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

09/02/2014

~ My Bacon-y Bacon-Lovers Baked Beans & Bacon ~

The food world is swarming with bacon lovers. Despite all attempts by the food police to curb our enthusiam for bacon, it is here to stay in a big way. For example. I have three recipes for baked beans: Boston, Hilda's and Bacon-y. All are wonderful recipes, but, Bacon-y are the ones everyone always asks me to make for picnics and tailgates. They are savory and sweet, loaded with smoky bacon goodness, and there is never a morsel left in the casserole. This is great for me, because of the three recipes they're the easiest to make (no bean soaking)....... View full recipe for "~ My Bacon-y Bacon-Lovers Baked Beans & Bacon ~"

08/31/2014

~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~

It's Labor Day weekend -- the unofficial end of Summer! Here in Pennsylvania, it is also the unofficial end of our local sweet corn and tomato season. We've had a banner year for both this year, and, this past week, I've posted a few of my favorite ways to use fresh corn kernels after they have been removed from the cob: corn off the cob! To learn ~ How to Shave Corn Off the Cob ~, make ~ Creamed Corn ~, & ~ Cheesy Creamed-Corn Dip ~, click on the Related Article links below! Today, I'm making my corn casserole...... View full recipe for "~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~"

07/21/2014

~ Tequila-Lime Skirt-Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon)~

To a carnivore like me, tacos al carbon (skirt steak fajitas) are as close to food perfection as Tex-Mex fare gets. They are the very first fajita I ever sunk my teeth into and the very first fajita I learned to make (even before fajita fever hit our nation during the 1980's). The years were 1974 thru 1979 and our neighbors in our very first Happy Valley apartment were a Texas cowboy and his beautiful Mexican-American wife (who hailed from San Antonio): Tom and Toni (Antoinette). I was only in my twenties and had absolutely no previous experience with any...... View full recipe for "~ Tequila-Lime Skirt-Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon)~"

07/18/2014

~ Tex-Mex Campstove or Stovetop Chicken Fajitas ~

Fajitas (fa-hee-tas) -- oh so delicious and oh so easy to make too -- I never had to call my three boys or Joe to the dinner table twice on fajita night. That was back in the mid-to-latter 1980's when close-to-authentic versions of fajitas surfaced nationwide on good Tex-Mex restaurant menus. The poor and unpretentious fajita had 'gone Hollywood' -- flamboyant skillets of sizzling steak or chicken served tableside with warm flour tortillas, sauted vegetables and mounds of condiments were a delicious and fun dining experience for the entire family. Like a wild fire in a dry forest, this meal...... View full recipe for "~ Tex-Mex Campstove or Stovetop Chicken Fajitas ~"

07/12/2014

~ Lemon-Pepper Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette ~

I rarely write a post that requires readers to search for a specialized ingredient not readily found at the market, and, when I do, I usually include a uncompromising substitute for that item (or items). I am what I refer to as an equal opportunity recipe developer. From time to time it's my job to work with unusual or extravagant ingredients from around the world. Sharing them in my recipes is fun, but, it's also my responsibility, via a substitute ingredient, to make sure the recipe is user-friendly and economical for all -- we are all in this food world...... View full recipe for "~ Lemon-Pepper Pear-Infused Balsamic Vinaigrette ~"

07/10/2014

~ Luscious Lemony Strawberry Almond Coffeecake (Quite possibly the best strawberry shortcake ever!) ~

On Monday, when I said, "happiness comes in many forms", I had no idea just how many forms. On Monday I was referring to my delicate, moist, almost-creamy ~ Simply Splendid Lemony Pear Almond Coffeecake ~ (you can get the recipe by clicking on the Related Article link below). I was, and still am, posting a few pear recipes, because I was given a box of organic bosc pears last week. The beat goes on -- I am still most contented to eat my way through the remainder of my lovely pears and write another one or two pear posts,...... View full recipe for "~ Luscious Lemony Strawberry Almond Coffeecake (Quite possibly the best strawberry shortcake ever!) ~"

