About Mary Ann

Kitchen Keepers is a blog for sharing good memories, good stories and good recipes. I have been asked to record family recipes which have been favorites for many years, adding to their story every time they are prepared and enjoyed as well as those newcomers which have their own story. Since I believe growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art which is worthy of passing on, I am pleased to begin. Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me. For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring. Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space. .

Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These bites of goodness disappeared so fast I almost did not get a picture!

Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

8 ounces plain goat cheese

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (leaves stripped from stalk and finely chopped)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or tot taste

1/2 cup crushed corn chips

15-20 Baby Bella mushrooms, stems and gills removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small mixing bowl, blend goat cheese, herbs, and salt. Mix well to combine
Wash the mushrooms and pat them dry. Remove the stems and the gills. Scoop the  goat cheese mixture into the mushroom caps, sprinkle with crushed corn chips, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on top. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before serving.



Pepperoni and Spinach Eggs

I look for ways to add vegetables, particularly leafy greens, to our meals. We enjoyed this made up on the spot dish for breakfast recently, but it would also be good for a light lunch or late supper.  Add a slice of crusty French bread if you like, but whole grain toast was just right for our early breakfast.

Pepperoni and Spinach Eggs for Two

4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2 eggs

8-10 slices pepperoni

Heat olive oil in an iron skillet, add onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add spinach, tossing and cooking until spinach is wilted.  Break eggs into cooking spinach, scatter with pepperoni slices, and cover for 3-4 minutes, or until eggs are as done as you wish. Remove from skillet to serving plates and add slices of crisp whole grain toast.


Double Chocolate Muffins

I understand that the main difference in muffins and cupcakes is that muffins have less sugar. Of course, cupcakes usually have frosting!  But Nora does not think either is tasty unless it is chocolate.  She helped me make these muffins starting with picking out a recipe, so she was doubly delighted to hear they were double chocolate!

Double Chocolate Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Line muffin tins with paper liners. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Place the remaining wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined , batter will be slightly lumpy. Fill muffin cups  2/3 full . Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are dark and spring back when touched on top.

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has a twist of flavor provided by contrasting tastes of capers, golden raisins, and red onions. With the addition of yellow peppers, Kalamata olives, and fresh basil, it is also a nutritious and colorful addition to the table. When I make it, I remember a Bow Tie (farfalle) salad I once had at a tea room near Shadows on the Teche  in New Iberia Louisiana. Set among towering live oak trees draped with Spanish moss on the banks of Bayou Teche, The Shadows, built in 1834 for sugar planter David Weeks, paints a vivid picture of life for the four generations that made this property their home,the first National Trust for Historic Preservation site in the Gulf South. I bought a cookbook in their gift shop which has been the source of many other good dishes for our family.

I have experimented with this pasta and remembered ingredients, but have never duplicated the one I ate there.

Serve with grilled chicken or meat of your choice. Top with bacon and feta cheese for a true kitchen keeper! 

Bow Tie Pasta

1 lb. farfalle, or Bow Tie Pasta

1 thin sliced red onion

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup Kalamata olives

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup capers

1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or more to taste)

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

crumbled crisp bacon for topping (optional)

Cook and drain pasta. Place in large bowl and toss with olive oil. Cool and toss again before stirring in all other ingredients. Top with crumbled feta cheese and bacon if desired.

Cilantro Chicken


This dish happened because I was able to get a large bunch of fresh cilantro at the Farmers Market last week. Chopped Cilantro in the sauce and fresh chopped cilantro scattered on top plus lime juice added a bright fresh flavor. It is not only quick and easy, but mouth watering good!  I served it with baked sweet potatoes and pan grilled zucchini (more Farmers Market goodies) but it would be good served over rice. I adapted my recipe from one I found on a site called gimmedelicious.com, and delicious it was!

Cilantro Chicken

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil

1 chopped onio

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth 

Juice of 1 lime 

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus more for topping

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup half and half 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Master Chef’s are fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”, but did you know there’s research to back it up?  Studies have found when we find food more appealing, not only do we enjoy it more we also absorb more nutrients from it.  This marinated salad is a true feast for the eyes and tastes even better than it looks!  I recently took it to a group dinner and served it in a trifle bowl that displayed all the tempting fresh veggies. The recipe makes a large amount – 10 to 12 servings, but it does keep well for several days in the refrigerator.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

cups broccoli florets

cucumbers, sliced thin

1 onion,  thinly sliced

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

1 red sweet pepper, thinly sliced

carrots, peeled, thinly sliced

3/4 cup sliced Kalamata olivess

3cup parmesan cheese, grated

teaspoon dried oregano

teaspoon dried basil

(8 ounce) bottle Italian dressing

12 ounces cherry tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and toss before serving.

Chicken Curry

My version of Chicken Curry is Javanese style, adapted from Foods Galore, a bilingual cookbook published by the American Women’s Association in Indonesia. I did not make my changes until after we returned to the U.S. after living there. I wrote my recipe on a card and although I vary the ingredients from time to time, I still use this basic recipe. When I decided to share it with you, I pulled my trusty cookbook out and looked at the original ingredients which included most of mine plus 1 cup of coconut milk from 1/2 coconut!  I am glad I have canned coconut milk now!  That recipe also created its own blend of curry powder  with turmeric, cumin, lemon grass, laos (ginger) and a red chile, crushed. I am happy to use one of Penzey’s many delicious blends of curry powder these days.

