(See just the recipe here)

Love and courtship might be a little bit harder in a time of pandemics and lockdowns, but if you’re trying to woo someone with a sweet tooth or offer a home-made delight, instead of the usual package of chocolates or flowers, I have the perfect recipe.

These brownies befuddled by German friends. They carry an extra amount of cocoa powder.

It’s brownies.

I know you’re probably thinking, brownies? I’ve done that before, or I buy the box in the store.

Well, that might well be true, but I have found these befuddling brownies are easy, cross cultures and are sure to win a few hearts.

I have always used brownies as a way to win hearts and minds. New workplaces, new sources, new groups, new classes and new love interests. They’re great for winning all kinds of positive attention, romantic or otherwise.

When I moved to Germany to become an au pair, I was in for a surprise. Brownies did not exist. Germans are not big on sweets – many American staples I baked were totally new to my guest family, including cookies, crumbles and crisps.

Even some of the language we use to describe brownies, mainly fudge, did not exist, because fudge just isn’t a thing. For the record, I’m firmly in the fudge camp, which also means a few minutes less in the oven.

Germany did have the basic needed ingredients, although instead of chocolate chips, I had to buy chocolate bars and chop them by hand. When I did make them, my guest family, my language class, my friends, everyone was befuddled by this thing they had never had before.

Baking the brownies

When it comes to making the brownies, there are three problems with the run-of-the-mill brownies, and brownie recipes – overuse of sugar, underuse of dark chocolate and a lack of dark cocoa powder.

I also differ from some recipes in my use of oil instead of butter. After some taste testing, I found I could not really discern any difference between the two. As for flour, I use whole wheat. I find it gives a coarser texture and a slightly nuttier flavor.

If there is one thing you take away from my brownie recipe, it should be the use of normal and dark cocoa powder, and the increased amounts of each in the brownies. This gives them a much richer taste that pairs well with an increased amount of dark/bittersweet chocolate. When I learned dark cocoa powder was a thing, I initially tried the brownies with just it but found a combination between the two came with the best taste. Either way, the amount of cocoa powder in this recipe should be higher than many comparable ones.

There is one key step I have learned the hard way: thoroughly mix the cocoa powder and flour before adding it to the mixture of oil and eggs. Otherwise, they both tend to clump.

Finally, I suggest using parchment paper to line the baking dish instead of greasing it. I always find it much easier to remove than trying to cut into brownies in a pan.

Befuddling brownies

These brownies are especially rich, thanks to the use of dark cocoa powder.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time38 mins
Total Time58 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brownies
Servings: 1 9x13 pan
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite


  • 1 cup oil vegetable, canola, etc., or butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1+ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup lighter cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or morsels


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine oil, sugar, vanilla extract. Beat the eggs and then add them to the oil-sugar mix. Mix until combined.
  • Mix the cocoa powders and flour until well combined.
  • Add cocoa powder/flour mixture to the oil-sugar combination and mix until well mixed with no remaining clumps.
  • Mix in the chocolate chips.
  • Line a 9”x13” baking dish with parchment paper or grease the baking dish.
  • Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and bake for 32-38 minutes. Brownies should not jiggle too much. Let cool. Baking for less time will result in a more fudgy consistency, while baking longer will result in a cakey consistency.

Thanksgiving is in just a few days so here are some Thanksgiving cooking columns and recipes, for one person, a few people or even a bevy.

There are three recipes here: spicy cranberry sauce, make-ahead giblet gravy and sage-sausage stuffing with sourdough bread.

First, the spicy cranberry sauce. Try it; it’s usually a hit.

Next up is the gravy. I like to make my gravy ahead of time, and add in the pan drippings, because there’s nothing worse than not having enough gravy on Thanksgiving. Then again, I love gravy.

Finally, my favorite recipe and a must-have at any Thanksgiving I host: sage-sausage stuffing made with sourdough bread. This is something I’ve developed over time, starting with the sage sausage, and ending up with sourdough bread instruction. The combination of good bread and sage sausage, along with some bok choy instead of celery, puts it over the top for me.

Spicy cranberry sauce

See the spicy cranberry sauce column by itself or see just the recipe

It’s mostly about the taste, but somewhat about the presentation.

Cranberry sauce (or relish) is usually a dish reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other time you’re serving a turkey.

