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245 posts categorized " 04) Accompaniments & Side-Servings"

07/28/2021

~Tomato Season & Why I Adore the Compari Tomato~

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

07/21/2021

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

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

07/12/2021

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

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

07/06/2021

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

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

06/04/2021

~ My Dijonaisse-Dressed Baked Russet Potato Salad ~

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

05/23/2021

~ Oven-Roasted French-Onion Gold Potato Nuggets ~

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

05/17/2021

~ Sweet Potato Salad w/Apples and Candied Pecans ~

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

05/08/2021

~Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas~

We all have a few favorite food combinations, meaning, two foods that go hand-in-hand together. A duo you can't emotionally separate because you can't enjoy one without the other. A few of my cheesy favorites: a cup of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, my mom's meatloaf with some macaroni and cheese, my favorite cheeseburger with a side of fries. Another personal favorite: a bowl of Wendy's-style chili with a few quick-to-make cheesy quesadilla wedges. "Queso (KAY-soh)" is the Spanish word meaning "cheese", and, a quesadilla is a tortilla containing ooey-gooey melted cheese. Quesadilla (keh-sah-DEE-yah): A round, flat, cooked-until-soft...... View full recipe for "~Making Great Cheese Quesadillas with Corn Tortillas~"

04/11/2021

~ Unembellished Perfection -- Classic Cheese Toast ~

Cheese toast served with a side of tomato soup. Also known as cheese-on-toast, these two go hand-in-hand together, and, truth told, I enjoy dipping this munchy-crunchy oven-toasted side-dish into my creamy-steamy soup better than the overwhelming favorite amongst the masses: the slightly-greasy skillet-fried grilled cheese sandwich (served with a side of tomato soup). I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because my dad preferred cheese toast to grilled cheese, or, perhaps it's because it was one of the first meals my mom allowed me to prepare sans supervision. To a budding young cook -- kitchen independence is bliss. Everyone makes cheese...... View full recipe for "~ Unembellished Perfection -- Classic Cheese Toast ~"

02/28/2021

~ Mom's No-Nonsense Elbow Macaroni & Egg Salad ~

Mom's macaroni salad. This, now retro, 1950's era recipe is nothing fancy, nothing special, and, certainly not gourmet. It's simply old-fashioned, pull-a-chair-up-to-the-kitchen-table lip-smacking goodness. There's more, if one keeps this easy--to-make, creamy-crunchy picnic-and-potluck side-dish staple in their refrigerator, it only takes one scoop from the bowl to a plate to turn anything, from a lunchtime sandwich to a dinnertime pork chop, into a delightful meal. A bowl of no-nonsense, easy-to-make old-fashioned goodness: 3/4 cup high-quality mayonnaise 2 tablespoons ballpark-style yellow mustard 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish 1/2 teaspoon celery seed 3/4 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper 6...... View full recipe for "~ Mom's No-Nonsense Elbow Macaroni & Egg Salad ~"

02/17/2021

~Jiffy Mix Cornbread, Corn Casserole & Corn Pudding~

Three distinctly-different recipes with three decidedly-different results, all using one, inexpensive common-to-us-all, ingredient: Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. At 59 cents for each eye-catching blue-and-yellow box, it's been a time-saving staple in my pantry for over four decades. I am not alone. A week ago, there was discussion, on one of my Facebook friend's pages, about store-bought cornbread mixes. We discussed the rising cost of them, and, which one us "cheaters" consider the best. As it turned out, almost unanimously (Martha White gets honorable mention), it was the Jiffy brand. We went on to share our favorite ways to "doctor it"...... View full recipe for "~Jiffy Mix Cornbread, Corn Casserole & Corn Pudding~"

02/14/2021

~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding ~

A few snow storms ago, more than three storms and within 7-10 days, but, truth told, there've been so many snow events, I've lost track, there was discussion, on one of my Facebook friend's pages, about store-bought cornbread mixes. We discussed the rising cost of them, and, which one us "cheaters" consider the best. As it turned out, almost unanimously, it was the 59-cent-a-box Jiffy brand. We went on to share our favorite ways to "doctor it" up. Fun, yum and don't tell anyone it's a mix. Jiffy corn muffin mix, has been a staple in my pantry for over...... View full recipe for "~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding ~"

