Friday, December 30, 2016

Crockpot Italian Beef

After trying various recipes, we finally came up with a blend of all of them for this recipe that we really enjoy.

4-4.5 lb. boneless chuck, trimmed of fat, cut into large chunks
1 pkg zesty Italian salad dressing mix
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 beer (or less)
10-12 oz. beef broth
2 cloves garlic minced
10 oz. whole pepperoncinis, with juice

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low.

8-10 servings

Our own recipe

Spicy Pretzels

This recipe was shared with me by a friend. She made these for our girls' weekend, and I couldn't stop eating them!

3/4 cup olive oil
1 oz package dry Ranch dressing mix
3 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp dill weed
1 Tbsp lemon pepper
1 Tbsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic*
Cayenne pepper to your taste
15-16 oz bag of sourdough pretzel bites (or sourdough pretzels broken into bite-size pieces)

Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add pretzels and stir to mix. Toss every 10 minutes for 1 hour. Spread pretzels onto cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 10 minutes.
*Substitute Garlic Garlic seasoning: 4 Tbsp dried minced garlic, 1 Tbsp dried minced onion, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp garlic power, 1/2 tsp dried chives, 1/2 tsp dried dill, 1/4 tsp dried basil


Mexican Wedding Cookies

We've traditionally made Matt's grandmother's Mexican Wedding Cakes recipe. This year I had lots of leftover pecans and saw this recipe and decided to try a different variation. We LOVED them! The little crunch from the pecans with the hint of spices were a great addition.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Additional powdered sugar (about 3/4 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. In a Small Batter Bowl, combine the flour, pecans, cinnamon, and salt; mix well and set aside.
  2. In a Classic Batter Bowl, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Add the vanilla; beat well. Gradually add the pecan/flour mixture to the butter mixture; beat on low speed just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Using a Small Scoop, drop level scoops of dough, 1" apart, onto a Rectangle Stone. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are set, but not brown. Remove the cookies to a Stackable Cooling Rack; cool 5 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in additional powdered sugar to coat. Cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

4 dozen

Pampered Chef

Servings of 2 cookies. Calories 160, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 5 g, Cholesterol 20 mg, Carbohydrate 15 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 100 mg, Fiber less than 1 g

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Best Bean Dip

My sister stumbled on this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything (sourced from Taste of Home). Definitely a keeper! It's creamy, spicy, and the perfect texture for dipping. Bring it to a friend’s house to watch the game and it’ll be a hit.

16 oz can refried beans
1 cup picante sauce
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin (or more to taste)
Tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; transfer to a small (1-1/2-qt) slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or until heated through, stirring intermittently. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

Optional ways of preparing: The slow cooker is ideal because it keeps the dip warm but you can also prepare this in the oven or even microwave. For the oven, bake dip at 350˚ for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. In the microwave, heat in a microwave safe bowl for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted and smooth. Stir every couple of minutes.

36 servings (about 4-1/2 cups)

The Girl Who Ate Everything (sourced from Taste of Home)

2 Tbsp: 57 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 151mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein

Rosa's Granola

Café Sid Notes: We received this recipe from a friend who enjoyed this amazing granola at The Inn of the Five Graces in Santa Fe, NM. Absolutely delicious with served with yogurt and fresh berries.

1 large container of quick oats (2 lbs, 10 oz)
1 cup grape seed oil
1 cup honey
2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 cups sliced almonds (unsalted)
1 cup each dried blueberries, cherries and cranberries

Add grade seed oil and honey in large measuring cup and be sure to mix well as possible. Place dry oatmeal in a very large bowl and pour the oil and honey mixture into the oat as they are mixed thoroughly by hand. You would like to have the mixture as even as possible. Allow the oats to soak for approximately 2 hours. The idea is that the more the honey and oil penetrate the oats, the more moist the finished granola will be.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread oats on a tray and bake for 30 minutes turning once after 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Note: You may need to do across two trays or in batches.

On another tray, spread the shredded coconut and the almonds and bake for 10 minutes also turning once after 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once everything has cooled, mix both trays together. Add the dried fruit of your choice and mix one final time. Store in sealed container. Enjoy on top of yogurt, with milk or just as a tasty treat. Makes a great snack on the go!

A lot of servings :-)

The Inn of The Five Graces

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Watergate Salad

Café Sid Notes: My grandmothers used to make this salad for family picnics, potlucks, or whenever so it definitely brings back childhood memories with every bite!

20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 pkg (3.4 oz) JELL-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip

Combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl.
Stir in COOL WHIP.
Refrigerate 1 hour.

8 servings


Saturday, October 8, 2016


Enjoyed a wonderful dinner at I.d. with two other couples. Had some wonderful small plates, but with the portions, we didn't do a good job order two so we could more easily share. We tried a wide variety of plates, but I did not do a good job of keeping up on taking pictures or labeling the pictures of those I did take.  Oops!

Overall we liked the unique selections, but think we've had dinner at other similar small plates restaurants that were more affordable.

