.

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

341 posts categorized "14) Fish/Seafood, Pasta, Vegetarian & GF"

05/02/2022

~ Kebab, Kabob, Shish Kabob and lots of Kababba ~

Kabbaba is the ancient Aramaic word meaning to char or to burn. Medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords as instruments to grill food over open fires in the field of battle, are credited with inventing kabobs. It was only natural that this simple method of cooking food relatively fast on a "sikh" (a metal skewer), made its way into the kitchens of the royal houses, then onto the tables of the common folk and eventually into the streets, where vendors cooked and sold them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (where they untreaded them onto or inside some form of...... View full recipe for "~ Kebab, Kabob, Shish Kabob and lots of Kababba ~"

04/02/2022

~ Cheese-Stuffed Sausage and Mushroom Omelette ~

Nothing fancy, surely not gourmet, just three available-to-everyone ingredients, sausage, mushrooms and onions. All three together as one, well, they're my favorite topping combo on a cheese- or double-cheese pizza, and, they're my favorite add-in combo to a cheese- or double-cheese omelette. For those two reasons alone I always keep my favorite brand of fully-cooked breakfast sausage, generic canned sliced-mushrooms and a sweet Vidalia onion or two on hand. Yes, my favorite toppings for my favorite pizza or bagel-bites snack pizza and my add-ins to my favorite omelette are indeed, always right at my fingertips -- and I wouldn't have...... View full recipe for "~ Cheese-Stuffed Sausage and Mushroom Omelette ~"

03/30/2022

~ Chick-fil-A -- Rave Review of Five-Dipping-Sauces ~

For the love of chicken sandwiches, I admit to being a fair-weather fan of our local Chick-fil-A fast-food chain restaurant. All of THEIR not-my-cup-of-tea politics aside, on occasion, if it's a really nice day and I feel the need to relax and get away from my stove, I enjoy the drive across town to pick up one of their signature chicken sandwiches. As one who loves chicken sandwiches many ways, their trademarked slogan, "We didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich," their "Eat more Chikin" cow commercials, and, Doodles, their mascot, all make me smile. When one is perusing...... View full recipe for "~ Chick-fil-A -- Rave Review of Five-Dipping-Sauces ~ "

03/21/2022

~No Secrets in Hidden Valley Ranch's Secret Sauces~

I am a huge fan of Hidden Valley ranch dressing. If you and yours are too, be it a picnic, potluck or party, Hidden Valley Ranch has a secret sauce ready and waiting on a shelf in a grocery store near you. Labeled as Golden, Spicy, Smokehouse and Original, there is one that is guaranteed to be a great mate to whatever fare you're serving. No one enjoys a scratch-made condiment more than me and no one enjoys a creamy scratch-made condiment more than me, but, I gotta be honest, when I come across one or four in my store,...... View full recipe for "~No Secrets in Hidden Valley Ranch's Secret Sauces~"

03/09/2022

~Pretty-in-Pink Pickled-&-Piped Deviled-Pickled Eggs~

Pickled eggs can be made several ways, but the ones I love and the ones my family always made were the Pennsylvania Deutsch version, which are sometimes referred to as pickled-beet eggs or red-beat eggs. My mom and grandmother served them but once a year as a side-dish on our Easter feast table, but, in local Pennsylvania Deutsch communities, pickled eggs were and still are a very popular tavern food -- they can be found marinating in large jars on bar tops next to beer taps all over Pennsylvania. It takes about five days for hard-cooked eggs to pickle, so,...... View full recipe for "~Pretty-in-Pink Pickled-&-Piped Deviled-Pickled Eggs~"

03/06/2022

~ Easy Linguine and Shrimp w/Tomato-Cream Sauce ~

Easy should never be a compromise. It should simply be: easy. When you take the first taste or bite, it shouldn't be a dead giveaway that you didn't slave behind your stove all afternoon. This luscious pasta dish is a prime example. In my food world, I don't think anyone appreciates a great scratch-made marinara sauce more than I do, but, truth told, if one adds a bit of cream to store-bought, it turns into a decadent super-quick-to-make tomato-cream pasta sauce. If you're the family cook, you'd be lying if you couldn't admit: all of us home cooks love a...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Linguine and Shrimp w/Tomato-Cream Sauce ~"

