December 12, 2012

Happy Holidays from Kokopelli's Kitchen!  We found and have posted below some delightful holiday treats -- any of these would make a great gift for that special someone you love.  The recipes are from "Christmas in Texas" edited by Marie Cahill; permission to reprint the recipes has been granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Amber Combs, Seven Points

1 deep dish PIE CRUST
3 cups SWEET POTATOES, cooked and mashed
1 cup SUGAR
1/2 cup BUTTER, softened 
1/2 tsp. NUTMEG
1/4 tsp. SALT
1 cup HALF & HALF
1 cup PECANS, chopped
        Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, beat sweet potatoes until smooth and add sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg, salt and half & half.  Pour filling into uncooked pie shell to 1/2 inch from top of crust.  Sprinkle nuts on top.  Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.  Sprinkle red and green candied cherries over nuts.  Let cool completely before cutting. Serves 6 - 8.

"I experimented with this cake for my best friend's husband who loves chocolate.  His birthday is December 22nd, and I make it for him then, just in time for Christmas!"  Dorothy Geroianni, San Antonio

1 can (21 oz.) CHERRY PIE FILLING
        Prepare cake mix according to directions on package.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Spoon cherry pie filling over cake mix and swirl through.  Add ½ of the chocolate chips to the batter and swirl again.  Bake as directed on cake mix package.  While still warm, sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over cake; the chips will melt -- spread over top of cake while warm.  Cool cake and serve.

"My holiday guests always request this pie.  It has all the usual ingredients and a few delectable extras that make it a real topper.  Preparation time is only 15 minutes plus refrigeration time."  Helen Ruetten, Elm Mott

2 Tbsp. SUGAR
6 Tbsp. BUTTER or MARGARINE, softened
     Crush crackers with rolling pin on wax paper.  Combine with remaining ingredients in mixing bowl, stirring to blend well.  Press mixture firmly in a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool before filling. 

1 pkg. (3 oz) CREAM CHEESE, softened
1 Tbsp. HALF & HALF
1 Tbsp. SUGAR
1 1/2 cups WHIPPED TOPPING, thawed
1 cup cold HALF & HALF
2 pkg. (4 serving size) VANILLA FLAVOR INSTANT PUDDING
1 can (16 oz.) PUMPKIN
1 tsp. ground CINNAMON
1/2 tsp. ground GINGER
1/2 tsp. ground CLOVES
        Mix softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon half & half and sugar until smooth.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  Spread on bottom of crust.  Pour 1 cup half & half into mixing bowl.  Add pudding mix and beat with wire whisk 1 to 2 minutes until well blended.  Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in pumpkin and spices and mix well.  Spread over cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with additional whipped topping and chocolate dipped pecan halves, if desired.  Serves 8.

November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day! Thanks to All Vets For Courage & Sacrifice to Protect Our Country's Freedom.

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day--a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Veterans Day Facts

  • In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

Veterans Facts

The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States.
  • 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65.
  • 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35.
  • 1.8 million veterans are women.
  • 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans.
  • 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).
  • 2.6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945).
  • 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • As of 2008, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
  • 5 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets. 
(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved November 11, 2012.)

October 04, 2012

All About the Pumpkin and Halloween

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world. Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

The Legend of "Stingy Jack"

People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o'-lanterns.

Did You Know.....

In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.

Pumpkin Facts

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.

  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.

  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."

  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.

(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved October 3 16, 2012.)

August 31, 2012

2012 Labor Day Menu Pays Tribute to Chile Lovers

If you like your food hot, Kokopelli's Kitchen thought these recipes would be fun for Labor Day! Both recipes are from "Real New Mexico Chile" by Sandy Szwarc. Permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, AZ.

The Southwestern pueblo Indians are believed to be descendents of the Anasazi, or "ancient ones". This main dish salad brings the fresh tastes of their native summer squashes into modern times.

  • 1 cup diced CHICKEN or TURKEY BREAST
  • 2 tsp. LAND OF ENCHANTMENT SPICE MIX (see recipe below)
  • 1 Tbsp. OLIVE OIL
  • cup chopped MARINATED SUNDRIED TOMATOES, patted dry
  • ½ cup chopped GREEN ONIONS
  • ¼ cup chopped, roasted & peeled NEW MEXICO GREEN CHILES  
  • 2 Tbsp. LIME JUICE
  • 2 Tbsp. TEQUILA
  • SALT to taste
  • 1 cup grated mild GOAT CHEESE or any WHITE CHEESE
Coarsely grate the squash (or zucchini) into a colander, sprinkle lightly with salt, drain 30 minutes and squeeze dry. Reserve. In a small bowl, toss the chicken with the spice mix. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and fry, tossing occasionally, until golden. Add the reserved zucchini, tomatoes, green onions and chile. Toss over medium heat until heated through and the zucchini is crisp and tender, about 8 minutes. Toss in the cilantro, lime juice, tequila, salt and cheese. Heat through.

Yields 4 servings.

This vibrantly-flavored dry spice mix can be sprinkled on meats, vegetables or cheeses before cooking to lend an authentic New Mexican flavor. It will keep in an airtight container for about a year.
  • 2 Tbsp. SALT
  • 1 tsp. GROUND CUMIN
  • 1½ tsp. DRIED OREGANO 
  • ½ tsp. CHILE CARIBE 
 Toss all together.

Yields about 1/3 cup.