Monthly Archives: October 2011

Red Potato Ham and Cheese Pie













Red Potato Ham and Cheese Pie

I stopped at the store the other day and came home with a couple of pounds of gorgeous locally grown red potatoes.  At first, I was thinking of making a garlic mash with them and then I thought maybe some good old fashioned scallop potatoes.  I could not decide and then I figured it out…  I wanted to make a Red Potato Ham and Cheese Pie.  I imagined a savory red potato pie without a crust but with chopped ham, onions, garlic, fresh shaved Parmesan and Oregon’s own Tillamook cheddar cheese.  I wanted to make it kind of like an “impossible pie”.

My Red Potato Ham and Cheese Pie is a lovely dish to serve at a Sunday brunch or with a cup of soup or salad for lunch or dinner.  I ate my slice of Red Potato Ham and Cheese Pie with a perfectly cooked over easy egg on the side.  It was absolutely delicious!   Enjoy!  – Tessa


  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped ham
  • 1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup medium diced onion
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • salt to taste (it all depends on the saltiness of the ham)

Begin by boiling your red potatoes in salted water until just fork tender.  Whatever you do, just do not over cook the potatoes.  You want to be able to slice them thinly later.  Remove cooked potatoes from water and let cool.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a nine inch diameter spring-form pan and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the spring-form pan with parchment paper.  Spray again with non-stick spray.

Begin by slicing the red potatoes (with peels on) into no more than 1/4 inch thin slices using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer.  Set potatoes aside.  In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, coriander, garlic, nutmeg and white pepper.  Salt only if you think that you need it.

Take one third of your potatoes and layer the bottom of the spring-form pan.  Overlapping the potatoes is fine, leaving gaps on the bottom is not.  I found I preferred to use the ugliest of the slices and bits of the potato on the bottom of the pie that way the pretty slices are used in the second and top layer.  Add one third of the shredded cheese, chopped onion, ham and egg mixture.  Repeat two more times alternating potato, cheese, onion, ham and egg mixture.

Place pie in the oven on a cookie sheet (to catch any drips) and bake for about 50-55 minutes until the pie is golden brown on top and the egg mixture has set.  Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes before slicing.  Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and sprigs of fresh picked herbs.  Makes 8 slices.

Notes:  If you don’t have a spring-form pan, it’s no big deal!  Just work with what you have. Use a baking dish large enough to fit all your ingredients and make at least 2-3 layers.  Don’t worry about the parchment paper either.  I just used it to get perfect slices out of the spring-form pan.  Just follow the recipe, cut into squares and serve!

Ham and Lima Bean Soup













Ham and Lima Bean Soup

Last week after I bought my son a slow cooker I promised him that I would post simple recipes that he could make while studying at the university.  He has a rigorous class schedule and other activities that keep him busy throughout the day.  So, cooking dinner for himself may not be as convenient as he would like it to be.  My goal is to help him create dishes that are quick to pull together, fairly healthy and since he’s a college student, dishes that are easy on the wallet.  My recipe for Ham and Lima Bean Soup is satisfyingly simple and tastes fabulous with a slice of fresh baked cornbread or a crusty French roll.

My savory Ham and Lima Bean Soup is made with a smoked ham shank, lima beans, onions, celery, carrots, and spices.  If you can’t find smoked ham shanks at the store, it’s no big deal.  Feel free to substitute a cup of coarsely chopped ham or a small smoked ham hock.  If you are in a vegan mood, go ahead and omit the ham and use a good quality vegetable stock instead.  Makes about 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Oh, if you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t despair!  You can easily cook this on your stove top.  Just go low and slow.  Cook it tightly covered and keep an eye on it.  It will cook faster on the stove top than in the slow cooker.


  • 1 small ham shank
  • 8 ounces dried large lima beans (soaked in water overnight)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbls. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Begin by chopping your vegetables and place them into the slow cooker.  Add the ham shank.  Drain and rinse your lima beans well and add to the slow cooker.  Add all the ingredients into the pot with the exception of the chopped parsley and seasoning salt.  Cook on low for about 7 hours or until the beans are tender (or on high for about 4 hours). Remove the ham shank from the pot and set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, use your clean fingers and pick all the ham from the bone.  Add the ham back to the soup and continue to cook a bit more or until the ham is heated through.  Toss out the ham bone or any inedible pieces.  Fish out your bay leaf, taste your soup and correct your salt level with the seasoning salt if necessary. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

Note:  The soup can be frozen and the recipe can be doubled.  Also, I have learned that not all slow cookers are created equal.  You may find that yours cooks faster or maybe even slower than my recipe describes.

