Holm Family Cookbook

Some eat to live, we live to eat!

Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 2, 2013 at 9:35 AM


 Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

Yesterday I finally used up almost all of the leftovers from Thanksgiving. All that's left are two types of stuffing: the Brizee family recipe with sausage and the cornbread stuffing made by cousin Lisa.

I didn't host the dinner at my house, but I did make a turkey and transported it in an ice chest (without ice) to my cousin's house in Woodland. The turkey and the gravy I made were still piping hot when it was time to carve the turkey four hours later.  

My brother-in-law has been in charge of the mashed potatoes for our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for several years and earned the nickname "Spud." The people helping him peel are members of "Team Spud." This year our hosts had a spud station ready and waiting for team spud. As always, Spud's mashed potatoes were great. 

Team Spud, Ready for Some Peeling Action

The Spud Station


As with all of our family gatherings, there was enough food for twice the number of guests, therefore each family took home Ziplock bags full of leftovers. My bags of leftovers were hauled to our cousin Becky's house in Yuba City where we all stayed for a couple of days. The leftovers eventually made it to our house in Livermore, where I decided to use the last of our Ziplock bag of mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes. I must say these potato pancakes were the best I have ever made and probably the tastiest. 

The potato pancake recipe I used as the basis for my recipe was found in the USA Weekend magazine section of my Sunday newspaper and was created by Christy Jordon author of a cookbook titled, "Come Home to Supper." 

Here is my version of her recipe:

Potato Pancakes


2 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes*

1 large egg

1/4 cup all-purpose or self rising flour

2 tablespoons finely diced onion

2 shakes of cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil or vegetable oil

Leftover gravy or sour cream for topping


In a medium sized bowl, mix the egg and the mashed potato with a fork until well blended. Add the flour, onion, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix well.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into a skillet to coat the bottom and heat the skillet over medium heat. Line a plate with paper towels.

Working in batches, scoop the mixture out by a heaping tablespoon and drop it in the hot skillet. Dip the back of a spoon in oil to keep the mixture from sticking to the spoon and then use the spoon to flatten and shape the mixture to 1/4" inch pancakes. Continue adding spoonfuls of the mixture and shaping the pancakes until you have a pan full. Leave enough space between the pancakes to flatten them and flip them.

Fry the pancakes until they are lightly brown on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip them and lightly brown them on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cakes to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Add oil to the skillet as needed while you continue to cook the rest of the mixture. Keep the pancakes in a warm oven while you continue cooking the rest of the mixture.

Serve warm topped with gravy or a dollop of sour cream.

*Be sure the mashed potatoes are cool or the raw egg will cook as you add it. 


Broadway Pea Salad for the Brew Angels

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on October 23, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Recently the Brew Angels, the home brew club my husband Troy and I belong to, had a BBQ potluck meeting. Knowing there was sausage and ribs on the menu, my mind wandered to vegetables and then to the pea salad I had at Skates on the Bay many years ago. I went online looking for recipes. Someone had blogged about the Broadway Pea Salad at Skates, but the recipe that was posted by the blogger wasn't my favorite. I looked further and found a recipe from Clinkerdagger's in Spokane. This was the one I chose to modify a bit. I am always a bit hesitant about taking anything with mayonnaise in it to a potluck, but I kept it in the ice chest right until the meat was served.


Mind you, peas have never been my favorite. In fact, at the Thanksgiving kid's table, they were a chosen form of ammunition! There was just something about this salad that I liked. Maybe because the peas weren't thoroughly cooked, or was it the bacon? Here is the final recipe below that I ended up making, it paired well with the ribs and beer!


But wait, most important of all, what was on tap at the BBQ?? Bohemian lager, Cocoa Porter (chick beer), Chocolately and creamy, APA - American Pale Ale, IPA - India Pale ale, Bourbon, Barrel ESB - Extra Strong Bitters, American Strong Ale , Black IPA, American Brown, English IPA. And don't forget the 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat in cans!


Broadway Pea Salad - 8 servings
(Modified from Clinkerdagger's Broadway Pea Salad)


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream 

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

(I made the whole amount of dressing, but only used half)


Water chestnuts, bacon, and red onion really add flavor to this recipe

Salad Ingredients

3.5 pounds frozen baby peas, thawed but not cooked (see note)

5 ounces water chestnuts, sliced and cut in half

8 ounces bacon, some fat trimmed off, cooked crisp and broken into pieces

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Blend together mayonnaise, sour cream, pepper and salt. Combine baby peas, water chestnuts, bacon and red onions with dressing until ingredients are well coated.



Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving. Stir twice each day to redistribute dressing.


Slowly thaw the peas at room temperature


Note: Peas must be naturally thawed. Slow thawing under refrigeration is best. Room temperature is acceptable, but do not place in water. Place the thawed peas on paper-towel lined pans and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to purge the remaining excess moisture from the peas. If peas are not thoroughly thawed or have been thawed in water and not properly drained, they will dilute the dressing.


Susie Calhoun, a Brew Angel

Teresa's Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM


Some of the neighboring cabins at Hebgen Lake

When my daughters and I went to Montana in July we stayed at the log cabin my uncle Ken and his wife Vivian built about 20 years ago at Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone. There are other cabins nearby and the cabin owners have become good friends that watch out for each other and entertain one another.