You might like to know that in Jakarta, Chicken Curry is called Ayam Kari Java. I first made this version for Joe, Ben and me on July 22, 1995.

Chicken Curry, Javanese Style

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons red chili flakes

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 onion, chopped fine

1 Tablespoon curry powder of your choice, or to taste

1 can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

Rub chicken with salt and brown oil until golden brown. Remove, add onion and garlic. When onion is beginning to brown, add ginger, cilantro, and chili flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, add curry powder. Add coconut milk, blending well. Return chicken to sauce and cook until done. Serve over rice.

Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing


Nora likes chocolate more than I do, if that is possible so we both looked forward to making this cake.  Some of my earliest memories are of being allowed to lick the bowl when Mother made a chocolate cake. She always made the icing in an iron skillet in the same way she made fudge, and as soon it was cool enough, I was allowed to have that spoon, too. Mother’s cake sometimes cracked when she put the 2nd layer on and I liked that piece best because the frosting soaked down into the cake through the crack. so when our cake cracked a bit near the edge, it was OK!  The recipes that follow were never written down for me, but I did find the cake recipe in my mother’s cookbook (given to her by her mother on Christmas, 1933.)  The fudge icing recipe is closest to the way I remember her making it. But instead of timing for a minute after the mixture boiled, she always cooked it until it was at soft-ball stage –  tested by dripping a few drops into a cup of cold water.

Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup shortening (we used Crisco)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

Cream sugar and shortening. Add vanilla and eggs; mix until well blended. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to the first mixture. Pour into two greased and floured cake pans, making the batter higher toward the edges so it rises more evenly. Bake in 375 degree oven for 39 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from pans, cool, and assemble by adding a layer of Fudge Icing between layers and frosting sides and top with the remainder.

Fudge Icing

2 cups granulated sugar

3 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

⅔ cup whole milk

½ cup (1 stick)  butter, cut into cubes

1½ teaspoons vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, and milk together in a large saucepan.Cook over medium-high heat until large bubbles form and reaches a hard boil. Boil one minute at a hard boil. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.Beat with a wooden spoon until thick and smooth.Pour over cake. It will harden as it cools.

Peking Roast

Recently, I opened a cookbook and a clipping fluttered to the counter. I do not know how long it had been there, probably used as a book marker since I am guilty of picking up napkins, grocery lists, and whatever might be at hand to mark my place. I do this with other books as well. It sometimes results in a happy surprise like this. The newsprint was old and beginning to yellow, but I recognized the neat handwriting in the corner immediately. It was a note from my Mother:  “This sounds good- like your cooking.”  I do not remember ever trying the recipe although I often use coffee as part of the liquid in making pot roasts. I also brown a roast to very dark. But I have not marinated a roast in vinegar as this recipe suggests. So I decided to try it soon for 2 reasons. I was curious. But the main reason was Mother’s note. I have been looking through recipes lately, loving the gift of those recipe cards in her handwriting.

Peking Roast

3-5 lb. Beef Roast

garlic and onion slivers

1 cup vinegar


Vegetable cooking oil

2 cups strong black coffee

2 cups water

salt and pepper

With a sharp knife, cut slits in roast and insert slivers of garlic and onion. Place the roast in a bowl and pour vinegar over it. Add enough water to cover the meat, then cover bowl and refrigerate 24 hours, basting occasionally. When ready to cook, drain liquid from meat and pat dry with a paper towel. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan or Dutch oven with cooking oil and heat. Sear the roast on all sides until very dark. Pour coffee over the roast, add water and cover. Simmer over low heat on top of the stove for 6 hours. Add salt and pepper after cooking. (If you wish to cook in a oven, bring the liquid to a boil on a stove burner, cover and place in 300 degree oven for 6 hours, adding liquid when needed.)

The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to bake it in a low oven for 6 hours instead of simmering on top of the stove. The results? A kitchen that smelled heavenly all afternoon,  roast beef that fell apart it was so tender, and delicious flavor. My mother died over 11 years ago, and long before that stopped clipping and sending recipes. But she is still giving  to me!


Broccoli Cheese Soup

2018 has brought with it a hard freeze for the South Texas Gulf Coast. Those who had gardens ready for harvest brought the bounty inside when they could. Friends who knew I liked to cook with the large outer leaves of cabbage brought me a huge beautiful head of cabbage, leaves intact. They also brought a large bunch of broccoli and a head of cauliflower.

For New Year’s Day, I made stuffed cabbage to go with our Black Eyed Peas!

The cauliflower will go into a mix of vegetables when I make chicken curry tomorrow!

And part of this lovely broccoli went into Cheese Broccoli Soup. I have posted a different recipe in the past, but this is our new favorite!

Cheese Broccoli Soup


1 large chopped onion

6 Tablespoons butter, divided (2 T for saute of onion, 4 T for making white sauce)

1/2 cup flour

4 cups half-and-half cream

4 cups chicken stock

1 lb fresh broccoli florets  (about 2 cups chopped)

1 cup carrot, diced

1./2  teaspoon nutmeg

16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste