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231 posts categorized "19) Just Kid-Friendly & Family-Style Food"

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~"

08/31/2015

~Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak Pizza a la Melanie~

I haven't decided if this post is going to be a rant or not. I'll just keep writing and see where I end up. As a well-seasoned woman who spent quite a bit of her young-adult life in Philadelphia, from my perspective, the iconic Philly cheesesteak neither needs nor deserves a "new twist" on it. That said, conceptually, I clearly see how it could be morphed into a pizza IF one plays by some long-standing, well-defined Philly cheesesteak rules (which apparently, many misguided pizza lovers are too lazy to research). Ok, I suppose I'm headed in the direction of a...... View full recipe for "~Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak Pizza a la Melanie~"

08/28/2015

~Pillowy-Soft Buttery-Rich Buttermilk Crescent Rolls~

I made dinner rolls today because I had buttermilk leftover in my refrigerator. I wish they'd sell buttermilk like cream, in one and two cup cartons -- a full quart is usually about twice as much as I need. For example: On Friday of last week, I used one cup to make my ~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~, to use as a dip for my ~ Seriously E-Z & Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Wings ~. One week later, I still had three cups of buttermilk lollygagging around in my refrigerator. Happy ending: These dinner rolls will make...... View full recipe for "~Pillowy-Soft Buttery-Rich Buttermilk Crescent Rolls~"

08/25/2015

~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~

"I could have had a V-8." If you've ever leisurely sipped on a chilled glass of traditional gazpacho you wouldn't say that, even in jest. It is the ultimate vegetable smoothie. Here in my Happy Valley kitchen, me making gazpacho is a sure sign that Fall is around the corner. Our vegetable garden is producing almost more stuff than I can use efficiently. Gazpacho is a bright, refreshing, cool way for me to put a bounty of produce to a delicious use. Gazpacho is quite easy to make, but if you're under the impression it's as simple as throwing some...... View full recipe for "~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~"

08/19/2015

~ For the Times When Ya Just Gotta Have Piccata ~

Lemon and Pepper Seasoning has been on my spice rack for as long as I've had my spice rack. The brand I use is a tasty blend of black pepper, sea salt, sugar, dehydrated lemon peel, garlic, onion and citric acid (which gives it its signature tang and "pop"). I'm certain I could mix up my own blend, but, I like the stuff I use too much to bother. It's a great seasoning for cooked or steamed vegetables -- I particularly like it tossed into broccoli, cauliflower or Summer squash. It's excellent judiciously incorporated into mild-flavored protein dishes too --...... View full recipe for "~ For the Times When Ya Just Gotta Have Piccata ~"

08/09/2015

~ Fluffy Lemon & Pepper Rice for Fish &/or Seafood~

The perfect, carefully-chosen side-dish really can turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one. Recipes for side-dishes aren't usually the most exciting thing to write home about, but, as a food blogger, I can attest to the fact that home cooks routinely conduct searches that clearly inquire: "What to serve with (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, etc.)?" That said, it's not uncommon to have narrower searches include the word(s) "vegetable" or "starch", and/or, "quick" or "easy" -- it seems that people don't like to spend a lot of time hovering over complicated side-dishes. I'm not making this up. I check my...... View full recipe for "~ Fluffy Lemon & Pepper Rice for Fish &/or Seafood~"

07/27/2015

~This Spuds for You: Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes~

Everything tastes better with bacon, and, cheddar makes everything better too -- even broccoli. Everyone loves a steamy, creamy, buttered baked potato, and, twice baked potatoes are, well -- they're the Rolls Royce of the baked-potato world. Men love them, kids adore them, and, from a mom's perspective, they'll get you as many accolades as a hot fudge sundae. Every once in a while, I get so hungry for a twice-baked spud that I just gotta make 'em. Today is such a day. Making twice-baked potatoes is a method, not an exact recipe. A twice baked potato is exactly what...... View full recipe for "~This Spuds for You: Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes~"

07/24/2015

~ Succulent Crockpot Apple 'n Onion Pulled-Pork ~

As much as I adore all the fruits and veggies Joe grows, from mid-July until end of September, the quantities of produce I have to process can get overwhelming. This is a "that's the facts Jack" statement of truth, not a complaint. At present, my culinary focus is on eating what we can of the daily harvest and preserving as much of the rest as humanly possible for our cold-weather enjoyment. It's no secret, I've never been a crockpot kinda gal, but, over the past few years I've mellowed. I've made peace with mine. I've learned: a crockpot can be...... View full recipe for "~ Succulent Crockpot Apple 'n Onion Pulled-Pork ~"

