Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is it Christmas Yet?

With summer just around the corner there is no better time to post a vanity blog about this cute little gingerbread house I made.  Or rather, decorated.  I don't know exactly how many labor hours went into this but it took the better part of a day in between parenting my kids (parenting, as in, making sure they don't kill themselves).  Having done a couple gingerbread houses over the years, even making the houses from scratch, I have seen this delightful holiday tradition make middle aged women weep.  While manipulating the candy can be difficult, usually it is a matter of leverage.  The real curse inducing step is the construction.  

First, do not use the footprint sized plastic base that comes with the house.  You get no landscaping to play with, the plastic doesn't transport well, and it gives a lousy perimeter for defending your house from accidental bumps.  This house is on a Rubbermaid tote container covered in heavy duty foil.

Second, you do not need to decorate after your house has already set up as decorating at a 90 degree angle can prove difficult but if you predecorate you have to keep in mind things like seams and pressure points.  Pressure points you say?  Yes, see the next tip.

Third, when setting up your house do not place unreasonable expectations on a concoction of water and powdered sugar to act like Quickrete.  Once you have placed a generous amount of icing at the seams and in the gaps of the cookies set up your walls for 12 to 24 hours propped with soup cans from the pantry.  Once the walls are stable you can add the roof pieces.  Be sure to prop these up overnight as well.  Just stack several good size cans next to the lower edge to prevent slipping.  After that add more icing to seams and decorate.  Now your house will be capable of surviving all December and probably to the next.  This is why it important to decorate with appetizing candies.  So that it doesn't.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Salsa Chicken Quinoa

This is a homely little dish but it cooks up in 30 and the flavor imparted from the salsa is pretty grand for a quick mid week meal.

Salsa Chicken Quinoa:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken diced
1 16 oz jar red or green salsa
1 can black beans drained
1 can pinto beans drained
1 can/ 2 cups chicken broth/ water
1 1/2 cups quinoa

Saute chicken in 2 Tbl cooking oil of choice, add all the other stuff, cover, cook 20 minutes, stir occasionally.  Serve with whatever you like.  Here I have cheddar cheese, avocado and sour cream.

If you buy your quinoa in bulk (about half the price of prepackaged) you will want to rinse it well.  This recipe is incidentally gluten free as well. Rock on.


This is just a very basic, very quick avocado salad or chunky guacamole best served the second the salt is incorporated.   When we make this guacamole there is no need for a main course.

5 ripe avocados pitted and diced
1 large Roma tomato diced
1/2 medium Vidalia (or white if you prefer sharper onion flavor) onion diced
1/2 cup rough chopped cilantro
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
splash of tequila
1/2 medium jalepeno diced
salt and pepper to taste

give it a quick hearty stir to marry the spices and dig in. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I don't know exactly what it is beyond a cured pork product but now that we have finally been able to obtain and try the this variety of chorizo, as opposed to the uncooked, ground, meat in a casing, we will not be going back. Gabe knew it was out there, he'd watched many a celebrity chef use it. I didn't quite believe him until he found some in Bisbee at the High Desert Cafe (see January entry). Its flavor is immense. It is spicy but not overwhelmingly hot. The spices are so powerful you do have to pause and ponder the milk situation in the house before you pop a piece in your mouth. It easily can overpower a dish so best to pair it with something equally powerful to marry it or something fatty and starchy to subdue it. Or just eat it by the slice.

*Edited to add: I did, in fact, just buy some of the uncured chorizo because it was on sale and, you know, its great in breakfast burritos.

One Hot Epiphany

You know those moments when you learn one small new thing that ushers in a beautiful new chapter of your cooking? We had one of those 2 weeks ago. Gabe was making a breakfast skillet with hash browns for dinner and he consulted Good Eats where he learned one small new thing that has made me a happy cook each time I practice it.

Now, my saute has always been sloppy, even browning meat results in a fair bit of food stuck to the pan. Scrambling eggs is even worse. Invariably I attempt to heat my oil whilst I cut my meat and the oil overheats and reaches its smoke point. So I turn the heat OFF and then the meat gets put in the pan when I turn the heat back on....stuck meat, burnt oil, cursing. BUT if I turn the heat to MEDIUM/LOW for 5 min while I'm prepping the meat...VOILA! The oil doesn't burn, the meat doesn't stick (much) the hash browns get crispy, the eggs get beautiful. MEDIUM/LOW. Happy cooking.

