Holm Family Cookbook

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Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

Cranberry Salsa

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 24, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Cranberry Salsa has become a family favorite. Introduced to our family by Sandy Sports Holm, the recipe was given to her by a friend. Sandy brought it to Christmas as an appetizer, it looked so beautiful - bright cranberry with flecks of green upon white cream cheese!

Then the flavor, a sweet tartness, very refreshing. Cranberries, a fruit with a very short season, are harvested between the end of September and early November. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the U.S., and I thought it was Massachusetts!  When I see them start to appear in the grocery stores, my mouth starts watering for this salsa recipe. Cranberries can be frozen for several years - which bodes well with me. Last year I had frozen some cranberries, and pulled them out in early September to make this recipe. I took it on a wine tasting excursion, all the guests loved it! The salsa tasted as delicious as when I used the fresh cranberries.

The recipe is simple, and can be frozen. It actually makes enough for two batches. Enjoy!

Cranberry Salsa

1 - 12 oz bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained (3 cups)
1/4 cup minced green onion
2 small jalapeño peppers, cored, seeded and minced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cilantro leaves minced (save some to garnish)
2 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 - 8 oz cream cheese

After rinsing the bag of cranberries, put in food processor and pulse until finely chopped, not mushy.

Place in bowl with onions, jalapeños, sugar, cilantro, ginger and lemon juice and stir.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours so the flavor develops. Serve over cream cheese with crackers or chips.

~ Cookin' Cowgirl Susie

Award Winning Salsa from our Cookin' Cowgirl!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 28, 2013 at 8:50 AM

I have been making salsa for quite a few years because of the overabundance of tomatoes and jalapenos in my husband’s garden (and I don't even like tomatoes!).  People had often complimented me on my salsa. This year I saw the contest details in Alden Lane Nursery’s e-newsletter for their 6th Annual Salsa Contest and decided to enter.

I needed to bring a quart of salsa to the nursery on the morning of September 14th. My mom and I went back later in the day to check out the competition, and there were 14 entries including mine. There was quite a variety of salsas - one had mint in it, there was a green one, a yellow one, some were sweet and some were REALLY hot. There was quite a crowd judging the salsas.

When I got back home Saturday afternoon I received a call from Alden Lane Nursery requesting more salsa for Sunday. I took another jar of salsa back on Sunday afternoon.  When I got back home on Sunday evening I saw that a message was left on my phone.  Boy, I was surprised when it was Alden Lane Nursery saying “Congratulations, you have won 1st place in the salsa contest!!”  I won the high honor of being “The Top Rojo with the Mojo”, along with an Alden Lane Gift card and my name on the Perpetual Salsa Trophy.

I think one of the reasons I won is because most of the ingredients were from my husband’s garden - fresh picked tomatoes and jalapenos, red onion and garlic.  This gave the salsa a really fresh flavor.

Below is the recipe for the salsa I made. I have added more jalapeno and garlic and the sugar to the original recipe I used. So keep in mind you can make it to your own taste by using more or less of the ingredients.


1 ½ cups diced fresh tomatoes

2 medium sized jalapeno peppers, diced, seeded & finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely diced red onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.

~ Wendy

Flying with the Brew Angels at the Amador County Fair

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 15, 2012 at 5:20 PM

My husband, Troy Bowers and I, we have a passion for fairs. I just finished my summer job at the Alameda County Fair and Troy is gearing up as the CEO of the Amador County Fair. As the fair approaches, the contests are all a happenin'. I was happy to help with the Homebrew Competition, co-hosted by our club, the Brew Angels and the Beer Appreciation Society of Sacramento (BASS).

Bill and Jackie Tarchala, coordinate the competition and food. David Teckham, a Grand Master Judge and brew educator, is responsible for the judges. Roger and Samie Watson take charge of the cellar, stewards and score keeping.

Judging the Best of Show at the Homebrew Competition

Rick and Marilyn Reineman assume the responsibilities of paperwork and over the top desserts. Many of the Brew Angels help by judging, stewarding, bringing food, setting up and cleanup.


This year there were 97 homebrew entries. 43 commercial craft brews were judged, entered by 7 breweries. The 48 judges and stewards spent all day Saturday judging the beers. It is a tradition of this competition to have a large variety of DELICIOUS foods.


Bill always prepares the meat. This year he barbecued chicken and grilled gourmet hamburgers. Jackie, of Kneading Dough Bakery made hamburger buns.