07/15/2015

~ Butter-Browned & Broiled BBQ'd Chicken Thighs ~

Real-deal outdoor-grilled chicken, the bone-in kind, juicy on the inside with crispy skin on the outside, all slathered in sweet and savory barbecue sauce, served with a crisp green salad full of garden-ripe tomatoes and a cob of in-season sweet corn -- this is perhaps my favorite Summertime meal. I fantasize about it -- I don't care who grills it, if I'm invited, I'm showing up. The bar I've set for my ideal grilled chicken with barbecue sauce is high, but make no mistake, I'm completely capable of making a perfectly-good version under less than ideal circumstances -- indoors. In...... View full recipe for "~ Butter-Browned & Broiled BBQ'd Chicken Thighs ~"

07/07/2015

~ Making Clafoutis and the Classic Cherry Clafoutis ~

If I were to write The Big Book of Effortlessly-Regal No-Brainer Desserts, clafoutis would be on the cover. Whisk up a simple batter (eggs, cream or milk, sugar, salt, flour, melted butter and brandy or extract), pour it over some fresh fruit and bake. Cherries are the classic addition, with berries or stone fruit like apricots, plums and peaches being common substitutions. I was pleased with one I once made with ripe pears. Apples work too, but, apples are firm and crisp by nature, so, they need to be peeled and very thinly-sliced to get a luxurious texture -- truth...... View full recipe for "~ Making Clafoutis and the Classic Cherry Clafoutis ~"

06/11/2015

~ Thai Turkey Patties & w/Creamy Coconut Sauce ~

Americans do not require an excuse to indulge in a thick, juicy 'burger, complete with a slathering of sauce, and/or few savory toppings served on the perfect bun. We will hike, bike or drive to our favorite joint to eat one. We've declared May, National Burger Month, and, May 28th, National Burger Day. We adore them. That said, have you ever wondered: when does a burger turn into a patty? What's the difference between a patty and a cake? Aren't they all one-and-the same? In my opinion (and probably yours too), it depends where you grew up. In my neck...... View full recipe for "~ Thai Turkey Patties & w/Creamy Coconut Sauce ~"

06/09/2015

~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~

I raised three boys. When I was making cheeseburgers, chili, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, no one had to be called to the table twice. On those nights, our dinner conversation was downright pleasant too. It was smooth sailing for lasagna, stuffed peppers, meatloaf and sloppy Joe's too. You could say, ground beef brings out the table manners in boys growing up in America. From my perspective, ground beef made me happy for a lot of years too -- it was budget friendly, and, meals made from it were relatively quick and easy to prepare as well. About...... View full recipe for "~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~"

05/17/2015

~My Mad Men Last Supper Menu: Chicken a la King~

In the 1950's, '60's and '70's, New York City's Madison Avenue was ground zero for the advertising industry -- for almost all of those years, it was an elitist club of all-male executives. These Madison ad men, cavalierly referred to themselves as Mad Men. Unless you've just beamed to earth from another corner of the universe, you know, that for the past six years, Mad Men has been a period drama television series about this business and the bizarre lifestyle of the people working in it. For those lucky enough to remember the realities of this time period, it's a...... View full recipe for "~My Mad Men Last Supper Menu: Chicken a la King~"

05/11/2015

~ Chicken, Shrimp or Steak Chop-Chop Taco Salad ~

Chop-chop salad, or chopped salad, can contain anything your heart desires, as long as the ingredients play well together. Whether it is well-planned in advance, or a casual melange of leftovers, all of the ingredients get chopped, sliced or diced into similar-sized, fork-and-mouth-friendly morsels, then judiciously drizzled, not drenched, with with some sort of cuisine-appropriate dressing or vinaigrette, tossed together, placed on a plate or in a bowl, and, served immediately. Try not to confuse "chop-chop" with composed salads of chopped ingredients that are meticulously lined up side-by-side (like the famous Cobb salad), or, carefully layered. The "chop-chop" is a...... View full recipe for "~ Chicken, Shrimp or Steak Chop-Chop Taco Salad ~"

