Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Italian Tubular Feasting.

If you think about it, many food items come in a tubular form; examples are hotdogs, bratwurst, taquitos, burritos and rolled crepes.  In Italian cuisine, examples would be cannoli (a pastry filled with casada cream) and many pastas such as ziti, penne and manicotti.  I guess if you were a Freudian psychologist, you could come up with some type of fantastical sexual reasoning behind the use of this form, but I'm not even going there.

My main focus is Manicotti; a large tubular form of pasta, usually stuffed with cheeses, meats, veggies or a combination; covered in sauce and cheese, baked in the oven till tender.  Hungry yet? 

Ricotta, Mozzarella, Provolone & Romano Cheeses

Homemade Meat Sauce
Looking into the history of this Italian-American dish, there is a bit of controversy to its origins.  In the 1770s, Cannelloni is a Mediterranean dish originating in Catalonia, a region in Spain, and served on Boxing Day (December 26th…hey, that’s my birthday!).  However, Italian origins are claimed by Naples and Sicily with the translation being “large reed” in which pasta squares are filled with cheese/spinach mixture or chopped meats, rolled into cylinder shapes, baked in a rich tomato sauce with a Béchamel sauce topping.  The term Manicotti is a typical 20th century Italian-American word; the pasta sheets replaced with a tube form extruded by a pasta machine, or purchased in a dry form from the local shop or supermarket.  The filling and baking are essentially the same with a minor change here or there.

Manicotti can be a bit difficult to make as you have to be careful to not split the pasta when stuffing it.  Using freshly made pasta sheets and rolling them after filling takes the stress out this process.  Package directions say to cook until tender, but I pull them out of the boiling water when they are al dente. That way they are still a little firm, but flexible enough to stuff without breaking open; they'll become tender after the baking process is done.  In the overall scheme, if they break, who cares, they’ll still taste amazingly delicious!

It was suggested to me that I attempt baking the manicotti as I do my lasagna, by leaving the pasta uncooked.  Stuffing the tubes is just as difficult as with al dente pasta, there is still a possibility of breakage if the pasta is held too tightly.  I tried two methods in the stuffing process as well, first filling a plastic bag with the cheese mixture.  Basically this is the same idea as filling a pastry bag with icing and piping it onto cakes or cupcakes; or filling a cannoli shell with a creamy, sweet ricotta cheese mixture.  The cheese mixture is very thick and took a long time to squeeze down the tube; it was easier to break the pasta too.  I then placed one end of the tube into the bowl of cheese, to act as an anchor; held the tube lightly while filling it little by little with a teaspoon.  This process took a lot longer for filling, but no breakage!

Baked Manicotti


2 (8 oz.) packages dried manicotti (depending on the brand, there will be 12-14 pieces)
3 lbs. ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
2 cup shredded provolone cheese
2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup mixture of minced fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, basil and thyme)
8 cups homemade meat sauce

Note: you can add 1 cup of crumbled, cooked meat such as Italian sausage, or chopped raw spinach to the mixture.


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on high heat; cook manicotti for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Strain manicotti out and place in large bowl of cold water to stop cooking process and keep them from sticking together.  (Skip this step if using the dried manicotti as is.)

While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook, prepare the filling by place all remaining ingredients, except one cup of shredded mozzarella (one cup for each 4-quart pan) and the meat sauce, into a large bowl.  

Preheat oven to 350F; spray a 4 quart baking dish with nonstick baking spray; spread 2 cups of sauce over bottom of dish. Use a teaspoon or piping bag to fill each tube; place into the baking dish. Spoon 2 cups of sauce over them, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, spread one cup of mozzarella over pasta; return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.

2 cups meat sauce bottom of baking dish

Cheese mixture in plastic bag

Cut corner off bag

Insert open corner of bag into pasta tube

Squeeze cheese into tube

Filled Manicotti tube

Teaspoon method of filling pasta tubes

Filled pasta tubes laying over sauce

Spoon sauce over filled tub es

After 45 minutes baking, top with cheese, bake 15 minutes more

Lovely pan full of Baked Manicotti
Makes 6-7 servings (2 manicotti = 1 serving) Add a side salad and homemade garlic bread for an exceptional Italian meal.