*this is a technique for hash browns in a cast iron skillet but have found it works wonderfully in our stainless steel pots and pans. It is probably not as critical a nuance for non stick cookware.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thursday Farmer's Market

If you are looking for a tasty lunch in Sierra Vista on Thursday I urge you to stop by the local Farmer's Market on Wilcox. Not only can you pick up all the supplies you need for your dinner from fresh fruits (delicious navel oranges last week) and vegetables (heirloom tomatoes, mustard greens, new potatoes) to emu filets (tastes like cube steak), but you can also get a plate of deliciousness from this booth. I am still relatively new to the southwest area but this lovely woman can craft a plate of Mexican food better than anything I ever tasted in Yuma. There are several tamale stands, a honey booth (YAY honey sticks!), a few arts and crafts tables and some rather addicting candied pecans and dried fruit ( Each week is a little different but most of the vendors are regulars. You can either get your lunch to go or sit at the tables set up in the center and listen to some banjo music. The people are friendly, the weather always seems to be perfect and the food makes you feel better after you've eaten it. Don't tell me you can say the same about your $5 KFC box.

The Thursday Farmer's Market runs 10 til 2 and is located on the northwest corner of Wilcox and Carmichael. Most vendors are cash only.

Dark N' Stormy

Shield your eyes children, this is a grown up drink.

Turned onto the Dark N' Stormy by an esteemed friend I have YET to have a drink with (a travesty) I must say this drink carries quite a bit of heft for a fizzy cocktail. My first attempts were with dark rum and diet ginger beer. This resulted in a Light n' Windy more than a Dark N' Stormy. So we got some real sugar Ginger Beer and some Black Strap Rum. I like to toss in a splash of the dark rum as well because, really, you can't have too much rum. Add a garnish of a shiny lime (shiny from lime oil because its nice and fresh, not because its been coated with wax, preferably) and you have yourself a good category 2 maelstrom brewing off the edge of your lips.

Grilled Cheese and Veggie Soup

Grilled cheese and soup. One of the humblest of meals but so needed on a blustery January day. This is Provolone cheese in the sandwiches and the veggie soup was one of the first recipes I googled. You can find it here Gabe modified it based on what we had in our veggie drawer. No running out to the store at rush hour for a thrown together meal.

I'm not sure whether it was the plethora of texture from the veggies (like a theme park for my mouth!), or the fact that half the beans are mashed and then mixed into the broth adding both thickness an additional layer of flavor, but this soup was G.O.O.D. good. Even my toddler loved it. Sharing a bowl of, even more humble, leftovers we were fighting over the last bite.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From the Husband

I guess it's time for me to post someothing since "our" blog has been Rose's blog since she started this little adventure! I am the aforementioned Gabe in previous posts that you may have read. I get asked quite a bit where I learned to cook and why I like it. No formal training and no cooking experience for pay. Only recently (and I mean within the last 6 years) did I really begin to blossom and explore the culinary craziness that is exploding in this country and abroad. Thinking back, I guess that whenever Mom was at the stove I was watching. I was always there in front of the TV to watch Martin Yan's Yan Can Cook on PBS. Around this 10 years ago, I started watching The Food Network. Always Emeril Live on the TV. It was easy to branch out from there. Flay, DiSpirito, Symon, Batali, Florence, Stone, De Laurentiis, Bourdain. Legends. My first cookbook was Flavor from Rocco DiSpirito. For me, I just watch and study. What techniques do they use? What is their "go to" ingredient? What do they do well? What can I learn from this chef? I love to watch chefs out of their element as well, like Bourdain. I watch him, I read his books. Funny to wit. Iron Chef America is a fantastic show to learn techniques, learn methods, wrap you head around what can be done with "X." So, when I can I will add what I can to the posts, add a few of my favorite dishes. Give you some beer reviews as I love craft beers. I will gladly post recipes where I can!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Rosemary Pork Loin

I'm not sure what I can say about this pork loin. Gabe made this roast about a week before I gave birth to our son. It was an effort to induce labor. You know, one of those meals that is so rich and delicious the baby just *pops* out. He was sure this would do it. The rosemary herbed loin was marinated and cooked to perfection. He poured a fig reduction sauce all over it, served it on a bed of iceberg lettuce and then drizzled some 25 year balsamic vinaigrette on top (balsamic vinaigrette, also another post for another time, for now let me just leave it at: yeah baby).

