Monthly Archives: October 2010

Sourdough Bread – The Saga, Part I

Sourdough Bread KAF Fresh Starter First Loaf Sliced

I'm calling this a Saga because boy do I have a long way to go on this bread thing.  I personally hate science.  I respect it and scientists, but I was not brought into this world to learn "how things work" – well, at least not by reading it.  I have to experience it and learn by trial and error.

Sourdough Bread King Arthurs Flour Fresh Sourdough Starter

I think I was put on this earth to make the world a better place – or help people to get more out of life – in a way that doesn't require any scientific knowledge.  Matters of feelings and thoughts. 

I think in that regard, my best years are ahead of me.  Bonnie Raitt said at her concert which I attended, that life began for her at 50.  Love that lady! 

Oh my gosh.  I'm getting dangerously close to being a true hippie.  I have socks.  I have sandals.  Should I start wearing them together?


OK.  So I bought some sourdough starter from King Arthur's Flour.  It said to use non-chlorinated tap water or bottled water, yet I forgotted and used my dang tap water.  I don't think it mattered much.  The bread certainly tasted good.

Here's the overview of the process.

OK.  This is the first round of "feeding" and sitting.  Looks gross because it's been sitting overnight.  After feeding twice more and sitting shorter times…

…this is what "fed" starter looks like.  Or at least what mine looked like.

So I used a recipe that came with the starter.  Rustic Sourdough Bread.  As the recipe stated, though, it was "full-flavored, not aggressively sour bread".  True.  Wasn't sour enough.  Next time I'm doing the other recipe, Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread.  But it will take 2 days.  Crikey!


This is the dough after it was first mixed and formed into a ball to rise.  (I have since learned I should have kneaded it longer but I was thinking of the "no knead" bread I had made from the post "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day."  Well that's what we're here for – to learn.)

At this point, I was stuffing my face with Lamb Korma and Rice Pudding at Ambar India.

So Alyssa was my pinch hitter and after it doubled, she split it in two, formed two ovals, let it rest and put it in the oven.  By the time I got home, it was done in 5 minutes. 

Besides mowing the lawn and vacuuming, that's another good reason to have kids.  One of them might help you with the tedious task of baking bread on Halloween when you want to go out and eat and take pictures.

Sourdough Bread with KAF Fresh SD Starter

Download Rustic Sourdough Bread Recipe

Stay Tuned for Sourdough Bread – The Saga, Part II



Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


SANDWICH LOAFArtisan Bread Loaf

In the first 48 years of my life, I have been way too impatient and busy and easily-distracted and easily-bored to commit to babysitting and slapping a ball of dough all daggone day to be a bread baker.

But when I read about a new approach that supposedly takes 5 minutes a day, I felt I could commit to that.  Maybe.  If it wasn't too confusing.

So I bought the book, the recommended loose-lidded dough container for the fridge, a pizza peel, a pizza stone and promptly left it all laying on shelves for a year or so. 

MINI BOULES for SandwichesIMG_2307
But one day, when I was ready, I decided to give it a try.

COURONNE (Buddha optional)Artisan Bread Couronne
I may have cursed a few times.  Especially when my beautiful free-form boule (ball) below.

Turned into a sea urchin.  (Pay no attention to the salmon.  The bread urchin is lurking in the background.)

And on another day my boule decided to be an armadillo.  Why, you may ask, do they do this to me?  Because they get stuck on my pizza peel even though I put a nice thick layer of cornmeal on it as instructed.  I've read that others use parchment paper with cornmeal on it so I'm trying that next.

Or I could just keep up my technique of cursing while the oven steams up my glasses which makes me even more angry and I start shaking the peel violently to release the stanking dough ball which for some reason falls on the blazing hot pizza stone slightly upset and traumatized.  No wonder it turns into weird animal shapes. 

Armadillo Bread
But what I'm getting at, is that this technique works pretty well for me so far.  I've only tried two of the simplest breads, but they taste great.  Alyssa thinks that the "crumb" (the inner dough) is too doughy for her.  The nice thing about having a picky kid is that there's more for me!  You have to look on the bright side.

