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122 posts categorized "10) Picnics, Barbecues & Grills"

11/25/2016

~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~

The tomahawk ribeye steak, also known as a "cowboy" or a "long bone-in" ribeye is a specialty cut that you assuredly won't find at your local supermarket. Without jest (no joke), I literally found one on my kitchen doorstep, leaning up against the kitchen/laundry room door, this very morning. I have a friend, Scott. He owns a few well-known Happy Valley restaurants (you locals all know who he is, and, he is one reason I get to call myself a cooking consultant). He likes to surprise me unexpectedly with unique ingredients occasionally. Today, while driving to and from his eateries,...... View full recipe for "~Time Out: Tomahawk Steak (Long Bone-In Ribeye)~"

11/08/2016

~ Easy Amish Dutch-Style Sweet & Sour Coleslaw ~

Walk into an Amish market and you'll likely find a side-dish in the refrigerated deli-section simply labeled "Dutch slaw". It'll be right next to the ever-popular finely-minced "pepper cabbage" (also known as "overnight coleslaw") and the classic creamy-crunchy mayonnaise-dressed coleslaw. It's a monochromatic mixture of shredded cabbage, celery, onion and green bell pepper dressed with a pretty yellow-colored, celery seed and onion-laced oil-based sweet and sour dressing. Interestingly, the Amish label it "Dutch slaw" because it is the Pennsylvania Deutsch version of the Amish's own version of sweet and sour slaw (known as "Amish slaw" and dressed with a mayonnaise-based...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Amish Dutch-Style Sweet & Sour Coleslaw ~"

09/27/2016

~ Chef Paul's Blackened Flank Steak Sandwiches ~

Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited for helping to put New Orleans cuisine on the map. I was lucky enough to be a young adult during what many consider to be his "heyday" -- the 1970's, 80's and 90's. I ate in K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen in 1981 (a restaurant he opened in 1979), bought Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen cookbook the moment it became available in 1984, and, never missed an episode of his PBS-TV show, Louisiana Kitchen, which aired in 1998. When he launched his line of Magic Seasoning Blends, I experimented with all seven -- Blackened Steak Magic and Blackened...... View full recipe for "~ Chef Paul's Blackened Flank Steak Sandwiches ~"

09/08/2016

~ Grilling & Chilling: Chicken & Rice-is-Nice Salad ~

We grill a lot of chicken, and, for as long as the grilling season lasts (which is well into the Winter), we make it a point to put a couple of extra, generically-seasoned pieces on the grill because: I enjoy it cold the next day -- it tastes great and comes in handy when I'm pressed for time. That said, once refrigerated, I do not like it reheated. It tastes funky. Got cold chicken? Make me a sandwich or throw it in a salad. Reheat it? Out the door it goes along with you. My grilled chicken policy is: eat...... View full recipe for "~ Grilling & Chilling: Chicken & Rice-is-Nice Salad ~"

08/17/2016

~ My Deep-Fried Mexican Sweet Street Corn Fritters~

In my kitchen, when one recipe can be turned into a second dish the next day, foodie life is good. When the second recipe can be turned into a third on yet another day, foodie life is great. When dish number three tastes as good or better than the previous two and none of them make me feel like I am eating leftovers, that's when I take a bow. This scenario is especially appreciated by me, the family cook, when our fruit trees and vegetable garden is producing at peak levels. For example: I've got lots of prime-quality local sweet...... View full recipe for "~ My Deep-Fried Mexican Sweet Street Corn Fritters~"

08/10/2016

~ A Big Fat Greek Lamb 'Burger. Where's the Beef? ~

A cheeseburger, eaten anywhere in the good old USA -- each one a cheeseburger in paradise. It's become the quintessential American food. There are two claims* as to who slapped that first slice of processed American cheese on the lonely hamburger, but, we can all agree it was the best marriage of food since sliced white bread married peanut butter and jelly. And, we've come a long way baby -- nowadays the cheeseburger is eaten in fast food chains, fine-dining restaurants and all points in between. Cheeseburgers are for pick-up, delivery, drive-thru, eat-in, eat-out, eat-alone or invite-some-friends from sea to...... View full recipe for "~ A Big Fat Greek Lamb 'Burger. Where's the Beef? ~"