The "N" family that owns the cabin nearest to my aunt and uncle's cabin is from Kansas and they have become very close friends with my cousin Becky and her family.  We've had a lot of fun times with the N family--our kids have gone ziplining together, us moms went antiquing together, and sometimes we'd just meet in West Yellowstone and hang out.


Our kids clowning around and ziplining together

Theresa N has quite a talent for recycling and repurposing furniture and other items giving them a new life. She also has a great talent for putting them all together with existing decor for herself and others. It is great fun to go antiquing with her to see the things that catch her eye and to hear what she would do with them.  Her cabin showcases her talents.


The N Family cabin showcases Teresa N's talents

One night the N family had us all over for dinner and Teresa N, with the help of her husband, made us some great Cuban pork loin served with black rice and beans. The vegetable side Teresa served was a roasted Brussels sprouts dish that was delicious. My daughters love Brussels sprouts and they were in heaven. Teresa has been kind enough to provide us with the directions for making her Brussels sprouts. I can't wait to try them at home!


Cuban pork tenderloin and black rice and beans

Teresa's roasted Brussels sprouts

Teresa's Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts

Olive oil

Apricot preserves


Blue cheese

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Chopped garlic to taste


Parboil the Brussels sprouts, drain, allow to cool enough for handling. When the sprouts are cool enough to handle, split them in half and toss with melted apricot preserves and olive oil.  Lay the sprouts on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Scatter walnuts and blue cheese over the top and then sprinkle with coarse pepper, salt, and garlic. Roast at 450 degrees F until Brussels sprouts are slightly browned.

Always take the time to enjoy and celebrate family, friends, and life.


I'm Hooked on Pinterest

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 27, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I'm Hooked!

I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines. They would often pile up and to reduce the piles I would take a stack of them with me on a business trip to read on the plane, I'd take the months-old magazines to read on vacation, or I'd spend a weekend flipping through them. Sometimes I would see an interesting story or article, a recipe, or a picture that I wanted to save, so I would rip the page out of the magazine and file it away. I have a few binders and a few drawers full of the pages I ripped out, but I never look at them. I don't even remember what the recipes, pictures, or stories are about, but I keep thinking someday I'll need them for something (did the word "hoarder" just come to mind?!?).  If I had bulletin boards all over the walls of my house, I could have categorized the bulletin boards and tacked the pages to the appropriately categorized bulletin boards and look at the pages whenever I wanted. Ahh, but that would be unsightly.


This is what my coffee table used to look like . . . .

For a couple of years I'd been seeing Pinterest posts showing up on Facebook and heard people talking about Pinterest. Several months ago I quickly scanned the Pinterest site, but did catch on to what the hype was all about. Just recently, however, I finally took the time to really take a look at Pinterest to comprehend how useful it really is and now I'm hooked. With Pinterest I don't need to spend money on magazines or spend hours flipping through them to find something of interest. I don't need to tear out the pages and file them away--I now have bulletin boards out in cyberspace and I have access to millions of photos, recipes, stories, and ideas to pin onto my boards!


After I was granted my Pinterest account I created cyber bulletin boards categorized according to my interests that I could assign a name and category to (nudity and porn are not permitted, so don't get any funny ideas). On each of my categorized bulletin boards I have a collection of photos. If I need a recipe for a potluck, an idea for a gift, or I wonder what I can do with an old rake or a canning jar, I go to my Pinterest boards. When I see an article, picture, or recipe on-line that I want to save, I can "pin" it to the appropriate bulletin board. If I don't already have a board set up for a pin, I can create a new board on the fly to pin it to.  Once pinned, I can later click on the pin to go back to website where I found the pin to see the full article, recipe, story about the photo, etc.


Samples of some of my Pinterest Boards

I have made some excellent dishes from recipes I found on Pinterest. A few weeks ago my sister Nancy was on vacation and had me pick up her CSA box, which among a lot of other fruits and veggies included a head of cabbage and a lemon. I had no brilliant ideas as to what to do with the cabbage, so I quickly found a recipe on Pinterest and my family and I enjoyed a delicious cooked cabbage about an hour later. I've included the recipe at the end of this post.

Brides to be and people planning parties frequently use Pinterest to compile ideas for their events. There's a plethora of great ideas at their fingertips. I could also see it used by someone planning on remodeling or redecorating their home and by someone trying to update their wardrobe. I often see pins with great looking outfits, including shoes and accessories. 

If pinning on Pinterest sounds like something you might be interested in, here are some ways to build up your boards:

- Add the "Pin It" button to your browser so you can pin images from any website. You will find this under "Add" on the Pinterest site.

- Follow your friends or other people's boards and repin their pins.  To follow my boards, go to this website and click "Follow": http://pinterest.com/merrycarter1/

- There is a public place where you can see what other people are pinning and pin from there to your bulletin boards. On your Pinterest site, click on "Everything" to see what people are pinning or "Categories" to narrow down the types of pins you would like to see.

- When you pin from the public places (e.g., "Everything") you can see and follow the boards that belong to the people who's pins you have pinned.

- You can also search for specific pins by using the search function and pinning pins found onto your boards.

- You can upload your own photos onto your bulletin boards by clicking on "Add" and then "Upload a Pin."

