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12 posts from August 2020

08/31/2020

~ The Best Way to Assemble & Wrap a Tortilla Wrap ~

IMG_5368The exact origin of the tortilla wrap is not known, but several sandwich shops in various regions of California claim to have created the first one.  None of their stories can be verified, but, one thing that is, for the most part, agreed on:  the tortilla wrap was inspired by the burrito.  When making a tortilla wrap, the general rule of thumb is: any salad or sandwich ingredient combo that can be slapped between two slices of bread or shoved into a pocket bread, can be wrapped in a flour tortilla.  That said, generally speaking, when ordering a tortilla wrap, most folks expect to receive a cold sandwich -- this makes sense, since hot ingredients are mostly associated with burritos. Here in my Happy Valley kitchen, we've been eating wrap sandwiches for a couple of decades, and, burrito-sized flour tortillas are alway on-hand in my kitchen for that specific purpose.

General Rule:  Any sandwich or salad can be made into a wrap.

Be Happy:  Layer everything on a big burrito-size flour tortilla.

The Big Fat No-No:  Overstuffing any wrap.  Just don't do it.

I first encountered wraps back in the latter 80's, in a downtown State College joint named "That's a Wrap" -- a clever name.  It was located across an alley, right at the exit from the parking garage where you walked out of the garage to start your trek into the shopping district. They passed your wrap and beverage (fabulous, fresh-squeezed boardwalk-style lemonade) out the window while you slid your cash in through the window.  One could eat on chairs right there on the sidewalk, or, eat on your way towards your destination.  It didn't matter where one decided to eat it, it was well-constructed and stayed in place from first to last bite.  It wasn't fancy, it was just good.

Place burrito-size flour tortilla atop a piece of plastic wrap:

IMG_5312Slather burrito w/dressing, mayo, sauce or sandwich spread:

IMG_5317Add a flat, thin layer of soft mixed or baby greens:

IMG_5321Add a layer, about 6 slices, thin-sliced cheese:

IMG_5326Add a thin layer, about 6-12 slices, thin-sliced deli meat:

IMG_5329Add a strip of diced tomato, onion, &/or relish-type filling:

IMG_5333Lift & tightly roll end closest to you up & over strip of fillings:

IMG_5338Continue to tightly roll until tortilla sits seam-side-down:

IMG_5342Lift & tightly pull plastic wrap up & over tortilla:

IMG_5346Continue rolling until wrapped tortilla sits seam-side-down:

IMG_5354Crimp & tuck ends under to encase tortilla: 

IMG_5349Slice sandwich at a 30º angle holding knife at a 30º angle:

IMG_5361That's a wrap -- The best way I know to wrap a wrap:

IMG_5383The Best Way to Assemble & Wrap a Tortilla Wrap:  Recipe yields instructions to assemble and wrap deli-style wrap sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; butter knife; serrated bread knife

IMG_5284Cook's Note: This is not your average deli-style turkey- or turkey-club- wrap sandwich -- bacon need not apply. Inspired by the food culture of the American Southwest, Boars Head Salsalito Turkey Breast is a bold, flavored-packed taste of Southwestern flavors.  Boar's Head Ovengold Turkey Breast had been my go-to staple in the deli-drawer of my refrigerator for years -- a slice here, two slices there, I snacked on some every day.  This new-to-me "flavor" of deli-turkey was suggested ("this one's VERY popular"), when my grocer ran out of Ovengold.  Try my ~ Spicy Southwestern Salsalito Turkey Breast Wrap ~.

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

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

08/29/2020

~ Spicy Southwestern Salsalito Turkey Breast Wraps ~

IMG_5284This is not your average deli-style turkey- or turkey-club- wrap sandwich -- bacon need not apply. Inspired by the food culture of the American Southwest, every slice of Boars Head Salsalito Turkey Breast is a bold, flavored-packed taste of Southwestern flavors.  Boar's Head Ovengold Turkey Breast had been my go-to staple in the deli-drawer of my refrigerator for years -- a slice here, two slices there, I snacked on some every day.  This new-to-me "flavor" of deli-turkey was suggested as a substitute ("this one's VERY popular"), when my grocer ran out of Ovengold.

093806-600x600-A-1As it was explained, the entire Boar's Head breast gets coated with a mixture of spicy salsa, jalapeño peppers, onions, sundried tomatoes and cilantro -- all flavors I like.  Well, I'm here to report, it's downright addicting, and, after deciding to try a half-pound of it, to nibble on two weeks ago, I brought home a full-pound this week, and, I couldn't wait to come up with the perfect way, a wrap sandwich, to showcase it.  For me, returning to plain 'ole deli-style turkey anytime soon will be next to impossible -- I don't even want to think about it.  On a side note, be sure to ask your deli-person to slice this product as thin as possible.

Boar's Head Salsalito turkey -- It's simply irresistible.

IMG_5234For each wrap sandwich, in order of assembly:

1  Mission brand burrito-size super-soft flour tortilla

2  tablespoons Brianna's cilantro-lime dressing

1  thin, flat layer Nature's Promise Spring mix

6  thin slices Boar's Head jalapeño Jack cheese

6  thin slices Boar's Head very-thin-sliced Salsalito turkey breast, no substitutions

3  tablespoon small diced red onion 

3  tablespoons seeded and small-diced Campari tomatoes

3  tablespoons small-diced Hass avocado

IMG_5239 IMG_5239 IMG_5239 IMG_5239 IMG_5239 IMG_5239~Step 1.  To assemble each wrap sandwich, over a large cutting board, drape a large piece of plastic wrap.  Place one flour tortilla in the center.  Place 2 tablespoons of cilantro-lime dressing in the center, and use a butter knife to evenly distribute it over the surface of the tortilla.  Arrange a single, flat layer of the Spring mix atop the dressing, followed by a single, flat layer of jalapeño Jack cheese (5 whole slices and 1 slice broken into quarters, for a total of 6 slices), followed by a single, flat layer of Salsalito turkey breast (6 slices).

IMG_5256 IMG_5256 IMG_5256 IMG_5256~Step 2.  Towards the upper-end of the lower-third of the tortilla (meaning, not directly across the center, or, slightly lower than the center), arrange a strip of 3 tablespoons diced red onion, followed by a layer of 3 tablespoons diced tomato, followed by 3 tablespoons diced avocado (all stacked atop each other to form one strip of flavorful diced-filling for the wrap sandwich).

