Los Lessner’s Pumpkin Chili

1 pound ground beef (lean)
1 onion chopped
Brown ground beef and onion over medium heat in a large pot – Drain off grease.

Add to pot:
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans (no need to drain)
1 can pumpkin (be sure it’s plain pumpkin not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP chili powder

Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Serve topped with cheese and Premium Saltine Crackers on the side!
(I promise you’ll never know the pumpkin is in there but your chili will be so much richer/thicker and healthier!)

Sea Salt Caramels – Microwave Style

5 Tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 6 minutes – stirring every 2 minutes. Butter an 8×8 pan and pour hot mixture in. Allow to cool then cut into squares and garnish with sea salt… Sure beats watching the thermometer!

photo (8)Brown Butter & Vanilla Bean Rice Krispie Treats

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Brown in a sauce pan over low heat & sieve off the brown solid bits, draining the browned butter into a larger pot.

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste (shown on the right – you can use an actual bean; scraping the tiny seeds with a knife into the butter – but it drives the cost up considerably!)
1 package miniature marshmallows (they just melt better than the big ones)
5-6 cups Rice Krispies (depending how “marshmallo-wie” you like your treats… less is more!)

*If you are like me, and I know I am… (*let that sink in*) you might want to pre-measure at this point, the rice krispies… just sayin’! Oh… and butter a 8×8 pan.

Over medium heat in a large pot, combine sieved brown butter, salt, vanilla bean paste and mini marshmallows – stirring constantly until all marshmallows are melted. Turn off heat and quickly add & vigorously stir in your rice krispies. Don’t over stir, but when you feel the ingredients have been sufficiently combined – pour concoction into your greased 8×8 pan. Add a small amount of butter to your palms and push ingredients down to make a “denser” bar.

Cut into squares – and don’t get mad at me if your dreams are filled with these treats. It’s all Brooke Dawson’s fault! (Just kiddin’… but seriously!)

photo (15)Cheese Dreams

Equal parts grated mild & sharp cheddar
Bacon bits (we believe that MORE is Mo’Betta!)
1 onion finely diced
Miracle Whip or mayonnaise (enough to bind ingredients together)

Spread mixture on pre-toasted French bread (pane) – Broil until bubbly.

Ron likes his Cheese Dreams with OJ (as in juice not The Juice) and I prefer mine with eggnog!

Christmas of 1994 was our first as a married couple. We bravely decided that rather than choose whose family to spend the actual day with… we’d stay in Abilene and fly this one solo. Christmas day happened to be on a Sunday that year (just like this year!)

So we woke up and had our little gift exchange – I can only remember that Ron had picked out and purchased a green dress for me and it fit perfectly! I don’t even remember what I gave him…

I donned my new outfit and we headed to Caps United Methodist Church for service – when we arrived people were moving around in the kitchen. So we headed over and found one of our favorite ladies making what she called “Cheese Dreams” – a tradition she was given by her neighbors on her first Christmas as a married woman when stationed in Alaska.

It seems her neighbors had been making these Cheese Dreams since their first wedded Christmas… and so we carry on the tradition hoping that one day we will find a young couple to share these Dreams with!


1 envelope of yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, beaten
Gray Sea Salt

Dissolve yeast in water. Combine with salt and sugar. Blend in flour – a bit at a time. Roll into strips (you know like when you make snakes with play dough!) and shape into pretzels or letters… really anything! Place rolled objects on a baking sheet covered with a silpat (silicone non-stick baking mat.) Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Gray Sea Salt… don’t skimp here! Bake at 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot! (I like mine with plain ol’ French’s Classic Yellow)

* Fun Fact: Pretzels were first made by monks in Europe to reward children for saying their prayers.  The Latin word means “small reward.”  The shape of the pretzel looks much like the crossed arms of a child waiting for a blessing!

New Mexico Green Chile

from the kitchen of Rebecka Arrington

2 lbs. hamburger
2 cloves of garlic – minced
1/2 white onion – diced
1 – 13 oz container of chopped Bueno Green Chile (Mild-Medium You can find it in the frozen section of HEB)
1-2 cubes of chicken bouillon
1/4 cup of flour

Brown hamburger and chopped onion. Drain grease and add thawed green chili, garlic, bouillon cubes and enough water to cover mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Just before serving make a “slurry” (fancy word for add some tepid water to the 1/4 cup of flour until it’s the consistency of milk) and add to chile mixture, stirring quickly, turn off heat.

*Smothered Burritos – Pour chile over burritos – top with cheese and place in 300 degree oven until cheese is melted.
*Green Chile New Mexico Burger – Place a hamburger bun open on a plate and add a grilled hamburger patty – add a layer of french fries, a healthy helping of green chile and cheese on top. (One of my brother-in-love’s favorite meals that my sister makes!)
*Flat Enchiladas – Dip corn tortilla’s into hot chile, place on plate and top with chile and cheese – another dipped corn tortilla – and another dose of chile and cheese. Repeat until you have the desired serving size. Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced onion and chopped tomato.
*Chile Cheese Fries – Serve over oven baked French Fries and top with shredded cheese – Bec serves it with ketchup – but I say, “Why? You’ve already achieved perfection on a plate with fries, green chile & cheese!”