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213 posts categorized "19) Just Family-Style Family Dinners!"

03/15/2017

~ Kids' Stuff: Mel's Copycat Wendy's Chili Con Carne ~

Quality time. Sitting at Wendy's with one, two or all three of our kids for lunch. When school was out for the Summer, I did that about twice a week. We'd all get in my car to run errands, drive a short mile to the traffic light that exited our neighborhood and intersected with our town's busiest four-lane main thoroughfare, and there, to the left of that light sat: Wendy's. I've always contended its placement was purposeful. Our Park Forest neighborhood was a well-planned maze of tract houses on tree-lined streets with sidewalks, and, almost every house contained: children. On...... View full recipe for "~ Kids' Stuff: Mel's Copycat Wendy's Chili Con Carne ~"

03/13/2017

~ Walking Dead: It's Chili & Mac 'n Cheese. Together. ~

On Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, while scouting around in search of food and guns, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), fall through a rooftop into a room filled with just that, guns and miscellaneous canned foods and military RTE (ready-to-eat) meals. Rick goes full-blown romantic on Michonne. After the obligatory sex, they eat a candlelit feeding-frenzy dinner and Rick presents her with a surprise, and it's not jewelry -- it's one last type of RTE meal. "I've been waiting to show you this one," Rick says, "It's chili. And mac 'n cheese. Together." The scene wasn't over...... View full recipe for "~ Walking Dead: It's Chili & Mac 'n Cheese. Together. ~"

03/05/2017

~ For those times when you just gotta have: Frittata ~

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or late night snack, a frittata is a relatively-easy quick-to-make, hunger-satisfying meal. It tastes great served hot, warm, at room temperature or cold, and, leftovers reheat beautifully in the microwave, which make it perfect for those who brown bag lunch. A bit of slicing, dicing or chopping is typically required, but it's minimal, and, since frittata can be a tasty way to use up yummy leftovers, there are times when no knife is necessary. As per my Italian girlfriend Eileen, her mom and grandmother made frittata to stretch leftovers -- to turn them into a family-friendly...... View full recipe for "~ For those times when you just gotta have: Frittata ~"

02/26/2017

~ Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (Prostitute's Spaghetti) ~

Say what? Yep. "Alla puttanesca" literally means "in the style of a prostitute". The day I heard that, I hit the streets -- in search of more history behind this delicious dish's sordid-sounding name. Not growing up in an Italian household or in the company of a lot of Italian-Americans, I was in my early 30's in the early '80's watching Mario Batali make it and translate the name on TV. I did a double take. Before that, I thought puttanesca was just a quick-to-make pasta dish with a vibrant sauce that one could throw together using a few pantry...... View full recipe for "~ Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (Prostitute's Spaghetti) ~"

02/20/2017

~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~

Say "snack cake" and folks my age think "Twinkie" or "TandyCake". Interestingly, snack cakes have been in America since Colonial times. Recipes for gingerbread, both the hard cookie and the soft cake or loaf, came to the us with the English and German settlers. Gingeroot was delivered by boat to the pilgims -- they used it fresh, dried it, and, made syrup from it. Ginger beer, made by pouring boiling water over brown sugar and pounded ginger combined with yeast proofed in warm milk was bottled and served as a refreshing beverage on hot days. The first recipe for gingerbread...... View full recipe for "~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~"

02/10/2017

~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~

Americans eat over three billion pizzas a year and that doesn't include store-bought frozen pies or those made at home. That is quite a statistic, and, a testament to the love affair we Americans have with pizza. From sea-to-shining-sea, every region of our country has developed their own "style of pie", and, pizza shops and home cooks all proudly prepare their own version of it. I make several types of pizza. That said, my guys (my husband and three sons) hands-down favorite is my Sicilian-style pizza, made and baked in the manner my husband grew up eating it -- in...... View full recipe for "~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~"

