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163 posts categorized " 04) Accompaniments & Side-Servings"


~ 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~"


~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~"


~ 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 ~ "


~ 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~"


~ 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 ~"


~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~

If you're looking for a change of pace to spice up your Summer menu, my tropical fruit salsa is your answer. While I love it served atop grilled white fish (like grouper and sea bass) on a bed of steamed jasmine rice, it is delicious on cheesy Tex-Mex nachos and chicken quesadillas. That said, it pairs equally as well with Thai-Asian fare like my ~ Crunchy Thai-Style Deep-Fried Coconut Shrimp ~ as an appetizer (recipe found in Categories 1, 11, 13 & 14), and, my East-meets-West fusion main course ~ Thai Turkey Patties & Rice w/Creamy Coconut Sauce ~. Newsflash...... View full recipe for "~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~"


~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~"


~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry Salsa for Cinco de Mayo ~

Strawberries to make salsa? If you are a skeptic, all you'll need is one taste and it will make perfect sense to you. Just like tomatoes, they are full of naturally sweet and tart flavor which makes them terrific used in savory ways. Simply substitute them for tomatoes in almost any Tex-Mex-flavored salsa recipe, and, add the usual suspects: a bit of acid (lime juice), an herb (cilantro), spices (salt and a bit of sugar to bring up the flavor too), and, of course, the always-necessary onion (or green onion). If it's heat you're craving, mince up a jalapeno pepper...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry Salsa for Cinco de Mayo ~"


~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four -- make enough potato salad, they're coming back for more. While we're playing the counting game, I don't think one can have too many recipes for potato salad -- people love the stuff. Baked, boiled or roasted, gold, red, russet or sweet, potatoes, when paired with the right dressing, can complement a meal from a multitude of cuisines -- in fact, every culture that eats potatoes makes a version of potato salad. Here in America, potato salad recipes vary from region-to-region and our American Southwest is no exception. Today's recipe is the one...... View full recipe for "~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~"


~ Farfalle w/Roasted Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes ~

Today we enjoyed our first thick, juicy outdoor-grilled steak of the Spring season. Yes, Joe does grill off-and-on throughout the Winter, but, there's just something celebratory about the official opening day of grill season. This simple, straightforward side-dish was the only thing I needed to turn a steak-on-a-plate into our entire meal, and, we gobbled it all up. While this pasta dish goes great with chicken or shrimp tossed into it, I enjoy it the most served next to a steak. That said, it is also well-balanced enough to be served "as is" as a dang-good meatless meal. This has...... View full recipe for "~ Farfalle w/Roasted Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ Creamy & Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole ~

Real-deal, properly-prepared hash brown potatoes are a favorite of mine. Golden brown and crispy on the outside, creamy-textured (but never mushy) on the inside, they are the Holy Grail of breakfast potatoes. I make really good ones, but, I must admit to being too lazy to make them unless it is a really special occasion. I'd rather be on the treadmill than hand-grating and drying a boat load of Russet potatoes early in the morning (and I hate being on the treadmill). My ~ Baked Eggs in Birds Nests (Hash Brown Potatoes) ~ are living proof that I know what...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy & Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ GrandMel's Creamy Potato and Egg Salad Recipe~

I have a confession to make. I am a potato salad snob. I want the old-fashioned, down-home, classic, creamy and chunky "grandma's-type" with no hype -- nothing trendy or flashy with a grandiose name or gourmet ingredients. My favorite potatoes for potato salad are: creamy Yukon golds or small "new" reds. I always peel the golds and cut them into bite-sized chunks. I never peel the reds, leaving their soft skins intact, and, cut them into bite-sized halves or quarters. I always boil my potatoes until fork tender on the outside, yet still firm and slightly undercooked in their centers....... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel's Creamy Potato and Egg Salad Recipe~"


~ Basic, Moist & Classic: Soft White Bread Stuffing ~

This is the stuffing that takes us back to the beginning. Grandma ripped up some stale bread then tossed in some sauteed celery and onion seasoned with salt, pepper, and perhaps an herb or two. Once she mixed those together, she slowly added some turkey stock, just enough to make the mixture really moist without any liquid puddling in the bottom of the bowl. Sometimes she added a lightly-beaten egg too. "Back in the day", oven space in the home kitchen was almost always limited, so, stuffing was almost always baked inside the bird -- a smart way to get...... View full recipe for "~ Basic, Moist & Classic: Soft White Bread Stuffing ~"


