Author Archives: theselftaughtcook

Beef Enchiladas ( Just in time for Cinco de Mayo)


Tomorrow, Americans will flock to Mexicans restaurants and bars to celebrate a quasi-holiday which is not celebrated in Mexico (except in tourist areas).  According to, Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of the defeat of the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Not the kind of thing you usually celebrate, right? But just like St. Patrick’s Day, restaurants and bars in the U.S. have appropriated the day and turned it into a commercial success.

We don’t do anything for Cinco de Mayo, but I made these enchiladas yesterday and thought it would be the perfect time to share.

Beef Enchiladas

1 – 19 oz. can Old El Paso enchilada sauce

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

12 corn tortillas

1/4 C cooking oil

Sour cream

2 C Fiesta Shredded Chicken (this is the Wal-Mart brand)

Salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef; drain.  Add onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and 1/8 C enchilada sauce.  Stir until well blended.

Heat oil in skillet.  Cook tortillas less than one minute each.

Pour 1/2 C enchilada sauce in casserole dish.  Place tortilla in dish.  Layer ground beef mixture, sour cream, and cheese.  Roll tortilla together and place seam side down.  Repeat until all tortillas have been filled.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Top enchiladas with sour cream and salsa if desired.


Music to Cook By . . . 


Until next time, Happy Cooking!  :)


Homemade Barbecue Sauce (Great for Chicken!)


It’s that time of the year.  Spring has sprung, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, . . . and the grill has been brought out of the garage.  Whether you use a gas grill or go old-school with charcoal, everyone (I think) enjoys grilling this time of the year.

There are countless recipes and methods for barbecued and grilled foods, too numerous to list here.  Around here, hubs and I prefer simple marinades, dry rubs, and/or sauces.  Nothing too elaborate, just good food cooked outdoors.

With that, I offer up to you the sauce we have been using this Spring.  It is great for grilled chicken.  Just brush it on each side in the last few minutes of grilling.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 C ketchup

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C apple cider vinegar

1/2 C brown sugar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp hot sauce

Over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in EVOO until tender.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens.  

This recipe makes enough sauce for 4-6 pieces of chicken.

The Grillmaster at work


Music to cook by . . . 


Until next time, Happy Cooking!  :)

I grill, therefore I am. –  Alton Brown

Review: Starting from Scratch by Patty Kirk

Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook

A captivating memoir from a cook who’s traveled across the globe cooking, startingfromscratchtasting, and enjoying good food.


Patty Kirk has always loved food: eating it, cooking it, sharing it, talking about it. At six, she scrambled the last of the family’s vacation provisions over the camp fire and concocted a delicacy-eggs with bacon and onions. Overnight she became the family cook and discovered a lifelong passion for cooking that accompanied her through decades of roaming and finally to the farm in Oklahoma where she now lives. Starting from Scratch narrates Kirk’s wanderings in the U.S. and abroad from a culinary perspective, sounding the spiritual, political, and emotional depths of Brillat-Savarin’s famous observation, “Tell me what you eat; I’ll tell you who you are.” In this candid and engaging food memoir—complete with recipes!—good food beckons from the past as well as the future: surrounding us, eluding us, drawing us, defining us.

