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. 


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


Feasting at the Party Barn

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 18, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Tom and Vibeke visting from Denmark

Yesterday our "cousins" Tom and Vibeke Hvilsted from Denmark came to the Party Barn for a visit. We wanted to treat them to a taste of fresh American food, and the family rallied! Merry made guacamole, a green salad with pears, candied pecans, and blue cheese along with her Dutch oven beer bread. Sandy Holm made her spicy Cranberry Salsa with fresh ginger and jalapenos (we'll post this family favorite in a future blog!), Whitney made a fruit salad with Fuyu Persimmons, grapes, pomegranate, pears and apple, and Troy, aka "Spud," mashed the 10 pounds of potatoes. Nancy with the help of cousin Kenny Calhoun and Alton Brown grilled a turkey using Ken Calhoun's Turkey Marinade, Wendy made her persimmon trifle and I made my aunt Vivian Brizee Calhoun's stuffing.

My sister Nancy manning the BBQ (rain and all)


The spread and Wendy's persimmon trifle

Aunt Vivian's stuffing has been a staple at the Calhoun Thanksgiving for many years. We always thought it was Uncle Ken's recipe! I enjoy it because it has celery, mushrooms and spinach in it. We had a lot of stuffing left over and my father plans to test a recipe he saw on "The Chew," stuffed bell peppers!

We had a wonderful visit with Tom and Vibeke, they shared many stories and snippets of our Danish family history. Also visiting were four deer and a covey of quail. The much needed rain did not dampen our spirits! We also used this opportunity to try the long awaited Danish pickles that my family made during the summer. The pickles passed the test! They tasted just like the pickles that our Granny used to make and the Danes said they taste just like the pickles you buy in Denmark.


Vivian's stuffing with sausage

Vivian Brizee Calhoun's Turkey Stuffing - Serves 10

I doubled this recipe for the 14 guests and there were PLENTY of leftovers.


1 pound ground sausage (I used the Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Sausage)

2 large onions

5 stalks of celery

3/4 pound fresh mushrooms

1 package of frozen spinach

1 package of cubed bread

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon salt, or less

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sage

2-3 tablespoons butter


Brown and drain the sausage. Chop the onions, celery and mushrooms then sautee in about 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook the package of frozen spinach according to directions on package and then drain. Combine all above with 1 package of cubed bread, stir it gently in a large bowl.

Add the dry mustard, salt, poultry seasoning, pepper, and sage. Add enough hot water (plus some melted butter) to moisten the dressing. I used about 1 cup of water and melted the butter right in it using the microwave. Stir gently.

We did not stuff the bird, but cooked it in a covered dish at 300 degrees F for about 1 hour. Add a little more moisture when cooking in a covered dish. I added about 1/2 cup chicken stock with about a tablespoon of butter melted in 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!


Disney's Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM


The Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue at Disneyland; an outdoor, sit down and be served, all you can eat family style restaurant

Every November my family and I go to Disneyland and California Adventure. We usually head down to Anaheim the first or second Thursday of November when the kids are out of school for a teacher workday or Veteran's Day holiday. November has worked out well for us for a few reasons: cooler weather, the park is not too crowded, Christmas holiday specials are filmed during this time so we sometimes see stars performing, and the park is decorated for Christmas.

Cinderella's castle decorated for Christmas


Disneyland's Main Street decorated for Christmas

New Orleans Square

We especially like the Haunted Mansion at this time of the year because it is decorated in a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it is a lot of fun to experience. One of my favorite parts on the ride is when we pass by a holiday party with a decorated Christmas tree and a festive table set for the party. Transparent ghosts dance around the room and you can smell gingerbread as you pass through the area. My youngest daughter had only seen the Haunted House decorated in this fashion until she went to Disneyland with a school group during the month of May a few years ago. She was disappointed by how drab it was in comparison to how it looks in November.

The Haunted Mansion decorated in the Nightmare before Christmas decor

We have encountered rain a few times, but rain usually means no crowds and shorter lines, so we almost welcome it. However, a lesson we learned several years ago is to bring a few pairs of shoes. If your shoes get wet, they are not going to be dry by the next day and a new pair of shoes at the park will cost you about the same price as a ticket into the park.


We usually park hop and eat most of our meals in California Adventure (besides good food you can also get craft beer, wine, and margaritas there), however, there are a couple of food stops that we make in Disneyland. Bacon wrapped asparagus is served at the Bengal Barbecue across from the Indiana Jones ride. Good stuff.  The other "must get once during our visit to Disneyland" is the Dole pineapple whip sold at the Tiki Room. More good stuff.


