Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fruit Pie Without the Pie Pan.

Recently there was a bake sale at the Monticello Welcome Center; all funds raised were being donated to the upkeep of the Big 4 Tractor.  The Big 4 is the only one left in the United States that is still running.  It appears in the Pioneer Day Parade every year, and goes to other events.  This tractor is rare and priceless, so efforts are being made to have it declared a National Monument.

Since I had already planned on making a birthday surprise for Dave, the retired manager of (who still volunteers at) the Welcome Center; why not make extra for the bake sale.   While flipping through cooking magazines, I came upon the photo and recipe for "Rustic Fruit Pie".  Now I've said it before, and I'll say it again, baking is not one of my favorite culinary activities, but I do try from time to time.  However, I was able to figure out how to cheat on the recipe, make it simple for myself, and even make extra for the bake sale.  I call mine "Artisan Rustic Fruit Pie"; artisan for handcrafted, rustic for country style; hence the use of both descriptive words.  By the way, you might see such names as tart or galette used to describe them; whatever works for the baker, I say.

Artisan Rustic Fruit Pie
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 in a package)
2 cans (21 oz.) fruit pie filling
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unroll each pie crust onto center of parchment paper. 

Apple Filling, Raisins, Nutmeg
In a medium bowl, use a fork to take all the fruit out of the can; all the liquid is unnecessary, so don't worry over leaving it.  It might come in handy later on to serve over ice cream.
Now comes the truly fun part, creating a unique filling.  While the pie filling itself might just be enough; the addition of spices such as cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg will kick up the flavor of apple or peach.  For cherry or blueberry, I usually have bags of frozen stored in the freezer, so add a nice handful to the canned fruit.  Slivered almonds can be added to the fruit, or used on the crust; raisins go great with the apple.

Onto the center of the pie crust, spoon all that lovely goodness; try to keep as much as possible piled up.

Put a little water into a small bowl, not much as you'll be using this to wet your fingertips only.  First, wet those tips, now carefully lift up the crust and crimp a section; the water will help keep the crimp sealed; repeat all around the filling, making sure to draw it close to the center, but not cover it entirely.

Almost done all around.




With a pastry brush, let me digress for a moment; you don't have to get a fancy name, expensive pastry brush.  In any hardware store, you can buy those small hair bristle brushes for about $1 each.  Yeppers, you can use them for pastry brushes; make sure to clean them in soapy hot water and dry upright before storing them away.  They last indefinitely!

So, use the brush to paint the melted butter all over the exposed crust.  Afterwards, you can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar (use large or coarse grain sugar, found in the baking section) over the crust, and don't forget a little bit over the filling too.  For the cherry and blueberry, I used brown sugar; and this is where you can add those slivered almonds too.

Large Grain Sugar

Cinnamon and Sugar over Crust and Filling

Ready to Bake Apple (on left), Peach (right)

Bake for 30 minutes.  Now it's going to be a given that they might leak as there is no pan keeping them from expanding; after the 30 minutes, remove from the oven and let them rest for 15 minutes; the leaks will seal themselves.  Each pie will look unique which gives more credence to using the terms "artisan" and "rustic".  To get the pie onto a plate, cut the parchment paper around the pie, grab one end of the paper and simply slide it off the baking sheet and onto the plate.  Serve warm from the oven alone, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  To store, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator; warm up a piece and don't forget the ice cream!

Apple Raisin



..and there you have them, rustic fruit pies using store bought items.  It might be cheating, but it's still homemade, and delicious!!!

Mary Cokenour

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another Breakfast Burrito.

That's right, hubby wanted breakfast burritos one morning, but instead of making the one with bacon, he wanted the lunch style with Frito chips and smoked sausage.  Problem was, I didn't have any Frito chips or Mexican white cheese, so I did what I always do...used what was available!

Breakfast Burrito with Smoked Sausage


1 - 10 inch tortilla
1/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese
1 large egg, cooked scrambled style
1 smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise (I prefer Johnsonville)
1 Tbsp. chunky salsa, medium heat
1 Tbsp. butter, margarine or butter substitute


Place tortilla on a large plate or flat, clean surface; spread the cheese in the middle.

