Tag Archives: cooking

Best of the Best from Minnesota Cookbook

minnesotaThe Best of the Best from Minnesota Cookbook, as the name suggests, is a selection of recipes from Minnesota’s favorite cookbooks.  This book was edited by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley and was printed in 1997.  I have several of these cookbooks from other states and I really like them because they do choose the “best” recipes from cookbooks from that particular state.

I decided to look for a quick bread or bar recipe that Vince could eat for breakfast during the week.  He gets up so early that he normally just eats a poptart or a bowl of cereal and I know that gets old pretty fast.  Thumbing through this book, I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Bars that originally came from the Old Westbrook Evangelical Lutheran Church Cookbook.  Vince loves carrot cake and this particular recipe would be similar in flavor, in that it’s a spice cake with cream cheese icing.  Perfect!  This bar is more like a cake and it’s super moist and have a great flavor.  It’s definitely a recipe I’d make again.

As with all recipes I write about, I did make a few changes to the recipe and the recipe printed below reflects my changes.

Pumpkin Bars 

4 eggs

1 cup canola oil

2 cups granulated sugar

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1 (8 oz. package) cream cheese, softened

3/4 stick butter

1 tablespoon milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, canola oil, granulated sugar and canned pumpkin.  Mix well.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, ginger and cloves and mix to combine.  Pour mixture into a greased 9X12-inch baking pan.  Bake for 350F for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean, when inserted in the middle of bar.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

For icing, combine all icing ingredients, mixing well; then ice the bars.

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June 29, 2012 · 9:44 AM

Treasured Recipes – The Ladies of Sacred Heart

This cookbook was published in 1998 by The Ladies of Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas. The recipes were submitted by its members and is filled with wonderful recipes, many of which are Italian recipes. Over the years, I’ve tried many recipes from this cookbook and I’ve always been pleased with the results.

I purchased my copy at one of the Sacred Hearts weekly Thursday spaghetti lunches. If you live in Houston, I’d highly recommend visiting them for lunch. They are located at Whitney Hall, which is off of I-45, near Crosstimbers and Airline. They serve from 11:00 AM – 1:15 PM every Thursday. This Catholic’s men society has been serving these lunches since 1953 and their menu includes: spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausage, fried chicken, salad, garlic bread, Italian cream cake and cannolis. It’s similar in taste to my Aunt Frances’ sauce (at least from what I remember it’s been so many years), so I’m naturally a fan.

Anyways, back to the cookbook, I decided to try a few new recipes so I could get back on the blog wagon, as I’ve been neglecting my blog for a while now. I apologize to my readers, so I am going to try to do better.

So over the period of two nights, I tried out several recipes. The first night I made Pork Chops and Lima’s, which I served with white rice, Italian Artichoke & Green Bean casserole, and a wheat roll. The second night I made Italian Veal Cutlets with baked potato, leftover Italian Artichoke & Green Bean casserole and a wheat roll. I love that the veal cutlet is broiled instead of fried. It makes it much healthier than my usual method of frying and I didn’t see a big difference in taste. I also found a Coconut Pie Lopez recipe that I’d love to try, but I need to get all the ingredients, so I’ll have to blog about that one later.

So as usual, I have altered the recipes to suit my families tastes. If you try out these recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy!

porkchopsPork Chops Navy Beans

1 can Navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium onion, sliced

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup milk

4 boneless pork chops (3/4 – 1″ thick)

Ground black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Rinse and drain navy beans and set aside. In a large skillet, brown pork chops on each side until slightly brown. Place chops in a greased 9X13-inch baking dish. In saucepan, add sliced onions and grill a few minutes to soften. Then add soup and milk and stir until well combined. Add beans and stir. Pour over chops. Cover and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Italian Artichoke & Green Bean Casserole

1 can Progreso Artichokes packed in water

3 cans cut green beans

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Olive oil

Rinse and drain both the artichokes and the green beans. Place in a mixing bowl. Add bread crumbs and minced garlic to mixing bowl and toss the artichokes and green beans to coat. Place coated artichokes and grean beans into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Grate Parmesan cheese on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes until heat through.

