Monday, December 22, 2014

Cherry Coconut Bars

  • This is one of Dad's favorite Christmas goodies that his mom used to make.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quartered maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut


  • Combine flour and confectioners' sugar in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Press into a lightly greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. 
  • For filling, in a small bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts, cherries and coconut. Spread over crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Yield: 3 dozen.
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Kolach Dough from Dad's Aunt Emily

1 c evaporated milk
1 1/2 c warm milk
6 Tb shortening
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 pkg yeast dissolved in warm water
1 Tb salt
5 1/2 c flour or more

I have this a copy of this recipe in your dad's Aunt Emily's handwriting.  Kathy added the following:

Kolache dough needs 7 cups of flour.
Let dough rise for 70 minutes. Cut into circles, let rise about 5-10 min, cook at 400 F for 18 min.

I don't know if any of you remember eating these; Aunt Emily put a prune filling in some and I can't remember what else she used.  They are quite tasty.  The circles are maybe 2 inches in diameter.

Enjoy and feel your roots!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Banana Blueberry Flax Muffins

Healthy and yummy!

1 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2/3 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. ground flaxseeds
3/4 C. wheat bran
1 C. mashed over-ripe bananas (2 large)
1 C unsweetened almond (or other) milk + 1 T lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 C oil (I used coconut)
1 C blueberries, frozen or fresh

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  In another bowl thoroughly blend eggs and brown sugar.  Add in flax, wheat bran, bananas, milk, vanilla, and oil.  Blend again.  Mix in dry ingredients, just until combined.  Fold in berries.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whole Wheat Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1  1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour ( I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, I used the smallest side of my grater b/c I like it small.  ( I did not really measure this. I used 1 med zuch.)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Place grated zucchini in a strainer and drain as much liquid off as you can. Set aside.
Cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Blend well. In a separate bowl, mixdry ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients into the butter mixture well. Add grated zucchini, and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop into muffin pan lined with paper liners or greased well. Bake at 325 degrees F  oven for 18-20 minutes.  Makes 24 muffins.
*I made these last year and they were so rich and moist that I made them again this year.  **WARNING:  They are more like a dessert than a muffin.

Capellini with Fresh Cherry Tomatoes and Basil


Kosher salt
1/2 c olive oil, plus extra for the pot
2 Tb minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pts small cherry or grape tomatoes
18 large basil leaves, julienned
2 Tb chopped fresh curly parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz capellini or angel hair pasta
1 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra chopped basil and grated Parmesan, for serving


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don't break up.

 Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.  Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes and Parmesan and toss well. Add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Serve large bowls of pasta with extra basil sprinkled on top and a big bowl of extra Parmesan on the side.

*I made this last night (motivated by a plethora of cherry tomatoes) and it was DELISH!  I didn't add the red pepper flakes, but left them in the recipe for you to decide.  I cooked the tomatoes on low for probably about twice as long as the recipe says, so they would break open more.  Hope you enjoy!
**Tried them with the pepper flakes and it made it much spicier.  I suggest you add a cautious amount and see what you think.  Or leave them out completely like I did when I made them the first time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Potato Leek Soup

We had this soup a lot while we were in ireland and I loved it every time.  So when we got potatoes and leeks in the same week from our CSA, I had to try to recreate it.  This recipe did not disappoint!


1/2 c. butter
2 leeks, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 qt. chicken broth
1 T cornstarch
4 c. potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 c. heavy cream (I used kefir and I think it made the soup even better)


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper until tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir cornstarch into broth and pour broth into pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the cream, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sassy Steak Marinade and Sauce


1 pound beef sirloin steak (1-1.5 inches thick)
1 Tb olive oil
2/3 c cocktail sauce
1/4 c honey
3 Tb soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Mix all ingredients (except the steak) in 9x13 pan.  Put steaks in pan, turning to coat top, bottom, and sides.  Refrigerate fo .5 - 6 hours, turning from time to time.

Remove steaks from the frig 30-60 min before you intend to cook them so that the muscle fibers have time to relax, making for a more tender results.  Salt the steaks generously with salt on both sides as soon as you remove them from the frig; you can pepper them too if you desire.  

