Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Amish Pot Pie Done Up by An English.

Just to clarify something right from the start, my ancestry is not English; this is simply what the Amish call those outside of their faith and community. 

Being winter time, it can get pretty cold and snowy up here in the higher altitude of Southeastern Utah and comfort food is a must.  Depending on how this recipe is made, the broth can be thinner, almost like a soup; or thicker by the addition of flour or cornstarch.  It's all up to personal preference and we can take either/or.

Normally, when making the broth and cooking up the chicken; whole, cut up chicken (including bones and skin) are put into the stock pot.  This makes for a richer broth, true, but the broth I use is made after the whole chicken has been cooked; strained, put into the freezer for an hour and the fat scooped out.  Then I freeze the defatted broth for later usage.  Using boneless, skinless chicken doesn't add a significant amount of fat in making the leaner recipe.  An original recipe for Amish Chicken Pot Pie can be found Here, and I'm going to feature my own recipe in this post.  Try only one, try both and compare; then decide which you like better...it could be both!

The pot pie squares?  No, I don't make my own; I'm pasta making challenged.  My mother lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, so when I need the squares, she sends me what I need.  Not so lucky?  They can be ordered through the internet, just about like anything can; and I'm giving you the recipe for them anyway.  The dried pot pie squares cook up just as tender as the fresh, and absorb the flavor of the chicken broth.

Amish Chicken Pot Pie
(Less fat version)

Pot Pie Squares


2 and ½ cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
½ tsp. salt



In the center of a large pastry board, mound the flour and make a well in the center.  In a small bowl, combine the eggs, water, butter and salt.  Pour the liquid into the flour well; gradually work the flour into the liquid from around the inside of the well; continue working around until all the flour is used.  Gather into a ball; knead until smooth and elastic.

Generously flour the board; roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness; cut the dough into two inch squares.

Makes 1 and ½ lbs. of pot pie squares; enough for six servings.

Amish Chicken Pot Pie


2 quarts water
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. onion powder
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup diced celery
3 cups peeled potatoes, one inch cubes
6 cups chicken broth
1 and ½ lbs. (24 oz.) pot pie squares, divided into thirds
Fresh parsley, diced, for garnish


In a 7-quart pot, combine the water, salt, black pepper and onion powder; immerse the chicken into the water; cook on high heat for 15 minutes.  Remove chicken and rough chop; set aside.  Strain the liquid from the pot; place in a plastic container and into the freezer for a half hour; scoop out any fat that hardens at the top.  Use when preparing this recipe, or cover container, freeze for later use.


Into the pot, add the chicken broth, celery and potatoes; cook on high heat for 10 minutes. 

Reduce heat to medium, add in 1/3 of the pot pie squares; cook for 3 minutes and push down into the broth.  Repeat process with other 2/3s of pot pie squares; add chicken back into pot after the last third of squares has been pushed down.  Cook an additional 15 minutes; remove pot from heat and let rest for 10 minutes to allow broth to thicken.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of fresh parsley leaves.

Makes six servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Fresh Tomatoes, Instead of Jarred Sauce?

Whenever Bountiful Baskets has cases of round or Roma tomatoes available, I make sure to jump onto the opportunity and purchase a case. They normally run about 20 to 25 pounds per case, and round out to one dollar per pound of tomatoes; usually cheaper than the local market, unless there's a sale.  Then I go through the process of giving them a hot water bath, peeling off the skins, and either making fresh sauce, or simply freezing the peeled tomatoes for a later use.

Today's bounty (22 pounds of tomatoes) gave me two (6-quart) crock pots full of sauce making ingredients, plus one freezer container with five pounds of peeled tomatoes for later use.  That means that 8.5 pounds went into each crock pot; not bad!  So, why do folks ask me why I go to all this trouble?  Well I'm going to tell you...

