Goodcookbecky's Blog

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


Homemade Churros

IMG_8617Inspired by a photo of my daughter at Disneyland eating a nice big churro, I wanted to make them at home.  It could not be that hard right?

I spent much of this week looking through old cooking magazines that I had in a box, looking for inspiration of new recipes to try, when I came across churros in the Feb/March 2016 edition of Cook’s Country. It did not look difficult to make.  They did not turn out an inch thick though, more like half and inch thick and some of them bubbled and looked like cacti by the time they were finished cooking, but they were delicious.  My hubby, who is not normally a fan of churros, really liked these, so I guess they are a winner.

The first time I made this, I forgot to add the sugar to the water – and as I was filling the piping bag with dough, I realized this… I threw out the dough and started over.  Churros are pretty easy to make. A few tips, don’t overfill the piping bags – I had a hard time piping it with a tip on, so I just removed the tip so they did not have the fancy ridges, but they were still quite delicious – and I would make them again.  The recipe said to refrigerate them before cooking, but I found that the ones that had come back to room temperature had fried up puffier and had a better texture, so I would skip that.  Also don’t use a candy thermometer that does not have high temperatures… I overheated the oil and my thermometer broke! So, don’t do that!

So-Cal Churros

adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine (Feb/Mar 2016)

Makes 18 Churros (depending on thickness and length)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • Coating:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon


Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray liberally with a cooking spray.

In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, bring water, butter, salt, butter, and vanilla to a boil.  Turn off the burner and pull the pot off heat.  Add the 2 cups of flour and use a rubber spatula to combine the flour until there are no more white streaks of flour.  Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat on low for one to two minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until it is combined before adding the second egg.  Increase speed to medium and beat for one minute.

Fill the piping bag with half of the batter and pipe 6 long logs on the  parchment lined pan, cutting the ends with kitchen scissors. Cook’s Country magazine had a step to refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes to an hour, but I think they fry up better when the dough is at room temperature.

Preheat 2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet to 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fry 3 to 6 at a time in the oil. You may need to use tongs to separate them as they fry so they don’t get stuck together.  Fry them about two to three minutes on each side before removing them to a paper towel lined plate to drain some of the fat off. Repeat with remaining churros.

In a glass pie dish or large shallow bowl, combine the half cup of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Once the fried churros are cool enough to handle toss them in the cinnamon sugar and enjoy!

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Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

Well, my blog has been seriously neglected lately.  I have quite a few recipes that I wanted to blog, but homeschooling has kept me quite busy.  Here is a recent recipe though, that I really wanted to get on my page.  As we move from Summer to Fall, I always enjoy getting soups into my menu planning more frequently.


Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

adapted from Cook’s Country (June/July 2016 issue)  | Serves 6-8


  • 3 poblano peppers, stemmed, halved from stem to tip, seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped fine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice


  • lime wedges
  • reserved bacon bits
  • sour cream for serving, optional
  • fried tortilla strips
  • crumbled queso fresco


Adjust the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler element in your oven.  Line a cookie sheet with foil, rub poblano peppers with oil and place skin side up on your cookie sheet.  Broil for 10 to 15 minutes until the skin of the peppers have blistered and browned, turning with tongs from time to time.  Remove the peppers to a bowl immediately and cover with plastic wrap to steam the skins for easy removal.

Place the corn kernels on the same pan you used for the peppers and season with a teaspoon of salt and add 1 teaspoon of oil, stirring the corn. Broil them for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time and until the corn is browned and tender.

Remove the skins from the poblano peppers and chop the peppers.

In a large stock pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for serving.  Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt to the bacon drippings.  Cook the onion, stirring frequently until the onion is tender and browned.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Drain any excess bacon drippings.

Add chicken broth, potatoes, corn kernels, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir the soup, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer just under a boil for 20 minutes.  Test the potatoes to see if they are done – cook longer if necessary.  Off heat, add half and half.  Scoop out about 2 cups of soup to a large measuring cup along with the 2 corn tortillas that you have cut up;  use your immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth.  (Use a blender if you do not have an immersion blender)  Return the puree to the soup and add the chopped poblano peppers to the chowder.  Bring to a slight boil.  Add minced cilantro, lime juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt if necessary.

Serve with crisp bacon bits, additional cilantro, lemon wedges, sour cream and grated queso fresco if desired.

To make tortilla strips, cut some remaining corn tortillas into strips and cook them in a small frying pan in small batches and in hot oil, until the tortillas are golden brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and season with salt immediately, draining on paper towels.  Serve them with the chowder.


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Butterflied Chicken with Garlic Smashed Potatoes

I love Cook’s Country Magazine and have been a faithful subscriber for nearly a decade.  In the October/November 2016 issue I found this recipe for Butterflied Chicken with Garlic Smashed Potatoes.  Just reading the recipe was an invitation to make it sooner than later.  It is a delicious chicken dish that I will serve again.  It is not hard to make – the hardest part is cutting the back bone out of the chicken (use poultry scissors).

Butterflied Chicken with Garlic Smashed Potatoes

adapted from Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2016 issue

Serves 4 | approx. 585 calories per serving (as per fitnesspal)


  • 1 (4 lb- 4 1/2 lb) roasting chicken, giblets discarded
  • 1 Tbsp extra- virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chives (optional)

For the Parsley Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Place the rack in your oven to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 F.

