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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Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls with Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce

I found this lovely recipe for Sesame Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce on the food blogger Carlsbad Cravings site.  She has some delicious looking recipes.  We especially liked the Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce that went with this.  It is easy to make and tasty.  The tricky part is wrapping them in the egg roll wrappers, and remember not to stack them, or they will stick together. Let’s not ask why I know this! hehe  I think next time I will add garlic to the chicken mixture.


Here is the recipe adapted from Carlsbad Cravings.

Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls with Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce

Serves 8-12 egg rolls | adapted from Carlsbad Cravings


  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 bag stir fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, snap peas, sprouts)
  • 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts (my stir fry did not include them)
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 package McCormick brand  Sesame Chicken Stir Fry Skillet Sauce (available at Target)
  • 2 tsp Sriracha or Sambal Oelek (ground chili paste)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste


  • egg roll wrappers
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying


  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce (Lee Kum brand)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar


Make the sauce: Dissolve the cornstarch in the white vinegar and add the Hoisin sauce and sugar to the ingredients.  Stir until well combined.  Refrigerate until serving.

Trim the chicken of any fat, slice into thin strips and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a  non stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add stir fry mix vegetables, bean sprouts, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring for an additional 2 or 3 minutes.

Add McCormick’s Sesame Chicken Stir Fry Skillet Sauce, Sriracha (or Sambal Oelek) and cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the chicken filling to a food processor. (You do not want the filling to be overly wet).  Pulse the food processor about 10 times to chop the filling, scraping down the sides about half way through.

Fill each egg roll with about 1/4 cup of the chicken filling and fold the top corner over the egg roll over the filling rolling down about 1/4 turn.  Wet the remaining three corners with a little water to help the egg roll seal.  Fold the two side corners over the filling.  Continue rolling the egg roll and seal to close the final corner.  Do not stack the egg rolls as you make them as the warm filling will cause the egg rolls to stick to one another.

Heat about 1/2 of an inch of canola oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat (about 350 F). Fry 4 egg rolls at a time (or as many as you can comfortably fit into the skillet) turning them over with tongs until all sides are golden brown.  Place the cooked egg rolls on a wire rack to drain any excess oil and keep warm in an oven until all the remaining egg rolls are cooked.

Serve with the Hoisin Sweet and Sour Sauce and enjoy!

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Photos below.


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My Favorite Kitchen Tools

I love my kitchen gadgets and helps.  I have a few favorites that I would like to tell you about.

My top pick for the kitchen that is handy to have is an immersion blender.  I have one from Braun that I won at a silent action in 2002 that still works, but Kitchen Aid has a great one, as well as Cuisineart. They range from 20-100 dollars.  What I like about them is that you immerse the blender in your soup pot (or other dish) and are able to blend the soup or sauce in the dish, rather than placing it in a blender and having a big bulky thing to wash. The blending stick is detachable from the motor and is usually dishwasher safe.  Win!

My next favorite item is the spice stack! I have two.  My husband gave them to me for Christmas last year and I finally have an organized spice cabinet.  They come in different sizes, so you may not need two – depending on how many spices you use regularly. Here is a link to the small one you can also find a large one here.  It does a better job with round bottles, some of the square ones do not fit well.  Yes, I use two of the large ones.. 60 spice bottles… and I still have overflow, but it works for the ones I use most! 🙂

Salt and pepper grinder.  I like using sea salt.  I am told that sea salt is lower in sodium and better for you. My Christmas gift from my son was a pair from Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Mills.  You can easily adjust the size of the grind by turning a knob on the output.  It is super easy to load, as it has a little door that swings out on the side and you simply pour the salt and peppercorns into the unit and close it.  I love this pair – my family says it looks like it is a Dalek out of an episode of Dr Who!

My salad spinner.  I had one for a long time that served me well, but it recently broke and my husband replaced it with a Kitchen Aid spinner… it was okay, but the lid kept coming apart and was not the easiest to reassemble.  I bought one from Oxo at my local market and I love this one.  The bowl is nice and solid and pretty enough to put the salad in after for serving.  It has a simple slide lock that keeps the pump in place for storage and a button for breaking.

My pots and pans are of course my best friends.  I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my all clad stainless pots at a kitchen store that was going out of business – it was 40% off and I was able to save several hundred on that, or I would not have them!  They were the display models so they had a few scratches on them, but they work great.  The thing about All Clad that I love is that they are heavy, thick bottomed pots and pans that conduct heat evenly.  Even heat is always a good thing!

For my non stick pans, I am falling more and more in love with my Lodge cast iron skillet. It is heavy behemoth of a monster, but now that I season it properly, it is the one pan I like to use.  What I love is that it can go from stove top to oven with no problems, but it does get HOT!  My lighter companion non-stick skillets are scanpan, which have a thin porcelain vs teflon coating.  I found they do get scratched easily though, so I usually have a layer between them when I store them (like bubble wrap or paper) and I try not to over-heat them.

