Holm Family Cookbook

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Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

Ahoy! From a Houseboat on Lake Shasta

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on August 1, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Last year I won a silent auction lot at the Terry Patters Golf Tournament Benefiting Melanoma Research… a Houseboating Trip from Shasta Marina Resort! I had never been to Lake Shasta, or on a houseboat, so this was going to be a new adventure for me. Our cousin Lori won the houseboat trip the year prior, and her family claimed it was the best family vacation ever, so we were ready to give it a spin. My husband had fond memories of summers spent camping with his family of 9 on Lake Shasta, so for him, it was a return to the huge manzanita and squawking blue jays of his youth.


Fishing on the Backbone Arm of Lake Shasta

I wasn’t quite sure how you shop, pack and cook for a large group on a small boat in the middle of a lake, so I started doing some research online. I googled “houseboating tips” “houseboating Lake Shasta” etc. and found some helpful guidance, such as: “How many nights could I be locked in a hotel room with these people before I lose my mind?!” Lori also had some helpful hints such as air freshener for each bathroom, with a men’s and women’s designation. Planning the food would take some effort, so step one was working up a menu. I conferred with our friend Herb who was coming on the trip, he had cooked in the catering kitchen at Wente Vineyards for a number of years, so we got the ball rolling. We finalized our menu with:

Breakfast: 1) bacon, eggs, toast and home fries; 2) whole wheat sourdough French toast and sausage; 3) omelettest; 4) buttermilk and blueberry pancakes.

Lunch: 1) green salad, 2) fruit salad, 3) chicken salad or wraps. We were planning heavy breakfast and dinner so lunch would be light. Or better yet, skip the KP duties, hop in the boat and travel to a marina with a restaurant on the water for lunch and an ice-cold brew. Well, we found out that the restaurants were kind of on the water. With the water level down on the lake, each marina had a steep incline to reach the restaurant and store on dry land. There were shuttles, but we never seemed to catch the shuttle on the uphill trek, only the downhill, so we got our exercise there.


Silverthorn Pizza & Pub on Lake Shasta

Dinners: 1) spaghetti, green salad and garlic bread; 2) BBQ tri-tip, asparagus and corn; 3) buttermilk marinated BBQ chicken, grilled artichokes and beans (originally I was going to make pintos from scratch on board, but I just loaded two large cans of BBQ beans that were quite tasty); 3) Fajitas made with the left over tri-tip and chicken. Herb made the spaghetti sauce in advance and froze it, so that our first night on the boat we wouldn’t have to stress over dinner.


Originally my menu included fish, but being on a lake we were unfamiliar with, I crossed those off the list, which turned out to be a good thing. We ended up with only 2 bass, enough for Bob and I to grill for dinner when we returned home!


Fishing for Bass on Lake Shasta

After working up the menu, I started breaking down the items on a shopping list, which was gi-normous. How long were we staying, a month? We split the shopping list up between our four groups, and it actually worked out very well. There are small stores at all of the marinas, so if we were short on something, they had the basics. But if you don’t have a small boat in tow, gas is not cheap on a houseboat, don’t plan on making too many trips to the store, that dozen eggs could end up costing you $125 in gas!


When camping, I pack up a little carry case of spices and specialty items, so that served us well on this trip. Definitely bring 1 or 2 good knives; you’ll need them, along with some lightweight cutting boards. We always had 3 or 4 of us in the kitchen, so the spares came in handy. I filled up on the herbs and spices that I use regularly, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, basil, Cajun seasoning, cinnamon, vanilla (I found out on the lake that I accidentally brought almond extract instead of vanilla – the French toast came out fine), lots of kitchen towels, ziplocks, scissors, lighter, handsoap, etc. Next time I would bring some Tupperware too.


We arrived at Shasta Marina Resort, and the lake was down, so you drive about a mile down the canyon to reach the houseboats. They provide carts to empty all of your earthly belongings (that’s what it looked like, but our helper said our load looked “average” onto a pontoon boat. They deliver you around to your houseboat, which was very handy. I saw a couple of marinas where you were carting your goods for quite a distance to get to the houseboat. The crew gives you a 1-hour crash course in houseboating, and bon voyage! 

This boat was an absolute DE-luxe liner! Air conditioning, full size fridge (which we packed to the gills!), dishwasher, trash compactor, gas stove, microwave, blender, hot tub, slide, bar upstairs, BBQ, satellite T.V., this was not roughing it! They provide you in advance with a list of items you should bring, so we were set.



Volcanic views of Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen from the lake

Funny thing, we didn’t have any alcoholic beverages on our shopping list, but plenty showed up, and this didn’t include the ice chest full of beer.


The wet bar

Since this is a foodie blog I do need to include a couple of simple recipes; sorry, no measurements, this was casual cooking at its best. For our GRILLED ARTICHOKES, we cut the artichokes in half and boiled them for an hour with a dash of vinegar, salt and smashed garlic cloves (our Granny’s recipe). After draining, we poured olive oil lightly over the interior half, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, thyme, basil, oregano and some crushed garlic. Place these on the grill, interior half up, for about 5-7 minutes, flip and grill for another 5-7 minutes. No need for mayonnaise with these artichokes, they are full of flavor.


Grilled Artichokes

For ROASTED ASPARAGUS, we drizzled lightly with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and covered with a head of finely diced garlic, broiled for about 8-10 minutes, quick, easy, delicious.

The BUTTERMILK BBQ CHICKEN was so moist and tender, and oh so easy. We cut the chickens in half the night before, taking out the backbone, and filled ziplock bags with buttermilk and a couple of tablespoons of my favorite spice mix from New Orleans, Don’s Seafood Low Salt All Purpose Seasoning (any Cajun or Creole spice mix will do). The next morning be sure to mix the chicken and buttermilk so all sides are evenly covered, and reseal the ziplock. When you are ready to BBQ, drain off the buttermilk and sprinkle more seasoning on the chicken, and you can drizzle some olive oil over the chicken so it doesn’t stick to the grill, and BBQ low and slow for about 1 ¼, ‘til the juices run clear. This chicken was finger lickin’ good.


Bridgette at the helm with chicken fajitas

For the FAJITAS, I put salt, pepper and garlic powder on the tri-tips in the morning and let them marinade for the day. We BBQ’d the tri-tips to medium for our first meal, so reheating for the fajitas didn't dry the meat out. We cut the cooked tri-tips into ¼” slices against the grain, and those slices into strips, and we shredded the chicken. Our friends had brought a large flat electric griddle (perfect for large quantities of French toast, pancakes and fajitas), so we cooked the beef on the griddle and the chicken in a large frying pan.

We used the same ingredients for both versions. We sliced red and green bell peppers, pasilla (or poblano) peppers, yellow onions and sautéed them in olive oil with cumin and Mexican oregano until soft, adding diced garlic for the last few minutes. We added a small can of diced green chiles, a can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, salt and pepper to taste, and a little bit of chicken broth to moisten the mixture, and mixed in chopped fresh cilantro at the end.


Chicken & Beef Fajitas

We served the fajitas on whole wheat tortillas with fresh salsa that our friend Dede whipped up in the blender and GUACAMOLE that included diced avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, green and red onions, finely minced garlic, salt, pepper and garlic powder. To top them off we had fresh chopped cilantro, El Salvadoran sour cream (oh man, you better run down to Mi Pueblo and pick this up!) and some Tajin Classico seasoning (also from Mi Pueblo) that has a zip of lime flavor.

Guacamole, Salsa and Tajin

There is plenty to do in and around Lake Shasta, we found a great single track mountain bike trail at Bailey Cove on the McCloud Arm of the Lake.

Bailey Cove Trail

And we took a couple of hikes up the creeks and canyons that were absolutely gorgeous - huge ferns, acres of wild blackberries, some beautiful back country waiting to be discovered.


Creeks off the Backbone Arm of Shasta

On our last evening, as with any summer vacation, we had to break out the S’MORES! We were able to pull a campfire permit for free - we only needed a bucket and shovel (which were on the houseboat), and a responsible person (now that was questionable!).

I had watched an episode of The Pioneer Woman with some s’mores variations, so we picked up some Peppermint Patties at one of the marinas, sliced up some strawberries, and we used some light chocolate wafers called Hello Brownie Crisps from Costco and graham crackers for the outer sandwich. Bridgette was our campfire mistress and Lin whipped up the s’mores to order with a variety of combinations, it was a great ending to the weekend.


