Monday, July 13, 2020

Guest Food Blogger - Belinda Y. Hughes

There are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of food bloggers who are posting their own recipes and techniques, making demonstration cooking vlogs, and basically wanting to get appreciated for their culinary skills.  Some are professionals who are coveting a spot on Food Network Channel or the Cooking Channel; maybe even that Top Chef position at a famous restaurant.  The majority are home cooks, like myself, and while many get that great opportunity to have a cookbook published, the rest depend on a following online.

Personally, I think we should all support each other, but then again, I'm naive and still believe in fairness.  So, I don't mind having another be a guest on my food blog.  I don't mind giving credits to a recipe I found on another food blog.  It certainly is wonderful to know that many feel the same as I do, and I've been a guest, or been credited by others.

So, I'm shutting up for now, and let me introduce you to Belinda Y. Hughes and one of her recipes from Cafe Belinda...Crispy Chickpeas.  It is a vegetarian recipe Belinda obtained from Tupperware, so they're credited with that.  Belinda enjoys vegetarian cuisine, and I know many of you will enjoy reading her blog for new recipe ideas.  With all that's Belinda Y Hughes!

Belinda Y. Hughes proudly represents Avon and Tupperware and food blogs at Cafe Belinda. She is also the author of Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, a veggie cookbook, available on Amazon. When her nose isn’t buried in a gripping mystery or sizzling romance, you can find her hiking, watering her organic, companion-planted container garden or deep in a bubble bath with the dial set on public radio or classic rock.
Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2:

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are like a really good yoga teacher - unbelievably flexible. No, these limber legumes won’t do your planks, but you can blend them into hummus (see Mary's yummy recipe here) sprinkle them into salads, soups and stews, or nosh on them as healthy low-carb keto snacks.

The quick and easy, keto vegan recipe I’m sharing today, Crispy Chickpeas, can spice up all of the above. Keep them on hand and you’ll always be ready for snacking, gifting and camping.
Important Note: Keep chickpeas away from non-human family members. For some, their bellies and reproductive systems are not chickpea-friendly. Resist “the look”.
Did You Know?
The great Italian orator Cicero’s family got their name because they raised chickpeas (cicer). No chickens were used in the naming of chickpeas. It’s a long crazy story across eons, lands and languages. As for garbanzo, that comes from the Basque word garbantzu, which means “dry seed”.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are powerhouse superfoods! Just a few things they do for you:
       Balance blood sugar
       Ease bowel movements & improve regularity
     ●       Reduce cholesterol & inflammation
       Dial back cancer risk (fight cancer & help eliminate sick & dying cells)
If you’re not already scarfing down chickpeas, you need to be. These guys are your new bffs.
Per cup, chickpeas contain:
       ~269 calories
       ~4 g fat
       34 (canned) to 45 (dried cooked) g carbohydrates
       9 (canned) to 12 (dried cooked) g fiber
       6-7 g sugar
       10 (canned) to 15 (dried cooked) g protein
Of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals, they contain, per cup:
       6-8% of calcium
       40% of fiber (incl. pre-biotic fiber)
       8 (canned) to 22 (dried cooked)% of iron
       15 (canned) to 70 (dried cooked)% of folate/folic acid
       17 (canned) to 39 (dried cooked)% of phosphorus
While this recipe calls for canned chickpeas, I recommend either getting cans marked BPA-Free or going for the dried beans. They’re more budget-friendly and far more beneficial nutrition-wise, as you can see. Plus, this addictive, versatile recipe gives you a reason to buy in bulk.
You may notice some links in the Crispy Chickpeas recipe. That’s because Mary graciously agreed to do a guest post swap with me, to help me introduce you to my Tupperware store. In exchange, she shared her recipe for Vegetable Lasagna Rustico (two words: Alfredo sauce!) on my veggie food blog, Cafe Belinda. Merci beaucoups, Mary!
Now, grab your favorite beverage and let’s whip up some superfood snacks!
Did You Know:
Photo courtesy of Tupperware

Recipe: Crispy Chickpeas (courtesy of Tupperware)

Serves 4
Serving size ¾ cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Two 15 oz./425 g cans chickpeas, drained
(reserve the liquid, aka aquafaba, to sub for egg white in other vegan recipes)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt

  1. Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and add olive oil. Add remaining spices, seal and shake to evenly coat.
  2. Place chickpea mixture into the base of the MicroPro® Grill and place the cover in grill position. Make sure the cover is touching the chickpeas.
  3. Microwave on high power 10 minutes.
  4. At the end of cooking time, uncover and stir chickpeas. Replace cover in grill position and return to microwave to cook on high power for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.