07/05/2014

~My Carolina-Style Pulled-Pork BBQ (Oven Method)~

About the only thing Americans love more than a parade is a barbecue, and, no barbecue comes close to being as familiar, beloved or nationally recognized as Southern pork barbecue. Apologies to you barbecuer's of beef -- I love your stuff, but, pork fat rules. Period. That being said, I'm marching to the beat of a different drummer with this post. Why? Experts have published so much material on the art of outdoor smoking on pits and grills, I couldn't begin to add anything of substance that hasn't already been said in a million different opinionated ways. This post is...... View full recipe for "~My Carolina-Style Pulled-Pork BBQ (Oven Method)~"

07/03/2014

~ Mel's Creamy-Crunchy Seriously-Good Coleslaw ~

It is amazing to me how many people say they don't like coleslaw, then admit they've never tried it because they don't like cabbage or anything made with cabbage. Seriously? I am at a loss for any understanding of this mindset. I grew up loving my grandmother's pepper-slaw, my mother's stuffed cabbage rolls, my dad's ham and cabbage, and, sauerkraut. Whenever someone says "no thank you" to coleslaw, for some reason, I find it hard to resist the urge to change their mind. In the instances when I can successfully coerce someone into trying my slaw, the reaction to my...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Creamy-Crunchy Seriously-Good Coleslaw ~"

06/25/2014

~ One Recipe = Two of Mel's Favorite Citrus Salad Dressings: Pink Grapefruit or Sun-Kissed Orange!!! ~

It might be melon season right now but I've just spent the past week focusing on main-dish "citrus fruit in salad" recipes. I love citrus fruit and rarely does a week pass by that I don't use its juice and/or its zest as an ingredient in something I'm cooking. On almost a daily basis I eat it or drink it for pure, unadulterated enjoyment -- although I do adulterate it into a refreshing cocktail or two from time to time. I especially love it worked into salads that contain chicken or seafood. From appetizer to dessert, citrus fruit is a...... View full recipe for "~ One Recipe = Two of Mel's Favorite Citrus Salad Dressings: Pink Grapefruit or Sun-Kissed Orange!!! ~"

06/23/2014

~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing + Why I love Danablu cheese & some chive talkin' too!~

Blue cheese dressing is undoubtedly one of America's most popular salad dressings -- especially with men. In any steakhouse you'll be offered their house salad, many times a classic wedge salad, with the option of their in-house-made blue cheese dressing on top of it. Order chicken wings anywhere, and unless you request them served otherwise, they will arrive at your table with blue cheese dressing. I'm proud to say my recipe will rival any blue cheese dressing: Chocked full of chunkly blue cheese crumbles, just the right balance of sweet and savory spice with a touch of heat, I'm reasonably...... View full recipe for "~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing + Why I love Danablu cheese & some chive talkin' too!~"

05/23/2014

~ Creamy Baked Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese ~

Macaroni and cheese is near the very top of the American favorite food list. This ooey-gooey irresistable mixture of unpretentious pasta and cheese has earned a beloved place on tables ranging from your grandmother's kitchen to college dorms to gourmet restaurants. We love it and we serve it year round, indoors or out, at all sorts of gatherings, holidays and celebrations. My guy wants my Mac & Cheese served with our son Jesse's Bone-Suckin, Charcoal-Smoked Spareribs for Memorial Day! I'm sure there is a percentage of you who think Mac & Cheese was invented by Kraft foods (their first version...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Baked Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese ~"

02/28/2014

~ Broiled & Baked: K.C. BBQ'D Country-Style Ribs (Pantry Cooking: Kid friendly and mother approved!) ~

Just because it is the end of February does not mean Spring is right around the corner. Especially this year. Unlike Winters of the recent past, this one's agenda has been brutal, with 8"-16" of snow in our current forecast for this Sunday (March 2nd). I can live with old man Winter. It's easy to do from the inside looking out, but, sometimes I yearn for the taste of a grilled rib or a piece of chicken dripping with red, ketchup-y sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. Note: Joe is no slouch. He never puts our grill away for the Winter,...... View full recipe for "~ Broiled & Baked: K.C. BBQ'D Country-Style Ribs (Pantry Cooking: Kid friendly and mother approved!) ~"

11/05/2013

~ Mel's Oven-Roasted Version of PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken a la Deb Pearson ~

I hoped to post this recipe for BBQ'd chicken back in June or July, but, 'the powers that be' took longer than I anticipated to locate this unique-to-PA BBQ'd chicken dish, and, more importantly the proper venue to execute it: Chicken halves or pieces are grilled over a wood fire in a structure made of cinderblocks, called a "blockpit". During the process, the chicken is misted, not brushed, with a mixture of melted butter, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sometimes lemon juice! About six months ago my girlfriend from Ohio, who works with noneother than The Grillmaster himself, Steven Raichlen, called...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Oven-Roasted Version of PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken a la Deb Pearson ~"

