Thursday, December 25, 2008

Menu For Hope V Deadline Extended!

Great news! If you've been too busy with all the holiday festivities and thought you missed your chance to get in on this year's Menu for Hope raffle, you're in luck:

Pim at Chez Pim says:
Menu for Hope campaign extended to Dec. 31st

We are doing so well considering the economic climate, let's see if we could raise a little bit more money if we extended the campaign for a few more days. The new deadline for Menu for Hope raffle is December 31st, midnight PDT.

Thank you so much for your support, and happy holidays to you and yours.

Be sure to see the Master List of Prizes and then go to Firstgiving to bid on all the great prizes - including UE21, a beautiful Lemongrass 5 1/2 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven offered by Cora Cooks.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Easy Homemade Chocolate Turtles from Dianna

Our neighbors are the best! In the summer we are the lucky recipients of fresh produce from their gardens. And at Christmas we get homemade goodies.

Kenny and Phyllis brought us homemade salsa with some chips - DELICIOUS! Jim and Becky brought us some of their incredible homemade cannelloni in a lovely homemade tomato sauce. And Dan and Dianna have delivered a jar of beautiful black bean salsa with a bag of red and green tortilla chips - and - these yummy chocolate turtles. When she told me how easy the recipe was for the turtles, I made her bring the whole container over for a picture.

I just love recipes that are so easy to make and so delicious and so cute! We feel fortunate to have found neighbors like ours who know that simple, homemade Christmas treats make the best gifts ever!

Oh, and we're giving them each a bag of Sugar and Spice Pecans, of course. Great minds think alike!

Dianna's Easy Chocolate Turtles
1 bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped
Pecan halves (three per caramel)
2 12 oz. bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cake Paraffin

On a baking sheet, place two pecan halves side by side (touching).
Place a Kraft caramel on top of the pecans (in the center).
Bake at 200 for 25 minutes.
Place another pecan half on top, pressing down to smash the caramel.
Refrigerate these for awhile for easier dipping.
In double boiler, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and paraffin.
Dip turtles in chocolate and put on wax paper to set.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fresh Green Salad With Crispy Wontons

Gobbled enough turkey? Stuffed full of dressing? Side-lined by heaping dishes of potatoes, corn and cranberries?

Rich and delicious holiday foods sometimes need a little something to lighten things up a bit. We always have a fresh green salad at our holiday meals, and our favorite is known to us as Sandy Salad, named for my sister-in-law-in-law who makes it for family gatherings. Her sister, my sister-in-law, now makes it for our family gatherings.

Even if you are confused about the familial relationships here, don't be confused about this salad. It is always a big hit and, in fact, is something many of us crave when there are a few too many good, rich dishes on the table. I also crave it in the middle of winter, when a big bowl of lettuce can be like a mini vacation to warmer climates, especially with some grilled chicken or shrimp on top.


2 heads romaine lettuce
1 bunch green onions
1 red bell pepper
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 pkg. won ton wrappers

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 tbsp. peanut oil
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 tsp. Accent (optional)
1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Mix dressing and refrigerate for at least 24 hrs. Chop lettuce, onion and pepper. Fry wonton wraps in oil over medium heat. Drain and cool. Break into bite size pieces. Toss everything with dressing just before serving.

Note: This is a perfect make ahead and take along dish. Store the dressing in a jar at room temperature. Store the crispy fried wontons in an airtight bag or container at room temperature. Store the salad chopped ingredients in a bag in the refrigerator or in an insulated cooler. When ready to serve, just toss ingredients together in a big bowl.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Wow! I just noticed that this is my 100th post! Hooray for me!

When I realized it was only eight days until Christmas, I knew it was time for this particular Menu Wednesday. Besides being short, sweet and easy, it works for almost any meal or entertaining you have planned for these last few busy days before Christmas. And maybe the best part for me when I make both of these dishes is remembering my friends Pat and Gayle, who gave me these recipes so long ago. I am fortunate to still count them as friends, and even though I don't see them as often as I would like, at this time of year I look forward to receiving their Christmas cards and catching up on their news. Friends - and recipes! - are truly gifts that keep on giving!