If you don't have a Pinterest account now, you will need to request an invite. You can ask a friend already on Pinterest to invite you or you can request an invite from the Pinterest site. It can take a few days to receive an email letting you know that you have an account.  Pinterest requires invites to keep the site running quickly and smoothly. The by-invitation-only method allows Pinterest to control the volume of new users, so that their servers are not overwhelmed by spikes in traffic.

I think the by-invitation-only method also helps cut down on spammers and the spread of malware. You should, however, still be careful. On a few occasions when I thought I was going to a website to see a recipe or a story, I was redirected to another site that had nothing to do with the pin I clicked on. If this should happen to you, do not click anything on that site. Close that tab and don't go back to that site.

As I mentioned earlier, here is the cabbage recipe that my family and I enjoyed.

Grilled / Baked Cabbage


1 head of cabbage, cleaned and cut into quarters

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons real bacon bits

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven or grill to 425 degrees F. Place each cabbage quarter on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it in. In a small bowl, mix all other ingredients together to make a marinade.  Spoon about two tablespoons of the marinade over each cabbage quarter. Make sure you get the marinade into the nooks and crannies.  Wrap each cabbage quarter with the foil taking care to keep the marinade on the cabbage and in the foil wrap. Bake or grill for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cabbage has softened to the way you like it. The original website for this recipe has step-by-step photos in case you need them:  http://greenlitebites.com/2010/06/28/roasted-grilled-cabbage/

Happy pinning!


Pickling Asparagus

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 13, 2012 at 1:50 AM

Pickled asparagus

During May a small group of friends and relatives reserved a Saturday to pickle asparagus. My sister Nancy's sister-in-law bought three cases of asparagus from Victoria Island Farms near Stockton and shared her knowledge and family recipe with us.

The cases of asparagus to be canned

We canned the asparagus at Nancy's house in the Livermore Hills. The first lesson we learned that day was to make sure you read the recipe correctly during the planning stages.  Apparently, a person who will remain nameless, saw the amount of spices that goes into one jar and thought that was the amount for one batch. Lesson number two was to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand the day before you start the canning process--this is especially important when you have a 40+ minute round trip to drive into town to the grocery store. I ended up having to drive into town to purchase more of the spices when we were well into the canning process. During my trip into town and back up to the hills I got stuck behind mini vans driving 20 to 25 mph in a 50 mph zone, which made my trip longer and excruciating.

Nancy's backyard

The third lesson learned on asparagus canning day was before you make that trip into town, be sure you know exactly what you are supposed to purchase. I had a list that said "dill" on it. I grabbed dill weed and the recipe called for dill seed.  So we improvised and used the dill weed. The pickled asparagus turned out just fine. Excellent in fact. Every time I have served the pickled asparagus, I have received a lot of compliments about how great it is and how we could sell it and make millions of $$. 

Spices needed for pickling asparagus: mustard seed, dill SEED (not weed!), crushed peppers, garlic, bay leaves, salt

We packed the asparagus so tightly in the jars that we had a few jars prepared with spices and extra brine left over.  Nancy decided to try to make giardiniera (pickled vegetables) with the leftovers. She raided the veggie drawer in her refrigerator and her freezer for fresh and frozen veggies and found enough to put up 4 or 5 quart jars. Just like the asparagus, we blanched 'em, iced 'em, and drained 'em. I've not yet tried my jar of giardiniera, but Nancy said the veggies turned out great. 

The giardiniera we made with extra jars and brine

We ended up making 48 quarts of pickled asparagus out of the three cases of asparagus.  Below is the recipe we used. Under the recipe are pictures that show the steps taken to pickle the asparagus. Note that the recipe includes crushed red pepper and garlic, which gives the pickled asparagus a bit of a zip. It's not spicy hot, but has some zip. Some people just don't like zip, so you might want to keep this in mind if you do make this recipe and when serving the finished product.

Pickled Asparagus


Fresh asparagus


NOTE: The amount of spices listed below go Into EACH pint sized jar (double measurements for quart jars):

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon dill seed

1 clove garlic or more (we used more because we love garlic!)

1/4 bay leaf


5 cups white vinegar

5 cups water

1/2 cup salt


Using the appropriate method for canning, wash and sterilize jars and lids.

Cut the asparagus* to the appropriate length for the size of jar you are using.  Blanch asparagus 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and then plunge the asparagus into an ice water bath. When cool, remove from the ice water and drain. Place the asparagus on trays until you are ready to pack them into jars.

Start the water bath and brine. Place the spices in the bottom of the jars and then tightly pack the asparagus in the jars. Bring the brine to a boil. Pour boiling hot brine into jars and then seal the jars. Process jars for 10 minutes in the water bath.

Allow the asparagus to sit at least a couple of weeks before eating. 


*TIP:  You might want to consider saving the bottoms you cut off to use in soups during the winter.  To prepare the bottoms for freezing, blanch, drain, and put them into freezer bags. Store them in the freezer until ready to use.  