There was a variety of appetizers. I brought the dates wrapped in bacon (see my post from December), seems anything wrapped in bacon is popular!  I also prepared Vivian's Garlic Dip from our cookbook and have included the recipe below.

David Teckham, Marilyn Reineman, Roger Watson setting up appetizers

There were a variety of salads and desserts. Marilyn Reineman made several desserts. I found the dark fudgesickles my favorite.

Dark Fudgesickle, yum!

She also made a cherry and blueberry ice cream cake – red, white and blue - in the shape of the United States.


Women have always been involved in brewing, but I have noticed more this year than ever. Among the judges, Craig Zangari, is organizer of the Queen of Beer 2012 competition. Lisa Agoitia, tasting room manager at American River Brewing Company, was one of several female judges.


After a long day of judging it was determined that the brewing team of Ryan Truax and Constance Marshall from Los Angeles had the Homebrew with their Light Hybrid Blonde Ale Best of Show.  Best of Show Commercial Brew was High Water, Anniversary Dupplesticke. High Water Brewing, brewed by Steve Altamari and John Anthony in San Leandro at Drake's Brewing Company.


The Amador County Fair, host of this event, opens on Thursday, July 15, 2012. This year they will be offering Micro Brew tastings from 11:00 – 4:00 on both Saturday and Sunday, July 27th  and 28th. The Fair's theme this year is "Barn in the USA." As you travel to Plymouth, be sure to enjoy all the different barns in Amador County!

Enjoy the dip and see you at the fair!

Vivian’s Garlic Dip

Makes 1 cup

Serve it with crackers or raw vegetables. We also ate it on some of Jackie’s toasted bread, mmm good! It is also good as a sandwich spread. If you have basil in your garden, this is a great way to use it up. Try to make this 2 to 3 days ahead of time. The longer it sits, the better it gets!


1 (8.5-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried

tomatoes, cut into small pieces

(reserve the oil)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream


In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, and thereserved oil from the sundried tomatoes, and toss lightly. Let marinate for up to 3 days.

Drain the excess oil from the tomato mixture and discard the oil. Place the tomato mixture in a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, and blend together. Add enough yogurt to get the desired consistency.


Thanks to Becky Calhoun Foster for submitting her mom's recipe for our cookbook!

~ Susie


Flaming Saganaki - Try This at Home!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 19, 2012 at 1:00 AM

Flaming σαγανάκι cheese at Demitri's Taverna

My work buddies and I drop by Demitri's Taverna, which is a Greek Restaurant in downtown Livermore, about once a month for flaming σαγανάκι cheese (saganaki) and ouzo. At Demitri's the flaming saganaki is cheese that has been doused with ouzo and lit on fire. One of my work buddies describes ouzo as liquid Good & Plenty--it's a sweet anise or licorice flavored Greek liquor. After drinking a shot of ouzo you shout "opa!" (just like in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding).  At Demitri's the same thing is shouted after the saganaki is lit. A few times after our saganaki has been served, I have seen other diners call our server to their table to ask what the saganaki is. Once they find out the diners usually say, "That's what we're getting next time!"

The saganaki at Demitri's is served with grilled bread and a side plate of sliced onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and capers. The way I like to eat the saganaki is to spread the cheese on the bread and eat it like an open faced sandwich with the vegetables on the top. It is so good!

For weeks I have been trying to make flaming saganaki at home, but I couldn't find ouzo at the grocery stores where I shop. I finally made it to BevMo and bought some ouzo there. I couldn't find the Greek Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese, so I used asiago cheese instead.

If you try this recipe at home, be sure to do it in an area that is not near any combustible items. If this recipe looks too hazardous to try at home, drop by Demetri's--he's a real personable guy and will be glad to serve you saganaki and ouzo!

Flaming Saganaki

Kasseri or Kofalotiri cheese (asiago works too)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons Ouzo

4 slices of bread - sourdough or peasant bread work well

2 romaine lettuce leaves

1 small tomato sliced thin

1 tablespoon capers

1 slice of red onion, cut into strips

Cut cheese into slices 1/4 inch thick. Melt butter in a small skillet and place the cheese in the skillet. Broil on high 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese bubbles. Remove from heat. Pour ouzo over the cheese and ignite immediately. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and serve with grilled or toasted bread and veggies.


