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


~Cinnamon-Raisin Bread-Stuffing Muffins ('Stuffins')~

'Stuffins' -- just saying it brings a smile to my face. These are just plain fun to make, kid-friendly, and, practical too -- pretty little portions of complete happiness. If you brown bag your lunch, just wrap one up and toss it in. If you're cooking for just you or for two, make a dozen to have on hand for the entire week. They're a surefire crowd pleaser as well. A few years ago, I made a huge batch and took them to a Fall tailgate party where the men couldn't get enough of them! Stuffins can be made from...... View full recipe for "~Cinnamon-Raisin Bread-Stuffing Muffins ('Stuffins')~"


~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~

There was a period in my life when I taught cooking classes on a regular basis (which I'm just too busy to do nowadays). It was a rarity if I chose the subject matter. When a group of people or an organization wants to take a class, they usually know what it is they want to learn before they come a calling. In every class, one of the things I enjoy the most are the questions that get asked. Questions reveal two things: What is spinning around in the heads of people interested in food, and, what food trends are...... View full recipe for "~ Ricotta & Spinach Gnudi (Dumplings) w/Marinara ~"


~Mom's Traditional Ham, Cabbage and Potato Soup~

What makes this ethnic, hearty, peasant soup traditional? Every time my mother has a meaty ham bone in her hand, she makes "ham and cabbage". It is a brothy concoction of ham, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper. I grew up loving cabbage and I adore this "boiled dinner". I am Russian Orthodox (Eastern European). Cabbage juice runs through our veins -- Russian babies are born into the world loving cabbage (and potatoes). This soup was one of my father's mother's specialties! Over the course of the past week I've been extolling the joys...... View full recipe for "~Mom's Traditional Ham, Cabbage and Potato Soup~"


~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~

Carbonara. A word every foodie is familiar with. Not familiar with it? Not a foodie. Don't like the word foodie? Go write your own material. Carbonara is Italian, and, if you have ever eaten it in its city of origin, Rome, or had it prepared for you by someone from Rome, you have little patience with American bastardizations. Carbonara is the definition of "simply extraordinary"! Carbonara = Pasta, Pork, Eggs, Cheese & Pepper A bit about carbonara (kar-boh-NAH-rah): (The following is a run-on sentence.) Carbonara is a dish of al dente pasta (usually bucatini or thick spaghetti) tossed into a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Got Spaghetti "a la Carbonara" on Her Mind (A Simple Recipe w/Fond Memories & Rich History) ~"


~ Golden & Cheesy, Potato & Bread-Stuffing Cups ~

When company is coming and mashed potatoes are a must, this recipe is one of my favorite side-dishes. It combines two somewhat ordinary family-style side-dishes (mashed potatoes and bread stuffing) into one, by layering and portioning them into desired-sized ramekins. Once baked, these pretty-to-look-at accompaniments can grace even the swankiest of tables. They taste great with almost any roasted poultry, pork, and, prime rib too. There's more, they can be assembled a day or two before baking and serving. What's not to love about: Perfectly portioned, not too little, not to much -- just enough! Golden, cheesy potatoes on top...... View full recipe for "~ Golden & Cheesy, Potato & Bread-Stuffing Cups ~"


~ Making Indian Birista (Crispy Deep-Fried Onions) ~

If you are familiar with Indian food, you have eaten their birista (bah-REES-tah): thinly-sliced crispy, golden, deep-fried onions. They are as common to an Indian kitchen as steamed basmati rice and roti (an unleavened, griddle-cooked flatbread). They are eaten as a snack and used as an additive to, or a topper for, delectable dishes like biryani, curries, steamed rice, mashed potato filling, soups, salads, sandwiches, grilled meats, meat patties and savory breads. If you are not familiar with Indian food, but are a lover of onions, because barista are generic (they contain no Indian spices), you can and will find...... View full recipe for "~ Making Indian Birista (Crispy Deep-Fried Onions) ~"


~ I Just Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole ~

I just love my mother's "stuffing". When I was growing up, I could not wait for her to make it for Thanksgiving. Truthfully, I always wished she would have made it more than once a year, but, alas, that was not the case. It's a simple mixture of saltine crackers soaked in milk and eggs with sauteed celery, onions and ground beef added to it. Yes, I said ground beef. My mom disliked turkey giblets (thankfully I did not inherit that gene), so, she substituted the ground meat to mimic the look and mouth feel of them. That substitution makes...... View full recipe for "~ I Just Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole ~"