Chicken and Rice Soup













Chicken and Rice Soup

I just gotta tell you…  I own a 47 year old rice cooker.  Yep, it is 47 years old and what’s crazy about it is that it still makes perfect rice every time!  My rice cooker was purchased in 1964, about the time my family immigrated to the United States. My Oma was the first owner and she used it for years.  Then for some reason, she passed it along to my Mother who in turn passed it to me when I was about 18 years old and ready to move out of the house.  What an unbelievable treasure!  And when you hear people say they don’t make things  like they used to, they aren’t kidding…













Here’s a picture of my rice cooker.  It is a bit scuffed from the years of use but is still my favorite appliance in the kitchen.  I did the math and I am thinking that we have made hundreds of pots of rice using this cooker!

Today I made my homemade Chicken and Rice Soup for Bruce and I for dinner.  I was feeling a tad bit under the weather and this was the only dish that appealed to me.  My Chicken and Rice Soup is home cooked comfort food at its finest.  It is made with tender chicken simmered in a simple savory broth with leeks, carrots, celery, coriander and warm soul soothing white rice.  And of course, the rice was made using my vintage rice cooker.  Makes about 8 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 leek
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 tsp butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 2 Tbls cornstarch
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups cooked rice (add more if you want)

Begin by cooking the chicken thighs in 2 cups of water and 2 bouillon cubes in a medium sized dutch oven or pot on the stove.  Cook covered for about 12 minutes on medium high heat or until done.  Remove chicken from pot, set aside and let cool.  Meanwhile chop your leek (don’t use the dark green part, it’s way too tough), carrots and celery into about a 1/4 inch dice.  Make sure that you have about 2 cups worth of vegetables.

Grab a saute pan, heat to medium high heat and add butter.  Toss in your vegetables, add big pinch of salt and saute until onion is opaque.  Add vegetables to the soup pot.  Add chicken stock, white pepper, and coriander.

Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, chop into 1/4 – 1/2 inch dice.  Add chicken to the pot.  Whisk together one cup cold water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch and add to soup.  Cover and cook for about 45 minutes on medium low.  Add the cooked rice, heat through for a few more minutes.  Taste your soup, correct your seasonings if necessary and then serve.



Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings













Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Last weekend when my son came home from school for a short visit, I bought him a slow cooker to help with the chore of cooking for himself while studying all day at the Honors College.  He skyped me the other day and in the middle of our conversation I asked him how was the slow cooker?  He promptly said, “Mom, I have never cooked anything in one of those before”…  First , I thought to myself, I thought he knew how but I as I think back, I have not used my slow cooker for at least two years.  I guess it is time to dust it off!

Well, here’s a easy recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings.  I know that this is not my usual style of cooking but, as all you moms know, you gotta take care of your cubs first.  So, G…  here you go!  Love you! – Mom

And, for the rest of you… I hope you try this simple and tasty recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings.   Enjoy! – Tessa


  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 potato
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dry tarragon
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 cups biscuit mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley or chives

Begin by chopping the potato, carrot, celery and onion into even sized pieces.  Put vegetables in slow cooker, toss to mix.  Trim fat from the chicken thighs and cut into 1″ sized pieces.  Add to the top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.

Be sure to wash your hand and workspace well after prepping the chicken.  If you don’t, you might be at home sick instead of in class where you belong…

Now go grab a mixing bowl and a whisk.  Whisk together the chicken stock, flour, cream of mushroom soup, garlic paste, seasoning salt, thyme, tarragon, and white pepper.  Pour sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker, cover and turn on low.













Go study for about 8 hours.  If you put it on high, it will take about 4-5 hours.

8 hours later (or 4-5 depending on if the cooker is on high), be sure to check the chicken to make sure that it is done.  Taste the stew, and correct your seasonings.  You may need to add more salt, maybe not.  Turn the slow cooker up to high.  Grab another bowl and mix together the biscuit mix and 2/3 cup of milk.  Drop the dumplings by spoonful on the stew.  Toss on some fresh chopped parsley for color.  Cook covered for 30 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through.  Makes about 6 servings.

A couple of notes:  this recipe can be halved if you want to cook less and it can also be doubled if you want to make more.

