Only Vegetables Were Slaughtered For This Meal

Recipe: Baba Ghanouj

 This weekend it was my vegetarian daughter’s birthday. This is her in a not-so-recent photo.

She’s a little bit older and taller now, but I think this captures the essential Sarah that we all know and love.

In her honor, and because I saw the recipe in Kelli’s blog  and was inspired by it, I made a birthday dinner that wasn’t just vegetarian, but Vegan! (note: of course, Kelli’s domain name registration expired over the weekend, so you won’t get anywhere by clicking that link)

 Since her domain name expired I wasn’t able to directly use her recipe so I found one over on SimplyRecipes which served us well. I highly recommend grilling the eggplants instead of baking them in the oven because the grilling imparts a smokey flavor that really adds to the dish.

 In addition to the fancy-looking cut up vegetables, I made Pita Chips for dipping which turned out great and were very easy to make.

 Rating: I give this a 4 out of 5, although I’m pretty sure Sarah gave it a full 5 glasses. This fed four adults as an entree’ and could easily serve many more as an appetizer. 


Posted in 4 Wine Glasses, Appetizer, Dinner, Side Dish, Vegetarian | 5 Comments

Rubbing Your Meat

RECIPE: Cowboy Coffee Steak Rub

A few weeks ago my friend Laura told me she had an extra ticket to Phoenix Cooks, this fancy schmancy food festival in Scottsdale, and asked if I wanted to go with her.  Uh, a free ticket (retail price: $75) to a place where I can try fancy restaurant food and drink wine/vodka/tequila/sake to my heart’s content?!  Obviously I jumped at the chance to go.  I told her if I found one thing I liked, then it was worth the 45 minute drive to the neighborhood I grew up in, which is where she now lives.  It turned out to be a great time and Laura was the perfect partner in crime for this adventure because she’s snarky and awesome like I am.

Of all the trendy restaurants and famous local eateries that were there, I was surprised to find that my favorite bite of the day was courtesy of the Arizona Beef Council.  (OK, aside from the huckleberry vodka from 44 North, which I’m going to track down and buy because that was some awesome vodka!)  They served a simple grilled steak with a coffee rub, which was just a mix of ground coffee, brown sugar, course salt, and coarsely ground pepper.  I’m a simple steak girl.  I want my steak to taste like steak.  I don’t need fancy sauces or spices.  My dad always grilled steak with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.  This rub, though it goes against my natural instinct for steak, was divine.

While I consider myself a fairly accomplished cook, I’ve been historically terrible at grilling steak.  I know the two secrets to grilling meat: 1. Take it out of the fridge and let it rest for 15 minutes before grilling, and 2. Let it rest for 10 minutes when you’re done grilling.  My main issue is this, I always always always over-cook my steak.  I think it’s equal parts I don’t want my steak mooing and me and not wanting to catch some disease from under-cooking it.

I vowed to myself that I’d become better at grilling, and I took this very delicious opportunity to try it again.  And you know what?  It was perfect.  I’m going to attribute this success to my new grill, and maybe not to my new ability to a) grill steak well, or b) that my tastes have changes (for example, red wine and dark coffee became delicious when I grew to adulthood) and that I’m not scared of a slight under-cooking.  I cooked it to 150, which is medium according to my meat thermometer.  I used tiny (but expensive!  stake is expensive!) filets that grilled pretty quickly over medium-low for about 8 minutes on each side.

The lesson learned today grilling isn’t that hard, you just need practice.  Also, maybe rubbing your meat with a little something isn’t that bad of an idea either.  Have I mentioned that I sometimes have the sense of humor of a 15 year old boy?  Well I do.

Rating: Can I give this a 6?  Maybe that’s going a bit overboard, so let’s just say a hearty 5 out of 5 glasses of wine for this omgdelicious meal.

Cowboy Coffee Rub
Author: Arizona Beef Council
  • 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 12 brown sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients.
  2. Rub on your meat.
  3. Cook to your specifications.

Posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Beef, Grill | 3 Comments

Easy Middle Easternish Feast at Home

RECIPE: Chicken and Hummus with Saffron Rice

Jason and I went to dinner last weekend with a family of my clients/friends (if you don’t want to click that link to read the story, the short version is: I’m kind of a bitch when I’m hungry, feel sorry for my husband). They took us to this fantastic authentic middle eastern restaurant called The Persian Room up in North Scottsdale. It was so good I was craving more of it just a few nights later.

