Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lasagna 101 and No Cook Pasta Sheets.

I do not cook my pasta sheets beforehand when making lasagna; there, I've said it. No, I do not, and have various reasons for it; not just out of convenience. Now there are folks out there who will cry "Blasphemy!", but there will be others who will sigh in relief that they're not the only ones. Then there are those who have never made lasagna, and rely on the frozen variety.  Poor souls, they thought it was too difficult, especially the part about manipulating long sheets of pasta without creating chaos.  Dear friends, consider yourselves saved; saved from freezer burn and microwave lasagna.


My reasons for not cooking the pasta sheets beforehand: 1 - convenience of course; 2 - pasta cooks more evenly inside the baking dish; 3 - it absorbs the flavors of the tomatoes, herbs and garlic from the sauce it is simmering in; 4 - by leaving gaps and layers between the sheets gives them ample room to not stick together and become gummy (the sheets will expand during the baking process also). Your question might be, "Do I need to buy lasagna sheets that specifically say "no cook" on the box?" The answer is no! You can use those pretty, curly ended sheets; they are cooking in a liquid medium anyway, but in a manner that ensures they will not be over or undercooked. I purchase both types only because the smaller "no cook" sheets fit perfectly in 9" x 5" x 3" aluminum loaf pans which I can freeze for a later meal (2-3 servings); or give away. I can use either/or in the 9" x 12" x 3" aluminum baking pans. The number needed depends on which type of pans being used: 30 curly ended for 2 - 9" x 12"; 20 no cooks for 4 - 9" x 5" loaf pans; or 15 curly for 1 - 9" x 12" and 10 no cooks for 2 - 9" x 5" loaf pans.  Too much?  Double wrap the pans in aluminum foil and freeze them; reheat at 350F for a half hour, remove the foil and heat for another 30 minutes.  Why the aluminum pans and not glass casserole dishes? Simple answer is, "No clean up!" Oh sure, they have that new liner paper out for the glass dishes, but it takes up room and I'd rather have more sauce than paper.

Making lasagna is artwork; creation of a beautifully tasty dish using vegetarian, meat, tomato, or Alfredo sauce of your choice; cheeses of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, and even cottage cheese.  Or be truly adventurous with a variety of seafood, or vegetables, using thin slices of zucchini instead of a grain pasta.  For those who like cheddar cheese within their Italian dishes, including pizza; I slap you with my glove and cry out, “Infidels, have you no respect!”  Keep the cheddar cheese for macaroni and cheese dishes, keep it out of Italian cuisine!

I'm warning you now that this will be a fairly long article, making a great lasagna takes time. It's not as simple as Gordon Ramsay (Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen) makes it seem on his shows; sauce is already prepared, noodles cooked, cheese is either cool or at room temperature. That's why it can be layered together quickly, placed under a broiler and done in about 10 minutes; it's more of a warming process than a cooking one.  You need to have a great sauce for Italian dishes; homemade with your own hands and that means made with love! You will need a minimum of 14 cups, perhaps 16, especially if you want to serve a bowl on the side; and at room temperature.  When the game plan is lasagna, making a 6 quart crock pot of sauce (didn’t you read my article on processing tomatoes and making sauce!!??!!)  I will add 2 pounds of ground beef that has been browned with onions, garlic and 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper.

A mixture of cheeses truly enhances a dish like lasagna: 12 cups of Ricotta (I use half whole milk, half part skim; but you can use all whole or all part skim).  1 bag (8 ounces) each of shredded Mozzarella and shredded Provolone, 1 cup shredded Romano cheese. The cheeses should be cool, but not cold; mix them all together in a large bowl, except for half the Mozzarella and half the Provolone. Take those halves, mix together and set aside.  I was not introduced to “cottage cheese lasagna” until I moved into Utah.  While ricotta is made from the whey of milk; curds become cottage cheese.  The pioneers, not being of Italian descent, fed whey to the animals while using the curds and cream to create dairy products.   I have used small curd cottage cheese in my lasagna cheese mixture if I could not find enough ricotta to use.

Preheat the oven to 375F; lightly spray the pan interiors with nonstick cooking spray (we don't want to leave any yummy sauce sticking to the pan). Spread one cup of sauce over the bottom.

Place one sheet over the sauce and press down slightly. See that space at the ends of the sheet; this is going to allow the liquids in the sauce to simmer up the sides, be absorbed by the sheets and cook them to tender perfection. The sauce will thicken up with the absorption of the excess liquid.  By the way, for the 9" x 5" loaf pans, each layer will have one sheet of pasta, while the larger pans will have 3 sheets, side by side, for each layer.