~ Tettie's Baked Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~

If you're sarcastically mumbling, "just what the food world needs, another stuffing recipe", you are going to regret it. This is my Great Aunt Mary's recipe -- she lived to be 99 and was one of the best cooks I have ever known. This is a trip back to a kinder, gentler time. A time before self-appointed gourmets and TV celebrities started adding everything from chorogi artichokes to whortleberries to stuffing. This is pure, simple, unadulterated, beloved, comfort food: that warm, soft, subtly-flavored white bread stuffing that nobody talks openly about but everybody remembers, loves and longs for. Cathy Guisewhite,...... View full recipe for "~ Tettie's Baked Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~"


~ Crunchy 'n Tangy Gorgonzola and Walnut Wafers ~

I learned something new yesterday. Blue cheese is what provides the tangy flavor in Cheetos and all those other beloved puffed-cheese-type snacks. I had no idea until I was ordering a container of cheddar cheese powder for my pantry (FYI: cheddar cheese powder is a great addition to cheese sauces, macaroni and cheese, and, it's fantastic sprinkled on popcorn). Just prior to "proceeding to checkout", Amazon suggested that I purchase some blue cheese powder too, because other customers frequently purchase cheddar and blue cheese powder together. Amazon is accommodating like that. This lead me to ask why the two would...... View full recipe for "~ Crunchy 'n Tangy Gorgonzola and Walnut Wafers ~"


~ Mel's Spicy Horseradish-Cheddar Cheese Sticks ~

If I were a mouse, my nose would always be snapped in the trap containing a fresh piece of fine cheese. What is it about me and cheese? You can find me snacking on it in some form almost every day. My refrigerator always has a few really good, fresh-from-the-cheesemonger cheeses stored in the "deli-drawer". I'm not talking about reduced calorie, low-moisture, part-skim, half-the-fat, gluten-free, soy, and/or vegan cheese -- although if one is medically challenged, they are all fine alternatives. For me, I'd rather eat less of anything real-deal and delicious than more of something that wierd-science has compromised....... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Spicy Horseradish-Cheddar Cheese Sticks ~"


~ Simply Silky & Smooth Spiced Apple & Pear Puree (Taking grandmother's applesauce to another level.) ~

Does anyone make homemade applesauce anymore? I ask because I never hear anyone talk about doing it. I grew up in a time and a place where not only was applesauce homemade, the making of it was an event, and, it was served often. We stirred it warm into our oatmeal for breakfast and served it chilled as a side-dish to almost any poultry or pork for dinner. We dolloped it on cheddar cheese and crackers for an appetizer and drizzled it over gingerbread for dessert. There's more. My grandmother taught me to stir "a tad" into apple pie or...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Silky & Smooth Spiced Apple & Pear Puree (Taking grandmother's applesauce to another level.) ~"


~ My All-Purpose Tex-Mex (Texican) Veggie Saute ~

It is a wise man who stops to ask for directions. Every recipe in our food world has a purpose and every recipe I post has a reason for posting it. One of my favorite things about writing a cooking blog is: the questions that come my way. As my grandmother always said, "where there is smoke there is fire", which in the world of food writing should be interpreted to mean: "if one person asks a question, there is a big chance a lot of other people are asking the same". More importantly: never hesitate to ask about the...... View full recipe for "~ My All-Purpose Tex-Mex (Texican) Veggie Saute ~ "


~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~

When I was a busy mom raising three boys, making a fancy-schmancy compound butter for their bagels, English muffins, pancakes or waffles wasn't high on my list of weekday things to do. I made breakfast every day, but when it came to the condiments, it was every man for himself: the peanut butter, preserves, maple syrup and butter went out on the table commando-style. Now that it's just Joe and me (a more relaxed morning schedule), the bread, muffins, pancakes and waffles are made from scratch, and, I have the time to take pleasure in and put thought into "the...... View full recipe for "~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~"