Thank you Belinda for sharing your information, about chickpeas, and this recipe from Tupperware.  Need more information on Vegetarian Cuisine, Tupperware or one of Belinda's other interest, contact her at one of the links listed above.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Another Pajama Day

I do not envy people who work second or third shifts; did it for eight years, and hated it. Roy did it for 4 years and was not too happy about it either.  However, for all the disdain we felt for the hours, the money and benefits were just too good to give up, so we plodded on.  Mine was also a cushy job; no management watching constantly, only one other coworker, and most of the time we just sat around listening to music, surfing the net, or reading.  Not much to really do when working in a computer server room, and testing programs.  When the financial institution aka “large east coast bank” was bought out, and we got the announcement about being laid off, all I could feel was relief.  I was getting a nice severance package, eligible for unemployment, and a huge bonus for staying on until the company was finally done with the computer operations department.

Roy was soon laid off from his graphic design position too, so we needed to make plans and quickly.  We had made a five year plan, but the layoffs forced us into a two year plan.  Living in Pennsylvania was something we had both started to dislike...intensely.  I had fallen in love with Utah when we visited his mom in 2006, and even then I had said to him, "Honey, one day we are going to live here."  October 2008, we took a two week trip to Utah, scoped out potential areas to live in, and made a decision....we put the PA house up for sale.  Coordinating with realtors in PA and Utah, we sold our home and purchased a new one; well not a new-new one, it was a dumpy handyman special, and we had to put a lot of work, and money, into the house to get it livable for us.  Far from being our dream home, but it had to do.

I have gone on another one of my tangent’s here, so back to working nights.  No matter how many years done, one just cannot get used to sleeping during the day, feeling no sunlight, or missing experiences in the outside world.  We were always tired, mainly due to neighbors who knew we worked nights, but were obsessed with lawn care.  We never really had a full weekend off.  Saturdays were usually spent sleeping part of the day, and then trying to get everything done we did not do during the week.  Sundays we were still playing catch up on chores; then suddenly, it was back to work.

Roy and I have had several jobs since moving to Utah.  While I always worked day shift, he works swing shifts, but it is not as bad as the job in PA was.  We were able to actually have a real pajama day occasionally.    Staying in night clothes, watching movies in bed and basically doing squat all day, and not caring at all.  There is just one main problem, we do not want life to pass us by; do not want to miss anything.  We start out with a pajama day, and then suddenly get dressed in our adventuring clothes, and off we go!

With Covid-19, well pajama days seem to be almost every day, for me at least.  Roy’s an “essential” worker, so his schedule has not really changed much.  But, in essence, do not let life pass you by just cause you can; seize the days and enjoy them.  But once, every once in a while,
give yourself a pajama day cause you earned it.

Originally, my friend Jena, who still lives back in PA, shared this recipe with me.  Came off the back of a soup can, so you know I had to play with it.  Once completely baked, it would not win a fashion award once served, but who cares!?!  This dish is delicious, satisfying and just one of the yummiest recipes I have ever made.   Having a pajama day?  You deserve a serving of this in your belly.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole


2 whole chicken breasts, deboned, skinned, cooked and diced.
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10.5 oz.) can refried beans
1 (15.5 oz.) jar mild or medium heat, chunky salsa
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Mexican style cheese (1and1/2 cups + 1/2 cup set aside)
1 package (10 in package, 6” or 7” diameter) corn tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large mixing bowl, mix well the first 7 ingredients (not the 1/2 cup of cheese set aside).

Spray a 2-quart baking dish (round or oval), place 4 tortillas on bottom. Covering bottom and up the sides. Spread out 1/2 the mixture from the bowl. Cover with 3 tortillas, spread out other 1/2 of mixture. Cover with 3 tortillas, spread 1/2 cup of cheese over top of tortillas.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes; remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes, until top is slightly brown, and mixture is bubbling. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8.

It's not gourmet restaurant fashion pretty, but you will be going back for seconds.  I don't know anyone who would choose pretty, but disgusting food over "it ain't pretty, but so delicious" food.  Well except pretentious people who show off, by spending loads of money, buying "a name" over quality.

