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246 posts categorized "14) Fish/Seafood, Pasta & Vegetarian Too"

05/22/2019

~Three Great Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad~

My mom always made pasta salad for Memorial Day. It was classic 1960's-style -- rotini pasta with some cubed salami, pepperoni and American cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion and tomato dressed with store-bought Wishbone Italian dressing. It wasn't gourmet, it wasn't even particularly pretty 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~"

05/19/2019

~Mediterranean-Style Olive Tapenade & Feta Omelet~

I declare: I love briny tapenade in an omelete. Throw in a few salty crumbles of feta cheese, place it on a bed of bright green baby arugula or baby spinach leaves and garnish with a few diced tomatoes -- what's not to love. I could eat this savory, meatless delight for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- there's seriously no need for bacon or or sausage with this breakfast. Toast points go nicely, but, please skip the orange or grapefruit juice -- they're just wrong. This omelet pairs perfectly with a bloody Mary for breakfast, a glass of white wine...... View full recipe for "~Mediterranean-Style Olive Tapenade & Feta Omelet~"

05/17/2019

~ 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 ~"

05/12/2019

~ 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 ~"

05/04/2019

~ Tangy Mustard- and Chive-Laced Cheese Omelette ~

Forgive me if I type fast, as I'm anxious to eat the mouth-watering plate of food in this photograph. As a bigger fan of a fluffy American-style omelette vs a skinny French omelette, and, as an advocate for savory breakfasts over cloyingly sweet breakfasts, this egg-cellent little number is one of my ideal ways to break the fast. For those who don't know, mustard is more than just a condiment that goes on your hot dogs. Mustard is to an omelette, what mustard is to macaroni and cheese, potato salad and/or almost any creamy salad dressing one can mention: A...... View full recipe for "~ Tangy Mustard- and Chive-Laced Cheese Omelette ~ "

04/27/2019

~ Five Ways to Enjoy Slovak-Style Stuffed Cabbage ~

When it comes to making cabbage rolls, like meatloaf or meatballs, most cuisines have a traditional recipe for them, and, all make use of on-hand ingredients. For instance: If they live in an area suited for raising sheep, lamb is in their cabbage rolls. If they live in a climate where vegetables grow year round, you'll find veggies like bell peppers and chunky tomatoes in them. I will, however, go out on a limb and state: when I say "cabbage roll", you should say "Eastern European", because that is the cuisine they're hands-down most commonly associated with. Known as holubki...... View full recipe for "~ Five Ways to Enjoy Slovak-Style Stuffed Cabbage ~"

04/24/2019

~Slovak Vegetarian Cabbage & Tomato Lover's Soup~

I come from a long line of cabbage lovers. Known as kapusta in Eastern European inner circles, a week rarely passes that cabbage doesn't make it's way onto the dinner table in some form. Like my mother, the vegetable bin of my refrigerator is rarely without a head of green cabbage in it. Braised cabbage and carrots and butter-braised cabbage with egg noodles were two of our family's favorite side-dishes. Mom's stuffed cabbage rolls (made on the stovetop or in the crockpot) and my grandmother's stuffed cabbage soup with mini-meatballs (or with ground beef and rice) were two of our...... View full recipe for "~Slovak Vegetarian Cabbage & Tomato Lover's Soup~"

02/17/2019

~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~"

02/02/2019

~ Mel's Great-Big Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment ~

In crust I trust, but, in the case of the two bloatedly-overpriced-at-almost-$9.00 cauliflower pizza crusts I purchased (on a whim just to get a taste-in-my-mouth for what all the buzz is about), I'd rather eat cardboard. In my food world, in order to avoid eating compromising crap, I eat less of the things I love before cutting-back on carbs, or worse, cutting-out gluten completely. "Once you get used to them, they're pretty good", is not a retort to my comments, so stuff it. The only way to justify this type of ingredient-specific-deprivation requires a diagnosis from a doctor. My great...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Great-Big Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment ~"

