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. .

Back in the Kitchen

I have been missing from many of my usual places due to a fall and vertebral fracture, with complications that have made me grateful others were doing the cooking!  Part of my treatment is being encased in a bulky cast/brace, no bending, twisting, or lifting. So my contributions to meals have been limited. I have missed Kitchen Keepers posting, so as I return, I would like to sort through my collection of cookbooks, clippings, and family favorites from years past, picking a few to share. Going through old recipes is something I enjoy and rarely have time to indulge in, so this will be fun. I hope you will see one or two you want to try. Almost all of these will have a story!

In 1986, our family made a big change. That was the year that Sean graduated from Plano Senior High School in Plano, TX. It was also the year Joe took a position with ARCO International with headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. He began working in LA soon after the first of the year while the boys and I stayed in Plano for Sean’s senior year finish and to get our house on the market. While Joe looked for a new home for us in California and I readied our family and household for the move. Sean would come with us for the summer, but return to Texas to enter North Texas State University in the fall. We did not know it at the time, but our move to Thousand Oaks, CA would be for just over a year. By Fall the following year,  Joe, Jeremy, Ben, and I were headed to our next home in Jakarta, Indonesia!

During the year that we lived at 347 Bethany Street in Thousand Oaks, we were glad to have Don and Brenda Mann and their daughter, Donna, as neighbors. They and their friend Myrna invited us to begin a supper club, one evening a month where we ate at each others’ homes. It was called Gourmet Dinner. The host for the evening prepared most of the food; others brought an appetizer and dessert. Myrna Bates kindly printed the recipes from March 26, 1987 at our home. I  made Shrimp Toulouse, an item then  on the menu at Court of Two Sisters restaurant in New Orleans, LA. I also served  Baked Rice and Artichokes, Green Beans Rotel, and a cold asparagus salad.  One of the guests brought a hot clam dip and Myrna provided dessert – Eclairs with Praline Sauce.

Shrimp Toulouse

1/4 lb. butter

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1/4 cup diced pimientos

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste

Draw butter, add green peppers, shallots, celery, pimiento, mushrooms, and shrimp. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add wine, salt, and pepper and simmer additional 5 minutes. Add parsley and serve over toast or in patty shells. Serves 6.

 

 

Pico de Gallo Egg Muffins

This breakfast muffin recipe has a number of reasons to be a keeper: ease of preparation, good flavor, nutritious, and the advantage of offering many variations just by switching out any ingredient except the eggs! Choose from a list of fresh herbs from your garden, greens like chopped kale and spinach, diced veggies, or add some crumbled cooked sausage or bacon. The muffins keep well in the refrigerator if you want to keep a few to reheat for a busy morning. Joe likes pico de gallo on anything, so he was my reason for trying this combination. In Mexican food, pico de gallo, also called salsa fresca or salsa cruda, is made from chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, serrano peppers, salt, and lime juice, so using this means there is plenty of flavor. But you can use your favorite condiments to add flavor to other combinations.

Pico de Gallo Egg Muffins

(For one 12-cup muffin pan)

9 large eggs, more if using smaller eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup pico de gallo, drained (may use purchased or make your own)

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin tin cups with cooking spray. I like to break the eggs into a large Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring lip. Whisk eggs, add salt and pepper, and set aside. Drain the pico de gallo and pat with a paper towel, then divide evenly into the muffin cups. Sprinkle with grated cheese, then pour egg mixture into muffin cups until each is about 3/4 full. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before removing to serving plate. You can refrigerate or freeze the egg muffins if needed for later use. I like to serve these with sliced avocado or fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Dumplings

Recently when I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables for Chicken and Dumplings, I wondered if I had ever shared that dish in a post for Kitchen Keepers. I thought I surely must have since it is Joe’s frequent request, but I have not, so here is our favorite version. I have sometimes used fresh herbs, and even tried making scratch dumplings, but this one using refrigerated canned biscuits always gets the most votes. Comfort food, made in my grandmother’s soup pot, it is Southern fare sure to warm hearts and bodies on cold nights!