S'mores around the campfire


By the last morning, needless to say, we were toast; there would be no toast served for breakfast, or blueberry pancakes for that matter! We knew we had to pack and clean up, so nobody was in the mood to make a huge mess in the kitchen and have to clean it up. Our mass of leftover fajitas made for some killer breakfast burritos, on paper plates of course!


Fajita Breakfast Burritos

All in all, this was definitely a memorable vacation, and I would highly recommend it to any family or group of friends (just remember the “locked in the hotel room” when choosing cabin mates!). There’s something about literally being on the water 24/7, the break of the waves, the run of the creek, the splash of the fish, the cry of the hawk, you could call it Relaxation 101.


And just in case you are interested, Shasta Marina Resort has generously donated another 4-night stay on their 16-Sleeper Mirage for the 3rd Annual Terry Patters Golf Tournament, taking place August 5th at Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore. Come for dinner or a round of golf and be there to win your next food and fun-filled summer excursion!


Ahoy! Nancy


The Tomato and Basil Pasta Recipe That Will Blow Your Mind!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 22, 2013 at 1:30 AM

The method for cooking this pasta will "blow your mind!"

While we were compiling the stories, recipes, and photos to go into our cookbook, my sisters, mother, aunt Patsy, and cousin Wendy would come over to my house on Saturdays and Sundays and we would spend hours going through photos and stories to match with the recipes. 

The first two times we got together we thought we'd be finished in a few hours and those few hours turned into several hours. We'd start working and all of a sudden we would discover we were famished. I would go into the kitchen and rifle through the cupboards and freezer to find ingredients to rustle up a quick and easy meal that would need to feed the six of us working on the cookbook, and my kids, husband, and father--basically a quick meal for 10 people.

It is times like that and the times my kids bring home a group of hungry friends that I am always on the look out for quick and easy recipes that can feed several people. Last night I saw a recipe posted on Facebook that is just perfect for those times. It was posted on the Getting Healthy & Staying Healthy Facebook page and it was called the "Blow Your Mind Tomato Basil Pasta." It is a pasta recipe that does not require you to boil and strain the pasta--you just dump the pasta and all of the other ingredients into a pot and cook it! I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand to make this recipe, so I made it for dinner. Only my husband and I were home to eat it and we both enjoyed it. And, I am sure we will enjoy the leftovers today as there are plenty!

All of the pasta ingredients in the pot

The cooked pasta

Below is my version of the recipe that will "blow your mind." 

The Tomato and Basil Pasta Recipe That Will Blow Your Mind!

Makes about 10 servings, when served with a salad

1 medium red onion, sliced into thin strips

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 17-oz. package of whole wheat spaghetti pasta

1 14.5-oz can Italian style stewed tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1 handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

3 14.5-oz cans low sodium vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese for garnish

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two.  Remove from heat. Add the pasta (I broke the spaghetti in half to make stirring easier), stewed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. Pour the vegetable broth over the top and stir. Cover the pot and cook on high until the ingredients begin a rolling boil. Stir well and cover the pot. Reduce the cooking temperature to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir a few times while the pasta is simmering. The pasta should have an inch or two of liquid left for a nice sauce. If there is too much liquid, continue simmering with the cover off until the liquid is reduced. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Garnish with Parmesan cheese when served. 

I plan on adding more veggies the next time I make it. 


Chifrijo, Not Your Average Chicharron

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 17, 2013 at 9:10 AM

I recently journeyed with my buddy Patty to the Central American country of Costa Rica. We were visiting our friends Diane and Ernie who live in the small town of Grecia, busy in their missionary Bible education work. You may remember the blog from their going away party where we all cooked Costa Rican foods for the occasion, an all-day affair! Costa Rica was quite an adventure, a scenic country surrounded by the sea, a vast biodiversity of flora and fauna (and bugs!), friendly locals, delicious food, and best of all, coffee is one of their main crops. It’s going to take a couple of stories to cover this sojourn, so I’m going to start with our first home cooked meal with our Tica friend Karen.


Patty, Karen & Diane, on our trek to Los Chorros Waterfalls

A native Costa Rican, Karen volunteered to teach us how to make a local favorite, Chifrijo. It is a fried pork dish that you serve in a bowl over rice, beans, and topped with fresh pico. Chifrijo is described as “the king of Tico bar food,” and is served in la ferias  (farmers markets), by street vendors, and in sodas (small restaurants, not pop!). We began our escapade with Karen on a hike to the Los Chorros waterfalls near her home, an absolutely gorgeous setting found down a steep and narrow dirt road. We only passed one family on the hike (from Ohio!), it was gorgeous.

Los Chorros Waterfalls @ Grecia Costa Rica

On our way home we stopped at la feria for some fresh ingredients from the local farmers. Diane had already purchased some precooked Chicharrón - but hold your horses, this is not the deep fried pork rind you find in other Latin American countries - in Costa Rica Chicharrón are usually made from pork ribs or similar cuts.

Costa Rican Chicarron, fried at the butcher shop

The size of our party had grown, so we needed more pork (yay!), so we stopped at the butcher shop in the market and picked up some posta de cerdo. I can’t quite figure out what it means when translated, pork something, maybe ribs, but it looked like good, fresh pork shoulder cut into 2” cubes.

La Feria, fruiticultura las delicias!

We sorted through a vast array of local fruits and vegetables, and picked up some chayote, corn, avocado and culantro leaves. Culantro is a cousin to cilantro, an herb indigenous to continental Tropical America and the West Indies. It has long spiny, serrated leaves, and a similar flavor to cilantro, only stronger.


The fruits of Costa Rica

When we got back to the house I stepped into the sous-chef position, helping to chop ingredients for Karen’s chifrijo. I was taking notes and pictures throughout the evening on my iphone as Karen was cooking away on a full stove.

Preparing the chayote for the Guiso

I didn’t have time to measure anything, so the recipes below wouldn’t pass our cookbook editor’s requirements, but basic ingredients and directions are listed! I did find a chifrijo recipe from a Costa Rican mother and son on the Latin Street Food episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, an authentic recipe with correct measurements. Let’s get on with the preparations, Por favor deja comer!


Posta de cerdo, or pork, 2" cubes

Head of garlic, roughly diced



Add the diced garlic to meat and marinate for ½ hour to 2 hours.

Posta de cerda and Garlic, that means pork!

Fry the pork in a oil until lightly brown. Instead of just salting the meat, you add salt to maybe ½ to 1 cup water to dissolve, and add the salted water to the browned meat, and simmer.


Adding salt water to the fresh chicharron

Cut the Chicharrón into bite size pieces, 3/4" cubes. While the pork is cooking you can make the pico and rice. Beans were cooked in advance, black beans are a staple, but for this meal Diane had shelled and cooked up some fresh frijoles tiernos (large pinto beans) with oregano, garlic, Chicharrón meat and a bit of salt and pepper.

Not your average chicarron! Cubed and ready to serve

To serve the chifrijo, place a scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl, a layer of beans, cover with chifrijo and top with fresh pico. Tuck some tortilla chips into the side of the bowl and serve with sliced avocado.









Dice the onion and tomato to a small chop, and marinate in lime juice. Add the jalapeno and culantro, salt to taste, and serve





Onion, diced

Garlic, diced

Sweet Pepper, diced

Crema Dulce (whipped cream)


Corn, chayote and crema dulce for guiso

Peel, cut out the inner seed and chop the chayote into 1/2" cubes. Be careful handling chayotes, they can cause an allergic reaction - tingling, numbness, rash and peeling of your hands. The safest bet is to wear plastic gloves. The chayote in Costa Rica didn't seem to have as prickly of skin as we find in America, we cleaned and peeled them under running water and didn't have any problems. Cut the corn off the cob. Sauté diced garlic, onion, pepper, corn, add chayote and saute. Add crema and bring to a boil. Add a bit of water to cover, simmer until chayote is soft, about 15 minutes. Salt to taste and enjoy!

Pura Vida baby! (i.e. plenty of life or this is living!)

In the Kitchen with Karen (sounds like a new Food Network Show to me!)

