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Spicy Green Piglet Soup

12 January 2015

It’s cold and dreary and gross outside, which means it’s time to make soup. Now, I was craving Chicken Noodle Soup…but I don’t eat chicken and am off carbs for a little while. So…that kind of defeats the purpose of Chicken Noodle Soup. BUT! I decided to see what I could come up with, and this delicious spicy bacon-pork chop-green bean-quinoa soup absolutely hit the spot, and after a small naming contest, my brother came up with the winning title: Spicy Green Piglet Soup. A bit macabre? Maybe, but also delicious.

heidikinscooks_spicy green piglet soup_january2015

Spicy Green Piglet Soup

2 pieces bacon, minced
2 onions, minced
5-8 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, dicced
2 pork chops, chopped
1 lb. green beans, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups chicken or veggie broth
1/2 dry quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
2-3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 shakes red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons oregano
Cayenne pepper, to taste (at least a 1/2 teaspoon, I think)
1 bay leaf

Start quinoa cooking in small sauce pan. Saute bacon in a stock pot until crispy, add diced onions, garlic, and celery and saute until soft. Add pork chops, green beans, chicken stock and spices and bring to a boil and then simmer 20 minutes. Add the cooked quinoa, taste and re-salt/spice if desired.

**None of Christopher Robin’s friends were harmed in the making of this soup.


Hello? Is this thing on?

10 January 2015

Six months ago I accepted a huge promotion at work and have only just begun to breathe again and have time and energy for extra curriculars like tinkering in the kitchen and then, of course, documenting and posting for the whole wide world to see.

But, New Year, new resolutions, new ideas, new energy.

Buckle up, here we go!

Happy 4th of July!

1 July 2014

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 4_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Are you ready for the 4th of July? I don’t think most people have a formal-type of sit-down dinner for the 4th, picnic and BBQ seems more the rules of the day. However, I tend to play by my own rules, and my rules say make it a party whenever possible, complete with cute napkins.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 9_heidikinscooks_June 2014

As I was slouching around The Interwebs–as I tend to do–I found a dozen bandanas on sale for less than a buck each, and they were patriotic and flag-like, without being an actual flag print where you would be remiss to sop up some stray BBQ sauce. (Am I the only one who has qualms about stuff like this?) They aren’t fine linen or anything, just cheapie bandanas, but wow do they pack a patriotic punch! And honestly, pair them with white melamine or even heavy-duty paper plates at your outdoor BBQ and you’ve just elevated your party to a new level of awesome. Wash, or simply toss, depending on how much you love/hate the earth. No pressure.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 10_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The navy runner classes things up a bit without being too formal, and the rattan chargers keep it casual enough for a Saturday afternoon. The red melamine chargers are from Fiestaware and totally outdoor- and kid-proof.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 12_heidikinscooks_June 2014

White dinner plates are my every-day dishes, from Pottery Barn, and tumblers and flatware is old, old, old. It’s funny, when I start typing it all out, how much of these place settings are just regular, every-day items, re-imagined a little and with a flashy bandana.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Ok, I know not everyone has been collecting (but not using) dishes and napkins and things for a decade, I realize I may be an anomaly in that regard. But it has been so fun to dig it all out and combine things in new and fun-for-me ways! Don’t begrudge me that, mmmmmkay?

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Some grocery-store sunflowers in a squatty jar and this table is done. I don’t like how sunflowers smell, not one bit, but they are just such a happy, summery flower that I couldn’t pass these ones up.

4th July Patriotic Tablescape 5_heidikinscooks_June 2014

What type of celebrating are you doing this week? BBQs? Picnics? Fireworks? All of the above?


Navy table runner: IKEA
Rattan chargers: IKEA
Scarlet Fiestaware charger: HomerLaughlin (no longer available, similar)
White dinner plates: Pottery Barn Catering Box
Stars and stripes bandana napkin: Amazon
Star napkin rings: eBay (similar)
Tumblers: Target, old
Flatware: Target, old
Vase: IKEA, old
Sunflowers: grocery store

*no affiliate links

Setting a Stars and Stripes Table

24 June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 9_heidikinscooks_June 2014

You guys, I cannot believe The Cute that was this patriotic 4th of July table! (Technically, this was for Flag Day, but who–besides me–celebrates Flag Day?) I’ve had most of these pieces for ages–in fact, the red napkins are the only thing that I’d consider “new”–but have never even thought about putting it all together this way. And look, look, look!! So stinking adorable!!

