Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chicken En Mole

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a delicious favorite to share. Now, a lot of people have had chicken en mole, but there are dozens of mole recipes. This is one that I like that isn't too hard to prepare and (almost never) fails, so here it is!
 Dried ancho chiles. The recipe calls for four ancho chiles. I had quite a crowd coming so I quadrupled the dish. So, as usual, the pictures you see are for a big batch, but I'll share the recipe as if you're cooking for 3-4 people.
 My littlest calls these "chiles de pasa" or "raisin chiles". Those aren't the real name. Don't use that in the Mexican restaurant because they won't understand you.
 Add four cloves of garlic and a can of tomatoes. Or several whole tomatoes from the garden, like I did. Don't worry too much about chopping and peeling. This will be blended together.
 Boil everything together for about ten minutes. The water will become dark.
 Remove the chiles and slice open. Discard tops and scrape out the seeds.
 Dump into a blender with the onion and the garlic (I used a small strainer to get the garlic pieces.)
 Add two cups of the chile water. After it's blended, it will be very soupy. At this point you can add it to the pot, or you can strain it again. I like to strain it because otherwise the kids are still finding a few seeds and those are where the heat comes from... and some of us can't handle the spice.
Mole is a condiment that's added to any sort of meat or fish dish. It comes in green, red, brown or black. It can be burn-your-face-off spicy, or very mild, like this one. Here's a pot of chicken drumsticks boiling away. After the chicken is boiled completely, take four cups of the broth and add to the mole mix.
 Simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes. At this point you can start adding a few spices. I don't like to add salt before then because if your chicken stock is salted, you can get too much salt in the mole. So, add some salt and pepper to taste. Now is also where mole mixes start to vary widely in flavor. Some add chocolate (2TBS) powder, some add cumin (2 tsp), or a dash of mace or allspice or nutmeg. I like those versions, too, but if I add allspice or mace to anything, my kids start making noise about it not smelling good, so I usually omit. I did add cumin and a little more garlic.
Mole sauce is also thick, so dissolve 2 TBS of corn starch in a 1/2 cup of hot water, add to the mole, and then boil for 5 minutes.
With some rice, salad, and toasted corn tortillas, dinner is served!
Funny side note: my son ran through the kitchen, paused long enough to swipe a finger around the jar and licked his finger. HA! Apparently, he'd missed the first hour of the mole preparation and thought this was some kind of Nutella-based sauce. Poor kid. But serves him right for sticking his fingers in the food, eh?
I'll leave you with a picture of one of my kids doing his homework... with a furry buddy. He says schoolwork is so much easier with a happy cat. May you all have a warm, cozy, and productive work week!
Until next time! Feel free to stop by my author page at Mary Jane Hathaway or my blog at The Things That Last!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Delights of Baking in the Fall

with guest Sandra Leesmith

This fall we went to New Hampshire to visit our brother and his lovely wife. We have beautiful fall leaves in Arizona. These high country aspen turn gold and glitter when they flutter in the breeze.

But the leaves back in the New England states are spectacular. The pinks and purples just amazed me.

While there in New Hampshire, we went to an apple orchard and picked apples to make apple pie.  This particular orchard has several varieties of apples. You can walk through the orchard and select what type you want to buy.

So I was inspired to bake an apple pie for Yankee Belle, but looking in the archives, you gals have apples covered.

So we also saw lots of pumpkin patches with fresh pumpkins to pick.

But you have many yummy pumpkin recipes already in your archives.

So I decided to use another popular fruit we have in the fall and show you the easiest dessert that I take to potlucks and it is extremely popular. In fact, I’ve learned to make copies of the recipe to hand out because everyone always asks for it. This is so easy and so yummy.

First you need about 3 to 4 pounds of seedless grapes. Wash them and pull out the stems.  If they are big grapes, cut them in half. I select smaller grapes and leave them whole. This is much easier.

Gather your other ingredients and mix them together.

8 oz package of cream cheese
8 oz of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar  (I only use 1/4 cup)

Put the clean grapes in a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish. I use aluminum pans so I can toss them or leave them and not have to worry about the dish.

Blend in the cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup raw sugar on the top. Then sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans. It is ready to serve. This is so refreshing and light after a big meal. You store it in the refrigerator and the nice thing is, you can make it the day before and it will be ready for your event.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

The cafe is closed today but Jan, Mindy, Cate, Missy, Virginia and I wanted to wish each and every one of you a blessed holiday.

You bless us by stopping by... You bless us with your prayers and thoughts and kitchen fails!!!

May God bless you abundantly, and may the peace of Christ be gently in your hearts.


A spare princess or two makes every holiday special!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Nut Roast Style

Hello, Cafe dwellers. Happy Thanksgiving Eve.

This time last year, my husband, daughter and I were caught in a Maine snowstorm that began hours earlier than predicted. When we woke up Thanksgiving morning, we were mostly thankful to be alive. Driving through that snow was truly the most treacherous driving we've ever endured. The Mainers were smart - they all stayed home. We had to get someone but then we stayed put too!

I thought I'd share some photos and then the delicious nut loaf recipe that my daughter and I cooked. We were the lucky ones. Most of the town had no power, but the house we had rented stayed on grid.

Inside the cozy house we rented in Ogunquit, ME.

Thanksgiving morning!

I didn't take this one, but it's Ogunquit beach on Thanksgiving morning.

Wild turkeys that survived Thanksgiving!

More wild turkeys.