  Artisan Bread Sliced

 Basically, you just blend flour, yeast, salt and water. 

Put it in a container and refrigerate overnight.

Artisan Bread Dough
Next day (this is the five minutes part), you sprinkle flour on the dough and cut a grapefruit-size ball out and stretch it over and over into a ball form, let it sit on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes to rest, place it in an oven and bake for 30 minutes. 

I really don't want to can't explain the whole theory of why you don't need to knead it and let it rise and punch it down and let it rise again, and all that.  I'm just saying it worked for me and many others.


  Download Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Master Recipe

 I would highly recommend Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and the technique.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili Over Rice

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Bronte is a little bistro inside of Joseph-Beth Booksellers.  They have some really good food.  I'm especially fond of their Vegetarian Chili served over "green" rice – white rice with cilantro and parsley.  It's spicy and thick, hearty and healthy. 

And cheap. When the economy started tanking in the fall of '08, we really tightened our belts out of downright fear of income loss.  But we still needed to get out here and there, so we'd make a game of going out on a dinner date for $25 or less. 

Last time we ate at Bronte, I ordered the chili and wrote down every ingredient I could identify to duplicate it at home.  Tomatoes, zucchini, onion, green peppers, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, chile beans.

This copy cat recipe is pretty darned close.  And we're making it in a crockpot so we can be super lazy about it.


Oooh.  It's like stained glass.  Pretty.

Remember crockpots sweat profusely.
So don't be tempted to add water at the beginning if you are thinking it's too thick.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
In case you are wondering what "chipotle peppers in adobo sauce" is, like I was just a few months ago. 

Vegetarian Chili Rice


Spicy Vegetarian Chili
from JennaDish


Use a large crockpot and cook on LOW 5-6 hours

This dish is very spicy on it's own, but is meant to be served over a mound of rice which greatly diminishes the spiciness.  A dollop of sour cream calms it even more.  If you want to serve with less rice, decrease the chipotle peppers and adobe sauce by half. 

The crockpot lid will sweat, adding water automatically to the chili.  Try to limit your tendency to "check and stir" to 1or 2 times during the whole 5-6 hours.

1 Tblsp olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
3 small or 2 med/lrg zucchini, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano or Mexican oregano
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tsp adobo sauce
15 oz. can hot chili beans with sauce
15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained

Basmati rice, about 1 cup per serving
Sour cream for serving

Put olive oil in saute pan set on med high heat and cook pepper, onions, and zucchini until softened, then add garlic for another minute to cook without burning. Turn down heat to medium, add chili powder and oregano to pan and saute for another minute or two to deepen and infuse the flavors.  Set aside.

Place tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce in crockpot.  Add sauteed ingredients from pan and stir.  Add all beans and stir.  Cover the crockpot and cook on Low for 5-6 hours.

RICE:  Cook basmati rice according to package directions.

TO FREEZE:  Allow chili to cool, place in freezer containers leaving 1/4-1/2" space at the top.  Put in the refrigerator until completely cold before placing in the freezer.  Freeze about 1-2 months.  TO THAW:  Place frozen container in refrigerator overnight until thawed.  Heat in saucepan slowly, on medium heat.

Yukon Gold Skillet Smashed Potatoes

Yukon Gold Smashed Potatoes 
Here's a riddle for you.

What's the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut? 

Answer:  About 2 weeks.

Now, what's the difference between Yukon Gold Smashed Potatoes and Yukon Gold Smashed Fried Potoatoes? 

Answer:  About 15 minutes.

So you have some Yukon Gold potatoes staring at you?  You just want to cook them and eat them without getting all Iron Chef about it.  No aioli, no reduction sauces.  Maybe some ketchup will be involved.  

Make some smashed taters!  Or like my photo shows, make smashed fried taters.  Here's some general Yukon potato tips. 

