Connect with Chef Alli

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chore Time: Shoulder-to-Shoulder

My husband loves it when I do chores with him.  Actually, I love it when I do chores with him.  It’s time spent in his world, on his turf and his time.  I’m basically just there to show my support with my physical presence, something I’ve learned speaks WAY louder than any words ever could. 

Though I’d like to ask lots of questions, I don’t.  I keep quiet and just watch, following along as I observe all the ways he cares for our livestock.  No wonder he likes to be here with his cows; each one calls to him as she spots his cowboy hat on the horizon. And when they hear his voice, they all come running; I know there could be no other Welcome Wagon in the world that means more to him than this. 

A part of my brain tells me I’ve got better things to tend to, yet my heart knows this shoulder-to-shoulder time doing chores is valuable to my husband.  Sometimes as we look over the herd, he tells me his thoughts and concerns; other times he shares some insight into why a particular steer is hanging back or has drooping ears.  Here is where I get to learn things about my husband that I would otherwise miss.  And here is where I’ve discovered that my husband spells love like this:  “T-I-M-E.”

Now WE’RE Cookin’,

Chef Alli

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Southwest Taco Bake

As Seen on Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen as part of WIBW 13 News This Morning, Thursday, March 6, 2014.  Today's Kansas Farm Bureau theme:  "Drive with Reason, It's Farming Season!"

Got picky eaters at your house, too?  That's one of the reasons I love this taco bake!  I can load up one side with fresh veggies, salsa, and cilantro, leaving the other side more "plain" for my teenage sons who freak if they see a diced onion or tomato. Serves 6 

1 lb. lean ground beef 
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh salsa
black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen
6 oz. plain Green yogurt
3 cups corn tortilla chips, crushed somewhat (This is the perfect way to use up all those chips that are in the bottom of the bag!  I store mine in the freezer until I get enough to make this recipe.)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 - 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
sour cream or plain yogurt, for garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain fats.  Add seasonings and garlic and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Stir in salsa, beans, corn and yogurt.  

Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick baking spray.  Place half of the chips in the bottom, then layer with half the beef mixture.  Repeat layers, then top with the green onions, tomato, and cheese.  Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Serve with additional salsa, if desired, and garnish with sour cream and chopped cilantro.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cocoa Pudding Trifles made with Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

As seen on Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen on WIBW 13 News this Morning, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 with From the Land of Kansas Guest and Director, Stacy Mayo.

Cocoa Pudding
½ cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 cups Hildebrand skim or 2% milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
3 TBS unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, stir together cocoa, sugar cornstarch and salt.  Gradually add milk and cream, stirring until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat; stir in butter, and vanilla, whisking gently until smooth.  Press plastic wrap directly onto surface.  Cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.  Garnish with whipped cream topping.  Cover; refrigerate leftover pudding.
Makes a delicious cream pie filling.    Makes 6 – 8 servings

Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

1/4 cup butter, cubed10 oz pkg marshmallows
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, microwave butter and marshmallows in 30 second increments, stirring until melted and smooth; stir in peanut butter. Add cereal and stir to combine well; spread into a 9 x 13 pan and gently press to compact slightly. In a small bowl, combine chips and microwave in 30 second increments until melted; stir until smooth then spread over cereal mixture in pan. Cover and chill till chocolate is set.

Peanut butter rice krispie mixture can be pressed into a sheet pan, topped with chocolate mixture and then rolled into a log; chill, then slice into spirals to serve. 

To create Trifles:
Layer Cocoa Pudding with small pieces of Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats into a pretty trifle glass; chill.  Garnish with whipped topping and serve. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats

1/4 cup butter, cubed
10 oz pkg marshmallows
3/4 cup peanut butter
5 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, microwave butter and marshmallows in 30 second increments, stirring until melted and smooth; stir in peanut butter. Add cereal and stir to combine well; spread into a 9 x 13 pan and gently press to compact slightly. In a small bowl, combine chips and microwave in 30 second increments until melted; stir until smooth then spread over cereal mixture in pan. Cover and chill till chocolate is set. 

These last about 10 minutes at my house. All good!

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Kale Salad with Cranberries, Edamame and Feta

Romaine lettuce, torn
Kale, chopped
Sliced almonds
Dried cranberries
Shelled frozen edamame, thawed
Crumbled feta
Combine as desired and drizzle with Orange Marmalade Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Orange Marmalade Vinaigrette
3 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs spicy brown mustard
2 Tbs orange marmalade
S & P, to taste
Whisk together and go. 