08/07/2016

~ My Greek Gyro-Style Beef & Lamb 'Burger' Pitas ~

When it comes to street food, it's almost impossible to walk past any vendor selling gyros. My first gyro encounters were limited to the Jersey Shore in the latter 1960's and '70's and Mr. Krinos (a friend of my cousin and no relation to the famous Krinos brand of Greek products sold in stores everywhere) explained they were, Greek-style, in that they were a combo of beef and lamb wrapped in a pocketless pita with lettuce, tomato and onion, and, served with a cucumber-yogurt-based tzatziki sauce (save the fried potatoes and mustard for souvlaki pork kabobs). Gyro (YEE-roh) making. It's...... View full recipe for "~ My Greek Gyro-Style Beef & Lamb 'Burger' Pitas ~"

07/31/2016

~ The Persian-Style Ground Beef or Lamb Kababba ~

"Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn", and medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords as instruments to grill food over open fires in the field of battle, are credited with inventing "kabobs". It was only natural that this simple method of cooking food on a "sikh", a metal skewer, made its way into the kitchens of the royal houses, onto the tables of the common folk and into the streets, where vendors cooked and sold them for breakfast, lunch and dinner placed onto or inside some form of flatbread. Kabobs are a source of...... View full recipe for "~ The Persian-Style Ground Beef or Lamb Kababba ~"

07/28/2016

~Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce~

Purists will tell you there is no substitution for deep-fried chicken wings. I used to think that too, and, if you want to stay wed to that train of thought, for the time being, it's still a free country. While wings that are oven-fried or grilled can't technically be referred to as Buffalo wings (no self-respecting Buffalo-wing-maker cooks them in the oven or on the grill), wings that are oven-fried or grilled really can be as good as deep-fried wings. I make wings all three ways, I know. Whenever I have a lot of wings to make for a indoor...... View full recipe for "~Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen BBQ Sauce~"

07/25/2016

~ 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 ~"

07/20/2016

~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~

I first came across this recipe in a stack of recipe cards held together with a rubber band. They were in a plastic bag full of newspaper- and magazine-clipped recipes that my late grandmother collected. I don't recall her making the cake, but, at some point in her life she must have, as she took the time to write it down in her own hand. It's an unpretentious, yellow cake made of butter or margarine, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, home-canned peaches or pears, pecans or walnuts and buttermilk or sour cream. It sure sounded good to me, and, its name...... View full recipe for "~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~"

07/17/2016

~ Lobster Rolls: The Official Summertime Sandwich ~

For a bib-wearing lobster-lover like me, past steaming-hot with drawn butter and lemon, when I am looking to quell a craving for my favorite crustacean, I indulge in a lobster roll -- a sandwich with big chunks of tender, sweet-white-meat and tiny bits of celery or scallions, lightly-coated with creamy mayonnaise and piled into a buttery, toasted 'hot dog' roll. It's heaven. On bread. Yes, from bisque to thermidore, you will find a lengthy list of recipes paying homage to the preparation of this beloved cold-water creature, but, none result in the comfort and complete satisfaction that comes over me...... View full recipe for "~ Lobster Rolls: The Official Summertime Sandwich ~"

07/04/2016

~ Jumbo Shells Stuffed w/Shrimp Chop-Chop Salad ~

These yummy little appetizer-snacks, like my deviled egg creations, go to a lot of Summer picnics and a few early Fall tailgates too. The best way to describe them is individual and portable portions of chop-chop salad, and, most people can't keep their hands off them. They can contain anything your heart desires, as long as the ingredients play well together and are chopped into small morsels prior to judiciously drizzling (not drenching), with a cuisine-appropriate dressing or vinaigrette just prior to spooning the salad into the shells and serving. Since I cook all sorts of cuisines, sometimes my chop-chop...... View full recipe for "~ Jumbo Shells Stuffed w/Shrimp Chop-Chop Salad ~ "

07/02/2016

~ Nana's "Overnight" PA Deutsch Pepper Cabbage ~

From the land of Longhorn-colby cheese and ring bologna, I bring you pepper cabbage. If you identify with both the cheese and the bologna, you have roots in or some sort of affiliation with the Pennsylvania Deutsch community, and you don't have to be told: do not over-think this or any pepper cabbage recipe. It is simple, to the point, and, monochromatic (a big word meaning "consisting of one color or hue"): finely-chopped green cabbage and green pepper, tossed in a sweet and sour, sugar, vinegar and black-pepper-laced dressing, then macerated overnight in the refrigerator. As the name indicates, it's...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's "Overnight" PA Deutsch Pepper Cabbage ~"