11/02/2013

~ Around Town (in search of a blockpit & a recipe for PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken) ~

My search for a blockpit began about six months ago. A girlfriend from Ohio, who works with noneother than The Grillmaster himself, Steven Raichlen, contacted me. Nancy explained that Steven's website had received an e-mail request for a specific recipe for barbecued chicken, cooked over a wood fire in a structure made of cinderblocks. During the cooking process, the half chickens or chicken parts are misted, not brushed, with a mixture of melted butter, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sometimes lemon juice. Nancy added that, in the e-mail, the man said "he had grown up eating this unique chicken in Pennsylvania"....... View full recipe for "~ Around Town (in search of a blockpit & a recipe for PA-Style Blockpit BBQ'd Butter 'n Vinegar Chicken) ~"

09/02/2013

~Eye-of-Round Roast = Back-to-School Sandwiches~

Alert -- There is a show-off in the lunch room! When I was a kid, everyone went back to school the day after Labor Day. We all carried a 'signature' metal lunch box with a matching Thermos inside of it -- mine was a Barbie lunch box. My brother's was a G.I. Joe lunchbox. These lunch boxes took a lickin' and kept on tickin', and ones choice of a lunch box could 'make or break' that entire year of school. Barbie was always a good choice -- who didn't love Barbie? She was a perfect!!! School cafeterias in schools weren't...... View full recipe for "~Eye-of-Round Roast = Back-to-School Sandwiches~"

08/22/2013

~ Copper Carrot Coins: A Super-Simple Side-Dish ~

Our garden is beginning to wane. The cherry, peach and plum trees are bare. Our cucumbers and zucchini are gone. The tomatoes have all be eaten or processed into sauce and I'm back to buying lettuce in the grocery store. Butternut squash, pumpkins and cabbage will be at their peak in a week or two, and, then it will be time to enjoy the Fall and prepare to Winterize! In the meantime, Joe picked a basket full of fine-looking peppers yesterday: bell, jalapeno, hot wax and poblanos -- enough of all to keep me busy for a few days. For...... View full recipe for "~ Copper Carrot Coins: A Super-Simple Side-Dish ~"

08/17/2013

~Russian Red Salad: Potato, Beet, Onion & Radish~

It's 'that' time of year here in Central PA: Mid-August. Joe's two vegetable gardens are gifting me with almost more produce than I can process. His cucumbers, Summer squash and zucchini are finally starting to wane, tomatoes and peppers are going to take up a lot of my time next week, and at present, I'm looking at a few bunches of freshly-picked radishes and red beets! I've been a lover-of-vegetables my entire life, and, growing up in an Eastern European household, root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, radishes, red beets, parsnips and turnips made regular appearances on our dinner table. Most...... View full recipe for "~Russian Red Salad: Potato, Beet, Onion & Radish~ "

08/15/2013

~ Sour-Creamy Russian Cucumber & Radish Salad ~

Most of you already know, but, for those who don't: my heritage is 'White' Russian. My husband Joe's heritage is Italian. We often joke about ours being a marriage made in culinary heaven: blini, borscht, pirogi and stuffed cabbage meets bruschetta, minestrone, ravioli and ossobuco. Thanks to the Russian Orthodox church calendar, for the most part, we get to celebrate two Christmas's and two Easter's too. These and all ethnic celebrations revolve around tables full of fabulous food and plenty of alcohol: Vodka for the Russians, Anisette for the Italians! I have an affinity for Russian fare and the Eastern...... View full recipe for "~ Sour-Creamy Russian Cucumber & Radish Salad ~"

08/03/2013

~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~

Everyone loves to eat "food on a stick". "Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn". Medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords to grill their food over open fires in the field are credited with inventing "kabobs". Over time, every culture/cuisine developed its own time-honored, traditional method for skewering and cooking kabobs: the Greeks have their souvlaki, Peruvian anticucuos are awesome, and, satay is the national dish of Indonesia! Americans are no exception and we Americans love to grill, which is why Americans who love Japanese food love yakitori. Yakitori literally means "grilled chicken", with...... View full recipe for "~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~"

