Category Archives: Gluten-Free

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


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

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

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

Greek Ceviche Shrimp Salad

This next recipe evolved out of a childhood favorite “salad” that had more refined carbohydrates and mayo than anything to be found in a garden. Aside from the white rice and mayo called for in the original recipe, it also wanted a can of tiny shrimp! As a kid I didn’t know any better and thought this salad was the absolute best. Then I made it a few years ago…and couldn’t even finish a single serving. I’m sure it had something to do with the big smell that came from the little can of tiny shrimp. – Please don’t do “can of tiny shrimp” to yourself or anyone you care about; they may never speak to you again. Continue reading Greek Ceviche Shrimp Salad

7(ish)-Layer Salad

I am a big salad lover, which may come as a surprise to most, because I almost never make salads. My problem is that I never feel like making salad, but when it’s my turn to pick the place for a working lunch, I usually opt for Panera or Wildflower Bread Company and always get a fully loaded salad.  My other problem with making salads is that I never feel as if I have enough stuff to make a proper salad.  The reason, I believe is twofold:  1)  The salad I’m about to share with you is my first memory of salad and it’s a loaded one, and 2)  I’m not a big fan of salad dressings and unless I have the ingredients to make a salad stand on its own without dressing, I probably won’t even try.   This salad, however, plays so nicely with all my salad-related faults that I can’t help but make it when I find myself with all the ingredients. Continue reading 7(ish)-Layer Salad

Cashew Chicken

Happy Thursday everyone! As suggested last week, today’s culinary treat is cashew chicken. I have a story about cashew chicken and I just know you’re dying to hear it. It all started many, many years ago, preceded by many, many years of disappointing homemade Chinese food. Then in 2005ish, my dear friend Kristi returned from her year in China and kindly accepted an invitation to cook me dinner.  My Chinese cooking had always been underwhelming and I figured after spending a year with the locals, she’d have been blessed with some of their secrets, by osmosis if nothing else. Luckily for me, and you, she did! Continue reading Cashew Chicken

Chicken Tikka Masala…with a little twist

I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about Indian food. But I do know this,  I love what I’ve had  and have gotten pretty darn good at cooking it.  Be that as it may, I’ve yet to delve into the inner workings of that massive country’s cuisine whose flavors just explode in your mouth and always leave me wanting more. Continue reading Chicken Tikka Masala…with a little twist