Two noteworthy drinks:
  • Truth Serum: Rehorst vodka, Bitter Truth allspice liqueur, apple cider reduction, lime juice & ginger beer
  • Meet Me in the Garden: St. George citrus vodka, lime juice, cucumber & basil

Truth Serum
Meet Me in the Garden
Wood Grilled Octopus
Ancho Grilled Swordfish & Shrimp

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Roast Beef & Cheddar Roll-Ups

So delicious! It's an easy idea for a sandwich, but we like to keep this recipe handy so we remember the ratio to make the cream cheese spread.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
4 large flour tortillas
1 head romaine lettuce, tough ribs removed
8 oz deli roast beef, thinly sliced
4 oz Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and horseradish. Spread evenly over each tortilla.

Layer the tortillas with the lettuce, roast beef, and Cheddar and roll up.

4 servings

Real Simple

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cajun Shrimp with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce

The easiest weeknight meal with a homemade cream sauce that tastes a million times better than store-bought!

8 oz fettuccine
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk, or more, as needed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup half and half*
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the Shrimp:
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Place shrimp in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil, garlic and cajun seasoning; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
  3. Place into oven and roast just until pink, firm and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes; set aside.
  4. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  5. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  6. Gradually whisk in milk, thyme and oregano. Cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in half and half and Parmesan until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine.
  8. Serve immediately with cajun shrimp, garnished with parsley, if desired.

4 servings

Damn Delicious

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paella de Mateo

This is Matt's creation after quite a bit of research of different recipes online and his own palette preferences. Can be made with chicken or scallops in addition to the shrimp and chorizo.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12-16 ounces Spanish chorizo sliced (or substitute linguiça or andouille)
1/2 large onion, diced
1 large red pepper, 1/2 slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes (or scallops for seafood variant)
2 cups (500 grams dried) Bomba rice (or substitute Calasparra)
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound (about 16 to 20 count) extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on

For spice mixture:
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large pinch saffron threads

  1. Prepare spice mixture and set aside.
  2. Build a medium-hot fire in grill (when ready, you can hold your hand about 6 inches above the grill for only 2 or 3 seconds) or use two burners on gas stovetop. 
  3. Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a paella pan or 20-inch camp skillet. Heat until hot but not smoking. Add the chorizo and brown lightly on both sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove chorizo from pan and set aside. 
  4. Add the onions, red pepper, garlic and crushed tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. If using chicken, add to pan and cook, stirring, just until chicken is no longer pink on the outside, as it will simmer for a good length of time.
  5. Add 2 to 3 cups stock, bring to simmer, then add the rice, chorizo and the spice mixture. Stir well to combine, then smooth it out to an even layer (you should have just a layer of liquid between 1/4 and 1/2 inch on top) and allow to come back to a low, slow simmer. 
  6. Push the shrimp down into the simmering mixture (and do the same with scallops if using them) so they are covered by the liquid, being careful not to stir the mixture. Move the pan just enough to the side of the fire so the liquid continues to simmer slowly; if using cooktop, rotate pan periodically. 
  7. Add stock as needed to maintain that very thin visible layer for 20 minutes, but do not move the rice around. After 20 minutes check rice and continue to cook, adding stock, until all visible liquid is absorbed and rice is tender but not mushy, from 5 to 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

8 servings


Monday, August 15, 2016

Warm Chicken Curry Dip

Social gatherings usually involve drinks and food for us. They also help us discover some new fav recipes from our friends. This one's always a top request for our girls' weekends!

1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 clove garlic pressed
1/2 tsp curry
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup apricot jam

Combine first eight ingredients (through salt). Spread mixture into a small pan and bake for 18-20 minutes at 400˚. Meanwhile, combine coconut and almonds in a microwave safe bowl for cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds until ingredients are evenly toasted. Remove mixture from the oven and spread apricot jam over top of hot dip. Next, sprinkle the warm coconut/almond mixture over top of the jam. Serve with apple wedges and celery.

6-8 servings


Grilled Shrimp with Honey-Ginger Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Shrimp with Honey-Ginger Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mild honey
1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 Tbsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
1/2 tsp salt

2 pounds jumbo (21-25 per pound) or extra-large (26-30 per pound) shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail and adjoining shell segment intact, and deveined
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

Stir together all sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 2/3 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. (Stir frequently toward end of cooking to prevent sticking.)

If necessary, pat shrimp dry, then thread about 6 shrimp (through top and tail, leaving shrimp curled), onto each skewer, without leaving space between shrimp.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high for gas); see Grilling Procedure.

Meanwhile, brush shrimp with vegetable oil and sprinkle evenly with salt.

Lightly oil grill rack. Grill shrimp, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, 2 minutes. Brush shrimp with some sauce from the saucepan, then turn. Brush shrimp with additional sauce then grill until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with reserved sauce.

Serve with Coconut Rice.

