Thursday, November 28, 2013

Argentinian Salad

Argentinian Salad
(4-6 servings)


3 tbsp. Water
2 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 ½ tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
2 Green Onions (scallions), thinly sliced (white & green parts)
2-3 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 (14 oz.) can Hearts of Palm, sliced ½ inch thick
1-1 ½ cup Fresh Tomato, chopped
1 medium Fresh Avocado, chopped


In a medium bowl, combine the water, juice, oil, salt and pepper with a whisk. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the onion and cilantro. Now fold in the hearts of palm, tomato and avocado to mix well but not destroy them. Chill 2 hours before serving. Gently toss just before service. If serving as a first course, place on a lettuce leaf lined plate.

Note: You want the hearts of palm, tomato and avocado to be roughly the same size pieces after slicing/chopping.

Note: You could use cherry or grape tomatoes in this recipe. Just half them if you do use them.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bacon Beef Burger

Bacon & Beef Burger
(6-8 servings)


1 ½ lb. Fresh Ground Chuck (no leaner than 85/15)
12 oz. Smoked Bacon (not cooked), ground (see note)
as needed Seasoned Salt
as needed Garlic Powder
as needed Onion Powder
as needed Black Pepper
6-8 slices Your Favorite Cheese
6-8 Buns, grilled (your choice)
as needed Condiments (your choice)


In a large bowl combine the beef and bacon not over mixing. Loosely form into 6 or 8 patties and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking. Be sure to make an indention in the center of each patty so they don't ball up on you during cooking. You can grill, fry in a pan, use a Panini grill or stove-top grill plate to cook the burgers. Top burgers with the cheese just before they are done to melt. Remember to grill or toast your buns before topping with the burger. Enjoy your favorite condiments with the burger.

Note: Ask the meat department where you buy the bacon to grind it for you. They should do this at no charge. If you don't want to do that, then just use your food processor to grind the bacon.

Note: You could use bacon pieces that come in a jar (Hormel makes these). The burger will still taste great but with not as much bacon flavor as using the raw ground bacon.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Three Years for Cookbook

This food blog, "Cabana Boy Cooks," that I write weekly (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) really began with the idea of writing a cookbook for new and inexperienced cooks.  I wrote the cookbook and then during the process with the publisher, I started the food blog.

The cookbook, "More Than Your First Cookbook," was released three years ago this week.  That was a major event for me because I wanted (and still do) to help people that were unsure of themselves in the kitchen.  One of the pieces to this effort of mine was that with each new year, came new individuals needing that help.  Every year a new class of graduates move out into the world on their own.

That made the cookbook viable for years to come in helping people with the foundation for fun and skill in the kitchen.  The 125 recipes in the cookbook gave a good basis to get started cooking.  Then the food blog became an extension of the cookbook with now close to 300 recipes on it.  The blog also offers more instruction and knowledge on cooking.

I want to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to all of you that have purchased my cookbook.  Many of you bought it for yourselves.  But as many offered it as a gift to someone special to you.  My hope is that all of you that have the cookbook are enjoying and using it with some regularity.  Also that it has helped you in one or more areas of your cooking expertise.

Those of you that follow my food blog, even if irregularly.  I would like to offer you a big "Thanks" too.  If you like what you see on the food blog, please share the link with others.  I'm still committed to helping people by offering cooking information and recipes that I find interesting and tasty.

As the holiday season is approaching, I'd like to remind everyone that the cookbook makes a very good gift for someone needing a little help in the kitchen.  The cookbook is available in the following locations.

Maryville, Missouri - at the Nodaway News Leader offices (I write a column for that paper).

St. Joseph, Missouri - Hastings Bookstore.

Sioux City, Iowa - Pickerman's (soon to have 2 locations).

Rochester, Minnesota - People's Food Co-op.

If you know me, I always have some cookbooks with me (and will sign them).

The cookbook is also available on-line at my website (, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  At all three of the on-line locations, the cookbook is available as a download as well as in book form.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week I have a burger and salad recipe.  The burger recipe is "Bacon Beef Burger" and combines raw ground bacon with ground beef.  The salad is called "Argentinian Salad" and uses "Hearts of Palm" and well worth trying.

"Thank You" again for your support and encouragement.  "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
(12 servings)


4 cups White Bread, cubed
1 cup Pecan Pieces (optional)
4 large Fresh Eggs
3 extra Egg Yolks
1 ½ cup Milk
1 ½ cup Heavy Cream
¾ cup Canned Pumpkin
1 cup Sugar
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Rum or Brandy
¼ tsp. Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces


Dry bread cubes on a sheet pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the bread cubes in a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle (if using) pecan pieces equally over the cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients (except butter) and pour over the cubes. Be sure to let the dish sit for 10 to 15 minutes before placing in the pre-heated oven. Just before going into the oven, dot with butter pieces. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set but not dry. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I'm not a raisin person, but you could also add a cup or two of them to the dish. Before sprinkling over the bread cubes, be sure to place them in a bowl and add hot water to them for one minute. Drain and then sprinkle over the bread cubes and nuts (if using) before adding the liquid mixture to the dish.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Basic Bread Pudding

Basic Bread Pudding
(6-9 servings)


6 slices (day out) White Bread, torn into pieces
1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
3 large Fresh Eggs
2 – 2 ½ cup Half & Half
¾ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla (not imitation)
½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Salt


In a greased or sprayed 8x8 baking dish place the torn pieces of bread and top with melted butter. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and then add remaining ingredients while continuing to whisk mixture. Pour the mixture over the bread. Using the whisk, push down on bread to coat with mixture and let sit for 30 minutes to soak in. Place the baking dish in a pre-heated 350 oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set. Don't over bake as dry bread pudding is not desirable. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or just a little half & half. You can cut into pieces or just spoon freely the bread pudding.

Note: To this basic recipe you can add additional ingredients. Some like to add raisins, dried cranberries or cherries and even nuts. Use your imagination and enjoy.

Note: You can double recipe for a 9x13 baking dish. Just increase the time to 60 to 75 minutes or until center is set.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bread Puddings

"Bread pudding," in some form, probably dates back to just after the invention of bread making.  It's creation is linked to the poor and frugal people that couldn't afford to waste anything. What to do with stale bread was the question.  Those bread puddings and other dishes created with that stale bread are vastly different from the bread puddings we know today.

Each culture developed bread pudding based on their culinary ways of the time.  Different regions used different ingredients and seasonings to come up with what met their taste palate.  Stale bread and milk was the two main ingredients.  Then they would add those regional favors consisting of fats and sweeteners. Later, fruits, nuts and the like worked their way into the bread puddings.

Today, bread puddings have evolved into a much more classy dish.  In the middle ages custard was invented.  It's the integral part of today's bread puddings.  Eggs were the addition to the milk and other ingredients that transformed the dish.

In North and South America, Europe and several other countries, bread pudding remains popular.  Bread puddings are both savory and sweet today.  But it is as a dessert that you see it most.

The two recipes I have for you today do not have a sauce.  However,  that has become very popular when serving bread pudding in restaurants.  Their are many different types of sauces you can use.  Some common ones include liquor based, caramel based, fruit based (including lemon), chocolate based and vanilla based. But you can also just serve the bread pudding with whipped cream or ice cream.  Personally, I like mine served warm.  I've just never become a fan of cold bread pudding.

My recipe tomorrow is for "Basic Bread Pudding" and it's simple and easy to make.  The nice thing about the recipe is that you can change it easily to fit your taste or available ingredients.  Be sure to use your imagination and come up with a signature dish that family and friends will crave.

Here are some ideas for ingredients to try.  The most popular are raisins and nuts (pecans probably top this list).  Try using some dried cranberries or cherries, fresh blueberries, diced apples.  You get the idea.  Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin spice and even ground cloves put a little zip in the bread pudding. Orange or lemon zest is nice too.  As I stated earlier, just use your imagination and taste-buds.