Whatever the occasion, cranberry sauce is one of the dishes you should make before before roasting the turkey, along with stuffing and most of the gravy.

Now, before you entirely discount this recipe, being spicy, I can attest that it was one of the biggest hits from Thanksgiving 2017. The fact that spice is a part of what would normally be a sweet dish adds some to the allure.

It’s also very easy, although how cheap depends on if you can get cranberries on sale.

It’s essentially your regular cranberry sauce recipe (which will gel in the refrigerator) with the addition of lemon and lime juice, a little ginger and some jalapeños.

The biggest pain in the recipe is making sure to keep mixing the ingredients, while they are on the stove, to keep them from burning.

See just the recipe here

Spicy cranberry sauce/relish

A spicy cranberry sauce that goes well with turkey.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: sauce
Servings: 6 people
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5


  • Medium-sized sauce pan


  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 jalapenos finely diced
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger can substitute powdered ginger
  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Combine the sugar, jalapeños, lemon and lime juice, salt, chile powder and water in a medium sauce pan and put over medium-high heat. Stir, as it simmers, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and cranberries and bring the combination to a boil.
  • Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and stir enough so the cranberries do not burn on the bottom of the pot. Continue to simmer (and periodically stir) until the cranberries soften and there is no liquid remaining in the pot, between 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool and refrigerate until it’s ready to be used. It will store for two weeks.


Recipe adapted from David Tanis.

Make-ahead turkey giblet gravy

This make-ahead gravy assures there will be plenty for the meal and beyond
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 1 quart
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite


  • 1/2 cup butter More as required
  • 1/2 cup flour More as required
  • 5-6 cups water
  • Turkey giblets heart, liver, gizzard (Chicken giblets work also)
  • 6-10 pepper corns
  • 1 Turkey neck
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Turkey pan drippings
  • 1-2 cups Optional: 1-2 cups white or red wine More as required for deglazing
  • 1-2 cups Optional: Chicken or beef broth
  • Optional: 1 celery stick


  • Put the water in a medium pot on high heat and set to boil.
  • Add the turkey neck, all giblets (chicken giblets also work), bay leaves and pepper corns to the pot of water.
  • While the water comes to a boil, cut the carrot and onion into quarters and add to the pot.
  • When water boils, cover, turn heat on low and simmer for at least 1 hour but preferably for 2 and 1/2 hours or longer. The longer the simmer, the better the stock.
  • While the stock simmers, either combine the butter and flour in a small bowl or put a skillet on medium heat, put the butter in the skillet and slowly whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk until it begins to turn golden brown. Remove to a separate bowl. This is the roux.
  • When the stock is done simmering, strain the stock and return to the pot it was simmered in. Add chicken or beef stock, if using.
  • Remove the turkey neck, heart and liver from the strainer. Remove the meat from the neck and finely mince. Finely mince the heart and liver. Add back to the stock and throw the rest of the material in the strainer away.
  • Add the roux to the stock. Stir until well combined. Add wine, if desired. Put on low heat and simmer if the gravy is too thin or make and add more roux.
  • If using turkey and pan drippings: Once the turkey has been removed from the pan, add a little water or wine, depending on how much liquid is in the pan, and deglaze over a medium-high heat, scraping the browned bits from the bottom.
  • Add the pan drippings to the gravy and stir until well combined. A little more flour may be required to be added.
  • Freeze or put in the refrigerator if being made significantly ahead of the serving time.

Sage sausage and sourdough stuffing

Sourdough, sage sausage and bok choy are the keys to this simple but delicious stuffing.
Course: Side Dish
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite


  • 8 cups sourdough bread cubes dime to quarter sized pieces, which is a little under a pound and half. Rye or whole wheat also make for good stuffing
  • 1 lb. sage sausage
  • 1 cup bok choy, chopped or other vegetable of one’s choosing, such as celery
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1-2 cups minced parsley


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees if any of the stuffing is to be baked.
  • In a large skillet (12 inches), cook the sausage, separating it into quarter-sized pieces. Once it is almost done cooking, remove the sausage into a bowl.
  • Brown the onions and bok choy (or other vegetables as desired).
  • Add the sausage back into the skillet, as well as the cubed bread and parsley. Mix and continue to cook over medium-high to medium heat, until the bread begins to heat through.
  • Stuff the turkey with the stuffing or put the stuffing into baking dishes.
  • If baking the stuffing alone, bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 40 minutes with a tinfoil covering.
  • Remove the tinfoil covering and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

There’s one recipe that is passed down through the generations in my family: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

The baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, also called the German Slayers.