01/31/2019

~ Quick as the Craving for Cream of Cauliflower Soup ~

January is National Soup Month, and, the cauliflower in my grocery stores is gorgeous right now. Do the math: soup + cauliflower = cauliflower soup -- more specifically, a savory, smooth, satisfying soup that can be made in about thirty minutes. I simply stop there, and so should you because it's full-of-flavor and fantastic as is, with a humble parsley garnish floating on top, so, oh-my-sigh, no cheese please, and, believe it or not, not everything tastes better with bits of bacon. How much is in a head of cauliflower? How much should I buy? Mother Nature did not have...... View full recipe for "~ Quick as the Craving for Cream of Cauliflower Soup ~"

01/25/2019

~Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Rasta Pasta~

Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of serving cheese or cheese sauces with fish or seafood, but, there are exceptions to every rule, so, for those who, like myself, do appreciate the divine goodness of dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese, you've gotta try my creamy-dreamy Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta with succulent, butter-poached lobster meat added to it. In the event you've never heard of rasta pasta, take a moment and read on: Rasta Pasta is a restaurant located in Colorado Springs, CO. The owners, the Taraborelli family, specialize in fusing two of the unlikeliest of culinary bedfellows:...... View full recipe for "~Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Rasta Pasta~"

01/20/2019

~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~

Creamy cheese sauces have a place in my food world -- not a big place, but a place. My attitude toward them is to use them judiciously, in a manner that does not overpower the dish being served, and, in moderation, so as not to tip the scale. To my credit, I have developed my own versions of more than a few: Easy Boursin, Trendy Rasta Pasta, Classic Mornay, Silky Parmesan-Sherry, Dreamy Gorgonzola, Basic Asiago, and a Kid-Friendly Cheddar. It is my opinion that, for the most part, all store-bought cheese sauces are a compromise, so, don't debate it, just...... View full recipe for "~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~"

01/15/2019

~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~

Knowing how to make a super-quick cheese sauce is indispensable for any number of reasons. Friends can drop by without notice, a snowstorm requires some pantry cooking, or, the craving for something rich, creamy, cheesy and comforting must be quelled. This five-minutes to make sauce is as delicious as it is easy, which is what makes it more than worthy of a blog post. Both Joe and I love it tossed into pasta (sometimes with some chards of roasted chicken thrown in too), it's a fantastic sauce for seafood (if you're not a purist about cheese and seafood together), and,...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~"

12/07/2018

~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~

My only experience with Rasta Pasta, references the original Colorado Springs restaurant. Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, paid them a visit, and, if you watch enough episodes of this show, you know when Guy is super-jazzed about an eatery. This was one such episode. On camera he tried their signature and namesake dish, the Rasta Pasta, a creamy, Jamaican-spiced penne pasta, studded with colorful vegetables topped with jerk chicken. It was, in fact, the Jamaican take on the Italian-American alfredo primavera topped with grilled chicken, which Guy declared to be "funky" in a...... View full recipe for "~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~"

12/05/2018

~ Coconut-Creamy, Island-Style, Rasta-Pasta Sauce ~

One of my favorite entrées in an Italian-American restaurant is Fettucchini Alfredo and I always order it a la primavera-style, meaning I'm asking for vegetables to be tossed into it, hence the name of my own recipe, Fabulous Fettuccine Alfredo a la Primavera-Style. I could easily choose to order the Alfredo with the very popular chicken or shrimp options, but, neither appeals to me. The rich, creamy, parmesan-laced sauce that enrobes the tender strands of al dente egg-pasta and colorful crunch-tender blanched veggies needs no meat or seafood to entice me. Jamaican cuisine fused w/Italian-American cuisine? Yea mon. If you...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut-Creamy, Island-Style, Rasta-Pasta Sauce ~"

11/15/2018

~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~

As a gal who eats sweet potatoes all year long, I pay particular homage to them at Thanksgiving. Sometimes I present them as a cup of sweet potato soup as the starter to the meal, sometimes they arrive in the form of a side-dish sweet potato and caramelized apple casserole, other times they're the sweet potato, apple and sausage stuffing/dressing side-kick to my turkey, and, always but always, my traditional Turkey Day feast includes a sweet potato pie. Sweet potato soup is a savory starter. Season it accordingly. When it comes to sweet potato soup, think "savory soup" not "sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~"

