Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!

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Homemade Marshmallows

The arrival of fall, for most of the country means cooler weather and a desire to warm oneself by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate to warm the soul.  (Of course, in Southern California where this past week we saw temperatures of 116 F it does not feel like fall, but we will be okay when you are encrusted in 3 feet of snow and we are still walking around in our shorts — I have done my time in bad climates – I grew up in Austria and spent 3 years in Washington State.. why do you think I like living in Southern California? I digress [and I am sounding cruel]:  Homemade Marshmallows no matter where you live ROCK)

My mother made marshmallows once when I was growing up and we noticed something different about it:  the marshmallows melted in the hot chocolate (unlike the store bought ones).  You will be pleased to hear that they are not difficult to make at home and your children will love you and crown you mother of the year (or father of the year if you are a father).  Food Network has a good version from Alton Brown.

Homemade Marshmallows:


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (or corn starch)


In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water and allow to sit and soften the gelatin.

In the meanwhile make the syrup:  Combine the water, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small pan and cook it until the sugar dissolves completely.  Continue cooking until a candy thermometer reads 240F then remove from heat.

Attach the whisk attachment to your mixer; and with the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the syrup into the dissolved gelatin.  Once the liquid is combined, increase the speed to high and whip it until the mixture is thickened (about 15 minutes).  Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Coat a 13x9x2″ baking dish with a non-stick spray like Pam.  Spread the marshmallow mixture into the pan, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.  Allow to set.  After it has set, turn it out onto a powder sugar coated cutting board.  Spray a pizza wheel with more Pam spray.  Cut into marshmallows.  Put into a plastic container with more powdered sugar.  Put the lid on, shake the container to coat the cut marshmallows with more powdered sugar, so they don’t stick to each other.  Store for up to 3 weeks if they last that long.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Thank you Alton Brown on the Food Network.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

I made another stuffed pepper recipe that I got from allrecipes.  I made a few changes to the recipe.  I used Jenny-O Turkey Sausage instead of ground beef, added some seasonings like garlic and oregano and used Arborio Rice, and instead of using green peppers, I used yellow and red bell peppers.  The mixture took a little longer to cook than the recipe stated, but with some patience and growling stomachs the end result was very delicious.  I am sure you will also like this rendition if you try it.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

adapted from Allrecipes

Serves 6

  • 6 green bell peppers (or 2 large yellow bell peppers & 2 large red bell peppers), sliced in half from top to bottom cleaned
  • 1.2 lbs Jenny-O Turkey Sausage (or ground beef if you wish)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Arborio Rice (this is a short thick grained rice that gives it a nice texture)
  • 1/2 cup water (may need more – add a 1/4 cup at a time as it cooks)
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese
  • 1 carton V-8 Tomato Soup (or 2 cans Tomato Soup diluted with some water to make it like a gravy)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 2 tsp salt to the water.  Boil the sliced and cleaned peppers for 5 minutes and then turn off the water and let them simmer in the water until they are ready to fill.  This will help soften the peppers.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the onions in a little oil to soften them and then add the ground turkey (or beef) and garlic and cook until the meat is cooked through.  Drain any fat or liquid.  Season with salt and oregano.  Add the diced tomatoes (with liquid), Worcestershire sauce, rice and water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and let cook at medium heat for 10 minutes.  Stir add more water if necessary.  Lower the heat to low and cover and cook for another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked mostly through.  Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese off heat and stir into the mixture.
  4. Remove the peppers from the hot water, drain, and put them in a 13x9x2″ baking dish.  Fill the pepper halves with the filling.  Sprinkle the peppers with remaining cheese.  Pour the tomato soup over the peppers.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

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Spaghetti Pie

Here is another allrecipes hit!  A dear friend of mine made it and posted the recipe on Facebook.   Of course we made changes to the original.  Here is the adapted version.

We were on our way to church yesterday, when one of my kids decided it was time to get sick – so home I went with sick kid and then had to figure out what to make for dinner – I had ground beef, onions, roasted peppers, ricotta cheese, and spaghetti- so I could make this dish.  I even had enough filling to make another one for a neighbor that just moved into the house next door.  She was appreciative.

Some changes that could me made are using Italian sausage instead of the ground beef, adding more spaghetti sauce to keep it moist.  It had good flavor and we will make it again.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Pie

adapted from allrecipes

Serves 8


  • 8 oz Spaghetti, cooked (I used Angel Hair)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 lb ground beef (or Italian Sausage, Turkey sausage)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pepper (or roasted peppers from a jar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (next time)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (originally cottage cheese)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and place in the bottom of a 10″ pie dish. While the pasta is still hot stir in the 2 Tbsp butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and 2 eggs and combine.  I would also stir in 1 cup of spaghetti sauce into the pasta after you combine the egg, Parmesan and butter with the spaghetti.

Cook the ground beef or Italian Sausage in a large skillet with the chopped peppers, onions and cook until the meat is browned.  Drain the fat.  Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes;  cook mixture for another two minutes.  Add can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste as well as remaining 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce.  Heat the mixture through.

Dollop the spaghetti in the pie pan with ricotta (or cottage cheese) and spread out over the pasta.  Top with meat mixture.  Sprinkle the top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake in a preheated oven, at 350F for 20-30 minutes.  Enjoy with a green salad and garlic rolls.

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Amish Macaroni Salad

I’ve said I was a fan of before and I will say it again.  I made this macaroni salad because I had little else in the fridge to eat for lunch, so I made this recipe.  I made a few changes to the original (the original recipe called for 3/4 cups of sugar!  – that sounds way too sweet to me for the amount of salad; I also reduced the amount of celery and changed the onion to 1/4 cup sweet onion- like Walla Walla, Maui or Vidalia).  Never the less, after tweaking the recipe it is quite yummy!

I love Macaroni Salads that have eggs in them and this is one.  Next time I will add some chopped fresh dill or parsley to brighten it up a little.

Amish Macaroni Salad

adapted from

Serves 6


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion (like Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla_
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped (I used 3/4 cup chopped roasted bell peppers from the jar)
  • 2 Tbsp pickle relish
  • 2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp prepared Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp white vinegar (or champagne vinegar is really nice here)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp celery seed (I used Mc Cormick’s Salad Supreme seasoning)
  • 2 tsp fresh minced parsley or dill (optional)


Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add Macraroni and cook according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and cool completely.

In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients and stir them together.  Pour the dressing mix over the cooled macaroni and stir to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and cool at least 1 hour.  Enjoy.

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Zwetschkenkuchen (Austrian Plum Cake)

Yes, I know too many consonants and not enough vowels – but that is German for you! Here is a recipe my Mom would make frequently, when I was growing up.  Recently I had beautiful organic plums that I wanted to use up and asked my Mom for the recipe.  Now I can share it with you.  It is not a very sweet dessert – I find American’s use way too much sugar in desserts anyway. This is best enjoyed with a nice cup of coffee.  The batter is pretty thick, and plums are cut and placed on top of the batter and baked.  A dusting of powdered sugar and this simple dessert looks attractive.

You could make a variety of Kuchen (Cake in German).  Cherry (Kirschkuchen); Apricot (Marillenkuchen).  Cherry is my all time favorite, however because they are so small they leave the pit in the cherries which complicated eating the cake – I remember accidentally biting down on a cherry pit, which was not pleasant.  You could probably even use pineapple as a topping too.

Zwetschkenkuchen – Austrian Plum Cake
Serves 12


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 lb plums, cut in half
  • powdered sugar

Beat eggs and vanilla well, add sugar, beat, gradually add dry ingredients, add water, mix well.  Pour into a greased 13x9x2″ baking dish.  Press the plums (cut side down) on batter.  Bake at 350 F for 20-35 minutes or until lightly browned.  When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into 12 squares.

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Taking the Fear out of Artichokes

For quite a few years I avoided making artichokes myself.  I didn’t know what to do with them.  They seemed prickly and uninviting!  When one of my daughters was born I had a friend visit from Fresno to meet the new baby and she showed me how to make artichokes. They are too good not to eat!  Fresh ones are so much better than the ones in the can and really don’t take much effort to make.