IMG_5264 IMG_5264 IMG_5264 IMG_5264 IMG_5264 IMG_5361~Step 3.  Starting at the side closest to you, lift the tortilla up and tightly over the top of the diced fillings.  Continue to tightly roll the tortilla until it is sitting, seam-side-down, near the top of the plastic wrap.  Lift the plastic wrap up and tightly over the rolled tortilla, and continue to roll, until the tortilla is sitting, seam-side-down, near the bottom of the plastic wrap. Seal the left and right ends of the plastic wrap, folding the ends of the tortilla, on both sides underneath the tortilla, to tightly encase and seal the wrap sandwich at both ends.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes, or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator, prior to slicing into desired-sized pieces and serving. Slice the sandwich in half at a 30° angle while holding the knife at a 30° angle.  

Tightly wrapping the tortilla in plastic, &, giving it a short rest, will make the sandwich very easy to slice & serve.

IMG_5308That's a wrap -- A spicy Southwestern Salsalito turkey wrap, served w/crispy red hot blue tortilla chips! 

IMG_5300

Spicy Southwestern Salsalito Turkey Breast Sliders:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many Salsalito turkey wraps as you want to/1 main-dish serving serving each wrap sandwich/6 appetizer-sized servings each wrap sandwich.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; butter knife; serrated bread knife

IMG_5368Cook's Note: The exact origin of the tortilla wrap is not known, but several sandwich shops in various regions of California claim to have created the first one.  None of their stories can be verified, but, one thing that is, for the most part, agreed on:  the tortilla wrap was inspired by the burrito.  When making a tortilla wrap, the general rule of thumb is: any salad or sandwich ingredient combo that can be slapped between two slices of bread or shoved into a pocket bread, can be wrapped in a flour tortilla.  Be sure to get my tips on ~ The Best Way to Assemble and Wrap a Tortilla Wrap ~.

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

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

08/26/2020

~ Street-Food-Style Barbecued Pork Chop Sandwich ~

IMG_5218In the event you're not familiar with this particular Chicago-style pork sandwich, it's known as The Maxwell Street Pork Chop Sandwich (Maxwell Street being a all-day Sunday outdoor market). Not to be confused with any type of pulled-pork sandwich, this sandwich, strange to most folks outside the city limits, places an entire bone-in pork chop on a nice soft roll, along with a heaping-helping of sautéed onions.  The pork chops are cooked on a flat-top griddle right next to a never-ending pile of thick-sliced onions.  Embellishments are an optional slather of mustard and/or a few pickled sport peppers.  Sold by the street venders, these are bona fide eat-on-the-street food.

Chicago's Maxwell Street Market -- a Sunday-only tradition.

Worldfamous-0x0For 100 years, Maxwell Street has been Chicago’s most renowned but unconventional business and residential district.  About a mile long, and sitting in the shadow of city skyscrapers, it's still a Sunday-only affair and place for new businesses to sell their wares, and, with a bit of luck, grow and thrive -- Maxwell Street Market was the precursor to open-air flea markets.  Fledgling entrepreneurs in need of cash came to Maxwell Street to try to earn a livelihood.  From clothes, to produce, to cars, appliances, tools, and virtually anything anyone could want, Maxwell Street offered discount items to consumers -- it was an economic hub for poorer people looking to get ahead.  The Maxwell Street Market, located at 800 S. Desplaines Street and open from 7:00AM to 3:00PM every Sunday, is a Chicago tradition with an eclectic mix of handmade crafts, resale housewares and clothing, live music, family fun and some of the best street food in Chicago.

All I did was replace the mustard w/some barbecue sauce.

IMG_5194My recipe started out as a straight-forward copycat of The Maxwell Street Pork Chop Sandwich. It evolved into Mel's Maxwell-Street-Style Barbecued Pork Chop Sandwich because, after making them a second time for our Penn State tailgate group (which genuinely loved them), a couple of the guys mentioned they'd like to try them with a slather of barbecue sauce (instead of mustard). Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and, truth told, once coated in barbecue sauce, everyone unanimously agreed they preferred them that way.  That's my story and I'm sticking with it! 

IMG_50476  3/4"-1" thick, bone-in pork loin chops (Note:  You can substitute boneless pork loin chops, but, if you're doing it because you think it will make eating this unique sandwich more manageable, it will not.  The etiquette is to get a grip on the sandwich by picking it up at the bone-end, then eat your way inward, toward the bone.  Haha -- Holding that bone-in end actually helps to hold the whole thing together and makes the sandwich really easy to eat.)

4  tablespoons corn or peanut oil, for sautéing chops

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning chops

1  cup K.C. Masterpiece original barbecue sauce, plus, the rest of the 18-ounce bottle for dipping or drizzling at tableside

1  pound, 1/2"-thick-sliced yellow or sweet onion, sliced into half-moon shapes

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

6  soft brioche hamburger-type rolls

IMG_5062 IMG_5062~ Step 1.  Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole with no-stick spray.  Slice onion into 1/2"-thick rounds, then slice rounds in half to form half-moons. Separate the onion pieces, arranging them in bottom of prepared casserole.  Set aside.

IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051 IMG_5051~Step 2. In a 16" electric skillet, heat the corn or peanut oil over low heat. Increase heat to 225º (medium-high), add the chops, then, season their tops with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Continue to sauté the chops until they're browning nicely on the bottom, about 6-7 minutes.  Using a spatula, flip the chops over and season the second side with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sauté the chops until golden on the bottom, about 6-7 more minutes.  Turn the heat off.  Transfer chops to a plate and set aside.

IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088~Step 3.  Add the barbecue sauce to the skillet.  Return heat to 225°. Quickly heat the barbecue sauce to bubbling, stirring constantly to incorporate the sauce into the flavorful pan drippings.  This will take less than 1 minute.  Turn the heat off.  Return the chops to the skillet and coat them generously, on both sides, in the barbecue sauce.