04/24/2015

~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~

For me, the only thing that tastes better than a thick, juicy hamburger hot-off-the-gill is: a thick, juicy cheeseburger, hot-off-the grill. I don't grill enough to profess to being an expert, but the stuff I do grill is mighty tasty. I'm cooking these to please me today -- they're my favorite twist on traditional cheeseburgers. I'm mixing the cheese into the burgers instead of placing it on top of them, and, I'm packing the mixture full of bold, spicy, American-Southwest Tex-Mex flavors. Admittedly, it's unorthodox, but, I've been told, often by the critics themselves, "this is one of the best...... View full recipe for "~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~"

04/03/2015

~ My Brown-Sugar-Crusted Crockpot Corned Beef ~

It's no secret: my crockpot is my least used kitchen appliance. I don't use it at all unless the end justifies the means without any compromise in the food. Corned beef is one example. My stovetop ~ Braised and Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef ~ recipe has been very popular ever since I posted it on the blog-o-sphere (in conjunction with a Kitchen Encounters TV cooking segment) back in 2011. You can get the recipe and watch me cook it too by clicking on the Related Article link below. I assure you, my recipe cooks up the same on the...... View full recipe for "~ My Brown-Sugar-Crusted Crockpot Corned Beef ~"

03/24/2015

~ Tender Chicken Paillards with Mushroom Sauce, or: Southern Smothered Chicken with Mushroom Gravy~

Pick a name, they're both the same, and, whichever you choose, a quick, delicious, chicken dish with a tangy, creamy sauce should be in every cook's recipe box. What amuses me about a great recipe like this is: I can creatively "sell it" to my family and friends in one of two ways -- fancy French restaurant-style or down home country-style. Any recipe that can be served two ways is worth its weight in gold. I can serve this on china with asparagus and a buttery croissant, or, on stoneware with peas and a buttermilk biscuit. Potatoes? Rice? Noodles? No...... View full recipe for "~ Tender Chicken Paillards with Mushroom Sauce, or: Southern Smothered Chicken with Mushroom Gravy~"

03/21/2015

~ All that Jazz Chicken Oscar w/Blender Bearnaise ~

The first time I ate "Oscar" was in 1983 and I was in "The Big Easy". Four of us were sitting in a fancy New Orleans French-Quarter restaurant, Arnoud's, listening to a jazz band and groovin' to the tunes. My meal arrived and it was all sorts of wonderful: a lightly-pounded, gently-sauteed, succulent, fork-tender veal paillard, piled high with tender Louisiana crayfish, drizzled with buttery bearnaise sauce and garnished with steamed asparagus. I was also drinking French 75 cocktails that night (gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar) -- it was a most memorable dinner. After the first bite or two,...... View full recipe for "~ All that Jazz Chicken Oscar w/Blender Bearnaise ~"

02/28/2015

~ Creamy Smashed Cheddar 'n Mint Gold Potatoes ~

Lots of people add cheddar cheese to mashed or smashed potatoes. It's a well-documented fact that "everthing tastes betta with chedda". That said, if you've never tasted cheddar potatoes with dried mint flakes added to them, I implore to take a page out of my playbook. Don't roll your eyes. I've served these potatoes to a couple of schooled restaurant chefs who have changed their menus to serve "Mel's potatoes" with lamb or lamb chops. You gotta trust me on this one! I didn't invent the pairing of potatoes, cheese and mint. My Eastern European ancestors did that for me....... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Smashed Cheddar 'n Mint Gold Potatoes ~"

02/26/2015

~Succulent Boneless Leg of Lamb w/Creamy au Jus~

Lamb, one of my favorite meats, was an acquired taste. My first encounter with it didn't go well. My grandmother and mother never cooked lamb and I got "blindsided" by it in the third grade. It was my turn to play with Barbie dolls at my girlfriend and neighbor Brenda's house. Next time, she would come to my house -- we did this often, and, it always included the dinner du jour. My Lamb Stew (Irish Stew) Story -- "Those poor orphans!" Brenda's mom was generally a good cook, but on this day, she was cooking something "foreign" to me....... View full recipe for "~Succulent Boneless Leg of Lamb w/Creamy au Jus~"