~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~

Historically, the French and the Italians agree to disagree often over "who invented what" culinarily. While writing Tuesday's post ~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~ (click on the Related Article link below to read it), I told you the French word for it is "beurre compose". Try as I did, research didn't turn up any historical references to what the formal Italian name for compound butter is. This surprised me, so, I asked my Facebook friend (an authority on authentic Italian regional cooking). "As far as I know, in general Italian cooking, there is no use of compound...... View full recipe for "~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~"


~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~

The first time I made compound butter I was certain I had invented something important. It was a life-changing moment. It didn't get taught to me by my grandmother, Food TV or via a cookbook or a cooking publication. I didn't learn the technical term for it until years later. As a 6-year old, it was important to mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cinnamon 'n Sugar with two tablespoons of softened butter to make my cinnamon toast -- I didn't like getting cinnamon-sugar dust up my nose. The quantity yielded 3 slices of perfectly-executed cinnamon-raisin toast (two for me and...... View full recipe for "~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~"


~ Farfalle w/Butter, Basil, Peperoncino & Parmesan (Basic Pasta al Burro con Formaggino w/Panache) ~

When I'm having a serious late night snack attack, the kind that two or three slices of cheese, some salty deli meat and a few crackers can't cure, for me, a one-pot pasta dish is always on my short list. The criteria: it must be simple, straightforward, seriously flavorful, and, on my plate in the time it takes to pour a glass of wine and cook the pasta -- start to finish: 15 minutes tops! Pasta al Burro con Formaggino (Pasta w/Butter & Cheese): The Italians came up with a solution for the snack attack centuries ago in the form...... View full recipe for "~ Farfalle w/Butter, Basil, Peperoncino & Parmesan (Basic Pasta al Burro con Formaggino w/Panache) ~"


~ My Bacon-y Bacon-Lovers Baked Beans & Bacon ~

The food world is swarming with bacon lovers. Despite all attempts by the food police to curb our enthusiam for bacon, it is here to stay in a big way. For example. I have three recipes for baked beans: Boston, Hilda's and Bacon-y. All are wonderful recipes, but, Bacon-y are the ones everyone always asks me to make for picnics and tailgates. They are savory and sweet, loaded with smoky bacon goodness, and there is never a morsel left in the casserole. This is great for me, because of the three recipes they're the easiest to make (no bean soaking)....... View full recipe for "~ My Bacon-y Bacon-Lovers Baked Beans & Bacon ~"


~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~

It's Labor Day weekend -- the unofficial end of Summer! Here in Pennsylvania, it is also the unofficial end of our local sweet corn and tomato season. We've had a banner year for both this year, and, this past week, I've posted a few of my favorite ways to use fresh corn kernels after they have been removed from the cob: corn off the cob! To learn ~ How to Shave Corn Off the Cob ~, make ~ Creamed Corn ~, & ~ Cheesy Creamed-Corn Dip ~, click on the Related Article links below! Today, I'm making my corn casserole...... View full recipe for "~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~"


~Country-Style Downhome-Delicious Creamed-Corn~

School bells are ringing and school buses are running -- kids and parents alike are in the unenviable position of frantically adjusting to the Fall regimen. This morning, while laying in bed watching CNN at 7:30AM with my three poodles, I heard the school bus pull up to the stop across the street. I couldn't help but "smile a sigh" of relief. So, what does this have to do with creamed corn? I started thinking about my favorite Fall after-school meals as a child! Allow me to briefly reminisce about childhood & creamed corn: When I was growing up, our...... View full recipe for "~Country-Style Downhome-Delicious Creamed-Corn~"


~Oh My Thai: Spicy Quick-Pickled Cucumber Relish~

Thai cooks use a lot of cucumbers -- in soups and salads, and as garnishes. This cool, crunchy and refreshing cucumber relish is one of the most common condiments for Thai food in general. It's found in all Thai home kitchens and on the streets of Thailand too, meaning: the high-quality "street food" that vendors sell and many Thai people eat on a daily basis. These cucumbers are often served to cut the richness of coconut-based curries, and, are particularly good when accompanying grilled or fried fare: omelettes, fish cakes, corn fritters, satay, spring rolls or barbecued chicken (to name...... View full recipe for "~Oh My Thai: Spicy Quick-Pickled Cucumber Relish~"


