Mermaid’s Galley

Mike’s Favorite Pasta (this will get your lips to burn just a little)

Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 lb. penne
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 32-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
¼ cup vodka
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add penne, and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 11 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat; add chile flakes and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Let this cool just a bit then add the tomatoes and vodka, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir until smooth. Drain pasta, and transfer to pan with sauce; toss pasta with sauce until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.


Every year I am asked for this recipe. I got this recipe (years ago) from the Today Show. It is Al Roker’s Nana’s recipe and I have only changed it a little…
Sweet Potato Poon
• 6 large sweet potatoes
• 4 tsps. baking powder
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 1 cup of flour
• 1 cup of dark brown sugar
• 1 can of crushed pineapple drained
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp. nutmeg
• 1 tsp. allspice
• 1 bag of large Jet Puffed marshmallows
Boil the sweet potatoes until soft. Mash potatoes with 1 stick of butter in a large bowl. Add flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and mix together. Fold in crushed pineapple and pour into a buttered 9” x 12” Pyrex dish.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Remove from oven, layer with marshmallows and place under broiler until marshmallows are toasty brown on top. Be careful… They will catch fire very quickly!


This was fun and fantastic!
Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Cupcakes
Ingredients (for 12)
• 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
• 1 cup bread crumbs
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp pepper
• 1 (8-ounce) can tomato paste
• 2 tbs brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tbs Dijon mustard
• 1 1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
• 12 slices of bacon

• 4-6 potatoes
• 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
• 2 tbs butter
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Making the Meatloaf: Line your muffin tin with the bacon so that each tin is circled by one strip.
3. Mix together the beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, tomato paste, sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Form the meat into 12 equally sized balls and place them into the bacon-lined muffin tins. Fold the top of the bacon over, if needed.
4. Pop them into the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is cooked through and the bacon is crisp.
5. Making the Potatoes: While the meatloaf is cooking, prepare your mashed potatoes. Dice up the potatoes and boil them in salted water until they’re soft. Drain the potatoes, pop them into a mixing bowl, and mash them with a fork until they’re completely smooth. Add your butter, cheese, milk, salt, etc and mix until fully combined. Move your mashed potatoes into a piping bag (or a zip-lock with an edge cut off) and save it until the meatloaf is ready.
6. Assembling the “cupcake”: Once the meatloaf is ready, take em out of the oven, and pipe them with the mashed potatoes! After they’re all piped, pop them back into the oven, and turn your heat up to 400-500 degrees. Heat until the tops of the potatoes are golden brown (it should be very quick – no more than 5-6 minutes).
7. Remove them from the oven, let cool for a bit, and enjoy!


Blue cheese scalloped potatoes with chipotle and bacon
This is one dish that I am asked to make all the time!

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled and divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 canned chipotle chile
Pinch of nutmeg
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch round slices
Salt and black pepper to taste
8 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded (a little more is good)
4-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, such as cast-iron, with the oil.
Pour the half-and-half into a blender and add half of the blue cheese (4 ounces), the garlic, chipotle chile and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Pour the blender contents into a bowl. Add the heavy cream and whisk the two together.
Arrange half the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the skillet. Lightly season the potatoes with salt and black pepper. Pour half of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Top with half of the remaining blue cheese crumbles (2 ounces).
Layer on top the remaining potato slices. Lightly season the potatoes with salt and black pepper. Pour the rest of the thickened cream mixture on top, and top with the rest of the blue cheese (2 ounces).
Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, take off the foil and arrange on top the shredded cheddar and the crumbled bacon. Bake for 20 more minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling and the potatoes are soft.

Yield: 8 servings
This makes an amazing dip or add a little lettuce and even a little chicken and it is a good salad! It is perfect for potlucks when arriving a new destination and are low on fresh goodies.

Mermaid Dip
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, draned and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can shoe peg corn, drained
15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
¾ cup chopped onions
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. salt
juice of two large limes
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 avocados, peeled and diced
tortilla chips

Combine black beans, shoe peg corn, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, salt, lime juice and garlic. Gently stir in avocados. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips

Serves 10-12
Avocado & Mango Salad
1 mango – peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 avocado – peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons red onion – finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves – chopped
½ jalapeno – seeded and chopped (if you want more spice leave the seeds)

Mix mango, avocado, lime juice, red onion, jalapeno and half of the cilantro in a bowl or zip bag. Refrigerate 1 hour (can be refrigerated up to 12 hours).
Add the remaining cilantro when serving.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we left Ensenada heading south and wanted leftovers. I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of getting all those pots and pans dirty again and wondered how it would work if I took the leftovers (which were in baggies) and put them all in one pot of hot water to heat them. So… I brought a big pot of water to nearly boiling, turned the gas off, put the baggies of food in the water, put a lid on the pot and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. The food was perfectly hot with no dirty pots and pans! I even used the hot water to wash the bowls and forks we used to eat dinner. I will do this procedure often!

Austin’s Favorite Ham
The ham recipe that Austin frequently requests is so easy an amazing! All you do is purchase a ham (shoulder, butt, whatever) put it in a pan and pour about 1/2 of a can of Coke over it, cover with foil and bake at 250 degrees for about 2-3 hours. Pour more Coke over about every 45 minutes or so. Uncover for the last 1/2 hour to brown. The ham will be tender, moist and very tasty! If you purchase a ham that has not been cooked (raw) follow the cooking time and temperature on the directions. Enjoy 🙂

This is sooo good!
From La Fonda on Main restaurant, San Antonio, Texas

Avocado Poblano Soup
1 pound poblano chiles, washed, seeded and coarsely chopped (skin on)
2 carrots, washed, peeled and roughly chopped
1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
1/2 gallon (8 cups) fresh chicken stock
2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled (pebbly-skinned brown-black
Haas are preferred)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Corn tortillas, cut in strips and fried in hot oil, for garnish

In a large stock pot, saute poblanos, carrots and onion in canola oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add flour, mix well and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add chicken stock and mix well. Simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add avocado. Pure with wand blender or in batches in blender. Add cilantro and cream, and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or chilled. Top with fried corn tortilla strips.

Makes about 10 servings.


Mermaid’s Mexican Beans & Rice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion Chopped
1 Cup White Rice
2 Cups Dry Kidney Beans (soak in water overnight)
1 Can Rotel
2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Thyme
3 Cloves of Garlic Smashed
3 Cups Water

Sauté chopped onion in the olive oil in pressure cooker until tender. Add all other ingredients to pressure cooker and stir. Cover and bring to pressure for 5 minutes. Let the pressure drop on its own before opening.
Serve with avocado slices, cilantro and shredded cheese (Cheddar is our favorite but Mexican cheeses work as well). Mike adds some pepper sauce on his beans to kick it up a bit. Enjoy!
• 2 Cans of Kidney beans may substitute for dry when in a hurry and you will have to reduce the water just a bit. We have also added a can of chicken before cooking.
• Also, if you like it a little spicy add ½ teaspoon red pepper.


Crema de Chipolte Chicken or as we call it Mexican Spaghetti
My friend Claudia Davidson who owns the restaurant Casa Trece was kind enough to teach me this simple and delicious recipe.
4 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts chopped into bite size pieces
2 Small Cans (or boxes) Media Crema (a substitute could be sour cream)
1 – 2 Small Cans Chipolte Chiles in Adobo
1 Onion Chopped
1 Tablespoon Butter
Garlic Salt to taste
Angle Hair Pasta or Rice prepared according to directions on package

Saute chopped onion in butter until tender. Add chicken pieces and sauté until done, adding garlic salt to your taste. Pour in media crema and the adobo (sauce) from the chiles (we find the chiles too hot to add more than one, but you can certainly add more). Stir and cover for a few minutes, just until hot. Mix pasta into sauce and top with cilantro. Enjoy!

I make this to bring to potlucks and always get asked for the recipe. I grew up with this salad, it was a favorite of my Mom’s…
Make this the day before you want to serve it and chill…

Vegetable Salad

• 1 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped (I sometimes use red for color)
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 celery ribs, sliced
• 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can small sweet green peas, drained
• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can French-cut green beans, drained
• 1 (11-ounce) can white sweet corn, drained
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove dressing from heat, and cool 30 minutes.
• Stir together chopped bell pepper and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl; gently stir in dressing. Cover and chill salad for 8 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.
• NOTE: Salad may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.


This came from my good friend Terry and it is fabulous every time I make it!
Looooooziana Shrimp

2 lbs. large, uncooked, unpeeled shrimp, slit down the back
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chili sauce (“Homemade” Brand)
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ lemon thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
¾ teaspoon ground red pepper
¾ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper
French bread

Wash shrimp well, pat dry and spread in shallow pan (13×9).
Combine remaining ingredients except bread in small saucepan and let simmer 10 minutes. Pour over shrimp and mix thoroughly.
Cover and refrigerate 2 – 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400. Bake shrimp, turning frequently, until the just turn pink, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Adjust seasonings. Serve in soup bowls with chunks of French bread to soak up the sauce.


