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192 posts categorized "10) Picnics, Barbecues & Grills"


~ My Beat-the-Heat Sweet-Heat Deli-Ham Sandwich ~

Sometimes the simplest things are the best, and, many times, they conjure up great memories. When I was growing up in Eastern, PA, in our family, if any one of us was coming or going for any reason, we could always count on a supply of sliced ham, hard salami, Swiss and American cheese, in mom's pastel-yellow refrigerator. Sliced as thin as she could get the deli-guy to slice them, all four of us liked all four, and, on white-or-rye or not, we were free to get as creative with the condiments as we wanted. When it came to ham,...... View full recipe for "~ My Beat-the-Heat Sweet-Heat Deli-Ham Sandwich ~"


~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~

Not everyone is a master of the barbecue grill or smoker. Newsflash. Not everyone wants to be. While I'm more than competent on a gas grill, charcoal gives me fits and the smell of smoke gives me a blinding headache. There's more. When the temperature in the great outdoors is threatening to blow the top off my thermometer, you won't find me outside torturing myself in the blazing heat just to prepare a rack of ribs. It's the AC for me baby, and, trust me when I tell you, you're gonna love the ribs I'm making in the cool oasis...... View full recipe for "~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~"


~ Southwestern-Style Macaroni, Bean & Corn Salad ~

Macaroni salad has always been a staple at our Fourth of July feast -- just call me a Yankee Doodle. That said, depending on what I'm serving, I don't make it the same way every year. My recipe for classic macaroni salad goes on the table when we're serving all-American hamburgers and hot dogs. This year because Texican-style BBQ'd chicken and ribs (the ribs on Saturday evening and the chicken on Sunday afternoon) will be in the center of the table, my Southwestern-style macaroni, bean and corn salad will the star of the side-dishes on both days. While easy to...... View full recipe for "~ Southwestern-Style Macaroni, Bean & Corn Salad ~"


~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~

Want to make a country-style potato salad just like your grandmother used to make? The kind that allows the potato to be the star of the show? Of course you do or you wouldn't be Googling around the internet looking for a basic, vintage recipe reminiscent of kinder, gentler, traditional times -- a recipe absent of a long-list fancy-schmancy ingredients (no special heirloom potatoes, no gourmet vinegars, no crazy-hot sauces, no silly spices, no asinine add-ins), that, while exciting-to-the-palate for the first few bites, just grow old in your mouth while muddlling up the flavor of the perfectly-cooked spuds. If...... View full recipe for "~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~"


~ Platter Up a Steak, Pasta, Fontina & Catalina Salad ~

No special marinade, no fancy ingredients, no fuss, no muss, no stress. Yes, you read that right, and, when you and yours sit down to this start-to-finish forty-five-minute main-dish salad, if you aren't smacking your lips while plating your second helping with a satisfied smile on your face, I'll be shocked. Of course you can embellish it (sprinkle the flank steak your favorite steak-seasoning, grill the steak along with the tomatoes and onion outdoors, and/or make the salad dressing and crunchy croutons from scratch), but, trust me when I tell you, there is no need. As a lover of sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Platter Up a Steak, Pasta, Fontina & Catalina Salad ~"


~ Crispy Outside, Tender Inside, Oven-Fried Chicken ~

The best oven-fried chicken has a crispy-crunchy outer coating encasing the juicy-tender meat. It's succulent. That said, to proclaim oven-fried chicken is as good as, rivals, or is better than traditional skillet- or deep-fried chicken is not something I'm willing to do. Truth told, it's neither better nor worse. It's different. Two different cooking methods produce two different results. Both qualify for fried-chicken status and both are marvelous, but, they're two different birds. Skillet- or deep-fried chicken vs. oven-fried chicken: Two different birds indeed. Immersing traditional fried chicken in hot-oil (or shortening or lard) in a skillet or in a...... View full recipe for "~ Crispy Outside, Tender Inside, Oven-Fried Chicken ~"


