Friday, July 29, 2011

Phizzy's Pineapple Bread Pudding

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy

Phizzy Edwards is one of my mom's (Anne Whitson's) best friends as well as being her cousin. They lived together as twenty-somethings in New York during the 40's. She was a chemist. My mom worked as a secretary in the CBS building at Rockefeller Center. You know, the plaza with the giant Christmas tree during the holidays and the gold statue of Rodin's "The Thinker"? It was in the movie "Home Alone"--the boy finds his mom waiting for him under the Christmas tree at the end? Anyway, Phizzy and my mom were on very slim budgets. They used to cook s'mores over a candle in their apartment. Mom said for once in their lives, they were too skinny. My Dad worried about this and used to come and feed them once a week (he was in school at MIT in Boston). They named the gold statue after my father, because it looked like him--always thinking. This recipe came along from a neighbor when Phizz lived in Texas. It is soooo good as a side-dish served with Ham--or serve it as dessert. There is never any left at the Robinson pot-lucks.

I know no one gets white bread anymore, but you can always use the rest for French Toast, orrr sandwiches for Tea with your daughter's stuffed animals!


2 T flour
1/2 C sugar
large can crushed pineapple
3 beaten eggs
1/4 lb. butter
4 -5 sliced white bread, torn in small pieces


Butter an 8X8 baking dish. Mix the first 3 ingredients well and add the eggs. Pour in baking dish. Melt 1/4 butter and mix with 4-5 slices (depending on how large your bread loaf is) torn white bread. Place on top of pineapple mix. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4, but can be doubled or tripled easily. YUM! I want some now!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Razzle Dazzle Mousse

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Easy

Here's another outstanding recipe from Doris Schwietzer. She was famous for it in the groups she frequented. Especially the "Knit Wits". This is a group at SCBC (church) that knits for the homeless and people in rest homes. Every year they make boxes and boxes of scarves and knit hats, sweaters and even blankets! What they don't give to folks who are in need, they sell. Then they give the proceeds to homeless charities. I think Doris must have made more things for the to benefit the homeless than anyone. Especially baby clothes in soft yellows and whites and aquas. She loved those babies! So when you make this dessert, remember Doris. White-haired, fiesty, sentimental Doris--who had a heart of gold.

Note: Any mousse that has cream cheese in it is almost no-fail.


1 C whipping cream
3 T sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese-softened
3 oz. white chocolate, melted
1 1/2 C fresh raspberries
1 C fresh blackberries


Beat whipping cream in small bowl at medium-hi speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form (stiff peaks, soft peaks--look it up on Google if you don't know the difference). Beat cream cheese in medium bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Add chocolate; beat until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. In 6 (1/2 C) parfait or stemmed glasses (I use wine glasses), alternate layers of mousse and berries, ending with raspberries. Refrigerate until serving time. (375 calories per serving--but worth every single one)

Best Brown Sugar Peach Pie

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Medium

I started cooking in earnest the summer of my 16th birthday. I baked --a lot. So when my mom make this incredible caramel-y brown sugar peach pie, I asked for the recipe. Summer peaches are wonderful in Portola Valley! "Webb Ranch" down Alpine road has a roadside farmstand where you can get produce straight from the earth. It formerly was made of used lumber, weathered and grey. The structure itself looked like it would fall over any minute--but we loved it! It had trays of gorgeous fruit and vegetables in reds, yellows, blues and greens. Fresh flowers too, in huge white buckets. It's still there now, but it's all yuppied out. A yuppy farmstand. It's actually painted! Who'd a thunk it? But when the peaches are as big as a harvest moon--it's time to make carmel-y brown-sugar peach pie!


