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12 posts from March 2020

03/30/2020

~Would You Like Onion-Laced Steak Fries with That?~

IMG_0371Of course you would, and these couldn't be easier.  All you need is two pounds of your favorite gold, red or Russet potatoes, some olive oil and one packet of the onion soup mix you forgot you had in your pantry.  Yes my friends, a packet of onion soup mix is a souper seasoning for oven-roasted steak fries.  After five minutes of prep time, they'll need 1 hour, 15 minutes to roast in a 350° oven, which frees of your hands for other tasks.  That said, because steak fries are best served hot, right out of the oven, plan for them to be the last item to go on the dinner table.

IMG_03292  pounds potatoes, gold, red or russet, your choice

1/4  cup olive oil

1 packet from one box of onion soup mix, your favorite brand

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole 

serve with suggestions:  steak, chicken, ribs or chops, prepared as directed in specific recipe, plus a tossed salad and/or sweet corn, for accompaniments

IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334~Step 1. Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole with no-stick.  Slice the potatoes into large, "meaty" wedges, 6-8 per potato depending on the type and size of potato, placing the potatoes in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work. Add the olive oil and the onion soup mix to the bag.  Seal bag and toss until the potatoes are evenly coated in the oil and onion seasoning.

IMG_0351 IMG_0351 IMG_0351~ Step 2.  Transfer potatoes to prepared casserole.  Oven-roast the potatoes on center rack of preheated 350º oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes, stopping to toss the potatoes with a large spoon or spatula every 15 minutes throughout the process.  Remove the golden steak fries from oven and serve immediately.

Would You Like Onion-Laced Steak Fries with That?  Recipe yields:  4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; large spoon or spatula

IMG_0403Cook's Note: Along with every protein, the price of steak has gone through the roof.  For those who have a family to feed, these costs are cause to take many things off the table.  It's disheartening.  That said, by purchasing steak and serving it portioned and sliced atop a simple, uncomplicated, well-dressed salad (alongside a side of simple, uncomplicated, well-seasoned steak fries), it turns out to be reasonably economical.  ~ Steakhouse Steak Salad w/Onion-Laced Steak Fries ~

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

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

03/27/2020

~Copycat Chicken, Beef & Spanish-Style Rice-a-Roni~

IMG_0296Coming up with copycat recipes for three flavors of made-at-home Rice-a-Roni made for a fun few days.  Truth told, I love developing copycat recipes -- I'm good at it too.  From sea to shining sea, as items we've come to take for granted disappear from our store shelves, many have reached out to express appreciation for these recipes.  There's more.  Many have reached out to request these recipes. ~ Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~  is one example.

Rice-a-Roni -- The San Francisco Treat.

Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open a fresh produce store.  After becoming a successful businessman, he married Maria Ferrigno, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, where her family owned a pasta factory.  In 1912, Maria persuaded Charlie to set up a similar business in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Gragnano Products, Inc., was born and began delivering pasta to Italian restaurants and stores throughout the area.

IMG_9880Maria and Charlie's sons, Paskey, Vince, Tom and Anthony worked in the family business, and, in 1934, Paskey changed the name to the Golden Grain Macaroni Company. Tom's wife Lois fell in love with a pilaf recipe she received from an Armenian immigrant, Mrs. Pailadzo Captanian, which she served at a family gathering.  After tasting the unique pilaf, which was made by sautéing a combination rice and pasta in butter before adding chicken broth and seasonings, Vince went to work developing a new product.  In 1958, his creation, named Rice-a-Roni, was introduced to the NW United States as "The San Francisco Treat".  Four years later, in 1962, it went nationwide.

Amongst Rice-a-Roni aficionados, chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni is still the undisputed favorite.

~ Copycat Chicken Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat ~

IMG_9879~ Copycat Beef Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat ~

IMG_0054~ Copycat Spanish-Style Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat

IMG_0281"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

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

03/24/2020

~ Spanish-Style Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat ~

IMG_0281

Back in the 1960's my mom was the queen of Rice-a-Roni recipes.  I was the princess who loved them.  If I was feeling under the weather, she knew I'd rather have a bowl of chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni than a bowl of Campbell's chicken-noodle soup.  She served the prince (my brother) and I pan-seared hamburgers and gravy atop a bed of beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni, to prevent us from bugging her to buy overpriced Salisbury-steak TV dinners.  To two boxes of Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni she added two pounds of peeled, raw shrimp.  In our kingdom, our family of four we ate it as a sort-of jambalaya dinner.  Fond memories of kinder, gently times indeed. 

Rice-a-Roni -- The San Francisco Treat.

IMG_0230Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open a fresh produce store.  After becoming a successful businessman, he married Maria Ferrigno, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, where her family owned a pasta factory.  In 1912, Maria persuaded Charlie to set up a similar business in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Gragnano Products, Inc., was born and began delivering pasta to Italian restaurants and stores throughout the area.

IMG_0280Maria and Charlie's sons, Paskey, Vince, Tom and Anthony worked in the family business, and, in 1934, Paskey changed the name to the Golden Grain Macaroni Company. Tom's wife Lois fell in love with a pilaf recipe she received from an Armenian immigrant, Mrs. Pailadzo Captanian, which she served at a family gathering.  After tasting the unique pilaf, which was made by sautéing a combination rice and pasta in butter before adding broth and seasonings, Vince went to work developing a new product.  In 1958, his creation, named Rice-a-Roni, was introduced to the Northwestern United States as "The San Francisco Treat".  Four years later, in 1962, it went nationwide.

Copycat Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni is super-easy to make, tastes the same or better, &, saves money at the checkout:

IMG_0221For the 6 1/2 total ounces (1 cup) of rice & pasta:

3 3/4 ounces long grain white rice (about 1/2 cup)*

2 3/4 ounces fideo, cut spaghetti  (about 1/2 cup)*

*Note:  Yes.  I really did sit around for two hours one afternoon separating the rice grains from the vermicelli pasta, from one box of Rice-a-Roni, to make sure the measurements are correct.

For the 1/2 total ounces (2 tablespoons) seasoning blend packet:

2  tablespoons Knorr granulated tomato bouillon w/chicken flavoring (Note:  Contains salt, sugar, cornstarch, dehydrated tomato powder, chicken flavoring, turmeric (for color) and annatto (for color).)