From the cheese mixture in the large bowl, spread a thickness of between 1/4" and 1/2" over the pasta sheet only.  Spread a half cup of sauce over the cheese as evenly as possible. Now we begin to repeat the layering process with a pasta sheet over the sauce; press down slightly; spread cheese, sauce, sheet, cheese, sauce, sheet, (however a slight change) sauce, sheet. We will end up with three layers of cheese filling total; and a top layer of sauce only between the sheets.  Now that final pasta sheet you laid down; spread sauce evenly over it, but do not fill in the sides of the pan. Remember, the liquids from the sauce need that space to move around in; not enough free space and you'll have an overflow onto your oven floor.  Bake the lasagnas for one hour; spread the remaining Mozzarella and Provolone mixture over the tops of each and return to the oven for 20 minutes.   Beautiful works of art!


Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes before cutting into squares; the longer you wait, the firmer the servings will become. While I may have patience in creating this most outstanding meal, I have none with waiting to eat it! The longer you wait though, the cooler it is becoming also; so your big decision is do you want it pretty, but cold; or hot, messy and absolutely out of this world delicious?   Stop thinking, start eating!


Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Processing Those Bountiful Tomatoes.

Tomatoes, tomatoes everywhere; what to do with all these tomatoes?  Nothing compares to the taste of a fresh picked tomato off the vein, but there’s only so many you can eat before they spoil.  Sure, sharing with friends, family and neighbors is always the first option, until winter time hits and you want that hot bowl of steaming tomato soup.  Easy answer is buy a can of soup, doctor it up and hope it comes out the way you like it.  Another option might seem more difficult to some, however, if you make it yourself, from scratch, you will reap rewards of tasty goodness.  Canned (and I mean those aluminum cans, not the Ball brand jars) cannot compare to fresh tomatoes; there is the lack of preservatives for one; then the overall knowledge that you know exactly what is inside with those tomatoes without having to read any labels.   Besides soup, there is pasta sauce to be made; and it better not be coming out of store bought glass/plastic jar either.  Oh, you just don't want to get me started on that; basically that is, in football terms, a "Hail Mary Pass" due to desperation or downright laziness.  Making homemade sauce is NOT that hard!

This article is geared towards explaining how to process fresh tomatoes for your own present or future usage.  The first method is "fire roasting" where the tomatoes are placed in the oven, or on a grill, and roasted until the skin blackens and blisters.  After peeling the tomatoes, the flesh itself takes on a richer, deeper flavor making it perfect for meat sauces, salsas and other dishes that look for an outstanding tomato flavor.   For the oven, core the tomatoes and place them open side down on an aluminum foil lined tray (jelly roll pan is best).  Preheat the oven to 450 F, place the tray on the center rack and the tomatoes are ready when the skin is blackened and blistered.  This method takes longer than the grill where you would place the whole (uncored) tomatoes on a very hot grill; watching and turning them as they blacken and blister.  Why not remove the core first?  As the tomato is blackening, it is, in essence, also cooking and you don't want the insides to come dripping out into your grill.

The second method is the water bath where the tomatoes are simmered in a large pot of heated water until the skin wrinkles, then is easily removed; it basically slides off the tomato flesh. After coring the tomatoes, turn them upside down and score an "X" on the bottom.  I own a set of very large stock pots, so am able to fit 30 tomatoes each into two of the pots, and there was no overcrowding; so yes, when I say large, I mean it. First I filled each halfway up with cold water; placed 30 tomatoes into each and then brought the water up until there was about two inches of free space from the rim.  Turning on the stove top to high heat; after about 10 minutes, my wire skimmer moved the bottom tomatoes up, the top ones downward, so they would all cook evenly.  It took another ten minutes until the skin was wrinkled enough to come off easily; the water was not boiling, but there were small bubbles all around the sides of the pots. Removing the tomatoes with the skimmer, I immersed them in a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.   
The skin will easily peel off with your fingers; just pinch a corner from the scored section and pull; but if you feel more comfortable using a small knife, then go ahead. The tomatoes will feel cool to the touch from being immersed in the cold water, but don't be fooled; squeeze too hard and your fingertips will get burned from the hot insides.