Italian Veal Cutlet

4 veal cutlets

Italian bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs and garlic powder.  In another shallow bowl, place about 1/2 cup olive oil.  Salt and pepper the veal cutlets.  Then dip each one in olive oil and coat both sides.  Then dip the veal cutlet into the bread crumbs and press into the crumbs so that the crumbs stick on both sides.  Place the veal cutlets on a foil lined baking sheet.  Broil on low until brown.  Be sure to turn veal so that both sides get brown.  Do not over broil.


June 20, 2012 · 9:06 AM

River Road Recipes

Growing up, my Mother always had her River Road Recipes Cookbook on the kitchen counter.  I believe she probably cooked from it often.  I know that she made her fudge and French cocoa balls from this cookbook every Christmas.  When I moved out on my own, I knew this was one cookbook I would have to have in my collection.  The cookbook was published by the Junior Leage of Baton Rouge.  It was first published in 1959 and has had many printings over the years.  The recipes are tried and true and if you like southern cooking, this cookbook should be on your shelf.

One weekend back in August, my husband and I went to Canino’s produce market in the Heights.  As a child, I remember my grandpa shopping there and always bringing home a huge box of apples.  He did this about once a month when apples were in season. Canino’s produce is always fresh and they have individual local growers selling their produce in the back.  It is so much fun to go look around.   Anyways, my husband loves lima beans, in fact, I think he is the only one in our family who will eat them.  He saw a bag of frozen lima beans and quickly put them in our cart.  Well, I still had more than 1/2 a bag in the freezer, so I decided to make a recipe to use them up.  I found the perfect recipe to go with our bacon-wrapped chop steaks and baked potatoes…. “Barbecued Lima Beans”.  Believe it or not, they were really good and I even ate them.  As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe and below is my version of the barbecued lima beans.

Barbecued Lima Beans


½ pound fresh or frozen

1 smoked ham hock

1 tablespoon salt

1 clove garlic, crushed


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1  8-oz can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon vinegar

Boil lima beans with ham hock, salt and garlic.  Simmer until beans are soft.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of liquid.

For sauce, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent, being careful not to burn garlic.  Add remaining ingredients for sauce; stir well.  Add cooked lima beans to sauce and stir.  Heat on stove until heated through or bake at 300F for 40 minutes.  If baking in the oven, a slice or two of bacon can be added to the top.



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Farm Journal – America’s Best Vegetable Recipes

Oh my!  Why have I not cooked anything from this book before now?  There are so many delicious looking recipes in this book!  I’m talking about a Farm Journal cookbook, titled “America’s Best Vegetable Recipes”.  My copy is a first edition, printed in 1970.  My copy is a little worn, by a previous owner, and is missing the jacket and has a worn binding.  The pages are a little discolored, but the recipes are legible.  Best of all, I picked up this little gem about five years ago at a Half Price Bookstore for $1!

My husband picked the last two heads of cabbage from our garden, so I decided to make the Cabbage Au Gratin recipe with one of the heads of cabbage.  I served it with chicken fried steak and green beans and boy was it good!  This cabbage dish reminded me a little of a broccoli rice casserole, because of the cheese sauce.  It’s probably not the healthiest of veggie dishes, but is truly a comfort food kind of dish.  I will definitely be putting this recipe in my card file and making it again.  My husband and I think an addition of rice might be good as well, so I might try that next time.

Our spring garden is now planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and squash, so I hope to make more vegetable recipes from this cookbook in the near future.  As usual, I made a few changes to the original recipe and the recipe below reflects my changes.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Au Gratin

1 large head of cabbage, torn into pieces

1 can condensed cream of celery soup

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup milk

1 8 oz block of Velveeta cheese, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook cabbage in boiling salted water for about 5-7 minutes, or until tender.  Drain.  While cabbage is cooking, combine soup, celery, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper in a saucepan.  Heat until cheese is melted, stirring constantly so that the cheese doesn’t burn.  In a bowl, combine cooked cabbage and cheese mixture.  Pour mixture into a greased 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish.  In a small bowl, toss bread crumbs and butter together, then sprinkle on top of cabbage.  Bake at 350F for about 15-20 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.  Serves 4-6.