02/11/2021

~In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole~

Baked corn casserole is a side-dish staple throughout the Midwest. Baked corn casserole with some self-rising cornmeal (or cornmeal plus baking soda and/or baking powder) whisked into it is a Southern side-dish staple. If you can imagine a loaded-with-corn casserole with the flavor and some of the texture of a corn muffin or wedge of cornbread added to it, you're no doubt salivating right now -- it's a "crossing of the streams" so to speak, the best of both, baked into one delicious side-dish. Jiffy corn muffin mix, has been a staple in my pantry for over four decades, and,...... View full recipe for "~In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole~"

01/24/2021

~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Florentine Sauce ~

Creamy cheese sauces have a place in my food world -- not a big place, but a place. My attitude toward them is to use them judiciously, in a manner that does not overpower the dish being served, and, in moderation, so as not to tip the scale. To my credit, I have developed my own versions of more than a few: Easy Boursin, Trendy Rasta Pasta, Classic Mornay, Silky Parmesan-Sherry, Dreamy Gorgonzola, Basic Asiago, and a Kid-Friendly Cheddar. It is my opinion that, for the most part, all store-bought cheese sauces are a compromise, so, don't debate it, just...... View full recipe for "~ Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Florentine Sauce ~"

01/15/2021

~ Doctoring Up a Box of Stovetop-Type Stuffing Mix ~

I'm no different than a lot of you when it comes to weeknight dinners. Sometimes I put a small chicken in the oven to roast, other times I fry a few pork chops, sometimes I roast or poach a turkey tenderloin -- easy to make, minimum-fuss fare. Stuffing goes great with all of them. That said, on a busy week day, many times, all I have the time or inclination to make are two easy-peasy satellite side-dishes -- a bag of our favorite steam-in-bag vegetables, and, a box of "doctored up" Stovetop-type stuffing -- and there's no shame in either...... View full recipe for "~ Doctoring Up a Box of Stovetop-Type Stuffing Mix ~"

01/12/2021

~ Doctoring Up a Box of Spanish-Style Yellow Rice ~

Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's. Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, remarkably, our three kids would eat the side-dishes: the muli-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole. Without complaint or prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto and into tacos, fajitas, carnitas (or whatever else they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour. Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." I started stocking my pantry with whatever Texican-type ingredients I could find in our Central, PA grocery...... View full recipe for "~ Doctoring Up a Box of Spanish-Style Yellow Rice ~"

01/09/2021

~ Doctoring Up a Box of Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ~

I know I'm not alone on this point, C-19 has changed what I store in my pantry -- truth told, it's not bad, just different. In preparation for the lock down that occurred a few months ago, I stocked several boxes of Rice-a-Roni, four boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a big box of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes, and, a few boxes of Stovetop stuffing mix and Betty Crocker cheesy scalloped potatoes. Thanks to them being staples in my mom's pantry, I knew these easy-to-make convenience-food side-dishes not only have a long shelf life, they're tasty. Steamy & creamy...... View full recipe for "~ Doctoring Up a Box of Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ~"

12/02/2020

~Corned Beef Reuben on My Potato Pancake Waffles~

If you're a fan of a classic Rueben sandwich, served atop a few of potato pancakes instead of between some rye bread, you're gonna go wild over this open-faced sandwich served on my shredded hash-brown potato-pancake waffles. Not since lunch at a deli located somewhere in Long-Island back in the early 1970's have I enjoyed a Reuben more. I was fifteen or sixteen, so the specifics escape me. Our family took a Summer road trip to visit friends of my mom and dad, and, before we left town the next day, we all went to lunch at "the place with...... View full recipe for "~Corned Beef Reuben on My Potato Pancake Waffles~"

11/22/2020

~Buttery Sauerkraut as a Side-Dish & for Sandwiches~

I wish I had the time and the inclination to make sauerkraut the old-fashioned way, by fermenting some shredded cabbage in a crock. I don't. Perhaps if we ate sauerkraut more than a two-three times a year, I would be inclined to make the time -- it is indeed wonderful. That said, for those times I want a cup or two of kraut to serve as a side dish or top a sandwich, a bag of store-bought is just fine. FYI: Technically, once it's out of the package, drained, and rinsed, sauerkraut is ready to eat. That said, it's awesome...... View full recipe for "~Buttery Sauerkraut as a Side-Dish & for Sandwiches~"