Next Wednesday will be Christmas Eve and I'll be working all day at my 'shop girl job' and then having a quiet dinner with my parents, my brothers, my sister-in-law, and of course, My Favorite Husband. The newlyweds will be with Kristen's family for Christmas Eve, and then with us on Christmas Day. I'm sure all of you will be as busy as I am, so we'll be taking a day off at Menu Wednesday. Check back here on New Year's Eve though, to see what we'll be serving up for 2009!

Until then, take a look at the recipes for Quiche and Hot Baked Fruit AND have a Holly Jolly Christmas with your family and friends, near and far!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cora Cooks Supports Chez Pim and Food Bloggers Around the World with Menu for Hope V

I promised you more information about the participation of Cora Cooks in the food blog fundraiser known as Menu for Hope V - so here it is.

This is the fifth December that Pim Techamuanvivit, who blogs about food from around the world at Chez Pim, has gathered her food blogger friends to help raise money for a worthy cause. Last year's raffle raised over $90,000!

Of course, since we are food bloggers, we want to help with - what else - FOOD! So, by donating all manner of interesting food related items, and then posting the raffle on our blogs, we share comfort and joy with food. This year, for the second year in a row, donations will go toward helping the UN's World Food Program feed lunches to hungry young school children in Lesotho, South Africa.

As a new-ish food blogger, who has only met a few of my fellow food bloggers in person, I am so honored to offer this beautiful Lemongrass Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. Dutch Oven - remember #UE21 - for the raffle, and a chance for my fantastic readers - that's YOU! - to participate too!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just go look at all the prizes and decide what I want to bid on, while you read all about how it works:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope. The Cora Cooks prize is #UE21.

2. Go to the donation site at First Giving and make a donation.

3. Each $10 raffle ticket you donate will give you one chance toward a prize of your choice. Of course, you can purchase as many chances as you like.

Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section on the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.

For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02

4. If your company or employer matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we can claim the corporate match.

5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you - just in case you WIN!. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

6. Winners will also be announced on Chez Pim in January.

7. Go to the Master List of Prizes to see all the prizes for bidding. You can also check out prizes at each regional host blog:

Europe *including* the UK
Sara of Ms.Adventures in Italy

US: West Coast
Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites

US: East Coast
Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen

Meena Agarwal of Hooked on Heat

Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand
Ed Charles of Tomato

and, last but not least, our special Wine Blog Host
Alder of Vinography

Or, if you're ready to give now, just go to our donation site at FirstGiving.

This year I am hopeful the readers of Cora Cooks will join in this wonderful opportunity to help Pim and this community of food bloggers to give the gift of food to the United Nation's World Food Program.

We all thank you for your support!


I'm so excited, I can't wait! Click here to find out about Menu for Hope V and I'll be back later today to tell you what I donated and how you can bid! Oh, OK! If you just can't wait to see, head over to Jaden's Steamy Kitchen to see the list of items being offered by East Coast food bloggers, including one from Cora Cooks - item UE21. Your kitchen needs it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sugar & Spice Pecans - A Gift With Good Taste

Sugar & Spice Pecans are one of my Christmas essentials. I usually order a big box of pecans from Georgia and make batch after batch for gifts and for keeping. If I store them in airtight containers in the freezer, they last all year and are handy for snacks, hostess gifts and especially adding to salads or ice cream. Pack them is small decorated clear cellophane bags and add one to your wrapped gifts as an extra touch. Fill a big basket of little bags of Sugar & Spice Pecans tied with pretty ribbons and hand them out to the mail carrier, UPS driver, FEDEX driver, florist delivery person or anyone else who comes to your door during the holiday season - a wonderful thank you for all their hard work helping Santa to make all our wishes come true.