1 teaspoons onion powder

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

For the sauté and simmer:

2-3  tablespoons salted butter, for sautéing the pasta and rice mixture (Note:  I use three. The box calls for two.  I never thought two was enough.  It isn't.)

2  cups water, for simmering the Copycat Rice-a-Roni

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes, undrained

2  tablespoons dehydrated green & red bell peppers (Note:  1/4  cup each, small diced green and red bell pepper may be substituted.)

IMG_0233 IMG_0233 IMG_0233 IMG_0233 IMG_0233~Step 1. In a wide-bottomed 3 1/2-quart chef's pan with straight, deep sides (or a 10" skillet with a tight-fitting lid), melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat.  Add and stir in the 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup fideo.  Increase heat to medium- medium-high.  Using a large slotted spoon, stir constantly and sauté until rice and pasta are light golden, about 3-4 minutes.

IMG_0248 IMG_0248 IMG_0248 IMG_0248 IMG_0248~Step 2.  Slowly add the water to the pan -- lots of steam will billow up, so, be careful.  Add the diced tomatoes followed by the seasonings: the chicken-tomato bouillon, onion powder, garlic powder and dehydrated bell peppers.  Give the mixture a thorough stir and wait for it to return to a simmer, about 1 minute.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer.

IMG_0260 IMG_0260 IMG_0260 IMG_0260 IMG_0260~Step 3. Cover the pan and adjust heat to simmer gently until rice and pasta are cooked through and have absorbed almost all liquid, 14-16 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside 5 minutes.  Remove lid and rake through the mixture with a fork to fluff and separate the rice grains and pasta pieces.  Transfer to a bowl or plate and serve immediately.

Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni -- "The San Francisco Treat!":

IMG_0284Spanish-Style Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat:  Recipe yields 4 cups/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides and lid; large slotted spoon or spatula; 2-cup measuring container; fork

IMG_9248Cook's Note: In New England, baked cod with crunchy Ritz-cracker topping is everywhere.  The first time I tasted this delightful dish was in the restaurant of the Killington Resort's, VT ski slope.  Most eateries, from big city restaurants to small town diners, have it on their menu.  Recipes for this cracker-topped fish-dish don't vary much.  ~ Baked Lemon-Pepper Cod w/Ritz Cracker Topping ~  served with a side of buttery green beans atop a bed of Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni is a delightfully easy weeknight dinner.

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

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

03/22/2020

~Steakhouse Steak Salad w/Onion-Laced Steak Fries~

IMG_0403Grocery shopping has become a sport and pantry cooking has become an art form.  Three out of seven ingredients I wanted were gone from the shelves yesterday, and, along with every protein, the price of steak has gone through the roof.  For those who have a family to feed, these costs are cause to take many things off the table.  It's disheartening.  That said, by purchasing steak and serving it portioned and sliced atop a simple, uncomplicated, well-dressed salad (alongside a side of simple, uncomplicated, well-seasoned steak fries), it turns out to be kinda economical.

IMG_0310 2Joe bought a two-pack of 1" thick steaks (one is a T-bone and one is a Porterhouse) at Sam's club.  At $12.59 a pound these two steaks weighed in at 2 1/2 pounds and cost him $31.48.  That said, when sliced and served atop my tossed salad and fries they'd easily feed six people, which comes to roughly $5.25 per person, which isn't a bad deal.  It's twice as much as we two need, but, as two card-carrying carnivores, we'll be happy to eat steak salad two nights in a row.

Note:  T-Bone, Porterhouse, Delmonico, Ribeye and NY strip steaks, as long as they are 1" thick all work nicely without compromise, so, choose your favorite, or, what's available to you.

IMG_0315 IMG_0315 IMG_0315 IMG_0315 IMG_0315 IMG_0315~Step 1.  Place the steaks on an 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan (the type that has a corrugated bottom).  Season the tops of steaks with freshly-round sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Place the pan of steaks 5 1/2"-6" underneath preheated broiler to cook 8-9 minutes per side, turning only once for a total of 16-18 minutes.  Time the steaks carefully: 16 total minutes = medium-rare, 18 total minutes = medium. Remove steaks from oven, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

Would you like steak fries with your steak salad?

IMG_0371Of course, and these couldn't be easier.  All you need:  two pounds of your favorite potatoes (gold, red or Russet, your choice), some olive oil and one packet of the onion soup mix you forgot you had in your pantry.  Yes my friends, a packet of onion soup mix is a souper seasoning for oven-roasted steak fries.  Because steak fries are best served hot out of the oven, if you only have one oven, you do want to broil the steaks first, to give the steaks ample time to rest prior to slicing them slightly-warm or at room temperature.  When the steaks come out, reset the oven to bake at 350°.  While the fries are roasting, prepare your tossed salad and slice the steaks.

IMG_0329 22  pounds potatoes, gold, red or russet, your choice

1/4  cup olive oil

1 packet from one box of onion soup mix, your favorite brand

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole 

all steak (from above recipe), and your favorite tossed salad and salad dressing

IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334 IMG_0334~Step 1.  Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole with no-stick.  Slice the potatoes into large, "meaty" wedges, 6-8 per potato depending on the type and size of potato, placing the potatoes in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work. Add the olive oil and the onion soup mix to the bag.  Seal bag and toss until the potatoes are evenly coated in the oil and onion seasoning.

IMG_0351 IMG_0351 IMG_0351~ Step 2.  Transfer potatoes to prepared casserole.  Oven-roast the potatoes on center rack of preheated 350º oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes, stopping to toss the potatoes with a large spoon or spatula every 15 minutes throughout the process.  Remove the golden steak fries from oven and serve immediately.  

IMG_0438 IMG_0438 IMG_0438~ Step 3.  While fries are roasting, prepare the salad, then slice the steak, by removing the meat from the bones and slicing it into 1/4"-thick strips.  The salad in the photo: torn iceberg lettuce, diced sweet onion, sliced cucumber and Campari tomato wedges tossed with store-bought Wishbone Lite Italian dressing.

Assemble the salads & serve -- Presentation is everything! 