~ Summer Squash & Saffron Rice Stuffed Tomatoes~

Summer tomatoes and Summer squash. These two pure and simple Summer "vegetables" (botanically both are "vine-fruit" because they are the receptacle for the seeds of the plant) are two of my favorite August things to eat. It has nothing to do with eating healthy, I just plain love them -- I'd love them even if they weren't healthy. If you grow your own in your backyard you know you've got a lot of both right now. If you don't grow your own, after one quick inexpensive trip to your local farmers market, and the time it takes to cook some...... View full recipe for "~ Summer Squash & Saffron Rice Stuffed Tomatoes~"


~ Pure & Simple: Summer Squash (Zucchini) Saute ~

Joe's August vegetable garden has been keeping the vegetable bin of my refrigerator full of green and yellow zucchini for almost two weeks now. I've been keeping up with them (which really isn't a chore because I love them), but, the moment Joe walked into the kitchen this AM with his latest harvest (12), I knew I had to get things under control ASAP. This recipe is a tasty way to use 6-8 of these fast growing veggies at once, and, it's about as pure and simple as it gets: delicately-flavored Summer squash (green and yellow zucchini are a type...... View full recipe for "~ Pure & Simple: Summer Squash (Zucchini) Saute ~"


~ How to: Hollow Out Tomatoes for Stuffing Them ~

My motto: Almost anything tastes better with a tomato and almost anything tastes better in a tomato. The tomato season is finally upon us here in Central PA (we wait all year long for it in this part of the country), and with each passing day, Joe's harvest gets larger. When I can no longer keep up with eating them just as they are or adding them to sandwiches and salads, one of my favorite things to do is stuff them. I'll be sharing one or two of my favorite recipes for stuffed tomatoes this week, so I thought I'd...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Hollow Out Tomatoes for Stuffing Them ~"


~ Mel's Creamy-Crunchy Seriously-Good Coleslaw ~

It is amazing to me how many people say they don't like coleslaw, then admit they've never tried it because they don't like cabbage or anything made with cabbage. Seriously? I am at a loss for any understanding of this mindset. I grew up loving my grandmother's pepper-slaw, my mother's stuffed cabbage rolls, my dad's ham and cabbage, and, sauerkraut. Whenever someone says "no thank you" to coleslaw, for some reason, I find it hard to resist the urge to change their mind. In the instances when I can successfully coerce someone into trying my slaw, the reaction to my...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Creamy-Crunchy Seriously-Good Coleslaw ~"


~ Conchiglie Pasta tossed with Crispy Pancetta, a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce, Spinach & Walnuts ~

I really did encounter this dish in a restaurant at a tennis club in Taipei! Damn straight. The year was 1986. Joe's engineering company was doing business with a manufacturing company in Taiwan. It was owned by an interesting American businessman who, having being stationed in Taipei after the Korean War, decided to return to Taiwan to live for the rest of his life. Thanks to Lee's English-speaking Taiwanese secretary, while the men were conducting business, I spent ten days being chauffered around to sight-see, eat and shop. On the last day of our stay, Lee, who knew that Joe...... View full recipe for "~ Conchiglie Pasta tossed with Crispy Pancetta, a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce, Spinach & Walnuts ~"


~ My Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Sauce for Pasta ~

As a gal who grew up in the latter '50's, '60's and early '70's, my family didn't venture into trying the worlds vast varieties of artisanal cheeses. We stuck with what we knew, which, like the rest of suburban, middle America, was limited to the selection in the dairy case of our one or two local grocery stores. When it came to slicing or grating, if it wasn't white American, it was yellow cheddar or marbled Colby. We ate mozzarella, but it was the aged low-moisture kind, and as for Parmesan, there was little need for that in an Eastern...... View full recipe for "~ My Creamy Dreamy Gorgonzola Sauce for Pasta ~"


~ Roasted Campari Tomatoes with Asiago & Basil ~

Over the past couple of days I worked on a very special panzanella salad recipe. I was asked to come up with a twist on this classic Italian salad recipe by my friend and local restauranteur extrordinaire Scott Lucchesi. Let me cut to the chase, he loved my spin on this salad, and, announced it will be appearing on his sports bar and/or restaurant menus very soon. You can get my recipe for ~ Roast-Chicken Caprese-Panzanella Pasta-Salad ~ by clicking on the Related Article link below. After developing and posting any recipe, I'm often faced with primo leftover ingredients --...... View full recipe for "~ Roasted Campari Tomatoes with Asiago & Basil ~"