IMG_5106 IMG_5106 IMG_5106 IMG_5106~Step 4.  One-at-a-time, transfer pork chops to  casserole, arranging them on top of the onions as you work.  Using an ordinary tablespoon, place about 2 tablespoons of the remaining barbecue sauce on top of each chop (and continue  on with any remaining sauce if there is any left in the skillet).  Note:  At this point, the casserole may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated several hours or overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to proceeding with recipe.

IMG_5119 IMG_5119 IMG_5119~Step 5.  Tightly cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325º oven, 40 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and reset oven to broil.  Uncover casserole and place 6" under preheated broiler until bubbling and showing signs of charring, about 2-3 minutes, watching carefully during the broiling process because the sugar in the barbecue sauce can and will go from brown to burned very quickly.  Remove from oven.  To assemble and serve the sandwiches:

IMG_5185 IMG_5185 IMG_5185~ Step 6.  Place one steaming hot, juicy, tender pork chop on each roll and top with a generous heap of flavorful onions.  I like to serve these sandwiches with my creamy-crunchy cole slaw and dill pickle spears.  That said, they pair well with potato chips, French fries or my stovetop macaroni and cheese too.

Put a lid on it & enjoy this truly unique sandwich encounter:

IMG_5224Street-Food-Style Barbecued Pork Chop Sandwich:  Recipe yields 6 hearty sandwiches.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 16" electric skillet w/lid; fork; spatula; tablespoon; aluminum foil

6a0120a8551282970b0240a47dc58e200cCook's Note:  While I rarely spend any time in the drive-thru lane of fast-food chains, on those rare occasions when McDonald's returns the McRib to its menu for a limited time, I'm not ashamed, well maybe a little ashamed, to admit to making the pilgrimage to the golden arches. For the ten or twelve minutes it takes to sit in the parking lot and eat it with a large side of fries and a diet Coke, I lock my nutritional conscience in the glove compartment and indulge in what I believe to be their greatest achievement.  Perhaps the "blush would come off the rose" if it were available whenever I wanted one, and, "if wishing made it so", I'd be willing to find out.  Live dangerously folks, try ~ Mel's Bone-Suckin' Copycat-McRib & Onion Sub Sandwich ~.

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

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

08/23/2020

~Easy K.C-Style Oven-Baked Barbecued Pork Chops~

IMG_5169Unless I'm staring-down a 1 1/2"-2" double-cut pork chop, complete with a pocket full of stuffing inside, that has been painstakingly stovetop- or oven-braised, I pretty much believe pork chops all taste better slathered with some sort of barbecue sauce.  So, for the purpose of this post, my reference to barbecued pork chops refers to pork chops slathered in barbecue sauce, not pork chops prepared in traditional barbecue-style (low and slow over smoldering coals or embers for a long period of time).  As long as the end justifies the means, I'm super-easy to get along with.

Literally fork tender & everything one could ask for:

IMG_5173Sixty short minutes to dinner:  12-14 minutes to brown the chops, 1 minute to "doctor-up" the store-bought sauce, 40 minutes in the oven to bake, plus, 2-3 minutes under the broiler.

IMG_50476  3/4"-1" thick, bone-in pork loin chops

4  tablespoons corn or peanut oil, for sautéing chops

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning chops

1  cup K.C. Masterpiece original barbecue sauce, plus, the rest of the 18-ounce bottle for dipping or drizzling at tableside

1  pound, 1/2"-thick-sliced yellow or sweet onion, sliced into half-moon shapes

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

IMG_5062 IMG_5062~ Step 1.  Spray a 13" x 9" x 2" casserole with no-stick spray.  Slice onion into 1/2"-thick rounds, then slice rounds in half to form half-moons. Separate the onion pieces, arranging them in bottom of prepared casserole.  Set aside.

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e9c611200d 6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e9c611200d IMG_5056 IMG_5056 IMG_5056 IMG_5056 IMG_5056 IMG_5056 IMG_5056~Step 2. In a 16" electric skillet, heat the corn or peanut oil over low heat. Increase heat to 225º (medium-high), add the chops, then, season their tops with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Continue to sauté the chops until they're browning nicely on the bottom, about 6-7 minutes.  Using a spatula, flip the chops over and season the second side with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sauté the chops until golden on the bottom, about 6-7 more minutes.  Turn the heat off.  Transfer chops to a plate and set aside.

IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088 IMG_5088~Step 3.  Add the barbecue sauce to the skillet.  Return heat to 225°. Quickly heat the barbecue sauce to bubbling, stirring constantly to incorporate the sauce into the flavorful pan drippings.  This will take less than 1 minute.  Turn the heat off.  Return the chops to the skillet and coat them generously, on both sides, in the barbecue sauce.

IMG_5106 IMG_5106 IMG_5106 IMG_5106~Step 4.  One-at-a-time, transfer pork chops to  casserole, arranging them on top of the onions as you work.  Using an ordinary tablespoon, place about 2 tablespoons of the remaining barbecue sauce on top of each chop (and continue  on with any remaining sauce if there is any left in the skillet).  Note:  At this point, the casserole may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated several hours or overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to proceeding with recipe.

IMG_5119 IMG_5119 IMG_5119~Step 5.  Tightly cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325º oven, 40 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and reset oven to broil.  Uncover casserole and place 6" under preheated broiler until bubbling and showing signs of charring, about 2-3 minutes, watching carefully during the broiling process because the sugar in the barbecue sauce can and will go from brown to burned very quickly.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

These chops are great served over green beans along w/my Crispy-Topped Baked Sweet Potato Casserole:      

IMG_5131Easy K.C.-Style Oven-Baked Barbecued Pork Chops:  Recipe yields 6 servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 16" electric skillet w/lid; fork; spatula; tablespoon; aluminum foil

IMG_4669Cook's Note: A nice big piece of perfectly-cooked fall-off-the-bone-tender barbecued chicken, hot of the grill grids and dripping with a fresh slather of tangy barbecue sauce, is one of my favorite meals.  That said, timing is everything, and the slightest time delay, as little as three short minutes, can cause the chicken to go from juicy and succulent to dry and tough -- this is further complicated if a combination of various-sized chicken parts (breasts, legs and thighs) are cooking at the same time.  Sure, it's easily controlled, by babysitting each piece during the last five minutes of the cooking process, but, it's never correctable once the damage is done.  Trust me, oven-roasting removes all room for error, and, chicken leg-thigh quarters are my favorite pick for a quick weekday meal.  Try my ~ Easy Oven-Roasted Barbecued Chicken Quarters ~.

