Category Archives: Cuisine

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

A few years ago I found a recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup and it was so very good. So good, in fact, that I thought that I had found the holy grail of mushroom soups.

Continue reading Wild Rice and Mushroom soup



One of the things I was really looking forward to when we moved to MN was the farm fresh produce available and the eventual garden of my own.
I got my first taste of this fresh bounty on a recent Friday night.  My grandma called to tell me that Sam’s Produce in Arkansaw, WI had strawberries ready for picking for the next few weeks.  Well, that Sunday was Father’s Day and the next weekend we were going to Southern MN for a birthday party so Saturday morning was the only option.  Continue reading Strawberries!

Calico Beans

After the mention that I had been cooking for my office in my last post, my sister suggested that I should make that the focus of a few posts.  You see, for about two months I was responsible for feeding 40+ people three times per week on a budget of about $130/meal.  That makes my catering options pizza, party subs, or nachos and after three weeks of rotating those two options, I never wanted to see another slice of pizza again.  So, I turned to my army of crock pots and a lone electric skillet and started cooking.  You see, I’m an executive assistant who works in a warehouse that doesn’t have a stove top much less a commercial kitchen.

My first crack at makeshift office cooking was Calico Beans.  Since the name lends as much insight into the nature of this dish as Potatoes Anna or Veal Prince Orloff, I will shed some light on this pretentious moniker.  Simply put, they’re sweet BBQ beans.

Growing up, Calico Beans were something my mom would occasionally contribute to church potlucks or other such get togethers but I never remember her serving it at our dinner table.   It had always sounded like some gross bean dish that was better suited for dogs than people so I never felt slighted that it was reserved for others; on the contrary, I felt lucky.  Then many many years later after I’d already embarked on the world of parenthood,  my coworker, Chris, brought Calico Beans in to share.  I was in awe; this was the dish I had been so proud to have avoided for my first 26 years?  I may have actually slapped my forehead and bowed in contrition over the folly of youth.  Chris was gracious enough to share her recipe with me and it has become a favorite among my family and a few of the folks at work asked the same favor of me.

Like most recipes, I used Chris’s as a jumping off point but have made only very minor modifications over the years.  I tried recently to substitute soaked beans for the canned ones.  It was a spectacular failure.  It probably had something to do with the age of my beans so I’m not going to let this failure discourage me, but I will wait to try again until I can afford the time to let a recipe fall flat on its face.  That time around it was supposed to be dinner.

One last comment for you regarding serving suggestions.  Serve it with something corny.  For years I made cornbread to go along with the beans, but in recent years I’ve switched to corn chips.  Part of this has been brought on by taste and some of it by the simple fact that I usually use crock pot meals for evenings when I know I won’t have time to prepare a proper meal and making cornbread, while not overly complicated, defeats that purpose.  (Now that I’m talking about it, I kind of want some corn bread, and ladies & gentlemen, I have a pretty yummy recipe.  But let’s not get distracted…its time will come.)

Calico BeansIngredients

3 15oz cans of beans (Use whatever variety you like)
½ lb bacon
1-1 ½ lbs ground turkey
1 can baked beans – 24oz
1 medium onion – chopped
⅓ cup brown sugar (or honey)
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 rounded tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup water

  • Dice the bacon (while still raw) and brown it up until it’s nice and crisp.  (For perfect bacon, low and slow is they key.  Don’t rush!!! Low and slow.)
  • Brown the turkey too.  
  • Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 5-7 hours on low.

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Broccoli Salad

I served a fried chicken lunch at work after a hiring event last month and bought everything from the local grocery store including broccoli salad from the deli case to complement the chicken, potato salad, and rolls that came with the meal. It was no surprise to me the broccoli salad was an absolute hit, but I was shocked at how many people had never seen it before. After doing a little digging, I realized that this is a Midwest dish through and through and these Phoenix natives had never seen such a thing. Continue reading Broccoli Salad

Minted Cucumber Refresher

I was looking through my list of post ideas the other day and saw that note about the basil/lime cocktail that had escaped my memory last year. This time instead of racking my brain to resurrect the lost, I looked to it for inspiration. It then took only a few minutes to hit me. One of my favorite infused water recipes uses basil, mint, cucumber and lemon. Well, why not swap cucumber for cucumber vodka (which I already have in my cupboard) and make a simple syrup out of the rest and top it off with club soda? I just had to try it…

…Fast forward a week…

Minted Cucumber Refresher It took a bit of playing with the ratios, but I did come up with something that was cool and refreshing and a perfect complement to the 111 degree desert that was Phoenix yesterday.  Even my dad, who doesn’t like cucumbers, thought it was nice.  The basil presence was quite mild so I do recommend rimming the glass with the basil-sugar mixture outlined below.  I didn’t think of it until I was writing this up so I haven’t tried it.  Please feel free to leave me your thoughts.

Well, here we go The Minted Cucumber Refresher.

