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

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 brother0 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 ~"

07/10/2019

~ Texican Tomato, Cucumber and Green Olive Salad ~

Olives in Mexican food? It's controversial. So-called experts will flatly state that olives in Mexican food make the dish Spanish, not Mexican, meaning "don't". That said, with some of the largest concentrations of green olive trees in the world being located in regions throughout Mexico, areas bordering Texas, and, the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja California, common sense would and should lead one (it did me) to a different conclusion, meaning "go for it". While a Mexican dish with olives in or on it can't be labeled "authentic", the addition of olives is fine. A good deal of research on...... View full recipe for "~ Texican Tomato, Cucumber and Green Olive Salad ~"

07/07/2019

~Southwestern Cheese-Topped Corn & Bean Pudding~

From chicken and ribs to rib-eye, flank and skirt steaks, during the months of July and August and into the Fall, the food that comes off our grill is frequently alla the American Southwest. My family craves those bold flavors, and, my Southwestern-style corn and bean pudding, a spin-off of my Midwestern-style baked corn casserole is my go-to side-dish. Placed on the table next to a crispy garden salad full of just-picked tomatoes and cucumbers: there's no need to call my family to the table twice. Serve an in-season fruit cobbler for dessert? They'll follow me anywhere. Fresh vs. canned...... View full recipe for "~Southwestern Cheese-Topped Corn & Bean Pudding~"

07/02/2019

~Greek-Style Chopped-Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette~

When tomatoes and cucumbers are ripe for the picking, small side-salads accompany our dinner almost every evening. Our seasonal herbs du jour always determine what cuisine-style I'll lean toward -- dill for Eastern European, basil for Italian, thyme for French, cilantro for Tex-Mex, and, oregano for Greek. Once that's decided, the cuisine-appropriate embellishments easily fall into place. It's a pretty straightforward process, but, no matter what I decide, my all-purpose super-easy-to-make red wine vinaigrette pulls it all together -- you'll rarely find my refrigerator without it. This refreshing relish-esque salad, goes great with grilled chicken, any type of steak, pork...... View full recipe for "~Greek-Style Chopped-Salad w/Red Wine Vinaigrette~"

06/20/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~

Asparagus, served hot off the grill grids, drizzled with a bit of lemon-infused EVOO and white balsamic vinaigrette, is one of my favorite Summer side-dishes. Name it -- grilled steak, chicken or seafood, it plays well with them all. Interestingly, I sometimes serve it as an hors d'oeuvre too -- it pairs perfectly with melon wrapped in prosciutto. There's just something downright delightful about picking up a medium-to-fat, crunch-tender asparagus spear in my fingertips, politely swishing it a pucker-up, creamy, lemon sauce and savoring the lightly-charred flavor. Just eat. It's too simple for words, hence this short post. Grilling asparagus...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~"

06/13/2019

~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

A salad without lettuce? There's no law against it, and, in the case of this salad, lettuce is just in the way. The combination of tender blanched asparagus, a few halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and, small, creamy, fresh mozzarella balls drizzled with a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette is to-die-for. The only item I do add to it on occasion is: a handful of crunchy croutons. Nothing more, nothing less. No other embellishments need apply. The dressing, loaded with lemon flavor and laced with subtle herbs de Provence, is the star of this salad show, so, don't stray from this flavor profile....... View full recipe for "~ Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"

06/10/2019

~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~

Technically known as shallow poaching and sometimes referred to as skillet poaching, this is the easiest way to cook fresh asparagus spears. As it turns out, a small amount of gently or barely simmering salted water in a wide-bottomed skillet is a great way to quickly control the heat of the water, which, in turn, makes it very easy to efficiently yield vibrant green asparagus spears of any thickness that are cooked to your liking: crunch-tender blanched to fully-cooked fork-tender. I won't lie, my recipe for ~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~ is, generally speaking, my favorite way to serve...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~"

06/05/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~

When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a delicacy, meaning, my family only ate it in the Spring, mostly for holidays and special occasions, or, when we reserved a table at a fancy restaurant -- restaurants had more access to it than the average American family during that era. That said, even in the restaurants back in the 1960's and '70's, it was always of the pencil-thin type, and, it was served either lightly steamed or briefly blanched. Thinking back, I suppose it was because these methods enhanced its color, which made for a prettier presentation. Indeed it tasted...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~"

