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Rob’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

January 6, 2015


Over 20 years ago I took a trip to Mexico in a village off the beaten path and had one of the simplest and most amazing bowls of tortilla soup. It was a small village and my bowl just had chicken broth, some carrots and some tortilla chips. The broth had so much flavor and nuance but was still mild and comforting. It was so wonderful that every bowl of tortilla soup since then has paled in comparison.

This recipe is my attempt to honor that wonderful and simple bowl of soup from many years ago.

Note: I have updated this recipe to improve flavor and texture

Chicken-Tortilla Soup

1 rotisserie chicken shredded
3 32 oz cans chicken broth
1 – 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 jalapeño minced
2 carrots chopped
1 yellow onion diced
2 TBSP olive oil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 bunch cilantro
2 ears of corn off the cob
1 TBSP Chile powder
1 tsp Paprika
1tsp Cumin
Salt to taste

crumbled cheso fresco
sliced avocado
chopped cilantro
Finely diced white onion
tortilla chips
lime wedges

In a large pot on medium heat, pour chicken broth, jalapeño and carrots. Crush tomatoes by hand over pot and pour in tomato juice left in can. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until onions are translucent and add to pot. Add shredded chicken to pot. Cook for 1/2 hour to combine flavors, add salt to taste. Add in corn. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until corn is cooked but still crunchy. Pour in to bowl and add crumbled cheso fresco, avocado, cilantro, white onions and crumbled tortilla chips and squeeze a lime wedge on top. Enjoy!

Rob’s Homemade Goetta

January 4, 2014

My wife’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio has many unique and tasty foods. Since we live on the west coast we can’t just run to the store to pick up or out to a restaurant to eat our Cincinnati favorites. You can get goetta out next day air but the shipping costs have risen beyond what we think is reasonable. So I try to recreate the flavors myself. One of my favorites is Goetta. Goetta originates from German immigrants who wanted to use all parts of the animal to make their food stretch. I have been trying to get close to the flavor of the main Ohio commercial producer’s product for years. I’ve tried many different recipes and have finally settled on the one I have here. It’s a basic recipe that has been floating around the internet for many years so I’m not sure who wrote it. But the most important step is the seasoning. With out the proper bay and salt content it will not come out correctly. When you start seasoning it you will have to put in more salt than you think prudent due to the oats capacity to absorb flavor.

Rob’s Homemade Goetta Recipe

2 1/2 cups steel cut or pinhead oats
8 cups water
1 lb ground beef ( I use 80/20)
1 medium onion diced
1 lb loose Bratwurst sausage uncooked (if substituting ground pork make sure it is not lean)
8 bay leaves

Add water, oats, salt and pepper to large pot and cook on medium low heat for 2 hours. Add meats, onion and bay leaves and mix well. Cook for an additional hour. Season with more salt as it cooks to achieve desired saltiness.

Pour in to two 9×5 loaf pans, cover, let cool then refrigerate.

When Goetta has set overnight, cut into slices and fry both sides until crispy. You may want to add some of your favorite oil to the pan to help with the crisping as this recipe does not release it’s fat as it cooks like the store bought kind. Enjoy!

Perfect Buttermilk Biscuits

October 20, 2013

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I remember my father occasionally taking us young boys to breakfast at a hometown diner and sitting at the counter. We could see the cooks making all the amazing breakfasts, including one of my favorites…biscuits and gravy. I have eaten at many a diner trying to get that perfect buttermilk biscuit that is light and fluffy with just the right amount of flaky layers and perfect chew. I’ve tried a few different recipes and have finally found it here! It’s got all the characteristics of a great biscuit and goes well with gravy or honey and preserves. I have simplified the instructions a little but otherwise left it intact. Also, I have frozen the biscuit dough pucks in advance as suggested on the original recipe and they turned out perfectly.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.

4. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined. Add more buttermilk if too dry.

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick and cut into rounds.

6. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet touching each other.

7. Brush tops with melted butter

8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until biscuit tops are a light golden brown.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

December 31, 2012


I was looking for some comfort food and something easy to make for dinner. Sloppy joes immediately came to mind. So my 3 1/2 year old son and I ran to the store in the morning to grab some ground beef and one of those instant sloppy joe mix packets. Unfortunately, the grocery store was out of the sloppy joe mix and I was feeling too lazy to go to another store. We got home and I forgot about not having the mix. When it came time to start making dinner my laziness outweighed my desire to make another run to the store and find a sloppy joe mix. Instead, I opted to whip it up from scratch! As a longtime consumer and fan of sloppy joes I felt that I knew what it should taste like. I started with the ground beef and added things until it tasted just right. Not only does it taste great but I know exactly what is in it!

