If you are a meat geek, then you have read about the reverse sear, which has gained popularity in the grilling and barbecue world in the past few years. Reverse-sear is a technique where you cook the meat slowly using a low indirect heat and when it is almost done, you sear it over a high direct heat to brown the outside.
I practiced the "reverse-sear" for larger pieces of meat such as a beef tenderloin that I smoked the day before and seared or charred just before serving. This is my favorite way to cook a tenderloin, but it assumes that you have a smoker. I tried to reverse sear a steak like all the reverse-sear advocates by cooking the steak by indirect heat on a grill and then searing it over high direct heat at the end of the cooking time, but I never got a good sear on my steak so I abandoned the idea of reverse sear for a grilled steak. I sear my steaks over direct heat first and then finish cooking them over indirect heat (I call that the combo method) because I get better grill marks and more smoky caramelization and they taste better. I never bought into the searing keeps the juices in, because the only thing that keeps the meat juicy is oiling the food to create a barrier so the natural juices won't evaporate during the cooking time.
However, as an advocate of indirect cooking, I know why cooking meat with indirect heat gives you superior results. So, I decided to re-visit the sous vide circulator. When I first experimented with sous vide, it was a clumsy process that required vacuum-sealed meat, a large plastic container and various clamps to keep the circulator upright.
That has all changed since the Joule circulator has been introduced. The Joule is magnetic, and so small that it fits easily in your drawer — it is shorter than an immersion blender and even easier to use. I tested a center-cut piece of tenderloin (a.k.a. chateaubriand). I prepped it simply with a light coating of olive oil, and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, dehydrated garlic and rosemary. I didn't have a vacuum sealer so I put it in a re-closeable freezer bag, pushed out the excess air with my hand, and clipped it to the side of a stock pot with a chip clip. I filled the pot up about halfway with warm water, slipped the circulator in the water and let the bottom magnet secure it, and turned it on using the handy phone app.
Two hours later, the tenderloin was cooked to a perfect rare. I removed it from the water, and let it cool to room temperature. A few hours later, I removed it from the bag and gave it a little pat with a paper towel to remove any excess surface moisture. Next, a light brushing of oil to prevent stickage and seal in the juices, and I took it to the grill. I seared it over a high direct heat for 1-2 minutes on all sides, making crosshatch marks on the top and bottom and the two sides. You must do this with the lid down so that you get really good grill marks and it has a chance to warm the center of the tenderloin. The total cooking time is about 6 minutes depending on the size of your tenderloin.
Once you have seared/charred the sides, let it rest for 3-5 minutes and carve into thin slices. The meat will be mouthwateringly delicious, tender, juicy and may be the best tenderloin that you have ever made. This is the ultimate reverse sear and worth the extra step.
THE ULTIMATE REVERSE SEAR BEEF TENDERLOIN
Active Cooking Time: 25 minutes (Sous Vide: 2-3 hours at 140 F)
Wrap beef tenderloin in paper towels to remove surface moisture. Mix salt, spices and olive oil into a paste. Rub tenderloin all over with oil-salt paste.
Place tenderloin in the center of a large re-closable freezer bag. Remove the air and clip the bag to the side of a stockpot with a chip clip or clamp. Fill Stockpot with warm water and insert circulator. Set Circulator at 140 F for 2-3 hours depending on the doneness you like and the size of your tenderloin. The smaller, the shorter the time. Let cook until your desired doneness is reached. The Joule app can walk you through this process.
Remove from water and let cool. If doing ahead, refrigerate overnight. Otherwise, let cool to room temperature and set aside until ready to eat. Just before serving, pre-heat a grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes. Clean cooking grates with a brass-bristle brush. Remove tenderloin from the refrigerator and dab with paper towels to remove any moisture. Brush lightly with olive oil. Using 12-inch tongs, sear/char all the sides of the tenderloin by searing and turning, about 1-2 minutes per side — as if the tenderloin has four sides. If you like the look of crosshatch, you can do that as well. Total searing time on all sides should be about 6 minutes.
After all the sides are seared, take off and let sit 3-5 minutes. Slice thinly and serve your favorite sides.
When it comes to lunchtime meals, sandwiches are some of the most popular offerings.
Home cooks preparing sandwiches for school lunches or for a family member's lunchtime work break can easily experiment with different ingredients to come up with a tasty creation.
Food experts say that sandwiches are often the easiest meals to make because assorted ingredients and flavors can be successfully blended together.
Whether you choose meats, seafood, fruits and veggies, different spreads, herbs and other ingredients, the possibilities for sandwiches are endless.
From grilled cheese to ham sandwiches, melts, wraps, hero creations and more, the types of sandwiches that can be made run the gamut in creativity.
According to cookbook writer Kelsey Nixon, grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect choices for a lunchtime meal.
"A good grilled cheese sandwich is comfort food at its finest: easy to throw together and so tasty," she writes in her book "Kitchen Confidence." One of the sandwich recipes she enjoys is a satisfying Grilled Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Sandwich.
In the Region, sandwich fans will find a variety of places to order an assortment of sandwiches and also places to get ideas for recipes one can make at home.
At Charcuterie, a gourmet food shop in Griffith, the sandwich board features such choices as Pastrami and Swiss Sandwich on Marbled Rye; Ham and Muenster on a Rustic Hero Roll; Roast Beef and Cheddar on a Rustic Hero Roll; and Roast Beef and Cheddar Sauce on an Onion Roll. Customers may order sandwiches made on the premises or purchase ingredients to craft the meal at home.
Foodie's in Dyer is also a place to visit for sandwich fans.
Among choices at Foodie's are Rockin' Wraps such as Caesar and Samurai; Retro Rueben; Grown-Up Grilled Cheese; Farmers Market Panini; and more.
The American Heart Association offers tips for meal planning including how to pack a healthy lunch.
Among the tips for healthy and creative sandwiches offered at heart.org:
— Use different breads like 100 percent whole-wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated fat and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100 percent whole-wheat pita pockets.
— In addition to lettuce and tomato, try shredded carrot or zucchini and sliced apple or pear with a turkey sandwich.
— Try avocado or hummus as a swap for cheese or mayo.
— Try a leftover grilled chicken in your sandwich as a switch for lunch meat.
If you're looking for a new sandwich, try the following recipes.
DIRECTIONS: Spread each slice of bread on one side with butter. Place 4 slices bread on clean, flat surface, buttered-side-down. Spread with thin layer of pesto, and top with spinach, tomatoes, chicken and alpine-style cheese. Top with second slice of bread, buttered- side-up, and press sandwich together.
Heat large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Grilling sandwiches in batches, cook until golden brown on one side. Flip sandwiches over, pressing down with a spatula and browning. Remove from heat and let rest about 2 minutes. Cut in half and serve immediately.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Midwestern Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
1 pound boneless pork loin, OR boneless pork chops
1 cup flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 large sandwich buns
DIRECTIONS: Cut 4 1-inch slices of pork. Trim any exterior fat from edges and butterfly each slice by cutting horizontally through the middle almost to the edge so that the halves are connected by only a thick piece of meat. Put each butterflied slice between pieces of plastic wrap. Using a wooden meat mallet, or the side of a cleaver, pound vigorously until the slice is about 10 inches across. Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt and black pepper.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a deep, wide skillet to 365 degrees. Dip each slice of pork in water, then in flour mixture. Fry tenderloin, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on buns with desired condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, dill pickle chips, ketchup, sliced onion, lettuce).
Smoked Turkey Cobb Sandwich with Blue Cheese Mayonnaise
For Blue Cheese Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup Wisconsin blue cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
For Avocado Puree:
1 cup avocado, pureed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
8 slices sourdough bread
2 ounces mixed greens
8 slices tomato
8 slices (1 ounce each) smoked turkey
8 strips bacon, fried crisp
For blue cheese mayonnaise:
Combine cheese and mayonnaise in small bowl; mix well.
For avocado puree:
Mix avocado puree, salt and pepper and lemon juice until well blended.
For sandwich assembly:
Spread one bread slice with 1-2 tablespoons of blue cheese mayonnaise. Layer the mixed greens, 2 tomato slices, 2 slices smoked turkey and 2 bacon strips on bread. Spread another slice of bread with avocado puree and top the other half of the sandwich. Repeat, using all ingredients.
DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the oil, ginger, chili-garlic sauce and scallions. Place the steak in a shallow glass dish. Add the marinade and turn to coat the meat well on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours, turning once. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, honey and chili-garlic sauce. Set aside. Brush both sides of the bread slices lightly with olive oil. Grill the steak until the underside is well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the steak over and grill about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. While the steak is grilling, place the bread slices around it to toast, about 1 minute per side. Let the steak stand for 5 minutes, then cut it across the grain into thin slices. Spread a thin layer of the chili-garlic mayonnaise on each toasted bread slice. Arrange the steak over 4 of the slices. Top with watercress or arugula and the remaining bread slices.
From The Associated Press
Monster Face Sandwiches
Variety of sliced cheeses, such as Wisconsin Colby-jack cheese or Wisconsin cheddar cheese
Small broccoli florets
Black olive slices
Zucchini or summer squash, sliced
Bell pepper slices
DIRECTIONS: Arrange various topping options on large plate or platter. Top slices of bread with sliced cheese. Use large cookie cutters or knife to cut the bread and cheese into circles or squares to serve as the base of the sandwiches. Allow kids to create monster face sandwiches using the toppings as they see fit.
One of Poland's specialty sausages will shine in the food spotlight this weekend.
The first Kielbasa Fest takes place from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at Kosciuszko Park in East Chicago.
"We wanted to do something this year to bring back and celebrate the Polish (heritage) in the community," said Steve Segura, multi-media director for the city of East Chicago.
"Last year when we resurrected the statue of Kosciuszko (the Polish military hero) after it had been vandalized, we realized since we had a strong Polish presence in the community, we wanted to do (something special)," he said.
Segura said with East Chicago being a real "melting pot" of cultures, Mayor Anthony Copeland and city personnel are happy to be presenting this inaugural fest.
And what better way to celebrate a rich heritage than with food. Kielbasa, which is one of the popular Polish sausages, is traditionally made from pork. It's often a staple at special occasion meals such as weddings and anniversaries.
"I'm excited and looking forward to the event," said Stan Stefanski, owner of Big Frank's Sausage in East Chicago. Stefanski is also one of the coordinators of the festival and will be serving some of the popular dishes from his eatery/shop at the event.
"It's an honor for the city to have asked me to do this," Stefanski said. He added, in addition to the authentic food, there will be entertainment on the agenda.
In the food spotlight will be kielbasa, pierogi, stuffed cabbage and other Eastern European delights, as well as favorite fest food such as burgers, hot dogs, nachos, elephant ears and more. There also will be a beer garden on the premises.
The entertainment featured at the fest will be polka band Eddie Korosa Jr. and The Boys from Illinois; an acoustic band Lipstick and Dynamite; and MC Rick Kubic.
Stefanski said Polish fare is favored by many food fans for its "quality and taste."
"It's all made from scratch and the flavors are unique," he added.
Stefanski said coordinators are hoping for a successful event and they will think of having it once again if all goes well.
Food experts say kielbasa is a perfect meat to mix in various dishes. Whether it's an authentic Polish recipe or another type of dish, add kielbasa for a satisfying flavor.
Home cooks may want to test the following creative recipe using kielbasa.
Cheese 'n Kielbasa Supper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
6 green onions, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
8 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions and drained
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound kielbasa, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound fresh broccoli, cleaned, cut into spears
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Cooking Instructions: Heat oven to 375°F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in frying pan. Sauté onions until tender. In medium bowl, mix together onions, 1 1/2 cups cheese, cooked noodles, milk, salt and pepper. Spoon into buttered 13x9-inch baking dish. Sauté kielbasa in remaining tablespoon butter, about 5 minutes. Arrange in center of noodles in baking pan. Cook broccoli and carrots until just tender and arrange around kielbasa. Sprinkle remaining cheese over vegetables. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.
It is 10 p.m. Wednesday evening. Everyone has headed to bed except the girls and me.
I forgot all about writing this column until after daughter Elizabeth, Timothy and Abigail left for home. They came over for a while after supper. We had so much fun with Abigail. I was helping her walk and let go of her hands and she stood by herself for quite a while until she noticed I had let go of her hands. She will be 11 months old tomorrow. Time sure goes way too fast.
We are still busy cleaning for the church services we will host in two weeks from Sunday. The girls have been cleaning out drawers and kitchen cabinets. I am sorting through dishes that I hardly use. I am giving them to my daughters and what they don’t need I will put in a garage sale. What doesn’t sell I will put in our local free store. It’s like they say—one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Over the years things accumulate and I like to get rid of things that just sit around.
Yesterday we washed off walls, ceiling and windows in Joe’s and my bedroom. We also have a bathroom beside our bedroom so that was cleaned from top to bottom. We cleaned furniture, curtains and the bedding was washed and put back on. Today I cleaned our closet. My mending is piling up though and I keep hoping to get it caught up before church.
On Friday evening, neighbors, friends, and family will gather to help my sisters Verena and Susan move their furniture back to their house. It has been stored in our basement for over three months since their fire. The construction on their house is now done. It is a good thing that we can now clean our basement next week.
My tomatoes are ready to start canning. I will start with tomato juice since I ran out. I have plenty of V-8 canned yet, but it is too spicy to put in soup alone. I sometimes mix it with tomato juice.
I canned dill pickles for daughter Susan last Saturday. Mose’s mother sent dill and other pickles home with Mose and Susan Friday evening. Mose and Susan went to his grandma’s sale of her personal belongings so I thought I would can the pickles for her.
Son Kevin, 11, has been doing odds-and-ends jobs for us. He always has the dogs trailing after him. They just adore him. Daughter Verena’s Yorkie puppy Ricky is almost six months old and is looking like a little fur ball. She took him to the vet for another round of shots.
Kevin was burning trash out in the barnyard while we were washing clothes in the basement one day this week. Daughter Susan looked up and saw our whole herd of horses and ponies go flying past the window. They headed straight for neighbor Joe’s yard and galloped north. Our pony Stormy was in the lead like usual.
Susan ran to get a scoop of grain so she could bribe the horses into coming back. Fortunately, my husband Joe and son-in-law Mose had an early day and had just come home from work. I’m not sure if Stormy saw Susan shaking the scoop of grain but he decided to circle around the fence around our field and head back home. Once they were in our yard we corralled them back through the gate. I think Kevin won’t forget to chain the gate next time he burns trash. The gate was shut but not chained and it seems those ponies know exactly when it’s open.
Try this lettuce salad if you want to make a salad the day before serving it.
God’s blessings to all!
Layered Lettuce Salad
1 head lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup celery, diced
4 eggs, hard cooked and diced
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas, uncooked
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
8 slices bacon, fried and diced
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
DIRECTIONS: Layer the first seven ingredients in a 9x13-inch dish. Mix mayonnaise with sugar. Spread on top as if frosting. Top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. At serving time, garnish with additional bacon and parsley if desired.
Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. She is the co-author of three cookbooks; her new cookbook, The Essential Amish Kitchen, is available from 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 722 words; end material = 57 words
Eloise Marie Valadez
The first meal of the day is the most important. Home cooks are always looking for a variety of dishes to serve loved ones when it comes to breakfast.
There are, of course, the tried and true recipes such as bacon and eggs, pancakes, French toast and oatmeal. Breakfast, however, lends itself to much creativity. Experts say ingredients used for morning meals are perfect for experimentation.
Items such as eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, fruit and more can be mixed and matched in various recipes. When aiming to make a healthful breakfast, there are many tips to consider.
According to Medline Plus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, among tips to consider when creating a healthy morning meal are:
• Balance calories
• Enjoy food but eat less
• Avoid oversized portions
• Make half your grains whole grains
• Compare sodium in foods
If you're looking for some new recipes to serve for breakfast, try the following dishes.
Ham and Ranch Potato Fritatta
1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes with peppers and onion, thawed
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup milk
DIRECTIONS: Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the hash browns and cook 4-6 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add ham cubes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs, dressing and milk in a medium bowl. Pour over potatoes. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the eggs begin to set, lifting the edges and allowing the uncooked egg to flow underneath.
Baked 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.
Serve with salsa.
Tip: Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese when the frittata is removed from the oven.
DIRECTIONS: Cook red and green bell peppers and onion over medium heat in large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray for 3-5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Beat together egg whites, eggs, milk, salt and black pepper in medium bowl until combined.
Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until egg mixture begins to set on bottom and around edge. Lift and fold the partially cooked egg mixture with spatula so uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and folding mixture until eggs are cooked through, but still glossy and moist. Fold in ham; continue cooking until heated through, gently folding mixture occasionally.
Remove skillet from heat. To assemble, spoon mixture near the center on each tortilla. Fold bottom up over filling. Fold in side and roll to enclose mixture.
To serve, top with salsa. Garnish with cilantro or chives, if desired.
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Wisconsin monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Wisconsin cotija cheese
8 slices sourdough bread
Fresh baby spinach
DIRECTIONS: Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain sausage on paper towel; wipe out skillet.
Whisk eggs, water and salt if desired in bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. Add egg mixture; cook and stir until eggs are almost set. Add in sausage. Cook and stir until eggs are set. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Wipe out skillet.
Combine cheeses in a bowl. Layer a fourth of egg mixture on four slices of bread. Sprinkle each with cheese mixture. Top with spinach leaves and remaining bread. Spread the outsides of sandwiches with remaining butter.
Toast one sandwich, covered, in a warm skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes. Flip sandwich; cook, uncovered, 4-5 minutes longer or until bread is lightly golden brown and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve immediately.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Hash Brown Casserole
3 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup diced green pepper
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425°F.
Coat 9-inch pie plate or oven safe skillet with nonstick spray. In large bowl, combine hash browns, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Press into bottom and up sides of prepared pie plate. Bake 25 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350°F.
In small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. In separate bowl, combine ham, cheeses and peppers. Pour egg and milk mixture over partially baked hash brown crust. Top with ham, cheeses and peppers. Return to oven and bake until golden brown and set in the middle, 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Actress/dancer Catilin Meighan is a fan of the baking craft.
Meighan stars as one of the ensemble cast members in the touring production of "An American in Paris," running at Chicago's Oriental Theatre through Aug. 13.
"I love baking," Meighan said, adding she also enjoys cooking but doesn't always get a chance to cook as much as she'd like while on the road.
The performer said while she tries to eat and cook healthful meals, she's not "overly" conscious about what she consumes.
"It's all about balance," Meighan said, adding she "enjoys food" and always tries to keep herself in good condition to do whatever job she must do. "I try to eat protein, especially on the road." The performer also makes sure she eats foods that will give her adequate energy.
"We do expend a lot of energy. You have to keep you're body awake."
Meighan said she was bitten by the culinary bug at a young age.
"My dad and I used to watch cooking shows. We watched 'Emeril Live' a lot," she said. Meighan's paternal grandmother was also a great cook, and she remembers all the homemade dishes she created.
Meighan, who said she's enjoying touring with the cast of "An American in Paris," spent 10 years as a member of The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. "It was an amazing experience," she said, about being in the acclaimed troupe.
One of Meighan's favorite recipes is actually for a "no-bake" treat called Nanaimo Bars. She became familiar with the recipe while she was living and training as a dancer in Canada.
"They're super easy. And they're fun to bring (to parties or dinners) to share."
Try the following recipe from Meighan.
Nanaimo Bar Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
DIRECTIONS: Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
With August's higher temperatures, home cooks look for easy and cool dishes for lunch and dinner.
There's often nothing simpler than a summer salad. And with the variety of produce, greens, fruits and other ingredients available at local farmers markets and grocery stores, favorite salads are easy to put together.
In the book "Lettuce in Your Kitchen" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, the authors state that salads are some of the most versatile dishes.
"They can't be characterized by their place within a meal, for example, because a salad can be an appetizer, an entree, a side dish or a healthful snack. They can't be defined by level of sophistication, either, because a salad can be a big, impressive production or an inventive, last-minute combination of whatever you have on hand," they write.
Fans of fruits, veggies, grains, meat or seafood can prepare a satisfactory and flavorful salad with multiple ingredients.
The experts say as long as you choose the freshest produce or other ingredients and combine them with a complementary dressing and other toppings, you'll turn out a successful salad.
If you're looking for a good summer salad recipe for lunch, dinner or family picnic, try one of the following suggestions.
DIRECTIONS: Blend oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl. Add kamut and pecans. Stir thoroughly and let sit until cooled.
Assemble salad in a tall, glass bowl: Place 1/3 of the kamut at the bottom, topped by half each of the onions and celery, corn, and watermelon. Repeat. Add the last 1/3 of the kamut to the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of diced green onion.
Present as a layered salad and toss just before serving.
Servings: Makes 6 Side Dishes.
From The Watermelon Board
Caprese Pasta Salad
1 (12-ounce) package fusilli pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
1/2 cup (1 bunch) fresh basil leaves, washed, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS: In large bowl combine all ingredients and toss. Serve chilled.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Parmesan Caesar Sirloin Salad
1 bag (15 ounces) prepared romaine lettuce
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Caesar dressing
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 12-ounce piece of sirloin steak, seared to your preference, sliced thin
1/2 cup croutons
1 tin (2 ounces) Anchovy filets, (optional)
DIRECTIONS: In large bowl toss lettuce, dressing and Parmesan. Top with steak, croutons and anchovies (optional). Serve.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Fontina Fruit Salad
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup (3 ounces) Wisconsin fontina cheese, diced
2 large apples, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, diced
1 large bunch seedless grapes
1 cup (6 ounces) fresh raspberries
Thin strips of orange peel for garnish, if desired
DIRECTIONS: In large bowl, combine yogurt, orange juice and cardamom; mix well. Add cheese, apples, grapes and raspberries and gently toss. Garnish with orange peel strips, if desired, and serve immediately.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
3 cups kale, chopped fine
2 cups diced watermelon, seeded
2 cups peeled and diced English cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut in halves
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, add kale, watermelon, cucumber, onion and olives. In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, mint and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad and toss thoroughly. Top with feta cheese. Serve.
Servings: Makes 6 one-cup servings.
From The Watermelon Board
SHADES OF GREEN SALAD
12 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup snow peas, sliced lengthwise
1 medium zucchini, halved, seeds scraped out, then cut into thin half moons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated shallot
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 avocado, sliced
Manchego cheese, to serve
Fresh dill, to serve
Honey, to serve
DIRECTIONS: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and have it near the stove.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender and bright green. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer them from the boiling water to the ice water. While the green beans cool, add the asparagus to the boiling water and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks, until just barely tender. Transfer the asparagus to the ice water with the green beans.