12/25/2016

~ Holiday Fun 101: Deck the table w/a Pizza Wreath~

Fact: I want pizza once a week. Fiction: Pizza isn't festive enough to serve on Christmas Day. The fact is, when you crave pizza once a week, you'll figure out a way to serve it for any holiday. The truth: This post is simply my foodie way of wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year -- or any holiday you celebrate. I chose pizza because it's universal. A slice of ooey-gooey cheesy pizza piled high with some great toppings of choice brings a smile to everyones face, and, for as long as I have been...... View full recipe for "~ Holiday Fun 101: Deck the table w/a Pizza Wreath~"

12/10/2016

~ Pantry Cooking: No-Pain Stay-Sane E-Z Lo Mein ~

Lo mein. In Chinese it literally means "tossed noodles", and, it implies a method in which cooked wheat noodles get tossed into almost any type of stir-fry at the end of the cooking process. As a result, the noodles absorb some sauce and stay soft while the other previously-cooked ingredients (meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables) get distributed evenly throughout. An example of the opposite would be chow mein, which means "fried noodles", and implies a method in which the noodles are fried to a crispy state at the beginning of the cooking process. Lo-Mein. Like spaghetti, I want it when...... View full recipe for "~ Pantry Cooking: No-Pain Stay-Sane E-Z Lo Mein ~"

12/08/2016

~ A Classic & Comforting Chicken Divan Casserole ~

Chicken divan is a baked casserole containing poached white-meat chicken and blanched broccoli florets enrobed in béchamel sauce (it's called Morney sauce if cheese is added). It was invented in the 1940's and was a popular, medium-budget chicken entrée on the menus of fine-dining restaurants and country club catering menus during the 1960's and 70's, which is how I encountered it. When I got married in 1974, it was one of the first meals I cooked out of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (p. 306), which was my 1st cookbook and a bridal shower gift, and afterward, from the 1975 edition of...... View full recipe for "~ A Classic & Comforting Chicken Divan Casserole ~"

12/05/2016

~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~

Pirogi -- a subject I know a thing or three about. I grew up eating these pillowy handmade-with-love potato-stuffed-dumplings in the kitchens of my Baba and Tettie (my Eastern European grandmother and her sister). I was about age seven when they added me as a semi-skilled laborer to the assembly line of their twice-yearly day-long pirogi-making marathon. Once filled and formed, they were frozen flat on trays, packaged into bags and divided amongst their two families -- to be cooked and served as a meatless main course or a side-dish to my mom's holiday baked ham or a roasted pork...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Deconstructed To-Die-For Pirogi Casserole ~"

12/02/2016

~ My Creamy & Comforting Tuna Noodle Casserole ~

I was a foodie sprout back in the latter 1950's, developed a few taste buds during the '60's, and, by the time I left the nest in 1974, had blossomed into a gal with a limited, but, sophisticated palate. Limited because I wasn't exposed to a wide-variety of multi-cultural fare. Sophisticated because my mom, aside from an occasional can of cream of tomato soup and a rare TV dinner (which my brother and I had to beg for), never, ever, purchased stuff like cans of "cream of" anything, boxes of mac 'n cheese, 'burger helpers, or, any chef-r-dee products whatsoever....... View full recipe for "~ My Creamy & Comforting Tuna Noodle Casserole ~"

11/18/2016

~ Simon and Garfunkle's Roasted Butternut Squash ~

"Eat your squash". Three words I never heard as a child. At the tables I sat down at to eat, no one made squash -- not my mother, not my grandmother and no one in their immediate or distant families. Meat, potatoes, gravy, a green or yellow vegetable and "drink your milk". That was that. No squash. I never had to worry about squash. The first time I cooked and ate squash I was twenty. It was butternut squash at the apartment of a co-worker and close friend: Eileen. Eileen was born and raised in Brooklyn, and, like my husband...... View full recipe for "~ Simon and Garfunkle's Roasted Butternut Squash ~"

