April 2013

These were a mistake. A wonderful mistake. I was hoping to make these Chocolate Revel Bars, which are amazing and one of my favorite bar cookies. I mixed the oatmeal cookie bar portion, then realized that I didn’t have sweetened condensed milk for the chocolate filling. I thought I could make my own, but it turns out that is a 2 hour process of reducing milk and sugar. No thank you. So, I made a cream cheese filling to replace the chocolate filling, and added lots o’ chocolate chips. So good.
All you do is make the oatmeal bar mixture here (mix ingredients up to the sweetened condensed milk), plus add about a cup of chocolate chips (I added a mix of white and chocolate). Then, make the cream cheese filling:
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a baking pan. Spread 2/3 of the oatmeal bar mixture into the pan. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together. Add in the egg, then stir in the flour to combine.  Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cookie dough. Drop the remaining dough over the cream cheese in small pieces.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.

Ground Beef Tacos


Do you need a recipe for tacos? Probably not. Brown a little ground beef with the pre-packaged taco seasoning and you’re good to go. True.

But, it’s just as easy to use fresh ingredients that give you a way better flavor and a lot less sodium.  Perfect easy weeknight meal that your whole family will love.

Just kidding, that was cheesy. But I’m sure if you have a family they will love it.


  • 1 lb ground beef (recommend 93% lean)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Dash worcestershire

How many recipes do I have on this blog that include a dash of worcestershire? A lot. It does magical things to food, particularly ground beef.

Brown the meat, then add the onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Mix in the tomato sauce, then remaining ingredients. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for several minutes to let the flavors marinate. I don’t really know if that step is necessary, but it felt good. I like the idea of ‘flavors marinating.’

Serve on hard or soft tortillas (I couldn’t decide!), with chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, and sour cream. And salsa!

Roasted Carrots

When I was a kid, my mom used to take us to the farmers’ market on the weekends. We’d roam around, sample anything and everything, and pick up groceries for dinner. It was always a delightful experience, until one dark and tragic day I can remember so vividly it hurts me to type this.
I spotted the carrots from across the market. Big, pointy at the end, and they HAD THE GREEN TOPS STILL ON. Just like Bugs Bunny. Just like you see in the movies. Oh my god. I was so excited…I was raised in the era when mini bagged carrots were all the rage and they on no level resembled those that were consumed by Bugs Bunny. I didn’t even realize garden carrots really existed.I was really young, btw (I think?).

My mom, being the generous farmers’ market-goer that she was, happily obliged to buy me a bunch. Yay! Best day ever.  But after we bought them, the dreadful carrot man took the green tops and CHOPPED THEM OFF, right before my eyes. !!!! Why??! What cruel man would do such a thing? Talk about taking the wind right out of my sail.  That is one of my earliest, bad memories I have as a child. Which, now that I say it out loud, means I was a pretty lucky kid if that’s as bad as it got.
Anyway… today, I am keeping the tops on.
  • 2-3 bunches carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Lay the carrots on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with cumin, brown sugar and salt.  Cover the green tops with aluminum foil, otherwise they will burn off.  Roast at 400 for about 25-35 minutes, depending on carrot size, until they are caramelized and fork tender.
Now try one, and tell me you’re not having more fun eating it with the leafy top still intact. You can’t do it, probably.
I can’t believe I didn’t find out about risotto
earlier in life. Did people not talk about it much, or had it just not
made it to Wisconsin yet? I feel like I wasted years of my life not
eating risotto.
I’m making up for it, one recipe at a time. I
simply made this recipe, but substituted asparagus and mushrooms with a
wild mushroom mix, tossed in balsamic and roasted to perfection.  The
roasting is definitely worth it, if you have time.
All vegetables should be roasted in my opinion.

Risotto (recipe here – use GF chicken stock if required)
1 lb mushroom mix (portabella, shitake, button, etc)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Toss the mushrooms with the balsamic and olive oil, and roast at 425 for about 25-30 minutes.  In the meantime, make the risotto, then mix in the roasted mushrooms. Several of my mushrooms didn’t make it into the risotto, but they all met up in my stomach. Enjoy!


I like the challenge of baking gluten free. My dad and sister are restricted by the diet, so when my parents were here last weekend I loved brainstorming dessert ideas.


I don’t love the flavor of gluten free flour, so I typically choose to bake things that don’t require flour at all. A couple weeks ago I made this brownie bottom cheesecake, and I loved the cheesecake part so much I decided to make it again, but with an oatmeal crust…with lots of brown sugar and honey! And chocolate swirled and mixed in!


I developed the crust recipe based on a few assumptions:


1.       Oatmeal tastes really good with brown sugar in it


2.       Honey couldn’t be a bad addition


3.       A cookie-like crust is fun, so let’s add an egg and some baking powder


4.       Everything should include butter

And it was a success! Add in a chocolate chip layer and a chocolate swirled-cheesecake, and you’re in business. The delicious dessert business.

  • 3 cups Rolled Oats (buy GF to make sure, if required)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3 packages cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, melted
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and line a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Mix all the crust ingredients except the chocolate chips, then bake 350 for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle crust with layer of chocolate chips. Let cool.
Reduce the oven to 325. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Pour over the oatmeal crust. Melt the chocolate chips and then drop into glops on the cheesecake. Is glop a word? It seemed like the perfect description, but spell checker isn’t buying it.Finally, swirl the chocolate in with a toothpick. Bake for about an hour to an hour ten, then let cool and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

It may be hard to focus on the pork in that picture with those giant roasted carrots taking up half the screen, but please try. The carrots will get their moment later.
This past weekend was a really, really fun one. My
parents were in town from Wisconsin, where they escaped a blustery
late-spring snow storm for one of the most beautiful weekends in
Dallas.  They got 6+ inches of snow on Thursday, causing
a day of flight delays and late arrivals. I always tell them that as I
much as I love them, I don’t know if I could live there again. That weather is bull$#@%.
On Saturday night we stayed at our house and
cooked, ate our body weight in cheese before dinner (the Wisconsin in all of us), and drank one too
many bottles of wine…and had one of the most enjoyable nights we’d all
had in a long time. I think, at least. I guess I
don’t really know where it was on their scale of enjoyability, but it
was very high on ours.
Anyway, on to the food. Pork tenderloin is my go-to
dinner party meal, especially in the spring or summer. It’s so easy to
marinate the night before, then throw on the grill for an easy and
delicious meal. I always grill it the same way:
5 minutes on each side of medium-high indirect heat, then 5-7 minutes
over indirect (until inside reaches 140). Then cover in aluminum foil
for 10 minutes…it turns out perfectly moist and flavorful every time.
2 pork tenderloins
1 jar peach preserves (about 1 cup)
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
·         ¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Dash Worcestershire
2 bay leaves, crushed
Mix all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag, add the
pork, and marinate at least 8 hours or overnight (I always do
overnight!). Grill as directed above, and enjoy!  I served with wild
mushroom risotto, roasted carrots, tomato mozzarella salad,
and cheesecake. Recipes to follow!

Thanks mom and dad for a wonderful weekend, and for appreciating the art of eating as much as we do.