3/4 cup sugar
1 egg white
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 pounds fresh pecan halves

Combine first 8 ingredients in a very large bowl; mix well with wire whisk. Add pecans; stir until evenly coated. Spread pecans into a greased 15x10x1” jellyroll pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 50-55 minutes; stir once while baking. Remove to waxed paper while still warm; cool. Store in an airtight container. These make a great gift in pretty cellophane bags tied with ribbons. Serve in a bowl for snacking, in salads, or on top of ice cream.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cookie Exchange - No Boys Allowed (Except Gingerbread Men!)

(My monthly food column for Heartland Women)
December 2008

One time, when I was in high school, I accompanied my mother to a party at our neighbor’s house during the Christmas holidays. The party was in the afternoon, and it was for women only. I smugly left a houseful of brothers behind. That alone, I thought, was reason enough for any party.

Each guest arrived, carrying a large box or basket, went directly to the dining room table to deposit her box, and then joined the party. Soon the living room was full of women drinking coffee and engaging in lively conversations. Lovely, I said to myself, a room full of people who all seem to get along well with others, don’t push and shove, and smell good too.

The hostesses emerged from the kitchen with refreshments and inched their way through the room holding out trays full of a huge variety of Christmas cookies. “Ohhs” and “Ahhs” were heard throughout the room as we enjoyed sampling the holiday inspired goodies. How civilized, I observed, no grabbing, no mouths crammed full and spewing crumbs, and no cookies ground into the carpet.

The array was so dazzling that it was almost impossible to choose. Even at that age, and with more than a passing acquaintance with the time and energy it took to feed a house full of hungry people, I marveled that they must have been baking cookies for weeks!

There I was, surrounded by a delightful group of women, enjoying the conversation and the attention – lots of talking, lots of laughter, and lots and lots of cookies . . . and no brothers anywhere. Little did I know, the day was destined for greatness beyond anything I could imagine. Our hostesses quieted the crowded room and announced it was time to move to the dining room. I was filled with wonder . . . all this and there’s more?

The doors opened, and before us, the dining room table was covered with an enormous array of cookies – tray after tray, each piled high with a single kind of cookie. Chocolate cookies, iced cookies, shaped cookies, red cookies, green cookies, round cookies, filled cookies, bar cookies and more cookies. “It’s unbelievable!” I may have gasped audibly.

It was a cookie exchange! Our instructions were to reclaim our own box or basket and fill it with the same number of cookies we had brought with us when we arrived, that were now filling the trays on the table. It crossed my mind as I helped my mother refill our box, that I would remember this day for a long time, and so would my brothers when they found out about it . . . and I was very sure they would find out about it.

What a day it was! My mother had spent a couple of hours baking just one batch of cookies, she and I had enjoyed a delightful afternoon together with her friends and with no boys allowed, and we returned with an amazing variety of cookies to graciously share – enough to satisfy every sweet tooth in our house. Yes, I sighed to myself, this was pretty much my idea of a perfect day.

My final thought about that day . . . There is much to be learned in the company of wise and generous women.

Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours!

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Blend in remaining ingredients. Fill cookie press with 1/4 of the dough at a time; form into desired shapes on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6-9 minutes, or until set, but not brown.

2/3 c. peanut butter
1 c. softened butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 2/3 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar for coating cookies
4 – 5 doz. Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped

Beat butter and peanut butter until well blended. Add sugars; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; mix well. Add flour, soda, salt and mix until well blended. Use level tablespoon to scoop cookie mixture; shape into balls. Fill small bowl or plate with 1 c. sugar and roll each cookie to coat. Place cookie balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and press one Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie; return to oven and bake 2 minutes longer. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on racks to cool.

1 box crushed vanilla wafers
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 stick butter, melted
1 box confectioner’s sugar
coconut - optional

Mix together. Form into balls. Roll in coconut or more powdered sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla extract until thick and foamy. Add sugar gradually and beat until stiff. Fold in chips, and optional nuts. Drop cookies from teaspoon onto a cookie sheet covered with an ungreased sheet of aluminum foil, forming small, peaked points resembling miniature snow tipped mountains. Place in preheated 350-degree oven. TURN OFF OVEN. Leave oven door closed with cookies inside for several hours or overnight.