10/05/2016

~ Crispy & Light Deep-Fried Mashed Potato Puffs ~

These aren't croquettes (they're not coated in breadcrumbs) and they're not fritters either (there's no batter involved). You gotta admit, they do look a lot like a Southern hushpuppy (no cornmeal in them though), and, although similar, they sure as hell aren't my rendition of Tater Tots (a manufactured shredded hash-brown-type product mixed with flour). These are, in fact, deep-fried mashed potatoes. My grandmother, an Eastern European heritaged woman, who knew a thing or two about potato cooking, used to make them. While I'm on the subject of 'Tater Tots: I've never understood the fascination with these store-bought, frozen thingies....... View full recipe for "~ Crispy & Light Deep-Fried Mashed Potato Puffs ~"

09/25/2016

~ Asian Hot-Pot-Style Steak Sliders w/Broccoli Slaw~

There's more than one way to cook a very-thinly-sliced steak to perfection and "a la" ("in the style of") Chinese "hot pot" or Japanese "shabu shabu" ("Asian fondue") is a method that doesn't occur to most American cooks. It wouldn't have occurred to me either if I hadn't eaten hot pot in China and shabu shabu in Japan. Joe and I enjoyed both of these encounters so much, he arranged to have a copper hot pot shipped from China to my American Happy Valley kitchen. Hot pot & shabu shabu inspired my American-Asian beef sliders. From my American foodie's vantage...... View full recipe for "~ Asian Hot-Pot-Style Steak Sliders w/Broccoli Slaw~"

09/05/2016

~Pasta a la Margherita: Dinner's in about 30 Minutes~

Labor day might be the unofficial end of Summer, but, for the record, I don't declare it official until my garden is void of tomatoes and basil. Having just finished making big vats of marinara and small batches of pesto for the freezer, while waning a bit, my tomatoes and basil are still very much alive and well and standing tall in my garden. So, Summer, you are just going to have to hang out with me a few more days -- and pasta a la Margherita will be a perfect dinner tonight. Hot Pasta + Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella &...... View full recipe for "~Pasta a la Margherita: Dinner's in about 30 Minutes~"

08/02/2016

~ My Mother-in-Law's Philly Hamburger Pepper Pot ~

Rethink your position if you think this frugal recipe isn't delicious. My mother-in-law, Phyllis, didn't cook a lot. She didn't have to. She hailed from Ardmore, Philadelphia (Mainline Philly) and became a doctor's wife. That said, what she did cook, butter-drenched oven-fried chicken, hamburger pepper pot, and, lemon sponge cake (which she learned to make from the woman her family hired to cook), were her childhood favorites, and, she excelled at them. This recipe is an odd twist on Philly's classic Pepper Pot Soup. Phyllis explained that this soup is an obtuse version of classic Philadelphia Pepper Pot -- a...... View full recipe for "~ My Mother-in-Law's Philly Hamburger Pepper Pot ~"

07/20/2016

~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~

I first came across this recipe in a stack of recipe cards held together with a rubber band. They were in a plastic bag full of newspaper- and magazine-clipped recipes that my late grandmother collected. I don't recall her making the cake, but, at some point in her life she must have, as she took the time to write it down in her own hand. It's an unpretentious, yellow cake made of butter or margarine, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, home-canned peaches or pears, pecans or walnuts and buttermilk or sour cream. It sure sounded good to me, and, its name...... View full recipe for "~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~"

07/12/2016

~ Skillet-Roasted Baby Carrots & Potato Medallions ~

Twelve minutes. Yes, in a skillet, in twelve short minutes, you can roast elegant-looking sweet-tasting fork-tender baby carrots and potato medallions. I roast all sorts of vegetables in the oven when I'm cooking for a crowd (if one is serving roasted meat, poultry and gravy, one can never roast too many vegetables), but, when I'm only cooking for Joe and myself, I turn to my skillet on my stovetop instead of my oven. It's a super-speedy method with a super-delicious outcome. While you can successfully roast all sorts of vegetables in a skillet on the stovetop, you can only combine...... View full recipe for "~ Skillet-Roasted Baby Carrots & Potato Medallions ~"

06/30/2016

~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake? I was mesmerized. I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan. I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked. I stood breathless, fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan. In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both. I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~"

06/27/2016

~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~

Bean soup has always been a part of my life. While you may think of it as snowstorm fare, I associate it with all sorts of outdoor fun-in-the-sun activities. When I was growing up, bean soup was served all Summer wherever people gravitated to eat, drink and be merry: church- and hose-company fund-raising street festivals in ours and neighboring towns, both-of-my-parents and half-of-my-friends-parents annual corporate clambakes, and, when it came to planning the Summer family reunion, the biggest question was "Who's making the bean soup this year?" When I was twelve, I even ate bean soup in the United States...... View full recipe for "~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~"

05/07/2016

~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~

I've always loved oatmeal and anything edible containing oatmeal, and, let me tell you: this recipe "takes the cake" in terms of oatmeal recipes. When I was 19 and still living in Tamaqua, PA, my fiancé's grandmother, Nana, made this for dessert the first time I was invited to their house for dinner. For me, it was genuine "love at first bite". After that, she made it almost every time I visited, just because she knew I liked it so much. Fond memories of a lovely, gentle lady. For my bridal shower, Nana gave me the identical stainless steel baking...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~"

04/28/2016

~ Chinese Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs w/Lo Mein ~

Chinese spaghetti and meatballs. That's what my boys named this meal, they loved it, and, just saying it brings a reminiscent smile to my face. In reality, it was just me serving some easy-to-make sweet-and-sour-sauced pork meatballs atop a package of store-bought fresh Chinese egg noodles for a change-of-pace dinner. On occasion, I served the meatballs with cooked and drained, spaghetti-esque lo-mein noodles too, but, my kids preferred the yellow-colored fresh ones better, so, whenever my Asian market had them in stock, that's what I bought. Doesn't this trio look yummy? Having just spent the week writing a series of...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese Sweet & Sour Pork Meatballs w/Lo Mein ~"

04/14/2016

~ Carol's Herbaceous Simon & Garfunkel Potatoes ~

Carol is my neighbor -- across the street and a few doors down. Door-to-door -- about a 10-minute dog walk. I've known her for nineteen years now. She and her cocker spaniel Jack were the first to welcome me and my poodles to the neighborhood -- we were playing in the middle of a field, the future site of our new home, when she and Jack came by to say "hi". That chat started on a fine Spring afternoon in 1996, and, just ask our husbands, it has never stopped. Like a lot of you, I love potatoes and I...... View full recipe for "~ Carol's Herbaceous Simon & Garfunkel Potatoes ~"

04/10/2016

~ My Ultimate Chicken-Fried Steak-Fillet Sandwich ~

The French have a pretty-sounding phrase, "comme-ci comma-ça" (kohm-see kohm-sah), which I use a lot. It's a to-the-point way of saying something is "so-so", "neither good or bad" -- it's tolerable. That pretty much sums up my general feelings about chicken fried steak: its taste and texture are passable. To use another one of my favorite expressions, "it is what it is": a thin, tough, budget-friendly, pounded or cubed or forked, beefsteak. I don't sit down at the table with high expectations for CFS nor do I leave the table disappointed. Comme-ci comma-ça. A bit about chicken-fried steak: The tenderized...... View full recipe for "~ My Ultimate Chicken-Fried Steak-Fillet Sandwich ~"

04/02/2016

~The Only Way You Will Get Me to Eat a Tuna Melt~

I adore tuna salad -- ice cold, creamy, crunchy and chunky classic tuna salad. I love tuna salad subs too -- ice cold tuna salad on an Italian hoagie roll with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion and Swiss cheese. I made tuna salad and tuna subs for the hubs and I for dinner last night. After thirty-five years of marriage, he, out-of-nowhere, asks me why I've never made him a tuna melt. "The only way you will get me to make you a tuna melt... ... is if you agree upfront to eat it the way I make it. Over the...... View full recipe for "~The Only Way You Will Get Me to Eat a Tuna Melt~"