07/30/2013

~ My Japanese Yakitori Story & All the Facts Jack!!! ~

My Yakitori Story (the long and not so short of it): Back in 1986 I tagged along on one of Joe's business trips and spent ten days in Tokyo. During the day, while Joe was in business meetings, I passed the time in a variety of ways. Besides shopping in the Ginza (one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world), I took classes in flower arranging and origami, attended an official tea ceremony, and, got to see where the exquisite fresh-water Kasumi pearls come from! In the evenings we were wined and dined by corporate executives in amazing...... View full recipe for "~ My Japanese Yakitori Story & All the Facts Jack!!! ~"

07/21/2013

~ Mel's "Happy Valley" Ranch-Style Salad Dressing ~

A little over 50 years ago no one had ever heard of ranch dressing and now it is America's most popular salad dressing. We do much more than top our salads with it too. It is our dip of choice for vegetables, a marinade for our meat or poultry, and, a flavoring in our favorite brands of corn and potato chips. I buy very little bottled salad dressing in general (although I do keep a bottle of Wish-Bone Light Italian in my refrigerator at all times), but, when my boys were small, I was one of those mom's who kept...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's "Happy Valley" Ranch-Style Salad Dressing ~"

06/16/2013

~ How to: Properly Skewer Food for Grilling Kabobs ~

The Summer grill season is in full swing, and unless I miss my guess, I'll attend a picnic or a barbecue sometime soon to find the host or hostess struggling and fumbling to keep the food on their kabobs under control, meaning: keep the ingredients from irritatingly spinning around on the skewers when they try to turn them over to cook them on the second side. Depending upon the circumstances, sometimes I offer my help and advice, other times "not so much". When do I? Always when asked and usually because the cook is a novice willing to learn a...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Properly Skewer Food for Grilling Kabobs ~"

06/03/2013

~ Please Pass the Bourbon Burger 'n Steak Sauce ~

Joe and I both love a high-quality, perfectly-grilled, rare- medium-rare steak that can hold its own on a plate without embellishments. I'm the rare part of the equation, Joe is the medium-rare part. That being said, we both like steak sauce too, however, our approach to saucing steak differs. When I eat a great steak, I want the sauce in a bowl to the side. I'm what is known as a "dipper". Sometimes I want to savor just the succulent meat, and, sometimes I want to plunge it into the warm sauce. When Joe eats a great steak, he wants...... View full recipe for "~ Please Pass the Bourbon Burger 'n Steak Sauce ~"

06/01/2013

~ Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Sweet, Spicy & Smokey~

I'm a sauce-a-holic. I think almost everything tastes better with a perfectly executed sauce on top of it, underneath it or to the side of it. In the culinary world, I think a saucier (a person who has devoted themself to the art and science of saucemaking) is the most valuable person in the kitchen. Simmer down... think about it a moment. From appetizers to desserts in every cuisine, a simple or sophisticated sauce not only enhances food, it'll mask a minor mishap or a mistake! Yesterday, my husband grilled three racks of baby-back spareribs. Trust me when I tell...... View full recipe for "~ Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Sweet, Spicy & Smokey~"

05/30/2013

~ Making Citrus Smoothies w/Fruit Puree Ice Cubes ~

I am neither an authority (a schooled expert) on smoothies nor a smoothie aficionado (an ardent devotee). I am more of a smoothie connoisseur (a discriminating judge). I've tasted well-made ones and I've tasted not-so-well-made ones. I've tasted well-made ones that I didn't care for at all and not-so-well-made ones that I liked a lot. I do not concoct smoothies for nutritional value or health benefits -- I cook meals for that. I like my kale on a plate and my oatmeal in a bowl thank you. I do not drink smoothies for a protein fix or boost of energy....... View full recipe for "~ Making Citrus Smoothies w/Fruit Puree Ice Cubes ~ "

05/27/2013

~ Fun w/Summer Fruit: Fresh-Fruit-Puree Ice Cubes ~

Wherever you live, I hope you are enjoying a lovely, long Memorial Day weekend. Often referred to as "the unofficial start to Summer", and, "the unofficial start to the outdooor entertaining season", Memorial Day, out of respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our great country, is a weekend full of entire-town celebrations (complete with parades and carnivals), as well as relaxed family gatherings. In preparation for this holiday, every foodie grillmaster I know cleans their barbecue grill in anticipation of cooking fare that is inspired by and complementary of nature's bounty. As soon as the holiday's festivities...... View full recipe for "~ Fun w/Summer Fruit: Fresh-Fruit-Puree Ice Cubes ~"