03/03/2022

~One-Skillet Creamy Parmesan Linguine and Shrimp~

If you're hankering for a seafood and creamy pasta dish for dinner -- no problem. Splurge on a small, one-pound bag of flash-frozen, large shrimp, pick up a box of fresh linguine pasta, plus, a few other miscellaneous items -- fresh basil, sweet grape tomatoes and heavy cream (you've no doubt already got the cheese in your refrigerator). Voila. You and yours can be pouring a glass of wine and sitting down to a sumptuous, affordable, restaurant-quality dinner, from stovetop to table, in about 30-40 minutes (and there will be little cleanup afterward too). This will be everything you'd craved...... View full recipe for "~One-Skillet Creamy Parmesan Linguine and Shrimp~"

02/28/2022

~ G. Washington's Instant Seasoning & Broth History ~

This granulated gluten-free, meat-free instant seasoning has been around for generations, and, interestingly, it's used as an ingredient in a surprising number of savory, vintage recipe. It was a staple in my grandmother's pantry and my mother's pantry, and, for the love of making their recipes, it is a staple in mine too. It's recognized as the very first seasoning and broth. The brand has a strong loyalty amongst its users, but, because it contains MSG, it is not everyones cup-of-tea. That said, if you've ever tasted anything made using it, you'd immediately recognize how special it truly is. Easy...... View full recipe for "~ G. Washington's Instant Seasoning & Broth History ~"

02/14/2022

~ GF Deconstructed Slow-Cooker Stuffed-Cabbage ~

Feel free to assume I'm not a fan of trendy deconstructed dishes. I am, however, the first to admit there are exceptions to every rule, and, my mom's recipe for deconstructed stuffed cabbage rolls is one such exception. Why? Because the end justifies the means in a big, beautiful way: Every forkful of the finished "deconstructed" version is uncompromisingly just as delicious as the classic original, and, the time saved by not cooking many of the components first, then assembling them in the typical manner is marked. All I can say is: Where had this "deconstructed" method been all my...... View full recipe for "~ GF Deconstructed Slow-Cooker Stuffed-Cabbage ~"

02/11/2022

~Pasta - Choose, Portion, Cook, Sauce, Toss & Serve~

The world is full of pasta-bilities. Our modern marketplaces have supplied all of our demands with hundreds of shapes, sizes, and colors of dried and fresh pasta. I suppose it is because pasta is relatively quick to cook that many Americans impulsively try to create their own versions of well-known pasta dishes having little or no knowledge of the tried and true, time-honored principles and classic recipe techniques these recipes require. What's worse, many American restaurants do the same. Trust me when I say, I'm happy to overlook a slightly over-cooked or over-sauced pasta dish served by a friend who...... View full recipe for "~Pasta - Choose, Portion, Cook, Sauce, Toss & Serve~"

02/05/2022

~ Super-Easy Light & Skinny Tuna or Chicken Salad ~

Tuna salad and chicken salad -- they're two of my favorites. Tuna I have on-hand in my pantry all the time, chicken breast I have leftover on a regular basis. Tuna or chicken salad is nothing fancy -- and it's ertainly not gourmet. Just a quick and easy-to-make lunch made from ingredients you most-likely have on hand in your pantry -- and it'll keep you smiling all afternoon too. Why? Because besides being loaded with fat-free protein (from tuna packed in water or the meat from leftover chicken breasts, plus hard-cooked eggs), it's filling and packed-full of flavor (from all...... View full recipe for "~ Super-Easy Light & Skinny Tuna or Chicken Salad ~"