Once they have cooled, drain the green beans and asparagus, pat them dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add the snow peas and zucchini.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, shallot, orange zest and juice, vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir gently to coat well. For best flavor, allow the vegetables to marinate in the dressing for at least 30 minutes.
Serve topped with sliced avocado, grated manchego cheese, sprigs of dill and a drizzle of honey.
Dinner and a show go together like peanut butter and jelly. But when it comes to outdoor summer concerts, your choices for the dinner part are often not very vast.
Overpriced beer in plastic cups. Nachos with canned cheese. Rubbery hot dogs with limited condiments. Giant pretzels in frozen form. Old pizza slices that have sat in a warmer longer than recommended. Overly sweet slushies or cotton candy. Those are sometimes the extent of your culinary options at big outdoor venues, but not at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois.
The live music venue located in Chicago’s northern suburbs is a beacon for music lovers and has been since 1904. Not only is the lawn spacious and attractive where you are welcome to spread out and bring in your own snacks or meals, but there are a number of dining options for concertgoers with more refined palates or who want to elevate the experience with a leisurely pre-show meal in a real restaurant.
“Although Ravinia is widely known as one of the few bring-your-own venues, we also offer a wide array of dining services from drinks and kosher hot dogs served from carts around the park all the way up to fine dining,” said Nick Pullia, director of communications at Ravinia.
“Our primary dining pavilion is divided into four major spaces. First, there’s the grab-and-go Ravinia Market, where guests can shop from refrigerated cases or choose from hot foods from a variety of stations serving pizza, burgers and Mexican food — sort of like a mall food court where everyone in the family can get something different but pay together at the end. Sharing the first floor with the Market is the Mirabelle Chef’s table, where honest-to-goodness gourmet food is served buffet style so diners can pace themselves to get to the concert on time. Upstairs, we have a private dining room used for private functions, such as corporate outings, weddings and bar mitzvahs, and across from there is our Park View Restaurant, where guests can sit down to a luxurious multi-course meal from appetizer through salad, entrée and dessert.”
The Park View is where you’ll find the only sit-down bar at Ravinia and it features an impressive wine list. In addition to Ravinia’s executive chef, Michael Tsonton, the room often hosts guest chefs, such as Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia. An outdoor second-floor patio overlooks the lush grounds.
According to Pullia, the top-selling entree at Park View is the fresh miso-marinated Alaskan halibut, which is served with a summer corn polenta and tomato relish. Another top dish is the beef short ribs accompanied by parsnip puree, balsamic Cipollini onions, horseradish gremolata and shaved Brussels sprouts. Other entrees include prime rib, free-range chicken, salmon and pasta that is made fresh on-site. A garden located on the restaurant roof provides fresh herbs that go into many of the farm-to-table-style meals with ingredients sources from local farms.
A number of signature cocktails are on the menu, such as the Ravinia Refresher, a vodka-infused strawberry lemonade. Starters include the grilled Spanish octopus and Hummus Kawarma, a lamb stew served over hummus with spiced pita for dipping.
There’s one dessert on Park View’s menu that cannot be missed — the cappuccino crunch pie.
“It is made with our signature cappuccino crunch ice cream, which is made specifically for us and available nowhere else,” Pullia said.
The chef’s table at Mirabelle allows for you to enjoy more upscale gourmet options, but in a more expedient manner. The menu changes frequently, so if you frequent Mirabelle, you’ll always find new items being offered.
“There are several self-serve tables themed out as courses, such as salads, cheese, antipasti and desserts along with a carving station where guests can choose brisket, turkey or salmon. An ethnic table is often themed to coincide with the concert headliner,” Pullia said. “A Latino act, for instance, might find a Latino cuisine table in the Mirabelle.”
If you’re looking for something casual to enjoy during a show, the Ravinia Market has items you can grab and take to supplement your picnic on the lawn, such as cheese plates, veggie cups, dips and chips and desserts. Complete dinners also can be ordered, with vegetarian, gluten-free and kid-friendly option available.
New this year to the market are gourmet hot dogs, including a chili dog and BLT dog, which are served on lobster rolls.
“The Cubano sandwiches and guacamole are especially popular,” Pullia said. “Authentic Cubano tortas and loaded elotes are always a pleasant surprise for people who think our Latin station would just serve basic tacos.”
Ravinia’s eateries are open only when the park is open, so time is ticking for this season. The restaurants typically open three hours before the concert start time. Reservations are encouraged and can be made through Open Table or by calling Ravinia directly.
“What’s especially nice about Ravinia’s relaxed bring-our-own policy is that families can enjoy an outing for very little money. You can pack your own caviar or you can pack your own bologna — whatever suits you. But no one is stuck having to spring for stadium-priced food,” Purilla said. “Combine that with the low ticket prices and families can really introduce new listeners to the world’s greatest music. A lawn ticket to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert, for instance, costs only $10 for an adult and is free to children and students through college.”
The Ravinia season runs through mid-September with upcoming performances by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Nicks, Michael Bolton, the Simon Bolivar Spring Quartet, Pentatonix, Lifehouse, Alanis Morissette, UB40, John Mellencamp and more. For more information on Ravinia’s upcoming schedule and restaurant menus, visit ravinia.org.
Blueberry fans, take note! There's still time to pick the sweet, blue fruit at local farms.
In addition, foodies can get the seasonal, popular berry at its peak at farmers markets, grocery stores and through other vendors.
Blueberry season usually runs from mid-July through mid-August. If you're planning to pick at a favorite farm, though, always call for updates on availability.
There's no shortage of festivals and celebrations honoring the healthy berry in the area. The 51st annual Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana, runs from Sept. 1 to 4 this year, while the National Blueberry Festival will be held from Aug. 10 to 13 in South Haven, Michigan.
At Johnson's Farm Produce in Hobart, blueberries are plentiful still. Delilah Santana, employee of Johnson's, said the current crop of blueberries is flavorful.
"It's my first year working here at a place where you get fresh blueberries. They're out of this world," Santana said.
Michigan City's Stateline Blueberries also is offering a good crop. Stateline co-owner Diane Ott said the berries should be available for the next few weeks.
"We have Jersey blueberries. They're a smaller, sweeter berry," Ott explained.
Ott said customers at Stateline often will ask for blueberry recipe suggestions. Personnel at the farm are ready to offer tips for blueberry consumption or recipes.
"We have a website where people submit recipes," Ott said, adding the website features a variety of information.
The popular berry makes a wonderful addition to everything from salads and desserts to entrees and different beverages.
According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council website, blueberries are very healthy, are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, low in fat and low in sodium.
"Blueberries contribute vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese, making them a good choice to help meet nutrient needs," the website states.
Some of the easiest recipes to make with blueberries are beverages. They can range from juices and slushes to smoothies and cocktails.
The following beverage recipes are from U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 cup ice
DIRECTIONS: Blend all ingredients in a blender on high speed until a slushy consistency forms. Number of servings (yield): 2 slushies
DIRECTIONS: In blender, process oats for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and purée until blended. Number of servings (yield): 2 servings
1 bottle Prosecco
2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
1/2 cup simple syrup
Raw sugar (optional)
DIRECTIONS: In a blender, puree blueberries and simple syrup until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking. Combine blueberry puree and Prosecco. Serve in sugar-rimmed champagne flutes, if desired. Number of servings (yield): 8 Cocktails
Pink Blueberry Lemonade
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1⁄3 cup lemon juice
Blueberry Lemonade Instructions:
In 1 quart glass measuring cup, combine sugar, 2 tablespoons of the blueberries and 1/2 cup water. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.
Stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. Chill.
Fill tall glasses with ice cubes, add chilled blueberry mixture and remaining berries, dividing equally. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
Blueberry Ice Cubes Instructions: Place 3 berries in each of 12 ice cube cups. Fill with water and freeze. 36 berries equals about 1/4 cup. Number of servings (yield): 1 quart
Eloise Marie Valadez
While anytime is a good time to think of serving pierogi in the Region, mid-summer is the perfect season for the Polish dumpling.
At the end of July, the city of Whiting lays out the red carpet in honor of the popular food. This year, the renowned Pierogi Fest, running this Friday through Sunday, is the prime spot to sample a variety of pierogi flavors in addition to other ethnic specialties.
Vendors at the festival showcase a variety of styles and flavors of pierogi. They include everything from traditional fillings from cheese, potato and sauerkraut to the more unusual alligator. Pierogi also can be cooked in assorted ways from boiling and sauteeing to baking and frying.
This year's festival will feature a number of pierogi vendors who'll cook up the Eastern European goodie in every way possible. Among vendors at the fest will be Babuska's Polish Foods, Big Frank's Sausage, Dan's Pierogies, Gosia's Pierogies, Kasia's Deli Inc., Lynethe's Pierogi, MJ Polish Deli, Tata's Pierogi and others.
"I think pierogi is like a novelty now. Everyone is fascinated by pierogi. People love it," said Angie Golom, owner of Warsaw Inn in Lynwood. At her Polish-style buffet, Golom has been serving pierogi for the past 27 years.
She added more people are familiar with the food now and understand what it is. At Warsaw Inn, Golom serves assorted flavors of pierogi, including sweet cheese, potato and meat as well as special seasonal varieties.
"Right now we have blueberry," she said, adding the popular fruit filling will be available for the duration of blueberry season. Pierogi is made from scratch at Warsaw Inn and has been produced there since the opening of the restaurant.
"It's fresh and made by hand," she said, adding cooks make the dough, roll it out, fill it and pinch the sides.
While Golom doesn't sell pierogi at the beloved Whiting festival, she said she has attended the event in the past. She's also met many customers at her eatery who come to eat at Warsaw Inn after they've enjoyed the ethnic food at Pierogi Fest.
Food experts say pierogi is a versatile food. It can transform and be included in other recipes such as casseroles, salads, meat and vegetarian entrees and more.
Home cooks can get creative with the dumpling. Food manufacturer Mrs. T's Pierogies not only offers the food for sale in the frozen food case at nationwide grocery stores but also operates a website filled with recipes and information about the specialty.
If you're longing to try a couple of creative recipes for pierogi at home, try these from Mrs. T's Pierogies.
1 (16-ounce) box Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil Pierogies or your favorite variety of Mrs. T’s® Pierogies
1/4 cup basting oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Toss pierogies with basting oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Grill pierogies for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until pierogies are cooked. Optional: Add favorite herbs or seasonings to oil/butter to coat the pierogies after grilling.
Grilled Mini Pierogy Kabobs
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small clove garlic
1 1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 (12.84-ounce) box Mini Classic Cheddar, thawed or your favorite variety of Mrs. T's® Pierogies
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound beef sirloin or tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 green peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
Grilling non-stick spray
Place all ingredients for peanut sauce in blender or food processor; blend or process until smooth and well-combined. Place sauce in serving bowl.
Line grill grates with tin foil sprayed with grill non-stick spray.
Preheat grill; set grill temperature to medium-low. Combine olive oil and chili powder in small bowl. Brush pierogies with chili mixture. Toss chicken chunks and beef chunks separately with salt and pepper to taste.
On eight 12-inch long metal skewers, alternately thread pierogies, chicken pieces, beef pieces, and peppers. Arrange skewers on grill rack.
Grill skewers for 18 to 20 minutes, turning skewers occasionally, until pierogies, chicken, beef, and peppers are cooked through. Serve with peanut sauce.
Garden Fresh Pierogi Primavera
1 (16-ounce) box Feta & Spinach or your favorite variety of Mrs. T's® Pierogies
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 green onions, diagonally sliced (1/3 cup)
2 small carrots, thinly sliced (1/3 cup)
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 (10-ounce) container cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add pierogies and cook 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from skillet.
In same skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and green onions and cook 2 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned. Add carrots, asparagus and sugar snap peas and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender.
Add chicken broth, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and pierogies. Continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes or until pierogies are heated through and cherry tomatoes soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
From taco trucks to Mexican restaurants, tacos are just about everywhere these days. And why not? A taco is exactly as handy, versatile and filling as a sandwich, and crunchy to boot.
Lots of folks dream of making these fried corn tortillas at home, but some pull up short at the prospect of having to deep-fry them. The solution? Don't fry them. Baking will bring tacos to crispy perfection and allow you to shape them into shells in the process.
That said, I discovered while developing this recipe for Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Cole Slaw and Chipotle Cream that not all corn tortillas are created equal. Some are thick-ish and some are thin-ish. Some are drier and some are moister. Given that there's no way of predicting these qualities in the brands you buy at the store, you just need to pay attention to the tortillas as they bake and adjust accordingly. Some brands will require more time than others to become crispy.
Before being baked, the tortillas need to be steamed a bit so they don't crack when you shape them. Then you brush them very lightly on both sides with oil (or with vegetable oil spray, if you prefer), drape them directly over a bar of the oven rack and bake them until crispy. (See recipe for details.)
I recommend baking them in two batches of four tortillas each because when you open the oven to shape them, the oven temperature drops. If you're shaping all eight at once, the temperature will drop a lot and the tortillas will take forever to crisp.
The shells can be made ahead and parked in a bowl at room temperature. Then you can turn to the preparation of whichever fillings you want. (Here I propose coleslaw, grilled shrimp and chipotle cream.) When the dinner bell chimes, just set out all the fixings and let people dig in for themselves.
Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Cole Slaw and Chipotle Cream
Start to finish: 1 hour
Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing the tortillas
1/4 cup mayonnaise (low-fat if you prefer)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from the can
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1 cup thin strips red bell pepper (about 1-inch long)
1 pound medium shrimp (31/35), peeled and deveined
1 firm ripe avocado, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wrap 4 tortillas in foil and heat them on the middle shelf of the oven until they are pliable, about 5 minutes (or wrap them in a moist towel and microwave them for 30 seconds). Remove them from the foil, brush them lightly on both sides with the oil and carefully (so as not to burn yourself) drape each tortilla over a metal bar on the middle rack of the oven so that the sides of the tortillas are hanging down and bake them for 5 minutes. Open the oven, and using tongs, lift up the tortillas, spread them open a bit by pulling the two sides apart (they will still be pliable), and bake them on the rack for another 3 to 5 minutes or until they are crispy all over. Prep and bake the remaining 4 tortillas following the same procedure.
Meanwhile in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, chipotle, adobo sauce and 1 teaspoon of the lime juice and stir well. Add salt to taste and about 1 tablespoon water or enough to make the sauce pourable.
In a medium bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, red pepper, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and salt to taste and toss well.
Preheat the grill to medium. In a medium bowl toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and salt. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (preferably double skewers) and grill them, turning them once for 2 to 3 minutes total or until just cooked through. Transfer to a serving bowl.
To serve: Put all of the components of the tacos — the shrimp, coleslaw, avocado, chipotle cream and cilantro — onto a serving platter and let your guests build their own tacos.
Nutrition information per serving: 486 calories; 249 calories from fat; 28 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 150 mg cholesterol; 861 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 21 g protein.
Peeling peaches is the pits. And if you're like us, you end up eating your weight in fresh peaches (ideally over the sink, with juice running down your arms) before you ever work up the motivation to cook or bake with them.
But also if you're like us, once you go through the effort of boiling the water, blanching your peaches, and peeling them to reveal the jewel-toned flesh, you remember that it really only takes 10 minutes and wasn't so bad after all.
By now, hopefully, you're running out the door to the market to buy more peaches. We'll wait, and when you get back, the perfect summer pie recipe will be waiting for your newly-naked fruit.
Classic peach pies rank high among top summer treats, but in general, the best way to make someone even more excited about a fruit pie is to add the word "crumb" to the name. There's something about those sweet, crunchy-chewy morsels of streusel-y goodness that no one can resist. This version sticks to the classic flavor of cinnamon, but for a subtle, unique variation, try replacing it with ground cardamom.
What's even better is that a crumb topping means only one pie crust to roll out. If you'd like, you can use store-bought, but we like the tender flakiness of a freshly made dough. Whatever you choose, line the pie plate before you peel the peaches. This gives it some time to rest in the refrigerator, which will help prevent shrinking.
When it comes to the peaches, set yourself up for success. You might be tempted to choose a firm peach, to make peeling and slicing easier. But under-ripe peaches are actually a nightmare to peel, and even after boiling, you will struggle to separate the skin from the flesh. Culinary Institute of America chef Genevieve Meli advises you pick fruit with a "sweet, ripe aroma" and it "should be plump and firm but not hard, and free of bruises." Once boiled, the skin will peel off effortlessly.
If you're lucky enough to find ripe freestone peaches, snatch them up. Otherwise, slicing peaches from the pits can be tough. The easiest way to slice a peach and prevent a big bowl of mush is to cut the peach into four segments, around the pit. Then slice those segments. You can use a paring knife to trim any remaining flesh from around the pit, or just gnaw it off like the rest of us.
Working with fresh fruit always means some variability in the consistency of your filling, and peach pies are especially notorious for runny innards. With enough time to cool, this pie should thicken enough to slice and serve. But if your peaches were extra juicy (lucky!), don't be frustrated. Even a runny pie is better than no pie, especially topped with a scoop of ice cream.
Peach Crumb Pie
Servings: 10 (Makes one 9-inch pie)
Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes (Active time: 30 minutes)
One single-crust prepared pie dough
Brown Sugar and Oat Crumble (recipe follows)
3 pounds peaches
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 F and set the rack in the lowest position.
Line the bottom of a pie pan with pie dough. Refrigerate while you prepare the crumble and filling.
Prepare Brown Sugar and Oat Crumble. Set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. In a medium bowl, prepare an ice bath. Lightly cut an X on top of each peach. Gently lower half of the peaches into the boiling water with a slotted spoon and submerge for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately submerge in the ice bath. Repeat with the remaining peaches. Transfer the blanched peaches to a cutting board. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins with a paring knife or peeler. Pit the peaches and cut them into 1/3-inch slices.
In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Toss to combine. Immediately transfer the mixture to the prepared bottom crust. Top with the crumble.
Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is bubbly and thick, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let cool for 2 to 3 hours. The filling will continue to thicken and set as the pie cools.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, tossing to coat. Cut the fat into the mixture using your fingertips, a pastry blender, or two forks until the mixture looks like coarse irregular crumbs.
Distribute the crumble evenly over the pie or tart and bake as directed. If not using immediately, store the crumble in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chef's Note: If making the crumble in a food processor, stir in the oats by hand after pulsing in the butter to avoid chopping the oats.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 89 calories from fat; 10 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 12 mg cholesterol; 171 mg sodium; 61 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 39 g sugar; 4 g protein.
As its name implies, the tenderloin is one of the most tender cuts of pork, and comes from the full loin. It's mild in flavor and takes well to rubs, marinades and sauces. Tenderloins range in weight from 10 ounces to 1 1/2 pounds. I prefer the smaller 10-12 ounce tenderloins and look for those when I am shopping for meat.
I love coating the tenderloin with my simple "crusty" barbecue rub of dark brown sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. The sugar in the rub helps to create a nice crust on the pork, and thus the name. After applying the rub, I sear the tenderloin over direct heat on both sides and then move it to indirect heat to finish cooking. Depending on the size of the tenderloin, the entire cooking time will be between 15 and 20 minutes, making it perfect for a quick weekday meal.
If you are using a meat thermometer, cook the tenderloin to a medium end temperature of 145-150 F. Don't be alarmed if the inside is still a bit pink. This is the way that pork today should be served. If you cook it until it is well done, it will be dry and much less tasty. Once the meat rests for 3-5 minutes, slice it on the diagonal and serve with a generous slather of Jezebel Sauce.
If you aren't familiar with Jezebel Sauce, think of it as the less popular southern sister to Hot Pepper Jelly. Jezebel Sauce is thought to have its origins along the Gulf coast where it appears in community cookbooks as far back as the 1950s. Growing up in North Carolina, it was served as an appetizer, spooned over cream cheese, and accompanied by crackers. But I always thought that it was begging to be served with pork. Regardless of where it came from, it is very good with crackers and cream cheese but it makes an amazing sauce for grilled pork and sausages.
The unusual flavors of sweet pineapple, zippy horseradish and the heat of dry mustard complement the smoky grilled pork tenderloin. Traditionally, Jezebel Sauce is made with pineapple preserves and apple jelly, but lately, I have had a hard time finding pineapple preserves so I made it with pureed canned pineapple and apple jelly. The texture is a bit looser but I like the tang of the uncooked pineapple.
Crusty Pork Tenderloin with Jezebel Sauce
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 pork tenderloins (10 to 12 ounces each)
Crusty Barbecue Rub:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon coarse ground pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated/white sugar
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika or Hungarian paprika
Crushed Pineapple Jezebel Sauce:
1/4 cup pureed or crushed canned pineapple
1 jar (16 to 18 ounces) tart apple jelly
1/4 cup white horseradish (not horseradish cream)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Make rub and sauce before grilling.
For Rub: Mix all rub ingredients together until well combined. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
For Sauce: Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill. Store any extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Coat tenderloins lightly with oil. Sprinkle each with 1-2 tablespoons of the Crusty Rub. Place directly on the cooking grates over direct heat to sear. Grill 2-3 minutes per side.
Once seared, move to the center of the cooking grate and cook for 12-15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time to ensure even cooking.
Remove the tenderloins from the grill, allow them to rest for 3-5 minutes, then slice on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices and serve with Jezebel Sauce.
Nutrition information per serving: 257 calories; 63 calories from fat; 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 101 mg cholesterol; 691 mg sodium; 14 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 33 g protein.
There are lots of varieties of kale on the market. They start appearing now and stay seasonal all through the winter. You can play around with any and all of them in this recipe.
You also can use other dark greens, like mustard greens, collards, Swiss chard — even chopped broccolini or broccoli rabe. Spinach is another option, but cook it for only about 4 or 5 minutes or it will probably get a bit too soft.
There are plenty of pasta and greens recipe out there, but this one is elevated and made super-amazing by the topping of Parmesan-infused fried fresh bread crumbs. And a smidge of anchovies and red pepper flakes.
I always rush to mention that if you have people at the table who think they don't like anchovies, you should conveniently leave out that little nugget of information when describing this dish. But leave out the information, not the anchovies. (Unless you're serving a possible vegetarian, then full disclosure is in order).
Pasta with Sauteed Kale and Toasted Bread Crumbs
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic, divided
4 oil- or salt-packed anchovy filets, rinsed and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 pounds kale, thick stems cut off, rinsed well and roughly chopped
1 pound spaghetti
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season generously with salt.
