Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Patty Melt Goes Upscale

My hubby loves patty melts, and when it comes to the Classic Patty Melt; well he says I outdo everyone.  When I make my recipes, there's one thing I really enjoy doing; outdoing myself!

Let me introduce you to the London Broil Melt; thinly sliced rare London Broil, sharp cheddar, sautéed mushrooms and onions; layered together into a perfect marriage between toasted bread.

London Broil Melt
2 slices of sandwich bread, toasted
3 slices sharp Cheddar cheese (Sargento is the best!)
 8 thin slices of rare London Broil
1/2 cup sautéed mushroom/onion mix


This is a layering preparation.

Preheat oven to 350F; line small baking pan with aluminum foil.

Toasted Bread
Cheese Slice
4 London Broil Slices
Cheese Slice
4 London Broil Slices
Spread out 1/2 cup of vegetable mixture
Cheese Slice
Toasted Bread

Cheese on Toast

Meat and Cheese

Meat, Mushroom/Onion Mix

Place entire sandwich inside baking pan; place in oven for five minutes to allow cheese to melt thoroughly.  Remove sandwich to plate, cut in half and enjoy.

Makes one sandwich.

Note:  While my hubby enjoys a multi-grain bread, I go for potato bread; so, use what appeals to your taste buds.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fired Up About Fired Up Pizzeria.

Fired Up Pizzeria

741 Main Avenue
Durango, Colorado, 81301

Phone: (970) 247-0264

Email: info@fireduppizzeria.com

Website: http://www.fireduppizzeria.com/

The best way I can give a good assessment of Fired Up Pizzeria is by posting their "Mission and Vision Statement" which is located on the homepage of their website.

"Fired Up Pizzeria is dedicated to the ingredients, quality and traditional methods of producing authentic Neapolitan pizza. Our pizzas are created with handmade dough, fresh mozzarella, and hand crushed tomato sauce. We focus on using high quality imported and local ingredients needed to produce a great pizza and support a great community. We do this with the conviction that when you pour your heart and soul into what you love, excellence can be achieved. Come and enjoy."

Entering Fired Up, expect to be warmly greeted; seating available is indoor and outdoor, but if you want to watch the pizza chef at work, pick indoor - front.  The menu lists appetizers, salads, artisan sandwiches, "build your own" pizza, specialty pizza, desserts, drinks, alcoholic drinks, and a kid's menu.  After ordering, we watched the pizza chef and he let me take photos of him, and a pepperoni pizza fresh out of the wood burning oven.

We ordered two "build your own", an 8-inch Margherita with meatballs and a 12-inch Margherita with Kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers and diced tomatoes.  Within 20 minutes we were chowing down on deliciously scented and tasting, crispy pizzas; NO!  there was not one slice left over.  Surprisingly, we were not overstuffed and decided to try one of the desserts...cannoli.

8 inch Meatball

12 inch Olives, Red Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Diced Tomatoes

Crispy Crust!

The Cannoli were two waffle cookies, known as Pizzelle, rolled and filled with a lemon zested mascarpone cheese, vanilla glaze drizzled over top.  Talk about dying and going to dessert heaven; the lemon, vanilla and mascarpone worked perfectly together; and to our surprise, was not overly sweet.  The Pizzelle were light and crisp; skip the spoon, use the fingers and give yourself a great excuse to lick them clean.

Fired Up Pizzeria is definitely the place to go when in the mood for pizza and cannoli; then again, it's a great excuse to go back and try the sandwiches and salads too.

Mary Cokenour


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Don't Make This Mistake with Edamane.

Whenever I've used edamane (soy beans) in a recipe, I usually purchased the frozen, already shelled variety.  When I saw the PicSweet brand on sale, I didn't think there was anything strange about the beans still being in the pod.  When I cooked them up with the recipe I'm going to giving you, I made a huge mistake on not reading the directions on their package.  So, here's the warning:  If you cook edamane in the pod, the beans must be removed before or after; you CANNOT eat the pod itself.  The dish was still delicious, but we had to pick out each pod, push out the beans and throw out the pods; it was quite a messy meal.  I know my Thai friends are going to be rolling on the floor laughing when they read this.  Yes Bella (Arches Thai) and Venus (Bangkok House, Bangkok House Too), I can hear you both laughing!  That's why you two own the best Thai restaurants in Moab, Utah, not I.