02/02/2022

~ Super-Easy Skinny Tuna Salad Pita Sandwiches ~

Nothing fancy. Certainly not gourmet. Just a quick and easy-to-make lunch made from ingredients you most-likely have on hand in your pantry -- and it'll keep you smiling all afternoon too. Why? Because besides being loaded with fat-free protein (from tuna packed in water and hard-cooked eggs) it's filling and packed-full of flavor (from all the wonderful spices in your favorite "lite" Italian dressing) and texture (from crunchy celery, onion and lettuce), plus, it's light -- a refreshing break from calorie-packed carbohydrates. It's never to early to "think Spring". Filling, packed-full of flavor & texture -- & light on calories...... View full recipe for "~ Super-Easy Skinny Tuna Salad Pita Sandwiches ~"

01/24/2022

~ Pearl Tapioca, Minute Tapioca and Tapioca Starch ~

Tapioca -- tap-ee-oh-kuh. You've seen it in your grocery store. Perhaps you keep some form of it in your pantry. Tapioca is a starch commonly used as a thickener, and, because it was a staple in my grandmother's and mother's pantries, it is in mine too. My grandmother used tapioca powder to thicken jelly, quick-cooking tapioca granules to thicken pie fillings, and whole tapioca pearls to make one of my favorite childhood comfort-food desserts: tapioca pudding. A bit about tapioca: The name tapioca comes from the South American, Brazilian Tupi name "tipi-oka", which means "starch". Tapioca doesn't grow on trees...... View full recipe for "~ Pearl Tapioca, Minute Tapioca and Tapioca Starch ~"

01/18/2022

~About Aged Asiago Cheese & Fresh Asiago Cheese~

Open the deli-drawer of my refrigerator and there's a good chance you'll find a wedge or two of Asiago cheese in it -- it's one of my favorite Italian cow's milk cheese. If you've never tried Asiago, you should, but, it's important to know there are two types, and, the one you choose will determine how you will use it. Simply stated, one is hard, dry and gratable, the other is soft, sliceable and meltable. Both start out the same, but, change textures during the aging process. Aged Asiago is pale-to-amber yellow, compact and very firm with a nutty aroma...... View full recipe for "~About Aged Asiago Cheese & Fresh Asiago Cheese~"

01/12/2022

~ Thick-&-Zesty Kid-Friendly Ground-Beef Lasagna ~

All us cooks agree that every recipe does not have to be a rocket science recipe -- it simply has to taste, without compromise, great. If the end justifies the means, there's no shame in a shortcut or three. I'm not sure how many lasagna recipes one cook is supposed to have, but, I'm guessing most households have more than one. Here in my kitchen, I make four different types of lasagna, each with its own unique sauce: Bolognese, seafood, vegetable lasagna (all of which are excellent but time-consuming), and, this easy-to-make kid-friendly, crowd-pleasing ground-beef lasagna. It's so popular amongst...... View full recipe for "~ Thick-&-Zesty Kid-Friendly Ground-Beef Lasagna ~"

12/27/2021

~ Thick-and-Zesty Gluten-Free Ground-Beef Lasagna ~

I'm not sure how many lasagna recipes one cook is supposed to have, but, I'm guessing most households have more than one. Here in my kitchen, I make four different types of lasagna, each with its own unique sauce: Bolognese, seafood, vegetable, and, kid-friendly ground beef. Today, because a few of you have asked for a gluten-free lasagna recipe recently, I'm posting my easy-to-make version, which is a spin-off of my crowd-pleasing kid-friendly ground beef lasagna. Notes before starting: It goes without saying you'll need gluten-free lasagna noodles -- your favorite brand, your choice, that's fine, mine are brown rice...... View full recipe for "~ Thick-and-Zesty Gluten-Free Ground-Beef Lasagna ~"

12/06/2021

~ The Best Boxed Stovetop Scalloped Potatoes Ever ~

Yep. It's true. I keep a box or three of cheesy scalloped potatoes in my pantry at all times. You'll also find some Stovetop Stuffing in there, along with some Rice-a-Roni and a couple bottles of store-bought pasta sauce too. You see -- I'm no different than the rest of the world. On occasion, there are times in all our lives when we need to rely on a convenience food in order to get dinner on the table in a hurry. There's more. "Doctoring up" a boxed mix is one of my specialties, meaning adding a few ingredients and/or tweaking...... View full recipe for "~ The Best Boxed Stovetop Scalloped Potatoes Ever ~ "