~ Sweet (& Savory): Caramelized Onions & Apples ~

I am a professed onion lover. I like all kinds, I like them served every way possible, and, I forgave them a long time ago for making me cry. I like them raw or pickled in salads and on sandwiches, simmered in stocks or soups, roasted whole or diced and baked in casseroles, and, perhaps my favorite way, sauted to different degrees of doneness: lightly-browned, browned or caramelized. All types of onions contain a lot of sugar and slowly cooking them on the stovetop draws out their natural sweetness. All fruit contains sugar and apples are at their peak right...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet (& Savory): Caramelized Onions & Apples ~"


~Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread~

Spoonbread is a Southern dish and is believed to be Native American in origin, which makes sense, since the Native Americans were the culinary masters of cooking with maiz/maize (corn and its byproducts). If you've never eaten spoonbread, it is a savory side-dish. Calling it a bread is a stretch because it is a moist, ever-so-slightly grainy, custardy concoction with a crispy top. It gets served in the container it was baked, and, is eaten with a spoon, hence the name. I liken it to a combination of cornmeal-based polenta, cornbread casserole and cornmeal souffle! Taking a drive down memory...... View full recipe for "~Lovin' Spoonful: Buttermilk 'n Cheddar Spoonbread~"


~ Butternut Squash & Caramelized Apple Casserole~

Sunday was the first day of Fall. Like clockwork, here in Central Pennsylvania, the temperatures have dropped to a chilly 40-50 degrees, and, even when the sun is shining bright, the breezes are brisk, and, Fall colors are starting to appear in our outdoor scenery. It is: sweater weather: All that is left from our vegetable gardens are butternut squash and pumpkins. If I store them in a cool, dry place, both will keep nicely until Thanksgiving, so, unlike Summer vegetables, I don't have to scurry around looking for ways to process or preserve them. I can enjoy them at...... View full recipe for "~ Butternut Squash & Caramelized Apple Casserole~"


~ Color Me Fall: An Autumn Butternut Squash Puree~

Fall begins precisely at 4:44 PM this afternoon and I've got to say, "I love the Fall." I'm one of those lucky people that lives in the Northeastern USA where we get to participate in four distinct seasons, with each one requiring a "sort of" different lifestyle. Fall: I love the clean, crisp "sweater weather", and, watching the leaves change in color from bright green to yellow-y golds and oranges. I especially love the transition from all of the fresh vegetables and grilled foods of Summer to the deep, nutty flavor of roasted vegetables and slow-cooked comfort foods! The only...... View full recipe for "~ Color Me Fall: An Autumn Butternut Squash Puree~"


~ How to: Steam a Butternut Squash in the Crockpot~

I love butternut squash and every Fall my husband Joe's garden gifts us with a few beauties. Some are big and some are small -- I love them all. I love butternut squash sliced raw and baked into casseroles, roasted and mashed or smashed like potatoes or sweet potatoes, or, steamed for puree. What can I say, I'd love this vegetable even if it wasn't really healthy and good for me, which it is. Is there anything I don't like about it? Well, yes there is! Read on: I hate peeling butternut squash! Admit it -- you do too! It...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Steam a Butternut Squash in the Crockpot~"


~ My Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables ~

Cheddar cheese sauce is really easy to make, and, only takes about five minutes, so please refrain from purchasing the store-bought glop. Even though I don't think perfectly-cooked vegetables need any livening up, my mother-in-law obviously does because she told me so yesterday. Ann said, "Did you ever have broccoli or cauliflower with cheese sauce on top? It is really good." That, my friends, is my mother-in-law's way of telling me she is hungry for something. Last Sunday she asked me if I ever baked a coconut cake -- enough said. So, today, on this week's day of rest, I'm...... View full recipe for "~ My Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables ~"