03/30/2016

~ Another Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe~

There's always room for one more, and today, the food world can make room for mine. Why? When asked, I always answer. While I've shared my recipes for ~ Braised & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~, and, ~ My Brown-Sugar Crusted Crockpot Corned Beef ~, the two are essentially the same recipe, cooked via two different methods, and, they are both geared toward making corned beef sandwiches -- a year round favorite of my husband and I. Corned beef and cabbage, served as a knife and fork dinner or a main-course soup, isn't something either of us grew up...... View full recipe for "~ Another Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe~"

03/21/2016

~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~

"Why can't you be more like your friend Melanie?", said the mothers of many of my childhood friends. A long, long time ago, middle-class mothers all cooked, and, when you were invited to a friend's house after school, it was common practice to be asked to stay for the evening meal. Those were hospitable times, and, that was my life during the 1960's (age 5 thru 14). If you are old enough to remember June Cleaver, Margaret Anderson and Donna Stone (Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and Donna Reed), the image of each of those TV moms serving...... View full recipe for "~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~ "

03/09/2016

~ An Awesome Angry Sauce: Arrabbiata (w/Shrimp)~

If you are a person that likes your food "extra spicy", asks the chef to "add extra heat" to your meal, and, has an epic variety of bottled hot sauces stored on the door of your refrigerator, the Italian word "arrabbiata" is one you probably have in your vocabulary. Loosely translated, it means "angry" or "angry mood", and, when you order a dish "a la arrabbiata", or, "in the style of anger", you've given the chef carte blanche to throw a healthy dose of "peperonchino" ("crushed red pepper flakes") into your dinner. Arrabbiata is also a popular, easy-to-make, meatless, spicy...... View full recipe for "~ An Awesome Angry Sauce: Arrabbiata (w/Shrimp)~"

03/03/2016

~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~

Salisbury steak. I was first introduced to it as a child, in our home, via the Swanson TV Dinner -- my generation's fast food. Once a week, when mom or dad went grocery shopping, my brother and I were allowed to pick one TV Dinner, which we would eat on Thursday. To this day, I associate Thursdays with TV Dinners. TV Dinner Thursday: sitting on the carpeted floor, in front of our TV, legs crossed, in my PJ's, in front of a short-legged folding table, watching The Flintstones and Bewitched with my brother -- me eating Salisbury Steak, he Fried...... View full recipe for "~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~"

02/19/2016

~ Sea Scallops & Spaghetti w/Tomato-Cream Sauce~

Every once in a while, my ability to cook is overshadowed by my desire to cook something remarkably easy yet good enough to serve to guests -- no special skills, tools or knowledge required. Today is such a day. This simple, straightforward and scrumptious recipe, taken from the pages of absolutely nowhere, goes from stovetop to table in the time it takes to cook spaghetti, and, when beautifully plated, will bamboozle everyone into thinking I cooked all day. "I dream of stirring cream into marinara sauce." ~ Melanie The only thing more rewarding than having a freezer shelf full of...... View full recipe for "~ Sea Scallops & Spaghetti w/Tomato-Cream Sauce~"

01/29/2016

~ Sauerkraut Yesterday -- Sauerkraut Cakes Today ~

I'm feeling brave today. I'm going to share an intriguing recipe for sauerkraut that even some of you fermented-cabbage lovers might not know about: 'kraut cakes. These are the cabbage world's version of the potato pancake, and its cousin, the mashed potato cake -- recipes that hail from our Eastern European ancestors (necessity-driven, inventive cooks who knew how to stretch and transform leftover 'this or that' into a delicious new meal). Pair these up with some pan-fried kielbasa coins, a bit of brown mustard and/or a bowl of warm applesauce to the side and you've got a 30-minute-or-less, winner-winner, 'kraut-cake...... View full recipe for "~ Sauerkraut Yesterday -- Sauerkraut Cakes Today ~"