Here is a quick guideline for those of you who also fear the “choke”.

Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water.  Cut the end of the stem of the artichoke and wash it.  Remove some of the very outer leaves, if you don’t like the sharp ends of the leaf trim them with kitchen shears, or use caution when you handle them.  Trim the leaves that are attached to the stem and clean the stem up a little scraping the outside layer with a knife.   Season the water with fresh lemon juice and garlic seasoning or oregano and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place the artichoke(s) in the water.  Heat to a boil, place a tight fitting lid on the pot and reduce the heat.  Cook the artichokes at a simmer for around 25 minutes.  To check if they are done tug at a leaf near the base of the artichoke it it easily comes off the artichoke is cooked enough to eat.  Remove the artichokes with some tongs and let them drip dry a little before you remove them to a plate.  Many people eat the artichoke with butter or my favorite: mayonnaise.  Do what you like.  There are plenty of recipes out there for dipping sauces, or pasta recipes that use cooked artichokes.  The ideas are limitless.

To eat the artichoke.  Pull away the larger outer leaves, dip the base of the leaf into your dipping sauce and bite down on the leaf, pulling the leaf out of your mouth and scraping the artichoke flesh.  Repeat until you have the purplish tender leaves near the choke.  At this point get a spoon and gently remove the leaves and choke and dispose of them, they are not edible.  The artichoke bottoms (and stem) are really good.  Cut them into smaller portions and dip away.

Here are some pictures to help with the process (I am sorry for the poor quality of pictures, it was night and I was hungry!)

The cooked Artichoke

Leaves that pull away easily

Center purple leaves and choke

Remove the choke with a spoon

Cleaned Artichoke bottom

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Buttered Potatoes

In Austria, Buttered Potatoes are commonly found on the menu of restaurants.  It is comfort food to me.  My family also enjoys eating these little nuggets of goodness.  I like to use the Baby Potatoes (sometimes Baby Dutch Potatoes).  Pre-cook them in boiling water for about 12-15 minutes, or until fork tender.  Drain the water.  Let the steam evaporate for them to completely dry.  Add 3 Tbsp of butter and 3 Tbsp of olive oil to a hot skillet.  Add the baby potatoes and toss them in the butter.  Season with a few grinds of sea salt and sprinkle with parsley flakes (fresh or dried work fine).  If you like garlic add garlic powder.  Toss and stir the potatoes to coat from time to time and cook in the butter for a few minutes.  Serve.  They never last long at my house.  My husband circles my son’s plate like a vulture if he does not eat them all and then when no one is looking pops them into his mouth.  (I have eyes in the back of my head, so I know this).

Austrian Butter Fried Parsley Potatoes

  • 1 package Baby Yukon (Baby Dutch) Potatoes – even baby red potatoes will work, boiled until fork tender
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes (or fresh if you have it)
  • Salt and pepper (Sea salt is lovely with this recipe)

In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil until hot.  Carefully add the cooked potatoes (make sure they are dry or they may splatter).  Toss to coat them in butter.  Add the salt, pepper and parsley flakes.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  Serves 4-5.

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Labor Day BBQ

For some, Labor Day  means an end to the BBQ season.  Living in Southern California, there is no such thing – it does not stop us however from still celebrating the “end of the season”.  Fall seems like it has been here for a while already — that is the kids have been back to school almost a month already but the temperatures here have been well into the 90s and on many days over 100 (Let’s just say even without the humidity: 111 F is HOT when you are doing car pool duties) I digress: We had chicken and beef kabobs for dinner today.  I had picked up some from the grocery store and marinated the chicken in a Lemon Pepper Marinade and the Beef in Steak and Pepper Marinade.

Cooked them on a hot BBQ for 7-8 minutes on each side and served them.  They turned out great.  You can use any Marinade you wish to suit your tastes.  Link

Chicken Kabobs alternate:

  • chicken breast pieces, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • Red onion, cut into quarters
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Yellow Bell Peppers

Lawry’s brand Lemon Pepper Marinade – pour the marinade over the assembled kabobs and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cook over hot grill for 7-8 minutes per side (14-16 minutes total).