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

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

08/20/2020

~Mel's Savory Crispy-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole~

IMG_5021I keep sweet potatoes on-hand all year.  I could, and occasionally do, make a meal just for me out of a pillowy-soft steaming-hot baked sweet potato (dripping with a few pats of melting butter and seasoned with a generous grinding of sea salt and a flavorful peppercorn blend).  It's simple, straightforward, scrumptious, and, oh-so-satisfying.  Even if it weren't super-nutritious, I'd simply slide the humble sweet potato off my "favorite foods list" and onto to my "guilty-pleasures-food-list", and go right on eating them anyway.  I love baked sweet potatoes.  That said:

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the gnarly sweet potato isn't the prettiest of foods. Better stated, it's not something I typically serve to guests, unless everyone's eating grill-to-fix-your-own-plate in the great outdoors (where presentation is not my responsibility).  That's why I came up with this particular sweet potato casserole recipe.  It brings all the flavors of baked sweet potatoes to the table, dressed up in a pretty casserole -- simple, straightforward and scrumptious.

Flavorful, baked sweet potatoes, served-up casserole-style: 

IMG_4984When it comes to sweet potato casseroles in general, I wish folks would try to think "savory side-dish" not "sweet dessert" and season them accordingly.  Sweet potato casseroles do not need sugar, brown sugar or honey added to them, and, just-say-no to marshmallows -- sweet potatoes are full of flavor, texture and they're naturally sweet.  When served as a savory side-dish to a meal, it's my opinion, they shouldn't contain commonly used pie spices -- no cinnamon or nutmeg please.  Dehydrated garlic and onion, herbes de Provence, salt, and black pepper do it for me.

An inconvenient truth:  A sweet potato is not a yam.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad37affb9200cA bit about sweet potatoes:  Sweet potatoes were first introduced to North America when Columbus brought them over from the island of St. Thomas, where this large edible root (which belongs to the morning-glory family) is native to the tropical regions of the Americas.  There are many varieties of sweet potato, but the two most widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and a dark-skinned variety Americans erroneously call "yam" (the true yam is not even related to the sweet potato).  The pale potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh. Its flavor is not sweet, and, after being cooked, the pale sweet potato is dry and crumbly, similar to that of a Russet potato. The darker variety (pictured above) has a thicker, dark-orange skin and vivid-orange, sweet flesh.  When cooked it has a very sweet flavor and a creamy texture. The dark-skinned, orange-colored variety is the only kind I use in my recipes.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3a12658200dWhen buying sweet potatoes, choose plump, firm even-sized ones with no cracks. Like regular potatoes they should never be stored in the refrigerator, but do need to be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. If the temperature is above 60 degrees, they'll begin to sprout, get woody and/or shriveled.  Cooked sweet potatoes, if stored in the refrigerator, last about a week.  Like regular potatoes, sweet potates are always eaten cooked, never raw.

For my savory crispy-topped sweet potato casserole:

IMG_4930For the sweet potato casserole:

6  cups smashed sweet potatoes, removed from 6 pounds sweet potatoes after baking or microwave-baking the potatoes

6  tablespoons salted butter (3/4 stick)

1  generous teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic

1  generous teaspoon dehydrated minced onion

2  teaspoons herbes de Provence (a blend of dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory) 

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarse-grind black pepper

4  large eggs

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

For the topping:

4  dozen Ritz crackers, no substitutions

8  tablespoons salted butter (1 stick)

IMG_4925Step 1.  Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, pierce tops of sweet potatoes in 4-5 spots.  Microwave-bake them until soft -- in my microwave this takes about 18 minutes.  Set aside until cool enough to comfortably handle with your hands, 15-20 minutes.  Using the paring knife and an ordinary tablespoon slice the potatoes in half, scoop out the soft centers, transfer them to a medium bowl and smash them with a fork.  Set aside.  

Note:  This task can be done several hours or a day or two in advance.

IMG_4932 IMG_4932 IMG_4932~Step 2.  In a 1-cup measuring container, melt the butter.  Remove from microwave and stir in the dehydrated garlic and onion, herbes de Provence, sea salt and coarse-grind pepper.  Set aside about 5-6 minutes.

IMG_4938 IMG_4938 IMG_4938 IMG_4938 IMG_4938 IMG_4938~Step 3.  In a large bowl, starting on low speed of hand-held electric mixer and working up to medium, beat eggs and cream, until smooth and uniform in color, about 45 seconds.  Add and beat in the seasoned butter mixture, about 45 seconds. Add the sweet potatoes.  Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula throughout the process. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole that's been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.

IMG_4954 IMG_4954 IMG_4954 IMG_4954 IMG_4954 IMG_4954 IMG_4954~Step 4. To prepare the topping, place the crackers in a 1-gallon food storage bag.  Using a small rolling pin, crush them to the size of coarse breadcrumbs.  In a 2-cup measuring container, melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the cracker crumbs to the melted butter.  Stir with a fork, until crumbs are all coated in the butter.  

IMG_4969 IMG_4973~Step 5.  Using the fork, evenly distribute topping atop sweet potato mixture.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 325° oven until golden on top, bubbling slightly around the edges and puffed up through to center, 40-45 minutes, being sure to place a sheet of foil loosely over top of the casserole after 30 minutes of the baking process.

A crowd-pleasing year-round side-dish for poultry or pork:  

IMG_5045Mel's Savory Crispy-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole:  Recipe yields 12-16 servings.

Special Equipment List:  microwave oven; cutting board; paring knife; tablespoon; 1-cup measuring container; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2-quart casserole; 1-gallon food storage bag; small rolling pin; 2-cup measuring container; fork; aluminum foil

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3c11477200bCook's Note: As a gal who eats sweet potatoes all year long, I pay particular homage to them at Thanksgiving. Sometimes I present them as a cup of sweet potato soup as the starter to the meal, sometimes they arrive in the form of a side-dish sweet potato and caramelized apple casserole, other times they're the sweet potato, apple and sausage stuffing/dressing side-kick to my turkey, and, always but always, my traditional Turkey Day feast includes a sweet potato pie.