05/23/2013

~ A Summertime Shrimp, Avocado & Tomato Salad ~

Yikes! Here in Central Pennsylvania, the weather has done a real-life, real-deal, flip-flop. Last week, in 40 degree temperatures, I was baking cookies to warm up my kitchen. This week, with 90 degree temperatures, I find myself scrolling through my recipe archives for cold salads and lighter fare, to avoid heating the kitchen at all. Yesterday, I shot my weekly Kitchen Encounters segment for WHVL-TV's Sunday morning Centre of It All Show. It was episode #41: I prepared my recipe for ~ Shrimp & Pasta Salad w/Lemony Garlic Dressing + (Three Tips for Properly Preparing Pasta Salad too!) ~. You...... View full recipe for "~ A Summertime Shrimp, Avocado & Tomato Salad ~"

05/19/2013

~ Three Cookies of Mel's Youth Week -- In Review ~

I rarely write a retrospective blog post. In fact in almost three years of blogging, this is only my third one. If you've been following along this week, I shared three simple, straightforward and special-to-me recipes for "drop cookies": snickerdoodles, ginger snaps and peanut butter. All three of the recipes can be found in Category 7 or by clicking on the Related Article links below! A bit about drop cookies: They are one of the simplest types of cookies to make, and the term refers to cookies made from a relatively soft dough that gets dropped, in uniformly-sized spoonfuls, directly...... View full recipe for "~ Three Cookies of Mel's Youth Week -- In Review ~"

10/05/2012

~ A Hot Dog with a Salad On Top? Only in Chicago! ~

As I've mentioned before here on Kitchen Encounters, aside from a few layovers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, my direct experiences with Illinois are limited to three: #1) Pickalilli (a highly-seasoned, bright-green colored, sweet pickle relish), which my neighbor Jane (from Champaign, IL) gave me her recipe for (about 18-20 years ago); #2) One Chicago-style deep-dish pizza at Uno's Pizzeria on Rush Street, and; #3) A Chicago-style hot dog in full regalia, which I ate at the airport. It was love at first bite! Making a Chicago Dog is called: Dragging it through the garden! A bit about the Chicago-style...... View full recipe for "~ A Hot Dog with a Salad On Top? Only in Chicago! ~"

10/03/2012

~ Sweet Home Chicago: Italian Beef Sandwiches ~

Have I ever eaten an authentic Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich? Technically, no, because I didn't eat it in Chicago, BUT I ate one, more than a few times, in Philadelphia. I think it counts as enough experience to write this post because they were sold and marketed as Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. I will probably hear a few "boo's" from my Philadelphia friends and readers for my next statement, but: I like this sandwich better than the Philly's famous cheesesteak. And, for any of you hard-core Chicagoland folks: before I decided to post this, I asked the necessary questions of...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Home Chicago: Italian Beef Sandwiches ~"

08/21/2012

~ Melanie's Favorite Way to Skewer & Grill Shrimp ~

Shrimp are persnickity. They must be cooked correctly. There is no middle ground. If they are not cooked enough, they are distastefully undercooked and raw. If they are cooked too much, they are ridiculously overcooked and rubbery. Perfectly cooked shrimp are just cooked through, opaque in the center, juicy and succulent. Cooking shrimp to perfection using moist heat cooking methods, like steaming or boiling, where the shrimp are surrounded by moist heat or immersed in hot liquid, is a simple matter of timing, which varies depending upon the size of the shrimp. In the case of pan-frying or sauteing, the...... View full recipe for "~ Melanie's Favorite Way to Skewer & Grill Shrimp ~"

08/19/2012

~ Orecchiette Pasta w/Basil-Tomato-Garlic Sauce ~

In the late Summer, when fresh basil and garden tomatoes are plentiful, this is an exceptional dish to serve. I want to say I worked really, really hard to come up with it, but I did not. Joe and I will be living in this house 16 years come this November 1st. The very first Spring after we moved in, in 1997, while I was decorating my dream house, Joe was planting his dream garden. Near the end of August, I was affectionately referring to him as "Mr. Greenjeans", and his garden, "the basil and tomato farm". One afternoon, when...... View full recipe for "~ Orecchiette Pasta w/Basil-Tomato-Garlic Sauce ~"