IMG_0409Steakhouse Steak Salad w/Onion-Laced Steak Fries:  Recipe yields 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List: 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; aluminum foil; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; large spoon or spatula

6a0120a8551282970b022ad35987d7200c 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c95f458a970bCook's Note: Perhaps you'd like your steak salad with a fillet of beef. If that's the case, I do not recommend the dry heat of the broiler.  ~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute 2"-Thick, Grill-Pan Fillet ~ is made on the stovetop.  Perhaps it's a flank steak you've got on hand. My ~ Perfectly-Cooked 18-Minute Flank Steak ~ is made in the broiler the same way as the bone-in steaks.

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

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

03/19/2020

~ Buttery Curried Pita Chips & Curried Chicken Salad ~

IMG_0191I'm an eater of snacks -- a slice or two of cheddar and a few apple slices, a piece or three of deli-meat rolled up with a slather of whole-grain mustard inside, a tablespoon or two of tuna or egg salad dolloped on a couple of buttery crackers.  Just a few examples of the way I like to eat.  Yes, when left to my own devices, I'm happy to skip three squares and snack my way through the day.

Pita bread is always on-hand in my kitchen.  I purchase a package almost every week, because, everything tastes great stuffed inside a pita pocket -- even a judiciously dressed tossed green salad.  Try it.  You'll be surprised -- if you like eating salad with a fork, try it in a pita pocket.  Back to topic.  Occasionally I have a few pocket breads that, while not stale, are past prime.  It only takes a few minutes to turn them into pita chips.  By adding a flavor-appropriate dried herb or spice to the butter and honey mixture, I can customize them to go with whatever I'm serving.

IMG_0179For my sweet-&-savory butter-&-honey curried pita chips:

IMG_01462  6" round pita pockets, white or whole wheat

4  ounces salted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)

2  tablespoons honey

1  teaspoon curry powder

1  teaspoon onion powder

IMG_0156 IMG_0156 IMG_0156~ Step 1.  Using kitchen shears, cut each pita bread around its circumference, to form 2 discs.  You will have 4  total discs.

IMG_0149 IMG_0149~ Step 2.  In a small bowl, use a spoon to thoroughly stir together the softened butter, honey, curry powder and onion powder -- "thoroughly" is a key word here.  The mixture should be uniform in color (no streaks), very soft, and spreadable.

IMG_0163 IMG_0163 IMG_0163 IMG_0163~Step 3.  Using a thin spatula or an ordinary butter knife, spread a thin but even coating of the butter mixture evenly over the "inside" (the rough side that was originally the inside of each pocket bread)) surface of each disc.  Using a chef's knife, cut each pita disc into six wedges.

IMG_0170 IMG_0170 IMG_0170~ Step 4.  Arrange the pita wedges, side-by-side and not overlapping on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325° oven for 13-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 45-60 minutes.  Pita chips will continue to crisp up as they cool and will become very crunchy.

When it comes to chicken salad, it's all about the chicken.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c92e1f14970bJulia Child said, "you can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by their roast chicken." I concur. If chicken is dry, I won't touch it.  It's gotta be moist, fork tender, nicely-seasoned, and, for chicken salad, snowy white. Poaching breasts or tenders in a mild court bouillon accomplishes that (and feel free to do it), but, there is nothing tastier than the juicy white meat pulled away from the breast bone of a perfectly-roasted whole chicken:  ~ This Woman's Way to Roast the Perfect Chicken ~.

The following recipe is written to make two servings.

Because I prefer to eat chicken salad after being chilled 2-4 hours or the same day it's prepared, although the next day is ok too, I don't much enjoy it past that point, so I only make as much as I need, which is enough for 2 days.  As written, my recipe makes two very generous servings -- three smaller servings.  Want to make more?  Do the math with the help of this:

1/2 of a whole chicken breast split in half = about 8-9 ounces

8-9 ounces chicken breast = about 2 cups pulled chicken

2  cups pulled chicken breast = about 2 servings

2  servings my curried chicken salad = about 2 3/4-3 cups

2 servings = enough to top 2 dozen curried pita chips

6a0120a8551282970b022ad36f67e4200c-800wi1/2 of a whole roasted chicken breast, pulled into bite-sized pieces, about 2 cups

1/2  cup medium-diced celery

6  tablespoons raisins, golden or dark raisins, your choice

3  tablespoons small-diced roasted & salted cashews

1/2  cup high-quality mayonnaise

2  tablespoons Patak's sweet mango chutney

2  teaspoons Madras curry powder

1/2  teaspoon dehydrated onion flakes

2-4  soft bibb lettuce leaves per salad or sandwich, depending on size of lettuce leaves

IMG_3441 IMG_3441 IMG_3441 IMG_3441 IMG_3441~Step 1.  Place chicken, celery, raisins and cashews in a medium bowl. Set aside.  In a small-capacity food processor fitted with steel blade, place mayonnaise, chutney, curry powder and onion flakes.  With motor running, process until thoroughly combined, 45-60 seconds.  Using a rubber spatula, transfer mayo mixture to chicken mixture and gently fold all the ingredients together.  Cover and place in the refrigerator until well-chilled, 2-4 hours or overnight.

All-white chicken, sweet raisins, salty cashews, crunchy celery + some mango chutney, mayo & a bit of curry heat:

IMG_0183One of many reasons to snack your way through the day:

IMG_0204 2Buttery Curried Pita Chips & Curried Chicken Salad:  Recipe yields 2 3/4-3 cups curried chicken salad/2 dozen pita chips.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; small capacity food processor; rubber spatula; 3-4-cup size food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; kitchen shears; spoon; thin spatula or butter knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2 baking pan; parchment paper; wire cooling rack

IMG_3483Cook's Note: It's no secret I'm a movie buff.  I've been watching movies since I was ten-ish. My favorites are based on true-stories, history or books.  My least favorites are star-warrian and science-fictionous, and, I have no interest in fantasy or animation.  I enjoy a good whodunnit crime drama or an occasional action-packed adventure but won't watch horror-infused slashing-for-shock-value movies. Comedies and satires are great, but, romantic, tear-jerking or feel-good chick flicks are better --the ones you can't pay the guy in your life to sit and watch with you (but it would be worth the price of admission just to watch him watch). I love ~ Chick Flicks and Curried Chicken Salad Croissants ~ too.

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

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

03/17/2020

~ Pantastic Sizzling One-Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas ~

IMG_0133Sheet pan meals have become remarkably popular over the past two-three years.  The concept of tossing an array of ingredients together, scattering them around in a single layer on one pan, then roasting them in a hot oven, appeals to both novice and experienced cooks.  The prep time is reasonably short, and, once the food's in the oven, the hands are free to tend to other things.  If the sheet pan has been lined with aluminum foil first, clean up -- uh, there is almost no cleanup.