~ Lemon-Dressed Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad ~

Watermelon salad in October? You betcha. It's been unseasonably warm here in the Northeast, with unusually mild-to-hot Summer temperatures lasting into our four-seasoned Fall. While most (but not all) of our garden has indeed met its end-for-this-year (Summer basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, etc.), the extra growing time has rendered it a stellar year for watermelon, which, in honesty, doesn't do well when the the days grow short and the temperatures go low. Twenty-plus years ago, watermelon salad was trendy everywhere. One of my favorite versions was served in a now defunct high-end French restaurant right here in Happy Valley: The...... View full recipe for "~ Lemon-Dressed Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad ~"


~ The Perfectly-Seasoned 16-Minute Broiled Burger ~

On busy weeknights, or when I'm just plain pressed for time, popping a flank steak, a couple of pork blade steaks, or a few burgers under the broiler frees up my hands and some time to set the table, toss a salad or fix a side-dish and collect a couple of condiments. In exactly 18-, 22- or 16-minutes respectively (17 minutes if we want cheeseburgers), dinner is on its way to the table. To those who contend that broiling is not the ideal method for cooking any of the above, I say "poppycock". Position the oven rack 5 1/2"-6" underneath...... View full recipe for " ~ The Perfectly-Seasoned 16-Minute Broiled Burger ~"


~ My Copycat Primanti Brothers Secret Slaw Recipe ~

On occasion I go to Pittsburgh. Just like every city there's plenty of sights to see, entertainment to be had, and, of course, lots of food. While Pittsburgh offers its share of show-offy fine-dining experiences, The Steel City, in my opinion, is known more for its blue collar, working man's fare. One of the most well-known, and most popular examples is Primanti Brothers -- trendsetters in sandwich making since 1933. When in Pittsburgh, you'll also notice that eating "alla Primanti's", "in-the-style Primanti's" (huge, overstuffed sandwiches topped with slaw and fries) surrounds you. Primani's 'slaw is vinegar-based and basic. Seriously folks....... View full recipe for "~ My Copycat Primanti Brothers Secret Slaw Recipe ~"


~Lighten Up w/a Refreshing Tuna-Mac Garden Salad~

Occasionally, on a day off or a Saturday, my dad would fix his version of tuna salad for us. On mom's medium-sized meat platter, he'd make a bed of soft garden lettuce leaves, then add a layer of tomato slices followed by a sliced cucumber. He'd scatter a lightly-drained can of chilled tuna-packed-in-oil over the veggies, followed by a few dollops of cottage cheese. His creation ended with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. Mom would make some rye toast, put a pitcher of iced tea on the table and lunch was served. It wasn't fancy, but our family...... View full recipe for "~Lighten Up w/a Refreshing Tuna-Mac Garden Salad~"


~Tuna Salad w/Cottage Cheese, Tomato & Cucumber~

I picked a cucumber this morning. I walked to the the other side of the vegetable garden and picked a couple of tomatoes too. Checking out the vegetable garden in the early hours of the day, as soon as it's light enough to see, is part of my routine. My dad used to do the same thing. He'd come in the house, rinse off whatever he'd picked, put all the "stuff" in the dish drainer, then go out to mow the grass. Dad thrived on his routines, and, sans the lawn mower, so do I. While carrying my cucumber and...... View full recipe for "~Tuna Salad w/Cottage Cheese, Tomato & Cucumber~"


~Sweet, Savory & Slightly-Spicy Curried Potato Salad~

For most of us, potato salad conjures up memories of exactly what our grandmothers made. And, for the most part, in terms of ingredients, the recipes for our grandmothers potato salad do not vary much. Various quantities of the usual suspects: potatoes, eggs, celery and/or onion, with a dressing made of mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, sometimes pickles or pickle relish, and, an occasional fresh herb. Voila: potato salad. While we all have our favorite recipe or recipes, when offered potato salad at a gathering, this is the kind we Americans expect to be served. From my Eastern European heritage, in...... View full recipe for "~Sweet, Savory & Slightly-Spicy Curried Potato Salad~"