Two favorite foods at Disneyland:  bacon wrapped asparagus and pineapple whip

Last November we discovered the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue in Disneyland. I'm sure plenty of people had discovered it before us. It just had never caught our attention before. It is an outdoor, sit down and be served, all you can eat family style restaurant. Barbecued chicken and ribs, cole slaw, beans, and corn bread are served by some young folks in hokey western garb (but we liked the food anyway).  After hours of walking and standing in line, sitting down and being served is a welcomed relief. Reservations can be made in advance. If you go to Disneyland during peak season, you might want to make your reservations early in the day or before arrival. Click here to find out more about making advance reservations.

I had the recipe for the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue cole slaw and had been making it long before I ate there. I like the recipe a lot--it's is not mayonnaisey and has a bit of a zip. I have provided the recipe for you below.

Guests at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue sit at tables under canopies

Barbecued ribs and chicken (left), corn bread (right)

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue cole slaw

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue Cole Slaw

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup white-wine vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 large cabbage)

1 pound shredded purple cabbage (about 1/2 large cabbage)

2 carrots, shredded

1.  Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, celery seed, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne in a blender; blend on low speed until sugar is dissolved.

2.  With blender running, slowly pour oil through top of lid, processing until dressing is combined. Set aside.

3.  Combine shredded cabbage and shredded carrots in a separate large bowl. Add dressing, tossing to combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours, tossing occasionally before serving.


Reporting from the happiest place on earth,


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. 

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

The Crispy Potato Roast

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on April 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The crispy potato roast with thinly sliced and seasoned potatoes

About four weeks ago I got a cough/cold thing that has just stuck with me. During the first couple of weeks I didn't have much energy, but I did spend several hours sitting in my big old leather chair going through magazines so I could toss them. I found some great recipes and hope to try them some time soon. One recipe that I found and have tried already was a crispy potato roast. In this recipe the potatoes are thinly sliced, seasoned, and arranged vertically in a baking dish. When cooked and ready to serve it is a very attractive dish and my photo doesn't do it justice.

The potatoes are ready to eat!

Crispy Potato Roast - Serves 8


3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (a mandolin works best to slice)

1 shallot, thinly sliced (you can substitute with yellow or red onions)

Coarse salt (Kosher works great)


1/8 teaspoon thyme

1 shake of cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine melted butter and oil. Brush the bottom of a round or oval 9-inch baking dish with the butter mixture.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Add the shallot slices.  Mix well and then add about half of the butter mixture. Mix the seasoned potatoes with the butter mixture.

Arrange the potato slices vertically in the baking dish. Brush on the remaining butter mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 1 hour and half or until top is a nice golden brown and potatoes are soft.

Mix seasoned potatoes with butter and oil mixture

Arrange seasoned potatoes vertically in a baking dish that has been brushed with a butter and oil mixture

Happy Saturday!


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.


Cajun Pasta and The Pioneer Woman

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

The other day we received an email from our cousin Lori who lives in Texas. Lori is a girl that was born and raised in California, and her job took her and her daughters to Texas. Her daughters met and married Texas boys (we all love their accents and their southern manners), and they had their own boys. Lori has lived in Texas for several years now, has five grandsons, and just loves Texas and being a grandmother (we are really not old enough to be grandmothers, are we?!?). So here's what she said in her email:

"It was Clint’s birthday dinner and he wanted Cajun Pasta.  I had to make some plain stuff for Jamie as I didn’t think Colby would like all the spices.  Clint took the picture so I could send it to you guys.  The Cajun pasta was from a recipe I got from Pioneer Women on the internet.  It sure smelled good when cooking.  Next time I need to cook it in the cast iron skillet.  I couldn’t get my non-stick pan hot enough to blacken the way I think it should of.  Everyone liked it so I probably will try it again." 

Here's the link to the recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/cajun-chicken-pasta/

The Cajun Pasta that Lori made, the plain pasta is on the right

If you are not familiar with The Pioneer Woman, let me give you a quick rundown. Ree Drummond is a blogger that started out with stories about how she, a city girl, met  "Marlboro man" at a bar and they later fell in love, got married, had children, they live on a large ranch in Oklahoma, she cooks and takes lovely photos. She incorporated some of her stories, recipes, and photos into a beautiful cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, which became a New York Times Best Seller. She later published, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story, that chronicles her early relationship with "Marlboro man."  She most recently wrote a children's book, Charlie the Ranch Dog. To get to her website: http://thepioneerwoman.com/

The Pioneer Woman has now has a cooking show on the FoodNetwork and a new episode airs tomorrow morning at 10:00 am/9:00 am central time.   