Chicken and Dumplings

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)
2 teaspoons Penzey’s Fox Point (a blend of garlic, dill, chives, and salt)

1 carton chicken broth (4 cups)

3 cups shredded cooked chicken (leftover rotisserie chicken works great!)

1 can refrigerated canned biscuits
salt and black pepper to taste
In a heavy soup pot, heat olive oil and add chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Saute 3-4 minutes, then add spices, chicken broth and chicken. Bring to low boil and cook until carrots are fork tender. Open biscuits, and tear each biscuit into small pieces, dropping into simmering broth. Reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 15 minutes.

 

Ham and Cabbage Skillet Dinner

As I posted a few weeks ago I love one dish dinners. I particularly love to make supper in a skillet. The photos look almost the same! Both contain cabbage but the remaining ingredients are very different. We cut the last small cabbages from our winter garden so this is one of the results. You may want to vary the time for cooking the carrot and cabbage in the beginning. We like vegetables still crunchy, but cook longer if you want them fork tender.

Ham and Cabbage Skillet Dinner

2 cups chopped ham

1 Apple, peeled and chopped

3 Carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2 large head or 1 small green cabbage

1/2 tsp Black pepper

1 1/2 tsp Caraway seeds

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tbsp Cider vinegar

2 tbsp Olive oil

1/2 cup White wine
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and carrot and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times. Add wine and simmer for 1 minute. Add ham, apple, vinegar, caraway, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring, or until cabbage and apples are tender and most of the liquid has been reduced.

 

Egg Roll Skillet Supper

 

I love one dish dinners. I particularly love to make supper in a skillet. You can serve this right from the pan on the stove for individual portions, or put your favorite trivet on the table, add the skillet full of all these delicious flavors and a big spoon. I promise, it won’t last long. Our family liked this so much we will try it again soon. There are variations all over social media. We like adding red pepper flakes or chili sauce.  This is carb and gluten free, but if you like you can add chow mein noodles for crunch.

Egg Roll Skillet Supper

1 pound ground pork sausage
6 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon ginger minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often to crumble, until cooked through. Do not drain. Add the coleslaw mix, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to the skillet with the sausage. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until cabbage has softened a bit. Remove from heat, add green onions and drizzle with sesame oil.

Tamale Omelet

 

 

I think one of the reasons I have fun with cooking is being unafraid to use what I have and put things together in new ways. Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, raised by parents who experienced the depression and came from families that ate well but simply from food they mostly raised or grew at home, I use our leftovers – just not always reheated and in the same way they came to the table the first time. One of our Christmas traditions is going to church on Christmas Eve and coming home to tamales. We have had tamales of all kinds, but living in South Texas provides a big variety of choices. This year, we bought homemade tamales from a neighbor whose parents make them. We had hot pork and mild pork tamales, bean and cheese, and jalapeno and cheese! The 4 dozen we actually prepared turned out to be way more than were eaten on 12/24. One reason was the size of those tamales. They were all delicious. And big!  One way I used a few of the remaining tamales was in this omelet for breakfast a couple of days later.  Certainly worth remembering and repeating!

Tamale Omelet

This recipe makes 2 smaller omelets, but it is simple to add more eggs and more tamales!

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon butter or light splash of olive oil

2 pork tamales, cut into rounds

sea salt

1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or queso fresco

Tabasco sauce (optional)

Melt butter or heat oil in iron skillet. Whisk eggs and pour into pan. Lift edges to allow egg mixture to cook. As eggs begin to set, place tamale rounds around the edge and into center. Sprinkle lightly with salt and shredded cheese. Fold in half and cut into 2 pieces and serve.  Pass Tabasco or your favorite salsa.

 

 

Acorn Squash with Orange Marmalade

Acorn Squash is a family favorite, particularly at this time of year. I usually bake it using the recipe called Christmas Squash posted a long time ago in this blog.  I made this side to go with grilled smoked sausage last week. It is quickly and simply prepared and looks wonderful on the table. It tastes even better than it looks!