Romain lettuce leaves, tomatoes, onions, and capers to eat with the saganaki

Grill or toast some bread

Melt the butter in a small skillet

Place slices of cheese in skillet

Place under broiler until cheese bubbles

Quickly ignite the ouzo after pouring it over the cheese

Squeeze lemon juice over the cheese

Saganaki is ready to serve!



Super Bowl Leftovers = Super Nachos

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 7, 2012 at 11:55 PM

Super nachos made of leftovers from Super Bowl Sunday

On Super Bowl Sunday we had an impromptu party of 10 and as usual we had enough food for 20 or more people. There were pizzas, wings, veggies, chips and dips, a pot of chili, beer bread, brownies, BBQ beef, cupcakes, candies, turtle chex mix and more. Needless to say, there was a lot of food left over.

By the way, one of the favorite candies at the party were Hershey's Almond Joy pieces. My daughter picked them out as they met our criteria for the Super Bowl teams' colors (blue and white).  The Almond Joy pieces and the wings were about the only foods that were totally consumed.

We also had Patriot punch, which was made with fresh blueberries, blueberry flavored vodka, and lemonade. I'm not a fan of the Patriots--just thought it sounded better than Giants punch.

Since the room was full of Raiders and 49er fans, we were not as focused on the game as we could have been. There was a lot of talking and laughing, and when the commercials came on everyone quieted down and the sound went up.  One of my friends from elementry school is a movie/commerical editor and we watched for his commercials along with all of the other clever commercials that air during the Super Bowl. My favorite work of his this year was the Honda CRV commercial with Mathew Brodrick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkDdayA4iA


Our Super Bowl fare included veggies, candies, scoop style tortilla chips, and chili


Artichoke dip, pita strips,  BBQ beef, turtle Chex mix, and sweet and sour chicken wings (click here for wing recipe)

To get rid of some of the leftovers I've been packing them to work the last couple of days for my coworkers to eat. Tonight I made some super nachos with the leftover chili, chips, cheese, and veggies. Below is my recipe.

Super Nachos


Leftover chili

5 oz. or more of Scoop style tortilla chips

1 cup or more of shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican cheese, or cheddar/Monterey Jack mix)

1 tomato, chopped

1 avocado, scooped out of shell and cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons chopped onion (or more if you like onions)

1/2 lime or lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the avocado and onion. Squeeze lime juice over the top and mix. Salt and pepper avocado mixture to taste and set aside.

Place a layer of chips on the bottom of a cast iron frying pan or ovenproof pan with the scoop side up. Spoon half of the chili into the chips. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the top of the chips and chili. Place another layer of chips, chili, and cheese over the top. Bake for 7 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle the chopped tomato over the top. Spoon the avocado over the top and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately.


"Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl." ~Bill Peterson, football coach


Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Over the last year, I’ve been swapping cookbooks with our cousin-in-law’s Grandma Patsy from West Texas, giving me the chance to try some Southern cooking. Over the summer we tested out okra two ways for the very first time from the Ropesville Cookbook that Patsy helped to publish. The next cookbook I received was Shirley B’s Country Cookin’ from a retired restaurateur in Anton Texas, full of down home family recipes like hush puppies, lemon pound cake, boiled shrimp, fried catfish, chicken and dumplings and more.

When two of the gals at work mentioned that they had a load of green tomatoes still on the vine, it was time for me to try the Fried Tomatoes recipe from Shirley B’s cookbook! I brought my big electric skillet to work along with the four ingredients needed, got set up on the loading dock and started to fry. By the time I was done, you could smell those fried tomatoes throughout the entire theater! I had never even tasted fried green tomatoes before, or cooked them, and they turned out delicious, tangy and tart. The staff and crew gobbled them up. After frying a few different color variations of the tomatoes, I could see why Shirley liked cooking with tomatoes that were starting to turn pink, they had a completely different, flavor, sweeter than the green.

I just received another cookbook from Patsy, Range Riders Cookin’, so I’m sorting through the recipes now, Cowboy Clyde’s Cabbage Salad, Lone Prairie Sheperd’s Pie, Virginia City Beef Brisket, Wild Bill’s Whiskey Biscuits or Jim Bob's Peanut Brittle. Time to pull out the Dutch oven and get to work!


“Most people use green tomatoes but I prefer the tomatoes that are turning pink.”

-Shirley B


Wash and slice 3-4 medium tomatoes (thick slices)

In a small bowl add 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Add enough water to make a thick batter. (Should look like pancake batter.) Dip tomato slices in batter coating both sides and lay in a skillet of hot oil. Brown both sides and drain on a paper towel.