For more info about her show: http://www.foodnetwork.com/the-pioneer-woman/index.html

The cooking cowgirls meet the Pioneer Woman

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


Good Friends + Fine Food = Fun

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 19, 2011 at 12:09 AM

A toast to the retiree

Six friends and I recently gathered at Holm Family cookbook recipe tester, Sue Mears', home in Incline Village on Lake Tahoe's north shore. All teachers, we were gathering to celebrate Sherri Vares’ retirement. Our usual routine during our get togethers is to have a light breakfast, go out for lunch and return home for cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert. This visit was no different.

We started with fresh berries, yogurt, cinnamon toast, coffee and juice. Some headed out for a morning walk around Incline Village – beautiful day! Next stop was the Hyatt Regency’s Lone Eagle Grille restaurant. It has a beautiful bar that looks out over Lake Tahoe. The mountain style décor in the dining room gives it a warm feeling.  We all were pleased with our choices, mine being a venison quesadilla. I just can’t pass up something different!

The beautiful view from Lone Eagle Grille's bar at the Hyatt Regency

In the late afternoon the group of four retired teachers and three working teachers loaded up snack bags and headed to the movie theater. The movie Bad Teachers was playing and we saw it only fitting to see the movie. On the drive up to Lake Tahoe I had heard a review on NPR and from the review it didn’t sound bad – I must not have listened very well – I guess I was distracted by the snow covered Sierras. Fortunately, we had some Mandarin Martinis waiting for us after the movie.

Mandarin Martinis were a welcome sight after watching the movie, "Bad Teachers"

Sue loves to cook, so she has guests bring breakfast, appetizers, and beverages and she does the rest. Linda Andrade brought breakfast, Stephanie Beard, Fran Rebello, Janet Berglund and I brought appetizers. For this meal, Fran Rebello, also one of our recipe testers, got us primed with her Mandarin Martinis. Stephanie Beard brought an appetizer she had tasted at Whole Foods – ricotta cheese, with sweet onion marmalade and crackers. I made a Prosciutto and Pear Pizza from a recipe I found one holiday season in Raley’s, Something Extra, magazine.

Sue made the entrée and salad; beef burgers on whole wheat buns and Orzo with Roasted Vegetable salad. She had prepared the beef burgers stuffed with lemon herb butter ahead of time. Before going to the movie she had roasted the vegetables for the salad. This strategic move allowed her to enjoy the appetizers and Mandarin Martinis! Sue’s husband, Al, was allowed to come home to grill the burgers and of course enjoy our company. We accompanied the meal with a Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay and a Heritage Oak Zinfandel.

To end the evening we had Sue’s Blackberry Buttermilk Cake and Sherri’s Graham Cracker Brittle with ice cream. It was a delightful way to end the evening with some of my closest and dearest friends.

The recipe from the evening I would like to share, and believe me there were many delicious recipes, is the Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. Sue found this recipe in the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and changed it a bit. I have also made it and left out the feta cheese adding one pound of cubed roasted chicken. For me it is the dressing, fresh basil and toasted pignolis that put it over the top!

This recipe is a slight variation of a wonderful summer dish invented by Sarah Leah Chase in her book, The Open House Cookbook.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables


1 pound of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces

2 red bell peppers, 1-inch diced

2 yellow bell peppers, 1-inch diced

1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup good olive oil (I’ve used lemon olive oil with good results)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup orzo or rice-shaped pasta  

For the dressing:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/3 cup good olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  

To assemble:

1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted

3/4 pound good feta, crumbled

15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the asparagus, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

The toasted vegetables

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

Draining the orzo

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature and add the pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings and serve at room temperature.

Cutting a chiffonade of basil

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."

~Ina Garten, 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook'

And that my friend, is what Sue Mears does!




Portuguese Family Reunion - Broche!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM

The paternal side of our family hales from the Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores, and put down roots in the San Francisco Bay Area and Livermore Valley at least 5 generations ago.

Our dad, Wayne Calhoun, and his brother Ken. They grew up fishing on the Alameda Creek in Niles, and the Arroyo Mocho at the Calhoun Ranch on Mines Road in Livermore

Our grandmother died before any of the grandkids were born, and our dad and uncle didn’t pick up many Portuguese traditions other than linguica, so we have been researching and trying out new Portuguese recipes for the last few years.

Ruth Calhoun Brown, our 99 year old family matriach, with nieces Sylvia & Noel

After spending 10 years researching, testing, and publishing our Danish family cookbook, we were in need of a change! Our cousins all bring old and new recipes to our Calhoun family reunion, some Portuguese, some not.

