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191 posts categorized " 03) Entrees & Main-Dish Casseroles"

04/15/2017

~ Mel's Petite Porketta for Joe's Jessup Sandwiches ~

It was the Spring of 1980. That's when I had my first encounter with this unique roasted pork roll -- in the form of a cold sandwich. Joe and I (newlyweds of four months) were visiting his mother Ann in his hometown of Jessup, (Northeastern) PA. Joe's brother Tom and his wife Kathy walked through Ann's kitchen door on Wilson Street shortly after us, and, once the mandatory cocktails were poured, Ann placed a brown bag on her kitchen table. It was quite informal and I had no idea what to expect, until Tom and Joe tore into it (which...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Petite Porketta for Joe's Jessup Sandwiches ~"

04/10/2017

~ A Flash-in-the-Pan Dinner: Chicken alla Milanese ~

I love it when I am inspired by something I eat in a restaurant -- when it's worth every penny and I can't stop thinking about it. Adversely, I dislike it when I'm disgusted by something I eat in a restaurant -- a waste of money I can't stop thinking about. I abhor it when I order a restaurant meal, fall in love with it, and a few weeks later, order it again and hate it. Dining in a college town is a frustrating sport -- inconsistency seems to reign supreme. With the exception of three now two establishments, I...... View full recipe for "~ A Flash-in-the-Pan Dinner: Chicken alla Milanese ~"

04/08/2017

~ I Love My Mom's Old-Fashioned All-Beef Meatloaf ~

The fabulous '50's may be gone forever, but they are certainly not forgotten. Remember the stainless steel diner in your hometown that served up a thick slice of mouthwatering meatloaf smothered in a smooth, rich pan gravy alongside a big scoop of fluffy mashed potatoes? Remember meatloaf day in your school cafeteria with stewed tomatoes and macaroni and cheese? Remember the Swanson frozen meatloaf dinner slathered with a thick brown gravy and French fries? I remember them all, but, mostly, I remember my mom's "special" meatloaf. "Meatloaf." Say the word aloud in the company of family or friends, even in...... View full recipe for "~ I Love My Mom's Old-Fashioned All-Beef Meatloaf ~"

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) ~"

01/15/2017

~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~

Classic and fantastic, I made clams casino over the weekend -- a retro Italian-American favorite appetizer that pleases everyone who loves clams. Steamed clams, on the halfshell, slathered with an herby bacon-and-garlic compound butter, topped with a mound of crunchy bacon-and-breadcrumb mixture, baked until golden brown. What's not to love. There were just three of us, two guys and moi -- we ate two dozen and would have eaten more (and I stopped at four). Earlier in the afternoon, as I was preparing the compound butter and breadcrumb topping, it occurred to me how yummy the butter would be if...... View full recipe for "~ Butter Me Up: Mel's Capellini a la Clams Casino ~"

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 ~"

11/25/2016

~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~

The tomahawk ribeye steak, also known as a "cowboy" or a "long bone-in" ribeye is a specialty cut that you assuredly won't find at your local supermarket. Without jest (no joke), I literally found one on my kitchen doorstep, leaning up against the kitchen/laundry room door, this very morning. I have a friend, Scott. He owns a few well-known Happy Valley restaurants (you locals all know who he is, and, he is one reason I get to call myself a cooking consultant). He likes to surprise me unexpectedly with unique ingredients occasionally. Today, while driving to and from his eateries,...... View full recipe for "~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~"

09/20/2016

~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~

The French have several ways to generically say "steak". My personal favorite is "biftek", meaning "boneless beef-steak". If there is a bone in it, they call it a "côte de boeuf", meaning "beef-chop". Past that, just like us Americans, they have a list of words each denoting the specific cut (the place on the steer the meat came from). That said, when you order any type of beef-steak or beef-chop in a French restaurant, whether it's plain, seasoned, served with a sauce or served with sliced vegetables that act as a sauce, it is customary to serve it with some...... View full recipe for "~ Joe's Steak Joseph: Filet of Beef-Steak Sandwich ~ "

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~"

07/31/2016

~ The Persian-Style Ground Beef or Lamb Kababba ~

"Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn", and medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords as instruments to grill food over open fires in the field of battle, are credited with inventing "kabobs". It was only natural that this simple method of cooking food on a "sikh", a metal skewer, made its way into the kitchens of the royal houses, onto the tables of the common folk and into the streets, where vendors cooked and sold them for breakfast, lunch and dinner placed onto or inside some form of flatbread. Kabobs are a source of...... View full recipe for "~ The Persian-Style Ground Beef or Lamb Kababba ~"

07/10/2016

~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~

One upon a time, Joe and I used to go up to the top of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh (the point overlooking the city and the location where the three rivers meet (the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio), to eat in an upscale French restaurant named Christopher's (currently The Monterey Bay Fish Grotto). During that period of time, Joe did enough of business in Pittsburgh that we got to eat there a few times a year. He in a suit and tie, I in a dress and heels, through the doors we walked. Their food was divine, the view...... View full recipe for "~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~"

07/07/2016

~ Shrimp Creole: The King of Creole Shrimp Dishes ~

Shrimp a la Creole or Creole-style shrimp is the first Creole recipe I ever cooked, and, I made it because I wanted to try my 19-year-old hand at making something "new to me". I was a new bride and the recipe was on page 311 of the 1974 Edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. While their recipe was "quick and easy", it was fundamentally sound and it tasted pretty good too. It served its purpose well, in that, its success prompted me to try more sophisticated versions, the best one being made with fresh Gulf shrimp in the New Orleans French...... View full recipe for "~ Shrimp Creole: The King of Creole Shrimp Dishes ~"

06/25/2016

~ Mel's Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Cheese Pizza~

Pizza -- the pie that won the West. Pizza has been in America since the first Italian immigrants arrived on our shores in the early 1900's, but, we have the GI's returning home to the States from Italy during and after World War II for pizza's induction into the American mainstream. Because they had a hankering for the pizza they had eaten while stationed overseas, its popularity soared. We adopted it, glorified it, gave it a place of honor, and, made it our own. Few foods are more comforting than a "za" or a "slice", and, we Americans buy over...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Cheese Pizza~"

06/20/2016

~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~

City chicken. It could be said, "it's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key" -- A wartime Winston Churchill quote. In The Joy of Cooking, if you go the index intentionally looking for "city chicken", and look under "chicken", you'll not find it. That said, if you're looking for a pork or veal recipe in the same cookbook, and look under "pork or veal", you will stumble upon "mock chicken drumsticks or city chicken" on page 469. That's because: Even though it looks like a chicken leg & tastes like chicken... ......... View full recipe for "~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~"

06/17/2016

~Dinner's in 30 Minutes: Indian-Style Butter Chicken~

Put your big boy pants on. Put bigger pants on. If you're conscientiously counting calories, carbohydrates or cholesterol, your calculator is entering the forbidden zone. Butter chicken is to Indian food what General Tso’s chicken is to Chinese food. It's love from first to last succulent bite, it's positively irresistible and addictive, and, it's guaranteed to push even the most self-controlled eater into the abyss of really bad diet days. Get your affairs in order, there's more: Butter Chicken is served w/basmati rice, mango chutney & buttery naan. A bit about "butter chicken": "Murgh makhani" (which means "chicken cooked in...... View full recipe for "~Dinner's in 30 Minutes: Indian-Style Butter Chicken~"

06/12/2016

~ Dinner's in 20 Minutes: Japanese Teriyaki Chicken~

On days when cooking is a chore, having a few recipes like this tucked away in your repertoire will keep you sane. Yes, even I have those kind of days occasionally, and, recipes like this do keep me sane and out of the drive-thru too. Most times, they're faster than delivery as well. In the case of this meal, I simply put rice in my electric rice steamer, open a package of fresh broccoli florets, chop a few chicken tenders and get a bottle of teriyaki sauce out of my pantry. I don't feel one bit guilty about it either...... View full recipe for "~ Dinner's in 20 Minutes: Japanese Teriyaki Chicken~"

06/05/2016

~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~

"I will never be blue, my dreams come true, on Blue Bayou." Hold that beautiful thought because Roy Orbison singing Blue Bayou is as close as I'll get to the Louisiana bayou -- or any bayou. Plenty full of pretty pelicans, herons and spoonbills, it's the alligators, snakes, and leeches that will keep me out. That said, many Cajuns, and a few Creoles too, feel right at home in these mysterious reaches of Southern Louisiana -- bayou life has its own pace and culture. A bayou is a body of water found in flat, low-lying areas. It can refer to...... View full recipe for "~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~"