~ Nancita the hungry Gringita


San Francisco's Portuguese Cioppino

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM

One of my favorite shows on the Food Network is Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and now it comes on a few early mornings every week, so we watch it over coffee. A couple of weeks ago one of our favorite Northern California dishes was featured, Cioppino, and the competitor, Phil DiGirolamo, came from one of our favorite seafood restaurants, Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. And best of all, Phil won the throwndown! So I’ve had Cioppino on my mind for a couple of weeks, and finally decided it was time.

 Phil's Fish Market & Eatery in Moss Landing

The story behind Cioppino started in the 1800’s with Portuguese and Italian fishermen, they would use the catch of the day from the docks in San Francisco bay to create a tomato and wine based seafood stew. Typically it would include Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish.

So following that tradition (I’m Portuguese after all!), I used whatever I had available to throw down a Cioppino! I looked up a few different Cioppino recipes, Bobby Flay’s, Giada de Laurentis' and bon appetit, and used the ingredients I had on hand, and the herbs that I preferred. It only takes about 40 minutes, and you’ve got a delicious bowl of seafood stew on your hands (and down your gullet!).

San Francisco Portuguese Cioppino

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes (or less, mine turned out almost too hot!)

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup white wine

3 8-ounce bottles of clam juice

1 bay leaf

1 pound scallops

1 pound cod, cut to 1” squares, about the size of the scallops

1 pound uncooked large shrimp (I left the shell on for more flavor)

1 pound clams (I cheated and used frozen steamer clams from Trader Joes)



Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and herbs, and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and carmelize for a 3 – 5 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes with their juices and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the wine and clam juice, cover and simmer about 30 minutes to blend flavors.


Simmering Cioppino

Add the seafood by size, whichever will take longer to cook first. I started with the scallops for five minutes, then tossed in the fish and shrimp for about three more minutes, and the clams were already cooked, so threw them in for the last two minutes just to heat. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and pepper. And, in the San Francisco tradition, I served it with some sourdough garlic toast.

Portuguese Cioppino and Sourdough Garlic Toast

Saúde! Nancy

"Are you ready for a throwdown?!"

Granny's Recipe for Love and Spaghetti

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Granny with great-granddaughter Laina

Our grandmother, Ione Holm or "Granny" to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was the inspiration for our cookbook. She was such a poignant person in my life that I would often hope I died before her because I didn't think I could go on living without her. Although she had nine grandchildren, each one of us felt her love as though we were her favorite grandchild. Extended family and friends felt that same love.


She rarely spoke about it to us, but Granny had a hard childhood. Her mother suffered from mental illness and eventually could not care for her four young children. The children had to move to Arkansas to live with an aunt. While living in Arkansas the children went with their aunt to someone else's home for a meal (I don't recall if it was a friend or family member--so I'm referring to that person as "someone else"). This someone else was not happy to have the children at her house and treated them that way. She would not allow them to sit with the others to eat the meal. The uncomfortable and dreadful feeling of being at a home where you were not welcome stayed with Granny for the rest of her life and she made sure that everyone who came to her house always felt welcomed and loved.

Granny would express her love through kind words, hugs, listening, food, and her generosity. Everyone was welcome in her house and at her table. Granny would have Sunday dinner at her house for anyone that wanted to come. I think the average was usually 25 people. I can't imagine cooking for 25 people every Sunday, but this is what Granny lived for. When my cousins, sisters, and I were in our twenties and living on our own, in addition to the Sunday dinners, Granny would cook supper on Thursday nights for anyone who wanted to come. And, ANYONE who happened to stop by her house any day of the week would be treated to lunch, dinner, or cookies with coffee.

Granny lived on the family ranch in the Livermore Hills, which is about a 20 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. In addition to the food she purchased on her weekly trip to town, she kept a well stocked pantry and a freezer stocked with food she preserved or that our grandfather had grown. During the summer she had our grandfather's large vegetable garden as a resource for fresh fruit and vegetables. She was like a magician in the way she could whip up a huge meal with little notice and without the use of a microwave oven to defrost or heat up food.

Granny passed away on February 12, 1998, just 11 days before her 92nd birthday. She passed from this earth in her sleep, in her beloved home overlooking Cedar Mountain with some of her family members nearby enjoying a meal and each other's company. She had lived a long life--her body had given out and her passing was a blessing.

The most important thing Granny left us with was the recipe for the love of friends and family. She also left us with many of her recipes for food. When I make her recipes I can remember the love I felt at her house with our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Now when my sisters, cousins, and I have gatherings, it is doubtful anyone ever leaves feeling hungry or unwelcomed.

Below is the recipe for Granny's spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti was one of the meals she would serve for Sunday dinner with love.

Granny's great-granddaughter Laina with love all over her face

Granny’s Spaghetti Sauce -  Makes about 7 cups of sauce

Granny would make her spaghetti sauce in her pressure cooker. She stewed tomatoes she canned herself. Most of us are afraid of pressure cookers and don’t make the time to can our own tomatoes, so we have adjusted her recipe to work for us.


½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms (or your preference of mushrooms)

1 cup hot water

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

2 pounds ground beef

2-14.5 oz. cans whole stewed tomatoes

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon crushed oregano

1 bay leaf


In a small bowl, pour the cup of hot water over the dried mushrooms to rehydrate. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, but not brown.  In the same skillet, brown the ground beef and drain fat.  Stir in the next 6 ingredients.  Remove mushrooms from the water and add the water to the sauce.  Slice the rehydrated mushrooms into thin slices and add to the sauce.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf. Continue simmering 30 minutes, removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.

Serve over 1 pound of cooked spaghetti noodles.


~merry carter~


Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 28, 2012 at 8:55 AM

My husband and I met Dave the Butcher at a hog butchery class in Berkeley, and he happened to mention a happy hour that involves pork, held every Wednesday night at The Fatted Calf Charcuterie in San Francisco.

Second take…a “Butcher’s Happy Hour,” featuring a whole hog?? Say what?! My ears perked up, I’m in! Pork has always been my flesh of choice, we grew up on my grandmother’s huge pork butt roasts (it’s really from the shoulder) that melted in your mouth and fed the entire family at our large Sunday lunches. But where do you find a date for a porcine happy hour?? Not the faint of heart…no vegetarians…wait, my sister-in-law Paula, the perfect choice! She raises a pair of organic Berkshire hogs every year for home consumption, and she learned how to slaughter and dress a turkey last year, she would be game for this hoggish adventure!

So we’re off to Hayes Valley in San Francisco, I’ve never been to this neck of the woods in the city, a cool foodie Mecca tucked away just off Market. Outdoor cafes, pubs, coffee shops, ice cream stand, food trucks, and much, much more. I’ll be back to this neighborhood when I have more time, and am not weighed down with a bag full of piggy products.

We were welcomed by butchers Matt and Gus, with half of a hog laid out on the butcher block,


Butcher Matt working away on the hind quarter

and the rest hanging from the rack. Again, this is not an event for everyone!

It’s a very casual affair; there are pork snacks to nosh on, along with complimentary tastes of local brews to wash down the appetizers, my favorite was the Denogginizer from Drakes Brewing.

Where have I been? Who knew there was an urban brewery in San Leandro? Well, my sister Susie did, so much to learn at the Butcher’s Happy Hour!

We met other lovers of the other white meat, Chris and Paul. We shared some freshly marinated cauliflower and pickled beets while talking pig, and Paula and I split a hearty meatloaf sandwich from their deli as we watched the butchers wield the weapons.

Paul, Paula and Chris - look how happy they are at happy hour!

While Matt was taking the half-a-hog down to the cuts we are more familiar with, like pork chops, Gus the butcher was working on the Porchetta (doesn’t that just sound delicious?!), an Italian style marinated rolled pork roast, it was a work of art! 

The roast is about 2 feet long,

and then they cut it to order, so I was able to bring home about an eight inch roast,

along with a bag full o’ goodies. The Fatted Calf also carries a wide variety of local organic products, Paula and I both came home with a small crock of butter from McClelland’s Dairy in Petaluma. We keep our butter soft and out of the fridge, just like Granny did, so the little crock will come in handy, and the butter is delicious.

With the industrialization of meat processing and beef now being sold even at Walmart, over the past 3 to 4 decades came the demise of the local butcher. Fortunately, there seems to be a renaissance in the making with the corner butcher, charcuterie and boucherie.


