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382 posts categorized "20) Just Plain Easy & Crockpot Recipes!"

02/01/2016

~Bok Choy w/Ginger, Garlic, Mushrooms & Noodles~

Eat your vegetables. No problem. I've always loved vegetables. Granted, I typically like some form of protein with or in my veggies, but, every once in a while, an all-veg meal is AOK with me. This is one of them, and, it's one of the quickest, easiest meals you will ever make. Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, is one I grew up eating, but, until I was thirty-something, it came to my table via round green or red heads. Thanks to publications like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Gourmet magazine, I began experimenting with recipes for Chinese bok choy (an...... View full recipe for "~Bok Choy w/Ginger, Garlic, Mushrooms & Noodles~"

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 ~"

01/19/2016

~ Chinese: Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup ~

I take soup seriously. Next to a well-constructed sandwich or a well-composed salad, a well-executed soup is a perfect storm of a meal -- especially during a snow storm. Soup-, salad- and sandwich-making all have one thing in common: all components must play well together. Like a perfectly-tuned symphony, no one ingredient should take center stage for a solo unless the composer carefully orchestrates it. No matter how simple or complicated, if one ingredient is out-of-sync, the performance, while possibly palatable, will not garner a standing ovation. When one 4 1/2-pound pack of chicken tenders = 3 distinctly different delicious...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese: Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup ~"

01/16/2016

~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~

I am an all-American girl who loves Indian food, especially curry. I don't claim to be an expert on Indian cuisine, but, I dabble in it enough to know how to put "a pinch of this and a dash of that" in a pot or a pan and come up with an Indian-style dish that would make anyone who enjoys the flavors of India happy. What I'm attempting to say is, this is by no means an authentic Indian soup recipe -- a least not that I know of. The recipe didn't come to me from a person or a...... View full recipe for "~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~"

01/14/2016

~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~

When I use my crockpot, it's not because I have no time to cook, it's because what I'm letting it cook for me, without compromise, is really good. 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, and, at present, I have more than a few uncompromisingly yummy slow cooker recipes. I won't lie, that took work -- on my part. Crockpots per se, and, the cryptic way almost all crockpot recipes are written are: not all that they are crocked up to be. Without exception,...... View full recipe for "~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~"

01/11/2016

~ How to: Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~

My husband tells everyone he married me for my taco shells -- it's a truthful joke. There was a period in my life when I made homemade taco shells like some people make homemade pizza -- once a week perhaps. The first time I invited Joe and his two little sons to my apartment for dinner in 1979, I made tacos for the kids. There I was, me and my tortilla press, putting on a show for my future step-sons while my own toddler rode his Hot Wheel in a circle around the coffee table while watching The Price is...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~"

01/02/2016

~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~

The first time I ate steak with chimichurri sauce drizzled over it I was in my latter twenties and in a Houston steak house. It was amazing -- the steak too. I remember odd foodie facts like this because I tagged along on many of Joe's many business trips during the 1980's and '90's. On this one, our only trip ever to Houston, we ate in a steak house one night and a fish market the next. Sometimes, the secret really is in the sauce, and, chimichurri is one such example. This bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian...... View full recipe for "~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~"

12/23/2015

~ My Six-Ingredient Last-Minute Eggnog Shortbread ~

There are two kinds of people. Those who finished their holiday baking last week and those who haven't started. If your holiday is under control in a Martha Stewart-esque sort of way, the force is with you and you need no help from me today. If, however, you fall into the category of those who just got home from doing all of your gift shopping and find yourself panic stricken in the kitchen in need of a last-minute cookie recipe, preheat your oven to 325 degrees now. ~ Step 1. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom...... View full recipe for "~ My Six-Ingredient Last-Minute Eggnog Shortbread ~ "

