Saturday, April 30, 2011

I wanna be lazy, but just can't do it.

I want to do it, use those convenience dinner kits in a box, but just can't do it. Did you ever read the ingredient label? I need a degree in science, or Latin, to decipher most of it. Thinking about it, how hard could it really be to make from scratch, what can be produced from a box?

Ok, so I have chicken, now what do I want to do with it? Alfredo? Don't want to be whisking sauce on the stovetop. Spicy? Just not in the mood for that taste. Chili? Already made my Sirloin Beef Chili last weekend, let's not be too boring about it. So I dig around in the fridge and freezer, pull out bags of this or that, lay it out on the counter and plot.

After some sauteing,boiling, mixing and a final baking; you know what? I did much better than any of those boxed meals. Yeah, I knew I could from the get-go, but it's always an ego boost to prove yourself right.


Two Cheese Chicken Noodle Bake

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1” pieces
1 cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced onion
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp each of salt and garlic powder
1 (16 oz) package wide egg noodles
1 (16 oz) package frozen peas
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 (10.5 oz) cans cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 3 qt casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken pieces; halfway through, add bell pepper, onion, black pepper, salt and garlic powder; mix and continue to brown chicken. While chicken is cooking, prepare egg noodles.

In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken mixture, cooked noodles, peas, Parmesan, soup and milk; pour into casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes; uncover, spread cheddar cheese evenly over top and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Mary Cokenour
April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Celebration of the Fairies

Spoutwood Farm Center
4255 Pierceville Rd.
Glen Rock, PA 17327



Today is the beginning of the Fairie Festival in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania; a celebration dating back to ancient times of May Day, or Beltane. It is the rejoicing of the season of Spring, the impending Summer, and of the abundance that is promised to come. Of all cultures who acknowledged this holiday, the Celts of the British Isles are most known for this celebration, and the dancing round the May Pole.

I have attended this celebration for many years, but since moving to Utah, can only enjoy the joyous memories of my time there. If you happen to be in the area, or in one of the surrounding areas such as York or Lancaster PA; don’t miss out on this festival. Costumes and/or wings are not a requirement, but are encouraged....sadly, my celebration outfit sits in storage.

...and here is a recipe fit for a fairy...fairy cakes.

Fairy Cakes
Fairy cakes, as they’re referred to in the United Kingdom, are smaller versions of what Americans call cupcakes. While they are mostly served to children, they can be enjoyed at tea shops, or as part of the daily “tea time” faire. The name, Fairy Cake, refers to the look of the little cake; the top carefully scooped off, cut in half, and placed on top of the icing to simulate the wings of a fairy. The icing itself is typically butter cream which will stay fluffy, and not dry out and harden; food coloring can be added to different batches. Small edible decorations, or sprinkled colored sugar, may or may not adorn the little cakes.

Basic Cupcake Recipe


½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup self rising flour

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 – 12 cup mini muffin pans with mini baking cups.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time and beat until well incorporated; add vanilla extract and slowly add milk till smooth.

Gradually mix in flour into bowl; scrape sides to incorporate all ingredients well.

Fill each baking cup ¾ full; bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before frosting.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes.

Buttercream Frosting
This white frosting can be divided into batches and made into different colors using food coloring.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, medium speed, beat butter till smooth. Add in confectioner’s sugar; reduce speed to low and incorporate well into butter.
Increase speed back to medium, add in salt, vanilla extract and cream; beat for 3 minutes.

If frosting needs a stiffer consistency, gradually add more confectioners’ sugar; if it needs to be thinner, add a tablespoon of heavy cream till desired consistency is achieved.

Makes 2 ½ cups.

To Make the Fairy Cakes
Using a tablespoon, carefully carve out top center of each cupcake; cut in half and set aside.

Fill scooped out center with frosting and finish off entire top of cupcake with frosting. Place cake halves on top, standing upward, and “brush” some frosting upwards from the bottom of the halves. This will give the appearance of “feathered” wings.

Colored sugar or edible decorations can be placed on the frosting.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pasta Jay's; now that's Italian!

Pasta Jay's

4 S. Main Street
Moab, UT, 84532

(435) 259-2500


Pasta Jay's is located on the Main street (Rte 191) of Moab, Utah; across from the Slickrock Cafe and if you are looking for great Italian food, then this is the place to go. There is indoor seating, there is also a patio area: heated during cooler weather, and open air during the warmer temperatures. We elected to sit in the patio area, were comfortable, and enjoyed watching the world outside while eating our meal.

Our waiter, Chris, was very friendly, but makes a really mean pot of coffee - I'm still plucking the hairs that had grown on my chest. Otherwise, he made our visit to Pasta Jay's very pleasant. Now Pasta Jay's focuses on one cuisine - Italian, and that's a really good thing. The menu has appetizers, salads, soups, pizza and pasta dishes. There is also a specialty focus each night of the week.