The first 30 tomatoes fit perfectly inside a six quart crockpot; setting it on low, the tomatoes cooked down for three hours.  Adding one very large red onion (diced), 4 tablespoons of Italian herbal mix, 3 tablespoons of minced garlic; the sauce continued to cook for another five hours.  Turning off the heat and letting the sauce get to room temperature, I used my immersion blender to smooth it out. The taste? Absolutely incredible!!! The freshness of the tomatoes and onions is overwhelming; nothing you'll ever get out of an aluminum can or glass/plastic jar.

The second batch of 30 tomatoes were rough chopped, divided up into 4 cup storage containers, and placed in my upright freezer for future use. Unfortunately, my home is too small (no basement) to devote an area for food canning and storage. Oh how I miss the basement from my old home back in Pennsylvania, but if anyone is interested in buying my current home, so I can move into another larger one, I won't turn down any reasonable offers.   Yes, I said reasonable; so no silliness allowed!

So before you tear your hair out wondering what to do with all those fresh tomatoes, easily home process them for your own use; you won't regret it and your taste buds will love you for it.
Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Tale of Two Chickens.

Canned tuna, canned salmon, canned shrimp, canned clams, canned crab, canned chicken, canned beef; are you seeing the trend here and has convenience just gone too far?  Or you go into the deli area of your market and see a "salad" in a plastic container; but where are the edible ingredients?  Usually there is so much mayonnaise, you wonder if that is exactly what is in the container and nothing else.  Mayonnaise for any type of "salad" should be a coating, a simple binder for ingredients, NOT the main ingredient.

Chicken salad - do you like it with shredded chicken or chunky?  Roy and I prefer chunky style; biting into a piece of chicken, knowing how it tastes combined with all the added ingredients.  The best way to prepare chicken for salad making is either Rotisserie or Boiled; yes I said boiled. Boiling the chicken does not diminish its flavor; it’s simply a quicker way of removing any excess fat while ensuring the chicken is thoroughly cooked. You want to use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins; nice and meaty! For a serving of two, use four tenderloins or one large breast half (anatomy lesson: chickens have two breasts, so you only need one); place in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover the chicken. Using high heat, boil the chicken until a thick layer of scum forms on the top; skim it off; then place the chicken under running water to rinse off any residue still hanging on. Put the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let it cool down in the refrigerator; this will also help draw out any excess water the chicken may have absorbed.  Why get rid of the water?  To keep your mayonnaise from getting runny; nothing is unappetizing as scooping up salad just to see watery residue at the bottom of the bowl.  Yuck!

When making the salad, don't get over complicated with ingredients as you want to taste that chicken.  I don’t add salt immediately, most mayonnaise brands already have enough in them. After making your salad, taste it and then decide if you'd like extra salt; remember, you can always add, but not take away. Diced red onion is sweeter than the regular white onion, less harsh on the taste buds. Diced celery will give you some color and added crunch, as will the red onion; two tablespoons of each will be just right. Ground black pepper is a flavor enhancer, but use it sparingly (a half teaspoon for two servings) as it can make your salad on the "hot" side of spicy. When cutting the chicken, first cut strips with the grain, then cut your chunks; otherwise the chicken meat will shred apart, unless you want shredded chicken that is.  Place the chicken, onion, celery and black pepper into a medium mixing bowl; add four tablespoons of mayonnaise and gently fold together. This is when you can now decide if you would like more mayonnaise or is it just right as it is. If you want more, only add one tablespoon at a time; you want to coat and bind, not overwhelm.

When it comes to making a sandwich with freshly made chicken salad, well that's really up to personal preferences. Depending on mood, and what’s in stock, the bread could be a Kaiser roll, sub roll, pita pocket, or two nice thick slices of bread. Fresh, crispy lettuce is the bedding between the bottom piece of bread and the salad; thin slice of cheese like Baby Swiss, Provolone, mild Cheddar or Colby Jack.  Slice of tomato, maybe a pickle or two; if that is what you'd like, but personally I don't add so many extras that I lose the essence of the chicken salad itself.

Now here’s a bonus, Rotisserie chicken salad, made straight from your own oven.  We've seen the oval shaped containers in the supermarkets, better yet, we've smelled the contents and started to drool. Rotisserie chicken is placed on a spit and rotated in a special oven, so the dripping fat can basically baste and moisturize the chicken. Besides selling the chicken as whole or in pieces, many places will shred the meat, mix it with mayonnaise and sell it as chicken salad at a high price per pound. Is it worth it? Not always; there might not be enough seasoning, or too much; same goes for the mayonnaise; and the extra benefits of veggies is iffy, or not even added in.

