Here's to good food!

I am finally putting my tried and true family recipes here. Check out my old-time favorites as well as newly discovered ones.

I hope you'll find some recipes here that you enjoy cooking, and those you cook for will find them tasty and satisfying.
Are you looking for something special? Something quick and easy? You'll find it here somewhere.
Check in often to see what's cooking in Monterey!

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti

If you are posting from this site, please give appropriate credit and notify me. Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kalua Pork/ Carnitas/Beef brisket

This is a dish I learned to make when I took cooking classes shortly after moving to California. 
  • 4-7 pounds pork butt or shoulder roast**
  • salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees or use the HIGH setting on a crock pot. Wrap the pork well in heavy-duty foil, and seal completely. Place in a roasting pan or crock pot.     
Bake in preheated oven until an internal temperature of 160 degrees F is reached, about 5-7 hours. Alternately, in a crockpot, on high setting for 7-9 hours.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before shredding using two forks.  Meat should fall apart.  If it doesn't return to heat source for another hour or so.  (There will be a lot of fat.  I remove all of it, or as much as I can.)  Sprinkle the shredded meat with salt and pepper to taste. 

This will make a lot, but that's what I want.  I portion it into freezer containers, to be used later for carnitas.  

For Carnitas:  Place defrosted meat into frying pan, and heat.  We like it to be a little crispy.  Serve with tortillas and Mexican condiments to make burritos.

**This method also works for beef brisket.  You can slice the brisket like a roast or shred it for barbecued beef sandwiches.
      You can even do corned beef like this, but bring it to a boil in a pot of water and simmer for about 30 minutes.  (This will remove some of the saltiness.)  Then wrap in foil and cook as above.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chinese Broccoli Beef

Tip:  To stir-fry, it’s important to get the pan very hot.  Heat the pan until a sprinkle of water bounces. (Remove water if it hasn't evaporated before adding oil.)  Add the oil and heat until it ripples when the pan is tilted, then add ingredients.  Keep stirring so food doesn’t burn.

Stir-fries are great.  Once you have everything cut up, it goes together so quickly!  Vary the meat and vegetables as you like.  (This recipe is also from my cousin who submitted it for the Disneyland Tour Guide Cookbook.)

2 Tbsp soy sauce                      ¼ C water
¼ C sherry or sake                    1 lb flank steak
1 Tbsp sugar                            2 medium onions
1 Tbsp cornstarch                    1 bunch broccoli
1 tsp minced garlic                   5 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp minced ginger

            In a medium bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, and water.  Set aside.
            Cut steak in 2-3 pieces lengthwise, then slice diagonally into ¼ inch thick slices. (If you have difficulty with this step, put in the freezer for 20-30 minutes only.)  Add meat to the marinade and let stand one hour or overnight in refrigerator.
Cut onions into sixths.  Trim broccoli into 2-inch lengths, then cut stems into ¼” sticks.  Separate florets into bite-size pieces.  Heat 2 Tbsp oil in wok or large skillet until very hot.  Add vegetable and stir-fry 2 minutes.   Add 2 Tbsp water; cover and cook 3-5 more minutes.  Remove and keep warm.
Wipe pan with paper towels, then add remaining 3Tbsp oil.  Heat until hot.  Drain meat from marinade and reserve.  Add meat to hot oil and stir-fry about 1 minute.  Slowly add marinade, cooking and stirring until hot and slightly thickened.  When cooked through, mix in vegetables. 
Serve with hot rice.

Sandra’s 10-minute Szechwan Chicken

I'd forgotten how good this recipe is, and how easy.  It's also very adaptable.  You can use pork or tofu instead of the chicken.  You can also add cooked broccoli, asparagus or other veggies to it at the end, or just serve the vegetables along side.  And of course, it goes well with steamed rice.  We now use a combination of medium grain brown rice from an Asian market mixed with brown Basmati rice from Trader Joe's.  (This recipe is from my cousin who submitted it for the Disneyland Tour Guide Cookbook.)

1 tsp sugar                                       1 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce                               3 cloves garlic, minced            
1½ Tbsp vinegar                                3-4 green onions, sliced           
¼ C water                                        1/8- ¼ tsp cayenne or ground
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts        red pepper 
3 Tbsp cornstarch_______       

Mix together sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and water.  Set aside. 
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.  Put cornstarch in a gallon-size baggie, then add chicken.  Shake to coat chicken.
            Heat oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add chicken and garlic.  Stir-fry until chicken is lightly browned.  Add soy mixture; cover and cook 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Uncover, add green onions and ground red pepper.  Heat 2 minutes longer.
            Serve with hot rice.

