Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1885
Posted: April 15th, 2014

Martha Stewart's Carrot Vichyssoise looks as delicious as it does beautiful.

Martha Stewart’s Carrot Vichyssoise looks as delicious as it does beautiful.

Thanks to everyone who waited patiently through my recovery from recent hand surgery. It was nothing major, just a carpal tunnel release. But it prevented me from typing and chopping food for weeks, two activities integral to the upkeep of a cooking blog.
While I was out, I basically read and watched TV and read, and watched TV.¬† I finally dove into “Julie and Julia,” that book by the woman who spent a year working her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I’ve been meaning to read it for years, but it got relegated to the “SHOULD READ” pile, where I never, ever go. Unless I’m trapped at home recovering from surgery.
She hooked me early with a scene that entailed her buying the ingredients for, basically, potato leek soup. It reminded me of when I first had it, how it blew my mind that something so simple could taste so good. Then, of course, I started craving it and had to make some myself, just to get it out of my system.
That doesn’t seem to have worked, because I stumbled over this soup — made with carrots in addition to potatoes — just now and want to race home and make it tonight. By the way, when you serve potato leek soup cold, it’s called “Vichyssoise.” (Vishy-swah). Thus, Carrot Vichyssoise.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 11th, 2014
Maple syrup producers are gearing up for the 2014 sap run. Visit them this weekend and pick up a bottle to use in this incredible cake.

Maple syrup producers are gearing up for the 2014 sap run. Visit them this weekend and pick up a bottle to use in this incredible cake.

It’s coming. Maples are gearing up to send their sweet nectar up and into their limbs — and we’ll gladly partake as well.
The Northwest Pennsylvania 11th Annual Maple Taste and Tour will take place this weekend, and visitors — well, at least I — will be tempted to buy a jug of the magical concoction on my way out.
I’ll use it on pancakes, of course, but then what? You don’t want to waste that liquid gold on anything inferior.
Martha Stewart’s Maple Bundt Cake looks worth it to me.
I love Bundt cakes. They’re easier than layer cakes, prettier than 9×13 cakes, and easy to glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice. All that, and they’re cakes, too.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 10th, 2014
Better Homes & Gardens drew me into its chicken recipe slideshow with this gorgeous photo.

Better Homes & Gardens drew me into its chicken recipe slideshow with this gorgeous photo Oven-Fried Chicken.

I didn’t cook nearly enough this past weekend, and I’m really craving some time in the kitchen. But, alas, it’s Monday. Tonight will be a quick one with leftovers from my nephew’s birthday party yesterday. Probably tomorrow too.
But I wish I could try this recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken from BH&G.
It’s definitely doable on a weeknight, provided you don’t have extracurriculars to run to. Tonight is Cub Scouts. Tomorrow is piano. Maybe Wednesday?

Also, this one from reader Judy Hayward looks good. It bakes for at least an hour, but the prep is 5 minutes.


Serves 6
Dietary Diabetic
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
By author Judy Hayward


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 sweet onions (peeled and cut in half)
  • 1 bag small carrots
  • 3 stalks celery (cut in half)
  • 1 cheap bottle Italian dressing


Step 1
Place all in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Pour dressing over everything
Step 2
Bake at 350 degrees 1 to 1 1/2 hour.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 7th, 2014

craft beer coverThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.” The winner is Troy Boerst. I’ll pop it in the mail today.
If you are not Troy Boerst, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “The Craft Beer Cookbook: From IPAs and Bocks to Pilsners and Porters, 100 Artisanal Recipes for Cooking with Beer,” by Jacquelyn Dodd.
I’ve been hoarding this book for a while because I love it so much, but I must make difficult decisions about which cookbooks I really have space to store. It’s a short list. What’s a long list is that of the recipes in this book I want to keep.
I made the Soft Pretzels With Chipotle Beer Cheese Sauce for the Super Bowl. They were better than the game.
To enter the drawing for the Craft Beer Cookbook, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Please include your name, your mailing address and the title of the book you want. I do not store or share this information.
Lately, I’ve been on a cheap and easy dinner kick. Last night I made Tuna Noodle Casserole. I didn’t even give it a twist. Just gave it the classic treatment straight out of “Joy of Cooking.” Hit the spot.
Tomorrow, however, I might have some time. Tomorrow, I might make Porter Black Bean Soup With Avocado Cilantro Cream. I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow.


Serves 6
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Soup
Misc Serve Hot


  • 1lb dry black beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion (chopped)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 24oz porter
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 3 tablespoons veggie broth
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne


Step 1
Place black beans in a large bowl; cover with cold water and soak 8 hours.
Step 2
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot and sauté the onions and red peppers until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Step 3
Add the broth, beer and black beans and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook until beans have softened, about 3 hours. Stir in the smoked paprika, pepper and salt. Add additional broth or beer to thin, if desired.
Step 4
In a food processor, add the avocados, broth, olive oil, cilantro, salt and cayenne and process until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add additional broth to thin, if desired.
Step 5
Ladle soup into bowls; top with avocado cream. Serve immediately.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 5th, 2014

Don't wait an hour for macaroni and cheese: Skip the baking at www.picky-palate.com

Don’t wait an hour for macaroni and cheese: Skip the baking at www.picky-palate.com.