We love pizza and calzones at our house.  My must have for that is a pizza stone!  I love my pizza stone from Pampered Chef, but you can find other brands as well that do a good job.  Pampered Chef used to have one that was round that did not have handles.. I liked that model better because it was more versatile.  It did have a metal rack you could slide under it that would give you handles for easy lifting.

Crock pot liners: I only recently discovered them.  I love the fact that the food no longer hopelessly gets stuck on the side of my crock pot and it is much easier to clean.  I just discard the liner, give the inside of the crock-pot and lid a quick wash and get on with my day, rather than having to soak and scrub the food from the side wall of the insert.

Of course I should not forget my work horses of the kitchen: good quality knives!  The brand that I use is Wusthof Classic.  I find having quality knives in the kitchen makes the prep time shorter.  I like to keep my knives sharp – a dull knife can easily slip and hurt you more than a sharp one can, though I get occasional cuts, they are the gift I will give to a young couple as a gift.  There are plenty of good brands available, but because I am used to the feel and balance of Wusthof I use them.  They have a new line however, Gourmet that is cheaper (and also more cheaply made) that lacks the balance that Classic or Grand Prix have.

These are some of my favorite things.  I hope they help you in your kitchen as well.

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Curried Chicken Salad

IMG_8370At Christmas time, I always look forward to attending an annual Christmas Tea at a church.  The food that stood out to me this year was their Curried Chicken Salad served in a pita pocket.  I immediately begged my friends Cara and Elizabeth in the kitchen for the recipe and they were happy to share with me.  Yay for everyone, because I got permission to share the recipe on my blog.  Today I had the chicken salad on a bed of greens.  I use a rotisserie chicken, but for large amounts, canned does a lovely job as well.  I also made this salad for our choir Christmas Eve services, and several people asked for the recipe.  This Curried Chicken Salad can be enjoyed year round!

Thank you Cara and Elizabeth for sharing this yummy recipe!

Curried Chicken Salad

Source Cara and Elizabeth @ NP Church

Serves 6


  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained, chopped
  • 8 oz pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 lb grapes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds


  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


Combine the chicken, water chestnuts, pineapple tidbits, and grapes in a bowl and toss.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken mixture.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with slivered almonds just before servings.

Serving Suggestions: Fill pita pockets with a generous scoop of chicken salad, or serve over a bed of greens.  Pecans are also very nice instead of slivered almonds.


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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

IMG_7576Zucchini Bread is good.. but Chocolate Zucchini Bread would be even better right?  I had a friend give me a rather large zucchini from her garden.  I mean.. large!  I grated it in my Kitchen Aid Food Processor and it made 8 cups of grated zucchini.   Oh the goodness!  I made 3 chocolate zucchini loaves (one with chocolate chips) as well as a dozen regular size muffins with the zucchini and I have 3 cups of shredded zucchini left in my fridge.  This recipe is from Taste of Home.  The result was delicious!


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 1 dozen regular size muffins or 24 muffins

adapted from Taste of Home


  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease two loaf pans with cooking spray. (or line 12-24 regular muffin cups with paper liners)

Mix the canola oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer, at medium speed until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder together with a whisk.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix just until combined.  Add the grated zucchini to the mix and beat just until combined.  Add miniature chocolate chips if desired — it usually is at my house!

Pour half the mixture into a loaf pan and the other half in another loaf pan, or if you wish to make muffins, use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter equally into the paper lined muffin tins.

Bake loaves for 50-55 minutes or muffins for 18 minutes.


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I am back

I just returned (and now recovered from the 9 time zone jet lag) from a trip to Austria.  My brother and sister in law and their delightful 4 children live there.  It was nice to reunite with them after 6 years of not seeing them.  My brother from PA and my parents from NJ also went, so it was a family reunion that was sweet.  This is why I have been missing in action on blogging. Here are some pictures I would like to share from my trip.  Then I will return to my stack of recipes I would like to blog.

My husband earned his sainthood while I was in Austria.  He stayed at home doing his full time job plus taking care of the kids, doing car pool duties and church functions in my absence. I will be forever grateful for him allowing me to take this trip and reconnect with my family in such a beautiful way.

Enjoy the pictures of scenery and the food I encountered on my trip.

Schloss Orth, Gmunden, Austria

Langbathsee, Austria

Langbathsee, Austria

Gosausee, Austria (Gosau Lake)

Lipizzan Stallion in Pieber, Austria Breeding Farm

Mares and Foals at Pieber, Austria

Street Food: Skewered Smoked Fish - It's better than it looks! 😉

Pork Roast and Austrian Bread Dumplings and Parsley Potatoes

Salzburger Nockerl (Salzburg Souffle)

Red Currant Jam under the Souffle

Becky at Traunsee (Traun Lake)

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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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