Sharing recipes: From our families to yours

This year, the Washington State Chapter board and staff gathered recipes to share with each other for the holidays. These recipes are family favorites, holiday favorites or just something people found to be tasty. Below are a few of the recipes from the book for you to enjoy! 

Cowboy Caviar
Submitted by: Hailey Adair

3 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
2 ripe avocados, diced
⅓ cup red onion, diced
15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups frozen sweet corn, thawed (I usually toss it in the salad while it’s still frozen unless I plan on eating it immediately; it thaws quite quickly.)
1 bell pepper, diced (I used half green/half red, the color doesn’t matter)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced into very small pieces
⅓ cup cilantro, finely chopped
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh preferred
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Tortilla chips for serving


  • Combine tomatoes, avocado, onion, black beans, black eyed peas, corn, pepper, jalapeno pepper and cilantro in a large bowl.
  • Toss/stir well so that ingredients are well-combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  • Pour dressing over other ingredients and stir/toss very well.
  • Keep refrigerated. If not serving immediately, be sure to toss/stir well before serving.

Enchiladas Verdes
Submitted by: Maria Anakotta

“This is the first thing I learned to cook and I make it at least once a month, it is easy and quick.”

8 medium size tomatillos
1-2 serrano chiles
1 medium onion
1 chicken breast
6 corn tortillas
queso fresco or mozzarella cheese (as much or as little as you like)
sour cream, salt and pepper


  • Boil the chicken breast in water with 1 garlic clove, 1/4 of the onion and salt, then shred it and set aside. 
  • Use some of the chicken broth to boil the tomatillos, 1/4 of the onion,and chiles until the tomatillos are soft, and then blend them with 1/4 cup of chicken broth (the sauce must not be runny or it will not stay on the tortillas). 
  • In a 1-quart saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of oil, add slightly less than 1/4 of the onion thinly sliced and cook it in the oil until it turns slightly brown. You can then add the sauce from the blender and let it boil for a couple of minutes on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste (you can also use chicken bouillon powder to accentuate the chicken flavor). 
  • You can heat up your tortillas in the microwave for 40 seconds and then dip one by one in the sauce and place them on a plate where you will add the chicken on top of each tortilla and then fold it in half. Top the enchiladas with queso fresco or mozzarella cheese if you want the cheese to melt. 
  • Serve with finely chopped raw onion on top and a drizzle of sour cream. 
  • As an alternative, you can put the chicken in warm tortillas, roll them up, place them in a pan, cover them with the sauce and cheese, and bake at 325° for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Then you will have an enchilada casserole!
  • The tortillas become brittle as they cool down so some people give them a quick fry in oil and dab any excess oil away. Do what feels right for you.
  • You can serve them by themselves or with a side of rice and/or beans.

Grandma Loiacono’s Meatball Recipe
Submitted by: Joel Loiacono

Grandma Concetta Loiacono was born (1892) and raised in Pedace, Italy. Pedace is located in the province of Calabria in Southern Italy. Relatives in Walla Walla found a husband for her, and she arrived in Walla Walla in 1915 to marry my grandfather, Dominic. She didn’t speak a word of English. Grandma and grandpa had seven children and 16 grandchildren. I’ve lost track of how many great and great-grandchildren they have.

Because of the cost of beef in Southern Italy, most families use pork. I’ve had both beef and pork meatballs using Italian family recipes. Pork is the only way to go.

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, the family gathered for lunch or dinner — try having a sit-down meal for 30-40 people! As the youngest of the grandchildren, my mother would always sit me next to my grandfather. At five years old I didn’t appreciate the value of this. The meatballs and the other food started at grandpa and were passed around to the other 30-40 people. Guess who was #2 in the passing chain.”