02/17/2015

~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~

I've got a movie on my menu tonight. Neil Simon's 'Seems Like Old Times' (starring Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Charles Grodin) is a feel-good blast from my retro 1980's past. I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies, but, this one keeps me laughing out loud from start to finish every time I see it. It's no secret that in order to write this blog and do my TV segments I work almost nonstop in my kitchen. Having always been a movie buff, movies on my kitchen TV keep me company throughout the entire day. Seems Like Old Times...... View full recipe for "~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~"

02/15/2015

~ My Grandma's Butter-Braised Cabbage & Carrots ~

Both of my grandmothers' kitchens were close to home -- dad's mom lived 4-5 miles from us, mom's mom lived 9-10. We visited them both often, and, both of them every Sunday -- lunch at mom's mom's, dinner at dad's mom's. Until I was age ten or eleven and invited to my girlfriend Cathy's house for Sunday dinner, I assumed everybody's house smelled like cabbage on a Sunday. We Eastern Europeans cook "Sunday cabbage" like Italians cook "Sunday gravy"! Braised cabbage is buttery & melt-in-your mouth tender! I like cabbage a lot, but I wouldn't say I'm "crazy for cabbage"....... View full recipe for "~ My Grandma's Butter-Braised Cabbage & Carrots ~"

02/12/2015

~ My Passion for Potato Perfection: Seriously-Crispy Roasted Caraway-Seeded Heart-Shaped Potatoes ~

Seductively crispy on the outside, steamy soft and tender on the inside -- is there anyone who has the will-power to resist perfectly oven-roasted potatoes? I didn't think so. From poultry to pork to pot-roast and prime-rib, they are that one special side-dish that everyone desires. As you can tell, I am quite passionate about this subject -- as it turns out, I am not alone. What's that you say? A better way to roast potatoes? It seems that while I was stranded on that deserted island with my head stuck in the sand, food scientists took it upon themselves...... View full recipe for "~ My Passion for Potato Perfection: Seriously-Crispy Roasted Caraway-Seeded Heart-Shaped Potatoes ~"

02/07/2015

~ Rich & Creamy Mushroom & Baked Potato Soup ~

If you are a mushroom lover, this rich, creamy and hearty version of mushroom soup is comfort food for a cold day. A big bowl along with a slice of warm bread with a slather of sweet cream butter is a delicious dinner. A small bowl with a crouton floating on top is a sumptuous start to a delicious dinner or a lovely lunch. My recipe is a spin-off from an Eastern European recipe that many refer to as "Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup". I can't use that title. Similar versions of this humble, rustic, peasant soup appear in cold-weather...... View full recipe for "~ Rich & Creamy Mushroom & Baked Potato Soup ~"

01/29/2015

~ A Sweet Cream Cake: A Dream of an Easy Cake ~

Guess who's coming to dinner? Guess who needs a dessert pronto -- that'd be me. Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, this poundcake-ish yet light, dream-of-an-easy-cake recipe should be committed to the memory of every cook who ever entertained the thought of a boxed mix in a time of crisis. Sometimes called whipping cream cake, because heavy cream replaces the butter or shortening (which is why it technically doesn't quality for pound cake status), you really can get this cake mixed in the time it takes to preheat your oven to 350 degrees! Super fancy? Not at all. Super Good? Yes it...... View full recipe for "~ A Sweet Cream Cake: A Dream of an Easy Cake ~"

01/25/2015

~ Philadelphia's Famous Cheesesteaks a la Melanie~

If you have never eaten a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia proper, you've never eaten a cheesesteak. Like the soft pretzel, the iconic Philly cheesesteak just tastes better in The City of Brotherly Love. Whether you're standing outside on a sticky-hot sidewalk next to a street vendor in Summer, or, standing inside against a counter in a sweaty-windowed sandwich shop in Winter, the experience, on several levels, cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Many have tried, many have come remarkably close, but everyone agrees: Philadelphia owns this sandwich. A bit about the Philadelphia Cheesesteak: Back in the 1930's, Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri,...... View full recipe for "~ Philadelphia's Famous Cheesesteaks a la Melanie~"

01/17/2015

~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~

When a recipe has the word "perfect" in its title, one had better be certain it is exactly that. In my kitchen, in order for any recipe to make it onto my blog, it must make it through my kitchen three times without glitches. Yes, unlike plenty of other cooking blogs, my recipes are not only tested, they are tested three times before I place them in your capable hands. I take testing very seriously, and, once is not enough. In the case of roasting poulty and meat, many times, three times is not enough. For example, I tested this...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~"