Coat bottom of skillet w/ just enough olive oil to barely cover it.  Heat over med. high heat until you smell the oil.  Add steaks to hot skillet, cooking them 5-7 min on each side, without turning or moving them.  Use tongs to turn without puncturing them and letting juices escape.  Remove steaks when they are done to your satisfaction cover with foil, and let them sit at least 10 min.  

Heat 1 Tb oil in pan, pour in reserved marinade, and bring back to boil for 5 min or until thick, serve with steaks.

*I made this a few nights ago and the steaks were so wonderful!  I hope the recipe works for you. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Okay, so this is not exactly a food recipe.  Although, technically, everything in it is edible.  But not tasty.

I have a bit of a sweating problem and I thought it was just something I was going to have to live with because no deodorant in the store does anything to take care of it.  But then, my friend told me she has the same problem and she told me she makes her own deodorant from coconut oil and that it has solved her woes.

And then her husband piped up from the background that this stuff really works.

And I was sold.

Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/3 C. coconut oil
1/4 C. baking soda
1/4 C. arrowroot powder
4 T cornstarch
Essential oils, optional

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Use a pastry blender, or a fork to incorporate the coconut oil.  I used regular coconut oil which is solid at room temperature, so I had to soften mine a bit in the microwave first.  Apparently, my friend uses extra virgin coconut oil and I think that's a little softer.  Then add in a few drops of essential oil, if you want and mix in.  I used Citrus Bliss.

So, now my underarms smell like an orange julius.

I put mine in a small mason jar, but we keep it in our bathroom which is the coldest place in our house (if you want to know more on this, ask Blake.  He loves to explain to me why this is so.), and so the mixture is really firm.  Pretty much like the consistency of normal deodorant.

So, in hindsight, I wish I'd just emptied out an old deodorant container and put this in it.  I'll do that next time.  Which will probably be in about a year because a little of this stuff goes a long way.  In the meantime, I scrape it off with my pinky nail, soften it between my fingers, and then spread it on.  I'm pretty sure the ladies in the locker room at the gym think I'm quite strange.

I don't care.  At least I am no longer smelly.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fish and Beets and Lentils and Spinach

This turned out to be way more amazing than I anticipated.  Seriously, Weston dined at a fine restaurant tonight, called "Megan's Kitchen".  It was so good.  Here's the link:

Here's the copy/paste version:

Salmon with Beets and Lentils

If you make the lentils and beets ahead of time, this dish is easy to assemble.


  • 3 fresh small beets, (about 10 ounces), trimmed and scrubbed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 fresh sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 six-ounce salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray


  1. STEP 1

    In a saucepan of cold water, bring the beets and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel beets, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces; set aside.
  2. STEP 2

    Combine 1 cup water, lentils, stock, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; remove thyme stems and garlic. Add oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss, and keep warm. (If preparing in advance, warm over low heat before assembling dish).
  3. STEP 3

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine coriander and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; rub over salmon flesh. Spray a cast-iron skillet with vegetable-oil spray, and place over medium heat. When heated, add salmon, flesh side down, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets, add shallots, and place skillet in oven. Cook about 4 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. STEP 4

    Meanwhile, place spinach in a metal steamer basket over boiling water; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover, and steam until just wilted. Remove and discard salmon skin; keep salmon warm. Place skillet over medium-high heat, and add wine, scraping pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce by half, and add orange juice, mustard, and remaining tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Add beets, and cook until heated through. Adjust seasoning, if desired. Arrange lentils and spinach on plates; place a salmon fillet on top. Spoon beets and sauce over, and serve.
Martha Stewart Living, November 1995

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

We (Mom) made this risotto recipe while she was at our house helping us empty out our freezer.  It was pretty tasty.

Sausage and Mushroom Risotto

3 C. chicken stock
3 C. beef stock
8 oz. shitake mushrooms (we did half shitake, half button)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 lb. Italian sausage links, chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (Mom probably did more, because I always add extra garlic to everything)
2 C. Arborio rice
1/2 C. white wine
1/2 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T. Butter
1 dash salt and pepper

Combine the chicken and beef stocks in a sauce pan.  Warm over low heat.

In a separate skillet, saute mushrooms and the thyme together over medium heat.  Sprinkle mushrooms with salt and pepper and once they are lightly browned, remove from heat and set aside.
In a skillet, brown the sausage.  Once it's browned, remove the skillet from the heat, discard the fat, and set aside.

In a large skillet heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium heat  Add onion and garlic.  Saute until translucent, about 5 min.  Add the rice and coat well with the oil.  Lightly toast the rice about 2 min.  Stir in wine, and cook until it is almost evaporated.  Ladle about 1 C. of the warm stock into the rice and stir.  Once it is mostly absorbed add in more stock (1 ladle full each time).  Continue this process until the rice is cooked through and nice and creamy, only adding an additional ladle of stock when the prior one is almost absorbed.  You might have a little left over, but not much.

Once cooked through, add mushrooms and sausage to the pan and heat through.  Stir in cheese and butter.  Top with additional cheese, if desired.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quite Possibly The Best Recipe In Existence

That is a pretty big claim to make, I realize.  However, it has a host of qualities that make it invaluable in my recipe book:

  • Requires a total of 8 ingredients, most (if not all) of which you should already have on hand
  • It takes about 5 minutes to prepare
  • It only dirties one, maybe two dishes
  • It smells delightful
  • It tastes SO delicious
  • Everyone in my entire family likes it.  And given the short list (which pretty much involves chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and mac n' cheese)--this is nothing short of a miracle.
2 T melted butter
1 package (or about 6) chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on--if you are afraid of leaving skin on the chicken, don't bother making this recipe.  That's right, go big or go home when it comes to roasted chicken).
1/4 C. white wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 1/2-1 tsp. dried
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 T coarse salt
1 T freshly ground pepper
1/4 C. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.
Coat the bottom of a cast iron (oven proof) skillet with butter.  Coat all sides of the chicken with melted butter.  Nestle the chicken pieces in the pan.  Pour the wine over the chicken.  Top with rosemary and thyme, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 40 min.  Change the oven to broil and broil 5 more minutes.
Remove from oven and spritz with lemon juice
Let rest 5 min.

*A note about chicken with the skin on--I know some people think this is unhealthy.  I won't get on my soap box about the "low fat diet" fallacies (unless you want me too!), but I will say that if you are afraid of leaving the skin on, don't bother making this recipe.  I've never taken the skin off, but I am certain it would just be a waste of otherwise good chicken and perfectly good butter.  Dining on the skin is not necessary, as it will have done its job by the time you take the deliciousness out of the oven.  When it comes to roasted chicken, go big or go home.  

Oh, and I get 'Just BARE' brand chicken thighs.  We once made it with ho-hum brand chicken thighs and it just wasn't the same.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cheryl's Chocolate Chip Cookies


A few friends have recently asked for this recipe, so I thought I'd better add my most recent improvements to the recipe (salt and size of cookies, for those who already have the original) since the last time I posted it.  It's even better than before.

1 C. butter, softened
1 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Generous 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
Large splash of vanilla
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 C. flour
Chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer, beat it for a couple minutes to let it get really nice and fluffy.  Add sugars, salt, and baking soda and beat again for several minutes--you want all of the ingredients to get cozy with one another and be evenly incorporated.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Beat in dry pudding mix and as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour and chocolate chips.

And then you really have to refrigerate the dough for at least three hours.  More if you have the patience.

Form golfball-size globs of dough on your cookie sheet (I've tried all kinds of different pans and even baking stones, but I think those baked on an AirBake pan turn out the best).  It is important to make the cookies this large.  It allows them to be wonderfully crispy on the outer edges, but still chewy and fabulous in the center.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.  But, don't let them get too brown--then you'll miss the chewy fabulousness in the center.

The extra vanilla and the pudding and the salt are what make all the difference.  Don't be afraid of them!  I love this recipe and kind of feel that they are the best cookies, but am open to alterations, so if you have anything that you do for your cookies that makes them extra special--please share!

Also, I recommend doubling this recipe.  I freeze half (if it makes it that far) and then I have ready dough for those times when we have unexpected company, or a friend just really needs some homemade cookies.  Sometimes I'm that friend.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shreded beef! Venezuelan style

Here is the lead singer of the dish I made for Amy and Scott.

You need a big chunk of meat :-)
Ok, I don't know the names of the different beefs, I think I bought like a top roast or something like that. I've done it with different ones and it works, so find something you like that can be shredded and you'll be good.

 Season the whole chunk with salt, pepper and cumin. Sear it on a hot skillet and then place in in a crock pot for at least 6 hours on low. I make mine over night. You can also do it on high for about 4 hours. Add enough water to cover 3/4 of the meat.