~ A Simply-Scrumptious Summer Strawberry Cobbler ~

Fresh strawberry cobbler with home-churned strawberry ice cream, made the old-fashioned way, is going on our picnic table tonight. A few years ago that I realized strawberries make superb cobbler. I experimented on a whim and it turned out great. It was so successful, I tried this same recipe, substituting pineapple for strawberries that same Summer, meaning: I gained cobbler confidence. I don't know why it surprised me, strawberries contain a lot of citric acid, so, their own natural flavor makes them perfect for the relatively-fast turn-around in the oven required for a traditional cobbler. The moral of the story...... View full recipe for "~ A Simply-Scrumptious Summer Strawberry Cobbler ~"


~Greek-Style Chopped-Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette~

When tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe for the picking, small side-salads accompany our dinner almost every evening. Our seasonal herbs du jour always determine what cuisine-style I'll lean toward -- dill for Eastern European, basil for Italian, thyme for French, cilantro for Tex-Mex, and, oregano for Greek. Once that's decided, the cuisine-appropriate embellishments easily fall into place. It's a pretty straightforward process, but, no matter what I decide, my all-purpose super-easy-to-make red wine vinaigrette pulls it all together -- you'll rarely find my refrigerator without it. This refreshing relish-esque salad, goes great with grilled chicken, any type of steak, pork...... View full recipe for "~Greek-Style Chopped-Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette~"


~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~

How much would you pay for this in an upscale restaurant? About $8.00 as an appetizer? Perhaps $12.00 as a lunch entrée? Both sound fare to me, but, truth told, this small plate of happiness is so good I'd happily pay more. 'Tis true, rake my shrimp cocktail over some hot coals and I'll follow you anywhere -- and pay a tidy sum for it too. Add a few slices of grilled bread, uncork a bottle of white wine, and invite a few guests to join you too -- it's that impressive. For the pucker-up lemon sauce for seafood or...... View full recipe for "~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~"


~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~

Asparagus, served hot off the grill grids, drizzled with a bit of lemon-infused EVOO and white balsamic vinaigrette, is one of my favorite Summer side-dishes. Name it -- grilled steak, chicken or seafood, it plays well with them all. Interestingly, I sometimes serve it as an hors d'oeuvre too -- it pairs perfectly with melon wrapped in prosciutto. There's just something downright delightful about picking up a medium-to-fat, crunch-tender asparagus spear in my fingertips, politely swishing it a pucker-up, creamy, lemon sauce and savoring the lightly-charred flavor. Just eat. It's too simple for words, hence this short post. Grilling asparagus...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~"


~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

A salad without lettuce? There's no law against it, and, in the case of this salad, lettuce is just in the way. The combination of tender blanched asparagus, a few halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and, small, creamy, fresh mozzarella balls drizzled with a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette is to-die-for. The only item I do add to it on occasion is: a handful of crunchy croutons. Nothing more, nothing less. No other embellishments need apply. The dressing, loaded with lemon flavor and laced with subtle herbs de Provence, is the star of this salad show, so, don't stray from this flavor profile....... View full recipe for "~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"


~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~

Wish-Bone Italian dressing. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. To name a few: drizzled on my garden salad or slathered on my turkey sandwich, as a dip for my vegetables, as a marinade for my chicken, and, as the dressing for the original Wish-Bone Italian pasta salad recipe. Growing up, right next to the bright- red Kraft Catalina Dressing and the creamy-white Hellmann's mayonnaise stood the Wish-Bone. All were condiment staples in my mom's 1960's and 70's refrigerator, and today, all remain staples in my own refrigerator -- although I now prefer Wish-Bone's Light-Italian version. Want...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~"


~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~

My mom always made pasta salad for Memorial Day. It was classic 1960's, Wish-Bone-Style -- rotini pasta with some cubed salami, pepperoni and American cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion and tomato dressed with store-bought Italian dressing. It wasn't gourmet, it wasn't even particularly exciting to look at, but, because it was prepared correctly, it was remarkably delicious. Our Memorial Day picnic, at our reserved picnic table, at Lakewood Park in Barnesville, PA, would have been incomplete without the pasta salad. Mom's Spring green Tupperware container went in and came out of the cooler several times throughout the day while...... View full recipe for "~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~"