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

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

08/17/2020

~ Alfredo alla Primavera Parmesan-Chicken Quarters ~

IMG_4911In Italian, fettuccine means "little ribbons", which is why stranded pasta is always used in its preparation.  In Italian, primavera implies "Spring", and culinarily, primavera simply means that fresh vegetables (raw or blanched) have been added to the dish during, or at the end, of its preparation.  Long story short, fettuccini Alfredo that has vegetables added to it is simply referred to as Alfredo alla primavera.  Alfredo and Alfredo primavera can be served as either a pasta course during a meal, a side-dish with a meal, or, (in a larger portion) as a main-course, and, in Italian-American restaurants, because we Americans like protein with our pasta, it's common to find a lightly-pounded, breadcrumb-and-Parmesan-coated, quickly-sautéed Parmesan-chicken breast (not to be confused with chicken Parmesan) as an add-on to this rich, creamy pasta dish.

IMG_4568Oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month.  They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin.  Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight).  No matter what you're seasoning or saucing these with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal.  Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to make an easy side-dish or two and set the table.

Creamy, rich pasta w/tender vegetables served w/tender, juicy chicken encased in a crunchy breadcrumb & cheese coating:

IMG_4924Six on-hand ingredients + 1 hour, 15 minutes = dinner:

IMG_48444  chicken leg-thigh quarters, about 4-4 1/2 pounds

4  tablespoons salted butter

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

1  large egg

3/4  cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4850 IMG_4866~Step 1.  Melt the butter in the microwave.  Set aside to cool slightly, 5-6 minutes.  In a small bowl or ramekin, whisk the egg with a fork.  In a medium bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and cheese, then, if you have a pizzeria-style cheese-shaker-type container, transfer the mixture to the shaker.  When the butter has cooled, whisk the egg into the melted butter and set aside.

6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b IMG_4871 IMG_4871 IMG_4871 IMG_4871 IMG_4871~Step 2. Arrange chicken quarters in a large disposable roasting pan into which a wire rack has been inserted and a sheet of parchment has been placed atop rack.  Using a pastry brush, paint the entire surface of all four quarters with all of the butter/egg mixture.  Generously season tops of chicken with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Shake the breadcrumb/cheese mixture onto the chicken, and, using a spoon on your fingertips to pat and press it onto the entire surface of each one.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven, 1 hour, 15 minutes.  During the last 30 minutes of the roasting process, prepare my nice and easy spaghetti Alfredo all primavera.

Portion Alfredo primavera into 4, large, shallow serving bowls:

IMG_4889Top each portion w/an entire chicken quarter & serve ASAP:

IMG_4896Alfredo alla Primavera Parmesan-Chicken Quarters:  Recipe yields 4 servings.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; fork; small bowl or ramekin; pizzaria-style cheese-shaker-type container (optional); spoon; wire cooling rack; large disposable aluminum roasting pan or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3e1d465200bCook's Note:  Would you like garlic bread with that?  Of course you would.  Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.  A double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates every now and then never hurt anyone, and, eating this winner-winner Parmesan-chicken dinner wouldn't be complete without a big basket of garlic bread to go with it.  We'll have a salad too, because it too goes great with this meal. Try my recipe for ~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~.

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

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

08/15/2020

~ Nice & Easy Spaghetti Alfredo alla Primavera-Style ~

IMG_4813It was November, 1981 or 1982 -- one or two days before Thanksgiving.  It would turn out to be one of the worst-ever total snowfall years in the history of State College, and this storm snuck up on everyone.  The snow piled high that afternoon, leaving over two feet on the ground. Trees came down and power lines snapped.  Lights went out all over town.  Our house at the time had a soapstone wood-burning stove in our family room.  I hated that stove and the mess involved with it, but, it did help with the heating bill, so, Joe kept it going.  Sans electricity, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil and wrapped a loaf of frozen garlic bread in foil, and, grabbed a bag of frozen peas and carrots out of the freezer (nowadays I use a bag of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower). Using what I had on hand, we five enjoyed this makeshift version of Alfredo, by candlelight, in a warm house, for dinner -- afterwards, my boys started asking me to make "spaghetti Alfredo".

In Italian, fettuccine means "little ribbons", which is why stranded pasta is always used.  In Italian, primavera means "Spring" and culinarily, primavera just means that fresh vegetables (raw or blanched) are added to the dish during or at the end of its preparation.  Long story short, fettuccini Alfredo that has vegetables added to it is simply referred to as Alfredo alla primavera.

A bit of history about the iconic fettuccine Alfredo:  

6a0120a8551282970b0263e959a590200bAlfredo is an Italian pasta dish in which any type of stranded pasta, most famously "fettuccine" (which means "little ribbons" in Italian), is enrobed in a rich sauce usually made from butter, cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper.  A Roman restauranteur, Alfredo di Lelio first created this dish for his pregnant wife in 1914.  As the story goes, she had lost her appetite or was having trouble keeping food down, either while she was pregnant or after the birth of their son.  Alfredo, set out to create a dish that would not only appeal to his wife, but would be nutritious (calorie and carbohydrate packed) as well.  He developed his dish based on the traditional pasta al burro, which was simply paper-thin ribbons of hand-made pasta with butter.  Alfredo made egg fettuccine, tripled the amount of butter and laced it with copious amounts of Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese.  His wife loved it, so, he added it to his restaurant menu.

As the story goes, as fate would have it, in 1927, the American silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, while honeymooning in Italy, stopped into di Lelio's Alfredo alla Scrofa restaurant, ate the dish and the two lovebirds adored it.  They loved it so much, before they departed, they presented him with a golden fork and spoon along with a picture of them eating in his restaurant.  When the famous newlyweds returned to Hollywood, they began serving fettuccine Alfredo at their dinner parties.  It didn't take long for the news to spread throughout Hollywood, making di Lelio's restaurant and his pasta dish world famous.