01/09/2016

~ Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Patties ~

This time of year, a lot of people are looking to cut back on carbs, increase lo-fat protein and add a lot of vegetables to their diet. I know because a lot of recipe requests are coming across my desk. The first time I ate a chicken patty that I liked (I tend to refer to burger-type thingies as patties when they are cooked in a skillet and burgers when they are cooked on the grill), it was at my friend Kathy's house. Hers were Asian (as is she) and she served them with egg-drop soup. I asked her what...... View full recipe for "~ Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Patties ~"

12/18/2015

~ My Kinda Cowboy Breakfast: A Denver Omelette ~

My phone conversation yesterday. "I'd like to order a Denver omelette with home fries and an order of French toast with a side of bacon." "Sorry m'am, we don't make Denver omelettes." Short pause. "Ok, do you make an omelette full of ham, bell peppers, onions and cheddar?" "Yes m'am, that's our Western omelette." Longer pause (where I'm calling from, as the crow flies, my gateway to the West is through Ohio to Chicago, which has zero to do with a Denver omelette). I wanted to say, "I think you mean Southwestern omelette", and further prove my point by explaining...... View full recipe for "~ My Kinda Cowboy Breakfast: A Denver Omelette ~"

12/12/2015

~ A Rustic Wintertime Chicken & Mushroom Risotto ~

Sometimes you just know when you've got to to slow down, take a step back, and, allow your mind to unwind. Today is that day. 'Tis the busiest time of year and I need a bit of stress-relieving "kitchen therapy". What's on the agenda for my self-imposed holiday from the world? An afternoon of movies on my kitchen TV, a glass or three of wine, and, cooking a nice and slow, laid-back pot of my favorite rich, creamy and comforting chicken risotto for dinner. "There are no two ways to make risotto. Either you make it right or it is...... View full recipe for "~ A Rustic Wintertime Chicken & Mushroom Risotto ~"

12/07/2015

~ Dad's Mac & Cheese, or: What I Cook Just for Me ~

This isn't the recipe I planned to post today, but, it's what I'm cooking today, so, why not take a few photos along the way and type a few words too -- it's easy for me to do. Joe is traveling, so, what I eat on this day is all about me, and coincidentally, while entertaining some friends on Saturday, I got asked, "when you're not cooking for the blog or TV, what do you cook just for you?" It's not the first time I've been asked this, and, my answer is always the same: "Most times I just make...... View full recipe for "~ Dad's Mac & Cheese, or: What I Cook Just for Me ~"

11/24/2015

~It's Not Easy Being 60: The Green Bean Casserole~

Newsflash: The iconic green bean casserole turns 60 years old this year. Depending upon who you talk turkey to, the subject of "green bean casserole" will garner one of two responses: a loving look of childlike glee or a loathsome adult eye roll. In the event you are talking turkey to me, you'll get a unknowing shoulder shrug because the only thing I have in common with the green bean casserole is we were both born in 1955 -- I in a hospital in Palmerton, PA, and, the casserole in a Campbell's Test Kitchen in New Jersey. I've never made...... View full recipe for "~It's Not Easy Being 60: The Green Bean Casserole~"

11/07/2015

~ Hungarian Galuska (Small Soft Eggy Dumplings) ~

Raise your hand if you love doughy, hand-crafted noodles and dumplings. Among my favorites: flat and square Pennsylvania Deutsch pot pie noodles, odd-shaped short strands of German spatzle, my mom's almost-golf-ball-sized Russian halusky, small and nubby Italian gnocchi, and, I'm about to add these Hungarian galuska to this list (very, very similar to spatzle, galuska, a bit more "bare bones", are typically made with water, not milk, and contain no nutmeg). "If you can't make galuska, you can't cook Hungarian!" If you want to dabble in putting some authentic Hungarian fare on your family's table, which I have been doing...... View full recipe for "~ Hungarian Galuska (Small Soft Eggy Dumplings) ~"