Meanwhile, heat half of the 1/3 cup oil in a very large, deep skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast them, stirring frequently, until the bread crumbs are light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook and stir for one more minute, until you can small the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Pour out any remaining oil and wipe out the skillet with paper towels (carefully!). Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the rest of the 1/3 cup oil and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic, the anchovies and red pepper flakes, and stir for a few seconds. Then add the kale and 1/4 cup water (if the kale is damp from rinsing it, skip the additional water), partially cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the kale is fairly wilted and tender.
While the kale is cooking, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Add the pasta, half of the reserved cooking water, and the lemon juice to the pan with the wilted kale, and toss to combine well (use the pot you cooked the pasta in if that works better size-wise). Add more cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
In a small bowl, stir together the toasted breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
Transfer the pasta and kale to a serving bowl or to individual plates, and top with the Parmesan bread crumbs. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, and serve hot or warm. Let people give their servings an extra drizzle of olive oil if they wish.
Nutrition information per serving: 518 calories; 149 calories from fat; 17 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 12 mg cholesterol; 211 mg sodium; 75 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 19 g protein.
Corn on the cob is everywhere during the summer. You'll find it at backyard barbecues, the local carnival, county and state fairs as well as on the family dinner table.
Whether you simply enjoy it slathered with butter, prefer it blended into assorted recipes or love munching on Mexican elote with cheese, mayo, butter and chili, corn is one of the most popular warm weather treats.
Home cooks and chefs alike often put corn dishes on the menu at restaurants or for the family dinner at this time of year. The time period for corn to be at its peak in the Midwest is usually mid-July to mid-August.
According to whatscookingamerica.net, the easiest and fastest way to cook corn is to boil it. "Corn should be cooked quickly and not left to sit in the boiling water very long. Fresh corn is at its best when it is very milky inside. If overcooked, it will dry out," the website states.
"Corn is something I enjoy," said Nathan Sears, executive chef at theWit, a hotel in Chicago.
"As long as I've been cooking, I've been cooking with corn," Sears said, adding that he's creating some new corn dishes for theWit's State and Lake restaurant.
Sears is currently creating a corn risotto for the menu. The chef said he's experimented with other recipes for the sweet golden produce through the years. In the past, Sears has developed recipes for succotash and an Appalachian-style dish using fermented corn that's similar to sauerkraut.
Jens Dahlmann, executive chef of Longhorn Steakhouse, suggests that home cooks who find themselves with a surplus of corn use it in a grilled salad. Dahlmann enjoys grilling corn and believes it's a perfect accompaniment to various dishes. Longhorn Steakhouse serves a grilled corn salad with a hickory-smoked filet.
When it comes to purchasing corn on the cob at the grocery store or farmers market, Sears recommends shoppers look for corn that "feels heavy" and has "nice full kernels with a good structure."
For Sears, a Mexican elote with butter, lime, crema, queso fresco and chili is always a satisfying treat. Corn, in general, he said, is a favorite treat.
"I have no problem sitting in the backyard eating corn slathered with butter and salt," he said.
If you're looking for some good corn recipes, try the following dishes.
Tomato Corn Bake with Havarti
2 ears fresh corn (1 1/2 cups kernels)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin havarti cheese*, grated
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut corn kernels from cob. Place corn and tomatoes in roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with garlic. Roast 20 to 25 minutes until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile in small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove corn mixture from oven and pour into a 1-quart casserole dish. Add mayonnaise mixture, havarti and basil. Return to oven to melt cheese, about 5 minutes.
*Butterkäse, fontina or Monterey jack may be substituted.
From The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Fire-Grilled Corn on the Cob
4 ears of corn
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of grated parmesan
1 teaspoon of paprika
For Crema Sauce: Mix sour cream, heavy cream and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
For Corn on the Cob:
Select corn with a moist stem, and glossy, pale yellow silk. Pull back the husk so you have a handle for the finished product.
Place ears of corn on the grill with a low-heat.
Give the corn a quarter turn every 4 to 5 minutes. The cooking process should take about 15-20 minutes, depending on your grill temperature.
While corn is grilling, add grated parmesan and paprika to a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
Take corn off the grill and brush it with crema sauce, then sprinkle on parmesan and paprika mixture.
Recipe serves 4
Inspired by LongHorn Steakhouse’s menu
Gouda Shrimp Salad with Acai Dressing
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or farro
3/4 cup acai juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups kale or micro-greens, coarsely chopped
1 cup red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 cups corn kernels
6 ounces Wisconsin smoked gouda cheese, diced
3 tablespoons basil, chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
DIRECTIONS: Cover farro with water and soak 12 hours or overnight. Drain.
Bring 1 quart water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add farro and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain and cool.
In glass measuring cup, combine juices and honey. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 cup of this mixture into gallon zipper bag and add shrimp. Marinate 30 minutes to overnight. Refrigerate remaining dressing mixture until ready to use.
In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shrimp and marinade from bag and sauté 2-3 minutes, turning as needed. Add greens, peppers and corn; sauté, stirring frequently until shrimp is full cooked.
Combine farro with shrimp mixture and cool. When ready to serve, add reserved dressing, gouda cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with chia seeds.
You may substitute spelt berries if you cannot find whole wheat or farro. You may substitute pomegranate, cherry or your favorite juice for the acai juice.
With small knife, cut out 1 1/2-inch-wide circle in top of each roll and pick out bread to create small well, leaving at least 1/2 inch of bread at bottom. Set aside.
In medium bowl, combine shredded fontina, corn kernels, shallot, cilantro, jalapeño pepper and mayonnaise.
Mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon about 1/4 cup mixture into each roll so mixture fills well and is mounded over top. Bake 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you may prepare on the grill. Heat grill to medium-low indirect heat. Place large piece of foil over grill grates. Place rolls on foil and cover grill for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted and rolls are slightly toasted. Remove and serve immediately.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Mexican Grilled Corn
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream or Mexican crema
1/4 cup cotija cheese, divided
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder
8 ears shucked corn
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 lime, halved
Smoked paprika (optional) and additional lime wedges to garnish
Preheat the grill to medium high.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise; sour cream; 3 tablespoons of the cheese; garlic and chili powder. Transfer the mixture to a plate, and spread it out a bit.
Brush the corn with the melted butter. Grill the corn for 8 minutes, until it is nicely browned in spots. Roll the corn in the mayo mixture, and place on a serving platter. Squeeze the lime over the corn, sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of cheese, then sprinkle with smoked paprika if desired. Add the lime wedges, and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 8 servings
Summer, summer, summer. The word is fat and round and breezy and rolls around nicely on the tongue. And we want our food to be breezy, too.
If you have basil and tomatoes growing in your garden, make this. If you have a farmers' market near you, make this. And if you have leftover pesto hanging around, even store-bought, you can still make this.
You'll cook the pasta and make the pesto in the time it takes to roast the little tomatoes. The amount of oil in the dish is flexible; a bit is added to the roasting tomatoes, a bit to the cooked pasta, and the rest goes into the pesto. The pesto is intentionally a bit thick, as it will distribute itself nicely over the pasta and tomatoes when tossed, but you can always add a little more oil if you want a more fluid pesto.
By no means do you have to use cavatappi — it was the pasta I grabbed at the moment, and I do love its compact, chewy, twisted little shape.
Another thing to love is the fact that this can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It's a great make-ahead dish, hanging out happily for a day in the fridge before being brought to room temperature and served. It's very portable.
And it's not too hard on the eyes either. Yellow tomatoes are a nice burst of sunny color, but you can use red too, or a mix of colors.
Cavatappi with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto
Start to finish: 35 minutes
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5 sprigs fresh thyme
about ½ cup olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound cavatappi or other chunky pasta
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tomatoes and thyme sprigs on the baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until they are wrinkly and slightly collapsed.
While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, make the pesto. Place the garlic and basil in a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is roughly chopped. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper and process, scraping down the sides part way through until everything is well blended. If it is very thick, add a bit more olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse until blended in. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cook the cavatappi according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the cooking water, the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if it seems dry) and the roasted tomatoes (discard the thyme sprigs), and transfer to a serving bowl. Dollop the pesto on top, and toss. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Nutrition information per serving: 560 calories; 227 calories from fat; 26 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 406 mg sodium; 60 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 18 g protein.
Watermelon will make its way onto many 4th of July holiday tables. The sweet fruit can tastefully star in everything from drinks and salads to entrees, desserts and other treats.
If home cooks are using watermelon to blend in favorite recipes, there are a variety of ingredients that pair well with the red, crisp fruit. According to the Watermelon Board, among ingredients that work with watermelon are spices such as cinnamon, salt, cloves, cayenne, paprika, pepper, chile and more.
Vegetables such as cucumbers, kale, peppers, onions, leafy greens and other selections are also good accompaniments to watermelon. Additional pairing ingredients include basil, mint, sage, ginger, blue cheese, feta, yogurt and sour cream, among others.
Looking for places to celebrate the fruit? There are a number of watermelon and melon festivals throughout the U.S. each year. In Indiana, the Knox County Watermelon Festival takes place Aug. 5 in Knox. The Brownstown Melon Fest will be held Sept. 15 and 16 in Brownstown, Indiana.
Interesting facts about watermelon: (from the Watermelon Board)
— One big slice of watermelon equals 8 ounces of H20.
— By weight, watermelon is the most consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
— When storing watermelon in glass or plastic, it should keep for at least three days.
If you're interested in trying different recipes for watermelon, take a look at the following dishes. Recipes are from the Watermelon Board and watermelon.org.
Red White and Blue Watermelon Parfait
1 cup blueberries
6 ounce container of low-fat yogurt (vanilla, lemon, or coconut work best, preferably Greek yogurt)
1 cup watermelon plus 3 pieces of diced watermelon
Serving whipped cream or dessert topping
In a pint canning jar, assemble the layered parfait, starting with the blueberries, followed by the yogurt and finishing off with the watermelon. Top with the whipped cream and garnish with the 3 diced watermelon pieces.
Note: To make ahead or make thicker, drain the Greek yogurt on paper towels to absorb some liquid.
Makes 2 servings, minimum.
Island Fruit Salad
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 lime, juiced (1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
2 kiwis peeled and diced
1 orange sectioned and halved
2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
2 teaspoons flaked, sweetened coconut
In a small bowl, add the sugar and water and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir to completely dissolve sugar. Cool. Once cool, add lime juice and extract.
In a medium bowl, add kiwi, orange and watermelon. Pour rum juice over the top and thoroughly toss. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Divide fruit salad into two bowls and sprinkle with coconut.
Makes 2 servings.
1 mini seedless watermelon
8 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and coarsely mashed
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tomatoes ripe, seeded and diced
4 habanero chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (or less, to taste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash salt (to taste)
Roll the watermelon to find the flattest side; place that side on bottom. Slice the top third of the watermelon off. Wrap and set aside. Hollow out the red watermelon from the remaining watermelon section; reserve fruit for another use. A rice paddle works well for this task. Make sure all of the red part of the watermelon is removed. Pat dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with salt. Place upside down on a rimmed tray lined with paper towels and refrigerate overnight.
For the guacamole, gently combine all ingredients in a medium serving bowl. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to blend.
With paper towels, rub inside of watermelon bowl to remove salt and thoroughly dry. Fill with Firecracker Guacamole, serve and enjoy!
Variation: For a milder guacamole substitute a mild chile pepper for the habanero, or omit the chile.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with fresh veggies or crisp chips. (Recipe from California Avocado Commission)
30 mint leaves
1 large lime the juice and some pulp is needed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups ice
4 fluid ounces white rum
1/2 cup liquified fresh watermelon
1/2 cup club soda
Serving diced watermelon (optional)
Serving mint leaves and small slices of watermelon
Place mint leaves, the lime juice and pulp, and the sugar in a medium pitcher. Use a muddler to crush the mint and blend the juice and sugar. Add the ice, rum, watermelon juice, and club soda. Stir, taste, and add more sugar or lime to taste. Add a few diced watermelon if desired and garnish each glass with mint and a thin slice of watermelon.
Servings: Makes 2 drinks.
Watermelon Waldorf Salad
2 cups cubed watermelon (about 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup seedless red grape halves
Dash of salt
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
Stir together watermelon, celery, and grapes in bowl. Just before serving, stir salt into yogurt for dressing. You may want to add a little water to lighten the thickness. Pour mixture over fruit and stir until coated. Sprinkle with almonds.
Servings will vary.
1 bottle red wine (preferably Spanish)
1/2 bottle white zinfandel
1/2 bottle Beaujolais
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup tequila
1 cup watermelon juice
1 quart orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup club soda
1 cup watermelon chunks
6 pieces star anise
1 sliced orange
1 sugar or alternative sweetener to taste
Whisk all ingredients — wine, brandy, tequila, orange juice, lemon juice, club soda, watermelon juice. Pour over the fresh fruit in a pitcher. Sweeten to taste. Serve over ice and garnish with watermelon wedges and mint leaves.
Eloise Marie Valadez
Actor/singer Kavin Panmeechao finds the cooking art fascinating.
Panmeechao,who stars as character Lun Tha in "The King and I," grew up around the kitchen. His family operated a Thai restaurant while he was growing up where he said he learned many lessons about good cooking.
"The King and I," continues through July 2 at The Oriental Theatre in Chicago. FYI: Call 800-775-2000 or visit BroadwayInChicago.com.
The actor said he was influenced in culinary matters by his uncle.
"My uncle is a chef and loves to cook," Panmeechao said. The actor said he enjoys making a variety of dishes that he learned from family through the years.
Among favorites is Pad Thai, which is a popular Thai dish. "I started with stir fries," Panmeechao explained. Other favorites include curries and Larb Gai, a Laotian dish.
When the entertainer is on the road and has access to a kitchen, he tries to cook as much as possible.
"At home, I cook every day," he said. "I'm known among my friends as a person who invites people over." Panmeechao said he often cooks for cast members as well.
The actor likes sharing meals with others.
"Sharing a meal with someone allows you to nurture them and to care for them," he said.
Panmeechao said it's been a joy to perform in "The King and I." "I feel very blessed to be in this show," he said.
Optional: sliced cucumbers and lettuce leaves for garnish
Note: Roasted rice powder is relatively easy to make. Put a tablespoon of dry uncooked rice, preferably sticky or jasmine, into a dry skillet at medium heat and toast until slightly golden, around 3-5 minutes. Place rice into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind into a powder the texture of fine sand. Follow as directed.
1. In a nonstick skillet on medium high heat, cook the chicken until it is cooked through but not browned. If you're concerned that it may stick to the pan, you may use a tablespoon of neutral flavored oil. Take off the heat and let cool 5 minutes.
2. Place chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to mix. As with all Thai dishes, everything is to taste, so if you prefer more spice, add extra chile. More savoriness or acidity? Add a bit more fish sauce or lime juice. I even throw in a bit more rice powder for texture. Serve alongside cucumber and lettuce leaves.
PAWHUSKA, Okla. — Growing up in an Oklahoma town she considered too tiny, Ree Drummond sought the bright lights of a city and headed west for Los Angeles.
She never dreamed the journey would send her back to the plains of northeast Oklahoma, to a place with even fewer lights where she's become known and built a brand as "The Pioneer Woman."
Visitors from all 50 states, Canada, South America and England have come to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, a store-bakery-restaurant she and her husband opened after starting a popular blog, then writing New York Times best-selling cookbooks and children's books, hosting a Food Network cooking show and, her most recent venture, The Pioneer Woman Magazine. The magazine is the first of two planned editions released this month and available at The Mercantile and at Walmart, where she also has a signature line of cooking, kitchen and dinnerware. Her digital and print catalogues are all full of her quips about motherhood and quick-and-easy meals mixed with musings on her late basset hound and comparing her current life in cowgirl boots to one where she used to wear pumps.
Recent blog entries covered everything from taking her homeschooled children to see the musical "Hamilton" on Broadway to finally finishing the TV show "Breaking Bad" and a forthcoming cookbook. Sony Pictures holds an option for a possible movie on her book "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels," in which she recounts how she met her husband, who isn't a smoker but whom she often calls "Marlboro Man.
"I think people are drawn to 'The Pioneer Woman,' not because I am some fascinating person, but because I present things that a lot of people can relate to," a self-effacing Drummond said in an interview with The Associated Press at the store, a retail and restaurant location she and her husband opened in October. "I'm not a chef, and I'm not an expert at anything. I'm just a mom and a wife."
Drummond grew up the daughter of a surgeon in Bartlesville, a town of about 36,000 people about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Pawhuska. As she puts it, she grew up on the seventh fairway of a golf course, a far cry from the working cattle ranch she now calls home. She left for school at the University of Southern California and, a few years after graduating, planned to move closer to home, to Chicago.
Her plans took a detour when she stopped for a visit in Bartlesville where she joined some friends at a bar and met "a cowboy wearing Wranglers." She went on to marry him in 1996, and never made it to the Windy City.
The cowboy, Ladd Drummond, is part of a prominent family that operates a more than 400,000-acre (162,000-hectare) cattle ranch in Osage County, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) west of Pawhuska, population about 3,900.
"It was, kind of just, love that got me out here, and then after we got married I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what have I done?' You know, 'Where am I, and this is real. I live in the country,'" Ree Drummond said. "If I had sat down and tried to plan an empire there's no way, no way any of this would have happened."
It's paying off for her and, town leaders hope, Pawhuska.
About 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City, Pawhuska has one stoplight that blinks red in four directions. Most of the last 40 miles (64 kilometers) of a two-lane state highway headed into town from the west are dotted with ranches, occasional cellphone towers, more than 100 windmills, and no signs with directions to the town, much less Drummond's store which she and locals call "The Merc."
Pawhuska City Manager Mike McCartney said he hopes to see an increase in the town's "less than 50" motel rooms with plans to renovate a five-story building across the street from The Mercantile into a hotel. Many visitors stay in nearby Bartlesville or Ponca City, he said.
Outside The Mercantile, drivers stop on Main Street to allow pedestrians to cross. On a sweltering June morning, as temperatures approached 90 degrees (32 Celsius), a line of people about 200 feet (60 meters) long and three to five persons wide, in spots, waited to enter the restaurant. Estimated wait time: more than two hours.
"If it's as good as all of her food that she cooks on her show" it will be worth the wait, said Laura Burton, 67, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Kelli Linch, 52, of Rea, Missouri, drove more than five hours to eat at The Mercantile. She eventually opted for a takeout order.
Linch said there are many things she admires about Drummond, including that she often speaks on her show about her church and her family.
"I like that she's simple, and just a Plain Jane kind of gal," Linch said.
Throughout New England, the traditional entree of choice for dinner on the Fourth of July was salmon served with a side of peas. This happy pairing capitalized on the region's seasonal bounty — it just so happened that the salmon were running and fresh peas were at their peak at the very moment America paused to celebrate its birthday.
There are still ways to honor this delicious tradition even though the East Coast is bereft of wild salmon these days. Wild salmon from the West Coast is widely available (if pricey), as is sustainably farmed salmon, which is not so pricey. (Check http://www.seafoodwatch.org/ to find good choices.)
My family has always served whole baked fillets slathered with some kind of butter sauce. But this year I'm moving in a new direction: salmon fillets with crispy skin and a Greekish sauce. I was inspired by the crispy-skin salmon that's become a mainstay on restaurant menus in recent years. The contrast of the fish's crisp and flavorful skin with its moist and flavorful flesh is a knockout.
But it never occurred to me to attempt it at home until now. It turns out that it's really quite simple. You just need to make sure the skin is very dry before you cook it. Not only must it be patted down with paper towels, it also has to be scraped repeatedly with a knife to remove any excess moisture. Then all you need is a hot skillet and some oil with a high smoke point. (While the salmon's cooking, you'll have to press it down frequently with a spatula to prevent the skin from buckling and shrinking.)
The tart sauce is a snap. It's a mix — half-yogurt and half-mayonnaise — flavored with lemon, dill, garlic and pepperoncini. (The last-named ingredients are those Tuscan pickled peppers often used to enliven Greek salads with a tiny bit of heat.) The sauce's tartness provides a welcome contrast to the fish's richness.
Truthfully, now that I know this easy and effective technique, it's how I'm always going to cook salmon — even when it's not a holiday.
SALMON WITH CRISPY SKIN AND PEPPERONCINI LEMON SAUCE
Start to finish: 40 minutes
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced seeded pepperoncini
1 tablespoon liquid from the pepperoncini jar
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and black pepper
Four 6-ounce salmon fillets with the skin
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil with a high smoke point
In a bowl combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, minced pepperoncini and pepperoncini liquid, lemon juice, garlic and dill; add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Pat the fish skin very dry. Scrape the skin with a large knife, at a perpendicular angle, 8 to 10 times to remove any excess moisture, wiping the knife clean each time. In a large ovenproof skillet heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the salmon fillets, skin side down. Immediately press down evenly on the top of each fillet to keep the skin from buckling up. Cook the salmon, pressing down frequently, for 4 minutes or until you can see that the skin is getting crispy and the flesh has lightened about 1/3 — one-half of the way up the side. Season the flesh with salt and pepper, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for another 4 to 6 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to the desired degree of doneness.
Transfer to plates, skin side up, and top each portion with some of the sauce.
Nutritional information: 446 calories; 251 calories from fat; 28 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 128 mg cholesterol; 349 mg sodium; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 45 g protein.
Ice cream offers the perfect cool down after a day at the beach or the perfect ending to a summertime barbecue.
There are many places to purchase a favorite ice cream treat. But even better than standing in a long line waiting to order on a hot summer day, why not make your own?
People have been making ice cream long before refrigeration dating back to China in 3000 B.C. when the emperor had his “ice men” lug snow from nearby mountains where it was sweetened with syrup and fermented milk.
Fast forward to George Washington’s account ledgers, which list “a cream machine for ice.” In 1843, Nancy Johnson, of Philadelphia, patented her “artificial freezer” consisting of a tub, cylinder, lid, dasher and crank — a device similar to many of the ice cream makers used today.
If you choose the no-machine route, well-known food writer David Lebovitz, author of "The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments," recommends using an ice cream recipe that is custard-based for the smoothest texture possible.
“The richer the recipe, the creamier and smoother the results are going to be,” he said, noting that ice cream made this way is best eaten soon after it’s made because it has less air churned in it than traditionally churned ice cream. Below is his recipe for the Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Ever. But he said the advantage to using an electric or hand-cranked machine is the final result will be smoother and creamier.