~ Greek Pasta Salad w/Tapenade, Tuna and Tomato ~

Americans cherish the Summer. The deck chairs come out, the cooler fills with ice, the shorts go on, everyone slides into their flip-flops, and then, spends as much time in the fresh air and sunshine as possible. Some play sports while others garden, some like to swim while others prefer to sun bathe, but, each and every one loves to eat -- and a forkful of food simply tastes better in the great outdoors. Here in the Northeast, the land of four seasons, Summer has finally arrived and I'm kicking it off with a refreshing, main-dish pasta salad that is...... View full recipe for "~ Greek Pasta Salad w/Tapenade, Tuna and Tomato ~"


~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~

My pantry and/or refrigerator are never without a can or two of inexpensive, mild-flavored ripe, black olives and a big jar of tangy green pimiento-stuffed olives too. Throughout the year, I toss either one or both, whole into garden salads, or, slice and use them to top an occasional pizza. That said, at the end of a long Summer's day, there is nothing like a well-chilled cocktail out on the deck with a salty snack to nibble on. A cracker or two with a slather of soft brie or chèvre topped with a dollop of tapenade is a favorite, but,...... View full recipe for "~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~"


~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Marinade ~

The hamlet of Endwell, the village of Endicott, and, the city of Binghamton. What do these three places in upstate New York have in common? They each own a piece of the claim to creating a sandwich unique to their area, and, popularizing it to the point to hold an annual three-days-in-August food festival and hot-air balloon rally that attracts over 100,000 people to celebrate. The "Spiedie" comes from the Italian word "spiede", as-in cubes of skewered meat cooked on a "spit". An Italian immigrant, Camillo Lacovelli is said to have introduced the original spiedie to Endwell, NY, in the...... View full recipe for "~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Marinade ~"


~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Sandwich ~

Endicott, NY, is off the beaten path for some, which is why the spiedie sandwich just might be the best sandwich a lot of folks never heard of. The odd part is, growing up with parents who pretty much stuck close to their home in Eastern, PA, as a family we actually made it to New York every now and then, and, everyone in our family, including grandma, loved a spiedie sandwich. It was back in the 1960's, and, I was so young, I didn't even know I was eating an official spiedie. My grandmother, my mom's mother, had a...... View full recipe for "~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Sandwich ~"


~ Texican-Style Pork Steak and Bell Pepper Spiedies ~

My grandmother, my mother's mother, had a close friend who lived in Endicott New York (a village just West of Binghamton). For a period of six-eight years, once every Summer, our family of four plus grandma, arranged ourselves in my dad's all-white, 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca and headed North. It was a very long day (we left early in the morning and returned late in the evening), but just before arriving at our destination, we stopped to eat spiedies for lunch (our hostess made us dinner). Our family, including grandma, loved the classic Italian spiedies in Endicott -- Dad and...... View full recipe for "~ Texican-Style Pork Steak and Bell Pepper Spiedies ~"


~Easy Sweet & Spicy Tex-Mex-Style Barbecue Sauce~

Simmer down. I am well aware that authentic Texas-style barbecue requires no sauce, and, its purist fans proclaim perfectly-smoked beef, poultry or pork is so lip-smacking fantastic sauce ruins it. I'm neither here to disagree nor apologize -- I'm just a Yankee gal that likes a special or secret sauce with, or on, almost everything that comes off a grill or out of a smoker. There's more. I have absolutely no idea what might constitute the perfect Tex-Mex-style barbecue sauce, I'm simply here to share my culinary concoction of sweet and savory pleasing-to-me perfection. Specific to no one dish, but...... View full recipe for "~Easy Sweet & Spicy Tex-Mex-Style Barbecue Sauce~"


