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  1. Pumpkin Pie Steel-Cut Oats

    September 6, 2011 by Mario

    Lately I’ve been cooking steel-cut oats for the family. I’ve read that they are better for you than the rolled-variety, more fiber, less processed and they are much tastier.

    I’ve been experimenting with different add-ins so that we don’t have to sweeten it with sugar. Cinnamon works really good, so do raisins, apples and bananas. It being close to Fall (not so much weather-wise here in central Texas) my mind tends to wander towards pumpkin pie, and I though it would be great to add pumpkin and spices to the oatmeal. Looks like I’m not original in my idea, I found the following recipe on Feeding My Tribe. I’ll give it a try this next weekend.

    Pumpkin Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal—in less than 10 minutes

    As I mentioned in a earlier post, we eat a lot of oatmeal and usually it is the steel-cut kind. But, that takes too long to cook in the morning, like 40 minutes, right? Not really, as I base mine on this easy and relatively fast recipe for 7 minute stove top steel-cut oatmeal. That is how I make oatmeal about 75% of the time now.

    Of course, you can always make your oatmeal ahead and just heat it up in the morning. But, it is simple to soak the oats overnight and then they cook in a jiffy. When I make oatmeal, it is enough to feed four elementary kids plus one adult. I usually end up with one or two extra servings of oatmeal and Emma and I have it the next morning since she LOVES oatmeal.

    You can use the basic recipe and then add dried fruit and spices to your preference, or add nothing and just enjoy the oaty goodness. I add the flax-seed to boost the Omega-3’s. Today’s breakfast was:

    Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Ingredients

    • 1 cup steel cut oats
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 dash sea salt
    • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 2 Tbsp real maple syrup or honey (not HFCS stuff)
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

    The night before (or at least 6 hours before), soak the oats in about 3-4 cups of plain water with about 2 Tbsp of whey, kefir, buttermilk, or lemon juice added.

    Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal in pot

    (Note: the whey, etc. is optional, it would work with just the water, but the whey helps to “pre-digest” the oats and allows your body to get more nutrients out of them).

    In the morning, drain oats in a fine-meshed sieve, rinse with water, and then drain again.

    Place the drained, soaked oats and all other ingredients in a pot, bring to slight boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Serve with cream if desired.

    The original recipe calls for pre-soaking to cut down on cooking time. But I don’t think it’s necessary, yeah, it may take 30 mins or so to cook, but it’s so hearty, that I usually make it on weekends and a long slow cooking time is just fine with me.

  2. Molly Ringwald’s Whole Roasted Chicken

    February 10, 2011 by Mario

    Adapted from Molly Ringwald

    Found this recipe in my email inbox from Chow this morning. Sounds tasty, just thought I’d share.
    Adapted from Molly Ringwald

    This Go-To Dish by Brat Pack good girl Molly Ringwald, now grown-up author of Getting the Pretty Back, is a no-frills roasted chicken. Cooked in a scorching 500°F oven, Molly’s chicken was adapted from microwave queen Barbara Kafka’s simple recipe. Here Molly adds some lemons and onions to deepen the flavors of the pan sauce. Serve with a potato gratin or simple root vegetables.

    Game plan: Molly recommends making sure your oven is clean. At such high temperatures, a greasy oven can smoke out your kitchen.

    Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
    Makes: 6 to 8 servings

    1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
    2 medium lemons
    1 (4-1/2-pound) chicken, rinsed and patted dry
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Fresh thyme or other herbs (optional)
    3/4 cup dry vermouth


    1. Heat the oven to 500°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
    2. Mound the onions in the center of a roasting pan. Slice one of the lemons into thin rounds and place on top of the onions. Slice the remaining lemon in half; set aside.
    3. Rub the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Season inside the cavity with salt and pepper, then place the reserved lemon halves and herbs, if using, inside. Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the onions and lemon slices and tuck the wings back and underneath.
    4. Roast until the chicken is golden brown all over and the juices run clear from the legs when cut with a knife, about 45 minutes (or 10 minutes per pound).
    5. Insert the handle of a wooden spoon inside the cavity of the chicken, then lift and tilt it slightly to let the juices run back into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or serving platter and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, transfer the sliced lemon rounds from the roasting pan to a serving plate; set aside.
    6. Place the roasting pan across two burners over medium heat, add the vermouth, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to the plate with the lemon slices. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the chicken with the lemon rounds, onions, and sauce.

  3. Red Chili

    November 28, 2010 by Mario

    This is the red chili recipe I’ve been making for Gin’s birthday party in Dec. Enjoy!

    What the Snowman Ate

    For the meat I usually use a sirloin or chuck roast cut into small pieces (1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes). The roasts are usually leaner than the ground meat, but I’ve done it with hamburger and I’m sure the chili ground beef would work fine.