IMG_4828Alfredo alla Premavera -- A perfect one-pot side- or main-dish:

IMG_431612  ounces thick spaghetti

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning water for pasta

8  tablespoons salted butter, cut into bite-sized pieces, at room temperature, the softer the better

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder

1  teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less, to taste (optional)

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1-1 1/4-1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

2  16-ounce bags frozen vegetables, your favorite combo, freshly-prepared (simmered, steamed or microwaved), well-drained, and, ideally, still slightly warm

IMG_4318 IMG_4318 IMG_4318 IMG_4318 IMG_4318~Step 1.  In a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Add the 1 tablespoon sea salt.  Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10-11 minutes.  Turn heat off.  Thoroughly, drain the pasta into a colandar, then immediately return the hot pasta to the still hot stockpot and place the stockpot back on the still hot stovetop.

IMG_4328 IMG_4328 IMG_4328~Step 2.  Add the butter pieces, along with the spices:  garlic powder, Italian seasoning, nutmeg, black pepper, red pepper flakes and sea salt.  Using two forks or two spoons, toss like you would a salad, until butter is completely melted and pasta is evenly coated in a flavorful butter and spice mixture.

IMG_4336 IMG_4336 IMG_4336 IMG_4804 IMG_4810~Step 3.  Toss in the cheese followed by the cream.  Again, using two forks or two spoons, toss like you would a salad, until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  Gently toss the cooked and drained vegetables into the mixture.  Cover and let rest, 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally, to allow pasta and veggies time to absorb all of the cream mixture.  

Portion into desired-sized serving bowls & serve immediately.  

IMG_4826Nice & Easy Spaghetti Alfredo all Primavera-Style: Recipe yields 2-4 larger main-dish servings and 4-6 smaller side servings.

Special Equipment List:  Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; microplane grater; wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot w/lid; colander; two forks or two spoons

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec2b6e28200cCook's Note: The Italians came up with the cure for the late-night snack-attack centuries ago: Pasta al burro con formaggino (pasta with butter and cheese).  It's a no-nonsense, feed-me-now-snack, a quick-to-make side dish, and, it's a delicious foil for flavorful pasta sauces too.  Choose any shape of pasta (short, fork-friendly shapes work best), and, if you have a link or a patty of breakfast sausage on-hand, not only do the flavors melt into the mixture like they were born to be there, without almost any extra effort, it transforms the dish into a hearty meal for one or two.  Try my ~ Pasta with Butter & Cheese and Sweet Sausage ~.

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

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

08/12/2020

~ Japanese-Teriyaki-Style Roasted Chicken Quarters ~

IMG_4742Americans adore teriyaki-style almost anything.  This is not an assumption on my part.  Beef or chicken teriyaki appear as a skewered appetizer option on menus in almost all Japanese-American and Chinese-American restaurants.  Make no mistake, teriyaki is a 100% Japanese-invented method of cooking (read paragraph three), and, once Americans here in the states got a taste for its soy- and ginger-based flavors (thanks to our soldiers returning to the homeland after WWII), Chinese-American restaurants adopted it, to please the palates of their customers.

Incredibly easy to prepare, perfectly portioned, &, 100% guaranteed better than take-out, eat-out or delivery:

IMG_4767Teriyaki is true East-meets-West cuisine that started in Hawaii:

IMG_4568Chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month.  They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin.  Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight). No matter what you're seasoning or saucing these with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal (5 minutes).  Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to make an easy side-dish or two and set the table.  In the case of tonights dinner, once I get the chicken in the oven, my electric rice cooker with get turned on to steam some white rice and a medley of frozen broccoli, carrots, snow peas and water chestnuts.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c94a9feb970bTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken or seafood that has been marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooled.

6a0120a8551282970b0263e8615d7d200dHomemade teriyaki sauce is thick and drizzly.  At its thinnest, it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and, at the discretion of the cook, in many cases thicker than that.  That said, many store-brought brands are watery (similar in consistency to soy sauce), and, they will not work in this recipe.  Ideally, the teriyaki sauce should be similar in consistency to a hearty barbecue sauce.  What I keep on-hand and recommend is: Panda Express Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce.

There's no shame in owning a bottle of this teriyaki sauce.

IMG_4703For the teriyaki-style chicken leg-thigh quarters:

4  chicken leg-thigh quarters, about 4-4 1/2 pounds

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

1 1/2-2  cups Panda Express Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce or homemade teriyaki sauce, about 1/2 cup for basting chicken quarters 3-4 times while it's in the oven, plus  enough to be served for dipping or drizzling at the table

IMG_4715 IMG_47153-4 cups uncooked jasmine or basmati rice, steamed in a rice steamer (optional)

2  steam-in-bags Asian vegetables (broccoli, carrots, snow peas and water chestnuts), microwaved per directions (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e95a63a9200b 6a0120a8551282970b026bde87f32e200c 6a0120a8551282970b026bde87f32e200c IMG_4704 IMG_4704 IMG_4720 2 IMG_4720 2 IMG_4720 2 IMG_4720 2 IMG_4720 2~Step 1. Arrange chicken quarters in a large disposable roasting pan into which a wire rack has been inserted and a sheet of parchment has been placed atop rack.  Generously season tops of chicken with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven, 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, use a pastry brush to baste each chicken quarter with teriyaki sauce, and return pan to oven to roast for 5 more minutes.  Repeat this basting process 2-3 more times, for a total roasting time of 1 hour, 15-20 minutes.  Prepare the optional rice and vegetables during the last 20-30 minutes of the chicken roasting process.

Three on-hand ingredients + 1 hour, 15 minutes = dinner:

IMG_4763Two side dishes, in 20 minutes while chicken roasts:

IMG_4781Japanese-Teriyaki-Style Roasted Chicken Quarters:  Recipe yields 4 servings.

Special Equipment List: wire cooling rack; large disposable aluminum roasting pan or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; pastry brush; electric rice steamer (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09f5d2e8970dCook's Note: Chicken wings are modern-day all-American pub grub and teriyaki is a long-established all-Japanese method of cooking beef, chicken, fish or seafood.  Lucky for us Americans, Japanese teriyaki sure does turn out a really good version of American chicken wings, but, unlike our traditionally-prepared wings, which are typically plunged into the hot oil of a deep fryer, teriyaki wings, in order to render their signature fall-off-the-bone tender interior with a slightly-crispy, sticky exterior, they require a kinder, gentler "oven treatment".  Try my  ~ Japanese Teriyaki Meets American Chicken Wings ~.

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

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

08/09/2020

~How to Season & Roast Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters~

IMG_4595Oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month.  They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin.  Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight).  No matter what you're seasoning or saucing these with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal.  Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to make an easy side-dish or two and set the table.