11/15/2021

~Caviar - The Perfect Start to Any Holiday Celebration~

The word caviar, which refers to lightly-salted roe, aka fish eggs, comes from the Turkish word khavyar and dates back centuries. There are many types of caviar, but true caviar comes from sturgeon, which has been a big part of the Middle Eastern and Eastern European diet for all of their history, and, caviar from the Caspian Sea and rivers of Russia has always been considered uber-premium. In order of high-end to low-end pricing, there four types of sturgeon caviar: beluga, sevruga, oestra and ship -- and no sturgeon caviar is what I consider cheap. The experts will all tell...... View full recipe for "~Caviar - The Perfect Start to Any Holiday Celebration~"

10/12/2021

~Chutney -- A Spicy Condiment and Sandwich Topper~

Having its origin in India, the name for this condiment comes from the East Indian word chatni, which means to entice the appetite. Indian chutneys were and are commonly made daily and eaten the same day -- originally prepared using a stone mortar and pestle, nowadays an electric food processor is often used. Just like our common American condiments, they can be found on the table for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner -- they are a part of the daily culinary routine. Chutney was imported from India to Western Europe in the early 17th century. European renditions were generically referred to...... View full recipe for "~Chutney -- A Spicy Condiment and Sandwich Topper~"

09/18/2021

~My Gluten-Free Brioche Made in the Bread Machine~

Bread. It's said to be the staff of life. A basic staple. Want proof of that? Just go to the grocery store in any time of community angst or crisis. It is the first item to disappear from the shelves. From one end of our food world to the other, every country and culture, rich or poor, eats bread in some form. Here in America, bread, homemade or store-bought, in households like mine and yours, can be found on our tables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of us take this slice of life for granted. That said, this is...... View full recipe for "~My Gluten-Free Brioche Made in the Bread Machine~"

08/24/2021

~Let's Talk Plantains -- The Next of Kin to the Banana~

Bananas and plantains -- they resemble each other, and they're related too. I 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 you weren't eating a banana. That said, when sautéed, the taste and texture of the yellow plantain is remarkable. As a lover of sautéed bananas, a la bananas foster for dessert, or atop eggnog pancakes w/sautéed butter-rum 'n nog bananas. The best way for me to culinarily describe the difference between the two is,...... View full recipe for "~Let's Talk Plantains -- The Next of Kin to the Banana~"

08/21/2021

~My All-Purpose Beer Batter for Deep-Frying Anything~

Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish or vegetables. Heck, even cheese and macaroni and cheese can be beer-batter-dipped and deep-fried. Slices, strips, chunks, fillets or paillards. Appetizer, snack, small meal, main-dish or pub grub. It doesn't matter. This beer batter will coat it evenly and fry up light as air. There's more. Be not afraid. Batter-dipping and deep-frying, while somewhat repetitive and time-consuming, it is super-easy. While you don't need an electric deep-fryer to deep fry, a small investment of $50-$75 dollars will get you a light-weight, countertop, cool-touch fryer with a lid, precise temperature control and an air filter which will...... View full recipe for "~My All-Purpose Beer Batter for Deep-Frying Anything~"

08/18/2021

~ Slightly-Spicy Creamy Cajun-Creole Hot Crab Dip ~

I grew up eating hot crab dip in the Chesapeake Bay area where it is made with Old Bay Seasoning, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, dry English mustard and white cheddar. I thought it was the ultimate crab dip until I tasted hot crab dip made in New Orleans, where it is made with Cajun seasoning, Louisiana Gold Hot Sauce, Creole mustard and cream cheese. Both versions also contain Parmesan, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic, plus, in NOLA during Mardi Gras, for festive color, they throw in some green and red bell pepper too. When eaten in close proximity to either place,...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy Creamy Cajun-Creole Hot Crab Dip ~"

08/09/2021

~An Inconvenient Truth - A Sweet Potato is Not a Yam~

Sweet potatoes were first introduced to North America when Columbus brought them over from the island of St. Thomas, where this large edible root, which belongs to the morning-glory family, is native to the tropical regions of the Americas. There are many varieties of sweet potato, but the two most widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and a dark-skinned variety Americans erroneously call "yam" -- the true yam is not even related to the sweet potato. The pale potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh. Its flavor is not sweet, and, after being cooked,...... View full recipe for "~An Inconvenient Truth - A Sweet Potato is Not a Yam~"