One 9-inch lattice-top pie crust

3/4 C. brown sugar
1/3 C all-purpose flour
3 T light corn syrup
1 T lemon juice (this is key)
1/3 C softened butter
3 1/2 -4 C fresh sliced peaches

Combine all but peaches in a medium-sized pot. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved . Cool slightly. Arrange peaches in pastry. Pour brown sugar mixture over all. Place lattice pieces, or regular pie crust, on top of pie and crimp edges. Bake at 400 degrees 35 minutes. Cool to lukewarm before serving. Vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream on top highly recommended!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ming's Famous Chinese Chicken Salad

Catagory: Chicken
Difficulty Rating: Medium to Hard (lots of chopping and frying)

Chinese Chicken Salad swept the nation starting in the 1970's and 80's. That sounds funny--I get the picture of a truck-load of the stuff being dumped at every corner in every city! HA!It is unique, however, in that it has retained it's popularity. Like carrot cake, it has many devotees--and is wonderful for a simple lunch, brunch, or summer dinner. Since I posted the "Ming's Beef" from Ming's Restaurant in Palo Alto, I thought I'd better post their amazing, not-too-sweet-but-sweet-enough Chinese Chicken Salad. It was the first CCS I ever tried, and dang, it's good! So many of the others are just tooooo sweeeet! I got it off of "" --the recipe was contributed by none other than bald food expert/actor Telly Savalas some years ago. He had it at Ming's and liked it too!


1 lb. chicken breast, boned.
Oil for deep-frying
1/3-1/2 pkg. rice sticks
1/2 t Chinese mustard
1 C hoisin sauce
2 T crushed almonds (I use peanuts)
pinch salt
1 T sesame seeds
1 head lettuce, shredded ( do by hand, not food processor)
4 sprigs (or more to taste) minced cilantro

Note: I put a T finely chopped green onions in there, but it isn't part of the original recipe.


Deep-fry chicken 5 minutes, until crisp and golden. Drain. cut into lengthwise, julienned strips.
Skin should be left on for added flavor. Drop rice sticks into hot oil and rmove with slotted spoon as soon as they rise to the surface--which will be almost immediately. Drain on a paper towel on in a dish. Combine chicken with mustard, hoisin sauce, nuts, salt and sesame seeds in a salad bowl. Mix well. To serve, add fried rice sticks, shredded lettuce and cilantro. Toss, but not too much or it will get soggy!

Ming's Beef--a Palo Alto Favorite!

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Medium

Ming's Restaurant in Palo Alto (CA) has been a local favorite since 1967. They are famous for their gourmet Chinese cuisine and upscale panache. "Ming's Beef", which is sort of like Beef Satay without the sticks on fried rice noodles, was one of my family's favorites.

Yes, my family loved Ming's. My mom even threw me a "Sweet Sixteen" party there. All my friends and I dressed up in evening gowns and sat at a large round table. It was so grown-up and wonderful. Until I, with a sweeping gesture, accidentally knocked the trays out of a passing waiter's hands. I really am SO talented. You could hear the crash and splinter of dishes in the next state.I felt really bad! After apologizing profusely and trying to help the waiter pick up his dishes, I consoled myself with this wonderful dish...


2 T cornstarch
2 T sherry
2 T soy sauce
2 T oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T sliced fresh ginger root
2 T sugar
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain into 3-inch strips
4 oz saifun noodles (also called rice or cellophane noodles), dry
Oil to fry noodles and for stir-frying (sorry, do not use olive oil unless it has NO flavor at all)
1/4 C oyster sauce


Mix the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl or 9X13 pan and add sliced steak strips to marinate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer. Fry saifun (rice) noodles in large (10-12 inch) skillet or wok in 1 inch oil. When puffed (a few seconds), remove to paper towels to drain.