But it didn't work.

Ladies. Gentlemen. When you are waiting for a baby to come let me tell you: eggplant parmigiana will not make the baby come. Pineapple will not make the baby come. Papaya fruit will not make the baby come. Raspberry leaf tea will not make the baby come. That thing at the restaurant down the street that promises to make the baby come, will not make the baby come. If you, or your wife is sitting at home with a belly full of baby wondering what to do to hasten relief from the unbearable discomfort, you could read a book, take a bath, take a walk, or hey, start a blog! You could even make yourself a rosemary herbed pork loin with fig reduction sauce. You might as well have something yummy to eat while you wait.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken Sausage and Penne

Whenever we are strapped for time or tapped out on ideas we turn to our trusty selection of pasta. I like Barilla Plus or Ronzoni the best. Kind of like drinking calcium fortified OJ. Someone somewhere took a perfectly good food and said "No! Bad! That stuff is going to make you fat!" So I look for labelling that makes me feel better about ingesting so many, "Bad! Empty calories!" foods.

This is whole wheat penne. Not nearly so good as its fat empty caloried cousin enriched pasta, but cheaper than the above mentioned, magically high fiber, high protein pastas. And its healthy right? Well I don't know what to think anymore but this pasta dish was colorful, flavorful, and fun for a thrown together meal. Maybe Gabe can enlighten you to more detail. When he gets to mixing ingredients I try to stay out of his way. I can tell you there is a healthy dousing of extra virgin olive oil on it but that is a topic for another post. And on that thought I will drift away on dreams of aromatic, nutty, smooth..................

The Lola Burger

Michael Symon. I think my husband would divorce me if he could move in with Michael Symon. He could sleep in the kitchen. This is his Lola burger. A ridiculous combination of sirloin, cheddar, bacon, pickles, fried egg, fried in the fat from the bacon, spicy ketchup sauce, and red onion all squished into an english muffin that Gabe felt the need to also fry in the bacon fat.

I have mixed feelings about this burger and Gabe's Michael Symon phase. Was it delicious? Of course. Will I live to see 50 if he keeps making these burgers? Questionable.


How to Eat Paczki

Pick up, stuff in mouth, filling hole facing toward you. Anything else could end in disaster. Disaster! I am not Catholic but I am part Polish, and even if I wasn't, I lived in Michigan long enough to develop a raging perennial craving for these unholy creations. I was forced to make these when I could find no bakeries in the greater Yuma area that made them. I am hoping Sierra Vista can come through for me. I had to make them overnight that year because I had a seven month old baby at the time and knew there was no way in Hades she would let me bake uninterrupted for a few hours. They were delicious. Obviously.

I used a modified version of the recipe on which you can find here:

Anyone know a good Polish bakery in town? Fat Tuesday is nearly here. There's not much time!


Clams and Linguine

Really, how can you go wrong? Beautiful little sea creatures that practically ask me to eat them.
Look at them. There was garlic and parsley and white wine and of course the pasta here. Its like sex, on a plate. Oh, and those tasty looking nuggets were panko breaded fried zucchini medallions. So, yeah.


And Now A Word From Our Sponser

If you like our pictures, please take a bow Jet Sullivan. I am no photographer. Not even close, digital cameras were made for moms like me. She edits our pictures for the blog and I owe her something really, really nice. Jet baby, I will add much more info once you get set up in your new home and want more shameless plugs!

Somethingglazed Chicken and Radishes

This is chicken glazed with something amazing and cooked with radishes. Don't like radishes? Try them with somethingglazed chicken and then lets talk. I'm not sure where we got the recipe, which makes me very very sad. In fact there is a chance I will cry if we can't find this recipe again.


ps HA I found it! Its Sauteed Chicken and Radishes with Mustard and Tarragon by Tasha de Serio

Huevos Rancheros

This is why I rarely enjoy going out anymore. This right here. My husband ruins me. Systematically he takes away one restaurant treat after another. Here he has pan fried wheat tortillas. Made his own concoction of canned pinto beans and salsa ingredients in lieu of refried beans. Added the typical fried eggs, and garnished with salsa, diced fresh tomatoes, sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado, and cilantro. Salsa verde was on the side. Doesn't it look amazing? It was. He sucks.