06/03/2019

~Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus~

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

05/25/2019

~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~

Wish-Bone Italian dressing. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. To name a few: drizzled on my garden salad or slathered on my turkey sandwich, as a dip for my vegetables, as a marinade for my chicken, and, as the dressing for the original Wish-Bone Italian pasta salad recipe. Growing up, right next to the bright- red Kraft Catalina Dressing and the creamy-white Hellmann's mayonnaise stood the Wish-Bone. All were condiment staples in my mom's 1960's and 70's refrigerator, and today, all remain staples in my own refrigerator -- although I now prefer Wish-Bone's Light-Italian version. Want...... View full recipe for "~ The Retro & Original Wish-Bone Italian Pasta Salad ~"

04/03/2019

~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~

April showers bring May flowers, tick-tock, and so starts the prime-time grilling season. Across the country, home cooks and grill-masters are already concocting their secret recipes for sweet and savory wet sauces and spice-is-nice dry rubs. Once the chicken and ribs start hitting the grill grids, neighborhoods everywhere will be filled with the ethereal smell of barbecue. Get out the paper plates and napkins, place the side-dishes on the table, pop a beer and pull up a chair. Speaking of side-dishes (notice how I snuck that in), while Northeastern Deutsch-Amish potato-salads, macaroni-salads and coleslaws reign undeniably supreme (as far as...... View full recipe for "~Spicy Southwestern-Style Candied Sweet Potatoes~"

03/20/2019

~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~

Tick, tock. The Summer season is fast approaching and once we Americans fire up our outdoor grills, we'll be faced with more reasons than we can count to whip up a big bowl of the family's favorite tried-and-true mayonnaise-based potato and egg salad or creamy-crunchy coleslaw. That said, because one can never have too many variations on potato salad or coleslaw, consider dressing either of them with spicy Russian- or sweet Thousand Islands- dressing. Your preference is your choice -- swap 'em out as you please: For 5 cups Russian or Thousand-Islands-dressed potato salad or coleslaw: 5-6 medium-large Russet potatoes,...... View full recipe for "~ Russian or Thousand Islands Potato Salad or Slaw ~"

02/15/2019

~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ No two ways about it: Make it right or it's not Risotto ~"

02/09/2019

~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. A double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates are going on our dinner table tonight. Why? Because eating spaghetti and meatballs without a great big basket of garlic bread on the table is, gulp, culinarily criminal. We'll have a salad too, because it too goes great with this meal (not because it's healthy or to make me feel less guilty). Everybody knows spaghetti and meatballs require garlic bread, a salad and a bottle of red wine. Garlic bread isn't Italian. Neither is spaghetti & meatballs. While many regard spaghetti & meatballs as quintessential Italian, the...... View full recipe for "~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~"

02/04/2019

~Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes~

Smashed, mashed or whipped potatoes -- you love them, I know you do, everyone does. Cauliflower -- maybe you love it, maybe you don't, but if you do, you'll love the combination of buttery-rich mashed cauliflower and potatoes laced with bits of onion and garlic. It's the divine intervention of the creamy-comforting side-dish food world -- it happens when the mild- and slightly-nutty flavored sun-soaked "cabbage flower" meets the sun-starved, earthy and starchy potato. Make no mistake, when boiled and mashed, cauliflower is great, but it's: mashed cauliflower -- just because it's the same color, doesn't make it "just like"...... View full recipe for "~Onion & Garlic Cauliflower & Gold Mashed Potatoes~ "

01/28/2019

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

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

01/20/2019

~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach 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 "~ Florentine-Style Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Sauce ~"

01/15/2019

~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~

Knowing how to make a super-quick cheese sauce is indispensable for any number of reasons. Friends can drop by without notice, a snowstorm requires some pantry cooking, or, the craving for something rich, creamy, cheesy and comforting must be quelled. This five-minutes to make sauce is as delicious as it is easy, which is what makes it more than worthy of a blog post. Both Joe and I love it tossed into pasta (sometimes with some chards of roasted chicken thrown in too), it's a fantastic sauce for seafood (if you're not a purist about cheese and seafood together), and,...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Boursin Sauce for Pasta, Seafood & Veggies ~"