By the way, besides edamane (the beans only!), sugar snap peas (and you can eat the pod!) go great in this recipe too.  When it comes to rice and noodle packaged sides, I have found that Knorr tastes much better than other brands, or the store brand copycats; and they have a larger variety.  Oh, the package directions tell you to add oil when cooking up the Rice Side; since you already used oil when browning the beef and onions, skip that part of the directions and don't add more oil.


Beef, Vegetables with Asian BBQ Fried Rice



2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. lean beef, cut into one inch pieces
1 small red onion, large diced
6 oz. frozen peas and carrots mix
6 oz. frozen sugar snap peas or shelled edamame
1 package (5.9 oz.) Knorr Asian BBQ Rice Side
2 cups water


In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high, brown beef and onions together until red color of beef is no longer showing.

Add frozen vegetables, contents of Rice Side package and water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 7 minutes (longer if rice is still too firm).  Turn off heat, uncover, allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Makes four servings.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bees, Hives and a Taste of Honey.

Utah, the Beehive State, adopted the symbol of the beehive onto its state flag and seal in 1847; representing the qualities of industry, perseverance, thrift, stability, and self-reliance. For the Mormon settlers, who definitely had to live these qualities to survive the unforgiving Wild West, it also meant a deeper connection to their beliefs. Within the Book of Mormon, the name Deseret meant “honeybee”, being derived from the Jaredites; a group believed to have been led to the Americas during the time of the construction of the Tower of Babel. While Christopher Columbus is given major credit for discovering the Americas and archaeological finds place the Vikings here first; let the historians battle out “Who’s On First?”

In many recipes of Native American origin, honey was included; so it would make sense to believe that honeybees were indigenous to the Americas, and you would be only slightly correct. In 2009, paleontologist-entomologist Michael Engel, of the University of Kansas, discovered fossilized remains in Nevada of 14 million year old honeybees which did not survive the Ice Age. (Reference: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=1544 ) It was not until 1622 when white settlers brought over European honey bees; referred to as “white man’s flies” by the local Native American tribes. Bee migration, via swarming, began on the east coast of North America; colonies finally arrived in the West by the middle 1800s. Therefore, honey became an active ingredient in Native cooking along with white flour, sugar and lard; all thanks to the pioneers. (Reference: https://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agcomm/newscolumns/archives/OSL/1999/November/111199OSL.html )

Two "Security" Bees at the entrance to each hive.

Bees produce honey, honey is sweet and tastes really good; is that all there is to honey bees? Bees produce - pollen, wax, royal jelly, propolis, honey and bee bread which are chock full of nutritional and health benefits for humans. While not being all that nutritionally balanced, from fermented honey, an alcoholic drink, called mead (Go Vikings!) can be enjoyed. The importance of bees goes beyond the human need of their byproducts; 1/6th of plant pollination worldwide is attributed to bees. Besides bees in the wild, local beekeepers provide a great service in maintaining hives, and coordinating with other beekeepers.

One such beekeeper is local Blanding resident, Ricky Arthur (also co-owner of Patio Drive-In with his wife, Lana). Ricky graciously invited my husband, Roy, and I to visit his hives, introduce us to the honey bees, and give us loads of information. Within each of the hives, a single queen (fed on royal jelly only) emerges to hold reign over the workers (fed bee bread). Did you know that a queen can be dethroned? After a queen lays eggs, multiple females can hatch; one will be the strongest, kill the others and she is the “virgin queen” who will mate with drones. However, the workers watch her progress and if her behavior somehow puts the hive in jeopardy, another queen will be put in her place. Queens will travel as far as 3 to 5 miles to mate with drones from other hives, so as to not mate with her own. Within each hive (colony) live 50, 000 to 100, 000; all constantly gathering pollen and nectar; taking care of the queen and her eggs; many die each day and the colony continues on….busy, busy, busy.

Honey is ready for eating within 3 to 5 days; tastes and scents all dependent upon what flowers were blooming. For example, in spring, the pollen from flowering fruit trees will be much different from those of clover, dandelions, flowers and flowering vegetable plants in summer. Have you ever been tasted by a bee? No, not stung, but tasted and I experienced such an instance at a lavender farm back in Pennsylvania. Bees like salt, so one decided I would be a nice “salt lick”; it was just a little pinch and imagine my surprise that others around me felt cheated at not being chosen.

Currently, Ricky Arthur’s hives provide enough honey for personal family use; however he is hoping to expand out eventually to create a small business. Anyone interested in beekeeping, and becoming a bee farmer, is very welcomed to contact Ricky at: (435) 260-2393. By the way, Ricky loves his bees and you can hear the passion in his voice when he speaks about them. He also created a glass enclosed hive which he keeps inside his home; he will proudly display it and describe the inner workings.