Cut the bottoms off of the asparagus

Blanch the asparagus

Put the asparagus in an ice bath

Drain the asparagus

Measure the ingredients into the canning jars

Tightly pack the asparagus in the jars

Bring the brine and the water to process the asparagus in to a boil

The jars tightly packed with asparagus

Pour the brine into the jars packed with asparagus

Removing the jar lids from the sterilizing bath

Place the lided jars into boiling water to process

Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water

Remove jars from processing pot

Allow jars to cool and lids to seal

We all need some zip in our lives.


The Magic Corn Trick

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Here in California we already have fresh sweet corn showing up in grocery stores. It hasn't hit the farmer's markets yet, so it must be coming up from Southern California. We've already had it a few times for dinner.

When it comes to cooking, I will take shortcuts to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as I can as long as it does not impact the flavor of the dish I am making. When I discovered this magic corn cooking trick I was elated because there is minimal cleanup, I don't have to spend a lot of time trying to get the silk off of the corn, and the overall prep and cook time is shorter. An additional bonus of the magic corn trick is that I don't boil all of the nutrients out of the corn.

Are you ready for this? Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat or an ear of corn out of the husk.

1. Remove a few of the outer husks that might be dirty.

2. Cut the bottoms off of the corn. Be sure to cut above the part of the cob where the husk is attached. It would be above the part of the cob where it starts to round down.

3. Place a moist paper towel on the bottom of the microwave or on top of the carousel and place the corn on the paper towel.

4. Use this guide for your cook time. Remember the cook time can vary for each microwave.

1 ear - 2 minutes

2 ears - 3 to 4 minutes

3 ears - 5 to 6 minutes

4 ears - 7 to 8 minutes

6 ears - 8 to 9 minutes

5. After cooking, let the corn sit about 2 minutes. It will continue to cook and will be cooler and easier to handle. If you let it sit too long, the silk will stick to the ear and will be harder to clean.

6. Pick the cooked corn up by the top (you might want to use an oven mitt if it is too hot to handle) and squeeze and lightly shake out the ear of corn. It should just slide out leaving the silk and all of the husks intact.

7. Just like magic, your corn is cleaned and cooked!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.



Fear of losing nutritional value of corn using this method:  For those of you that have posted comments about microwave ovens robbing the food of nutrients, that is not true. Microwaving preserves more nutrients than boiling. Read this:


Fear of getting cancer from using microwave:  Microwaving food does not cause cancer. However, you should not microwave food in plastic containers. No plastic in these instructions! If you want to read more on this topic, read this: 


Fear of microwaving worms in the corn: For those of you that commented about microwaving worms, I always check my corn for worms before I microwave it. When I check for worms, I carefully open the top of the corn and take a peek. If your corn has a worm, you will see the trail starting at the top of the ear of corn or you will see a hole in the side of the husk. Most of the time I do this at the farmer's market or grocery store, so that I don't have to deal with the worm at home. This ain't my first rodeo folks. Having worked on a family farm, I've handled my share of corn! 

Will this method work by boiling the corn? I have not tried it, but I don't think so. I think the silk might stick to the corn if it gets too wet and I'm pretty sure the husks will come off of the ear of corn. If anyone has tried it, please let us know how it turned out.

Will this method work on the grill?  Yes, but the clean up is not as easy. Some of the husks do come off during grilling and some of the silk will stick to the ear when you remove the husks. The corn will have a nice smoky flavor.  Be sure to soak the corn in water for 15 to 20 minutes before grilling and cut off the silk sticking out of the top. You will also need to check the corn occasionally to be sure the husks haven't caught fire.

Using this method in the oven:  We received a trip from one our readers that said, "You can do this in the oven too - just put the corn on a rack at 350 F for about 20 minutes and take it out. Same results."  -Thanks for the tip, I'm looking forward to trying it!

If you can't say anything nice . . . . :  Although this blog was originally posted in May 2012, over 400,000 people visited this site during the month of April 2013. The majority of these people were excited about learning a quick, clean, and easy way to prepare corn on the cob. If this idea is not something that interests you, you think that microwaving the corn will make it taste like cardboard, or you have been doing it for years and we must be dense because we didn't know about it, we all don't need or want to hear about it. 

Asian Style Green Beans

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on October 29, 2011 at 1:05 PM


Asian style green beans with sautéed garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil

If you've been reading our blog for a while, you know that I serve a lot of green vegetables at my house. Another trend that you might notice is that the vegetables are not covered in butter, cream sauces, or cheese, although I sometimes do top the vegies with a small amount of parmesan cheese.  Olive oil and garlic are usually present in most of the vegetable recipes that I make.

One of my favorite vegetables is green beans and I love them cooked with bacon and butter, however, I usually only eat them that way when I am visiting the mid-west and eating at a Cracker Barrel restaurant (by the way, if you get the opportunity to eat at a Cracker Barrel, you MUST try the baked apple dumplin). OK, I've wiped the drool from my chin and I'm back to my green bean blog.

A green bean recipe that I make often and will eat hot and cold is Asian style green beans. I received this recipe several years ago at a Weight Watcher's meeting, so besides the recipe, I can also supply you with the nutritional info for the green beans. 

November is a good time to buy green beans to make this recipe as you can buy bags of green beans already cleaned and trimmed, which really helps reduce the prep time.

Asian Style Green Beans

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

6 garlic cloves, minced

In a large pot of boiling water, cook green beans for about 5 minutes until just tender.

While the green beans are cooking, combine soy sauce, oil, and sugar in a small bowl.

When the green beans are tender, remove from heat and drain.

Green beans cooked and drained

Spray a wok or large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir frequently for about 1 minute until the garlic has begun to brown.  Add the green beans. Stir and turn until the beans are well coated with the garlic. 

Minced garlic

Sautéed garlic just starting to brown

Add the soy sauce mixture to the green beans. Continue to stir and turn for about 2 minutes until the liquid has begun to be absorbed by the green beans.

Nutrition info: 68 calories, 2.4g fat, 4g fiber


A Tale of Summer Squash

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on August 15, 2011 at 11:05 AM

My favorite summer squash dish

Many years ago, my best friend's family farmed along Stanley Boulevard, which is a thoroughfare between the California cities of Livermore and Pleasanton. Taking advantage of the high volume of traffic along Stanley, they opened Hagemann Farm's U-Pick veggie stand and quickly became THE PLACE in the Livermore Valley to buy the best sweet corn, tomatoes, and summer squash. At the time I was taking some classes at our community college and when I wasn't at school, I worked at the veggie stand. I really enjoyed that job. I loved being outside all day, I loved picking the veggies, and during the fall I was able to use my creative abilities to decorate the veggie stand with Indian corn, gourds, and pumpkins.

One day while I was working at the veggie stand, one of the customers that had driven away backed up, stopped the car, and got out. The customer and his wife were frequent customers and I'm guessing in their 70's. "You really need to go back to school," he said. "We think you are a bright girl and you really need finish high school and then do something better with your life." When I assured him I was not a high school dropout, that I was in college and apparently much older than he thought, he then wanted to fix me up with a German friend of his. "He's a bit older than you, but he has money." If I remember correctly, the German friend was about 60. Hmmm. Thanks, but no thanks. While working at the veggie stand I had lot of interesting encounters with people.

One evening after working at the veggie stand all day, Terry Hagemann and I picked some onions, sweet corn, and patty pan, yellow crookneck, and zucchini squash. We decided to use all of these ingredients to make a one pan meal for dinner. We cut up bacon and fried it. We sautéed chopped onions, cut the corn off of the cob and added the corn along with thinly sliced squash to the pan with the bacon, and sautéed it all until the squash started to brown along the edges. Terry and I thought our squash dish was one of the tastiest dishes we had ever eaten and we would continue to make it whenever the opportunity arose.

Sadly, in the early 90's the Hagemann's closed the veggie stand and moved to the Central Valley. And, sixteen years ago, in the August of 1995, my very good friend Terry died of breast cancer at the age of 39. 

Terry Hagemann tailgating at a 49er's game

After my stint at the Hagemann's veggie stand, I have an affinity for veggie stands and should probably have a bumper sticker warning people, "I Brake For Veggie Stands."  Last week on the way home from the Amador County Fair, we stopped at one of our favorite veggie stands, the Fruit Bowl, on Highway 88. They had all kinds of squash that day, so I loaded up to make "the squash dish," which I have not made in a long time.

Below is the recipe I used to make the squash dish. Even though I did not use the bacon this time, the flavor was still great. It is a simple dish, without a lot of herbs or spices, that allows you to really enjoy the flavor of freshly picked summer vegetables.

Summer squash: Yellow crookneck, patty pans, and zucchini

Summer Squash Dish


2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 ears of fresh corn, cut off the cob

1/2 red onion or 1 Vidalia sweet onion, sliced

6 - 8 summer squash (patty pan, zucchini, yellow crookneck, etc.), thinly sliced

Salt & pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Sautee onions in the olive oil until translucent. Add corn and cook for about three minutes. Add the summer squash to the pan. Be sure to flip the squash every so often so the squash cooks evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the squash until the squash is starting to brown around the edges. Serve.

Sautéed onions

Fresh corn, cut off of the cob

Salt and pepper added to the cooking squash

NOTE: If you want to add bacon to this dish, cut bacon up into small strips and cook. You can use the bacon grease to sautée the onions instead of using the olive oil.


The Disorganized Potluck

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 16, 2011 at 10:31 AM

The green bean and shrimp salad served at the disorganized potluck

A few weeks ago we had a potluck and wine tasting at the family party barn. I decided it was going to be a disorganized (–adjective 1. functioning without adequate order, systemization, or planning; uncoordinated 2. careless or undisciplined; sloppy) potluck with no coordination whatsoever. If anyone asked what they should bring, I told them to bring whatever was easiest for them or one of their favorite dishes. I really dislike it when I'm invited to a potluck and the host wants to know weeks or days in advance, exactly what it is I'm going to be bringing. I usually don't plan in advance and don't decide until the last minute, so needing to provide an answer weeks or days in advance can be daunting for me. As I expected, it turned out fine with plenty of very good food and quite a variety of it.

The only area that was maybe a little short was the dessert area. The dessert table at the party barn is usually overflowing, but this time there was probably just the right amount. There were brownies, a s'more pie, and Norwegian cookies.

The entree that was gone before eveyone made it through the line were the chicken and beef enchiladas made by Mary Chapeta. Lesson learned, put the enchiladas near the end of the line, not the very front of the line. Another Mexican themed entree that had people asking for the recipe was Teri Tith's chili relleno casserole.