10/25/2018

~ Smoked Salmon & Folded Omelet Bagel Sandwich ~

Very special. That's how I describe this sandwich. That said, for me, every component must be "just so". It's got to be a lightly-toasted New York-style bagel -- preferably an everything bagel, but, an egg bagel is perfectly acceptable too. As for the requisite cream cheese, it's gotta be Philadelphia brand chive and onion spread. I prefer smoked salmon to lox and prefer lox to gravlax, so, let's leave it at "smoked salmon, lox or gravlax, in order of preference". Also, no breakfast sandwich would be complete without an egg or two, and a tender, light chive- and onion-laced creamy-dreamy...... View full recipe for "~ Smoked Salmon & Folded Omelet Bagel Sandwich ~"

10/12/2018

~ Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp & Pappardelle ~

While pasta is not an ingredient any of us foodies would off-handedly associate with Spain or Spanish cuisine, it has been incorporated into their diets. It's not commonly found on restaurant menus, but, in their home kitchens, it is used as an occasional substitution for Spain's claim-to-fame staple, rice, in some of their dishes. Gambas al ajillo (gam-bus alla-jheero), is one of Spain's most popular tapas dishes, my personal favorite tapas, and, from the moment I tasted it, I knew it could be turned into an extraordinary Italian-pasta meets Spanish tapas main-course. Gambas al ajillo is a Spanish classic, and,...... View full recipe for "~ Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp & Pappardelle ~"

10/03/2018

~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~

A small portion of any hot or cold, savory edible that can be eaten in just a few bites, forkfuls or slurps. Here in America, we call them "snacks". In Spain they're called "tapas". Like the American snack, anything can be a tapas if eaten in a small enough portion. In Spain, tapas is a style of eating, and going out for tapas is one of their most popular activities. When going out for tapas, you're not going out for dinner (although, if you eat enough tapas, they can be the equivalent of a meal). You start out eating tapas...... View full recipe for "~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~"

09/08/2018

~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~

In my food world, one of the most common background noises is the chatter of friends or family talking about the great price they scored on a basket or flat of prime produce. It's big news. Last week I was the one bragging about the flat of perfect mangos I toddled into my kitchen with. At 2-for-$1, it was exciting news. On par with fresh pineapple, mangos are my favorite exotic fruit. Similar in taste and texture to peaches, my first taste of this juicy stone fruit came in Thailand, where a mango hedgehog* was served, compliments of the hotel,...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~"

09/03/2018

~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~"

09/01/2018

~ 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 ~"

08/27/2018

~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~

The closest a plantain gets to a ripe banana is the black-streaked yellow plantain. Eaten raw, it still doesn't taste quite like, or have the mouthfeel of, a yellow banana, but, when sautéed, because of its high-starch and fully-developed sugar content, it can do something the banana can't: caramelize without losing its textural integrity. Sweet and caramelized, and slightly-sticky-without-sticking-together, this quick-to-make side-dish is the perfect sweet complement to the fiery-hot flavors of Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. Let's talk plantains: Ripe or unripe, plantains are eaten cooked. The best way for me to culinarily describe the...... View full recipe for "~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~"

08/24/2018

~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~

Bananas and plantains. Plantains and bananas. They resemble each other, and they're even related. I peel and eat a banana almost every morning, but, I can't say the same for the plantain. By accident or out of curiosity, if you've ever peeled a plantain and taken a taste, you knew immediately you were not eating a banana. The best way for me to culinarily describe the difference: If bananas are the sweet dessert, plantains are the savory potatoes. In fact, throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America, plantains are generically referred to as "cooking bananas", and bananas are...... View full recipe for "~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~"

08/21/2018

~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~

There's nothing like driving back from a trip to the Maryland shore with a few pounds of sweet blue crabmeat in a cooler in the back seat. The mind races with all the mouthwatering options to enjoy after you pull in the driveway. While fresh crab is best, happily, high-quality pasteurized crabmeat is available to us all all-year long, which makes my food world a kinder, gentler place. Beer-steaming live crabs and hand-cracking them to pick their meat, is, not a sport I partake in. Ugh. I don't even enjoy sitting at a crab shack in front of a newspaper-covered...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~"

08/19/2018

~ Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ~

If you've ever traveled to the areas in and around the Chesapeake Bay (Annapolis and/or Baltimore, Maryland, or, the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area in general), even if you are not a foodie, you can't help but notice that from white-linen restaurants to roadside stands, crab cakes and crab cake sandwiches are everywhere -- more specifically, Maryland blue crab cakes and blue crab sandwiches. There's more. If you ask any of the locals where to find the best crab cake or crab cake sandwich, you'll find they are fiercely loyal to their favorite place (and be prepared to listen, because they are...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Secret Sauce for Maryland-Style Crab Cakes ~"