To see the bees in action, go to: https://youtu.be/D-teH-b6vyU created by Desert Stone Studio; my husband Roy’s new videography and visual effects business, or see the video above.

So plant those flowers and fruit trees, do NOT use pesticides, let the dandelions bloom, do NOT swat those precious honey bees…our very existence depends on their work ethics.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Potato Casserole for any Occasion.

A funeral is a time of sorrow; the passing of a family member, friend, neighbor that grips the mind and heart with deep sadness.  Usually the reasoning is that this person is missed; no longer can he/she be involved in the lives of the yet living.  However, while the funeral is the saying goodbye, the wake afterwards is the true celebration of, not the death, but the life.  Singing, dancing, tales of delighted remembrance are all part of the celebration, along with food and drink.

One such dish for this occasion is “Funeral Potatoes”; supposedly developed throughout the Intermountain states of Idaho, Nevada and Utah.  Searching through culinary resources, this “cheesy, creamy potato casserole” shows up in Mid-western and Southern cookbooks as well.  For Utah, it was typical for Relief Societies to make this potato dish for grieving families; giving comfort, not just to the heart, but the body as well.    A Blanding, Utah friend, Heidi Murphy, gave me her family recipe; I’ve enjoyed it as directed, but even played with different cheeses included such as Swiss, Goat and Gruyere.  It is definitely a potato lover’s delight and accompanies any cooked meat or poultry deliciously; however, it takes two days to prepare and spontaneity is not a friend of this recipe.

I can hear the huge sighs now and the question, “Oh dear, what has she done with this tried and true recipe now?”  You know me so well, don’t you?  As much as I, and my husband, love the taste and texture of Funeral Potatoes, when we want a potato casserole now, we want it now!  While my recipe is more in line with an “au gratin” casserole, the comfort can be achieved in two hours, instead of two days.  I still use real butter.  Margarine?  Seriously, who, in their right mind, would use something one molecule away from becoming plastic!  Instead of a canned soup, a lightly seasoned mixture of fresh eggs and real cream seals the deal.  Thinly sliced potatoes, sharp Cheddar cheese enveloped in a rich, creamy sauce; now that’s what I call comfort!  To be fair, I am including Heidi’s recipe along with mine; make both and have a cook-off.

Cheddar Cheesy Potatoes


6 medium potatoes (white, red skinned, or mixture)
1 small red onion, diced
14 Tbsp. butter or butter with canola oil
1 (16 oz.) bag shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 cups half n ’half


Slice potatoes 1/8 inch thin (leave skin on) and immerse in cold water for 15 minutes; drain and rinse.  While potatoes are soaking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet and sauté until edges just begin to brown; remove from heat.  Preheat oven to 375F; smear bottom and sides of 4 quart baking dish with 2 tablespoons butter.


Begin layering 1/3 of potatoes on bottom of dish; sprinkle 1/3 of onions over potatoes; 1/3 of cheese spread over all; 5 tablespoons butter; ¼ teaspoon each of ground black pepper and salt.  Repeat except for final layer, only spread the remaining cheese; no additional butter, black pepper and salt.


In a medium bowl, lightly beat together eggs, half n’ half, ¼ teaspoon each ground black pepper and salt; evenly pour over top layer of baking dish.  The mixture will work its way down into the layers and bottom.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover, bake for additional 20 minutes and let settle for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Fried Chicken Cutlets, Corn Relish, Cheddar Cheesy Potatoes

Fried Chicken Cutlet, Corn Relish, Potatoes

London Broil, Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes
(Recipe Source: Heidi Murphy of Blanding, Utah)


7 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet)
½ cup butter, plus 8 additional ½ Tbsp. pieces
1 can Cream of Chicken soup, family size
½ can milk
1/3 cup onion, minced
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 pint sour cream
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Corn flakes

*optional: real bacon bits


Boil potatoes, skin on, till fork tender (slightly firm); let cook, peel off skin and grate.

In a large saucepan, combine cup of butter, soup and milk, on medium heat, till hot; do not bring to boil.  Whish in onion, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper till smooth.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish (spray with non-stick spray), layer potatoes then sauce (there will be 3 layers of each).  Top with an even layer of corn flakes; dot with the 8-1/2 Tbsp. of butter.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

Next day, preheat oven to 350F.  Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Mary Cokenour