Thus, the inspiration for my recipe week. One of the most interesting things about the meal to me was that they served everything with a basket of amazing fresh flatbread and a plate of fresh basil and a sliced white onion. When we got to the restaurant I was STARVING TO DEATH, so Jason and I went upstairs to the bar and ordered hummus and  cocktails. It came with the flatbread and basil and onion and I was like “PleaseputeverythinginmymouthrighnowIdon’tcarewhatitisI’mgoingtodie.” The bar tender/waitress told us it all sort of went together.

So I took some flatbread, laid a leaf of basil on it, added a slice of onion and dipped it all in hummus and ate it. And then I died and went to heaven and Jason got down on his knees and thanked the gods of acceptable blood sugar levels because I was done being such a cranky shrew to him.

The point is: I could live on fresh onion, basil, flatbread and super fluffy hummus. So for dinner this week I added a side of (half-ass, store bought) Saffron rice and some marinated chicken and called it dinner. And DAMN if it wasn’t almost as good. Like five glasses of really good, not even out of a box Pinot Grigio. I want some more right now.

The only downside was trashcan mouth the next morning from so much raw garlic. But dude, that happens. And it’s worth it.

This hummus was so easy and some of the best I’ve ever had. Make it just like I wrote below.

Jason cleared out the garden boxes from the dead spring plants last weekend and found three volunteer basil plants (we didn’t plant basil in the spring). This was from that. BECAUSE WE’RE AWESOME.

Did I mention I was too lazy to find the good camera so I took these pics with my iPhone?

My helper. I should probably be nicer to him. 

So simple and fantastic. Jason ate himself sick. That’s when I know it was a really good meal. It only gets five stars if Jason has to go to bed early because he ate too much.


Chicken and Hummus with Saffron Rice
Recipe type: Dinner
Author: Elizabeth
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 5
  • 1 1/2 lbs of chicken tenders
  • 5 flatbread pitas
  • 3 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 white onion, cut in half and thickly sliced
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/3 cup of tahini
  • 3 lemons
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 packages of Saffron rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Mix 1/2 cup olive oil, juice from 2 lemons, 2 cloves of pressed garlic, tablespoon of kosher salt, teaspoon of pepper, thyme and cumin in a large bowl. Whisk to emulsify. Add chicken tenders to the bowl and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Melt butter on the stove in a medium pan with a top. Add minced yellow onion and sauté on medium low for 5-8 minutes until onions just start to caramelize.
  4. Following the directions on the packages of Saffron rice, add water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cover 20 mins (or what the package says) until cooked through.
  5. In a food processor, combine tahini and juice from one lemon. After it’s whipped to a fluffy texture, add remaining cloves of garlic (or to taste, if you like it less garlicy) and mix again. Add chickpeas 1/3 of the can at a time and mix. Finally add salt, and olive oil and water a few tablespoons at a time until the flavor, consistency is what you like.
  6. Heat a large skillet medium high. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee the chicken tenders until browned on both sides and cooked through.
  7. Serve with one flatbread pita, a large handful of basil, a chuck of onion slices, 1/2 cup or so of hummus, 3 chicken tenders and a side of rice. Tear off pieces of the bread and layer it with hummus, chicken, basil and onion to eat.


Posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Poultry | Leave a comment

Dear veggies, meet a tortilla. And sauce.

jen's splash

RECIPE: Amazing veggie enchiladas.

It was a fridge crisis. Too many veggies. The garden is booming. The CSA keeps coming. And I needed to do something, quickly, to address the issue. A one word solution: enchiladas.

First of all: that isn’t all of it, pictured up there. There was another squash. More rainbow chard. Garlic. Another tomato. Several more peppers Ken plucked from the garden (including jalapeno). Etc.

And beans! Pinto beans were on sale so I started soaking them that morning.

Besides the beans, which soak and cook separately, there are two major elements to the enchiladas.

The filling: which was LOTS OF CHOPPING and then some cooking and spicing of the veggies. Then add this mixture to the beans and ricotta cheese. Which makes an enormous heaping bowl of filling, by the way.

And the second element? Enchilada sauce.

Which I admit, I’ve never made before. And I just kind of made it up as I went along. Simmered some chopped tomatoes: green and red. That jalapeno. A diced onion. Added cumin. Chili powder. Chopped garlic. Pepper. Salt. More diced peppers. Water. Shake in some hot sauce. And then some brown sugar, as one of those peppers was way  hotter than I thought. A dash of vinegar. Voila. Poured it atop the tortillas stuffed with the veggies.

Apparently, I did something right. Because although the meal took me forever to make and we ate dinner at like 10 pm, Ken talked about the enchiladas. For DAYS.

