Stuff I cooked while my Hubs prepared to abandon me, part 1…

So it’s that time of year again, and I am a Hunting-Season widow….Hubs says its the last blow out of the summer for he and his cronies, but it’s soooooo not. It’s totally the beginning of several long months of every spare moment he has being spent in up the Hills, or on the Plains depending on what he’s hunting. This weekend he’s in Wyoming for Antelope season….bonding with the boys.

I’m a good little wifey, I always make some kind of YumYum they can take with them for one nights supper. This trip its Chili and Cornbread muffins….

Grammy’s Awesome Chili (I picked that name myself!)

 2 lbs ground venison (or hamburger)

1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can rotell

1 small onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, pressed

2 Tablespoons olive oil

12 oz. tomato paste

1 bottle of beer

½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 Tablespoon dried cilantro

2 Tablespoon cumin

3 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon cocoa (Yes, you read that right, COCOA! Trust me!)

1 Tablespoon paprika

salt to taste

1-2 cup water depending on how thick you like your chili, I generally use 1 cup

If you’re like me and forgot you were out of cocoa when you were at the dang grocery store earlier today, go ahead and run on over the oh-so-handy-and-totally-overpriced neighborhood market and buy a box for $ 5.79….didn’t we already have this talk about forgetting to get stuff you need from the store??? Geeeeesh…….


Brown whatever type of ground meat you’re using. I haven’t purchased ground beef in years. We eat what Luke hunts, no trophy hunting here…Drain it and set aside. I usually open the cans of beans and dump them in the colander, then dump the meat on top to drain it,  just seems easier when it all has to drain anyway….

 Heat the olive oil in the pot, brown the onions for a couple of minutes, add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes.


 Add the tomato paste to the onions/garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until it carmelizes. This step really adds a richness to the taste….trust me!

 When the tomato paste is fragrant, pour in the beer and the spices. Stir to blend well.

Add the meat and beans to the pot.  Stir it all until well combined, add water if it seems too thick. Cover and let simmer for 2 hours or so. (or throw it all in the crockpot for 6-8 hours if you’re so inclined)

 Top with cheese, maybe some pretty green onions….

 Serve with Fritos….Or….

Grammy’s Sweet Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 8×8 inch pan or a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Put everything into a big mixing bowl and stir until it’s well mixed. Pour into whatever pan you choose and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean…



Chef Vivi Cooks For Me!!!!

I cannot express how much I love coming home from work knowing I don’t have to cook, but I’m going to try anyway….

1. The feeling of freedom I get driving home from a long day of work makes me smile like a little Kid on Christmas morning (and by Kid I mean Luke)!

2. Food cooked for you in your own kitchen where you can eat it in your underwear if you so choose always tastes better than if you’d cooked the same meal yourself. (I just want to go on record as saying I rarely eat dinner in my underwear)

3. Even though I usually end up cleaning the kitchen when I have a guest Chef, and even if that Chef is Chef Vivi who always manages to dirty every single pot/pan/gadget/baking dish/mixing bowl in my kitchen, its still worth it to have a night off from cooking.

4. I don’t have to come up with yet ANOTHER DINNER IDEA!! That’s huge. Like mongo KingKong huge! My brain is mush….And Chef Vivi never fails to make something unbelievably tasty that I can add to my tired repertoire of recipes.

5. It’s fodder for the Blog. Taking pictures of someone else cooking is so much easier than cooking with one hand, holding the camera with another all while trying not to slosh food out of the pan/mixing bowl and onto the floor. Yes, that has happened. More than once…The Parmesan Chicken catastrophe still gives me nightmares *shudder*

Pasta Carbonara ala Chef Vivi (adapted from This recipe on PW’s site)

  • 1 pound Pancetta
  • 1 pound Linguine Pasta
  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 8 cloves  Garlic
  • 1 cup White Wine (or Substitute Another Cup Of broth)
  • 1 cup Chicken broth
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 bunch Parsley
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  •  Black Pepper to taste

Forgive my slightly out of focus photo, I was so focused on the Pancetta I paid no attention to the fact the wine was blurry. It takes alot to make me lose my focus on wine….


Pancetta…..let me just say a word about this Pancetta. The word is OhLordThisStuffIsAmazingIDontKnowHowIEverLivedWithoutItAndDoNotWantToTryEver. Another word: Yummy. Chef Vivi brought this from Washington where apparently they realize that sometimes you need a block of Pancetta and not just the pititful little 3 ounce packages of thinner than paper slices that I can get around my neck of the woods. This hunk of Italian bacon is a thing of beauty, a delight for the senses, a revelation of taste. Its really really good I tell ya!!! Now, having said that, let me just add that you can substitute regular bacon if you feel you absolutely must….

 What ever bacon you use, chop it up! Throw it in a big skillet and cook it til as much fat as possible is rendered and you’re left with gorgeous little golden brown pieces of crispy heaven. Use a slotted spoon and removed the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and leave the drippings in the pan.

 I want to eat this. Right now. Someone please stop me……

 Add the chopped onion to the pan and saute until they start to brown.. After the onions have cooked for a couple of minutes, throw in the garlic. Yes, all of it! Trust me!!! Adding it after the onions have cooked a little will prevent the garlic from burning.


At this stage, go ahead and start the salted water boiling for your linguini. It should cook to perfection in about 9 minutes when added to the boiling water.