1. Yukon Gold potatoes are considered the mid-range of starch content, between floury baking potatoes (like russet) and waxy potatoes that keep their shape in cold potato salad (like red-skinned potatoes).  Yukons are good for mashed or smashed potatoes and are good in soups and potato salad.

2. To cook your Yukon potatoes quicker at suppertime, you can boil the potatoes the day before and refrigerate them.  When it's time to cook, simply smash them in the skillet, maybe with some onion and minced garlic, and you're done in 10 minutes. 

3. You can easily change up the taste of a neutral dish like potatoes by experimenting with different veggies (like peppers and onions) and herbs and spices (like Italian seasoning, dill, red pepper flakes).  You could even throw in a tablespoon or so of malt vinegar to sass it up.  Along side pork or chicken, you can do just about anything.

4. Throw in some cooked Italian sausage, chorizo, leftover ham, or prosciutto and you have a one-dish meal.  Sprinkle with your favorite cheese at the table.

 See.  Yukon Gold Potatoes are our friend.

Cipollini onions, yukon gold potatoes and garlic – just waiting for the heat

To cut or not to cut?  That is the question.  And the answer depends on what you want.  You can smash the potatoes whole in the skillet with a potato masher or strong fork, to keep the taters more intact. Or you can cut the potatoes in half before they go in the skillet, which will allow them to fall apart more.  I chose the latter. 

Yukon Gold Skillet Smashed Potatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

Yukon Gold potatoes, about 3 small or 2 med-lrg size per serving (do not peel)
olive oil for pan
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
herbs (optional)

Bring large pot of water to a boil, add pinch of salt, place potatoes in water (no need to peel but you can) and turn heat down to med or med low and low-boil until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 10-30 minutes depending on size.  Don't overcook.  Drain.  Set aside to cool.  If making for the next day, place in a covered bowl and refrigerate.

Cooking Day:  Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet (non-stick or a seasoned cast iron skillet) and place on med to med high heat.  If using onions and garlic, put onions in oil first and saute about 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes, then add potatoes, mashing them with a fork or the bottom of a firm plastic cup.  Cook until heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

TO FRY YOUR SMASHED TATERS:   Just keep cooking your taters longer on med high heat.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the taters if they are getting too dry and to help them crisp.


Hummingbird Cupcakes

Dear Alyssa and Jillian

Remember when we spent 3 weeks in South Carolina many years ago when our basement flooded and Dad needed us out to clean up and remodel?  We stayed at Uncle Randy's house while they vacationed in Europe.  They had a wonderful kitchen and lots of southern cookbooks.  

You probably don't remember this but I picked out a recipe for a Hummingbird Cake and took it to Aunt Sherry's house for dinner.  I remember it as very similar to a spice cake.  So when I found a recipe for Martha Stewart Hummingbird Cupcakes years later, I had to try them.

Hummingbird Cupc

I'd call these a kicked-up version compared to my cake, with it's chunks of banana, pineapple and pecans.  

I can't believe I almost took these to work without the cream cheese icing.  What was I thinking?

Hummingbird Cupcakes 1

Be careful when you toast the nuts… they can burn easily.  I did not just say that.

Hummingbird Cake (or Cupcakes)
Compliments of

From Martha Stewart


3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (locally at Jungle Jim's or Trader Joe's)

Cream Cheese Icing recipe below


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake.

Cream Cheese Frosting (prepared frostings are very good these days – I purchased but here's the recipe)

Makes 3 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.




Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal Slice
Old-fashioned rolled oats, wheat germ, natural peanut butter, skim milk, small amount of brown sugar, an egg and a teeny tablespoon of butter makes this a healthy option for breakfast, snack or dessert.

I have to confess, this is not the type of recipe I sought out, exactly.  This is a cakey, soft, easy-to-fall- apart, healthy, snack-type thingy.  Served warm, it would be fine alone – but I know people, and I know that unless someone is used to eating whole grains and little sugar, they will want to put something on this oatmeal.  Cream, berries, jam, syrup.  It is best eaten warm and the same day.