01/12/2015

~ The Secret is in the Sauce: Meet the Bone-Suckin' BBQ'd Roast Beef, Bacon & Blue Cheese Sammie ~

It's Monday. It's the middle of January. It's also bone-suckin' cold outside. Not a problem. In my kitchen, we're having a meatwave. I've got a big beefy eye-of-round roast in the oven, and, a few bottles of Bone Suckin' Sauce in my pantry -- it's a mandatory staple. Plus, there's one last college football game on TV tonight, so, I've got entertainment too. They don't call where I live "Happy Valley" for nothing -- we always find a path to some type of happiness. While our home team may not be playing for The National Championship of Collegiate Football tonight,...... View full recipe for "~ The Secret is in the Sauce: Meet the Bone-Suckin' BBQ'd Roast Beef, Bacon & Blue Cheese Sammie ~"

01/09/2015

~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~

Oh baby it's cold outside -- several degrees below zero cold here in Happy Valley. Even if the sun does comes out, the temperatures aren't going to tempt me into venturing outside into the swirling tornado of white snow whirling around on my back porch, thanks in part to the snow machines running full throttle up on the Tussy Mountain Ski Slope (almost in my backyard). Staying indoors is on my agenda, and, I am not alone. The better portion of the entire Northeast is in this deep-freeze with me. I can't be the only one dreaming of a bowl...... View full recipe for "~ January "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~"

12/31/2014

~ Basic Machinations for Mashed Potato Perfection ~

'Twas the season for mashed potatoes. First there was the Thanksgiving turkey feast, followed by the Christmas prime rib feeding frenzy, and, it's not quite over yet. The clock is ticking down to the mother-of-all pork festivals: New Year's Day. This morning, in a moment of reflection, it occurred to me that the combined total of these three holidays equates to approximately 50-60 pounds of heavy hunks of meat roasted, and, about 25-30 pounds of potatoes mashed. It's hard to imagine my food world without mashed potatoes. They are an institution -- a way of life. They're the quintessential side-dish...... View full recipe for "~ Basic Machinations for Mashed Potato Perfection ~"

12/24/2014

~ My Pan-Seared Flat-Iron Steak Slider-Sandwiches~

Ok -- I admit it. When my food world is moving so fast I can barely catch a breath, that's when I'm most tempted to order take-out or head for the drive-through (humming the "you deserve a break today" tune all the way). I don't I rarely do. Why? I've got a few fast and furious home remedies that cure a fast-food, "where's the beef" craving or snack attack the moment it starts stealing its way into my brain. I call them "flash-in-the-pan" meals because they go from stovetop to dinner table in almost less time that it takes to...... View full recipe for "~ My Pan-Seared Flat-Iron Steak Slider-Sandwiches~"

12/21/2014

~ Pork Tenderloin Medallions w/Dijon-Cream Sauce ~

This time of year, recipes for easy-to-prepare weeknight meals are more important to me than ever. I affectionately refer to them as "flash-in-the-pan meals", because, in a flash, in one pan, with no stress, I am eating something delicious -- in the case of this recipe, it is elegant enough to serve to company as well. It's one of those dishes that makes you feel like a bona fide French chef too -- medallions, shallots, wine, butter, cream, Dijon and capers. If you want to add a few diced mushroom caps, they just add to the porcine fun. Voila. There...... View full recipe for "~ Pork Tenderloin Medallions w/Dijon-Cream Sauce ~"

12/14/2014

~ When in Rome, start with: Bucatini all'Amatriciana ~

Amatrice is a town in the mountainous northeastern panhandle of Lazio, near Abruzzo (central Italy). "All' Amatriciana" means "made in the style of Amatrice and sugo Amatriciana is one of the oldest Italian sauces. It's a humble, rustic pasta dish commonly found on the restaurant menus of Rome. This immortal sauce is bold-flavored, and, like many Italian classics, it is easily prepared with a short list of ingredients, but, the list is specific and the dish is only as good as the quality of said ingredients. Recipes vary, so there is some room for improvisation, but this is seriously not...... View full recipe for "~ When in Rome, start with: Bucatini all'Amatriciana ~"