Monthly Archives: November 2008

Anyone have the number for Onion-aholics Anonymous?

Hello, my name is Erin and I’m addicted to (cooking with) onion.

Now, it’s pretty rare that I’ll eat ’em raw…once in a great while if it’s the right kind of sandwich, but for the most part I just cook with them. They are so versatile and flavorful. Add a some onion to a dish and you’ve got a mellow, sweet, mild flavor that adds all kinds of yumminess without a whole bunch of salt. Or fat. Or calories. I just love the humble little onion. Eric was one of those people who swore up and down he didn’t like onion in anything…guess who has changed his mind. I always, always, always have onions in the house ready to be turned into something delicious…like this fab pasta dish from Rachael Ray!

This pasta dish has everything I love…sweet, mellow onions, smokey bacon, and big old kick of spice. It’s super easy and totally yummy – a great alternative to your everyday meat sauce. The original recipe calls for Bucatini pasta, which is like spaghetti only the tube has a hole down the center. I didn’t even bother looking for that shape because I can guarantee I wouldn’t find it. I subbed rigatoni instead because Eric likes pasta pieces better than pasta strands. She also uses pancetta in the sauce – I subbed bacon. I can’t find pancetta either! Believe me, I’ve looked!

RIGATONI ALL’AMATRICIANA (Recipe adapted from: – Rachael Ray)


  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
  • 1/4 pound, 4 or 5 slices, pancetta*, chopped (I used 6 slices of bacon – next time I might add a couple more…just to make it a bit more bacon-y. A pound of pasta is a lot, after all.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parm cheese to pass at the table


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water.
  2. Heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and pancetta. Cook pancetta 2 or 3 minutes then add onions and garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook 7 or 8 minutes more, until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and parsley. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce over low heat until ready to serve.
  3. Cook bucatini pasta to al dente or, with a bite to it. Drain pasta well. Do not rinse. Starchy pasta holds more sauce. Toss hot pasta with sauce and serve. Pass grated cheese at the table to top pasta.
  4. * Pancetta is Italian rolled, cured pork, similar to bacon, but not smoked. Look for it at your deli counter. Bacon may be substituted resulting in a smoky tomato sauce.



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Filed under pasta

Guess who’s back…back again…

Erin’s back…tell a friend…

Hello!!! Miss me?? 😉 LOL.

I’m beyond thrilled to announce that I successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge and finished my 50k word novel on Thanksgiving afternoon. I gotta be honest though…I still haven’t read it from start to finish, so I’m pretty sure it sucks and makes no sense but I’m so tired of looking at it now, that I’ve decided to just put that aside for a while and get back to blogging! I’ve got boatloads of updates to do and now that the holiday cooking and baking season is here (yay!) I’m sure there will be a lot more coming in the month of December.

Eric and I were talking in the car on our way home that once it gets to be December 1, bets are off as far as the weather goes. Winter is officially here. What would have been some minor flurries just one week ago turns into a major storm as soon as the calendar clicks over to December. We actually had to cut our weekend at home short and head on back to Iowa to beat the snow…one day shy of the December 1 deadline! So here I am, cuddly and warm on my couch, watching the flakes fall outside our picture window and dreaming of a big bowl of comfort. Although it’s technically been weeks since I made this chili, tonight would be the perfect night to enjoy a big old helping of this. Mmmmm….

This is my absolute favorite chili recipe. Let me tell you why I love it…I’m telling you, it’s the BBQ baked beans in it. They give the whole dish a bold, smokey flavor that I adore. I also like the mixture of beef and sausage, it keeps things interesting. And I had never tried making anything with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce but…wow, love that smokey heat! I don’t care for chili when it’s all soupy…it needs to be thick and hearty. This one has the perfect texture.

I’m just going to say it flat out…this is the best chili ever. Seriously…ever. 🙂 It makes a HUGE pot and it freezes beautifully. Perfect for when you want something warm and quick.

