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150 posts categorized "16) Bitchin' from Melanie's Kitchen: Commentaries, Opinions, Rantings, Stories & an Occasional Beverage or Cocktail"

10/28/2020

~ Defining the Differences between Soups and Stews ~

When I pull out my big, 20-24-quart stockpots, it's officially Fall. Why? When it's chilly outside, it's time to cook up a storm inside. Why? When one lives in the Northeast, it's a wise cook who has a freezer containing some thaw-heat-and-eat meals for those snowy days when a quick trip to the grocery store is not in the forecast. Yes indeed, when the frost is on the pumpkin, I don't mind spending an afternoon at the stovetop preparing one of the two favorite things I cook in big batches (for "freezer meals"): a stockpot full of luscious, heartwarming, soup...... View full recipe for "~ Defining the Differences between Soups and Stews ~"

10/25/2020

~ Tips for Big Batch Eat-Some Freeze-Some Cooking ~

If you've ever envisioned yourself being a restaurant chef, be careful what you wish for: the pots are big, the load is heavy. There's more. As a home cook, in terms of slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing, you won't have any line cooks to perform those menial tasks for you. Don't get me wrong (I'm not trying to talk you out of this), big batch cooking isn't necessarily hard, but, more-often than not, it is time consuming -- in many instances, it's prudent to do the majority of the prep work on one day and the actual cooking the next,...... View full recipe for "~ Tips for Big Batch Eat-Some Freeze-Some Cooking ~"

07/29/2020

~ When You Say PA Dutch, Why We Say PA Deutsch ~

Let me make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either. The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch". So: When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine. The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist". They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany to avoid religious persecution and established several communites in the Lehigh...... View full recipe for "~ When You Say PA Dutch, Why We Say PA Deutsch ~"

07/15/2020

~ Store-Bought Corn Tortillas & the Perfect Taco Shell ~

An over-fried corn tortilla can be like eating broken glass. That super-crispy-crunchy state is best left for frying tortilla wedges or wisps to serve as tortilla chips with dips, or wisps to garnish various Mexican-style soups or main-dishes. No one wants to pick up a taco only to take a bite and have the taco shell shatter all over the plate. This is not a blog post I ever intended to write, but, based on the number of times I get asked how I fry my taco shells, in order to achieve the perfect crisp-yet-pliable texture, I guess I should....... View full recipe for "~ Store-Bought Corn Tortillas & the Perfect Taco Shell ~"

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~"

06/02/2020

~About Fideo, the Traditional Noodle (Dish) of Mexico~

Fideo is a traditional noodle dish or soup. It's popular in homes and restaurants throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States. No two cooks make it the same way. Hey! It's noodles. Had I not had a lovely Mexican-American woman as a neighbor here in PA back in the latter 70s, I'd have missed out on this easy-to-prepare Mexican-, Mexican-American comfort food. Like noodles and pasta in general, home cooks and restaurant chefs prepare this versatile and inexpensive ingredient in all sorts of creative ways, using spices, flavorings, and/or vegetable-, protein- additions authentic to the region they live in. Fideo...... View full recipe for "~About Fideo, the Traditional Noodle (Dish) of Mexico~"

05/28/2020

~ About Creste di Gallo or Crest of the Rooster Pasta ~

Coming up on eleven years of food blogging and I've never taken-on pontificating about a pasta shape. Until now, there was no reason. After all, there are over 400 shapes of pasta in this food world. Some are fresh, some are dried, all took shape for a reason, and all have a purpose, with some being better suited to certain dishes or sauces than others, and, everyone has their favorite. There's never been reason for me to interfere in any of the good-spirited Italian-, Italian-American banter about the best pasta for whatever the purpose -- long strands or fork-friendly count...... View full recipe for "~ About Creste di Gallo or Crest of the Rooster Pasta ~"