Do you like peanut butter and jelly?  Me too.  This is strawberry jelly.

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Jelly
Do you like peanut butter and bananas?  Me too.  These were cooked in little Agave Nectar.

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Bananas
Ingredients except for milk.

Isn't this a nice neat package to pop in the oven?

Doesn't look much different coming out.

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
I was really impressed with the taste, versatility and healthfulness of this dish.  Try it!  It's best eaten while warm and fresh, the first day.

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
Compliments of JennaDish

Adapted from and inspired by many baked oatmeal recipes

You can double this recipe and use a 9X13 pan.  Serve this versatile dish as a snack with an apple and milk, or serve as breakfast in a bowl with milk or cream and berries, or serve as dessert with a scoop of ice cream and honey.  If you don't stock wheat germ, use 1/4 cup oats in it's place.

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (any kind – I used skim milk)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tblsp butter, melted
1/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, preferably natural

Preheat oven to 350oF.

Butter an 8" or 9" square pan and (optionally) place a line of parchment paper in the bottom with ends coming up to later use as handles to lift the whole baked oatmeal and to prevent sticking.

Mix dry ingredients (first 5) in a medium bowl.  Melt peanut butter and butter together until just melted and set aside, add milk and egg to dry ingredients with a large spoon or rubber spatula until just mixed, add vanilla and peanut butter/butter mixture and mix well. 

Pour into pan smooth the top surface.  Bake 20-25 minutes until set.

Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before lifting out of pan. 


Crockpot Double Corn Spoon Bread

Corn Cheese Spoon Bread Spoon Bread
Cornmeal, fresh corn, eggs, milk, butter, and cheddar cheese are the main ingredients in this super awesome side dish.  It's filling and I'd personally call it fairly healthy.  No sugar.  No oil.  Only 1 Tblsp or less butter per serving. 

Once you've made this, you can start tweaking.  According to cookbook author, Beth Hensberger, this Southern dish "is also known as batter bread and can contain cooked rice, hominy, different cheeses and vegetables." 

Serve with anything that would go with corn – chicken, roast, tacos, or because it's so filling, simply soup and salad.


You will need to do a little stovetop cooking of the batter – about 5 minutes if you have all your ingredients ready.  

Once you sprinkle in the baking powder, it foams up.  Good times.

The recipe says "fold in" the cheese.  Look at how liquid the batter is.  You can't really fold it – you have to stir it.  Do you get hung up on terms?  Me too.  We need to get a life.

Crockpot Spoon Bread
Put it in your non-stick cooking-sprayed crockpot, put the lid on it, and don't bother it for 3 hours.  This is what it should look like.  Pulling away from the side, beautiful, tasty crust on the edge, firm yet still a little loosey-jiggly.  You know how a jello mold can be firm yet jiggly?  You got it.


Double-Corn Spoonbread
Compliments of JennaDish

from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger


3 cups milk (I used skim milk or 0% fat)
1/2 cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal (I used 1/2 c + 2 Tblsps stone ground cornmeal)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups fresh yellow corn or white corn kernels or thawed frozen baby corn (I used fresh)
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1 Tblsp baking powder
6 large eggs
1 cup thinly shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk together the milk, cornmeal and salt in a large saucepan over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.  (If you have a glass top stove like me that takes forever to lower its heat, have another burner turned on low and slide it over to simmer.) Stir in the butter until melted, the corn, and hot pepper sauce.  Sprinkle with a baking powder and whisk in the eggs until completely smooth.  Fold in the cheese.  (Fold, indeed.)

Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour in the batter. Cover and cook on HIGH until the spoonbread looks set but is not quite firm, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.   (Mine took 3 hours. By then it was golden and had a nice crust.)  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Feta Savory Muffins


Roasted pumpkin, feta, spinach, parmesan, sunflower seed kernels, parsley, mustard, flour, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt.  Hmmm.  Where's the stick of butter?  Where's the oil?   Where's the sugar?  That's the wonderful thing.  There is none.