Our friend Kim Bonde brought a baked potato bar along with a table to set it up on.

Kim Bonde's baked potato bar

Another one of my favorite dishes at the potluck was a green bean and shrimp salad that was brought by Lani Hernandez. I just love green beans. I love them hot and I love them cold. I could go into a lengthy commentary right now telling you about all of the different ways one can prepare green beans just like Bubba did in the movie Forrest Gump when Bubba told Forrest about all of the ways one can prepare shrimp. But, I'm going to spare you this time.

Lani provided me with the recipe for the green bean and shrimp salad--she either got it from familycircle.com or food.com, she can't remember which as the recipe is posted in both places. I'm posting it here for you. Lani said this salad is great served warm or cold. With summer approaching I'm sure I will be making this for a few events in the next few months.

Green Bean & Shrimp Salad - Serves 4


1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

1 pound green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Snipped chives for garnish (optional)


1. Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, whisking continuously until dressing is emulsified. Add chives; set aside.

2. Green beans and shrimp: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add beans and simmer for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Toss with dressing; set aside.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through.

4. To serve, toss tomatoes with the beans. Place on a serving platter. Scatter shrimp and feta over the top. Garnish with snipped chives, if desired.

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. 

Quick, Easy, and Tasty Asparagus

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 10, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Quick, easy, and tasty asparagus

Asparagus is a green vegetable staple in my house. I like my asparagus so that it still has a bit of a crunch. When I was growing up we would eat boiled asparagus to the point where it was mushy and we would dip it in mayonnaise. Today the thought of that is almost nauseating.

As per Wikipedia, asparagus is very good for you and nutrition studies have shown asparagus is a low-calorie source of folate and potassium. Its stalks are high in antioxidants. Particularly green asparagus is a good source of vitamin C. Asparagus contains substances that act as a diuretic, neutralize ammonia that makes us tired, and protect small blood vessels from rupturing. Its fiber content makes it a laxative, too.

And speaking of diuretics, asparagus eaters are well aware that shortly after eating asparagus their urine will temporarily take on a whole new smell. A family friend once had a visitor from Japan staying with him. The Japanese visitor woke our friend up in the middle of the night and told him he needed immediate medical attention for a health issue he was experiencing. Turned out the after effects of consuming asparagus scared the bajebbers out of him and he was just fine.

A few years ago, my friend Kim catered my mother's and her twin brother's 80th birthday party and served asparagus. It was cooked to perfection. Since I discovered her method for cooking it, I have been cooking it that way ever since. It is so fast and easy, it will take more time to preheat your oven that it will take to prep and cook it!

Kim Bonde's Quick, Easy, and Tasty Asparagus


1 bunch of asparagus

1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the asparagus. Trim off the tough bottoms (about 1" off the bottom). Rub olive oil on the asparagus. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 7 minutes. If the asparagus is very thin, reduce cook time to about 5 minutes. If the asparagus is thick, increase cook time to 8 or 9 minutes. Remove asparagus to a serving platter. Lightly sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. The asparagus is good served hot or cold.

Cutting bottoms off of washed asparagus. I use the rubber band as a guide.

Here's how I measure my olive oil

Washed and oiled asparagus

Cooked asparagus. Note the darker green color and sweat.

Cooked asparagus with Parmesan cheese and ready to eat

Spring has almost sprung. Eat some asparagus!  ~merry~

It is a sign of spring. I usually have asparagus from about April 1 to the middle of June.

~ Ross Faris

Swiss Chard

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 8, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Believe it or not, I have a kid that wants more green vegetables in her diet. If we go a few days without a green vegetable I hear about it. Carrots, green salad, cauliflower--not green or not dark green enough. I created this monster by introducing broccoli to both of my girls at a very early age. The way that I snuck it into their diet was by putting into my pasta dishes. During the last two minutes of the pasta boiling, I would throw in broccoli and then drain and serve it with the pasta. The girls will now eat broccoli steamed, without anything on it.

Trying new green veggie recipes is sometimes difficult because I usually don't get home from work until after 6:30 pm and that doesn't leave a lot of time for experimenting with recipes if we want to eat before 7:30 pm. However, on Monday night I decided to try Swiss chard. I have never eaten it before--I once bought kale and thought it was Swiss chard, but this time I had the real deal to try. And, this time I had both the red and green varieties to try.

Red and green Swiss chard

When I got home on Monday night, I quickly Googled Swiss chard recipes and tried the second one I found. As always, I modified the recipe. The girls really liked the finished dish, however, we all thought that toasted pine nuts would have been a great addition--but then, we always think that.

Since I had never eaten Swiss chard, I wanted to see if we would be able to taste the difference between the green and the red, so I cooked each separately. To me, the red Swiss chard tasted a little earthy, much like the earthy taste that red beets have.

One thing to keep in mind when cooking Swiss chard is that it really reduces in size when it is cooked to a tender stage. The plate that the Swiss chard is on in the photo below is 7" in diameter. So, each bunch cooked down to less than one cup.

As it turns out, Swiss chard is considered one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Among other benefits, it is very high in vitamins K, A, and C, magnesium, potassium and iron.