Lime Currant Cookies













Lime Currant Cookies

Nine times out of ten, whenever I shop at the grocery store I will have limes in my grocery basket.  I love limes.  If I lived in a warmer climate you could comfortably bet that I would have a lime tree in my yard.  No, wait, I would have two…oh… maybe three!  There is something about limes that draws me toward the bright green color and the sourness of the fruit.  My Lime Currant Cookies have a distinctive lime flavor, sprinkled with tart little dried zante currants and a have a wonderful hint of ginger.  These cookies are so good that you might be able to exchange these for currency! Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbls lime zest
  • 1/2 cup dried zante currants
  • powder sugar for dusting

Begin by preheating oven to 350 degrees.  Using a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger and salt to the mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Add butter, eggs, lime juice and zest and mix well.  Add currants until blended.  Using a small cookie scoop or by spoonfuls, drop on silicone lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through.  Remove from heat, let cool on wire racks, and then dust with the powdered sugar.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Vermicelli Soup with Meatballs (Vermicellisoep Met Balletjes)













I have learned that if you really want to get to know someone, spend time with them in their kitchen.  You can quickly tell if someone is detail oriented by the way their pantry is carefully arranged or by the way they perfectly chop their vegetables.  You will be able to distinguish boring from an adventurous type of person by the types of ingredients they have on hand.  And if you want to see if someone is truly clean and neat, check out what’s going on the fridge…

The way a cook plates his or her food also may say a lot about them.  Carefully arranged dishes, lack of spill or drip marks and maybe even the simplest garnish on a plate will tell you that the person who prepared the food cares about how it will be received by the person accepting the dish.  In my opinion, sloppily prepared or poorly plated food says “I’m to busy to care about you or what you eat”.

My recipe for Vermicelli Soup with Meatballs (Vermicellisoep Met Balletjes) is very similar to the dish that my Oma used to make.  I knew that my Oma loved us by the care she exhibited when hand rolling the tiny uniformly shaped meatballs for her soup.  Her knife skills were flawless when she thinly sliced the crunchy celery and the sweet orange carrots, and her tiny workspace was neat as a pin.  When she ladled up a bowl soup for you, you would never imagine it looking and tasting anything less than perfect.

And for years, I have always wondered how in the heck did she do that?

Well, all I can do as her granddaughter is to do my best to try to follow in her footsteps, carry on our cooking traditions and document the recipes for future family members.  So when I am in my kitchen I think of my Oma and I cook as though I am I telling someone that I love them.  Enjoy!  Tessa













Little marble sized meatballs ready to drop into the soup…


Meatball Ingredients

  •  1/2 pound good quality ground beef
  • 2-3 slices white bread (crusts removed)
  • 1 – 2 Tbls milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper

Soup Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 stalks of celery with leaves
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 quarts good quality chicken stock
  • 1 bouillon cube (chicken)
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • a few dashes Maggi seasoning (or to taste)
  • 3 ounces dry fine vermicelli noodles
  • parsley and fresh ground nutmeg for garnish

Begin by making the meatballs.  Start by putting the bread in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the milk to the bread and let it soak a bit .  Add the ground beef, egg, salt, nutmeg and white pepper.  Mix well.  Grab a small bit of the beef and roll it into a ball about the size of a marble.  Repeat until done.  Set aside.  (I know that this is time consuming but you will be happy with the end product if you keep the meatballs all similar size).

Grab a large Dutch oven or pot and place on a medium hot stove.  Chop your celery, and onion finely.  Thinly slice your carrots.  Add butter to pot with the vegetables.  Add a healthy pinch of salt and cook (stirring) until the onion is opaque and before the carrots begin to caramelize.  Add the chicken stock, bouillon cube, white pepper and Maggi Seasoning.  Bring to a slow boil.  Drop meatballs into boiling soup.  Add the vermicelli and cook for about 5 minutes.   Turn down heat and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Taste the soup, correct your seasonings and add more chicken stock if needed.  Ladle up.  Garnish with parsley and fresh grated nutmeg.  Makes about 8 servings.


Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies













Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

I am so thrilled that my son came home from school to visit for the weekend. We spent the morning shopping in town and picking up items that he will need while up at school.  While he was upstairs studying, I thought I’d whip out a batch of cookies for him to take home with him tomorrow.  I was imagining of cookies flavored with dark chocolate, espresso, and a hint of spicy cinnamon.  I wanted to make cookies that tasted like Mexican Hot Chocolate…

I call these cookies Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies.  They were fairly simple for I started with a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and went on from there…  These cookies taste absolutely fantastic!  There is no doubt that I will be making these again.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 5 Tbls. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbls. espresso powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (use the real not imitation)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 oz. dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, blend together all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate chips.  Mix well.  Fold in the dark chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.  Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies













It’s been almost a month since my son moved back up to the university and I gotta tell you that I really miss him.  I hear about other parents enjoying the fact that they are finally empty nesters but not me.  I don’t like it one bit.  The house is eerily quiet and my husband and I  have to get used to cooking for two.  Fortunately, we stay in touch via cell phones, email, Facebook and Skype.

