Chili (with beer & bacon!)

IMG_2706Hi there–  I wish I could say we were avid football fans– and we had this super chili recipe to serve up to all our football fanatic friends while we cheered on our team in front of the t.v.  But actually, we go to one one Cal Berkeley game every fall to hang with our kids– and if some kind hearted friends include us in their super bowl party, we’re all in!

But I’m imagining this is the kind of chili that would go just great with football.  So if you love football (& chili) and want to have a big pot of something hearty & warming to serve your football watching friends, well, here it is:

4 strips bacon, cut to small bits
2 yellow onions, chopped
big splash of olive oil
2 pounds coarse ground beef*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
12 oz. bottle of beer (India pale ale– or your favorite)
2 14oz. cans petit cut tomatoes (with garlic & herbs)
2 14 oz. cans of chili beans
1 tab. brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1/4 cup cornstarch
for garnish– sour cream, grated cheddar, green onions, more cilantro…

In a soup pot, cook the bacon until it is crisp and then remove it from the pan.  In the bacon dripping, cook  the chopped onions and take them out as well.

Drop the beef into the pot and cook it 5 or 6 minutes until is is all  browned.  Spoon off any extra fat that is in the pan.

Add in the garlic, cumin, paprika and chili powder and stir to coat the meat.

Then mix in the beer, tomatoes, chili beans, and cilantro and set the pot to simmering slowly for about 30 minutes.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the corn starch and 1/2 cup water.  Stir it into the chili to thicken the broth. Drop the bacon and onions back into the pot!

Serve it piping hot topped with cheddar or sour cream or green onions or cilantro (or any combination there of)– along with a slab of cornbread and a bright salad.  Football watching ready!

*When I went in to the get the meat from the butcher, I expected to find coarse ground beef for chili, but no.  They had “shredded beef steak”–   chunkier than I had planned.  But in the end it turned out great!  I think any chopped beef would do…

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Cranberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

IMG_2725Hello there– I made a couple of these coffee cakes for a Thanksgiving breakfast with about 30 girl friends from church.  It was a grand morning.  They all streamed talking and laughing and pulling out phones to show the the latest grand-kid pics.

We sat down to breakfast all over the house and spilling out from room to room.  Then Sue and Carol tuned up their violin and guitar for some sweet Thanksgiving hymns and we talked and prayed through all our Thanksgiving blessings.  I love those friends– so thankful.


Cranberry topping:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
1  1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water

Cream cheese layer:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg

Cake layer:
1  cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

IMG_2731Make the cranberry topping first.  Stir together the 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a stove top pan until the cornstarch is all dissolved into the sugar.  Then drop in the cranberries and water and bring it to a simmer stirring for 5 or 6 minutes until the cranberries all pop their skins and the sauce thickens.

Set it aside to cool.  (I put it in another cool pan and stuck in the fridge to cool– just because I’m impatient!)

Next, make the cream cheese layer.  With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, 1 egg and 1/4 cup sugar until it’s smooth.  Set that aside as well.

For the cake, Stir together the 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the oil, sour cream, egg and vanilla.

Spray a 10″ round pan or a 9″ square (I used my 11″ flatter tart pan) with cooking spray.  Then spoon the cake batter into the pan.

Gently scoop the cream cheese mixture over the cake batter.  Then drizzle the cranberry sauce over the top of the cream cheese layer.

Put it into the oven at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

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Giving Thanks

IMG_0634Hello all–  How was your week?  Have you bought a turkey yet?  Planning pies?   Hope you have cozy plans for Thanksgiving ahead with family and friends…

We’re gladly anticipating Thanksgiving here–Of course, I’m deeply thankful for our smallish but cozy home, for our family far and wide, for dear friends and usually pleasant jobs.

And for small things– like the camellia’s blooming early this year in the yard, pumpkin bran muffins on the kitchen counter, yesterday’s breakfast with friends, but there’s really something much more…

I’m profoundly thankful for God, immense enough to create the universe with a word and at once, able to know the secrets and prayers of my heart here in my small corner.  What could be more truly awesome than that?  I am so very thankful to know him and be his.

“for in Him, we live, and love and have our being.”   Acts  17:28  So true.




P.S.– Last weekend the Grand-girls (and their parents!) were here, we spent an afternoon drawing on the kitchen floor to fill this year’s Thankful Heart Chart.  Those girls are thankful for mom & dad, for birthday cakes & Little Mermaid costumes, for donuts and Harry the dog…
And I’m so very thankful for them.

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Chocolate Pumpkin Streusel Bars

IMG_2671Hi all– November baking often ends up one pumpkin recipe after another.  I can’t help it.  And my absolute favorite pumpkin baking event is stirring up 30 loaves of pumpkin bread with my 4th graders the day before our Thanksgiving break!

It’s a pumpkin-palooza! Five teams of bakers are skittering up to my supply table for sugar, eggs, pumpkin, mini chocolate chips (their favorite ingredient)– Eggs are cracking and flour is flying!! I always have to apologize to the janitor at the end of the day.

It’s just great to send them out the door for their Thanksgiving break with that pumpkin-y loaf to share with their family.  They are so proud.

But back to this recipe!  It involved a more sedate baking situation– me alone in my kitchen–less exciting, but even more delicious. And this time it’s tender, streusel topped little pumpkin laced cakes, topped and filled with chocolate bits, little sweet taste of Thanksgiving.


2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
6 tab. butter
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips*

2 cups flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup mini chocolate chips

IMG_2666First, prepare the streusel.  Mix together the 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar and  cinnamon.  Then with a pastry blender (or two forks) cut in the butter until it resembles coarse sand.  Stir in the 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Set this aside.

In a new mixing bowl, stir together the 1 cups flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the oil, white and brown sugar, egg, vanilla and pumpkin.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the streusel over the stop and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until the bars are firm to the touch.

Let them cool a bit and the cut into tidy little squares.  Pumkin-y good.

*I had a nice chocolate bar someone had given me so I chopped it and mixed it in with the mini chocolate chips for the topping on the streusel.


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Vanilla Sour Cream Waffles

IMG_2650Hello breakfast lovers– It’s the best morning here.  It’s a school holiday so I’m home alone.  Sun coming in the kitchen windows and an empty day ahead.  I’m lazily content.

I’ve had this waffle recipe tucked away for a while so today is the perfect day to pull it out and give it a try.  And now I’m savoring every bite, warm and tender, at the kitchen table while I type this out to you…

1 1/4 cup flour
2 tab. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tsp. vanilla
3/8 cup canola oil
Toppings: sour cream, blackberry jam, powdered sugar


IMG_2645Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the eggs, sour cream milk, vanilla and oil– into a thick batter.

Heat your waffle iron and cook the waffles according to your machines instructions.

When they are cooked, set them on a wire rack to keep them crisp and set the rack on a baking sheet in a low set oven to keep them warm while you make more.

Serve them dusted with powdered sugar and slathered with sour cream swirled with blackberry jam.

This recipe made 2 large waffles on my waffle maker. I think standard waffles makers would make more.

P.S.I have a Nordicware hand held waffle iron that cooks on a stove top burner.  It makes big thick sturdy Belgian waffles– love that thing.  It was a wedding shower gift and it’s been cranking out waffles for 40 years!


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Girls Galore!!

IMG_2624Hello all– It’s been a crazy fun couple days.  Micah, Jodi and the grand-girls drove down for the weekend and we’ve been eating, romping, story-reading and play-grounding away!  Here’s a couple of the highlights:

IMG_2614     IMG_2575
We laid out on the kitchen floor to draw out this years Thankful Heart Chart– and the girls had a grand time crawling in and out of their new “sleeping tents.”  (We had their little tent village in the front room for bed time).

10733991_10152904835869665_1930834596238319730_n     IMG_2594
There was some “zip lining” at the neighborhood park.

IMG_2611     IMG_2620
Always bedtime stories and the morning French toast.

Thanks Micah and Jodi for making the trek down from Ojai– for a just right weekend together.  (note: Maryann’s got a hold of new family member BooBoo– they are dog sitting for a few weeks.)


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Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_2848Hello friends– Well, the first thing I bake for Christmas is a oversized batch of little gingerbread guys– usually pretty soon after Thanksgiving– because they freeze so well and are a Christmas staple around here.  Is it too soon to put some in the oven?  Oh, I think the answer is –yes, can’t you just wait til December?!.

OK, so in the interim, I’ll settle for these gingerbread-y chocolate chip cookies– all the spice and warmth of Christmas– with the added bonus of chocolate chips.  I’ll tell you, they do smell great baking away in the oven!  Since it is November, they will have to be my new “Thanksgiving Cookies.”  (Is that a thing?)  I think you’d like them.

1  1/4 stick butter  (5/8 cup)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tab. unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (6 0z.) semisweet chocolate chips

With an electric mixer, be a together the butter, sugars and egg.  Then beat in the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cocoa, salt and baking powder.  Finally mix int he chocolate chips.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Then lift them on to a wire rack to cool.

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