08/07/2012

~ When Life Hands You Lemons: Make Lemonade! ~

When I have an excess of lemons, besides an occasional lemon meringue pie, "real deal" lemonade is what I love to make with them. It just so happens, I have a dozen lemons in my refrigerator right now. Over the weekend, I hosted a baby shower for my friend Jeanne's daughter-in-law Lisa, and, because the majority of the Cocolin clan is Greek, we served Greek cuisine, which, besides spinach, feta and lamb, is known for is famous avgolemono (avh-goh-LEH-moh-noh) sauce and avgolemono soup (lemon sauce and lemon soup). Because lemons were part of our theme, we served lemonade at the...... View full recipe for "~ When Life Hands You Lemons: Make Lemonade! ~"

07/27/2012

~ A Summer Comfort Food: German Potato Salad ~

Every now and then, my world, or the world in general, gets stressful, overwhelming, and, just plain crazy. When that happens, I head into my kitchen to cook something that makes me happy. It has been such a week here at Kitchen Encounters. Retreating into my kitchen to cook comfort food is easier to do in the Fall and Winter months, because I have a long list of comforting casseroles, soups and pasta dishes in my repertoire. Today, I decided to put some nice thick pork loin chops on the grill and mix up a batch of warm and comforting...... View full recipe for "~ A Summer Comfort Food: German Potato Salad ~"

07/10/2012

~ Lemony Orzo & Shrimp Salad w/Cucumber, Feta & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, or: What I Cook for Me ~

Every once in a while... scratch that. Every once or twice a year, I have a day off. I mean a real day off, just to wander around my own little paradise and do whatever I want. What constitutes a real day off for me? Here it is: The housework, my blog and my e-mails need no immediate attention. I have no appointments or commitments and my phone isn't ringing off the hook. My husband is out-of-town for the day (and he took my mother-in-law with him... to visit her family). It's just me without makeup and three poodles... watching...... View full recipe for "~ Lemony Orzo & Shrimp Salad w/Cucumber, Feta & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, or: What I Cook for Me ~"

07/05/2012

~ Blueberry-Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette (My heatwave salad!) ~

The heatwave on the East Coast is well over a week old now and the 90-100 degree temperatures show no immediate signs of dropping. My three poodles and I are lucky. Our AC is functioning (as best it can) and our power has remained on, so, we've been holed up in a comfortable house watching movies and playing indoor "puppy games".... throwing and fetching tennis balls and toys down long hallways, and, barking at birds, butterflies, rabbits and squirrels through glass windows. Joe's been picking up groceries for me on his way home from the office. While I welcome complete...... View full recipe for "~ Blueberry-Kiwi-Watermelon Salad on Baby Greens w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette (My heatwave salad!) ~"

06/21/2012

~ Sweet Corn, Grape Tomato, Black Bean & Vidalia Onion Salsa (It's Great On or In Fajitas or Wraps) ~

One of my favorite things about the Summertime is making fresh salsa. Unfortunately, even at the end of June in Central Pennsylvania, it is a few weeks too early in the season for me to rely upon fresh produce from our backyard garden (cilantro, green and red bell peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc.) or locally grown sweet corn. That being said, when Joe came home from the grocery store with a bag of unseasonably awesome sweet corn this past weekend, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to make salsa with the leftovers! A bit about salsa: "Salsa" is the...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Corn, Grape Tomato, Black Bean & Vidalia Onion Salsa (It's Great On or In Fajitas or Wraps) ~"

06/13/2012

~ Jesse's Smokin' Rib Rub a la Jesse's Mom (Mel) + (My Tips & Techniques for Gas Grill Smoked Ribs) ~

Once a year, for many years now, our son Jesse, who lives in Pittsburgh, smokes ribs for Joe, myself and whatever family and/or friends that happen to be here in our Happy Valley backyard! He loads up his Jeep in Clampett-like style with his Weber smoker, wood, bags of wood chips, special charcoal, welding gloves, an ax, pots and pans, plus, a keg of his favorite beer, his personal lawn chair, lucky hat and a small tent! For as long as he has been doing this, each year I have tried to elicit his help in drafting a recipe for...... View full recipe for "~ Jesse's Smokin' Rib Rub a la Jesse's Mom (Mel) + (My Tips & Techniques for Gas Grill Smoked Ribs) ~"

