Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eat Like a Real Local, Anywhere.

In my short lifetime (only 58, have plans to age 200), whenever I have traveled, it was always important to find local eateries to experience the food.  Why?  Basically, how would I learn about different cuisines, if all I ever ate was what I already knew about?  If I didn’t like it, seaweed salad for instance, then no loss to me if I never ate it again.  What if it was something absolutely amazing, soft shelled crab sandwich (yep, you eat the shell and all with this crab), and I missed out?  Alright, I hear, “Well if you never tried it, how could you ever miss it?”   While that might be a good point for those who are complacent, have no curiosity or spirit of adventure; it’s definitely not good enough for me. 

Think of it this way, you heard about Aunt So and So, never met her; saw photos, heard about how great she was.  Suddenly, you hear that she passed away and feel an emptiness inside; a sadness, not just for her passing, but that you missed out on meeting this wonderful person.  That’s what people should feel about life in general; don’t let it pass you by while you make excuses; or are afraid you won’t like an experience.  You never know definitely, if you hide in a cocoon indefinitely.

My initial experience with Southwestern and Mexican cuisines were, sadly, chain restaurants who supposedly offered up authentic recipes.  Imagine my surprise, moving to the Southwest, finally dining on the “real stuff”, and pondering what the chains were serving.  Even ingredients, such as chile peppers, refried beans, black beans and hominy were novelty items in the supermarkets’ “international aisle”.  That’s why, with the recipe I am giving, it contains Lima beans, not white pinto beans aka Great Northern beans; didn’t find those till I came out to Utah.  I also wanted a brighter color to break up the monotony of red and black beans mixed together in a red sauce.  Since an Amish favorite is “Barbecued Lima Beans”, I certainly thought they would be a delicious addition to my version of Southwestern Beans.  Served with roast beef, barbecued ribs or chicken; along with fluffy buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, this recipe is a perfect side dish.

Why wonder what you’re missing out on, go find out!

 


Southwestern Beans

 
Ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped
2 large Jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 (12 -16 oz.) package thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans
3 (16 oz.) cans butter beans aka Lima beans
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans

(Beans – drain, do not rinse)

2 (18 oz.) bottles barbecue sauce (smoked hickory flavored)





Preparation:

Spray 6 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer onions, Jalapenos, bacon, black pepper and garlic in bottom.

  
 












Add layers of beans separately; or mix beans together and then place inside crock pot.  Pour barbecue sauce overall; cover; set on low for 5 hours.

 

Makes 20 – one cup servings.


 

 Bonus Recipe – Baked Barbecue Chicken Leg Quarters

 Ingredients:

4 chicken leg quarters (leave skin on)
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (12 oz.) bottle brown sugar barbecue sauce

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450F; line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place chicken on pan, drizzle olive oil over all; sprinkle salt and pepper over all.  Roast for one hour; remove pan, brush on half bottle of barbecue sauce over chicken.  Place back in oven for 10 minutes; repeat.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: the high temperature will melt the fat on the chicken, leaving the skin crispy, yet sealing juices into the chicken.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Moab Diner is Still a Must Do in Moab.

Moab Diner and Ice Cream Shoppe

189 South Main (Highway 191)
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone: (435)259-4006
Fax: (435) 259-0198

Website: http://www.moabdiner.com/





With Moab constantly expanding with new hotels, motels, shops and restaurants; it is a pleasure to be able to enjoy a meal at a long time establishment like the Moab Diner.  While the exterior and interior may have gotten a facelift, and a few minor changes to the menu, it is still the same for really good diner style food and fast, friendly service.

After having a horrible morning having our taxes done; we felt we needed, no, deserved, a feel good treat.  What better place than the Moab Diner?  Our server was Tasha and we adored her; warm, friendly, and truly made us feel welcomed; exactly what we needed!










The lunch special was Hot, Open Faced, Turkey Sandwich which I ordered; medium thick turkey slices which has been put on the grill and had a slight smoky flavor; over two slices of toast with mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy.










Hubby went for the Mushroom Swiss burger with all the fixings; new item in the French fries department is skin-on which, in our opinion, makes the fries taste so much better.  We also treated ourselves to the onion rings appetizer; crispy batter surrounding intact onion slices; not that chopped up stuff you get in the frozen food section; also came with ranch dressing for dipping.