12/20/2015

~ My Big Baked Denver Omelette Brunch Casserole~

Yes Virginia, there is more than one way to make an omelette, especially if you are cooking breakfast or brunch for a crowd. The Denver omelette in particular, which is a festive-looking Southwestern omelette that is loaded with lots of smoky diced ham, bell peppers, onions and grated cheddar cheese, once the ingredients are diced, which takes about 10 minutes, transitions from making omelettes one-at-a-time to one crowd-pleasing casserole so easily, if you're like me, it's going to end up at or near the top of your go-to AM casserole recipes list. Here's my photo of ~ My Kinda Cowboy...... View full recipe for "~ My Big Baked Denver Omelette Brunch Casserole~"

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 ~"

11/27/2015

~ La-di-da Breakfast: Lox, Caviar & Frambled Eggs ~

If you are ever lucky enough to have lox and caviar in your refrigerator in the morning, there is no reason under the sun not to make this decadent three-minute breakfast -- it is an exercise in simplicity and tastes as pretty as this picture too. The classic caviar service I served as an hors d'oeuvres on Thanksgiving Day left me with a package of lox, a container of caviar, and a few small bowls of meticulously chopped accompaniments -- all good stuff. What's a girl to do? Turn yesterday's classy appetizer into today's lazy-day la-di-da breakfast! Besides caviar and...... View full recipe for "~ La-di-da Breakfast: Lox, Caviar & Frambled Eggs ~"

11/12/2015

~ Pumpkin 'n Spice and Everything Nice Pancakes ~

A stack of pancakes with a dollop of whipped butter and drizzled with pure maple syrup -- it's an iconic breakfast that few people can resist. Add a few strips of salty, crisply-fried bacon to the side and even I'll hang around the breakfast table until, astonishingly, I manage to finish it. A pancake breakfast is special to us Americans and there is lot of evidence to prove it: All sorts of community organizations host pancake breakfasts as a way to raise money for a good cause, iHop thrives in every town or city, and, when any mother in America...... View full recipe for "~ Pumpkin 'n Spice and Everything Nice Pancakes ~"

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) ~"

11/04/2015

~ Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves) ~

I'm no J. Edgar Hoover, but, in my office, there is a well-organized file drawer in my credenza containing nothing but recipes that I've collected from foodies I've encountered over the years -- if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Because I know or knew each foodie personally, I know these recipes are kitchen-tested and tasty. One such file, marked "Gizella" is a 1"-thick compendium of her recipes, many of which are from her country of birth: Hungary. Lucky for me, for a few short years, on occasion, I got to eat Gizella's food, and, it...... View full recipe for "~ Gizella's Hungarian Potato Soup (Krumpli Leves) ~"

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 ~"

10/23/2015

~ 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~"

10/10/2015

~ Make the Batter ahead: Buttermilk & Bran Muffins ~

We all agree that a muffin is at its best as soon as it can be eaten -- as soon as it has cooled enough to pick it up with your fingertips and pull it apart. For me, a warm muffin with a slather of softened butter or cream cheese is the ideal breakfast. That's all comfy-cozy sounding, but, even I don't have the time or desire to get up early enough on any given morning to mix a batch of muffin batter. That's why, over the years, I've collected a few muffin recipes that allow me to make the...... View full recipe for "~ Make the Batter ahead: Buttermilk & Bran Muffins ~"

10/07/2015

~ It's an Apple, Raisin & Pecan-Streusel Muffin Day ~

I have a love-hate relationship with muffins. I love them for for breakfast, especially the muffins that I bake, and, I even love muffins that a few of my friends make, but, I hate most store-bought or bakery-made muffins. Why? I find that most commercially-made muffins contain too few goodies (fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts, a grain, or, a fragrant spice) and way too much sugar. Their cloying sweetness gives me a headache -- a real head-banger of a headache. Similar to the low-key and friendly "welcome guests to your kitchen" ambiance of a coffeecake, to me, muffins are...... View full recipe for "~ It's an Apple, Raisin & Pecan-Streusel Muffin Day ~"

10/04/2015

~ The Spice is Right: Baja & Carnitas Blends/Rubs ~

Most Americans love the fiery flavors of our American Southwest. That said, too many American cooks rely upon store-bought spice blends in an attempt to duplicate authentic flavor and don't realize: Mexican food is Mexican food. It can't be bought. It varies from region to region and cook to cook, and, the blending of the spices is at the discretion of each cook in each region. Because of this, when naming my blends, I am careful to add "-style" at the end, because, while they are "in the style" of a specific flavor profile, they are, after all, concocted to...... View full recipe for "~ The Spice is Right: Baja & Carnitas Blends/Rubs ~"