05/25/2020

~ Memorial Day Road Trip to Champ's BBQ Chicken ~

Enjoy the long, relaxing Memorial Day holiday weekend by scoring a complete barbecue chicken dinner from Champs Sports Grill. Located at 1611 North Atherton Street, State College, in Happy Valley, PA, this three day special event features an outdoor roadside grill and guarantees pull-up and pick up within three minutes of arrival in the parking lot. This winner-winner chicken dinner can be preordered for a specifically-timed curbside pickup by phoning 234-7700 too. $39.99 feeds four-six people. It contains four perfectly-grilled, juicy and tender half-chickens with Mel's BBQ sauce, a pan of Mel's bacon-y baked beans, Champs creamy-crunchy cole slaw, Scott's...... View full recipe for "~ Memorial Day Road Trip to Champ's BBQ Chicken ~"

09/15/2019

~ 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 ~"

08/31/2019

~Hoagies, Heros, Grinders & Submarine Sandwiches~

Me on any given day. Grab two slices of super-fresh bread. Layer of some thin-sliced meat and cheese on top of one of them. Add, almost always, a slice of onion and tomato along with a leafy green, plop the top on it, and, I'm in sandwich heaven. When asked what food I couldn't live without, the sandwich is always my answer. 'Tis true, I can slap almost anything between two slices of bread, slather it with some sort of a spread, sauce or dressing and make it taste really, really good. On days when I swap out the bread...... View full recipe for "~Hoagies, Heros, Grinders & Submarine Sandwiches~"

08/21/2019

~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~

If you grew up eating imitation krab (as it is often spelled for differentiation purposes, you never felt you were consuming a compromising product. Culinarily, it was a one of the staples of mid-century entertaining -- right up there with fondue, Spam and molded Jell-O -- and life was good. Krab Salad and Krabby's (crab on cheesy toast) were two of my favorites. Imitation crab revealed nothing about ones standing in life either -- from the ditch digger's wife to the doctor's wife, everyone used it. Truth told, unless you grew up in or within driving distance of a crabbing...... View full recipe for "~ The Difference Between Imitation Krab & King Crab ~"

07/15/2019

~A Bit About Mexican Cotija & Queso Fresco Cheese~

Americans love Mexican food. Americans love it so much, we'd all vote for a taco truck on every street corner. That said, when it comes to Mexican food, we Americans have quizzically wed ourselves to using cheddar or Jack cheddar cheese as toppings in or on nachos, quesadillas, refried bean dip, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili con carne, etc. Most of us are guilty as charged and I am no exception. Shredded cheddar is in my refrigerator at all times, and nine out of ten times, it's going on something Tex-Mex. American kids and adults alike love cheddar, every grocery store...... View full recipe for "~A Bit About Mexican Cotija & Queso Fresco Cheese~"

07/13/2019

~ Adding Olives to Mexican or Mexican-Style Dishes ~

Olives in Mexican food? It's controversial. So-called experts will flatly state that olives in Mexican food make the dish Spanish, not Mexican, meaning "don't". That said, with some of the largest concentrations of green olive trees in the world being located in regions throughout Mexico, areas bordering Texas, and, the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja California, common sense would and should lead one (it did me) to a different conclusion, meaning, if you are an olive lover, "go for it". Just know, a Mexican dish you added olives to can't be peddled as "authentic" or "classic" Mexican" -- olives render...... View full recipe for "~ Adding Olives to Mexican or Mexican-Style Dishes ~"

06/03/2019

~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~

In this part of the Northeast, Asparagus season starts around the beginning of May and lasts approximately to the end of June. It's one of my favorite green vegetables, but, interestingly, I prefer to purchase it rather than grow it. Why? Frankly, when we did grow our own, on days when I needed it, I couldn't rely on enough being ready for harvest and vice versa. Asparagus spears, which pup up out of the ground like little soldiers, grow on their own time, not mine. Early in the season, it can take a spear up to three days to mature....... View full recipe for "~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~"

04/10/2019

~ 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 ~"

03/12/2019

~Russian Dressing & How it Differs from 1000 Islands~

It's almost understandable why most home cooks don't know what the difference between Russian and Thousand Islands dressing is, but, it's head-scratchingly odd that many restaurant chefs don't. Truth told, when I order a Rueben or a Rachel sandwich, one dressing or the other, whichever is offered, will do nicely -- they're both favorites of mine. That said, when a menu states Russian dressing, I expect Russian dressing and vice versa. These two condiments, while they can be used interchangeably as a matter of preference, are not interchangeable. While Russian dressing is not Russian, it is a compilation of ingredients...... View full recipe for "~Russian Dressing & How it Differs from 1000 Islands~"