(See just the recipe here)

It’s such a simple recipe, and yet, it creates the most delicious cookies, but after years of baking them in a multitude of states, jobs, ovens and countries, I have found a few tips, tricks and tweaks to make them just a little bit better.

There is one caveat with my cookies. They’re not pretty or picture perfect. They are delicious.

I first started perfecting the recipe when I lived as an au pair in Dresden, Germany. While my German guest family had heard of cookies, nothing like the American confection existed.

The bakeries had dark breads, black breads, tart breads, thick breads, thicker breads and nut breads but no cookies. Nothing even came close.

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I lovingly refer to as German slayers, took them by storm.

In addition to being an au pair, I was also going to a language class every day with students from around the globe, including Europe, Asia and the middle east. To most of them, the cookies were a novel experience.

Baking these cookies in Germany was a lot harder than should be expected. Brown sugar didn’t exist so I had to substitute molasses, since there were no chocolate chips I had to cut them off of large blocks of baker’s chocolate and imitation vanilla came in tiny vials.

Rolled-out cookie before baking. Quarter for size comparison.

White flour, too, was complicated. Germans have plenty of flour but plain white flour is not one of them. Eventually, I shifted my flour use to whole wheat, which is the first change I’ve kept.

Whole wheat flour gives the cookies a little more texture and a slight nutty flavor. Sometimes it’s desirable and sometimes it’s not.

Next, I experimented with spices to match the cookies to the hot mulled wine served in winter called Glühwein. That included ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and other spices. In this recipe, I’ve listed them as optional. After I came back stateside, I started to add shredded coconut.

Next on the big list of tips is to freeze the batter before baking it. This helps the cookies retain a rounder shape when baked. When taking them out of the oven, they may seem a little undercooked, but once they cook down, they will be nice and soft. I’m also a full convert to the use of parchment paper on baking pans. I don’t know what I would do without it.

Last, I stress that the flour and baking soda should be mixed together before being added to the rest of the batter. That makes mixing everything evenly that much easier.

Guten Apetit!

German-slaying oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies use a little less sugar, white or whole wheat flour and are delicious.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Time in freezer/refrigerator1 hr
Total Time1 hr 48 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cookies
Servings: 25 cookies
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5


  • baking sheet
  • large mixing bowl


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter 250 grams
  • 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed) 232 grams
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 112 grams
  • 1+ tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 220 grams
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3+ cups oatmeal 265 grams
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 200 grams

Optional ingredients (spices)

  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup shredded coconut add with oats


  • In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, baking soda and optional spices until well mixed. Add to the bowl of creamed sugars and mix well.
  • Add the oats and, if using, shredded coconut to the bowl and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and stir in until combined.
  • Refrigerate or freeze for 1 to 8 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using a spoon, or hands, make roundish balls of dough, about the size of a half-dollar, and put them on the baking sheet, spaced about an inch and a half apart.
  • Bake for eight to 10 minutes.


Use parchment paper instead of greasing the cookie sheet.
Spices will make the cookies taste . . . spicy.
Whole-wheat flour gives the cookies a slightly nutty flavor and more texture, but white flour can be used as well.
Refrigerating or freezing the dough keeps the cookies from flattening in the oven.
The more oats, the better!


This year has been a banner one for my garden which has been bolstered by all the time I spend at home, by being the one outdoor space I have to use and by all the extra time I can devote to it that normally I would spend commuting every day.

One of the banner crops that really has pushed its way through the garden, going so far as to knock over a corn stalk, is the zucchini.

Plated zucchini fritters

Zucchini fritters are way, other than bread, to easily use up the abundant crop. Here they are served with zhug, a Yemeni cilantro-based hot sauce, and tzatziki, the yogurt-based sauce.

I have so, so many of them and, I have absolutely no doubt that you, or maybe your neighbor, or maybe just the person down the street, is just like me and drowning in a sea of zucchini.

That’s where fritters come in.