In today's crock pots, I added to the freshly peeled tomatoes: a 1/2 cup of crushed, dried Italian herbal mix, 1/4 cup of minced garlic, 1 cup of diced onions, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese...and that's it!  No sugar or baking soda to tame the bitterness of the tomatoes; the grated Parmesan cheese does that.  Think about it, why add processed sugar or a chemical additive when you can use a freshly grated cheese that does the work instead?  What about salt?  Hello, the grated Parmesan has that too; you don't need more salt!  By the way, using the immersion hand blender, I've found that I do not even need to add tomato paste; I can control the thickness myself.

Next question, but why toss the skin, doesn't that contain fiber and nutrients?  Yes it does, but unless you're buying guaranteed organic tomatoes; that skin has to go and here's why.  Many cases of fruits and vegetables come from foreign countries; the tomatoes I purchased came from Mexico, distributed via an Arizona state company.  How many times have we read about contaminated foods coming from Mexico?  Using the hot water bath destroys any bacteria sitting on that skin.

Next, here is an informational quote from the box itself, "May have been treated with O-Phenylphenol or Sorbic Acid to inhibit mold and coated with Paraffin waxes and oil, Mineral oil and/or Carnauba was."  You can wash them with cold or warm water, but those items listed will not simply wash off; enjoy the chemical and wax snacks along with your tomatoes.  No thank you!  If you need that skin, go organic.

Why is jarred sauce, purchased at the market, so bad?  Read the label; if you need a degree in science to be able to pronounce and understand all the chemicals listed, then why ask why?  Even products sold in "health food stores" need to have the labels looked at carefully.  Even though they state "all natural ingredients", the jars are sitting on shelves in warm environments; how are the ingredients kept from spoiling?

All I'm saying is, at least give it a try.  Yes it's work; yes it takes time and energy; but once you taste the results, you will so be thanking me for the push in this direction.  Click Here for my instructions on processing your own fresh tomatoes. 

Have fun!

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homemade Pizza With Both New York and Chicago Styles.

New York style pizza; thin, crispy crust layered with enough sauce, cheese and toppings to bake to perfection. Chicago style pizza; deep dish crust with layers of cheese, meats and sauce, so thick that a knife and fork are necessary.  Both are so deliciously awesome that it is extremely difficult to choose only one, especially when you are making homemade.  Ah, but what if you did a combination of both styles; how would it turn out?

Each style uses its own type of dough; each uses its own type of baking pan, but the toppings can be the same, just used differently.  Lets go play!

So, what exactly did I do for my pizza; I used New York style dough (click on the link above) and a deep dish pan (14 inch diameter) for Chicago style layers.

Preheat the oven to 450F; for a crispy bottom and thoroughly baked dough, the oven has to be hot.  NO!  you cannot use a convention oven!!!  We have a place in town that does that, and they continue to remain clueless to great pizza making.  Nonstick pans are the best to keep the dough from sticking and burning; spread the dough to the very edges of the pan, an even 1/4 inch thickness.  If you have excess dough on the sides, a simple roll of the dough makes a nice edge all around.

Now begin the layering; slices of provolone cheese covers the dough; then slices of mozzarella over the provolone, but not completely covering.

Depending on your tastes, now would come the meat layer; the meat should be cooked already as this pizza will not be in the oven long enough to thoroughly cook raw meat.  Instead of a layer of meat, I used meat sauce instead of a plain tomato sauce.  For this 14 inch, I used one and a half cups of sauce; oh no, I am not stingy on the sauce when it comes to my pizzas.

A generous sprinkling of an Italian herbal mix, grated Parmesan cheese and this baby was ready to go into the preheated oven.  Now the bad part...the waiting!

Normally, a pizza will take about 20 minutes; that's right, as long as one of those nasty, frozen pizzas you can purchase at your local supermarket.  Depending on your oven, and the altitude, it can take up to 25 minutes.  At 15 minutes, check it and see if the sauce is bubbling yet; then check at 20 minutes; if yes, it's done, if no, bake it for 5 more minutes.

Browned, crispy crust...Oh Yes!!!

Still not sure if you want to make homemade pizza; how about French bread pizza?  Just click on the link and find out how simple and easy this is; but you might want to make my homemade meatballs for a topping.

I bet you're drooling for pizza now, so go make some!