Roy chose the Wednesday night special which was lasagna, and I had cheese tortellone with a side of meatballs (2). The entrees came with a delicious garlic bread, crispy on the outside and edges, soft inside, buttery and garlicky. The entrees come put piping hot, on beautiful ceramic dishes, and the helping is enough for two people to share. The sauces were awesome, and spreading some on the garlic bread was like having a treat. The pasta was baked perfectly, the fillings plentiful, and the meatballs are most certainly homemade; not those rubber ball types you find in the frozen food section of the supermarket. We only ate half of each meal because we wanted to try a dessert; but the leftovers were taken home for enjoyment another day.

Dessert was Turtle Cheesecake; smooth cheesecake, rich caramel and chocolate sauces with a generous serving of whipped cream.  Just putting a spoonful in the mouth, letting it melt and slide down the throat - pure ecstasy.

I related to our waiter that next time we visit, dessert might be the main course.  Hey, life is short, eat dessert first!  But we are looking forward to trying Pasta Jay's out again.

Mary Cokenour

Pasta Jay's on Urbanspoon

Pasta Jay's Restaurant on Restaurantica

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gotta love them dogs!!!

Hot Dog Sauces – New York Style

In New York City, one of the most popular places to eat is at the local street corner vendor. A colorful umbrella covered push cart; some with jumbo soft pretzels and knishes, but all with the most popular item – Sabrett hot dogs in steaming water with an assortment of condiments: ketchup, mustard, relish and spicy onions in sauce.

Coney Island, the birth place of the famous Nathan’s hot dogs, has a distinctive sauce of its own. A slow cooked, spicy chili type sauce loaded with ground beef and minced onion.

New Yorkers know this is the best quickie, on the go, meal in town; and all self-respecting guide books recommend it to visiting tourists from around the world. If you haven’t stopped at a push cart and had a hot dog with onion sauce, or gone to Nathan’s in Coney Island, then you haven’t really experienced a big piece of New York City.

Spicy Onion Sauce


1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin and chopped
1 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp corn syrup
2 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup white vinegar

In a large sauce pan, heat oil on medium heat; sauté onions till softened, but do not brown.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water; add to the onions with rest of ingredients, except the vinegar. Mix together and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add vinegar and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Makes 1 ½ cups.

Mary Cokenour
March 17, 2008

Coney Island Chili Sauce


1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, minced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup water
1 Tbsp each dry mustard and chili powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp each of celery seed, cumin and ground black pepper

In a large sauce pan, on medium-high heat, brown ground beef; halfway through, add onion and garlic; drain excess oil.

Add all remaining ingredients; mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for one hour; stirring occasionally.

Makes 2 ½ cups.

Mary Cokenour
July 8, 2008

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bring some Thai into your Pad.

Ok, so the title is a bit hokey, but you get the gist of it. After I finished my previous blog post on a local Thai restaurant, I thought, what if folks don't have such a place nearby, how do they experience the food? The best way I could open that door is to give you the simplest recipe: Pad Thai. It's a one pan noodle dish full of flavor, and the person making this dish can decide on what protein, if any, they want in it: seafood, beef, pork or chicken. I'm not fond of tofu, but if that's what you like, you can add that too.

The rice noodle is what makes this dish so light, and distinctive; but if hard pressed to find it, Japanese Udon, or even a flat pasta such as linguine or fettuccine could be substituted, but then it really wouldn't be Pad Thai, and that's what you really want.

Pad Thai


1 (12 oz) package of rice noodles
2 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
½ small onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups shredded cabbage (use mixture of white and red for color contrast)
1 cup bean sprouts
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp Thai chili sauce
¼ chopped peanuts


Soak noodles in cold water for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.

In a Wok, or large deep skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat; sauté onion and garlic till onion softened; do not let garlic brown or burn. Add eggs and cook until firm; add in rest of ingredients and noodles; mix, breaking up fried eggs and cook for 10 minutes, or until noodles are tender. If desired, mix in 1 pound of precooked protein item; cook additional 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Mary Cokenour
July 8, 2008

Sing Ha Thai Restaurant

Sing Ha Thai

92 E Center Street
Moab, UT, 84532

(435) 259-0039
Fax: (435) 259-0005

This link is for the main restaurant located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu; the Moab restaurant is part of the Sing Ha Thai Restaurant Corporation.

Being fond of Thai cuisine, we were looking forward to trying out Sing Ha Thai; several of Roy’s coworkers had eaten there, and said the food tasted good. We were to find out later on that there was more to the story than first told.

To enter the restaurant, you need to walk up a set of stairs, past a couple of offices, and near the back is the entrance to the restaurant itself. The interior is smallish, too many tables, so you cannot help but see what your neighbor is eating, and hear their conversation. However, a friendly greeter will take you to a table, and then you can peruse the menu which is ala carte; there is also a tea menu.

