<bgsound src="Mariaelena.mid" loop=infinite>

(The song you are listening to is "Maria Elena",
which has nothing to do with food but was one of my
mother's favorite songs - one of mine as well -
and you will find a few of her recipes here. Enjoy!
To turn off the music, right-click on the arrow and click "stop".)

I have a jumbo recipe box full of wonderful-sounding recipes, 90% of which I may never get a chance to try. I will likely continue hanging on to that 90% and may eventually try a few of them, and hopefully find a few more favorites to include on this page. But though I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, when you work 40 hours and commute another 10, AND you have a very small kitchen, well.... there's only so much you can do. As a result, I tend to mostly cook on the weekends, and when I do, to tend to go back to the same tried and true recipes we have enjoyed over the years. I will share these with you below, along with a few kitchen hints/ideas you may find helpful.

You will find a pattern in the below recipes, as follows:

  1. You will not find veggie or salad recipes. I will be the first to admit I do not eat these nearly as often as I need to. When I do, I will make a box of frozen spinach or green beans, or throw some fresh spinach leaves in a bowl (and then add a dressing such as blue cheese which probably defeats the whole purpose). My husband finds it amusing that I love spinach and dislike most other veggies!
  2. You will find a lot of main dish casserole and stovetop recipes, a few of which are meatless (my only attempt to go meatless lasted several months, but I just missed it too much to give it up forever) but most of which contain meat and cheese, canned soup and/or sauce, and are not low in calories. (This, along with point #1, explains why I have a long-standing weight problem! I do use lowfat versions of ingredients such as sour cream whenever possible.)
  3. You will only find four dessert recipes. I usually fill up on starches and have little room for dessert, plus I usually don't have time to bake (and we seldom have company, living in a small mobile). I adore cheesecake and brownies, but I never make them since I would be too tempted to polish them off in two or three days! (Speaking of starches, it will also become readily apparent that we like rice.)
  4. I do not add salt to any of my recipes. If it was originally listed as an ingredient, I omitted it. I did a report in college that showed how much sodium there is in everyday foods that we eat. As a result I decided not to cook with it any more and instead sprinkle it on the finished product if needed.

I'll start off with my favorite stove top recipes. Credit will be given as to where and when I found the recipe, whenever possible.

My Mother's Goulash

1 lb. beef stew meat
2 tbsp. oil
1 10-1/2 oz. can tomato soup
1 soup can water
1 small can tomato paste
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 package cooked egg noodles

Brown meat in oil in skillet. Bring next 5 ingredients almost to boil in separate skillet. Add meat, reduce heat to low, simmer 2-1/2 hours or till meat is tender. Serve over cooked noodles.

Handy Hint! To get ALL the tomato paste out of the can with no scooping or digging, open BOTH ends of the can. Then, using one of the removed can ends, push all the paste out of the can!

Red River Chili (found in a 1981 Woman's Day, or was it Family Circle?)

1-1/2 lb. beef stew meat
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 minced clove garlic
1 1-lb. can tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup water
1 or 2 beef bouillon cubes
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies (drained)
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. cumin seed
1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 16-oz. can red kidney beans (drained)
cooked rice

Brown meat in oil in large skillet, along with onion and garlic, till onions are tender and meat is brown. Add remaining ingredients through chili powder. Bring to boiling, lower heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2-1/2 hours or till meat is tender. Add beans, cook 15 minutes more. Serve over rice. 4-5 servings.

Easy Porcupine Meatballs (from the Rice-A-Roni box)

1 lb. ground beef
1 package beef Rice-A-Roni
1 egg
(I usually add some minced onion, and enough bread crumbs to hold it together well)
1 tbsp. oil
cooked rice (optional)

Combine ground beef with rice-vermicelli from Rice-A-Roni box and egg. Shape into about 16 meatballs. Brown on all sides in oil in skillet. Add 2-1/2 cups water, cover, simmer 15-20 minutes or till water is absorbed. Combine seasoning packet with 2 cups water. Pour over meatballs, simmer additional 10-15 minutes, turning once. Pour sauce over meatballs when serving. We serve these over additional cooked rice. 4 servings.