~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~

April showers bring May flowers, tick-tock, and so starts the prime-time grilling season. Across the country, home cooks and grill-masters are already concocting their secret recipes for sweet and savory wet sauces and spice-is-nice dry rubs. Once the chicken and ribs start hitting the grill grids, neighborhoods everywhere will be filled with the ethereal smell of barbecue. Get out the paper plates and napkins, place the side-dishes on the table, pop a beer and pull up a chair. Speaking of side-dishes (notice how I snuck that in), while Northeastern Deutsch-Amish potato-salads, macaroni-salads and coleslaws reign undeniably supreme (as far as...... View full recipe for "~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~"


~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~

Tick, tock. The Summer season is fast approaching and once we Americans fire up our outdoor grills, we'll be faced with more reasons than we can count to whip up a big bowl of the family's favorite tried-and-true mayonnaise-based potato and egg salad or creamy-crunchy coleslaw. That said, because one can never have too many variations on potato salad or coleslaw, consider dressing either of them with spicy Russian- or sweet Thousand Islands- dressing. Your preference is your choice -- swap 'em out as you please: For 5 cups Russian or Thousand-Islands-dressed potato salad or coleslaw: 5-6 medium-large Russet potatoes,...... View full recipe for "~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~"


~ Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich ~

Whether one is at the ballpark, a carnival, or entering a shopping mall, one can't help but notice the line in front of the vendor selling Italian sausage sandwiches. Hot-off-the-griddle, a succulent link of sweet or hot sausage on a medium-textured Italian roll, heaped with a savory mélange of griddle-sautéed peppers and onions: it's next to impossible to resist. If you've ever eaten one, you've also noticed they taste immensely better than the majority of home-grilled versions. Why is this? Read on, and "don't knock it until you've tried it", so, criticize this post with caution. The best technique for...... View full recipe for "~ Secrets to the Italian-American Sausage Sandwich ~"


~ Herbaceous Caramelized-Onion & Boursin Burgers ~

Eating à la Française, in the the style of the French people, is a remarkable experience. As a person who is 100% willing to throw calories under the bus for outstanding fare, dining in France is literally at the top of my food chain. Speaking of chains, over the past few decades, "le fast food chaînes" have indeed invaded France, but, only to the point of being easier to find without replacing "haute cuisine" (fine dining) or interrupting eating "en famille" (family-style meals). That said, for a culture that loves "pissaladière" (the French answer to pizza) and has long-established ties...... View full recipe for "~ Herbaceous Caramelized-Onion & Boursin Burgers ~"


~Jerk-Style Chicken & Slaw on Coco Bread Sandwich~

Don't worry, be happy -- especially if you've got some leftover Jamaican-style jerk chicken (or pork) on hand. Warm or chilled, removed from the bones and pulled into succulent, bite-sized chucks and pieces, this full-of-Island-style aromatically-flavored poultry (or meat), when piled high on one of their signature freshly-baked and opened, rich-and-flaky coco bread sandwich rolls, is magnifique. A slice of tomato or grilled pineapple and a heap of jerk-slaw takes it over the top. Coco bread is an enriched Jamaican yeast bread that's a cross between a thin sandwich roll and a thick pocket bread. It's said the name comes...... View full recipe for "~Jerk-Style Chicken & Slaw on Coco Bread Sandwich~"


~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~

Coleslaw -- creamy and crunchy, sweet, savory and nicely-spiced, coleslaw is a make-my-day side-dish and my favorite sloppy-sandwich topper. There's more. By swapping out a few herbs and spices, coleslaw, "the chameleon of side-dishes", any coleslaw recipe can be prepared to complement any cuisine. How convenient is that. I came up with this version to serve with Jamaican-style jerk fare. This simple, lip-smacking recipe has got a bit of coat-your-throat heat. Herein lies the secret to my jerk-seasoned slaw: Leave it to the Jamaicans. I can't think of another exotic-to-me cuisine that does a better job of making my life...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~"