Heat an additional 2-3 T oil in pan. Remove ginger root from marinade. Add meat mixture to work; stir-fry for 2 minutes or until meat changes color. Add oyster sauce; cook another minute or two. Serve over fried noodles. Use a little minced chives or green onion as a garnish if desired. Note: Make extra--this will serve about 3 people.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Orange Oahu Poona Poona Wiki Salad

Category: Fruit and Vegetables
Difficulty Rating: Medium (due to skill required to unmold jello)

My mom named this very 1970's jello salad. We had just taken a trip to Maui and had seen a whole lot of pineapple fields. I was 16, my sister was 14. So mom, inspired by Hawaii, served this orange/pineapple jello concoction at one of her legendary luncheons. When they asked her what the name of the dish was she giggled and said "Orange Oahu Poona Poona Wiki!" The name stuck, and here is the recipe...It may not be "au courant", but your kids (and nostalgic adults) will love it! Serve it at birthday parties! Wheeee!

Ingredients and Directions:

Mix in a blender--
1 pack Knox gelatin
1 small can frozen orange juice
1/4 C cold water
1 pkg. cream cheese

Then add and mix thoroughly:

1 pkg. orange jello
1 C boiling water


1 can drained mandarin oranges
1 small can drained, crushed pineapple
3 large handfuls mini-marshmellows

Pour into a jello mold and chill until set. Fill up your sink or a large bowl half-way with very warm (not hot) water. Place jello mold very briefly in water almost up to the top of the outside of the mold. Do not let any warm water into the mold! Then, quickly remove mold from water. Place a serving plate larger than the mold OVER the mold. Holding the plate firmly on top of the mold with your hand , flip the mold over. The jello mold should unmold onto the plate. Decorate plate with halved orange slices, or edible flowers (nasturtiums or orchids) and serve!

Father's Day Mug Vegetable Soup

Category: Soups
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Very Healthy

My daughter Lauren got this great, simple, vegetable soup off of a Father's Day mug she gave to her Dad one year. It eventually broke, but Lauren kept it in order to keep the soup recipe. So for years, I had this mug with a big chunk out of it in my cupboard! Finally, after Lauren grew up and moved out, I put it in her keepsake box. But before I did, I copied it down. Here it is... Really delicious with a loaf of fresh french bread, aged cheddar and a glass of wine. Make some and freeze some for a rainy day!


2 lg. onions
2 cloves garlic (smashed and chopped)
2 lg. carrots (sliced)
3 pieces celery (sliced)
3  diced tomatoes ( cut in large dice)
4 lg. diced potatoes (cut in large dice)
2 sliced zucchinis
1 bunch spinach (chopped)
1/2 cabbage (sliced)
6 t. Italian seasoning
1 vegetable bouillon cube and /or salt to taste


Slice onions and saute with chopped garlic in olive oil until golden. Add 6-8 cups water. Add sliced carrots, celery and diced tomatoes. cook for 10 minutes. Add diced potatoes, sliced zucchini, chopped spinach and sliced cabbage and seasoning. Simmer 20-30 minutes, adding as much water and salt or vegetable bouillon cubes as you need. Serve (best served the next day).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ga-Ga's Stuffed Artichokes

Category: Fish
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium ( easy except artichokes are hard to de-thorn)

My grandmother on my mom's side was the first Lady Ga-Ga. That was our name for her: GA-GA, because Gladys was too hard to say. And she really was very lady-like. Very much like Martha Stewart if Martha Stewart had a high voice like Miss Piggy.She also had a ferocious side. One time, when my dad was still dating my mom, Ga-Ga threw a vase at him. It whistled by his ear as Ga-Ga chirped "Oops! I dropped it." My Dad had come over when my mom was too sick to see him and my grandmother was NOT happy. He learned from that, and respected Ga-Ga very much. They were good friends until she died at age 105.

I asked Ga-Ga for this recipe when I was in my teens in the 1970s. You can stuff artichokes or avocados with it. She loved shellfish, so it's appropriate that this found it's way into this cookbook. It is in her own words:

"The morning or night before you plan to serve this, cook 2 large or 4 small artichokes. In another small pot, hard-boil an egg. Drain the chokes in a colander and chill them in the refrigerator till cold. At the same time, chill the egg until you need to use it. When thoroughly chilled, cut each choke in half and take out the thistle-y core and most of the tender young leaves in the middle. Cut the stem short--about 1/2 inch at the most. Leave the heart on the end, but make sure there are no thistles left on it.

