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85 posts categorized "22) Alert!!! Can be Made Ahead and Frozen"


~Moist & Juicy Breaded & Deep-Fried Chicken Cutlets~

Breaded chicken cutlets are a big time-saver for a working parent. By keeping a bag on-hand in the freezer, after a quick thaw in the microwave, any number of kid-friendly meals can be put on the family dinner table in less than an hour. That said, the chicken cutlets found in the frozen-food section of the grocery store, are, for the most part: terrible. From way-too-much-cardboard-esque-breading to skinny, dried-out and rubberlike, I find them reprehensibly unpalatable. When I was raising three boys, after trying two (maybe three) brands of frozen, breaded chicken cutlets, and proceeding to throw all the remains...... View full recipe for "~Moist & Juicy Breaded & Deep-Fried Chicken Cutlets~"


~ Spicy New Mexico-Style Ground Beef Enchiladas ~

Enchiladas are one of those Tex-Mex specialties that taste a bit different everywhere you eat them. In a Mexican-American restaurant or in the home kitchen, they are lightly-fried corn tortillas that have been dipped in a deep reddish-brown chili-powder-based sauce before being filled, rolled up and baked. The filling can consist of a seemingly endless variety of meats (beef, chicken or pork), fish or seafood, cheese and/or beans and/or various other vegetables (for a vegetarian option). In my Happy Valley kitchen, the two kid- and tailgate-tested favorites for my New Mexico-style Red Chile Enchilada Sauced enchiladas are ground beef, lots...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy New Mexico-Style Ground Beef Enchiladas ~"


~ Snowy-Day Ground-Beef Sloppy-Joe Sandwiches ~

The All-American sloppy Joe sandwich -- one of the most popular comfort foods of the 1950s. Moms across America were making them for their families, they made their way into school lunchrooms, and, they showed up at parties, picnics and potlucks. Whether you love 'em or you don't, one bite of this now-retro sloppy-mess of a ground-beef and savory tomato-sauced sandwich is certain to conjure up a childhood memory or three. As for me, I loved them, and my mom made them just the way I liked them -- using celery instead of the more commonly used green bell pepper,...... View full recipe for "~ Snowy-Day Ground-Beef Sloppy-Joe Sandwiches ~"


~Eat Some, Freeze Some -- A Big Batch of Meatballs~

Everybody loves meatballs, and, the night the family is eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner is the most popular day in the weekly meal rotation. For Italian-American families, that dinner is typically reserved for Sunday. Tender, juicy, flavor-packed meatballs get slow-simmered in a pot of "gravy" (meaning red sauce), and, every Italian-American family claims to have the best, handed-down-for-generations, recipe for "polpette" (meaning "meatballs"). Enough said. Meatballs are a universal food, and, almost every culture has their own name for them and way to serve them using spices and sauces common to their cuisine. They come in all sizes too:...... View full recipe for "~Eat Some, Freeze Some -- A Big Batch of Meatballs~"


~How to Prebake, Freeze, Thaw & Finish-Bake Pizza~

In terms of comfort food, pizza is at the top of the short list. But, when the craving for a pizza hits, it's not exactly instant gratification -- eat-in requires a drive to your favorite pizza pub, delivery requires a wait to receive a less than idillic product, and, to make one from scratch requires even more time. Tick, tock. If you're looking for a way to work around this dilemma, you've come to the right place. Here in my kitchen, when I make pizza, I make one and freeze one. Keeping a few stored in my freezer means my...... View full recipe for "~How to Prebake, Freeze, Thaw & Finish-Bake Pizza~"


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

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


~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Easy Chicken Soup Bowls~

Simply stated, every recipe does not have to be a rocket science recipe -- it simply has to taste, without compromise, great. If the end justifies the means, and in the case of this recipe it does, there's no shame in a shortcut or three -- and, to prove my point, I now have eight, four-cup containers of chocked-full-of-chicken-and-vegetables soup in my freezer, which will see me nicely through the upcoming snowstorms until the Spring thaw. This soup is every bit as tasty as grandma's old-fashioned chicken soup, it's just a lot less time consuming to make. All I have...... View full recipe for "~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Easy Chicken Soup Bowls~"