05/31/2016

~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~

Store-bought seasoning blends and bottled sauces. Every home cook has their favorite brands and there is no shame in that. I am no exception. When pressed for time, some days I reach for a container of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic and other days a bottle K.C. Masterpiece will do just fine. When correctly paired together, a high-quality store-bought spice blend and bottled sauce can be a busy cook's best time saver. That said, all serious cooks make the time to prepare their favorite homemade concoctions too. I am no exception, and, at any given time, if you peek into...... View full recipe for "~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~"

05/23/2016

~ Thai-Style Wok-Roasted-Peanut Red Pork Curry ~

Thai curry meals are relatively easy to prepare and can contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. Seasonal vegetables can be included, or, the dish can be made of vegetables (vegetarian). Thai curry dishes are also a staple in Thailand. They range from soupy to stewlike and are ladled over steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles. In many homes they are made from ingredients growing around the house and are eaten on a daily basis. They typically contain less protein than Westerners like me often add, and, they're are an economical, healthy part of the Thai diet. Thai curry meals are...... View full recipe for "~ Thai-Style Wok-Roasted-Peanut Red Pork Curry ~"

05/20/2016

~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~

Get out the turmeric and attire yourself in something you don't mind discarding because we're making satay today. If your manicure is French, put on a pair of latex gloves too. Why? Because, in case you don't know, turmeric (TER-muh-rihk), that earthy-colored, pleasantly-fragrant powdered-spice (that rarely gets used in American cooking) will permanently paint your world a vivid yellow-orange. Made from grinding the rhizome root of the curcumin plant and a close relative of ginger, it's a prime ingredient in curry and mustard powders, and, it's used to give many of the rice dishes, soups and sauces of Indonesia, Malaysia,...... View full recipe for "~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~"

05/17/2016

~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~

Planes, trains and automobiles. I get my inspiration for recipes in the darndest places. In the Summer of 1986, there was a day trip from San Diego to Tijuana in a rental car on our agenda. I ordered a Baja Fish Taco at a taco stand as a snack to eat en route -- I wish I'd ordered six. In the Winter of 1990, there was a train ride from England to Wales. I ordered the Cottage Beef Pie for dinner -- I licked the casserole clean. In the Spring of 1993, on a flight from Taipei to Tokyo, a...... View full recipe for "~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~"

04/30/2016

~ Unstuffed: Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls ~

Deconstruct. It is perhaps the oddest new-age foodie word I have ever encountered. When the word "deconstructed" appears in front of a menu item, I find myself wanting to ask, "what was wrong with it to begin with?" That's because, historically, in my kitchen, the reason for me to deconstruct, or, "dismantle a dish piece by piece", is usually to find out why a recipe doesn't work. In today's world, it's trendy for some chefs to artfully arrange the wreckage on a plate, serve it "deconstructed", then, charge you twice as much to put it back together on your fork....... View full recipe for "~ Unstuffed: Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls ~"

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 ~"

04/25/2016

~A Chinese Cantonese Classic: Sweet & Sour Pork~

Sweet and sour pork is one of the most well-known Chinese dishes in the world, and, amongst Americans, it's extremely popular. Marinated, crisply-fried cubes of pork butt or loin, and, stir-fried bell peppers, onion and pineapple -- the two unite at the end when they get tossed together in a perfectly-balanced sweet and savory, ginger-laced ketchup-based sauce to coat. Pork, "the other white meat", is the Cantonese classic, but, if you prefer poultry over porcine, boneless, skinless chicken breast is a common substitution in Chinese and American kitchens. Classically served as a "sauced-pork dish" with fried rice for accompaniment, in...... View full recipe for "~A Chinese Cantonese Classic: Sweet & Sour Pork~"

04/22/2016

~Stick It: Sweet & Sour Shrimp & Pineapple Kabobs~

Everyone loves to eat food on a stick. Hot, cold, raw or cooked, it's pre-portioned, super-easy to serve, and, it's portable too. Just take a walk around the world. Food-on-a-stick is street food, and, everyone eating it has a happy look on their face. When it comes to grilled food on a stick, I think people get a spring in their step. Be it thin pieces of meat threaded onto a skewer or bite-sized chunks of meat, vegetables and/or fruit all in a row, folks will stand in line for a kabob. It's been going on for centuries. "Kabbaba" is...... View full recipe for "~Stick It: Sweet & Sour Shrimp & Pineapple Kabobs~"

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 ~"