Add two cloves of garlic and some oregano.

After it is all cooked, pull it out of the crock pot, save the liquid and shred the meat with two forks or by hand.

 Take an onion, garlic (2 cloves), a red pepper and two tomatoes. Dice everything small.
Heat some oil in a pan (big enough to fit the meat) and turn it to medium heat, saute the onions for about 2 minutes, add garlic and cook for about a minute (or until you can smell the garlic) then add the red peppers. Stir constantly to prevent burning, saute for about 5 minutes or until veggies are very soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes, or until tomatoes loose their bright color and it turns a little pasty. During this time add, about 1/2 tsp of oregano, cumin and salt.

Once it is all done, add the beef, mix well and add the broth slowly, you don't want it soupy but you don't want the meat dry either. Add enough broth to almost cover the meat and the simmer for about 15minutes adding more broth if needed, taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

And that is it! a lot of little steps but you get used to it pretty quickly.


If you cool all three recipes I've just shared plus some fried plantains you have Pabellon, which is our National traditional food.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Black beans, Venezuelan Style.

Black beans are THE thing to eat in my country. Black beans rule the whole world!!!!

If you make them well.

I will give you the recipe on how to make them from dry beans but you are more than welcome to use can beans, just use good quality ones and rinse the soupy thing that is in the can.

Take the dry beans, look through them for stones or little twigs, rinse them twice in cold water. Put them in a big bowl and fill it up with water,you want a lot of water on top of the beans. Add a TBSP of baking Soda, mix and let it sit on the counter over night.

In the morning rinse them and then put them in a big pot with a lot of water covering the beans. Add salt, 4 whole cloves of garlic, half of an onion (cut in two) and if you have, a ham bone or some pork product.

Let it boil and stir every once in a while, when the water reduces to the surface of the beans add more hot water. Repeat this process until the beans are really soft. Remove the big pieces of garlic and onion.

I usually do this in the morning while I'm doing laundry or cleaning, I just come back to it and stir or add water.

While waiting you can dice an onion, very small, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper and saute it all with some bacon or just alone. You need to keep everything in low heat for at least 10 minutes, after 5 minutes you want to add some cumin  (about 2 tsp), oregano (about 1 tsp), salt and pepper. Keep cooking, once it's done it will look more like mashed veggies or very mushy veggies.

Add them to the pot of beans and start mashing them with a potato masher. You want to mash about a fourth of the beans. Keep cooking for another 20 minutes in low heat. They should be somewhat creamy at the end. Make sure to taste for salt.

That is it!
I usually make a huge pot use it and then freeze the rest.

Enjoy, they are worth the trouble ;-)

Venezuelan rice

Well, I was asked for this recipe although you might not want it anymore because you are all making brown rice but here it is for the descendants, right?

 We make rice in pots not on "rice cookers' so I don't really know if you can do the same in a rice cooker or not.

Here we go!
-The way we measure the rice is 2 cups of water for every  1 cup of rice.
-It is best if you use a thick pot for the rice.
-Do NOT mix the rice after it boils, just let him be. I do not know why we must follow this rule, we never questioned our elders.
- You must add salt. How much? I asked the same to my mom as a little girl and she said "Guess! whatever looks good is great!"

To make two cups of dry rice.

 In a medium pan, saute two minced garlic cloves in some olive oil. Just for about a minute. Noticed that I didn't say heat the pan first, you don't want to burn the garlic. Add the two cups of dry rice and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes, it will be done when it looks translucent or a little toasty (depending on the rice) then add 4 cups of water and salt. Mix well and leave on medium high heat until it boils.
Watch it closely after it boils and turn down the temperature to very low heat when the water has reduced just enough to see all the rice. Cover it and let it sit until done.
No, I don't know how long that is, usually I just go and do the rest of the meal while that is happening. It is hard to burn it when the temperature is so low.
Check on it after 10 minutes maybe, it should look dry and smell yummy. You can taste to see if it still needs some more time.

I love adding green or red bell peppers, just a couple of strips or onions or all of them! just a little, like a Tablespoon.

Also you can add a pinch of Turmeric to make it look yellow, it won't really change the flavor but to us yellow rice is "fancy"

The last note is, our rice is supposed to be the opposite to "sticky rice" so it will be fluffy and each grain independent from the other, but they are all one happy family, just like us!