09/26/2015

~ Southwestern-Style Honey, Lime & Jalapeno Slaw~

Coleslaw, one word, or, cole slaw, two words. It's a humble side-dish. It doesn't pretend to be flashy. It just sits in its bowl, patiently waiting for someone to take a scoop. What's sad is the quotes and jokes that get made about coleslaw, which, in my opinion are 100% unwarranted. When it's properly prepared, and correctly paired with the right entree, it is the master of crunchy cabbage goodness. It amps up the volume, of many meals, from ordinary to extraordinary. A bit about coleslaw: The words "cole" "slaw" come from the Dutch word "koolsla", meaning: "cold" "salad". Coleslaw...... View full recipe for "~ Southwestern-Style Honey, Lime & Jalapeno Slaw~"

09/22/2015

~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~

For those who home cook more than their fair share of Tex/Mex fare, you likely have your pico de gallo recipe committed to memory -- I do. You also know that pico de gallo is much more than a condiment to dip tortilla chips into or plop on your tacos. In my kitchen it's a tasty topper for grilled or broiled chicken and fish, it's great on thinly-sliced flank, skirt or flat-iron steaks, and, a spoonful on fried, poached or scrambled eggs in the AM will change your outlook of the day ahead. Here in Central PA, my garden is...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~"

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~"

08/22/2015

~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~

Our purple plum tree is up to its old tricks again -- it's gifting us with these tart, juicy beauties faster than we can eat them hand-to-mouth, right-off-the-tree (which is my favorite way to enjoy them). Plums and peaches are my two favorite stone fruits. When they begin coming into my kitchen a basket or two at a time, using them to make a few rustic, freeform French galettes is a great way to keep up with them without a lot of effort on my part. When they pick up the pace and start coming in faster than that, I...... View full recipe for "~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~"

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 ~"

08/13/2015

~ My Electric-Extruder Pasta-Machine Pasta-Dough ~

I love my pasta machine. By today's standards, it's is a dinosaur. It celebrated its 25th birthday over the weekend. I celebrated my 60th birthday over the weekend. It was my 35th birthday present. How's that for Kitchen Countertop Appliance Statistics 101. I'm hoping "they still make 'em like they used to" because the Italian-made Simac is an amazing piece of high-quality equipment. It has earned a place on my kitchen counter right next to my Simac gelato machine. No store-bought pasta product compares to scratch-made pasta in taste or texture. I've hand-mixed plenty of pasta dough and a put...... View full recipe for "~ My Electric-Extruder Pasta-Machine Pasta-Dough ~"

08/11/2015

~ Broiled Wild Sea Scallops w/Broiled Brown Butter ~

I am here today to report scallop abuse. Over the weekend I ordered pan-seared sea scallops in a restaurant. I was less than impressed -- overcooked on the outside, undercooked on the inside. It was disheartening because they were really big and beautiful, and, I never relish sending a dish back to the kitchen in any establishment -- ever. That said, as one who knows a thing or three about cooking scallops, I do get somewhat upset when a restaurant chef doesn't know, or hasn't taken the time to teach the person in charge of cooking the scallops, how to...... View full recipe for "~ Broiled Wild Sea Scallops w/Broiled Brown Butter ~"

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~"

08/06/2015

~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~

The Japanese Shiro plum is indeed the golden, greenish-yellow goddess of the yellow plum world. "To know them is to love them", I couldn't agree more, and, this has been a banner year for our 18-year-old backyard tree. Every year, we eat a lot of these very sweet, mildly-tart beauties by the handfuls, and, every year I make a ~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~ or two or three (just click on the Related Article Link below to get the recipe). They store well in the refrigerator for about ten days too. This has served me...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~"