Wash and drain 1 lb fresh, chilled (cooked) baby shrimp in a colander and put back in refrigerator.

Mix in a medium bowl: 1/2 C mayonnaise, 2 T olive oil, 1 C chopped celery, 1 chopped hard-boiled egg, a handful of chopped parsley, 1/8 t Beau Monde, a large pinch Cayenne pepper, lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (or to taste), and a sprinkle of Accent (MSG). Yes, I know MSG is bad for you, but it really helps the taste in this recipe!

To this mixture add the fresh shrimp and load it into the halved artichokes. Serve them on beds of lettuce. Perfect for a summer dinner or a luncheon with friends!

Speedy Ring Around (Orange Rolls)

Category: Breads
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy

Here's another favorite from Aunt Elma Robinson. My cousin Robin says she only makes quick and easy food now, and this is quick and easy! She makes these amazing little orange rolls which were great at Easter and brunch-type celebrations as well as family breakfasts! They are very tasty--and have been handed down 3 generations--from Elma, to Phizzy, to Robin and now to Nicole who just had a baby daughter who will most likely make 'em too!


3/4 sugar (or a little more)
1 T grated orange peel (or a little more)
2 pkg.s refrigerated biscuits
1/4 melted butter

Mix sugar and orange peel. Dip biscuits in butter then sugar mix. Overlap biscuits in circle in greased 9-inch ring mold. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Invert onto a plate. Serve at once.

Quickie Pork Chops

Catagory: Pork
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy

These pork chops are something I make when I know my hubby wants dinner fast, hot and yummy. Since usually I come home slow, cold and not wanting to cook--this is great! It's one of those olde recipes from the 1980s--so it is not lo-fat. But when you're in a hurry-- just do it! Got this from a girl named Gail that I used to work with at "The Yum Yum Tree" dress shop when I was in college. She was a working mom and knew her quick recipes!


4 pork chops
1/4 C dry sherry (I use Amontillado, but cooking sherry is ok)
1/4 C catchup
1/2 C sour cream (you can use the low-fat kind)
1 t worcestshire
1/4 t t paprika

Brown chops in a hot skillet until just done. Drain fat. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and pour on top of chops. Simmer for about 10 minutes more. Boom! You're done! Serve with or without rice, your choice!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Basic BBQ Sauce from Aunt Eleanor

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy
Not Healthy but fine on BBqd chicken!

One of my most vivid memories is of my grandfather, Lloyd Whitson's sisters, Eleanor and Maude. They came out to California from Minnesota to visit my grandfather. I was about 11 or 12. They were old ladies.

At first, I thought I had never seen such classic, almost cartoon-like old ladies. They wore calf-length black dresses, and those black grandma orthopedic shoes. Their gray hair was kept neatly in buns. But they were tall, about 5'9". Unusually tall for their era. They had a few extra pounds on, but they were solid--like tree-trunks. You could tell they didn't just lay around all day. They were old, yes--but I soon found out they were young inside.

Aunt Eleanor was especially young at heart, she was even... hip! Warm and totally unpretentious, she knew how to talk to children. She made me feel like I was, well, a person! Later, I found an 8X10 picture of her as a young girl and she was absolutely stunning. Black Irish, Scottish and Norwegian. Almost Spanish-looking, she looked very much like movie-star Penelope Cruz. Wow!

I didn't talk much to Aunt Maude, but I do have a wonderful memory of her cleaning out closets at my grandfather's house. I still see her in my mind's eye, poised in front of a jam-packed closet with her hands on her hips. She let out a "hmph!" and started in cleaning. No complaining...just get on with it. That's what we were taught in our (Whitson) family. Don't waste time wishing the problem wasn't there--find a solution and get 'er done.