Now You're Cookin',

Chef Alli 

Peasant Bread

2 cups warm water 
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
5 cups flour
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Add yeast, sugar, and salt to warm water and let sit for 1-2 minutes.  Place flour in large mixing bowl; stir in yeast mixture; dough will be sticky. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover bowl; let rise for 45 min. Stir dough down then divide in half and place each half in a mound on greased baking stones. Let dough rise again for 20-25 min. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10 min. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 15-20 min more. Loaves will be flat, crusty, chewy - enjoy!

Now You're Cookin',

Chef Alli

Creamy Tortellini with Ham and Parmesan

1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz Buitoni mixed cheese tortellini, cooked according to pkg directions
1 cup chopped cooked ham or cooked Italian sausage 
2-3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed

salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown off ham a bit, adding in garlic and tossing as it cooks with the ham, approx 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups cream to same skillet and simmer till slightly thickened, then add tortellini to pan, as well. Add more cream if needed, to make a nice creamy consistency. Continue to gently simmer until mixture is hot throughout and cream has thickened nicely. Toss in peas; garnish with shredded Parmesan to serve. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cowboy Breakfast Bites

My boys love, love, love these guys.  Bacon is their first choice in this recipe, but I've used cooked sausage, Canadian bacon, leftover ham, and leftover roast in it's place many times - all good!  

8 slices bacon
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, (I love to hard-cook my eggs in the oven!) 
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. grated horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 whole wheat or whole grain mini bagels, split (may substitute English muffins, if desired)

Cook bacon on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven until browned and slightly crispy; remove from baking sheet to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool slightly.  Chop bacon into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl; add chopped eggs, cheese, mayo, yogurt, mustard, horseradish, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce; gently fold all ingredients together, then season to taste with salt and pepper.   
Cattleman, Randall Debler, from Waabaunsee Co. joined us for
Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen on WIBW 13 News This Morning
to talk about Calving Season on the Ranch.

Preheat oven broiler to low and rack in LOWEST position of the oven.  Meanwhile, place bagel halves onto a baking sheet, dividing prepared egg/bacon mixture evenly, using a 1/3 cup disher (a large scoop) to place mixture onto each bagel half.  (Use your fingertips to compact mixture slightly and to secure filling on top of each bagel half.)  Place baking sheet onto prepared oven rack under broiler and broil them for 3-4 minutes, taking care not to burn them, just until filling is hot throughout and cheese is slightly melted.

Chef Alli Upgrade (for when teenage sons aren't staring you down because they are starving to death OR you want to impress the guests you've invited for brunch) 
1 small onion, diced
1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced
1-2 tsp. olive oil
Saute veggies in oil over medium heat until slightly softened; cool slightly and add to egg and bacon mixture with other ingredients.  Proceed with remainder of recipe steps.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Thursday, February 13, 2014


1 chuck roast, 3-4 lbs.

½ tsp. dried thyme mixed with ½ tsp. dried oregano

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, sliced

2 carrots, cut into pieces on the bias

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 Tbs. tomato paste

14 oz. can stewed tomatoes, with juice

1 bay leaf

1 cup red wine (or sub more broth)

3-4 cups beef broth

1 batch of your favorite mashed potatoes, warm

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Remove roast from refrigeration; season with thyme, oregano, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; let roast rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat; sear roast until very nicely browned and crusty on all sides. Transfer roast to a plate.  Add onion, carrots, and celery to same pot and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned and softened, approx. 5-6 minutes.  Stir tomato paste into vegetables and cook for a few minutes until tomato paste begins to brown.  Add tomatoes, bay leaf and wine; bring to a boil and cook this mixture until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of pot, approx. 5 minutes.  Add beef broth and bring to a simmer; add roast and cover pot.  Braise roast in oven for 4-5 hours or until meat is very fork-tender.

Transfer roast to a baking sheet. Strain liquid from stock pot, discarding fat that rises to the surface; boil over high heat, whisking often, until liquid is reduced to 1 cup sauce, approx. 12-15 minutes. 

Serve roast over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, drizzled with lots of sauce. Feed lovingly, by hand, to your handsome, hungry husband.
Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

As seen on WIBW 13 News This Morning, Feb. 13, 2014, with Chris Fisher and AnnaRose Hart, From the Land of Kansas. 
**Please don't turn your nose up at my Brussels Sprouts! I've turned many so-called "BS-Haters" into fans with this recipe. Brussels Sprouts get a bad rap, especially if you remember them from your school cafeteria days when they were most likely boiled in water before serving....please wipe those completely from your mind, if possible. THEN, try this recipe below and give them another shot.  PLEASE.