“Freezing anything from liquid-to-solid means you’re creating hard ice crystals, so if you’re making it by hand, as your ice cream or sorbet mixture freezes, you want to break up those ice crystals as much as possible so your final results are as smooth and creamy as possible,” he writes on davidlebovitz.com.
“Using an ice cream maker is best and will yield best results,” said Cheryl Dornberg, owner of Mrs. Dornberg's Culinary Experience in Highland. In the past, Dornberg has incorporated ice cream making in some of the classes she teaches. “Freezing in a pan requires you to stir every half-hour or so and will give you more of a frozen ice."
There are numerous ice cream makers on the market. Dornberg uses an old KRUPS electric model.
“I think the old-fashioned ones with the actual ice and salt mixture are the best,” said Dornberg, who shared several recipes, including one for a basic fruit sorbet recipe she uses as well as a basil lime ice cream. “Our freezers are not always cold enough for the chemical-filled bowls of the electric models.”
For those who want their ice cream fix in small amounts, the Zoku Ice Cream Maker, which comes in a variety of bright colors, can make individual portions of ice cream, custards, sorbets and gelatos in about 10 minutes.
David Lebovitz’s Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Ever
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons milk, whole or low-fat
6 tablespoons Baileys liquor
1 medium-sized ripe banana, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon dark rum
DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave), melt the chocolate with the milk.
Blend the melted chocolate, the Baileys, the banana and rum until smooth.
Drizzle pure melted dark or milk chocolate (about 5 ounces, 140 grams) over the almost-frozen mixture, then stir, breaking up the ribbons of chocolate as they start to freeze, to create little "chips."
The following recipes are courtesy of Cheryl Dornberg.
Basil Lime Sorbet
Yield: approximately 3 cups
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon vodka
DIRECTIONS: Zest three limes and place zest in bowl of food processor along with sugar and basil. Pulse a few times to combine. Transfer mixture to a medium saucepan, add 1 cup water and bring to a boil on medium high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and allow to cool 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, juice zested limes plus enough additional to yield 2 cups juice. Strain sugar syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on the solids. Stir in lime juice, vodka and salt. Thoroughly chill in refrigerator at least overnight and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour chilled sorbet mixture into a shallow, preferably metal, pan and freeze, stirring and breaking up with a fork every hour for 3-4 hours.
Transfer to a resealable container and freeze up to six months.
Yield: approximately 1 quart
4 cups fruit puree or juice (see list below)
1 cup sugar
0-2 tablespoons lemon juice**
1 tablespoon vodka or other high-proof alcohol
** Use 1 tablespoon lemon juice for more acidic fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, pineapple and oranges. Use 2 tablespoons for apples, blueberries, mangos, peaches and melons. None needed for lemon or lime sorbet.
Combine fruit puree or juice, sugar, lemon juice and alcohol in large bowl. Stir on and off for several minutes until sugar has dissolved. Pour mixture into small container. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is no more than 40 degrees F. Pour chilled mixture into container of an ice cream machine and churn until frozen.
Scoop frozen sorbet into a container. Seal and transfer container to freezer for several hours until firm. Sorbet can be kept frozen, well-sealed, up to six months.
To make fruit puree, combine in blender or food processor until smooth:
Fruits high in pectin and/or fiber will produce the creamiest result.
Blueberries: 2 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup cold water
Mangos: Flesh of 3 medium with 1/2 cup cold water
Peaches: Flesh of 6 medium with 1/2 cup cold water
Pineapple: Flesh of one small, strain out stringy fibers, add water to yield 2 cups
Raspberry, Blackberry or Strawberry: 3 cups with 1/2 cup cold water; strain if desired
Watermelon: Peel and seed 2 1/2 pounds, puree till smooth, add water if necessary
Lemon/Lime: 1/2 cup fresh squeezed juice, 1 1/2 cups cold water and 2 teaspoons zest
Tomorrow is the big day for niece Rosa and Menno. I wish them many happy, healthy years together. May God be their guide through the good and bad times in their marriage. It takes effort from both sides to make a marriage happy. And most of all, it takes prayers! Life doesn’t get easier as the years speed by. But I do think we get wiser from life’s experiences.
I am writing this column a few minutes after 4 a.m. Just a few short hours ago I went to bed—or so it seems. After I was in bed last night, it dawned on me that I hadn’t written the column this week. So I sat back up and reset my alarm clock for 4 a.m. this morning instead of 5 a.m. I must admit it has been nice setting our alarm at 5 a.m. instead of 3 a.m. this week. My husband, Joe, has off from work this week, so he’s getting caught up on spring work outside.
This morning at 6 a.m. my sisters Verena, Susan, Emma and I will drive the two hours to sister Liz and Levi’s house. Today is pie-baking day for Rosa’s wedding. It’s also the day for finishing everything else that needs to be done before the wedding tomorrow.
Daughter Elizabeth and I are both cooks, but Elizabeth decided not to go today. She thought that, with little Abigail, she might not be so much help anyway. Also it will be a long day for her tomorrow. We are to wear the color beige. Daughter Verena is a table waiter and will wear an ocean-blue dress. Son Benjamin is also a table waiter and will wear an ocean-blue shirt with black pants and vest. We are hoping for a nice day weatherwise.
Our family spent Saturday evening and Sunday at daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s. Sunday we went on a wagon ride. Son Joseph and Lovina would get off the wagon sometimes and ride their RipStiks.
Son-in-law Mose has been taking over duties to get the garden planted this year. We are enjoying radishes and green onions from the garden. Lettuce is almost ready to use. Asparagus and rhubarb are also plentiful. I appreciate Mose’s help. This is the first year I have not helped plant the garden since we were married, which was almost 24 years ago. I am enjoying it, I must say.
Yesterday we did laundry. We usually wash Mose and Susan’s laundry right with ours. After we were finished, we washed my sisters Verena and Susan’s clothes for them. They were working, and so was daughter Susan. It was a very nice day to dry clothes.
It was so nice to meet the readers in Battle Creek, Michigan this past Saturday. My husband decided to go fishing, and so did sons-in-law Timothy and Mose. So daughters Elizabeth (and Abigail), Susan and Verena went with me to Battle Creek. And once again my friend Ruth put her duties aside and took the time to take us to the book signing.
Thanks for all the encouragement from readers. I enjoyed meeting all of you. Little Abigail was happy through most of the signing. She is so precious!
I am making a casserole to take to sister Liz’s today. It’s called Make-Ahead Casserole. I will share the recipe this week. The instructions aren’t detailed; all the ingredients just have to be mixed together well.
God’s blessings to all!
4 cups seashell macaroni, uncooked
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 pound cheese, shredded
2 cups milk
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup butter
DIRECTIONS: In the morning, mix all ingredients well. Put the mixture in a large baking pan and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve with a large lettuce and tomato salad.
The stars aligned when our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence right in the middle of berry season. And while maybe that wasn't part of Thomas Jefferson's agenda, we really ought to take advantage of it.
This Summer Berry Trifle from The Culinary Institute of America is perfect for your Fourth of July barbecue. Showing off the summer's fresh berries, layering strawberries and blueberries (or whatever you like best) with a sweet diplomat cream and tender yellow cake, it's everything you could ever want in a summer dessert.
A trifle is a layered dessert made from cake or ladyfinger cookies, sweet custard, and some whipped cream to lighten things up. Trifles are basically the apple pie of England, where they often include sherry wine, brandy, and jam, and, like many things we love today, they were created as a way to use up leftovers.
Diplomat cream combines two of the best things in the world: pastry cream and freshly whipped cream. Pastry cream is basically just vanilla pudding, so imagine that plus whipped cream. Then imagine that layered with fruit and cake. It's all too exciting!
Because it is part of so many classic recipes, like profiteroles, fruit tarts, and eclairs, pastry cream is one of the fundamentals every CIA baking and pastry student must master before moving on with their studies. Don't let that intimidate you, though, because with some patience and a strong whisking arm, preparing pastry cream is a walk in the park.
The flavors in this trifle are simple and classic, but there are so many opportunities to experiment. You can flavor your pastry cream by steeping ingredients like coffee, cardamom, or cinnamon in the milk mixture. You can add layers of chocolate fudge, dulce de leche, or baked streusel, or brush flavored simple syrup or liqueur onto the cake layers. Take this recipe straight through farm stand season, experimenting with ripe fruits like plums, peaches, and eventually poached apples and pears.
When planning a party, make-ahead items are key, and this dessert is one of them. All of the components for your trifle can be made a few days ahead (the cake can even be prepared weeks before and frozen), and then assembled the night before. It will only get better as the cake soaks in some of the cream and juice of the berries, so you can put it out of your mind until it's time to serve dessert.
We've made the trifles in individual jars for serving, but you can use these ingredients to make one large trifle to serve family-style. Any vessel will work, but a clear glass serving dish will show off the layers, and the vibrant colors of the berries are like a centerpiece all on their own.
SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE
Servings: 12 individual trifles
Start to finish: 2 hours 50 minutes (Inactive: 2 hours)
Yellow Butter Cake (recipe follows)
Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
1 cup heavy cream
1 quart strawberries, stemmed and diced
2 pints blueberries
Place the cake, bottom parchment still intact, on a clean work surface. Place a second piece of parchment over the cake. Holding both pieces of parchment taut, carefully flip the cake so that the fresh parchment is now on the bottom. Carefully peel the parchment paper from the cake, then return it to loosely cover the cake.
Use a rolling pin to gently roll the cake into an even layer. Remove the parchment and use a 2 1/2-inch circle cutter (or whichever size best fits your serving vessels) to cut 24 circles from the cake.
Meanwhile, transfer the chilled pastry cream to a clean bowl and gently beat with a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set aside.
Whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl until it holds a medium peak when the whisk is turned upright. Working by hand with a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream in 2 or 3 additions, folding just until evenly blended.
Place one circle of cake at the bottom of a small jar. Top with about 2 tablespoons strawberries, followed by 2 tablespoons of the pastry cream mixture. Add another cake circle, pressing down lightly to compact the layers, followed by about 1 1/2 tablespoons of blueberries, and another 2 tablespoons of pastry cream mixture. Repeat the steps with the remaining jars, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
YELLOW BUTTER CAKE
Makes 12 servings (one 18-by 13-inch cake)
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1?4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk (divided use)
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet (about 18-by-13 inches) with spray oil and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of the milk. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, blend the eggs, egg white, the remaining 1/4 cup milk, and the vanilla extract. Add to the batter in three additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed after each addition. Scrape down the bowl between additions.
Pour the batter into the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the center, about 24 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then use the parchment paper to carefully lift the cake from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before using.
Makes 12 servings (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar (divided use)
2 cups whole milk (divided use)
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the cornstarch mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
Prepare an ice bath. Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about one-third of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously stirring with a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, 5 to 7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter.
Transfer the pan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the pastry cream to a storage container and place parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cover the storage container tightly and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.
Nutrition information per serving: 419 calories; 190 calories from fat; 21 g fat (12 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 155 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 54 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 32 g sugar; 7 g protein.
Ratatouille is a classic vegetable dish starring eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomato that is deeply steeped in the culture of Mediterranean France.
When I married a man from the heart of Provence, one of the first lessons I received from my new mother-in-law Muriel was how to make a proper ratatouille. (The other was how to pluck feathers from a newly-butchered turkey, but that's a story for another day.)
Turns out, my American sensibilities had me cooking a ratatouille far too long, making it a gloppy stew of indistinguishable mixed vegetables, a crime I've seen committed more often than not here in the U.S.
Muriel was kind in her rebuke, and showed me her way instead. The most important lesson was to cook each vegetable separately, to honor their individuality. Moreover, the vegetables needed to be cooked in the same pan, in a specific order, so that the flavors would be built just right. (The order, in case you are wondering, is: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, tomatoes, and I use the acronym EZ-POT to remember.)
I was skeptical. But her version is easily the best I have ever eaten, so I follow it without fail, even if the rebellious part of me wonders if I dared to cook the zucchini out of order, would anyone really notice? But, why mess with genius?
Unless it's BBQ season and I want to grill out! After years of following proper EZ-POT protocol, I decided to try an outdoor grilled version of ratatouille. A little summertime char on the veggies could be a good thing. And indeed it was.
The result was a tasty dish that was somewhere in between a grilled vegetable salad (but not quite as acidic) and a traditional ratatouille (but not quite capturing that synergistic vegetable vibe). Still, a worthy summertime side dish in its own right.
Grilled ratatouille is a happy complement to any grilled meat or fish, and it's hearty enough to be the main dish for vegetarians. And leftovers can be spooned on top of roasted potatoes, rice, a green salad, or even spread on toast, sprinkled with cheese and broiled for a quick lunch.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 small or 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch slices (no need to peel)
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 sweet yellow or red pepper, cut into "cheeks" or quarters, seeds, removed
1 medium sweet white onion, peeled, quartered with root intact (to keep it together)
1 pint grape tomatoes
Olive oil in mister
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons high quality olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
6-7 basil leaves, gently torn
salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS: Heat the grill to medium and lightly oil the grates. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, and spray them lightly with the olive oil mister to coat. (If you don't have a mister, pour a little oil in your hands and lightly toss the vegetables in a bowl using your hands to coat them very lightly with olive oil.)
Cook the vegetables on the grill until tender but not floppy, turning halfway through cooking time — about 12-15 minutes total for the eggplant, onion quarters and sweet pepper, 8-10 minutes for the zucchini and 2 minutes for the tomatoes.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and red wine vinegar in a small bowl, and drizzle in the olive oil, whisking to make an emulsion. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste, and an additional tablespoon of water if needed to make more sauce.
As the vegetables are removed from the grill, chop the onion (the inside may not be fully cooked and that's OK), and cut the rest of the veggies into nice-sized cubes, and place in a large bowl. The pepper skin will be charred and can be kept or removed.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables while still warm and toss gently. Add the fresh basil leaves to the vegetables, and stir. Adjust salt and pepper for seasoning and serve, hot, room temperature or chilled.
Nutrition information per serving: 126 calories; 49 calories from fat; 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 14 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 4 g protein.
The date of May 24 always takes my thoughts back to 2010. The day started out just like any other day. I was out on the porch watering the flowers while the children waited for the bus. The bus came and I could hear our phone ringing in the pole barn.
I decided to finish watering the flowers before going to check if we had a voicemail from anyone. When the phone kept ringing and ringing I decided I had better go answer it. I will never forget how that phone call affected our lives.
I called my neighbor Ann to see if she could take me to sister Emma and Jacob’s house right away. We arrived and the first responders were already there trying to revive sweet little eight-and-one-half-month-old Marilyn. She didn’t wake up that morning.
I went with Emma to the hospital following the ambulance. Ann stayed with us. Another good friend Irene went to go pick up Jacob which was about a forty-five minute drive where he was working at the time. Ann prayed with Emma and me as we waited. It was too late to save Marilyn.
Her death was ruled sudden infant death syndrome. Our hearts and minds questioned why. God doesn’t make mistakes and He needed another angel in heaven. Although I was devastated for losing my sweet little niece, I could not begin to imagine what my sister was going through. The baby she had breastfed since birth, the bonding, and the joy of the family. With our youngest being almost five it seemed that Marilyn was my baby too.
The doctor said we could hold Marilyn. We wrapped a blanket around her and thought we should see her open her eyes and smile that sweet little smile of hers. Jacob arrived at the hospital. How do you tell someone they lost their child? I offered to go to school and let Jacob and Emma’s children know and bring them home. I knew that my children would want to come home too. The children were all so shocked and I tried to brace up for their sake.
It was decided that the viewing would be held at our house and the funeral at the local community building. When I arrived home there were already church and family friends cleaning everywhere. Church services had been set the day before to be held at our house in two weeks.
In my column in September, 2009, I had shared the good and exciting news: “Congratulations to sister Emma and Jacob as they are blessed with another addition to their family. Marilyn Jane was born by C-section this morning. She is a very tiny bundle weighing 4 pounds 10 ounces and is 17 inches long.” Weeks and months passed by and Marilyn never lacked attention.
How well I remember the day before Marilyn’s death. We all went to church and when Jacob and Emma arrived at church, our daughter Loretta (age 9 at that time) ran like usual to get baby Marilyn and brought her to me. Marilyn was so happy to see me and gave me a baby hug. That evening Jacob and Emma and family came to our house for a pork chop supper in honor of my birthday (May 22).
My oldest daughter Elizabeth (almost 16 at the time), sister Emma, and I sat in the yard with Marilyn and watched the rest play basketball. As usual, baby Marilyn was passed back and forth. Little did we realize these were our final hours with her.
Seven years have passed and I miss our sweet little angel. My granddaughter Abigail is now the age Marilyn was at that time. She wore Marilyn’s dresses when she was younger but is bigger than Marilyn was at this age, so she has outgrown them.
My sisters Verena and Susan, and our married children brought supper in for my 46th birthday, which was Monday, May 22. After eating, we all went on a hayride. It was so enjoyable sitting on the bales of hay and being all together with my family. It was a bit chilly so we wrapped little Abigail up warm. We stopped in to say hi to Jacob, Emma, and family while on the hayride.
A big thank you to all who offered good wishes for my birthday. I also want to thank the many readers who showed up at the book signings in Goshen, Ind. at Better World Books, and at Barnes & Noble in nearby Mishawaka. So much encouragement from all of you! God bless you all!
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine
DIRECTIONS: Cut in margarine to the flour and powdered sugar. Mix well and pat crumb mixture into bottom of 9x13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups rhubarb chopped
DIRECTIONS: Meanwhile, mix additional dry ingredients listed above. Add beaten eggs. Stir in chopped rhubarb. Spoon on baked crust and bake for additional 35-45 minutes.
To keep up with the craft beer brewery and pub growth in the Region, there are a myriad of apps for Android and iPhone users to help locate breweries, encourage beer journaling and connect with other aficionados.
“With the South Shore Brewery Trail app we can send push notifications to anyone who opted in to receive them. We send out information about brewery festivals, special beer releases, live entertainment and other happenings at the different breweries,” said Heather Becerra, chief marketing officer at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
The visitor center launched the South Shore Brewery Trail app in September 2015.
“By downloading the app, the breweries are listed so that the brewery closest to you is listed first and so on. This is a very useful tool for someone like a visitor who can easily find the breweries closest to their location. You can also use the map functionality and get turn-by-turn directions right to the brewery.”
The app allows users to star their favorites, access which seasonal beers are available in local breweries and brew pubs, find out which breweries have outdoor seating and which breweries are family-friendly. The app also list hotels nearby and transportation options.
Becerra said they had a lot of success with the app in the first year and half and are working with their app developer to include more functionality in the future.
“We want users to be able to check in to the breweries they visit and essentially use it as a digital passport. Users could get ‘stamps’ and get prizes for checking out all of the different breweries.”
A national craft beer app that is also used by Regionites is Untappd.
Untappd allows users to locate craft beer breweries and bars, check in, log in what they’re drinking, rate it and share what they’ve journaled about the beer with friends.
“I use it more as a diary for myself so I can remember if I liked a beer,” said Siobhan Sullivan, of Highland. “If the venue you are at uses Untappd, then they will have a ticket at the bottom of the screen showing all the people there who are using it. You can also have friends on there, just like Facebook or Instagram. In fact, we always say it's kind of like Facebook for beer geeks.”
Another feature Sullivan likes about Untappd is when traveling it has a map and will pinpoint bars, breweries, liquor stores, etc.
“You can then click on said brewery and find out what they have. We love this feature,” Sullivan said.
Untappd has the ability to personalize recommendations based on the tastes of the user and their friends. It also includes achievement badges to reward patrons for trying different styles of beer and for checking in at different locations.
“When I first downloaded Untappd to my iPhone in January 2015, I used it to look up beer descriptions while out with friends. Each craft brew is different and I like to see what the brewer put into them,” said Michael Wilson, of Highland. “As I met more people who enjoyed the app, the social aspect became more important. You read and comment on people's posts — a ‘like’ is called a ‘toast.’”
Wilson said he has logged 860 craft beers with more than 1,300 posts on the app and each one has a photo and a short description.
“I always know if I've had something before, and what I thought of it,” Wilson said.
Memorial Day is designated as the country's official kickoff to grilling and barbecue season.
With the holiday just around the corner, it's the perfect time to think about preparing an assortment of delicious grilled fare in all categories. Whether you're a meat lover, vegetable or seafood fan, set up the grill and get ready to cook.
Home cooks who are novices when it comes to grilling often are hesitant to fire up the home grill.
Food experts say with a bit of caution and a great deal of enthusiasm for the craft, home cooks can be successful.
"People often ask us how to cook certain foods and how not to burn things," said Joe Drewenski, manager of Rob's Meat Chop and Deli in Dyer.
Drewenski said one of the main points he stresses to customers is to make sure "chicken does not cross beef" in the grilling process. Because of the dangers of salmonella, both meats should be cooked separately.
In addition, raw and cooked meats should be separated. Meat should be cooked to the right temperature, stressed Drewenski. He suggests using a meat thermometer to determine whether it's fully cooked.
Region cooks visit Rob's for a variety of products fit for the grill. The list of popular items includes kebabs.
"Rob's is the kebab capital of Northwest Indiana," said Drewenski, adding it's the most popular foodstuff sold at the market.
The kebab list includes shrimp, salmon, pork, beef and chicken. "And there are so many different flavorings," Drewenski said. The spices or flavorings starring on Rob's kebabs are creative and eclectic. The shop features an assortment of seasonings.
Personnel at the popular LongHorn Steakhouse also have stepped up to help summer cooks. The chain offers its special Grill Us Hotline to help consumers and home cooks who have barbecue and grilling questions around the warm weather holidays. The hotline will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 28. It opens again July 2 for Fourth of July weekend and Sept. 3 for Labor Day weekend. Call 855-LH-GRILL.
LongHorn's executive chef Jens Dahlmann said there are certain questions that come up frequently during the grilling season.
He said the most common hotline questions include asking about the temperature of the grill before cooking, the difference between a dry rub and wet marinade, what types of steaks are best for grilling and how long the grilling process for certain foods should be.
"The Grill Us Hotline was created so that we could share our passion for grilling with our guests," Dahlmann said. The hotline, now in its fifth year, is manned by grill masters from around the country.
"We know that grilling can be intimidating if it's not something you do regularly. That's one of the reasons we launched the Grill Us Hotline in 2012. Judging by some of the calls we've received in the past, I would say one of the main concerns is serving food that is either under or overcooked," he said.
Dahlmann said many meats and other products can be fairly easy to grill. Fresh, high-quality ingredients yield the best results, he said.