Spread the cooked scrambled egg over the cheese; place the split sausage on top.

Spread the salsa down the center of the split sausage,

Now here comes the fun part, sealing up the tortilla; and I'm proud to say I'm getting better at it each time.

Fold one long side over the ingredients sitting in the center of the tortilla; fold the second long side over.  If the fold won't stay, use a toothpick to hold it together; remove before frying.

Now it's time to fold over one short end; not too close up to the ingredients; you'll need room for the cheese to melt.  Second short end after that, flip the packet over to seam side down and you're ready for the fry pan.

Depending on how many I'm making, I'll use an 8 inch skillet for one; 10 inch skillet for two; you want room to be able to flip the burrito over to brown both sides.  Melt one tablespoon of butter in the pan, over medium-high heat, and place the packet seam side down to ensure a good seal.  Depending on your stove, type of skillet used, it could take one to two minutes; lift up one end to make sure it's nicely browned before flipping to the top side.  You shouldn't need to add anymore butter, but do if you feel the pan is too dry.  Again, brown for one to two minutes, check, and place on your plate (seam side down).  Be brave and take that first hot bite with your mouth, or cut it in half to allow some cooling.

This recipe makes one delicious breakfast burrito with smoked sausage; or use any meat you desire like ham, bacon, sliced steak, even a cooked hamburger.

Practice makes perfect, so enjoy making a breakfast burrito; especially enjoy eating it!

Mary Cokenour

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beef Stew is a Comfort Favorite.

I enjoy making beef stew; a comforting collection of tender beef and vegetables, richly seasoned broth and lots of love.  When I decide to make stew, I put a lot of thought into my mood that day, and it helps me determine how to cook the stew, also what vegetables to use.  Do I want to add red wine or not; perhaps some diced chilies, or more onion than usual, or mushrooms?  Bet you didn't know that stew could be such a constructive culinary project?

One beef stew I've made for family, sometimes friends too, is my Country Beef Stew which takes two days and bakes in the oven.  I usually have to make two casserole dishes full, and there still aren't any leftovers.  When using the crock pot, I usually mix in flour with the beef cubes, and don't brown the meat; this time I changed it up.  The vegetables were the typical onions, potatoes and carrots; make sure to parboil the potatoes and carrots to make sure they come out nice and tender.  I like using the crock pot, but sometimes it still doesn't cook the vegetables properly.

Now beef stew in the summer?  Here in Monticello, the weather has been a bit strange this year; rain/snow showers until the middle of June; two weeks of excessive heat (we usually don't go over 85F, but went into the high 90s) end of June.  July 1st our monsoon season began right on time, but the temperatures have definitely cooled.  Wooly caterpillars have been seen since the end of May; I've always known that they signal an early winter, and a hard one.  My belief is that the tilting of the earth's axis, that occurred in 2012 (not the end of the planet), has a lot to do with all the climate changes around the Earth.  Give those Mayans credit, they said there would be great changes at the end of 2012, not the end of it all.  So. yeah, hot beef stew is perfect right now; especially served with homemade buttermilk biscuits.

Beef Stew for Crock Pot


2 ½ lbs. sirloin or eye round roast
½ cup flour
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided in half
6 medium potatoes
1 lb. package baby carrots
1 large onion
1 ½ cups beef broth
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder


Spray a 6 quart crock pot with nonstick spray.

Cut roast into 1 inch thick slices, the slices into 1 inch thick strips, the strips into 1 inch cubes. Coat the cubes in flour; heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet, medium-high heat, add half the cubes and brown on all sides; drain on paper towels. Repeat with second half of cubes; place browned and drained cubes in bottom of crock pot.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, cut into 1 inch strips, the strips into 1 inch cubes. Place into 5 quart pot with the baby carrots, cover with water; parboil for 15 minutes.