06/06/2012

~Sweet Potato, Apple, Vidalia Onion & Pecan Salad~

It's the first week of June and barbecue season is in full swing here in Melanie's Kitchen. Over the Memorial Day weekend we grilled thick, juicy Kobe beef cheeseburgers , and, over the past week we've made grilled chicken quesadillas and T-bone steaks too. I've got ribs on my mind for the upcoming weekend, so, before I start posting those rib recipes, I thought I'd take a moment to share one of my favorite side-dishes to serve with them! It is no secret that I am a lover of pretty much everything and anything that can be made with potatoes,...... View full recipe for "~Sweet Potato, Apple, Vidalia Onion & Pecan Salad~"

06/04/2012

~ Quesadillas: Grilled Guajillo Chile Chicken Thighs w/Vidalia Onions, Black Beans & Queso Fresco!!! ~

Thank-you to everyone who commented so positively about the ~ Sweet Heat: Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce ~ recipe, which can be found in Categories 6, 8, 13 or 22. In that recipe, I posted a picture of this sauce drizzled atop one of my favorite quesadillas (pictured here), which was the inspiration for the sauce recipe. When four of you e-mailed me this past weekend to ask where the recipe for the quesadilla chicken filling mixture could be found, then, one person contacted me with a detailed request for me to "please post the recipe for those scrumptious looking...... View full recipe for "~ Quesadillas: Grilled Guajillo Chile Chicken Thighs w/Vidalia Onions, Black Beans & Queso Fresco!!! ~"

05/21/2012

~ A Simple, Summertime Treat: Pineapple Cobbler ~

When I think of warm and comforting fruit cobbler, I don't usually associate it with Spring or Summer, and, pineapple is not the first fruit that pops into my mind when it comes to making cobbler either. In fact, it has never occurred to me to make cobbler with pineapple. That being said, Kitchen Encounters has been paying tribute to pineapple recipes all week, and, I just happened to have a nice-sized bowl of fresh pineapple chunks leftover in my refrigerator. It was my intention to eat it "as is" for a snack today with some strawberries (which are also...... View full recipe for "~ A Simple, Summertime Treat: Pineapple Cobbler ~"

05/19/2012

~ Pina Colada + Strawberry Daiquiri = Lava Flow ~

If you've been following Kitchen Encounters this past week, you've noticed that it's been "feature the pineapple week". Yes folks, right here in Central Pennsylvania, my husband Joe managed to grow three gorgeous pineapples (in large pots on our deck), which were all ripe and ready to harvest. Using them as my inspiration, I started by my making my ~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa ~, which can be found in Categories 1, 8, 10, 13 or 14! I used the salsa as my topping for a very old and special Mexican recipe: ~ Tacos al Pastor (Shepherd's-Style Tacos)...... View full recipe for "~ Pina Colada + Strawberry Daiquiri = Lava Flow ~"

05/15/2012

~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa!!! ~

Seven year ago, uh, seven long years ago, my husband Joe sliced the tops off of three grocery-store-bought pineapples. He planted them in large pots. He brought them indoors, into our heated garage, for the Winter, which as they grew was quite a chore. He pampered and spoiled them outdoors through the Pennsylvania Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. For seven years, I have complained vehemently about the space these massive, heavy plants take up, not to mention the mess created by the amount of water they require and drainage they produce. Today, with three happy, healthy, homegrown, perfectly-ripe pineapples to...... View full recipe for "~ Pineapple, Avocado, Tomato and Onion Salsa!!! ~"

05/08/2012

~ Dear Perfectly Baked Potato: Your Crispy Skin and Fluffy Center, Make My Steaks Taste Even Better!!! ~

Here in Happy Valley, April showers did bring May flowers, and, with that, the official start to grilling season. I am here to tell you, Joe and I were not the only couple in the neighborhood putting steaks on the grill this past weekend. Actually, we put quite a few steaks on the grill on Saturday night. It was Penn State's Graduation, and, a son of friends was part of the pomp and circumstance. While the graduates were off celebrating (into the wee hours of Sunday morning), we old folks retired to the hot tub for cocktails and a late...... View full recipe for "~ Dear Perfectly Baked Potato: Your Crispy Skin and Fluffy Center, Make My Steaks Taste Even Better!!! ~"