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 6_heidikinscooks_June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 5_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The patriotic pièce de résistance, of course, is these darling stars-and-stripes bowls, from Pfaltzgraff. I saw them last year and loved them immediately and when they went on sale I snagged them. Apparently, I snagged too soon, they are much less now than what I paid for them. (Sad face). Pfaltzgraff has a couple of other patterns I really like, but many veer into “old lady” territory awfully fast. Not so with these bowls, me thinks.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 11_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The bowl sits on my every-day white salad plate topping a cobalt Fiestaware dinner plate. I like that while still being red, white, and blue, the deeper tones don’t scream CHEAP PATRIOTISM WITH PRIMARY COLORS! I think they are quite classy, actually.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 2_heidikinscooks_June 2014

I am all about easy centerpieces (perhaps you’ve noticed), and this is no exception. A bunch of dark red carnations, split into three different vases/random bottles, and two small mason jars with a handful of $0.50 cent flags shoved into some rocks. That’s American, right?

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 15_heidikinscooks_June 2014

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 10_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The white tablecloth was a gift from my grandmother–it’s polyester, not linen or anything fancy, I love it because it was hers. The bamboo runner was a clearance find at Home Goods a while ago.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 3_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The red napkins have been in my stash for who-knows-how long, the napkin rings were an eBay find.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 12_heidikinscooks_June 2014

The goblets are from IKEA and the flatware is a hundred years old (okay, ten), from Target.

4th July Patriotic Pfaltzgraff Tablescape 7_heidikinscooks_June 2014

White tablecloth: gift from grandma
Bamboo runner: Home Goods
Cobalt Fiestaware Dinner plates: Homer Laughlin
White salad plate: Pottery Barn Catering Box
Stars and Stripes Bowl: Pfaltzgraff
Goblet: IKEA
Red Napkins: old
Star napkin rings: eBay (similar)
Flatware: Target, old
Centerpiece: Assorted bottles, grocery store flags/flowers

*no affiliate links

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Roasted Asparagus

23 June 2014

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner Roasted Asparagus 1_heidikinscooks_June 2014

For some reason asparagus always seems so incredibly fancy, far too fancy for campfire cooking. But, this turned out so amazingly delicious I can’t see myself ever having dinner in the canyon without some fire-roasted asparagus. You can prepare this before you head to your campsite, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can do it there. J-Mo and I were running late and decided to stop on the grocery store on the way to the canyon and take our chances. I packed a cutting board, knife, butter, a few spices, and a roll of tin foil, and off we went. I bought a pre-packaged container of fresh asparagus from the produce section and a lemon. (And also some corn on the cob.)

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner: Roasted Asparagus

Campfire with white-hot coals and only a few flames

1 pound asparagus spears
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
4-6 ice cubes

Rinse and trim your asparagus spears, divide into 2 piles, top each with a tablespoon of butter and a generous helping of salt and pepper. Thinly slice a lemon and put a few rounds on each pile of asparagus. Add 1 or 2 ice cubes to each packet and wrap tightly in a foil envelope. Then wrap again with another layer of foil. I have found the least leaky method is to fold the foil over your asparagus lengthwise, so you have a slightly open seam right down the center. Then grab both open ends, bring them together in the middle, and roll tightly down to the packet. Do this twice. Not only does it give you a little handle to grab out of the fire, your juices will stay very well contained as long as you don’t puncture the foil with your shovel or tongs or whatever.

Place your asparagus packets on a pile of white coals and let cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over occasionally. The ice cubes will help keep your asparagus from charring.

Gourmet Tin Foil Dinner Roasted Asparagus 2_heidikinscooks_June 2014

Remove from fire with tongs or heavy-duty leather gloves, and enjoy! (I wonder if I could make hollandaise sauce over a fire for next time…)

A Few Tips for Campfire Cooking:

  • Cooking over a fire takes a while, it takes a while to start your fire and it takes some time before it’s ready to cook on.
  • Make sure you bring extra wood (for s’mores) and at least 2 gallons of water for dousing your coals before you leave the campsite (if you have water at your campsite, then make sure to bring a gallon jug to get it from the river/faucet to your fire pit).
  • Bring a pair of long fire-resistant tongs, and/or a pair of heavy-duty leather gloves for retrieving your dinner.
  • A shovel for moving your coals around is much more precise than using a stick, but a big stick will work just fine.
  • You can always pull your dinner out to check it, re-wrap, and pop it back in if it’s not done yet, but you will lose some of the steam and the tight foil seal by doing so.