplings and gravy
Tues - leftover dumplings and gravy
Wed (yoga) - leftover soup
Thurs - grits and pheasant
Fri - grits and pheasant

Lunches (mine) berbere spiced lentils

Berbere-Spiced Lentil & Turnip Soup vegetarian,vegan
Easy, easy, easy. Chop, plop, and walk away. 10 hours on low seems a bit overkill, unless you have an instant pot - I've noticed and others have commented the slow cooker feature runs cooler than a stand alone slow cooker. Significantly lower temps.

But I digress. I found a berbere spice blend at the co-op. No clue if it was salt free, so I erred on the salted side and didn't add the extra salt. If you didn't want to chop tomatoes, used canned (diced) and cut back on the vegetable stock. Would I make this again? Absolutely. It's earthy lentils, sweet turnips with some of heat from the spice blend. I did serve with the yogurt which added a tangy creaminess. Recommended!

Serves 8-10 (approx)

1 pound green lentils, rinsed
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large tomatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus leaves for garnish
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons salt-free berbere spice blend
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
Plain Greek yogurt for serving

Combine lentils, broth, turnips, tomatoes, onion, celery, garlic, berbere and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to make sure the lentils and turnips are covered with the liquid. Cover and cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 hours on High or 8 to 10 hours on Low.

Serve the soup topped with celery leaves and yogurt, if desired.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Recipe Review from 11/8/21

Four new recipes this week. Three simple and exceedingly tasty meals, one impulse bake in the Cranberry-Pecan muffins.

The Boys out in SD - Ready to go Mom!

The Meal Plan
Sat (L) take-out chicken (S) Folks
Sun (L) Left over chicken (S) tomato soup and grilled cheese
Mon (yoga) leftover soup take n bake pizza
Tues - take n bake pizza leftover soup
Wed (yoga) breakfast Naan pizza
Thurs (OFF) breakfast Naan pizza
Fri - breakfast Naan pizza

Lunches - Fasolada soup

Sheet Pan Tomato Soup (Eating Well, Sept 2021) gluten free/vegetarian/vegan
Yes, the recipe is THAT simple. I made as written, except I forgot to add the sugar. I think the thyme should be tossed with the tomatoes during roasting to bloom the flavors. I did need to add a tich of water as it was just a tich too thick for me, and I generally prefer a thick soup. Highly recommended!

Photo from
Served 4 - 6 (depending if you do a "cup" or a "bowl").

4 pints cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Spread tomatoes, onion and garlic in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until the tomatoes burst and the onion is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the tomatoes, onions and garlic to a blender. Add sugar to taste, thyme and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Garnish with more fresh thyme, if desired.

Breakfast Naan Pizza (Eating Well, Sept 2021) vegetarian
Yup. Recipe is that easy. I skipped the lemon zest because a) I didn't see it and b) if I had, it's a putsy step in a c) recipe that has enough flavors. I used the small naan (single serving size?) because I was making this for myself for dinner and the regular naan seemed a bit on the large size. Mmm...I was still hungry after so maybe should have stuck with large? Hard to say.

I modified the cooking part a lot: I poached my eggs, toasted the naan in the toaster, and then popped under the broiler for just a moment to brown the Parmesan and warm up the cheese and pesto.

This would be good anytime: breakfast, lunch, snack, supper... highly recommended!

Photo from
Serves 4+ (will be dependent upon size of naan and amount of ingredients)

1 whole-wheat naan
2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon low-sodium marinara or pesto
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil and ground pepper for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place naan on the prepared pan. Mix ricotta, marinara (or pesto) and lemon zest in a small bowl. Spread the mixture onto the naan, creating a well in the center. Carefully crack egg into the well. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until the naan is golden, the egg white is set and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with basil and pepper, if desired.

Fasolada (modified from Milk Street) gluten free; vegetarian/vegan option
OMGOSH! This was so good! Like this is now my favorite soup good!

My modification: **1 lb dried beans pre-cooked in the instant pot. Proceed with recipe. Why? Because dried beans can be a bit finicky and I hate it when they don't cook as anticipated, end up on the firm side, and it just kinda ruins the dish. So, I cooked first, then proceeded with the dish.

Milk Street did note you can use 4-15oz canned cannellini beans (rinsed and drained).

Servings 6-8 (I had 5 lunches and froze two tubs at 2 servings each)

3 tbsp oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 medium celery stalks, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
kosher salt and pepper
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 lb dried cannellini beans (I used cranberry beans), pre-cooked
**see my note above**
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
4 tsp red wine vinegar (i used white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 oz feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

1. Mash 1 cup of the cooked beans and set aside.

2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook another 30 seconds. Add the tomato past and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the broth. Add the whole and mashed beans and stir. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are barely tender.

Off heat, stir in the vinegar, then vigorously wisk in 3 tbsp olive oil (MS notes: Whisk! Don't drizzle! Will add extra body and flavor!). Season to taste and serve with olives and feta.

Cranberry-Pecan muffins (Cooks Illustrated) These are excellent! But, assembly was a tich putzy and you DO need a food processor. Loving my Cuisinart 11 cup processor right about now.