Chicken quarters:  Meaty, easy to prepare, &, inexpensive.

IMG_4568Chicken leg-thigh quarters are, seriously folks, really inexpensive -- quite a bit less than separated leg and/or thigh portions. In fact, it's almost double the meat and it's not reflected in the price. Why?  it's because it's one less step at the butchering/processing end.  It's the same reason why you can buy an entire chicken for almost the same price as a couple of chicken breasts.     

Four pieces, four portions & four-ish pounds for about $4.00:

IMG_44714  chicken leg-thigh quarters, about 4-4 1/2 pounds

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

honey, for dipping or drizzling at table side (optional)

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2ec6c52200d 6a0120a8551282970b0264e2ec6c52200d IMG_4574 IMG_4574 IMG_4581~Step 1. Arrange chicken quarters in a large disposable roasting pan into which a wire rack has been inserted and a sheet of parchment has been placed atop rack.  Generously season tops of chicken with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven, 1 hour, 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, plate and serve.

Remove from pan, plate, & serve the family ASAP:

IMG_4605Try 'em w/honey & Spiced Couscous w/Golden Raisins:

IMG_9164Buffalo-Style w/Jalapeño Jack Mashed Potatoes:

IMG_4546

Barbecue-Style w/Mel's Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese:

IMG_4662Japanese Teriyaki-Style w/Steamed Rice & Veggies:

IMG_4763Crispy Outside, Tender Inside, Oven-Fried Chicken Quarters:

IMG_9395Alfredo alla Primavera-style Parmesan-Chicken Quarters:

IMG_4911How to Season & Roast Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters:  Recipe yields instructions to season and roast 4 chicken leg-thigh quarters/4 servings.

Special Equipment List: wire cooling rack; large disposable aluminum roasting pan or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b0223c849deb2200cCook's Note: Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's.  Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, our three kids would eat all the side-dishes:  the multi-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole.  Without prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto tacos, fajitas, carnitas (whatever they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour.  Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." Super-easy to prepare,  ~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~ (as pictured in the top photo of this post), is another one of my favorite side-dishes to serve with oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters.

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

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

08/06/2020

~ Easy Oven-Roasted Barbecued Chicken Quarters ~

IMG_4662A nice big piece of perfectly-cooked fall-off-the-bone-tender barbecued chicken, hot of the grill grids and dripping with a fresh slather of tangy barbecue sauce, is one of my favorite meals.  That said, timing is everything, and the slightest time delay, as little as three short minutes, can cause the chicken to go from juicy and succulent to dry and tough -- this is further complicated if a combination of various-sized chicken parts (breasts, legs and thighs) are cooking at the same time.  Sure, it's easily controlled, by babysitting each piece during the last five minutes of the cooking process, but, it's never correctable once the damage is done.  Trust me, oven-roasting removes all room for error, and, chicken leg-thigh quarters are my favorite pick for a quick meal.

IMG_4669Oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month.  They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin.  Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight).  No matter what you're seasoning or saucing them with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal.  Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to make an easy side-dish or two and set the table.

Three on-hand ingredients + 1 hour, 15 minutes = dinner:

IMG_4622For the Barbecued-style chicken leg-thigh quarters:

4  chicken leg-thigh quarters, about 4-4 1/2 pounds

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, or, your favorite barbecue seasoning blend

2  cups K.C.-style barbecue sauce, your favorite brand or favorite homemade K.C.-style recipe, about 1/2 cup for basting chicken quarters 3-4 times while it's in the oven, plus  enough to be served for dipping or drizzling at the table

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2ec6c52200d 6a0120a8551282970b0264e2ec6c52200d IMG_4624 IMG_4624 IMG_4624 IMG_4636 IMG_4636 IMG_4636 IMG_4636 IMG_4636 IMG_4636 IMG_4636~Step 1. Arrange chicken quarters in a large disposable roasting pan into which a wire rack has been inserted and a sheet of parchment has been placed atop rack.  Season tops of chicken freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, or with your favorite barbecue seasoning.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven, 1 hour.  Remove the pan from the oven, use a pastry brush to baste each chicken quarter with wing sauce, and return pan to oven to roast for 5 more minutes. Repeat this basting process 2-3 more times, for a total roasting time of 1 hour, 15-20 minutes.

Plate 'em up along w/side-servings, then, call all to the table:

IMG_4666I serve 'em w/my better than store-bought mac & cheese:

IMG_4699Easy Oven-Roasted Barbecued Chicken Quarters:  Recipe yields 4 servings.

Special Equipment List: 2-cup measuring container; wire cooling rack; large disposable aluminum roasting pan or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; pastry brush 

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d131f9da970cCook's Note: I love my oven-roasted barbecued chicken served with my hot-off-the-stovetop macaroni and cheese.  I also love my oven-roasted barbecued chicken served with cold, crunchy and creamy macaroni salad.  How do I decide which to serve?  A flip of the coin. 

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

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

08/04/2020

~ Roasted Buffalo-Style Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters ~

IMG_4546Oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters are on my weeknight meal rotation two or three times a month.  They're tender and juicy, and, sigh-oh-my, that gorgeous, golden, crispy skin.  Each one is a one-piece drumstick and thigh, which means each piece is the perfect one portion, so, no guesswork involved, you never have any leftovers (unless you want leftovers, then you roast six-eight).  No matter what you're seasoning or saucing them with (the possibilities are almost endless), the upfront prep-work is minimal.  Into the oven they go for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes, and, your hands are, for the most part, free to make an easy side-dish or two and set the table.

IMG_4537Lucky lovers of all-things wings:  They come in many forms.

What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms.  Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters is the perfect way to transition a game day snack into a main-dish meal.  But, are they as good as, or as enjoyable as, eating chicken wings?  As a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, only in the privacy of my own home (where I'm free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), yes, while different, this knife-and-fork main-dish is every bit as enjoyable as chicken wings.

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e99602200dIn my family alone, Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nanchos, Buffalo-Style Shredded Chicken 'n Slaw Sliders, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas, Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs, Sweet-and-Savory-Glazed Buffalo-Chicken Meatballs, Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken Tacos, and, Almost Effortless Chunky Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili are favorite wing-night or game-day options.  Tonight, it's a main-dish option I'm serving.  