Basil/Mint Simple Syrup:

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup fresh basil – loosely packed
¼ cup fresh mint leaves – loosely packed


  • Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and boil for 1 minute – be sure the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, basil, and mint.  Cover the saucepan and allow to steep until cooled.
  • Strain syrup into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

1 ½  oz cucumber vodka
1 ½ oz basil/mint simple syrup
¾-1 cup club soda


  • Optional:
    • Before filling the glass, mix equal parts of minced basil leaves and granulated sugar.
    • Pour the sugar mixture onto a plate or wide-enough-for-the-rim-of-your-glass bowl.
    • Rub the rim of the glass with lemon juice then coat with the basil sugar mixture by inverting the glass into the plate/bowl of basil sugar.  Continue making the cocktail as directed.
  • Mix vodka and syrup in a highball glass along with a few ice cubes.  Then top off the glass with club soda and stir gently.  Enjoy.

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Cucumber & Sausage Stacks

Those that know me well know that I am pretty mindful of what and how much I eat. This isn’t a statement about strict clean eating, but rather an approach that was summed up beautifully by my oldest daughter’s kindergarten teacher when they were learning about healthy foods and “sometimes” foods. I love food, I always have; I also love that I weigh less now than I did in high school and that since graduating from high school my weight has fluctuated by less than 15 pounds. I attribute this phenomenon to eating healthfully, but not denying myself those “sometimes” foods sometimes. Unfortunately after an overindulgent spring followed by a vacationing summer, I’m finding myself at the high end of that 15 and I need to snap things back into control.

“Ok, fine,” you say. “What does that have to do with me?” Somewhere along the way, I started attributing recipes worthy of sharing with complicated food. But here’s the thing: I love simple foods! One of my favorite “sometimes” foods is a flour tortilla topped with cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes and then baked until the tortilla gets crispy. But why would I dedicate an entire post to such a dish, or for my breakfast smoothies or yogurt parfaits or anything else equally simple?

I guess the answer is, “why not?” Plus, in case anyone is curious about my everyday foods, I should probably share some. So here I go, with a recent addition to my snacking/lunching arsenal discovered while trying to not make a special stop for lunch on our 18-hours-in-one-day drive from Las Vegas, NM to Blue Earth, MN.

Cucumber & Sausage StacksCucumber & Sausage Stacks

I’m going to give you the loose guidelines for making one and you can ramp it up for the quantity you’re seeking.


1 cucumber medallion
1 small piece summer sausage
1 thin sliver of tomato wedge
1 very small piece of roasted red pepper


  • Stack ingredients & enjoy!


From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Some of you may have noticed a bit of radio silence these last few weeks. I apologize for the break but my family and I were taking a much needed vacation.  Now I am back, feeling recharged, and ready to cook.

Today, as I write, it’s my dad’s 65th birthday so naturally, he must have a cake; but what cake?   This isn’t a question that has ever been asked because he’s had this same cake every year for the last 65:  The Toasted Butter Pecan Cake.   Continue reading Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Caramel Coffee Creamer

Caramel Coffee CreamerMy husband is a lover of coffee and along with this love comes a love of coffee creamer.  I was never thrilled about buying coffee creamer since it would probably be better for him to just melt down a straw, but I hadn’t really thought much about an alternative until three years ago when I began making him flavored syrups.  It worked out well, but I knew it was simply the poor man’s creamer.  Then a few months ago I found a recipe on Pinterest for French vanilla coffee creamer.  I tried it and it was good – not fantastic, just good – but it did get my mind percolating.  I started making cinnamon amaretto creamer, vanilla creamer, hazelnut creamer, and even cardamom creamer.  I fear no spice. Continue reading Caramel Coffee Creamer

Coconut Creamscicle

Coconut Creamscicle This time around you’re getting a two-for-one special. This story started about 16 months ago when I decided to use the leftover basil-lime simple syrup from a fruit salad as inspiration for a cocktail. It was knock-your-socks-off fabulous and wouldn’t you know, I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I can’t even remember the liquor. If I were someone with a drinking problem I’d suspect that I had one too many, blacked out and upon regaining consciousness the recipe had escaped along with drunken hallucinations and memories of total and utter humiliation.  But like I said, I don’t have said drinking problem. Continue reading Coconut Creamscicle

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Good morning everyone.  Today’s topic is enchiladas.  The type I’m going to share with you is a cross between enchiladas verdes and enchiladas suizas.  They’re the only ones I regularly make at home and are, by far, my favorite!  Because of my affinity for green chiles and tomatillos, I am generally disappointed with most restaurant enchiladas.  This saddens me, not because I feel the restaurant is doing anything wrong, but because I never developed the passion for the mole and red sauces dominating the category.  I may just have to dig in my heels and test test test some red sauce recipes until I come up with something I can truly enjoy.  So, I guess, stay tuned for that one.  But for now, let’s proceed to discuss, I believe, the reason my husband married me. Continue reading Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas