Friday, October 10, 2014

Lasagna that is Meatless and Very Little Cheese.

Typically, when you hear the word "Lasagna", images of long, tender noodles holding layer upon layer of meat sauce and mixture of Italian cheeses might come to mind.  This new recipe I am going to post today is about a lasagna without meat, no typical red tomato sauce, and very little cheese indeed.  I'm writing about a vegetable lasagna, the same long, tender noodles, but instead there are layers chock full of sautéed vegetables, fresh spinach leaves and a béchamel sauce.  Béchamel is a white sauce, but since I did melt in a fair amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, it becomes an Alfredo sauce.

Even though the noodles are undercooked slightly, they will be pliable and not fall apart.  Will they cook evenly while baking?  Yes!  The sauce, plus natural liquid from the vegetables, will finish cooking the noodles; they will be tender and absorb flavors of both the sauce and the vegetables.  The Alfredo sauce allows the vegetables to retain their individual flavors and truly enhances them.

Vegetable Lasagna Rustico


For the Lasagna Filling:

12 Lasagna Noodles (full size, not the no-cook variety)
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
½ lb. shredded carrots
½ sliced mushrooms
1 large zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 large yellow squash, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Italian herbal mix
½ lb. spinach leaves; divided into 1/3 portions
5 cups Alfredo sauce

For the Alfredo Sauce:


8 Tbsp. butter
8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups hot milk
1 (8 oz.) package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg


Prepare noodles according to package direction, but undercook by 5 minutes to leave the noodles pliable.

Prepare the Alfredo sauce which should be kept warm until ready for use.  In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted; gradually add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a golden brown color, about 6 to 7 minutes; this is the roux.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture one cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, add the cheese and whisk until smooth again; remove from heat; season with salt and nutmeg.


Prepare the vegetable filling; in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions, red and green bell peppers and carrots; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Add in the mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Mix in garlic and Italian herbal mixture; remove from heat.

 Preheat oven to 375F and lightly spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.


Begin the layering process: one cup sauce spread over bottom of baking dish; three noodles alongside each other; one third of the vegetables from the skillet spread over the noodles; one third of the spinach leaves spread over the vegetables; three noodles; one cup sauce spread over the noodles; lastly top with remaining two cups of sauce.

-        Or  -

One Cup Sauce
3 Noodles
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
One Cup Sauce
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
One Cup Sauce
1/3 Vegetables
1/3 Spinach Leaves
3 Noodles
Top with remaining two cups of sauce.


Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes; until golden brown.  Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting into portions.

Makes 9 servings.

After resting, the cut portions hold their shape.
Mary Cokenour

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gluten Free Expo - Sandy, Utah

The nation's largest gluten-free consumer event is taking place this Saturday,  October 11, 2014 in Sandy, Utah. Tickets online @ Those who buy online get to enter 10 minutes early!
The mission of this special event is to educate the public on Celiac Disease while promoting those businesses that cater to a quality gluten free life style.  Are you confused on what exactly constitutes illness due to gluten containing products?  Do you keep hearing the term "gluten free", but are clueless as to what it truly is?  Then this is a "Don't Miss" event for you, friends, neighbors and family members!


The expo will feature:
- FREE samples from hundreds of vendors
- Kids corner with bouncy houses and face painting
- Coupons and more coupons
- Cooking Demos
- Medical Lectures
- Hourly Prize Giveaways
- Drew Manning, fit2fat2fit -
- Carol Kicinsk, Founder - Simply Gluten Free Magazine
- Dance contest (for kids)
- Beard contest (we hope just for men)
- Man lounge with streamed live football
- Massage lounge
- Grand prize giveaways
GFExpo Team
Read about the GFExpo:
It's not too late to get your tickets and attend!!!
Have a great time learning, sampling and simply enjoying the day!!!
Mary Cokenour

Friday, October 3, 2014

Our Anniversary Dinner at the Cowboy Grill.

This year, 2014, Roy and I will have been together for 11 years; 11 years ago we met online at a Dungeons and Dragons gaming site; 4 years ago we officially tied the marriage knot.  To celebrate this year, we decided to do something a bit different; we drove, hiked and climbed the Shafer Trail and part of the White Rim Trail.  Then we rewarded our achievements with dinner at the Cowboy Grill at Red Cliffs Lodge; 14 miles east of Moab on Route 128.  Yes, the same Cowboy Grill I reviewed on their Sunday Brunch which we still go to at least once a month.  Oh, the adventure we had before dinner, you'll just have to wait till I write that up on my travel blog.

As usual, we had a friendly greeting and were seated at a table which gave us a grand view of the Colorado River and the Red Rocks.  Our waitress was attentive and helped us with any questions about the menu.  To start with, we chose the Shrimp Skewer; four large shrimp, deep fried crispy outside and perfectly cooked shrimp inside, served with a drizzle of mildly spiced cocktail sauce.  Num yummy; they were so good!  Oh, we also received a basket of warm, crusty rolls with smooth butter; this just added to our overall comfort even further.

Now for dinner, I decided to check out the review sites (Tripadvisor, Yelp and Urbanspoon) before hand to see what was the favorite of most rib.  I ordered the 10 ounce and Roy ordered the 16 ounce; steamed veggies for both of us; homemade mashed potatoes and gravy for him; baked yam for me and the most deliciously decadent cinnamon butter to slather it with.  If I could have gotten a large baked yam with this cinnamon butter, a simple soup or salad on the side; I would have been in food heaven.

For dessert, I ordered Grandma's Lemon Cream Cake while Roy had the New York Cheesecake.  Umm, there are no photos; we dove into the desserts and were halfway through when I realized I'd taken no photos.  Just take my word for....more num yumminess!!!

Whether you have a special day to celebrate, or just want a lovely dinner with a great view; the Cowboy Grill at Red Cliffs Lodge just might be your go-to place.  We sure were very happy that we good!!!

Mary Cokenour

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Cheese Stuffed Burger.

Fall is here; depending on where you live, the weather may still be allowing you to enjoy outdoor grilling. However, you might be one of those lucky people who has a grill unit attached to your gas stove...sadly, I'm not one of those lucky ones. Anyway, lets chow down on a cheeseburger where the cheese is not a topping or an after thought; it's a major component of the burger itself. This burger is not for those with small mouths which cannot open more than an inch; this is for all those with mega-mouths who love to eat.

Now remember, this is your burger, so if you want a different cheese than the extra sharp Cheddar I used...GO FOR IT!!!  The same with the seasonings; make it spicy, or Oriental flavor; perhaps a Southwestern flare; toppings and bread/bun are whichever ones make your taste buds dance and sing in joy.

By the way, the hamburger press I used is my old handy-dandy hamburger press and containers from Tupperware; they're 32 years old and still work as good as ever!

Cheese Stuffed Burger


2 lbs. lean (90/10) ground beef
2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 (1/2 inch) squares of extra sharp Cheddar cheese


In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except cheese.  Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to portion out the mixture; make two patties using a hamburger press.


Place a square of cheese in the center of one patty; place the second patty over the first and press the sides together firmly to seal.  Place onto a waxed paper lined tray, mounted side up; place into the refrigerator to firm the burgers up (minimum one hour).



Heat the grill to 350F; place burgers on grill, close lid and let cook for 5 minutes; flip burgers and repeat grilling instructions.  Repeat the grilling for both sides again to get the burger cooked through to 165F (medium).


 Makes four burgers.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stuffed Peppers with a Zatarain's Mix.

I went to the local market (Blue Mountain Foods) last week which happened to have red and green bell peppers on sale for 69 cents each. Anyone who enjoys bell peppers knows that they seem to be often priced as if they are genetically enhanced with gold.  I took advantage by buying six of each; half to be used in the recipe I'll be posting; the other half to be sliced, diced, julienned and frozen for future usage.

Whenever I make stuffed peppers, one component is ground beef; the flavors of peppers and beef marry together quite well.  This recipe has another twist to it, ground turkey and just because I wanted to experiment and try out something new.  I gave one to a friend without telling her what the ingredients were first; her assessment was, "It was good.  I liked it, but..." and I finished the sentence for her; "it didn't have a beef flavor".  That hit the nail on the head for her.  Ground turkey, or chicken, is pretty tasteless and needs to be seasoned extremely well.  Personally, I simply do not like either; no matter how much seasoning or sauce is added to it, that bland flavor of the poultry comes through strongly.  That doesn't mean that I will not make it for others, nor will I stop attempting to experiment with these products.

So, here's my experimental recipe; try it and I hope you like it.

Cajun Seasoned Turkey and Rice Stuffed Peppers


1 and ½ lbs. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. no-salt seasoning mix
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (8 oz.) package Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice
6 tsps. Olive oil
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
Salt (if deemed necessary for taste)
6 large red, green or mixture of both bell peppers; seeds and white pith removed, save tops


In a large skillet, medium-high heat, brown together the ground turkey, no-salt seasoning and mushrooms until turkey is no longer pink.  Prepare the Zatarain’s according to package directions.


Preheat oven to 375F; line the cups of a large muffin tin with aluminum foil; pour a teaspoon of olive oil into each foil lined cup.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the skillet mixture, Zatarain’s and diced tomatoes; taste to see if salt needs to be added. 
Stuff each of the bell peppers; place tops back on and put half teaspoon of filling into holes; place each stuffed pepper into a foil lined cup.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Makes six servings.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another Crock Pot Ribs Recipe Using Stubbs BBQ Sauce.

Several weeks ago, the local market, Blue Mountain Foods, sent out their sales circular and the first item that truly caught my eye was the one pound package of precooked baby back ribs with sauce.  Sort of like the Lloyds brand, but from the grocery chain, Western Family, they buy their supplies from.  Anyway, the sale price was $7.99 and since Lloyd' is usually about $11.98 at Walmart, this was a bargain.  To the market I went to pick up several; I looked and looked, but could not find any to purchase.  I asked one of the employees who went back to the butcher and asked about them.  "I'm sorry", she said, "but he forgot to order them; come back on Saturday and we might have them in by then."  Now this was Wednesday and I didn't want them for Saturday, I wanted them now!

Ok, so I'm going to have to make them from scratch; the fresh ribs were only $2.99/lb. the past two weeks.  Holy moly, the price was now $4.99/lb.; I can't win here!  Last resort, boneless pork ribs (which are actually thick strips of pork tenderloin) was $2.39/lb.; it was going to have to do.  Moving around the aisles, I formulated how I was going to cook them up; seeing Stubbs BBQ Sauce on sale solidified my idea.  Purchases made, the crock pot onto the kitchen counter and creativity was put into action.

Get ready for this announcement, this recipe has only four...count them...four ingredients and came out so deliciously fantastic!

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs with Stubbs BBQ Sauce


2 lbs potatoes
4 lbs pork country style boneless ribs
1 large onion, chopped
1 (18 oz) bottle Stubbs Original BBQ Sauce



Spray the interior of a 6 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.

Peel the potatoes, cut into one inch pieces and parboil; drain, rinse and place in bottom of crock pot.  Layer the ribs over the potatoes; next the onions and pour the Stubbs sauce over all.


Set crock pot on low and let cook for 4 to 5 hours; until pork is tender.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quesadillas on Wheels?

Quesadilla Mobilla

83 S Main Street
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone: (435) 260-0289


So, there I was at the Pioneer Day Festivities in Monticello, Utah looking for something for lunch.  All the food vendors serving Navajo food items had long lines; I continued walking around to see what else might be available.  Tucked in the back of Veterans Memorial Park was this bright yellow food truck with bright red lettering on the side...Quesadilla Mobilla.  Now I'd seen this same truck in Moab, but either just had a meal, or not hungry at the time; there were only two other people on line, so here was my chance to try them out.

The first quesadilla that captured my attention was "The Southern Belle"; it was the beef mixed with sweet potatoes that made my taste senses take extreme notice.

Southern Belle

Shredded beef slow cooked in a special blend of spices and red chile! Topped with cheddar/jack cheese, sauteed corn, sauteed onions and roasted spicy sweet potatoes! Try this one with chipotle/lime sour cream.

Regular (10 inch) $8.50, Large $10.50

Oh my, oh my; this was a most awesomely delicious quesadilla.  The regular is a 10 inch tortilla and stuffed! I enjoyed half of it for lunch, and the rest was dinner later on; just as good too.

The Southern Belle

The shredded beef was tender and so flavorful; the sweet potatoes were cooked perfectly; the entire quesadilla was perfect!  Even though I did get sour cream on the side, I didn't need it; I don't believe it would have enhanced the flavors, rather it would have hidden them.  I did try the homemade green salsa that was offered; it did add to the overall flavor, but I still liked "The Southern Belle" as it was.

Quesadilla Mobilla has its home base in Moab, Utah; when not at its location on Main Street, you can find them at the weekly Farmers Market, flea markets or events going on in Grand, San Juan or other local counties.

Now here's the sad news, I was told by a Moab local that in the winter months, Quesadilla Mobilla is not allowed to be open for business.  Big disappointment!  Perhaps they should contact the City of Monticello and see if they can be open up there; I bet the locals would eat them up!

Anyway, if you're looking for a unique experience with quesadillas; are in the Moab area, or see this food truck at an event; try them out!!!  I was so glad I did.

Mary Cokenour

Update:  I have been informed by the owners that the closure in the winter months is by choice, not dictated by the City of Moab.  They work truly hard to please the public with their awesome quesadilla selections, so use the winter months to have a well deserved rest.

Quesadilla Mobilla on Urbanspoon