I’m always looking for “the one.” You know, the one recipe that you can count on time and time again to be a crowd pleaser. Sometimes you’ll send me recipes with in-depth stories about the memories behind the meals, which I love. Sometimes I’ll simply get a recipe saying it’s a family favorite. I’ve come to know that if you believe the dish is good enough to pass along, more than likely it’s a winner, and I’m grateful that its landed in my lucky hands. Now you have another one in the Southwest cuisine category–a fabulously simple, incredibly tasty recipe for New Mexico Chili Verde. There’s a great technique in the recipe that really adds to the flavor of the chile verde, one that I have come to use often in stews and chili’s. It’s flour that you heat up in a dry skillet until it turns light brown and imparts an amazing toasted nut aroma. Get those flour tortillas warmed up and pour yourself a big bowl of New Mexico Chile Verde!
If you think that bread pudding is just a dessert, I’m about to change your mind in a delicious and surprising way. Imagine a savory soufflé-like bread pudding with a good quality ham (smoked is delightful), the sweet and slightly salty flavor of Gruyère cheese, fresh sautéed spinach and roasted red peppers all baked to perfection. This dish is so appetizing and versatile it can be enjoyed as a main meal or sliced in wedges for the perfect holiday party appetizer. Where did I find this sumptuous selection? In the Sing For Your Supper Cookbook compiled by the Sounds of the Southwest Singers. This 85-plus member non-profit volunteer choir has been singing in the Valley since 2010, performing a variety of music in concerts throughout the year. Members have sung at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City, and by the recipes in this cookbook, it’s apparent that this group can cook as well as they can sing! Make this dish and you’ll be singing for your supper too!
Looking back, I feel so guilty. It was the late 60’s. I was in my teens–the years my Mom referred to as “my little hippy daughter’s crazy time.” For some reason I became obsessed with making homemade bread and culturing my own yogurt for the family. I made a loaf of fresh bread every single day and drove my family absolutely nuts in the process. I was convinced that if someone shut a door too forcefully or raised their voice too loudly while the bread was still in the oven, it could cause the bread to fall. That poor family. For one hour every single day, they had to tip-toe around and whisper until my loaf came out safe and sound. For some reason, they put up with it, and I don’t think the bread was even that good. That was just bread. Can you imagine what a mess I would have been had I obsessed over soufflé instead? Ah, soufflé. Whether savory or sweet, it’s one of those things that people tend to fret over. Will it puff up? Will it fall? Where did I go wrong? So when I came across a very old soufflé recipe in a school fundraising cookbook, I almost passed on it. But that would have been a huge mistake. This recipe for Broccoli Soufflé is about as delicious and fool-proof as it gets, and is now one of my very favorite veggie dishes. Interestingly, the recipe calls for heating the milk and adding chicken bouillon to it, which I had never heard of before. It added so much flavor to the dish that I wish I would have known about that technique years ago! Somebody knew what they were doing with this Broccoli Soufflé and I’ll bet they didn’t even drive their family crazy in the process.
If you don’t want another cookie addiction, then maybe you’ll want to bypass this week’s column. If, however, you want to jump on America’s latest cookie craze, then you’ve come to the right place! Swig cookies, with their scrumptious pink frosting and craggy edges, are somewhere between a soft sugar cookie and shortbread, and they have certainly won our hearts! (To date, there are about 41 million search results for Swig Cookies on Pinterest. I’d say we are obsessed with these sweet treats!) The Swig cookie originated in Saint George, Utah in 2010 at the Swig Drive-by Drink Shop. Known for their signature frosty drinks and sweets, Swig has now expanded to multiple locations in Utah and several other states. The minute I heard about them I employed “The Niece Factor.” That’s when I make a big batch of cookies and drive them over to my nieces and wait for their response. With these Swig Cookies I got a text about 20 minutes later (before I even got home!) that the entire batch has been devoured. That’s good enough for me! I think you’re going to like these cookies. They’re fun to make and may even be worthy of a spot on your holiday cookie exchange platter this year.
Homemade fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie ala mode. Pretty hard to beat. When I got a letter this week from Sun City resident Eva Meeks, it included a recipe for an award-winning apple pie that she had clipped from a magazine a few years ago. Here’s part of Eva’s letter:
“During the 4th of July holiday I hosted a pot luck for my family and decided to bake my favorite apple pie. I’ve been making it for several years now, and it’s always a big hit. Apparently this pie won some blue ribbons at state and county fairs. All I know is it wins hearts every time I make it for friends and family. It has a surprise filling that really adds a nice flavor. I thought you’d like to try it.”
Well, Eva, you thought right! I wasted no time peeling the Granny Smith apples and mixing up the “surprise” filling. I’m so happy Eva “blind bakes” (also known as pre-baking) her bottom crust. I’ve always done that as well because the bottom shell stays somewhat crispy after filling and baking. I’m also a fan of cooking my apples just to soften before filling the pie shell. Eva softens her apples in the microwave and then adds the rest of the ingredients. If you’re an apple pie lover, dish this one up with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in for a big surprise!
It’s one of the most colorful traditions we have, and it all starts on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrating the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Three Kings Cake, with its colorful adornment of beads, a plastic baby hidden inside and topped with a king’s crown also kicks off the Carnival season with Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras. With this treat, you’ll be feasting your eyes on fun!
Watch my How To Video here!