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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 6, 2012: Chilly in Knoxville, Warm in Old Mexico

It got a little chilly last night in Knoxville and I woke up to frost on the windshield. But at home, things were cozy and warm. If there were some luxuries I would tell everyone to try to make provisions for and to forego other luxury and pleasure purchases, the first would be TRAVEL.
If you can go to Nicaragua and hang out with a cutie patooty like this chick...or wherever your "dream destination" is...DO IT. Short of illegal behavior, do what you have to. These experiences are priceless and you won't regret it.

If you can have a luxury in your home, get a fireplace. Even those FAKE fireplaces are so nice and comforting and romantic. You don't need an electric can opener or even a food processor. Save the bucks for the hearth. You won't regret that either.

So last night, Paul and I turned on the fireplace and I made him another tasty POM POM (see February 5th for the delicious recipe) and we enjoyed the warmth of each other's company and the fireplace.

Earlier in the day, I had put the ingredients to my Old Mexico Pork Stew in the crockpot. This is definitely comfort food. It is spicy, so it warms you inside and out. (As always, the recipes will be at the end of this blog.) If you are having a busy day and don't have hours to prepare a meal, you can throw this into the slow cooker on low and come back hours later for a hearty dinner. And it serves 4 for about $10. Here is the saute of the onions, garlic and pork.

Here is the final product:

This recipe is a departure from my "fresh ingredient" fix and there are cans involved. I have always tried to stay away from canned ingredients in general. My dearly departed mother (I am from the South, so now I must inject, God rest her soul or Bless her heart) was a fantastic cook, but with the conveniences of the 60s, she got into "canned cooking." Thus, we usually ate from a can or had a TV dinner or frozen pot pie, even though her cooking was FAR superior to it. So I have a bias against cans. But I set it aside for this warming stew, and I must say, the meal was still very good.
Here's a picture of my mom and her cousin at his 50th wedding anniversary...and he just attended my wedding in December!

I didn't really need any salad with this stew, as it has plenty of veggies, but I did fix some cornbread and added some green olives, corn and green chilies to the corn muffins. YUM.

For dessert, we had Chocolate Gooey Cookies. This recipe is SO SIMPLE. It makes a soft, chocolatey cookie. A big hit with my husband who never goes a day without chocolate. We have an entire section of a cabinet dedicated to his chocolate and his coffee....NO. I am NOT kidding.

So what did my sweet husband say about this meal?
Old Mexico Stew: Tasty and spicy.
Cornbread: I liked it.
Chocolate Gooey Cookie: Really good. Soft. Almost melts in your mouth.

Old Mexico Stew

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb boneless pork cut up into cubes*
1 large onion diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes**
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 cup beef broth***
1 can (12 ounces) corn****
1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans
A handful of olives
2 Tbsp of masa flour

* Cooking for two, I often have more meat than I need for a dish. So I used 1/2 of a pork loin and 1/2 of a Jimmy Dean sausage with sage that I had frozen and in my freezer.
** I only used one.
*** I omitted this. If I were going to leave this in the crockpot for 6 hours instead of 4, I would have used it, however.
**** I only used a single serving can.

Heat oil in skillet, brown pork and onion and garlic. Transfer to slow cooker or crockpot. Add remaining ingredients except the masa flour and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add masa flour during the last 30 minutes of cooking to thicken. Omit it if desired. Serve with corn bread; garnish with sliced ripe olives and sour cream.

Chocolate Gooey Cookies
1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

FYI: Who runs the show at our place:



  1. Why do I always come here right before I decide I need to eat? There is definitely a correlation there.