08/17/2018

~ My Maryland Crabcake, Tomato & Mayo Sandwich ~

When I'm in Maine, you'll find me eating a lobster roll with potato chips. When I'm in Florida, I'll be ordering a blackened mahi-mahi sammie topped with mango salsa. When I'm at home here in Happy Valley, I'm feasting on Pennsylvania sweet corn, Jersey tomatoes and Maryland crab cakes. When I enter my kitchen carrying a few fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes, the first thing I do is grab the Hellmann's, get out the Sunbeam and make a good old-fashioned tomato and mayo sandwich. As much as I adore this down-home Summer indulgence, there is one thing I like more: a tomato-and-mayo sandwich...... View full recipe for "~ My Maryland Crabcake, Tomato & Mayo Sandwich ~"

08/15/2018

~My Texican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast~

Classically, soft-yolked fried eggs, served atop a lightly-fried corn tortilla, accompanied by a scoop of creamy refried beans, then drizzled with a cooked tomato-and-chile-pepper sauce (not fresh salsa), is known as: huevos rancheros. Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, ranch eggs, rancher's eggs or ranch-style eggs was the typical big, bold stick-to-the-ribs start to the long, laborious dawn-to-dusk workdays of cattle ranchers and ranch hands throughout the wide-open cattle-grazing spaces of Mexico and the American Southwest. It wasn't fancy, it was filling. Huevos Rancheros = ingredients on-hand in a ranch kitchen. As long as one can cook an egg, this dish is...... View full recipe for "~My Texican Huevos Rancheros Taco Boat Breakfast~"

08/12/2018

~ Mexican-Style Tomato & Chipotle-Chile Chili Sauce ~

I like salsa fresca (uncooked salsa) as much as the next person, but, when I'm making huevos rancheros (ranch-style eggs) for breakfast or brunch, or, a Mexican-style drowned torta (a sandwich drenched in sauce) for lunch or dinner, I make an all-purpose Mexican-style sauce with a thick, semi-chunky consistency and a smokey, spicy, complex flavor, meaning: a cooked sauce that can be served hot or warm. My 15-20 minute quick-to-make sauce uses on-hand pantry and refrigerator staples. Why? Tick, tock. The people I know wake up hungry -- they don't want to wait or watch me stand around simmering sauce,...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Tomato & Chipotle-Chile Chili Sauce ~"

07/15/2018

~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~

Would you like fries with that? If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you. Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips. When I was growing up, we adored my dad's...... View full recipe for "~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~"

07/12/2018

~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~"

06/07/2018

~ Two Basic Marinades/Sauces for Chinese Stir-Fry ~

The definition of a stir-fry is straightforward: To fry small morsels of meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and/or vegetables rapidly, in a wok or skillet, over a high heat, in a small amount of oil or fat, while stirring constantly. The concept is an easy one to grasp. Stir-fries were invented by the Chinese, but, it was Chinese Cantonese chefs, who specialized in stir-frying, that were amongst the first to immigrate to other Asian and European countries, our USA, then countries all around the world, where, over a relatively short period of time, they put the word stir-fry in the global...... View full recipe for "~ Two Basic Marinades/Sauces for Chinese Stir-Fry ~"

06/04/2018

~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~

The incredible, edible egg. For centuries, the Chinese recognized how good the protein-packed egg is. So much so, eggs are their symbol of the principals-of-life: "yin" being the white, "yang" being the yolk.* Eggs, colored or marbled, celebrate birth, restoration of good health, continued good-luck and/or future prosperity. Dating back to ancient times, eggs of any kind (chicken, duck quail and pigeon) were incorporated into meals all day long (fluffy scrambled tomato eggs, flan-like steamed eggs, omelette-esque egg fu young, wispy egg drop soup, vinegary pickled eggs, tea-flavored smoked eggs, etc.), with mushrooms and/or seafood being common additions. *Note: Yin...... View full recipe for "~ Chinese-Style Tomato-Eggs: For Any Time of Day ~"

05/28/2018

~ 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 ~"