~ Creamy Baked Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese ~

Macaroni and cheese is near the very top of the American favorite food list. This ooey-gooey irresistable mixture of unpretentious pasta and cheese has earned a beloved place on tables ranging from your grandmother's kitchen to college dorms to gourmet restaurants. We love it and we serve it year round, indoors or out, at all sorts of gatherings, holidays and celebrations. My guy wants my Mac & Cheese served with our son Jesse's Bone-Suckin, Charcoal-Smoked Spareribs for Memorial Day! I'm sure there is a percentage of you who think Mac & Cheese was invented by Kraft foods (their first version...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Baked Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese ~"


~My Basic Asiago Cheese Sauce for Pasta/Veggies~

As a gal who grew up in the latter '50's, '60's and early '70's, I did not grow up eating fake "cheese-feed" products. You know what I mean: thick, bottled Olive Garden-type pasta sauces that bear no resemblance to delicate, real-deal Alfredo sauce, and, gloppy, jarred Cheez-Whiz-type concoctions that get poured over vegetables and nachos. Besides the calories (and who knows what else), I feel lucky that I grew up in a family during a time in history when everyone appreciated good cheese. Back then, even us Americans hand-sliced and grated our own cheese (it didn't come out of a...... View full recipe for "~My Basic Asiago Cheese Sauce for Pasta/Veggies~"


~Cinnamon-Raisin Bread-Stuffing Muffins ('Stuffins')~

'Stuffins' -- just saying it brings a smile to my face. These are just plain fun to make, kid-friendly, and, practical too -- pretty little portions of complete happiness. If you brown bag your lunch, just wrap one up and toss it in. If you're cooking for just you or for two, make a dozen to have on hand for the entire week. They're a surefire crowd pleaser as well. A few years ago, I made a huge batch and took them to a Fall tailgate party where the men couldn't get enough of them! Stuffins can be made from...... View full recipe for "~Cinnamon-Raisin Bread-Stuffing Muffins ('Stuffins')~"


~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~

There was a period in my life when I taught cooking classes on a regular basis (which I'm just too busy to do nowadays). It was a rarity if I chose the subject matter. When a group of people or an organization wants to take a class, they usually know what it is they want to learn before they come a calling. In every class, one of the things I enjoy the most are the questions that get asked. Questions reveal two things: What is spinning around in the heads of people interested in food, and, what food trends are...... View full recipe for "~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~"


~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~

Carbonara. A word every foodie is familiar with. Not familiar with it? Not a foodie. Don't like the word foodie? Go write your own material. Carbonara is Italian, and, if you have ever eaten it in its city of origin, Rome, or had it prepared for you by someone from Rome, you have little patience with American bastardizations. Carbonara is the definition of "simply extraordinary"! Carbonara = Pasta, Pork, Eggs, Cheese & Pepper A bit about carbonara (kar-boh-NAH-rah): (The following is a run-on sentence.) Carbonara is a dish of al dente pasta (usually bucatini or thick spaghetti) tossed into a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~"


~ Golden & Cheesy, Potato & Bread-Stuffing Cups ~

When company is coming and mashed potatoes are a must, this recipe is one of my favorite side-dishes. It combines two somewhat ordinary family-style side-dishes (mashed potatoes and bread stuffing) into one, by layering and portioning them into desired-sized ramekins. Once baked, these pretty-to-look-at accompaniments can grace even the swankiest of tables. They taste great with almost any roasted poultry, pork, and, prime rib too. There's more, they can be assembled a day or two before baking and serving. What's not to love about: Perfectly portioned, not too little, not to much -- just enough! Golden, cheesy potatoes on top...... View full recipe for "~ Golden & Cheesy, Potato & Bread-Stuffing Cups ~"