01/07/2019

~ Buttery-Rich & Boursin-Cheesy Whipped Potatoes ~

Mashed, smashed or whipped potatoes, made from Russets, reds or golds, skins on or skins off, baked in the oven, boiled on the stovetop or cooked in the microwave -- a case can be made, and a recipe developed, for each and every scenario, and, as long as the end justifies the means, the basic machinations for potato perfection is, for the most part, personal. Truth told, while I like some versions better than others, and, with the exception of one experience (where the gal unforgivably served unpalatably "soupy potatoes" made with chicken stock in place of cream, to cut...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery-Rich & Boursin-Cheesy Whipped Potatoes ~"

01/04/2019

~ Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut ~

This is my father's family's recipe for sauerkraut, and as Eastern Europeans, sauerkraut wasn't reserved for ringing in the New Year -- we ate it all year long. The only thing that could improve upon the recipe would be my grandfather's home-fermented 'kraut -- which, as a young child, I remember being kept in a large, wooden, lidded barrel sitting in the corner of his dark, cool, earthen-floored basement, which I also remember being a somewhat scary place. In the family's vegetable garden, they grew their cabbage. In a small barn, next to the vegetable garden and also a scary...... View full recipe for "~ Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut ~"

12/28/2018

~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~

When one lives in a college town associated with a big-time football program, one has honed the skills necessary to transition from the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities to ringing in the New Year with a bowl-game tailgate. It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it, and, here in Happy Valley, PA, the home of Penn State's Nittany Lions, an entire community of fellow blue-and-white-clad cooks are capable of changing lanes with ease. This year, it's gonna be deli-sandwiches and potato salad on our cocktail table in front of our lunch-timed game-day TV. We'll serve our...... View full recipe for "~ This Spud's for You: Game-On Baked-Potato Salad ~"

12/07/2018

~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~

My only experience with Rasta Pasta, references the original Colorado Springs restaurant. Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, paid them a visit, and, if you watch enough episodes of this show, you know when Guy is super-jazzed about an eatery. This was one such episode. On camera he tried their signature and namesake dish, the Rasta Pasta, a creamy, Jamaican-spiced penne pasta, studded with colorful vegetables topped with jerk chicken. It was, in fact, the Jamaican take on the Italian-American alfredo primavera topped with grilled chicken, which Guy declared to be "funky" in a...... View full recipe for "~Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta~"

11/23/2018

~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~

Stuffing baked in a bundt pan makes for a picture-perfect presentation that brings a smile to everyone. From a practical standpoint, it feeds a crowd (or a small gathering of stuffing lovers) and it's very user-friendly: it easy to portion, slice and serve at the table or on the buffet line, and, slices are especially convenient on closed or open-faced turkey sandwiches. Stuffing slices can be wrapped, stacked and frozen too -- for those times when one has to have a slice of stuffing. Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage Bundt-Pan Stuffing ~"

11/20/2018

~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~

Nicely-sliced stuffing is not new-to-me -- it's old-school brilliance. My grandmother always baked her stuffing in two loaf pans because it was an efficient use of oven space. As a savvy cook, she figured out that two, high, narrow loaf pans took up less oven space than a low, shallow casserole while yielding about the same amount. Her stuffing loaves baked on either side of the roasting turkey with miscellaneous other casseroles strategically placed on the remaining upper rack. Some fun facts about making stuffing in a bundt pan: Making Thanksgiving stuffing in a 12-cup bundt pan does not take...... View full recipe for "~ Nicely-Sliced: Stuffing in a Bundt Pan Stuffing Ring ~"

11/15/2018

~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~

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. Sweet potato soup is a savory starter. Season it accordingly. When it comes to sweet potato soup, think "savory soup" not "sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Slightly-Spicy and Creamy-Rich Sweet Potato Soup ~"

09/08/2018

~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~

In my food world, one of the most common background noises is the chatter of friends or family talking about the great price they scored on a basket or flat of prime produce. It's big news. Last week I was the one bragging about the flat of perfect mangos I toddled into my kitchen with. At 2-for-$1, it was exciting news. On par with fresh pineapple, mangos are my favorite exotic fruit. Similar in taste and texture to peaches, my first taste of this juicy stone fruit came in Thailand, where a mango hedgehog* was served, compliments of the hotel,...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Island-Style Mango or Pineapple Salsa ~"