We ordered two appetizers: Spring Rolls, crispy, but with the typical large shreds of cabbage inside we’ve been seeing in Asian restaurants in the Four Corners area. Crab Rangoon, crispy wontons with smooth cream cheese, but tiny flecks of crab, so we were not sure if it was real crab or imitation.

The main entrees were Chicken Pad Thai, not exactly what we were used to; while it tasted good, it had an unusual flavor we couldn’t identify. The Sweet and Sour Shrimp was very good; rice was extra though, and that seemed chintzy on their part, considering the prices charged for the menu items. The portions are not large, so if sharing, consider ordering more than one main entrée.

At first we considered this a place to go back to if we were truly in the mood for Thai; however, we changed our minds several hours later when we both were not feeling very well. When Roy went back to work the next day, his coworkers asked him about his experience with Sing Ha Thai. He told them, including how we both fell ill the same evening. Surprise, surprise; his coworkers said they had experienced the same thing, but didn’t tell him, so he wouldn’t be negatively influenced beforehand. They couldn’t be sure if it was the food or not, but our experience, coupled with their comments, indicates it most likely was. Was it the large amount of shredded cabbage, the unusual taste we couldn’t identify?

So, we will not be visiting Sing Ha Thai restaurant again.

Mary Cokenour

Singha Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chilly? Make Chili.

Once again Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball in the game called Spring.  As the temperatures last week were in the 60's, higher in Moab, looked like winter was finally in hibernation.  We awoke yesterday morning to find a dark, dreary sky and intermittent showers of rain or hail.  It was chilly in the house, so the heat was turned back on; and the crock pot came out of the closet.  This was the perfect type of day to make chili and cornbread. 

So, while the crock pot cooked up this wonderful concoction called chili; hubby and I cleaned out boxes of clothing.  We downsized from 10 large Rubbermaid boxes to only 5, and wished we had done this before our big move from PA to Utah.  He loaded bags of used clothing into his car, and it will be going to the local charity shop in Moab before he goes to work.

Several hours later, the batter for red chili cornbread was in the oven; timed just right to be ready at the same time as the chili.  The cornbread recipe is located on my March 22, 2011 blog post, and all I did was add 1/4 cup of diced red chile peppers.

...and here is my recipe for chili.

Sirloin Beef Chili


3 lbs boneless beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp flour
1 large onion, diced
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles plus one (10 oz) can.
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained 
1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder


Set 6-qt crock pot on low, place in beef, flour and onion; mix thoroughly and let cook for 2 hours before adding rest of ingredients.  Continue cooking on low for 4 hours more.  Serve as is, or garnish with sour cream and/or shredded cheese.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Note: the type of, and amount of, beans used is flexible; 2-5 types can be used, as desired.

Mary Cokenour
October 13, 1991

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sabaku Sushi is NO master of Japanese cuisine.

Sabaku Sushi

90 E Center Street
Moab, UT, 84532

(435) 259-4455


When entering this establishment, one will be surprised to find that not one employee is of Japanese ethnicity. The two owners are from Salt Lake City, UT and Colorado who have supposedly worked for, and been trained by, Japanese sushi masters. Where you would most likely expect to see the sushi masters dressed in typical white garb denoting their ability; t-shirts, jeans and baseball caps are more their style.

Upon being seated, the waitress took our drink orders; and the listing of alcoholic beverages available is longer than the sushi menu itself. We opted for tea which was lukewarm and tasteless.

We chose to have salads with our lunch order, and this was a wise choice...if you were a cow and didn't mind chewing your fiber for a long while. The salad consisted of half a bag of spinach leaves with a drizzle of ginger dressing.

From my vantage point, I was able see what was taking place behind the preparation station. Lots and lots of cleaning by the owners, and it concerned us a bit when this continued for the full hour and half we were there. Little plates of plastic covered fish were on a shelf, and were kept moving around during the cleaning process. To say service was slow is an understatement. A third man was attempting to prepare our specialty rolls; he kept referring to the order ticket, looking very confused, and his hands shook while trying to prepare the rolls.

When we received our order, the pieces were cut unevenly, the rice surrounding the filling was thick, and the filling itself was very sparse. If the fish was as fresh as they claim, we couldn't really tell, since there was very little of it.

Questioning the waitress, she would refer to the owners if an answer was not known by her. Now the owners themselves never came over to talk with us, nor introduce themselves; and this was after an hour of being the only diners there. As I stated before, they were quite busy cleaning the preparation area.

Sabaku Sushi crosses a cultural borderline that the owners should never have tried to cross...their passports should be revoked. If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, avoid this place, or get ready for a great disappointment.