Mock Meatballs (From "The New Vegetarian Menu Cookbook", 1984, tried when we were trying to be vegetarians in about '91. They are really good! There was also a marinara sauce recipe, but due to time constraints, I don't make sauce from scratch. Classique makes excellent Italian sauces.)

1 cup whole wheat cracker crumbs
3/4 cup grated Cheddar (3 oz.)
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or you could use walnuts)
2 beaten eggs
1 small minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients, form into small balls. Brown in oil in skillet - or you can bake them at 350 on lightly oiled baking sheets. Serve with sauce and pasta of your choice.

Easy Lentil Chili (from an exhibit at the Puyallup Fair, the nation's sixth largest state fair, near Tacoma, WA. For you non-Washingtonians, Puyallup is pronounced Pew-ah-lup)

2-1/3 cups (1 lb.) lentils
4 cups water (adjust based on thickness desired)
1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
1 1-oz. packet dry onion soup mix
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

In large saucepan, bring lentils and water to boil. Add onion soup mix, simmer 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, simmer 30 minutes more. 6-8 servings.

Chicken Curry (from a Jewish cookbook my non-Jewish mother-in-law had)

1 2-1/2 lb. chicken
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 1 tsp. curry powder
4 rounded tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. sugar
dash ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
cooked rice

Bake chicken in foil-covered roasting pan at 350 one hour. Place pieces on plates to cool. Tear chicken meat into small pieces, set aside. Melt butter in 3 qt. saucepan. Saute onion and curry powder in butter. Blend in next 3 ingredients. Cook over low heat till smooth. Remove from heat, stir in broth, add milk gradually to keep smooth consistency. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, boil 1 minute. Add chicken and juice, heat. Serve over rice. 4 servings.

Easy Shrimp Creole (from Campbell's "Cooking With Soup" cookbook from the 70s)

1 large green pepper (cut in strips)
1 large onion (thinly sliced)
1 large clove garlic (minced)
2 tbsp. butter
1 10-3/4 oz. can tomato soup
2 tsp. lemon juice
dash Tabasco sauce
4 cups frozen cleaned raw shrimp (about 12 ounces)
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
cooked rice

In saucepan, cook green pepper, onion and garlic in butter till tender. Add next 3 ingredients, bring to boil. Add shrimp. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes or till shrimp is done. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, blend water into cornstarch in small bowl till smooth. Slowly stir into sauce. Cook, stirring, till thickened. Serve over rice. About 3-1/2 cups.

Super Summer Sandwich Idea! Our favorite sandwich, during avocado season, is avocado slices, tomato slices, and fresh spinach leaves, on toasted wholegrain bread spread with mustard and mayo. YUM!!

Next, here are four of my favorite oven-baked chicken and meat recipes.

Chicken Waikiki Beach

1 2-1/2 lb. chicken
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oil
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 20-oz. can sliced pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 large green pepper, thinly sliced
cooked rice

Coat chicken with flour. Brown in heated oil in large skillet. Remove to shallow roasting pan, sprinkle with pepper. Drain pineapple, adding water to syrup to make 1-1/4 cups. In medium saucepan, combine syrup with ingredients from sugar through bouillon. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 2 minutes. Pour over chicken. Bake at 350, 30 minutes. Add pineapple and green pepper. Bake 30 minutes more or till tender. Serve with rice. 4 servings.

Easy Oven Fried Chicken (from a package of McCormick chicken gravy mix - this makes great chicken without all the grease)

1 package chicken gravy mix
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup bread crumbs, depending on size of chicken
1/2 tsp. paprika (optional)
1 cut-up chicken, 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 lbs.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter

Combine gravy mix, bread crumbs and paprika in large plate, mix well. Coat chicken pieces generously with mixture one at a time, pressing into chicken with hands. Lay pieces skin side down in 13 x 9" roasting pan. Sprinkle any unused mixture evenly over chicken. Spoon some melted butter over each piece. Bake at 400, 30 minutes. Remove from oven, turn pieces over. Bake another 20 minutes or till tender. 4 servings.

The First and Last Thanksgiving Dinner I Made:

We were only married a couple years and still living in Chicago. Rex's mother and sisters were also still living in the area. I obtained my mother-in-law's recipe for stuffing, which she handwrote. I thought "2 T. sage" sounded like a lot, but that's what she wrote, so that's how much I used. But it was really "2 t." with a high cross on the "t". The stuffing was GREEN! So no one ate too much of it. It tasted good though!

Pork Chop Onion Bake

6 pork chops, cut 1 to 1-1/2" thick
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup uncooked rice
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms

Brown chops in oil in skillet. Spread rice in bottom of 13 x 9" baking dish. Reserve 1 tbsp. onion soup mix, sprinkle remainder over rice. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Sprinkle mushrooms over rice in pan. Add hot water to mushroom liquid to total 3 cups, pour over rice. Arrange browned chops on top of rice. Sprinkle with reserved soup mix. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 till just tender (45 minutes to one hour, depending on thickness). Remove foil, bake 10 more minutes or till excess liquid evaporates. 6 servings.

Reuben Meatloaf (from a January, 1980 Chicago Tribune food section)

1 lb. ground beef
1 12-oz. can corned beef (finely chopped)
2-1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 10-3/4 oz. can tomato soup
2 eggs
2 tbsp. parsley
1 large clove garlic (minced)
1 8-oz. can sauerkraut (drained)
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. caraway seed
2 slices Swiss cheese (cut in 8 triangles)

Mix meats, crumbs, 1/4 cup soup, eggs, parsley and garlic. Pat firmly into 15 x 10" rectangle on wax paper. Combine sauderkraut, shredded Swiss, and seed. Press into meat to within 1" of edges. Roll meat tightly with aid of wax paper, starting at short edge. Seal seam and ends. Place in shallow baking dish. Bake at 350, 30 minutes. Remove from oven, spoon remaining soup over loaf. Bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven, arrange cheese slices over top of loaf. Bake till cheese just begins to melt.

Now here is my most used section - casseroles and oven dishes! I'll start with my very favorite casserole:

Swiss Enchilada Casserole (don't recall what magazine I found this or the next two recipes in, but have been making them all my married life)

1 3-lb. cut-up chicken
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies (drained)
1 13-oz. can evaporated milk
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
12 small refrigerated corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Bake chicken in foil covered roasting pan at 350 one hour or till tender. Place pieces on plates to cool. Combine drained chilies with 1 cup evaporated milk in medium bowl. Pour remaining evaporated milk into large plate, pour tomato sauce onto same plate. Stir gently with fork. Tear chicken meat into small pieces, add to bowl containing chilies and milk, stir. Dip 3 tortillas, one at a time, into sauce/milk mixture in plate. Lay in bottom of buttered 2 qt. round casserole dish, overlapping slightly. Pour in 1/3 of chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat these layers twice. Top with last 3 dipped tortillas. Pour remaining liquid in plate over top. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, covered, at 375, 30 minutes. Uncover, bake 15 minutes more or till top is browned. Remove from oven, let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Scoop into with large spoon to serve. 4 to 6 servings.

Spinach Pie

3/4 cup uncooked rice
1-1/2 cups water
1 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs
bread crumbs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
lemon juice to taste

Cook rice and spinach in water till liquid is absorbed, stir. Combine rice-spinach mixture in large bowl with next 3 ingredients, mix well. Lightly butter bottom of 10" square baking dish, liberally cover with bread crumbs. Spoon in spinach mixture. Bake at 350, 45 minutes to one hour or till top is lightly browned. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add desired amount of lemon juice, heat through. Spoon over servings of pie. 6 servings.

Easy Spinach Lasagna (don't recall where I found this either)

4 lasagna noodles (3 oz.)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 minced clove garlic
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or desired amount of dried parsley
1 tsp. basil
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. seasoned bread crumbs

Cook noodles in boiling water till tender, drain. Combine tomato sauce, garlic and oregano, set aside. Combine next 6 ingredients in mixing bowl, stir till smooth. Put 1/2 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 7 x 10" baking pan. Place 2 noodles over sauce. Pour in spinach-ricotta mixture. Top with remaining noodles. Spoon on 1/4 cup sauce. Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan. Pour on remaining sauce. Sprinkle with crumbs. Bake uncovered at 350 one hour. Slice to serve. 6 servings.