2 lbs ground pork without any seasoning and at least 10% fat (try to get freshly-ground pork)
1 ½ cup bread crumbs
1 generous cup of parmesan cheese
Chopped celery leaves
6 eggs
1 cup water
6-7 cans of Del Monte’s Italian or cheese spaghetti sauce


  • Combine the pork, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, chopped celery leaves and eggs in a large mixing bowl. 
  • Mix by hand.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water and continue mixing by hand. Add another 1/2 cup of water and continue mixing by hand. Feel free to add another 1/2 cup of water if you think the mixture needs it.  
  • Let mixture stand for 10-15 minutes.
  • Form the mixture into balls that are about the size of a large egg.
  • Fry in oil until slightly brown. You can also bake them for 20 minutes.
  • After cooking, place the meatballs into a roaster pan or pot with spaghetti sauce. Leave on medium heat for two hours (we use a large electric roaster).

Prayer Bars
Submitted by: Jessica Welsch

My Grandma Fiedler raised nine kids on a farm in rural Minnesota. Every day she made three full meals for 10 people, and two of the meals included dessert. Dessert was usually a few dozen cookies or a full sheet cake, but on special occasions — a family reunion, funeral, or church bake sale — she was famous for bringing these Prayer Bars. She would always get requests, and her seven sons would jockey to get as many as they could before they were gone. Try them and you’ll see why.”

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup powdered sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut

½ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon dry vanilla pudding (not instant)
1 ½-2 cups powdered sugar

2 melted Hershey bars


  • FIRST LAYER: Melt butter and cocoa together, stirring well. Add powdered sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix in the cracker crumbs, chopped pecans and coconut. Mix well. Press firmly and smoothly into a 9 x 13 pan. Chill while fixing the second layer.
  • SECOND LAYER: Melt butter with cream very slowly in a medium pan over low heat, stirring until it almost comes to a boil. Add the pudding mix and vanilla and stir over low heat, about one minute. Add powdered sugar — just enough to make a nice spreading consistency. Spread this layer over the first and chill again.
  • THIRD LAYER: After the second layer is cooled, melt two Hershey bars in the microwave and spread over the bars. Serve once the chocolate layer has set. Keep bars in the fridge

Scotch Chocolate Cake
Submitted by: Janet Callahan 

“This was my mother’s go-to dessert for adding to her duties as a ‘Funeral Lady’ at St. Mary’s. Frankly, this cake is delicious. With her Alzheimer’s, she often tells the same story, but she loves the story about how she had made us the Scotch Chocolate Cake as an after-school treat one day and we all asked “Who died?” It is great to hear her still laughing about that.”

4 tablespoons cocoa
2 sticks margarine 
1 cup water
2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla  

1 ½ sticks butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoon milk
1 pound powdered sugar 
½ cup chopped walnuts


  • Melt cocoa, margarine and water in a saucepan. 
  • In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in melted cocoa mixture. Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.
  • Pour into a buttered 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 35 minutes at 350º F.
  • While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting: Melt butter with cocoa and milk. Add powdered sugar. Beat together until smooth. Add walnuts and spread over the warm cake.

Watergate Salad
Submitted by: Carrie McBride

I love my mom, but cooking and baking were never really her thing. So, whenever we were invited to a family potluck or any event that required “a dish to pass,” this was her go-to recipe. Five ingredients, five minutes and (back then) five bucks. No cooking or baking required. 

This is a very Midwestern recipe (salads either have mayo or Cool Whip, your choice), and was most likely the height of sophistication in the early 70s — thus the name Watergate. But, it actually looks kind of fancy and tastes pretty good. So, cheers to my mom for passing this recipe (and tradition) down to me, her culinarily-challenged daughter!”

Box of pistachio pudding mix
20 oz can of crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup of mini marshmallows
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
4 oz (½ a tub) of whipped topping

In a mixing bowl, stir together the pistachio pudding mix, crushed pineapple (including the juice), mini marshmallows and chopped nuts. Fold in the whipped topping. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Add a little whipped topping and a maraschino cherry to the top, and enjoy!

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