Note: The chicken can be boiled, baked in the oven, or purchased pre-cooked.  I make mine by preheating the oven to 350F.  Slice the breasts in half lengthwise (now have 4 pieces), season both sides with salt, ground black pepper and paprika (just a sprinkle of each seasoning on each side of the chicken).  Bake for 20 minutes…the chicken will be fully cooked and juicy, so you will be tempted to eat it.  Don’t!  Dice it up and add to your casserole mixture instead.

Hint:  You can always cook up more chicken, dice it up, add mayonnaise and now you have a delicious chicken salad for sandwiches.

Mary Cokenour

Friday, June 12, 2020

Twisted Dough

Hard or soft, salted or seeded, butter dipped or not, seasoned with herbs and/or spices, anyway it is made, is always a treat.  Can you guess what this baked goody is?  The Pretzel. 

The origins of the pretzel are dependent on which country is telling the story.  600s Italy, a monk created the “pretiolas” (little rewards) to give to good children who had memorized their prayers.  The shape represented the arms of the children, crossed while saying their prayers.  The French have a similar story referencing a monk, while Germany tells of bakers held hostage and forced to bake for royalty and high officials of the church.   However, the earliest documented (key word for historical evidence) is from 1185 Germany.  An illustration of pretzels appeared in the Hortus Delicarum, a manuscript compiled by Herrad of Landsberg, at an abbey in Alsace, which was, then, a region of Germany.  Bakers’ guilds displayed the pretzel within their crest.

By the 1400s, the pretzel had become a sign of the Holy Trinity, given out for the Christmas holiday, and even hung on trees.  In the 1700s, German immigrants followed William Penn to America, and his state of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Dutch aka Amish).  In 1861, Julius Sturgis opened his pretzel bakery in Lititz, PA which offered up soft and hard pretzels to consumers.  Story is that his factory was the first to develop hard pretzels, and no, it was not due to a baker falling asleep while pretzels overbaked.  The crunchy, salty snacks lasted longer in an air tight container, than soft pretzels did.  This allowed them to be sold in stores far away from Lititz, and kept on shelves much longer.  Roy and I have visited this historic place several times, and highly recommend, if visiting Lancaster County, PA, to put this on your touring to-do list.  Besides getting to feast on delicious pretzels, hands on experience in pretzel twisting is part of the factory’s tour.  (

Personally, I feel so lucky that I was able to experience, during childhood, getting a huge (as big as my head!) soft pretzel from a street vendor.  A pushcart full of soft baked pretzels, kept warm from the heat of glowing charcoal.  The saltiness mixed with a smoky aroma, the soft consistency giving comfort physically and mentally.  Talk about complete satisfaction!

Soft pretzels can be found in your grocer’s freezer; who has not heard of “Super Pretzel”?  However, I recently found a company called “Eastern Standard Provisions Co.” (, located in Maine, and the photographs on their website made my mouth crave soft pretzels.  The website describes their soft pretzels as, “a pretzel with the airy qualities of a brioche on the inside and a traditional Bavarian-style crust on the outside.”  Sold!

I purchased the “Love at First Bite” gift box which included five Wheelhouse pretzels and 3 types of salt.  Paying attention (see, I can!) to the instruction guide, the oven baked the pretzels to perfection.  Soft and blissfully chewy, the salt was a crisp bite which tickled the tongue, and the butter smeared on, before baking, had permeated the interior.

Spread butter onto pretzels

Press salt onto butter

After baking.

Inside, pretzel is hot, soft and buttery delcious!

Now whether you decide to try this product, or purchase the one from the market, here’s a huge hint; always bake them!  Microwaving ruins the entire experience.

Want to try your hand at making your own?  There are so many recipes located online, video demonstrations, and in baking books.  You will not know which recipe is right for your tastes, unless you try.  The San Juan Record Bookstore offers a variety of genre, including cooking and baking.  Stop in and see if one of their books has the right recipe for you.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Fish Without the Deep Fry.

I have to admit, with all the hoarding, due to Covid-19, I was able to score supplies that the hoarders ignored.  One such supply was bread crumbs - plain, Italian seasoned, and Japanese Panko.  Not only had the prices not gone up, but there was no limit, so purchasing six of each was easy.  Now some of you are thinking, "Wow, that's way too much to have in stock.".  Maybe for you, but not in my household, as we use them with many, many recipes.