Beef Kabobs alternate:

  • sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • wedges of red onion
  • wedges of red peppers

Lawry’s Steak and Pepper Marinade- pour over the beef kabobs and marinate for at least 30 minutes

Cook over a hot grill for 7-8 minutes per side (14-16 minutes total).

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Whiskey Chicken

The thought of Whiskey Chicken gets my mouth watering.  I don’t know if you have ever had the Whiskey Chicken that the chain restaurant Claim Jumper serves, but it is divine.  It is Whiskey Apple Sauce glazed chicken served with Stuffing and more whiskey apple sauce.  It is worth trying.  Of course the downside is, that you may not live near a Claim Jumper and will never get to experience their version.  This recipe comes close though.

I noticed that Claim Jumper also has a Whiskey Glazed Pork recipe.. so feel free to experiment with that on your own.  I hope you like this dish as well.

Whiskey Apple Glaze

adapted from Claim Jumper

Serves 6

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, cored and grated with skin on
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 8 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • dash of allspice
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch – to thicken in the end in a slurry of water

Glaze Preparation:

In a large sauce pan combine the grated apple, chicken broth, apple juice, brandy, whiskey, sugar, tarragon, allspice, nutmeg, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.  After cooking it down, dissolve cornstarch in a few Tablespoons of cold water and add to the apple sauce mixture.  Stir over medium heat until thickened.

For the Chicken and Stuffing:

Season 6 chicken breasts with salt and pepper and pan fry them in a little olive oil for about 3 minutes each side.  It won’t be cooked through, but it will be browned.  For the stuffing: use a boxed Stuffing mix for easy prep work.  (Even stove top will do.)  Follow the directions on the box to prepare the stuffing.  Layer the stuffing in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Place the chicken breasts on top and ladle a little sauce over the chicken (don’t pour all the sauce over the chicken, reserve some for serving).  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken runs clear.  Serve the chicken along side the stuffing and ladle reserved apple sauce over the chicken breasts.  It is also quite good on the stuffing.  Now you can experience it at home.

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Jacket Potatoes with Bacon & Mushroom Sauce

I have been part of food forums for a few years and this recipe was recommended by someone on such a site.  I tried it and it was an instant hit.  The recipe is originally from Paula Deen on the Food Network.  As all things Paula Deen it is a rich recipe!  Ingredients are bacon, heavy whipping cream, mushrooms, and brandy (which you ignite to burn off the alcohol content) — but it makes for a well loved recipe.  Her original recipe also has peppercorns, but my kids don’t care for it, so I add ground fresh pepper instead.

Just a word of caution, you might want to warn your family you are about to ignite brandy — I forgot to mention that once and my husband was willing to douse our dinner with a fire extinguisher – do remove it from the burners – I almost melted my microwave!  Oh it’s so much fun to  cook.  You never know what will happen!

Jacket Potatoes with Bacon & Mushroom Sauce

adapted from Paula Deen

Serves 6


  • 6 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and sprinkled with kosher salt
  • 1 package Hormel Low Sodium Bacon
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (Baby Portobella mushrooms are nice for variety)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black ground pepper


  1. Bake the potatoes at 425 for 60-75 minutes until they are soft and cooked through.
  2. Cut the bacon up into small pieces and cook over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Remove the crisp bacon from the fat and fry the mushrooms in the baking fat until they are browned.  Pour off the excess bacon drippings.  Add 1/4 cup of brandy to the mushrooms.  (Do NOT pour directly from the bottle, measure first, pull the skillet from the heat and add the brandy from a measuring cup.  Ignite the brandy with a lighter, keeping the skillet away from face, hair, smoke detectors and the like- once the flame dies down you can put it back on the burner).
  3. Add the bacon bits back into the skillet and add the heavy whipping cream, bring to a boil and reduce the liquid into a sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over the baked potatoes with additional butter of course!

Thank you Paula Deen – it is one of our favorites.

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