Mary Cokenour

Sabaku Sushi on Urbanspoon

Ocean Pearl Chinese Restaurant new to Cortez, Colorado

Ocean Pearl Chinese Restaurant
300 E Main Street (Rte 160)
Cortez, CO, 81321

(970) 565-3888
Fax: (970) 565-4888

Website: N/A

This month a new Chinese restaurant opened up in Cortez, CO, making this the third such place in the area. As lovers of Chinese cuisine, we just had to try out the new place, and while disappointed in some aspects; we enjoyed others and are willing to try it out again.

Don't let the outside of the restaurant fool you; it's much prettier inside.  Tables in the center area and booths  line the walls allowing for seating of about 150 people; the bathrooms are faux marble and very clean.  The staff is friendly, attentive, and don't mind answering questions about the menu items, or where they are from.  As with other Chinese restaurants in this area, they are from California's Chinatown, so specialize more in Mandarin style cooking.  Being from the East Coast, and very used to Cantonese cuisine, this different style of cooking takes a little getting used to for me.

There are basically two menus for dining in, depending when you are there: lunch or dinner.  The lunch menu provides for combination meals that include: egg roll, soup (or salad), fried rice and the main item (a large variety of choice for this).  The dinner menu is ala carte; has a larger variety of menu items, and include items listed on the lunch menu.  There are also appetizers, soups and vegetarian items as well.

We tried the fried cheese wontons, also known as cream cheese wontons; wontons were fried perfectly - crisp and light.  The cream cheese filling was smooth and creamy; and the accompanying sweet-sour sauce and Chinese hot mustard went well with this dish.

We had soup with our meal; the Wonton soup tasted too familiar, sort of like instant onion soup mix with one wonton in it, and pieces of green onion floating on top.  The Hot and Sour soup, on the other hand, was delicious - rich, thick broth with plentiful ingredients; the taste was satisfying.

Roy tried the Sweet and Sour Shrimp which we both tasted and agreed upon - the shrimp was overly coated in fried batter, and it was more like eating a shrimp donut; the shrimp itself was lost in all that batter.  So, not too happy with this choice.

I had the Sesame Chicken which was a milder version of General Tso's Chicken; in other words, there were red pepper flakes in the dish giving it a bit of heat. (General Tso's has the actual chiles in the sauce)  Sesame Chicken is a very mild dish, and there were no vegetables, just chicken and sauce; usually steamed broccoli is served.  Don't get me wrong though, it tasted very good and we both enjoyed it.

The Fried rice was just white rice (very visible) with soy sauce; no vegetables or fried egg pieces.  Eaten alone it was very bland, mixed with the main dish helped to enhance both items.

Overall, it was better than the other two Chinese restaurants in the area; but from our experience with many Chinese restaurants out East, it was certainly not the best.  However, as stated before, we will definitely give them another try.

Mary Cokenour

Ocean Pearl Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First barbeque of the spring season.

Temperature was in the 60’s, a few dark clouds warning of rain to come, but I didn’t care; I wanted barbeque and was gonna make it no matter what. Ribs, bratwurst, baked beans, coleslaw and cornbread; we were in pig heaven once again. The baked beans were easy, since I didn’t have the time to make them from scratch; the canned variety had to do. Add bacon, diced onions and barbeque sauce; bake in the oven for an hour; almost as good as homemade. The coleslaw only took minutes; bag of precut slaw mix, Miracle Whip, salt, black pepper and onion powder; refrigerate until needed.

For the ribs, a rub is a must; not only does it season, but tenderize. I use my all purpose rub on almost everything I barbeque or smoke: ribs, beef, chicken, pork; the dogs even love it on the smoked pigs’ ears I make for them. When using the smoker, I put some in the water, and the scent is awesome!!!

My rub is not overly complicated; no great secret ingredients and we like it, so that’s all that counts.

All Purpose Rub for Smoking and Grilling
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp each sea salt, ground black pepper, ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp each paprika, onion powder, garlic powder

In medium bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Rub onto all sides of meat or poultry; refrigerate overnight. Smoke or grill.

….and yeah, I make my own barbeque sauce, but that recipe is for another day.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What’s black and white, and found in a bakery?

If you’re from New York, you don’t even have to think twice about what this post is about…Black and White Cookies.  While it’s still debated about whether it is a cookie or a cake; once you eat one, you won’t even care anymore.  No one can really say who originated the recipe first, but it’s a New York thing, and that won’t be debated.  Every bakery worth’s its flour makes them; they’re as popular for breakfast as bagels and cream cheese.
I tried ordering some online, but the shipping costs were just too high; so who came to the rescue, but my mom.  She was able to find a supply of them at the local supermarket (small ones in a plastic container; large ones individually wrapped), and send them via priority mail.  Receiving the box, opening it and discovering these treats; it was like hitting the lottery big!  I ripped open one of the containers of small black and whites, and ate three; oh the pleasure was indescribable.
Now what the heck is a Black and White Cookie you are asking, if you’ve never had one.  Well, it’s a large round vanilla cakelike cookie; one side is white (vanilla) fondant, the other is black (chocolate).  Fondant is a thick frosting that can be softened up enough to spread like frosting; then hardens up to remain on the item it has covered.  The fondant will have the same shiny consistency that rolled out fondant has; it’s just easier to get on the cookie when spread as a frosting.  That’s the best way I can describe them; you’ll just have to eat one to truly understand.
There will come a day when I will attempt to make these delights myself, but until then….Mom!!!!!!

