Sunday, February 28, 2010


One of the first dishes I ate with Ed and his parents was slumgulion. Slumgulion is actually defined as a stew with meat and potatoes. Ed's grandfather originally came up with the dish in the 1940's using things he just happened to have in the pantry. The dish morphed over the years into a very specific dish that I now cook for Ed and the boys at least once a month. My mother-in-law and I both use this dish as a standby for company.


1 1/2 lb ground sirloin
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, or 2 tsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 cup red wine
2 cans pinto beans with jalapenos
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can rotel tomatoes with chilis

Brown the ground sirloin, adding the chili powder while the meat is still pink. This sounds like an insanely huge amount of chili powder, but it is necessary to get the right flavor for the dish.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and green peppers and cook until soft. Add in the ground meat and the red wine. I usually use whatever kind of red wine I have in my kitchen. Merlot or Shiraz work well, but really, whatever you have will be delicious. When I first learned how to make this dish, it was made with a "punch" of salt (roughly a tablespoon). I don't think the dish needs that much salt, so I use about a teaspoon. You can always add more salt later if you think the dish needs it. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes while you open all of the cans.

Drain the juice off of the beans only. Add in the contents of all of the cans. Stir to combine and put the lid on the pot and cook at medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat down to low after the slumgulion has come to a good boil and stir again. Serve with cheese and crackers.

We frequently use sharp cheddar sliced or grated with whole wheat saltine-type crackers.

This dish easily serves 8, or 4 with plenty left over for another meal.

This is an easy way to sneak in alot of vegetables to unsuspecting munchkins. Mine love it!

Mexican Pizza

My mother and I went out to eat with the boys a few weeks ago and tried out a Mexican food chain restaurant. I wasn't familiar with this restaurant and the munchkins are reading now, so when they saw "Mexican Pizza" on the menu, they got really excited and there was no changing their minds about their upcoming culinary experience. I'm sure they thought they were going to get some tremendous concoction. Since we were planning on seeing a movie in a very short amount of time, Mom and I decided to have the beef nachos. I was, of course, shocked when the food came out. I had asked what the Mexican pizza was because I couldn't quite picture it in my head and had not been told that it was just the beef nachos which were not cut in half! So we basically all had the same thing on our plate. Trip, being a more particular eater, took one bite, decided he hated the "pizzas" and only ate his beans. Logan, who I am convinced does not possess a single taste bud on his little tongue after this experience, ate his "pizza" and Trip's too. This arrangement works out for them because each boy usually gets his fill of whatever he likes by the amount of food on the two plates. I would not have known how awful this dish was, but I was eating the EXACT SAME THING. Yuck! I would have sent it back and asked for something entirely different, but we had a movie to see. The beef nachos/mexican pizzas were fine in theory, but completely lacking in taste. I came up with a significantly better recipe at the table and here it is!


Flour tortillas
1 - 1 1/2 lb ground sirloin (hamburger meat)
1-2 packets of taco seasoning
canned enchilada sauce
fresh cilantro
queso fresco (this is a soft Mexican cheese)
shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 400. Put 6 flour tortillas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, prick the tortillas with a fork, and bake for 5 minutes.

While the tortillas are baking, brown a pound of hamburger meat and add the taco seasoning and water as per the directions on the package.

In a separate pan, heat up a can of enchilada sauce.

Chop up some fresh cilantro and crumble the queso fresco.

Take the torillas out of the oven, spread a spoonful of the enchilada sauce on top. Top with a few leaves of the cilantro. Sprinkle 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the taco meat on top. Sprinkle on queso fresco for the more adventerous eaters or grated cheddar cheese for the picky eaters.

Put the pizzas back in the oven for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.

There will be very happy children in my house tonight!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken Sahara

I was clueless in the kitchen when I married my husband. The first dish I tackled was chicken. I called my mother to ask her how long to cook the chicken. She gave me the time and temperature for roasting a whole chicken. I smothered those poor chicken breasts in the gray gelatinous blob that is cream of mushroom soup. The logic behind the cream of blob soup was based on my mother-in-law telling me that if you covered meat in a sauce, it won't dry out. My in-laws came over for this momentous occasion. A full hour later, I pulled the shriveled chicken breasts out of the oven and found dried-up bags of sand. It was awful. My father-in-law promptly named the dish "Chicken Sahara" and every time since then that I've cooked chicken, it has jokingly been called Chicken Sahara.

After lots of practicing and reading lots of cookbooks, I finally learned how to cook a few things. Roasted chicken is a wonderfully simple dish once you know a few basic things about it. This is my go-to recipe for chicken breasts that will be used in another dish, such as a salad. When serving chicken breasts as the main course, I prefer more a more flavorful dish.


Chicken breasts
Olive oil
Lawry's salt and black pepper or
Mrs. Dash seasoning or
spices of your choice

For however many chicken breasts you are going to cook, the basic instructions are the same. Preheat the oven to 425. Trim the fat and skin off of the chicken breasts. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the baking dish for each chicken breast. Season the chicken breasts with Lawry's salt and black pepper, or with Mrs. Dash, or lemon pepper, or whatever in your pantry looks appealing. Season the chicken on both sides and then place in the baking dish over a teaspoon of olive oil. Put it in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Turn on the oven light and look through the oven door after about 25 minutes, pretending that you can tell how done the chicken is by looking at it.

Some things I've learned about this very easy dish over the years:
1. If you forget the olive oil, it won't matter. Store bought chicken breasts are pumped full with enough water that the chicken breasts won't stick to the bottom of the dish.
2. If you forget to season the chicken, it had better go into a dish that has alot of flavor, because unseasoned chicken is very, very bland.
3. You can use butter as the fat for cooking the dish, but it really doesn't add much to the chicken.