However, the price of cooking oils has gone up dramatically, so the next best cooking technique is oven frying.  The coating still comes out crunchy when the bread crumbs used is the Panko.  The oil used is non-stick cooking spray; no oil absorbed by the fish, and it doesn't stick to the baking pan.

The fish recommended for this is a firm, white flesh fish such as pollack, haddock or cod.  Basically the same type of fish that could be battered, then deep fried.  I have done it with catfish, but the cooking time is longer with the fillets being very thick.  Or it could be cut in half lengthwise, but it's catfish, and who does that!?! 

I have to give kudos to the hoarders.  Being a bunch of selfish low lives, has definitely forced home cooks to become creative.

Oven Fried Fish


2 lbs. firm white fish (haddock, cod, Pollack), about 6-8 pieces
2 cups milk
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp. crushed dried dill
1 Tbsp. crushed dried parsley
4 cups Panko


Preheat oven to 400F; spray jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3 wide shallow bowls

#1 – whisk milk with eggs
#2 – mix flour with salt, pepper, dill and parsley
#3 – Panko

Coating sequence

Immerse fish into #1.
Coat both sides of fish with #2.
Immerse into #1 again.
Coat both sides of fish with #3.
Place on sprayed baking pan.

Repeat sequence with each piece of fish.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, dependent on thickness of fish.  After 20 minutes, insert fork into center to test for doneness (flakes up easily).

Makes 6-8 servings of approximately 4 – 4.5 ounces each.

Add a simple side salad for a complete meal.
 Mary Cokenour

Good Day Sunshine

“Good day sunshine.
I need to laugh, and when the sun is out.
I've got something I can laugh about.
I feel good, in a special way.
I'm in love and it's a sunny day.”

(Good Day Sunshine – The Beatles)

June, sun is shining and a cool breeze drifts down from the mountains.  Soon the summer solstice will arrive, the longest day of the year, and the official start of the season.  Prediction for June is, “Welcome to the 6th level of Jumanji”.  Father Time is certainly giving everyone an interesting 2020 year, and personally, I am wondering if Godzilla will be making an appearance in July.

Happily, Roy and I have been, once again, adventuring.  Our latest was following trails off of Lisbon Valley Road, close to the town of La Sal, and discovering long abandoned mining facilities.  Packing a picnic lunch of tuna salad sandwiches, Amish macaroni salad and a sun-shiny dessert, we found a lovely spot, on a ridge, overlooking the valley.  It is the absolute quiet, with the occasional call of a bird, or the whooshing sound of its flapping wings.  Yes, that is how quiet it can be, and it is a wonderful lack of sound.

Taking over 200 photographs, I, of course, have a new goal to research the mining industry of La Sal.  From what I have already read, there were over 19,000 mining claims!  The remains, of the mining facilities, we found have stories to tell, and I intend on sharing them on my travel blog.  Well, depending on how I do on this new level of Jumanji.

Now to that sun-shiny dessert I mentioned, Creamy Lemon Squares.  It is a takeoff on traditional lemon bars, but with a crispy crust and thicker filling.  Besides using lemon juice, I played (did you expect I would not!?!), and used a combination of orange and vanilla to create Creamsicle bars.  Sugar was played with as well as the crust has added sugar, and it was just too sweet for our tastes.  Using graham crackers which are already sweet, the additional sugar, in our opinion, was unnecessary.  However, try this recipe yourself, and see what your taste buds think about it.  The squares cut easily and can be packed up nicely to take on a picnic, or just as a snack when riding out through the countryside.

 Creamy Lemon Squares
(Easy Recipes Blog:

For the Crust
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan
1-1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar

For the Filling
2 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)


Preheat oven to 350F / 180C degrees.
Brush a square baking dish with melted butter.
Crush graham crackers

Then add in sugar and butter and blend to mix.
Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan.
Bake until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes.
Cool crust, 30 minutes.

To Make the Filling

*In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk.
*Add lemon juice; whisk until smooth.

*Pour filling into cooled crust; carefully spread to edges.
*Bake until set, about 15 minutes.
*Cool in pan on rack.


After Baking and Cooled
*Chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Serve with whipped cream.

Makes 16 squares.