Quick 40-Clove Chicken

This is from the newspaper in the late 80s.  The garlic becomes soft and mild and delicious.
6-8 skinless chicken breast halves (or lots of chicken tenders)
4-6 Tbsp olive oil                     
salt and pepper                         
20-40 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced if desired
½ C chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 400°.  In a 13 x 9” baking dish, arrange chicken breasts in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Turn chicken pieces to coat evenly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Scatter garlic cloves over chicken. 

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and bake uncovered 10 more minutes.                            Serves 6

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sausage, Potatoes, and Onions

A common topic at school during lunchtime was what we had made for dinner the night before.  One of the teachers often talked about this dish, and brought in the leftovers. 
Proportions are approximate and adjustable to your tastes.  But it’s always a yummy dish!!  Really good on a cold winter night.  Or a cold summer night, as the case may be, here in Monterey.

3-5 medium potatoes, peeled or not, and sliced less than ¼ inch thick
2-3 medium onions, sliced thinner than potatoes
1-2 pounds sausage (Italian, breakfast, or a mixture)

Make 2-3 layers of potatoes, onions, and sausage in a 9 x 13 inch pan or baking dish, breaking up sausage into small bite-size pieces. 

Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.  Toss around every 15-20  minutes.  Uncover after another 30-40 minutes, so everything can brown some.  Bake until
sausage is cooked through and potatoes are tender.

I've even made this on the grill when we had no electricity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chickpea and Cilantro Stew with Cumin Croutes

Two cumin croutes in bowl
Stew over the "crusts"
Stew with avocado and cilantro garnish

I found this recipe when I found the Turkish Lentil Soup, which I really liked.  I didn't try this recipe until after I had made the Moroccan Chickpea Chili.  The cumin croutes (which means crust in French)  was part of the reason I delayed making it.  But I think those really MAKE this recipe.  I used a sourdough baguette and made 2 each plus extras for any leftovers.  So I needed more oil and cumin mix, too.  If you don't care much for cumin, you may want to reduce the amount or omit it.  It is pretty strong, but I love cumin.
The lemon rind and juice really perk up the flavor so it is very lemony.  You may want to start with just 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

I used a stick blender to process the stew just briefly. 

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 1/2-inch slices Italian or French bread --  (1 per serving)
   *      *      *     *     *
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion -- chopped
4 garlic cloves -- finely chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans 16 ounce canned chickpeas -- rinsed
1 cup packed cilantro sprigs
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (about 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1 1/2 cups chopped seeded fresh tomatoes or 1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. To make the croutes, stir together the 4 teaspoons
of olive oil with the cumin in a small bowl. Brush the flavored oil lightly over
both sides of the bread slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake in the
preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, until toasted on both sides.
Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven.
Add the onion and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened,
about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the
broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low
and cook, covered, for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

3. In a blender or food processor, process about half of the chickpea and broth
mixture with 1/2 C cilantro, lemon juice and lemon peel to make a smooth puree.

4. Return the pureed mixture to the pan with the remaining whole chickpeas and
reheat gently, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer until
just heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately so that the colors remain bright.

5. Place the cumin croutes in shallow soup bowls or on rimmed plates and spoon
the stew over them.

You may garnish with cubed avocados and cilantro.

 American Medical Association Family Cookbook
, 1997 by Melanie Barnard and Brooke Dojny, et al

Nutrition:  453 cals, 116 cals from fat, 13g total fat, 2g
sat fat, 0mg chol, 978mg sodium, 69g total carbs, 13g fiber, 18g prot

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Layered Supper Skillet

This recipe was originally included with a PGE bill in the mid- 70s.  It is a quick simple meal with basic ingredients.  It was one of the meals that Lisa would make when she was cooking dinner.  Now she makes this from memory.

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 -2 potato, sliced
  • 1 can corn, drained or 10 ounces corn, frozen thawed
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 C carrots, slices
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 t seasoning salt
  • 1-2 T parsley flakes
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1-2 C cheddar cheese, grated
Melt butter in large skillet on low or 200° using an electric skillet.
Arrange potato slices in the bottom of the skillet to cover completely (you may need more potatoes).
In layers add the corn, green pepper, onion, garlic, carrots and beef in clumps.
Combine tomato sauce, salt, parsley, and garlic powder.  Pour over the meat layer.
Cover and cook on high or 325° on electric skillet until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low  or 210° and cook 25 minutes longer or until veggies and meat are cooked.
Turn off heat, sprinkle cheese over top and put lid back on for 10 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
Original recipe link

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joan's Krispie Chocolate Chip Cookies