~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Big Batch Beef Taco Filling~

If you are raising kids, you know all about taco night. You also know that having a few cups of a great, kid-friendly ground-beef taco filling already prepared and on-hand in your freezer is a great weeknight time-saver. After a brief thaw-and-heat in the microwave, a busy mom or dad can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Having raised three boys, for decades, I was never without it. In fact, I liked to make a big batch of the meat mixture in a large wide-bottomed, 8-quart chef's pan, then portion it into user-friendly-sized 2-cup containers (each enough...... View full recipe for "~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Big Batch Beef Taco Filling~"


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

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


~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Make a Big Batch of Chili~

Thick, hearty, spot-on-spiced, stick-to-your-ribs, kid-and-crowd-friendly, ground-beef chili. That's a mouthful, and, also how I best describe this chili recipe. Of the many, some more authentic, chili recipes in my repertoire (my Texas-style steak chili is one example and my Buffalo-style chicken chili is another), this is the one that gets taken to and served at Summer picnics, Fall tailgates, and, in the Winter, I make a big batch and freeze it in one-quart containers for cozy, warm snowstorm dinners. There's more. It's easy to make. What's not to love about this: Thick, hearty, perfectly-seasoned, ground-beef chili: 6 pounds lean ground...... View full recipe for "~Eat Some, Freeze Some, Make a Big Batch of Chili~"


~ What to Consider Before Cooking in Big Batches ~

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


~A Big Batch of Bean Soup -- Eat Some Freeze Some~

In my kitchen, cold weather is soup and stew weather, and, once the frost is on the pumpkin I like to make my soups and stews in slow-simmered big batches. After we've enjoyed one hearty warm-us-up meal, I freeze the rest in two-quart containers, so we can slurp soups and stews several more times until Spring comes. Chicken vegetable soup, beef stew, and, ham and bean soup are my on my family's short-list of big-batch favorites. For the most part, when making soup or stew, "chicken is chicken" and "beef is beef", meaning: they're almost self-explanatory. That said, when making...... View full recipe for "~A Big Batch of Bean Soup -- Eat Some Freeze Some~"


~A Big Batch of Beef Stew -- Eat Some, Freeze Some~

When I pull out my big, 20-24-quart stockpots, it's officially Fall. Why? When it's chilly outside, it's time to cook up a storm inside. Why? When one lives in the Northeast, it's a wise cook who has a freezer containing some thaw-heat-and-eat meals for those snowy days when a quick trip to the grocery store is not in the forecast. Yes indeed, when the frost is on the pumpkin, I don't mind spending an afternoon at the stovetop preparing one of the three carnivorous things I cook in big batches (for "freezer meals"): red-meat-based red pasta sauce, chili con carne,...... View full recipe for "~A Big Batch of Beef Stew -- Eat Some, Freeze Some~"


~Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole~

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. After all the holiday cooking and cleanup, mom was so exhausted she declared it HER holiday. She took a casserole out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for the afternoon. She popped it in the oven at 4:00PM, everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal around 5:00PM, and, by 6:00PM mom was lounging in her favorite chair, sipping a G&T, watching a movie. Every cook, every where, needs, at the very least, one, hearty, relatively easy-to-make, go-to casserole recipe...... View full recipe for "~Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole~"


~ Sweet, Savory & Spicy: Rhubarb-Ginger Chutney ~

Besides a store-bought jar of the beloved Major Grey's mango chutney, which I have on hand in my refrigerator at all times, in the Fall and Winter you will find a container of my homemade apple chutney, and, in the Spring and Summer, you will find a jar of my rhubarb-ginger chutney. I make each one, once a year, every year, and freeze it in small containers so I'm never without this very-versatile sweet, savory and slightly-spicy flavor-boosting condiment -- it is a staple in my kitchen. When I first encountered chutney, I was a young adult and it was...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet, Savory & Spicy: Rhubarb-Ginger Chutney ~"