Using your slotted spoon again, remove all the onion and garlicy goodness to the same paper towel lined plate that the beautiful Pancetta is on. Discard the rest of the grease but DO NOT let me catch you wiping out the pan or removing all that browned lovliness that is stuck to the bottom of the pan!! That is pure flavor in there!!!

Chef Vivi measures her wine….a step I find completely unneccessary. You open the bottle, you pour a bunch in and you drink the rest while stuffs cooking….silly child, 🙂

Let the pan get good and hot again, then pour in the wine (or broth if you’re not cooking with wine)

Using a whisk, scrape the bottom of the pan vigorously until the little bits of flavor have released themselves into the liquid and the pan is completely deglazed. Once all the browned bits have been loosened, add in the broth. (If you skipped the whole wine scene, then you’re already here!) 

Lets chat about broth for a sec….I am a firm believer in making your own stock. However, having said that I also am a realist and know it’s not always possible or practical. So I use this Better Than Bouillon. And it is….richer flavor than any canned or carton of broth I’ve ever used, ditto for the chock-full-o-nothin-but-salt bouillon cubes *gah* . I keep the chicken and beef versions in my pantry at all times. Trust me! 

Give it a stir and let it simmer for a minute and then add the cooked onions and Pancetta to the pan. This is your sauce….Its divine! While its bubbling, start on the egg mixture.

 Crack the eggs into a very large bowl.

Add the chopped parsley (reserve a little for garnish) and the grated parmesan.

Stir like hell!

Your pasta should be done by now, so drain it and add it to the egg mixture. NOTE: this is when the eggs get cooked so make sure your pasta is HOT! Pour on the oniony, bacony sauce from the pan and toss like there’s no tomorrow!!

*drool*  Pile it on a plate, sprinkle on some extra parmesan and a little parsley.

Holy cow! If you’re mouth isn’t watering right now there is something wrong with you!! See a doctor!! Sublime in its simplicity…Simply Sublime?? Whatever, its dang good!

It seems like a lot of steps but honestly, once the Pancetta (or bacon) is rendered the rest of this masterpiece is completed in the time it takes to cook the pasta…(Unless your Mom is standing around photographing every step saying things like “can you chop a little slower, I’m getting a blur” or “Can you stir with your left hand, you’re blocking my shot”,
and then it make take slightly longer…:) Or maybe it just seems like a lot of steps because I was on photographer overload and took a kajillion pics of my beautiful Chef…

Serve this with a nice crusty bread, you will want it to sop up every drop of the sauce…



This Sunday I am Thankful for…..

For finding this recipe on Friday:


  Coconut, White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut Belgian Waffles

 Coconut, White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut Belgian Waffles….

They were heavenly! And we had them exactly as they suggested with some freshly whipped cream. No syrup. Absolute perfection…. I was so hungry and so excited to try them that I completely forgot to take pictures so I could blog about them! The recipe (and photo) are courtesy of

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!!!



Here a Tot, there a Tot…

This is NOT a post about diet food. Consider yourself forewarned!

Golden brown nuggets of Heaven for your tastebuds…Little morsels of deep fried, homemade YUM….These will make you fluffy…and happy!

We’re about to get dirty…


 4 medium russet potatoes

1 egg

4 oz sharp cheddar

2 Tablesoons all purpose flour

sea salt and fresh ground to taste

canola oil

 Wash the ‘taters and cut them in half. Parboil them until you can insert a fork, but they’re still firm. Drain and cool. When they’re cool enough to handle (you can rinse them in cold water to bring the temp down faster) grate them into a large mixing bowl, using your grater with the largest holes. I don’t peel mine beforehand for two reasons: A) I hate to peel ‘taters, and B) when you grate them after parboiling, the peel mostly stays in one piece.



 See? Self peeling ‘taters! Yippee!!! A few little pieces of peel may end up in the bowl but I don’t mind ’em…

When you’ve got all the ‘taters grated, grate your cheese using the same grater. Add the egg, flour and salt/pepper to taste. This is where the getting dirty part comes in….

 Dive in with both hands and mix well. You want a nice, sticky consistency. (Add more flour if it seems too wet) If you have young’uns that like to help in the kitchen, this is a good job for them! My helpers all grew up,  so I have to do the dirty work myself. It’s a necessary evil that I hope Peanut will relieve me of when she’s big enough!

When it’s well combined, rinse your hands under cool water, you just want them dampened. It makes forming these sticky little tots easier.

 Make ’em round, make ’em oval….doesn’t really matter! I re-wet my hands after about 4 or 5 tots to keep them from sticking to me. Just keep rollin’, rollin’, rollllllllin’ along….

 I made a double batch so I could freeze half…

Heat the oil to about 375. Fry them in batches of 6 or so, however many your Fry-Daddy will hold without crowding. Mine took around 5 minutes to float and turn to beautiful golden perfection!


 Drain ’em on paper towels. I give mine a little sprinkle of Seasoned Salt when they come out of the oil but that’s just me….


 Done! These are ridiculously addictive… scrumptous little bites of  crispy cheesy goodness! Chef Vivi taught me to make these the last time she was home and her Daddy and Sister now refuse to eat a store bought Tater Tot….Thanks Kid!!! I did have to adapt her original recipe by adding the cheese, but it’s what I do. I have also strongly considered adding crumbled bacon too….cuz pork fat rules!

P.S….try them dipped in Ranch, I wouldn’t steer ya wrong!

Enjoy 🙂