Black and White Cookies
To Make the Cookie
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½  cups plus 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
1 tsp melted butter
½  tsp salt
½  cup plus 2 Tbsp nonfat dry milk
1 tsp light corn syrup
3 eggs
4 cups plus 2 Tbsp cake flour
1 ½  tsp baking powder
2/3 cup cold water
1 ½  tsp vanilla
Pre-heat the oven for 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, medium-high speed; beat together the sugar, shortening, butter, and salt; add in nonfat dry milk and corn syrup; cream together.  Gradually add in one egg at a time until mixture becomes fluffy.
In a large bowl, combine the cake flour and the baking powder in a separate bowl.  Add 1/3 of dry ingredients plus 1/3 cup of water to creamed batter.  When well incorporated, add 1/3 of dry plus other 1/3 of water; when well mixed, add last of dry ingredients and mix well.
Using two cookie sheets, nest one cookie sheet inside the other to make a double-thick cookie sheet; line the top cookie sheet with baker’s parchment paper.   Hint: For a guide, draw 3” circles on one side of the parchment paper with a pencil; place pencil side down on cookie sheet.  Spread batter over the 3” circles; make sure thickness is even (1/4” will puff up to ½” thickness).
Bake for 18 minutes; remove cookies to wire rack to cool.
Makes 18 cookies.
To Make the Frostings
Vanilla Fondant
2 ½ cups fondant powder (found in stores that supply cake decorating supplies)
¼  cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla
Put tap water in the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a simmer.  To the upper part of the double boiler, add the fondant powder, ¼ cup cold water and vanilla   Keep extra cold water nearby as fondant tends to be a dry frosting; without sufficient water the frosting will dry too fast, harden, and crack on the cookie. When the ingredients are well blended and thin (it should run slowly off of a spoon), frost one half of the cooled cookies; set aside to allow the frosting to harden.
Chocolate Fondant
2 ½ cups fondant powder
¼ cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips  
Follow the directions for the vanilla fondant, but include the chocolate chips. When the frosting is melted and well mixed, frost the other half of the cookies. Make sure the vanilla frosting has set before starting to frost them with the chocolate frosting.
Let the cookies continue to set on a wire rack. When the frosting is no longer warm and pliable, you can store the cookies individually in food storage bags or wrapped in wax paper.  
Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Salisbury Steak isn't the boogeyman anymore.

My first husband, who will remain nameless, loved Salisbury Steak; to the point that I had to make it every week. Now this first husband was an abusive thing; he doesn't even deserve to be called a man. Why I stayed with him so long? That's a long boring story, so won't bother to tell it.  However, he did pass away in 2008, so I never have to worry about him interfering with my life ever again.

Anyway, it got to the point that I actually developed, I don't know what to really call it; a phobia, allergy, aversion to...Salisbury Steak. The sight or smell of it made me gag, so I stopped making it altogether. I did attempt to make it a few times over the past few years, since my divorce from him, but always the same physical reaction.

Well, I tried it one more time, and only because Roy (my beloved 2nd husband) asked me to. He knew how I felt about this particular recipe, but knew I had to get over it; and I had to agree. It was absolutely silly to be afraid of a simple meal.  And who are we kidding anyway?  Roy really wanted it, and I wasn't going to deny him the pleasure.  So, I made it, even ate some of it; and while I still wasn't too keen on it, no violent physical reaction to it.

So while I'm sticking to just the buttered noodles; Roy is left to enjoy the rest of the Salisbury Steaks, and that's ok with both of us.

Salisbury Steak

5 lbs. lean ground beef
1 cup each diced mushrooms and onions
1 cup beef broth
1 ½ cups plain dried bread crumbs
2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp butter
2 large onions, slivered


3 Tbsp flour
2 (10.5 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups milk
1 cup beef broth
1 (3/4 oz) packet brown gravy mix


Preheat oven to 400F.  Spray a large jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together beef, mushrooms, onions, broth, bread crumbs and seasonings thoroughly.  Use a 1 cup measuring cup to scoop out mixture and make oval shaped “steaks”; flatten down to 1” thick; place on spray pan.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients listed under “Gravy”.

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium-high heat; sauté onions until softened.  Pour gravy over onions; mix and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low.  Remove steaks, dabbing on paper towels to remove excess grease, and immerse into gravy-onion mixture.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve over buttered noodles, rice or potatoes.