I was late to the sheet pan dinner party, meaning, sheet-pan meals were not something I made for our family of five.  That said, I'm a savvy cook, and after recently trying my hand at a few of these meals, I learned I get better results using one pan in two steps, meaning:  cook the protein first, cook the vegetables second.  Why?  Proteins require a rest time in order to remain juicy -- they rest while the veggies roast.  Why not use two pans in the same oven to save time?  The surface area of two pans creates too much moisture in the air, causing food to steam instead of brown.  

Tip: If you own a pizza stone, now is a great time to use it.  Preheating the oven with the stone in it and placing the sheet pan of food on the hot stone promotes extra browning and carmelization.

The large surface area of one sheet pan makes quick work of feeding a family one of their favorite restaurant meals -- fajitas.  

6a0120a8551282970b0223c846f14d200cFor the chicken and the marinade:

3  pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs*

12  tablespoons achiote vegetable oil, or vegetable oil (3/4 cup)**

6  tablespoons white vinegar

6  tablespoons lime juice, fresh or lime juice not from concentrate

1  tablespoon ground cumin

1  tablespoon dried Mexican oregano and Mexican-style chili powder

2  teaspoons each: garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  cup minced cilantro leaves

**Note:  Achiote oil, which is readily available everywhere, has annatto added to it, which is what gives it its signature pretty orange color, and, ever-so-slight hint of earthy, musty, peppery flavor. Annatto is the seed of the achiote tree, which is indigenous to Central and South America.  The seeds are usually ground to a powder or steeped in oil prior to adding to all sorts of Spanish-style fare.  If you don't do a lot of this type of cooking, don't buy it, or, if you don't want the orange color added to the dish you are serving, simply substitute vegetable oil without compromise.

6a0120a8551282970b0224df2eb2e0200b-120wi 6a0120a8551282970b0224df2eb2e4200b-120wi 6a0120a8551282970b0224e035b27e200d-120wi 6a0120a8551282970b0224e035b285200d-120wi~Step 1.  In a small capacity food processor or blender, measure and place all ingredients as listed:  vegetable oil, vinegar, lime juice and all of the dry spices.  Mince and add the cilantro. Process or blend, until smooth and emulsified, about 15-20 seconds.  Yield:  1 1/4 cups marinade.

IMG_0065 IMG_0065 IMG_0065 IMG_0065~Step 2.  Unpackage the chicken thighs and open each thigh up so it sits flat on the work surface. Using a chef's knife, slice into 1/4"-to-slightly-less-than 1/2" strips.  Transfer to a 1-gallon food storage bag and add all marinade.  Seal bag.  Use your fingertips to massage the chicken until it is evenly coated in the marinade.  Marinate for 1/2-1-3 hours or overnight.  The longer, the better.

*Note:  While boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be substituted for thighs, when it comes to making sheet-pan fajitas, experience has taught me that the bit of extra fat on dark-meat chicken thighs helps them to caramelize and keeps them from drying out in the dry high heat of the oven.

IMG_0083For the vegetables & the fajitas:

all of the marinated chicken strips, from above recipe

1-1 1/4  pounds 1/4"-1/2" thick sliced sweet onion, cut into half-moon shapes

5-6  ounces each:  1/4"-1/2" julienne green, red and yellow bell pepper (1-1 1/4 pounds total)

12-16 flour tortillas

Optional accompaniments and garnishes:  refried bean or refried bean dip, Mexican rice, fresh salsa or pico de gallo, avocado slices or guacamole, Mexican crema or sour cream, cilantro sprigs, lime wedges

Pantastic sizzling sheet-pan fajitas in two easy steps:

IMG_0092 IMG_0092 IMG_0092 IMG_0092 IMG_0092~Step 1.  Line a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Position oven rack in the center.  Place pizza stone on oven rack and preheat oven to 500°.  While oven is heating, use a pair of tongs to remove chicken from marinade, placing it on a paper-towel-lined plate as you work (to absorb moisture), allowing all excess marinade to drain back into and remain in the bag.  Place/scatter the chicken, in a single layer (slightly overlapping is ok), on the prepared pan.  Transfer the onion and bell peppers to the ziplock bag with the remaining marinade.  Seal the bag and toss the vegetables to lightly-coat and lightly-season them.

IMG_0111 IMG_0111 IMG_0111 IMG_0111 IMG_0111 IMG_0143 IMG_0131~Step 2.  Place pan of chicken (on the optional pizza stone) in the hot oven to roast, until just cooked through, about 15-18 minutes*.  Remove chicken from oven and use a large slotted spoon transfer to a large plate and loosely tent with aluminum foil.  Dump (I hate that word, but it works) the vegetables onto the still-hot sheet pan, scatter them around, and place the pan of vegetable (on the optional pizza stone) in the hot oven to roast until crunch-tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Add the chicken to the pan and toss to combine.  Tightly wrap the flour tortilla in aluminum foil and place them on the top of the pan.  Return the pan to the oven to heat through, about 4-5 minutes.

*Troubleshooting for you:  Know your oven and its limitations -- all ovens are different and is this no joke.  Mine gets really hot, which makes short work of evaporating the excess chicken juices. Check in on the chicken strips after 10-12 minutes.  If for any reason it looks like the chicken seems to be simmering in too many juices, remove it from the oven and use a few paper towels to blot/remove some of the excess liquid, then return the pan to the oven and continue with recipe.

Remove from oven, unwrap tortillas & serve ASAP:

IMG_0136Pantastic Sizzling One-Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas:  Recipe yields 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  small-capacity food processor or blenders; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; tongs; 17 1/2 x 12 1/2" half-sheet pan; heavy-duty aluminum foil; paper towels; pizza stone (optional); large slotted spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0240a442e6e9200cCook's Note: Undercover nacho tester.  I suppose it could get boring, but, because every eatery makes this Tex-Mex pub-grub staple a bit different, I'd be willing to risk running into some repetition and heartburn. From nibbling on basic nachos consisting of deep-fried corn tortillas topped with melty cheese sauce, to digging-into nachos-grande, nachos-supreme, fully-loaded nachos or ultimate-nachos piled high with a plethora of enough savory stuff to qualify for full-meal status, yes, I think undercover nacho tester would be my dream job.  Try my ~ Na-Cho Mama's Fully-Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos ~.