~ My E-Z Big Fat Greek Lemon-Pepper Garlic Bread~

When most people think about crispy, chewy and cheesy garlic bread, they think about eating Italian food: lasagna, spaghetti, meatballs and/or anything with marinara sauce. Just writing that sentence makes me want to put a pot of Noni's Sunday gravy on the stove to simmer. Recipes and methods for making Italian-style garlic bread vary from household to household, but it's the similarities that are of note. The butter mixture always contains garlic and herbs/spices common to Italian fare: basil, oregano, parsley, pepper and parmesan cheese! Two days ago I posted ~ My Big Fat Greek Lemony-Garlic Salad Dressing + (Jeanne's...... View full recipe for "~ My E-Z Big Fat Greek Lemon-Pepper Garlic Bread~"


~ 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 ~"


~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~ "


~ 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 ~"


~ Tempura-Dipped Onion Rings: Light, Airy & Crisp! ~

I love onions and a day rarely goes by in my kitchen that I am not using or serving some type of onion in some way, shape or form. Today, I'm going to address onion "shape", more specifically: the onion ring. Batter-dipped and deep-fried, onion rings are on the menu (usually just below or to the right of French fries) at diners, drive-ins, dives, carnivals and county fairs all across our country. They are an American institution, and, June 22 is National Onion Ring Day in the USA! No one knows exactly who invented deep-fried onion rings, but, we do...... View full recipe for "~ Tempura-Dipped Onion Rings: Light, Airy & Crisp! ~"


~Summer Soul Salad: Pickled Cucumbers & Onions~

When I left you on Tuesday, we were discussing the zucchini population in my backyard garden. Today, we are going to discuss the "other" cylindrical, elongated, viney member of the gourd and squash family that creeps along the ground and produces vegetables at an alarming pace for a few weeks every summer: the salad cucumber, also known as the slicing cucumber! Like zucchini, cucumbers are made up of a lot of water, with cucumbers containing 90% water. That, is a lot of water. Unlike zucchini, which require cooking to enhance their bland flavor and fibrous texture, cucumbers have a refreshing,...... View full recipe for "~Summer Soul Salad: Pickled Cucumbers & Onions~"


~ Batter-Dipped Panko-Crusted Deep-Fried Zucchini~

It's that time of year: zucchini season. If you have vegetable garden or a husband with a vegetable garden, you're looking for creative ways to use them before they fill the vegetable bin in your refrigerator to capacity. There's all sorts of recipes out there: zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini muffins, zucchini fritters, zucchini pancakes, zucchini waffles, etc., which are fine if you're looking to sneak a vegetable into your family's diet without them knowing it! Personally, I will only eat zucchini that are picked when young and tender (not Guinness Book of World Records huge), and, I like it...... View full recipe for "~ Batter-Dipped Panko-Crusted Deep-Fried Zucchini~"


~ Cooking Broccoli or Cauliflower in a Rice Steamer ~

It's no secret that my husband Joe and I adore Asian food. For that reason, investing in a rice steamer about 15 years ago was a "no brainer". I use mine about twice a week, there are many posts here on KE with instructions for steaming rice, and, over the years I've sung the praises of this countertop appliance while teaching many cooking classes. It wasn't until yesterday, while demonstrating how to make my ~ Easy Thai-Style Broccoli & Jasmine Rice Patties ~ on TV, that I learned some folks don't realize a rice steamer cooks broccoli and cauliflower too!...... View full recipe for "~ Cooking Broccoli or Cauliflower in a Rice Steamer ~"


~ Easy Thai-Style Broccoli & Jasmine Rice Patties ~

I've been making this easy Asian side-dish for more years than I can remember and the recipe was inspired by no one except myself. It was born out of my knowledge of and love for Thai food on a day when I was taking some leftover ingredients out of my refrigerator, namely: cooked broccoli and steamed rice (and not enough of either to singularly yield more than a semi-respectable nibble for one person). Then it occurred to me to combine them together, add a few Thai flavors from my pantry, bind them together with a beaten egg and saute them...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Thai-Style Broccoli & Jasmine Rice Patties ~ "


~ Commander's Kitchen's Recipe for: "Boiled" Rice ~

Sometimes we cooks take the simplest of things for granted. We intuitively know what spices, herbs, vegetables and/or fruits to add to a pot of perfectly-cooked, fluffy white rice to turn it into a spectacular side-dish. We instinctively use this inexpensive grain as a foil to stretch a meal that feeds a family of four into a meal that feeds six-to-eight. We grew up eating it, we make it for our families, we keep it on hand in our pantries, we order it in restaurants and we don't talk about it very much. After all... it's just rice. Measure it,...... View full recipe for "~ Commander's Kitchen's Recipe for: "Boiled" Rice ~"