Behind the scenes at The Fatted

Along with The Fatted Calf Charcuterie, these artisans of meat are popping up across the landscape in the bay area, The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, Barons Meats in Alameda, Olivier’s Butcher in San Francisco, el Salchichero Handcrafted Charcuterie in Santa Cruz and Main Street Meat & Fish in Pleasanton. Focusing mainly on local, sustainably raised meats, organics like SunFed Organics (family member Pat Byrne was one of our cookbook recipe testers!),

SunFed Organic New York Strip

and some on the whole animal. There’s even a butcher shop on wheels, Avedano’s Meat Wagon can be found, where else but Hayes Valley, Thursdays through Sundays! So get out and support your local butcher, who supports your local rancher, who supports your local economy and your scenic views! And don't forget the Happy Hour!


3-5 pound boned pork shoulder roast, fat and skin on

Fresh garlic, pounded with a mortar and pestle

Lemon zest

Salt and pepper

Toasted ground fennel seed

Chopped Rosemary

Lay the roast flat on a cutting board, skin side down. Sprinkle the interior generously with the herbs and spices. Roll up the pork and tie tightly with butcher's twine. Sprinkle the outside with more fennel seed.

Marinate the porchetta for up to 4 days.

Rub the roast with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt prior to roasting. Cook at 375 to 400 degrees until the outside is browned to a golden hue, then, lower the temperature to 300-325 for 3-4 hours. Let the roast rest for 15 minutes, remove the string and slice into spirals to serve.

We cooked up a batch of homemade applesauce with cinnamon and brown sugar to serve with the porchetta, it’s a must! Along with some red cabbage and roasted potatoes.

~ Yum, Nancy

Dutch Oven Enchilada Pie

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 9, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Enchilada Pie made in a Dutch oven and cooked over coals

We had our annual Calhoun family reunion on Saturday at the family party barn and my sister Nancy and I had the Dutch ovens going. One of our cousins brought some great butternut squash enchiladas that she made in a Dutch oven at home. We normally have a lot of Portuguese dishes at this family reunion, but since it was Cinco de Mayo I guess we all decided to go with Mexican themed cuisine--plus we needed something to complement all of the tequila we had.


We had a great time at the reunion. Our great aunt Ruth celebrated her 100th birthday. And, in addition to last Saturday being Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby was also held that day. As is the tradition at the reunion, we had a Kentucky Derby contest with a little bit of wagering involved. This year when I announced the name of the winning horse, "I'll Have Another," everyone said, "OK, but what's the name of the winning horse?"  "I'll Have Another."  Badaboom. It was one of those who's on first situations.

Enchilada pie was one of the dishes that I made that day in the Dutch ovens. It was a recipe that I made at a CattleWomen's Dutch oven cook-off last November and won a first place.

Enchilada Pie – Serves 6


1 pound lean ground beef

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 16-ounce can cream corn

1 tablespoon chili power

1 16-ounce can refried beans

2 tablespoons taco sauce

1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce

1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies

1 package Jiffy style cornbread mix

1 egg (or amount required for cornbread mix)

1/3 cup milk (or amount required for cornbread mix)

1/2 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup more for serving


Brown beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet or other Dutch oven; drain well. Stir in enchilada sauce, corn and chili powder, set aside. Prepare cornbread mix according to instructions on the package, then stir in half the can green chilies and set aside.

Use a 12” Dutch oven and line with foil. Lightly coat foil with oil. Spread refried beans evenly on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Spread the taco sauce over the refried beans. Sprinkle the rest of the green chilies over the beans. Spoon the beef mixture evenly over the refried beans and chilies. Sprinkle a ½ cup of cheese over the beef mixture. Pour the cornbread mixture evenly over the cheese and beef mixture.

Bake with 8 coals on the bottom and 12 on top for about 30-35 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown. Serve with shredded cheese. This dish can be made in a conventional oven with a preheated cooking temperature of 375 degrees F.

Dutch oven lined with foil and refried beans spread on the bottom

Corn bread mixture with chilies added and then poured over top of layered beans and beef


Tamales - Costa Rican Style

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 2, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Our friends Ernie and Diane were heading to Costa Rica for 4 months to help out a congregation in the small town of Sarchi; so of course, any excuse for a party! We decided to try out some Costa Rican recipes to prepare their bellies for the adventure ahead. There aren’t many cookbooks featuring Costa Rican cuisine available, so I found a few recipes online and sent them to the guests for a potluck. After our ravioli-making day, we planned to have a tamale-making day, so on this occasion we made the standard pork tamales and Costa Rican tamales. What sets the Costa Rican tamale apart is the addition of potatoes and rice to the filling, they are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks, and are boiled instead of steamed.

Arroz con leche, Costa Rican tamales and pork tamales fill the stovetop!

We searched high and low for banana leaves, an ingredient not often used by us Californian’s, and Diane finally found them in the freezer section at Ranch 99 Market.

A staple on the Costa Rican’s menu is Gallo Pinto (beans and rice). A couple who spent a number of years in Central America and the Caribbean brought a pot of these herbed black beans and rice, something they had eaten plenty of during their stay in the tropics. Another friend brought a delicious Ensalada Palmito, a light fresh salad of hearts of palm with a homemade mayonnaise dressing.


Ensalada Palmito with homemade mayonnaise

Also on the menu was Ensalada Rusa, a hearty salad of potato, beet and carrot (turned bright pink from the freshly roasted beets!), along with Tico Rice and for dessert Arroz con Leche, a sweet rice pudding. I made a batch of Picadillo, a vegetable chorizo mélange.


Picadillo with chorizo and chayote

This was the first time I had ever purchased a chayote, and couldn’t figure out why each chayote came in a little plastic bag. Good thing I looked it up on google, as you can have an allergic reaction to the skin, it’s best to wear gloves to peel.

We all shared in making the tamales, an all-afternoon affair, plus some preparation in advance. A number of us cooked huge pork butts (actually shoulders) the day before, low and slow, along with the Tico Rice and potatoes for Costa Rican tamales. Chef Bruce (you met Bruce previously in Nonni’s Ravioli blog!) taught us all how to make the masa using lard, homemade broth and cumin.


Spreading the masa in traditional tamales

We used the same masa for both varieties of tamales, making batch after batch after batch throughout the afternoon, as dozens of tamales were assembled and rolled!


Tanner and Bruce on the tamale line

Costa Rican Tamale Recipe

3 lbs pork shoulder roast

2 tbsp olive oil

coriander leaves (cilantro), salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, achiote (I didn’t have this ingredient on the hill!)

8 cloves of garlic, peeled

½ lb sweet or hot peppers to taste

1 large onion

32 ounces chicken broth

2 ¼ lbs potatoes

2 lbs instant corn masa mix

2/3 lb lard

5 cups cooked Tico style rice

2 ¼ lbs banana leaves (corn husks can be substituted, or if desperate aluminum foil)

Rub the pork roast with olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon black pepper. In a deep roasting pan add the peppers, onion, garlic and chicken broth. Roast at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the skin browns, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees and roast until very tender, 3-4 hours. Reserve the broth. When the meat is cool shred or chop finely.

Chopping the roasted pork

While the meat is simmering prepare the potatoes and rice.

Peel the potatoes chop into ½ inch cubes. Boil with salt, cilantro, and oregano to taste until soft, about 10 – 15 minutes.


Rice Tico style

3-5 sprigs cilantro

1 small or half a medium onion

½ small red or yellow sweet pepper

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups white rice

3 cups chicken broth or water

½ teaspoon salt

Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes. Add water or chicken broth and salt, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender, 20-25 minutes.


Tamale fillings ready to roll: roasted pork, potatoes and tico rice


To prepare the masa, allow the meat broth to cool until it is just warm. To the dry masa add 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and and mix dry. Then add the lard, mixing with hands or machine, while adding the warm broth. It should take about 2 1/2 cups to make a paste the consistency of mashed potatoes. Mix and add slowly, and if you over shoot on the broth and get it too thin, add a little more masa.

Wash the banana leaves then cut them into 15 inch squares. Spread 2 tablespoons of masa paste in the center, add 1 tablespoon each of potatoes, rice and meat.


Costa Rican tamale ingredients ready to wrap

Fold as shown and tie with cotton string, or strips of corn husks.

Little wrapped packages ready for the pot!

Cook the tamales in gently boiling water for about one hour. If you substitute corn husks, you will need to make slightly smaller tamales, pack the pot full and steam them rather than boiling them, because the husks won't hold together.

A plate packed with our Costa Rican cuisine!