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

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

03/14/2020

~Pork Chop & Baked Bean Casserole - Pork & Beans~

IMG_9993When my mom announced she was making pork and beans for dinner, she didn't mean she was opening a can of pork and beans -- in a way, kinda sorta she was, but, there was a bit more to it. It meant she had asked Vince, the butcher at The Valley Meat Market, to slice 8, 1/2"-3/4"-thick bone-in pork loin chops, plus a pound of bacon, so she could make her recipe for pork chop and homemade baked bean casserole.  She started by seasoning and browning the chops in a skillet -- that took about 15 minutes.  Next, she'd mix the ingredients for the beans together (all pantry staples) in a bowl -- that took about 15 minutes.  Last, she'd sandwich the chops between two layers of the bean mixture, cover the casserole with foil, then, she baked it for 1 1/2 hours.  

The house smelled wonderful & dinner was marvelous.

IMG_9912For the pork chops:

8  1/2"-3/4"-thick bone-in pork loin chops

garlic powder

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend or black pepper

IMG_9915~ Step 1. Place the pork chops on a flat surface and season their tops with a generous sprinkling of garlic powder, sea salt and peppercorn blend.

IMG_9920 IMG_9920 IMG_9920 IMG_9920 IMG_9920~Step 2.  In a large 12"-14" skillet heat 3-4 tablespoons corn or vegetable oil over medium- medium-high heat.  Working in two batches, place 4-5 pork chops, seasoned sides down, in the oil.  Season the unseasoned tops of the chops with garlic powder, sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sauté/fry chops until light golden on both sides, turning only once, about 5-6 minutes per side.  Transfer to and stack chops on a large plate and set aside.  

IMG_9939For mom's bacon-lovers bacon-y baked beans:

1  40-ounce can butter beans (limas), well-drained

2  16-ounce cans pork & beans, your favorite brand, undrained

1  pound, thick-sliced bacon

1  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

1  cup ketchup

4  tablespoons pure maple syrup

6  tablespoons yellow mustard

3/4-1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_9702 IMG_9702~ Step 1. Place bacon, slightly overlapping is fine, in an 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan (the kind with the corrugated bottom).  Roast on center rack of 375º oven, 20-25 minutes, or until bacon is golden, crispy and desired degree of doneness is reached, stopping to flip the slices over, with a long-handled bacon fork, half-way through process.  Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and cool, about 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle with hands, chop into bite-sized pieces.

IMG_9944 IMG_9944 IMG_9944 IMG_9944~Step 2. In a large bowl, place the butter beans, baked beans, chopped bacon and diced onions. Using a large rubber spatula, toss ingredients together.  Add the ketchup, maple syrup, mustard and black pepper.  Using a large rubber spatula, thoroughly combine all of the ingredients.  

IMG_9958 IMG_9958 IMG_9958 IMG_9958 IMG_9970 IMG_9970~Step 3.  Transfer about 2/3 of the bean mixture to casserole, loosely spreading it evenly in the bottom -- precise measurements are important. Arrange pork chops atop the bean layer, overlapping them slightly.  Spoon remaining bean mixture on and around chops, allowing the "bone-in" parts of the chops to remain exposed. Cover with foil.  Bake on center rack of 325º oven, 1 hour.  Beans will be bubbling.  Uncover and continue to bake at 325º, 20-30 additional minutes, until golden and caramelized.  Remove from oven and allow to rest, about 10 minutes, prior to serving hot with sweet corn in some form.

Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall, mom always served this dish w/or atop some form of sweet corn:

IMG_9982Fork-tender pork chops sandwiched between two layers of tangy, saucy baked beans.  Eat & enjoy:

IMG_9996Pork Chops & Baked Bean Casserole -- Pork & Beans:  Recipe yields 8 hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List: 12"-14" skillet; 14" x 9" x 2"/4.8-quart casserole; 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom (or skillet) for preparing bacon; cutting board; chef's knife; very large mixing bowl; rubber spatula;

6a0120a8551282970b01a73e0c7a6f970dCook's Note: Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, in season, out of season, fresh, frozen, on the cob, off the cob, steamed, simmered, baked, roasted, grilled or microwaved, sweet corn in any form is the perfect side-dish to baked beans.  Like peanut butter and jelly, these two just go hand-in-hand together. My Midwestern-style ~ Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~ is one of many recipes for sweet corn you'll find here on my Kitchen Encounters blog.  Give it a try!

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

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

03/11/2020

~ Copycat Beef Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat ~

IMG_0054Amongst Rice-a-Roni aficionados, chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni is the undisputed favorite. That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni too, which is why it has a spot on my pantry shelves at all times.  When I was a kid, my mom invented a beefy Rice-a-Roni dinner that kept my brother and I from bugging her to buy us an occasional "over-priced, over-rated TV dinner" -- which, to us kids, was nothing more than a novelty.  As they say on the Rice-a-Roni website: Prepare for a stampede to the dinner table when you serve our delicious rice and vermicelli blended with the savory flavors of onions, carrots, beef broth and garlic.  It's true.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08c2da5c970dMom would shape two hamburger patties to look like oval salisbury steaks then brown them on both sides in a skillet,  Next, she'd pour about half a jar of beef gravy over the top, cover the skillet and let the patties simmer gently for a few moments.  Mom would serve us her burgers and gravy with a side of beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni and peas. It was simple semi-homemade comfort food -- and we adored it.

Rice-a-Roni -- The San Francisco Treat.

IMG_0016

Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open a fresh produce store.  After becoming a successful businessman, he married Maria Ferrigno, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, where her family owned a pasta factory.  In 1912, Maria persuaded Charlie to set up a similar business in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Gragnano Products, Inc., was born and began delivering pasta to Italian restaurants and stores throughout the area.

IMG_0057Maria and Charlie's sons, Paskey, Vince, Tom and Anthony worked in the family business, and, in 1934, Paskey changed the name to the Golden Grain Macaroni Company. Tom's wife Lois fell in love with a pilaf recipe she received from an Armenian immigrant, Mrs. Pailadzo Captanian, which she served at a family gathering.  After tasting the unique pilaf, which was made by sautéing a combination rice and pasta in butter before adding broth and seasonings, Vince went to work developing a new product.  In 1958, his creation, named Rice-a-Roni, was introduced to the Northwestern United States as "The San Francisco Treat".  Four years later, in 1962, it went nationwide.