      A shift mate of Tom's at the aquarium makes cupcakes each week for his shift.  She is baking her way through the Martha Stewart Cupcake cookbook.  On many occasions, I have been the recipient of some of her culinary treats.  (She also works on my shift, but the cupcakes are always for Tom's shift.)  Well, one week she made these cookies instead of cupcakes.  Yum!  And there was something that made them very crisp.  She shared the recipe with me and I'm sharing it with you. (See additional baking notes at the bottom.)
     Besides being crispy, they are not overly sweet, so that is also good.  My next try will be to add rice krispies to my other chocolate chip cookie recipe with the melted butter.  (

Cream together:
1 stick butter
½ C white sugar
½ C brown sugar       
Then add:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together into the batter; mix in:
1 C + 2Tbsp flour
½ tsp each: salt, baking soda, baking powder
Stir in:
2 C rice krispies (Place in a baggie and HAND crush, slightly)
½-3/4 C chocolate chips
½-3/4 C toasted walnuts, chopped

Drop by generous tablespoonfuls on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 13-17 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen.*

*Joan’s directions say to bake at 325 for 13-14 minutes.  I set my convection oven inadvertently to 375 (which heats to 350) and it took about 15-18 minutes to bake.  Maybe they were too big.  The recipe card said it makes 15-18, but I had 29 cookies.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

 This was a simple dinner to make, although it took time to bake the tomatoes.  It was so easy and very tasty.  Although the original recipe called for Roma tomatoes, I found the skin on them to be too tough.

This sauce also works well for other uses, too.  Spread it on bread, cooked eggs, veggies.  You'll find other uses, too.

2 pounds tomatoes, about 4-5 tomatoes cut into about 2-inch pieces

1/4 C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Italian seasoning
1/4-1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t ground pepper
8 ounces pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine (I used an 8 oz. pkg of TJ's garlic fettuccine)
shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomato chunks, cut-sides up, in foil-lined 9x13 inch pan. Mix oil, minced garlic and seasonings in small bowl. Spoon over tomatoes.

2. Roast 45 to 60 minutes until tomatoes are soft and browned on top.

3. Prepare pasta as directed on package. Drain well.

4. Coarsely mash the roasted tomatoes on the baking pan.  Pour over pasta; toss to mix slightly. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese and additional crushed red pepper, if desired.

Serves 3-4.

*Next day:  I heated some cooked shredded pork and then added the leftover pasta and tomatoes.  This is one way to make it more hearty, but it isn't necessary.

Original recipe link

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sparkling Gingersnaps

One of the PTA parents brought these cookies to a teacher workshop.   We all had to have the recipe!  Sometimes I make half the recipe; other times I freeze what I don't want to bake for another time.

4 cups flour                                          2 cups sugar

1 T baking soda                                    ½ cup butter
2 t cinnamon                                         1 cup shortening
1 t EACH: salt, ginger,                          ½ cup molasses
            and allspice                              2 eggs
      additional sugar for rolling (about ½ cup)

Combine dry ingredients in left-hand column; set aside.  Beat together ingredients in right-hand column until light and creamy.  Add dry ingredients.  At this point you can refrigerate to make handling easier or not.

            Form into 1-inch balls.  Roll in sugar.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-13 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.

                                                                                    Makes 5-7 dozen

*Dough may be frozen for 2-3 weeks.  Defrost in refrigerator for 2-4 hours or until soft enough to handle.  Or cookies may be frozen.  Or make half the recipe.         

Mom's Granola

The original recipe for this came from Tom's Mom.  Keep what you like; take out what you don't.  Increase the amount of one thing, but decrease something else to keep the proportions about the same.

3 C oatmeal                                      
½ C sliced almonds
1 C chopped nuts
½ C coconut                                
¼ C sesame seeds*                             
½ C wheat germ*                               
2 tsp cinnamon
½  tsp nutmeg             

¼ C oil      
2 Tbsp grated orange/lemon rind ++
¼-½ C honey/maple syrup #  (depends on how sweet you want it)    
½ Tbsp molasses   
1 tsp vanilla extract   
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
To add after baking:  
1-2 C dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped dried pears, etc.

* Can be toasted at 350 for about 10 minutes. Stir so it won’t burn.  (Don’t brown too much because it will roast more as it bakes.)  Then turn oven down to 300 degrees.

++ Really adds a nice touch of brightening up the flavor
#  Can use any sweetener as part of this amount.

Combine dry ingredients.  Mix liquids and heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds if necessary.  Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Line 1 large (13x17)  or two (9x13) pans with foil and spray with oil.  Spread out in pan(s).  Bake for 30-40- minutes, stirring several times.  It will continue to brown slightly after removal from oven.
Cool and mix in dried fruit, if desired.  Makes about 6-7 cups.

Keeps several months in a tightly closed container or keep in freezer.