2 lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and loose leaves removed, sliced in half
2-3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided use 
1/3-1/2 cup broth
 ¼ cup chopped cooked ham
1 Tbs. good balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
Zest from 1 orange

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

AnnaRose Hart, From the Land of Kansas,
my partner in crime on WIBW 13 News This Morning

In a large mixing bowl, toss sprouts with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet; when oil is shimmering, add sprouts, in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Turn sprouts over and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary and tossing sprouts occasionally so they don’t burn, adding a small amount of broth at a time to help "steam" Brussels sprouts.  In a small bowl, combine the ham, vinegar, maple syrup and orange zest; drizzle over cooked sprouts; season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at once.
Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Preparing Hard-Cooked Eggs the Easy Way: In the Oven!

This couldn't be easier.  I mean who really wants to wait for that saucepan of water to boil?  Besides, with this method, it's much easier to cook 12-18 eggs all at one time. No more overcooked, tough, green yolks - yea!  
Eggs (I always bake as many as my mini muffin tin will hold, which is 12 or 18) 

1 mini muffin tin

1 large bowl of ice water

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

  • Stand eggs in mini muffin tin and place into the preheated oven.
  • Bake eggs for 30 minutes. 
  • Using a pair of rubber-tipped tongs, remove hot eggs from tin and plunge immediately into bowl of prepared ice water.  

  • Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.  

  • Peel and eat as usual, or store in the fridge until ready to use.

**You may notice some brown dots on the bottom of the eggs when you remove them from the muffin tin. Don't be alarmed - these will come off in the water bath. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Friday, January 24, 2014

Oven Bacon

My boys ADORE bacon and it's a Sunday morning tradition. 

If you've found stove-top bacon to be a messy event, switch to the oven-cooked method and you'll NEVER look back! 

Not only will you keep all the mess in the oven, following these steps below will ensure that your bacon comes out in nice, crispy strips, instead of that "curled and shriveled" experience. 

Here's you go:

1.  Cover a large baking sheet (with sides) with bacon strips placed side-by-side, as closely as possible.

2.  Place bacon into a COLD oven. 

3.  Turn oven to 400 degrees F. Cook bacon for 15 minutes. Fip bacon and continue to cook an additional 5-10 minutes until it's browned and crisped to the degree you like it; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool for a few minutes. 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oven Caramelized Onions

8-10 onions, sliced
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. dark brown sugar
splash of good balsamic vinegar
splash of white wine
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place onions into a greased 9 x 13 pan; drizzle with oil and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar.  Add balsamic vinegar and wine; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover pan with foil and place into the oven for 40-45 minutes or until onions are softened and translucent.  Remove cover and continue to cook onions until nicely browned and caramelized, adding broth to pan if onions are beginning to become to dried out.  Cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chef Alli's Loaded Nachos Grande

1-2 Tbs. canola oil
1 onion, diced, divided use
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 lbs. lean ground beef
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 can chili beans with liquid
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 -2 tsp. chipotle sauce

Tortilla chips
2-3 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar

6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
juice and zest of 1 lime
kosher salt, to taste
1-2 avocados, pitted and diced
sour cream, for garnish

Click Here to Learn the 5 Laws of Loaded Nacho Platters

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil; when oil is hot, add half of diced onion and all spices; saute until onions are softened a bit, approx. 2-3 minutes.  

Add beef and cook until completely cooked and browned; drain fats rendered. Stir in beans, broth, and chipotle sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, create pico de gallo by combining remaining half of diced onion with tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and lime zest and juice in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To create nacho platter, place a layer of chips on a large baking sheet.  Top with a shallow layer of beef mixture, then top with cheese; place into oven for a few minutes, just until cheese melts, then repeat with a couple more layers.  

Sprinkle prepared nacho platter with prepared pico, avocado and dollops of sour cream.  SERVE AT ONCE!

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

P.S. Here's a few great tips for ensuring your nachos are outstanding! 

The 5 Laws of Loaded Nacho Platters

The Super Bowl is fast approaching.  I'm always enthused about watching the game on the big screen, but true excitement doesn't hit until I begin planning my nacho platter. 

Super bowl parties should ALWAYS be marked by a grand platter, piled high, of good, basic nachos, and here are the tried-and-true of laws of making the best ones:

1.  Never use pre-grated cheese.  Pre-grated cheese has lots of fillers and anti-caking agents included, so I always grate my cheese myself.  Make sure it's a fine grate so that you'll get nice, even melting.

2.  Don't overcrowd the layering of the nachos.  I am typically heating my nachos in the oven, so I always use a baking sheet where I can spread them all out evenly, building my layers.

3.  Speaking of layers, I melt my layers one at a time - here's how:  Put down your layer of chips, add meat topping, then a fine layer of cheese - into the oven they go, for a few minutes, until cheese is good and melted.  Repeat with a couple more layers.

4.  Always use nice, THICK, corn tortilla chips!  Or, for an extra special treat, cut flour tortillas into triangles and deep fry until golden brown.  These make a wonderful chip for nachos.