Evidently in Australia pumpkin and feta are extremely common.  Like our corn and cheddar, or lemon and poppyseed.  Why should we care about common food pairings in Australia?  Well, this recipe came from some Australian gals who put together a little vegetarian cookbook which you can find here.  I found the recipe on  Thank you, thank you for a great little recipe.

You could use another similar veggie rather than pumpkin, such as butternut squash or probably even a sweet potato?  You just need to cook it in a way that wouldn't be too mushy.  You will need to cut it into cubes. 

However, if you're going for the fresh pumpkin, like I did, buy what's called a "pie pumpkin."  Mine came from Green Bean Delivery (to-your-door veggies and fruit in Cincy and Indy).  My little punkin was a 3-pounder and it yielded about 4 cups of pulp.  This was my first time doing this, so now I'm an "expert."  It's that easy.

How To Cook a Pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350o.  Cut the stem off and wash pumpkin, cut in half horizontally, remove seeds and strings, place cut-side-down on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake until a sharp knife can be easily inserted through the softened flesh, about 30 minutes, or more for a larger pumpkin. 

Remove from oven let cool until able to handle, and using a large, wide metal spoon, scoop out pulp.  Scoop out in large chunks that can be cut into smaller cubes.  For puree, let the pulp cool and put into a food processor.  Add water if needed in very small amounts (teaspoons at a time).

Is it me or does my pumpkin pulp look like peaches?  I hate when that happens.


Alright, here's a loose overview of recipe:  Mix all these ingredients, then mix dry ingredients separately.  Fold together and place in buttered muffin tin.  Bake and eat.  Wow.  That was complicated.



Pumpkin Feta Savory Muffins

Compliments of JennaDish


You can play with the ingredients but I would make it as is first, to get a feel for the originally-intended product.  I'm thinking I'll add some red pepper flakes next time.  Also, Heidi from 101 cookbooks used 1/2 spelt flour and 1/2 all purpose flour.  Seems white whole wheat would also work.

from Martha Goes Green Cookbook (via called Pumpkin Feta Muffins

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash 1/2-inch cubes

salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of baby spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds kernels (personal preference-next time I will chop these)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup cubed feta
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard (I was out and used creamy dijon)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 400oF with rack in the top third. Use the butter to grease a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil and some salt and pepper over the squash. Toss well and turn onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 15 – 25 minutes or until cooked through entirely. Set aside to cool.

Transfer two-thirds of the squash to a large mixing bowl along with the spinach, parsley, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, two-thirds of the feta, and all of the mustard. Gently fold together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together and add to the squash mix. Sift the flour and baking powder onto the squash mix, top with the salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and fold together just until the batter comes together, be careful not to over mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full, top each muffin with a bit of the remaining squash and feta (see photo up above). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Honey Mustard Salmon

Download Honey Mustard Salmon Recipe

This past weekend was quite a whirlwind of disappointment for Reds and Bengals fans, but I do like how this Honey Mustard Salmon matches the pictures of the sad tale below.

After becoming the 2010 Central Division Champions – the Reds' first playoff spot in 15 years – they lost against the Phillies who will go on to the World Series. 

And then there's the Bengals.  John Popovich has been delivering bad news and conducting the almost comical weekend wrap-up sports show, Sports of All Sorts, for a long, long, long-long time.


Witness the Dazed and Confused Fans


But on the other hand… the University of Cincinnati BEARCATS were awesome!  Too awesome. Seriously.
We were there.

SCORE!  Seven to Zero.  Whoo!

V.  I.  C.  T.  O.  R.  Y.  !!
Fourteen to zero.  Yahoo!



Twenty to zero.  Lordy!

UC Player to Miami:  "OK. You guys know you're supposed to try to score, right?"

Twenty-eight to zero.  Wowza!

Thirty-one to zero three!  Dang.

Thirty-eight to three.  REALLY?  SERIOUSLY?