Buffalo-Style Chicken Quarters w/Jalapeño Jack Mashed Potatoes:

IMG_4459For the wing sauce (Note:  This makes 2 cups, which is enough for basting the chicken 3-4 times while it's in the oven, plus  enough to be served for dipping or drizzling at the table.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.):

1  12-ounce bottle Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce, or your favorite brand of wing sauce

6-8  tablespoons honey

4  tablespoons salted butter

6a0120a8551282970b0263e946afae200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e946afae200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e946afae200b~ Step 1.  In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan place wing sauce, honey and butter over medium heat. Whisking constantly, cook until the butter has melted into the wing sauce and the mixture is uniform in color, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a 2-cup measuring container.  Yield:  2 cups sauce.

IMG_4465For the Buffalo-style chicken leg-thigh quarters:

4  chicken leg-thigh quarters, about 4-4 1/2 pounds

a generous sprinkling Frank's RedHot Original Seasoning Blend, for seasoning chicken quarters

a portion of the wing sauce (from above recipe), for basting chicken quarters 2-4 times while roasting

6a0120a8551282970b025d9b35f09f200c IMG_4466 IMG_4466 IMG_4479 IMG_4481 IMG_4483 IMG_4483 IMG_4483 IMG_4483 IMG_4483~Step 1.  Arrange chicken quarters in a large disposable roasting pan into which a wire rack has been inserted and a sheet of apartment has been placed atop rack.  Generously season tops of chicken with Frank's seasoning.  Roast on center rack of 350° oven, 1 hour.  Remove the pan from the oven, use a pastry brush to baste each chicken quarter with wing sauce, and return pan to oven to roast for 5 more minutes.  Repeat this basting process 2-3 more times, for a total roasting time of 1 hour, 15-20 minutes.

Plate 'em up, atop your side-servings, then, call all to the table:

IMG_4535I serve 'em w/jalapeño mashed potatoes & steamed carrots:

IMG_4557Roasted Buffalo-Style Chicken Leg-Thigh Quarters:  Recipe yields 4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  1 1/2-quart saucepan; whisk; 2-cup measuring container; wire cooling rack; large disposable aluminum roasting pan or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; pastry brush

IMG_4431 2Cook's Note: Steaming hot mashed potatoes.  I love them, you love them -- doesn't everyone?  In my food world, about the only thing that can be better than a forkful of pure, unadulterated creamy-rich, mashed potatoes is:  a forkful of creamy-rich mashed potatoes with a flavorful cheese added -- American, cheddar and gruyère are my favorites.  Jalapeño Jack cheese is one such cheese too, and trust me, if you and yours enjoy a little spicy heat, you will not have to call anyone to the table twice if they know you're serving these.  ~ Yukon Gold Rush Jalapeño Jack Mashed Potatoes ~ are the perfect side-dish foil for my Buffalo-style chicken leg-thigh quarters.

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

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

08/02/2020

~ Yukon Gold Rush Jalapeño-Jack Mashed Potatoes ~

IMG_4431Steaming hot mashed potatoes -- I love them, you love them, I know you do, doesn't everyone? In my food world, about the only thing that can be better than a forkful of pure, unadulterated creamy-rich, mashed potatoes is:  a forkful of creamy-rich mashed potatoes with a flavorful cheese added -- American, cheddar and gruyère are favorites in my house.  Jalapeño Jack cheese is one such cheese too, and, oh-my-sigh, trust me, if you and yours enjoy a little spicy heat, you will not have to call anyone to the table twice if they know you're serving these.

Trust me, if you enjoy cheese & spicy heat: try these!

IMG_43782-2 1/2  pounds peeled and 3/4-1" cubed Yukon gold potatoes (2-2 1/2 pounds after peeling)

1  tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning the water

6  ounces shredded jalapeño Jack cheese (about 3 cups)

1  cup cream, preferably at room temperature, plus up to 1/4 cup additional cream to reach desired consistency

6  tablespoons salted butter, preferably at room temperature

1  teaspoon dehydrated, minced garlic

2  teaspoons dehydrated, minced onion

1  teaspoon sea salt

IMG_4380 IMG_4380 IMG_4380 IMG_4380 IMG_4398 IMG_4398 IMG_4398 IMG_4398 IMG_4398 IMG_4398~Step 1. Peel and cube the potatoes as directed, placing them in a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot as you work.  Add enough cold water to cover. Add the 1 tablespoon salt.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Continue to simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are fork-tender, but not mushy and overcooked, about 8-9 minutes.  Drain potatoes into a colander.  Return the steaming-hot potatoes to the still hot stockpot and place pot back on the still warm stovetop.  Add the cheese, thoroughly stir, then cover the pot for 1-2 minutes.

IMG_4390 IMG_4390Step 2.  While the potatoes are simmering, place cream, butter, minced garlic, minced onion and salt in a 2-cup measuring container.  Place in microwave to warm up gently, until butter has melted.  Remove from microwave and set aside.

IMG_4411 IMG_4411 IMG_4411 IMG_4411 IMG_4411 IMG_4411~Step 3.  Add the warm cream mixture to potatoes and cheese in stockpot.  Using a hand-held vegetable masher, mash the potatoes, while scraping down the sides of the pot with a rubber spatula until smooth and creamy, about 3-4 full minutes, adding a bit of additional cream, only if necessary, to reach desired consistency.

5-6 cheesy & spicy servings of mashed potato happiness:

IMG_4456Yukon Gold Rush Jalapeño-Jack Mashed Potatoes:  Recipe yields Recipe yields a generous 5-6 cups/5-6 servings.

Special Equipment List: kitchen scale; cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot w/lid; 2-cup measuring container; colander; hand-held vegetable masher; large rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3bf2c9f200dCook's Note: It's right up there with pizza, cheeseburgers and hot dogs.  ~ The Machinations of Mashed Potatoes ~ is one of my favorite topics to discuss.  One can never have too many recipes for any of them.  It's hard to imagine my food world without mashed potatoes. They are an institution -- a way of life. They're the quintessential side-dish served year-round at elegant celebrations, casual get-togethers and weekday meals.  They're revered by young and old alike -- they make everyone happy.  

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

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