Makes 10 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crystal's Cakes and Cones

Crystal’s Cakes and Cones

26 W. Center Street
Moab, UT, 84532

(435) 259-9393

Located down the block from the Slickrock Café and across from Pasta Jay’s, this little shop is the perfect place to visit for a treat.   16 flavors of ice cream are offered, and while not homemade, they are cold, sweet and delicious.  I tried the “Coconut Almond” which was creamy, luscious, loaded with bits of chopped almonds, and you could really see the coconut, not just taste it.

Baking is done on premises, and while the cupcakes are a major seller, the cakes are nothing to ignore.  The daily cupcake flavors include: German Chocolate, Red Velvet, Butter, Butter Pecan, Carrot, Chocolate and Vanilla.

The owner, Crystal, is all smiles, as are her staff; tourists and locals enjoy the atmosphere, and most especially, the treats.
So, if you’re just looking for a little snack, a dessert after a meal, or something to cool you off after a day of hiking or sightseeing; check out Crystal’s.

Mary Cokenour

Crystal's Cakes & Cones on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Slickrock Cafe; catch that Critter.

Slickrock Cafe

5 North Main St. (Route 191)
Moab, Utah 84532

(435)259-8004 FAX: 435-259-8010


Walking into this corner establishment,you first enter the bar area; walking through another set of doors leads you to the dining area. There you are greeted in a friendly, and most welcoming, manner and led to a table or booth. The dining area does have an upstairs area with windows that allow you to watch the passing motorists and pedestrians going through the town of Moab. Music plays in the background, but is low enough to allow easy conversation; the atmosphere is relaxing.

Our server, Lanell, has a bubbly personality, so you couldn't help but want to smile, and chat with her. After bringing out our drink order, we proceeded to order two appetizers: Mozzarella Sticks and Chicken Wings in BBQ sauce; the main order: Mushroom Swiss Burger with fries and Turkey BLT sandwich with onion rings. The food came out in a reasonable rate of time, and not too close together, so you were able to enjoy the appetizer before the main entree.

The Mozzarella Sticks are done up in a tempura like batter, light but crispy; the cheese not too gooey, but not firm either. The marinara sauce served with the sticks is house made, and absolutely delicious. The Chicken Wings are huge; we're talking Fred Flintstone Pterodactyl huge. First baked, then fried; the meat tender and juicy while the skin was almost unnoticeable. Again, the BBQ sauce is house made; a mixture of barbeque sauce with their own hot sauce; the hot sauce is just enough to give you a tingle, but not take away from the flavor of barbeque. We were given ranch dressing on the side, but didn't even need to use it.

The Mushroom Swiss Burger is a 1/2 pound of meat, Swiss cheese with grilled onions and mushrooms; assorted veggies are piled on top; a real two fisted burger. The fries were crispy and golden brown; everything smelled as good as it tasted.

The Turkey BLT came loaded with meat, lettuce, mayo and awesome bacon. The onion rings are done in the same tempura like batter as the mozzarella sticks; lightly crisp and onions soft as to break easily when bitten. As with most places that have turkey sandwiches in this area, the meat itself looked and tasted more like prepackaged cold cuts purchased in the deli area of the supermarket...think Hillshire Farm. I'm not sure if it is convenience or price wise to do this, but I would have preferred to see real roasted turkey breast; just like one gets at the Thanksgiving table. If it can't be made in house, than using "Private Selection" brand oven roasted turkey breast would be a much more suitable product to use, since it looks and tastes like freshly roasted turkey breast.

Basically we had an enjoyable time; and when you can burp and say, "Oooooo", and then giggle, well that says it all, doesn't it? As to going back to the Slickrock Cafe, that's a given; even if it is just to get more of those Mozzarella sticks and Chicken wings; oh, and to try out one of their many salads. The shrimp salad, featuring Tiger Shrimp, sounds really interesting.

Nuff' said, try out the Slickrock Cafe; don't forget to buy one of their t-shirts featuring the Slickrock Critter, and have a great time.

Mary Cokenour

Slick Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

Slick Rock Cafe on Restaurantica

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Widow of Technology, or, My Rival is a Computer.

By definition, a widow is a married woman who has lost her spouse due to death of this spouse. However, there are other forms of widowhood where the spouse is very much alive and well. There is the "sports widow" whose spouse is so engrossed with various seasons of a sporting event (baseball, football, basketball, Nascar, etc) that he might as well be dead. There is the "hunting widow" where the spouse is up in the morning even before a rooster has time to realize it's morning and time to crow. I am a victim of technology, a "computer widow:, but often I feel that the computer has replaced me in my husband's affections, and it is, therefore, his mistress.

As other "widows", I am noticed when food is desired, clean laundry, or another beverage is wanted; the man has the inability to leave his obsession and get it himself. Then it becomes, "honey, can you get me a....(fill in the blank)"; and they have the nerve to wonder why we get so angry, we could spit blood. His "honey-do" list has 5 items on it, still unfinished; while my list has 50 items, and 35 have been done already, and where is he when I need his help...on the computer.

