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

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Calzone By Another Name.

Now growing up in an Italian neighborhood, in Brooklyn, New York, I certainly know my Italian food items, especially when it comes from a pizzeria.  Therefore, I know what a Calzone is and what it normally consists of; anything else is simply another name.  Just because you take some dough, wrap it around a bunch of ingredients; doesn't make it an authentic calzone.  Take, for example, the Croatia dish, Burek, which consists mainly of meats and some vegetables; this is a meat pie, not a calzone.

Now in town we have two "pizzerias"; remember, I'm a pizza snob, so that is why I've put pizzeria in quotes for them.  Wagon Wheel Pizza has a menu item called a "turnover" made with pizza dough, consisting of meats, vegetables or a combination and very little cheese. Thankfully they have the sense not to call it a calzone. The other place, Thatzza Pizza has a menu item called a calzone which I have not personally tried. However, I know people who have and they have said in certainty that what Thatzza Pizza calls a calzone is, in reality, simply a meat pie.

The recipe I'm posting today is called "Italian Flag Meat Pie".  The "Italian Flag" part of the name refers to the ingredients being of the colors of the Italian Flag: green, white and red.  Roast beef is the meat ingredient and the cheeses used are Goat and Provolone.  Since I'm not using the traditional pizzeria combination of Ricotta, Mozzarella and Provolone, well there you go, it's not a calzone, it's a meat pie.  One other change, not using pizza dough, but pie crust; flakier, crispier and sweeter dough than pizza style.

Italian Flag Meat Pies


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup each of diced onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms
1 cup each of diced tomatoes and steamed asparagus
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp Italian herbal mix
1 tsp salt
1 lb. cooked meat or poultry (diced steak, ground beef, shredded chicken, diced pork, etc)
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
4 ready-made pie crusts, room temperature and cut in half
8 slices provolone cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water


Heat oil, on medium-high heat, in large skillet; sauté onions, peppers and mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, herbal mix and salt; cook another 2 minutes.  Add meat and goat cheese; mix thoroughly and turn off heat.


Preheat oven to 450F; spray baking sheet with nonstick baking spray.


Sprinkle flour on board, place half of a pie crust on top; place one slice of provolone cheese in center of one side of crust. Center a half to 3/4 cup of mixture from skillet on top of cheese.  Dab water along edges of crust, fold one side over filling and press edges together.  Roll dough up along edges to further seal; cut a small slit in center of each pie; place on baking sheet.


Beat eggs with 2 tablespoons water and brush all over pies; bake for 15 - 20 minutes; until pies are golden brown.

Makes 8 pies.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How Hawaiian is Hawaiian Chicken?

I keep seeing recipes being posted on food sites or Facebook for "Hawaiian Chicken", but the Asian influences are so obviously strong...teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Thai chiles. Then there are those strictly American add-ins such as bottled barbecue sauce or ketchup...ketchup! How Hawaiian is ketchup!?!

The closest recipe I could find for an authentic Hawaiian recipe was for "Huli Huli Chicken" ("huli" means "turn" in Hawaiian) and the chicken is cooked on a grill.  The recipe for "Huli Huli Chicken" was invented by Ernest Morgado; he cooked this version of teriyaki chicken for a group of farmers in 1955. This became a Hawaiian staple, served with sticky rice, ever since.   Even then, the ingredients for the sauce are ginger, garlic, teriyaki or soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar.

So, to make my version of "Hawaiian Chicken", I decided to go with tastes more associated with that state: coconut and pineapple, and a mixture of Asian influenced ingredients to complete the recipe.  The first time I made it, well it tasted good, but something was obviously missing.  A friend of mine agreed and suggested some heat, so the Thai chiles were added in.  Whenever I can get fresh Thai chiles, I either freeze them or dry them; then I have them available whenever they're needed.  If you cannot find them, use fresh whole cayenne peppers, dried and crushed, or ground.  The other change I made from most recipes is cooking the chicken in a crock pot, instead of on a grill or in the oven.

 Hawaiian Chicken with Rice

3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess fat removed
4 large red bell peppers
2 whole Thai Chiles, stems removed (whole cayenne chiles can be substituted or 1/8 tsp ground per chile needed)
2 large onions
1 jar (10 oz) La Choy Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce
1 fresh pineapple
1 container (11.1 oz) Vita CoCo Pure Coconut Water
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cups white rice




Spray the interior of a 6 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray; layer chicken inside.

Remove stem, seeds and white pith from the bell peppers; cut into one inch strips, then into one inch chucks; layer on top of chicken with the chiles.  Remove skin and roots from onions, cut into one inch chunks; layer on top of peppers.  Pour the Duck sauce over all.



Clean the pineapple, cut into one inch spears, then into one inch chunks and spread out over ingredients in crock pot.  Pour the coconut water and soy sauce over all; put on cooking lid, set on low and cook for 6 hours.  If whole chiles used, remove and discard.


Ladle 4 cups of liquid from crock pot to medium saucepan, bring to a boil on high heat.  Stir in rice, turn heat to low, cover and let cook for 20 - 25 minutes.  Turn off heat, uncover, fluff with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Honeyville is a Sweet and Friendly Place to Visit.


33633 Hwy 550
Durango, CO 81301

Phone: (800) 676-7690
Fax: Fax: 970-403-0022


On Route 550, north of Durango, is one of the sweetest shops in the area...Honeyville.  This small shop is packed full of products made from wildflower honey such as jams, jellies, sauces, whiskey and wine aka mead.  The staff inside are just as sweet as their products and go out of their way to help you make perfect selections; a taste sample is not out of the question.  In the back of the store is a viewing area of the processing room.  I was recently informed that approval was given for Honeyville to expand, so more luscious honey products can be made available!

Honey Bourbon Whiskey

Honey Wine aka Mead
Throughout the shop are recipes cards to give you great ideas on how to use Honeyville's products.  Can't get to the shop, go to their website and shop, or order a catalog.  Never say never, Honeyville has something for anyone.
Mary Cokenour