08/06/2021

~ The Bell Pepper Season & Why We All Love Them ~

Ok, maybe we ALL don't love the bell pepper but the majority of us do, including me. Served raw or cooked, they impart both flavor and color in all sorts of dishes from cuisines all around the world. At first sight, it's hard not to be attracted to their bold green, red, orange or yellow color, and, even if a recipe calls for a specific color, it's nice to know they can be used interchangeably -- although the green bell pepper is not quite as sweet as the others. Store-bought or home-grown, kept stored in the refrigerator, they have a...... View full recipe for "~ The Bell Pepper Season & Why We All Love Them ~"

08/03/2021

~The History Behind the Beloved Hass Avocado Fruit~

The most popular avocado in the United States is California Hass -- HASS, which rhymes with PASS is frequently mispronounced and mispelled Haas. This pear-shaped fruit weighs in at about half a pound and has bumpy, rough, dark greenish-black skin -- interestingly, it was originally known as the alligator pear, which, when you think about it for a moment, is an accurate description. It is known for its silky, rich, buttery texture and mild, nutlike flavor. It is the only avocado variety to be grown year-round, representing about 80% of all avocados sold in the world and generates more than...... View full recipe for "~The History Behind the Beloved Hass Avocado Fruit~"

07/28/2021

~Tomato Season & Why I Adore the Compari Tomato~

The Campari tomato claimed its fame in 2002 when a brief reference was made to it in the TV series, "The Sopranos." One mention -- it boosted both its relevancy in the tomato-loving world and its level of respect within the all-important Italian-American community. In 2003, Campari was rewarded with a 50% uptick in sales. To this day, it is my year-round store-bought tomato of choice. In my opinion, the Campari tomato is the most perfect tomato ever produced -- it's so damned flavorful, having the ideal balance of acid to sugar, and a texture that endears each one to...... View full recipe for "~Tomato Season & Why I Adore the Compari Tomato~"

07/25/2021

~ Put Gluten-Free Beer in Gluten-Free Pizza-Dough ~

Let me start by saying that a great pizza crust is puffy, chewy and crispy with a bit of yeasty flavor. Let me end by saying, a gluten-free pizza crust is none of those things. In fact, the only two things a traditional yeast-risen pizza crust and a yeast-risen gluten-free pizza crust have in common are shape and function. Once I got past that and stopped trying to turn "water into wine", it was easier (I didn't say easy, 'cause it took several tries) for me to move-on and come up with a perfectly-palatable very-tasty gluten-free crust to please those...... View full recipe for "~ Put Gluten-Free Beer in Gluten-Free Pizza-Dough ~"

07/21/2021

~ My Fajita Rice for Chicken or Steak Fajita-Burritos ~

I love fajitas and I adore fajita-burritos. Sometimes I make chicken or steak fajitas for the sole purpose of taking the well-seasoned, sautéed bell pepper, onion and chicken or steak mixture, and wrapping it up burrito-style in a large flour tortilla that's been slathered with refried beans topped with a scattering of spiced rice and shredded cheddar. Interestingly, because fajitas are seasoned with a specific scratch-made or store-bought spice blend, and Mexican-rice recipes or Mexican-style rice mixes are not seasoned with the same seasoning, many times, the flavor of the seasoned rice can compete or clash with the fajita seasoning....... View full recipe for "~ My Fajita Rice for Chicken or Steak Fajita-Burritos ~ "

07/12/2021

~ Making the Most of the Short & Sweet Corn Season ~

What a wonderful gift the Native Americans gave to the world. Everything on the corn plant can be used: the husks for tamales, the silks for tea, the kernels for food and the stalks for fodder. Modern day horticulturists developed our two most popular varieties: white (Country Gentleman) and yellow (Golden Bantam). White corn kernels are smaller and sweeter. Yellow corn kernels are larger and fuller-flavored. The more recently developed hybrid (Butter & Sugar Corn) produces ears speckled with both yellow and white kernels -- my personal favorite. Almost nothing beats a serving of fresh, steaming corn on the cob...... View full recipe for "~ Making the Most of the Short & Sweet Corn Season ~"