"Some of my favorite items to grill are steak, chicken, pork and vegetables. All of these can be easy as long as you have the right skills and tools. It's all about having a nice hot and clean grill, oiling your grill in advance to avoid sticking, selecting the right seasonings and grilling to the correct level of doneness," he said.
Knowing when the meat your cooking is ready is best determined by using a meat thermometer. If you don't have one on hand, though, Dahlmann recommends the following trick.
"A good way to tell if your steak is done is by gently pressing on it with a pair of tongs. Rare steaks have a lot of 'give' and almost feel spongy. A well done steak has almost no 'give' and feels very firm. I look for firmness in-between the two for my preferred doneness, which is medium."
The following 12 tips for better barbecuing and grilling are from Stacy Zuelly, assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, who runs a BBQ boot camp.
1. Buy a meat thermometer and use it.
2. If you're looking for an easy barbecuing experience, pick a center cut.
3. Don't discount the limbs. They just need more love.
4. Select front cuts. They will be more flavorful.
5. While at the grocery store or butcher shop, look at the cut information.
6. Use your cut selection to determine your cooking method.
7. Select a steak with marbling.
8. Know what different certified breeds offer you.
9. Know what cuts to look for in beef.
10. Learn to pick out the best pork selections.
11. Don't underestimate the importance of grilling poultry well.
12. Don't ruin lamb by overseasoning.
Looking for new recipes to prepare on the grill? Try the following dishes.
Honey Jalapeno Grilled Pork Chops
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
2 jalapenos, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 bone-in pork chops
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients (except chops) in a small bowl.
Place chops in a shallow dish with a cover, or in a large zip-top plastic bag, and cover with the marinade. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or as long as overnight).
Grill the marinated chops over direct medium heat until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145 to 160 degrees, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.
Transfer cooked chops to a platter and tent with foil. Let meat rest about 5 minutes before serving.
4 slices (3/4 ounces each) Wisconsin pepper jack cheese
1/3 cup crumbled Wisconsin gorgonzola cheese
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Dash of cumin
1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 cup kale, chopped
DIRECTIONS: Heat flattop grill. Butter both sides of bread slices. Place 2 slices pepper jack on each bread slice. Sprinkle crumbled gorgonzola over 1 slice. Place on grill; cover and grill until cheeses melt.
Reheat bacon on hot grill until it sizzles. Season with black pepper, garlic salt and cumin. Place bacon pieces on bread with gorgonzola; top bacon with apple slices. Place kale on remaining bread slice and gently press into melted pepper jack. Flip kale slice over bacon-topped slice. Grill covered for a few moments. Remove from grill; let rest briefly. Halve sandwich on the diagonal.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Tangy Grilled Back Ribs
4 pounds pork back ribs
1 cup French dressing, reduced-fat
2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced-sodium
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Season ribs with salt and pepper. Grill ribs over indirect medium heat for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until tender. Combine dressing, soup mix, honey and soy sauce in a small bowl and mix well. Let stand 15 minutes or until needed.
Brush ribs with sauce during the last 15-30 minutes of cooking. Serve remaining sauce with ribs.
Wheat berries are great little nuggets — a whole grain, containing the germ, endosperm and bran. They have a nice dose of fiber and protein, as well as the B vitamins and several minerals.
Though you can cook them just until they are crunchy, I prefer to let them get a bit more tender. They take at least an hour to cook (often longer, despite what many packages say), though you want to make sure they have a bit of chew to them and don't get too soft. The basic ratio is 1 3/4 cups water or broth to 1 cup dried grain.
I often use them cool, in salads, and to cool them without them getting gummy I spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. If you make a nice-size batch early in the week, you can throw them into all kinds of side dishes and salads for extra texture. They kind of remind me of barley, but with even a bit more chew.
I'm going to revisit this salad in the belly of late summer, with chopped big ripe tomatoes and basil.
MEDITERRANEAN TOMATO WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH FRESH HERBS
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (including time for cooking the wheat berries)
3 cups cooked wheat berries (cook accordingly to package directions)
3 cups quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup roughly chopped olives (black, green or a combination)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, preferably coarse
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the wheat berries in a large mixing bowl, and add the tomatoes, onion, olives, scallions, parsley and mint. Toss to combine.
In a small bowl or container, place the olive oil, thyme, lemon juice, rice vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake to combine well, then pour the dressing over the grain salad. Toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 212 calories; 70 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 313 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 6 g protein.
Fruit pies, ice cream, and fresh berry salads are summer staples, and you'll never catch us turning any of those down. But even in the summer, the occasion may arise where you want to crank it up a notch. Whether it's a bridal shower, anniversary party, or late-night after-party, a dessert buffet can be a fun, easy way to mark a special occasion.
Preparing a dessert buffet The Culinary Institute of America way requires less work than you might think. With just a little advance planning (and an empty freezer), you can wow your guests with an array of sweet treats and eye-popping details.
Since the summer heat can present a special challenge when serving frozen or chilled desserts, we've created a clever way to keep your desserts cold without the eyesore of an ugly ice bath. Decorative ice bowls studded with garnish-like vibrant fruit slices or edible flowers are show stopping centerpieces that are as functional as they are elegant.
To create these bowls, just choose two metal bowls (glass and plastic may crack as the water freezes), one of which is smaller than the other. Fill the larger bowl with water and place the second bowl inside of it. Using masking tape, tape an "X'' over the top of the two bowls, to hold the smaller bowl in place. Freeze for at least 24 hours, or until the water is frozen solid. Run the bowl (not the ice) under warm water or wrap in a warm towel to release the ice from the bowls.
Depending on the items you are serving, you can either use the ice bowls in place of an ice bath, setting a serving bowl inside of the hollowed opening. Or, you can use the ice itself as a serving bowl for items that won't suffer from direct exposure to the ice. You can even make a container in an ice bucket or tall pitcher to hold milk or creamer for your coffee service.
Now that you have the bowls, you need to think about what goes in them. CIA baking and pastry instructor Chef Didier Berlioz says a dessert buffet menu should have choices for everyone, from serious chocoholics to people who prefer lighter, fruitier desserts. And remember that the summer heat begs for cool and refreshing flavors and ingredients. Balance a creamy frozen souffle (like homemade ice cream, without the ice cream machine!) with the tart, bright flavors of a fresh citrus salad.
You may worry about the ice bowls leaking on your beautifully set table. But have no fear. Sure, they'll melt eventually (science, after all), but with a plate underneath to contain the dripping, you've got more than enough time. After all, how long can you keep a table full of delicious desserts full?
FROZEN GRAND MARNIER SOUFFLE
Start to finish: 12 hours 40 minutes (Active: 40 minutes)
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur
Zest from 1/4 orange
Prepare eight 3-inch ramekins or two 6-inch bowls (see note). Cut one strip of parchment paper per serving dish that is long enough to wrap around the entire diameter of the dish and wide enough to extend about 1 inch above the rim. Wrap the paper around the outside rim of the dish, creating a "collar" that extends over the top of the bowl. Tightly secure the collar to the dish with tape. Transfer to the freezer to chill while you prepare the souffle.
Whip the cream by hand or with an electric mixer, just until soft peaks form. Refrigerate while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, liqueur, and orange zest. Place the bowl over a gently simmering hot water bath and, whisking constantly, cook until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar granules have dissolved fully, about 4 minutes.
Using the whip attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy and has cooled completely, about 4 minutes.
Gently pour the whipped cream over the beaten egg mixture and gently fold to combine. Evenly divide the mixture among your serving dishes, adding enough so that it extends over the rim of the bowl against the paper collar.
Transfer to the freezer and freeze for at least 12 hours, or overnight. Remove the paper collar before serving the souffles. If serving family style, serve one bowl at a time, since the mixture will soften quickly.
Chef's Note: In this recipe, the serving dishes are prepared so that the finished product has the appearance of a traditional souffle, where the sides of the dessert raise above the rim of the dish. You can skip this step, if you like, and serve the mixture in any bowl.
The souffle can be prepared in individual portions or in larger, "family-style" serving dishes. The shape and depth of your bowl will affect how much of the soufflé mixture to use. It may be helpful to have a spare bowl prepared with a collar, in case of any leftover mixture.
1 Cara Cara orange
1 navel orange
1 blood orange
1 pink grapefruit
1 Meyer lemon
2 tablespoons sparkling wine (optional)
10 1/4-inch strips candied orange peel
Cut off the base and top of each fruit until you can see the colored flesh. Stand the fruit up on its flat end and use a knife to slice downward, removing the skin and white pith. Work your way around the fruit, rotating as you go, until no skin or pith remains. Carefully slice the fruit, between the membranes, to cut out each segment and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes into the bowl of segments.
Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Stir in sparkling wine, if using, and top with candied orange peel just before serving.
Chef's Note: Use any of your favorite citrus varieties in this salad. You can make your own candied orange peel or purchase it at a specialty shop or online.
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large stainless steel bowl) in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute
Remove from the mixer. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until use. If the cream has softened, gently whisk by hand to bring it back together before serving.
Nutrition information per serving of souffle: 298 calories; 190 calories from fat; 21 g fat (12 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 261 mg cholesterol; 54 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 20 g sugar; 5 g protein.
Nutrition information per serving of salad: 66 calories; 1 calorie from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 0 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 1 g protein.
Nutrition information per serving of cream: 215 calories; 200 calories from fat; 22 g fat (14 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 82 mg cholesterol; 23 mg sodium; 4 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein.
Adam Jacobs is helping to make some magic on stage as the title character in "Disney's Aladdin." But Jacobs also conjures up some tasty treats in the kitchen.
"One of my favorite dishes is a pecan chicken," said Jacobs, who said he occasionally steps into the kitchen to cook when he has time.
Jacobs is currently starring as Aladdin in "Disney's Aladdin," continuing through Sept. 10 at Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. FYI: Visit BroadwayInChicago.com
The actor said it's often difficult to regularly prepare one's own meals when touring.
"But the benefit that we have in Chicago is that we have an open kitchen," he said. Jacobs also has the benefit of being in Chicago with his wife and twin boys.
"You don't have to eat out as much if you have a kitchen when you're on the road," Jacobs said, adding it's always nice to eat at home with the family.
Jacobs said he enjoys making meals with his wife whenever he can. Among dishes that are favorites in his diet are chicken recipes, sweet potatoes, sushi and fruit.
Though Jacobs said he's not a health nut when it comes to eating, he does eat foods that are essentially healthy. He's also conscious of what he eats because of the energy he expends on stage and the minimal costume he wears.
Jacobs said, before a show, he doesn't eat "anything too fancy or anything too spicy or rich."
The actor grew up enjoying a mix of American fare and Filipino specialties.
"My mom is Filipina and I remember eating lumpia (fried egg rolls), pancit (noodles) and halo-halo (a dessert)," he said.
With Mother's Day coming up, Jacobs said he'd like to treat his wife to brunch at a special restaurant.
About sharing a meal with family and friends, Jacobs said, "It's a time to think about how fortunate we are to share time and food together. ... To sit at the table and enjoy a meal is rare these days."
Jacobs said he and his wife have a rule that there are no phones or television on when they're eating.
"It's special family time," he stressed.
Try the following recipe from Jacobs.
Crunchy Pecan Chicken
4 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil and honey in a shallow bowl and set aside. Combine almond meal, pecans, thyme and rosemary in another shallow bowl. Season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper. Dip the chicken in the oil and honey mixture, followed by the pecan mixture, coating each piece well. Place the chicken on a baking dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
With the end of the school year looming, the proud parents of any number of soon-to-be-minted graduates are wondering how to pull off a celebratory party without spending a ton of time or money. Reuben Pizza is the answer. It's quick, easy to make, inexpensive and completely scrumptious.
Even better, it's not a typical pizza. Essentially it's a Reuben sandwich that swaps out rye bread for pizza dough. All the other elements of the great deli favorite are present and accounted for: corned beef, Swiss cheese (in this case gruyere), sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
"Sounds great," you say, "but making pizza dough at home is way too complicated for me." Not so. You'll spend five minutes assembling the ingredients, three minutes mixing the dough in a food processor, an hour waiting and 45 minutes hands off, while the dough rises.
"Wait a minute," you object. "What about rolling out the dough? I tried it once and no matter which way I rolled it, the thing shrank back in my direction." That can be a problem, but here's a solution: Instead of rolling out the dough on a counter sprinkled with flour, brush the counter with a little bit of oil. The oil glues down the dough, allowing you to roll it out quickly and efficiently, with very little shrinkage.
This recipe guides you through the making of four medium-sized pizzas rather than two large ones. The smaller ones are easier and quicker to make than the bigger ones. And don't worry about having to bake them in shifts; the first two pies will stay warm while the second two are baking.
As a fan of crispy crusts, I've been very particular about the amount of topping meant for these pizzas. I know it's tempting to pile on the toppings, but overdoing makes the finished product soggy. Still, don't be shy about pouring on a generous drizzle of the dressing as a finishing touch. It's key to making a Reuben a Reuben.
Start to finish: 2 hours (1 hour if using store-bought dough)
Servings: 6 to 8
Speedy Pizza Dough (see below) or 14 ounces prepared pizza dough
Prepare the Basic Pizza Dough. While it's rising, place a rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat the oven to 500 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce and salt to taste; set aside.
Divide the dough into 4 balls; working with 2 balls, roll out each ball on a lightly oiled surface into a round 8-inches wide and 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the rounds to one of the baking sheets.
Sprinkle one-fourth of the cheese evenly onto each round, spreading it to ¼-inch of the edge and top with ¼ of the sauerkraut, followed by ¼ of the corned beef and pickle slices.
Bake the pizzas on the bottom rack of the oven for 7 to 8 minutes until the crust is golden and crisp on the bottom. While the first two pizzas are baking, roll out and top the second two pizzas. Remove the first two from the oven and cover loosely to keep the pizzas warm until the second two are baked. Drizzle the slices with some of the mayonnaise dressing.
Speedy Pizza Dough
2 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour for the dough
One 1/4-ounce envelope quick-rising yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup very warm water (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for rolling out the dough
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, pulse 1 3/4 cups flour, the yeast, sugar and salt until the mixture is combined. Add the water and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Process the mixture until it forms a ball, adding more flour, as needed, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled medium bowl. Turn the dough to make sure all sides are very lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place until the dough is double in size, 40 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 244 calories from fat; 27 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 46 mg cholesterol; 1015 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 15 g protein.
Ask my husband what his favorite comfort food is and the answer will be quick: pasta. Who doesn't love a steamy bowl of noodles or macaroni slathered in butter and cheese? It's a classic, born straight out of childhood mac and cheese days, morphed into a late night college study-session standby.
As adults, we decide to eat healthier, and it almost seems like our loyal noodle friend gets tossed aside, as if there were no way to include pasta in a healthy diet. Well, I'm here with good news: Pasta can be part of a healthy diet, and I have a few tips to help keep things both comforting and nutritious.
First: Read the labels, because not all pastas are created equal. Look for whole grain pastas, which usually translate into more protein and fiber, which makes your meal more filling. So instead of 2 full ounces, which is the standard pasta serving size, you might be looking at leftovers.
If you are feeling extra ambitious, you can even seek out some pasta versions that are made from beans and legumes. Next tip is to minimize fat by using starchy pasta water for saucy silkiness — just scoop out some water with a measuring cup before draining the pasta. Saute up some veggies and aromatics in just a smidge of olive oil, and use the pasta water to add the saucy vibe.
Adding veggies to the pasta will bulk it up, add nutrients and make the pasta prettier. My go-to is frozen spinach — I always have a bag in my freezer so it's an easy way to get some pretty green in pasta. You could saute it up with the aromatics and olive, or in weeknight rush, toss the frozen spinach right into the boiling pasta just before draining in to cook it there.
My final tip: try lemon zest instead of part or all of the parmesan cheese. The zest adds an aromatic depth that somehow makes the nutty parmesan cheese less pronounced if missing. Note that when I use my lemon zest trick, I swap out classic basil and use fresh thyme instead — it's a marriage made in heaven.
PENNE WITH GARLIC TOMATOES, LEMON ZEST AND SPINACH
Start to finish: 20 minutes
12 ounces whole grain penne pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups grape tomatoes, washed and thoroughly dried
6 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Lemons for squeezing, optional
Salt and pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving about 3/4 cup of starchy pasta water before draining. While pasta is cooking: Place the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a ramekin, and mix with a spoon, gently pressing the garlic into the oil. Place the garlic oil in an unheated deep saute pan, and turn the burner on medium heat.
As the oil heats, it will become fragrant. As soon as the oil is warm and smells of garlic, add the tomatoes, and cook until they are coated with garlic oil and they barely begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Increase the temperature to medium high, and add the cooked pasta and about half the starchy water. Stir, and let simmer for 1 minute. Add extra water if needed. Add the thyme, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lemons for squeezing (optional).
Nutrition information per serving: 221 calories; 36 calories from fat; 4 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 157 mg sodium; 43 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein.
Anthony Bourdain is not one for activism. Tattooed on his arm in Greek is "I am certain of nothing."
But at the Tribeca Film Festival, Bourdain has, a little reluctantly, presented a documentary, "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste," in which he argues passionately against the issue of food waste, from supermarkets to home cooking — even though advocacy of any kind makes him almost physically squeamish.
"Having traveled as much as I do, I constantly go into places thinking one thing only to be shown that I'm wrong and forced by circumstances and exposure to rethink whatever preconceptions I might have had," Bourdain said in a recent interview. "Activism seems to require a level of certainly and dedication that I'm uncomfortable with. I'm a renter, not a buyer, when it comes to ideologies. I'm a skeptic. I believe very much in skepticism. I don't ever want to look like a guy with an agenda."
It's not that Bourdain is apolitical. The countless meals shared on his years of TV, from "No Reservations" to the soon-returning "Parts Unknown," are chiefly feasts — both through the food on the plate and the discussions held over them — of larger cultural conversation. Of the traditions kept alive by immigrants. Of the glories of street food. Of the simple power of breaking bread with people from all walks of life.
But standing out front of an issue in today's ethically charged food world is a step further for Bourdain. So what was it that lured him into combating food waste? A lifetime in which the cooking principle "use everything, waste nothing" was instilled in him, and driven deeper by "one brutal kitchen regime after another."
"The intent of this film happens to align with something that I feel very strongly from the point of view of just a classically trained cook who came up in a system where the whole idea of waste was abhorrent," said Bourdain. "The whole story of food as a professional cook is to maximize your profit, to waste as little as possible, to merchandize what is not used in the principle entree. And of course traveling around the world I see again and again and again how circumstances force people to cook really, really well and make the most of the often very little food they have."
The film is directed by Anna Chai and Nari Kye and executive produced by Bourdain. It's a tragedy of trash, told colorfully by Chai and Kye.
Some stats: Roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption every year is never eaten. In the U.S., more than 90 percent of wasted food ends up in a landfill, at an annual cost of $1 trillion. The film showcases those using creative solutions to the problem, like a beer called Toast made out of leftover sandwich bread, or a budget grocery store of donated excess foods.
The film also preaches the flavor and thrift of dishes that use typically tossed parts of produce or animals.
"I love tripe, oxtails, cheeks," said Bourdain. "I love going to a restaurant in Japan where they serve nothing but collars and the meat around the fins. Those are the things that cooks are most passionate about. It's so funny when you see all of these things that only poor people used to eat now as the hipster dish of the moment."
Most glaring, though, is the waste of supermarkets where aisles are intended to showcase abundance, even though that means stocking shelves with the intent to not sell all of it.
"In order to have their aisles look a certain way and give an impression of abundance with only the freshest and best, they've deemed it necessary to waste tremendous amounts of food that in another situation would be vital to people," said Bourdain.
"Wasted!" is just the latest in Bourdain's growing presence in movies. Being a "film nerd," he says, is "a necessary qualification" for his "Parts Unknown" crew. He recently listed the 10 films that are constant reference points on his shows, from Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" to Peter Yates' "The Friends of Eddie Coyle." The upcoming season, he vows, will pay ode, "if not outright theft," to David Lean ("Lawrence of Arabia") when he travels to Oman.
Bourdain last week released "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent," a documentary he produced on the storied chef. More films, even fiction ones, could be on the way. "One of the big joys of my life was being on the writing team for the David Simon show 'Treme,'" Bourdain said. "That was a really fun and exciting experience for me. So that does interest me."
In the meantime, Bourdain hopes "Wasted" gets people thinking "in a non-didactic perspective." Then, at least, he can stop playing activist.
When it comes to Amish cooking and culture, Lovina Eicher has been a beloved voice for the simplicity and integrity of that way of life since 2002.
Eicher is the author of Lovina's Amish Kitchen, a syndicated column that appears in The Times and 39 other newspapers around the country. Her column began under the name The Amish Cook, which was a column previously written by her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who died in September 2002. Eicher took over The Amish Cook column in October 2002, and in 2014, it became Lovina's Amish Kitchen. Through that column, Eicher continues to share recipes and stories of her life with readers.
This month and throughout May, Eicher is traveling to book stores, churches and other venues as she debuts her latest project and first solo cookbook, "The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm & Pantry." The book is published by Herald Press, which is the book imprint of MennoMedia.
Other cookbooks, including "The Amish Cook At Home," and "The Amish Baking Book," featured Eicher as a co-author. Region fans can meet Eicher during a book-signing and sale April 29 at Peace Church in South Holland.
"I'm very happy with the book," said Eicher, during a recent telephone interview from her Michigan home. "I started writing the cookbook before my daughter Elizabeth's wedding, which was in August 2015.
"It takes so much time with recipe testing and photography," she said. "Every recipe was tested twice. I didn't want to put any recipe in that didn't work."
Eicher, who is the mother of eight, said her children, friends and other people involved in the production of the book, helped test the recipes. For the avid home cook, putting down exact measurements can sometimes be a bit of a job if you're used to automatically making the recipe without much thought.
"Sometimes you just know to put a little bit of this and a little bit of that in," Eicher said, adding for some of the recipes she had to really think about the exact amount of ingredients that should go into the dish.
In "The Essential Amish Cookbook," home cooks will find everything from Blueberry Banana Bread, Pumpkin Cookies and Breakfast Casserole to Sausage Gravy, BLT Salad, Asparagus Egg Casserole, Deep Dish Pizza, Hobo Suppers, Oven Crusty Chicken and more.
"It's really a simple way of cooking," Eicher said about the recipes in the book. "I'm also trying to (show people) how to cook with the ingredients you have in the house. ... I think all the recipes are easy and they work."
