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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie


~ Fully-Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes -- Three Ways ~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0859700c970d 2A twice baked potato is exactly what the name implies:  It's a potato that gets baked in the oven twice.  After the first bake, the potato is sliced in half and the light, fluffy soft-center is carefully scooped out, leaving the shell/the potato skin undamaged. The cooked center is then mashed, mashed-potato-style, with butter, salt, pepper and/or various seasonings or seasoning blends, and, creamy options like sour cream, yogurt and/or cream cheese.  Then the fun begins:

Add-ins, absolutely anything you want, usually family-friendly favorites (like the combination of bits of crispy chopped bacon and blanched chopped broccoli topped with shredded cheddar cheese in photo above), get folded in.  The flavor-packed potato mixture is scooped back into the the potato skins and baked a second time, which makes the skin crispy and melts the cheese on top -- they're the Rolls Royce of the baked-potato world -- it's twice-baked potato perfection.

From a method standpoint, the way I make them is not the quickest, but, that does't mean it's tedious.  I simply don't take short cuts, which are a definite compromise.  For example:  The microwave, while not a no-no, is not ideal (I want crispy, not soft steamed, potato skins), I use real-deal bacon (not store-bought bacon bits), and, my broccoli is freshly chopped (not frozen and thawed).  I have no exact recipe, but here's my estimated formula:  the mashed centers from 3-4 large Russet potatoes + 3-4 cups of add-ins, then sprinkle the tops of all with additional  cheese.

Tip from Mel:  I've tasted a lot of creative versions of twice-baked potatoes in my lifetime and the best combinations always contain some type of cooked meat or porcine, a vegetable or three, and, grated cheese.  Great twice-baked potatoes are not pot-luck or a place to throw your leftovers -- they are usually very-well conceived.  That said, I've never tasted a lo-calorie version of a twice-baked potato that had a purpose.  Who in the world counts calories when eating these?

Try my Classic Broccoli & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a49bb3c2200bOr, my Twice-Baked Fully-Loaded Taco Taters:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3a014be200dAnd My Twice-Baked Fully-Loaded Texican Sweet Potatoes:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a44e037e200c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


~My All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning~

PICT0040When it comes to hamburgers, as long as mine arrives steaming-hot and medium-rare, I don't much care what you did to get it there.  Cook it anyway you like or know how -- gas-grill it, charcoal-grill it, grill-pan it, pan-sear it, flat-top it, or broil it.  Flip it once or flip it twice, that's fine with me too.  Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all I ask.  I'm flexible about condiments too. Lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo?  Awesome.  Ketchup, mustard and pickles?  Count me in. With or without cheese -- it matters not to me.  Steaming-hot and medium-rare -- that's all I ask.

All that said, if you've never tried seasoning your ground beef prior to cooking your hamburgers via your favorite method, you might want to really should give it a try.  It's one of my favorite things to do and, by seasoning the ground beef, I don't mean seasoning the patties - I mean I use my hands to mix the seasoning into the ground beef prior to making the patties.  There's more.  My seasoning is just right, meaning, it will enhance the flavor of your beef not overpower it.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4ac751b200dFor my all-purpose  'burger seasoning:

2  teaspoons fine sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1  teaspoon beef bouillion

~ Step 1.  Stir all spices together in a small bowl.  Makes a scant 2 tablespoons.  Enough to mix into 3 pounds ground beef.

Try my Perfectly-Seasoned 16-Minute Broiled 'Burger:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4adc635200dAnd my Perfectly-Seasoned Pan-Seared Smashed 'Burger:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39e2eff200dMy All-American All-Purpose Hamburger Seasoning:  Recipe yields a scant 2 tablespoons seasoning blend.  Enough to stir into 3 pounds ground beef.

Special Equipment List:  small bowl, spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4ad58d1200d 6a0120a8551282970b0240a4840c07200cCook's Note:  To make 1 1/2 cups of My Copycat McDonald's Special Sauce:

1  cup mayonnaise

1/4  cup each: ketchup and sweet pickle relish

1  tablespoon yellow mustard

1  teaspoon white vinegar

1/2  teaspoon each:  garlic and onion powder and paprika

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022 


~ Frank's RedHot Sauce and RedHot Wing Sauce ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d22f3f44970cFrank's RedHot is synonymous with Buffalo chicken wings.  Why? Frank's was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo chicken wing sauce recipe created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in 1964 by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo.  Fast forward to present day -- Simply wander into a bar, any bar, anywhere in America.  Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu.  It's remarkable.  No description is necessary.  You know you're getting unbreaded, deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and butter sauce.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09489f1f970dThere are three stories regarding the invention of Buffalo wings and all come from members of the family, close friends and loyal bar patrons:

1)  Their son Dominic arrived late at night with a few hungry college buddies.  Teresa needed a fast snack and threw some chicken wings (which would normally be used to make chicken stock) in the deep-fryer and tossed them with some hot sauce and melted butter.  

2)  There was a mis-delivery of wings instead of backs and necks (which Teresa used to make the bar's spaghetti sauce.  Faced with tossing them out or taking up freezer space, Frank asked Theresa to come up with a use for them.  

3)  Dominic was working late in the kitchen on a Friday night and folks were still ordering a lot of drinks.  He wanted to do something nice for the patrons (who were mostly Catholic) and Teresa came up with the idea of wings, as it was after midnight and they were able to eat meat again.

In 1977, Buffalo officially declared July 29th, Chicken Wing Day.

By the 1980's, Buffalo wing sauce was being applied to a list of other food creations too: "Buffalo" chicken dip, "Buffalo" chicken quesadillas, "Buffalo" chicken salad (one of my personal favorites), "Buffalo" chicken pizza, "Buffalo" popcorn chicken and shrimp, and, "Buffalo" chicken fingers, nuggets and fries.  If it's got "Buffalo" in the name, it's got Buffalo sauce in it, on it, or alongside it. There's even "Buffalo"-flavored potato chips (sorry -- not one of my favorites).

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8a539ea970bIt was inevitable that Frank's would start bottling and mass marketing their wing sauce.  Several other brands followed suit too.  For my taste, Frank's is #1.  That said, my husband likes a brand called Texas Pete.  Crystal is popular with a lot of folks, and, of course, there's an Anchor Bar wing sauce too.

< I borrowed this photo from the Serious Eats website.  They conducted a taste test of seven brands and wrote an interesting, in-depth article about it.  Read it.

The difference between hot pepper sauce and wing sauce.

The four bottles pictured above were the top four in the Serious Eats wing sauce taste test.  Aside from their #1, Anchor Bar, (which I've not tasted), I have tried the other three (and their cayenne pepper sauces too).  I use Frank's because it is my favorite (and it's worth noting the winner of Serious Eats best hot pepper sauce taste test).  So, what is the difference between bottled hot pepper sauces and wing sauces?  Wing sauces simply have butter flavoring added to them.

While bottled wing sauce is convenient, you're getting butter flavoring rather than real butter.  If it is convenience you need, go for it -- bottled wing sauces taste just fine unless your tasting them side-by-side one made with real-deal melted butter.  Interestingly enough, if you take the time to read the back label on any bottle of cayenne pepper sauce, you'll find instructions for making wing sauce -- and it simply says to mix their hot sauce with some amount of melted butter.

Try my Frank's-Style Buffalo-Style Chicken Wing Sauce:

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09482ff0970d"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)