Note: This recipe makes 2 full 4-quart pans; bake one to eat, wrap the 2nd pan in aluminum foil, then plastic wrap and place in freezer for up to 3 months. To bake, remove plastic wrap; bake with foil on for 1 hour at 400F; remove foil and continue to bake for an additional half hour.  To test cheese filling, stick fork into one manicotti, press lightly against mouth to make sure hot and fully baked.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Our Anniversary Dinner at Line Camp Steakhouse

Roughlock Resort/Runnin’ Iron Inn/Line Camp Steakhouse

7980 US-191 (9 miles north of town)
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-2351



October 8, 2018, Roy and I were celebrating 15 years together; 15 years of being best friends, lovers, companions and the strength for each other.  What better place to celebrate than at Line Camp Steakhouse, a restaurant made strong by Bob and Jane Musselman.  They had a strong marriage as well, and everyone can rightly say that Bob was, indeed, a character.  After his passing, locals wondered what would happen to the inn & steakhouse, and that’s where daughter, Bobby Jane Gregory, comes in.

With experience in the hospitality industry, there was very little thought about taking the place over.  Oh, it’s frustrating at times, especially trying to repair Bob’s amateur attempts at handyman work.  Then, looking at the tablecloths and table settings picked out by mom, Jane; the fond memories far exceed the frustrations.  Around the walls of the restaurant are hunting trophies donated by locals, photographs of Musselmans long past, and odds and ends of items that tell a sort of history of Monticello.  It’s fine dining, in a hunting lodge, where cowboys can hang their hats & spurs, and everyone becomes friends during a delicious dinner.

Bobby Jane and her hubby, Jerrod, made a few changes to the menu, added a few lighter items, and have plans of creating dishes for vegetarian/vegan tastes.  For the warmer months, an outside bar, with food offerings of tapas and appetizers, is on the creative board.  While we had an anniversary dinner, wedding receptions, birthday parties, or any other type of celebration can be arranged for at the Line Camp.  The Roughlock Resort is still accommodating guests at the Runnin’ Iron Inn; most recently visiting was a Corvette car club, and then a motorcycle club.  Soon, decorations for the holidays will begin appearing, the Christmas tree to be adorned with handmade porcelain ornaments.  Need a place for the office or family holiday party, give Bobby Jane and Jerrod a call to arrange a date.

I mentioned food, so best to get to the enticing descriptions.  To start off our meals was a colorful salad of greens, tomato, black olives, red onion, green bell pepper, cucumber, croutons and house made dressings.  Sounds like a meal in itself!  Next came Bob’s famous garlic toast and cowboy beans (each servings in its own little pot).  While they can be eaten separately, I enjoy doing the British style beans on toast; oh so yummy!  Poor Bobby Jane tried to take my little pot of beans away before I was totally finished, and got the Cokenour glare.  Of course who doesn’t remember Bob’s joke about the beans, “Each batch only has 239 beans in it.  Know why?  Otherwise, it’d been 2-farty!”.

The salmon grilled on a cedar plank has been changed up; no longer with maple syrup and pecans.  Now it is lightly seasoned with lemon pepper and salt, allowing the full flavor of the salmon to shine through.  

One of the newest items on the menu is a grilled pork tenderloin, lightly seasoned again, with the taste of the grill enhancing, not covering up.  The pork was moist and flavorful all throughout its full two inches of thickness.  Baked red skinned potatoes, serves with sour cream and parsley, was our choice and they were perfect!  Don’t fret potato lovers, Bob’s Roughlock potatoes are still an option.

The food served at the Line Camp is locally sourced from Blue Mountain Meats; quality is always before quantity.  If the product doesn’t meet expected standards, off the menu it comes.  The wait staff are very friendly, knowledgeable on the menu items and aim to please.