06/30/2016

~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake? I was mesmerized. I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan. I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked. I stood breathless, fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan. In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both. I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~"

06/27/2016

~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~"

06/22/2016

~ Lemony English Pea, Mint & Gold Potato Salad ~

The typical English pea salad, or English pea and potato salad, the one that graces picnic and potluck tables this time of year, has never been my cup of tea. While I have no ax to grind with most of the mayonnaise and/or sour cream concoctions it gets dressed with, traditionally it is loaded with chunks of cheddar cheese and bacon bits too, which I think does those pretty, little, freshly-picked green jewels a disservice. It's not easy being green -- please show some respect! For me this is a KISS (keep it simple stupid) salad. Why? The moment you...... View full recipe for "~ Lemony English Pea, Mint & Gold Potato Salad ~"

06/20/2016

~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~

City chicken. It could be said, "it's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key" -- A wartime Winston Churchill quote. In The Joy of Cooking, if you go the index intentionally looking for "city chicken", and look under "chicken", you'll not find it. That said, if you're looking for a pork or veal recipe in the same cookbook, and look under "pork or veal", you will stumble upon "mock chicken drumsticks or city chicken" on page 469. That's because: Even though it looks like a chicken leg & tastes like chicken... ......... View full recipe for "~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~"

06/07/2016

~ Holy Trinity & Remoulade: Creole Macaroni Salad ~

Crunchy, creamy and cold, macaroni salad is a classic Summer staple on American tables everywhere. It's easy to make, tastes great, and, by changing out a few add-in ingredients here and there (and the fresh herbs and dry spices in your mayonnaise concoction too), you can personalize it to suit yourself, or, customize it to fit the flavor profile of the meal you're serving. In case you've just landed from another planet, the "holy trinity" (diced celery, green bell pepper and onion) is to the French-heritaged Cajun and Creole cooks of Louisiana what "mirepoix" (diced carrot, celery and onion) is...... View full recipe for "~ Holy Trinity & Remoulade: Creole Macaroni Salad ~"

06/05/2016

~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~

"I will never be blue, my dreams come true, on Blue Bayou." Hold that beautiful thought because Roy Orbison singing Blue Bayou is as close as I'll get to the Louisiana bayou -- or any bayou. Plenty full of pretty pelicans, herons and spoonbills, it's the alligators, snakes, and leeches that will keep me out. That said, many Cajuns, and a few Creoles too, feel right at home in these mysterious reaches of Southern Louisiana -- bayou life has its own pace and culture. A bayou is a body of water found in flat, low-lying areas. It can refer to...... View full recipe for "~ Bayou Pork Burgers w/Ragin'-Cajun Remoulade ~"

06/02/2016

~ Remoulade Sauce: A Staple in the NOLA Kitchen ~

It is 99.9% impossible to visit New Orleans and not experience their remoulade sauces. Lots of people go to NOLA for Mardi Gras. Back in 1982, Joe and I decided to spend seven days there, which included New Years Eve and New Years Day -- if you like to travel, I highly recommend doing this. I tell everyone, "we did nothing but eat our way through the city's superb restaurants, bars, grilles and countryside dives". For our very first meal, we chose to dine at the elegant Galatoire's, where I encountered their signature appetizer: Creole shrimp remoulade. Remoulade sauce is...... View full recipe for "~ Remoulade Sauce: A Staple in the NOLA Kitchen ~"

05/31/2016

~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~

Store-bought seasoning blends and bottled sauces. Every home cook has their favorite brands and there is no shame in that. I am no exception. When pressed for time, some days I reach for a container of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic and other days a bottle K.C. Masterpiece will do just fine. When correctly paired together, a high-quality store-bought spice blend and bottled sauce can be a busy cook's best time saver. That said, all serious cooks make the time to prepare their favorite homemade concoctions too. I am no exception, and, at any given time, if you peek into...... View full recipe for "~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~"