Fritter is a broad term for potatoes, zucchini, fruit, meat, dough, and probably many more things, that have been combined and are fried. In this case, the recipe is kind of like latkes (also called potato pancakes), but with zucchini instead.

The comparison is important because both potatoes and zucchini are jam packed with lots and lots of water that need to be removed before they are turned into fritters. It’s the same process that goes into preparing decent hash browns, although usually hand power gets them dry enough for the skillet.

In this recipe, salt will help drain the water out of the shredded zucchini, with the aid of a strainer. That only gets so much water out, so there is a second step. Either the shreds can be wrung by hand or, they can be balled up into a dish towel and wrung out as the towel is twisted. I find the dish towel applies enough force to get most of the water out.

The other reason I chose to write about fritters is they go great with two other recipes I’ve already shared in previous columns, mainly, tzatzikizhug and hummus. All three make great dips for fritters.


Dill piles up in a container of yogurt being used to mix the Tzatziki.

Dill plays a starring role in tzatziki and it goes great in the fritters as well.  Most herbs would do well as a seasoning but, since I like to pair them with tzatziki, I always reach for dill first. It does not hurt that the dill has also been having a banner year, since it has not, yet, been pushed over or smothered by the zucchini.

One thing that most fritters need is some kind of binder. Here, I use eggs and crumbled feta, as well as a little bit of flour.

When it comes to the frying, use a lot of oil if you really want to go for that deep-fried taste, or use a lot less if you’re using a non-stick pan. I personally use cast iron skillets so a little oil often goes a long way. Alternatively, the fritters could be baked in the oven.



Zucchini Fritters

These zucchini fritters are a great way to use up a bumper crop and go great with tzatziki, zhug and hummus.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: fritters, zucchini
Servings: 12 fritters
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite


  • 2 lbs zucchini
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 to 1 medium onion
  • 4 tbsp minced fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • oil as needed for pan frying


  • Shred the zucchini through the large holes of a grater. Transfer to a strainer on top of a bowl and toss with the salt and let sit for 10-30 minutes.
  • Wring out the zucchini shreds, either by hand or by putting handfuls into the center of a clean dishtowel and twisting the towel. Try to get out as much water as possible.
  • Finely mince the onion or shred it with the grater. Mince the fresh dill and the garlic.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
  • Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add a little bit of oil.
  • Mix in the zucchini, the feta cheese, the onions or scallions, the dill, the garlic and the pepper. Mix.
  • Sprinkle and mix in the baking powder and flour until well combined.
  • Drop large spoonfuls of the batter onto the skillet, but do not crowd them together. Lightly press down on the fritters with the back of a spoon.
  • Turn when golden brown, about three minutes. After the other side is golden brown, remove to a plate and serve with tzatziki and hummus.

Summertime, and the living is hot, which means cooking indoors is a pain. There is a solution. The grill.

I love grills for a multitudes of reasons. They can be quick, they are outdoors, they are tasty and easy and, in the summer, cooking inside is far too miserable.

That’s where a new take on grilled chicken comes in. Specifically, it is a Thai take on the humble hunk of chicken meat.

Gai yang, also called kai yang or ping gai, or simply Thai grilled chicken, brings together some of the most prominent flavors in the west: lime, cilantro, garlic and chiles.

Thai grilled chicken, or Gai Yang, with steamed rice and a grilled green chile.

The flavors mix, meld and create something worth adding to the regular stable of meat marinades.

I was lucky enough to, most recently, take a return trip to Thailand just on the cusp of the current pandemic. That meant tourism was down and the streets were not nearly as packed as I have seen them in travels past. Although there were fewer people, there were still plenty of street food vendors with small grills and bags of marinating meat.

Many of the grilled foods had two common ingredients: lime and chiles. There is a third ingredient, which smells awful, but really adds a savory, or unami taste: fish sauce. I swear by it in most marinades, where it adds a saltiness and depth of flavor not offered by soy sauce.

It’s an ingredient that is in lots of Thai cuisine but its influence melds into the background, becoming indistinguishable on the palate, except for a sparkle.

Really, gai yang is not that different from a regular citrus marinade, with the exception of fish sauce: cilantro, garlic, lemon and lime.

The original marinade recipe I used as a base calls for chopped lemongrass and cilantro roots. I know finding cilantro with the root still on his hit or miss, and lemongrass is hard to find, so I’ve substituted lemon rind.