Copycat beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni is super-easy to make, tastes the same or better, &, saves money at the checkout:

IMG_0028For the 6 1/2 total ounces (1 cup) of rice & pasta:

3 3/4 ounces long grain white rice (about 1/2 cup)*

2 3/4 ounces fideo, cut spaghetti  (about 1/2 cup)*

*Note:  Yes.  I really did sit around for two hours one afternoon separating the rice grains from the vermicelli pasta, from one box of Rice-a-Roni, to make sure the measurements are correct.

For the 1/2 total ounces (2 tablespoons) seasoning blend packet:

2  tablespoons Herb Ox granulated beef bouillon (Note:  Contains salt, spices, dehydrated cooked beef and onion powder.)

1 1/2  teaspoons onion powder

For the sauté and simmer:

2-3  tablespoons salted butter, for sautéing the pasta and rice mixture (Note:  I use three. The box calls for two.  I never thought two was enough.  It isn't.)

2 1/2 cups water, for simmering the Copycat Rice-a-Roni

1/2  cup peeled and very small-diced carrots (Note:  The spice packet in the boxed mix contains small bits of dehydrated carrots.)

IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826~Step 1. In a wide-bottomed 3 1/2-quart chef's pan with straight, deep sides (or a 10" skillet with a tight-fitting lid), melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat.  Add and stir in the 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup fideo.  Increase heat to medium- medium-high.  Using a large slotted spoon, stir constantly and sauté until rice and pasta are light golden, about 3-4 minutes.

IMG_9842 IMG_9842 IMG_0032 IMG_0032 IMG_0032 IMG_0032~Step 2.  Slowly add the water to the pan  -- lots of steam will billow up, so, be careful.  Add the seasonings: 2 tablespoons beef bouillon, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, and, 1/2 cup diced carrot.  Give the mixture a thorough stir and wait for it to return to a simmer, about 1 minute.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer.

IMG_0041 IMG_0044 IMG_0044 IMG_0044~Step 3. Cover the pan and simmer until rice and pasta are cooked through and have absorbed almost all liquid, 14-16 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside 5 minutes.  Remove lid and rake through the mixture with a fork to fluff and separate the rice grains and pasta pieces.

Copycat beef Rice-a-Roni -- "The San Francisco Treat!":

IMG_0051Copycat Beef Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat:  Recipe yields 4 cups/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List: vegetable peeler; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides and lid; large slotted spoon or spatula; 2-cup measuring container; fork

IMG_9083Cook's Note: Pilaf is an ancient dish dating back to the 5th Century BCE (before common era), likely in the Middle East, although some credit the Persian Empire with its creation. Due to extensive trading with the Persians, the dish was popularized in the Mediterranean and parts of Eastern Europe.  Pilaf is recognized as a method of cooking, and, while mostly associated with rice, it's worth mention that it can be prepared as a side-dish using almost any grain -- as long as the rice or grain is simmered in stock instead of water.  Try my ~ Nice & Easy Basic All-Purpose 30-Minute Rice Pilaf ~.

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

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

03/09/2020

~Mel's Copycat Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat~

IMG_9879I believe I could live on Rice-a-Roni.  I suppose I'd get tired of it eventually, but, it could be worth the experiment simply to see how long it would take.  I love the stuff, and, it's one of the few convenience foods I indulge in.  As a kid, if I was feeling under the weather, I always preferred a dish of chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni over a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup.  If that sounds odd, it's not, as the seasoning packet contains nothing more than dry chicken soup mix. As an adult, beef-favored and Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni have earned spots in my pantry too.

IMG_9814Rice-a-Roni -- "The San Francisco Treat!"

Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open a fresh produce store.  After becoming a successful businessman, he married Maria Ferrigno, an immigrant from Salerno, Italy, where her family owned a pasta factory.  In 1912, Maria persuaded Charlie to set up a similar business in the Mission District of San Francisco.  Gragnano Products, Inc., was born and began delivering pasta to Italian restaurants and stores throughout the area.

IMG_9880Maria and Charlie's sons, Paskey, Vince, Tom and Anthony worked in the family business, and, in 1934, Paskey changed the name to the Golden Grain Macaroni Company. Tom's wife Lois fell in love with a pilaf recipe she received from an Armenian immigrant, Mrs. Pailadzo Captanian, which she served at a family gathering.  After tasting the unique pilaf, which was made by sautéing a combination rice and pasta in butter before adding broth and seasonings, Vince went to work developing a new product.  In 1958, his creation, named Rice-a-Roni, was introduced to the Northwestern United States as "The San Francisco Treat".  Four years later, in 1962, it went nationwide.

Copycat chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni is super-easy to make, tastes the same or better, &, saves money at the checkout:

IMG_9816For the 6 1/2 total ounces (1 cup) of rice & pasta:

3 3/4 ounces long grain white rice (about 1/2 cup)*

2 3/4 ounces fideo, cut spaghetti  (about 1/2 cup)*

*Note:  Yes.  I really did sit around for two hours one afternoon separating the rice grains from the vermicelli pasta, from one box of Rice-a-Roni, to make sure the measurements are correct.

For the 1/2 total ounces (2 tablespoons) seasoning blend packet:

2  tablespoons Herb Ox granulated chicken bouillon (Note:  Contains salt, dehydrated parsley, dehydrated cooked chicken, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric for color.)

1  teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

For the sauté and simmer:

2-3  tablespoons salted butter, for sautéing the pasta and rice mixture (Note:  I use three. The box calls for two.  I never thought two was enough.  It isn't.)

2 1/2 cups water, for simmering the Copycat Rice-a-Roni

IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826 IMG_9826~Step 1.  In a wide-bottomed 3 1/2-quart chef's pan with straight, deep sides (or a 10" skillet with a tight-fitting lid), melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat.  Add and stir in the 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup fideo.  Increase heat to medium- medium-high.  Using a large slotted spoon, stir constantly and sauté until rice and pasta are light golden, about 3-4 minutes.