11/20/2020

~Pan-Fried Shredded Hash-Brown Potato Pan-Cakes~

I accidentally put a bag of shredded hash brown potatoes in the refrigerator instead of the freezer yesterday. What can I say, I was in a hurry. Mistakes happen. I am so glad I decided to open the bag before discarding the to-the-touch soggy mess this morning, because there was a nice surprise inside for me: glistening-white, ready-to-use, slightly-wet, shredded potatoes -- without all the time-consuming mess of doing it from scratch. I may will never shred fresh potatoes again. It didn't take but a few minutes to deduce that my supposed shredded hash brown potato tragedy, could easily, in...... View full recipe for "~Pan-Fried Shredded Hash-Brown Potato Pan-Cakes~"

09/26/2020

~ How Many Ways Can One Say Buffalo-Wing-Style ~

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 as a glaze to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into some previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals. Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, only in the privacy of her own...... View full recipe for "~ How Many Ways Can One Say Buffalo-Wing-Style ~"

09/15/2020

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

Dried pasta, I'm guessing, is in 99.9 percent of all pantries. Even if I didn't adore pasta as much as I do, not to mention have around 100 favorite ways to prepare around 100 of my favorite pasta shapes, several boxes of pasta would still be required to be in my pantry at all times. Why? Because the majority of everyone I know loves pasta, and as the family cook, it's my responsibility to please as many people at one time as possible -- and pasta, as a side-dish or a main-course, is a simple, straightforward, sure-simmered way to do...... View full recipe for "~What's the Buzz -- Thick & Hearty Bronze-Cut Pasta~"

08/20/2020

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

I 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...... View full recipe for "~Mel's Savory Crispy-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole~"

08/15/2020

~ Nice & Easy Spaghetti Alfredo alla Primavera-Style ~

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

08/02/2020

~ Yukon Gold Rush Jalapeño-Jack Mashed Potatoes ~

Steaming 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,...... View full recipe for "~ Yukon Gold Rush Jalapeño-Jack Mashed Potatoes ~"

07/31/2020

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

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

06/30/2020

~ Southwestern-Style Macaroni, Bean & Corn Salad ~

Macaroni salad has always been a staple at our Fourth of July feast -- just call me a Yankee Doodle. That said, depending on what I'm serving, I don't make it the same way every year. My recipe for classic macaroni salad goes on the table when we're serving all-American hamburgers and hot dogs. This year because Texican-style BBQ'd chicken and ribs (the ribs on Saturday evening and the chicken on Sunday afternoon) will be in the center of the table, my Southwestern-style macaroni, bean and corn salad will the star of the side-dishes on both days. While easy to...... View full recipe for "~ Southwestern-Style Macaroni, Bean & Corn Salad ~"

06/28/2020

~ Italian-Style Fried Pasta Pancake -- Pasta a Frittata ~

Fried spaghetti at midnight. It's kind-of a joke in our house, but, when it comes to late-night snacking in ten minutes or less, reheating a slice of cold pizza in a skillet or frying a portion of leftover spaghetti are at the top of my short list. It goes without saying, frying spaghetti in less than ten minutes does require having cooked, lightly-seasoned, spaghetti in the refrigerator. For reasons unknown to me, this dish works better with day-old pasta (any type can technically be used), and, while the pasta can be lightly-sauced, I prefer it made with unsauced spaghetti. Pasta...... View full recipe for "~ Italian-Style Fried Pasta Pancake -- Pasta a Frittata ~"

06/25/2020

~ Slightly-Spicy Garlic & Italian-Herbs Buttered Pasta ~

The perfect foil means, the perfect background. Paint anything edible into this photo and it will be great meal. Tick, tock. In the case of this 15-minute to make side-dish, truer words were never spoken. When you have no time to make a run to the grocery store but still have a hungry family to please, this is the perfect side to serve -- everyone loves pasta. It goes great with a broiled chicken breast, a grilled pork chop, a pan-seared steak, a handful of steamed shrimp, etc. Add a steamed green vegetable or garden salad and dinner is on...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy Garlic & Italian-Herbs Buttered Pasta ~"

