I get asked to make this so often I am starting to wonder if people like me or it better.. (don't answer that!) So, just in case you are more in love with this saucy melange than the company it keeps, here is my recipe!

good quality olive oil

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb smoked sausage (or chiorzo) and 1 lb chicken chopped bite size

chipotle hot sauce, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1 onion, 1 green pepper, 4 ribs celery - all diced

3-4 tbsp poultry seasoning

1 tbsp cumin

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp flour

2 cans diced tomatoes with mild green chilies

1 box good quality chicken broth

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

In a big soup pot, swirl a few turns of olive oil around and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Add the sausage and chicken and cook until browned, then add the hot sauce (if you want) and the veggies. Cook until the veggies are softened and then add all seasonings and stir well until incorporated. Then add flour to coat and cook for a minute or two so the flour loses its' raw taste and the juices begin to thicken. Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and cook until simmering. Then add the shrimp and cook until they are done through. That's it! Serve with rice and/or cornbread and I promise people will come back for seconds.


Birthday Cake, or where color theory and baking collide.

This one is less of a recipe, and more of a "how to." My daughter's 8th birthday was this weekend, and in the past she has requested many different kinds of cakes. Hello Kitty, Tinkerbell, and Castles have all been on the list.. but one thing has been consistent. On the "inside" she wants a rainbow.

A rainbow cake is simply a white cake batter that has been divided, dyed, and then strategically layered before baking. Any colors can be used in any order (we're fond of pink, purple and yellow over here lately) and then simply baked as directed. The only real "trick" is to take your time with the layering and not jiggle it too much when transferring it to the oven.

Too Much Zucchini?

It is that time of year again, when we ask ourselves: "What should we do with all that zucchini?" The answer -- add chocolate -- I promise it will get eaten.

1 bar good quality baking chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 c. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
large zucchini grated finely (approx 2-3 cups)
chocolate chips
optional: the batter should be somewhat damp, but if you are adding more zucchini or if it is too slooshy, add a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder to help absorb some of the moisture and increase the chocolately-ness
optional 2: if you want to increase the sweet, cream cheese frosting is wonderful on this cake

preheat to 350, melt the chocolate in a large bowl and then add all wet ingredients and spices, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Put batter into lined muffin tins or a greased loaf pan (you may need to increase the baking time for the loaf). Bake until a knife placed in the center comes out clean.

"Heathly"(ish) Oatmeal Cookies

My "go to" recipe, and a good excuse to eat cookies for breakfast (it has oatmeal!).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Melt one stick of butter or margarine and place in large bowl

Mash in one banana

then mix in one egg

add one teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown sugar

and the zest of an orange

combine well with masher and then add in the dry ingredients, this time mixing with a wooden spoon.

Dry stuff:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup shredded coconut

then add in the mix ins:

dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries are my favorites. You could substitute nuts, raisins, butterscotch chips, whatever you have in the pantry. If you want to add a LOT of extras, decrease the amount of oats so that your cookies stay together.

Drop the cookies onto a cookie sheet. The don't really spread in the oven so you can place them relatively close together. I find they take from 7-10 minutes, but check your first batch frequently since everyone's oven is a little different. Once the bottoms are golden, you're good to go -- they should still be a liitle squishy on top.