I swear, if he could have sex with it, he would. He's on the internet before he goes to work, at work, when he comes home from work...he's virtually kissing the computer before he even remembers me, and give me a kiss. I often go into the tool shed, pick up the sledge hammer and fantasize the destruction of my rival. I understand that he is a graphic artist and the computer is a big part of his art, and his making a decent living for us; but come on now.

...and so I have vented.

In my March 28, 2011 blogpost, Convenience Cooking? Avoid the Box", I discussed pre-prepping vegetables, and packaging them up for later use. Today's recipe is a perfect example of pre-prepping veggies for a stir-fry, adding chicken and Ramen noodles, and you're good to go.

Oriental Chicken, Vegetables and Noodles
4 Tbsp peanut oil, divided in half
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ¼” strips
1 small onion, julienned
1 small of each: red and yellow bell peppers, julienned
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup sugar snap peas
½ cup each water chestnuts and baby corn
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup Hoisin sauce
3 packages chicken flavored Ramen noodles
3 cups water

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large skillet, medium high heat, and brown chicken strips; remove to plate.  Into skillet, add remaining oil and sauté onion, peppers and broccoli till slightly tender.  Return chicken to skillet; add snap peas, water chestnuts, baby corn, garlic, ginger, Hoisin sauce; mix thoroughly and cook till warmed thru, about 10 minutes.
To skillet, add in Ramen noodles, broken up, seasoning from packets and 3 cups water; mix together with chicken and vegetables.  Bring contents of skillet to boil; reduce heat to low, cover and let cook an additional 15 minutes.  Turn off heat, uncover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Mary Cokenour
June 30, 1996

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dolores River Brewery is Darn Right Bad!

Dolores River Brewery
100 S. 4th Street
Dolores, Colorado, 81323

(970) 882-4677


Last night we decided to try out a brew pub I saw mentioned on the internet. We have frequented several of these microbreweries in the past, and always with a positive result, so why not try this one? It turned out to be a big mistake on our part.

Upon entering the pub area we were greeted by…no one. No hostess, the bartender did not acknowledge us, and there was no wait staff. Not a good first impression; so we seated ourselves at a small table set against the wall, and waited…nothing still. Roy got up, went to the bar and grabbed a couple of menus. So, let’s see what kind of pub grub we were going to experience. It certainly wasn’t the typical pub faire we were used to: snacks consisted of chips with either salsa or guacamole, or an antipasto plate. There were a number of salads to choose from; 3 types of sandwiches, and designer pizzas and calzones. Cheesecake was listed as a dessert, and it was noted on the menu to ask your server about other selections. That would be good, if we had a server.

Going up to the bar, Roy placed our order: Philly Cheese Steak sandwich for him, a calzone called “The New Yorker” for me. While I had iced tea, Roy tried their “Dry Stout”; DRB sings their own praises of their brews. Roy’s assessment of the stout was: the body was so light; it was almost watery, not as rich as the typical stout, medium hoppiness, but smooth. He asked about the specialty brews the menu describes, but the “brew master” had none ready for sale.

What we discovered, upon receiving our meals, was that the wait staff was also the cook staff. After receiving our plates, the bartender finally left his post behind the bar, and asked us if we needed anything else. Nope, not yet; but that was the last time we had any interaction with anyone at DRB, except when we paid…at the bar. Seems if you were not one of the locals, who frequent the bar area, you weren’t worth noticing.

Philly Cheese Steak sandwich is touted as a traditional Philly sandwich with beef, cheese, sautéed peppers and onions, and something called “hot sambal” on a toasted roll. The “hot sambal”, we later read online, is a very spicy chili sauce mainly used in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. How that ended up on a “traditional” Philly Cheese Steak is beyond me; and all we could taste of the sandwich was the hot chili sauce. Picking out the beef, it was tasteless; the cheese was unidentifiable, we saw a few onions and peppers, but they too were tasteless. The sides were a handful of bagged chips and a pickle; not very impressive for the price charged.

“The New Yorker” calzone looked wonderful when first presented; a massive dough dome, dark brown and when cut into, steam escaping. Our first reaction though was, “I bet this is nothing but hot air”, and we were right. While the dough was cooked on the outside (burned on the bottom I found out as I tried to eat it), the contents in the center were barely warm. DRB brags about spending hours on their dough which simply tastes like white bread. Toast me some, spread some butter on it, and I would not have been able to tell the difference from it and white bread from the supermarket. I cut the calzone down the center; one side consisted of ricotta cheese (not a sign of mozzarella, except as listed on the menu), the other had pepperoni (limp and tasteless) crammed in a large clump of slices which needed to be pulled apart. The sausage was spicy hot (not described as such on the menu), and a complete, unpleasant surprise. DRB claims to be a family/kid friendly place; but if any parent with small children surprised them with the spicy sausage within the calzone; they would have been screaming. The menu only states sausage, but no mention of the spice intensity. There was a smear of sauce on the bottom, and luckily I was able to peel off the burnt layer of dough before trying it.