IMG_9842 IMG_9842 IMG_9842 IMG_9842 IMG_9842~Step 2.  Slowly add the 2 1/2 cups water to the pan of sautéing rice and pasta -- lots of steam will billow up, so, be careful.  Add the seasonings: 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Give the mixture a thorough stir and wait for it to return to a simmer, 1-2 minutes.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer.

IMG_9858 IMG_9858 IMG_9858~ Step 3.  Cover the pan and simmer until rice and pasta are cooked through and have absorbed almost all of the liquid, about 14-16 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and rake through the mixture with a fork to fluff and separate the rice grains and pasta pieces.  Serve immediately.

Copycat chicken Rice-a-Roni -- "The San Francisco Treat!":

IMG_9875Mel's Copycat Rice-a-Roni, The San Francisco Treat:  Recipe yields 4 cups/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List: 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides and lid; large slotted spoon or spatula; 2-cup measuring container; fork

IMG_9005Cook's Note: In my food world, three meals require a side of orange-and-cheddary creamy-dreamy macaroni-and-cheese:  meatloaf, fish sticks, and, chili dogs.  There's more.  If you're looking for the perfect side-dish to turn Buffalo chicken wings into dinner, set your sights on mac and cheese. When I was growing up, when we sat down to eat meatloaf, fish sticks or chili dogs, my mom indulged my brother and I in a side-serving of mac and cheese. Interestingly, she didn't buy the stuff in the blue box.  She refused.  She made her own copycat version of it on the stovetop.  It was fabulous -- it's also the same recipe I used to indulge my kids.  Try my ~ Better than Store-Bought Stovetop Mac & Cheese ~.

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

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

03/07/2020

~Five Fun Family-Friendly Weeknight Quiche Dinners~

IMG_9746When I lived alone in my apartment back in 1978, I made a quiche every Sunday.  I ate one slice, then took one slice to work with me every day for lunch. After a few weeks, my new boss and other co-workers started hinting, then expecting me to bring them quiche too.  For a period of time, I took an entire quiche to work with me almost every Monday.  Fun times, great memories.  I suppose, at the time, I could have referred to myself as the Happy Valley Quiche Queen!

6a0120a8551282970b0162fd6207eb970dIn the latter 1970's and into the 1980's, quiche became very trendy and I for one was "on the bandwagon". The quiche tsunami occurred in 1982 when a man by the name of Bruce Feirstein wrote the bestseller Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.  As you can see, I still have my copy.  It coined the phrases "quiche-eater" and "real man" and separated them into two groups.  There was a third category too: "Guys who think they're real men but really aren't".   A "real man" might enjoy a bacon-and-egg pie if his wife made it for him, while a "sensitive guy" would make it himself and clean up afterwards.  The book is hilarious.  It was written after a decade of feminist critiques ("The Women's Movement") on traditional male roles and beliefs.  I for one had a lot of fun during this time period, as serving quiche spawned spirited conversation each and every time.

Quiche originated in northeastern France, in the region of Alsace-Lorraine.  It consists of a pastry shell filled with a savory custard made of eggs, cream, seasonings and various other ingredients such as onions, mushrooms, porcine (ham, bacon or sausage), shellfish (lobster, shrimp or crabmeat) or herbs.  The most notable of these savory pies is the famous Quiche-Lorraine, which has crisp bacon bits and Gruyère cheese added to the custard filling.  Quiches can be served as a lunch, brunch or dinner entree, as well as a first course or an hors d'oeuvre.

~ Broccoli, Cauliflower & Cheddar Main-Dish Quiche ~

IMG_9524~ Creamy Chicken & Whole-Grain Mustard Quiche ~

IMG_9607~ Breakfast for Dinner Basic Bacon & Eggs Quiche ~

IMG_9768~ Mel's Cheeseburger Quiche w/Special Sauce Salad ~

IMG_9681~ An End of Winter Ricotta & Spinach Pizza Quiche ~

IMG_7837"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

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

03/05/2020

~Simple and Basic Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Quiche~

IMG_9756Bacon and eggs.  It's so simple even a caveman can do it.  It's rustic man food -- put the two in a skillet and fry 'em up.  Men love to fry food -- I think it's the sizzle that attracts them.  Bacon and eggs plus cheese and cream whisked together and gently baked in a flaky pie pastry -- it could be described as refined woman food.  Generally speaking, women enjoy fussing with food and fussy foods.  While I'm uncertain as to the percentage of men who would make a quiche for themselves, I can attest to the fact that rustic real men are indeed happy to eat a bacon and egg quiche.  

This is, perhaps, the only quiche recipe you'll ever need:

IMG_9730Quiche reheats perfectly, which makes it great lunchbox fare:

IMG_97061  7 1/2-ounce boxed, refrigerated pie pastry, at room temperature, fitted into a 9" quiche dish and decoratively edged

1  pound thick-sliced bacon, crisply-fried and chopped into small bits and pieces

8  ounces finely-shredded white sharp cheddar cheese

2  tablespoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

1 1/2  cups heavy or whipping cream

4  jumbo eggs

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

IMG_9702 IMG_9702~ Step 1.  Place bacon, slightly overlapping is fine, in an 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan (the kind with the corrugated bottom).  Roast on center rack of 375º oven, 20-25 minutes, or until bacon is golden, crispy and desired degree of doneness is reached, stopping to flip the slices over, with a long-handled bacon fork, half-way through process.  Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and cool, about 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle with hands, chop into small bits and pieces.

IMG_9711 IMG_9711 IMG_9711~ Step 2. In a large bowl place the chopped bacon, shredded white cheddar cheese and Wondra flour.  Using two forks or two spoons, toss, as you would a salad, until all ingredients are evenly coated in the flour. Spoon meat-and-cheese mixture into pie pastry. Distribute it evenly throughout, and, mound it towards the center, but, do not compress or press down on it.  You want it to remain light and airy.

IMG_9722 IMG_9722 IMG_9722~ Step 3. In a 4-cup measuring container, use a fork to whisk together the cream, eggs, nutmeg, salt and cayenne pepper.  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle the cream-and-egg mixture over and around the surface of the quiche.  Go very slowly, so as to give the liquid all the time it needs to slowly drizzle down into the cracks and crevasses of the bacon and cheese mixture.

IMG_9733~ Step 4. Bake on center rack of 325º oven for 50-55 minutes, stopping to give the quiche a quarter-turn every 15 minutes so it browns evenly. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack 30-60 minutes prior to slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.  Leftovers reheat great in the microwave (which makes lunch 45-seconds away), but, do not freeze well.

