Welcome to Kitchen Encounters

  • I am here for two reasons.......... read more

TO LEAVE A COMMENT. Click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of that post and type away, or, email me directly. I'll be looking forward to hearing from all of you!

WHVL-TV Kitchen Encounters Videos

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie


~ My Peachy-Keen Pork Chops & Stuffing Casserole ~

IMG_5857This decades old, now-retro, family-favorite recipe is made from just a few on-hand ingredients -- 3/4"-1"-thick bone-in pork chops, peach-pie filling, stuffing mix, chicken broth, celery and onion.  It is my mom's spin-off of her Tootsie's recipe (my mother's pet name for her sister Marie).  Tootsie made it with canned apple-pie filling.  My mom started making it with home-canned peach-pie filling, made from peaches picked from my grandmother's backyard peach trees.  Both mom and Tootsie, usually made this after the Thanksgiving holiday, as a tasty way to get one-more family-friendly meal out of one of the leftovers (aka the stuffing).  It couldn't be easier, and, it's the best, easy-pork-chop recipe there is -- kids and adults both love it.  There's more.  If you are one of the many cooks in search of a foolproof recipe that guarantees juicy, fork-tender chops, this is it.

Imagine a juicy, fork-tender, 3/4"-1"-thick pork chop w/peach-pie filling underneath & stuffing heaped on top -- it's peachy-keen.

IMG_5874This easy recipe guarantees flavorful, juicy, fork-tender, chops:

IMG_57756  3/4"-1" thick, bone-in pork loin chops

4  tablespoons corn or peanut oil, for sautéing chops

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning chops

1  22-ounce can peach pie filling

2  6-ounce boxes Stove-Top Chicken Stuffing Mix

1  generous cup diced celery

1  generous cup diced onion

2  cup chicken broth

IMG_5777 IMG_5777 IMG_5777 IMG_5777 IMG_5777 IMG_5777 IMG_5777~Step 1. In a 16" electric skillet, heat the corn or peanut oil over low heat. Increase heat to 225º (medium-high), add the chops, then, season their tops with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Continue to sauté the chops until they're browning nicely on the bottom, about 8 minutes.  Using a spatula, flip the chops over and season the second side with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sauté the chops until golden on the bottom, about 8 more minutes.  Turn the heat off.

IMG_5799 IMG_5799~ Step 2.  Open the can of peach pie filling and use a spoon to scoop it into the bottom of a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole.  Use a spoon to spread it evenly in the bottom.  Arrange the pork chops atop the pie filling, overlapping them slightly.  Set aside.

IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805 IMG_5805~Step 3.  Return heat to 225º and wait 30-60 seconds, just long enough to reheat the pork drippings,  Add the celery and onion.  Sauté the vegetables, stirring constantly with a large spoon, until crunch tender, 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and the stuffing mix.  Stir until the stuffing is thick and has absorbed the broth.  Turn the heat off, cover the skillet, and let sit for 5-6 minutes.

IMG_5830 IMG_5830 IMG_5830 IMG_5837 IMG_5839 IMG_5839 IMG_5839~Step 4.  Uncover the skillet.  Using a 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop, place 6 well-packed, heaping and generous scoops of stuffing, one scoop on each chop.  Using a spoon or a fork, scatter remainder of stuffing around the sides and in between the larger scoops.  Cover casserole with aluminum foil and bake on center rack of 325° oven 1 hour. Uncover and continue to bake another 15 minutes, or until stuffing is turning golden on top. Remove from oven, allow casserole to rest 10-15 minutes.

Delighfully Sweet & Savory Southern-Comfort-Style Food:

IMG_5855Guaranteed to conjure a smile w/every peachy-keen bite:

IMG_5887My Peachy-Keen Pork Chops & Stuffing Casserole:  Recipe yields 6 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 16" electric skillet w/lid; spatula; large spoon; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 2 1/2" ice-cream scoop; aluminum foil

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec2929ef200cCook's Note: The sweet and savory act of combining porcine and apples is classic.  Every whole roasted pig that I've ever seen had an apple in its mouth.  I honestly can't remember where I read it or heard this, but, my recollection is: this centuries old custom had to do with pigs being fattened by feeding them apples, so, this was considered a show of respect for the animal, representing it eating apples in life and into eternity (hogs were typically slaughtered in the Fall and apples were in season).  All I know for certain is pork and apples sure do go hand-in-hand and it's one of my favorite combinations.  For a real Fall treat, be sure to ~ My Aunt's Apple-Pie Pork-Chop & Stuffing Casserole ~.

"We are all in this food world together. " ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


~ RedHot Buffalo-Chicken Rooster-Crest-Pasta Salad ~

IMG_5757If you are a fan of Buffalo-chicken-style anything, this is a pasta salad you'll crow about.  I admit, the thought of making Buffalo-chicken pasta salad didn't occur to me until I found myself binge-snacking on a few slices of Sunday's leftover roast chicken dipped into a ramekin containing a bit of Friday night's leftover wing-night wing sauce -- that was yesterday.  A few short minutes later, the vision of a Buffalo-style pasta salad popped into my head -- and IT is happening today.

Lucky lovers of all things Buffalo wings:  it comes in many forms.

6a0120a8551282970b026bde921b79200cIn my family alone, Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nanchos, Buffalo-Style Shredded Chicken 'n Slaw Sliders, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas, Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs, Sweet-and-Savory-Glazed Buffalo-Chicken Meatballs, Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken  Tacos, Almost Effortless Chunky Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili, and, Buffalo-chicken Tortilla Wraps, are ALL crowd-pleasing wing-night or game-day options.  