03/03/2019

~ Using Natural and Dutch-Process Cocoa Powders ~

It's not a matter of what's on-hand in the pantry, what mom or grandma used, brand recognition or cost. There is a difference between natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder, and, it is rocket science. The word is "acidity". Those of the mindset the two can be used interchangeably, babbling on about it being mostly a matter of preference (I have witnessed it said many times), are contributing to recipe failure -- which is the number one reason why some folks hate to bake. The cocoa bean is a dried, fatty seed found inside a 10"-12" cocoa pod, and, each pod...... View full recipe for "~ Using Natural and Dutch-Process Cocoa Powders ~"

02/25/2019

~ 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 ~"

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 ~"

01/28/2019

~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~

Mother Nature did not have OCD. If she did, there would be more symmetry in the world. It would be a pretty boring place, but, at least all our vegetables would be the same size, which brings me to this point: How much is in a head of cauliflower? The most frustrating thing about most cauliflower recipes is their lack of specificity regarding precisely how much cauliflower to purchase. Generic measurements for volume (2 cups-, 4 cups-florets) or a vague product description (1 large head, 2 medium heads), are meaningless to the average cooker-of-cauliflower, and, are the biggest causes of...... View full recipe for "~How Much is & How Many Florets in One Cauliflower~"

01/17/2019

~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~

Boursin cheese has been the star of KE the past ten days, and, it has enjoyed a delicious run. While some might question, or find themselves bored with, my little foray into Boursin (a most delicious form of French cheesefeed), there is always a reason behind one of my obsessions. In the case of the plethora of Boursin recipes, there are three reasons. #1. When someone asks, I always answer, and, I did -- with my recipe for Boursin mashed potatoes. #2. In our food world, food is expensive -- if I'm going to recommend purchasing a special or pricey...... View full recipe for "~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~"

12/31/2018

~ Ringing in the New Year Eating Pork & Sauerkraut ~

Anywhere you find a gathering of Pennsylvania Dutch (Dutch=Deutsch=German) or Eastern Europeans (primarily throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and into the Midwest), you'll find them ringing in the New Year by eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, in order to receive a years worth of good luck, health and prosperity. It's a combination of tradition steeped in superstition backed up with a dose of practical purpose. Where I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, we had a large population of both. My family was Eastern European, we knew many PA Deutsch folks, and, both cuisines intersected in numerous ways, starting with:...... View full recipe for "~ Ringing in the New Year Eating Pork & Sauerkraut ~"

11/10/2018

~ Side-by-Side: Texican Chili & Mexican Rice Bowls ~

Side by side. Arm in arm. Hand in hand. The combination of steaming-hot Tex-Mex-style chili and Mexican-style rice teamed up in the same bowl is a hearty, satisfying, yummalicious meal. I was, however, taken aback to learn, that, unlike spaghetti and meatballs for example, it's not a duo that most folks pair together right "off the top of their head". When my neighbor dropped by yesterday to borrow some herbs de Provence from my spice rack, she found me eating a chili-rice bowl for lunch. With a look of wonderment, she said, "why didn't I think of that?" She went...... View full recipe for "~ Side-by-Side: Texican Chili & Mexican Rice Bowls ~"

10/31/2018

~ It's in the Name: Smashburger & Smashed Burgers ~

If you ate in some of the mom and pop establishments I grew up eating in (in the small towns of Pennsylvania and New Jersey), I am here to tell you, the concept of smashing 'burgers isn't new -- it has merely been revisited and remarketed. As a kid living in the pre-McDonald's food world, I watched many grill-cooks grab and slap an ill-formed ball of ground beef onto a seething-hot flat-top-griddle, then give it a giant whack with a big, heavy all-purpose spatula to smash it into a patty. A few juices would bubble up around the sides, but,...... View full recipe for "~ It's in the Name: Smashburger & Smashed Burgers ~"