1 lb ground beef
4 shallots minced
1 TBSP olive oil
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
2 large garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP Worcestire sauce
1 1/2 TBSP white vinegar
2 TBSP chile powder
2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

In large skillet on medium high heat brown ground beef and drain fat. Add shallots and olive oil and cook until translucent. Add water, tomato paste, garlic, sugar and spices and stir until incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes or until water has reduced and mixture has thickened. Serve on hamburger buns with BBQ potato chips.

Whoopie Pies

November 11, 2012

Whoopie pies….what can I say about them. They are amazing. I happened upon this recipe from via many years ago and have made it for friends and family, for parties and for just myself. It has always delivered that wonderful comforting flavor that I remember as a child when my mom would bake cakes, cookies and cupcakes for us kids. I have not altered this recipe in any way and it consistently delivers a wonderful texture, small crumb and is firm enough to hold up to the filling, but still tender enough for a great initial bite. This is one of my favorites. I am so glad that has shared it with us all! Please enjoy! One thing to note is that the marshmallow butter cream filling recipe on has been transcribed incorrectly from the original recipe and has unfortunately disappointed a number of home cooks. The error is in the incorrect amount of 2 cups for marshmallow fluff indicated instead of the correct 1 cup. Otherwise add additional confectioners sugar if filling is too runny.

Whoopie Pies
Gourmet | January 2003

We prefer Droste brand Dutch-process cocoa for this recipe because it gives the cakes a richer chocolate flavor. Though whoopie pies can be served on the same day they’re made, we think the cakes are much better a day after baking.
Yield: Makes 8 individual desserts
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hr


For cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

For filling
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla


Make cakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Make filling:

Beat together butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.


Spread a rounded tablespoon filling on flat sides of half of cakes and top with remaining cakes.

Nana’s Calabacitas

October 16, 2012


My Nana was an amazing cook. When company was coming over she would check what she had in the fridge and cupboard and whip together simple but amazing dishes. Calabacitas was one of her go to dishes along with pinto beans and fresh tortillas. She never relied on recipe books or cards but had the recipes all in her head. Nana’s mother passed on the recipes to her, and Nana to my mom. I remember my mom making this for us often and always loving it until one day I started watching her make it. This is probably the first time anyone in my family has written down the recipe.

Calabacitas is a New Mexican dish which literally means zucchini. But in New Mexico it means a dish made with zucchini, yellow squash, hatch chiles, onion, garlic and fresh corn. Every family made it differently, some with tomatoes, some add cilantro, cotija or cheso fresco. But Nana made it as you will read it here and that is how I still make it today. One thing I do differently then how my mom taught me is that I dice the zucchini and squash where she would slice them thin. Enjoy!

2 yellow squash diced
2 zucchini diced
1 yellow onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
I jalapeño seeded and minced (if not using Hatch green chiles)
2 large Hatch or Anaheim green chiles roasted, skinned and diced, or a 4 oz can Ortega diced green chiles
1 ear corn off the cob
3 TBSP Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour 3 Tbsp olive oil in hot skillet and sauté onions, garlic and jalapeño  until caramelized and slightly browned. Add zucchini and squash to pan and cook until moisture has been reduced and caramelized. Add corn and green chiles and cook for a few more minutes. Add generous amount of pepper. Add salt to taste.

Serve with warm flour tortillas and some crumbled cotija cheese. A gluten free idea would be to serve them on a tostada with pureed black bean, chopped cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some cotija and crema on top.

Quick, Easy and Delicious Pancakes

September 30, 2012

I woke up this morning not really knowing what we should have for breakfast. I was thinking every-man-for-himself day today, but my wife had a great idea. Pancakes! I didn’t have any pancake mix or Bisquick in the pantry so I went to the trusty internet to find a good recipe. I have a few recipes in my recipe binder that I have made before, but haven’t been totally satisfied with the results. Also, buttermilk pancakes always seem to be richer and fluffier that plain old milk based pancakes. But who has buttermilk just waiting in their fridge for that one moment you need it? Not me! So back to my search. I zeroed in on a basic pancakes recipe from Martha Stewart’s website, but as is my custom, I always want to tweak something to eek out more flavor, texture or specialness if I can. For some cake or cookie recipes I have made buttermilk (or clabbered milk) by combining milk and lemon juice before. So I did that for this recipe and the pancakes turned out light fluffy and very moist.



1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk, clabbered milk or buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 large egg



Preheat oven to 200 degrees F; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, and egg. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

For each pancake, poor about a serving spoonful of batter onto the  skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a 4″ round (you should be able to fit 3 in a large skillet).

Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with remaining batter. (You should have 20 or so 4″ pancakes.) Serve warm, with butter and real maple syrup.


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