Besides the local supermarket, a rotisserie chicken can be done on the home barbeque. Just purchase the rotating spit, set it up, plug in; yes you'll need an electrical source, and start cooking. Not everyone wants to do this though, but there's another alternative...your own oven.  While the recipe focuses on boneless, skinless chicken breasts, bone-in chicken breasts can also be used, but you just have to up the cooking time to 55-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Coating the chicken with mayonnaise and covering with foil ensures that the chicken will stay moist inside as well as outside.  For the veggies, I use diced onion and celery, but a little shredded carrot or diced bell peppers work too.


Rotisserie Chicken Salad


6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves; trimmed of fat
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

Seasoning Mix

2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. crushed dry thyme
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch of ground cayenne pepper

Salad Mix

¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup mayonnaise


Preheat oven to 400F; line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place rack on top of foil.

Mix together seasonings and spread out on large plate. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the chicken breasts with the 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise; lightly press both sides of chicken onto seasoning mix. Place chicken on rack; cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.

Let chicken cool before cutting into one inch pieces. Place in large bowl; add onion, celery and mayonnaise; mix completely. Serve on rolls, breads, inside pita pockets, rolled in tortillas or as the center piece of a green salad.

Makes 6 servings.

Need to bring a dish to the next get-together?  Wow them with chicken salad; just don’t be surprised if it will be expected every time.
Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Zen of Tortellini.

A favorite movie quote comes from 1984’s “Dune”, featuring Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Sting and more too numerous to mention; “Fear is the mind killer”.  Fear keeps us from completing goals, beginning new tasks, exploring the unknown, jumping head first into dangerous situations (that’s a good thing though).  However, if fear kills the mind, stress goes after the entire body inside and out.  It ages the skin, elevates blood sugar and pressure, leads to eating disorders and causes various organ diseases.  These two factors, stress and fear, are partners in crime as they both lead to unhealthy, unhappy lives.

Stress and fear appear in disguises; they slink into your life, and as Chef Emeril Lagasse would say, as he spices up a recipe, “Bam!!!” they destroy you.  I have to admit that I don’t like his recipes much; just seem to have too many ingredients and steps to the final result.  Very rarely do any of my personal recipes have many ingredients and/or steps, and that’s mainly due to my own lack of patience.  Actually, I’m much better at being patient than in earlier days, and that has attributed to helping to bring my stress level down.  Take a deep breath and count to ten, or more if needed; smile and nod; imagine yourself in a happier, quieter place…yes, these techniques all work a lot better now.  Not perfect, just better.

In cooking, I have, more and more, turned away from using premade, packaged meals; and found easier, tastier ways to make them from scratch.  Better for health to get away from all those preservatives and additives, and lots better for the ego, “Hey, look what I made!”  Yes, better seems to be the catch word for now; not perfect, just better.  Some recipes, that started out as just a side dish, found their way to becoming a meal of their own.  Just an additional ingredient here or there, or different technique; nothing long drawn, seems to make the difference.


A favorite pasta of mine is Tortellini; little pasta rings filled with cheese, spinach, chicken, just about anything nowadays; the larger version is referred to as Tortelloni.  It comes dried, frozen, and fresh; packages small enough to take up very little storage space in the freezer or pantry.  This pasta can be served with virtually any type of sauce, in soups, salads, as a side dish, or a main meal; you can’t go wrong with it.  If you haven’t tried it yet, give yourself a little taste adventure; play with ingredients to add with it.  Have fun playing in the kitchen, create something unique, smile and see how much better you feel.  Not perfect, just better…for now.

Simple Tortellini Salad


1 (16 oz.) package tortellini  
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried Italian herb mix
4 Tbsp. Vidalia sweet onion relish (jarred or fresh made)


Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Place cooked tortellini into large bowl; add remaining ingredients and mix together gently so as to not break up the pasta.

Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.

Or, for the more adventurous:

Tortellini Salad


2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp. (packed in oil) sundried tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram (if not available, use dried)
Dash each of sea salt and ground black pepper
1 lb. tortellini, cooked


In a large skillet, heat oil on high; sauté asparagus spears, mushrooms and tomatoes for 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add in vinegar and garlic; let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in marjoram, salt, pepper and tortellini; toss gently to coat and remove to serving dish.