Place the whole chicken on the cutting board breast side down.  Remove and discard the giblets.  Use poultry scissors to cut along both sides of the backbone from tail to neck and discard the backbone.  Turn the chicken breast side up.  Dry with paper towels.  Coat the chicken with one tablespoon of olive oil and season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper.  Tuck the wings behind the bird.

In a 12 inch stainless steel skillet add the sliced potatoes, water, smashed garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Place the butterflied chicken on top of the bed of potatoes in the skillet.  Heat the skillet on the stove top over medium high heat until the water comes to a boil.  Turn off the burner and place the skillet in the oven.

Cook the chicken and potatoes in the oven at 450F for 1 hour, rotating the pan in the oven after 30 minutes. (Test chicken with a thermometer 160F for white meat 175F for dark- cook longer if necessary).

Meanwhile make the parsley sauce: in a small bowl, combine minced fresh parsley, olive oil, minced capers, minced shallot, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste

Remove the skillet from the oven and place on stove-top.  Carefully lift the chicken from potatoes and place onto a cutting board to allow it to rest.  Cook the potatoes over medium high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out any excess liquid in the skillet.   Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and half and half.  Taste, season with salt and pepper if desired.

Serve the roasted chicken with the garlic smashed potatoes and parsley sauce.

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Peach Crisp

IMG_9865When I think of summer, I think of peaches.. there are few things in the world that are as good as the peaches I have eaten in South Jersey – juicy, drippy, goodness.  Well, I am in Southern California, and bought some peaches that were begging to be used up.  I found this recipe for Peach Crisp in my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Unfortunately, I did not have as many peaches as the recipe called for, because two of them had gone bad, but I used what I had: 4 large peaches. Reading over the ingredients, I found I had everything except for lemon zest to make this dish, so make it I did. And yummy it was.

Peach Crisp

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (15th Anniversary Edition page 804)



  • 3 lbs of peaches, peeled, pitted and cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional

Crumble Topping:

  • 6 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 F

Place the peach pieces in a pie dish. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter and work with your hands to combine them into a crumb like topping. Stir in the pecan pieces.

Spread the crumb topping across the top of the peach filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes at 400 if the topping is not browned.

Serve warm.  Great with ice cream of whipped cream.

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Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad

IMG_9603This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen.  With Independence Day quickly approaching, I wanted to try a new recipe for macaroni salad.  The ingredients caught my attention because of the addition of lemon juice.  I followed the recipe exactly – and what I liked was that the dressing was not overly thick.  The lemon added a nice fresh flavor to the salad.  What I did not like is that it seemed to be lacking something else.  I thought the parsley was overpowering.  I would change that to something like basil – and I bought a ham steak, diced it up and added about 1 cup to the salad.  It was now much better!  It still is not my most favorite recipe, but it is a nice change from the same old same old.  I also added about 1/2 tsp of Spike seasoning to the salad.  It is a seasoning I use in my Hawaiian Potato Mac salad and really like the flavors that it adds.

Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 8-10


  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced basil (originally parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Spike (optional)
  • 1 cup diced ham steak


Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions.  Do not overcook the pasta though, you want it to still have some texture once you add the dressing.  Drain the pasta.  Rinse the pasta in cold water and give it a quick drain (you want to keep a little of the moisture of the water in the pasta – it will keep the dressing from becoming overly thick.

Combine the chopped red onion, chopped celery, chopped basil (or parsley), lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper in a small bowl and add these to the cooled macaroni salad.  Stir together and allow to sit for 2 or 3 minutes to allow the flavors to absorb.

Add the mayonnaise to the pasta and stir to combine.  Season with Spike if you think it needs more flavor.  Add the chopped ham to the pasta salad and stir. Chill until serving.

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

IMG_8936Here is another lovely salad that I made.  I found this recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook on page 74.  I love most of the recipes that I have tried from America’s Test Kitchen.  They are on TV on PBS as well.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook pg 74

Serves 6  Calories: 180/serving



  • 10 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half (I love Cherub brand cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into pieces
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pitted  kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste


Combine the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour over the salad and gently toss the salad.

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Baked Brown Rice

IMG_6978Cooking brown rice has been a struggle for me.  I overcook it and it is mushy, under cook it and is crunchy.  Rice cookers have not been the solution to this problem  either.  I found this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which bakes the brown rice in the oven in a covered casserole!  Success at last and this method yields a nice nutty, fully cooked rice that is pure perfection!.  I added dried parsley and dried garlic for additional flavor.  I found my covered  stoneware did a fantastic job of steaming the rice in the oven, but a Pyrex dish covered in foil will do the job according to ATK.

Baked Brown Rice

adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2009 page 78

Serves 6


  • 1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice
  • 2 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the Basmati rice in your stoneware (one that has a lid would be perfect).  Add 2 1/3 cups boiling water to the rice, add olive oil, salt, dried parsley and minced garlic and stir.  Cover with lid (or foil, doubled to ensure a good seal).

Bake at 375 °F for 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven, remove the lid.  Fluff the rice with a fork.  Cover the casserole with a clean kitchen towel and allow to steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the towel and allow to sit uncovered for 5 more minutes and then serve.

I will be baking my brown rice from now on! This is the way to cook it.  Thank you once again America’s Test Kitchen.

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