Tostada Dip - A Super Bowl Party Favorite

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 30, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Tostada Dip, a Super Bowl party favorite

Watching the 49ers play the Giants a couple of weekends ago reminded me of the playoff game and Super Bowl parties I attended in the 1980’s when the 49ers won the Super Bowl four times. I often brought tostada dip to the parties and the dip was just about as popular at those parties as Joe Montana was to Niners Fans. Long time Livermore resident, Eleanor Barbera, gave me the tostada dip recipe.

Eleanor Barbera was one of those people that I would like to see as she always had a big smile for me. When my sisters and I attended Fifth Street Elementary School (which was where the Del Valle Continuation High School is now), Eleanor was the yard duty lady. Later she worked as a teacher’s aid at Almond Avenue School and after that at Jackson Avenue School. When we were older and played softball in the LARPD women’s softball leagues with her daughter Susie, she would watch our games and practices. She was quite a baseball fan and after she passed away I learned she played on a semi-pro women’s team in Merced—like the team from the movie, “A League of Our Own.” I wish I could have heard some of her stories about her ball playing days. Eleanor was of Irish and Native American ancestry and had high cheekbones, dark hair and olive complexion. She was married to Siberio “Sib” Barbera of Italian ancestry and also an avid sports fan. Eleanor and Sib lived on Third Street in one of the charming craftsman style homes that share the backside of the block that Loard’s Ice Cream Parlor is on. For several years, Sib owned and operated the Atlantic Richfield Service Station on the corner of South L and Second Street in Livermore. He retired and sold it in the early 1980s.

Sib and Eleanor Barbera

Eleanor and Sib had three children, Katherine (Kathy), Thomas Joseph (Joe), and Susanne (Susie). Kathy, also known as Kitt Gilmour, worked as a 911 dispatcher at the Lab for several years. During the last years of his life, Joe lived in the caretaker cottage on our family’s ranch and owned and operated a precision machining shop in Livermore. Susie Barbera was in our sister Nancy’s class at Fifth Street and together they would torment the boys on the playground. Susie is now Susanne Ramsey and is a computer security officer at the Lab and the daughter-in-law of well-known Livermore artist Carolyn Ramsey.

Unfortunately, the Niners won't be playing at the Super Bowl this year, but I am providing you with Eleanor's tostada dip recipe so you can eat it while watching the two teams that do make it to the Super Bowl. Following the dip recipe are some tips to make the recipe a 2012-style dip.

Tostada Dip – Serves 12

1 16-ounce can refried beans

1 7-ounce can chopped Ortega chilies

3 tablespoons mild taco sauce

2 cups guacamole dip

1 small bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1 medium ripe tomato, finely diced

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped (optional)

1 pint sour cream

1 small head of lettuce, finely shredded (optional)

½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated

½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated

On a plate or shallow bowl, spread the refried beans. In this order, add additional layers of chilies, taco sauce, and avocado dip. In a small bowl, combine the bell pepper, tomato and celery. Spread on top of the dip. Add a layer of sour cream on top of the chopped vegetables. Top with the lettuce, and then the cheeses.

2012-style dip tips: Garnish the top of the dip with sliced olives, chopped cilantro, and tomatoes. Use preshredded Mexican taco style cheese instead of just the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Substitute the bell pepper with a chopped jalapeno pepper (be sure to remove the seeds). Serve with scoop style corn or tortilla chips, or tortilla chips made in your favorite team's colors.

Go San Francisco Giants! It's not too early to start cheering on our favorite baseball team, is it?!?

~merry carter~

Clam Dip -- Still Tasty After All These Years

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 20, 2011 at 11:25 PM

For nearly 50 years clam dip has been served at my parent's parties and family events

When I was a kid in the 1960's my parents belonged to two dinner clubs. Each month the members of the clubs would take a turn hosting a dinner party at their house. When it was my mother's turn to host "club" it was quite a production getting the house ready. I can remember using the electric floor polisher to polish the hardwood floors in the living room. The polisher was taller than I was. It had two rotating felt pads on the bottom and a long pole with handles to hold to control the polisher.  There was an electrical cord attached to the top portion of the pole and the other end would be plugged into the wall. I can remember polishing the floors a few times with no parental supervision. At least twice I lost control of the polisher (I think I may have lost control when I tried to ride it). It spun wildly around and around, the cord wound around me and the polisher. I don't remember how the polisher was stopped. Apparently I did not get hurt, but I have to wonder why as a small child I was operating it in the first place.