08/01/2015

~ Love is Blue: Very Berry Blueberry Creme Brulee ~

Resisting a rich, creamy, vanilla-laced egg-custard topped with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar is not something many people can do. I certainly don't have that kind of will-power. For us custard lovers, creme brulee and its cousin, creme caramel (flan), are the definition of decadent. Could anything possibly make it more tempting? Heck yea. Throw in a handful of freshly-picked blueberries, or, blackberries, or raspberries, or a combination of all three. A bit about creme brulee: Literally translated, "burnt cream" is a silky-smooth egg custard that is gently baked/steamed in a porcelain mold or in individual ramekins at a...... View full recipe for "~ Love is Blue: Very Berry Blueberry Creme Brulee ~"

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 ~"

07/17/2015

~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~

Cherries and cherry desserts -- more specifically sour cherries and sour cherry desserts -- I don't know anyone who doesn't love cherries. My husband picked 150 pounds of pie cherries from our backyard tree last week, and ever since, I've been "making hay while the sun shines" -- posting as many of my favorite cherry recipes as I am physically capable in order to use up all of these culinary jewels. Click on the Related Article links below to get the most recent ones. Andrew is the Production Manager for WHVL-TV here in State College, PA. He's the host of...... View full recipe for "~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~"

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 ~"

07/09/2015

~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~

When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked pie filling, the kind made-from-scratch, in advance, on the stovetop. Lots of people do, and, I'm not here to criticize. If the end justifies the means, there is nothing wrong with pre-cooked. In fact, it's a commonly used, kid-tested, mother-approved method. There's more. Even when I'm faced with an over-abundance of fruit, depending on the fruit, whenever it's applicable, I choose freezing the fruit or cooked fruit concoction over the more laborious option: water-bath canning and preserving (which was a necessary way...... View full recipe for "~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~"

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 ~"

07/05/2015

~ Easy Cinnamon-Orange Berry-Blend Fruit Topping~

Berry season is about to begin. Berries, the kind that grow on bushes. For me, that means: blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The thing about berries is: in the beginning, they ripen in "dribs and drabs" -- you never know how many of which ones your going to get, or, how many you're going to get at one time. Here in my Happy Valley backyard, at their peak, I can count on enough blueberries to make a few pies, enough raspberries and/or blackberries for some smaller tarts or galettes, and, enough of all to sprinkle into a daily bowl of cereal...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Cinnamon-Orange Berry-Blend Fruit Topping~"

06/26/2015

~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~

We grandmothers of today are much different than the grandmothers of past generations. I know. I've been GrandMel for eight years, and, when I look around my kitchen, I see a sea of countertop appliances that make my work a whole lot easier: grind my coffee beans, blend my smoothies, chop my vegetables, mix my cake batters, steam my rice, make my pasta, bake my bread, press my sandwiches, fry my fritters and freeze my ice cream. The list goes on. By the time I was born in 1955, my grandmother had acquired a toaster, and, a fancy-schmancy Sunbeam stand...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~ "

06/24/2015

~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~

The incredible edible egg. That four-word sentence is Don Draper-esque advertising genius. Joe and I have been starting our days with eggs several times a week for almost thirty-five years -- even during 'the dark period' when the food police were patrolling the streets proclaiming the cholesterol in eggs was going to lead to the early demise of us American egg eaters. When it comes to food I love, I believe in living dangerously, and, eggs are the perfect eggs-ample. If you scout around Kitchen Encounters, you'll find all sorts of really good egg recipes from all over the world,...... View full recipe for "~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~"

06/22/2015

~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~

When you get invited to a backyard barbecue or a neighborhood picnic, what do you get asked to bring -- a dessert, a side-dish, an appetizer? Nine times out of ten, I get asked to make these deviled eggs. Amongst friends they're simply called "Mel's Eggs", and, they have a reputation for being egg-strordinary, which makes me chuckle because when I was growing up, they were quite ordinary. It's how my grandmother made them and taught me to make them. Horseradish is one of our most beloved Eastern European 'secret weapons'. Like any other deviled egg recipe, you can make...... View full recipe for "~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~"