Mary Cokenour

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sun-dried Tomatoes Take Alfredo Sauce to a New Height in Flavor.

Sun-dried tomatoes are just as the name sounds; Roma tomatoes (the best for this process) are cut 1/4 inch thin, laid out in the sun and dried to remove all moisture content.  The flavor of the tomato itself is now highly concentrated; they can be stored in an air tight plastic bag, or preserved in oil.  Now preserving in oil causes the dried tomatoes to absorb that oil of course, so use them only if you intend on adding oil to your recipe.  The dried tomatoes stored in a bag can be reconstituted by pouring hot water till they are covered; let sit for a half hour.  Don't throw away that water!  It's now full of flavor and can be used, for example, an addition to your pasta water; flavoring your dough when making focaccia, rolls or bread.

Since the Alfredo sauce will not be strictly a cream sauce (addition of diced sun-dried tomatoes), throw in a couple of tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers for added color and texture.  Alfredo sauce begins with a basic recipe for Béchamel (white sauce); it's the addition of Parmesan cheese that creates Alfredo.

Basic Béchamel Recipe

5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups hot milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium 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.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg; set aside until ready to use.

Makes 3 cups.

For the Alfredo sauce, once the mixture is smooth, add one cup of grated Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk until smooth; add the salt and nutmeg as directed.

For the Sun-dried Alfredo sauce, after the butter has melted, add 1/4 cup of diced, reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes plus a teaspoon of minced garlic.  Once they begin to sizzle in the butter, then continue the rest of the sauce making process.  Add in two tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers, if desired, after the sauce is finished.

Sun-dried Afredo Sauce with diced green bell peppers added.

Cheese Tortelloni; garnished with parsley.

Italian Sausage added.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Side Dish Turned into a Full Meal.

I was thumbing through "3 in 1 Books - Crock Pot" to get any ideas for something new to make, when I came upon this side dish, "Scalloped Tomatoes and Corn".  Sounded interesting, so read the recipe and said to myself, "Huh?"  Read it once more and said, "What the...?"

Here is the original recipe in the section called "Impress Your Guests".

Scalloped Tomatoes and Corn


1 (15 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsps. sugar
3/4 tsp. black pepper


Combine corn, tomatoes with juice, cracker crumbs, egg, sugar and pepper in crock pot; mix well.  Cover; cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until done.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

My first question for the preparation is "What size crock pot?"  For the best cooking medium, a crock pot should be almost full (allowing for liquid produced during cooking); no way this would fill a 6-quart, not even a 4-quart.  Second question, "Why the sugar?"  The cream style corn would release sugar during cooking; isn't that why salt wasn't added, because of the saltine crackers?  Third question was "How is this scalloped?  Scalloped means a casserole with cream and cheese incorporated; ok, the cream style corn could act as the cream, but where was the cheese?

So, how was I going to work with this recipe, but make it even better.  First thing was to check out the freezer; and I struck gold!  After Thanksgiving, turkeys and turkey breasts have a tendency to go on sale.  I usually buy a turkey breast, roast it, and portion out the meat into freezer bags for future use; they last up to six months.  I also found a package of applewood smoked bacon; bacon makes everything better!

A little bit of this, a little bit of that; skip the sugar altogether.  All the ingredients fit inside a 2-quart crock pot, cooked in four hours and created a complete meal, for four, of delicious comfort food.

Come, see what I have created in my lab...umm  kitchen, I meant kitchen.

Scalloped Turkey with Bacon


1 lb. cooked turkey breast, chopped
½ cup diced celery
4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into one inch pieces
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 (15 oz.) can sweet corn, cream style
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup crumbled saltine crackers
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. crushed dried thyme leaves



Spray inside of a 2-quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer the turkey, celery, bacon; cover with the Swiss cheese slices.


In a medium mixing bowl, gently mix together corn, tomatoes, crackers, egg, black pepper and thyme so as to not break up the crackers any further.  Spread over ingredients inside the crock pot.


Cover, set on low, and cook for four hours.