Makes 4-6 servings; can be served warm or cold.
Mary Cokenour

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Salad is a Salad, or is it?

First off, let me say that I am OPPOSED to the Bears Ears National Monument.  Taking almost half of San Juan County, making a monument which would destroy the lives, and livelihoods, of its resident is vile.  With my travel blog, The Southwest Through Wide Brown Eyes,  I have shown time and time again the beauty of San Juan County; and perfect examples of why it should be open to all.  The chosen few who believe themselves above the residents DO NOT LIVE HERE  AND ARE CLUELESS!!! 

Why do I feel I need to make this statement here?  A female restaurant owner, in Blanding, has slandered (said in front of witnesses) me by stating to others, "This woman from Brooklyn is an "environmentalist" and is pushing for the monument."  Really???  I would like to see proof of this, since I have written, on social media, many times that I am AGAINST the monument.  As to being an "environmentalist", that is way too much work for me to even learn how to spell correctly. Then again, this is the same woman who verbally attacked (again, witnesses) me at my first job in San Juan County and stated, "You are an outsider!  I don't want you touching my money, looking at my accounts, and you are not allowed inside my restaurant!"  

Well sweet cheeks, lets get something straight, you may think of yourself as royalty; but I'm a Goddess, and you need to begin bowing to me!!!  So, lets get off the topic of females with no brains, and onto today's topic; side salads.

The idea of, one day, owning one of those old fashioned roadside diners, and serving up a variety of comfort foods to traveling motorists, truckers, or folks just out for an adventure, is always on my mind.  Roy loves the idea, but finances are not our friend when it comes to the idea of starting, owning and maintaining a business.  With each new presidential election year I hear, “The tide is turning” which usually means we’re personally about to be hit with a tsunami. 

Ah, the true purpose of this post is, however, salads; not the greens and veggies type, but wondrous concoctions known as side salads.  It’s not just the main ingredients of pastas, rice, vegetables, grains that make a side salad, but the dressing which brings me to Miracle Whip.  It's called a salad dressing, but basically it is mayonnaise with sugar (and lots of preservatives) added in.  Personally, the taste of it is quite nasty, but then again, I wouldn't eat plain mayonnaise either.  Roy loves it on sandwiches, and I don't know how many times I have felt insulted by his putting a blob of it upon my luscious....yes, luscious, meatloaf, or freshly roasted beef. 

I do use the product in my macaroni salad, coleslaw and deviled eggs.  Why are deviled eggs called deviled in the first place?  I mean, if you really look at them, they should be called "bloody, mutilated chicken fetuses" with all that red paprika sprinkled over the yellow gob.  So, I make mine really "deviled" by adding ground cayenne pepper to the mixture, but this post is not supposed to be about all that.

All I’m saying is that Miracle Whip should stick to salad enhancing, and mayonnaise should be, as it has always been, versatile, all purpose.  Sort of like with elections; politicians should say what they mean, and mean what they say.  Don’t sprinkle it with sugar and hope no one notices.  That being said, here's my recipe for "Amish Macaroni Salad":


Amish Macaroni Salad


1 lb. elbow macaroni
½ cup each carrots, onions, red bell peppers, finely diced
5 hard-boiled eggs, diced
2 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard


Cook macaroni; drain, let cool in a large bowl.  Gently mix in the carrots, onions, peppers and eggs.

Whisk together Miracle Whip, vinegar, sugar and mustard to make the dressing; gently fold into the macaroni mixture, making sure all macaroni is covered by dressing.  Cover and let sit overnight.

Makes 10 – 1 cup servings.

Mary Cokenour - foodie, adventurer, photographer, writer.  NOT an environmentalist and definitely OPPOSED to the Bears Ears National Monument.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Asian Gourmet from Haddon House.

Haddon House Food Products, Inc.

Asian Gourmet - Chinese, Japanese and Thai food products

When we lived on the East coast, visiting Chinatown in New York City or Philadelphia was simply a couple of hours of driving away.  We loved going into all the little groceries to find noodles, sauces, teas, vegetables (love Bok Choy), fruits and candies that a regular supermarket didn't have.  Then, of course, there were the Dim Sum restaurants that offered up a huge variety of delectables; oh how we miss those restaurants of authentic Chinese cuisine.  We didn't order from menus; the restaurant owner knew us and ordered for us; never a disappointment, and always something new to try.

Twice someone tried opening up a "Chinese" restaurant in the area.  The first time it was a person who purchased bulk pans of frozen, premade Chinese-like meals; heated them up and sold by the scoop full.  Disgusting!!!  The second time there were actual owners of Chinese descent; big mistake was hiring locals who knew nothing about the cuisine, didn't want to learn, and didn't want to do much work either.  Then again, it was the owners' fault for not insisting they be knowledgeable, or replacing them with those who wanted to learn and work.  If a restaurant wants to succeed, the owners have to make sure they have the best staff, attitude, training, atmosphere and products.

I get calls from many restaurants, in the area, to come visit and do a review on them.  They know I am honest, can't be bought off, nor bribed; they are also very confident that they have all the musts for success.  Now the ones that don't want me to visit know they are not up to par.  They don't care if tourists come in or not; their belief is that friends, family and locals, out of blind loyalty, will keep them going no matter how bad the food and service are.

...and so I have digressed from my original thoughts on Asian Gourmet products.

Since the closest Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Thai) are an hour away in either Moab, UT or Cortez, CO; I have had to learn to do some of my own cooking of these cuisines.  Being able to purchase some of the products to accomplish this is a huge help, and many of the major chain supermarkets are carrying Asian Gourmet by Haddon House Food Products, a food distributor on the, what else, East coast.  Owning a Wok is an even bigger help; tools of the trade do make a difference.

So, here's one of my latest concoctions...

Chinese Noodle Stir Fry
1 (8 oz.) package Asian Gourmet Chinese Noodles
2 Tbsp. Stir Fry oil (if not available, canola oil)
 and 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice powder
1 (10 oz.) package frozen sugar snap peas, defrosted
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
Prepare Chinese Noodles according to package direction; set aside, but keep warm.
Heat oil, medium-high, in Wok or large, deep skillet.  Mix chicken pieces with 5 spice powder; brown all sides in the oil.
Add the sugar snap peas and bell peppers; mix thoroughly and let cook for 5 minutes together.
Add the kept warm, cooked noodles and sauces to the Wok; mix thoroughly and let cook until the bottom is sizzling.  Stir bottom ingredients up to the top, and repeat.
Makes 8 servings.
Mary Cokenour


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ray's Tavern Since 1943..

Ray's Tavern

25 South Broadway
Green River, Utah, 84525

Phone: (435) 564-3511


Hours of Operation: Monday thru Sunday, 11am to 9pm

Patio Seating

We were told by friends, Joseph Venus and Dwane Cude (Utah Artists), about Ray's Tavern; let me correct that, they raved about Ray's Tavern.  Looking at it from the outside, it looks like any other bar establishment; inside is pretty much the same look.  The huge difference is everyone is there having a great time; from locals to tourists, family, friends, couples and solos.  The owners and staff of Ray's Tavern pride themselves on their service; fresh cooked, high quality foods; welcoming atmosphere...they have achieved restaurant nirvana.

Walking in, we were immediately greeted and told to sit anywhere we wanted.  We did the Southwest thing and "bellied up to the bar"; my hubby ordering a Polygamy Porter and fresh brewed coffee for myself.  The staff is very, very friendly; answering our questions easily and offering up tips on the food.  Now while we had heard the burgers were the best, we weren't in a burger mood; hey, it happens!  However, a lovely couple sitting in one of the booths had just received their burger and fries orders, and let me take a photo.  They were from Moab, but didn't think twice about taking a one-hour drive up to Ray's Tavern when in a burger mood.  They said they had been coming here for years, and no place could outdo them; and we quickly found out why.

My hubby ordered the Double Pork Chops; nice char on the bone-in chops, thick cut, juicy with an order of handcut fries.  The fries are cut fresh every morning, and it's not unusual to have to do a second batch of cutting between the lunch and dinner hours.
Carlos - Look at that Smile!!!

I ordered the New York Strip Steak, medium-rare, and I got it exactly the way I like it...medium-rare.  Again, that nice char on a perfectly cooked, juicy, meaty steak; along with those handcut fries, it was dinner heaven.

Before our orders we dived into the dinner salad; a large portion of chopped lettuce covered with sliced olives, red bell peppers, pickled beet and croutons.  While my hubby had ranch dressing, I went for the honey mustard; made in-house and so plate licking good!

The portions are not chintzy, so we took some food home; and had no room left for that fresh apple pie (ala mode is an option); maybe next time.  Oh yes, there will be a next time, and we want to be in a burger mood.

Mary Cokenour