10/09/2018

~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~

Bread comes in many forms. I am of the opinion that bread IS the staff of life, and, I average one serving of bread per day. Sans the occasional requisite soft-textured grilled-cheese sliced white, the hot-dog roll and the hamburger bun, any humble flatbread or pita pocket, along with the breakfast-y bagel and English muffin, the display here represents a sampling of my personal artisanal favorites. Except for one, the delicate croissant, they are all firm-textured, and, by choosing the correct shape, I can make make one of three crispy Italian-style specialties. Bruschetta (broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" and comes from...... View full recipe for "~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~"

10/07/2018

~ Grillmarked: Italian-Style Panini-Croissant-Crostini ~

Panini-croissant-crostini. That's a lot to digest, and if you're of Italian-heritage, simmer down, lighten up, and read on before criticizing my fun-loving play on mouth-watering words. Sandwich-press-grilled panini, full of cured Italian meats and cheese, substituting mini-croissants for the traditional rustic Italian bread (I've affectionately added the word crostini to describe them, because I serve them, crostini-style, as 3-4 bite appetizers), are crowd-pleasing snacks that get gobbled up at a tailgate party faster than beer flows at a fraternity house. While crusty, firm-textured rustic-type breads make marvelous panini, I am here to tell you, if you've never made a panini...... View full recipe for "~ Grillmarked: Italian-Style Panini-Croissant-Crostini ~"

09/21/2018

~ Steaming & Separating Cabbage in the Microwave ~

Being a gal of Eastern European decent, I'm kind of a connoisseur of cabbage. While cabbage eating isn't limited to Eastern European cuisine, it is indeed associated primarily with it. In my family alone, from hot side-dishes like butter-braised cabbage and carrots and cabbage and egg noodles, to cold side-salads like creamy cole slaw and vinegary pepper slaw, to main-dish ham, cabbage and potato soup and stuffed cabbage rolls, I do not believe my mother's refrigerator was ever without a head of cabbage in it. "Kapusta" or "cabbage" was a staple. Cabbage is a staple in every Eastern European kitchen....... View full recipe for "~ Steaming & Separating Cabbage in the Microwave ~"

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~"

03/24/2018

~ How to: Perfectly Reheat a Leftover Slice of Pizza ~

Pizza is a staple in my kitchen, and, as a wife and mother who is well-known for craving a "slice of 'za" at midnight, leftover pizza is not something I throw away. More often than not, it's a few slices of my beloved homemade pie, on rare occasions it's delivery, and, snack pizza, the kind we quickly put together on flatbread (like pocketless pita, Naan and English muffins) are, like bread, milk and eggs, omnipresent in my refrigerator or freezer. That said, I am not a fan of cold pizza. I prefer my serving of pizza to be hot with...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Perfectly Reheat a Leftover Slice of Pizza ~"

03/17/2018

~Fresh vs. Canned: How Pineapple Reacts w/Protein~

It's natural to assume fresh fruit is better than canned, and, if you're eating fresh pineapple, fresh not only tastes better, it is indeed better for you and your digestive system. That said, nothing is more disheartening than taking the time to prepare a marinade for your favorite protein made from fresh pineapple juice, or, folding a cup or two of diced pineapple into a favorite casserole and have the protein rendered mushy. The cause is an enzyme found in fresh-cut pineapple. No matter how you slice it, dice it, or hollow it out: Why did my marinated meat (poultry,...... View full recipe for "~Fresh vs. Canned: How Pineapple Reacts w/Protein~"

12/21/2017

~ The Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein ~

Chinese-American fare. It's a favorite in our house. About once a week, we either order take-out or delivery from our two favorite places, or, I take the time to make some. Each of us has our favorite menu item -- the one that we crave and can't wait to plunge our chopsticks into. For me, it's chow mein or lo mein -- two of China's most iconic dishes. "What exactly is the difference between the two?" When I got asked that very question last night, I decided to transcribe the discussion into a blog post today -- while it's still...... View full recipe for "~ The Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein ~"

12/05/2017

~ My Favorite Big Salad: A Hoagie Chef Sans Bread ~

Let's discuss it over a salad at lunch. There's no counting how many times I've said those words. One thing is for certain, I said them and I meant them, because: a classically-made chef salad is my favorite item to order on a lunch menu. Let's be clear -- I don't diet and don't believe in dieting unless it's for real-deal medical reasons. Eating real and well, anything I want, in moderation + avoiding the drive-thru, has always worked for me. My opinion of trend-setting self-imposed diets is one you don't want to hear -- you can't handle the truth....... View full recipe for "~ My Favorite Big Salad: A Hoagie Chef Sans Bread ~"