06/23/2020

~Old-School One-Skillet Golden Home-Fried Potatoes~

Home-fried potatoes, also known as cottage fries -- potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, sliced into thinnish discs, lightly-seasoned and pan-fried with some sliced onion in a bit of oil and/or butter (shredded or diced potatoes are called hash browns). Home fries are as delicious for breakfast as they are with dinner. That said, when it comes to making home fries, there are two schools of thought. One is to pan-fry par-cooked (steamed, boiled or microwaved baked) potatoes. The other is to pan-fry raw potatoes. In my food world, be it for breakfast or dinner, I don't need the added step of...... View full recipe for "~Old-School One-Skillet Golden Home-Fried Potatoes~"

06/21/2020

~ Campfire or Stovetop -- Dutch-Oven-Baked Beans ~

Manifest Destiny, the 19th-century doctrine that the United States had the right and duty to expand throughout the North American continent, brought the cowboys and their cattle drives up through Mexico and Texas and into the wide-open grazing spaces of Colorado and northward into the Midwest. These (often accidental) East-meets-West crossover points are where Easterners, bound for the Southwest and West, often encountered their first tastes of their final destinations. Dutch-oven-baked beans were a chuck-wagon staple. Fresh and dried peppers native to Mexico, dried beans, corn and rice, cornmeal and flour, salt, honey and/or unrefined sugar, coffee, cured ham, bacon...... View full recipe for "~ Campfire or Stovetop -- Dutch-Oven-Baked Beans ~"

06/09/2020

~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~

Want to make a country-style potato salad just like your grandmother used to make? The kind that allows the potato to be the star of the show? Of course you do or you wouldn't be Googling around the internet looking for a basic, vintage recipe reminiscent of kinder, gentler, traditional times -- a recipe absent of a long-list fancy-schmancy ingredients (no special heirloom potatoes, no gourmet vinegars, no crazy-hot sauces, no silly spices, no asinine add-ins), that, while exciting-to-the-palate for the first few bites, just grow old in your mouth while muddlling up the flavor of the perfectly-cooked spuds. If...... View full recipe for "~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~"

05/17/2020

~ Slightly-Spicy Garlic-Butter and Herb Penne Pasta ~

In terms of the easiest-to-make, nicely-spiced, full-of-flavor pasta dish that serves as a foil for almost any Italian-American entrée that contains or is gonna get sauced with red gravy, this is it -- chicken, veal or eggplant Parmesan and chicken cacciatore are off-the-top-of-my-head examples. While you might be temped to toss some Parmesan cheese into this at the end, I don't recommend it. Trust me, not everything tastes better with cheese riddled through it. Save the cheese to top the dish in its entirety (even when serving it as a side-dish or eating by itself). Penne for your thoughts? Penne...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy Garlic-Butter and Herb Penne Pasta ~"

03/30/2020

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

Of course you would, and these couldn't be easier. All you need is two pounds of your favorite gold, red or Russet potatoes, some olive oil and one packet of the onion soup mix you forgot you had in your pantry. Yes my friends, a packet of onion soup mix is a souper seasoning for oven-roasted steak fries. After five minutes of prep time, they'll need 1 hour, 15 minutes to roast in a 350° oven, which frees of your hands for other tasks. That said, because steak fries are best served hot, right out of the oven, plan for...... View full recipe for "~Would You Like Onion-Laced Steak Fries with That?~"

03/27/2020

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

Coming up with copycat recipes for three flavors of made-at-home Rice-a-Roni made for a fun few days. Truth told, I love developing copycat recipes -- I'm good at it too. From sea to shining sea, as items we've come to take for granted disappear from our store shelves, many have reached out to express appreciation for these recipes. There's more. Many have reached out to request these recipes. ~ Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~ is one example. Rice-a-Roni -- The San Francisco Treat. Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open...... View full recipe for "~Copycat Chicken, Beef & Spanish-Style Rice-a-Roni~"