This afternoon, Buffalo-Chicken pasta salad is on the menu:  

IMG_5705For the pasta and salad:

12  ounces uncooked crest-of-the-rooster pasta (large elbow macaroni or penne may be substituted)

1  tablespoon sea salt, for adding to pasta water

3  cups roasted and hand-pulled meat, preferably dark-meat from 3 roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters

3/4  cup small-diced celery

3/4  cup rough-chopped matchstick carrots

3/4  cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  total cup blue cheese crumbles, 3/4 cup for the salad and 1/4 cup for garnish

IMG_5692For my Buffalo-style ranch dressing (yield: 1 generous cup):

*3/4  cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing

*1/4  cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce

2  tablespoons honey

1  teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic

1 1/2  teaspoons dehydrated minced onion

* Note:  When preparing the 1 cup of dressing, I like the ratio of 3/4 cup Hidden Valley ranch dressing to 1/4 cup Frank's RedHot wing sauce.  That said, if you want your dressing hotter (as in spicier), feel free to adjust it to suit your palate.  Example: 1/2 cup dressing to 1/2 cup wing sauce.

IMG_5693 IMG_5693 IMG_5693~ Step 1.  To prepare the dressing, in a 1-cup measuring container, thoroughly stir all ingredients together.  Set aside, at room temperature, while prepping all ingredients for the pasta and salad.

IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707 IMG_5707~Step 2.  To cook the pasta, in a wide-bottomed 3 1/2-4-quart stockpot or chef's pan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the 1 tablespoons of sea salt to the water.  Add the pasta and cook, according to package directions, until al dente, 9-11 minutes.  Do not over cook the pasta.  Drain pasta into a colander, rinse it thoroughly under cold running tap water (to remove the excess starch and halt the cooking process), then, spread it out onto a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes, to dry and cool, meaning:  dry free of excess moisture (not dry out), and, cool to room temp.  

IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688 IMG_5688~Step 3.  After removing the skin, using your fingers, pull the chicken from the leg-thigh quarter bones, into bite-sized pieces.  Transfer the drained and now cooled pasta to a large bowl.  Add the pulled chicken, followed by the celery, carrots and onions.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold all ingredients together.  Do not add the blue cheese crumbles at this time.  Add all of the dressing, and, fold again, until all the ingredients are enrobed in this yummy-spicy-creamy concoction.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, to give the flavors time to marry.

IMG_5742 IMG_5742 IMG_5742~ Step 4.  At serving time, remove from refrigerator and use the spatula to fold the mixture again, then, lastly, fold in 3/4 cup of the blue cheese crumbles.  Portion and garnish each with a sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles.

Serve each portion garnished w/blue cheese crumbles:

IMG_5764This salad is at its best served the same day it's prepared.

IMG_5770RedHot Buffalo-Chicken Rooster-Crest-Pasta Salad:  Recipe yields 10 cups/6 main-course salad servings.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container; spoon; wide-bottomed 3 1/2-4-quart stockpot or chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; colander; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec2be1a1200cCook's Note:  This main-dish pasta salad can easily be turned into a side-dish too. Simply prepare it, as directed, omitting the pulled chicken. As a side-dish, it's perfectly-marvelous served with hot-out-of-the-oven: ~ Roasted Buffalo-Style Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


~What's the Buzz -- Thick & Hearty Bronze-Cut Pasta~

IMG_5660Dried pasta, I'm guessing, is in 99.9 percent of all pantries.  Even if I didn't adore pasta as much as I do, not to mention have around 100 favorite ways to prepare around 100 of my favorite pasta shapes, several boxes of pasta would still be required to be in my pantry at all times.  Why? Because the majority of everyone I know loves pasta, and as the family cook, it's my responsibility to please as many people at one time as possible -- and pasta, as a side-dish or a main-course, is a simple, straightforward, sure-simmered way to do exactly that.  Pasta is feel-good eating.

The difference between run-of-the-mill & bronze-cut pasta...

IMG_5666... has little-to-nothing to do with the brand name.  Read on:

IMG_5640Let's start with me telling you this: there really is a difference -- it's not just a marketing ploy, and, it has little-to-nothing to do with the brand name on the box or the bag.  In a nutshell, all manufactured pasta starts by mixing flour and water into a doughy mass which gets extruded (pushed) though a machine via a die (a mold that may or may not be made of bronze) that shapes it into strands or fork-friendly pieces of various thicknesses, shapes and sizes prior to drying.  

IMG_5650Run-of-the-mill pasta dies, made of bronze or otherwise, are coated with Teflon for the obvious reason: it is cheaper because the machinery is easier to maintain.  In the case of run-of-the-mill pasta, it emerges from the machine slick, with a smooth surface and shiny look to it -- it has a polished finish, and it's pretty to look at, but, sauces tend to slide off it.  

IMG_5653Bronze-cut pasta dies, which are indeed bronze and not Teflon coated, renders the pasta rougher, more porous and less dense -- it's got a matt finish and feels rustic to the touch.  Bronze-cut pasta does cost the manufacturer (and the consumer) a bit more, but in the case of this pasta, all sauces love it, and happily stick to it, without any culinary coaxing.

Bronze-cut pasta -- the pasta all sauces loves to stick to:  

IMG_4813"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)