Making the marinade requires a good processor or blender and the chicken should sit for at least three hours, if not overnight.

I serve this chicken with some green chiles roasted on the grill and rice.

Wheeler’s Thai grilled chicken

This Thai grilled chicken, or Gai Yang, with a side of roasted chiles and rice, makes a great weekday staple.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: grilled chicken, Thai
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite



  • 1-4 lbs chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
  • 2+ green chiles
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped


  • 3 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2+ tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp white or red wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 15 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, deseeded, coarsely chopped


  • 2 dried red chiles, soaked, then coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar


Marinade and sauce

  • At least three hours prior to grilling the chicken, prepare and marinade the chicken.
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the marinade ingredients. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until everything is well combined. Everything should already be chopped.
  • Combine the chicken and the marinade in a container, bowl or ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least three hours. Overnight is preferable.
  • While the chicken is marinating, combine all of the sauce ingredients in the food processor or blender and mix until well combined. Remove to a separate container for serving and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Grill the chicken over medium to medium-high heat until done. Chicken thighs taken longer than breasts and bone in takes longer than boneless. If the chicken is bone-in, cook over medium heat. Add a little of the marinade to the chicken while it cooks.
  • While the chicken is grilling add the green chiles, cut lengthwise, to the grill and cook until the skin is well blistered.
  • Once the chicken is done, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve with rice and the sauce you previously made in the blender/food processor and the roasted chiles.
  • Garnish the plates with the chopped cilantro.


Serve with hot rice.
Barbecue chicken sauce recipe from Practical Thai Cooking by Puangkram Schmitz and Michael Worman.

Learning a pressure cooker, or in my case, an electric pressure cooker (brand Instant Pot) means trying out new recipes and seeing what it can do.

In the case of chicken noodle soup, the answer is a whole hell of a lot.

When I made it, I went online to see what the general suggestions, and recipe directions/ingredients are for chicken noodle soup.

The best suggestion, which I heeded, was to cook the noodles separately because of the difference in required cooking time.

Other included cubing the chicken before cooking it (for people using boneless chicken breasts or thighs) and suggestions on how much broth and water to include in the pot.

Finally, I was reminded that cooking bone-in chicken means leftovers will be a little gelatinous, from the natural binders in the chicken cartilage.

(See just the recipe here.)

Chicken noodle soup made (mostly) in an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot). Bone-in skin-on chicken legs were used, as well as green chiles (Anaheim peppers).

I didn’t see any particular instructions on what to do with chicken legs.

Chicken legs are probably the cheapest meat I can get and when I went to the store to get ingredients, they were only $1 a pound, by far the best deal in the store.

They also go on sale for $4 for a 10 lb frozen bag.

If you’re looking for a cheap chicken soup, this is it.

I put the metal steam rack in the bottom, put in two chicken legs, the cut veggies (squash, zucchini, carrots and green chiles), poured in six cups (32 ounces) of chicken broth, a little water, half a bullion cube, locked the lid and turned it to 15 minutes .

After it finished cooking, and I allowed it to “natural release” for 15 minutes, I vented the unit and extracted the first chicken leg with a gloved hand and started taking the meat off the bone and putting into a bowl. Once both chicken legs has been stripped of their meat, I threw them back in the pot and started stirring. Meanwhile, I already drained the pasta and, after realizing everything would be easier in a larger pot, I transferred everything to the pot the pasta had been in.

I added the noodles and realized it lacked salt, so, remembering a Cook’s Illustrated I read on the topic, I grabbed my trusty light soy sauce, my trustier fish sauce and seasoned the soup.


Unfortunately, for leftovers, the pasta continued to soak up the broth. I was fine with it, but one could have added a little more.

What did I learn?

Chicken legs or (bone-in) thighs work just fine, so long as you’re willing to fish them out, strip the meat off the bones and put it back in the pot.


Pressure cooker chicken noodle soup

Makes 10 servings


2-3 chicken legs (bone in, skin

6 cups chicken stock (48 ounces)

2 cups water

1 bullion cube (optional)

1 lb carrots

1 medium onion (optional)

1 zucchini, Mexican squash, yellow squash or other squash

2-5 green chiles (Anaheim peppers) or other peppers of choice, such as bell peppers or Poblanos.

