Homemade Enchilada Sauce


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 of a white onion, grated.
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder (The flavor of the chili powder will have a big impact on the flavor of the sauce, so consider heat level and overall flavor when choosing a chili powder.)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt to taste

Saute the onion in the olive oil, add the garlic once the onion has softened, then add the chili powder and saute for a couple of minutes.Mix in the tomato sauce, sugar and water (you can add more or less water depending on the consistency you desire). Salt the mixture to taste and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes more. Use with your favorite enchilada fillings.

Pulled Pork

Measurements are approximate because that’s how I cook, almost all of the time…haha!

You will need a “pork butt” cut of meat, it may also be called pork shoulder or Boston Butt. It can be bone-in or boneless and they come in a great range of sizes which will affect your cooking time in the end so just make note of that.

Make a rub or use a BBQ pork rub seasoning that is pre-bottled. Here is what goes into mine:

  • Kosher Salt (1.5 tbsp)
  • Brown Sugar (1.5 tbsp)
  • Black Pepper (1 tsp)
  • Garlic Granules (.5 tsp)
  • Paprika (1 tsp)
  • Chili Powder (1 tsp)

The proportions can vary and it should be enough in volume to generously season the outside of the meat, so increase total volume if necessary.

Rub the spice mix all over the meat and put it into a covered roasting pan (if you don’t have a lid you can use foil) and roast in the oven at 300 degrees. Check on it periodically and turn the roast over each time. Initially the meat will release juices and it will almost braise, but then it will slowly evaporate and the fat will render out of the meat. Allowing the meat to roast in the residual fat will give it nice caramelization on the outside. The meat is done when it is fork tender and will shred easily. If the meat feels tight, it is not ready yet. This can take anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on the size of the roast. The other thing you will need to watch is that the sugar doesn’t burn, it will turn dark for sure, but if it burns it will give a bitter taste. You can add ½  cup of liquid (like water, beer or chicken broth) if it looks like it is darkening before the meat has started to get tender.

When the meat is easily shred-able, remove it to a plate and let it cool a bit before shredding it up into small pieces. I also take care to remove any fat blobs or anything else I don’t want on my fork.

Then toss it with your favorite BBQ sauce and enjoy! (Side note: I tend to doctor up bottled sauces because they often feel too sweet and out of balance to me, so I add a little yellow mustard, vinegar, hot sauce and olive oil.)

———End of Recipe———-

More info: This method of cooking pork roasts is something I do a lot. If you change up the seasoning mix to be a little more generic (i.e. salt, pepper, garlic, paprika), you can treat it like carnitas and have tacos or burritos, or just eat awesome tender pork roast meat. The other cool thing is that it usually makes a lot of meat. I shred the whole roast then split of extra portions and freezer bag them for later meals. Enchiladas anyone? 🙂

Tomato Soup

Here is my recipe for tomato soup, which started out as someone else’s recipe for tomato bisque, which I love, but I found it didn’t need quite that much cream, especially if you are serving with grilled cheese, yum!

Here goes:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 smashed garlic
  • 1/2 of a white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic in the pot with the melted butter until they are translucent, then add the rice and stir it around for a minute or two until it is coated in the in the butter. Then add the tomatoes, water and BTB. I slosh the water around in the tomato can to get out all the leftovers and then melt the BTB in the water before adding. (Here I will note that you can use broth instead of BTB and water, I just find it gives a nice rich flavor to the soup). Let it simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Then blend with an immersion blender or transfer in batches to a regular blender, remembering to take out the center piece of the lid and cover with a towel (hold the lid on too). Once all blended, do a final seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and mix in the cream. It is fairly thick so you can add water or broth to thin it out, if you like a lighter consistency.

For the grilled cheese, I recommend gruyere. 🙂

Perfect for a rainy day.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • A fresh chile, I use Anaheim or poblano
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini
  • Canned Tomato petite dice, rinsed
  • Salt/pepper/chili powder/cumin/paprika/oregano/red pepper flake
  • Chicken broth

I use about equal portions of the veggies, but I would say that you can vary the amounts to your liking. I think it will still be good. Sauté the veggies except the zucchini and tomato in olive oil until softened. Add cut up chicken, a little more oil and seasonings. Mix and cook until the chicken starts browning a bit. Add the tomatoes, add broth (you can add water if you don’t have enough broth). Simmer until the veggies are tender. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary. I put quite a bit of chili powder, so my soup has a dark orange color. Add the zucchini, cook just a few minutes and turn off the heat, the zucchini will continue to cook through.