Eicher said she doesn't know how she would have completed the cookbook project without the help of her family, the editors at MennoMedia, her friend Ruth Boss and many others who helped test the recipes.
"This book has a lot more recipes (than the others) and not as much writing," she said. Eicher does include a bit of explanation, tips or comments about various recipes. Most of the narrative, however, is featured in the Foreword, Acknowledgments and Introduction to the book.
Penning a column since 2002, Eicher said, has been a pretty interesting process. And the writing process has changed through the years.
"I started writing the column when Joseph was just a baby. It was a lot different then. I had to write late at night or early in the morning," she said. "Now I try to write when the children are in school."
Eicher has six children left at home. She also has a granddaughter, Abigail Elizabeth. "She's adorable. We all love her," Eicher said.
The fact that she's able to continue writing a column detailing her daily life, the Amish lifestyle and life around her dinner table, makes Eicher happy now. (In 2014, it was uncertain that she'd continue her column due to "unfortunate circumstances" surrounding The Amish Cook column.)
"I'm glad to do something to continue (my mother's) legacy," Eicher said. "In her honor I wanted to keep it going."
Eicher, who also views her column as "a diary for my family," said she learned to cook from her mother.
"I remember, as a little girl, standing there and watching her make bread. I loved watching her knead the bread."
The following recipes are from "The Essential Amish Cookbook."
Asparagus Egg Casserole
2 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
10 saltine crackers, crumbled, or bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup reserved asparagus water (see instructions)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
DIRECTIONS: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add cut asparagus and boil for 5 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Drain asparagus, reserving 1 cup liquid. Rinse asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking process.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir continuously to make a roux (thick base for sauce), about 1 minute. Add the milk, reserved asparagus water, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes. add cheese and stir until melted.
In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, layer the cooked asparagus, sliced eggs and cheese sauce. Top with the crumbled crackers or bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly on edges.
Apple Danish Dessert
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, separated
6 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (Golden Delicious, Braeburn or Granny Smith work well)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two forks until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In a small bowl, lightly beat together milk and egg yolk (reserve egg white, for brushing dough). Add to flour mixture and stir until well combined.
Take half the dough and roll out on a slightly floured surface to fit a 15 by 11 by 1-inch jelly roll pan. Put dough in baking pan and pat into place so that entire pan is covered in crust.
Arrange sliced apples on crust. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over apples. Dot with butter.
Roll out remaining dough and use it to cover apples. Beat reserved egg white lightly and brush over top of dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. In a small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients. While Danish is still warm, spread glaze over top. Can be served with ice cream.
On Saturday mornings when the growing season has begun, Tibult Verhage frequently walks to the Chesterton European Market, just down the street from the Red Cup Café, a cozy spot owned by his mother, Laura.
Verhage, a college student, often helps out, including stints in the kitchen. Verhage appreciates food grown locally. The taste is much better than, say, tomatoes trucked in from California and sweet cherries from faraway places such as Chile. To the Verhages, buying local is a win-win.
Diners want to know where the food they’re eating comes from. According to the annual What’s Hot Chef’s Survey, an annual report released by the National Restaurant Association, local food trends have been among the top 10 Hot Trends for the past five years.
“I buy from a several farmers and markets,” said Cathy Cameron, owner of Foodie’s Diner in Dyer.
Cameron said having the freshest produce is important for many of vegetable-based menu items, including her Awesome Grilled Asparagus Salad.
“We use a lot of fresh vegetables in season that I buy locally for our Farmer's Feast, which has eggs, grilled veggies and spinach,” said Cameron, noting that when strawberries are on the vine, she uses them, along with mango and spinach leaves in a salad. “In the summer, I go to several markets to see what they have. Smit’s has a farm stand on East Sauk Trail that’s been around for a long time and I also stop at Bultema's Farm Stand to see what they have."
It’s much more difficult to use sun-ripened, locally grown, picked in season produce say many chefs. It means being flexible and making whatever is available at area farmers markets. But besides flavor, freshly picked is higher in nutrients. And so chef/owners like Cameron and Verhage are adaptable.
Cameron brings this same adaptability to adjusting for customers’ dietary needs. Though her Portobello Mushroom Melt typically comes on a grilled ciabatta bun topped with spinach, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese, she said that everything they make is fresh to order so they can customize the recipe depending upon what people want.
A beet salad can use a hearty amount of locally grown produce.
Adapted from "Spiralize and Thrive."
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
For the salad:
1 beet, peeled and spiralized with Blade D
1 large carrot, spiralized with Blade D
1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and cut with Blade A (use apple if persimmons are not in season)
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments
1 cup dandelion leaves or other greens, shredded
1/3 cup fresh or frozen fava beans, cooked
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (or orange juice)
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a lidded jar and shake until well combined; pour over salad and toss well.
Eloise Marie Valadez
Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365
Many home cooks and professional chefs regularly experiment with various ingredients to come up with specialty recipes.
These days, beer is an ingredient that is flavoring an assortment of dishes from appetizers to meat entrees and even desserts.
Chef Larry Donahue, executive chef of Blue Chip Casino, often experiments with recipes that include beer.
"I like cooking with beer," said Donahue, who has recently come up with dishes for a special luncheon with Laura Bell of Bell's Brewery that will be part of the Blue Chip Brewfest on Saturday, April 8.
"Beer is actually a food," Donahue said, which makes it perfect for pairing with certain dishes and adding to recipes.
Donahue's philosophy is if he likes drinking a beer then he's prone to want to experiment with it in recipes.
"I've also been doing beer dinners for a long time," the chef said. Among dishes Donahue will create for the Bell lunch are a salad with goat cheese, candied walnuts, herbs and other ingredients topped wiith a citrus vinaigrette.
"I'll be pairing that with the Oberon Ale (from Bell's Brewery)," Donahue said. The chef explained the Oberon's lighter notes complement the citrus dressing and the ingredients in the salad.
The chef is also preparing a pork tenderloin to go with an Amber beer. With all of the dishes, Donahue said he's putting some beer into the recipe and not just pairing specific dishes with beer.
"I'm making a short rib recipe and using a hard ale," he said, adding he'll also braise the meat with the robust ale.
"For me, it's kind of fun (to experiment with beer)," he said. The chef said he's also looking to bourbon for experimentation in recipes.
Matt Zakrzewski, co-owner of Burn 'Em Brewing in Michigan City, said the whole reason he got into craft brewing is because he was interested in cooking.
For Blake Murray, chef and co-owner of Burn 'Em Brewing, cooking with beer is always interesting. Murray has come up with a Pimiento beer spread and has used beer in the deglazing process.
"You can use beer to replace (other ingredients)," he said, adding if something calls for wine to deglaze, a cook can definitely use beer successfully.
Murray has also included beer in different chili recipes and in soups. He's flavored chicken, corned beef and other meat recipes with brews as well.
According to foodandwine.com, among tips to be aware of when cooking with beer are:
1. Get familiar with beer's ingredients
2. Appreciate bitterness
3. Cook with beer's components
4. Use beer to balance out fat
The following recipes include the use of beer. Give them a try.
4 bone-in ribeye (rib) pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
1 cup beer
DIRECTIONS: Place chops in a self-sealing plastic bag; add remaining ingredients and seal bag. Gently massage bag to evenly distribute marinade ingredients. Refrigerate 4-24 hours.
Prepare medium-hot coals in kettle-style grill. Remove chops from marinade and discard marinade; place on grill directly over coals, cover grill and grill for 8-9 minutes, turning once, or until thermometer inserted reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time..
This simple chop recipe is perfect for the grill. It calls for boneless pork chops, but substitute any type of pork chops you have on hand. Serve with Blue Cheese Macaroni Salad and grilled vegetable kabobs.
1/4 cup green onions (both green and white parts), sliced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon beer ( not IPA) or hard cider, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste
2 or 3 slices crisp cooked bacon, finely diced, for garnish
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine all ingredients, except bacon. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Scrape mixture into 1–quart ovenproof dish and bake 15 minutes or until bubbling. Garnish with bacon and serve warm.
Serve with lightly toasted Rubschlager, Pumpernickel or Rye bread.
For Beer Braised Onions:
(Makes 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (16-ounce) bottle beer
In medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and cook until translucent but not browned. Sprinkle with sugar and add beer. Stir and reduce heat to low, allowing onions to braise until the beer has evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes. Check onions frequently, adding additional water or beer if they dry out too quickly.
Eloise Marie Valadez
Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365
Food fans observing Lent usually look for a variety of dishes to add to their dinner tables for the duration of the 40 days. Lent is usually marked by fasting and less consumption of meat.
Other than fried fish, there are many recipes to test on family members. Whether you'd like to choose different types of seafood to stuff, bake or broil or pasta creations, grain dishes or ethnic creations minus the meat, there are an assortment of "meatless" foods to serve.
Try the following dishes for a creative meal for Lent and beyond.
Golden Dipt Tuna Melt
1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
2 English muffins, halved
2 cans (5 ounces each) white albacore tuna packed in water, drained
1/4 cup tartar sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 lettuce leaves
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to broil on high. Place tomato slices on one side of large, shallow, foil-lined baking pan sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Place muffin halves, cut side up, on other side of pan. Set aside.
Mix tuna, tartar sauce and celery in medium bowl until blended. Mound tuna salad evenly onto tomato slices. Top with cheese.
Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and muffins are lightly toasted. Place lettuce on toasted muffins. Top with tomato-tuna melt.
Santa Fe Skillet Shrimp
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup seafood sauce
DIRECTIONS: Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and vegetables; cook and stir 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink and vegetables are tender-crisp.
Stir in Seafood Sauce; cook and stir 2 minutes or until heated through.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Lay flat on wax paper or foil to keep noodles from sticking together. Set aside.
Mix ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, spinach, eggs, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in large bowl.
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with 1/4 of the noodles, overlapping edges. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture over noodles. Top with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Repeat layers two more times, ending with a layer of pasta and 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Cover with foil.
Bake 40 minutes. Remove foil. Top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until center is heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Serve with remaining sauce, if desired.
Mediterranean Vegetable Shakshuka
Shakshuka spice blend:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon organic cumin, ground
1 tablespoon organic paprika, smoked
2 teaspoons organic black pepper, coarse ground
2 teaspoons organic caraway seeds, ground
1 teaspoon organic garlic powder
1 teaspoon tumeric, ground
1/2 teaspoon organic Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon, ground Saigon
Ingredients for the Mediterranean Vegetable Shakshuka
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 cups diced eggplant, (1/2-inch dice)
2 cups diced zucchini, (1/2-inch dice)
1 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt
1 teaspoon organic dill weed
1/2 teaspoon organic fennel seed,
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
DIRECTIONS: For the Shakshuka Spice Blend, mix all ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Set aside.
For the Mediterranean Vegetable Shakshuka, heat oil in large cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Add eggplant and zucchini; cook and stir 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1 tablespoon of the Shakshuka Spice Blend, sea salt, dill and ground fennel; stir to coat vegetables.
Increase heat to medium. Add tomatoes; cook and stir constantly 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly.
Reduce heat to low. Make 6 indentations with back of wooden spoon into sauce mixture. Break eggs into each indentation. Cover. Cook 10 to 15 minutes (10 minutes for soft yolks or 15 minutes for firm yolks). Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with sliced crusty bread, if desired.
Indian Shrimp Tacos With Mango Coleslaw
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package (14 oz) shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup chopped, peeled and seeded mango
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
8 flour tortillas, 6 inches
1/4 cup chopped cashews
DIRECTIONS: Mix lime juice, oil, honey, curry powder, garlic salt and ginger in small bowl until well blended. Place shrimp in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add 1/4 cup of the marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the Mango Coleslaw, place coleslaw mix, mango, 1/4 cup of the cilantro and remaining marinade in large bowl; toss to coat. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove shrimp from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.
Heat large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes per side or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in remaining cilantro. Serve shrimp in warmed tortillas topped with Mango Coleslaw and cashews. (Store any remaining coleslaw in refrigerator. Serve on other tacos and sandwiches.)
It may come as a surprise to someone that a serious lack of nutrition may accompany older age and retirement. Same person, same habits — so how can that be?
Registered dietitian Kelly Devine Rickert explains that older adults can face new challenges when it comes to getting the nutrition they need. A health coach for employees in Franciscan Alliance’s WELLCARE program, Devine Rickert says more than one factor can interfere with seniors getting enough nutrients.
"It's hard to break habits,” she says. “If they've been eating white bread and are 70 years old, are they going to try whole grains? Will they try new, healthy foods? And if they haven't eaten breakfast for 65 years, they may think, 'Why start now?'"
And retirement means a lower income for many, so those seniors may stretch their food dollars by not buying many fresh foods, opting for cheaper canned goods instead, Devine Rickert says. “Fresh foods have the highest antioxidants, so I tell seniors to have a smoothie to help boost the intake of essential vitamins and minerals.”
But can’t a good daily multivitamin take care of all that? No, says Devine Rickert. “It's better to get nutrients from natural sources instead of just taking vitamins.”
She says seniors who’ve cooked meals all their lives may enjoy going out to eat, but, “If they order a sandwich, it could have 1,000 to 2,000 grams of sodium," and that can be an issue for people with high blood pressure or heart disease, she says. The Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily allowance for healthy adults is 2,300 mg (lower for people with certain health problems). Canned foods have added sodium, as well.
Misconceptions can also get in the way of healthy eating. Devine Rickert says she sees a lot of older people with Type II diabetes who resign themselves to having high blood sugar, leaving them tired and not wanting to exercise. But lowering blood sugar “can be huge, adding good-quality years to their lives. It's small things that help, like not eating sweets before bedtime, having breakfast, not going too long between meals.”
Finding a sense of peace and contentment in her life by eating healthier and following a vegan diet, Ashley Melillo began blogging while earning her graduate degree in school psychology.
Eating whole food helped Melillo deal with the anxiety and stress of her life. And she shares her food philosophy and the recipes she’s created not only on her blog, Blissful Basil, but also in her new cookbook, "Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health & Happiness" (BenBella 2016; $21.95).
It’s not easy, says Melillo, who also earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
“There are no quick fixes,” she says about incorporating both physical exercise and a wide variety of plant-based foods into our diet.
One wholesome smoothie, such as her Energizing Carrot Cake Smoothie, Get Glowing Strawberry Mango Chia Pudding or her Cheesy Herb or the Sun-Dried Tomato Good Morning Biscuits, won’t turn our lives upside down health-wise. But it’s all a step in the right direction to achieving physical, mental and emotional well-being.
“I think it’s tempting for many of us to want to think otherwise, but it’s necessary to build up good habits,” she says. “It’s a matter of making small but good choices every day. It’s a way to taking care of all aspects of your health — cognitive and physical.”
Of course, as a psychologist, Melillo recognizes that it’s most difficult to make these changes at those times in our lives when we most need to do so.
“It’s when some of these emotions are most at their peak and when you feel almost too overwhelmed to try taking the steps to move forward, that’s when it’s the hardest,” she says. “But it’s the hardest things that push up forward and end up being the best things for us. But it’s important to make ourselves do so — to start chipping away at our anxiety or stress or depression. By taking that one step, often we can go on and take another and another and ultimately alleviate some of those overwhelming feelings.”
For Melillo, sticking with a whole foods plant-based diet doesn’t mean not allowing herself a little flexibility. But there are also other fixes, too. Want something sweet? Try a vegan dessert such as her Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars, Enlivening Lemon Bars, Peanut Butter Cookies and Cosmically Fudgy Cacao Tahini Brownies. Hankering for a pizza? Melillo has a variety of pizzas such as her White Pizza with Garlic Herb Oil, Mozzarella and Puffy Potato Crust.
Realizing that many people aren’t ready to go totally plant-based or vegan, Melillo offers a glossary of terms, recipes for pantry items to keep on hand and helpful symbols — colored circle noting whether recipes are free of gluten, grain, soy, nut, oil, refined sugar and if they’re raw.
Melillo asked meat lovers to taste test the recipes in her book because she wanted them to be appealing not only for those already committed to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle but to all those who pick up her cookbook or read her blog.
“I really want everyone to love the recipes in this book,” she says.
It's time once again for sweethearts to start making dinner plans for Valentine's Day.
Whether you'd like to treat your loved one to a casual or elegant meal at one of the restaurants in the area, the choices are plenty.
Love's holiday calls for a wonderful culinary experience. And local eateries are set to welcome couples for one of the most romantic meals of the year.
We've compiled a sampling of restaurants that will offer special Valentine's meals. Take a look. (All meals will be featured on Feb. 14 unless other dates are listed).
• Asparagus, 7876 Broadway, Merrillville. Asparagus' menu, under the direction of chef/owner Tammy Pham, features a variety of Thai and Vietnamese food with French touches. The menu features items such as Curries; Satays; Spicy Sesame Chicken; Pineapple Shrimp; Peppercorn Pork; Five-Spice Duck; and more. Call for Valentine's Day specials. Call (219) 794-0000 or visit asparagusrestaurant.com.
• Bin 27 Grille & Lounge,275 Joliet St., Dyer. The restaurant features dishes such steaks, chops, Chicken Piccata, Bistro Bruschetta, Crustini Flatbreads, and more on its regular menu. The restaurant will offer Valentine specials as well. On the wine menu are 27 wines. Call (219) 322-8565 to make Valentine's Day reservations.
• Brewhouse 41 at Whole Foods Market, 199 U.S. 41, Schererville. The restaurant will offer a special Valentine's meal. To start, diners can enjoy fresh-baked bread with a trio of butters, choice of Lobster or Tomato Basil Bisque and House Salad. Main course is a choice of Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Grilled Filet Medallions, Smoked Half Chicken and Andouille, or a Fire-Roasted Bell Pepper. Dessert is Hand-Dipped Chocolate Covered Strawberries and a complimentary glass of Champagne. Cost is $30 per person with an additional cost for wine and beer. For reservations, call (219) 864-5375. Reservations must be made by Sunday, Feb. 12. A kids menu is also available.
•Ciao Bella, 1514 U.S. 41, Schererville. The Italian trattoria will serve a limited menu and various specials on Feb. 14. Among specials will be Bone-In Filet; Chilean Sea Bass; a special appetizer; Raspberry Panna Cotta; and more. Call (219) 322-6800 or visit ciaobellaonline.com.
• Don Quijote Restaurante, 119 E. Lincolnway, downtown Valparaiso. The Valentine's Day menus will be available Feb. 12, 13 and 14. Two special menus for two will be featured. Cost is $80 per couple. The menus star Platter of Tapas followed by either Paella for Two or Filet Mignon Topped with Scallops and Shrimp and Choice of Dessert as well as a Glass of Cava (Spanish Champagne.) Call (219) 462-7976 or visit donquijotevalpo.com.
• Edwardo's Natural Pizza, 7920 Calumet Ave., Munster. In addition to its regular menu, Edwardo's will offer heart-shaped pizzas on Valentine's Day. Two specialty pizzas will be available. Heart-shaped pizzas will be offered in Margherita and Chicken, Bacon and Ranch styles. The meal comes with a choice of pizza, large house salad, half a carafe of wine or a pitcher of domestic beer or pitcher of soda for $29.99. Call (219) 836-2010.
•Four Winds Casino, New Buffalo, Michigan. The Buffet at Four Winds Casino will feature a Valentine's Chocolate Dinner on Feb. 12. The buffet stars international foods as well as various chocolate additions. Included will be three flavors of Chocolate Fountains, Chocolate Desserts and made-to-order Chocolate Beignets. Cost is $24 for ages 13 and older; $14 for children 4 to 12; and free for children 3 and younger. Visit fourwindscasino.com.
At Four Winds' Copper Rock Steakhouse, the Valentine's holiday will be celebrated from Feb. 10 to 14. A special Chateaubriand dinner with Shrimp Cocktail, Caesar Salad and dessert for two will be in the spotlight. Cost is $150 per couple. Call (866) 494-6371 to make reservations.
Hard Rock Cafe at Four Winds Casino will celebrate Love's holiday from Feb. 10 to 14. In the spotlight will be a four-course meal for two featuring a starter, appetizer, filet mignon and a dessert. Cost is $85 per couple. Visit fourwindscasino.com for more information.
• Freddy's Steakhouse, 6442 Kennedy Ave., Hammond. Freddy's will present a special Surf 'N" Turf dinner starring a 6-ounce Lobster Tail and a 6-ounce Filet. Cost is $36.95 per person. The regular menu will also be available. Call (219) 844-1500. Also visit freddyssteakhousehammond.com
• Gamba Ristorante, 455 E. 84th Drive, Merrillville. Gamba Ristorante is known for its warm environment, elegant yet unpretentious setting and a varied menu of Italian specialties. The restaurant will have a special Valentine's menu. Call Gamba for more details. On the restaurant's regular menu are items such as Lasagnette Vincisgrassi, which is a dish of layered pasta sheets with a ragu of veal, pork, chicken and mushrooms; Spaghetti Alla Gamba; Costoletta Di Maile Alla Valdostana (fried pork chops); Risotto Alla Milanese; and more. Call (219) 736-5000.
• Glenwood Oaks Rib & Chop House, 106 N. Main, Glenwood. Glenwood Oaks will feature an abbreviated standard menu on Feb. 14. Among items on the menu will be 14 of the restaurant's top selling dishes, including Ribs and Prime Rib. Four specials will also be highlighted. Specials are Beef Wellington, Crab Meat-Stuffed Prawns, Lobster Mac and Cheese and Rib-Eye Steak Topped with Crabmeat. The special Valentine's Day dessert will be Cannoli with Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Call (708) 758-4400 or visit glenwoodoaks.com
• Cafe Fondue, 281 W. 80th Place, Merrillville. At Cafe Fondue, guests can enjoy an interactive and fun dining experience in a warm, romantic setting. Guests may choose from a variety of fondue experiences including meals starring Filet Mignon, Jumbo Shrimp and Boneless Chicken Breast or Chicken and Sea Scallops; Cheese or Chocolate Fondue. Call the restaurant at (219) 793-1511 or visit cafefondue.net.
• The Quest Eatery and Spirits, 1204 Lincoln Highway, Schererville. The Quest, which was recently renovated, will have a special Valentine's Day dinner on Feb. 14. A four-course dinner for two will be featured. Cost is $99. Dinner includes an Appetizer Bottle of Wine; Caprese Salad for Two; Surf & Turf entree; and Choice of Dessert. Jim Bulanda will perform from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Call (219) 322-4812 for reservations. Visit thequesteatery.com.