1/2 to 1 lb pound mushrooms (optional)

Other vegetables as desired, including celery and garlic

Soy sauce to taste

Fish sauce to taste

Pepper to taste

1 lb noodles


1. Cut all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

2. Place the steamer rack at the bottom of the (electric) pressure cooker, then place the chicken legs on top.

3. Put the vegetables in the pot, followed by the chicken stock, the bullion cube (if using) and the water.

4. (Electric) Set the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Allow for 15 minutes of natural release, and then vent, if desired. If using a stove top pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes.

5. While the soup is cooking, in a medium pot, heat water to boiling. Salt the water, then add the noodles and cook as per directions.

6. Once the soup is vented, or the top can be opened, remove one chicken leg at a time and, being careful not to burn your fingers, with a fork, knife or both, remove the meat from the chicken bones. Cut the meat into the desired-sized pieces. Continue with the rest of the chicken legs. Add the meat back to the soup.

7. Drain the pasta and combine with the chicken soup. If desired, transfer the soup from the pressure cooker to the pasta-cooking pot.

8. Season with soy sauce and fish sauce, until soup reaches desired saltiness.

Cranberry sauce (or relish) is usually a dish reserved for Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other time you’re serving a turkey.

Whatever the occasion, cranberry sauce is one of the dishes you should make before before roasting the turkey, along with stuffing and most of the gravy.

Now, before you entirely discount this recipe, I can attest that it was one of the biggest hits from Thanksgiving 2017. The fact that spice is a part of what would normally be a sweet dish adds some to the allure.

It’s also very easy, although how cheap depends on if you can get cranberries on sale.

It’s mostly about the taste, but somewhat about the presentation.

It’s essentially your regular cranberry sauce recipe (which will gel in the refrigerator) with the addition of lemon and lime juice, a little ginger and some jalapeños.


Whenever someone asks, “What’s a healthy recipe that’s easy and I can snack on?” I have a stock reply.

Hummus. (See just the recipe here).

It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s delicious and it can go with vegetables, bread, with other sauces, or be served as a spread.

So, what is hummus and why should you make it at home?

Hummus is a mix of cooked and crushed chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, with tahini, also known as sesame seed paste.

There are some other ingredients: lemon juice and salt, as well as a host of optional ingredients including garlic, peppers, artichoke hearts and other seasonings.

Mainly though, it’s just cooked chickpeas and tahini, blended together.

Things can get a little bit more complicated if you’re willing to take the extra step (frugal and healthy) of cooking the chickpeas yourself.

Even then, hummus is a super simple recipe.

It’s also cheap.

Adding the chickpeas to the blender.

Normally, stores sell 8-16 ounces of hummus for $3 to $8.

You need eight ounces of tahini for this recipe which sells for $3. The pound of dried chickpeas is another dollar.

It makes a full 72-ounce blender full, which is a decent return on investment.

Most of the time, I do not eat it fast enough and it begins to ferment. Not go bad, per se, but you can tell it’s fermenting after 10 days or so, despite all the lemon and lime juice in it.

This is also a great recipe if you want to take the first step toward cooking your own beans, instead of buying them in the can.

It’s forgiving, it’s delicious and no one will know they’re eating beans.

I’ve included instructions for both electric pressure cooker users (such as the InstantPot) as well as those using a slow cooker.

The finished green chili hummus, after everything has been blended.

You could also cook the beans on the stove, but I prefer one of the two plug in methods.

Because hummus is so simple, and its basic ingredients are so few, it is a type of blank slate dish that can take on any number of additional flavors.

My favorites are roasted green chiles (a New Mexico favorite) and marinated artichoke hearts. Take a look at the commercial hummus being sold in your local store: there’s pimento hummus, there’s hummus with dill, there’s hummus with ingredients it shouldn’t be paired with.