07/06/2021

~Herb-Sour-Cream Cucumber or Tomato Salad Cups~

Summer is prime time for big main-dish salads and small side-dish salads. In the case of the latter, in my kitchen, one quick-to-fix creamy sour-cream-based dressing has me eating a side of crunchy cucumber or tangy tomato salad in the time it takes the average steak to grill. Yes, of course, go ahead, do the math and double, triple or quadruple this recipe to make a bigger batch, but, in my kitchen, I don't make more than me or my family is going to eat in one sitting. Why? I don't like leftover cucumber or tomato salad -- simply stated:...... View full recipe for "~Herb-Sour-Cream Cucumber or Tomato Salad Cups~"

06/04/2021

~ My Dijonaisse-Dressed Baked Russet Potato Salad ~

I'm a lover of potato salad, and, when a hankering for it hits, I don't want to waste a lot of time getting from point A to point B, meaning, I want potato salad, aka as quickly as possible. For that reason, this is my "go to" recipe -- it's nothing fancy, but, it's done within the hour (and in potato salad time, that's quick). There's more. While the potatoes are in the microwave oven baking, I often chop some optional additions (celery, onion and/or hard-cooked egg), and mix them in too, but, I'm here to tell you, this quick-fix...... View full recipe for "~ My Dijonaisse-Dressed Baked Russet Potato Salad ~"

05/29/2021

~Dijonnaise -- Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard and Spices~

As far as mayonnaise-based condiments go, this is the condiment that makes everything taste fancy schmancy in a French kinda way. It is sooooo good on sooooo many things. To name a few: French fries, steamed or grilled vegetables, an ordinary ham or turkey sandwich, and, of course, a mouth-watering cheeseburger. There's more. It's great used as a dressing for potato salad. Make a big batch or a small batch, whatever you need, it's only going to take five minutes. Make a big batch or a small batch -- whatever you need: For my French-style Dijonnaise: 6 tablespoons high-quality mayonnaise...... View full recipe for "~Dijonnaise -- Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard and Spices~"

05/23/2021

~ Oven-Roasted French-Onion Gold Potato Nuggets ~

When raindrops require moving your outdoor-cooked get-together into the dry, warm comfort of the great indoors, a toaster oven or two, in addition to your full-size oven or two, can be your best friend. When this scenario played out for me this weekend, in a properly-timed manner, I simply put four ribeye steaks under the broiler in one of my two ovens, put my marinated chicken quarters in the other one to roast, and, transitioned my baked potatoes into something fanciful: French-onion toaster-oven-roasted gold potato nuggets (affectionately named such by my kids back in the 80's). Rain or shine, Winter...... View full recipe for "~ Oven-Roasted French-Onion Gold Potato Nuggets ~"

05/17/2021

~ Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples and Candied Pecans ~

If you'd like to try, or are in search of, a uniquely-different delightfully-delicious starchy side-dish to serve with those barbecued spareribs, smoked pork chops or perfectly-grilled chicken at your upcoming outdoor get-together, this vinegar-based sweet potato salad, in place of traditional mayonnaise-based potato salad, is the ticket. Porcine or poultry, sweet potatoes, and apples, are a common, not to mention very popular, trio. The pickiest of eaters mostly agree they all taste great on the same plate because the flavors and textures simply put: all complement each other. The vinaigrette for this salad remarkably easy to make, as well as...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples and Candied Pecans ~"

05/14/2021

~ Sweet and Tangy Honey-Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

For me, it's salad season the entire year, however, now that the warm weather has finally arrived, it's real-deal salad season. I'm talking Summer salads made with a wider variety of higher-quality vegetables from local farmers' markets, and, in the upcoming weeks and months, veggies picked from my own garden. These are salads I love to serve next to my favorite grilled meats, poultry, and, yes, even seafood -- no other side dishes need apply. For that reason, I find myself taking the time to scratch-make dressings and vinaigrettes oftener, meaning, on a regular basis. This vinaigrette is remarkably easy...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet and Tangy Honey-Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"