~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~

In Jamaica, they make a dish called coconut rice and peas -- it's usually served as an accompaniment to Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. This is sort of not it. This is my twist on it. In Jamaica, beans are called peas, more specifically, pigeon peas -- they’re a staple in Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean cooking and are sold canned, dried or fresh. In the Caribbean islands, kidney beans are a common substitution, which is a good, because, up until recently, pigeon peas were not something I could find in my Central PA stores. While...... View full recipe for "~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~"


~Spice-is-Nice Oven-Roasted Jamaican-Jerk Chicken~

Leave it to the Jamaicans. I can't think of another exotic-to-me cuisine that does a better job of making my life easier. I mean, seriously, they've cornered the market on marketing high-quality, bold-flavored dry-spice blends and rubs, wet pastes and marinades, barbecue, steak and hot pepper sauces, etc. -- when it comes to cooking Jamaican fare at home, some of their store-bought time-savers make me ponder why anyone would want to concoct "it" from scratch. That said, time spent in my kitchen is therapy -- it's my "don't worry, be happy" space. It's the game-on place where movies and music...... View full recipe for "~Spice-is-Nice Oven-Roasted Jamaican-Jerk Chicken~"


~Thai-Style Grilled Chicken or Pork Tenderloin Sliders~

In Thailand, unlike here in America, sandwiches are not something one finds sold in shops or on the streets -- bread is not a part of the traditional Thai diet. That said, East met West quite a few decades ago, and, we Americans love sandwiches -- if it can be eaten between two slices of bread, we Americans will figure out a way to do it and make it taste great. To that end, A trip to Thailand will reveal that nowadays, a portion of the Thai population has come to appreciate and incorporate some bread (mostly flatbreads), in some...... View full recipe for "~Thai-Style Grilled Chicken or Pork Tenderloin Sliders~"


~ My Basic Thai Marinade for Grilled Poultry or Pork ~

For those who love Thai food, your search for an all-purpose marinade and method of cooking some chicken or pork, to bring the bold flavors of Thailand to your American dinner tables without consuming too much time, muss or fuss, is over. Fact: When it comes to our food, just when we should slow down, relax and make more time for our family and friends, we Americans always seem to be in a hurry. While "eat and run" is not my style, this is my "go to" marinade, which produces succulent, full-throttle Thai-flavored chicken or pork, relatively quickly. It's perfect...... View full recipe for "~ My Basic Thai Marinade for Grilled Poultry or Pork ~"


~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~

Lettuce is not a subject people get excited about. That said, everyone has a preference, nonchalantly placing their favorite variety in their shopping cart as they saunter through the produce department. In our present day food world, it's understandable to take this humble, fragile and perishable vegetable for granted, but, prior to the 1920's, that was not the case. Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads -- salad eating in the colder regions was a seasonal pleasure. Out of season, the cook relied on rugged...... View full recipe for "~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~"


~Grilled Gem Wedges w/Blue Cheese, Bacon & Filet~

You can teach an old dog new tricks. As a gal, who, for the most part, prefers her vegetables cooked in some manner to enhance their flavor and texture, grilling lettuce was a technique I learned just a few short weeks ago. I haven't a clue why it eluded me for so long, except, in my own defense, I don't remember a chapter entitled The Art of Grilling Lettuce in my foodie manual. Grilling lettuce might not be for everyone. After all, we eat with our eyes, and our eyes have been trained to seek bright green, crisp. lettuce leaves....... View full recipe for "~Grilled Gem Wedges w/Blue Cheese, Bacon & Filet~"


~ Have a Very-Berry Blackberry-Cobbler Kind of Day ~

Here today, gone today. That's the lifespan of blackberries entering my kitchen. I've been told their dark color makes them really good for me -- even more antioxidants than blueberries. Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, I'd eat them even if they were on on the not-so-good-for-me foods short list. When I buy a box of blackberries, I eat a box of blackberries. When I pick blackberries, they disappear on the walk to my kitchen door. I do not share blackberries -- well, maybe, probably I would, but, I've yet to be tested on this point. That said, because blackberries require no special treatment (peeling,...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Very-Berry Blackberry-Cobbler Kind of Day ~"