• Teibel's, 1775 U.S. 41, Schererville. Steak, seafood, chicken dishes and more star on the popular family restaurant's menu. Teibel's Famous Lake Perch, Fried Chicken and other menu items are featured. Call (219) 865-2000 for more details on Valentine's Day meals.
• Theo's Steaks and Seafood, 9144 Indianapolis Blvd., Highland. The restaurant will celebrate Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 with a condensed version of the regular menu. All of the popular items including Steaks, Seafood, Chicken and more will be available. Call (219) 838-8000 for more information.
•Town Club Steak & Seafood, 2904 45th St., Highland. The restaurant, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, specializes in Steak, Chops, and Seafood. Call for Valentine's specials. Among menu items at the eatery are Lake Perch; Famous Charred Prime Rib; BBQ Baby Back Ribs; Donut Shrimp; and more. Call (219) 924-5227.
• White Castle — various locations nationwide. The popular home of the Slider will have its annual Valentine's Day dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Feb. 14. Visit whitecastle.com for specific locations and for information on booking tables. Reservations are required.
• William B's Steakhouseat Blue Chip Casino, 777 Blue Chip Drive, Michigan City. The Valentine's Special Dinner for Two at William B's includes Tomato Bisque, Caesar Salad, Chateaubriand, Fingerling Potatoes, Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Sauce Bordelaise. Chef Jeff's Flambe Dessert with a choice of Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee also stars. The Valentine's Day Special is available Feb. 10 through Feb. 14. Cost is $120 for two people. Reservations are required. Visit bluechipcasino.com.
• Valentine's Day Buffet at Options at Blue Chip Casino is available all day Feb. 14. The buffet begins with breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. for $11.99 plus tax. Lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $15.99 plus tax and dinner is available from 3 to 9 p.m. for $31.99 plus tax. The dinner buffet includes all-you-can-eat Prime Rib and Crab Legs and also Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, Cherry Cheesecake, Crepes Suzette, Warm Fruit Cobblers, Red Velvet Cake and Valpo Velvet Strawberry Ice Cream.
Honor Flight Chicago Valentine's Fundraiser
A Valentine's charity luncheon will be held at noon Feb. 12 at Teibel's Restaurant in Schererville. The event will benefit Honor Flight Chicago, which honors veterans from Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland.
The theme for the event, which is being presented by Northwest Indiana author and journalist Philip Potempa, will be "Hearst Hollywood Headlines." Displays, photos, film clips and autographs from the life of newspaper icon William Randolph Hearst will be featured. Door prizes, a presentation about Honor Flight and Hearst, and a four-course meal will be presented. Tickets are $40, and include lunch, tax and tip. Seating is at round tables of eight. Deadline to purchase tickets is Feb. 9. For tickets, call (219) 921-6152.
Skater Kiersten Overton is a fan of the baking art.
"I especially like baking pies," Overton said. "I have an old family recipe for raisin pie," she said, adding the pie features detailed lattice work.
Overton is a performer in "Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart," which continues through Feb. 12 at Chicago's United Center. FYI: Call 800-745-3000 or visit disneyonice.com or ticketmaster.com.
The skater, who is from Evansville, Indiana, said she enjoys cooking when she's at home and also will prepare dishes while she's on the road. The skater's mother taught her to make the family favorite pie, which she said makes a "pretty" presentation for the holidays.
"When I'm on the road, I basically do all my own cooking. I use a small skillet," she said.
Some of Overton's favorite dishes to prepare on the road are vegetable recipes and recipes that incorporate various proteins. She'll occasionally make a "big batch" of food for dinner and then save it in the refrigerator for other meals.
In addition to learning to make one of her favorite pies from her mother, Overton said her mom taught her many cooking lessons.
"I followed in her footsteps. I learned everything from her," Overton said.
Among favorite meals her mother made are chicken breast recipes, pasta with veggies, assorted pies, and more.
About sharing meals with others, Overton said, "It's always a great experience to sit down and have dinner with friends and family."
Overton said she loves traveling with the Disney on Ice family of skaters and is enjoying the latest "Follow Your Heart" tour.
The following recipe is from Overton.
Old-Fashioned Raisin Pie:
2 cups raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
Pastry for double 9-inch crust
2 tablespoons cornstarch
DIRECTIONS: Combine raisins and water; boil 5 minutes. Blend sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Add to raisins and cook, stirring until clear. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, butter, and rum. Cool slightly. (Optional: let sit for an hour or two to let raisins soak up filling- reheat afterwards slightly so it's easier to turn). Turn into pastry-lined pan. Cover top with pastry or lattice strips. Bake at 425 degrees F about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Sunday meals are often the most convivial of meals where family members and friends gather together for fun and food. But, when Sunday is also Super Bowl Sunday, the celebration definitely is turbo charged.
Next Sunday, Feb. 5, football fans will gather to watch Super Bowl LI as the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons battle it out.
If you're planning to host a Super Bowl party or will be making special dishes for a friend's football festivities, there are many recipes to prepare for the feast.
Whether you want to create special soups, stews or chili, wings, sandwiches, burgers or desserts, there are various options to include on your party table.
Here are some recipes to try for Super Bowl Sunday.
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed (can use jarred crushed garlic)
1 teaspoon Alpine Touch All-Purpose Seasoning, *
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese chili sauce, mild
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 green onion, sliced very thin
6 round kaiser rolls, split
DIRECTIONS: Heat 2 teaspoons each of peanut and sesame oil in a 12” (high-sided) skillet. Turn heat to medium and add onion, bell pepper and carrot. Sauté for 4-5 minutes (stirring occasionally) until vegetables begin to soften. Add ginger and garlic, stir for an additional minute; pour into bowl.
Return skillet to medium-high heat and add remaining teaspoon peanut oil with ground pork and seasoning. Fry pork, breaking up all lumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink (4-6 minutes) or until no longer pink.
Add vegetables to skillet along with remaining ingredients, with the exception of green onions and rolls. Stir everything together, then decrease heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Warm Kaiser rolls in oven and place onto 6 plates. Divide Asian Sloppy Joe’s between the 6 sandwiches and sprinkle with green onion.
Recipe from Michaela Rosenthal, winner of The National Pork Board’s “America’s Favorite Family Recipes Contest” in celebration of National Eat Dinner Together Week.
Super Spicy Popcorn Snack
8 cups air-popped popcorn
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS: Combine mustard, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl; mix well.
Spray popcorn lightly with butter-flavored cooking spray; immediately sprinkle with seasonings and toss to coat and mix.
If desired, place popcorn and seasonings in zip-style bag and shake to coat.
2 pound boneless sirloin pork roast, OR shoulder, cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 12-oz cans corn kernels, drained
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 4-oz cans green chiles, diced
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt, to taste
DIRECTIONS: In large Dutch oven or deep skillet with lid, brown pork cubes in oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add rest of ingredients to pot; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Serve hot with fresh corn or flour tortillas.
1 large tomato, sliced, then halved (leaving you with 10 half slices)
1 1/2 cup shredded Wisconsin white cheddar cheese
5 pieces of thick bacon, cooked to your liking, then roughly crumbled buffalo hot sauce, for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish
DIRECTIONS: Heat oven broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet, then arrange a tomato slice on top of each slice. Sprinkle a small amount of cheddar on top of each tomato. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and bubble. Don’t take your eye off it! This happens gloriously fast.
Garnish with crumbled bacon, chopped chives and a few dashes of hot sauce over the whole mess. Serve immediately.
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups Italian or French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and divided
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin alpine-style cheese, shredded and divided
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin gouda cheese, shredded and divided
DIRECTIONS: In small pot, bring 2 quarts water to boil. Add broccoli florets; cook until bright green and tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Set aside.
Whisk eggs, milk, Parmesan and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Spread 4 cups bread cubes evenly in 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer chicken, reserved broccoli and 1 cup each alpine-style and gouda cheeses over cubes.
Pour reserved egg mixture evenly over strata. Top with remaining 4 cups bread cubes. Press cubes down firmly with measuring cup so egg mixture soaks into bread. Top with remaining alpine-style and gouda cheeses.
Cover with foil; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. Casserole may be frozen at this point for future use. If freezing, thaw completely before baking.
When ready to bake strata, heat oven to 350°F. Bake covered with foil 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake additional 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Primed to romance your certain someone on Valentine's Day? Nothing says "I love you" more persuasively than a home-cooked meal. This one-pot noodle dish, a variation on Beef Stroganoff, is the ideal messenger.
Although the roots of the classic recipe are certifiably aristocratic — a French chef working for Count Pavel Stroganoff, a Russian, created it in the early 1800s — Beef Stroganoff was being treated pretty roughly in America by the 1960s. At that time, when "convenience" trumped every other value, home cooks loved being able to whip up a fancy main course using canned gravy, canned mushrooms, canned minced onions and canned roast beef.
We're gonna treat it with a little more respect in this recipe for Amped-Up Beef Stroganoff. To start, the basics remain unchanged — thin slices of beef fillet topped with a sauce of fresh mushrooms and sour cream, all of it ladled over noodles. But I've beefed up the umami — and intensified the taste — with dried mushrooms, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Also, we cook the noodles in the sauce, which makes them that much more delicious.
Ideally, your steak of choice will be beef fillet — it is Valentine's Day, after all — but if you don't want to splurge, you can swap in less expensive cuts. And if you can't find dried porcini, you'll be fine with dried shiitakes or a mix of dried mushrooms. In truth, any dried mushroom packs a one-two punch, contributing not only itself, but also the savory liquid generated when it's rehydrated. That mushroom liqueur makes a lip-smacking base for any sauce.
What to serve alongside this love offering? A nice refreshing salad involving citrus will provide the perfect contrast. And don't forget the stagecraft! Set a proper table with cloth napkins and mats, a candle or two, and a bottle of robust red wine.
AMPED-UP BEEF STROGANOFF
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini, rinsed
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces filet mignon cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or onion
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (white, cremini, exotic or a mix)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup dry red wine
4 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
In a small saucepan combine the porcini mushrooms and the beef broth and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushrooms steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer, reserving it, and chop the mushrooms.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium- high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Sear the meat quickly on all sides and transfer it to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the skillet and cook stirring until softened; add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the garlic, thyme, tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add the red wine, reserved broth, 1 1/2 cups water, the chopped porcini and the noodles to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just al dente, about 10 minutes, adding additional water if necessary to keep the noodles partly submerged. Stir in the sour cream, Dijon and lemon juice; adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the beef and beef juices and simmer just until the meat is heated, about 1 minute. Serve right away, sprinkled with the parsley.
Nutritional information per serving: 871 calories; 338 calories from fat; 38 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 203 mg cholesterol; 419 mg sodium; 65 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 53 g protein.
Until pretty recently, there was nothing sexy about cauliflower. Boiled or steamed, it's bland at best. And if you overcook it, you'd better duck or suffer the smell of dirty diapers. But roasting or sauteing cauliflower is a different story. The veggie's natural sugars caramelize and its tasty inner cauliflower suddenly blossoms. Think popcorn with an attitude.
Cauliflower is surprisingly versatile, too. Pulsed in a food processor, it ends up looking and feeling like white rice. Indeed, given that it's high in fiber and an assortment of vitamins and minerals, cauliflower is a healthy alternative to white rice.
In the interest of coaxing out cauliflower's best flavor, I have cooked this recipe's allotment as if it were fried rice, sauteing it until golden. The "rice" is then infused with the usual Asian suspects — scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil — and bulked up with mushrooms, bacon and peas. (Vegetarians are welcome to swap in some tofu for the Canadian bacon.)
Wonderful as it is the first time around, this dish is also the perfect foil for leftovers. Steak, chicken, shrimp, other cooked vegetables? Whatever's sitting in the refrigerator and awaiting its second chance, toss it in. And if you need an excuse to go Asian, consider the Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 28. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy this recipe year-round.
FRIED CAULIFLOWER "RICE" WITH SHIITAKES, CANADIAN BACON AND PEAS
Start to finish: 1 hour (40 active)
1 small cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
2 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Canadian bacon, cut into medium dice
2 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 bunches scallions, sliced thin (white and green parts kept separate — you will need about 1/2 cup of the whites and 1/3 cup of the greens)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup blanched fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Remove the core and chop the cauliflower roughly into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor pulse the cauliflower in 2-cup amounts until chopped into rice-size pieces (you should have about 4 cups)
In a large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet over medium-high heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a tablespoon of water, a pinch of salt and some pepper and add the eggs to the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the eggs all around to make a flat pancake. Cook until almost set, 30 to 45 seconds. Turn over the egg (you can cut it in a few pieces to make it easier, using the side of a nonstick pan-safe spatula) and cook for another 10 seconds. Transfer the cooked eggs to a cutting board.
Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, the Canadian bacon and the shiitakes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned at the edges, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon mushroom mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the white part of the scallion to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the bacon mixture and return the skillet to the heat.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet, then add the cauliflower and a hefty pinch of salt, pressing it flat with the back of the spatula. Cook until the "rice" is golden brown in spots, turning it over with the spatula, about 10 to 12 minutes.
While the "rice" is cooking slice the egg into strips and add it along with the peas to the bowl with the bacon.
When the "rice" is nicely crisped, add the contents of the bacon bowl, the peas, soy sauce and sesame oil to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the mixture is heated through. Transfer the fried cauliflower "rice" to four bowls and top each portion with some of the sliced scallion greens and the pine nuts.
Nutrition information per serving: 483 calories; 350 calories from fat; 39 g fat (4 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 121 mg cholesterol; 665 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 15 g protein.
Wow, does this dish look classy, right? But look at the ingredient list — not too long. And look at the steps — pretty darn simple.
My boys love all kinds of steaks, though a perfect, tender filet distinctively communicates "special occasion." They are no harder to cook than any other steaks; just make sure to have the temperature high enough in the pan that the outside gets nicely seared while the middle remains pink, and be careful not overcook it. A medium rare filet will have an internal temperature of 130 F.
Pistou is similar to pesto, though often made with a looser consistency, and sometimes the pine nuts and/or Parmesan cheese are omitted, resulting in a simpler basil, garlic and olive oil sauce. That's the drizzle you're going for here, just a pop of herb-infused green olive oil to brighten up that perfect little filet. Then all you need is a handful of lightly dressed baby greens on the side and you are in business. There are so many appealing combinations of greens available either by the pound or in 5-ounce plastic containers in the produce aisle, some with herbs or other add-ins, and it's an awfully easy way to keep changing up your green salad.
Of course, you are welcome to round out the meal with the starch of your choice, anything from mashed potatoes to buttered noodles. But there's no question that the star of the plate is the steak.
FILET MIGNON WITH PISTOU AND GREEN SALAD
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
5 ounces mixed baby lettuces
Make the pistou: Place the garlic cloves in a small food processor and mince. Add the basil and process again to chop, then add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and blend until it becomes a bright green sauce.
Season the steak generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy skillet, such as cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and when the oil is hot, sear the steak for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
While the meat is resting, in a large bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine, add the lettuce and toss.
Serve the filets with a drizzle of the pistou on top, and a couple of handfuls of the dressed mixed greens. Pass the rest of the pistou on the side for extra drizzling.
Nutrition information per serving: 542 calories; 356calories from fat; 40 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 116 mg cholesterol; 231 mg sodium; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 42 g protein.
It is Thursday morning and past time for this column to be on its way.
Joseph, 14, Lovina, 12, and Kevin, 11, are almost ready for the school bus. Son Benjamin, 17, is hitching up a horse to take our daughter Susan to work. The temperature is staying right around the freezing mark this morning. All our snow has disappeared.
The weather lately seems too warm for this time of the year. We are hoping for more cold weather next month which makes it easier to butcher beef and pork. When the temperature is cold, you can keep the meat cold while you work with it.
Our week started out differently from usual. Susan and I were washing laundry in the basement when daughter Loretta, 16, heard something fall upstairs in the hallway. She called up to daughter Verena, 19, and didn’t get an answer. Since it takes Loretta longer to climb the stairs, she yelled down to the basement for us to come help.
Verena was breathing but could not open her eyes or talk to us. I called her doctor and they said to take her to the ER. Lots of tests were done, but she would not respond.
The doctors decided to transfer her to a bigger hospital an hour away. She was admitted there and a CT scan, MRI, and lots more testing was done. She started opening her eyes and finally said a few words to me. Tuesday evening she was released and we brought her home. The doctors think it was due to some recent head trauma that caused her to black out like that. She has a history of lots of small concussions since a bad one in 2009 in which she lost over a year of her memory.
She has been through a lot. She seems weaker than usual since she’s home and has headaches. She would be interested to hear from others that have dealt with post-concussive syndrome after a brain concussion. She has had her share of hospital visits due to past concussions. The brain is hard to figure out and doctors still have lots to study about how differently one brain heals from another.
It’s a scary moment for the family when you can’t get someone to respond and not sure what will happen. That is when we especially depend on God! He is in control. Let us trust him for he makes no mistakes.
Today we will go help daughter Elizabeth with her cleaning preparing for church services at their house. Her husband Timothy’s family went to help them on Tuesday. Church services will be there a week from Sunday. This is a new experience for them to host church services.
Jacob and Emma will host services two weeks after Timothy’s so we also want to help Emma with her cleaning. It doesn’t look like there will be much time to rest this winter.
Our friend Beth is going to take us to Elizabeth’s with her van. I didn’t want Verena to ride in the buggy yet. Verena will go along but can rest over there. She can help keep Baby Abigail entertained while we clean.
Time is going fast and I need to be ready to go by 8:30 a.m. God’s blessings to all. Prayers would be greatly appreciated and we will do likewise in great weakness. Stay healthy!
Try this breakfast casserole. We like something like this even for supper.
Cheesy Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
8 frozen hash brown patties
2 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Place hash brown patties in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes or until browned, turning patties after 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Add milk, sour cream, garlic powder, mustard and pepper; mix well. Stir in bacon, 6 ounces of the cheese and onions. Pour over hash brown patties. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (add more cheese if desired).
Though students at The Culinary Institute of America face a seemingly endless to-do list, central to their course work is recipe and menu development. At the CIA, food is life, and even the best-managed restaurant is nothing without flavorful, exciting, and innovative recipes.
A recent standout is this recipe for Hanoi Pork Meatballs with Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce, which is ideal if you're hosting friends and family for the big game.
Bursting with the flavors of Southeast Asia, like garlic, ginger and bright herbs, these meatballs are an easy make-ahead option that will stand out against the usual party favorites. The sweet hoisin-peanut dipping sauce will remind you of those other meatballs you may have simmered in your slow cooker, but with a little something special and unexpected.
If you love the flavors in these meatballs, why not put your own spin on the recipe? You can replace the pork with turkey for a leaner appetizer to balance out those beers. Or, if you want to serve a more substantial dinner, form the mixture into burger-sized patties and serve them on buns. You can top them with the dipping sauce, some more fresh herbs, and pickled onions for some zing.
This year's big game is being held in Houston. And even though you might think of Houston as BBQ central, it's actually known to have some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the country — so this recipe will help your guests feel like they are right in the middle of the action.
HANOI PORK MEATBALLS WITH HOISIN-PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
Start to finish: 55 minutes (Active time: 40 minutes)
Servings: 5 (Makes 15 meatballs, 3 per serving)
Non-stick cooking spray, as needed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
5 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 minced scallions
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/8 cup whole milk cottage cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 pound ground pork
Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Oil a rack for a sheet tray with non-stick cooking spray. Place rack in sheet tray and set aside.
In a medium-size saute pan, heat both oils over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and scallions.
Sweat until aromatic and soft (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan, and allow to cool.
In a mixing bowl, add and combine all remaining ingredients except for the ground pork and dipping sauce. Mix all of these ingredients together thoroughly until completely combined.
Add the ground pork and mix lightly until all the ingredients are lightly incorporated. Be careful not to over mix the meat, as it will result in tough meatballs.
Scoop or form mixture in 15 1 1/2-ounce balls and place them onto the oiled rack.
Cook the meatballs in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 155 degrees F and the exterior is golden brown.
Serve meatballs hot, with toothpicks and a bowl of the Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce to dip!
Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Nutrition information per serving of the meatballs: 309 calories; 199 calories from fat; 22 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 66 mg cholesterol; 527 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 17 g protein.
Nutrition information per serving of the sauce: 144 calories; 56 calories from fat; 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 1 mg cholesterol; 776 mg sodium; 19 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 4 g protein.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
It is easy enough to put out bag after bag of chips during a Sunday football-watching party, or any other gathering for that matter. And it's not much harder to go the extra step and put those chips into an actual bowl ... you know, if you're feeling classy.
But how about making a 15-minute snack that will have the crowds calling your name from the stands (or, in all likelihood, from the couch)?
A hot pretzel served up with a creamy, cheesy dip is the kind of food you would be thrilled to happen on and buy at a stadium. But you can easily find these soft pretzels in the frozen aisle of your supermarket, and they heat up quickly in the oven. While you are heating the oven and baking the pretzels (which take less than 5 minutes!), you can stir together a quick cheese-and-beer dip for dunking. And while you are stirring you can imagine the expressions of happiness that will greet you when you plunk down this platter of hot pretzel goodness.
If you have a big crowd and want to make a larger batch of pretzels, double the dip recipe and keep it warm in a slow cooker. It can also be gently reheated over low heat in a saucepan if it starts to thicken up too much.
CHEESY BEER DIP WITH HOT PRETZELS
Start to finish: 15 minutes
2 (13-ounce) boxes of frozen hot soft pretzels, 12 pretzels in all
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, preferably whole
¾ cup good beer
2 teaspoons brown mustard
Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare the pretzels according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and beer, then increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the mustard and Sriracha and cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.
Whisk in the cream cheese until it's melted, then add the cheddar cheese in several batches, whisking until each batch has melted before adding the next. Serve hot, with hot pretzels.
Nutrition information per serving: 364 calories; 131 calories from fat; 15 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 36 mg cholesterol; 551 mg sodium; 47 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 10 g protein.
We are having a thunderstorm this morning: not at all normal weather for January. The temperature is hanging around 34 degrees so some places could be icy.
Daughter Susan has to be at work by 9:00 a.m. She was going to drive the buggy but called a driver instead (“drivers” are non-Amish people that we hire to take us to and from work or town if we can’t go with a buggy and horse) to take her this morning. Son Benjamin isn’t working today so he’ll go pick her up with the horse and buggy this afternoon when she is finished with her work.
Benjamin plans to haul manure out to the fields today since the temperature has warmed up this week. He also worked at that yesterday. Our horse, Mighty, pulls the one-horse manure spreader. Our old horse, Diamond, was always the one we used to haul manure. We miss having him around after having him over twenty years.