An Electrolux floor polisher just like the one I used to polish the living room floor

Another big job that needed to be done for the dinner parties was polishing the silver. My mother had a set of Wallace Grand Baroque sterling silver flatware that would always be tarnished when it was time to entertain. We would use silver polish and cloth diapers to polish the silver. The silver polish would always get into the ornate handles and it would take some work to get it out. While this job was tedious, it was much safer than polishing the hardwood floor.

Wallace Grand Baroque sterling silver flatware

Prior to the guests arriving, ashtrays would be set out around the house and a silver cup with cigarettes in it would be placed on the coffee table in the living room so the guests could help themselves to a cigarette. I really can't remember what my mother would serve for dinner for "club," but I do remember that a lot of highballs were served along with clam dip and ridged dip chips before dinner was served.

A cup like this would be filled with cigarettes for the guests

Highballs made of whiskey and carbonated water were served

While the highballs aren't flowing nowadays like they used to in the 60's and you won't find cigarettes at my parent's parties or our family events, clam dip is still being served. On Christmas Eve our cousin Lori usually makes clam dip for us to eat while we wait for Santa to arrive and sometimes two family members bring it to our Fourth of July family reunion. The clam dip is almost always served with ridged dip chips and is gone before you know it. Below is Lori's recipe from our cookbook.

Clam Dip


1 6-ounce can of minced clams

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped green onion

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco


Drain the minced clams, reserving some of the clam juice in case it is needed later. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, green onion, lemon juice, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco. Add the clams and mix thoroughly. If the dip is too thick, add some of the clam juice and stir well. Serve with chips or crackers.


So I have a confession to make. In the morning after "club," I would take sips of the highballs that were still on the coffee table and end tables. The highballs with the cigarette butts floating in them really didn't taste that great.


Simple and Delicious Bacon Date Tapas

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 16, 2011 at 3:25 AM

Bacon Date Tapas, easy to make and delicious to eat

My husband Troy and I had the opportunity to stay at the historic Casa Munras hotel in Monterey, California. The Estéban restaurant just off of the hotel’s lobby offers Mediterranean tapas and Spanish inspired cuisine. During the weekend we were there, the Sunday special in the bar was tapas. My favorite tapa was a date stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. Knowing this would be a great appetizer to take to parties, I searched the Internet for the recipe. With only three ingredients, it is very simple to make.

The three ingredients: dates, blue cheese, and bacon

Last weekend one of our cookbook testers, Pat Byrne, had a gingerbread house making party, which these tapas were just perfect for. And, they were a hit! I thought our readers would enjoy them as much as I do. They are the perfect appetizer--simple and delicious!

Hey, maybe Pat will share her gingerbread recipe with us!?

The gingerbread house making party was a perfect event for the tapas

One of the gingerbread houses at the party

Bacon Date Tapas  -  Makes 24, prep time 30 minutes, bake time 30 - 40 minutes


1 pound bacon, medium thick slices work best

24 dates, fancy Medjools work well

8 ounces of blue cheese (I prefer Point Reyes Blue Cheese)

24 toothpicks


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with non-stick foil. Split the dates open, remove the pit. Fill the vacancy with blue cheese. Cut the strips of bacon in half and wrap the filled date in the half slice of bacon, then secure it with a toothpick. Place on cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. Put on a higher rack in the oven—the bottoms tend to burn when on a lower rack. Check after 20 minutes, if needed, turn them. Continue checking until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. These may be served at room temperature.

Removing the pit from the dates

The dates filled with blue cheese

The stuffed and bacon wrapped dates ready for the oven

The tapas are almost done cooking!



"Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon."  ~Doug Larson


It's a Boy! Baby Shower

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 27, 2011 at 9:00 AM

The moment our sister Nancy hears that a family member or close family friend is getting married, the first words out of her mouth are, "We'll have to throw you a shower!" I'm sure she got this from our Granny as over the years Granny hosted dozens of showers at her house. So, it came as no surprise to us when we became the co-hosts of a baby shower for our cousin Jeff's future grandson.