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 c. sugar, eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls. Mix the 2 tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.


2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 c. flour
1 tbsp. lemon extract

Add sugar to slightly beaten eggs and then add milk. Sift flour before measuring, then together with salt. Stir into first mixture and beat until smooth – about the consistency of heavy cream. Add flavoring. Allow batter to stand about 2 hours covered in the refrigerator before frying. Pour batter into a shallow bowl or pan to allow room for the double rosette iron. Heat three inches of oil in a heavy pan to 365 degrees – use a candy thermometer. Place the rosette iron into the hot oil for about a minute. Then dip the hot iron into the batter, being careful that the batter does not go over the top of the iron. Place the battered iron into the hot oil and fry for about 30 seconds, or until it is light brown. Remove iron from oil and drop rosette onto paper towel to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool. Store in an airtight container.

Note: Rosettes are traditional at Christmas, but molds are available in other seasonal or holiday shapes. Rosettes can also be used as decorations on cakes.

Pastry cups:
1/2 c. butter
3 oz. cream cheese
1 c. flour

Blend ingredients and form into 24 balls. Using tiny muffin pans (do not grease pan) shape each ball to fit in pan forming little cups.

Filling mixture:
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

semi-sweet chocolate chips
chocolate sprinkles

Combine brown sugar, butter, salt, egg and vanilla. Place four chocolate chips into each pastry cup and add the filling mixture. Sprinkle top with chocolate sprinkles. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. When cool, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.


1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites – slightly beaten
1 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

Cream butter; add sugar gradually. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Blend in flour and salt. Shape level teaspoons of dough into balls; dip in egg whites and then into pecans. Place on greased cookie sheet Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove and make a depression in center of each cookie. Return to oven; bake about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool before topping with Butter Frosting.

Butter Frosting:
3 tbsp. softened butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. cream
1 tsp. vanilla
red food coloring
green food coloring

Blend butter, sugar, cream and vanilla; beat until smooth. Divide frosting into two bowls; tint one with red food coloring and one with green food coloring. Place a dab of frosting on each cookie.

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 heaping c. flour
raspberry jam

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and blend. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Make into balls about the size of walnuts. Put deep thumbprints into ball and fill with jam. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. butterscotch chips
2 cans (5 oz. size) chow mein noodles

Spread wax paper on cookie sheets or trays. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a double boiler or in the microwave (be sure not to overheat in the microwave – chips are melted even when they appear to still be solid!). Stir in chow mein noodles and coat thoroughly. Drop by tablespoon onto wax paper. Let sit until firm and dry.

1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
food coloring - optional

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt, one cup at a time. Adjust amount of flour, if mixture becomes too dry. Divide dough into portions. Add food coloring, if desired, and work into dough thoroughly. Roll each portion of dough into a log; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove one dough log at a time to slice and bake on cookie sheet – warm dough will cause cookies to spread out too much. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet before removing.
Note: Dough may also be rolled out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Follow same procedure for keeping dough refrigerated, placing on cookie sheet and baking.

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. soft shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light molasses
1 egg yolk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix shortening, sugar and molasses until creamy. Add egg yolk. Beat well. Blend in flour mixture. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men. On ungreased cookie sheet, place cookie dough cutouts 1/2-inch apart. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until done. Cool. Decorate with frosting, if desired.
Note: Poke a hole near the top of the cookie after placing on cookie sheet, if you want to tie with string to hang on Christmas tree. The scent is wonderful!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Hello there! I've already got the menu ready for this week. Please don't worry about how tired I'll be at work tomorrow.

This week's menu is especially for my favorite painter who is down in Costa Rica enjoying warm weather and fresh fish. I'm sure he's looking for some new recipes - either that or there is someone else reading my blog in Costa Rica!