09/03/2018

~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~

Coleslaw -- creamy and crunchy, sweet, savory and nicely-spiced, coleslaw is a make-my-day side-dish and my favorite sloppy-sandwich topper. There's more. By swapping out a few herbs and spices, coleslaw, "the chameleon of side-dishes", any coleslaw recipe can be prepared to complement any cuisine. How convenient is that. I came up with this version to serve with Jamaican-style jerk fare. This simple, lip-smacking recipe has got a bit of coat-your-throat heat. Herein lies the secret to my jerk-seasoned slaw: Leave it to the Jamaicans. I can't think of another exotic-to-me cuisine that does a better job of making my life...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy & Creamy Island-Style Jerk-Seasoned Slaw~"

09/01/2018

~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~

In Jamaica, they make a dish called coconut rice and peas -- it's usually served as an accompaniment to Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. This is sort of not it. This is my twist on it. In Jamaica, beans are called peas, more specifically, pigeon peas -- they’re a staple in Indian, African, Latin and Caribbean cooking and are sold canned, dried or fresh. In the Caribbean islands, kidney beans are a common substitution, which is a good, because, up until recently, pigeon peas were not something I could find in my Central PA stores. While...... View full recipe for "~ Island-Style Bejeweled Coconut & Black Bean Rice ~"

08/27/2018

~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~

The closest a plantain gets to a ripe banana is the black-streaked yellow plantain. Eaten raw, it still doesn't taste quite like, or have the mouthfeel of, a yellow banana, but, when sautéed, because of its high-starch and fully-developed sugar content, it can do something the banana can't: caramelize without losing its textural integrity. Sweet and caramelized, and slightly-sticky-without-sticking-together, this quick-to-make side-dish is the perfect sweet complement to the fiery-hot flavors of Caribbean-style chicken- or shrimp- curry dishes and jerk-seasoned meats. Let's talk plantains: Ripe or unripe, plantains are eaten cooked. The best way for me to culinarily describe the...... View full recipe for "~Sweet & Caramelized Island-Spiced Yellow Plantains~"

08/24/2018

~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~

Bananas and plantains. Plantains and bananas. They resemble each other, and they're even related. I peel and eat a banana almost every morning, but, I can't say the same for the plantain. By accident or out of curiosity, if you've ever peeled a plantain and taken a taste, you knew immediately you were not eating a banana. The best way for me to culinarily describe the difference: If bananas are the sweet dessert, plantains are the savory potatoes. In fact, throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South America, plantains are generically referred to as "cooking bananas", and bananas are...... View full recipe for "~Deep-Fried Green Plantain Chips & Island Salsa Dip~"

07/15/2018

~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~

Would you like fries with that? If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you. Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips. When I was growing up, we adored my dad's...... View full recipe for "~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~"

06/30/2018

~Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons~

Not too big, not to small, not too hard, not to soft, buttery-rich and bold-flavored from plenty of black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning, I make all sorts of croutons from scratch, and, while I often use firm-textured and rustic store-bought bread, I also make them using homemade bread, which I use my bread machine to bake. Being the Caesar salad snob that I am, without exception, I always bake my own bread for my croutons. Why? Because, just like store-bought dressings, I take Ceasar salad-making seriously, and, that means: no short cuts. Baking bread in the bread machine...... View full recipe for "~Italian-Seasoned Caesar-Style Salad/Soup Croutons~"

05/15/2018

~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~

Sweet potatoes -- of the kind that don't come out of a can and end up with marshmallows on top. I've had a love affair with this root vegetable since my first trist with a sweet potato that didn't come out of a can and have marshmallows on top. While I have a high-enough I.Q. to discern why once-upon-a-time in-the-history-of-canned-vegetetables, cooked sweet potatoes were put in those cans, in my lifetime, I will never be smart enough to figure out why those marshmallows got purposefully or experimentally plopped on top. Some answers are best left to the imagination. A sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Everybody in the Skillet: Perfect Sweet Potato Fries ~"

05/09/2018

~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~

I love a starry night. Sitting outside in the warm Summer air, watching the sun set and listening to my next-door neighbors, the dairy cows, lowing in the pasture -- it's peaceful. That said, on some Summer nights, Thursdays during June, July and August, a band plays "up on the mountain" (the ski slope to the other side of the cow pasture). Weather permitting, on those toe-tapping evenings, if you stop by, you'll find a snack or three on the table next to the cooler of Corona. My neighbors, music on the mountain, &, bean dip. This easy bean dip...... View full recipe for "~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~"