Moist and Chewy

Molasses Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies, Vegan or Not

Molasses Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

This is a cookie my daughter would appreciate … The nutritional value is not outweighed by the calories. This is now a family recipe but the origin is unclear. I am going to give a vegan version; and then again with the changes that created this taller, less molasses tasting cookie with cranberries instead of raisins. Did you know almost all brown sugar we use for baking is stripped to white and then the molasses is added back? So, in reality we are more or less doing that here. This is a great breakfast on the run, Hint of Molasses Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies, Vegan or Not!

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A Last Minute Get together

Antipasto for the Last day of summer

Bruschetta with wine can be dinner. This took some rethinking on my part. In fact, I had to develop a taste for raw tomatoes, specifically Roma. Roma tomatoes are mild in flavor and the texture is firm. These facts made this easy. My taste for wine had not fully developed either. This was Ed’s favorite meal. The recipe is one he put together many years ago.

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Delicious, rich, cinnamon Spicy

cinnamon cocoa Sheet Cake

Cinnamon Cocoa Sheet Cake

This rich cake is a favorite of Aubree’s. Dressing up a sheet cake is difficult because the batter is very rich and meant to be baked in a thin layer. But if it is a special birthday what do you do? I have layered this cake … Not so pretty. Here I used a 12 section quiche pan with 12 false bottoms. And at the end of baking I had twelve blobs of very cooked batter at the bottom of the oven. Small cupcakes did pretty well. So, this is what I suggest for a birthday if this is the favorite cake, a tower of cupcakes. This recipe will make 24 small cupcakes.

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Another family recipe

Cheese Enchiladas and Beans

Enchiladas and Beans

My first taste of enchilada came early. Estrada’s Spanish Kitchen was a family owned restaurant in Visalia established long before my parents were born. It was fine dining … Frequented for forty some odd years by our family.

The old Victorian house on Main Street was a business on the first floor and a family home on the second. It was our family’s favorite place to eat especially Christmas Eve … Forty six years in a row according to my brother. As a kid it seemed to take forever for the food to be served. I amused myself when very young … touching the sides of our table’s enormous wax covered wine bottle that was providing more temptation than candle light … seeing coins embedded in the wax … digging…. It was hard to resist. And I was disciplined each visit. My brother, more self disciplined, just explored the upstairs bathroom, the only one available. But I bet he was really looking for Susie.

I have tried to recreate the tastes of Estrada’s dishes without much success. A friend married into this restaurant  family not too long ago, and had mentioned the recipes were definitely a family secret. Yes, I asked. He said, I could give you the recipes but then I would have to kill you. Of course he was kidding! Do I have to even say that? There were about a half dozen of these Estrada’s restaurants throughout California owned by the same family. Only one now exists … Daly City. I want to check it out. Maybe I can talk my brother into meeting me there.

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Chicken Breasts With roasted Vegetables

Serve This Dish Hot Or Cold

Chicken Breasts Baked With VegetablesCaramelized vegetables are a favorite. So easy to do, and why not add the chicken in the last minutes and have a one dish meal … Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetables.

Ina Garten first introduced me to roasted vegetables … Something I now cook regularly and especially at Thanksgiving. I put just about every vegetable I can think of in the mix. My sons now find brussel sprouts one of their favorites. Who knew!

In this dish I have included summer vegetables, cauliflower, red potatoes, and onion. These were cooked until almost done and then I turned the heat down, added the chicken on top and continued to cook until chicken breasts were tender, about 20-25 minutes.

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A Delicious Indulgence

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese

Filet Mignon with blue cheesePan Seared Filet Mignon is so easy and wonderfully delicious. Add this simple Blue Cheese Butter Topping for added deliciousness. Jerry, a long lost friend of mine, introduced me to this amazing steak topper … and pineapple smothered Spam … maybe another time! This is always an impressive meal and so simple. You must learn the pan sear trick.

Here are a few hints I was taught along the way that may be useful:
-Use a seasoned cast iron skillet or a heavy bottom skillet.
-The skillet must be hot.
-Use the fat you have trimmed off the steak to grease the bottom of the skillet. Use a fork to run the fat around the bottom of the heated pan and then remove it.
-I often use a skillet so well seasoned no grease or oil is needed to avoid sticking. If you try this be aware the meat will stick until it is seared. Wait a minute or two, then turn it over.
-You may need to turn the heat down slightly after you add the steak to avoid too much browning. Adjusting the heat as you go may be necessary.
-Turning the steak more than once or twice will not dry out the steak.
-I was taught to salt the heated skillet rather than oil to prevent sticking. This method may no longer be in vogue.

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A recipe for your pasta sauce or jar sauce

Easy Baked Pasta

This Easy Baked Pasta is a changeable recipe. Use your favorite meat sauce or marinara, or try my gravy, or use a jar of marinara, and even make it vegetarian. It’s easy to change up.

The dish in this picture was made with my Italian gravy rich with meat and meat balls. The only ingredients I added to my gravy were the cheeses and pasta. Just layered in this oblong baking dish without much significance in what layer goes first.

Now I am going to give you ways to change this up, add meat or vegetables, add your sauce or jar.

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A Country School favorite, tommy’s cookies

No Butterscotch Chips Butterscotch Cookies

Butterscotch Cookies


Delta View Elementary School District was in the middle of Kings County agriculture. It was country school small but Ag wealthy. It wasn’t an unpleasant place to teach … My first real job after college. The children were extraordinary. I briefly had our future 1991-2005 congressman in a math class. I would guess many of these students went on to promising careers.

Today, as I look back, how unaffected I was by all the craziness. Not quite Peyton Place!

My position was to teach kindergarten in the morning; and 5th and 6th grades, or was it 4th and 5th, in the afternoon when the principal took over his principal duties.

In kindergarten birthdays were celebrated with homemade cookies and milk. This cookie recipe was introduced to me at one of these birthdays. I have made changes to the original recipe but I still like to call these Tommy’s cookies. They are still delicious in today’s competition.

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