  • Cilantro
  • Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • Corn (my new favorite is to fry it in a bit of butter until golden brown, yum!)


I am sure you’ve heard of biscotti, which means “twice baked”. We call these Un-scotti, since you only bake them once and get a cross between a soft cookie/muffin-y thing. They are delish. Thanks to Diane for this wonderful recipe.

Mix together:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 veg oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp extract (can use anise, almond, vanilla…we favor almond)

Then add:

  • 2 cups flour
  • Chocolate chips
  • Nuts (we use sliced almonds)

Mix together quickly and form 2 long loaves on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 21 minutes (yes, that is really what it says). Take them off the cookie sheet and slice into separate cookies to cool. Once cooled, make a simple powdered sugar and water icing and drizzle over the cookies.


Poppy Seed and Walnut Rolls

My Aunt Mary used to make these and I loved them. In the last few years, I have tried out recipes and I think this is the winner.


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tbs sugar

Proof the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Mix the flour and salt, then mix in the butter until the mixture is sandy (I do this with my hands). Lastly mix in the egg yolk and yeast mixture and knead until the dough comes together.


  • I use canned poppy seed filling.
  • Walnut – 2 cups of walnut pieces (grind them up in a food processor), 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbs melted butter, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of milk.

The dough recipe will make 2 rolls, and the fillings above will each fill 2 rolls in these proportions. So you can make 2 of either roll or double the dough recipe and make 4 rolls (2 poppy seed and 2 walnut).

Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then roll out to about a 12×16 rectangle. Spread the filling up to about half an inch from the edges and roll up starting at one of the 12 inch sides. Pinch the ends closed as well as the seam and put the seam on the bottom. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with the egg whites. Allow to rise until doubled and brush again. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes or until a nice deep golden brown. (Mine always split and leak filling, but they taste just fine anyway.)

Cool covered with a clean cloth and slice.

Breaking Bad Color Analysis

In my previous life as a college graphic design teacher, I taught several “Color Theory” classes. One of the exercises I would do in class is to watch movies and tell my students to study the color in the films and apply it to the theories we were learning. This was always one of my favorite tools for teaching this subject, because the students always seemed to think that it was ridiculous that someone would go through that much trouble to use the theories of color associations, emotional effects and symbolic representations in something as simple as what a character was wearing in a 2 minute scene of a TV show…but they do! After a few of these exercises, my students would often come up to me and say, “I can’t watch a movie or a TV show any more without seeing all of the color theories at work.”

My friend Sean, having chatted with me in the past about color theories, sent me this infographic: http://tdylf.com/2013/08/11/infographic-colorizing-walter-whites-decay/
Mind you, I did not visit the page or read the article, he only sent me a screenshot and asked what I thought of it. Here is what I wrote back to him:

I know of Breaking Bad and a little about the storyline; however, I find it a bit too intense for my own viewing 🙂 This chart is very interesting! With my limited knowledge of the many many story points throughout the series, I think I can make a few assertions; however as interesting as it is to look at these character arcs on their own, there is probably a great deal more revealed by looking at some screenshots of the more pivotal scenes. Looking at the play of color between the characters, how the scene is lit and how moods and colors change from one scene to the next.

So here is what I see (keeping in mind that because I know so little of the show that I may be waaaay off 🙂