~ Easy Toaster-Oven Parm 'n Pepper Texas Toast ~

Here I go again! Another recipe that was not on my short list (or any list) of recipes to post, has floated to the top of my pile and it is with a broad smile that I am sharing it with you today. I am always willing to share any recipe I have when someone asks for it, especially since every one of my recipes, no matter how simple or difficult, are more than tasty and thoroughly tested. I am, however, quickly learning that just because I decide to conveniently pass a recipe off in my mind as "not blog...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Toaster-Oven Parm 'n Pepper Texas Toast ~"


~ Mel's #1 March Madness Munchie: Potato Chips ~

Joe has been watching the NCAA basketball tournament for what seems like forever. The media calls this: March Madness. I couldn't agree more. It is madness. Personally, I don't much see the point of any team playing a season full of more basketball games than I can count, only to be defined by how they fare in this hyped-up forum. Simmer down. This is just one woman's opinion, and, if you think I don't "get" the basketball tourney, you ought to hear what I have to say about collegiate wrestling and the NCAA in general! munch/vb: to chew with a...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's #1 March Madness Munchie: Potato Chips ~"


~ Traditional Eastern-European Easter Egg-Cheese ~

Growing up in an Eastern European family and attending a Russian Orthodox Church and Sunday School etched all sorts of time-honored family and religious traditions for both the Christmas and Easter holidays in the recesses of my mind. Because I was born with a wooden spoon in my mouth, whenever my grandmother and mother were preparing the food for these two holidays, neither one of them had to coax me into the kitchen to assist. As each year passed, my responsibilities increased. By the time I was a new bride in my twenties, I was capable of preparing all of...... View full recipe for "~ Traditional Eastern-European Easter Egg-Cheese ~"


~ My Buttery Parm, Pepper & Parsley Bagel Chips ~

I love bagels. I particularly love egg bagels. Call me Mrs. Egg Bagel. I buy six of them each week at our local Wegman's bakery, because I deem their bagels to be the best. I grew up eating really high-quality New York-style bagels from a bakery in New Jersey, so, I know a good bagel from a bad bagel (and there are bad bagels in the world). I try to limit myself to one-half of one egg bagel each morning for breakfast, but, I must confess to sliding down the slippery slope and eating the remaining half (the entire bagel)...... View full recipe for "~ My Buttery Parm, Pepper & Parsley Bagel Chips ~"


~ Spicy, Crispy, Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato 'Fries' w/Allspice 'n Chipotle Chili Sauce... Sweet Heat!!! ~

You can cook sweet potatoes by all of the same methods you cook a potato: bake, boil, fry, grill, roast, microwave and even deep-fry. I am a lover of this extremely healthy superfood, and so is my 87-year-old mother-in-law Ann. Ann moved to Happy Valley five years ago, and, for the most part, I cook all of her meals. She has a venturesome appetite for all sorts of great food, and, I love to cook, so, from that standpoint, we get along great. Enough said. Like the rest of us, Ann occasionaly gets a craving for something specific. When she...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy, Crispy, Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato 'Fries' w/Allspice 'n Chipotle Chili Sauce... Sweet Heat!!! ~"


~ Waldorf-Style Apple, Raisin, Walnut & Rice Salad ~

Like many of you foodie friends, now that the "holidays have left the building", I need a few days of kitchen relaxation. I don't mean entirely no cooking, I mean: over the next few days, I just want to cook a couple of easy, full-of-flavor "no brainer" meals. If they happen to be a little lighter on fat and calories, that would be good too... as long as they are full of flavor. This versatile side-dish salad is not only light, fresh and flavorful, it's easy to make and will be great to serve alongside one or two meals this...... View full recipe for "~ Waldorf-Style Apple, Raisin, Walnut & Rice Salad ~"


~ Creamy Lemon-Tarragon & Shaved-Corn Orzotto ~

We're two days away from New Year's Eve and I'm gearing up to cook an elegant feast. I don't know exactly why, but, when I have to say good-bye to another year, I want to do it in style, and, this year, that means seafood. Pulling this off in the dead of Winter (especially when we have about a foot and a half of snow on the ground here in Happy Valley), might seem a bit tricky or complicated, but trust me when I tell you: it is easier than you think. Here in Central PA, I'll have to rely...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Lemon-Tarragon & Shaved-Corn Orzotto ~"