Monday, January 16, 2012

High Desert Market Cafe

Thank you for being open on a Tuesday! Seriously folks this area has the most random system for determining business hours. Is there a method? A system? A back room agreement?

We were showing our family around Bisbee and had intended to try Screaming Banshee Pizza (sorry guys maybe another time) and after walking our troupe up the hill (which hill? That other one, over there) found that it was yet another Bisbee business closed on Tuesdays (how about putting a little note about that on your page for us ignorant schmucks, Bisbee Chamber of Commerce? It was TUESDAY not Christmas). But as we approached the dark pizzeria we were saved from despair by the savory wafts of happiness emanating from the High Desert Market Cafe.

The Market is Bohemian chic with wares ranging from Dia de los Mertos skulls to dried Chorizo to (praise the LORD we found some!) anchovy paste. The food was delicious. The menu descriptions did not disappoint. I highly recommend the mushroom pizza if you are in any way predisposed to consuming fungus. SO GOOD! My sister seemed less then enthralled with the mozzarella and tampenade on focaccia but I tasted it and can assure you it was her problem, not theirs. The kidlets also picked every blessed button off those pizzas and we old fogies ate them with delight.

The smoothie bar next door was....interesting. The raw juice was quite raw, a bit heavy handed on the veggies for this pedestrian palette, but the smoothie was just right, perfectly refreshing even. And though the juice was a bit thick, and (gag) room temperature, I sucked that glass down like my life depended on it and darn it if I never did get the full force of that cold I'd been fighting.


The German Cafe


We descended on the small German Cafe on a Wednesday morning not 30 seconds after they'd turned on their "Open" sign. By "descended" I mean me, Gabe, our two kidlets, my sister, her husband and three not so young any more youngsters all wandered in and demanded enough food to feed us all for a picnic in the mountains.

The food was good, reasonably priced, made from scratch, and tasty. The reuben surpassed the excellent sandwich I'd had at the High Desert Market Cafe the day before. The sausages were lovely and complex and the schnitzel was fought over until even the one remaining piece of bread, with nothing more to season it than the grease from the schnitzel, was gobbled up.

I have to admit that we were disappointed the potato salad wasn't actually warm, it was the one and only thing that didn't get finished to the last morsel. One lonely little bite of salad remained in our fridge for about 24 hours which is saying something when a 14 year old boy is around.

The prices aren't fast food cheap but the excellent quality of food and the delightful atmosphere (the staff were even speaking German in the back) made the slightly above average priced picnic lunch well worth the cost.


Daisy Mae's Steakhouse

Gabe had a steak, I got the ribs. Both entrees were excellent. Choice meat, perfectly cooked and seasoned very nicely. The ribs were Kansas City style and falling off the bone tender. I finished the whole bloomin' rack.

The ambiance and decor were just right, the place looked like it was outfitted in 1972 and is just falling apart, in a good way. I think I'd like to go back for drinks at the bar.

The sides however...well, skip the sides. Stick to the meat. The bread appeared to be from a second rate grocery store. The baked potato was forgettable. The salad was regrettable. A few sad ripped up iceberg leaves with some random bits of julienned carrot and some bulk stock ranch or Italian or (surprise!) Light Italian dressing in plastic cup.

Had the whole meal been as delectable as the meat I would have felt the 3 digit cost (for 3 adults plus beer) for the evening well worth it. As it was, I will probably make Gabe throw some tri tip on the grill next time I want something red.


To the Table!

Howdy. My name is Rose and my husband's name is Gabe. We moved to Sierra Vista in the fall of 2011, originally from Michigan. We've done a spot of traveling, just enough to give us a passion for world culture and cuisine. Mostly the cuisine. We're parents to two beautiful young children and two unruly fur babies. We are partners in life and in food and are excited to share that with you.

This is a blog dedicated to palettes. Our palettes. You know that saying "its a matter of taste"? Right, well, it is. We will give our opinions and experiences and you are welcomed, encouraged even, to make your own judgements. If your palette has been trained by years of bland and overprocessed food I recommend that you change. Immediately. I heard once that it takes 7 years for your taste buds to have a total regeneration so you should probably get on it. Otherwise, you can just look at the pictures.

We will review as much as we can about anything related to food and drink that comes our way. We'll also share anything that seems interesting from our home fires; did I mention we're parents? We do alot of dining in. We hope to whet your appetite, inspire your sense of adventure and help spark your own creativity.

So now that business is out of the way, on to the good stuff.