~Dare to be Square: Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares~

Pan cookies. That's what I called this oldie-but-goodie recipe way back when my mom used to make them in the 1970's. She made Magic Cookie Squares and a Wacky Cake in that 9" x 13" aluminum pan too, but, when I asked for pan cookies, or, when she announced she was making pan cookies, it meant one thing: The Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie -- the one printed on the back of their bags of semi-sweet chocolate morsels (and currently on their website). It also meant that besides a few days of great after-school snacks, there'd be...... View full recipe for "~Dare to be Square: Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares~"


~ Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pasta or Pizza Sauce ~

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


~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~

Americans eat over three billion pizzas a year and that doesn't include store-bought frozen pies or those made at home. That is quite a statistic, and, a testament to the love affair we Americans have with pizza. From sea-to-shining-sea, every region of our country has developed their own "style of pie", and, pizza shops and home cooks all proudly prepare their own version of it. I make several types of pizza. That said, my guys (my husband and three sons) hands-down favorite is my Sicilian-style pizza, made and baked in the manner my husband grew up eating it -- in...... View full recipe for "~ My Guys Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pizza Pie~"


~ Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~

Peach cobbler, peach pie, peach melba, peach shortcake, peach ice cream -- peachy keen. A perfectly-ripe peach is the apple of everyones eye. Announce that you're serving a fresh peach dessert for dinner and everyone shows up on time. When the peaches on our backyard trees ripen, things in my kitchen move fast for a few days. It's damn-the-torpedos, full-speed-ahead, all-things-peaches. They trickle in at first, pile up at the end, and, after picking, I only have, at best, 24-48 hours to get 'em in their juicy, ripe prime. It's a drippy, sticky, tricky situation. While I like fruit desserts...... View full recipe for "~ Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce for Poultry or Pork ~"


~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~

'Tis the season for fresh berries and fruit, and I especially love the fresh fruit and berries Joe grows right here in our backyard. That said, besides apples, fruit and berries don't have a particularly long shelf life. During the first three weeks of July, I've frozen our sour pie cherries and blueberries in 2-pound bags -- enough to make 20 cherry pies and 10 blueberry pies during the upcoming year. These two fruits are easy to freeze, and, they freeze really, really well. Peach freezing is not for me. The end doesn't justify the means. Peaches can be frozen,...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~"


~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~

Bean soup has always been a part of my life. While you may think of it as snowstorm fare, I associate it with all sorts of outdoor fun-in-the-sun activities. When I was growing up, bean soup was served all Summer wherever people gravitated to eat, drink and be merry: church- and hose-company fund-raising street festivals in ours and neighboring towns, both-of-my-parents and half-of-my-friends-parents annual corporate clambakes, and, when it came to planning the Summer family reunion, the biggest question was "Who's making the bean soup this year?" When I was twelve, I even ate bean soup in the United States...... View full recipe for "~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~"


~Melanie's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread)~

This rolled sandwich, containing a savory combination of charcuterie staples, is in the top five of my family's any-time-of-day snacks -- it's a perfect lunch too. My kids always called it pizza bread, because before it's sliced it looks like a loaf of bread. Once sliced, it reveals a cross between everything they love about a pizza and everything they love about a baked sub (hoagie) -- sans the shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. I'd been making it for years before I heard Mary Ann Esposito refer to it officially as "Rotolo di Pizza" on her Ciao Italia TV show....... View full recipe for "~Melanie's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread)~"


~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~

When my family of five sat down to dinner, unlike a host of other foods, I never had occasion to say "eat your applesauce". When applesauce was on the dinner table my kids would eat it. Applesauce had bargaining power too: "Finish your pork chop, then you can have another helping of applesauce." "Eat half of your green beans and you can have more applesauce." There's more: My boys weren't "big" on eating apple slices, but, if there was applesauce in the refrigerator, they were happy to slather it on a Ritz with a piece of Cracker Barrel cheddar. Applesauce...... View full recipe for "~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~"