Our new chickens have been laying an abundance of eggs. We still haven’t butchered the old hens, so they are also providing eggs.
Friday “Old Christmas” (January 6) that I wrote about last week ended up being a very enjoyable day. My sister Emma, Jacob and family, my sister Verena and Susan, and our family were all here. Nephew Benjamin had my name in the gift exchange. I received some dish towels and a mop bucket on wheels with a spin mop. This makes mopping so much easier for the girls. No bending over to squeeze out the mop and the bucket has a dolly with wheels to push the bucket around.
Lots of nice gifts were exchanged. Son Kevin received a game called Quick Cups which some of us played. I never heard of this game but it was fun. Each person had five different color cups and everyone took turns flipping a card. Whoever stacked the cups in order of the colors on the cards first, rang the bell and could keep that card. The person with the most cards at the end of the game won. We also enjoyed playing Mad Gab. That is always a loud, exciting game and lots of fun to try and figure out what the card says. After a haystack breakfast for brunch we enjoyed snacks in the afternoon. Veggies and dip, fruits, and venison summer sausage and venison snack sticks were among the snacks. We like to add some healthy snacks instead of so many sweets.
Saturday Joe and I and some of our children spent the day helping daughter Elizabeth and Timothy. Joe and Joseph helped Timothy lay a new hardwood floor in their living room while Verena, Lovina and I washed off the walls and ceiling and cleaned furniture from the living room. Church services will be there in two and one-half weeks so lots of cleaning is being done.
We finished the 2000 piece puzzle we got for Christmas on Sunday afternoon. It took us two weeks to complete it. This is the biggest puzzle we have ever done. We want to glue it and get a frame made for it. Challenging but fun!
Yesterday friends and family gathered for a late Tupperware wedding shower for daughter Susan at daughter Elizabeth’s house. Lunch was served afterwards. Susan received lots of nice storage containers to add to her kitchen. She appreciated everyone that contributed and also for Elizabeth opening up her home to everyone. The recipe this week comes from the woman who demonstrated the Tupperware products at the shower, which we enjoyed sampling at the end.
God’s blessings to all!
Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20-oz.) can pineapple slices, undrained
5 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 (18.25-oz.) package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and brown sugar. Mix well, then spread evenly over bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Drain pineapple, reserving the juice; set aside. Arrange pineapple slices over sugar mixture, then put a cherry half in center of each pineapple slice; sprinkle with nuts. Add enough water to pineapple juice to make 1 1/3 cups liquid. In a bowl, combine cake mix, liquid, eggs and oil; whisk until blended and smooth. Pour over fruit mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Carefully loosen edges of cake and invert onto 18x12-inch grooved cutting board or other large flat plate and cool slightly. Decorate with whipped topping using a frosting bag and tip, or just spoon dollops of whipped topping around the cake. Slice and serve.
There are few dishes more elemental and satisfying than bruschetta. A mainstay at many Italian restaurants, it's an appetizer comprising slices of grilled bread adorned with any number of toppings.
I like to make bruschetta on my stovetop grill at home during the colder months. It's a winning accompaniment to just about any soup or stew and a reliable favorite with the family.
Bruschetta is simple to make, but you need to work with high-quality ingredients if you want it to turn out beautifully. Start with a loaf of fresh and crusty rustic bread. Then brush each slice of bread with your very best extra-virgin olive oil. When the bread comes off the grill, and while it's still hot, rub one side of each slice with a cut clove of garlic. Then top it off with a light sprinkling of sea salt.
This recipe spells out three different toppings, all vaguely Mediterranean: a white bean salad with fresh fennel thickened with mashed beans so that the filling sticks to the bread; smoked salmon rillettes — finely chopped salmon flavored with capers, lemon and fresh herbs and bound with sour cream; and a chopped Greek salad. Again, I recommend using your best extra-virgin olive oil for the dressings. Each topping yields roughly two cups, which should be ample to top four large slices of grilled bread.
Bruschetta is nothing if not basic, meaning that just about any filling you'd ordinarily put between two slices of bread will also work as a topping for bruschetta: egg salad, tuna salad, runny cheese, hummus, grilled vegetables, you name it.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
8 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, tarragon or dill or a mix
2 tablespoons well-drained capers, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Black pepper to taste
In a bowl combine all the ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Chill until ready to serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 214 calories; 61 calories from fat; 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 89 mg cholesterol; 195 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 36 g protein.
WHITE BEAN SALAD
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1/3 cup minced red onion
One 15½-ounce can white beans
1/3 cup finely diced fresh fennel or celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
In a bowl of ice and water, soak the onion for 15 minutes, drain and pat dry
Drain and rinse the white beans and pat them dry. In a medium bowl, mash the beans using a potato masher, leaving about half in large pieces and the rest mashed. Add the onion, fennel, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, hot pepper flakes, and salt to taste and stir well. Chill until ready to serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 199 calories; 67 calories from fat; 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 73 mg sodium; 25 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 8 g protein.
CHOPPED GREEK SALAD
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 cup coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup ¼-inch dice seedless cucumber
½ cup finely cubed or crumbled feta
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup chopped pepperoncini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Chill until ready to serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 175 calories; 139 calories from fat; 15 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 17 mg cholesterol; 691 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 4 g protein.
Start to finish: 10 minutes
12 slices ½-inch thick rustic bread
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the bread
1 garlic clove, halved
Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Brush both sides of the bread slices with the oil. Add the bread to the preheated grill, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until bread is nicely browned on both sides (about 1 minute a side).
Remove the bread from the pan and, while it's still hot, rub one side of each slice with a cut clove of garlic, then sprinkle it very lightly with kosher salt.
Nutrition information per serving: 256 calories; 39 calories from fat; 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 552 mg sodium; 45 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 8 g protein.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton is the host of public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals." She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including "Cooking Live." Her latest cookbook is "Home Cooking 101."
These sweet treats are a riff on the very popular summer campfire s'mores. If you love marshmallow and chocolate and get nostalgic when you think of campfire s'mores, these simpler "no-bake" Game Day S'mores will delight you.
The s'mores are easy to make, appeal to kids of all ages, and are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. There is no baking or fire-roasting so you can make these indoors and they are safe for even young children to make. I make these often for events because I can make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Some people even prefer eating them when they are still frozen.
You need a package of graham crackers, Nutella, marshmallow fluff and raspberry, strawberry or grape jelly. The best thing is that they are customizable — you could add peanut butter and/or any other spread that you like.
Break the graham cracker in half at the perforation. Spread a generous teaspoon of Nutella on one side of the cracker and a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff on the other. Add a thin layer of jelly over the Nutella. I always stir the jelly with a fork to make sure that it is smooth before spreading on the s'more. Place the two halves together and press gently to seal the filling and repeat.
If you want the s'mores to look a little more finished_and I always do_dip the sticky sides in sugar sprinkles that match your favorite team colors for a perfect Super Bowl presentation, or shaved chocolate and nuts for a more sophisticated look.
For parties, I like to set out the graham crackers and spreads and add a few options like sliced bananas, crumbled bacon, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, colorful sprinkles and lots of different jellies_the sky and your friends and family's imaginations are the limit! Give everyone a (plastic) knife and let them make their own s'mores.
GAME DAY S'MORES
Servings: 20 (1 s'more per serving)
Start to finish: 5 minutes
1/2 (14.4oz.) box graham crackers
Raspberry jelly, or favorite jelly of your choice, preferably no sugar added
Sprinkles in your team's colors
Mini chocolate chips, mini M&M's, etc.
Break a graham cracker in half at the perforation.
Spread a generous spoonful of Nutella on one cracker half, and two spoonful's of Marshmallow Fluff on the other half. Spread a thin layer of jelly over the Nutella.
Place the two halves together and press gently to seal the filling.
For a fun and finished presentation, dip the sticky edges of each s'more in sprinkles, nuts, or chocolate chips.
Nutrition information per serving (does not include optional toppings): 215 calories; 63 calories from fat; 7 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 11 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 23 g sugar; 2 g protein.
If you tend to fall into cooking ruts, one easy way to snap out of it is to check out the holiday calendars of different cultures. Next up on my list of inspirations is the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year.
I love cooking Chinese and Asian food all year, but certain foods carry symbolism in Chinese culture and are intrinsic parts of this holiday. Many of the new year's foods are associated with luck and prosperity. Long noodles symbolize longevity; the word for "orange" in Chinese is similar to the word for "gold," thus signifying wealth, so that fruit is commonly presented and shared (the round shape also signifying fullness); fish is served whole, to symbolize a strong year to come, start to finish; and green foods are equated with money.
It takes just a few ingredients — garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hot chili sauce — to turn a variety of vegetables into a delicious Asian side dish. Because my husband is knee-deep in love with bok choy these days, that was the vegetable I picked to create my prosperity green vegetable dish. Bok choy is available in cute baby versions, but for this dish you can use the inexpensive bigger bunches. Look for it in well-stocked produce sections or Asian specialty stores.
This dish has a nice amount of cooking liquid, so serve it over rice alongside a main course.
I'm under no illusions that money equals happiness, but I do know that this green dish makes my family happy, and that's a rewarding feeling. Wishing all of you lots of luck in the Rooster New Year.
ASIAN BOK CHOY
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 pounds bok choy, trimmed, sliced into 1-inch pieces, and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot chili sauce
Place the sesame seeds, if using, in a large stock pot or braiser (this will seem silly, but you will use the same pan to cook the bok choy). Heat the pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until you can smell the sesame seeds and they turn a bit more golden in color. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes; watch carefully that they don't get too brown. Turn the seeds onto a small plate and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir for 1 minute until you can smell the aromas. Add the bok choy (it's OK if it's still a bit damp) and stir for another 2 minutes, then pour in the chicken broth, soy sauce and hot sauce, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the bok choy for about 8 minutes, until it is tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving bowl with its cooking liquid and serve hot, with the sesame seeds sprinkled on top if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 65 calories; 34 calories from fat; 4 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 316 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 3 g protein.
When it comes to popular winter drinks, there's nothing like a cup of sweet, piping hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate comes in many flavors and fans of the decadent drink often add a variety of embellishments to the beverage.
There are various styles and flavors of hot chocolate, depending on what form and style of chocolate is used.
Restaurants, bakeries and other eateries often place hot chocolate on their menus during the winter months. The delicious drink can be found everywhere from chain restaurants to chef-owned eateries and cafes.
At Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream, customers will find a signature hot chocolate on the menu.
"We've had hot chocolate since Day 1," said Jim Flessor, owner of Gayety's. Flessor said they use their own chocolate for the creation. Gayety's has had a long history in the Chicago area. The ice cream/chocolate business opened in 1920 in the city's South Chicago neighborhood.
"Hot chocolate is completely addictive," said Flessor. Gayety's hot chocolate is available in a 10-ounce cup and can be enjoyed at the shop or to go.
Assorted Mexican restaurants in the area feature the Mexican style of hot chocolate, which has a different consistency and flavor from the usual style of hot chocolate. It's usually made with real Mexican chocolate.
According to ixtapacantina.com, "Mexican Chocolate has a distinctive, rich flavor that can be used in regular dishes or baking. It can come in a round and flat disk, scented with cinnamon. Mexican Chocolate can also come in bars, powders or syrups. Its rich taste is profound in beverages such as hot chocolate. Mexican Chocolate’s sweetness comes from its savory ingredients and cream finish."
Celebrated pastry chef, Alain Roby, who was awarded Pastry Chef of the Year in 2013 by the Chicago Culinary ,has long created award-winning recipes with chocolate.
Roby, who is the owner of the All Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, Illinois, has come up with a special Grand Cru Hot Chocolate at his eatery. The Grand Cru is served in an 8-ounce cup with fresh whipped cream on top.
At IHOP locations and Starbucks locations around the country, diners will find various flavored hot chocolates. IHOP currently has a French Toast-flavored creation while Starbucks features concoctions such as Snickerdoodle, Peppermint, and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, among others.
For hot chocolate fans who'd like to make their own creation, try this recipe.
Hot Chocolate with Salted Whipped Mascarpone
For Salted Whipped Mascarpone:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) Wisconsin mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Flaky sea salt
For Hot Chocolate:
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2-1 tablespoon instant coffee, to taste
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2-4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
For whipped mascarpone:
1. Add mascarpone and heavy cream to a mixing bowl. With electric mixer, beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in honey, vanilla and salt until just combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For hot chocolate:
1. In small bowl, mix together cocoa powder, sugar, instant coffee and salt. Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and heavy cream. Bring to simmer, stirring every few minutes. Sprinkle dry chocolate mixture over hot milk, turning heat down to low. Whisk continuously until smooth (do not let it boil), then whisk in chopped chocolate and vanilla extract.
2. Pour hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped mascarpone.
From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Looking for a place to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate? Try these spots.
Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream, 3306 Ridge Road, Lansing, Illinois, (800) 491-0755 or 36 U.S. 41, Schererville, (219) 515-2027
All Chocolate Kitchen, 33 S. Third Street, Geneva, Illinois (630) 232-2395
El Taco Real, 935 Hoffman St., Hammond, (219) 932-8333
Casa Blanca, 4616 Indianapolis Boulevard, East Chicago, (219) 397-4151
If you're anything like the rest of us, you might tend to needlessly overcomplicate your life. You plan an elaborate dinner for a Wednesday night. You schedule a meeting across town at rush hour. With all of the small, daily challenges we face, when it comes to healthy eating, the key to success is making life as uncomplicated as possible, so that choosing the right foods is a piece of ... fruit.
You have likely seen pictures with refrigerators stacked full of organized containers and healthy weeknight meals ready to throw in a slow cooker. It's a great idea that is probably not in the cards for most of us, but it does serve as inspiration to make one or two small changes that can drastically improve the quality of our lives and our lunches.
Grain salads, like this recipe for Farro with Roasted Winter Vegetables, might be the key to healthier eating in the new year. If you're stuck in a lunch rut — ordering in to the office every day, eating a peanut butter sandwich, or skipping it altogether — grain salads are an easy way to mix it up. Made with nutritious and hearty whole grains like wheat berries, barley, and quinoa, grain salads are packed full of protein, fiber, and vitamins. When you combine grains with your favorite fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and nuts; and top them with flavorful vinaigrettes, herbs, and spices, you can eat a different salad every day, with just a small amount of effort.
At the beginning of the week, cook a big batch of grains to cool and refrigerate. Each day, add your favorite salad veggies or leftovers to make a satisfying lunch that changes every day of the week. In minutes, you could have a salad of wheat berries, roasted Brussels sprouts, dried cherries, and chopped pecans. And the next day, wheat berries with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and balsamic vinaigrette. Remember, grain salads aren't just for stuffing your lunch box. Mix your cooked grains with almond butter, a splash of honey, chopped apples, and cinnamon for breakfast-on-the-go. Or use a leftover salad to stuff bell peppers, cabbage, or halved acorn squash for a hearty dinner. How's that for meal prep?
Keep in mind that some farro sold in the United States is processed to remove some or all of its tough outer bran for ease of cooking. Labeled as "semi-pearled" or "pearled," this farro is stripped of its coveted whole grain status, as well as much of its nutrients. Whole grain farro requires a little bit of extra time to prepare; you'll want to soak it overnight before cooking it, to ensure the perfect chewy texture.
In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash and acorn squash with the olive oil.
Transfer the squash to a foil-lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast until the squash is cooked and brown around the edges, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion has softened and is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the farro and cook for about 2 more minutes.
Add the water and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and simmer until the farro is cooked and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
While the farro is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the cabbage until it is softened and browning around the edges, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and mix it with the cooked farro and vegetables. Stir in the parsley. Serve hot, or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Nutrition information per serving: 486 calories; 142 calories from fat; 16 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 mg sodium; 71 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 13 g protein.
Big provisions are required to watch the big game, and nothing's more substantial than a burger, even in its mini-form — the slider.
Indeed, if you plan to serve a variety of dishes for the Super Bowl, sliders are more sensible than the full-sized guys. But they happen to be a little trickier to cook than a standard-issue burger. The slider's size makes it tough to put a nice crust on the outside while ensuring that it doesn't overcook on the inside.
These sliders are adapted from a burger I used to make at a bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, called the Del Rio — my first job as a cook. Dubbed the Det Burger, this marvel was dreamed up before I landed at the Del Rio by a cook named Bob Detweiler, who baptized the creation after himself. The heart of the original version was a quarter-pounder topped by "the Det mix" — canned mushrooms, canned olives, grilled onions, freeze-dried green peppers and slices of cheese.
But there also was a secret ingredient: beer. The Det Burger was steamed in beer. If it wasn't quite "the burger that made Ann Arbor famous," it was undeniably a city-wide favorite.
A generation later, I assembled the same winning combo of ingredients — though in a fresher form — and then focused on the cooking process to make sure that these mini-burgers ended up both juicy and crusty. There are a few key points to preparing Beer-Steamed Cheese and Mushroom Beef Sliders.
First, the sliders need to be about 3/4 inch thick, not only so they don't overcook, but also so you can fit all of them at one time into the skillet. Second, the skillet needs to be large, a 12-incher. If you don't have a skillet that big, use two smaller ones and cook six sliders in each. And third, whichever skillet you use, the oil must be heated until it's almost smoking. At the start, you want the burgers to sear, not steam, which is what will happen if the pan isn't hot enough.
At first, the sliders will be crowded together in the skillet, but they'll shrink down as they cook, giving off fat and juices in the process. You deglaze the pan with beer, of course, which mingles intimately with the fat and juices released by the burgers to create a delectable pan sauce.
I recommend spooning some of this liquid onto the buns before sliding in the burgers, but my son proposes a more extravagant way to roll: pour the sauce into ramekins and invite your guests to dunk their sliders into it between bites. Whatever happens onscreen, you'll be winning at home.
BEER-STEAMED CHEESE AND MUSHROOM BEEF SLIDERS
Start to finish: 50 minutes
Makes 12 sliders
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 ounces mushrooms (white, cremini or shiitake), finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted green olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped, drained, canned green chilies
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, shaped into 12 sliders, each about 3/4 inch thick
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup beer
12 slider buns
In a large (at least 12-inch) skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion to a bowl. Add another tablespoon of the oil to the pan, the mushrooms and a hefty pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the onion. Reserve the skillet.
Add the olives and chilies to the mushroom mixture and stir well. Set aside.
Return the skillet to high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and wait until it is almost smoking. Meanwhile, season the sliders on one side with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the sliders, seasoned side down (it will be a little crowded in the pan), and cook them until they are just browned on the first side, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the top side of each with salt and pepper, turn the sliders over and cook for another 2 minutes.
While the sliders are browning, top each slider with a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture, dividing all of the mixture among the sliders, then place a piece of cheese on top of each. Quickly pour the beer into the pan, all around the sliders, cover the pan and steam for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let the sliders sit in the pan for another minute to let the cheese melt completely. Spoon some of the liquid in the skillet onto the tops and bottoms of the buns, transfer the sliders to the buns and serve right away.
Nutrition information per slider: 280 calories; 120 calories from fat (43 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 370 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 16 g protein.
This makes a ton of soup, and you can freeze it at will. It's the kind of soup that sells itself, hits the spot, and has so much flavor and such a high level of comfort-foodness that you instantly feel better about life while eating it.
If that's overstating it, I'm sorry, but my family never can get enough of these bean-grain-sausage concoctions.
You'll see that two different starches are called for: rice and Israeli couscous. There is no reason for this other than that I had a bit of couscous left, but not enough for the whole batch of soup. Also, I love soups with a bounce-up of textures in them. You could use all rice, or all couscous, or any other grain you want to play with from spelt to farro. Just look at the cooking times of the grain you want to use, and work backward to figure out when to add it.
There are lots of flavored chicken sausages on the market these days — I went with the basic Italian-seasoned versions, hot or sweet, but you could try any version that seems compatible with this simple soup.
Also, know that soups thicken as they cool, so if you are planning to keep it for a day or two, you might find yourself needing to add some extra water or broth to loosen it up when you reheat it. This is also the kind of soup that is perfect when made ahead; the flavors deepen over a day or two in the fridge.
LEEK, CHICKEN SAUSAGE AND SPLIT PEA SOUP
Serves 12 to 14
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
10 to 12 cups less-sodium chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups split peas
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
12 to 16 ounces cooked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
To garnish (optional):
Chopped fresh parsley
Toasted pumpkin seeds
In a very large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 8 minutes until they are wilted. Raise the heat to high, add 10 cups of the broth and the crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Add the split peas, return to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes.
Add the rice and simmer another 10 minutes, then add the couscous and sausage and simmer for another 20 minutes until the grains and the peas are tender. Add all or part of the remaining 2 cups of broth if the soup seems too thick when you finish cooking it. Serve hot in bowls, with some parsley and/or pumpkin seeds on top.
Nutritional information: Nutrition information per serving: 258 calories; 61 calories from fat; 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 19 mg cholesterol; 412 mg sodium; 34 g carbohydrate; 10 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 15 g protein.
In order to take a little time off from writing this column, I’m sharing three recipes from my cookbook coming out in April, The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry (Herald Press). I, and about half my family, were down with the flu as my deadline for the column approached this week, so this “vacation” comes at a good time. There is a lot of stuff going around and I know many who are sick. It is that time of year. I hope your family is well.
Enjoy trying one or more of these: the first one for caramel corn we enjoy when we have time to play games as a family, such as on New Year’s Eve or Day. The second is for a salad using uncooked frozen peas that might make you think ahead to spring; finally, an easy recipe for BBQ chicken sandwiches using chicken you’ve cooked and cut into pieces.
Party or family gathering
QUICK CARAMEL CORN
1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 quarts popped popcorn
Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan. Add brown sugar and corn syrup.
Heat to boiling and boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the molasses and boil for an additional 2 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.
Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt, and baking soda, stirring briskly.
Pour over popped corn and stir until popcorn is thoroughly coated.
PEA AND CHEESE SALAD
1 (12-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed, or an equivalent amount fresh peas, cooked until just tender
1 cup celery, chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup Colby cheese, cubed
½ cup radishes, sliced
¼ cup green onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
In a medium bowl, combine the peas, celery, eggs, cheese, radishes, and green onion. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and salt. Pour mayonnaise mixture over the vegetable mixture and mix well.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make sure the peas are well drained or the salad will be watery.
BBQ CHICKEN SANDWICHES
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken, cooked and diced
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups ketchup
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a Dutch oven or large pan, sauté celery, onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for