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A Phillies cookbook, from players' home plates

For years, Cindy Lopez's mother filled her dessert empanadas with pineapple or pumpkin, but when Cindy met outfielder Ben Francisco, her mother switched to filling the empanadas with his favorite: sweet potatoes.

Newlyweds Cindy and Ben Francisco contribute Mama Lopez's Sweet Potato Empanadas.
Newlyweds Cindy and Ben Francisco contribute Mama Lopez's Sweet Potato Empanadas.Read more

For years, Cindy Lopez's mother filled her dessert empanadas with pineapple or pumpkin, but when Cindy met outfielder Ben Francisco, her mother switched to filling the empanadas with his favorite: sweet potatoes.

The couple married just a few weeks ago, on Nov. 20, and the recipe for Mama Lopez's Sweet Potato Empanadas is among the 25 dishes in a new charity cookbook.

From Our Home to Yours: A Collection of Phillies Recipes is a project of the Phillies Wives group and Phillies Charities Inc.

It will be available only at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park and online at And when spring training starts, the book will be sold there as well. Net proceeds from the $20 book will benefit Covenant House, a private child welfare agency that serves homeless, runaway, and at-risk children and teens.

Cindy Francisco said she even carried sweet potato empanadas all the way from Kansas City, where her mother lives, to give Ben on his birthday, Oct. 23. But the Phils' elimination in the National League Championship Series that day was more than even sweet potato empanadas could overcome.

"He was so bummed out," Cindy Francisco said in a recent telephone interview. "He ate a couple of them, but the loss made them hard to swallow."

Francisco said she hoped fans would use the book's recipes to sustain themselves during the big chill between now and the start of spring training in February.

The spiral-bound book features Chase Utley's Bucatini With Shrimp; Shane Victorino's Chicken Katsu; and a mouthwatering Chicken and Sausage Gumbo with potato salad from Chad Durbin.

The Phanatic contributed a recipe for a smoothie from his "homeland," the Galapagos Islands. And Carlos Ruiz contributed a recipe for Grilled Sea Bass With Mango Salsa.

But not every recipe sounds so healthful. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock's Pretzel "Salad" is a mix of butter, cream cheese, sugar, Cool Whip, Jell-O, frozen strawberries, and yes, pretzels. The nutritional content is not revealed.

Team cookbooks are not new to major-league baseball. The Marlins, Cubs, Twins, Diamondbacks, Braves, and many more all put out cookbooks over the years.

Nor is this a first effort for the Phils. The 1976 team's Phillies Fillies Cookbook, published when the team took its first National League East Title, is now a collectible. And its 2005 Recipes From the Roster sold thousands.

Heidi Hamels, who serves on the Phillies Charity Board, said she hoped From Our Home would be augmented every year or so with additions.

"One year we would put out a dessert supplement, another year an appetizer supplement," said Hamels, whose husband, Cole contributed a recipe for Tamale Pie, handed down in his family from his great-grandmother from El Cajon, Calif.

"Am I much of a cook? If you give me a recipe, yes," Heidi Hamels said. "I'm a detail person."

"I'm just hoping the cookbook raises a lot of money for Covenant House."

Jose Contreras' Cuban Yellow Rice

Makes 4 to 6 servings


3 cloves of garlic, peeled, mashed and minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 tablespoon cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

(divided use)

1 small lemon (juiced)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

5 pieces of boneless chicken cut into small pieces

3 cups any kind of beer (it is my mom's, Modesta's,


1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium green peppers, finely chopped (divided use)

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon bijol (also known as annatto or achiote powder, available at Latin grocery stores)

3 dried bay leaves

3 cups water

1 cup chicken stock

3 cups long-grain rice

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

1 cup green peas (cooked or



1. Peel and smash the garlic in medium bowl, add oregano, cumin, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and salt to taste. Rub the chicken pieces all over with this mixture. Add the beer and marinate at least two hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions and 1 green pepper in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they turn slightly brown. Add the chicken on medium heat, stirring gradually, for 15 minutes.

3. Add the tomato sauce, bijol, bay leaves, water, and chicken stock into the pot. Cover and let it boil on medium heat for 15 minutes.

4. Add the rice and more salt if desired. Stir thoroughly. Add the parsley and lower the heat. Cook on low heat, covered tightly, for approximately 20 more minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves, then add the green peas.

3. Garnish with remaining cup of diced green pepper and serve while still hot.

Per serving (based on 6): 383 calories, 28 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 9 grams fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 477 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.


Mama Lopez's Sweet Potato Empanadas (from Ben Francisco)

Makes 12 empanadas


2 raw sweet potatoes

3/4 cup cold water

11/2 cups dark brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar, more for


3/4 cup shortening

Pinch of salt

6 ounces Coca-Cola

1 egg


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. To prepare filling: Peel sweet potatoes and chop into 1-inch pieces. Rinse pieces and place in medium pot with 3/4 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat for about 20 minutes or until water evaporates.

3. Add dark brown sugar and cinnamon, mash well. Bring down to medium heat, let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Once filling thickens, take off heat and let cool.

4. To prepare dough: In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, shortening, and salt. Add Coca-Cola slowly to these ingredients. Thoroughly knead the dough. Separate the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Using a rolling pin, roll balls into 6-inch-diameter circles. Place cooled filling into the center of the dough circles. Fold in half and pinch edges together to seal. With a fork, poke 3 times across the top and place onto cookie sheet.

5. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg white. Lightly brush egg white on top of pastries, then sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Per serving (based on 6): 266 calories, 2 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams sugar, 13 grams fat, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 46 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.


Charlie Manuel's Milky Way Cake

Makes 8-10 servings


1 box yellow cake mix

1 stick unsalted butter

6 regular-sized Milky Way candy bars, cut into

one-inch pieces


1. Preheat oven according to package directions for a bundt pan.

2. Using a microwave, melt butter and candy bar pieces together, stirring occasionally. Mix well.

3. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Stir in Milky Way mixture.

4. Bake as directed on cake mix package.

Per serving (based on 10): 453 calories, 2 grams protein, 67 grams carbohydrates, 46 grams sugar, 20 grams fat, 29 milligrams cholesterol, 395 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.EndText