Looking round at diners who had wandered in, or were staying at the Inn, all seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere and the food.  Several of the women, and yes, me included, wandered outside to watch the antics of the outdoor felines, or even play with them ourselves.  We laughed and said what adorable kitties they were, while the men stayed inside and just shook their heads at us.  Bobby Jane shared a childhood memory of when she was a child.  Whenever she was out walking about, all the family cats would follow her in a line.  Her mother, Jane, could always find her, just by following the last cat in the line.

Well, the Roughlock Resort/Runnin’ Iron Inn/Line Camp Steakhouse are still alive and doing well; whether a weary, hungry traveler looking for a soft bed and a hearty meal.  Or just one of the locals wanting to reminisce while enjoying an Elk tenderloin (another new menu item), enjoyment will be found at the Line Camp Steakhouse.

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Autumn Equinox and Harvest.

On or near September 21st, the autumn equinox, or Mabon, is a celebration of equal day and night; as with its spring counterpart, March 21st, or Lammas.  This will be the last harvest of fruits and vegetables before winter blankets the landscape with frosty whiteness.  Or, as the southwestern states hope for, tons of snow upon the mountains to swell up the creeks, rivers and lakes come springtime.

Celebrating the autumn harvest is centuries old and spans many cultures worldwide.  In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine, and in honor of Dionysus, the god of the vine.  Oktoberfest, a 16 day beer festival (September to October) originated in Munich, Germany, 1810, to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.  What better way to celebration the harvest of hops and grains?  Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3rd to celebrate the end of the fall harvest.

With the fall and winter holiday season fast approaching, many cooks and bakers are thinking about what creations will come from their bountiful harvest.  Apples, pumpkins and other types of squash will take center stage; while the last of the fruits and vegetables will be canned or frozen.

Apples; even though they are available all year long, there is just something special about the fall apple.  Maybe it’s all in the mind; the clear, crisp fall breeze upon the skin, as one bites into a juicy apple and a scent of spice suddenly wisps by.  The most delicious apple I have ever eaten was from an orchard on Mount Penn in Reading, Pennsylvania.  The “Mutsu” was a specialty apple with the most delightful taste of spice in every bite.  I have tried to find a similar type of apple, but nothing has even come close.  That is probably because what the orchard growers called “Mutsu” was a name used by other orchards as “Crispin”, “Pipkin” or “Liberty” apples; yet they were still not the same.  Well I might not find that apple ever again, but I sure do have very fond memories of it.

Now I’m going to ask all those wonderful made-from-scratch bakers to forgive me for the recipe I’m about to write out.  I came up with this semi-homemade recipe when, during a past holiday season, I had surgery on one of my hands.  The hand was immobilized for 6 weeks, so I was very, very limited to what I could do with one free hand.  So please feel free to use your own cake batter recipe and freshly spiced up apple slices instead of the packaged goods I mention.  I used a Super Moist Yellow Cake mix; yellow cake mix can also be bland, so I umpped up the flavor intensity by adding apple pie spice mix and a bit of ground ginger.  You could also think of this as a type of "upside down" cake where the toppings are baking in the pan underneath the cake layer, but when you flip the finished cake out, you see all the lovely apples and caramel.  I will consider myself redeemed by that little feature of the semi-homemade cake. 

Caramel Apple Cake


For the Caramel Layer:

8 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

For the Apple Layer:

1 (21 oz.) can apple pie filling

For the Cake Layer:

1 box Super Moist Yellow cake mix
1 tsp apple pie filling
Pinch of ground ginger


Preheat oven to 350F; spray two 9 inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray.  Cut out two circles from parchment paper to line bottom of cake pans; spray the paper with the nonstick baking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the caramel layer until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Divide the mixture up between the two pans pressing to the edges and 1/4 inch up the sides.
Divide the pie filling between the two pans, spreading it out up to one inch from the edges.

Prepare the cake mix according to packages directions, but add in the apple pie spice and ground ginger.  Divide the batter up between the two pans and use a spatula to smooth it out.