Again, no one came by to ask about how the food was, if we needed anything, or just to say hello. Roy had to go to the bar, ask for the bill and pay there. The bartender did say goodbye as we left though, so a point for that effort.

The front of house is the dining area and bar, while back of house is the kitchen and brewing area. The bathroom (single toilet available) is co-ed with a changing table available. The one positive aspect of DRB; the atmosphere is rustic (wooden furniture), and quiet (no music) and can enjoy conversation without having to shout over noise.

Do yourself the favor and avoid Dolores River Brewery if traveling through, or staying in Dolores, Colorado; there are other places to eat there that are much better, and worth your time and money.

Mary Cokenour

Dolores River Brewery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday, and she is 76 years old. She doesn't want me making a big fuss about it, so I'll just be saying;

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Love from Roy, myself, and all the grandpets (Jenna, Tippy, Nefi, Sam, Miss Kitty, Dallas, Monkey, Rusty and little Two)

Hope you enjoy the gift we sent you.

Onions with a Sweet Kiss.

Onions are best known for making us cry. Once an onion is cut, it begins to release a sulfuric component which irritates our senses. Keeping onions in the refrigerator will deaden this effect somewhat, but as the onion begins to warm up, so does the acid.

There are, however, on the market types of sweet onion which have a mild sulfuric, and higher water, content than regular onions. Examples of these are Vidalia from Georgia, Walla Walla from Washington state, Sunbero from Nevada and Maui from the Hawaiian island of Maui; to name a few. Red onions, also called purple onions, are also mild and sweet; their coloring brightens up any dish.

One way to use sweet onions is to make a relish which can be spread on toasted bread, used as a condiment on sandwiches, or an enhancement for beef, pork or poultry.

Sweet Onion Relish

2 Tbsp canola oil
6 cups chopped sweet onions
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp celery seeds
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup diced roasted red peppers


In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat; add onions and celery; sauté until tender. Mix in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring often. Let cool. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill for 8 hours.

Makes 4 cups.

Mary Cokenour
March 23, 2006 lets cook up a family meal with that relish.

Sweet Onion Chicken Casserole
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 large red skinned or Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup sweet onion relish plus ¼ cup (set aside)
1 can (10 ¾ oz) cream of mushroom soup
½ cup half n’ half
1 (4oz) can sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp paprika

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 2-qt baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat; brown both sides of the chicken breasts.
Layer the potato slices in the baking dish; spread the onion relish on the potatoes before beginning each layer. Mix together the soup, half n’ half and mushrooms; pour over top of potato/onion relish layers. Place chicken breasts on top, spread the reserved ¼ cup of onion relish over the chicken breasts; sprinkle paprika over the chicken.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for one hour; remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour
July 22, 2006

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nothing to cry over.

In my Jan 27, 2011 blogpost, "Comfort is never overrated.", I gave you my recipe for "Potato Leek Soup", and leeks are primarily used in soups. However, this relative to the onion, and asparagus, is more versatile than one might think. Due to its mild onion flavor, a leek can be substituted for a regular onion; cutting it will not irritate the eyes either.

Leeks have a small bulb end; and the tastiest part is the white part which grows deep in the ground, and away from the sun's rays. The green upper part is very fibrous, and used for making stock; or thrown into the compost pile. Growing in the ground has the desadvantage of having dirt caked in between the many layers of the leek, so it needs to be thoroughly washed before use. The best way to do this is to cut the white part either into circular sections, or cutting it up into pieces, placing it all in a colander and washing under cool water.

The pieces can than be used in soups, quiches, casseroles, side dishes; anything an onion can be used for. Sauteed in butter or olive oil, they turn translucent and release a pleasant onion scent that is easy on the nose, and most especially, the eyes.

The recipe for today is an example of the versatility of the leel. Enjoy!

Potato and Leek Casserole with Meat
4 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled and parboiled russet potatoes
2 cups cooked ham, or beef kielbasa, cubed
1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 tsp each dried parsley, paprika and sea salt
¾ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
8 Tbsp butter
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray a 2 qt casserole dish with non-stick spray.
In a small skillet or saute’ pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, add leeks and saute’ till soft and translucent.
In a small bowl, mix together parsley, paprika, salt and pepper.
In the casserole dish, build 2 layers of potato with meat, leeks, herb/seasoning mixture and cheese; dot with 4 – ½” Tbsp of butter.  There should be a 3rd layer of potatoes which will have only the remaining herb/seasoning mix and butter on it.  Pour the cream over the potatoes.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Mary Cokenour