~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~

The Japanese Shiro plum is indeed the golden, greenish-yellow goddess of the yellow plum world. "To know them is to love them", I couldn't agree more, and, this has been a banner year for our 18-year-old backyard tree. Every year, we eat a lot of these very sweet, mildly-tart beauties by the handfuls, and, every year I make a ~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~ or two or three (just click on the Related Article Link below to get the recipe). They store well in the refrigerator for about ten days too. This has served me...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~"


~ Dehydrated Pie Cherry & Pistachio Zucchini Bread~

You show me your recipe for zucchini bread and I'll show you mine. Everyone who has ever planted a zucchini seed has a recipe for zucchini bread -- every last zucchini-growing one of us. This is my homegrown version and I only make it once or twice, at this time, each year. Why? 'Tis the end of the sour cherry season and the beginning of the zucchini season. While it's common to find dried fruits and nuts added to zucchini bread, I happen to think mine, made with my own dried sour cherries (picked from our tree), plus toasted pistachios,...... View full recipe for "~ Dehydrated Pie Cherry & Pistachio Zucchini Bread~"


~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~

This has been a banner year for strawberries. Our little backyard strawberry patch gifted us with almost more than we could eat -- almost, but not quite, we ate them all. Each one seemed to be perfectly ripe, juicy and full of flavor. Then, strawberries started showing in both of our local farmers markets. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been picking up a box or two to make small, super-easy batches of strawberry preserves in my bread machine. I enjoy preserves more than jam, because it's like finding a two-for-one special at the grocery store -- unlike spreadable...... View full recipe for "~ Super-Easy Strawberry Bread-Machine Preserves ~"


~ Macadamia-Mango, Coconut-Rum Banana-Bread ~

From the day I got married, I began celebrating two Easter holidays. One for Joe's loud, Italian-Catholic family and one for my quiet Russian, Eastern Orthodox family. While the theme for both is the same, the foodie traditions are very different. To make a long story as short as possible, they fall on different dates because the Orthodox religion follows the Julian calendar (the calendar of Julius Caesar that was introduced in 46 B.C.), and, the Catholic church follows the Gregorian calendar (instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582). The Pope's reformed calendar was slow to catch on in religions...... View full recipe for "~ Macadamia-Mango, Coconut-Rum Banana-Bread ~"


~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup~

I was a child 'shroomer. I loved mushrooms. Faced with a plate of sauteed mushrooms or a bowl of mushroom soup, most kids I knew would cry or retch, or both. Mushrooms tend not to bring out the best in children. Not me. I'm pretty sure it was because 'hunting 'shrooms' (picking mushrooms) was one of the things my dad and I did together. We went 'shrooming together. Interestingly enough, I was not an outdoors kinda kid. My mother always called me "her little mushroom" because I preferred to stay in my neat and organized pink bedroom quietly reading, drawing...... View full recipe for "~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup~"


~ January White Out: My White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~

Oh baby it's cold outside. Even if the sun does comes out, the temperatures aren't going to tempt me into venturing outside into the swirling tornado of white snow whirling around on my back porch, thanks in part to the snow machines running full throttle up on the Tussy Mountain Ski Slope (almost in my backyard). Staying indoors is on my agenda, and, I am not alone. The better portion of the entire Northeast is in this deep-freeze with me. I dreaming of a bowl of steaming hot chili for my dinner tonight, but, a traditional "bowl of red" isn't...... View full recipe for "~ January White Out: My White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~"


~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~

When I was a busy mom raising three boys, making a fancy-schmancy compound butter for their bagels, English muffins, pancakes or waffles wasn't high on my list of weekday things to do. I made breakfast every day, but when it came to the condiments, it was every man for himself: the peanut butter, preserves, maple syrup and butter went out on the table commando-style. Now that it's just Joe and me (a more relaxed morning schedule), the bread, muffins, pancakes and waffles are made from scratch, and, I have the time to take pleasure in and put thought into "the...... View full recipe for "~Orange Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Breakfast Butter~"