Greek Spinach Pie (from a spring 1982 issue of Good Housekeeping)

3/4 to 1 lb. ground beef
1 medium diced onion
2 tbsp. oil
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 8-oz. package shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb. phyllo leaves (about 11 sheets)
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

Cook beef and onion in oil in skillet till beef is brown and onion is tender. Drain. Combine with cheeses and spinach in large bowl, set aside. Place sheets of phyllo, one by one, in 9" pie plate with edges overhanging, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Spoon beef mixture into plate. Fold overhanging phyllo over till top is completely closed. Drizzle top with remaining butter. Bake at 350 one hour or till golden brown. 6 servings.

Fiesta Bake (from a Rice-A-Roni magazine insert, early 80s. I make this a lot.)

1 package Spanish Rice-A-Roni
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. instant minced onion
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup crushed tortilla chips plus 10 to 12 whole tortilla chips
1 10-oz. can black olives (drained, sliced)

Prepare Rice-A-Roni according to package directions, substituting the 2 cans tomato sauce for whole tomatoes. In mixing bowl, combine beef, onion and pepper with 1 cup cooked Rice-A-Roni. Line 2 qt. round casserole dish with meat mixture. Sprinkle in crushed tortilla chips, then olives. Top with remaining Rice-A-Roni, then whole chips. Bake at 375, 35 to 40 minutes. 6 servings

I'm not a big zucchini lover, but this recipe is a favorite of my husband's (don't recall the source)

Zucchini Burger Italiano

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 minced clove garlic
2 tbsp. oil
1 cup cooked rice
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1 cup creamed cottage cheese
3 medium zucchini, sliced
8 or 9 slices Cheddar cheese

Cook beef, onion and garlic in oil in skillet till beef is brown, drain. Stir in next 4 ingredients, heat through. Combine egg and cottage cheese in small bowl. Arrange half the zucchini in bottom of 10" square pan. Spoon meat mixture over zucchini. Pour cottage cheese mixture on top. Top with remaining zucchini slices, then Cheddar slices. Bake at 350, 30 minutes or till hot and starting to brown on top. 6 servings.

Here's a great use for the much-maligned Spam! Don't recall the source of this one or the next one, but have been making them for YEARS.

Hamburger Hot Pot

1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. oil
1 16-oz. can Spam canned luncheon meat, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 16-oz. can red kidney beans (drained)
2 4-oz. cans sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 tbsp. dried green pepper
1 minced clove garlic
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 8-oz. package uncooked egg noodles

Brown beef in oil in skillet, drain. Combine in large mixing bowl with all other ingredients except noodles. Layer with the uncooked noodles in ungreased 3 qt. casserole dish or 13 x 9" pan. Cover tightly with lid or foil, bake at 375, 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, stir to ensure even cooking of noodles. Return uncovered to oven, bake additional 30 minutes, removing 1 or 2 more times to stir. 6 to 8 servings.

Hamburger-Mushroom-Olive Bake

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. oil
1 10-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope mushroom gravy mix or brown gravy mix
1 cup water
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms
2/3 cup sliced black olives
1 8-oz. package egg noodles
1 8-oz. package shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown beef and onion in oil in saucepan till beef is brown and onion is tender. Add next 5 ingredients. Cover pan, simmer while cooking noodles according to package directions, drain noodles. Put half of cooked noodles in bottom of 2 qt. round casserole dish. Top with half of beef mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 package Mozzarella. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover, bake at 350, 20 minutes. Uncover, bake additional 20 minutes or till Mozzarella starts to brown. 6 servings.

I don't make this last casserole as often as I used to, only because it is not low-cal and I absolutely can't resist it!