~ Making Indian Birista (Crispy Deep-Fried Onions) ~

If you are familiar with Indian food, you have eaten their birista (bah-REES-tah): thinly-sliced crispy, golden, deep-fried onions. They are as common to an Indian kitchen as steamed basmati rice and roti (an unleavened, griddle-cooked flatbread). They are eaten as a snack and used as an additive to, or a topper for, delectable dishes like biryani, curries, steamed rice, mashed potato filling, soups, salads, sandwiches, grilled meats, meat patties and savory breads. If you are not familiar with Indian food, but are a lover of onions, because barista are generic (they contain no Indian spices), you can and will find...... View full recipe for "~ Making Indian Birista (Crispy Deep-Fried Onions) ~"


~ I Just Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole ~

I just love my mother's "stuffing". When I was growing up, I could not wait for her to make it for Thanksgiving. Truthfully, I always wished she would have made it more than once a year, but, alas, that was not the case. It's a simple mixture of saltine crackers soaked in milk and eggs with sauteed celery, onions and ground beef added to it. Yes, I said ground beef. My mom disliked turkey giblets (thankfully I did not inherit that gene), so, she substituted the ground meat to mimic the look and mouth feel of them. That substitution makes...... View full recipe for "~ I Just Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole ~"


~ Sweet (& Savory): Caramelized Onions & Apples ~

I am a professed onion lover. I like all kinds, I like them served every way possible, and, I forgave them a long time ago for making me cry. I like them raw or pickled in salads and on sandwiches, simmered in stocks or soups, roasted whole or diced and baked in casseroles, and, perhaps my favorite way, sauted to different degrees of doneness: lightly-browned, browned or caramelized. All types of onions contain a lot of sugar and slowly cooking them on the stovetop draws out their natural sweetness. All fruit contains sugar and apples are at their peak right...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet (& Savory): Caramelized Onions & Apples ~"


~Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread~

Spoonbread is a Southern dish and is believed to be Native American in origin, which makes sense, since the Native Americans were the culinary masters of cooking with maiz/maize (corn and its byproducts). If you've never eaten spoonbread, it is a savory side-dish. Calling it a bread is a stretch because it is a moist, ever-so-slightly grainy, custardy concoction with a crispy top. It gets served in the container it was baked, and, is eaten with a spoon, hence the name. I liken it to a combination of cornmeal-based polenta, cornbread casserole and cornmeal souffle! Taking a drive down memory...... View full recipe for "~Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread~"


~ Butternut Squash & Caramelized Apple Casserole~

Sunday was the first day of Fall. Like clockwork, here in Central Pennsylvania, the temperatures have dropped to a chilly 40-50 degrees, and, even when the sun is shining bright, the breezes are brisk, and, Fall colors are starting to appear in our outdoor scenery. It is: sweater weather: All that is left from our vegetable gardens are butternut squash and pumpkins. If I store them in a cool, dry place, both will keep nicely until Thanksgiving, so, unlike Summer vegetables, I don't have to scurry around looking for ways to process or preserve them. I can enjoy them at...... View full recipe for "~ Butternut Squash & Caramelized Apple Casserole~"


~ Color Me Fall: An Autumn Butternut Squash Puree~

Fall begins precisely at 4:44 PM this afternoon and I've got to say, "I love the Fall." I'm one of those lucky people that lives in the Northeastern USA where we get to participate in four distinct seasons, with each one requiring a "sort of" different lifestyle. Fall: I love the clean, crisp "sweater weather", and, watching the leaves change in color from bright green to yellow-y golds and oranges. I especially love the transition from all of the fresh vegetables and grilled foods of Summer to the deep, nutty flavor of roasted vegetables and slow-cooked comfort foods! The only...... View full recipe for "~ Color Me Fall: An Autumn Butternut Squash Puree~"


~ How to: Steam a Butternut Squash in the Crockpot~

I love butternut squash and every Fall my husband Joe's garden gifts us with a few beauties. Some are big and some are small -- I love them all. I love butternut squash sliced raw and baked into casseroles, roasted and mashed or smashed like potatoes or sweet potatoes, or, steamed for puree. What can I say, I'd love this vegetable even if it wasn't really healthy and good for me, which it is. Is there anything I don't like about it? Well, yes there is! Read on: I hate peeling butternut squash! Admit it -- you do too! It...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Steam a Butternut Squash in the Crockpot~"