Yes, putzy. Toasting, cooling; melting, cooling; blitz in the processor, set aside; blitz something else, set aside; blitz again; wait 30 minutes and then bake.

But, as with most of the ATK/Cooks Illustrated franchise recipe, they are exceedingly good.

Photo from
Makes 12 muffins.

Streusel Topping
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
pinch salt
½ cup pecan halves

1 ⅓ cups (6 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (7 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup whole milk
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

NOTE: If fresh cranberries aren't available, substitute frozen: Microwave them in a bowl until they're partially but not fully thawed, 30 to 45 seconds.

FOR THE STREUSEL: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Process flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt in food processor until mixture resembles coarse sand, 4 to 5 pulses. Add pecans and process until pecans are coarsely chopped, about 4 pulses. Transfer to small bowl; set aside.

FOR THE MUFFINS: Spray 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray with flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt together in bowl; set aside. My note - I used muffin cup liners. 'Cause it guarantees they'll come out and easier clean-up, ya know?

Process toasted pecans and granulated sugar until mixture resembles coarse sand, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to large bowl and whisk in eggs, butter, and milk until combined. Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until just moistened and no streaks of flour remain. Set batter aside 30 minutes to thicken.

Pulse cranberries, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and confectioners’ sugar in food processor until very coarsely chopped, 4 to 5 pulses. Using rubber spatula, fold cranberries into batter. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups, slightly mounding in middle. Evenly sprinkle streusel topping over muffins, gently pressing into batter to adhere. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin on wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Recipe Review from 11/1/2021

Holy Smokes! Where did the year go?!? Welcome to November! A couple favorite repeats this week and a couple new recipes for review.

Badlands National Park, SD, 2021

This meal plan dovetails on the end of our South Dakota trip (see previous post) so there are a couple added days to the menu.

Fri (S) Grouse and potatoes
Sat (L) leftover chili (S) Salmon and leeks in a wine sauce
Sun (L) leftover salmon (S) Roast Chicken with herbs and pomegranate molasses
Mon (yoga) leftover chicken
Tues - leftover chicken
Wed (yoga) - soup
Thurs - Bear chops in blue cheese sauce
Fri - leftover chops

Lunches - (me) butnut soup (Husband) sandwiches

This is a freezer reduction menu as items seem to go in, and are a bit slow to come out. It's nice to have the freezer, but often it becomes out of sight, out of mind. Trying to do better.

What came out: chili, salmon, chicken, soup, and bear. Mind, the chili and soup were pre-trip additions.

Wine-Poached Salmon with Piquillo Peppers and Leeks (Sitka Salmon)
A great weeknight dish that is easy to prep and come together very quickly and tastes great.

Two notables - I used jarred sliced roasted red peppers as I have no idea what a Piquillo pepper is nor nor does my store carry it. The other is, 5-6 min to cook the fish is very accurate. I went 10ish and it was over-cooked. Still good, just, overcooked. The picture shows cooking with skin on, the recipe calls to remove the skin. We removed the skin as directed for a more pleasant dining experience.

photo from Sitka Salmon

1½ pounds salmon fillets, pin bones and skin removed, cut into 4 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small lemon, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
1 cup thinly sliced leek, white and pale green parts, washed well
6 fresh thyme sprigs
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup very thinly sliced piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
Crusty bread for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position. Season the salmon all over with salt and pepper. Cut a sheet of parchment into a 12-inch round (it should fit snugly into a 12-inch skillet). Fold it into quarters and snip 1/2 inch from the pointed tip. Unfold and set aside.


In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter along with the oil. When the foam subsides, add the lemon and cook until heated, about 1 minute. Turn the lemon slices and stir in the leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs and top with the salmon. Pour the wine around the salmon, place the parchment circle on top and bring to a simmer. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the fish is opaque and just flakes around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes depending on thickness.

Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the salmon to a platter. Cover the salmon with the parchment to keep warm. Carefully transfer the hot skillet to the stove and bring the pan juices to a gentle simmer over low heat. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and the sauce is creamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in the peppers and parsley.

Return the salmon to the skillet and garnish with parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup (modified from Cooks Country)
This was for lunches and I topped it with the pancetta, some popcorn and toasted pumpkin seeds.

A handful of modifications to this simple and easy soup - I used frozen squash (from my 2020 garden), I used 3 cups water because the squash had been frozen (otherwise too much liquid), and I added about a 1/2 tsp of gochujang paste for a bit of heat. I quite enjoyed the flavor balance and with the gochujang it had the perfect amount of spice. Recommended as written OR with modifications!

Serves 4 (I got 5 lunches out of this)
photo from America's Test Kitchen

4 ounces pancetta, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (6 cups)
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth or water
1/2 tsp gochujang paste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Cook pancetta in Dutch oven over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel–lined plate.

Add squash, bell pepper, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper to fat left in pot and cook over medium-high heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, covered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

Working with 2 cups at a time, process soup in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer pureed soup to saucepan. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual portions with chives and pancetta.

Popular Posts