Touchdown!  (we were really close and had a good telefoto!)

Forty-four to three?  OH MY GAWD PEOPLE ?!?!

And then it was half time.  

(2nd string came in and this became the final score.)


This recipe per serving is 370 calories 21g fat (6 saturated).  Cost: $2.77

Compared to Outback Salmon Griller 1,126 calories, 25g saturated fat.  Cost: $11.18

Honey Mustard Salmon
Compliments of JennaDish


from Cook This, Not That!: Kitchen Survival Guide

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and black peper to taste
4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)

Preheat the oven to 400oF.  Combine the butter and brown sugar in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, until the butter and sugar have melted together.  Stir in the mustard, honey, and soy sauce.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over high heat.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper and add to the pan flesh-side down.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until fully browned and flip.  Brush with half of the glaze and place the pan in the oven until the salmon is firm and flaky (but before the white fat begins to form on the surface), about 5 minutes.  Remove, brush the salmon with more of the honey mustard, and serve.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Heaven… I'm in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
Oh I've seemed to find the happiness I seek,
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek
We should eat Chicken Tortilla Soup each week.

slightly adapted from Irving Berlin

Who wants to dance cheek to cheek when you can be stuffing your face with tender-cooked, free-range chicken and tasty veggies in a spicy broth with fresh avocado and cilantro, sour cream and cheddar cheese toppings?  Ooh ooh and crunchy corn tortilla strips.

The problem with soup is that it's a little more difficult to get a good picture of the complexity of what all is going on in the dish.  So I put the soup in a little glass dish and put the toppings on in a layer so you could see better.  That's because I'm an INFP.  That's the Myers-Briggs personality type that stands for: Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving.  INFPs are called the healer, idealist, or dreamer. 

"INFPs are introspective, private, creative and highly idealistic individuals that have a constant desire to be on a meaningful path. They are driven by their values and seek peace. Empathetic and compassionate, they want to help others and humanity as a whole."

You see why I need to put the soup in a glass bowl for you? 

By the way, do you see a baby turtle in the soup above?  (the piece of chicken in the middle). He's facing to the right and has a little horn-shaped, prehistoric-looking nose.  I think he's laughing because his mouth is wide open – or is that a piece of corn stuck on his face? 

"INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses. It's as though they live at the edge of a looking-glassworld where mundane objects come to life, where flora and fauna take on near-human qualities."

Is this guy standing behind me?  Would you call chicken floating in soup "mundane?"  I think not.  But what do I know?  I'm a dreamer and I "see" things in flora and fauna .


Here's some naked Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Waiting to get dressed.

Good News!  This is a crockpot recipe.  Yay!  And here's a Make Ahead Tip:  I combined all the ingredients the night before, except the corn and chicken which goes in later, and put it in a pitcher.  And then in the fridge because we don't want bacteria soup.  You can cook the chicken ahead also and have it ready. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Compliments of JennaDish

from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

28-oz can diced tomatoes, with the juice
10-oz can red or green enchilada sauce
2 medium yellow or white onions, chopped
4-oz can chopped green chiles, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups water
14.5 oz can chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf (I consider this optional and left it out)
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano (regular or Mexican)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (free range or Amish is best)
One 10-ounce can Mexican style corn (I used Green Giant Mexicorn)
corn tortillas
vegetable or canola oil for brushing tortillas

cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream
diced avocado
fresh cilantro

Combine the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onions, chiles, garlic, cilantro, water, broth, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and oregano in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Add the shredded chicken and corn, cover, and continue to cook on LOW for another hour.  Discard the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400oF.  Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with some of the oil.  With a knife, cut the torillas into thin strips(or the size you wish).  Spread out the tortilla strips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake until crisp but not browned, turning once halfway through baking, 8 to 12 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowl.  Sprinkle each serving with tortilla strips and grated cheese.  Top with a tablespoon of sour cream or crema Mexicana, then with a few slices of avocado and cilantro sprigs.  Serve immediately.