The finished Swiss chard: green on left, red on the right

Quick and Easy Swiss Chard - 4 small servings


2 tablespoons olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, minced

2 bunches Swiss chard

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese


Remove and discard the stems from the Swiss chard. Cut the Swiss chard into long strips and then cut these strips in half. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic for about two minutes--until it starts to brown. Add the Swiss chard and mix it with the olive oil and garlic. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook the chard for about 7 minutes until it is wilted and tender. Season with the salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and cover for a minute or two until the cheese melts and then serve.


Tomatoes are Finally Ripening

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 1, 2010 at 2:03 AM

After the strangest California summer I can remember, our tomatoes are finally ripening, in September?! The three hot days that finally came (and went) ripened a variety of our tomatoes, at least enough for my favorite tomato panzanella salad. I caught it while watching the Food Network, with Giada De Laurentiis. My favorite part of the panzanella is the grilled whole wheat croutons, I make them all the time, and add a ton of fresh garlic. I keep them in a ziplock bag and they last for a month or so. I buy a large fresh loaf of whole wheat French bread from our Safeway bakery, and chop it up into cubes and grill.


Our family of wild turkeys also liked the whole wheat croutons!


Here is the entire recipe to enjoy while tomatoes are still rolling in.


Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella


1 (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (about 2 cups)

3 cups whole-wheat bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 large, red tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 cup pitted black olives, halved

3/4 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning



Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Drizzle the bread and artichoke hearts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread and artichokes until golden brown at the edges, about 6 minutes total, turning every 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bread and artichokes from the grill and transfer to a large bowl.


Add the tomatoes, olives and basil to the bowl and toss to combine. In a small bowl stir together the 2/3 cup olive oil, white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately.





Zucchinis Gone Wild!!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM

It’s that time of year again, is your zucchini out of control?? With our very strange spring weather, we didn’t get our garden planted until late, so I’m making a preemptive strike, finding recipes before the zucchini ambushes our life! Cooking Light magazine got me inspired with a zucchini article in the current issue with some new uses: pickles, coleslaw and meatloaf – add 2 cups of zucchini to your beef meatloaf to moisten it up and make it healthy – the kids will never know! On their website you will find “6 Great Recipes for Zucchini” pictured is Zucchini Oven Chips, one even includes chocolate, or another story “Help, I’m Drowning in Zucchini!”

The recipe journal on 101 Cookbooks always has innovative healthy recipes, a few zucchini recipes include: Summer Vegetable Cianfotta, A Tasty Fritta, Spinach and Zucchini Soup, and My Special Zucchini Bread which includes some unique ingredients like poppy seeds and an optional tablespoon of curry powder.


I found a hilarious story about Italian nonnas and their differing opinions on how a zucchini should be cooked at The Italian Pantry, with a stuffed zucchini recipe.


That’s Fit has “10 Healthy Zucchini Recipes” including zucchini that is stuffed, grilled, roasted, encrusted, sautéed, creamed and a ratatouille-wanna-be.


Even the New York Times posted a Zucchini ‘Pasta’ recipe, where it’s not really pasta, but zucchini ribbons.


The zucchini recipe from the Holm Family Cookbook that I tested in preparation for the zucchini onslaught was my Aunt Joan and Uncle Frank’s Sweet and Sour Zucchini, you can keep them in the refrigerator for weeks, and are refreshingly delicious.


Sweet and Sour Zucchini


2 tablespoons dehydrated onions

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup salad oil

2/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

5 uncooked zucchini (each about 7 inches long), very thinly sliced


Place the onions in a small bowl and add the cider vinegar. Let them stand for 30 minutes. Then whisk in the sugar, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.


In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, celery, and zucchini. Pour the vinegar-onion

mixture over the vegetables and blend well. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for

at least 6 hours. Drain and serve cold. Serves 10


- Nancy, on Zucchini Patrol


"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  -Jim Davis

A Zucchini Dish My Kids Love

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Trying to find vegetables that kids will eat can be a challenge. For years I tried to get my kids to eat sautéed zucchini to no avail. One time I served them zucchini with some spaghetti sauce on it and they loved it! Now they ask me to make the zucchini with spaghetti sauce and sometimes my oldest daughter makes it herself. 

Zucchini is low in calories, contains folate, potassium, manganese, and vitamin A, but don't tell the kids.

Kid Friendly Zucchini 


Cooking spray

4 medium zucchini

3 tablespoons bottled spaghetti sauce (more or less according to your taste)

1 tablespoon shredded parmesan


Thinly slice the zucchini (into disks). Spray a large sauté pan with cooking spray.  Sauté the zucchini on medium high heat until the zucchini starts to brown or softens.  Spoon on the spaghetti sauce and mix until the zucchini is coated. Top with the parmesan cheese and serve.


Hica What?

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 12, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Jicama is one of those vegetables that I buy with good intentions of using and then end up having to throw it away because I didn’t use it in time.  When I do use jicama, I usually just cut it up into strips or chips and serve it on a crudite platter or eat as a snack.


I recently had some jicama slaw as a side dish at a restaurant and decided to try some of my own.  After trying different jicama slaw recipes, I came up with this one. It is very colorful and has interesting flavors and textures. I like to add nuts and fruits to my salads and found that pistachio nut meats were a great addition. I think pepitas or sunflower seeds would work great too. (Trader Joe's carries a wide variety of nuts at very reasonable prices, so I recommend looking for your nuts there.) Small chunks of oranges would work well too. Just go crazy with it.