04/07/2016

~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~

"This is Steak Diane". That's what I said to our "twenty-something" waiter in a steakhouse not long ago. I was generically expressing my pleasure at seeing a blast-from-my-past, famous-and-favorite steak dish on a millennial restaurant menu. My comment didn't require a response. That said, it did prompt a polite, ever-so-slight nod-of-agreement, accompanied by a "if you say so lady, but I have no idea what you are talking about" look. This lead me to conclude: Steak Diane has skipped a generation or two of Americans. A bit about Steak Diane: Prepared using common French techniques, the dish isn't French --...... View full recipe for "~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~"

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~"

03/14/2016

~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~

Mushroom duxelles. To a mushroom lover like me, this is the crème de la crème of mushroom preparations -- the earthy caviar of my fungi food world. Each time I prepare it, I pay homage to the French for their meticulous attention to culinary detail. Without duxelles, my Veal Orloff, Beef Wellington and Coquilles St. Jacques would be ordinary veal, beef and seafood dishes. With duxelles on-hand in my refrigerator, I can change an unpretentious piece of toasted bread or a scrambled egg into a fine-dining experience. It enhances many of my sauces and gravies, and, soups and stews too....... View full recipe for "~Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms~"

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)~"

03/06/2016

~ Easy Cottage Pie (Beef) & Shepherd's Pie (Lamb) ~

Sunday. When I was growing up, as a family we got up, went to church, and, when we got home the house smelled ethereal. Mom's eye-of-round roast beef had cooked itself in our absence. We changed out of our "Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes", then mom boiled a few potatoes (and peas -- there were always peas -- my dad loves peas) and made a quick pan gravy. While she did that, my brother and I set the table (mostly I set the table while he goofed off), we four sat down and we ate. By 1:00PM we were all "doing our own...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Cottage Pie (Beef) & Shepherd's Pie (Lamb) ~"

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~"

02/07/2016

~ Mel's Pan-Seared Crimini-Crusted Sirloin Steaks ~

Fact: I will not stand outside and grill if the temperature is below 40 degrees. Fact: It is below forty degrees. Fact: I am cooking steaks indoors today and the line forms to the left of the stove. Great steak dinners & our original hunters and gatherers: I'm guessing mushrooms have been paired with steak, since, um, fire was invented? I imagine a big hairy guy, standing in a cave, yanking a hunk of red meat off a sharp spear and throwing it on an open fire to cook. Meanwhile, an equally-hairy but less imposing woman picks a few mushrooms...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Pan-Seared Crimini-Crusted Sirloin Steaks ~"

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 ~"

01/22/2016

~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~

I've never lived outside of the great state of Pennsylvania. I was born and raised in Eastern, PA, the Lehigh Valley region, which has a large Pennsylvania Dutch community. For the past forty years, I've lived here in Central Pennsylvania, which has a large Amish population. In both farm cultures, pot pie isn't just a meal -- it's a relaxed, comforting, "pull-up-a-chair and join us for dinner" way of life. Lucky am I to have learned how to make both styles of pot-pie. Recipes do vary from cook to cook, and, yes there are cross-overs of both versions as people...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~"

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 ~"

01/06/2016

~ Steak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette ~

I won't lie, I don't love steak and eggs for breakfast. I don't hate it, I just like bacon, sausage or ham better in the morning. That said, I do like a steak omelette for dinner. In fact, it's one of my favorite 'breakfast for dinner' meals. Don't try to psychoanalyze this -- it makes no sense. Let's move on. I'm making breakfast for dinner today, and, it's going to be a great steak omelette full of peppers, onions and cheddar topped with my homemade chimichurri sauce. There's more. Think twice about crowding the plate with toasted bread and fried...... View full recipe for "~ Steak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette ~"

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~"

12/12/2015

~ 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 ~"

12/04/2015

~ Breadcrumbs, Butter, Garlic + Shrimp 'de Jonghe' ~

Chances are, if you have never been to Chicago, you have never heard of shrimp de Jonghe -- it's virtually unknown outside of the windy city. Dating back to the late 19th Century, it is said to be one of the city's oldest "gastonomic glories" -- in Chicago it's an immortal institution. Close your eyes and conjure up an image of a plate of succulent, jumbo shrimp bathed in a rich herb-butter, sherry and garlic sauce, topped with the most divine, golden, homemade French breadcrumbs and doused with few generous squirts of fresh lemon juice. Tres magnifique! Invented by Belgian-born...... View full recipe for "~ Breadcrumbs, Butter, Garlic + Shrimp 'de Jonghe' ~"

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 ~"