Creamy Creamsicle Squares (Orange Juice plus Pure Vanilla Extract)
Juice Options: Substitute orange, lime or pineapple; also use fresh juice or concentrated.  Combinations like lemon-lime, use ¼ cup of each juice to create ½ cup combo.  For orange, add 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract to create old fashioned Creamsicle flavor.  Never use premixed juice from a carton or bottle, it contains water and will ruin the filling.

Garnishes: Powdered sugar and/or add fresh fruit.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Kabobing with the Greeks

According to the calendar, the season of spring began on March 19th this year, a day earlier than usual, and in a leap year as well.  Overall, the year 2020 has been a challenge for its first four months, and we’re all wondering where the reset button is.  Weather wise, many states, including Utah, were still seeing cold temperatures, snow and hail.

Then May 1st came, Beltane, the midpoint between the beginning of spring and summer.  The ancient Celtic meaning is “bright fire”, so what better way to celebrate then to barbecue!  With the pandemic continuing, rules of engagement constantly changing, and challenging; it can be difficult to cope in a positive way.

Go outside!  Yes, you can still be safe, at home, but outside in your own backyard, or on the front lawn, on the balcony or patio.  But, go outside!  Look up, see the clouds, what forms can you imagine?  Look at the plant life, flowering buds on the trees, small leaves unfolding to capture dew drops and shafts of sunlight.

This is personal mental and emotional nourishment; food for the mind and soul.  With the body itself, time to fire up the grill and imagine the culinary possibilities.  Of cooking food…not your body!  Come on now, no one can possibly be at the point of cannibalism yet!?!

Let’s take it to the Greeks, and grill up kabobs, or what they refer to as Souvlaki.
Souvlaki (plural is Souvlakia) is a diminutive of the Greek souvla (spit), and there is evidence that cooking with skewers originated in Greece.  One excavation of the archaeological site Akrotiri, on the Greek island of Santorini,  revealed stone sets of barbecues for skewers (Greek: krateutai) used before the 17th century BCE.  Alright kiddies, quiz time, Akrotiri was a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the volcanic Greek island of Santorini (Thera).  What mythological creature lived in a maze, underneath the king’s palace?  (Insert Jeopardy theme music)  Time is up!  The Minotaur.

Back to Souvlaki, small pieces of meat or poultry, sometimes vegetables are included, which are grilled on a skewer.  The grilled food can be eaten right off the skewer or pulled off onto a warm pita bread to make a sandwich.  If you are looking more for a dinner entree, place the souvlaki over rice or orzo (pasta shaped like rice).  The warm pita bread, broken into pieces, can act as a utensil.

This is a simple and easy meal that can be prepared for sports oriented children (once it begins again).  Get them home after their event and while they are cleaning up, you can be getting together this healthy meal for them.  Chicken, firm cuts of seafood, and pork can be used instead of beef.  Vegetarians can indulge by substituting tofu, or chunks of beefy tasting, Portobella (also spelled Portabella or Portobello) mushrooms, for the protein, plus adding a larger variety of vegetables.

The marinade for the Souvlakia is simply lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley and garlic. The lemon juice helps to break down the connective tissue in the proteins; tenderness is assured after grilling or oven roasting.  For my recipe, I added capers for a little twang on the tongue.

Beef and Vegetable Souvlaki


1 lb. beef cubes, trimmed of fat
1 lb. mini sweet peppers, cut in half and seeded
1 large onion, chopped
½ lb. small button mushrooms
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. each of fine sea salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. capers


In a large plastic container, combine all ingredients thoroughly; seal and refrigerate overnight.

If grilling, alternate beef cubes and vegetables on skewers. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes first to avoid burning.  Place on medium-high preheated grill; cook for 6 minutes before turning skewers; cook another 6 minutes before serving.

If roasting, preheat oven to 450F. Place beef, vegetables and remaining marinade into a large roasting pan, or onto a large jelly roll pan, in a single layer.  Cook for 3 minutes, turn beef; repeat; on 3rd turn of beef, also turn vegetables (this will allow for beef and vegetables to caramelize); turn beef a 4th time, cook for 3 minutes.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Mary Cokenour

By the way, we had this on May 12, 2020, and here are a few photos of that delicious meal.

Kabobs ready for the grill, Greek marinade for basting.
After Grilling

Kabobs, Squash cooked with salt, cracked black pepper and butter, Naan Bread, Feta Cheese

Roy's dinner plate is full.