04/05/2021

~ Cheese Ravioli w/Butter, Garlic & Cottage Cheese ~

I'm often asked what I cook just for myself, meaning: what I eat when no one else is around or no one else is looking. My answer is always the same: Most times I make a sandwich or nuke some soup (which require no actual cooking), but, when I do want to place a pot on the stovetop, I treat myself to a super-quick, super-easy pasta dish that is a spin-off of a childhood favorite (my dad's version of mac and cheese) which was an odd combination of hot, buttered-macaroni tossed with cold cottage cheese and seasoned with garlic powder,...... View full recipe for "~ Cheese Ravioli w/Butter, Garlic & Cottage Cheese ~"

01/27/2021

~ Paring 3 Store-Bought Ravioli w/3 Perfect Sauces ~

Let's be honest, even those of us who can and do make ravioli from scratch, don't typically serve them for a family-friendly weeknight meal. Why? Making ravioli from scratch is a lot of work. That's why these one-to-two-bite labors-of-love are usually reserved for holidays and celebrations. That said, high-quality store-bought ravioli can be found in the average grocery store. Rana is my go-to brand, and, you won't find them in the frozen food aisle -- they're found in the refrigerated section where fresh pasta is sold. When paired with an easy-to-make-from-scratch sauce, ravioli can and should be added to every...... View full recipe for "~ Paring 3 Store-Bought Ravioli w/3 Perfect Sauces ~"

01/24/2021

~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Florentine 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 "~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Florentine Sauce ~"

01/21/2021

~Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli with Tomato-Cream Sauce~

Every once in a while, my ability to cook is overshadowed by my desire to cook something remarkably easy, yet good enough to serve to guests -- no special skills, tools or knowledge required. Today is such a day. This simple, straightforward and scrumptious recipe, taken from the pages of absolutely nowhere, goes from stovetop to table in less time than it takes to cook spaghetti, and, when beautifully plated, will bamboozle everyone into thinking I cooked all day. "I dream of stirring cream into marinara sauce." ~ Melanie The only thing more rewarding than having a freezer shelf full...... View full recipe for "~Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli with Tomato-Cream Sauce~"

01/18/2021

~So Easy -- Mushroom Ravioli Alfredo alla Primavera~

I'm not a vegetarian, but, as a card-carrying carnivore, I can tell you, if I were, this easy-to-make creamy-dreamy pasta dish would be at the top of my weeknight menu rotation. Why? Because when I indulge in this decadent dish, I don't miss the meat for a second. In Italian, fettuccine means "little ribbons", which is why stranded pasta is always used. In Italian, primavera means "Spring" and culinarily, primavera just means that fresh vegetables (raw or blanched) are added to the dish during or at the end of its preparation. Long story short, fettuccini Alfredo that has vegetables added...... View full recipe for "~So Easy -- Mushroom Ravioli Alfredo alla Primavera~"

12/24/2020

~ Creamy-Dreamy Old-Bay Shrimp Shell-Pasta Salad ~

This main-dish pasta salad is made by adding cooked and well-drained shell-shaped pasta to my mother's shrimp salad recipe. It makes the perfect quick lunch or light supper. Simply portion it into a shallow bowl atop a bed of crispy-crunchy lettuce leaves accompanied by a few tomato wedges and pour a glass of your favorite wine. Add a slice of crusty rustic bread, a fancy-schmancy flakey croissant or a brioche roll slathered with butter and lunch or dinner is served. Shrimp cocktail has been a traditional appetizer at my family's holiday gatherings and celebrations for as long as I can...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy-Dreamy Old-Bay Shrimp Shell-Pasta Salad ~"

