an adventure in chili making

my kitchen of late has been quite the popular place for chili making. first round was with my friend warren, aka the chili master. he hosts a yearly chili cook-off, last year he claimed the title. spicy meatiness was on the menu for warren’s chili. secret ingredients include bacon, bbq sauce and curry powder. we ate this batch ala frito pie! a classic lunch lady move.

frito pie makes every lunch lady happy

frito pie makes every lunch lady happy

warren with excited chili face

warren with excited chili face

next up was chili making with elise. after my art show opening where i served up tater tots, we concluded that the best way to use the remaining 3 lbs of tots was to cook chili to put on top of them. elise showed up with loads of beans, i had ground turkey and our secret ingredients included sarachia, okra, and tater tots, extra crispy that is!

tater puffs!

tater puffs!



still got about 2.5 pounds of tots left. anyone else wanna come and cook up some tots and chili?!





A cup and mug state of mind

I own a lot of teacups and mugs- that’s a fact. Do I have to stack them to shut the cabinet door? Yes, yes I do. Does this stop me from buying a teacup or mug as a souvenir from anywhere I go?
Only slightly.

Each morning the first thing I do is make a pot of tea and pick out my cuppa for the day (I average a daily 3-4 cups of tea a day). With so many to choose from I realized recently that I was picking my tea mug based on what I wished my day to be like or representing my mood when I woke up.

So here are my choices for this week
(Read into them what you like)

Sunday with Yorkshire Gold Tea


This has been my Sunday teacup for the past few years. Nothing like a little good luck for the week ahead.

Monday with P&G Tea


When I woke up I realized I had been dreaming about explaining the plot of “Alls Well That Ends Well” to co-workers in a dream and decided I might need a little London at my waking work that day.

Tuesday with P&G


Tuesday is the hardest day to get up. This morning I needed a little help from Tall Paul and the Gemini Giant, old roadside attractions we saw during a road trip to Chicago during March. Nothing like vacation longing on a weekday.


Wednesday with P&G (apparently my go-to-weekday tea).


I picked my bluebird mug because I woke up feeling hopeful and calm (plus all the snow is supposed to melt today).

Thursday with P&G


Woke up trying to decide if I was going to try and visit my grandparents and Aunt this weekend in Boonville. If I read the mug signs right, they seem to point to yes.

Friday with P&g


Friday felt like a good day for a little happy ever after.

Saturday with Yorkshire Gold.


On my way to Grandmother’s house with a Time Lord by my side!

National Pancake Day


For the first time ever we celebrated National Pancake Day. I have an unreasonable love of pancakes. Do I lay awake on Wednesday nights because I am so excited about having pancakes on Thursday morning in the corporate cafeteria at work – yes, yes, I do.

It’s embarrassing that we haven’t participated in this holiday and the FREE buttermilk pancakes IHOP gives away every year.

Needless to say FREE pancakes brings out a lot of people. So many in fact we were given a celebrity to mark our wait in line.


This was my first time ever having IHOP pancakes and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting greatness, flavorlessness was more like it. And after waiting with the crazy crowd, I was expecting a very dry, cold stack of pancakes.


I am happy to report that I was sadly mistaken- they were good, quite good. Moist, warm, buttery and all the dough-wonderfulness a pancake should be. I feel foolish to have doubted The International House of Pancakes- never again my friends.

meatless monday — with guest chef elise

meatless monday had a guest chef in the kitchen this week. elise volunteered her cooking skills and recipe for gluten free and dairy free lasagna. the gal showed up to cook, in true meatless monday fashion tying on an apron and pouring a big glass of wine to kick off the cooking!

the guest chef

the guest chef

the lasagna had lots of veggies in it, peppers, onions, mushrooms, squash and tomatos and lots of dairy free cheese. it was so cheesy you would have no idea that the creamy stuff didn’t actually come from a cow. and the secret to the sauce….sraricha.

cheesy goodness

cheesy goodness

i contributed a salad and bread to complete the meal and friends packed in around the table ready to eat!

a big plate is a happy plate

a big plate is a happy plate

lori's a first timer at meatless monday and please just ignore ray

lori’s a first timer at meatless monday and please just ignore ray

i ventured into more vegan baking for desert researching recipes i discovered a vegan cheesecake. the crust was made of pecans, coconut and dates, and the cream filling had pureed cashews, tofu, and maple syrup it. topped with some raspberry puree, it was the perfect way to end an italian fest.





Jessie’s Kale Salad


We had this amazing kale salad at our best friend Jessie’s house. She said she got it from a magazine, but I’m giving her all the credit because she is an excellent cook.

Jessie’s Kale Salad- serves 8

1/2 a lemon- you need the juice
1/2 a shallot chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bunches of de-stemed kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sliced almonds
8 dated, pitted and chopped
A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, shallot, honey, salt, and pepper flakes.
Add kale and toss well. Let it sit 20 minutes. Mix in oil. Refrigerate for up to 1 day or serve immediately. In a dry pan, toast almonds over medium heat, tossing constantly until color turns golden (1-2 minutes). Add almonds, dates and cheese to kale and serve.

We had our kale salad with fried potatoes.


Reheated mixed grain casserole (which we sprinkled on the potatoes).


And honey corn bread!


Thanks for the yummy recipe, Jessie!