Spicy Mexican Chorizo & Potatoes–Mexican Simplicity at It’s Finest!



This simple Mexican dish is packed with unique luscious flavors and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Chorizo is uncooked sausage, made with fresh ground pork and well seasoned with smoked red chiles. Since it’s fresh, you will need to remove the casing before cooking. Chorizo can be found at most supermarkets or if you’re fortunate enough, an authentic Carniceria.  Also, some chorizos are very salty so watch the seasoning.

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I served this flavorful dish with seasoned pinto beans topped with a blend of Mexican cheeses and flour tortillas, but it’s a great filling for soft tacos too; just add shredded cheese, beans and your choice of any of your favorite taco fillings. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


Chorizo Drying–You’ll want fresh for this dish


1 tablespoon light olive oil

1 pound of Mexican chorizo, casings removed

1 small onion, diced

1 hatch, pablano chile pepper, or 1 green pepper for less heat, chopped course

1 pound boiled red skinned new potatoes, cut into small cubes

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Fresh Hatch Chile Peppers


Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, breaking up the clumps, until dry and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a paper lined plate to absorb any additional oil. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and heat the pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers and boiled potatoes and saute until brown, about 12 minutes. Stir in the cooked chorizo and season with a little salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate into individual serving dishes. Top with additional roasted peppers and hot sauce for garnish. My favorite is “Cholula.”



Guest Chef Wednesday! Ellie’s Easy & Delicious Ham and Potato Soup


Ready In: 45 Minutes Servings: 8

A hearty, easy soup that’s ready in 45 minutes. Perfect for using up leftover ham. Break out the crusty bread and crisp salad greens! This soup is quick, easy in all of its luscious, satisfying and creamy deliciousness.



3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes

1/3 cup diced celery

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

3/4 cup diced cooked ham

3 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk


Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.


Crusty Sourdough

“Chocolat” Truffles: Official Recipe from the Movie & How to Experience Chocolate: A Sensual Journey into the 5 Senses


Roux & Vianne

BE PRESENT. Close your eyes, take three deep, cleansing breaths and quiet the mind.

SEE  the shine and color on the truffle’s round shape.

TOUCH. Run your thumb and forefinger across the chocolate surface. Is it smooth, rough, bumpy, dry, moist or…?

SMELL. Bring your thumb and chocolate to your nose and inhale deeply. Close your eyes. Cup your other hand around the truffle and smell.

Truffles All Best

SNAP. Bite the truffle into two pieces. If the proper temperature conditions are present, you should hear a crisp, clean pop that indicates a well-tempered chocolate.

TASTE. Take a small bite. Break up the chocolate in your mouth, let it sit over your tongue, press to your palate (the roof of your mouth), and melt. What does your tongue detect: sweet, salty, bitter, acidic combination?

Now, taste with the help of your nose…as the chocolate is melting on your tongue, take a deep breath, aerating your palate as you stimulate your sense of smell through the back of your throat. What flavors do you taste now?

EVALUATE. After you have eaten the chocolate, take a breath into your mouth and chew on the breath, this gives you the lingering sense of the experience. Did you enjoy?

THE RECIPE: Yield: 36


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

½ cup superfine sugar

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

6 tbsp. unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 tbsp. brewed espresso or dark coffee, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2½ cups rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened finely shredded dried coconut

Truffles Close Best


Combine butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and use a handheld mixer set to medium speed to beat the mixture until pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso, and vanilla and continue beating until combined, about 1 minute more.

Place oats in bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, about 7-10 pulses. Add oats to chocolate–butter mixture and mix until combined; refrigerate until chilled, 1 hour.

Divide chilled chocolate mixture into 36 portions using a tablespoon-size measuring spoon or small cookie scoop; roll each portion into a 1″ ball. Place coconut in a shallow dish and roll each ball thoroughly in coconut; transfer balls to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.