The shower was to be held at my house and the five of us co-hosting it would all provide food. I was also in charge of games, which became tricky as everyone provided input as to which games they hate and did not want to be played at the shower. The "don't play" list left me with only the "guess the girth of the mother-to-be" game. The rules of this game are to have the guests cut string or toilet paper the length of what they think will wrap around the stomach of the mother-to-be. The person with the length of string or TP that  comes closest to fitting around the mother-to-be wins. I also passed out raffle tickets and had a drawing for door prizes as everyone loves to win a prize.

Leslie, the aunt-to-be, was in charge of the invitations, which she had printed. I used the color scheme from the invitations for the food table and floral arrangements. I was able to find a blue tablecloth and napkins at Kohl's on clearance that matched the blue on the invitation. I got 5"x5" square white plates from World Market for the appetizers and cake, and a dark brown tray to hold the forks and plates. I love these plates and have already used them a few times since the shower.

White plates and dark brown tray from World Market

We served a variety of appetizers at the shower. We had dates and blue cheese wrapped in bacon, spinach dip served in a sourdough bread bowl, spring rolls, egg rolls, a south of the border shrimp cocktail, jalapeno hummus, mini quiches, fresh strawberries, and crackers and cheese. We had a serve yourself appetizer table, but passed most of the hot appetizers. Our local Safeway makes a great strawberry and whipped cream cake, so grandma-to-be Vicki picked the cake up on her way into town. I served a punch made with Hawaii's Own passion orange concentrate and ginger ale. This punch often has people asking for the recipe.

Dates and blue cheese wrapped in bacon

Spinach dip in a sourdough bowl

Coctel de Camarones, a south of the border shrimp cocktail

As usual we had enough food for about 4x the number of people at the shower. Fortunately, we were having a family gathering at the party barn that night, so after the shower we packed up the extra food and headed for the hills.

Below is the recipe for the shrimp cocktail, which really has a great flavor. The avocado, garlic, and cilantro really complement the shrimp.

Coctel de Camarones - Serves 8

(Shrimp Cocktail from South of the Border)


Juice of one fresh lime

1/2 cup finely chopped green or red onion

3 cloves chopped garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 ripe tomatoes - chopped

8 ounces cocktail sauce (regular or spicy)

2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 ripe avocado – peeled, pitted and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste 


In a large bowl mix together lime juice, onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and cocktail sauce. Mix in shrimp, and lightly toss in avocado. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like more of a kick, add in a dash of fresh horseradish, minced jalapeno or hot sauce. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Serve in martini or wine glass and garnish with a sprig of cilantro or lime wedge. Serves 8.

Happy Monday to you!


What's Growing in My Garden this Winter

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Cilantro! Late last fall I planted some cilantro in my vegetable garden. The freezes that we've had this year killed off the other herbs in the garden, but the cilantro just keeps growing. It's growing at a much slower pace than in the summer, but it's growing and it's fresh cilantro.

During the summer months I almost always have cilantro growing in the garden so I will have fresh cilantro to put in salsa, guacamole, fish tacos, and cowboy caviar. I also like to put a bit of chopped cilantro in steamed rice while it's cooking as it gives it a nice fresh flavor.

The cilantro growing in my garden this winter

If you are lucky enough to have cilantro growing in your garden this winter too, here's a good guacamole recipe with which you can use your cilantro. Be sure to have a margarita with the guacamole.



3 avocados (preferably Haas), halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped (leave seeds in for extra hot flavor)

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced


In a large bowl place the avocado and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve with tortilla chips or with tacos.




The Super Bowl is More than Just Football . . . .

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM

My husband and I spent Super Bowl weekend with our friend Julie Martin.  We figured we had been doing this for about 20 years. Most years we do not care which team wins, but we still make it a party with all the typical Super Bowl fare.


Julie had prepared the following food for us to enjoy:

Chili with cheese and Fritos

Salami, assorted cheeses and crackers

Potato skins

Cheese stuffed bread sticks

Jalapeno artichoke dip


Spinach dip

Cajun popcorn

Salsa, cream cheese and tortilla chips

Fruit platter

Brownies (for our sweet tooth)

Brown sugar smokies

Sweet and sour chicken wings

Julie Martin's 2010 Super Bowl spread

A new recipe for us this year was brown sugar smokies. These were little smokie sausages wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and then baked. YUM!!

But our all time favorite is the sweet and sour chicken wings.  They are sweet and sticky and fall off the bone.  The recipe is below.