Bake for 35-40 minutes; cake will be golden browned and you might see some of the caramel oozing up the sides of the cakes.  Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

When cooled, use a hot knife around the edges to make sure the caramel will not stick to the sides of the pan.  Carefully flip the cakes onto a serving plate and peel off the parchment paper.  Cut into 8 wedges and serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Makes 2 cakes, 8 servings each.

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Presidential Mac and Cheese.

Macaroni and cheese has been around longer than 1937 when the Kraft Company put it inside a small blue and yellow box.  Traveling back in time to Italy again, remember, those Romans invented meatloaf, with two versions of the origin.

13th Century Neapolitan cooks were using a recipe called “de lasanis”, sounds a lot like lasagna and for good reason.  Fermented dough sheets were cut into two inch strips, boiled in water, drained and tossed with grated Parmesan cheese.  Whole sheets were also used as a layer between other layers of cheeses and spices, an early version of lasagna.

However, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Mary Randolph, is credited for making the American version of macaroni and cheese.  After visiting Italy, Jefferson brought back a pasta making machine, and a recipe for a pasta dish, using Parmesan cheese.  His daughter changed the recipe and substituted Cheddar, as Parmesan wasn’t readily available in Virginia.  Jefferson was fascinated with Italy’s culture and cuisine, and named his home Monticello (pronounced Mont-eh-chello (like the musical instrument – Cello).  Its translation is “hillock” or “little mountain; in 1888, founding residents of Monticello, Utah (there are 16 Monticello towns in the USA) adopted the name for their town, but its pronunciation is Mon-ti-sel-o.  What can I say, Americans are hooked on phonics!

Why do we love macaroni and cheese so much?  It goes back to basic needs for nurturing and comfort.  The taste, smell, texture allows our brain to remember memories long past of being held, comforted, protected.  Then again, put a load of chilies or hot sauce in macaroni and cheese to kickstart memories of wild times that felt just as good as the comforting ones.

Basic recipe for macaroni and cheese typically uses one cheese, but my recipes usually aren’t typical.  Depending on how creative I feel like being, it could be 2-3-4, even 5 cheeses; made in a pot on the stovetop, or baked in the oven for a slight browning and crisping on top.  No matter how many cheeses used, it always begins with the making of a roux (fat plus flour), adding milk to create béchamel sauce (white sauce), then the mixing in and melting of the cheese(s). 

The recipe I’m going to be giving is for the stovetop, but can always be spread into a baking dish for getting that browned, crispy topping.  I named this version of my mac n' cheese "Heart Attack Mac n' Cheese" for a very good reason; anyone who tried it said, "Eat this mac n' cheese every day, and you'll end up having a heart attack!"  I used a friend as a guinea pig, who shared some with her son; she asked if there was any way she could get more.  I considered that request a great complement in itself, so of course gave her another container full.  By the way, I break a rule on making the roux by not using equal parts fat with flour, but once you taste this, forgiveness is easily given.  One more thing, as I'm making the sauce I'm also cooking up the elbow macaroni; that way it all comes together piping hot and fresh.

Ready for a heart attack?

Heart Attack Mac n' Cheese


16 Tbsp. salted butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp paprika
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 cups shredded, extra sharp Cheddar cheese
6 cups cooked large elbow macaroni


In a large saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat (make sure to watch and not let burn or brown); begin whisking in the flour until well incorporated.  Continue whisking for five minutes as the roux begins to turn a golden color.  Add in the black pepper, sea salt, paprika, heavy cream and milk; bring to a boil. 

Immediately add in the Monterey Jack cheese and begin whisking until smooth; add in the goat cheese, whisk until smooth; repeat with the Cheddar cheese, but one cup at a time.

If you took my advice and cooked the macaroni while making the sauce, drain it, but put it back into the pot it was cooked in.  Once you begin adding the cheese sauce, the heat from the pot will keep it from clotting around the drained pasta.