They made it! Diane & Ernie in Grecia's central park, Diane and Linda shopping at the market in Sarchi Costa Rica!

Pura Vida!   Nancita the hungry gringita

Nonni's Ravioli

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 31, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Our friend Bruce Burton loves to cook for and with people, foods from scratch, that take hours and hours, such as ravioli, tamales (that's the next blog!), and the like.

Our Executive Chef

We had tasted his ravioli before, including butternut squash ravioli that just melted in your mouth, but we never had the opportunity to cook with Bruce. We finally found the time to “whip up” his Nonni’s (from Italy) ravioli. We passed out the ingredient list to friends, set aside a Saturday afternoon in the party barn, and got to work. We were making the dough, the filling, and the sauce. In hindsight, next time we may make the sauce, or filling, or both, the day before, as this was an all day process with multiple hands at work!

We really started from scratch by grinding our own meat. We had a couple of pork butts and a chuck roast that we sliced into strips and ran through the grinder.

The Meat Grinder

We didn’t follow the recipes to the tee (as usual!). We didn’t have chicken, so we doubled the pork, and for the sauce, we didn’t have canned tomatoes, we only used tomato sauce. Then the chopping began--lotsa chopping--and it had to be diced fine to fit into those delicate little pillows! Bruce’s Sous Chef, Joan (his wife!), was the chop master, with oysters, half a dozen fresh herbs, spinach, Swiss chard, onions, and, of course, lotsa garlic!

Our Sous Chef hard at work

We put our Italian friend Kristin (maiden name: Amicucci!) to work on the garlic.

The Italian Garlic Princess - Ms. Amicucci

Some of the same ingredients were used in the filling and the gravy (which we American’s would call sauce), we were working on those simultaneously. We needed to get the gravy on early so it could stew for about 3 to 4 hours. It was really amazing how much was happening on the party barn ping-pong table, multiple stations along the progress of our ravioli adventure.

Nonni's Gravy

Once we had the filling all chopped and mixed, and the gravy back in my kitchen on a slow simmer (the hot plates in the barn couldn’t cut the mustard), we got to work on the ravioli dough. Just like Mario Battali, Bruce started the dough with a pile of flour, made a well, dropped in the eggs, oil and salt and got to kneading.


Nonni's Dough

Three batches later, we were ready to starting rolling out the dough in the machine.

Once it was just about see-through, very thin, but not so thin it would tear, we placed it over the floured ravioli pan, made little divots, spooned a small amount of filling into the hole, watered the edges, and placed another layer of dough on top.

Then we used a small rolling pin to roll all the edges,

flipped the pan over onto a corn floured baking sheet, and got on to the next batch.

The final step was boiling the ravioli in a large pot of salted water. You dump the ravioli in and when they float, mission accomplished, about 5 to 6 minutes. We poured a bit of sauce on the plate, placed the ravioli on top, and poured more sauce over the top, and dug in.

My first bite was worth all the effort, these little pillows of loveliness melted in your mouth! I don’t remember ever tasting pasta that soft and velvety, I was so overwhelmed with eating that I never did get the “money shot” of the finished product! This picture doesn’t do those ravioli justice.

Nonni's Ravioli

So the next occasion you have multiple hands available, a lot of time, and the ingredients on hand, “whip up” some ravioli, it’s well worth the time and effort, and for those of you without an Italian Nonni like me, now you have a recipe!

Mangia! Nancy



1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes

1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce

½ small can tomato paste

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. red pepper

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. dried thyme

pepper to taste

Blend plum tomatoes in cuisinart. Put in a 6-quart pot with remaining ingredients.

In cuisinart chop:

½ bunch parsley

10 large fresh mushrooms

½ cup dried mushrooms (soaked in water, squeezed and chopped, use strained liquid)

Add ingredients to the pot.


1 pound ground beef

Chop in cuisinart to a fine texture and add to pot.

1 leg and 1 thigh of chicken

2½ cups water

1 pound boneless chuck roast

Cut big slices through the chuck but leave in one piece. Brown the chuck and chicken pieces. Cook with 2 ½ cups of water to make broth. Strain out the meat and chicken bones, add broth to the sauce and cook for 3 or more hours.


NONNI’S RAVIOLI FILLING (1/4 batch, 5 ounces = 1 dozen ravioli)

¼ pound sirloin

½ pound pork butt

¾ pound chicken (we didn’t use chicken, but more pork)

½ jar fresh oysters, chopped

¼ cube butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

¼ cup celery, finely chopped

1 tbsp. Thyme and rosemary, finely chopped

½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup spinach, finely chopped and cooked

1 cup Swiss chard, finely chopped and cooked

6 eggs

3 tbsp. olive oil

8 ounces ricotta cheese

¾ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup breadcrumbs

Grind the beef, pork and chicken. Fry celery and onions in butter and olive oil. Fry the pork, then beef and chicken. Mix with the remaining ingredients to stuff the ravioli.



1¼ pounds of flour

3 eggs

2 tbsp. Oil

¼ tsp. Salt

Hot water if needed, use oil in hot weather

Make a well in the mound of flour. Place the eggs, oil and salt in the middle of the flour. Mix together, kneed, put in bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hour or so. Roll out, add filling, top with dough, cut into raviolis.

Ideas for Using Your Leftover Corned Beef

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Beef barley soup, corned beef hash, and Rueben sandwiches were made with our leftover corned beef

Our mom is currently in the hospital receiving care for the side effects from the chemo-like drug she is taking to hopefully prolong her life in her fight against metastasizing melanoma. So, even when she is not in the hospital, my sisters and I usually try to bring meals to our parent's house or cook something there. On Friday my sister Nancy bought a huge corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to make a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal for our father and anyone else that happened to be at our parent's house at dinnertime.  And, I bought the same things to make my family the traditional dinner on St. Patrick's Day.  It should come as no surprise, between the two houses, we had a lot of left over corned beef.

When I prepared the corned beef at my house I cooked mine in my slow cooker. I removed the visible fat from the outside of the meat. I put the spices in a cheesecloth pouch so the little round balls (I think they are peppercorns) wouldn't surprise us later when eating the cabbage or the soup that I planned to make. Instead of using plain water to cover the corned beef, I used the beef version of Better Than Bullion, which would be like a beef stock or broth. I also added a couple of carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. These were added to add flavor to the meat while the meat cooked--the veggies tend to get too mushy if they are cooked the duration of the time the meat is cooked. Just about an hour before the meat was done I added the carrots, potatoes, and cabbage that we would eat with the meat. If you do this and the meat is done cooking and you need to add the veggies, just remove the meat and put it in an oven safe covered dish with some of the broth in a 200 degree F oven to keep it warm while the veggies cook.

Beef barley soup was made with the leftover broth, beef, and veggies

After we ate dinner I began to make soup to freeze for meals on other days.  I strained the mushy veggies that cooked with the meat from the broth and coarsley chopped the mushy veggies. I added the chopped veggies back to the broth and added about a 3/4 cup of pearl barley. I brought the broth to a boil and simmered about 45 minutes until the barley was soft. I cut up some of the corned beef and added it to the soup. I also cut up some of the cooked carrots, cabbage, and potatoes and added them. Had I remembered, I would have added a bit of red wine.

Corned beef hash was made with the leftover corned beef

Yesterday morning I made corned beef hash and eggs with some of the leftover meat. To do this I cut up four red potatoes with skins on into cubes. I boiled the potatoes until they just started to soften, which was about 7 minutes. I finely chopped 1/2 red onion and sautéed the onion in olive oil in an oven proof skillet until they just started to brown. I chopped up five slices of corned beef. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees F. I drained the potatoes and then added them and the chopped meat to the skillet with the onions and cooked until the potatoes began to brown. During the cooking I seasoned with pepper, garlic salt, and a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper.  I cracked eggs onto the top of hash and seasoned them with salt and pepper, covered with a lid and put the skillet in the preheated oven. I baked the hash and eggs until the eggs were cooked the way I like them (yokes hard). Instead of cooking the eggs in the oven, some people will place poached eggs on top of the hash. The poached eggs placed on the hash are aesthetically more appealing, however, I was pressed for time and found this method much faster.