05/28/2016

~ Tropical Fruit, Nut & Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~

In most circles, Congo squares or Congo bar-cookies are made by spreading a batch of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie batter into a square or rectangular pan, then cutting the big cookie into smaller, cookie-sized squares or bars after baking. They shouldn't be confused with layered or 'magic' cookie bars -- the kind with a graham cracker crust and held together with condensed milk. The Congo square is a WWII era pan-cookie marketed like this back in 1942: The Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip "Congo Square" Pan-Cookie is like a brownie with all the rich flavors of a...... View full recipe for "~ Tropical Fruit, Nut & Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~"

05/20/2016

~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~

Get out the turmeric and attire yourself in something you don't mind discarding because we're making satay today. If your manicure is French, put on a pair of latex gloves too. Why? Because, in case you don't know, turmeric (TER-muh-rihk), that earthy-colored, pleasantly-fragrant powdered-spice (that rarely gets used in American cooking) will permanently paint your world a vivid yellow-orange. Made from grinding the rhizome root of the curcumin plant and a close relative of ginger, it's a prime ingredient in curry and mustard powders, and, it's used to give many of the rice dishes, soups and sauces of Indonesia, Malaysia,...... View full recipe for "~ Thai-Style Chicken or Pork Satay w/Peanut Sauce~"

05/17/2016

~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~

Planes, trains and automobiles. I get my inspiration for recipes in the darndest places. In the Summer of 1986, there was a day trip from San Diego to Tijuana in a rental car on our agenda. I ordered a Baja Fish Taco at a taco stand as a snack to eat en route -- I wish I'd ordered six. In the Winter of 1990, there was a train ride from England to Wales. I ordered the Cottage Beef Pie for dinner -- I licked the casserole clean. In the Spring of 1993, on a flight from Taipei to Tokyo, a...... View full recipe for "~ Cold 'Chicken Noodle Salad' w/Thai Peanut Sauce~"

04/22/2016

~Stick It: Sweet & Sour Shrimp & Pineapple Kabobs~

Everyone loves to eat food on a stick. Hot, cold, raw or cooked, it's pre-portioned, super-easy to serve, and, it's portable too. Just take a walk around the world. Food-on-a-stick is street food, and, everyone eating it has a happy look on their face. When it comes to grilled food on a stick, I think people get a spring in their step. Be it thin pieces of meat threaded onto a skewer or bite-sized chunks of meat, vegetables and/or fruit all in a row, folks will stand in line for a kabob. It's been going on for centuries. "Kabbaba" is...... View full recipe for "~Stick It: Sweet & Sour Shrimp & Pineapple Kabobs~"

03/21/2016

~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~

"Why can't you be more like your friend Melanie?", said the mothers of many of my childhood friends. A long, long time ago, middle-class mothers all cooked, and, when you were invited to a friend's house after school, it was common practice to be asked to stay for the evening meal. Those were hospitable times, and, that was my life during the 1960's (age 5 thru 14). If you are old enough to remember June Cleaver, Margaret Anderson and Donna Stone (Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and Donna Reed), the image of each of those TV moms serving...... View full recipe for "~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~ "

01/27/2016

~ The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog ~

Hot dogs -- one of my favorite subjects. I relish eating them, never tire of discussing them, and, whenever we travel, if our destination is known for a style of hot dog, it's one of the things I make a point of eating while I'm there. The New York-style hot dog is one I've not chatted with you about yet. That said, had I not had advance, concise, clarification of what "dirty-water-dog" means (the affectionate but unappealing nickname New Yorkers have given their dogs), cuing up in line at the closest pushcart would not have happened and I wouldn't be...... View full recipe for "~ The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog ~"

01/02/2016

~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~

The first time I ate steak with chimichurri sauce drizzled over it I was in my latter twenties and in a Houston steak house. It was amazing -- the steak too. I remember odd foodie facts like this because I tagged along on many of Joe's many business trips during the 1980's and '90's. On this one, our only trip ever to Houston, we ate in a steak house one night and a fish market the next. Sometimes, the secret really is in the sauce, and, chimichurri is one such example. This bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian...... View full recipe for "~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~"