06/16/2015

~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~

This has been a banner year for strawberries. Our little backyard strawberry patch gifted us with almost more than we could eat -- almost, but not quite, we ate them all. Each one seemed to be perfectly ripe, juicy and full of flavor. Then, strawberries started showing in both of our local farmers markets. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been picking up a box or two to make small, super-easy batches of strawberry preserves in my bread machine. I enjoy preserves more than jam, because it's like finding a two-for-one special at the grocery store -- unlike spreadable...... View full recipe for "~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~"

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 ~"

06/01/2015

~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~

I hate camping. Camping caused me to quit the Girl Scouts in 1965. I was nine. Hiking into the woods, pitching a tent, building a campfire, singing songs, telling ghost stories, sleeping on the ground in a bag with a zipper, gazing at the stars, listening to the crickets, smelling the night air -- I hated it all. All it took was one night in the woods and I quit -- the very next day. I gave my green uniform to my girlfriend Brenda and went AWOL. I did, however, enjoy the s'mores. You don't have to love the lifestyle...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~"

05/30/2015

~ Delightfully Double-Vanilla Sour-Cream Frosting ~

Every great cake or cupcake deserves an equally great frosting. The two must play off each other so well you can't imagine one without the other. While vanilla, known for its enchanting scent and exotic taste, is indisputably the number one flavoring added to baked goods, when it comes to using it as the lone flavor enhancer in an otherwise flavorless cake, most published recipes don't add enough of it. Be it vanilla beans, paste, extract or powder, I typically double the recommended amount and I have never once been disappointed. There's more: I'll bet a lot of you do...... View full recipe for "~ Delightfully Double-Vanilla Sour-Cream Frosting ~"

05/28/2015

~ For the Love of Vanilla: Double-Vanilla Cupcakes ~

Vanilla is easy to love -- its scent is enchanting, its taste is exotic. It can be used in an array of sweet and savory culinary applications, but, it is indisputably the number one flavoring in baked goods. For my taste, most published recipes don't add enough vanilla. Be it vanilla beans, paste, extract or powder, I typically double the recommended amount -- yes, I double it and I have never once been disappointed. There's more: I'll bet a lot of you do the very same thing. Not being a professional baker does not mean I'm not a good baker...... View full recipe for "~ For the Love of Vanilla: Double-Vanilla Cupcakes ~"

05/19/2015

~Eliot's Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Vodka Sauce~

Eliot, our middle son, developed a somewhat serious interest in cooking around the age of fourteen (1985-ish). I allow myself to believe it had something to do with me, but, if there is one thing I have learned over the years it's: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Not the case with Eliot and cooking. For the most part, he had a natural instinct for combining the right spices with the right ingredients. When he got old enough to take on a Summer job, he became a waiter in an upscale, downtown Italian...... View full recipe for "~Eliot's Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Vodka Sauce~"

05/08/2015

~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~

When I first tasted these easy-to-make sweet snacks, my heart skipped a beat. It was back in the 1970's and leftover, made-from-scratch flour tortillas were cut into strips and deep-fried. When they emerged from the hot oil, all curled up and crunchy and resemblant of Fritos, they were immediately tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My girlfriend Toni, a Mexican-American, served them with cinnamon ice-cream. "Totopos de azucar con canela" ("sugar and cinnamon chips") are, what I suppose to be the Mexican-American version of what us American grandmothers do with leftover scraps of pie pastry -- we make...... View full recipe for "~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~"

05/05/2015

~ Deep-Fried & Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~

Oddly, I learned to cook Tex-Mex food in authentic fashion right here in Central, Pennsylvania. The year was 1974 and I was a new bride. The day after our wedding, my husband and I moved into a brand new, garden-apartment complex in State College. It was so new that we were the first residents, except for the manager and his wife, who lived directly above us: Tom and Toni. We four became immediate friends -- not because were the only inhabitants, because we four really enjoyed each other. Tom was an all-around, hat-and-boot-wearing Texas cowboy. Toni was a beautiful Mexican-American...... View full recipe for "~ Deep-Fried & Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~"