    • 2-3 lbs beef
    • flour, salt and pepper for dredging
    • olive oil
    • 1 large onion chopped
    • 4-6 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 cans diced tomatoes
    • 2 cans tomato paste
    • 1 bottle Guinness Extra Stout (not the draft)
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • 1 tbsp oregano
    • 1 tbsp thyme
    • 1 tbsp ancho chile powder
    • 1/2 to 1 tbsp chipotle chile powder (this adds the heat)
    • 1 tbsp black pepper
    • Salt to taste
    • 2 cans black or kidney beans
    • 1 bag frozen corn

    Cooking Instructions

    1. After the meat is cut up, put about 1/2 cup flour in a gallon zip-top bag add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper and mix it up. Then drop in the pieces of beef and shake to coat.
    2. Pour the olive oil to your pot and heat, saute the onion until translucent, then add the meat in batches, and brown the meat on all sides. (You can skip the batch browning step if you don’t have time and just add the meat in a batch and lightly brown all together).
    3. Next add the garlic and beer.
    4. Let the meat cook covered, for about a half hour on med. heat. Then add the tomatoes and spices and let simmer on low for at least couple hours. The longer it simmers the deeper the flavors. I usually let it simmer all afternoon.
    5. Add the beans and corn and simmer for another 30-45 min.

    I try not to make the chili itself too hot, since I usually make it for a large group, but I provide chopped serranos so that people can add more heat if they want. Other add-ons I keep on the side are diced onions, diced fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions.

  4. Crock Pot Beef Stew

    March 12, 2010 by Mario

    Here is a recipe I’ve been working on for a little over a year. This is one where I have take a recipe for ingredients and proportions only and worked to give it my own spin. I’ve put it together it with different vegetable variations–all of which turned out great getting the overall flavor right, but needing to work on the consistency of the gravy. It has always come out too watery in the past. I remembered a cooking show I saw years back where they added some corn starch to a stir-fry to make the sauce thicken, so I tried it in the past and ended up with small balls of corn starch. This time I dissolved the corn starch in some water and added that to the mix, and it came out just right!

    I also added something I saw on Julie & Julia, peas! And they worked out great! The trick is to add them at the end, a little before serving–frozen peas work nicely–and they’ll be perfectly firm with the meal.

    Without much further ado, here is the recipe…


    • 1-2 lb. cubed chuck
    • 1 large onion
    • 2-3 large carrots
    • 2 celery ribs
    • 2 potatoes
    • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, quarted
    • 1 bag frozen peas
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1 tablespoon thyme
    • 3 sprigs minced parsley
    • salt
    • pepper
    • flour for dredging
    • 4 tsp corn starch
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 3tbsp olive oil
    • 1 cup red wine (Burgundy works well)
    • 1 12oz can beef broth
    • 1 can tomato paste
    • 1 can sliced tomatoes


    1. Chop the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes in large chunks and add them to the crock pot.
    2. Crush and chop the garlic and add to the pot along with the thyme and parsley.
    3. Put the flour along with some salt and pepper into a gallon-sized zip-top bag and dredge the beef, shaking off any excess flour.
    4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the meat on all sides, add to the pot after.
    5. If the flour didn’t burn too badly, you can deglaze the pan with the wine and add that to the pot along with the broth, tomatoes and paste
    6. Salt and pepper to taste
    7. Dissolve the corn starch in the water slowly so as not to make any lumps and add that to the pot.
    8. Mix the ingredients together with a large spoon inside the pot to get everything coated and well blended. I usually do all the preparations at night before bed and let the ingredients mingle in the pot overnight and cook it the next day.
    9. I then set my crock pot for 4-6 hrs. on medium. My crock pot will automatically switch to “warm” once the timer is over, so I leave it on warm until we’re ready to eat.
    10. 10 to 20 minutes before serving, mix in the frozen peas. They’ll warm up nicely before you eat, and will not get mushy.


    This is the basic recipe I use, though, there are other options I’ve been known to use. Butternut squash makes a great substitute for potatoes, I’m sure any firm vegetable will be good in lieu of or along side potatoes. Sauteing the mushrooms in butter before adding them is also a good thing. I’ve also toyed with the idea of adding a little balsamic vinegar to give it a little more depth.

    Well that’s it, I’m sorry I didn’t get any good photos of the stew, maybe next time I make it I’ll get some to add.

  5. Albondigas Soup Recipe

    January 11, 2010 by Mario

    Albodingas Soup (credit:

    Found this recipe at My mother used to make this soup when we were kids and I’ve always wanted to make it because I remember it being so good. Now I can cook it for my kids!

    If fresh mint is not available, you can use a couple teaspoons of dried mint from herbal mint tea. You can also vary the vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Spring peas in their pods instead of shucked peas, for example. Or you could add some chopped fresh zucchini or corn. My mother often puts a couple extra tablespoons of chopped fresh mint directly into the soup. Feel free to substitute ground turkey for the ground beef, we do it often.


    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 3 quarts of chicken stock or beef stock OR water OR a mixture of both (we usually use half stock half water
    • as the meatballs will create their own stock)*
    • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
    • 1/2 lb of string beans, strings and ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 1/3 cup of raw white rice
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
    • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
    • 1 raw egg
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • A dash of cayenne (optional)
    • 1 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
    • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, crumbled, or 1 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    *If using prepared stock, be sure to use gluten-free stock if you are cooking gluten-free.


    1 Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed pot (5-qt) over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Add broth mixture and tomato sauce. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add carrots and string beans.
    2 Prepare the meatballs. Mix rice into meat, adding mint leaves and parsley, salt and pepper. Mix in raw egg. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

    3 Add the meatballs to the simmering soup, one at a time. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add the peas towards the end of the 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne, to taste.

    Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

    Serves 6-8.

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