Mix it all together gently; you don't want to smash or break apart the macaroni.  Now serve it up and enjoy; and we found out that even eaten cold, it was delectable!  Servings?  Good question and I'm going to estimate 12 to 16.  While I could only eat a half cup before going into "this is so good!!!" shock, Roy was able to eat a whole cup full and still want more.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Six Weeks of Farmers/Vendors Markets (Monticello, UT)

Tis the season, the harvesting season and the Monticello Farmers/Vendors Markets are in full swing once again.  The first market was on Saturday, September 1st, and will repeat for five more Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.  Neither rain, sun nor more rain deterred vendors from selling their wares at Veterans Memorial Park.

Lupe Simpson and husband, Billy featured homemade salsa from her business, Moab Salsa.  With recipes from her grandmother, Lupe uses locally sourced vegetables which helps, not just the local economy, but local farmers as well.  Her salsas are fresh made by fire roasting and peeling tomatoes, onions, tomatillos, and chiles; then mixing in herbs and spices for a tasteful combination.  Heats available are: mild, medium, hot, fire breathing, granny green (green salsa), and Moab sauce (sweet and spicy).  Whether as a dip for chips, topping for beef, chicken, fish or pork, or mixing into a casserole or one pan meal; the freshness of this salsa comes out true!

Small business owners Mandy Hoggard-Woodard and Jennifer Acox have teamed up together to offer the best of PS Petals and Sweet, Tupperware and Kitcheneez.  Mandy’s roses are large, lush, delightfully scented and beautiful; and can be ordered in any color, or a mixture of colors.  Need a special order, just get it to Mandy two weeks before needed, and she can seal the deal.

Jennifer is our local Tupperware distributor and buyers of this product can swear by it.  I’ve got Tupperware that I still use, and it was purchased during the 1980s!  Jennifer has all the newest colors, styles and uses available; order by catalog, or better yet, throw a Tupperware party!  But wait, we’re not done with the kitchen yet; Jennifer also offers products from Kitcheneez.  Cake and bread mixes, seasoning packets for meal creation and much more.  If you can’t get to the market, go to the Kitcheneez website (, place your order, but make sure to put down Jennifer Acox’s name as your distributor when checking out.  Not only will she get credit for your order, but you’ll get a 5% discount!

Jasmine Anenberg, botanist for Canyon Country Discovery Center, featured “Back to School” sale items.  Microscopes for the budding scientist, or botanist like Jasmine; Kids telescopes and spotting scopes for star or wildlife watching; and 3D Chalk Making kits for sidewalk artists.  All items are 50% off, but teachers, simply show your school ID, and get a whopping 60% off!

Last, but definitely not least, Pam’s Jams; Pam Hanson, Operations Director at Canyon Country Discovery Center, is also a home gardener selling freshly harvested veggies, and homemade jams and jellies.  Ain’t nothing better than fresh from the tree or vine!

The Farmers/Vendors Market will be happening for five more weeks; this is a call out to all home based business owners, home gardeners, farmers or vendors in general.  Bring your own tables, tents and chairs, but most of all bring all your wares!

For more information, go to the Market’s Facebook page:

Mary Cokenour

The Granary Doing the Dukes Proud.

The Granary Bar and Grill

-located at The Grist Mill Inn-

64 South 300 East
Monticello, UT, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-2597


Hours of Operation:
Sunday – Thursday; 5pm-10pm
Friday and Saturday; 5pm – 1am

The Dukes of Hazzard that is, referring to The Boar’s Nest, local watering hole of Hazzard County and owned by the Dukes’ nemesis, Boss Hogg.  However, the Granary Bar and Grill is located within The Grist Mill Inn, and owned by Monticello residents Ben and Crystal Breedlove.