While these are parboiling, cut the onion into ¼ inch strips; place over the beef in crock pot.

 Drain potatoes and carrots; spread out over the onions.

In a medium bowl, mix together beef broth, black pepper and garlic powder; pour over ingredients in crock pot.

Set pot on low; cook for 8-10 hours until meat, potatoes and carrots are fork tender.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Homestead Steakhouse Made Changes for the Better.

Homestead Steakhouse

121 East Center
Blanding, Utah, 84511

Phone: (435) 678-3456

Summer Hours

Back in 2011, I wrote my first review on Homestead Steakhouse; a lot has changed since then. The 21st century is one of fast, fast, fast; practically everything at your fingertips due to the advances of technology. Even food has become fast; prepackaged at convenience stores; gas up and go! Many a restaurant has gone the way of “fast” by purchasing frozen food items; microwave, serve and sort of tell the truth by saying, “Yes, we make it fresh.” Homestead Steakhouse has been in business for many years; owners Gary and Sharon Guymon do not readily use the word “fast” in their vocabulary.

Dining at Homestead is a relaxing experience; those who want grab and go cannot understand this concept. Once seated in the interior dining room, or the new, glass enclosed patio room (built in 2015); the drink order is readily taken. You are given as much time as you need to go through the menu; questions about the items are answered, perhaps a suggestion or two is offered.

The best-selling feature for Homestead is the freshly made soups, salads, sides and main dishes. The soup and salad bar area is a mecca for those who highly enjoy them; two soups typically; one always is their signature homemade bean chili. I happened to be there on a night they served New England Clam Chowder; chunks of tender clams and potatoes in a lightly seasoned, thick, rich creamed stock.


One prized item in the salad bar selections is Sharon’s own “Krab and Pasta Salad”; perfectly cooked pasta mixed with krab (imitation crab meat), diced veggies, and just the right amount of mayonnaise to hold it all together, and make it light. There is the chunky potato salad, Italian style pasta salad; even cottage cheese and fruit for those looking for even more healthy choices. Veggies galore are spread out throughout the salad bar; one trip, or all you can eat, are both a great choice.

Are you hankering for a steak? Homestead hand cuts their Angus Beef; Baby Back Ribs with a choice of smoky or hot barbecue sauces; Fried Chicken and don’t forget to order a side of homemade mashed potatoes. Mmm, ain’t nothing better than Utah Farmed Red Trout; dusted with cornmeal and pan fried; except when they used to serve catfish done the same way. Sorry Gary and Sharon, but that was my favorite meal whenever we stopped in at your restaurant; the trout is a nicely done substitute though. Looking for something truly local, the Navajo Taco is huge, and can be made with either Fry or Ash Bread.

So, let’s get back to that fast thing; since the meals are cooked up freshly, they don’t get to you in five minutes; so have patience grasshopper. While you’re eating (portions are generous), the waitress stops by often to ask if you need drink refills, and to find out if everything is to your liking. If you’re like my hubby and myself, you’ve spent so much time enjoying soup, salad, main entrĂ©e and sides to be too full for dessert. No? Then how about trying out a slab of pie or cheesecake; perhaps warm cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. After all this, you’ll surely need that wheel barrow to help you out to your vehicle.

Is there an event happening in your family (birthday, anniversary, wedding, christening, etc.) and you need a celebration place? The owners will gladly accommodate your party, whether you need the entire restaurant, or only a section. Sorry folks, Blanding is a dry town, so no alcohol products are available; but that should never deter you from having a downhome, good meal at the Homestead Steakhouse.

Mary Cokenour

Note to all the locals: no more flies!!!  Two months ago, Gary Guymon spoke with me about doing an updated review.  I told him straight out, either the flies go, or they go into my review.  I'm not the only person who has complained about it, so have many other locals I've spoken with.  Well, Mr. Guymon must have taken to heart what I said, as there are no more flies!!!  Now we can all go down to Blanding and have a good meal at Homestead Steakhouse; just remember to save some of that Utah Red Trout for me.

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