If you've never tried fish tacos, you are in for a treat! During the summer, I like to cook the fish and warm the tortillas on the grill, but they also cook up very nicely when sauteed or baked inside. In Mexico, this is street or beach food and doesn't really need any side dishes, but for eating at home, I've added some delicious and nutritious pinto beans and a little dessert to complete the menu.

Do you think Eldon will make these for his friends in Costa Rica?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goat Cheese With Pesto and Sundried Tomato Christmas Appetizer

8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
4 oz. log of goat cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. prepared basil pesto
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Process first five ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture in bottom of a medium (2-3 cup) bowl that has been lined with plastic wrap. Top with pesto. Spread second 1/3 of cheese mixture over pesto. Sprinkle with sun dried tomatoes. Top with last 1/3 of cheese mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. To serve: Remove top wrap and invert on a plate. Carefully remove plastic wrap. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Last week there was no post for Menu of the Week, since my lightning quick mind jumped to the conclusion that almost everyone was preoccupied with Thanksgiving Dinner for the next day.

This week it's late, but there is a new Menu of the Week set of recipes for you to try, along with a shopping list including everything you need to make the entire meal.

I had a leftover ham bone from Thanksgiving, and that always means Sally's Black Bean Soup is on the menu at our house. I love, love, love this soup and how it makes enough for an army. I always freeze it for fast, easy, hearty meals throughout the long winter months. The recipe is included, just as I received it from my dear friend Sally, but I've been known to crank up the cumin and the sherry when I make it. I've also added some suggested garnishes. I like it plain, but many black bean soups are served with some extras - a plus for appearance and additional nutrients. Also, black bean soup is often served with rice, but I prefer corn bread with mine -- feel free to choose one, or both!

A one dish meal of hearty dishes like bean soup and cornbread seems to need something with fruit for dessert, so I've included a simple recipe for a dump cake variation. Fresh apples are easy enough to find during the winter, but canned apples make this a recipe you can pull out of the pantry at a moment's notice. Once again, I've left the decision up to you about the possibility of topping for the apple cake!

The recipes and shopping list are always included for Menu of the Week, just be sure to adjust the list for any garnishes or toppings you choose, since I've added them all to the shopping list with notes that they are optional choices. Also, be sure to check you pantry for items you may have on hand already - like a big meaty ham bone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Bits and Pieces Frittata

By Sunday morning, we were down to the nubs of Thanksgiving leftovers. My brother-in-law, Scott, was determined to throw everything together for breakfast -- and boy did he! He used a wide variety of leftover bits and pieces from some really great holiday meals to create an absolutely delicious - and beautiful! - frittata. While this particular one can never be duplicated exactly, it is still worth mentioning the combination of flavors and technique to point out how easy it is to use up bits and pieces of seemingly unmatched foods and turn them into something wonderful. I'm sure you'll be sorry you don't have some of these same leftovers, but open up your own fridge and have at it. It was a delicious brunch, but it would also be a great dinner of leftovers. Thanks Scott!

1/3 c. bits of ham
1/3 c.pieces of barbecue pork
1/3 c.chunks of smoked turkey
1/3 diced Italian salami
1/3 c. finely chopped raw carrots
1/3 minced raw broccoli
1/3 finely sliced raw snow peas
In a large non-stick frying pan, saute hard salami for a minute or two, then add ham, then add turkey, then add barbecue pork and continue cooking for another minute or two until hard salami begins to brown. Add vegetable bits and saute briefly; pour meat and vegetable mixtures into a bowl and reserve. Beat eggs in a bowl and pour into same frying pan; stir and scramble over low heat until partially cooked. Add reserved meat and vegetable mixture over top of scrambled eggs, so it looks like a pizza. Cover eggs and continue to cook over low heat until set - about 10 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until all liquid evaporates (cut small slits with the corner of a spatula all around the frittata to release the moisture from underneath). Slide frittata onto a plate and slice into wedges to serve.