12/21/2020

~Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad Sandwiches~

Shrimp cocktail has been a traditional appetizer at my family's holiday gatherings and celebrations for as long as I can remember. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, bridal showers, baby showers, christenings, anniversary parties, etc. -- when my family celebrates, a big bowl or platter of perfectly-cooked jumbo shrimp with two-types of cocktail sauce (classic and creamy) are on the table when we start the festivities. On occasion, we'd have some left over. Under the supervision of my mom, back into the refrigerator they went, so our family of four could all enjoy shrimp salad sandwiches the next day. Truth told, I'm convinced...... View full recipe for "~Spicy Old-Bay-Seasoned Shrimp Salad Sandwiches~"

12/18/2020

~Old Bay -- Maryland's Staple in a Classic Yellow Can~

Newsflash -- There are two reasons to never consider trying to make Old Bay Seasoning at home. The first: You can't do it, you'll never get the proportions right, and, those of us who recognize the signature taste -- we'll hate you for yours. The second: Old Bay Seasoning is a source of Marylander pride. It's a staple -- it's found, right next to the salt and pepper shakers, on the tables in eateries everywhere. If you wouldn't try pawning some off-the-rails homemade salt or pepper off on your guests (or customers), don't try it with Old Bay seasoning either....... View full recipe for "~Old Bay -- Maryland's Staple in a Classic Yellow Can~ "

09/18/2020

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

If 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. In my family alone, Nacho...... View full recipe for "~ RedHot Buffalo-Chicken Rooster-Crest-Pasta Salad ~"

09/15/2020

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

Dried 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...... View full recipe for "~What's the Buzz -- Thick & Hearty Bronze-Cut Pasta~"

08/17/2020

~ Alfredo alla Primavera Parmesan-Chicken Quarters ~

In Italian, fettuccine means "little ribbons", which is why stranded pasta is always used in its preparation. In Italian, primavera implies "Spring", and culinarily, primavera simply means that fresh vegetables (raw or blanched) have been added to the dish during, or at the end, of its preparation. Long story short, fettuccini Alfredo that has vegetables added to it is simply referred to as Alfredo alla primavera. Alfredo and Alfredo primavera can be served as either a pasta course during a meal, a side-dish with a meal, or, (in a larger portion) as a main-course, and, in Italian-American restaurants, because we...... View full recipe for "~ Alfredo alla Primavera Parmesan-Chicken Quarters ~"

08/15/2020

~ Nice & Easy Spaghetti Alfredo alla Primavera-Style ~

It was November, 1981 or 1982 -- one or two days before Thanksgiving. It would turn out to be one of the worst-ever total snowfall years in the history of State College, and this storm snuck up on everyone. The snow piled high that afternoon, leaving over two feet on the ground. Trees came down and power lines snapped. Lights went out all over town. Our house at the time had a soapstone wood-burning stove in our family room. I hated that stove and the mess involved with it, but, it did help with the heating bill, so, Joe kept...... View full recipe for "~ Nice & Easy Spaghetti Alfredo alla Primavera-Style ~ "

07/31/2020

~ All-in-the-Pantry One-Pot Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo ~

Any time of year, at the end of a bad day or a great day, served as a side-dish or a main-course, a creamy-dreamy bowl of luxurious Alfredo-sauced pasta can be just what the doctor ordered. A few pantry ingredients, cheese and cream, plus, one-pot on the stovetop. Fifteen minutes later, you stick a fork in it and all is right with the world. There is no trick to Alfredo. About the only thing one can do wrong is to purchase a jar of bottled glop, which, never mind, let's not go there. A bit of history about the iconic...... View full recipe for "~ All-in-the-Pantry One-Pot Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo ~"

07/03/2020

~The Story Behind Macaroni & Yankee Doodle Dandy~

Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony, stuck a feather in his hat, and, called it macaroni. Fun song to sing? If you've ever wondered why Yankee Doodle would name his feather macaroni, this post will explain. Sans the folks who think Kraft Foods invented macaroni, food historians agree that here in the United States, it had its humble beginning in the kitchen of Thomas Jefferson, who returned from a trip to Paris with a macaroni maker/press which he bought while in Italy. Thank-you Mr. Jefferson for introducing macaroni to America. A bit about macaroni: Macaroni is a...... View full recipe for "~The Story Behind Macaroni & Yankee Doodle Dandy~"