Wait, not done yet!  Oh no, we were in full tax preparation depression, so ordered one of the most decadent desserts the Moab Diner offers, Cinnamon Roll Rage.  A large, warm, cinnamon roll covered with caramelized pecans and caramel sauce; with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.  No, we did not eat any dinner that night!



Whether you want to start the day with a great breakfast; treat yourself to a good lunch or dinner after seeing the sites, hiking, climbing, biking, or river rafting; why drive all around Moab looking for a place to eat...go to the Moab Diner.

Mary Cokenour









Sunday, March 5, 2017

There Are Ants on My Cake.

The story behind the "Ants on My Cake" cake is pretty simple; basically it was what do I do with a lopsided cake?  After frosting the first layer, placing the second layer on didn't come out as planned; I missed centering it, and it started to crack when trying to move it further into place.  I frosted the top and sides; decided to sprinkle a little cocoa powder on top and have ants (raisins) walking up and over this hill.  Moral to this story is a bit like when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  When life gives you a lopsided cake, pretend you meant to do it that way and decorate accordingly.


 
Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(aka Ants on My Cake)

Ingredients:

Spice Cake

3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 and ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 and ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins, split in half

Frosting

12 Tbsp. salted butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. raisins

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F, spray 2 – 8” baking pans with nonstick baking spray; or lightly grease and flour pans

Sift together, into medium sized bowl, flour, spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until fluffy; slowly beat in oil.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. 

In a small bowl, stir buttermilk and vanilla together.  Into bowl with wet mixture, add flour mixture 1/3 at a time, alternating with 1/3 of buttermilk/vanilla mixture.  Mix well before adding next 1/3 combination.  Pour batter evenly between both prepared pans, sprinkle ¼ cup of raisins over batter in each pan; bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before inverting cakes onto plates.

 
After Baking
 
Cooled Cakes Ready for Frosting


While cake is cooling, prepare frosting; beat butter and cream cheese together smooth and creamy.  Mix in vanilla, powdered sugar, salt on low speed; increase speed to medium and beat until fluffy.  Spread 1/3 frosting on top of first cake layer; place second cake layer on top of first; frost with 1/3 frosting; frost sides of cakes with remaining 1/3 of frosting.  Sprinkle cocoa powder over top of cake; make a trail of “ants” with the two tablespoons of raisins.
 
1/3 Frosting on 1st Cake Layer
 
 
2nd Cake Layer on top of Frosted 1st

Frost top and sides

Dust with Cocoa Powder
 
Makes 12 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, March 4, 2017

When We Want Sushi, It's Bangkok House Too.

Bangkok House Too
(Sushi Bar and Asian Bistro)

Address: 59 South Main Street, #8 (Eddie McStiff's Plaza)
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone:(435) 355-0168

Website: http://www.bangkokhousetoo.com/

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11:30am to 10pm; Closed Monday



March 2, 2017 we attended the Moab Tourism Expo; during lunch break we walked over to Bangkok House Too.  We only had one hour and we had been reassured that they could accommodate our time crunch...this was no exaggeration!  Bangkok House Too is located in Eddie McStiff's Plaza which puts it in walking distance to the Moab Visitors Center, Arts and Recreation Center, City Office, Library, Post Office.  You get the gist of it, they're in a prime location for those who don't want to drive here, there, and figure out where to have a great meal at the same time.



After being warmly greeted and seated, we ordered hot Jasmine green tea; and served a salad with ginger dressing.  Ginger dressing is a wonderful way to cleanse the palette and be ready for the flavor bursts from Sushi, and any other Asian delicacies ordered.





We ordered two Sushi rolls, Moab Rim Roll and Gotta Be Kiddin Me Roll.  Both were prepared by Sushi chef, James; and he even came to our table to see how we enjoyed it...we did!   "Moab Rim Roll" (hamachi, asparagus, avocado, scallions, masago and sesame seeds with hamachi and jalapenos on top), "Gotta Be Kiddin' Me" Roll (red snapper tempura, avocado, snowcrab topped with crabstick, shrimp and special sauce).


Moab Rim Roll


Gotta Be Kiddin Me Roll

Not done yet, we ordered two lunch specials; Edamame Fried Rice (Wok‐fried rice blended with egg, carrot, pea, edamame, scallion) with Chicken and Teriyaki Beef (served with steamed veggies, teriyaki sauce, and rice); each come with a crispy eggroll and dipping sauce.  We enjoyed it all, especially picking off each other's plates to get a taste of everything.