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Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans

Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans is a cookbook that was published by the Parents Club of Ursuline Academy in 1971.  This cookbook has some very interesting information concerning the Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans.  It was so interesting, that I did an internet search myself  and found more information.  Yes, I love to read about history.  Did you know that the Old Ursuline convent was built in 1752 and is the only remaining French-Colonial building in the United States today?   After a long hard journey at sea, the Ursulines, or Sister of Ursula, arrived in New Orleans in 1752.  They were the first to provide decent medical assistance to countless people, and they were the first to open a local school and orphanage for girls.  St. Mary’s Church was added in 1845. I won’t bore you with more history details, since this is a cooking blog, but if you would like to take a tour, it is located at 1100 Chartress Street and to see details of tours and times, you can click  http://www.neworleansonline.com/directory/location.php?locationID=1278

OK, to get back on track with my post….  I made the Tarte A. Bouillie, which means French Custard Pie.  It was a deliciously rich and sweet filling, yet the crust turned out a little dry in my opinion.  This was probably the cook’s error.  The recipe says to mix up the pie shell and place it in the pie dish.  Once you cook the filling on the stove, you are supposed to pour the filling in the shell and bake until brown on top.  Since the crust was really thick, I decided to bake it a little before adding the filling.  Perhaps I baked it too much.  The crust did have a nice flavor though.   I did made a few changes to the recipe, as I usually do and the recipe printed below reflects those changes.

Tarte A Bouillie

Tarte A. Bouillie (French Custard Pie)

Sweet Dough Crust:

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

Custard Filling:

1 1/3 cup milk

2/3 cup milk

4 eggs, beaten

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

For crust, cream shortening and sugar.  Add egg, flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Mix well and knead slightly.  Roll and dough and place in a pie dish.  Note that crust will be thick.  Pre-bake the crust for about 6-8 minutes at 400F.

For filling, bring 1 1/3 cups milk to a boil.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine 2/3 cup milk, beaten eggs, flour, sugar and salt.  To prevent curdling, remove the boiling milk from the stove and SLOWLY add a little of the hot milk at a time to the cold milk and egg mixture, stirring as you add it.  Be very careful not to add to quickly because you don’t want scrambled eggs in your filling.  Once all the hot milk has been added to the mixing bowl, pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until mixture is thick.  Stir constantly to keep from burning.  Pour filling into half-baked crust and continue baking in 400F oven until crust is slightly golden.  Keep leftover pie covered in the refrigerator.


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Simply Simpatico – A Taste of New Mexico

This past weekend, I picked up three bags of freshly roasted Hatch chilies when I did my weekly grocery shopping at H.E.B..  I always look forward to this time of year to buy a good stash, and freeze them in small bags.  I thought I had missed the last weekend, but luckily for me, they extended their chili weekend one more week.   So, once I packaged my chilies for freezing, I saved out a bag and decided to find a recipe that called for Hatch chilies.  I decided to make a  New Mexico Green Chili Stew  (Caldillo)  from a cookbook titled, “Simply Simpatico – A Taste of New Mexico”.  This cookbook was published by the Junior League of Albuquerque in 1981. 

While this recipe piqued my interest, I thought it was strange that no seasonings were listed, so I tweaked the recipe to suit my family’s taste.  Boy was it spicy, but it had an awesome flavor!  It was so good that Vince told me not to change a thing.  If you don’t like spicy food, or you can’t eat spicy food, please seed both your chilies and jalapenos and cut back on the other seasoning, as desired.  The recipe printed below reflects the changes I made to the recipe.

New Mexican Green Chili Stew (Caldillo)

New Mexican Green Chili Stew (Caldillo)

2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2-3 inch chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15 oz) can Hunt’s diced tomatoes, do not drain

3 tomatillos, husk removed, diced

8 roasted Hatch chilies (with seeds), diced

2 fresh jalapeno peppers (with seeds), diced

3 cups water

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed


Preheat oven to 325F.  In a large oven-proof pot with lid, brown pieces of pork in olive oil, over medium heat, until pork starts to turn white on all sides.  Add garlic and onions and saute 2-3 minutes.  Add canned tomatoes, tomatillos, Hatch chilies, and jalapenos.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.   After 20 minutes,remove pot from oven.  In a large bowl, combine water and remaining seasonings.  Stir to combine and add to pot.  Also add potatoes to the pot.  Stir, put the lid back on, and continue baking for 1 hour.    Serve hot with warm flour tortillas. 