However, the one thing that helps me deal with this situation is the opportunity to send care packages up to my son.  It helps me feel like I  am still a mom by baking and mailing him some of his favorite cookies.  My Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies are deliciously chewy and are perfect for packing in a box to send up to a busy college student while at school.  Make these cookies for your college student and they just might miss you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

(adapted from Everyday Food)


  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • 6 Tbls. butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sized bowl mix together the oatmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, dried cranberries and the optional white chocolate chips.  Set aside.  In another mixing bowl beat together the butter and sugars until creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and continue to mix until well incorporated.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a silpat or silicone lined cookie sheet (I like to use a cookie scoop for more precise portions).  Bake for 12-16 minutes until a light golden brown.  Place cookies on wire racks to cool.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Anasazi Bean and Bacon Soup













Those who know me know that I am a hot lunch person.  If I had a choice between a cold sandwich or a hot bowl of soup, I almost always choose the soup.  The only soup that I would turn down is borscht or the nasty stuff that comes out of a can.  Yick…













As I perused the organic section of my favorite supermarket today, I came across these gorgeous Anasazi Beans.  They reminded me of a cross between a great northern bean and a tobiano colored pinto bean.  According to the package, Anasazi Beans were cultivated by the early Anasazi Indians in the cliff dwellings of Colorado.  How cool is that?  What’s even more surprising about the Anasazi Beans is that there is no presoaking required and that they cook faster than regular beans.  We’ll see about that…













Soup is done!  It took about a half hour longer  and about 2 cups more liquid than the package said.  Not to mention they did not retain that gorgeous tobiano color as you see on the uncooked beans. No biggie.  The Anasazi Bean and Bacon Soup tastes awesome and is without a doubt definitely worth the wait.  Enjoy! – Tessa


  • 1/2 pound Anasazi Beans (picked and washed)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery chopped
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 5 1/2 cups organic free range chicken stock
  • 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. dark chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • salt and additional water if needed
  • garnish with parsley, shredded carrot and cojita cheese

Begin by washing and picking over your beans.  Grab your favorite large pot.  Heat canola oil in the pot and add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook on medium heat until onion is cooked through.  Add the Anasazi beans and remaining ingredients with the exception of salt, water and garnish.  Cook on low for about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. Taste your soup and add water or salt if necessary.  Ladle up, garnish and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.


Red Kuri Squash Bisque













It’s feeling like fall here in Southern Oregon.  The leaves are starting to turn vibrant colors and the nights are starting to get crisp and cool.  Yesterday, my dear friend Janie gave me a Red Kuri Squash that she picked up from Seven Oaks Farms while out on her lunch hour.  I was pleasantly surprised for I had never seen or heard of a Red Kuri Squash before.  Red Kuri Squash are similar to pumpkins but with a bright reddish orange color and have shapes almost like tear drops.













Since I have not worked with this variety of squash before, I decided to oven roast it with olive oil, onion and a couple of carrots and then blend it with a rich vegetable stock to make a creamy Red Kuri Squash Bisque.  I added some of my favorite spices such as coriander, roasted ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and fresh grated nutmeg to flavor the bisque.  Oven roasting the vegetables adds a nutty caramel depth of flavor to the soup.  In my opinion, this soup is so creamy and rich it does not need heavy cream on the finish.













A bowl of my Red Kuri Squash Bisque is perfect for a healthy lunch or as a first course on a cool fall day.  Be sure to serve with some of your favorite crusty bread and sweet cream butter.  Thanks Janie!  Enjoy! – Tessa


  • Red Kuri Squash (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. roasted ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • chopped parsley and a pinch of cinnamon for garnish

Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and seed the Red Kuri Squash.  Throw the seeds and rind into the compost bin.  Cut the squash into medium sized pieces.  Peel and coarsely chop your onion and your carrots.  Toss squash, onions, and carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a foil lined (easy cleanup) cookie sheet in a single layer and bake about 35 minutes until squash is fork tender and slightly caramelized.

In a medium sized pot add all your ingredients with the exception of the garnish.  Cook on medium low heat covered for about 35 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.  Ladle up and garnish with parsley and cinnamon.  Makes about 6 servings.