Cocoa Beans



The Velvety Finish


Top 10 Food Hacks of 2014 #2 “The Walking Taco”


Remove half of the fritos, slice veggies and add, add cheese, salsa, sour cream & black olives


Taco 2

Dig In! It’s fast, easy, quick and portable!

NOTE: Bring along a small bag of Fritos to work, chop veggies & place in ziploc bag, do the same for shredded cheese and meat. Pop meat in microwave to warm, add veggies and cheese and a packet of salsa. Done!

Top 10 Food Hacks of 2014! #1 Crispy Crunchy Cheese Bread


We all want to perform like a pro in the kitchen, but with as little time and effort as possible. Over the next several weeks I will be unveiling 2014’s Top 10 Kitchen Hacks that will be sure to make food preparation and consuming a little more deliciously quick, easy and fun! Not to mention, most are extremely clever and impressive! Today we have “Baked Cheese Bread.” The results are as easy to look at as they are to eat!

Instructions & Ingredients:

1 loaf of your favorite Italian or French Bread; the thicker the crust the crunchier the bite

1 pound of your favorite cheese; sliced thin. Parmesan, Mozzarella or Asiago preferred

A handful of fresh chopped green onions and or basil & oregano mixed with 3 tablespoons olive oil

Slice bread vertically 5-6 times–careful, not all the way to the bottom, leave about an inch; then slice horizontally 6-7 times…remember leave about an inch at the bottom with each cut. I use a wooden kitchen spoon at the bottom as a guide.

Stuff with cheese slices, top with olive oil &  herbs, sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper and bake at 400* for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and cheese starts to bubble. That’s it! Serve as an appetizer, along side pasta or salad or as a late night snack. Cheesy crunchy EASY perfection!


Make Boxed Cake Taste Like “Made From Scratch!” Black & White Cupcakes with Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl

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Want to learn how to make boxed cake taste like made from scratch! Here you go! I’m a purist and somewhat of a snob when it comes to baking, but for the sake of busy schedules and time crunches I did some research and found this technique to be quite valuable, light, airy and tasty!

Keeping in the theme of “store bought” mixes, I also found a delicious canned frosting that I was quite fond of as well. So, going against the grain, here are my “Black & White” Cuppies transformed for the busy in-home Chef.

The Technique:

1: Read the directions on the cake mix.

2: Add one more egg (or add 2 if you want it to be very rich).

3: Use melted butter instead of oil and double the amount.

4: Instead of water, use whole milk.

5: Add a small box of instant pudding—coincide the flavor with the cake flavor. Or add French vanilla pudding to yellow cake, chocolate pudding to chocolate cakes…you get the picture.

6: Mix well and bake for the time recommended on the box.

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1 box each of Chocolate Devil’s food and Yellow cake mixes

1 small box each of chocolate and French vanilla instant pudding

1 can each of “Buff Goldman” Chocolate and vanilla frosting.


Preheat oven according to package directions.

Prepare cake mixes individually according to the technique above. Put liners in muffin tins. Using two separate spoons or small cookie scoops in each batch of batter. Use one scoop of chocolate on one side and one vanilla on the other. Bake according to package directions. Remove from oven cool completely on baking racks before frosting.

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Buff Goldman’s or good quality canned frosting of choice just as long as one is chocolate and the other vanilla. In a piping bag add one flavor to one side, flip and add the other. Pipe! Or simply frost one side with chocolate and the other vanilla.

Note: This recipe will make 48 cupcakes so I freeze 24 and frost the other half.

“TV Chefs Then and Now” a Short Overview by Ken Bayliss Co-Author of the “Once Upon a Spice” Cookbook

Old Chefs

Watching TV chefs can be like being in awe of a clever neighbor with whom we have become attached. We almost long for their views, ideas and even find their mannerisms appealing. They give us secrets, advice and chastize us when we cook slightly wrong. Then, without realizing it, they change our eating habits for the better and it becomes our normal way of cooking.