03/24/2020

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

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

03/11/2020

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

Amongst Rice-a-Roni aficionados, chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni is the undisputed favorite. That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni too, which is why it has a spot on my pantry shelves at all times. When I was a kid, my mom invented a beefy Rice-a-Roni dinner that kept my brother and I from bugging her to buy us an occasional "over-priced, over-rated TV dinner" -- which, to us kids, was nothing more than a novelty. As they say on the Rice-a-Roni website: Prepare for a stampede to the dinner table when you serve our delicious rice and...... View full recipe for "~ Copycat Beef Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat ~"

03/09/2020

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

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

02/15/2020

~Five EZ All-Purpose Starchy Weeknight Side-Dishes~

Choose from any number of proteins we American cooks make for dinner via various methods on a busy weeknight. Examples: roasted chicken, grill-panned steaks or pork chops, slow-cooker spareribs, pan-seared ham slices, broiled fish fillets, steamed or poached shellfish, etc. I refer to these as flash-in-the pan meals because they go from oven or cooktop in relatively short order. All you need is a side-dish -- a seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish. Rice is nice & potatoes are great. Rice is nice and potatoes are great. Rice is nice. That said, looking at the above example-list of proteins we American cooks...... View full recipe for "~Five EZ All-Purpose Starchy Weeknight Side-Dishes~"

02/12/2020

~Sweet & Savory Spiced Couscous & Golden Raisins~

My pantry always has a container of couscous in it. Funny thing is, I went from not knowing what the heck it was, to serving it a lot, in a very short period of time. Living in a large college town is a wonderful thing -- all the specialized markets and eateries reflect its diversity. Back in the 1980's I walked into a newly-opened Middle Eastern market and walked out with a couscousiere and two boxes of couscous. That same day, I fell in love with couscous literally, "instantly". Couscous is often referred to as Moroccan, but this is incorrect....... View full recipe for "~Sweet & Savory Spiced Couscous & Golden Raisins~"

02/09/2020

~ Nice & Easy Basic All-Purpose 30-Minute Rice Pilaf ~

In my Eastern European family, the entire lot of us, I have no recollection of anyone placing a bowl of plain white rice on the dinner table. That said, we ate rice quite often. I never heard it referred to as a pilaf (I would learn that term years later), but it was. In a saucepan, my mom, who learned it from her mom, would lightly-toast a cup or two of white rice in a few pats of melted butter. In went some diced onion, carrot. celery, salt and pepper. When the veggies began to soften, steaming hot chicken or...... View full recipe for "~ Nice & Easy Basic All-Purpose 30-Minute Rice Pilaf ~"

02/06/2020

~ Better than Store-Bought Stovetop Mac & Cheese ~

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

02/04/2020

~EZ Small-Batch Quick-Chill Sheet-Pan Potato Salad~

About once a week, we eat deli-style sandwiches* or cheeseburgers for dinner. We love 'em both and I don't feel a scintilla of guilt for taking an easy or cheesy night off from cooking a full-blown meal. That said, I do feel guilty when the side-dish is a bag of potato chips -- that may be ok for a brown-bag lunch, but, for dinner? Nah. More often than not, I put a small batch of quick-to-assemble potato salad on a sheet pan in the refrigerator to chill -- it really can be done in the span of twenty short minutes....... View full recipe for "~EZ Small-Batch Quick-Chill Sheet-Pan Potato Salad~"

02/02/2020

~Egg Noodles & Broccoli in Spicy Garlic-Butter Sauce~

Choose from any number of proteins we American cooks make for dinner via various methods on a busy weeknight. Examples: roasted chicken, grill-panned steaks or pork chops, slow-cooker spareribs, pan-seared ham slices, broiled fish fillets, steamed or poached shellfish, etc. I refer to these as flash-in-the pan meals because they go from oven or cooktop in relatively short order. All you need is a side-dish -- a seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish. Rice is nice and potatoes are great... Rice is nice and potatoes are great. Rice is nice. That said, looking at the above example-list of proteins we American cooks...... View full recipe for "~Egg Noodles & Broccoli in Spicy Garlic-Butter Sauce~"