~ Oven-Roasted, Maple-Glazed, Candied Carrots ~

My mother never made candied carrots. My girlfriend Brenda's mother made candied carrots. Brenda's mother, Meryle, was a Southern Belle kinda gal, and, she always served candied carrots with ham, which, oddly, she served a lot. What do I mean by "oddly a lot"? Well, when I was in elementary school, I used to go to Brenda's house after school (and vice versa), often, to play with Barbie dolls (Brenda and I both had elaborate setups in our respective bedrooms for our many Barbies, her relatives, her cars and her dream houses). I ate a lot of Brenda's mom's canned...... View full recipe for "~ Oven-Roasted, Maple-Glazed, Candied Carrots ~"


~ Two-for-One Effortless Straightforward Side-Dishes: Roasted Caraway-Seeded Carrots & Red Potatoes ~

Roasted chicken or turkey? Pot roast or prime rib? If you're making gravy (or not), these two super-easy, quick-to-put-together, cook-at-the-same-time, seriously-delicious side-dishes will turn your weeknight table into a holiday. Too many discriptive words in the last sentece? Too bad. These two accompaniments to dinner deserve all the accolades I can give. This dynamic duo has appeared on my dinner table more times than I can count, and, I have no recollections of there ever being any leftovers. In my family, they get eaten like candy! So, last Thursday, when a reader (Susan) e-mailed to ask if I could post...... View full recipe for "~ Two-for-One Effortless Straightforward Side-Dishes: Roasted Caraway-Seeded Carrots & Red Potatoes ~"


~ A Sweet Potato & Caramelized Apple Casserole ~

It was Thanksgiving morning 1997. I was watching Good Morning America on my kitchen TV. Wolfgang Puck was their guest chef. He prepared this casserole, which he proclaimed to be his favorite way to eat sweet potatoes on Turkey Day. I adore sweet potatoes and am always looking for new ways to cook them. I quickly grabbed a piece of parchment paper from one of my baking pans and scribbled down the recipe as he spoke. I made the casserole that very day and it was every bit as good as Wolfgang proclaimed it to be. It's been on my...... View full recipe for "~ A Sweet Potato & Caramelized Apple Casserole ~"


~ Beehive Mashed-Potato Bread-Stuffing Casserole ~

Back in 1974, I was introduced to this amazing side-dish casserole by my neighbor in my first apartment. Toni was/is a beautiful Mexican-American woman who had just moved to Pennsylvania from San Antonio, Texas, with her Texas-cowboy husband Tom and her son Sean. I had just moved to Happy Valley as a new bride. We two women loved to cook and became fast friends. I have many great memories of the two years I spent being her next door neighbor (including Tom teaching me how to shoot a cross-bow). The first time I tasted this casserole, I fell in love...... View full recipe for "~ Beehive Mashed-Potato Bread-Stuffing Casserole ~"


~ Do You Want (Perfect "French") Fries with That? ~

I never met a potato I didn't like, but, I've met a few French fries I didn't like. You know the ones: limp, soggy, and/or greasy. There is almost nothing worse than a badly prepared French fry. What's so sad about this scenario is: French fries are really, REALLY, REALLY easy to make! I have eaten some very good French fries in swanky restaurants, casual sports bars and all-night diners that pride themselves in fresh-cut fries, but, if I even see those infrared warming lamps, I just know that my French fries, or someone elses, are probably destined for some...... View full recipe for "~ Do You Want (Perfect "French") Fries with That? ~"


~ Tomatoes au Gratin: Scalloped Tomato Casserole ~

The sun has set on Summer and now it's officially Fall! On Thursday we harvested Summer's last gasp... our final basket of tomatoes from Joe's garden. These are the big round, eating kind, not the small, elongated Roma or plum tomatoes (which have all been dutifully processed into sauce). Because tomatoes are my all-time favorite Summer thing to eat, I'm determined to make use of each and every one of these beauties before bidding a sad and hearfelt farewell! On Friday I posted my recipe for ~ Baked Tomato, Jasmine Rice & Panko Casserole ~, which can be found in...... View full recipe for "~ Tomatoes au Gratin: Scalloped Tomato Casserole ~"