04/24/2012

~ Asian Chicken Salad w/Honey-Sesame Dressing ~

Everyone loves chicken salad, or at least I think everyone does, and every chef or family cook has at least one or two "go to" chicken salad recipes in his or her repertoire. In the heat of the Summer, nothing is more pleasing than light and refreshing Asian fare, and, whenever I serve my "spaghetti salad" (as my kids affectionately named it), my family comes flocking to the table! A bit about "spaghetti salad": Back in 1986 my husband and I left our kids with my parents and headed to Japan and Taiwan for two weeks (on a business trip)....... View full recipe for "~ Asian Chicken Salad w/Honey-Sesame Dressing ~"

04/16/2012

~ Shrimp & Pasta Salad w/Lemony Garlic Dressing + (Three Tips for Properly Preparing Pasta Salad too!) ~

This light, refreshing, satisfying main-dish pasta salad is a favorite of mine. It's full of Greek-syle flavors, which Joe and I love, and we especially enjoy eating it during the Summer, instead of a hot meal. Besides that, it's perfect to serve when I'm entertaining outdoors and want something that holds up well in the heat. Tonight, however, it's being served for dinner in Melanie's Kitchen for two practical reasons: Over the past weekend, my family celebrated Russian Orthodox Easter, and, I just happen to have a few dozen leftover cooked shrimp in my refrigerator, and; the sun is out...... View full recipe for "~ Shrimp & Pasta Salad w/Lemony Garlic Dressing + (Three Tips for Properly Preparing Pasta Salad too!) ~"

03/20/2012

~ Think Spring: The Classic & Elegant Deviled Egg! ~

Today is the first day of Spring. Just saying it puts me in a good mood. With Spring comes more than just planning for the upcoming Easter holiday. It means warm breezes, leaves on the trees, green grass, pretty flowers and planting. Culinarily, I've ordered my ham for Easter, been feasting on the season's asparagus for a couple of weeks now, and, my butcher is working on butterflying a leg of lamb for me to grill as I type this. For some reason though, like countless other foodies, when I "think Spring", deviled eggs immediately come to mind! And: Deviled...... View full recipe for "~ Think Spring: The Classic & Elegant Deviled Egg! ~ "

03/12/2012

~ The New Meaning of "Outstanding": Iberico Pork ~

Last Thursday afternoon, my friend Jami (Jamison Steffen), the Executive chef of The American Ale House in State College, PA, knocked on my kitchen door. "Mel, I took the liberty of ordering something for you that I want you to try and I think you're gonna love." He handed me a paper bag which contained three vacuum-sealed pieces of astonishingly beautiful looking pork, unlike any I'd ever seen before. As we often do, he and I sat at my kitchen counter for a few minutes and caught up on our two families and local foodie news. Chef Jami then gave...... View full recipe for "~ The New Meaning of "Outstanding": Iberico Pork ~"

02/20/2012

~ Mardi Gras Shrimp Remoulade a la Galatoire's ~

The New Orleans festival known as "Mardi Gras" means "Fat Tuesday", with "Mardi" being the French word for "Tuesday", and, "gras" being the French word for "fat". The festivities start on January 6th, or the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany, and carry on until the day before Ash Wednesday, or Fat Tuesday. The Mardi Gras festivities (parties, parades and feasts) will carry on until the stroke of midnight tomorrow night, when lent begins. Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in New Orleans and has been an annual event for two centuries! I've never been to New Orleans specifically to...... View full recipe for "~ Mardi Gras Shrimp Remoulade a la Galatoire's ~"

12/28/2011

~ Fresh Broccoli Salad w/Bacon, Havarti & Chicken ~

With Christmas a few days past and New Years a few ticks of the clock away, I needed a refreshing change of pace today. Something, anything, that would make me feel a little bit better about all of the rich foods I've been cooking and enjoying for the past week. I found some lovely broccoli at the market, and, for some reason, when I saw it, this "oldie but goodie" of a recipe immediately popped into my head... crunchy, tangy, slightly sweet and lightly-dressed with bacon, cheese and chicken in it too: this just what the doctor ordered to cure...... View full recipe for "~ Fresh Broccoli Salad w/Bacon, Havarti & Chicken ~"