The second recipe (Thursday) this week is a seasonal bread pudding.  With Thanksgiving coming up in the USA the end of November (28th), I thought "Pumpkin Bread Pudding" might be something new to try this year at the big dinner.  Give it a try and see what everyone thinks.  It might become a mainstay for future  years.

Both recipes just call for white bread.  But please don't limit yourself to just that.  Different breads are going to add different results and flavors.  So again, experiment with this recipes.  Now some breads aren't a best choice for a sweet dish, but follow your own tastes.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and found it helpful.  If you're not sure about bread pudding and trying a recipe right now.  Check out some of your favorite restaurants and sample some of their bread pudding. You just might get hooked.  "Happy Cooking" and see you next week.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut Soup
(6-8 servings)


3 slices Bacon, diced
1 lb. Sauerkraut, rinsed,drained & chopped
1 medium Onion, fine dice
3 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
7 cups Beef Stock, hot
1 small Apple, peeled, cored & grated (your choice on type)
1 tbsp. Caraway Seeds
to taste Salt
to taste White Wine (optional)


In a 3 qt. sauce pan, fry bacon over medium-high heat until done. Add the sauerkraut and onion to bacon and fat rendered. Saute mixture until it starts to take on color. To this stir in the flour and cook about 2 minutes. Now add the beef stock, apple, caraway seeds and salt. Simmer covered for 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Adjust seasoning and add a little wine to taste (if using).

Note: You could use a blender, food processor or immersion stick to make a smoother soup.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cilantro Chicken Soup with Pasta

Cilantro Chicken Soup with Pasta
(8-12 servings)


10 cups Water (can use chicken broth but water is less expensive)
2 whole Carrots, small diced
2 stalks of Celery, small diced
1 small Yellow Onion, small diced
1 Bay Leaf
2 tsp. Minced Garlic
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
2 cups Cooked, Chopped Chicken (can be white, dark or a mix of chicken)
8 oz. small Pasta (your Choice)
3 tbsp. Chicken Base (less if you use chicken broth) (adjust to your taste)
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro, chopped


Put the first 8 ingredients into a 6 to 8 quart pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add chicken and pasta to the pot and continue another 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes adjust seasoning with the chicken base and then add the cilantro. You may need to add a little more water after the pasta cooks. It depends on how thick you like your soup. Make final adjustment to seasoning and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Note: I don’t peel my carrots when I use them in soups and casseroles. You may want to for looks, but you don’t need to for taste. It’s more of a personal preference and it saves time as well.

Note: Leftover chicken of any source (rotisserie, baked, fried, etc) will work here. Just remove the skin and bones, chop to bite-size and add to soup.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Soup Time Again

The weather has been cooling down now for a few weeks.  I don't know about you, but that cool weather makes me desire hot and hearty soups.  I like soup all year-round but there is something about having soup on a cold day and how it makes you feel so much better.

I've got about a dozen soup recipes on this blog already and another dozen in my cookbook.  One of the nice things about making soup.  They're not that hard to make.  Yes, some take a little more time than others because of the prep work involved.  But many soup recipes are very compatible to the "Slow-Cooker" or "Crock-Pot."  So don't be afraid to give it a try.  Master your favorite soup and you always have a signature dish to fall  back on with guests or family.

Don't forget to try your own variations to a recipe.  That helps in making it that signature dish for you to be known for at mealtime.

This week I start with a recipe for "Cilantro Chicken with Pasta" tomorrow.  This dish is very close to a chicken noodle soup recipe in the cookbook.  But I  love cilantro and so I added a bunch to the soup.  Depending on how much (or little) you like cilantro, the amount can be adjusted up or down.  I'd recommend adding a little garnish of cilantro to the bowls just before serving.

A while back I did a blog week on using rotisserie chicken (leftover) in dishes.  This recipes works very well for that leftover rotisserie chicken.