11/02/2015

~ Mrs. Varga's Evolving Hungarian Paprikas Recipe ~

Although limited, my encounters with Hungarian cuisine have all been good ones, and, to the best of my knowledge, authentic too. While my family is not Hungarian, we are Eastern European (of the Slovakian type), which means the food of other Eastern European countries, generally speaking, appeals to our appetites. Thanks to a recipe my mom got from a Hungarian co-worker, she made really good Hungarian "goulyas". As for paprikas, that's a recipe I got from my current neighbor Gabriella's mother (both of whom immigrated from Hungary to the USA in the 1950's). A copy of Gizella Varga's paprikas was...... View full recipe for "~ Mrs. Varga's Evolving Hungarian Paprikas Recipe ~"

10/31/2015

~ My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough ~

A great pizza starts with a great crust, but, finding a pizza dough recipe to suit your requirements is not as easy as the ingredients list indicates: flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes sugar and/or olive oil. Cooks who take pizza making seriously have more than one pizza dough recipe in their repertoire because certain pizzas require a certain type of crust -- there's no getting around it. Beyond that, within each type, everyone who takes pizza making seriously, professionally or at home, makes their dough a bit differently. Pizza dough and pizza is personal -- there's no getting around...... View full recipe for "~ My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough ~"

10/28/2015

~ For the Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~

Garlic knots always remind me of the movie Saturday Night Fever (even though not a single knot got eaten in the movie). That said, in the opening scene, when Tony Manero grabbed "a couple of slices" and did his famous disco-stroll down 86th street, every lover-of-disco who had occasion to travel to Brooklyn wanted to make a pilgrimage to Lenny's Pizza -- including me. I almost made it too. An October ice storm caused us to cancel our plans, and, soon afterward, the couple we were traveling with moved to Connecticut. Eileen and I had worked together in a Happy...... View full recipe for "~ For the Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~"

10/23/2015

~ Baked Ziti Casserole w/Sausage & Four Cheeses ~

Do you have a favorite casserole recipe? You know "the one". The one your family loves, the one you take to potluck, the one you donate to a good cause, the one you give to a sick friend -- the one you've made so many times you've got the recipe committed to memory. Every really good cook or chef, of any level, will be the first to admit they have at least two or three "go to" casserole recipes in their repertoire. I'm no exception and this one is at the top of my short list. When it comes to...... View full recipe for "~ Baked Ziti Casserole w/Sausage & Four Cheeses ~"

10/18/2015

~Beer & Brown-Sugar Braised Kielbasa Sandwiches~

I don't crave kielbasa. I just don't. That said, if it's put in front of me, I won't turn my nose up at it. It was a bigger part of my life as a kid. If you are born into an Eastern European family, standing around watching your dad or one of your uncles make kielbasa is a form of entertainment. Each has their own special blend but all turn out a really tasty end product -- some are coarse-textured and on the dryer side, others are fine-textured and moister, but none are like the mass-manufactured, vacuum-packed bologna-textured products found...... View full recipe for "~Beer & Brown-Sugar Braised Kielbasa Sandwiches~"

10/01/2015

~ Justified: Carnitas w/o a Big Butt & a Vat of Lard ~

When it comes to cooking, if the end justifies the means, I am all for breaking the rules -- as long as no one gets hurt and the end result is not compromised. Carnitas is the Mexican version of American pulled pork. I love one as much as I do the other, and, while neither are hard to make, the process to do either authentically is cumbersome -- handling huge hunks of porky porcine is not my idea of hog heaven. I also have no desire to build a Southern barbecue pit to smoke a pig, or invest in a...... View full recipe for "~ Justified: Carnitas w/o a Big Butt & a Vat of Lard ~"

09/29/2015

~Cheesy Baja-Spiced Grill-Pan Chicken Quesadillas~

My mother made me grilled cheese -- I would eat one anytime she made me one. I made my kids quesadillas -- they would eat them anytime I made them. There was a span of time, 6-7 years, when my refrigerator was never without flour tortillas, Monterey Jack and salsa. Comparatively speaking, there's little difference between a classic grilled cheese sandwich and a cheese quesadilla -- except you use butter to grill the bread and oil to grill the tortilla. In terms of a quick-to-make & satisfying lunch or snack... ... my quesadillas are kid tested & mother approved! Quesadilla...... View full recipe for "~Cheesy Baja-Spiced Grill-Pan Chicken Quesadillas~"