Makes four servings.
Mary Cokenour


Saturday, January 10, 2015

PJs Restaurant; Small Menu, Big Food

PJs Restaurant

216 East Center Street
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-2335

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pjsofmonticello

Located on Center Street aka Route 491, the colorful building housing PJs is up for sale, but still open for business.  The interior is divided up into two sections; the restaurant and the pool hall which also has tables for dining.

Lets get to my favorite part, the menu and ordering; the menu is on a board next to the kitchen counter where you place your order.  Whether it is take out or dine in, the food will be brought out to you with a smile.  The menu itself is small in comparison to most places that also serve burgers and fries; but this is great food done up right, not fast food sitting under a heat lamp.

After ordering a cheeseburger which comes with fries, I asked about the Buffalo Wings.  I love Buffalo Wings, but only if they're deep fried, then sauced.  Many places bake the wings; and I abhor mushy, gummy skin on my wings!  For all you lovers of authentic Buffalo wings, I have found nirvana for you...PJs does them right, deep fried and sauced!!!

Update: I went back on January 24, 2015 and got the Buffalo Wings with fries.  You have a choice of two sauces: hot or sweet and spicy; I chose sweet and spicy.  By themselves, these wings are uplifting; dip them into the ranch dressing that comes with the meal and you won't want your feet to touch the ground again.

Anyway, the cheeseburger is massive; 4 and 1/2 inches in diameter making it stick outside the 4 and 1/4 inch bun, and its 1/4 inch thick; lettuce, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard are the toppings.  The French fries were so loaded up (crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside), they were spilling off my plate; and yes!  they come with Utah's favorite, fry sauce.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; if you need a meal to take on a hike or picnic, PJs can box it up for you, no problem.

Thankfully, PJs has stayed open while it has been for sale; just hoping that whoever eventually buys it will keep the concept of good food done right, not nasty fast food...and don't do away with those authentic buffalo wings!

Mary Cokenour

PJ's of Monticello on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three Rivers Brewery is Top Notch!

Three Rivers Brewery

111 East Main Street
Farmington, New Mexico, 87401

Phone: (505) 325-6605

We'd passed by Three Rivers many times, but always on the way to somewhere else.  This time though, we made sure to stop and were so glad we did; amazing atmosphere, food and staff.  JJ, our waitress, is a firecracker personality; so ask for her when you go to dine in.  While you can dine in the bar area; there is a separate restaurant part in the next room; plenty of seating (tables, small and large booths).

Three Rivers has an eight page menu; something for everyone's tastes! We started off with the Onion Rings appetizer; crunchy goodness with a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. We so wanted to order another round of onion rings, but needed to keep room for the main meals.

One of the menu pages is "Daily Specials"; we were there on a Monday, so I started with a cup of the Baked Potato soup; luscious, packed with potatoes, bacon and chives. 

The sandwich for the day was the Smokehouse Cubano; tender pork, onion, pickle, on pressed bread; and Yes!  I ordered bacon for it which enhanced the whole experience.

I'd met some folks from Farmington awhile back, who had highly recommended Three Rivers Brewery; and told us to try the Drunken Steak Sandwich.  This was hubby's main meal, but I had a bite; oh my goodness, so tender and juicy!!!  This definitely hit the top of the awesomeness scale.

Two relatives had joined us for lunch; one had the Garden Burger with a side of black beans; she surely raved about those beans, but enjoyed the burger too. 

The other had a half pound burger special (2 - 1/4 pound burgers stacked) with more onion rings); nothing left on her plate, so you know it was that good!

Now I had already perused the dessert menu and saw that Tres Leches cake was listed; here was my chance to finally try this cake out.  I only ate half my sandwich to make sure I had room for this treat.  The cake is light with a, not unexpected, milky taste; it was almost like a palette cleanser and yummy treat all wrapped up into one.  Definitely would have this cake again!

If you're in the Farmington, New Mexico area and want a unique dining experience, Three Rivers Brewery has what it takes...atmosphere, friendly staff, awesome food.

Mary Cokenour

Three Rivers Eatery-Brewhouse on Urbanspoon