Rueben sandwiches were made with the leftover corned beef

Yesterday for lunch there was a gang of people to feed at our parent's house, so Nancy and I made Rueben sandwiches with the corned beef Nancy made for our father on Friday. To make the sandwiches we used rye bread, sauerkraut, Havarti cheese (Swiss works well too), Thousand Island dressing, and slices of the corned beef.  To make the sandwiches we buttered the bread and in this order we added the cheese, corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut--and of course the second piece of bread. We then grilled the sandwiches. We usually use a sandwich press to make them, but did not have one handy, so we placed a piece of foil on top of the grilling sandwich and placed a cast iron skillet on top to press it.  We normally use marbled rye to make the sandwiches, but all of the stores Nancy went to in search of bread were out. One store was even completely out of dark rye. It appears a lot of other people were making sandwiches with their corned beef as well.

Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, dark rye bread, Havarti cheese, and corned beef were used to make the Reuben sandwiches

All of this and we still have leftovers!

Happy Monday to you all.


What do you do with left over beef tri-tip? French Dip Sandwiches!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM

French dip sandwich made from leftover beef tri-tip

In my teens and twenties the only food I would order when I ate out in restaurants was French dip sandwiches. Not only was my diet very limited, but so was the distance I had traveled. However, at that time I could have told you where you could get the best French dip sandwiches from Livermore (in the San Francisco Bay Area) to Lake Tahoe and south to San Diego.  I very rarely order French dip sandwiches these days--I find that a lot of restaurants use beef that looks and tastes like lunch meat in their French dips, and I prefer hand carved roast beef.

Recently my friend Kim Bonde provided a French dip sandwich lunch at a fundraiser that we hosted. Her sandwiches were just delicious and reminded me of how much I used to like them, so when I had some tri-tip roast left over last week, I made French dip sandwiches with the leftover meat.

As long as you have the beef on hand, they are quick and easy to make. It's so easy, you don't need a recipe, just follow the directions under the photos below.

Split open and spray olive or spread some butter on sourdough or ciabatta rolls, place the rolls cut-side down in a skillet on medium heat until toasty brown

Thinly slice left over roast beef

Following the manufacturer's directions, mix up some au jus

Heat up the beef with a tablespoon or two of the au jus

Place the beef on the bread and serve with the au jus.

To dress the sandwiches up a bit, you can add cheese or grilled onions.

That was easy.


Beef Tri-Tip Roast and Garlicky Oven Roasted Potatoes

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 2, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Beef tri-trip roast and garlicky oven roasted potatoes are easy to make

Last Sunday night I was sort of watching the Academy Awards and I needed to make dinner. I had seen a few of the movies nominated for awards and wanted to see if George Clooney would win Best Actor for the Descendants, which was my favorite movie. Since I can't see the TV from the kitchen, I wanted to prepare a dinner that would not take a lot of preparation and did not need to be stirred, turned, or watched frequently while cooking. I had a tri-tip roast that had passed the "buy by" date the day before, so tri-tip roast and oven roasted potatoes was an easy choice to make.

My family loves meat and potatoes, which can be one of the easiest dinners to prepare. Baked potatoes are probably the easiest way to prepare potatoes. The second easiest has to be oven roasted potatoes, which do not require peeling--only washing, cutting, and seasoning. At my house we all love garlic, so I decided to make my oven roasted potatoes garlicky.


To prepare my meats for roasting or grilling, I use a house seasoning mix that I found on Paula Deen's website. We had prime rib for Christmas that I seasoned with the house seasoning and my husband roasted on our gas grill. It was one of the best prime ribs ever.  I keep the house seasoning in a stainless steel canister in the kitchen counter and use it often. The recipe was a great find and I've provided it below.

The house seasoning I keep in a stainless steel container on my counter

House Seasoning


1 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder


Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Beef Tri-Tip Roast and Garlicky Oven Roasted Potatoes


Tri-tip roast (if tri-tips are not available in your area, just about any beef roast will work)

House seasoning (recipe above)

5 large russet potatoes or several small potatoes

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 cloves of garlic*

Kosher salt


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rub the roast with plenty of the house seasoning.  Place the roast in the middle of baking pan. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into quarters. Put the potatoes into a bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top of potatoes. Use a garlic press to squeeze garlic over the top of potatoes. Mix potatoes with your hands to coat with the olive oil and garlic. Sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt. Place the potatoes in the baking pan around the roast.

Bake the roast for 15 minutes at 500 degrees F. Cooking at this temperature will give the roast a nice brown crust.  After 15 minutes, REDUCE the temperature to 350 degrees F.  Turn the potatoes over and place the roast and potatoes back into the oven. Bake for 30 or more minutes until a meat thermometer reads medium or 160 degrees F (I have a convection oven, so my meat takes less time to cook).  Remove the roast from the oven and let the roast sit for about 5 minutes before carving.

*If you don't like garlic, season the potatoes with salt and pepper or lemon pepper.

Use a garlic press to squeeze garlic on potatoes

Seasoned roast and potatoes ready for the oven



 Let the roast rest for 5 minutes before carving

Merry's been there, done that cooking tip:  When cooking the roast, be sure to set the timer for 15 minutes, especially if you are using a glass baking dish. The baking dish will crack if cooked much longer at 500 degrees.



Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 1, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Our friends the Blume’s hale from NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana), and boy do they know how to cook! We recently put our heads together during crab season, and decided it was time for a good ol’ fashioned crab boil. In the Blume's old neighborhood, blue crabs are king, in our ‘hood, it’s Dungeness all the way. So we met somewhere in the middle (that somewhere would be 99 Ranch Market in Pleasanton, this place is amazing!), and went a little overboard on the seafood.

Live Dungeness at 99 Ranch Market

We wanted everyone to feel at home, so we got a bit of everything…Dungeness AND Blue crab (we found them both live!), jumbo gulf shrimp, a pair o’ still kickin' lobster, crawdads (not so live), and of course, some okra. It was a shopping event to remember and we hadn’t even started cooking yet.



Crustacean Alert! Blue & Dungeness Crab, Crawdads, Lobster & Shrimp

For the crab boil, we threw everything in a huge pot o’ boilin’ water: corn on the cob, red potatoes, onion, lemon, garlic, artichoke, salt and pepper, and of course, a bag or two of Zatarain’s Crab Boil.

It's a crab boil with all the fixin's!

Oops, don’t forget the crab.


Fresh off the California Coast - Dungeness Crab

We made an awful mess of their kitchen, but well worth it. We decided for next season, it would be necessary to get a big gas burner for out of doors and really do things right. It was a bit too cold to rollout the newspaper on tables outdoors for the gang to crack and eat at the same time, so a few of the fellas did the crustacean crackin’ outside, and brought it ready to eat inside..

You may have read about my foray into okra last summer, the only kind of okra we didn’t cook was fried. Well, we took care of that! The fried okra was absolutely delicious, and really easy, again, thanks to Zatarain’s seasoned Fish-Fri, Crispy Southern. We had every burner going on the stove, so we brough in the electric frying pan to get the job done.


Crispy fried okra

Just toss the sliced okra rings in the Fish-Fri and into the hot oil, voilà! Delicious crunchy little morsels that melt in your mouth, and to dispel the myth to those in California that don’t eat okra, it wasn't slimy at all!

The only thing we didn’t need Zatarain’s for was the dirty rice, our Southern friends whipped up a batch from scratch, with a dash of Tony Chachere’s! (I cheat at home and do use Zatarain’s Dirty Rice in a box, I'm from California after all.)


We really didn’t use any recipes for this meal, just threw it all together. I couldn't write fast enough as Deana was making her dirty rice, there were too many pots and pans boilin', I'll get that recipe next time! We served the crustaceans with pounds of melted garlic butter, spicy cocktail sauce and my family's thousand island crab dressing. This was definitely a meal to remember, and to repeat!

Laissez le Bon temp rouler…in California!


Fish, Fish, Fishin'

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 7, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Over Labor Day weekend we headed out for the annual Mueller family camping trip on the Tuolumne River and Turlock Lake in Stanislaus County. This was a banner year with over 30 campers and boaters, ages 2 to 79.

The Tuolumne River in Stanislaus County

A fleet of boats are towed along, one of which is a bass boat, so there’s usually some fishin' going on. In the past, we haven’t cooked fish that often, the river is catch and release for trout, and nobody has ever been too excited about cleaning and cooking those critters at the end of the day. This year we took things a little more seriously, and I came prepared with my “tool box” for camp cooking.