Goes-with-everything hummus

This hummus can be jazzed up with most anything and goes great as a side and as a dip.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: dip, sauce
Servings: 72 ounces
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5


  • Blender


  • 1 pound dry chickpeas or 7 cups cooked/canned chickpeas also called garbanzo beans
  • 8 ounces tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup reserved chickpea cooking water
  • Artichoke hearts (optional)
  • Chopped green chile, roasted or unroasted (optional)
  • Chopped peppers (optional)


  • Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water at a rate of three times the quantity of water to chickpeas.
  • If cooking the chickpeas in a slow cooker, cook on low for 5 to 8 hours. Make sure the chickpeas are covered with water.
  • If cooking the chickpeas in an electric pressure cooker, cover with 3-4 inches of water and set for 15-20 minutes, or 20-25 minutes on beans.
  • Drain the chickpeas, reserving 1⁄3 cup of the cooking water.
  • Add 2⁄3 of the chickpeas (or all, to make a creamier hummus) into a blender or food processor, along with the lemon juice. When blending, a little more liquid can help facilitate the process. Add a few tablespoons of cooking water as needed.
  • Add the tahini and continue blend until everything is mixed. Once the chickpeas blend with the tahini, the color should change to a lighter shade of yellow.
  • Decant the mixture into a mixing bowl and add into the blender the garlic, the lime juice, the olive oil and, if using, the artichoke hearts or other ingredients and blend. Add the new mixture into the mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Add salt, or garlic salt, to taste. Start with two teaspoons. Just enough salt will make the flavors of the hummus pop.
  • Add the rest of the chickpeas, either only briefly blended or whole, depending on texture desires.
  • Refrigerate or enjoy immediately, The hummus will get just a little bit better and thicken after it has been refrigerated.


See just the recipe here.

See the full album of photos on Flickr.


The cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) after they have been strained. The flecks of red are from red chiles they cooked with.


Lemon juice helps the blending process and adds a necessary acidity.


I add garlic (chopped) to the blender before adding the garbanzo beans.


Roasted green chiles, before they are diced and thrown into the blender. They were roasted on the barbecue.


You can get the perishable Trader Joe’s tahini sauce ($2.99 per 8 oz container) or get a larger container at an Asian market.


The tahini (sesame seed paste) is added on top of the chickpeas, in the blender.


The finished green chili hummus, after everything has been blended.

Find the stand-alone recipe here.

Sometimes, great things come from the lowly grill at your local gas station.

That is the case with the corned beef hash burrito, originally hailing from the Triple S gas station in Española.

Uniquely New Mexican and a delicious fusion, there is nothing quite like it.

I was first introduced to this fusion by a co-worker who announced to the newsroom that he was going to get one at the gas station.

Soon, I went to discover this invention myself. I can vouch: it’s amazing.

Here in New Mexico, you will always be asked if you want red, green, or nothing. This refers to green chile and red chile. If you want both, it’s called Christmas.

This version leaves the chile choices up to you. I decided to chop up and lightly cook a green chile for the burrito. Normally I would have paired it with salsa and the secret sauce I use for grilled corn and fish tacos, but I was out of both.

There are quite a few moving parts to this recipe.

First, the corned beef hash. I used the canned kind because I haven’t made corned beef in a while. If I had, the hash is pretty easy to make. Finely dice everything (cabbage, potatoes, corned beef) and throw it in the skillet to fry up.

Either way, it fries in the skillet.

Next are the diced potatoes, which are optional.

Since I now have an InstantPot, the brand name for a type of electric pressure cooker, I cooked the potatoes the night before. First, I cooked them for five minutes, which left them a little too hard. I cooked them again for two minutes, which made them a little too soft. The next morning, I diced a few of them, then threw them in a skillet with some oil, salted liberally, and let them fry.

The electric pressure cooker makes steaming/boiling potatoes so much easier than if I had to cook them in a pot on the stove.

Meanwhile, I had a little under a pound of black beans soaking in water since the day before. The morning I wanted to make the corned beef hash, dumped the water the beans had been soaking in, put them in the electric pressure with a bullion cube and let them cook for 15 minutes on high pressure.

The black beans, after they’ve been cooked in the electric pressure cooker, and before they’re thrown in the skillet to lose any extra liquid.

Lots of people say you can just throw dry beans in the pressure cooker, it just takes more time. I prefer to soak the beans.

You might think this means the beans are done in 15 minutes. It doesn’t. It’s much closer to an hour, between the time it takes to heat the pot and bring it to pressure, as well as the time it takes to naturally release the pressure. Still, an hour without any babysitting the pot isn’t bad.

Potatoes: cooking. Beans: cooking. Corned beef hash: cooking.

The corned beef hash (front) and potatoes (back).

Next up is the green chile. Chop it up and throw it in a hot skillet for a few minutes.