05/25/2018

~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~

This winner of a weeknight chicken dinner is taken straight from pages of my working parents' playbook. Before heading out the door in the morning, my mom would put four chicken breasts, doused with store-bought Italian dressing, in a bowl, and, at the end of the work day, dad would dredge the breasts in bread crumbs and sauté them in a skillet, while mom cooked a box of kid-friendly pasta and readied some fresh green beans. It was simple and straightforward, nothing fancy, but, it was a dinner we all liked, right down to the vegetable. If we four could...... View full recipe for "~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta & Asparagus ~"

05/15/2018

~ 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 ~"

05/06/2018

~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~

Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's. Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, remarkably, our three kids would eat the side-dishes: the muli-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole. Without complaint or prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto and into tacos, fajitas, carnitas (or whatever else they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour. Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." I started stocking my pantry with whatever Texican-type ingredients I could find in our Central, PA grocery...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~"

04/24/2018

~ 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) ~"

04/05/2018

~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~

The Italians came up with the cure for the late-night movie-watching snack-attack centuries ago: Pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese). It's a no-nonsense, feed-me-now-snack, a quick-to-make side dish, and, it's a delicious foil for flavorful pasta sauces too. Choose any shape of pasta (short, fork-friendly shapes work best), and, if you have a link or a patty of breakfast sausage on-hand, not only do the flavors melt into the mixture like they were born to be there, without almost any extra effort, it transforms the dish into a hearty meal for one or two. A simple,...... View full recipe for "~ Pasta with Butter and Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~"

03/30/2018

~Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat~

An all-purpose gravy that goes well on almost anything? You betcha. One basic recipe, made with a few pantry staples, and, in a few minutes (tick, tock), voila: a great gravy that carnivores and vegetarians can sit down to enjoy, together, in harmony. Yes indeedy, sans pan drippings, a luxurious gravy to drizzle over all things gravy goes on: chicken-fried or smothered anything, meatloaf or hamburger steaks, open-faced bread-, biscuit- or waffle- sandwiches, French fries or poutine, rice or noodles, steamed or roasted vegetables, etc., etc., etc. Read on: Got drippings leftover from a roast? Add them along w/the stock....... View full recipe for "~Vegetarian Herb Gravy for Whatever Floats the Boat~"

03/09/2018

~ T.G.I. No-Fuss-Friday Greek Pizza for Mel Tonight ~

I'm Mel -- I cook all week -- on weekends too. I cook for my family, friends, and, friends-of-friends. I even cook on TV, and it's all fun, but, every once in a while, I have occasion to cook for myself. Tonight is such a night, and, I am going Greek and easy and super-good. Why cook for myself when I don't have to? Because, with little effort, calorie for calorie, my food tastes much better than over-priced, lack-luster take out or delivery -- in the case of tonight's pizza, it's faster too. When it comes to pizza just for...... View full recipe for "~ T.G.I. No-Fuss-Friday Greek Pizza for Mel Tonight ~"

02/20/2018

~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~

Eat more fish. I've heard it too many times to count, and, I've preached it too many times to count. Joe and I love fish, especially white fish, so, for me, keeping it in our weekly meal rotation is easy. That said, serving it to people who've determined they dislike fish, or worse, trying to entice children to try fish, can be a tricky, fishy business. On such occasions, teriyaki fish fillets or fish skewers, served with a veggie stir-fry and some rice, is my go-to "just try it" fish dinner. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one...... View full recipe for "~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~"

01/15/2018

~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~

Welsh rarebit -- the original cheese toast. It's worth mention that I've only eaten what I believe to be the real-deal once. It was in the latter 1990's, in Wales, in the exquisite Coed-Y-Mwstwr Hotel (coy-dee-moo-ster). It came to me as a complimentary side to a lovely salad (which I ordered after returning from shopping in the city of Cardiff). The cheese toast, along with everything else in this hotel, was perfect. I kicked off my high-heels and enjoyed it in my lavish room, overlooking the How-Green-was-My-Valley countryside, with a very English G&T too. I gave cheese toast a lot...... View full recipe for "~ Say Cheese Please: Making Perfect Welsh Rarebit ~"