11/23/2017

~ Some Hot & Savory Open-Faced Sandwich History ~

There's no time like the week after Thanksgiving to dive into a discussion about open-faced sandwiches. After all, a great percentage of our United States's population just spent the weekend making hot, open-faced sandwiches using their leftover turkey, dressing and gravy. I'm no exception. Shortly after sitting down to write my recipes for Kentucky's Classic Hot Brown and Pittsburgh's Original Devonshire, two iconic hot turkey sandwiches, both with rich histories (and my next two posts), I took a break to research the finer-points of the open-faced sandwich. Why? Technically, open-faced sandwiches aren't sandwiches in the true sense of the word....... View full recipe for "~ Some Hot & Savory Open-Faced Sandwich History ~"

11/18/2017

~ My Twenty-Five Minute Chicken Thigh & Rice Soup ~

During the past few months, due to the illness of a family member, I've had to cook and eat more than a few meals in a hurry and on the run. Even with a sort-of unlimited budget, I found out quickly how time constrictions affect purchasing decisions. I'd never shopped the aisles of "quick cooking" or "instant" before. I'd always had all the time needed to leisurely cook breakfast, lunch or dinner, so, I admittedly found this frustrating. That said, I had decided early to look upon the drive-through windows as last resorts. Successes intermingled with failures, but, before long,...... View full recipe for "~ My Twenty-Five Minute Chicken Thigh & Rice Soup ~"

11/15/2017

~ Confessions from an Instant Ramen Noodle Junkie ~

While watching a late-night episode of "Locked Up" on MSNBC last night, I learned an interesting fact about those super-curly square-block instant ramen noodles: They are the #1 selling item in prison commissaries. That didn't surprise me as much as the reason: Prisoners buy them for the seasoning packets, not the noodles. It seems that prison cafeteria food is so lacking in salt, those packets get sprinkled on or stirred into almost everything. Get in my my soup! I learn something new every day (or night). In my kitchen, we use the noodles, not the seasoning packets. Amongst other things,...... View full recipe for "~ Confessions from an Instant Ramen Noodle Junkie ~"

07/14/2017

~ Spreads go Bread to Bread: Hellmann's vs Duke's ~

Mayonnaise. As a gal who loves deli-, tuna- and egg-salad sandwiches, I am never too far from my mayo. During the picnic and tailgate season, when side-dishes like macaroni salad, potato salad, cole slaw and deviled eggs reign supreme, I purchase bigger jars, in two-packs. When our garden tomatoes are ripe, I could (and will) eat a freshly-picked sliced-tomato sandwich, on white bread, with a big slather of mayonnaise, every day. There's more. I can't imagine my life without mayonnaise-based tartar and remoulade sauces in it, or, oh my Thousand Islands salad dressing, and, I'm very proficient at making homemade...... View full recipe for "~ Spreads go Bread to Bread: Hellmann's vs Duke's ~"

07/06/2017

~ How to: Make a Jucy Lucy Cheese-Stuffed Burger ~

A thick, juicy, medium-rare all-American cheeseburger with American or Velveeta cheese. I kid you not, I gotta have one "my way" once a week, topped with lots of lettuce, onion, ketchup, and sometimes, dill pickle slices. Over the 4th of July, I decided to celebrate with exactly that, except, with a twist: I decided to try my hand at the iconic Jucy Lucy, a nifty Midwestern invention and the signature 'burger of Minneapolis. What's the twist? The cheese gets stuffed and sealed inside the 'burger instead of placed on top of it. Be prepared, because the second you bite into...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make a Jucy Lucy Cheese-Stuffed Burger ~"

06/15/2017

~ In a Pie Shell: A Pie Filling is Thicker than Pudding ~

"What's the difference between pie filling and pudding?" That was the question that came across my desk last week, and, when you ask, I always answer. "I can't seem to find any recipes for pudding on your blog." That was the comment that followed the question that came across my desk last week, and, when it is brought to my attention that my blog is lacking something, I fix it. Thank-you Missy. You triggered my writing three pudding posts, ~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~, ~ Old-Fashioned Very Vanilla Pudding ~ and ~ Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~, one pie post, ~...... View full recipe for "~ In a Pie Shell: A Pie Filling is Thicker than Pudding ~"