09/24/2015

~ Beer-Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Cod-Fish Tacos ~

Excuse me, I'm just going to go ahead and eat this fish taco while you all argue over what constitutes a perfect fish taco and its toppings -- deep-fried vs. pan-fried (sometimes grilled), corn tortilla vs. flour tortilla, green slaw vs. red slaw, pico de gallo vs. salsa, and, crema vs. sour cream. My favorite fish taco, as long as it is well-balanced in both flavor and texture, is the one that is in front of me, and, the first one I ever ate was so good I've declined to debate this issue with anyone -- if you bring it...... View full recipe for "~ Beer-Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Cod-Fish Tacos ~"

09/17/2015

~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~

I think I was a hot dog in a past life -- that's how much I love hot dogs. If that is true, I was a Jerzey Girl in a past life, because, New Jersey is hot dog heaven. If a hot dog can make it there, it can make it anywhere. There are more hot dog stands, carts and trucks there than anywhere on this planet -- and I mean anywhere. I've heard NJ referred to as "the cradle of hot dog civilization", which pretty much sums up the hot dog universe as I know it. That said, I...... View full recipe for "~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~"

09/11/2015

~ Roast Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Potato Salad ~

Horseradish. It's powerful stuff and most folks aren't on the fence about this ingredient. They either love it or they hate it. If you are a lover of the stuff, you know you've got to carefully pick and choose what you pair it with and how you do it too. For my taste, freshly-grated horseradish, prepared horseradish and horseradish cream, mustard or mayonnaise go best with beef and ham. Some folks like it with lamb, but, for me, that's pushing the envelope a tad to far. My favorite way to enjoy horseradish is served with or on a good roast...... View full recipe for "~ Roast Beef Eatin' Horseradish-Mayo Potato Salad ~"

09/10/2015

~ Buffalo-Style Beef-on-a-Weck (Kummelweck Roll) ~

What the heck is "beef on a weck"? It's Buffalo's "other" famous food. When it comes to this German-rooted sandwich, the slow-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth, thin-sliced top sirloin, combined with the coarse-salt and caraway-seed crusted roll is a match made in heaven. Served with a bowl of jus for dipping, grated horseradish for topping, usually a side of German-style potato salad and always a pickle, the weck is one heck of a fine roast beef sandwich. Thanks to two founding members of our PSU tailgate group who hail from Buffalo, NY, I heard tales of "beef on a weck" for over thirty...... View full recipe for "~ Buffalo-Style Beef-on-a-Weck (Kummelweck Roll) ~"

09/06/2015

~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~

When my family of five sat down to dinner, unlike a host of other foods, I never had occasion to say "eat your applesauce". When applesauce was on the dinner table my kids would eat it. Applesauce had bargaining power too: "Finish your pork chop, then you can have another helping of applesauce." "Eat half of your green beans and you can have more applesauce." There's more: My boys weren't "big" on eating apple slices, but, if there was applesauce in the refrigerator, they were happy to slather it on a Ritz with a piece of Cracker Barrel cheddar. Applesauce...... View full recipe for "~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~"

09/04/2015

~Go Back to School: One-Skillet Chicken Parmesan~

I do not miss getting up with the birds to get three kids off to school. That said, on Tuesday morning, 7:45AM on-the-dot, when I'm laying in bed and I hear the brakes squeal on the school bus, at the school bus stop across the street and just outside our bedroom window, I won't be able to not reminisce about how much I do not miss the organized, orchestrated, whirlwind chaos. School shopping, lunches, after-school activities, fund-raisers, homework, playtime, bedtime -- and, of course, getting a really good meal on the dinner table in the midst of it all. Lot's...... View full recipe for "~Go Back to School: One-Skillet Chicken Parmesan~"