~Wendy Howe~


Sweet and sour chicken wings

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings


2 lbs. chicken wings

1 package onion soup mix

2 – 18 oz. jars apricot pineapple preserves


Mix the jars of preserves with the package of onion soup mix. Cut off the bony wing tips and discard.  Cut each wing in half at the joint.  Place them in a single layer in a greased, shallow 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with the preserves mixture. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Trader Joe's: Making Entertaining Easy

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 8, 2010 at 11:13 AM

This is NOT a paid advertisement for Trader Joes, I just happen to love the place

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your town, you can take advantage of their already prepared or ready to heat and serve entrees, appetizers, and desserts to make entertaining easier and impress your guests. If you do use TJ’s convenience foods when you are entertaining, you can use the time that you’ve saved for cleaning, decorating, or to make one extra special homemade dish.


I serve a lot of Trader Joe’s foods at my parties and my guests have loved them all. One of the cashiers at Trader Joe’s told me that since she started working at TJ’s, invitations to parties have really increased and she believes it is due to the hosts knowing she will bring TJ’s appetizers.


Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers are excellent. Some of my guests’ favorites have been the chicken cilantro wontons that I served with TJ’s sweet chili sauce, the parmesan pastry pups (new this Christmas season), and the flatbread pizza with fresh basil pesto. The frozen meatballs are always a hit and I have served them in the TJ’s sweet chili sauce and other times have served them in the cranberry sauce for meatballs recipe from our cookbook. (See the recipe below or on page 61 in the cookbook.)


In the deli section you can find TJ’s fresh bruchetta. Among other things, this versatile sauce can be used as a dip, served on bread like traditional bruchetta, or over pasta. This sauce tastes great.


One of my favorites in the meat section is the cranberry apple stuffed turkey breast. I have served this at a few luncheons and my guests were very impressed with my cooking abilities.


Trader Joe’s has a good variety of frozen desserts and most of them just have to be thawed and they are ready to go. Some of the desserts are fairly small, so sometimes I will buy a few of them and display them on tiered plates or cake stands.

Besides great food, Trader Joe's has a great floral section. I like to have fresh flowers and live plants around when I am entertaining and TJ's is the place to get them. There are mixed floral bouquets and live plants, such as orchids. Besides being of very good quality, they are also very inexpensive.


Trader Joe’s has quite a following and there have been a few cookbooks written that feature the foods from Trader Joe’s. Some of the titles of these cookbooks are, The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook: More Than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Only Foods from the World's Greatest Grocery Store, Cooking with All ThingsTrader Joe’s, and Three Months at Trader Joe's - A Lifestyle Odyssey. If you go to Amazon.com and do a search on Trader Joe’s, it’s pretty surprising to see the results. There is also a Trader Joe’s fan club. Here is the link to their website http://www.traderjoesfan.com/.  You can also find the fan club on Facebook.



Trader Joe's has a website where you can locate stores in your area, find recipes and locate products that are gluten free, vega, kosher, fat free, etc.  You can find Trader Joe's website here: http://www.traderjoes.com/index.html

As promised, here is the cranberry sauce for meatballs that you can use with Trader Joe’s meatballs or any meatballs for that matter.

~merry carter~


Cranberry Sauce for Meatballs, Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Recipe submitted to the cookbook by Del Shult Neely


1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon hot water

1 (16-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice

4 dozen prepared meatballs


Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl; stir until smooth. In a large skillet, combine the cranberry sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the meatballs. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole, cover, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cover the dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the meatballs are warmed through. Serve warm.


Ringing in the New Year with Cowboy Caviar

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar is a common recipe that can be found in many cookbooks or recipe websites. This version found in The Holm Family Cookbook was served at Heritage Oak Winery for the First Anniversary Party in January 2009. The recipe is perfect for ringing in the New Year with the black eyed peas that are believed to bring good luck. Cowboy caviar is full of healthy ingredients and goes well with Heritage Oak’s Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.  I prefer to use red wine vinegar, green onions, less corn (11 oz) and only one avocado. You can substitute pinto or black beans for the black-eyed peas called for in the recipe. I like to use the scoop chips when serving this recipe.  ~Susie Calhoun~


Cowboy Caviar, serves 12

Recipe submitted to the cookbook by Nancy Mueller

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and minced

2 firm, ripe avocados, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 red onion, finely chopped

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 to 6 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 (6-ounce) bag tortilla chips


In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, and pepper. Add the avocado to

the vinegar mixture and gently toss. Add the peas, corn, onion, cilantro, and tomatoes

to the avocado mixture; mix gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a

dish and serve with the tortilla chips.


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