Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Daylight Savings Blues.

 Recently, most of the United States, and the world over, fell backwards one hour in time due to the observance of Daylight Savings.  The idea for it was first offered up by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, but it wasn’t until London builder, William Willett, caught the attention of Parliament in 1907 that it was taken seriously.  In his pamphlet, "The Waste of Daylight", he wrote, "Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used."  In 1975, the Department of Transportation did a study on energy usage on summer lighting usage vs. winter usage indicating less electricity was used for lighting during long lit summer days, while more was used in winter due to longer darkness.  While this study makes me say, “Thank you Captain Obvious”, it kept the Daylight Savings process running strong, exceptions being Arizona (except for the Navajo, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands), Hawaii, the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

I don’t know about most people, but I know several, including my husband and myself, where this travel backwards, or forwards, into time does not do a body good.  Waking up at 7am, opening the curtains to have sunlight glaring into the eyes definitely shocks me into full consciousness!  Then there are the pets who normally would still be sleeping while I happily have my first cup of coffee in peace and quiet.  Oh no, the second they see the first glimmer of light it’s, “Mommy, mommy, mommy; feed us; it’s been forever since we last ate.”  Remember, animals cannot tell time via a clock on the wall.  Then there is night which happens to show up around 5:30pm, just in time for dinner; yet the darkness only makes me want to put on pajamas and dive into bed.  Oh, in about a month I’ll be used to this new routine, but for now I find it hard to rely on artificial light when sunlight is much more stimulating.

Ah, well speaking of coffee, and with the holiday season always requiring luscious desserts after over indulgent feasts, I’d like to share a recipe for Tiramisu.  Tiramisu (Italian meaning “pick up me”) is a coffee flavored custard dessert; a layered dessert which could be compared to an English Trifle, made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa.  Ladyfingers are crisp cookies, sometimes called biscuits, similar in form to Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. They are made from a sponge cake batter, but more flour is added to make the batter firm enough to hold its shape after being piped onto cookie sheets for baking.  While they can be found in most supermarkets, an excellent recipe for baking them at home comes directly from one of the best sources of baking know-how, "The Joy of Baking".

Mascarpone originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, Italy, southwest of Milan, probably in the late 16th or early 17th century. It is a fresh, very rich cow’s milk cheese; double or triple cream (60% to 75% milk fat). Its texture resembles a sticky pudding and it is the color of cream. While it is widely used in desserts, such as the Italian dessert called Tiramisu; it can be used in a variety of recipes. In Italy, a favorite preparation is savory, mixing the cheese with anchovies, mustard and spices as a spread for breads. By itself, it can be served as an enhancement for fruits, coffee or cocoa; or added to such Italian dishes like lasagna, stuffed shells or manicotti.  While it can be purchased in stores or online, it can also be pricey. However, there is a way to make a suitable substitute.

Substitute for Mascarpone Cheese
Combine 16 oz. softened cream cheese, ½ cup heavy whipping cream and 5 Tbsp. sour cream; mix thoroughly until smooth and creamy.

Now to put these two ingredients together and make a dessert which makes all right with the world, even Daylight Savings blues.



3 large eggs, separate yolks and whites
½ cup sugar plus ½ tsp
1 cup espresso coffee, cooled
2 Tbsp. cognac or brandy
16 oz. mascarpone cheese (or substitute from above recipe)
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
60 lady fingers, toasted


In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, 1 Tbsp. espresso, ½ cup sugar and liquor. Use mixer to beat ingredients together for 2 minutes; add cheese and beat until mixture is smooth.

In another bowl, combine egg whites with ½ tsp. sugar; beat on high with mixer until egg whites can hold a peak. Gently fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture.

Pour remaining espresso into a rimmed dish; lightly dip the lady fingers into the espresso, making sure to coat both sides. On the bottom of a 2 quart round dessert bowl, place 15 of the lady fingers (rounded side down), put another 15 (rounded side outward) around the sides of the bowl. Begin layering by spreading 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the lady fingers on bottom of the bowl, 15 lady fingers (rounded side upward), 1/3 of mixture, final 15 of lady fingers (rounded side upward), final 1/3 of cheese mixture. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the final cheese layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, November 13, 2017

Prepping for the Winter Chill.

Tis the season! Tis the cold and flu season that is, and while flu shots are available at doctor offices and pharmacies, not so for colds. What to do to battle a cold; why chicken soup of course! Chicken soup is comfort food and a folklore cure for whatever ails you. In 2007, the University of Nebraska analyzed research studies to find that chicken soup's medicinal properties were "inconclusive". You ask anyone who doesn't feel well, depressed, tired or just all around blah; they'll tell you to take all the research and shove it where the sun don't shine.

Here in Monticello, Utah the weather has finally taken a turn towards the cold; several times it has gotten very windy, darkly clouded over and snow was anticipated. Then my son calls me up one day and says, "Mom, I don't feel well, you have anything I could eat?" Regretfully I had no chicken soup made, but he said that my Paella made him feel so much better; he did a three hour workout at the local gym. Well of course it would, it had chicken in it!  Anyway, I took no further chances, decided to make soup and took out a container of chicken stock from the freezer.   

Homemade Chicken Stock is an essential main ingredient for this soup; you want all the richness of flavor from the chicken, vegetables and seasonings, cooked together to create perfection. When I say "chicken carcass" in the recipe, basically you want to buy a whole chicken, remove the legs, thighs and breasts; what is left is what goes into the soup pot and remove as much skin as you can too.   

Why make your own stock?  You know exactly what is in the stock, it’s clear, not cloudy because of preservatives added in.  When making your stock, besides the bird carcass, you'll be adding in the "holy trinity" of cooking: carrots, celery and onion.  With the onion, leave the skin on to add a more golden color to the stock; it will all be strained later on, so no need to worry about onion skin floating in it.  I also add salt, ground black pepper and cloves of garlic for aroma and taste; so when making soup later on, be careful adding more of these ingredients.  Taste!!!  You can always add, but you can't take away if you add too much before tasting.

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up fast, remember to keep the turkey carcass (leave a little meat on) and transform it into a wonderfully roasted turkey stock.  The carcass can be wrapped in plastic, placed into a freezer bag and frozen for later use, but don’t go past three months.  You don’t use it, you’ll lose it! 

Homemade Chicken Stock


3 to 4 lbs. of chicken carcass (legs, thighs and breasts removed)
3 large celery ribs, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large leek, washed thoroughly and chopped; include most of the green section as well
2 medium onions, unpeeled, but remove the root end
1 (8 oz.) container whole mushrooms; dirt brushed off
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2 whole bay leaves
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
5 quarts cold water


Place all ingredients in a large stock pot (10-12 quart); bring to a boil on high heat and skim off any frothy residue. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours. 

Secure cheese cloth inside a large plastic bowl and strain the stock into the bowl; discard all the solid material captured in the cheese cloth.  Place the plastic bowl inside the freezer for one hour; the fat will solidify and then can be easily removed.   The stock is now ready to be used, can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Makes about 4 1/2 quarts.

Now for the Chicken Noodle Soup itself; personally I use only the meat from the breasts; the legs and thighs I save for other recipes.

Chicken Noodle Soup


4 qts. of turkey, chicken or combination of both stocks
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red bell pepper
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves; trim off fat
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp. crushed, dried thyme leaves
12 to 16 oz. homestyle egg noodles (dependent on how much noodles you like in your soup)


Add the stock, onion, carrots, celery and bell pepper to a tall stock pot; set on medium heat to begin simmering.

In a large pan, add the chicken, cover with water and set on medium-high heat.  Let cook for 10 minutes, any fat will foam at the top; rinse off chicken and cut into 1 inch pieces.  In a large skillet, medium-high heat, sauté the chicken pieces until no pink is showing.  Sprinkle the salt, black pepper and thyme leaves during the cooking; mix well.

Add the chicken, and any juices in the skillet, to the stock pot.  Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil.  Add the egg noodles; they will be ready once they plump up and double in length; about 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and serve in bowls.

Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Bite of Winter, Squash That Is.

Even though Monticello technically has four distinct seasons, sometimes Mother Nature plays tricks on the environment.  2017 saw a very short spring, weather wise, and the summer monsoon season continued further along than usual.  Fall had only just begun when on October 9th, the townsfolk awoke to the first snowfall; furnaces pulsed to life while the air filled with the scent from wood burning stoves.  As suddenly as winter touched the town, fall was back with mildly cool temperatures and the turning of leaves to warm, golden colors. 

In the kitchen, recipe pages turned to comforting soups and casseroles; holidays just around the calendar corner tickled the sweet tooth for cookies, pies and cakes.  Fall and winter is also when we tend to hibernate; cocooning ourselves inside with mugs of spiced apple cider or hot chocolate.  We become more sedentary, so shouldn’t be surprised when the pounds begin moving the needle on scales upward.  Pasta is the winter downfall of the Cokenour household; thick lasagna layered with meat sauce and cheeses; puffy ravioli loaded with creamy cheese, and maybe I’ll sneak in some chopped spinach into the cheese mixture.  Therein lies the key, getting vegetables into the meals to offset some of those pounds trying to sneak onto the hips.

Spaghetti squash is an oblong shaped (normally yellow in color, sometimes with an orange tint) winter squash which can be easily prepared.  After cutting the squash lengthwise, use a simple spoon to scoop out the seeds; the raw flesh is firm and the surprise comes after cooking.  This type of squash can be baked, boiled, microwaved or steamed; my personal favorite way is baking it in an oven.  I have tried the microwave way, but I believe the baking method gives the squash more flavor, especially if you allow the ends to brown slightly.  A medium sized squash is about seven inches long and gives up about four cups of cooked flesh.  Oh, when buying a spaghetti squash, be warned that it looks slightly like a honeydew melon, but the melon typically has a greenish tint to it, while the squash won't.

After cleaning the squash, preheat the oven to 375F; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the squash cut side down.  Some folks say to rub oil on the rind, but it really doesn't do a thing for the flesh inside and the rind will soften with or without the oil.  Bake the squash for 40 - 50 minutes; the edges will begin to brown and the flesh can easily be removed with a fork.  Clean the squash while it is still hot; hold the rind side with a folded towel and lean the bottom against the edge of your bowl; with a downward scraping motion pull the strands of the flesh into the bowl.  See how it looks like spaghetti, and the texture is almost the same also; the taste however is different, it does taste like a vegetable.  You can easily use the strands in any dish you would use the pasta in; top with your favorite pasta sauce, make a frittata, or go completely vegetarian with your recipe.  Could you add a protein?  Why not!?!  Small meatballs, grilled and sliced sausages, crispy bacon; treat it like a pasta that just happens to have more vitamins and minerals than whole grains.

 Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash


4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 and 1/2 cups cup sliced zucchini
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 and 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
3/4 chopped fresh parsley
4 cups cooked spaghetti squash
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Option: grated Parmesan cheese on top


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; sauté' the mushrooms, zucchini and garlic together until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown.  Keep stirring to keep the garlic from burning.

Add the tomatoes, mix and let them cook down for about five minutes, so the excess liquid can evaporate.

Add the parsley, but only cook for one minute to allow it to wilt a little.  If you want it to look more dramatic though, instead of chopping the parsley leaves; leave them whole.  Add the spaghetti squash and toss well to make sure it gets a good coating of the vegetables and parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste; depending on how vegetarian you want this dish, you might want to sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese over the top of each serving.

Makes 4 servings.

I served this to both my husband and his mother; neither had ever had spaghetti squash before, nor knew what it was.  They ended up splitting the four servings up between them.  Good thing I keep a jar of peanut butter in the house; made myself a sandwich for lunch while they chowed down on the squash.  Oh well, at least I know they enjoyed it...a lot!

Mary Cokenour

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fusion Cuisine for Fall Harvest.

Fusion Cuisine has been around since the 1970s, a blending of culinary cultures and techniques which creates unique taste combinations. Those fajitas so well loved are a perfect example of fusion cuisine; Tex-Mex which is a combination of Southwestern United States and Mexican cultures.

With the last of the fall harvest coming in from home gardens, a question often heard is, “What can I do with all of these….?”  Pickling, canning, freezing and sharing with others are great options; so is playing with new recipes.  Tomatoes, that lovely, vine grown fruit that can be eaten raw and cooked; made into sauces; added to sandwiches and salads; mixed into skillet dinners or casseroles.  Green tomatoes can be sliced ¼ inch thick, dipped into egg wash, bread crumb coated, or batter dipped; deep fried into a delicious treat that brings sighs of delight.  Ah, but here comes the fusion part for tomatoes of reddish hue.

Stuffed tomatoes are not a novel idea; main form of stuffing being rice or bread.  My recipe calls for cubed bread stuffing  which is typically American,  veggies, cheese and herbs which are typically Italian, but some of those same veggies plus chili powder gives it a taste of Mexican cuisine; hence the fusion part.  To really boost up the taste and texture, to make this a complete meal, here comes more American influence…chicken!

I love using chili powder from New Mexico; it seems to have a heady aroma, a smokiness not found elsewhere.  As a rule of thumb, I typically use mild spice when cooking; the longer the cooking, the spicier it becomes.  Remember, you can always add, but cannot take away; that's always the best rule when working with spicy ingredients, and any other seasoning ingredients, especially salt.  If you like more heat, but this is your first time making this recipe, take a little advice; start with mild and add dashes of hot sauce as you eat to see what it will taste like to you.  This method not adventurous enough?  Then use three types of chili powder (mild, medium and hot); make three stuffed tomatoes and use one type of chili powder with each.  Stick a toothpick (one for mild, two for medium, three for hot) in the appropriate tomatoes; after they're baked do your taste testing.  Don't forget you can get others in on this too for a real judging.  Use firm tomatoes that can be easily gripped in the hand and won't squash or crack when being hollowed out.   

Fusion Stuffed Tomatoes


4-6 medium to large firm tomatoes (dependent on size)
2 cups herbed stuffing cubes
1 Tbsp. butter
¼ cup each small diced red onion, red bell pepper and mushrooms
1 tsp minced garlic
2 chicken breasts halves, boneless and skinless
½ tsp each salt, ground black pepper, mild New Mexico chili powder; mixed together
Additional salt to season tomato interior
Olive oil; 1 Tbsp. per tomato
Grated Parmesan cheese; 1 tsp per tomato


With a small knife, cut out hard center where stem was attached and discard. Cut ¼ inch off the top; use a spoon to hollow out tomato to ¼ inch inside. Rinse out tomatoes and invert onto a paper towel lined pan.  (I had two large and three medium which fit perfectly in my casserole dish.)  Strain tomatoes, but reserve ½ cup of liquid; dice tomatoes and set aside.

Place stuffing cubes in a medium sized bowl, pour reserved tomato liquid over and mix.

In a medium sized skillet, over medium-high heat, melt tablespoon of butter; sauté onion, bell pepper and mushroom until softened. Add in ½ cup of diced tomatoes and garlic; let cook another minute; add to stuffing cubes.

At same time vegetables are sautéing; season both sides of chicken with seasoning mixture; brown in skillet, with one tablespoon olive oil, over medium- high heat (3-4 minutes per side). I made several extra which I cut into 1/2 inch slices and froze for use later on; very convenient when doing a spur of the moment recipe.  Dice chicken and add to stuffing bowl; mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 375F; spray 2 quart round casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt inside each tomato, then stuff with mixture; place ¼ inch top back and place in casserole dish.

Drizzle one tablespoon olive oil over each tomato; bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with one teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese; return to oven for 5 minutes.

Makes 4-6 servings.

So, how does all this fusion in a tomato taste? It was a cultural party going on in the mouth and it tasted so good! The chicken was tender, juicy and savory; the stuffing herbalicious with a mild tomato flavor from the tomato liquid used to soak the cubes. The tomato itself, while fully cooked, could be cut with a fork and still hold together its texture; it tasted with the Parmesan cheese, like a very chunky and rich tomato sauce.  

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Death by Chocolate.

The term “Death by Chocolate” is so often used for extremely chocolate desserts, it made me wonder though, can it truly happen?  When it concerns dogs, the answer is yes, maybe not immediately, but eventually.  Chocolate contains substances known as methylxanthines, specifically caffeine and theobromine; canines cannot metabolize theobromine, so builds up and becomes toxic to their systems.  The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher amount of theobromine present.  For example: 8 ounces of milk chocolate may sicken a 50 pound dog, but it can be poisoned by as little as 1 ounce of Baker's chocolate!

Alright, we know for certain that chocolate can cause death in dogs, but humans are ok with major consumption of chocolate, right?  Hey, don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger; yes, it can harm humans also.  First off, eating a severe poundage of anything can almost, or surely, kill us; secondly, diabetics can’t metabolize the high sugar content; thirdly, if a person has an allergy to theobromine, say hello to the Grim Reaper.  Dang, I’m so depressed right now; I love chocolate!  Moral is know your health and eat in moderation; don’t worry, the rest of the Hersey bar will be there…where you hid it.

Back to dessert, I have admitted that I'm not a big fan of baking; don't enjoy doing the precise measurements required for a perfectly baked item.  However, that doesn't mean I shy away from it altogether, and find ways of experimenting.  One cake I love to play with is cheesecake; using different types of cookies for a crust; pureed fresh, or chopped dried, fruits; candy pieces; various flavor combinations. It's almost as fun as making cookies, and there are hundreds of variations of those!

Time to follow me on a trail of chocolate, cheesecake, and dying from too much Chocolate Cheesecake; a completely decadent, all chocolate cheesecake: chocolate crust, chocolate cheesecake layer, topped with a chocolate ganache.  My version is not overly sweet, but the chocolate is so rich and flavorful, the extra sugar is not missed.  Folks have tried this cheesecake, loved it, but had to admit that eating too much would definitely be too much.  A normal slice of cheesecake has about a two inch width; but a one inch width slice will be about as much as you can eat of this cake.  Afterwards you will definitely want a nap as you experience blissful joy; eat any more of it and death by chocolate might just occur as you lapse into a coma of complete nirvana.

Chocolate Cheesecake


For the Crust:

 2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
 5 Tbsp. melted butter

For the Cake:

 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
 1 (8 oz.) package mascarpone cheese (use regular cream cheese if not available)
 1 cup sugar
 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
 3 large eggs
 1 (4 oz.) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Ganache:

 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
 1 (4 oz.) package Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, broken into pieces


Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray; place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom, inside the pan; spray also with baking spray.

Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter; press onto bottom and halfway up sides of pan. Place in refrigerator for a half hour to set.  Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract on high until well blended. Add the eggs and melted chocolate; on low speed mix until well blended.

(Note: melt and cool the chocolate just before adding to the cream cheese mixture and eggs; if the chocolate is too hot, it will cause the eggs to scramble)

Take pan out of refrigerator, set on top of a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap foil up around the sides. Pour the cream cheese/chocolate mixture over the crust and smooth out with a spatula.

Place the pan inside a 3 quart baking dish, so that it sits flatly; pour cool water into the baking dish ¼ up the side of the pan. Be careful no water gets inside the aluminum foil. Place inside oven on center rack; bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Turn off heat, prop open oven door and wait for 30 minutes before removing baking dish. Set pan on counter, run a knife around the rim of the cake to loosen sides; refrigerate for 4 hours.

To make the ganache, in a small saucepan, medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Add in the chocolate and quickly begin whisking until chocolate is melted, incorporated well and has a smooth, shiny texture.

Let cool slightly; remove cake from refrigerator and pour ganache over the top, smooth out with a spatula. Return cake to refrigerator for 4 more hours or overnight; depending on when it is planned to be served.

Carefully open springform pan; use a long, wide spatula to get between pan bottom and parchment paper. Carefully lift cake onto serving dish; cut into 16 slices.

 *Makes 16 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Cow Tipping.

The first time I’d ever heard the term “cow tipping” was in 1990 when first moving to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Our residential neighborhood was surrounded by Amish farmland, with local, bored teenagers bragging about this night time exploit.  What exactly is “cow tipping”? An activity of sneaking up on any unsuspecting, or sleeping, upright cow and pushing it over for entertainment. The practice of cow tipping is generally considered an urban legend, and stories of such feats viewed as tall tales.  Except if you happen to live in a rural area, with even adults bragging how they did this activity during teenage years.  Personally, I saw this as cruelty to animals; I certainly wouldn’t enjoy being hurt and/or frightened being pushed down onto hard ground in my sleep!

Spring forward to 2009 with the moving to Utah; cows here are “handsomer”, for lack of a better word, than the overworked black and white milking cows of Pennsylvania.  Where those East coast cows would back away if you stared at them; cows in the Southwest have, what I would definitely call New York attitude, as they stare back with “whatchalookinat?”  Asking about cow tipping, folks would ask, “What is that?” and once explained would proclaim, “Well that’s stupid!”  So much for cow tipping in the Southwest.

Which now brings my convoluted thought processing to “beef tips”.  Did you ever go to a restaurant where the special for the evening was beef tips?  The server explains how this is a special cut of tender beef, prepared in a rich gravy and served over, well something; rice, mashed potatoes, noodles, a pureed vegetable.  Sounds really good, and it has to be special, considering the price is almost equal to a T-bone steak.  Here comes the surprise, where exactly does this “special cut of tender beef” come from on the cow?  The tips are small, about one inch; is there only one tip in each cow!?!  Originally, a beef tip was the tip of a tenderloin or sirloin steak which was trimmed off to give the steak a smoother, rounder appearance.  Nowadays, while quality restaurants may perform the same trim job, beef tips could simply be a steak cut up into one inch pieces and called the same thing.  Depending on the quality of the beef itself, the cooking process is the same, but may take longer.

The recipe I’m giving uses a simple London broil cut, lean, with all excessive fat removed as the fat will only make the gravy greasy, not tastier.  A hint for all those hunters bringing home elk and deer this season; this recipe works very well for those meats also.  I use Portabella mushrooms as they have a meatier texture, yet mild flavor; they are often used, as a substitute, for vegetarians who want to partake of a “burger”, just not the meat part.

Beef Tips with Egg Noodles


2 lbs. lean London broil
4 Tbsp. flour
1 large onion, julienned
1 lb. portabella mushrooms, cut into one inch pieces
1 cup red wine (merlot or burgundy)
1 cup beef stock (not broth, too watery)
1 tsp. dried, crushed thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 lb. wide egg noodles


Spray a 4-quart crock pot bowl with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut London broil into one inch pieces, mix with the flour to coat all sides; place in bottom of crock pot bowl.  Place onions over beef, mushrooms over the onions in a layering process.

Whisk together wine, stock, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic; pour over mushrooms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerator overnight (8 hours). 

Next day, remove plastic wrap, place bowl into cooking unit, cover with appropriate lid, set on low and let cook for 8 hours.  At 7 and ½ hours, prepare egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve beef tips over egg noodles

Makes 6 servings.

Note: If a thicker gravy is desired, stir in one teaspoon of corn starch, at a time, until desired consistency is met.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Chicken Named Dinner.

One of my neighbors has chickens, not unusual in San Juan County; and the fresh eggs they lay are better than any purchased at a store.  The yokes are a deeper colored yellow, with a fuller richness and the whites seem to cook up fluffier.  However, due to a hole in their fencing, several of their chickens like to walk over to our front yard; pecking at goodies only a chicken seems to enjoy.  Usually they all run back home when we are outside, except one; light brown with dark brown tail feathers standing definitely clucking at us.  This one gained the name of “Dinner”, while we would never think of hurting the little devil, I like teasing it with the threat of becoming dinner.

For a long while I roasted chickens according to packaging directions; 350F for 20 minutes for each pound.  While the meat itself was moist, tender and very tasty, the skin was still pliable and fatty; we ended up pulling it off and feeding it to the pets.  Then I read a recipe where the cook roasted her chickens at 450F to 500F; the only seasoning used was salt.  The fat melted off the chicken, the skin was crispy, but she did warn that it caused a lot of splattering and smoking.  You know I had to play with this concept of roasting chicken….for dinner.

 After removing the organs from the cavity (the outdoor cats truly enjoyed that treat), the chicken was washed inside and out with cold water; then sprinkled a generous amount of salt also inside and out.  Prepping the roast pan is by lining with aluminum foil; one cup of water plus one can (10.5 oz.) chicken broth poured into the pan; sprayed a rack with nonstick spray and placed it inside the pan. Why the water/broth mixture? As the fat dripped into the pan, the liquid would keep it from splattering, burning and smoking from hitting the foil straight on; and it will become the base for a great gravy.  Placing the chicken on the rack, I drizzled a few tablespoons of olive oil over the top and just allowed it to slide down over the chicken. Now I have this Organic Salt less Seasoning that I enjoy using; 21 organically grown herbs and spices ground together; a generous portion was rubbed over the outside of the chicken, knowing the oil would hold it in place.

The oven temperature had been previously set at 450F; pan inside the oven and patiently waited for the internal temperature to reach 180F.  Where it used to take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 5 pound bird, it now only took 1 and 1/2 hours.  The fat had dripped into the pan, the skin was crispy; yet the seasoning mixture had only browned, not burned.  The flavoring permeated the meat which was tender, moist and very juicy. Removing the chicken from the pan onto a platter, I let it rest for 15 minutes before beginning to carve it.

I took advantage of the high temperature setting by mixing together chunks of potato and butternut squash, slices of onion, salt, Italian seasoning blend, minced garlic and olive oil. This mixture was placed in an aluminum baking pan and put into the oven at the same time as the chicken; it finished cooking while the chicken rested (an additional 15 minutes).  Actually, I made two chickens and one was given to my mother-in-law with a generous amount of the roasted veggies; she was very pleased.

As to the smoking and splattering the other cook warned about, I experienced none of that and all because of the liquid I had put into the pan.  To make gravy, I poured the after roasting liquid into a plastic container, placed it into the freezer until the fat rose and solidified (about one hour).  At a firm, but not frozen, stage, the solid fat was scooped off; placing the liquid into a saucepan, bringing it to boil on medium-high heat, I whisked in a little flour for thickening.

There you have it, roast chicken at a higher than recommended temperature, and it is so quick, easy and extremely delicious.  Enjoy!  …and no harm has come to Dinner, it’s still pecking away at our front lawn.

Mary Cokenour