01/12/2018

~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~

I adore our country's famous Senate bean soup -- chocked full of navy beans, shards of meat from ham hocks or shanks, onion and celery. Everything from its rich history to is smokey flavor and creamy texture is perfection -- I've even had the pleasure of eating in the Senate dining room in Washington, D.C. That said, I have vegetarian friends -- not many, but, they enjoy making their presence known in my kitchen. When they do, I'm happy to go meatless for a few hours. Yesterday was one such afternoon. A pot of this relatively-easy-to-make vegetarian version of my...... View full recipe for "~ Well-Seasoned Vegetarian Vegetable & Bean Soup ~"

10/31/2017

~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~

A quick-to-make sautéed mushroom and onion sauce, tossed into some buttered egg noodles was a childhood favorite of mine. Oddly, I was a child who liked mushrooms -- a lot. "Noodles & 'shrooms", that's what we called it. If there's an official name for it, I don't know it. Sometimes it showed up on our dinner table tossed together in a bowl, as a simple side-dish to a roasted chicken. Other times it was layered on a platter, as an elegant bed for "skinny" pan-fried pork chops. Sometimes my mom sautéed the sauce in bacon fat, other times she used...... View full recipe for "~ Egg Noodles w/Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Sauce ~"

10/26/2017

~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~

Walk into any Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch grocery store or a market that caters to a region with a large Amish population, then, walk up to the refrigerated deli-case. There you'll find several traditional, high-quality side-dishes: eggy-rich macaroni- and potato- salads, creamy cole slaw, sweet 'n sour slaw and pepper-cabbage. Next, take a stroll down the condiment isle and gaze at the array of honey-mustard- and sweet and sour- salad dressings, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, vinegar-marinated vegetables or mustardy chow-chows (a crunchy vegetable medley in mustard sauce). Lastly, check out the sweet treats: streusel-topped Dutch-apple, rhubarb-streusel and shoo-fly...... View full recipe for "~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~"

08/25/2017

~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~

These appetizers were one of our Happy Valley tailgate traditions. I fondly remember one of our members, Joan Reilly, making them for our early AM pre-tailgate tailgates -- prior to leaving for the stadium. She and her husband Joe lived close to Beaver Stadium, and, it was not unusual for us to meet, as a group, on the cul-de-sac in front of their house, to wait for our friend with the RV to arrive from Harrisburg. While we were all chatting and sipping Stan's Bloody Mary's, Joan would pass around a baking sheet full of her cheesy English-muffin-based crabmeat canapés....... View full recipe for "~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~"

07/27/2017

~ New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas~

Whenever we've been out of town for a few days, the moment we cross the Centre County line and are within 20-30 minutes of home, we discuss what we are most hungry for (what food we've missed the most on our trip), and, we order it, for pick up or eat in, at one of our favorite eateries. Typically, that revolves around stopping at a pizza shop, a Chinese takeout place, or, a Mexican joint. When it comes to the latter, I'm usually ordering up a plate of seriously cheesy enchiladas. Enchiladas are one of those Tex-Mex specialties that taste...... View full recipe for "~ New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas~"

07/08/2017

~ One-Bowl Lunch on the Run: Tuna Macaroni Salad ~

I rarely make the time to sit down and eat lunch and almost never find the time to go out to lunch. I prefer to munch and crunch, while working, standing in my kitchen or sitting at my computer. For example: I am munching on some chopped cantaloupe, here at my desk, for breakfast, while writing this, at 6:30AM. Whatever time I get my mid-day hunger attack today, I'm literally going to, "stick a fork in it": tuna macaroni salad. I made it yesterday, am writing about it today, and shall enjoy it, in a small bowl, as a light,...... View full recipe for "~ One-Bowl Lunch on the Run: Tuna Macaroni Salad ~"

06/28/2017

~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~

Spaghetti with ground meat sauce. It's an all-American Italian-American classic that makes short work of pleasing all the people all the time (while feeding all of them at the same time) -- especially kids. Ground beef, diced onion, crushed tomatoes, herbs and seasonings. It might be basic and simple, but it's a meal everyone wants to come home to. I raised three boys, and, in terms of spaghetti with meat sauce, there was one variation they enjoyed with equal enthusiasm: my bolder, fuller-flavored "sausage sandwich sauce" -- that is what they affectionately named it. "Sausage sandwich sauce." That's what my...... View full recipe for "~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~"