01/18/2020

~ Time out for Tiny Shrimp & Tiny Shells Pasta Salad ~

Got a mid-day snack attack? Think small. Pretty in pink, tiny salad shrimp are sweet, tender and adorable. I only use them occasionally in very specific recipes, like shrimp dip to serve as an appetizer, and shrimp salad for making sandwiches, but, sometimes I like to turn my shrimp salad into a pasta salad, and tiny shell-shaped pasta are the perfect foil to make it happen. Served in a small bowl, this little nosh staves off hunger pangs without almost any guilt. Once upon a time, people bought salad shrimp packed in cans (similar to tuna). That's ok. That's how...... View full recipe for "~ Time out for Tiny Shrimp & Tiny Shells Pasta Salad ~"

12/29/2019

~Meatless & Marvelous Creamy Pasta & Mushrooms~

A bowl of exquisite creamy-dreamy pasta. When the craving for it hits, it's one that can't be staved off. In terms of work, while I consider this a rather uncomplicated dish to make, requiring just two or three relatively-easy steps, I relax and take my time to make it right. As a mushroom lover, they're on-hand in my refrigerator 90%-95% of the time (which is why this is one of my favorite go-to pasta dishes) and they get seasoned and sautéed in a skillet first. Next I take five-ten minutes to make a Parmesan-cream sauce using always-on-hand ingredients. I cook...... View full recipe for "~Meatless & Marvelous Creamy Pasta & Mushrooms~"

10/18/2019

~ Stewed-Tomato Gravy for Mom's All-Beef Meatloaf ~

Meatloaf is personal. We all have a favorite recipe. That said, there's no other way to say this: I Love My Mom's Old-Fashioned All-Beef Meatloaf. I know many of you do too, because you've made it and you've told me so. Both my mother and grandmother used beef exclusively to make meatloaf -- never a combination of beef, pork and veal. My grandmother, who owned a mom and pop grocery store during the Depression era, simply did not like the gelatinous texture that comes from adding mild-flavored veal and did not approve of mixing pork and beef together -- no...... View full recipe for "~ Stewed-Tomato Gravy for Mom's All-Beef Meatloaf ~"

09/12/2019

~ My Copycat Primanti Brothers Secret Slaw Recipe ~

On occasion I go to Pittsburgh. Just like every city there's plenty of sights to see, entertainment to be had, and, of course, lots of food. While Pittsburgh offers its share of show-offy fine-dining experiences, The Steel City, in my opinion, is known more for its blue collar, working man's fare. One of the most well-known, and most popular examples is Primanti Brothers -- trendsetters in sandwich making since 1933. When in Pittsburgh, you'll also notice that eating "alla Primanti's", "in-the-style Primanti's" (huge, overstuffed sandwiches topped with slaw and fries) surrounds you. Primani's 'slaw is vinegar-based and basic. Seriously folks....... View full recipe for "~ My Copycat Primanti Brothers Secret Slaw Recipe ~"

08/03/2019

~Sweet, Savory & Slightly-Spicy Curried Potato Salad~

For most of us, potato salad conjures up memories of exactly what our grandmothers made. And, for the most part, in terms of ingredients, the recipes for our grandmothers potato salad do not vary much. Various quantities of the usual suspects: potatoes, eggs, celery and/or onion, with a dressing made of mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, sometimes pickles or pickle relish, and, an occasional fresh herb. Voila: potato salad. While we all have our favorite recipe or recipes, when offered potato salad at a gathering, this is the kind we Americans expect to be served. From my Eastern European heritage, in...... View full recipe for "~Sweet, Savory & Slightly-Spicy Curried Potato Salad~"

07/31/2019

~ Deep-Fried Chicken Wings w/RedHot-Ranch Slaw ~

There's nothing earth-shatteringly new about deep-frying chicken wings in a vat of oil for 14 minutes a batch. In fact, this post doesn't even include a pictorial recipe for deep-frying chicken wings -- or oven-roasted wings if that floats your boat. If you and yours love wings, you already have your favorite method for preparing them. This post is about transitioning your wing-fest from a pub grub bar nosh to a kid-friendly family-style sit-in-front-of-the-TV movie-night meal. Back in the 1980's and '90's, our three sons frequently wanted chicken wings for dinner, which, in my mind, didn't constitute a proper dinner....... View full recipe for "~ Deep-Fried Chicken Wings w/RedHot-Ranch Slaw ~"