Here are a few random ones who have given us some friendly information in the kitchen. These have passed on to the Great Kitchen In The Sky. Wonderfully, though, you can still catch up with their cooking skills on Youtube. They are well worth it, for a variety of different reasons.


Julia Child

The great first in American TV cooking. In the film, ‘Julie and Julia’ with Child played by Meryl Streep, she is the oddly eccentric, yet determined amateur who becomes a chef. Not just a chef, but a Parisian trained French one to boot. Highly influential, she brought classic, though simple, French dishes to a vast American TV audience. She is ranked by some as the highest influence on home cooking in the US.


Fanny Cradock

One of the first TV chefs on British television and the British equivalent of Julia Childs; excentric, though without her finess. Fanny had a middle class no-nonsense approach. Being so proper she dressed as if she was at home preparing a dinner party for guests about to arrive. A great pioneer of new food ideas after the war-time rationing was well over, and which she carried on for decades.


Charlie Trotter

He was a Chicago favorite who gained two Michelin Stars. He was an influence not only on TV, but with popular cook books. He is considered by many to be one of the most highly influential of the recent chefs with many of his ex chefs opening excellent restaurants. In 2013, the year he died, he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, right, with Jennifer Paterson

Clarissa Dickson Wright

Anyone who has seen the odd, and compelling, cookery show Two Fat Ladies will see Clarissa Dickson Wright as the almost lesser partner to the opinionated Jennifer Patterson. The show aired for three years until 1999. When Patterson died Clarissa came into her own. The pair were incorrigible drinkers and used cookery ingredients that many purists regarded as unhealthy. They ignored it all and carried on as usual, as did Clarissa for the rest of her solo TV career.


Anthony Sedlak

He started young, being 13 when he worked in a cafeteria and, surprisingly, at14 in its kitchen. He continued working with food until, still in his Twenties, he hosted The Main cookery show on Canadian TV. He had studied in London at the acclaimed La Trompette and later won a number of awards as he progressed through his culinary life. His style on TV was one of enthusiasm and knowledge, though without pretentiousness. Sadly, he died before he was 30 years old.


Keith Floyd

A wonderfully enthusiastic chef who inspired millions with his TV shows. One of his downfalls, though, was drink. In his shows he is always seen with a drink in hand. He didn’t seem to care; his private life suffered with five failed marriages and even more failed restaurants.  Before his TV appearances he worked as a radio chef, but on TV with his exotic locations and his irrepressible style, he garnered millions of loyal followers.

All these are gone, though not forgotten thanks to Youtube. With the huge number of cooking programs available throughout the world just who are, not only our favorite chefs, but the most significant chefs? Well, despite what some may imagine, and according to Zimbio.com it will surprise you. They researched Google over thousands of their monthly searches and found that the 10 most influential chefs in the world are:

A very easy Number one is


1 Jamie Oliver

The next one with only just over half of Jamie’s searches


2 Gordon Ramsey

Slightly behind at number three


3 Rachel Ray

Then with just a quarter of the searches of Jamie Oliver


4 Bobby Flay

Just slightly behind him is


5 Wolfgang Puck

Then we have


6 Giada De Laurentis

Almost neck and neck with Giada is


7 Sandra Lee

Not too far off is


8 Mario Batali

Then just about half of Mario’s searches comes

Emeril Lagasse

9 Emeril Lagasse

Lastly we have under half of Emeril’s score, and around a twentieth of Jamie Oliver’s is


10 Jacques Pepin

It is more than possible that if you search other sites you can come up with alternative results. TV creates popularity and, since Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey have quite a number of shows under their belts, they climb to the top. Perhaps importantly, these shows are usually outside broadcasts, as opposed to small kitchen, studio-based shows. Number three on the list is Rachel Ray, and again in a slight departure from the usual cooking show, hers is more like a kitchen-based chat show.