TEXAS CHILI (Recipe Source: Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook)


  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil (I use veggie oil)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck (I use a 96% lean, but that’s just my preference)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage links, removed from casings and crumbled (I use turkey Italian sausage, again – just my preference)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 cans (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) BBQ baked beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus more as needed.


  1. Heat oil in an 8 quart heavy-bottom stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and stir until the spices are well combined. Add the ground beef, sausage, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and cook the meat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt or chipotle chiles if necessary. Serve with your favorite chili fixin’s. (I’m a purist…just shredded cheddar for me!)



Filed under beef, sausage, soup

Coming Attractions!

Hello out there! ::insert echo here::

Well, I’m knee deep into NaNo – cracked the 30,000 word mark on Friday afternoon. And since we are exactly half way through the month, that officially puts me ahead of the game. Woo hoo!

I’m about 99.9% sure that it’s the worst novel ever written. In the history of the world. Ever. But, I’ve come this far, I gotta keep going!

Of course, that means I’m going to continue to neglect my poor little blog. :*( At least for a little while longer. Just thought I’d post an update of things to come. I’m still cooking because, well, we’re still eating, but I’ve been working on my NaNo every spare minute I have. In fact, I can’t believe I’m wasting written words right now! LOL!

So when this novel writing frenzy is finally over, expect these mouth watering updates:

  • Texas Chili – As big as the Lone Star state on flavor. Mmmm…
  • Italian Turkey Meatball Stroganoff – Pretty tasty and I really don’t care for sour cream!
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – A timeless classic
  • Rigatoni All’Amatriciana – Onion good, bacon great – Onion AND Bacon, yeah, I’m pretty much in love
  • Chicken and Noodles – Just like…someone’s grandma somewhere…used to make.
  • Red Velvet Truffles – like the cake, but better
  • Chocolate chip cheesecake – No need for words, you get the idea.

And now…Must.Go.Write.Crappy.Novel.

See you all on the backside of 50k! 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Just for Fun

Always a crowd favorite!

I made the ever popular Oreo truffles for a little get together we had with some friends of ours at their new house last week. They never fail to impress. I have to admit, I LOVE these little guys. So creamy and chocolately and yummy. Can’t beat ’em! 🙂

OREO TRUFFLES (Recipe Source: Kraft)


  • 1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided
  • 1 pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
  1. MIX 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.
  2. DIP balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.
  3. REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.



Filed under candy, chocolate

I’m Back…But Briefly.

Wow! Where in the world have I been?? Well, Eric had my camera for a good week there last week and this week has been crazy busy with other things. I’m popping in today with a couple updates, from a my brand new HP laptop that ROCKS, but I have to be honest, I don’t know how much blogging I’ll be doing in November! 😦

Now, I still plan on cooking and baking because, well, we gotta eat and I love it too much. I hope to update with recipes and photos, I just don’t know how much time and energy I’ll be able to devote to my usual creative commentary/storytelling. The reason being I have decided to take the plunge and give National Novel Writing Month a try here in November. If you’ve never heard of it, basically the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days from November 1st-30th. Yikes. Eric dared me to do it, since I won the little story contest in our paper last weekend. This is a little bit different. And much more daunting, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. If I don’t finish, I don’t finish…but I’d really like to be able to say I did it. We shall see. So, I’ll be back to blogging full swing in December…or when I get too frustrated with this whole book writing thing and give up. HA! 🙂

On to the food (so I can get back to my book, of which I have about 600 words written so far, LOL!) Here’s a super easy recipe that I spotted in Cooking Light that was phenomenal with a big bowl of spicy chili. Loved the sweet, savory and cheesy combo in this easy-peasy beer bread recipe. I’ll be making this again for sure! 🙂

APPLE CHEDDAR BEER BREAD (Recipe Source: Cooking Light – November 2008)


  • 1/2  cup  shredded peeled Gala apple
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  minced shallots
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 13.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 3  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded extrasharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1  (12-ounce) bottle hard cider
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  melted butter, divided


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place shredded peeled apple in paper towels; squeeze until barely moist. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook apple and shallots in oil over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add shallot mixture, cheese, and cider to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.


Filed under bread, fruit