~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~

In the mid-1950's and throughout the '60's, everybody who entertained was serving French onion dip with their celery and carrot sticks. This simple concoction of Lipton dehydrated onion soup mix and sour cream was a year-round staple on picnic and cocktail tables. Said to have been created by an unknown French cook somewhere in Los Angeles in 1954, as a kid, I loved the stuff. In the 1970's, due to the invention of dehydrated ranch-dressing packets, another dip began appearing at gatherings all across America: Hidden Valley Ranch spinach dip. As a young bride, I loved the stuff. Throughout the...... View full recipe for "~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~"


~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~

Sweet potatoes -- of the kind that don't come out of a can and end up with marshmallows on top. I've had a love affair with this root vegetable since my first trist with a sweet potato that didn't come out of a can and have marshmallows on top. While I have a high-enough I.Q. to discern why once-upon-a-time in-the-history-of-canned-vegetetables, cooked sweet potatoes were put in those cans, in my lifetime, I will never be smart enough to figure out why those marshmallows got purposefully or experimentally plopped on top. Some answers are best left to the imagination. A sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~"


~ The Perfectly-Broiled 22-Minute Pork Blade Steak ~

The pork blade steak is my new-to-me muse -- in my own words, it's a bone-fide kick-butt man-sized pork chop. Known as pork steak, pork butt steak or pork blade steak, these bone-in steaks are cut from the shoulder of the pig -- the same part of the porcine used to make pulled pork. Similar in taste and texture to close-kin country-style spareribs*, they were invented in St. Louis, MO, and are a Midwest staple. As a country-style spare-rib lover living in central Pennsylvania, I ask the Sam's Club butcher to custom-cut these inexpensive, lesser-to-unknown-to-our-locale steaks for me. Perhaps this...... View full recipe for "~ The Perfectly-Broiled 22-Minute Pork Blade Steak ~"


~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~

I love a starry night. Sitting outside in the warm Summer air, watching the sun set and listening to my next-door neighbors, the dairy cows, lowing in the pasture -- it's peaceful. That said, on some Summer nights, Thursdays during June, July and August, a band plays "up on the mountain" (the ski slope to the other side of the cow pasture). Weather permitting, on those toe-tapping evenings, if you stop by, you'll find a snack or three on the table next to the cooler of Corona. My neighbors, music on the mountain, &, bean dip. This easy bean dip...... View full recipe for "~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~"


~ Mexico's Torta Ahogada Drowned-Pork Sandwich ~

Torta ahogada. Culinarily, torta can mean several things: in Spain it refers to a pancake, in Latin America it's a cake, in Central America it's an omelette, and, in Mexico it's a sandwich -- the kind that, unlike the taco, fits the culinary definition of anything edible placed between two slices of bread. Generally speaking, in Spanish ahogada means drowned, drenched or drunk. Putting two and two together, today's recipe is: a Mexican sandwich, drowned or drenched in sauce. A traditional torta ahogada is a fried-pork and onion sandwich drenched in a spicy red sauce, and, this Mexican working-man's lunch...... View full recipe for "~ Mexico's Torta Ahogada Drowned-Pork Sandwich ~"


~ Sink or Swim: Mexican Drowned-Beef Sandwiches ~

Tacos and tortas -- two staples of Mexican cuisine. They are to Mexico's culture what pizza and hamburgers are to America's -- you can't pass through a city or a town where you can't find either. If you're an American cook with a fondness for Mexican fare, like me, you most likely have a recipe-or-six for tacos (American-style ground beef tacos, grilled-beef tacos al carbon, shredded-pork carnitas tacos, shredded-pork tacos al pastor, chicken tacos, fish tacos, etc.). That said, how many Mexican torta recipes do you have in your repertoire? I'm guessing not too many, or none. Sink or swim:...... View full recipe for "~ Sink or Swim: Mexican Drowned-Beef Sandwiches ~"