Cool at least 15 minutes, & up to 30-45-60 minutes:

IMG_9768Slice & serve hot, warm or at room temperature:

IMG_9777For breakfast, brunch, lunch or breakfast for dinner:

IMG_9797Simple and Basic Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Quiche: Recipe yields 8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; long-handled bacon fork; paper towels; 9" quiche dish; cutting board; chef's knife; 2 forks or 2 spoons; 4-cup measuring container; whisk; wire cooling rack 

6a0120a8551282970b01bb081f7977970dCook's Note: In our house, Sunday mornings are very laid back and relaxed.  No alarm clocks, lots of coffee and tea drinking, newspaper and magazine reading, TV watching, and, always a cooked breakfast.  In the Winter we watch the skiers come down Tussey Mountain through our kitchen windows.  In the Summer, we often cook and eat outside while watching the joggers and bikers on Bear Meadows Road. Sundays are perfect for ~ Fluffy Scrambled Eggs and Bacon ~.

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

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

03/03/2020

~ Mel's Cheeseburger Quiche w/Special Sauce Salad ~

IMG_9677Cheeseburger pie was not something my mom ever made -- it existed back in the 1950's and 60's, she just never made it.  As I recall, the recipe moms across America were using then was made popular by Bisquick.  Mom probably didn't make it because dad wouldn't eat anything "casserole-ish".  A cheeseburger pie or quiche was not something I thought I would ever make -- it existed in the 1970's and 80's, I just never felt like making it.  That said, when you're a mom of three boys in the 1970's and 1980's and one of them comes home after a sleepover bragging about the great cheeseburger pie his best friend's mom made, you rethink things.  I, of course, went straight to the source.  I called up the kids mom and asked her for her recipe.  While, admittedly, it was indeed tasty, it did require a few changes (on my part).  Read on: 

Wouldn't put it in or on a cheeseburger?  Don't add it to this recipe.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39e2eff200dThis isn't a taco pie, nor, for that matter, a pizza pie.  It is a cheeseburger quiche (formerly known as a cheeseburger pie).  If you wouldn't put an ingredient in or on your your cheeseburger, it has no place in this recipe.  Zero.  I have seen recipes that add chopped bell peppers to the mix and season it with hot pepper sauce.  Really?  I have seen recipes that season the ground beef mixture with oregano and top the pie with Parmesan cheese.  Seriously?  And, as for garlic?  When was the last time you added garlic to a cheeseburger. Sigh, oh my.  That said, if you adore bacon on your cheeseburger, feel free to add 1/2 cup crisply-fried, finely-chopped bacon bits.

Mel's version of the cheeseburger quiche (cheeseburger pie):

IMG_9621For my version of the cheeseburger quiche:

1  7 1/2-ounce boxed, refrigerated pie pastry, at room temperature, fitted into a 9" quiche dish and decoratively edged

1  pound lean ground beef (90/10)

1  cup diced onion

1  packet granulated beef bouillon (about 1 teaspoon)

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

4  tablespoons dill or sweet pickle relish, your choice (Note:  I use sweet relish.)

8  ounces shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese

2  tablespoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

1  cup heavy or whipping cream

1/2  cup mayonnaise

3  jumbo eggs

3  tablespoons ketchup

1  tablespoon yellow mustard

1  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

For the lettuce-tomato garnish:

1-1 1/2  cups lettuce chiffonade

1/2-3/4  cup diced tomatoes

For my secret-sauce drizzle:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2e448b8970c1  cup mayonnaise

1/4  cup each: ketchup, and, dill or sweet pickle relish

1  tablespoon yellow mustard

1  teaspoon white vinegar

1/2  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder and paprika

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2e4490f970cWhisk all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate 1 hour.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

IMG_9626 IMG_9626 IMG_9626 IMG_9626 IMG_9626 IMG_9626~Step 1.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, place the ground beef, diced onion, granulated beef bouillon, salt and pepper.  Over medium-, medium-high heat, sauté for 9-11 minutes, using a spatula to break up and stir the meat, until meat is cooked through, onions are soft, and, almost no liquid remains in the bottom of skillet.  Turn the heat off and stir in the pickle relish.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool to the touch, 20-30 minutes.

IMG_9641 IMG_9641 IMG_9641~ Step 2. In a large bowl place the cooled beef mixture, shredded yellow cheddar cheese and Wondra flour.  Using two forks or two spoons, toss, as you would a salad, until all ingredients are evenly coated in the flour. Spoon meat-and-cheese mixture into pie pastry. Distribute it evenly throughout, and, mound it towards the center, but, do not compress or press down on it.  You want it to remain light and airy.

IMG_9654 IMG_9654 IMG_9654~ Step 3. In a 2-cup measuring container, use a fork to whisk together the cream, mayonnaise, eggs, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle the cream-and-egg mixture over and around the surface of the quiche.  Go very slowly, so as to give the liquid all the time it needs to slowly drizzle down into the cracks and crevasses of the ground beef mixture.

IMG_9674~ Step 4. Bake on center rack of 325º oven for 50-55 minutes, stopping to give the quiche a quarter-turn every 15 minutes so it browns evenly. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack 30-60 minutes prior to slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.  Leftovers reheat great in the microwave (which makes lunch 45-seconds away), but, do not freeze well.

Cool at least 15 minutes, & up to 30-45-60 minutes before serving hot, warm or at room temperature:

IMG_9671Slice & serve each wedge of quiche garnished w/shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes & a drizzle of special sauce:

IMG_9681Yes.  It does taste just like a well-appointed cheeseburger:

IMG_9688Mel's Cheeseburger Quiche w/Special Sauce Salad:  Recipe yields 8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" quiche dish; cutting board; chef's knife; 10" skillet, preferably nonstick; spatula; 2 forks or 2 spoons; 2-cup measuring container; wire cooling rack 

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c95a5bf5970bCook's Note: When my foodie friends start talking about a yummy salad made in the style of McDonald's iconic Big Mac, I listen. I listen because these are friends I listen to, and, because I've been known to indulge in an occasional Big Mac. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun is perhaps the yummiest cheeseburger in the takeout-lane. Try my ~ The McDonald's-Style Big Mac Cheeseburger Salad ~.

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

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