I visited Green Leaf BBQ, our local specialty BBQ shop ahead of time to look into buying a 16-18” cast iron frying pan, after seeing the behemoth in use on our last camping trip. I left the store without the frying pan (it’s a specialty order) but came out with “The Brothers” Tangy Original BBQ Sauce and “John Henry’s” Wild Cherry Chipotle dry rub, upon recommendation from the owner. I was also packing a salt, pepper and garlic house spice mix that I had picked up at the Lockeford Sausage Company.

The river was flowing fast and furious into the lake and along the campsite, and fishing was good. The Mueller and Miller boys brought in a full stringer of rainbow trout, the assembly line of fish cleaning got rollin’ and the BBQ was sparked. I brought along an arsenal of ideas…


Nephew Matt and the Sangervasi cousins with the "catch of the day"!

I started by sprinkling every fish, inside and out, with the salt and pepper mix, and we tried the trout four ways:

1) I soaked two of the fish in buttermilk that I had brought up for pancakes, then dipped the fish in some flour and spice mix and fried it up on the camp stove the good old fashioned way. It came out crispy and delicious - heads began to turn.

2) We threw one trout directly on the grill, about 5 minutes on one side, flipped it, poured on “The Brothers” sauce inside and out, flipped it again after 5 minutes, brushed the other side with the sauce, cooked a few more minutes and served. At this point we won over another 3 nay-saying fish haters!

3) I laid a pair of fish individually on heavy duty tin foil, rubbed olive oil inside and out and sprinkled with a little more spice mix, stuffed the fish with sliced red bell pepper, garlic and shallots, laid a bit of the veg mix alongside the fish, wrapped them loosely and threw them on the grill, about 10 - 12 minutes each side. Now we were cooking! Another success, and another couple of skeptics were brought to the other side.

4) We rubbed the last fish with olive oil and heavily sprinkled it with John Henry’s Wild Cherry Chipotle dry rub inside and out, threw it on the grill, 5 minutes each side, and boy oh boy, this was the winner in my eyes, it was absolutely delicious! One of the 11 year-olds came over from the darkside at this point, we had the whole team eatin’ fish, and actually enjoying it.

At this point we were wondering if “fish” had another name, maybe kids would be more tolerant, and move beyond the average fish stick! Mission accomplished, my fly-fishin’ dad would be proud!

~ Nancy Calhoun Mueller

mmmMarsala Chicken

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 6, 2011 at 11:06 PM

I have a recipe for Marsala chicken that I have made for years--I even included it in our cookbook--and I must say it is very bland compared to the recipe in this post and I am now a bit embarrassed that I included my almost bland recipe in our cookbook! This recipe makes the best Marsala chicken I have ever eaten.

This is a recipe of Emeril Lagasse's that I have modified a bit to reduce the saturated fat and I reduced the cayenne pepper to lessen the heat (never fear, it still has a bit of a kick). Since I'm a mom working outside of the home and have a lot less time to cook than Emeril, I've also made a tweak or two to reduce the prep and cook time. And, last but not least, I have added fresh basil. I don't know about you, but the smell of fresh basil makes me giddy. Ok, maybe it was the glass of red wine I drank while I was cooking that made me giddy, but I really do love the smell of fresh basil.

Besides creating a wonderful entree, the extra Essence that you make with this recipe can be used for the spice in oven-fried chicken or added to a variety of recipes. Bonus!

Chicken Marsala


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows

2 - 3 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

3 cups sliced mushrooms (I use one 8-ounce carton of prewashed/sliced mushrooms)

3/4 cup Marsala wine

1 cup prepared chicken bouillon (I use the Better Than Bouillon brand) or chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced and chopped 


Make the Essence. The recipe is below.

Pound the chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness. To do this, place a sheet of plastic wrap on a plastic cutting board. Put the chicken breast on the place wrap leaving some space between the breasts. Place a second sheet of plastic wrap on top of the chicken breasts. Use a meat mallet to pound the chicken breasts to thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut the chicken breasts into halves.

Pounding the chicken breasts with a meat mallet

My favorite meat mallet

In a shallow bowl or pie tin combine the flour and Essence and stir to combine thoroughly. Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour. Reserve 1 or 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture.

The flour and Essence mixture. The plastic bag contains extra Essence that can be used in other recipes, such as oven-fried chicken.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add one tablespoon of the butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the mushrooms and cook. Stir frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown around the edges and have given off their liquid. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken bouillon or broth and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

If the sauce is not thickening or to thicken the sauce more quickly, add 1 tablespoon of the reserved flour mixture to two tablespoons of water. Mix well and then mix into the sauce. Stir well to prevent the flour mixture from becoming lumpy.

The fresh basil has been added to the chicken and sauce

Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 3 or 4 minutes. Do not overcook the chicken as it will become dry and tough. Add the fresh basil, swirl in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper (Emeril uses 1 whole tablespoon)

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Have a great Mother Mother's Day! In the words of Emeril, "Kick it up a notch. BAM!!"


All In One Pot Sausage and Steamed Veggies

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 7, 2011 at 12:40 AM

One pot sausage and steamed veggies, couscous, and healthy garlic bread

Our mother had surgery last Thursday. She was supposed to be in the hospital for five to eight days and she came home the very next day. By the time we got her home and settled, and figured out a schedule for who would be doing what and when (they sent her home with tubes and things that needed to be tended to), we realized it was dinner time. We didn't have anything planned and there were several of us at the house to be fed. Never fear, my sister Nancy came to the rescue with something that was quick and easy, and could feed all of us. For lack of a better description, I'm going to call it "all in one pot Italian sausage and steamed veggies."

To make this dish she filled the bottom of a large pot with a mixture of Italian sausage. Some were pork and some were chicken with garlic. She cut up broccoli and cauliflower and placed that on top of the sausage. Then she filled the pot with about one inch of water, put the lid on and let the sausages simmer for about 10 minutes.

Put a layer of sausages in the pot

Cover the sausages with a layer of broccoli and cauliflower

While the sausages were cooking I made couscous and she made some garlic bread. The garlic bread was a much heathier version than the butter soaked bread that we all love. To make the bread she used already sliced whole wheat sourdough. She sprinkled the bread with olive oil and put the bread under the broiler until brown. Then she rubbed a clove of garlic on the bread to season it. That was it.

The steam from the sausages boosted the flavor of the steamed broccoli and cauliflower, so it did not require seasoning.

The next time you are looking for something quick and easy, this might be the ticket. 

Panko Oven Fried Chicken

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Panko Oven Fried Chicken

Last week my youngest daughter asked me to make some oven-fried chicken. Many years ago she'd eaten Shake and Bake at the home of a friend and thought it might be something she would like to try again. My memories of Shake and Bake are not so fond, so I decided to find a better solution than Shake and Bake.

I remembered that I had a box of Panko breadcrumbs in my pantry that I bought a few weeks ago and decided to try using them tonight for oven-fried chicken. Panko breadcrumbs have increased in popularity over the last few years. Years ago you could only find Panko breadcrumbs in an Asian market, but now a days you can find them in regular grocery stores and in the breadcrumb section in Target. Panko breadcrumbs are lighter, crispier, and larger than regular breadcrumbs.

I googled recipes for Panko oven-fried chicken and found a Paula Deen recipe (what cook would know more about anything with the word "fried" in it than Paula?) and the recipe of a random health conscious cook named Will. I made up my recipe using the best ingredients and cooking methods from their recipes.

The chicken turned out great and my daughter that was hoping for Shake and Bake loved it. The chicken breasts that I used were huge and after pounding them I cut them into several pieces. I actually only used three chicken breasts and they made enough to feed my family and my parents.

The ingredients for the Panko oven fried chicken

The seasoned and oiled Panko breadcrumbs

The mustard mixture

The Panko oven-fried chicken just out of the oven

Panko Oven Fried Chicken - Serves 4


2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 shakes of cayenne pepper

3 shakes of paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and black pepper

1/8 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons water

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 -inch thickness


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack in the pan and spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste. Mix the crumbs well so that the olive oil is mixed in and the crumbs have become light and fluffy again.

In another shallow dish combine the mustard, water, salt and pepper, to taste, and remaining olive oil. Coat each chicken breast with mustard mixture; dredge each in bread crumb mixture. Place on prepared rack in pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown. To make sure the chicken does is not become overcooked and tough, check the chicken for doneness after 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If the chicken is done before it becomes golden brown, put the chicken under the broiler for a minute or two (about 5" from the heating element). You also might want to do this to this to the bottom of the chicken that was sitting on the rack in the event the bottom became soggy during cooking.


Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 18, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Pork tenderloin with garlic balsamic sauce

Pork is not frequently served in my house and the only pork that I will usually cook is bacon, pork chops, or pork tenderloin. I just don't like the taste of pork, which is a result of spending many, many hours of clerking hog shows at our county fair. Same reason I can't.eat.goat.cheese.at.all. Ask me about it sometime. My husband grew up in the Midwest on a farm where they raised hogs. It probably makes him sad that I don't cook his favorite pork meals from his youth, however, there have been a few times that our pork chops tasted a bit porky and he turned up his nose, leaving me to believe that he may have the same aversion to it as I.

I do have a recipe for pork tenderloin with garlic balsamic sauce that I just love and my girls do too. In fact, my youngest daughter mentioned earlier this week that I had not made it in a while, so I bought a pork loin and made it last night.

While we usually eat it hot, I have served this pork tenderloin recipe cold as an appetizer. I marinated the cooked meat in the sauce overnight and my guests loved it.

Ingredients for the pork tenderloin with garlic sauce sans the pork

Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Balsamic Sauce

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat

1 to 2 tablespoons sweet hot mustard (I use Beaver Brand)

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 cloves of garlic thinly sliced

1 cup beef broth or chicken broth

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Coat the pork tenderloin with the mustard. Place the tenderloin on a broiler pan or a wire rack on in a pan. Turn on the broiler and broil the tenderloin about 5 inches from the heat element until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF--about 5 minutes on each of the four sides. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and put on a platter and cover with foil. Leave covered for about 10 minutes--pork will continue to cook. Remove the foil and thinly slice the pork.

While the pork is cooking, start making the sauce. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Brown the garlic in the hot oil. Add the broth, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and boil until the liquid is reduced by half and it has thickened, about 15 minutes.

There are two ways that you can complete this recipe--or three if you go for the marinating the cooked pork overnight in the sauce method.

1. Pour the sauce over the sliced pork on the platter and serve.

2. Place the sliced pork in the sauce in the saucepan and cook for about a minute, making sure all of the slices of pork are coated with the sauce. Don't overcook or the tender pork will become tough. My family and I like this method the best.

If you have any pork and sauce left, try marinating it overnight. I think you will be glad you did.


Avo's Portuguese Fisherman's Stew

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 22, 2011 at 8:35 AM

Since my visit last fall to the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, I had been trying to find the time to head back down to try the Avô's Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew. On my last visit, I didn’t notice the stew on the menu until after we had eaten our way into a seafood coma, and being Portuguese, I really wanted to give it a try. They sent me the recipe, and I made a batch at home prior to the visit, sautéing onion, garlic, fennel and adding in a can of diced tomatoes as I didn’t have any fresh, and it was absolutely delicious. You can easily substitute any seafood you have access to, I didn’t have mussels, but had picked up some frozen clams at Trader Joe’s, with shrimp and some cod. The recipe below doesn’t include linguica, but they do include it at the restaurant, small half moon slices, which I believe they fry off in advance, as there wasn’t the usual amount of grease you would find in the broth, I would estimate 1/3 of a linguica link per person.

Beer Sampler Tray with happy tasters!

It was another beautiful day on the patio (despite there still being snow on the hills and a colder breeze blowing than usual), the sun peeked out during lunch, and they have heaters on the patio along with a fire pit, and we enjoyed every minute of the view. We had to test out the Beer Sampler Tray again, and warm up with some appetizers, ½ orders of steamed garlic shrimp, fried artichokes and THE BEST calamari we had ever eaten, so tender, lightly breaded and crispy with mouth watering tartar and cocktail sauces. The Fisherman’s Stew was a perfect choice on a cold blustery day, a hot flavorful broth and plenty of mussels, clams and shrimp to share, flaky salmon and halibut, and that old Portuguese favorite, lincuica (the recipe below calls for pasta, but they don’t serve it with the pasta at the restaurant).

The other entrees were stout portions and equally delicious, the special of the day was a Crab Roll, heaped with fresh Dungeness Crab on a crusty browned French roll, a very savory remoulade and served with great French fries;

a classic Crab Louis, and a Celebration Steamer that comes in a big pot they deliver to the table filled with steamed Dungeness Crab, corn, potatoes, artichoke and garlic bread.

Chef Gaston Alfaro told us that we needed to come back when we hadn’t eaten so much and try their Beer-amisu (you got it, Tiramisu with their brew in it!!). I will definitely be back, there are still a dozen items on the menu I want to try!

Two hours of service with a smile, Chef Gaston with our server!


Avô's Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Half Moon Bay

A seasonal mix of fresh fish, shellfish, and linguica in a garlic broth with cilantro. Brewmaster's Beer Suggestion: Princeton-by-the-Sea IPA; two varieties of English hops give our malty India Pale Ale a citrus-like aroma and flavor.  


The recipe for this signature dish came from the grandfather (Avô is Portuguese for grandfather) of one of the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company's owners. Avô, who traveled the world as a merchant marine, regularly fished and visited Half Moon Bay during Prohibition. This recipe was created utilizing his worldly culinary expertise as well as the fish he caught in Half Moon Bay.


24 clams (manila or covels)

12 black mussels

2 pound assortment of sea fish (swordfish, salmon, sea bass or rock cod)

Pasta for 2 (penne, fettuccini, linguine)

8 oz. clam or chicken broth

1 good sized diced tomato

1 tbs. Canola oil

1 tbs. Diced garlic

½ cup white wine

¼ tsp. Kosher salt and ground black peppercorns

1 tbs. parlsey, dill & basil

½ cup sliced fennel


Start pasta per instructions. In a 5 quart stewing pot, sauté oil, white wine, salt, pepper, garlic and shellfish. Add in clam or chicken broth and steam for approximately 15 minutes until clams open. Add fish and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add chili flakes. Divide pasta into two bowls and cover with stew. Sprinkle with tomatoes, parsley, dill, basil and fennel. Garnish with cilantro. Serves 2.

We headed home with a Growler full of Sandy Beach Blonde Hefeweizen for Bob,

our favorite brew of the day with a squeeze of lemon.

Até logo, bom apetite!


Urban Chicken Pie

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 20, 2011 at 9:35 AM

With snow on the hills, it was time for some good old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. When it’s cold and rainy outside, there’s plenty of time for a fire and cooking inside.

The snow at my house this weekend

I hadn’t made this recipe for quite some time, crust and all, so I dug in my heels and got down to it. Our great-grandmother, Ida Jessen Holm, used to feed her large family along with the farm and ranch hands, neighbors, and the occasional hobo who hopped off the Southern Pacific Railroad running along Stanley Boulevard, just north of their farm in Livermore. One of her supper menus included a chicken pie she baked in a huge milk pan, using whole chicken pieces. I’m just cooking for two, and leftovers for my dad who loves chicken pie, so this is the more diminutive, urban version (even though I live in the country)!

 Leslie, Gladys, Dick (our grandfather), and Ida Jessen Holm on a buckboard

with Dora Jessen Rasmussen in the background, Circa 1905

Urban Chicken Pie - Serves 8

Flaky pastry

1 1/4 cups unsifted flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons shortening

1 egg, separated, white reserved

2 tablespoons cold water



1 (5 to 6 pound) whole chicken, boiled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons flour

Dash of white pepper

Dash of grated nutmeg

11/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc

3 medium cooked carrots, sliced (cooked in the pot with the chicken)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed



To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and cold water; add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the pastry begins to hold together. You may need to add a bit more water. Shape the dough into a smooth ball, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms and cook until soft. Stir in the flour, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to cook until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the chicken broth and wine. Return to the heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken, carrots, and peas, and stir. Season with salt to taste. Spread evenly in a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured board into a 12-inch circle. Place the pastry over the chicken mixture, and trim and flute the edge. Cut slits in the top for steam to escape. (At this point, the pie can be refrigerated and baked several hours later or the next day.)

In a small bowl, beat together the reserved egg white and1 teaspoon water. Brush the crust with the egg mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 8

The Urban Chicken Pie baked and ready to eat

"Them that works hard EATS HEARTY!" 

   - Nancy

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