~ A Basic Mexican Marinade for Beef, Pork or Poultry ~

As a fan of Mexican-Texican food, I find myself improvising occasionally. Not, of course, when I'm preparing one of their many classic dishes (like low and slow roasted pork carnitas or tacos al pastor) -- they require specific ingredients and a traditional method of cooking. Improvisation enters my food world when I'm preparing one of my flash-in-the pan meals (a meal where the protein gets quickly grilled, grill-panned, pan-seared or broiled). This all-purpose marinade, which contains many flavors basic to Mexican-Texican fare, is my secret to imparting that all-important extra-layer of flavor into into my meal -- without overpowering it...... View full recipe for "~ A Basic Mexican Marinade for Beef, Pork or Poultry ~"


~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~

Cóctel de camarónes. That's Spanish for cocktail of shrimp. If you're a fan of Southwestern spice, but never tasted a shrimp cocktail prepared Mexican-style, I recommend giving this Southwestern perfect-for-Summer twist on the classic a try -- plenty of plump, tender, poached (sometimes lightly-grilled) shrimp, swimming around in a citrusy, tomato, cilantro and spicy-hot sauce, containing pieces of diced avocado, cucumber, onion and jalapeño. It's a snazzy fork-friendly salad in a glass, not to be confused with its cousin, ceviche, which contains raw, cooked-via-marination fish and/or shellfish mixed with spices, citrus juice, vegetables and/or peppers. Traditional shrimp cocktail, as we...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~"


~Tangy-Sweet Strawberry White-Balsamic Vinaigrette~

Strawberries are no stranger to salads -- spinach and strawberry salads with poppyseed dressing were trendy on restaurant menus in the 1970's. Those salads caused me to experiment with strawberries, when appropriate, in place of tomatoes, in salad recipes using a variety of other greens and proteins too. It was only natural that I would experiment with sweet and savory salad dressings containing strawberries too. This vinaigrette recipe is the one that captured my strawberry loving heart. My Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Cheese and Arugula Salad (pictured in the background), is not only perfect for Spring, it's dazzling dressed with this vinaigrette:...... View full recipe for "~Tangy-Sweet Strawberry White-Balsamic Vinaigrette~"


~ Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Cheese and Arugula Salad ~

Strawberries aren't just for dessert, and, if the Northeast ever gets a break in the weather, the local strawberry season will be just around the corner. That said, the California-grown Driscoll's strawberries I found in the grocery store yesterday are plump and sweet, and, one of the man-sized flank steaks my husband picked up at Sam's Club today are going to team up for a hearty, sweet-and-savory, main-dish salad for a delightfully-carnivorous Sunday dinner this evening. Strawberries are no stranger to salads -- spinach and strawberry salads with poppyseed dressing were trendy on restaurant menus back in the 1970's. Because...... View full recipe for "~ Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Cheese and Arugula Salad ~"


~My 18-Minute Philly-Dilly Flank-Steak Cheesesteaks~

Knowledge is power. As the 2018 "Dilly-dilly" Bud Light, Super Bowl commercial spiked in popularity, then filtered into the mantra for the Eagle's super-bowl victory parade in the form of "Philly-dilly", my curiosity caused me to research it -- and I'm glad I did. I'm here to report "dilly" is a real word, and, as per Merriam-Webster, it's a noun that comes from an obsolete adjective that refers to something "delightful", "remarkable" or "outstanding", which describes with perfection: My latest take on the cheesesteak -- The Philly-Dilly. If you have never eaten a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia proper, you've never...... View full recipe for "~My 18-Minute Philly-Dilly Flank-Steak Cheesesteaks~"


~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~

Retro recipes with a history to report or a story to share, are fun for me to write. While plenty of versions for this particular cake are available on the internet, my reason for adding "mine" is two fold: plenty of present day cooks have no idea what a poke cake is, and, this particular one is, one of three poke cake recipes my mom made when I was growing up in the 1960's and '70's. Because banana pudding is classic and traditional Southern fare (a layered dessert of vanilla cookies, sliced bananas, vanilla pudding and meringue), that would indeed...... View full recipe for "~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~"