  • Walter – He seems to have the most variance over the course of the show, which would make sense since he is the focus of the show. Season 1 has a lot of cool colors, grey, green and punctuated with some spots of yellow which could be illness, very little blue which represents calm. Season 2 is much darker overall and toward the end has a lot of black. Warmer colors are creeping in, this may mean the character is coming alive more and having more intense emotions, but all of the black still makes it seem like he is deeply troubled. Season 3 has more lightness to it. Some blue peace coming in and some purples which can represent healing. There is a lot of conflict in season 4, the sharp contrast and a lot of reds make me think that this season held a lot of rage for the character. Season 5 has an interesting balance, an equilibrium not seen before. Some colors from season 1 are repeated, but there are larger groups of a single color, less jumpy changes.
  • Skyler – This character’s main color is blue, which could be calmness or a lack of warmth in her personality. It looks as though there is only one time she wears a very warm bright color, so that scene must have great significance to the plot or her character arc. Over the course of the show the character becomes much darker (almost overwhelmingly so) which could be depression, or a decent in to darker themes (evil, wrongdoing, sadness). She has the greatest change in contrast over the course of the show, a long slow change.
  • Jesse – Extreme contrast and very bright vibrant color. This character has a lot of energy, unpredictability, and all of the red leads me to think he has a lot of rage and is violent. Very few cool colors, so it seems that he is rarely in control.
  • Hank – Earthtones, greys and browns throughout. This character appears to be the most grounded in the whole show. Seems very stable, and serious, nothing wild about him. Not a lot of variance in color, so he seems very even keeled.
  • Marie – A ton of purple, which makes me think she is either a very healing personality or a mystical one. She, like most of the other characters has her moments of darkness, but seems to stay fairly warm throughout the show.
  • Walter Jr. – Very light colors overall, which means there are changes, but he is not an intense personality. Interestingly, his character arc seems an almost perfect gradient from cool to warm colors. This could mean an overall change from emotionally distant to more emotionally available, or it could be a change from sad to happy. It also seems to somewhat mirror Walter Sr, but not nearly with the same intensity. Very very little black at all, so I would say this character did not spend a lot of time at “rock-bottom”. He also has some of Hank’s browns so maybe that character is a stable influence on him.

Kudos to the maker of this color chart and the makers of Breaking Bad for creating a very rich visual context for their story.

Final disclaimer: I have never watched one episode of the show and have only seen a handful of clips. I do not claim to know exactly what I am talking about, I am only using general color theories to extrapolate some meaning.

Spicy Sausage Pasta

1 package of Italian sausage (spicy or mild, depending on your pref)
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1 clove of garlic (pressed or minced)
2 small or one medium zucchini (shredded on a cheese grater)
1 cup of white wine (I use sauvignon blanc)
Sundried tomatoes (almost like a garnish)
Red pepper flakes (if you like it really spicy)

Brown the sausage in the pan until cooked through. Remove excess fat if needed, but a little helps coat the pasta. Make a little “hot spot” and brown the tomato paste a little on the bottom of the pan, then mix into the meat. Let the meat start to caramelize. Add in the garlic clove and mix in thoroughly, then quickly add the shredded zucchini. Mix and let it cook until the zucchini is starting to break down and the meat is caramelizing again. Once it starts having some good color, pour in some of the wine, deglazing. Let it cook off and mostly evaporate then pour in more, and cook it off again. At this point you can definitely taste it to see if it needs more tang (do another round of wine), more spice (add some red pepper flakes), or more deep flavors (add more tomato paste). Add the sundried tomatoes, cut into small pieces. Finish up with some nice caramelization. Toss with pasta, sprinkle with cheese and Voila!

I cook this on high through most of the process, since there is so much moisture to cook off. You can vary the ingredients amounts and still get a good result.

Nate says…

Hotdogter – Helicopter
Upright side down – Upside down
Dockadockadoo – Cockadoodledoo
Winnie Hoo – Winnie the Pooh
Pup cake – Cupcake
Disweesand – Disneyland
Nocoyo – Pinnochio
Nember – Remember
Van Wyke – Dick Van Dyke
Juicery – Juicy
Saucery – Saucy

Goodbye Scarlett

Yesterday we said goodbye to my sweet little dog. She had the best little personality and was loved by most everyone.

We had some great times with that pup and she has been around since just before Christopher and I got engaged. We felt like our own little family from day one. She survived cancer and a spinal defect that slowly immobilized her over the years, she was a spunky little fighter. It was fairly often that a total stranger would exclaim, “That’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen!” In fact, it happened at the drive thru just about a month ago.

She used to burrow into the laundry basket full of warm clothes from the dryer. She would get the hiccups if you yelled at her. She loved babies and would whimper and shake with excitement when they were around. She loved the beach.

My little girl has gone on. I will miss her deeply.