The concept behind The Granary is 1920s Speakeasy, and there is a long history behind the term “speakeasy”.  1823 England, a “speak softly shop” or “smuggler’s house” referred to an illicit liquor shop; 1880s the word popped up in Pennsylvania to refer to unlicensed saloons.  It was the 1920s and Prohibition Era that most Americans relate speakeasies to.  Al Capone’s Chicago establishments; New York City’s 21 Club, and other popular haunts of the rich and infamous.  Watching “The Untouchables” with leader Elliot Ness, on television; tommy guns blazing during car chases, kegs of booze being smashed apart with axes, flapper girls doing the Charleston and sultry ladies singing the blues.  These were the speakeasies and metropolitan cities immortalized by the news media and Hollywood.

The Breedloves’ speakeasy concept, however, is based upon the southern backwater, small towns with stills hidden in swampy areas, gators for guard dogs, and a sheriff named Bubba.  It was the federal government crackdowns into these areas that helped create one of America’s favorite sports…NASCAR!  Drivers loaded down with cases of bottled moonshine, and kegs of hooch, maneuvered the back country roads at racing speeds to outrun the law.  After Prohibition was appealed, the drivers found themselves easing into stock car races; the need for speed being their new addiction.

Ben, why a speakeasy?  “We love the era and the hidden doors and rooms inside the Grist Mill call out for this idea.  The flour mill is a perfect disguise for a distillery and yes, we will be selling moonshine!”  Phase 1 of the plan has been completed, the bar (including karaoke area) and restaurant.  Phase 2 is the installation of a professional kitchen and a gift shop through which guests will enter the bar through one of the previously mentioned secret doors.

In 1920s speakeasies, “finger foods” were served; easy to walk around with and needed to soak up the alcohol in the system.  Very necessary for when the secret signal was given that the cops were about to raid the joint.  While The Granary has a two page Booze Menu, it’s the two page Food Menu that was more interesting to this foodie.

Local Patrons enjoying the offerings of The Granary Bar and Grill include Monticello's own Cindi Holyoak (hubby Michael was too shy to want a photo taken), Luke Lessner, and Jason Phillips of Canyon Country Discovery Center.

Luke Lessner

Ben and Crystal Breedlove with patron, Jason Phillips
Cindi Holyoak

There’s more to choose from than just finger foods, so be prepared to sit a spell and eat while enjoying a cocktail or icy cold brewski.  For a starter, we chose the Chicken Strips; 3 strips of hand cut chicken breast, deep fried with a coating of crispy, light panko (Japanese bread crumbs used for tempura).  These long strips were perfectly cooked, tender and moist, and the panko gave a delightful crunch to this appetizer.  House made sauces available are ranch, bbq, chipotle, buffalo, ketchup and that Utah favorite, fry sauce.

Main course was burgers, the Triple Bacon Bypass for myself; bacon combined with 6-ounces of  80/20 ground beef (sourced from Kanab Custom Meats, UT) bacon strips adorning the well cooked meat and a spicy chipotle bacon mayo slathered on the bun.  Hubby chose the Bacon Blue Mountain Burger which was highly recommended by my co-worker Jason Phillips, who had been dining at the bar.  This burger was topped with a mound of sautéed onions, caramelized mushrooms and melted bleu cheese.  Both burgers came with a side of red fries, red skinned potatoes lightly fried and seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper.

Dessert was a to die for Bread Pudding with a vanilla hard sauce; soft French bread is used; the sauce is cooked down with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and, depending on the chef’s mood, either brandy or rum.  This is no ordinary bread pudding, it is a slice of decadence on a plate.  Next time we’re ordering this first; life is short, eat dessert first!

…and let’s meet the chef of The Granary, Robert Lundell, but you can call him Rob.  Formerly of Harmon’s Station Park Cooking School, he was involved in recipe development with many originating via a “mother sauce”.  Sauces were originally invented to cover up the awful taste of rancid meats, but now they are used to enhance the flavors of many dishes, including desserts.  It’s no wonder the vanilla hard sauce on the bread pudding was so amazingly delicious!

The Granary Bar and Grill had its grand opening on Friday, August 31st; while the Breedloves are now working on Phase 2, we wish them good luck in all their endeavors.

Mary Cokenour

Virgin Limeade