English Muffin Toasting Bread

What’s not to love about all the crooks and crannies of English muffins?  This recipe duplicates that wonderful taste, but in an easy to slice loaf.  I like extra-thick Texan sized slices, pan fried and then smothered in butter and preserves.  Decadently delicious!


(Makes 2 generous loaves)

5 cups all purpose flour, (ideally, sifted)

4 tsp or 2 pre-measured packets of instant yeast

1 tbsp granulated white sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 cups milk, scalded and then cooled to 120F

Sprinkling of cornmeal

Vegetable oil to grease the pans

Two loaf pans

Large mixing bowl with spoon

Clean tea towel and/or plastic wrap



1.   Grease the loaf pans, and then dust with cornmeal.  Tap the cornmeal around all the sides and bottom to make sure they are well covered.  Discard excess cornmeal.

2.   Scald the milk and then set aside and allow to cool to 120F.  Do not use the milk in the mixture when it is hot; it will kill the yeast and your bread will not rise.

3.   In a large mixing bowl, blend together the sifted flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda.  When scalded milk has cooled, slowly add it to the dry mixture and blend well.

4.   Cover dough with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm draft-free area until the dough has doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

5.   Push dough down and divide in half.  Form a loaf from each half; push dough down so it completely covers the bottom of the loaf pans.  Cover the pans again and let the dough rise a second time in a warm, draft-free area until the dough has doubled in size and/or reaches the top of the loaf pans.

6.   Preheat oven to 375F.  Uncover loaf pans; bake in center rack for about 30 minutes, or until loaf look nice and toasty brown.  (actual time may vary with your oven).

7.   Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.







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White Chicken Chili

This is my version, and a great crockpot leftovers meal.

I usually make this when I want to use up any leftovers from chicken fajitas, to mix up the routine from the “regular” chili recipe we make at home.

If you don’t have leftovers, just add the same spice mixture from the fajitas recipe to the chili.

The bonus is, if the chicken is already cooked and seasoned, it only takes 2 hrs in the crockpot on low to marry all the flavors – or, you can just “set it and forget it” and have lunch/dinner ready when you get home from running errands.

My girlfriend, who is from Mexico, prefers to use chicken thigh meat rather than chicken breasts, because their family feels that dark meat has more flavor than the white breast meat.

White Chicken Chili recipe (sans fromage!)

Leftover chicken fajita meat, cut into chunks.

(Or: 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into chunks, and use the same spice blend as the fajita recipe. My girlfriend, who is from Mexico, prefers to use chicken thigh meat. If you cook the meat well before adding to the crockpot it significantly reduces the overall cook time).

1 – 14 0z can white northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 14 oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes, strained without juice
1 – 12 oz package frozen “Southwest veggie blend” with black beans and corn
1 small can green chiles, drained and diced
3 – 4 stalks fresh cilantro
2 green onions, rough chopped
1 tsp fresh garlic
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes, reconstituted
1 tsp dried celery, reconstituted
1 chicken bouillon packet
1 cup water
1 bottle beer (not dark)

Lazy Lady directions:
Drain and rinse the beans. I also strain the can of tomatoes, reserving the liquid for something else, so it stays a “white” chili, but that is strictly a preference thing.

I heat up the cup of water in the skillet, then mix the bouillon packet, garlic, spices, freeze dried onion and celery (from TEOTWAWKI) with the hot water in the empty bean can, stirring to mix thoroughly and set aside so the dried veggies can absorb the moisture.

The frozen veggie mixture also saves time, but is not a “requirement”.  The blend I use has frozen black beans, sweet corn, chopped white onions, chopped red and green bell peppers, and mild green chiles.  You can just substitute fresh or canned for the above if you don’t use the frozen mix.

Add the cooked fajita chicken meat, rinsed white beans, frozen veggie mix, green chiles, strained tomatoes, hot water bouillon/spice mixture, and bottle of beer together into the crockpot. Stir well, and cook on low.

Taste test and thicken with some white cornmeal mixed into a paste with cold water if needed. Because I use already cooked chicken, it only takes about 2 hrs in the crockpot to heat through and get the flavors to marry, so it’s a great recipe to “set it and forget it” (which is what we did today).