4 servings


cooks' notes
  • Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated once cooled. Reheat before proceeding.
  • In terms of shrimp size, go by the count per pound versus the descriptive terms such as jumbo and extra-large. If the count is not displayed, ask.
  • Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated once cooled. Reheat before proceeding.
  • Shrimp can be threaded onto skewers and refrigerated on a tray, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 2 hours before grilling.

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

2 cups jasmine rice
1 cup coconut cream
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Rinse rice in a large bowl with cool water until water runs clear. Drain rice.

Combine rice, coconut cream, sugar, salt, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then cover and reduce heat to low. (Alternatively, cook rice in an electric rice steamer.) Cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 40-45 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork; cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

6 servings


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Matt had the privilege to meet Frank Pellegrino and get a signed copy of his restaurant's cookbook while dining at Rao's in Las Vegas.

1/3-1/2 cup fine-quality olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups hand-crushed, canned, imported San Marzano Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
1 cup Gaeta olives (or other brine-cured black olives), pitted and sliced
2 Tbsp salted-packed capers, well rinsed
Dried red pepper flakes to taste, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb spaghetti
10 fresh basil leaves, torn
Pinch dried oregano
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley

  1. Place oil, onion and garlic in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent but not brown. Stir in anchovies and sauté until anchovies have dissolved into the oil.
  2. Raise heat and add wine. Bring to a boil, then stir in tomatoes, olives, capers, and, if using, red-pepper flakes. Return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large, deep pot in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente.
  4. Just before serving, stir basil and oregano into the sauce.
  5. Drain spaghetti. Return drained spaghetti to the pot. Over medium-high heat, stir in 1/2 cup sauce. Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a large serving platter or bowl. Spoon remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

4 servings

Rao's Cookbook


Slow Cooker Bolognese

A very thick and hearty meat sauce simmered in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Bolognese

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped baby carrots
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef or meatloaf mix
1 cup whole milk
28-oz can crushed tomatoes
6-oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the carrots, onion, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Place the ground beef into the skillet and cook and stir, breaking up the meat as it cooks, until browned. Drain off excess fat from the skillet, and pour in 1 cup milk. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Place the beef mixture into a slow cooker, and set the cooker to High. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 2 hours. Mix in 1/2 cup milk and Parmesan cheese, stir well, and cook for 2 more hours.

8 servings



Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
3 large bananas, very ripe, soft, darkly speckled, well mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325˚. Grease a large, 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, nuts and chocolate chips together in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla together.

Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Spoon the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Bake at 325˚ until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 70-75 minutes. It does take a long time to cook! Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then turn out and let cool on a wire rack.

12 servings


Friday, June 10, 2016

North Star American Bistro

The whole family enjoyed dinner out before my son's graduation at North Star American Bistro. Was nice to have my sister and brother-in-law in town for this special occasion. Service was slow, and food was mostly good. Always have mixed feelings about this place.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Blue River Bistro

Enjoyed a quick happy hour stop at Blue River Bistro for some 2-for-1 appetizers and martinis.

Banh Mi Sliders
Honey and Cashew Brie
Picante Fusion Martini ... Delicious!
Breckenridge vodka, fresh basil, habanero simple syrup, pineapple juice

Friday, May 20, 2016


We wanted to enjoy one nice dinner out during our long weekend getaway in Breck with my sister and brother-in-law. They had been to Hearthstone before highly recommended.  There was a trouble with the heating/AC because we sat upstairs and it was like an oven ... we weren't so dressed up anymore after having to peel as many layers as we could.  Despite that, the food was amazing. All four of us opted for their special mud season prix fixe menu.

Strawberry Serrano Martini
Three Way Beet Salad
Caprese Salad
Chili Relleno
Summer Squash Soup
Organic Salmon
Moroccan Lamb
Hanger Steak
Chocolate Mousse
Sangria Yogurt

The Canteen Tap House & Tavern

Our first time visiting Breckenridge during "mud season" (month of May when there are no skiers and basically things are muddy). It was nice to enjoy things around town with mostly the locals and no as many visitors.

With a beautiful mountain view on The Canteen Tap House patio with great food and drinks, you can't go wrong!
Ten Mile Mule in trough mug!
Fishy Fishy (marinated mahi mahi with wasabi slaw)
Carnivore Flatbread
Perfect view of the ski slopes

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Gordon Biersch

My sister and I cut the last day of our conference short a bit to catch a late lunch before heading to Breckenridge for the weekend.  We opted to order a bunch of Gordon Biersch starters because we always find so many things we want to try.
Cucumber & Basil Collins
Ahi Wonton Nachos
Crispy Crab Risotto Fritters
Legendary Garlic Fries

Friday, April 1, 2016

Meiji Cuisine

My son needed his General Tso's fix from Meiji over spring break.
  • Edamame – tasty (next time we'll order with extra sea salt)
  • Crazy Tuna – one of our favorites
  • Angel Dragon – a tasty new one
General Tso's
Crazy Tuna
Angel Dragon