In hindsight, I probably should have added some eggs, either fried and on top of the burrito, and cooked and put inside the burrito, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

When it comes to the burrito, it needs to be large enough to allow for all of the ingredients. Often, packages will state “burrito size.”

So, go make yourself a corned beef hash burrito! You will be amazed at how delicious it is.

The burrito before rolling. Left to right: Pan-fried potatoes, black beans, green chile, corned beef hash.

Find the rest of the photos here on Flickr.


Corned beef hash breakfast burrito

A staple of New Mexican gas stations, the corned beef breakfast burrito is a wonderful fusion
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Fusion, New Mexican
Keyword: burrito
Servings: 2 burritos
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite


  • 1-2 eggs scrambled or fried
  • Milk if making scrambled eggs
  • 1-3 green chiles diced
  • 1 can corned beef hash or hash made from slow cooked corned beef
  • 2-4 ounces cooked black beans
  • 3 diced potatoes
  • 2 Burrito-sized tortillas
  • Red chile prepared (optional)
  • secret sauce optional


  • Cook the beans, or buy canned beans.
  • Steam or boil potatoes until tender
  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Put the hash into the skillet and cook until it begins to lightly brown.
  • Either remove the corned beef hash to container and add the diced potatoes, with some oil, or heat another skillet on high, add a little oil, and toss in the diced potatoes. Shake salt over the potatoes and cook until lightly brown.
  • Cook the eggs and remove to plate or bowl when done.
  • Cook the beans in a skillet with a dab of oil, briefly, to remove excess liquid
  • Briefly heat the first tortilla in the microwave or in the skillet, until just a little warm and pliable.
  • Add the ingredients you’re using to the center of the tortilla, including the hash, potatoes, eggs, beans, chile and anything else, roll, and serve with red chile, salsa, sauce and garnish with lime slices.

In New Mexico, Chile is king. No questions. No debate. Red, or green? Christmas? (Christmas is both red and green.)

(If you want just the recipe, see it here.)

Zhug, after the cilantro and jalapenos and citrus and salt have been blended together. Ready for some fiery consumption.

Cilantro certainly plays a second fiddle, in salsa, as do tomatoes, but still: chile, cilantro, these are the building blocks of many New Mexican meals. So, what does that have to do with zhug? Well, combine those two things into one dish. Blew your mind, didn’t it?

Chile and cilantro are not the sole property of New Mexican cuisine and lots of other cultures do complimentary things with them that I think we should all copy, or at least, pay attention to.

That New Mexico can learn a lot from other parts of the world, including from the middle-east, where zhug originated.

What is zhug, anyway?

It can either be described as a cilantro-based hot sauce (and, depending on how you make it, I mean Hot) or as chile and cilantro pesto. Take your pick. I prefer the former, partially because I make mine scalding.

It’s a very simple sauce. Put cilantro, lemon juice, lime juice and, important here, peppers, into a blender. Blend. Blend, blend, blend.

That’s it. Maybe add some salt, to taste. And you’re done. It’s a pesto-like hot sauce or a hot pesto. Either way, zhug goes well with pita bread and tabbouleh, with some hummus. Maybe you’re going to make zucchini fritters. Add some on the side, along with tzatziki.

I should add, this sauce is very dear to my heart. Being such a fan of cilantro, even naming my blog after a proclivity for it, I gotta say. We all should love zhug.


This Yemeni/Somali hot sauce goes great on most things, including rice, fritters and in conjunction with hummus.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Somali, Yemeni
Keyword: hot sauce, sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Cost: $5


  • Blender or food processor


  • 10-20 hot peppers (jalapeno) rinsed and chopped (de-seed if heat is an issue)
  • 1-3 bunches of cilantro washed and chopped
  • 3-6 garlic cloves chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or seeds from 6 cardamom pods crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp lime juice more to taste
  • ¼ to ½ cup lemon juice more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup Chopped mint optional


  • Chop the cilantro, peppers and garlic.
  • Put all the ingredients, sans salt, in a food processor or blender. Blend until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Add a small amount of salt, to taste.


If you want the full gallery of full-quality photos, they are licensed under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-only license. See them here.


Jalapenos in a blender, before being blended, to make Zhug. Add liquid (lemon/lime juice) to aid in the blending process.

Cilantro, being being chopped up and put in a blender to make Zhug.