The second soup this week is one that might scare you when you hear it.  It's "Sauerkraut Soup" and it is very tasty.  My first experience with it was on our honeymoon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  There is a German restaurant there (mentioned in the Oktoberfest blog last month) that serves it.  I have to say I was blown away by it.  So please give it a try.  This recipe for the "Sauerkraut Soup" comes from Germany.  So any of my German followers, please let me know if it compares to what you have in your country.

My wife had me buy a sled for this year's snow.  She wants to take our granddaughter sledding this winter.  When we bought it, we both said it probably won't snow now because we're ready.  Haven't seen any yet and I'm not complaining.  Won't bother me if it is not able to be used this year. Although I believe my wife and granddaughter will be disappointed.

Well, have a great time trying the soup recipes and "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Sour Cream Raisin Pie


2 large Fresh Eggs
1 cup Sugar
1 ½ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 ½ cup Raisins (see note)
1 unbaked Pie Shell (see note)


In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, except the raisins & pie shell, until well combined. Next fold in the raisins and then pour mixture into the pie shell. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until browned. Cool and serve.

Note: You can place the raisins in a strainer and pour hot water over them or in a pan of hot water and then strain them. This does need to be done before mixing in with the other ingredients.

Note: You can use a refrigerated pie shell, frozen pie shell (thawed) or make your own pie dough.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert

Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert
(12-20 servings)


3 large Fresh Eggs
1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin
1 ½/ cups Sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Ground Ginger
½ tsp. Ground Cloves
½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 (15 oz.) can Evaporated Milk

1 box Yellow Cake Mix
8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup Pecan Nuts, chopped


In a large bowl, combine and mix well the first set of ingredients (eggs through milk). Then pour this mixture into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Now crumble the cake mix over this mixture. Then pour the melted butter over the cake mix. Place the baking dish in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Just after removing from oven, sprinkle the chopped nuts over the dish. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Note: You can skip the nuts in needed or use a different one that meets your taste or budget better.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Desserts for Holiday Season.

It seems hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us.  This year has gone way too fast.  But here it is - November with "Thanksgiving" and "Hanukkah" just a few weeks away.  "Christmas" and "New Year's" are just around the corner.  I'm sure most of you are like me and not ready for this season.

Well it's not too late to plan and execute for the dinners and parties of the season.  Take a sheet of paper for each event and start making notes.  Are you hosting or being a guest?  If you're hosting, how many are you expecting?  What type (sit-down & pass the food, buffet) of meal do you need to plan?  If you're a guest, what do they want you to bring?  Get the menu together and start on items that can be made early.  Don't leave everything to the last minute.  Remember, if you have guests coming - let them bring a dish to help.  That way they feel a part of the gathering.

This blog is full of recipes that can help you with some part of this season.  Look it over and pick out a few to compliment your own traditional dishes that are required.  It's always nice to have some new items to balance all those favorites of family and friends.

For this week, I'm offering 2 desserts you might want to try during the holidays.  The first is an "Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert" and goes well with Thanksgiving.  I like about anything pumpkin and it's a shame that we don't use it more throughout the year.  It is available year-round.

The second is one I've not tasted.  I don't like raisins and especially cooked raisins.  But this is my grandmother's "Sour Cream Raisin Pie" and everyone that has eaten it, absolutely love it.  My grandmother died back in 1962.  Since than my mother has kept a tradition alive making this recipe she grew up on as a child on the farm.  If you like raisins and have never tried this type of pie, I'm told you're in for a treat.

I entered another "Chili Contest" a few weeks back.  I didn't win with the judges but those eating wiped my pan clean.  I know a judge.  So this week I'll get some feedback.  Based on the input, I'll do some tweaking for the next time.  I make a chili with beans and one without.  It's the without one that I enter in contests.  This was only the second time in a contest.  I'll keep you informed as I do more in the future.

Again, get started on your holiday planning and "Happy Cooking" until next week.