09/26/2015

~ Southwestern-Style Honey, Lime & Jalapeno Slaw~

Coleslaw, one word, or, cole slaw, two words. It's a humble side-dish. It doesn't pretend to be flashy. It just sits in its bowl, patiently waiting for someone to take a scoop. What's sad is the quotes and jokes that get made about coleslaw, which, in my opinion are 100% unwarranted. When it's properly prepared, and correctly paired with the right entree, it is the master of crunchy cabbage goodness. It amps up the volume, of many meals, from ordinary to extraordinary. A bit about coleslaw: The words "cole" "slaw" come from the Dutch word "koolsla", meaning: "cold" "salad". Coleslaw...... View full recipe for "~ Southwestern-Style Honey, Lime & Jalapeno Slaw~"

09/22/2015

~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~

For those who home cook more than their fair share of Tex/Mex fare, you likely have your pico de gallo recipe committed to memory -- I do. You also know that pico de gallo is much more than a condiment to dip tortilla chips into or plop on your tacos. In my kitchen it's a tasty topper for grilled or broiled chicken and fish, it's great on thinly-sliced flank, skirt or flat-iron steaks, and, a spoonful on fried, poached or scrambled eggs in the AM will change your outlook of the day ahead. Here in Central PA, my garden is...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~"

09/17/2015

~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~

I think I was a hot dog in a past life -- that's how much I love hot dogs. If that is true, I was a Jerzey Girl in a past life, because, New Jersey is hot dog heaven. If a hot dog can make it there, it can make it anywhere. There are more hot dog stands, carts and trucks there than anywhere on this planet -- and I mean anywhere. I've heard NJ referred to as "the cradle of hot dog civilization", which pretty much sums up the hot dog universe as I know it. That said, I...... View full recipe for "~ Hot Diggity Dog: New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~"

08/25/2015

~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~

"I could have had a V-8." If you've ever leisurely sipped on a chilled glass of traditional gazpacho you wouldn't say that, even in jest. It is the ultimate vegetable smoothie. Here in my Happy Valley kitchen, me making gazpacho is a sure sign that Fall is around the corner. Our vegetable garden is producing almost more stuff than I can use efficiently. Gazpacho is a bright, refreshing, cool way for me to put a bounty of produce to a delicious use. Gazpacho is quite easy to make, but if you're under the impression it's as simple as throwing some...... View full recipe for "~ My Traditional Gazpacho: Fresh from Our Garden ~"

07/19/2015

~ Sweet and Savory K.C.-Style Cherry BBQ Sauce ~

I'm a huge fan of real-deal barbecue, and, I'm well-acquainted with most of the conventional, regional styles too: North and South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee (Memphis), Missouri (St. Louis and Kansas City). That said, I neither pretend to be nor want to be 'a player' in this particular sport. I'm merely in awe of the people I know who have mastered and excel at its preparation. My participation is happily limited to being a free-thinking, cocktail drinking, fair-weather fan. I'm content to stand on the sidelines, watch intently and learn -- independent of the ever-present, my-way-or-the-highway, holier-than-thou: barbecue police. I...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet and Savory K.C.-Style Cherry BBQ Sauce ~"

07/15/2015

~ Butter-Browned & Broiled BBQ'd Chicken Thighs ~

Real-deal outdoor-grilled chicken, the bone-in kind, juicy on the inside with crispy skin on the outside, all slathered in sweet and savory barbecue sauce, served with a crisp green salad full of garden-ripe tomatoes and a cob of in-season sweet corn -- this is perhaps my favorite Summertime meal. I fantasize about it -- I don't care who grills it, if I'm invited, I'm showing up. The bar I've set for my ideal grilled chicken with barbecue sauce is high, but make no mistake, I'm completely capable of making a perfectly-good version under less than ideal circumstances -- indoors. In...... View full recipe for "~ Butter-Browned & Broiled BBQ'd Chicken Thighs ~"

07/12/2015

~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~

When it comes to cherry desserts, these sweet little easy-to-make cherry treats hold their own amongst the heavy hitters. I can't lie either, this is not an original recipe of mine, it is my amped-up version of one that came straight from the pages of Taste of Home magazine, which, as most home cooks know, is one of a handful of reliable sources for good-tasting, easy-to-make, family-friendly, kitchen-tested recipes made from readily-available or on-hand ingredients. When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked, store-bought, canned pie filling (which is what...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~"