~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~

Historically, the French and the Italians agree to disagree often over "who invented what" culinarily. While writing Tuesday's post ~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~ (click on the Related Article link below to read it), I told you the French word for it is "beurre compose". Try as I did, research didn't turn up any historical references to what the formal Italian name for compound butter is. This surprised me, so, I asked my Facebook friend (an authority on authentic Italian regional cooking). "As far as I know, in general Italian cooking, there is no use of compound...... View full recipe for "~Italian Basil, Tomato, Garlic, Parm & Pepper Butter~"


~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~

The first time I made compound butter I was certain I had invented something important. It was a life-changing moment. It didn't get taught to me by my grandmother, Food TV or via a cookbook or a cooking publication. I didn't learn the technical term for it until years later. As a 6-year old, it was important to mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of Cinnamon 'n Sugar with two tablespoons of softened butter to make my cinnamon toast -- I didn't like getting cinnamon-sugar dust up my nose. The quantity yielded 3 slices of perfectly-executed cinnamon-raisin toast (two for me and...... View full recipe for "~ The Savory-Sweet Simplicity of Compound Butter ~"


~ Kids Stuff: Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos ~

Jesse is my son. He's in the latter stages of thirty-something now with a seven-year old son of his own. Jesse was a really good kid. The kind of good that makes you wonder what you did to deserve a child that sweet, smart and easy to get along with -- until it came time to eat. Let's cut to the chase and say until he was a teen I had a very short list of 100% stressfree dinner options: pizza, pasta, bacon, shrimp, anything with ground meat, and, chocolate. That about covers it! There really isn't too much more...... View full recipe for "~ Kids Stuff: Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos ~"


~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~

This dish tastes every bit as good as it sounds and just saying it makes me salivate. If you haven't noticed, my past few posts have all included pasta in some form: bucatini (thick, hollow spaghetti), cellentani (hollow corkscrews), pappardelle (wide flat egg pasta), orecchiette (little ears), and now, strozzapreti (priest stranglers). At the end of May, a friend gave me a beautiful box of very special Italian meats, cheeses, all sorts of marinated vegetables, and, a variety of imported organic pasta. It was a thank-you gift, and, for me, it's as appreciated as jewelry. I immediately opened this treasure...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Rosemary-Kissed Pork Sugo w/Strozzapreti ~"


~ Thick & Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~

I have a large arsenal of small kitchen appliances -- many in multiples. Some I bought in different sizes for specific purposes, others because I wanted a newer, improved model. Thirty-nine years is a long time to collect appliances. I have no reason to sell any on e-Bay either. Storage space is not an issue for me, and, my old relics have become fun, retro props for photographs and TV. Each one is reminiscent of a different time and place in my life. Meet my very first "crockpot", made by West Bend. I got it as a wedding shower gift...... View full recipe for "~ Thick & Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~"


~ Rainy Days & Lazy Fridays: My Winter Minestrone w/Anelletti Pasta & Garnished w/Parm & Pancetta ~

After almost two months of weather-related captivity, I am declaring a ban on weather forecasts. They stop now. I will no longer listen to them or watch them. It's high time I stood up to these masters of disasters. I've wasted precious time allowing them to affect me. I am a domestic goddess -- this title comes with priviledges. I do not have to go outside. From this day forward: "What happens outside, stays outside. All that really matters each day is what's cookin' on the inside!" ~ Melanie Today is a soup day. I decided to make minestrone because...... View full recipe for "~ Rainy Days & Lazy Fridays: My Winter Minestrone w/Anelletti Pasta & Garnished w/Parm & Pancetta ~"


~One recipe, two soups: Beef Barley or Beef Noodle~

There are two ways to make beef soup: the long way and the short way. Both are great: The long way: When I am using homemade beef stock from my freezer (to make beef barley or beef noodle soup), I cook the beef (a 4-5 pound beef sirloin top butt roast) in the flavorful stock until it is tender and shreddable, 4 hours. Then, I add my vegetables and cook for an additional 45-60 minutes. The short way: When I am making a big pot of homemade beef stock, which I do once or twice a year, I simply shred...... View full recipe for "~One recipe, two soups: Beef Barley or Beef Noodle~"