Red Wine Brasato

1 750-ml bottle good hearty red wine (another bottle for the chef!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 3 pound beef chuck pot roast
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 14-ounce can beef broth
2 large sprigs fresh sage
2 large sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Preheat to 300°F.
Simmer wine in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large wide pot over medium heat. Rub a small amount of salt and pepper on roast and cook roast until brown on all sides, about 13 minutes.
Transfer to large plate. Spoon fat from pot Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Add sage, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot.
Pour the reduced red wine over.
Cover and cook 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn roasts over. Cover and cook until roast is tender, about 45 min.
Transfer roast to cutting board, slice and serve with liquid from pan on top.


After picking blueberries in Alaska I went home and made this recipe which was fabulous!
Blueberry Slump
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 ¼ cups milk
1 ½ lb. blueberries (2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups of blueberries = one pound)
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Whisk together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and ½ tsp. salt in a large bowl; add butter, and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until pea-size crumbles form. Add milk, and stir just until a moist dough forms; cover and refrigerate dough until ready to use.

2. Heat oven to 400°. Bring remaining sugar and salt along with blueberries and citrus juices to a boil in a 12″ cast-iron or enamelware skillet over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove pan from heat, and using two tablespoons, portion and form chilled dough into 2–3″ oval dumplings, and drop them evenly on top of the blueberry mixture. Sprinkle dough dumplings with sugar, and transfer skillet to oven; bake until biscuits are cooked through and blueberry mixture is reduced, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.


I frequently get asked for salad dressing recipes. They are easy and much better than store bought. Here are some, but I use the first one most of the time:

Mermaid’s Favorite Balsamic Dressing
Yield: Makes about 3/4 cup
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes; re-whisk before using.)
Honey Mustard Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey

Mix thoroughly. A very simple but delicious dressing or dipping sauce.
Good Salad Dressing
1/2 C. Mayonnaise
1/3 C. White Vinegar
1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp. Corn Syrup
2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp. Romano Cheese
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt – or one clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Parsley Flakes
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until well mixed. If this is a little to tart for your own personal tastes just add a little extra sugar.
Avocado Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
¼ small red onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice (2-3) limes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place the avocados, onion, lime juice, salt and pepper in a blender and process until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil until emulsified. Add the honey and cilantro and pulse until just combined, but there are still some flecks. This can be made up to 1 hour in advance.

Bleu Cheese Dressing
2 shallots, very finely minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients except greens and whisk until smooth or blend at low speed. Chill.
Cilantro Dressing

3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 bunches cilantro, (rinsed well, most of stalky ends trimmed off) finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil

Drop garlic cloves and ginger through the feed tube of food processor while motor is on. Mince well. Add the cilantro and process until finely chopped. Add spices, lime juice, vinegar, honey, and parmesan cheese. Process until well mixed. With motor running slowly pour the oil through the feed tube. Let process one more minute.

Additional Tips: To make the salad you will need slivered mixed greens, shredded grilled chicken breast, corn kernals, rinsed black beans, bell pepper, chopped tomato, shredded cheese and toasted tortilla strips.
When we were in the South Pacific and out of eggs, this cake was very popular!
Rooster Cake… NO EGGS!

¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup oil
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons vinegar

Whisk together the first six ingredients. Add vinegar while stirring. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Amazing Meatloaf

Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min

Serves: 8 servings


Tomato Topping:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar or water


  • 2 pounds ground chuck (may use meat loaf mix with ground pork)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup roasted or fresh red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto
  • 1/4 pound provolone cheese, sliced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix together the tomato topping ingredients. Set aside. If it is too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it to a ketchup consistency.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, eggs, Parmesan, vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.

On a waxed paper lined sheet pan or counter, form meatloaf mix into a 10 by 8-inch flat rectangle on the waxed paper. Place a layer of prosciutto slices on top, followed by a layer of provolone slices. Roll up the stuffed meatloaf mix like a burrito and seal the edges all around by pinching the meat.

Place the roll, seam side down, into a 5 by 9-inch loaf pan. Spread a heavy coat of the tomato topping to completely cover the top of the meatloaf. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the temperature on a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Drain fat and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.





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