  • Hardcover, 288 pages
  • Published January 1st 2008 by Thomas Nelson
  • Original Title:  Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook
  • ISBN:  078522047X (ISBN13: 9780785220473)
  • Edition Language:  English
Patty Kirk is the author of “Confessions of an Amateur Believer” and subsequent books on topics ranging from food memoir to her lifelong struggle to sense God’s presence. Raised in California and Connecticut, she spent her early adult years abroad and now lives on a farm in Oklahoma and teaches writing just across the Arkansas state-line at John Brown University, where she is Associate Professor of English and Writer in Residence. She and her husband, Kris, have two college-aged daughters, Charlotte and Lulu. Patty’s passions are cooking, gardening, watching birds, and running on the back roads.
My Review . . . 
Have you ever been happily wandering through the bookstore when, suddenly, a book you have never heard of, written by an author you have never heard of, catches your eye and you know you have to have it?  This is how “Starting from Scratch” came to be mine.  This book, part memoir/part cookbook, has been one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve experienced in a long time.  I couldn’t put it down, yet I wanted to stop and savor it like a good meal.
The way the author remembers and shares her food memories resonated with me on a very personal level.  When she talks about the foods cooked and eaten by her family during her childhood, I was reminded of the ’70s-style foods from MY childhood.  As she shared her food memories from her travels, I remembered foods that I have discovered while traveling.  When she discusses the difficulty of replicating lost recipes, I thought of the foods cooked by my grandmothers that I can’t quite duplicate today.  In short, this is a book, written by someone who has a deep respect for food, to be enjoyed by those of us who share her relationship with food.
If I had to describe this book with one word, it would be….delicious.
5 stars

Pressure Cooker #InstantPot Carne Guisada

Have you joined the crowd and purchased a multi-cooker?  I have!  I don’t know what I ever did without this little wonder.  There are several brands, including one sold on TV, but the most well-known is the Instant Pot.  I bought a  Magic Chef and it is exactly the same.  Aside from making sure that the one you purchase has the features you require, the most important thing to remember is that all brands have a removable, inner pot.  Some, such as the Instant Pot and the Magic Chef, have a stainless steel pot, while other brands have a non-stick pot.  I understand the allure of the non-stick, but I have heard several accounts of the Teflon coating peeling off into the food, so you might want to think about that before making a purchase.

Because so many have purchased the Instant Pot, it has become almost a generic term at this point.  You know, like saying, “You want a Coca-Cola?” when you’re actually just offering a soft drink.  I don’t know; maybe it’s a Southern thang.  Anyhoo, because so many say Instant Pot for all brands, I decided to use #InstantPot in the title.  This recipe should work with any basic multi-cooker, though.

There are websites and Facebook groups dedicated to cooking with one, and I recommend checking them out.  They are especially good when you’re a newbie. We have had ours long enough that it’s time to move away from the safe recipes and start adapting our favorites to use in the multi-cooker.   So, I give you my adaptation of Carne Guisada.

Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Carne Guisada
  • 3 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 packet Sazon
  • 2 Tbsp Adobo
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 3-5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 8 oz. Goya Spanish-style tomato sauce
  • 2 C beef broth
  1. Toss meat with 2 Tbsp olive oil and dry seasonings. Set in refrigerator at least 1 hour (overnight is better).
  2. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in inner pot; brown meat on Sear/Saute setting (depends on brand of cooker).
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook on Manual for 35 minutes.
  5. Allow NPR for 5 minutes, then do QR.
  6. Serve with white rice.

Music to cook by . . . 

Until next time, Happy Cooking!  :)

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda

Review: Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart


Accident or Murder?

When the real estate lady’s body is found at the bottom of the stairs in the old murder-is-no-accidentVictorianmansion, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And then a second body is discovered, and the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.





A. H. Gabhart is the author of Murder at the Courthouse and Murder Comes by Mail. As Ann H. Gabhart, she is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel SisterSmall Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The OutsiderThe Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs. She and her husband still live on a farm near that same Kentucky town. Learn more at


My Review . . . 

Returning to Hidden Springs is like coming home.  At this point in the series, the recurring characters seem like old friends.  Aunt Lindy is the quintessential small-town schoolteacher, and Deputy Sheriff Mike and Lester Stucker, in my mind’s eye at least, bear a strong resemblance to Andy and Barney.

This is what I would call a “Christian Cozy”.  It’s a good mystery, with plenty of suspense, but no strong language, sexual situations, or excessive violence.  There is an underlying Christian theme, but it isn’t heavy-handed or so theological that readers could be offended by beliefs that differ from theirs.  This is a book for anyone and everyone.  Let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of Hidden Springs.

4 stars

I was given this book by the author for my honest review.