07/02/2015

~ Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Hideg Meggyleves) ~

In my opinion, sour cherries are one of the most regal, refined fruits you will ever eat. My grandmother simply referred to these ruby-red jewels as "pie cherries", but, if you are on a quest to purchase them, they are sometimes marketed as "tart cherries". Joe and I live at a high elevation here in Central Pennsylvania, which I have come to learn is ideal for them, which is why our tree thrives, and thrives, and thrives. That said, even in this ideal environment, the sour cherry season is quite brief, with the cherries being ready to pick at the...... View full recipe for "~ Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Hideg Meggyleves) ~"

06/26/2015

~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~

We grandmothers of today are much different than the grandmothers of past generations. I know. I've been GrandMel for eight years, and, when I look around my kitchen, I see a sea of countertop appliances that make my work a whole lot easier: grind my coffee beans, blend my smoothies, chop my vegetables, mix my cake batters, steam my rice, make my pasta, bake my bread, press my sandwiches, fry my fritters and freeze my ice cream. The list goes on. By the time I was born in 1955, my grandmother had acquired a toaster, and, a fancy-schmancy Sunbeam stand...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~ "

06/24/2015

~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~

The incredible edible egg. That four-word sentence is Don Draper-esque advertising genius. Joe and I have been starting our days with eggs several times a week for almost thirty-five years -- even during 'the dark period' when the food police were patrolling the streets proclaiming the cholesterol in eggs was going to lead to the early demise of us American egg eaters. When it comes to food I love, I believe in living dangerously, and, eggs are the perfect eggs-ample. If you scout around Kitchen Encounters, you'll find all sorts of really good egg recipes from all over the world,...... View full recipe for "~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~"

06/22/2015

~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~

When you get invited to a backyard barbecue or a neighborhood picnic, what do you get asked to bring -- a dessert, a side-dish, an appetizer? Nine times out of ten, I get asked to make these deviled eggs. Amongst friends they're simply called "Mel's Eggs", and, they have a reputation for being egg-strordinary, which makes me chuckle because when I was growing up, they were quite ordinary. It's how my grandmother made them and taught me to make them. Horseradish is one of our most beloved Eastern European 'secret weapons'. Like any other deviled egg recipe, you can make...... View full recipe for "~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~"

06/14/2015

~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~

If you're looking for a change of pace to spice up your Summer menu, my tropical fruit salsa is your answer. While I love it served atop grilled white fish (like grouper and sea bass) on a bed of steamed jasmine rice, it is delicious on cheesy Tex-Mex nachos and chicken quesadillas. That said, it pairs equally as well with Thai-Asian fare like my ~ Crunchy Thai-Style Deep-Fried Coconut Shrimp ~ as an appetizer (recipe found in Categories 1, 11, 13 & 14), and, my East-meets-West fusion main course ~ Thai Turkey Patties & Rice w/Creamy Coconut Sauce ~. Newsflash...... View full recipe for "~ My Sweet 'n Spicy, Summer Tropical Fruit Salsa ~"

06/09/2015

~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~

I raised three boys. When I was making cheeseburgers, chili, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, no one had to be called to the table twice. On those nights, our dinner conversation was downright pleasant too. It was smooth sailing for lasagna, stuffed peppers, meatloaf and sloppy Joe's too. You could say, ground beef brings out the table manners in boys growing up in America. From my perspective, ground beef made me happy for a lot of years too -- it was budget friendly, and, meals made from it were relatively quick and easy to prepare as well. About...... View full recipe for "~ My Moist, Juicy, Grilled Thai-Style Turkey Burgers ~"

06/06/2015

~ Know the Pros & 'Cons' of Ground Turkey vs Beef ~

Between you and I, Joe and I are not lovers of ground turkey, turkey franks, turkey kielbasa, turkey sausage, turkey bacon, etc. We do, however, love real-deal roast turkey with all the trimmings, and, adore turkey sandwiches. I in particular get really annoyed by television chefs and advertisements that peddle these products as "just as good as" ground beef or pork, sausages and cured bacon products. In my opinion, they are a disparagingly dry, bland, boring "look alike" alternative for folks who can't or won't eat beef or pork. They're usually marketed as being "healthier" or "lighter" -- which, in...... View full recipe for "~ Know the Pros & 'Cons' of Ground Turkey vs Beef ~"