~ Mel interrupts Christmas to bring you: Beef Stock ~

A funny thing happened to me at the market today. I ran into some beautiful beef shanks. I bought every one they had. Yes, in between cookie baking and planning a festive prime rib dinner, I am making beef stock. It's a perfect Sunday afternoon to do it too: the wind is howling, the rain is pelting the kitchen windows, and, Thema & Louise (one of my favorite movies) is on the kitchen TV. It's a nice way to create a "calm before the holiday storm", plus, I think French onion soup, using some of this stock, will be a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel interrupts Christmas to bring you: Beef Stock ~"


~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!! Because I Said So!!! (How to: Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~

You've heard me say it so many times, "you only get out of something what you put into it", and, like The Constitution of the United States, homemade stock is the blueprint to the success or failure of many a recipe. You've watched me post more than a few shrimp dishes here on Kitchen Encounters over the past couple of years. Did you ever wonder what I do with all of those shells? Well, I stuff them (over a period of time) in a ziplock bag and stash said bag in my freezer. When I accumulate 2 pounds of shells...... View full recipe for "~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!! Because I Said So!!! (How to: Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~"


~ Reunited w/a Treasured Preschutti Family Recipe: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia for an Italian Easter~

At Easter, Italian cooks bake a very unique, peppery egg and cheese bread called crescia (kray-shah), which means "to grow". As with almost all ethnic recipes, there are as many versions as there are cooks. My husband and his brother Tom grew up loving this bread, and I admit to being intimidated when I was faced with developing a recipe for the two of them based solely upon how they recalled it from their youth in Jessup, PA (without any first hand knowledge of it personally). After talking to a few Italian relatives from Jessup, who actually make the bread...... View full recipe for "~ Reunited w/a Treasured Preschutti Family Recipe: Peppery Egg & Cheese Crescia for an Italian Easter~"


~ Winters Last Gasp: Pasta w/Ground-Meat Sauce ~

ANNOUNCEMENT: I interrupt my Spring blog posts to bring you one last comfort-food meal for a Wintery evening. Yes, 'tis true, 4"-5" of snow is falling in Centre County, PA, as I write this. I'm sick of snow, but honestly, I've been hungry for a bowl of spaghetti with ground-meat sauce for over a week now, so, this nuisance storm is "the perfect storm" for me to cook up a pot of my version of this sauce on the stovetop. I say "my version", because, I never tasted spaghetti with ground-meat sauce until I was a teenager, and, I've never...... View full recipe for "~ Winters Last Gasp: Pasta w/Ground-Meat Sauce ~"


~ Cincinnati Chili: My Holiday Bowl Game Tradition ~

If you're a football fan, 'tis the season of college bowl games and professional playoffs. If you're like me, planning a tailgate party during the holiday season means I get a break from cooking festive food to prepare casual football fare. This is a welcome change, but: my schedule is tight right now and I don't have extra time for planning and details. Years ago, I came up with a way to take the pressure off. I decided to serve a one-dish menu: a "party in one bowl": Cincinnati Chili. Cincy Chili: My holiday bowl game day tradition since 1981....... View full recipe for "~ Cincinnati Chili: My Holiday Bowl Game Tradition ~"


~ How to: Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes~

It's "Chinese Week" here on KE. I woke up on Monday morning wanting Asian food, and, more specifically, I wanted: Moo Shu Pork. If you've never eaten "moo shu" (which means "shredded" in Chinese), the best way I can describe it is: Moo shu is to Asian cuisine, what the fajita is to Mexican cuisine. In a nutshell: Strips of shredded beef, chicken or pork, and vegetables, are quickly stir-fried (fajita=grilled or sauteed), topped with spicy hoisin sauce (fajita=salsa) and wrapped burrito-style in a thin, warm, flour pancake (fajita=flour tortilla). In both cases, besides being fun to eat, they are...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Mandarin-Style (MooShu) Pancakes~"


~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie + (How to: Make a chocolate cookie crust & ganache!)~