Even though there are other shows which vary the background slightly, most are still studio based. Perhaps this could explain why there is no Martha Stewart, no Guy Fieri and no Nigela Lawson etc. on this top 10 search list.



Breakfast! It’s What’s for Dinner! Cottage Style Hash Browns & All the Trimmings


Cottage Style Hash Browns, Eggs Over Easy, Turkey Sausage & Pan di Mie with Fresh Organic Kerrygold Butter…Mmmm

Does your busy schedule keep you from making hearty breakfasts? This scrumptious four-part feast will fit its way into your evening repertoire in a flash! Today’s recipe is for “Cottage Style Hash Browns” and the remaining trio can be whipped up while the potatoes are sauteing in the skillet. Talk about satisfying! Hash browns also make a great side dish for other evening meals. Remember Mom & Dad talking about “meat & potatoes” this is what they meant :-)


2 pounds red, Yukon gold or russet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion; sliced thin

2 glove garlic; minced

1 small green pepper; sliced thin

1/2 teaspoon of both onion and garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until firm, but fork tender. Place into a bath of ice water; cool for 10 minutes or refrigerate until time to use. The peel can be removed easily after the ice bath. Grate potatoes with a box grater. Saute remaining veggies in oil and butter until onions are slightly translucent about 5-7 minutes. Add potatoes and spices; saute on medium heat until golden brown on the bottom. Turn and brown the other side.

Makes 2 large servings or 4 small.

It’s Guest Chef Wednesday! Melissa’s Potato Bacon Torte: A Taste of France 


This French torte is a slice of heaven! Packed with potatoes, bacon (jambon) and cream—how could it not? Refrigerated pie dough may be used when you’re in a pinch, but this Pate Brisee style crust is well worth the extra time and little effort. Experience a little taste of France with each and every bite! Serve with a crisp side salad and a tall stem of Chenin Blanc


Melissa’s French Potato Bacon Torte


For the crust:

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon fine salt

For the filling:

4 strips bacon

1 cup heavy cream

3 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for topping (optional)

3 medium baking potatoes, peeled

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese

1 large egg yolk



Make the crust: Pulse the butter, flour and fine salt in a food processor until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add 8 to 10 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough just begins to clump together. Divide the dough between 2 resealable plastic bags and pat into disks. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 10-inch round on a floured surface. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie plate and refrigerate.

Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain on paper towels. Let cool, then crumble.

Bring the cream and thyme sprigs to a bare simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat; let steep 5 minutes. Remove the thyme.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator. Add a layer of potato slices over the dough in a circular pattern, overlapping; season with kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle with about one-quarter of the bacon. Continue layering until the pan is nearly full. Top evenly with the gruyere. Gently pour the cream over the torte, allowing it to seep down between the potato slices.

Roll out the remaining disk of dough into a 10-inch round on a floured surface. Lay the dough over the filling; press the edges of the 2 crusts together and crimp them closed. Beat the egg yolk with a splash of water and brush on the top crust. With a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the center of the crust to let steam escape. Put the torte on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is browned and the potatoes are cooked through, 50 minutes to 1 hour. (Cover the edges with foil if they brown too quickly.) Let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Top with thyme leaves.

You’ve Found a Golden Ticket! Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Sauce: Official Recipe Not Just “Pure Imagination”


Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Sauce over Banana Ice Cream

 “Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three… Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look, and you’ll see into your imagination.”


1⁄2 cup half-and-half

1 cup sugar

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 tbsp. butter

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten


The Chocolate Waterfall


Heat half-and-half and sugar together in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add chocolates and butter and whisk until smooth. Set aside to let cool briefly.

Stir in egg yolks and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to let cool slightly. Serve over cake, brownies, fruit or ice cream.



Mr. Willy Wonka

“If you want to view paradise

Simply look around and view it

Anything you want to, do it

Wanna change the world?

There’s nothing to it”

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