Edamame Fried Rice with Chicken

Teriyaki Beef

No dessert this time, simply no room; but we did make it back to the Expo with time to spare before the next speaker.

Venus Varunum, owner/operator, is a lovely woman; and she has made sure to have an exceptional staff, and serve up the best in Sushi and Asian cuisine.  Her first restaurant, Bangkok House (located south end of Moab) is being redone, and will reopen on March 9th as "168 Ramen"; an authentic Ramen Noodle House (I'm not talking about that stuff you buy off a supermarket shelf).  There's a possibility it will also offer Dim Sum, and that would certainly be exciting for us!

Mary Cokenour






Thursday, February 23, 2017

Valentine's Day at Arches Thai.

Arches Thai

60 North 100 West
Moab, Utah, 84532

Phone: (435) 355-0533

Website: http://www.ArchesThai.com



Arches Thai is celebrating the beginning of its second year in Moab; what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day at the same time.  Usually this restaurant is closed on Tuesday, but a special exception was made for the holiday of love.  Love there is for the owner, Bella Prucktrakhul, her friendly staff and, most especially, the wonderful Thai cuisine they serve.  Several more tables and chairs have been added to accommodate the reliable locals, and tourists that wander in; artwork of the area adorns the walls.




Unfortunately, we could not dine for dinner, but enjoyed a delicious lunch; our lovely waitress attempted to teach us a few Thai words.  While my husband picked it up immediately, I miserably failed; but then our soup came and I perked up.  A delicate clear broth filled with wide noodles and chopped vegetables; a great starter before the starters, appetizers I mean.








Samosa is a pastry puff with potato, carrot and seasonings; served with cucumber salad.  Thai Toast has a chicken/veggie spread between slices of bread, deep fried and served with cucumber salad.  Amazing and definitely a must have again!

Samosa

Thai Toast



Our main entrees were 3 Taste Chicken; battered and fried chicken pieces with 3 taste sauce, vegetables and rice.  The sauce is a mild heat, sweet and savory all at once; a wild threesome in the mouth.







Lo Mein with Beef is always a treat; perfectly cooked noodles, beef slices so tender that they melt in the mouth; steamed veggies and rice.








Now Bella did warn us to not fill up, dessert was coming; we didn't listen of course.  It was all so good, how could we stop!?!  That included dessert, we finished up all of the Almond Coconut Ice Cream and Tempura Banana.  We absolutely LOVE this dessert!!!  Smooth, creamy ice cream matched with a lightly deep fried banana in tempura batter; sweet, crispy, creamy all eaten together. is such a treat.


Being on a tight budget, we saved a while to be able to enjoy this Valentine's Day lunch; it was worth every penny we spent!  So Congratulations to Arches Thai on the beginning on their second year in Moab; and a toast..Thai of course, to many years to come.

Mary Cokenour


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Escaping Persecution Creates a Melting Pot of Foods.

Heads up, this will not be about the Mormons and their travels to Utah in 1847.  No, I am going ahead in time to 1914 with the establishment of “Russian Settlement”.  It is not known if the settlers there had another name of this now ghost town in the Park Valley area of Box Elder County.  By 1917, the residents had moved to either California, or towards Salt Lake City; continual crop failures, children sent to outside schools, supplies not shipped in as promised broke them.  The only remnant that the town ever existed is a little white fence built around two gravesites, Anna Kalpakoff, who was accidentally shot by her husband, and her sister-in-law, Mary Kalpakoff, who died during childbirth. 

These settlers were Molokans, a Russian Protestant-like Christian sect; this particular group belonging to a sub-sect called the “Jumpers and Leapers”.  These believed they were visited by a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, held revivals with intense zeal, reporting miracles that rivaled the stories from Christ's apostles.  Molokans were also pacifists; they refused to bear arms, or join with any of Russia’s military forces.  Life in Russia became exceptionally difficult, for any religious sect, after the publishing of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” (1848); with Lenin finally overthrowing the Emperor and his court in 1918.