5.  KISS should be applied with creating nacho platters:  Keep It Simple, Silly.  Good nachos need only include the basics:  chips, beef/bean filling, cheese, salsa and (of course!) fresh pico de gallo! Keep the sour cream and guacamole for serving on the side.  


Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Shepherd's Pie

As seen as on Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen, Thursday, January 2, 2014, WIBW 13 News This Morning News Segment, Sponsored by Kansas Farm Bureau

1 recipe beef stew (recipe below)
1 batch mashed potatoes (recipe below)
Your favorite 12 inch cast iron skillet
Melted butter, for crisping potatoes
Freshly minced parsley, for garnish

Beef Stew
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 medium onion, diced
½ tsp. paprika
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
12-16 oz. bottle beer
4 -6 cups beef broth
2 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 new potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, sliced
2 Tbs. flour

In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium high heat ; when oil is shimmering, add beef and brown on all sides.  (Take care not to crowd beef in pan so that it sears nicely.)  Remove beef from pan and keep warm. 

Add onions and paprika to pot, reducing heat to medium; cook onions until softened, then add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste is nicely browned, adding beer as needed to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of pan.  Pour in remaining beer, 4 cups broth, and sugar; season to taste with salt and pepper.  Return meat to pot and cover; simmer over low heat for approx. 2 hours, or until meat is tender, adding more broth as needed if liquid level gets too low. 

Add potatoes and carrots to the pot and continue simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until vegetables and meat are fork-tender.  To thicken stew, remove 1 cup cooking liquid and add four; whisk until smooth.  Pour flour mixture into the pot and simmer for additional 10 minutes, until stew thickens nicely.  Dish up and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Mashed Potatoes
6-8 large russet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked until very tender, drained
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 tsp. freshly grated horseradish
Milk, as needed
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Mash hot potatoes; add eggs and horseradish, and milk, a small amount at a time, until potatoes reach desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To create Shepherd’s Pie, place prepared beef stew into your favorite cast iron skillet or deep casserole dish, leaving about and inch of head space.  Top warm beef stew with prepared mashed potatoes, then brush with melted butter and sprinkle with parsley.  Bake, uncovered, in 350 degree oven for approx. 25-30 minutes, or until hot throughout and top of pie is golden and crusty.  Serve at once! 

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli

Season Your Cast Iron Cookware in 4 Easy Steps

I love cooking with cast iron!  Let me tell you why:

Cast iron has very even distribution of heat, making it superior for cooking and baking; it does take longer to preheat than some materials, but this is what makes it such a reliable and steady servant in the kitchen. 

It’s versatile – going from the cook top directly into the oven is a plus. Cast iron is also great for serving from at the table because it keeps foods warm for an extended period of time.

And, yes, cast iron is heavy (probably the only down side), but that weight guarantees reliable temperature control and a super hot surface that ensures a good crispy sear on steaks and salmon fillets every time. 

Seasoning Cast Iron
Now days, most cast iron comes pre-seasoned from the manufacturer.  However, there may be times you will need to re-season your cast iron cookware or you may be starting out with an un-seasoned skillet.  Either way, you can follow these steps:
  1. Wash – Only use soap on your cast iron prior to seasoning it and NEVER again.  Rinse well with hot water, making sure to remove every bit of soap.  If you are re-seasoning the surface due to stuck-on fond or food particles, go ahead and use steel wool to create an even, clean surface.
  2. Dry – Place your skillet into a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or on a burner over medium heat for 10 minutes to thoroughly dry. 
  3. Season and Bake – Using canola oil and a paper towel, rub a thin layer of oil all over skillet, including the outside and the handle.  Place cookware into a cold oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Once oven is preheated, bake cookware for 1 hour, then turn oven off and let cookware cool down with the oven.  Once skillet has cooled to room temperature, store in a cool, dry place (I store mine in the oven.), and always coat cookware with cooking oil in between use to maintain seasoning layer. 
  4. To Clean After Use – Never put your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher!  Allow cookware to cool before rinsing with hot water.  If there are food particles that don’t want to come off the bottom and sides of the cast iron cookware, simply simmer some water in the pan for a few minutes until particles loosen and can be removed easily. 

Tips for Cooking with Cast Iron
  • The more you use it, the slicker the seasoned surface will become over time. 
  • Because the bottom of most cast iron skillets is uneven in nature, do not use it on a smooth-top stove.  Heat pockets can form between the bottom of the cook ware and the smooth-top that can cause damage to the cook top. 
  • Remember that cast iron handles become just as hot as the cookware.  Always use a good oven mitt when handling cast iron to prevent burns. 

Now You’re Cookin’ (With Cast Iron!),

Chef Alli