I like to top mine with shredded cheese and fresh green onions. We serve with tortilla chips, and SM likes to have his spooned over some rice in the bottom of the bowl. He also pluses up his portion with fresh jalapeno peppers and hotsauce.

This is how today’s batch turned out:

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili using fajita

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Chicken Fajitas

This is my version, because I don’t deal well with Tex-Mex food that is overly spicy.  Like salt, you can add more spice after the fact, but you can’t subtract it once it’s in the dish.

The boy(s) like their food ALOT spicier than the girls, so they “plus-up” their portions with sliced fresh jalapenos and hot sauce or cayenne, adjusting the spice/heat up to their taste.

We like to offer shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped fresh green onion, chopped fresh coriander, shredded cheese, salsa (“Tio’s Pico de Gallo” is the best!), sour cream, and guacamole as toppings that people can add to their own personal taste.

This recipe is also a bonus because the spice blend can be made up in bulk ahead of time directly into the ziplock bags.  Label, and all you have to do is add the chicken, peppers and onions!  Easy-peasy!

This recipe is also great for cooking with wee ones, because they can do most of the prepping themselves with some minimal supervision, and they get to create their own fajitas with the toppings of their choosing.

1 teaspoon chile powder (we grind our own from chiles we buy at the Meximarket near us)
1 “generous” teaspoon fresh garlic or chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 green bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper – cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
3 – 4 large stalks of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped divided in half
2 fresh limes, one to squeeze for fresh lime juice, the second for lime wedges for serving
8 or so flour tortillas, warmed or toasted before serving

And:  for toppings, consider:

Shredded cheese, fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa (“Tio’s” homemade salsa preferred! – Recipe already posted), sour cream, chopped fresh green onions, chopped fresh cilantro, guacamole, etc are favorite toppings in our house.

Optional: Fresh sliced jalapenos for the adventurous.

1. Measure the chile powder, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, fresh garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and half of the chopped fresh coriander directly into a quart size zip lock bag. Seal and shake/blend all the spices together well. Add 1 tbsp of the oil and the raw chicken breast strips, bell peppers and onion to the seasoning blend, seal the bag and knead gently to make sure everything is coated well. If the mixture seems too dry, you can add some of the lime juice mixed with a bit of water, tequila or chicken stock to ensure everything gets coated and stays moist. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, but up to 24 hrs if desired.

2. Roll and squeeze the juice from one of the limes. Slice the second lime into wedges. Make a paste of the cornstarch and water, stirring thoroughly to remove all lumps and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Empty the contents of the bag into the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture, stirring to ensure the fajitas thicken slowly. Remove from the heat when everything is cooked and the sauce has thickened and stir in the fresh lime juice and remainder of the fresh coriander.

4. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and serve with warm tortillas and add toppings to personal taste.




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Tio Guillermo’s Basic Pico de Gallo

Tio Guillermo’s Pico de Gallo

3 medium sized firm ripe tomatoes
2 medium sized white onions
2 green spring onions
1/2  large bunch fresh cilantro
1 medium fresh jalapeno pepper
1 small can green chiles
2 fresh limes
good quality olive oil
sea salt

*Core tomatoes, removing center with seeds. Dice tomatoes into fine cubes.
*Peel onion, wash and dice into fine cubes.
*Thinly slice all of green onion (whites and green tops).
*Finely dice fresh cilantro, including stems.
*Core and remove seeds of jalapeno pepper, then very finely dice.
*Roll and squeeze juice from limes (a little over 1/8 cup).

Mix together diced fresh tomatoes, white onion, green onions, fresh cilantro, jalapeno. Season with sea salt, fresh lime juice and about 1/8 cup olive oil. Add can of green chilis, including juice.

Adjust seasoning as required, adding more sea salt/lime juice to taste.

Blend all together, cover and store in fridge for a few hours before serving to allow flavors to marry.

Leftover pico de gallo is wonderful in homemade chicken tortilla soup the next day!

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Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

This is healthier version of the traditional fried pork carnitas, slowly roasted in the slow cooker all day.


1 pork shoulder (approx 8 lbs)
1 tbsp chopped garlic (generous tbsp!)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp powdered cumin
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, diced
1 sprig fresh cilantro, finely diced, including stems
1/2 cup Goya Mojo Criollo marinade
1 – 12 oz bottle of beer (pilsner style, not dark)

Suggested sides:

Tortilla chips
Steamed white rice
Seasoned cuban black beans
Pico de gallo or salsa or chopped tomatoes
Shredded sharp cheddar or mexican cheese
Shredded green lettuce, cut into ribbons
Sour cream
Chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh limes, cut into 8ths.
Icy cold beer


Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, except beer and diced onion. Set aside and allow flavors to marry.

Rinse pork shoulder well; lance all over with a fork to allow marinade to penetrate meat.

Place pork shoulder in large crockpot, fat side up.
Sprinkle chopped onion all over pork shoulder.
Add bottle of beer to marinade; mix thoroughly.
Pour beer marinade all over pork shoulder in crockpot.

Set on high for 30 mins, then reduce heat to low.
Cook on low for 5 – 6 hours.

Remove pork from crockpot, discard top skin/fat.
Shred pork with two forks into ribbons.
Transfer shredded pork to an oven proof large baking dish/lasagna pan (some fat will remain; that’s okay).
Sprinkle generously with sea salt, and season to taste with more black pepper or cayenne pepper and chopped fresh cilantro (if desired).

Place shredded meat in a pre heated 500 F oven. Bake in oven for approx 15 -20 mins, until fat caramelizes and gets slightly crispy.  Check while cooking, stir and don’t allow to burn, but makes sure it’s heated thoroughly, and meat tops are slightly crispy.

Cooking a whole pork shoulder yields alot of seasoned shredded pork, so set aside 1/2 of the pork for other purposes (ie: chili con carne, cuban black bean soup, breakfast burritos, etc).

Serve remainder immediately with rice, black beans, chopped fresh tomatoes or pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, warmed flour tortillas or whatever other sides you like.  I like to squeeze fresh lime all over the meat just before serving while still warm to help bring out the flavors.

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Paige’s Golabki (Polish Cabbage Rolls)

This is the variation that keeps Grandpa J happy. He doesn’t like too much messing around with the basics.

There are several variations with a “sweet and sour” tomato sauce, and my Mom took it upon herself to “jazz” up a “sweet and sour” version even more by adding bottled barbeque sauce to the sauce.

I had a Ukrainian school chum over and my mom dished up her “jazzed up” version of Golabki. The look of horror on his face was priceless.

Anyways, this is pretty much a standard no-frills version.  I don’t pre-cook the rice; I use long grain parboiled rice.  I will often serve with perogies and a salad, or if it’s really cold outside, a nice thick pureed winter vegetable soup.


Paige’s Golabki


1 head of green cabbage
1 lb lean ground pork
1 lb lean ground turkey or chicken
2 dry measure cups of uncooked long grain parboiled rice, unrinsed.
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 large (14 oz) can tomato sauce
1 large onion, peeled
chopped garlic
garlic powder
dried oregano
dried parsley or very finely diced fresh
sea salt
red wine
olive oil

sour cream (optional)
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots (optional)


Set up two medium sized mixing bowls, whatever pan you are going to bake the cabbage rolls in (I used the crockpot), and a large pot filled with boiling water on the stovetop for blanching the cabbage leaves.

In the “meat” bowl, finely grate about 1/2 of the onion. Coarsely chop the remainder of the onion and put in the “sauce” bowl.

To the “sauce” bowl, add the can of diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce. (Stewed tomatoes, crushed with a potato masher are a nice variation). I also used up some tomato paste that was hanging around in the fridge. Season with a generous helping of chopped garlic, about 1 tsp of powdered garlic, 1 tbsp of dry oregano, 1 tsp of paprika, sea salt and pepper to taste, and a generous “glug” of red wine and olive oil. Stir thoroughly to blend; allow flavors to marry while you are making the cabbage rolls.

In the “meat” bowl, add to the grated onion a generous tbsp of chopped garlic, 1 tsp of powdered garlic, 1 tbsp of dried oregano, 1 tbsp of dried parsley or very finely chopped fresh parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the 2 cups of rice, and both meats. Mix together thoroughly.

Core the cabbage and place core side down in the pot of boiling water on the stove. As leaves begin to blanch, remove cabbage from hot water.

Peel a few softened cabbage leaves away gently so they don’t rip. Remove a portion of the spine about 1/3 of the way up the softened leaf (eyeball it).