And I’m so glad it made so much. I adore really good leftovers for lunches.

RECIPE RATING: 5 of 5 glasses of red wine. Or margaritas. And congrats on using up all the veggies for a pretty healthy meal! (Stop looking at that  pile of sour cream already!)

Veggie Enchiladas
5.0 from 1 reviews
Author: Jen
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 4
  • Tortillas: I like corn better, but find they often break when being folded. Now I opt with a half corn half wheat variety you can find easily at the store.
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • Any topping: I like sour cream. Avocado, too.
  • Beans: I used 1.5 C dried pinto beans. Alternatively, you can use 2 cans of beans.
  • 3/4 C skim ricotta cheese. Can use more if you like. I just wanted something to help keep the filling together.
  • Spice: Spice up your cooking veggies to your liking. I added salt and pepper, cumin and chili powder.
  • Veggies: Chop up whatever you have on hand. I had: squash, kale, rainbow chard, broccoli, carrots, peppers and corn.
  • Option: taco seasoning pack.
  • SAUCE:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, or 2 small onions
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 tomatoes (or more, these were huge tomatoes and one was green), Try not to loose the water when you cut them. You want that in the sauce. Just cube them and let them cook down.
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 small can of mild diced green chilies, with liquid
  • 2 additional chilies of your choice (I had mild, sweet ones)
  • Chili powder: add amount to your taste. This can quickly add heat.
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp (more if sauce is too spicy!) brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash or more of your favorite hot sauce
  1. Start the beans. Soak overnight and cook separately, in fresh water, for 1.5 to 2 hours. (You’ll add them to the ricotta and cooked veggies to make the filling.)
  2. Chop and divide the veggies.
  3. Start the sauce. In a small pan, simmer half of the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add jalapeno. Cooked until onions are clear. Add tomatoes and cook down on low heat, smashing them if need be.
  4. Meanwhile, start cooking/stir frying up your veggies. In a separate large pan (I used a high-edge big cast iron skillet), start cooking the other half of the onion in olive oil. And add other veggies according to how long the cook. Squash first, chard leave last. I throw in 1/4 C water to help steam them. Add spices.
  5. Back to your sauce: Add other spices and ingredients until desired taste. More water may be necessary. Simmer on low.
  6. Heat oven to 350. Prepare a baking dish with butter spray.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, mix your ricotta with a dash of hot sauce, chili powder and cumin (or half a pack of taco seasoning mix). Add the cooked beans and mix.
  8. When your veggies are done, add them to the ricotta and beans. Mix well. Add more spices if you’d like. This is your filling.
  9. Fill your tortillas with the filling and line up in your baking dish. How much filling depends on the size of tortilla you have. The more the better. Crowd them together.
  10. Pour your sauce over the top. Top with grated cheese.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes at 350, until sauce bubbles and top begins to brown.
  12. Serve with sour cream and avocado and enjoy!


Posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Dinner, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Where’s the Beef? Right Here.

Recipe: Beer Braised Beef with Onions

 We decided to invite the entire crew over for a Sunday dinner to celebrate Labor Day last weekend. That wouldn’t normally be big news, but some of us were celebrating the Labor part of Labor Day a little more earnestly than others.

 Allow me to introduce Augustus Tolar Huckelberry, my newest grandson, born August 17. As is the norm in the Huckelberry family, he’s a big dude. At 9lbs., 6oz. and 21 inches, he’s starting out bigger than Colby was, which is kind of scary.

 Adding Gus to the mix means that “invite the entire crew” includes 18 people. Admittedly Gus, Henry, and Colby (the three “littlest” grandsons) don’t eat all that much (yet), but the other 15 can pack it away pretty well. Kathleen found a recipe on a great website, The Pioneer Woman, that looked easy and sounded delicious. With the crowd we had coming, I decided to double it up and make it twice.

 That was key because the largest chuck roast I could find was less than four pounds and I knew this group would blow through 4 pounds of beef without even breaking a sweat. So, I made one batch on Saturday and another on Sunday and just combined them when serving. This turned out even better than I expected. We served it with mashed potatoes and bread, along with some salad and other side dishes (grilled corn). I also supplied a relish made from my delicious pickled jalapenos, which added some kick to the beef.

 After the group finished devouring the food, this was pretty much all anyone was in the mood to do. Yeah, I think is was well received.

 Rating: 5 out of 5 ice cold beers. Serve this with a crusty bread to sop up all the gravy/juices and plan some post-meal naptime.

Posted in 5 Wine Glasses, Beef, Dinner | Leave a comment