Tonight is trick-or-treat night and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in all honesty, I completely forgot about Halloween. Living where we do, we get very few (if any) ghosts, goblins, skeletons, witches, superheros or fairy princesses ringing our doorbell. Nonetheless, I always have one bag of candy on hand in the event we do get one or two treat seekers. In fact, there's more than a few packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my freezer because no one came to our door for Halloween last year, or the year before that, either! Next to the Tootsie Roll, the...... View full recipe for "~ Treat Yourself to a Slice of Peanut Butter Cup Pie + (How to: Make a chocolate cookie crust & ganache!)~"


~ Sumptuous Beef-Barley,Tomato-Vegetable Soup ~

My relationship with beef-barley soup goes back fifty-some years, and, my own recipe evolved over a period of the last twenty. It started in my mother's kitchen. Her recipe is an old-world, Russian-style peasant soup. It is flavored with bay leaves and contains onion, celery and carrots, but, it is absent tomato products or other vegetables (because my dad won't eat it if she puts tomatoes in it). My mom never kept homemade beef stock in her freezer, and, she didn't use canned stock either. She "made stock while making soup", meaning: after she seared the beef on all sides,...... View full recipe for "~ Sumptuous Beef-Barley,Tomato-Vegetable Soup ~"


~ Joe's Favorite "Roasted" Pumpkin Quick Bread ~

I'm kinda of proud to announce that I have never used or cooked with canned pumpkin. Over the years, I've also had a lot of people tell me they think pumpkin is one of the few foods that is better canned than fresh. They key word here is "think". I am one of purists that is here to tell them, and you, if you have ever tasted a light, silky-smooth, custard-like pumpkin pie, made from fresh pumpkin puree, you would rethink that statement. My Great Aunt Mary (my grandmother's sister) lived on a farm and grew her own pumpkins. She...... View full recipe for "~ Joe's Favorite "Roasted" Pumpkin Quick Bread ~"


~ Just What the Doctor Ordered: Kiwi-Lime Sorbet ~

I'm not sick or anything, just a bit overwhelmed. Here in Happy Valley, when the 4th of July festivities come to a close, there is precious little time to relax. Yesterday, people started pouring into State College for the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. In preparation for Arts Fest, many local residents arrange to take vacation, leaving town for exotic destinations. For those of us locals who stay: we "grocery up", making sure that all shopping is done well in advance (as traveling is not as quick and easy as we are accustomed to, and, parking anywhere is...... View full recipe for "~ Just What the Doctor Ordered: Kiwi-Lime Sorbet ~"


~ Blueberry Jam: The End of Our Blueberries 2012 ~

All good things come to and end, and, now, it is the end of blueberry season. Forgive me if I am not teary-eyed. This has been a banner year for blueberries in our backyard, and, if you've been following Kitchen Encounters for the past week, you know I have saturated my blog with some scrumptious blueberry posts. I've made blueberry buckle, blueberry pie, blueberry salad, and today, I'm calling it quits. Why? Well, when your family starts walking past blueberry desserts instead of eating them, it's time to quit posting and get out the jam pot. Blueberry Buckle. Blueberry Pie....... View full recipe for "~ Blueberry Jam: The End of Our Blueberries 2012 ~"


~ 'Tis True: Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~

In my opinion, sour cherries are one of the most regal, refined fruits you will ever enounter. My grandmother referred to these tart, ruby-red jewels simply as "pie cherries", but if you are on a quest for them, they are also marketed as tart cherries. That being said, the sour cherry season is quite brief, with the cherries being ready to pick at the very end of June or the very beginning of July. Picking them is a bit tricky, as they are at their absolute best if left on the tree until you think they will begin to spoil...... View full recipe for "~ 'Tis True: Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~"


~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream +Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce! Cha-Cha-Cha! ~

Over the past 14 years, my husband Joe has managed to turn a few strawberry plants, that used to yield a pint or two every year, into a full-blown strawberry patch, that yields several quarts. In the beginning, that pint or two rarely made it anywhere except into our mouths. Nowadays, I actually make plans for strawberry season, knowing that they will all ripen at about the same time, and, like peaches, once picked, will be over-ripe in a very short period of time, 2-3 days maximum. Before I yield to making strawberry jam, I always fit a batch or...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Ice Cream +Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce! Cha-Cha-Cha! ~"