So food -

My daughter is a vegan so hubby had turkey, but DD#2 and I had vegan nut roast (which honestly I much prefer to the turkey!)  We followed this recipe. Mushroom Nut loaf.

I thought I had taken pictures of it and us making it, but apparently not.

For those who have never had a nut roast, I highly recommend them. Think sort of a veggie meatloaf but with ground nuts instead of beef.

This picture gives a pretty good idea of what one looks like. As for taste, my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the stuffing. Because of the seasonings, nut roast pretty much tastes like one big delicious piece of stuffing!

Special thanks to Kav for her lovely review for Love by the Reins. This nut roast is for you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Southwest Chicken (or Turkey) Soup

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That is also the case when it is cold outside and you do not want to make that run to the store for ingredients. 
That's what happened to me last weekend. I wanted soup. Real homemade soup. But I did not want to go anywhere. So, I opened the pantry and freezer to see what I had on hand.

Well, at least I have my base. And if I'm going to add Ro-tel, aka diced tomatoes and green chilies (yes, you can get a mild variety), I may as well make it something southwest.

Next, I found a package of 4 bone-in chicken breasts. I put those in the microwave and preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Any excuse to turn the oven on on a cold day, right?
Once the chicken was thawed--well, mostly anyway--I brushed them with butter before seasoning them with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder, them put them in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes. If your chicken in thawed, knock that time back to 35-40 minutes.

While the chicken was cooking, I continued to forage. 
Two carrots and some celery. Onion and garlic. 
Once the chicken was cooled, I cut it up.
Okay, this is starting to come together.

Saute the veggies in a large Dutch oven. I was going to saute them in olive oil, but I was out, so what better excuse to butter.
In a perfect world, I might have added some bell pepper, too, but I didn't have any. Still smells yummy, though.

Time for the broth, Ro-tel and chicken.
Hmph. This just might work. But it needs some seasoning.
We'll start with a little bit of cumin, about a teaspoon.
 Oh, and chili powder is a must if it's going to be southwestern, so a teaspoon of that.
 Oh, and why not a pinch of Mexican oregano, just because I happen to have some.

Stir that all in and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes before sampling the broth.
Yep, needs a little salt and pepper.
Mmm... Tasty. But it's still missing something. 
I run to the pantry.
YES! Green chilies. Just what the doctor ordered.
Since it was the larger can, I thought I'd only add half, but it didn't seem right until I added the entire can.

But it needed just one more thing.
I didn't want the sweetness of the corn to overpower the other flavors, so I added about a cup of frozen niblets.

Sample again...
One more tiny thing...
Just a teaspoon or so of tang to marry the sweetness of the corn and the spice.

Oh, and I even had an avocado that was about to go bad.

This was so good. And don't just take my word for it, my daughter and her husband polished it off the next day with two hearty thumbs-up. So guess what I'll be making after Thanksgiving? 

Things I might change next time? I might add two cans of Ro-tel and forget the extra chilies. But other than that...

So yes, Thanksgiving is upon us in only two days. I can hardly wait. I love breaking out those recipes that typically only get made one day a year. Oh, and I have yet to taste my first bite of pumpkin pie this season. Perhaps I should make two. One for me and one for everyone else.

The everyone else is pared down a bit this year. Three out of five kids and one spouse. But hey, any occasion to come together as family is a great one any day of the year.

Will you be cooking or going somewhere? 
Whatever the case, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sausage, Kale and Bean Stew

The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful!

Winter has finally come to the Black Hills with a bit of snow and cold temperatures. But we're ready! The wood pile is full and overflowing, the pantry is stocked, and new soup and stew recipes are lined up for tasting!

This recipe was delicious! The flavors wrapped around each other in a delightful savory blend.

Now, if that description doesn't make you want to try this stew, maybe the easy preparation will...

Sausage, Kale and Bean Stew


2 pounds bulk sausage (I used turkey sausage)
1 cup chopped carrots
2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
8 cups broth (I used 4 cups vegetable broth and 4 cups chicken broth)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin

beans (see below for the explanation of this ingredient)

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh kale, or 1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen chopped kale

The beans: You can use any bean you like in this stew. I used lentils when I made mine. The only prep was to rinse the lentils and put them in the stew.

For other types of beans, you will need to soak and cook them first, or use canned. Some varieties that would be good are black beans, Great Northern beans, Navy beans, or Small Red beans.

The amount of beans you use depends on the type of bean. You'll want more of the small ones, like lentils or black beans, and fewer of the larger ones, like Great Northerns or the Small Reds. In general, I would use 1 - 2 cups of dried beans or 2 cans of canned beans.

The amount also depends on your own preference. Do you like lots of beans? Add more! Not so much? Keep the beans to a minimum. :)

You could make several batches of this stew, vary the beans you use, and it will turn out different every time!


In a large Dutch oven or soup pot (I used my 8 quart stock pot), cook the sausage, carrots, garlic and onion over medium-high heat until the sausage is no longer pink, breaking up the sausage as it browns. Drain the fat, if needed. Since I used turkey sausage, there wasn't any extra fat.

Add the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, bay leaf, cumin, and beans or lentils.

Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for about twenty minutes.

Stir in the kale and cook for 10-15 minutes more.

Remove the bay leaf and serve.

This stew freezes well, which is good, because it makes a large batch!

And a bonus: If you're following "Trim, Healthy Mama," this is a hearty "E" meal when you leave out the optional potatoes. That means it's lower fat and filled with healthy carbs. The non-sugar, stick your ribs kind of carbs. And packed with protein. A win/win, right?

How is the weather where you are? Are you ready for soups and stews yet?