~ Baked Tomato, Jasmine Rice & Panko Casserole (My Secret Ingredient? White Balsamic Vinaigrette!) ~

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall and I just spent the morning harvesting what will be my last basket of tomatoes from Joe's garden. I won't lie. For me, tomatoes, the big round juicy kind, are my favorite Summer thing to eat and this was a banner year for them here in Central PA. Since mid-July, I've been eating 1-2-3 of them every day for lunch, sometimes sliced with salt and pepper, other days, on a salad or in a sandwich. I'm genuinely going to be sorry to see them go! Because this last basket is quite substantial (our...... View full recipe for "~ Baked Tomato, Jasmine Rice & Panko Casserole (My Secret Ingredient? White Balsamic Vinaigrette!) ~"


~ To Sweeten Your Life: Caramelize Some Onions ~

Last night we had a relaxing dinner at a local steakhouse. Joe loved his prime rib and my porterhouse steak was cooked to perfection, just the way I ordered it: rare. It was moist and juicy, it cut like butter, and, I ate every last bite. I was happy to pay the extra charge to have it topped with the optional caramelized onions, and, don't get me wrong, I ate all of them too, except: they weren't really caramelized, they were just medium-browned. As I was cleaning my plate and explaining this culinary "pet peeve" to Joe, he simply said,...... View full recipe for "~ To Sweeten Your Life: Caramelize Some Onions ~"


~ Fit to be Fried: Deep-Fried Macaroni & Cheese ~

Macaroni and cheese has got be be near the top of the American comfort 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 upscale restaurants. I'm sure there is a percentage of you who think it was invented by Kraft foods (their first version was introduced in 1937), but food historians report that it had its humble beginning in the kitchen of Thomas Jefferson, who returned from a trip to Paris with a macaroni maker/press which he bought in Italy. In 1802,...... View full recipe for "~ Fit to be Fried: Deep-Fried Macaroni & Cheese ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ Mel's Ultimate Sandwich Topper: Pickled Onions ~

I love onions. Period. Rare is the day when I am not cooking with, eating or serving some type of onion. When I go to a restaurant, if I am ordering a salad or a sandwich, I request that "extra onion" be added to my selection. Because of what I do on a day-to-day basis, rare is the day when I am not faced with some sort of leftover, cooked protein in my refrigerator (beef, chicken, duck, fish, lamb, pork, seafood etc.). Even when I don't have a fantastic loaf of fresh bread on hand, I make it a point...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Ultimate Sandwich Topper: Pickled Onions ~"


~ 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 ~"


~ Leftover Rice? Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice! ~

Back in my younger days, fried rice was party food in my apartment kitchen. I was married at the age of 20, and, my husband was going to school here at Penn State. We tended to hang out with married couples from our apartment complex or other married college students. For a couple of years, there was a close-knit group of five couples, that, because we were all on tight budgets, took turns hosting parties in our apartments. Yes, we did get wild and crazy, but, even then, all of my women friends could cook... in fact, we were all...... View full recipe for "~ Leftover Rice? Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice! ~"


~ 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!) ~"


~ 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) ~"


~ How to: Shave Corn Off the Cob with No Mess!!! ~

If you are a sweet corn lover or come from a long line of sweet corn lovers (like I am and do), you've no doubt shaved corn off of the cob. Corn lovers shave corn off the cob for all sorts of reasons: to freeze excesses of it, to add to soups, salads, casseroles or cornbread, to make salsa, or, just because they want don't want to eat it on the cob. My mom shaved corn off the cob for me when I was around 11 years old. I had braces on my teeth. It was impossible for me to...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Shave Corn Off the Cob with No Mess!!! ~"


~ How to: Roast or "Bake" Sweet Corn in the Oven ~

Happy Father's Day! Almost nothing beats a serving of fresh, steaming corn on the cob, lacquered with butter and a sprinkling of salt. Sweet corn is not in season here in Pennsylvania (it'll be eight or so weeks before we see local corn at our farmers markets), but this morning, Joe came from the grocery store with a dozen really nice-looking cobs and I was impressed at the quality. He asked me to cook it to eat with his Father's Day cheeseburgers for dinner tonight, so, here I am, showing you one of my favorite, easiest ways to prepare sweet...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Roast or "Bake" Sweet Corn in the Oven ~"


~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~"


~ 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!!! ~"


~ 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!!! ~"