06/04/2017

~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~

When I was raising three boys in the '70's and '80's, chocolate was, hands down, their favorite pudding flavor. Just like today, grocery store shelves were full of convenient pudding options (boxes and boxes of instant and quick-cooking pudding, and, ready-to-eat lunch-box-size pudding cups). While I was often tempted to succumb to their wishes and buy those boxes, I resisted. I grew up eating homemade, creamy, dreamy, rich real-deal pudding -- my memories prevented it. As for the pudding cups, I admit, I allowed them, on occasion, as a school lunchbox treat. Don't succumb to boxes of instant or quick-cooking...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~"

05/02/2017

~ The Iwatani Twelve-Minute Tornado Cheeseburger ~

A not-so-funny thing happened last Monday. Happy Valley, Centre County, PA got hit by a violent storm that rendered a great percentage of us without electricity, and in some cases water as well, for three days. I've lived here for forty-three years -- this was longest we've ever been without power. I'm no expert. I can't prove it was a tornado that hit our street, but, I can't name one other "thing" that moves in a straight line snapping telephone poles and felling trees at their roots, doing virtually no other damage, except a tornado -- my deck and patio...... View full recipe for "~ The Iwatani Twelve-Minute Tornado Cheeseburger ~"

03/29/2017

~ Blessed are the Cheesemakers: Try Brick Cheese ~

Cheese. It's one of my favorite foodie subjects. I'd rather spend time in a cheese shop than a bakery any day of the week. Give me a choice between a doughnut and a chunk of cheddar and I'm off to the pantry to get a box of crackers. I like hard cheeses, soft cheeses, young cheeses and aged cheeses. I like expensive imported cheeses, cheap American processed cheeses and a whole host of cheese balls and cheese spreads. "Say cheese", is one of my favorite things to say from behind the camera. There's more. I get downright giddy when I...... View full recipe for "~ Blessed are the Cheesemakers: Try Brick Cheese ~"

02/28/2017

~ What the Heck are Capers & Non-Pariel Capers? ~

Culinarily speaking, capers are a small, round, dark-green condiment pickled in a salty brine. Similar to green olives, the curing process brings out their tangy, pungent, lemony flavor which pops in your mouth. Technically, they are the flower buds of the shrubby caper bush (Capparis spinosa), which grows in and around regions of the Meditterranean. The buds are picked before they flower, dried in the sun, and then packed in salt. It's a labor-intensive process, as they can only be harvested by hand. The buds range in size from that of a tiny baby pea to that of a small...... View full recipe for "~ What the Heck are Capers & Non-Pariel Capers? ~"

02/14/2017

~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~

Once upon a time here in Happy Valley, circa the 1970's and into the 80's, crème fraîche wasn't an item one could find in the dairy case of any market. Why? Most folks had no idea what it was except for schooled chefs and those of us who scoured French cookbooks and/or read magazines like Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Gourmet. Yes indeed -- foodie life was very different pre- Food Network and the information superhighway we refer to as the internet. A bit about crème "fraîche" (pronounced "fresh" and meaning "fresh cream"): In technical terms, it's a French-invented...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~"

02/12/2017

~ Powdered Buttermilk: What it is & How to use it. ~

Once upon a time, buttermilk was something I kept on hand. As a cook and baker for our family of five, I used it regularly to make quite a few things: pancakes, waffles, biscuits, scones, coffee cake, pound cake, fried chicken and salad dressing. To breads and cakes it adds tangy flavor and volume and produces a fine, soft crumb. Its acidity when used as a marinade is a natural tenderizer for poultry and meat. There's more. It does all this without adding a lot of extra fat. Times change. Our children grew up and left the nest. That left...... View full recipe for "~ Powdered Buttermilk: What it is & How to use it. ~"