This year I wanted to try a few vegetarian recipes out, along with a huge pot of pinto beans and linguica, all four burners were goin’! I had purchased a couple of Portuguese cookbooks a few years back, and this year found all the recipes in Portuguese CookingThe Traditional Cuisine of Portugal by Carol Robertson. I made a Piri-Piri sauce in advance, Fragrant Rice, Peas Algarve Style (without the linguica), and everybody’s favorite, Tomato Acorda.

Portuguese Tomato Acorda (Tomato Soup) with Piri-Piri

Acorda is a rustic Portuguese soup that includes a piece of crusty bread at the bottom of the bowl. It turned out to be an unseasonably cool afternoon, so the soup really hit the spot! It’s a very simple and healthy recipe; you probably have the ingredients in your cupboard. I am definitely not a scientific cook, not always measuring, and I’m always adjusting recipes, especially if I don’t have an ingredient or two. For the acorda, I used less olive oil, and a lot more garlic than the recipe called for, so this is my adjusted version from the cookbook.


Tomato Acorda

Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4-6 cloves minced garlic, to taste

1 28-ounce, and 1 14.5 ounce cans whole tomatoes with their liquid

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 32 ounce boxes Vegetable Broth

Sliced whole wheat sourdough bread

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and lightly brown the onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, oregano, bay leaves and parsley. Break up the tomatoes (I use a potato masher) and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, grill (for the best flavor), broil or toast slices of sourdough bread, rub a whole clove of garlic across the rough bread. Place the bread at the bottom of each soup bowl. Spoon soup over the bread. Drizzle with a bit of Piri-Piri sauce if you’re looking for a bit of added heat and flavor!



¼ cup fresh hot chili peppers

2 garlic cloves minced

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup olive oil

Coarsely chop the peppers, discarding the tops. Thoroughly wash hands, knife and cutting board afterwards. Combine peppers, salt, garlic, and oil in a glass bottle. Cover tightly, refrigerate. Use as needed.


Fragrant Rice

The aroma from the rice was incredible during the cooking process! Serves 6

1 ½ onions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 inch of cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon ginger powder

2 cups basmati rice (I used brown basmati rice) rinsed once and soaked for 5 minutes in water

3 ¾ cups boiling water

½ teaspoon turmeric

In a deep saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter. Add the cinnamon, cloves, salt, garlic and ginger. Gently fry for 1 minute.

Drain the rice and add it to the spices. Toss to coat with butter.

Measure 3 ¾ cups of boiling water into the rice mix. When it returns to boiling, add the turmeric, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Shut off the heat and leave rice covered for 5 more minutes before serving.


Saúde!   Nancy

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.

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

What the Heck Is A Pummelo?

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 5, 2011 at 11:35 PM

For the last few years, my daughters and I have seen pummelos at our local grocery store during the winter months and have marveled at the size of them. Last weekend I finally bought one and we were all pleasantly surprised by the sweet fragrance and taste of the fruit.

So what is a pummelo? According to essortment.com, the pummelo is a large exotic citrus fruit that is an ancestor of the grapefruit. It originated in Asia and is now grown in eastern countries, the Caribbean and United States. The pummelo tree can grow up to heights of 50 feet and produces very attractive white, fragrant flowers. When purchasing a pummelo, select only those that have a fragrant scent, is firm to the touch, and do not have any bruises. Pummelos can be safely stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

The pummelo is much sweeter than grapefruit and does not have that bitter taste that I find with most grapefruit. Even though the pummelo can reach 12 inches in diameter, the fruit inside is much smaller in diameter. Under the rind is a thick spongy pith. The spongy pith in my pummelos probably averaged 1 inch in thickness, but were much thicker in some areas.

To help illustrate the size of the pummelo, on the left of the pummelo is an orange, and on the right is a grapefruit

The inside of the pummelo. Notice the thick spongy pith between the rind and fruit.

A citrus salad I made with a pummelo and other citrus fruit

We really enjoyed the pummelo that we bought last week, so I bought another one this week and made a very refreshing citrus salad with a few other citrus fruits.

Pummelo Salad - Serves 6


1 pummelo

1 ruby red grapefruit

2 mandarin oranges

2 naval oranges

2 tangelos

(any combination of tangarines, mandarine, blood, naval oranges will do)


Reserve excess juice from the fruit

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


Peel the fruit. Cut the fruit in to bite size wedges. While cutting the fruit, reserve the excess juice from the fruit. Remove the membranes from between the pummelo segments. Put the reserved fruit juice, lemon juice, honey, and ground ginger into a small saucepan. On medium high heat, bring juice mixture to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer to reduce the liquid for about 7 to 10 minutes. Allow the dressing to cool. Once the dressing is cool, mix into the fruit salad and serve.


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