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Philoptochos Society’s Favorite Recipes

The cookbook I cooked from last night was titled, “Favorite Recipes” and it was compiled by The Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church in 1996.  I was inspired to make something from one of my Greek cookbooks because I had an excellent Greek meal this past weekend and I wanted to re-create some of the dishes we enjoyed.   Our daughter Victoria, graduated from Auburn University this past Saturday.  WAR EAGLE!   She’s been babysitting for one of her freshman professors for a few years now and they threw her a graduation party after the ceremony.  They were the sweetest couple and we really enjoyed visiting with them.  The food was fantastic and the company was just as great.  The whole family had a wonderful time. Thank you Mitchell and Chris! 

I have two Greek cookbooks.  I know what you’re thinking… “Out of all those cookbooks,  you only have TWO Greek cookbooks?” .  Yes, it’s true.  It’s not because I don’t like Greek food, because I LOVE Greek food.  I guess the Greek cookbooks are just harder to find.  Anyways… The first recipe I wanted to re-create was a grilled pork tenderloin that Vincent pulled me in their kitchen to see before dinner was served.  He asked me, “How come you’ve never made THAT?”, as he pointed at the pork.  He immediately requested that I make it for him before he goes back to college.  So my search was on.  The second was a cream cheese pound cake topped with fresh strawberries. 

I actually tried three recipes from the Favorite Recipes cookbook.  The first recipe was shishkebob (souvlakia)… made with Vincent in mind.  The recipe says you can use lamb, beef or pork, so I chose pork so I could compare it to what I had this past weekend.  This turned out great!  The only thing I’d do next time would be to marinade overnight instead of just a few hours and I might try grilling them outside instead of broiling in the oven.  Next was a recipe for oven roasted potatoes.  This was not on the menu last weekend, but I love NikoNiko’s roasted potatoes and wanted to give the recipe a try.  These are great, but I think I’d add a little butter next time around.  Last, was a recipe for a cream cheese pound cake.  I tried a recipe for cream cheese pound cake a few months ago and was not impressed, but I liked this recipe much better.  I’d have to say this is the best so far.  However, it still was not as moist or as flavorful as Mitchell’s pound cake, so I’m still on the hunt for the “perfect” cream cheese pound cake.  If you know of one… please let me know! 

My menu last night consisted of pork tenderloin, roasted Greek potatoes, green beans, warm pita bread, tzatziki sauce and cream cheese pound cake topped with strawberries for dessert.  What a wonderful mid-week treat!  Opa! 

~Please note that the recipes below are not exactly like the ones printed in the book, I have tweaked them to accommodate my family’s tastes. ~


1 – 2 pounds beef, lamb or pork, cubed  (I used pork tenderloin)

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed

1/3 cup red wine

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ cup chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

                In a plastic container with lid, combine olive oil, lemon juice, red wine, oregano, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Add bay leaves and meat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.  Overnight would be better!   Soak wooden skewers in water for at least an hour.  Run skewers through the middle of each piece of meat.  Meat may be cooked over the grill or broiled on low in the oven.  Remember to turn occasionally.  Serves 4.

Greek Oven Roasted Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup water

Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan.  In a bowl, toss potatoes, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, until all potatoes are coated.  Layer the potatoes in the baking pan.  Pour in 1 cup of water and bake at 450F for about 25-30 minutes.  Serves 4.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 cup butter, unsalted

6 ounces cream cheese

5 large eggs

2 cups cake flour

1 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons vanilla

                Preheat oven to 325F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch flat-bottomed tube pan.  Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar.  Beat well.  Add vanilla and blend.  Pour into the prepared tube pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until cake tests done.  Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Strawberry Topping 

(This is my Mom’s recipe & I’m sure this is how Mitchell made her strawberries)

1 pound strawberries

3 teaspoons sugar

                Wash strawberries, hull and slice.  Place strawberries and a bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved and all strawberries are slightly coated with sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours. 


(From my personal recipe stash, posted for Shirley)

1 cup sour cream

½ of an English cumber (or regular cucumber if you can’t find the English)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dill

                Peel cucumber.  Grate cucumber into a bowl.  Add sour cream, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and dill.  Cover and refrigerate.  Keeps for several days.

Also, I wanted to post a picture of Victoria, whom we are very proud of!  We know she will go far in life. War Eagle! 



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