Jicama slaw

Nutty Jicama Slaw


2 cups red cabbage, very thinly sliced

1 cup of julienned carrots

¾ cup of jicama, peeled and julienned

1 to 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

5 green onions (bulb and white part only) chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ cup pistachio nut meats (or other nuts, such as sunflower seeds, pepitas)


In a medium salad bowl, mix all of the produce. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil, rice vinegar, juice, salt, pepper, honey, and chili powder. Mix the dressing into the greens. Add the nuts just before serving.



Was that Kale or Swiss Chard?

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 29, 2010 at 1:06 AM

My family’s consumption of leafy green vegetables is fairly limited. In an attempt to add more of a variety of leafy greens to our diet, I purchased some kale at Safeway. Not being familiar with all of the leafy greens, by the time I got home I forgot exactly which leafy green I had purchased and figured it was Swiss chard. So, I googled a Swiss chard recipe and cooked the kale according to the Swiss chard recipe. Afterwards, I discovered my mistake and found a kale recipe that was very similar to the Swiss chard recipe, so I was relieved that the recipe that I used was just fine. Fortunately, other than not knowing my leafy greens, it was not a huge mistake--no damage was done, and the kale turned out great.

I very rarely make a recipe without tweaking it (I omitted butter and salt, used less onion, and added pine nuts), so below is my version of the recipe that I used, which will work out fine for both Swiss chard and kale. ~merry~


Kale is rich in vitamins A, C, and K


Swiss Chard is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium and iron


Sautéed Kale (or Swiss Chard) with Pine Nuts, makes 4 servings


1 bunch of kale (or Swiss chard)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup chopped red onion

½ cup white wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts


Pull the kale (or Swiss chard) leaves off of the stems. Chop the stems into small pieces. Set chopped stems aside. Coarsely chop the leaves. Set the chopped stems aside.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chopped stems and the white wine.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the stems begin to soften. Stir in the coarsely chopped leaves and cook until the leaves are wilted (or slightly softened for the kale). The leaves will be a dark green. Stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Serve. 


Sautéing the coarsely chopped kale

Ready to serve!


**Unlike the other pages of our blog, this page receives about 15 hits a day. If you do make this recipe, please come back and let us know how it was!**

Click here for another Swiss Chard recipe

The season for winter squash, don't say yuck

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 30, 2009 at 8:54 AM

Bob and I are Food Network junkies, along with the travel channel, especially “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain. Our favorite is Bobby Flay, the grill meister. One of his grill recipes was acorn squash cut into rings, grilled with maple syrup, brown sugar or butter, or combination of, delicious for even the average squash hater. We also watch Emeril, a fellow Portuguese, in the morning when we are waking up with our coffee, and I recently saw him cook a spaghetti squash. We were planning a trip to Watsonville to visit friends, and their daughter Ashley is a vegetarian, so I thought this would be a good recipe to try. I googled spaghetti squash, and found a recipe that Emeril had cooked on the Planet Green/Discovery channel. I had bought some canned Italian Cherry Tomatoes at the Grocery Outlet that I really wanted to try (if they were good I could stock up before they ran out), so I used those in the marinara sauce. I baked two squash in separate pans - following the recipe I put water in the first pan, but forgot the water in the second, and they both turned out great. I had brought down a mix of veggies from my kitchen and added a few things to the marinara, a green bell pepper, a handful of fresh basil, didn’t have tomato puree so I used a small can of tomato sauce, and forgot to add the Italian Seasoning (we were hungry and I always rush through recipes without reading them through!). It turned out delicious, and very healthy to boot. Click here for a link to the recipe and get over the aversion to squash! ~nancy mueller~

Nancy's version of Emeril's spaghetti squash with marinara sauce

Brussel Sprouts for the lovers and non-lovers

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 19, 2009 at 2:28 PM

My family loves Brussels sprouts. When my girls were younger, fights would break out if one took more Brussels sprouts then the other. My usual cooking method is to steam the sprouts until tender, heat up a nonstick pan that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil, slightly brown the sprouts, and then sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Last weekend I tried a Rachael Ray recipe that I found on the Food Network website that we all really enjoyed and I think that it is worthy of serving to guests.  I also think that non-sprout lovers will enjoy this dish too. Below is my adaptation of the recipe.  ~merry carter~



1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of chopped red onion

1 ½ pounds of cleaned and trimmed Brussels sprouts, cut the large sprouts in half

3 slices of precooked bacon, cut or crumbled into small pieces

Ground pepper to taste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth



Heat the olive oil in a large skillet that can be covered.  Add the red onion and cook until the onion just starts to brown. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the oil. Sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes until the sprouts start to tender and begin to brown. Add the chicken broth, sprinkle with the pepper, and stir in 1/3 of the bacon. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes or until the sprouts are tender (don’t over cook or they will become mushy). Use a slotted spoon to remove the sprouts, onion, and bacon, and transfer to a pre-warmed serving dish. Reduce the liquid that is remaining in the pan by cooking at medium high heat for about 3 minutes. Once the liquid is reduced to half, pour over the spouts and sprinkle on the remaining bacon.



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