01/20/2017

~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~

Cupcakes and muffins. Past their shape and portable-foodness, they have less in common than one might think. The fast, simple generic answer is: Cupcakes are fancy little cup-sized cakes and muffins are plain little cup-sized quick-breads. Served with an ice-cold glass of milk or cup of piping hot coffee, rare is the person who would take a pass on either. That said, I will always choose a muffin over a cupcake. Sorry cupcake -- this post is going to be a bit biased. Shape. They're both baked in multiple-cupped pans, to produce individual-sized, portable portions. Prior to the invention of...... View full recipe for "~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~"

12/22/2016

~ Thick Creamy Eggnog & Rum Milkshakes 'n Malts ~

Sipping milkshake cocktails in front of a warm fire and a twinkling Christmas tree with the snow falling outside might not be everyone's 'ideal', but, I'm not everyone -- I am an eggnog lover who adores thick, creamy, rum-laced eggnog malts. On years when Joe and I are alone for the holidays, scratch-making eggnog isn't a priority for me because I can purchase seriously high-quality eggnog from my local Meyer Dairy. So, once a year, I "milk" the situation. Whenever applicable, eggnog replaces milk in my beverages, and, I bake and cook with it too. I make eggnog cookies, poundcake,...... View full recipe for "~ Thick Creamy Eggnog & Rum Milkshakes 'n Malts ~"

10/16/2016

~ Spicy Blue-Cheesy & Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas ~

My public opinion of Buffalo chicken wings is the popular and safe one: everyone loves Buffalo wings. My private opinion is: serving them needs to be better regulated. Just so there are no misunderstandings, I like wings, but, a finger food drenched in a vivid orangish-red sauce guaranteed to stain my pretty French manicure or ruin my silk blouse ticks me off. There's more: To those who serve wings in a sauce so hot it forces tears to my eyes that causes my mascara run: Extremism is a dish best saved for yourself, not served to your unsuspecting guests. "Primum...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy Blue-Cheesy & Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas ~ "

09/11/2016

~Bird's Custard Powder. Because You Make it Special~

Custard powder. These are two words not typically on the tip of the average American foodie's tongue. That's understandable, because, unless an American cook has some form of culinary ties to the United Kingdom or Australia (via cookbooks, travel or personal friendship), it's not an ingredient that has made its way into our food lover's vocabulary. Given its popularity "across the pond", I find that hard to understand, because, for me it's a "nifty", time-saving pantry staple. I learned about custard powder back in the early 1990's. This was not an ingredient I ever found in my grandmother's or mother's...... View full recipe for "~Bird's Custard Powder. Because You Make it Special~"

03/27/2015

~ Mel's Over-the-Top but Very Easy Eggs Benedict: A Rich Dish w/a Great Story -- HISstory vs HERstory! ~

Eggs Benedict. For us runny-egg lovers, this is the la-tee-da, ooh-la-la, creme-de-la-creme of fancy-schmancy, American AM indulgences. American? Really? I, an all-American girl, did not grow up eating this. Heck, I never even heard of it until I found myself eating breakfast and brunch in some high-end restaurants in Philadelphia during the mid-1970's, and, I always assumed it was French -- until I started to do a bit of research. It seems this rich, artery-clogging delight has a fascinating story (HISstory vs. HERstory). This is a tale just begging to be told: Culinary Fisticuffs? The Battle Between the Benedicts!!! HISstory...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Over-the-Top but Very Easy Eggs Benedict: A Rich Dish w/a Great Story -- HISstory vs HERstory! ~"

11/18/2014

~ Parmesan Sherry Cream Sauce for Pasta/Seafood: Don't Debate It, Grate It -- It'll melt your heart away! ~

Calling all cars, there's a woman in Happy Valley putting cheese sauce on her seafood. That sounds nonsensical because it is nonsensical and no self-appointed authority on Italian food (yes, Italians in particular get their panties in a bunch over this) is going to convince me otherwise. In certain circumstances I find the combination of pasta and seafood swimming in a sea of silky, smooth, cheese sauce sensuous and seductive. In fact, the food world is a better place because philistines like myself aren't afraid to break a culinary commandment once in a while -- especially one without any meaty...... View full recipe for "~ Parmesan Sherry Cream Sauce for Pasta/Seafood: Don't Debate It, Grate It -- It'll melt your heart away! ~"