After they left, I received 4 teaspoons with "Ws" engraved on them from Aunt Eleanor. They were from my great grandmother Jennie Whitson's small silver collection. They were very poor, the Whitsons, so every little bit of silver had been cherished. It made me cry to think she had given them up. She also sent this basic BBQ sauce recipe. She had remembered that I collected recipes for my childish recipe box... Sure, you can find one just as good on the shelf in the grocery store. But this was hers, which makes it special.

Blend: 2 T Vinegar and 1 T flour


1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 t salt
1 pinch red pepper
1 t paprika
1/4 t pepper
1 t chile powder
1/2 C ketchup
2 t brown sugar
2 T hot water ( Aunt Eleanor used 1/2 C)

Cook gently until thick and spread or brush on grilling meats and poultry. Or, spread or brush on meat that has almost cooked in the oven, and cook until meat is done and sauce has carmelized.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gooey Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Category: Miscellaneous
Difficulty Rating: Very Easy-Easy

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches have been raised in recent years from being just a comfort food to being an ART! One of the restaurants responsible for this is the "American Grilled Cheese Kitchen" in San Francisco. They make the ooey-gooey-ist grilled cheese sandwiches you have ever tasted. I know...'cos I found their recipe in a newspaper article.  Alan and I went there one day to try it only to find it closed for remodeling! So we went across the street and chortled at each other whilst woofing down cheeseburgers and wine.  I have modified the first recipe from the original. It truly is, for all it's simplicity, one of the best recipes in this blog. It's former name is "The Popper", but I call it the "Big Cheese".

I dedicate this to my brother Jim who loves grilled cheese sandwiches and wanted this recipe after I described it to him. Hi Jim!

The "Big Cheese"

2 slices sliced french bread
2 T butter
2 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
1 T Chevre cheese
2 slices Apple-Smoked Bacon (cooked) or Vegetarian Bacon (also cooked)
Jalapeno/ Apricot Jelly ("Joy's Peach-Jalapeno Jam" is good--at Shopper's Corner in SC) or any good Red Pepper Jelly


Butter one side of each slice of bread thoroughly. Spread approx. 1/2 oz of Chevre cheese on one slice of bread on the unbuttered side. Layer on top of this 2 oz. of sliced Monterey Jack cheese and 2 slices cooked bacon. On the unbuttered side of other piece of bread, spread approx. 1 T jam or jelly. Place the first piece of bread, cheese/bacon side up into a hot skillet that has been greased with about 1/4 t butter. Immediately place second piece of bread buttered side up, jam side down, on top of this. Cook sandwich, covered, for 2-3 minutes, then flip over with a spatula. Cook other side for another 2-3 minutes or until bread is toasted brown on both sides and cheese is melted. Feel free to press down sandwich with spatula on second side to make it brown faster.
Cut in half and serve. Ooooooooooooooh!

This next recipe was featured on the same show's segment on the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. It was also in the June 2011 issue of People magazine. I altered this one both for convenience and economy. The original name was the "Moscone Grilled Cheese Sandwich". So I named this the "Moscone 2".

The Moscone 2

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil and drained on paper towels
2 medium-thick slices country-style white bread
4 t salted butter, softened
2 t pesto sauce (make your own or buy some in the frozen section)
2 oz. Fontina cheese-sliced thin
2 oz. Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
2 t chopped Kalmata olives, pitted

Spread butter on the outside of each bread slice. Spread pesto on un-buttered side of 1 slice. Cover pesto side with Italian Fontina. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, followed by mozzarella. Distribute olive pieces on un-buttered side of second bread slice and place on top of sandwich. Heat a cast iron pan or a griddle over medium heat. Cook sandwich, covered , for 2-3 minutes. Flip sandwich over and cook, covered, for another 2-3 minutes until bread is toasted and cheese is melted. Serve with a glass of chilled white wine and apples!