Acorn Squash with Orange Marmalade

3 medium Acorn Squash

3 Tablespoons melted butter

6 Tablespoons Orange Marmalade

Cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in halves vertically, scoop out seeds and fiber. Place cut side down in baking pan with 1/4 – 1/2 inch water, place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, turn right side up. Brush inside each squash half with melted butter, sprinkle lightly with seas salt, then add 1 Tablespoon marmalade.  Sprinkle with Penzey’s Pico Fruta or plain cinnamon.  Return to oven until squash is tender and begins to brown, about 10 minutes. For faster browning, place under broiler briefly.

 

Pumpkin Tarts with Amaretto Whipped Cream

One of the desserts we shared on Thanksgiving goes in my Keepers file because it is traditional and elegant, yet so simple. I made my favorite pumpkin pie filling and poured it into purchased graham cracker crust tins, then topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Delicious plain but try adding a splash of vanilla or Amaretto to the cream when it is whipped!

Pumpkin Pie Filling

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

1 Tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using bowl of electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, condensed milk, and pumpkin puree. Mix on medium speed until well blended. Add butter and mix again. In a separate bowl, combine flour, ginger, spices, and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix until combined.

Pour filling into unbaked pie crust or tart shells and bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is set. Cool before serving with sweetened whipped cream, flavored if you wish.

 

Hamburger Soup

This recipe exists in many variations, born of both the yearning for a bowl of good hot soup on chilly days and the habit of checking pantry and refrigerator and producing a nourishing meal out of what is often kept as staples in a well used kitchen. We recently enjoyed a large pot of this soup, had some for lunch the next day, and put the rest into the freezer for a quick meal when needed. Ree Drummond in her blog The Pioneer Woman, calls her version of this soup Hamburger Soup. It is delicious with any name. Try varying the vegetables and spices. This recipe makes a large amount, so plan to share or freeze a batch.

Hamburger Soup

  • 3 pounds Ground Chuck
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 6 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can or box (26 – 28 ounce) Can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups Beef Stock Or Beef Broth, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 6 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 Potatoes, peeled and cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, More To Taste
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat.. Remove from heat and drain excess fat.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and stir. Return the pot to heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 15-20 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender

Soup should be thick, but if you like,  add 1 to 2 cups more broth and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.

Serve with corn bread muffins.

At Table

The table, before being a piece of furniture, marks an existential experience and a rite. It is the foremost place of the family, of communion and kinship. Meals are shared; there is the joy of gathering, of well-being without pretense, and of direct communion, which translates into uncensored commentary on daily activities and local, national, and international news.

A meal is more than just something material. It is the sacrament of reunion and communion. The food is appreciated and is the object of praise. The greatest joy of the cook is to note the satisfaction of the diners.

But we should recognize that the table is also a place of tensions and conflicts, where matters are debated openly, where differences are spelled out and agreements can be established, where disturbing silences also exist that reveal a collective malaise. Contemporary culture has so changed the sense of daily time as a result of work and productivity that it has weakened the symbolic sense of the table. This has been set aside for Sundays or special moments such as birthdays or anniversaries when family members and friends get together. But, as a general rule, it has ceased to be the fixed point of convergence of the family. Unfortunately, the table has been substituted by fast food, a quick meal that makes nutrition possible but not table fellowship.

Table fellowship is so crucial that it is linked to the very essence of the human being as human. … Ethno-biologists and archaeologists call our attention to an interesting fact: when our anthropoid ancestors went out to gather fruit and seeds, to hunt and to fish, they did not eat individually what they were able to collect. They took the food and brought it to the group. And thus they practiced table fellowship – distributing the food among themselves and eating as a group.

Therefore, table fellowship, which assumes solidarity and cooperation with one another, enabled the first leap from animality to humanity. It was only a beginning step, but a decisive one, because it initiated a basic characteristic of the human species that sets it apart from most other species – table fellowship, solidarity, and cooperation in the act of eating. And that small distinction makes all the difference.

That table fellowship that made us human yesterday continues to renew us as human beings today. Therefore it is important to set aside time for the meal in its full meaning of table fellowship and free and disinterested conversation. It is one of the permanent sources of renewal for today’s anemic humanity.


From Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People chapter forty-two.

As written by Leonardo Boff, “Table Fellowship: Rebuilding Humanity,” trans. Anne Fullerton, April 18, 2008, http://www.leonardoboff.com.