Roll a meatball-sized portion of the ground meat/rice mixture and shape into a “log”.  Place in the cabbage roll just above where the spine has been cut away and removed. Fold the left and right side of the cabbage leaf over the meat. Then start rolling the cabbage up from the bottom where the spine has been removed,  making a neat package. Once you get this technique mastered, you won’t need to use toothpicks, as the cabbage rolls will stay rolled up on their own.  My 12 year old is an expert cabbage roller and has this technique down.

Put the cabbage head back into hot water to blanch more leaves. Keep blanching, rolling, etc until all the meat/rice mixture has been used up.

Then slice the remaining cabbage into thin ribbons. Sprinkle on the bottom of the crockpot or baking dish. Start to layer the cabbage rolls in the pot on top of the bed of shredded cabbage.

At this point, if desired, sprinkle the tops of the cabbage rolls with the shredded carrot to add color and interest.

Since I do not precook the rice, I take about 2 – 3 cups of the hot cabbage water used to blanch the cabbage and add it to the sauce to thin it out.  The rice will absorb alot of water as it cooks.

Pour the thinned tomato sauce mixture all over the cabbage rolls.

Cover and cook in the crockpot on high until the sauce is hot, then reduce to low and simmer for 4 – 5 hrs or bake covered in the oven at 350 F for about 1  1/2 hours.

Serve with sour cream (optional).


Layer the cabbage rolls on top of a bed of uncooked shredded cabbage to help prevent the cabbage rolls from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish

Thin the tomato sauce so that the rice can absorb lots of water; pour all over the cabbage rolls; cover tightly and bake at 350F

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Farmer’s Bread

Farmer’s Bread

I know, I know, between the bleached white flour and white sugar, it’s nothing more than “crack for your bloodstream”, but it goes really well with cassoulet!  It has a nice crust and a chewy interior, perfect for soaking up the sauce at the bottom of your bowl.

This version with the scalded milk is pretty much a staple/standard, and also my favorite bread to have with a Ploughman’s picnic lunch.

Makes two loaves.

Preheat oven to 200 F. Turn off as soon as temp is reached. I use the oven as the place to proof my bread. This assumes of course, that you don’t need the oven for anything else while the bread is proofing/rising. The inside temp will cool as soon as you open the door to put the dough in to rise, so no need to worry about “scorching” the bread. The kitchen at my Grandma’s farmhouse led to the mud room, so there were always drafts when people were coming in and out in the winter. Using a slightly warm oven as a bread proofer was her solution — but she was often making 6 – 8 loaves at a time!

Generously oil two loaf pans on all sides and set aside.

1 pkg active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (105 – 115 F)
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp (tablespoons) granulated white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 tsp sea salt
~ 6 cups sifted all purpose white flour

Proof yeast by mixing together 1 tsp of the sugar in warm water in a coffee cup or small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over top; set aside in a warm, draft free place for 5 – 10 minutes, or until yeast starts to foam. When yeast has foamed, stir in and blend into water-sugar mixture. Set aside.

In a saucepan, scald milk, remaining sugar, salt and shortening until shortening begins to melt, stirring constantly to avoid milk from boiling over.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to warm.  When cooled, mix in the yeast and blend well.

Pour liquids into a large, deep mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of flour, and beat flour and milk mixture together really well until very smooth and begins to pull away from spoon. Start to mix in remaining flour until you can’t stir any more in with a spoon.

Turn dough onto floured board and begin kneading, adding more flour as you knead. The longer you knead the bread, the smoother the texture will be, so you can “adjust” how rustic you want your loaf to be by how long and how vigorously you knead the dough. It should take about 6 – 10 mins, until dough is smooth and stretchy.

Place dough into a clean bowl that has been oiled on all sides. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm, draft free place until dough has doubled in size ( just under 2 hrs, usually). I use my pre-warmed oven.

After dough has risen, punch dough down and divide into two equal portions. Shape into two balls and let rest for 10 – 15 mins. Shape into a loaf and transfer to oiled bread pans. Brush tops of loaves with olive oil or melted butter. Allow to rise again in oven (pre-warmed but shut off) for about another hour.

Remove loaf pans from oven; turn on oven heat to 375 F. When oven has heated, bake loaves for 40 – 45 minutes, or until bread tests “done”. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks before slicing into generous chunks.

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