Popover Pizza (from February 1980 Family Circle magazine)

1 lb. ground beef
1 large chopped onion (1 cup)
3 tbsp. oil (divided)
1 envelope spaghetti sauce mix
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 8-oz. package sliced Mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown beef and onion in 2 tbsp. oil in large skillet, drain. Stir in sauce mix, sauce and water. Simmer 10 minutes. Spoon into greased 13x9" pan. Top with cheese slices. Place in oven to keep warm. Beat eggs, milk and remaining oil with electric mixer till foamy. Beat in flour and salt till smooth. Pour over mixture in pan, spreading to cover completely. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 400, 30 minutes or till puffed and golden brown. Cut into squares, serve while hot and puffy. 8 servings.

And now what many of you have been waiting for - desserts! My coconut-loving hubby loves this cake. It reminds me of German chocolate cake, yet contains no chocolate.

Oatmeal Cake (recipe obtained from a coworker in 1992)

1 cup quick oats
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1-2/3 cups brown sugar (divided)
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) melted butter
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk

Cook oats in water per package directions, set aside. Combine shortening, sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and eggs in large bowl. Add cooked oats,, mix, add flour and baking soda, mix. Pour into 13 x 9" pan, bake at 350, 30 minutes. Mix last 5 ingredients and remaining brown sugar. Spread mixture on hot cake immediately after removing from oven. Place under broiler 2 to 4 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Cool before cutting.

My coworker brought this next cake to the office while I was first working on my recipe page. It is wonderful - tastes like a decadent "Cinnabon" cinnamon roll! I believe this came from a Duncan Hines magazine ad.

"Sock It To Me" Cake

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix (divided)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped pecans
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
(see end of recipe for glaze alternatives)

Combine 2 tbsp. of the cake mix with the next 3 ingredients in medium bowl, set aside (filling). Combine remaining cake mix with remaining ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour two-thirds of batter into greased, floured 10-inch tube pan. Sprinkle with filling. Spoon remaining batter evenly over filling. Bake at 375, 45 to 55 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert over serving plate, cool completely. Drizzle glaze over cake - use one of the following: 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 2 tbsp. milk, OR 1/2 cup Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle Vanilla Frosting heated in microwave 10-15 seconds till thin, OR try what my coworker used - softened cream cheese thinned with milk (experiment for proportions that work). She also added a little cinnamon to the glaze. YUM!!

Easy Almond Crunch Bars (from the 1976 Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook)

1 package Pillsbury Coconut Almond or Coconut Pecan frosting mix
1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2-1/2 tsp. almond extract (divided)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tbsp. milk

In large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients (reserving 1/2 tsp. extract), blend well. Press into ungreased 13 x 9" pan. Bake at 400, 10 to 12 minutes. In small bowl, combine last 2 ingredients with reserved 1/2 tsp. extract, blend till smooth. Drizzle over bars. Cut into 2-3 dozen bars while still warm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tip! I prefer to pour the batter into square pans and cut them into bars, like brownies. I also substitute maple extract for the vanilla extract usually called for. They're great!

Spice N' Crumb Banana Bars (this was also from the 1976 Pillsbury Bake Off - must have been a good year)

2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup (2 small) thinly sliced ripe bananas
3/4 cup coconut
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg

In large bowl, combine first four ingredients, mix at low speed till crumbly. Press 1-1/2 cups crumb mixture into ungreased 13 x 9" pan. Put aside 1/2 cup crumbs, combine remaining crumbs in mixing bowl with remaining ingredients. Beat 1 minute at medium speed till well blended. Pour over crumb crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumbs. Bake at 350, 30 to 40 minutes, till golden brown. Cool, cut into 3 to 4 dozen bars.

That's all for now! Also see my recipe for Candy Cane Cookies on my Christmas page!

The Rail

The above tracks link to the "Dining Car" section of a terrific web ring alternative called "The Rail", which seven sections of The Evergreen Refuge have joined effective Dec. '08. Click the left or right arrows to visit like=minded sites belonging to the "Dining Car". If you have your own web site, click the tracks to learn more about "The Rail". It's a great way to generate traffic for your site and get acquainted with similar sites!





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