As with any other persecuted religious groups (Amish, Mennonite, Puritans, Quakers, Mormons), moving elsewhere to find freedom was a very good idea.  As with any immigrants that came to the United States, they brought with them culinary goods they could carry and recipe books.  America is called “The Melting Pot”, a gigantic living, breathing, working version of the child’s book, Stone Soup.  Picture this, the country is the cooking pot being filled with ingredients from every ethnic, religious, racial populace that has settled its lands.  Our language which we call English, is a variation of Olde English, Spanish, French, German, Latin and a few others thrown in as seasonings.  While we are all American, sometimes we tend to forget where our ancestors truly came from; we have forgotten, or not bothered to learn ancestral histories.  We also tend to forget that our ancestors were not that welcomed by residents already well-established here; they had to fight for their, and your, rights.

There is your mental meal to chew upon, now something to prepare for dinner to make your stomachs happy.  Since I have brought up Russia, a popular meal prepared with either beef cubes, strips or ground is “Beef Stroganoff”.  The history behind this dish is vague: #1 – 1850s created by a chef for Count Grigory Stroganov who had rotten teeth and needed the meat to be very soft.  #2 – 1891 created by French Chef Briere for Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov; using shallots.  #3 – 1871 Elena Molokhovets writes a cookbook for young housewives; her recipe uses mushrooms, onions, bouillon, allspice and mustard.  None of the recipes include the use of egg noodles, rice or ground beef; those are strictly American inclusions along with the invention of cream of mushroom soup and crock pots.

Personally I have made many versions of Beef Stroganoff using lean meat or ground beef; in a skillet or crock pot; sauce made of sour cream or cream of mushroom soup.  To avoid any disappointments, always make sure to drain any excess oil after browning the beef; who enjoys a slimy sauce really?  When using beef cubes or strips in a skillet, tenderize the meat overnight with a drizzle of red wine vinegar; breaks up the fibers and even Count Grigory’s teeth would   appreciate it.  Ground beef (90% or higher lean) is the quickest to brown in a skillet and this is the recipe I will now share.  Enjoy!

 

Beef Stroganoff
Ingredients:
 
1 package (12 oz.) extra wide egg noodles.
1 lb. lean ground beef (90% or higher)
1 medium onion, diced
1 package (8 oz.) mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. beef stock
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Preparation:
Prepare noodles according to package instructions; begin browning meat, medium-high heat, in 12 inch, deep skillet.  When meat is partially browned, add onions and continue to brown until no pink shows in meat; drain any excess oil.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Add mushrooms, garlic, black pepper, beef stock and Worcestershire; mix and let cook for 5 minutes.  Add cooked egg noodles and sour cream; mix thoroughly; remove from heat and serve.

Makes 4 servings.
 
 
 
 

 
 
Bonus Recipe:  Beef Stroganoff for Crock Pot
Ingredients:
3 ½ - 4 lbs. lean beef, cut into ½” cubes
½ cup flour
½ cup olive oil
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen, diced onions
1 can or jar (8 oz.) of sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 beef seasoning packets or bouillon cubes
2 cups water
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ lbs cooked, broad egg noodles
 Preparation:
Mix beef cubes and flour together; heat oil in large skillet, medium-high heat, and brown all sides of cubes; drain excess oil

Set 6 quart crock pot on low, place in all ingredients, except sour cream and egg noodles. Cover, cook for 8 hours, stir in sour cream.   Let cook for 15 minutes; serve over egg noodles.

Makes 8 servings.
 
Mary Cokenour
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Well Yes to New Campbells Soups.



When I began to see the advertisements for Campbell's new "Well Yes!" soups, I immediately thought, "Oh great, another product that is supposed to be healthier and tastes like garbage.  What a waste of money this will be."  I purchased two varieties, waited for a cold, snowy day which called for soup, and opened up the "Sweet Potato Corn Chowder".

After heating, I dipped the spoon into my bowl and gave it all a stir; thick yet creamy; diced vegetables yet generous; the taste?  Wow, simply wow; this was very like homemade, and absolutely delicious.  I ate the entire bowl full and...well, licked the bowl clean as much as I could.

While this soup does have salt added (590mg per serving); what I truly loved is that it's diabetic friendly.  Only 25 grams carbohydrates per serving (only 6 grams of sugar!)

Well Yes! Soups (https://www.campbells.com/well-yes/soups/) currently carry 9 varieties; and more than likely I'll be trying all of them; choosing my favorites to keep purchasing afterwards.  So long as Campbell's continues to make them tasting homemade, low in sugar and delicious; I'll be a loyal consumer.

Mary Cokenour