Peggy’s Hot Bean Dip

from Dorian Lara, a co-worker at UC Davis – this recipe came from a friend of his mother

1 can refried beans
1 – 8 oz can chicken, drained
1 can chopped black olives (or 1/2  can whole black olives, chopped)
1/2  cup salsa
1 – 4 oz can green chile
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Mix all ingredients except cheese until well combined.
  2. Spread in a shallow pan.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350° until bubbly.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.
  • This also makes a delicious filling for burritos.

Pie Crust

adapted from my mother’s & grandmother’s recipes – my mother said 1:3 ratio of shortening to flour,
my grandmother said 1:2 – I prefer halfway between, this makes a crust that is flaky, but not too delicate

6 cups flour
2 1/2  cups shortening
1 tsp salt
cold water


  1. Cut flour & salt into shortening with two knives or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse corn meal.
  2. Add water to make an easily handleable, pliable dough.  If you add too little, it will be crumbly & will not hold together when you pick it up after rolling it out.  Start with 1/4 cup & add the water a few tablespoons at a time – it is hard to add too much.
  3. Divide into 4 pieces & roll out on a floured cloth – if it cracks a lot while doing this, put it back in the bowl & add more water.
  4. Fold in half & lift into pie pan. If it cracks while doing this, add more water before rolling the next crust.
  5. Makes 4 – 10″ crusts.
  • You can also use a food processor to mix the dough, pulsing to cut in shortening and when adding water. Do not overprocess – you may need to add more water after removing from the processor.
  • Unbaked pie dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.  Seal the dough balls in zipper bags or vacuum sealer bags.  You may need to add more water before using – freezing changes the consistency a little bit. 

Aunt Louise’s Zucchini Relish

from my husband’s great aunt, Louise Cooper Purinton

5 cups chopped unpeeled zucchini (2-3 large)
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 med)
1/2  red bell pepper *
1 1/2  Tbsp salt
1 1/8  cups vinegar
2 1/2  cups sugar
1 1/2  tsp pepper
1 1/2  tsp mustard seed
1 1/2  tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp celery seed
1/2  tsp nutmeg


  1. Grind vegetables to pickle relish consistency. Add salt. Put in large bowl & cover with water. Let stand overnight.
  2. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain well.
  3. Place in large pot. Add remaining ingredients. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Pack into jars & seal. Process for 5-10 minutes in boiling water bath.
  5. Makes about 4 pints.
  • Variations:
    • substitute carrot for bell pepper – it’s mostly there for the color
    • substitute cucumber or other veggies for zucchini (total 5 cups veggies)
    • substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar
    • substitute garam masala for turmeric (will be sweeter & a little spicier)
    • substitute saffron or annatto (achiote) for turmeric if you only want the color

Southwest Egg Rolls

from Marissa Davis Hefner

1 avocado, mashed
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2 chicken breast halves, chopped
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp taco seasoning (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp minced green onions
1 can corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 Tbsp diced canned jalapeno peppers (optional)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2  cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 pkg egg roll wrappers
oil for frying


  1. Combine avocado & ranch dressing.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken, sprinkle with taco seasoning, and cook until done.
  3. Add salt, green onion, jalapeno, corn, cilantro, beans and spinach.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in cheese.  Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Set egg roll wrapper in front of you, with the corner pointing towards you.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp filling onto the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold bottom corner up, then each side.  Use your finger or pastry brush to lightly dab water onto the top corner, then finish rolling up.
  6. Preheat 4-6 cups of oil to 375 degrees.
  7. Deep fry the egg rolls in the hot oil for 3-5 minutes (or until golden brown) and remove to paper towels or a rack to drain for about 2 minutes.
  8. Serve with avocado sauce.
  • This recipe is similar to Chili’s egg rolls, which are a family favorite.  I prefer egg roll wrappers, but feel free to use flour tortillas instead; just remember to increase the frying time.
  • Filling is also good for enchiladas or an enchilada casserole, layered with corn tortillas and green enchilada sauce.

Taco Seasoning Mix

adapted by Marissa Davis Hefner
from Bill Echols on

1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients.
  2. Store in an airtight container.
  • You can double, triple (or more) and store for later use.
  • Depending on how spicy you and your family like your dishes, use as little or as much as you want.

Ham & Spinach Quiche

adapted by Marissa Davis Hefner
from Linda on

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4-6 oz ham, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
2 – 9″ unbaked pie shells (not deep dish)


  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs; whisk in milk, 1 cup cheese, salt, mustard and paprika.
  2. Saute onions until tender, add spinach and ham, cook a few minutes longer.  Let cool.
  3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese onto each pie shell, bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  4. Combine egg mixture with onion mixture, pour into pie shells.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean.
  • This can also be made in muffin cups with no crust.

Cecilia’s Salsa

Cecilia Feser, the mother of one of my co-workers at UC Davis, sent us this wonderful concoction on a regular basis and kindly shared her delicious recipe containing several surprising ingredients.

2 – 28 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 – 8 oz can El Pato Mexican tomato sauce (has a yellow duck on label)
1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 – 4 oz can green chile
1 pkg taco seasoning
1/2  cup water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp horseradish
1 bunch cilantro
3 cloves garlic
4-6 green onions


  1. Mix all ingredients except cilantro, garlic & green onions.
  2. Pulse cilantro, garlic & green onions in food processor until tiny pieces.  Mix into tomato mixture.
  • This is a very fresh tasting salsa – I was surprised that she uses canned tomatoes.  The taco seasoning and horseradish were also surprising, but the combination is terrific!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

adapted from “Coconut Shrimp with Garlic” in Better Homes and Gardens’ “Fast & Simple Stir-Fry”
When I tasted this recipe it reminded me of the flavors in the Green Curry at my favorite Thai restaurant, so I added green curry paste and oh, my!

1 lb shrimp
3/4  cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp fish sauce or 1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2  tsp pepper
1-2 tsp green curry paste, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz asparagus, cut in 1″ pieces
cooked rice
2 Tbsp cilantro or parsley, optional


  1. Mix coconut milk, fish or soy sauce, pepper & curry paste. Set aside.
  2. Pour oil into skillet or wok to coat lightly. Preheat over med-high heat.
  3. Add asparagus, stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add garlic, stir-fry for 15 seconds. Remove vegetables from pan.
  4. Add half the shrimp to the pan. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until opaque. Remove from pan, repeat with remaining shrimp.  Return all shrimp to pan.
  5. Stir coconut milk mixture & pour over shrimp. Cook & stir until bubbly.
  6. Return vegetables to pan. Cook & stir for about 1 minute or until heated through.
  7. Serve with rice. Cilantro can be stirred into the rice if desired.
  • Start with a small amount of green curry paste, you can add more after tasting the sauce.
  • You can substitute sliced chicken breast for the shrimp.
  • You can substitute other vegetables.  My favorite is snow pea pods, but frozen Asian vegetable mixes work well, also.

Corn, Green Chile & Ham Chowder

adapted by Marissa Davis Hefner from Judy Callaway’s Clam Chowder

10 red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups ham, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup green chile, chopped
1/2 cup butter
16 oz lowfat cream cheese
1 quart fat-free half & half
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place potatoes and onions in large pot.  Cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are tender.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Cook until corn is done and soup is heated through.
  • You can thicken the soup with cornstarch if desired – I don’t think this is needed.
  • You may want more or less chile depending on your palate and the heat of the chiles you are using.

Clam Chowder

This is adapted from a recipe that Judy Callaway, a co-worker at UC Davis, brought to a potluck. Everybody loved it so much that she kindly shared her recipe. This makes a lot – I recommend a half recipe for singles or those who do not like leftovers.

Servings: 8

10 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cans (7 oz) chopped clams, undrained
1/2  cup butter
16 oz lowfat cream cheese
1 quart fat-free half & half
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place potatoes and onions in large pot.  Cover with water.  Boil until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Heat through.
  • Judy also added  1/2 lb bacon, chopped & cooked until crisp, but I usually don’t do this.
  • You can thicken the soup with cornstarch if desired  – I don’t think this is needed.
  • Marissa Davis Hefner’s variation: substitute 2 cups chopped ham for clams, add 2 cups frozen corn & chopped green chile to taste (we use about 1/2  cup).