06/01/2015

~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~

I hate camping. Camping caused me to quit the Girl Scouts in 1965. I was nine. Hiking into the woods, pitching a tent, building a campfire, singing songs, telling ghost stories, sleeping on the ground in a bag with a zipper, gazing at the stars, listening to the crickets, smelling the night air -- I hated it all. All it took was one night in the woods and I quit -- the very next day. I gave my green uniform to my girlfriend Brenda and went AWOL. I did, however, enjoy the s'mores. You don't have to love the lifestyle...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~"

05/28/2015

~ For the Love of Vanilla: Double-Vanilla Cupcakes ~

Vanilla is easy to love -- its scent is enchanting, its taste is exotic. It can be used in an array of sweet and savory culinary applications, but, it is indisputably the number one flavoring in baked goods. For my taste, most published recipes don't add enough vanilla. Be it vanilla beans, paste, extract or powder, I typically double the recommended amount -- yes, I double it and I have never once been disappointed. There's more: I'll bet a lot of you do the very same thing. Not being a professional baker does not mean I'm not a good baker...... View full recipe for "~ For the Love of Vanilla: Double-Vanilla Cupcakes ~"

05/22/2015

~David's Devilishly Dark & Dense Devil's Food Cake~

Tell someone to "name a chocolate cake". Nine out of ten times, the answer will be devil's food. This iconic childhood-memory-of-a-cake has a place in the hearts and minds of everyone who loves a forkful of rich and moist chocolate cake. I'll take it one step further: I'm willing to bet that nine out of ten times, if you ask, "what was the first chocolate cake you baked from scratch", the answer will be the same. It was indeed the first chocolate cake I baked from scratch, and, there was a period in time when I had the recipe committed...... View full recipe for "~David's Devilishly Dark & Dense Devil's Food Cake~"

05/03/2015

~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry Salsa for Cinco de Mayo ~

Strawberries to make salsa? If you are a skeptic, all you'll need is one taste and it will make perfect sense to you. Just like tomatoes, they are full of naturally sweet and tart flavor which makes them terrific used in savory ways. Simply substitute them for tomatoes in almost any Tex-Mex-flavored salsa recipe, and, add the usual suspects: a bit of acid (lime juice), an herb (cilantro), spices (salt and a bit of sugar to bring up the flavor too), and, of course, the always-necessary onion (or green onion). If it's heat you're craving, mince up a jalapeno pepper...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry Salsa for Cinco de Mayo ~"

05/01/2015

~ A Versatile Tex-Mex Condiment: Chile-Lime Mayo ~

Today is the unofficial start to barbecue and grill season here in Central Pennsylvania. Whether your preference is the low-and-slow barbecue pit (Eastern or Western North Carolina-, Texas-, Kansas City-, or Memphis-style), or, the fast-and-furious charcoal or gas grill, from Cinco de Mayo to Labor Day, there will be plenty opportunities for all of us to show off and share our smoke and fire skills. We Americans love to cook, eat and drink in the great outdoors. Joe and I don't pretend to be pit-masters or grill-masters, but, we do turn out some very tasty stuff, and, amongst our favorite...... View full recipe for "~ A Versatile Tex-Mex Condiment: Chile-Lime Mayo ~"

04/27/2015

~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~

One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four -- make enough potato salad, they're coming back for more. While we're playing the counting game, I don't think one can have too many recipes for potato salad -- people love the stuff. Baked, boiled or roasted, gold, red, russet or sweet, potatoes, when paired with the right dressing, can complement a meal from a multitude of cuisines -- in fact, every culture that eats potatoes makes a version of potato salad. Here in America, potato salad recipes vary from region-to-region and our American Southwest is no exception. Today's recipe is the one...... View full recipe for "~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~"

04/24/2015

~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~

For me, the only thing that tastes better than a thick, juicy hamburger hot-off-the-gill is: a thick, juicy cheeseburger, hot-off-the grill. I don't grill enough to profess to being an expert, but the stuff I do grill is mighty tasty. I'm cooking these to please me today -- they're my favorite twist on traditional cheeseburgers. I'm mixing the cheese into the burgers instead of placing it on top of them, and, I'm packing the mixture full of bold, spicy, American-Southwest Tex-Mex flavors. Admittedly, it's unorthodox, but, I've been told, often by the critics themselves, "this is one of the best...... View full recipe for "~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~"