Not everyone has to skip meat today and Fridays throughout Lent, but it might behoove all of us to occasionally skip meat, which would be easy on digestion, at the stove and on our wallets.
Here are five super-simple ways to get in and out of the kitchen tonight and leave the livestock alone. Nothing fancy here, just a few ideas you might not have thought of. Cuz I didn’t.

1. Pesto Pasta serves 4: Boil 8 ounces of whole wheat penne pasta until al dente, toss it with a cup of prepared basil pesto and top it with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

2. Asparagus Frittata Leave the ham out of this Alton Brown classic. Double the asparagus if you wish.

3. Barbie’s Tuna Salad looks delicious.
Option: Use it in a tuna melt: Butter 8 pieces of bread. Lay 4 of them, butter side down on a hot skillet. Top with tuna salad, slices of cheddar, slices of tomato and top with remaining bread, butter side up. Flip when you can smell the bottom toasting. Cook 4-5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

4. Macaroni and Cheese on the table in 20 minutes: Boil pasta, mix with cheese and milk, done. Serves 4.

5. Pancakes are hard to beat in the frugal category. Serve them with eggs instead of bacon or sausage to save fat as well as your soul.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 4th, 2014

chicken gumbo crctd
It’s been a stressful morning. I’ll leave it at that.
The bright spot has been our potluck Mardi Gras feast here at work. I made my favorite gumbo recipe in two types, chicken and shrimp only for those who don’t eat red meat, and full-on sausage, ham, chicken and shrimp for the rest of us gluttons.
I used a recipe that appeared with my print column in 2012. Still as good as I remember. It’s pretty easy, too. Just chop the veggies, make a roux (flour and butter) and simmer two hours. Hands on, it’s about half an hour.
I think the key is to use bone-in chicken pieces, which release tons of flavor as they simmer, and then the meat slides right off.
The last step calls for (optional) “file” (FEE-lay). I have it, but forgot to put it in. No one seemed to care. It does add a little more body and a layer of flavor. After much searching, I found file at Larry’s Central Market on Sassafras Street.
But even without it, one bowl turned my day around.

Jennie’s Gumbo

Serves 16
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Allergy Shellfish
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
From book "The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook"


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 jalapeno (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 cups okra (optional)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans stewed tomatoes (crushed)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere's)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3lb meaty chicken pieces (bone-in)
  • 1 cup andouille sausage (sliced)
  • 1 cup ham
  • 1/2lb shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon file (optional)


Step 1
Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux: Cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux turns a milk chocolate color.
Step 2
Add the rest of the ingredients, except file, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 hours.
Step 3
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Using tongs, grab the chicken bones and shake the meat off. It should fall off and shred on its own. Make sure to remove all the bones. Some might be small and sharp. Discard bones and cartilage and return meat to the pot. Remove the bay leaves.
Step 4
Add the shrimp to the pot and remove from heat. The shrimp will cook in the hot soup. Stir in file if using.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 3rd, 2014

Martha Stewart made my weekend with Baked Penne With Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Martha Stewart made my weekend with Baked Penne With Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Since the holidays were over and I found myself at home more on the weekends, I’ve been trying to collect recipes throughout the week and cook like a madwoman on Saturdays and/or Sundays. In theory, this makes for good meals on the first night — and cheaper than going out — and great for leftovers to bring for lunches — cheaper than going out — throughout the week.
It hasn’t worked perfectly. I still haven’t gotten used to packing the lunches part, and usually think of it when I’m about halfway to work. Sometimes I’ve started dinner too late and John and J.R. have both eaten something else by the time my brilliant meal is ready.
But at least the recipes have been good.
This one, for Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes makes enough for two casseroles, ostensibly one to eat and one to freeze.
Alas, the first casserole is long gone, and John ate half of the second one yesterday. Yes, it’s that good. But I still forgot to bring it to work.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 27th, 2014

veggie cureThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “World Food Cafe: Vegetarian Bible.” The winner is Tom Smith. I’ll pop it in the mail.

If you are not Tom Smith, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy, and Beauty,”.
I’m surrounded by vegetarians, and they’re closing in.
A close coworker avoids red meat. Both of my folks have suddenly gone vegetarian, and I get vegan or vegetarian cookbook in the mail at least once a week.
To top it off, some lady wrote to my boss about a recent print column. She was complaining about the photo, which contained medium-rare steak. She said it looked like whoever wrote about it was a “300-pound carnivore,” and she said it like that’s a bad thing.
I do have to admit, I’m paying attention. My folks’ cholesterol counts are way down, and I can always find at least one great-looking recipe to keep in my want-to-make file.
Stuff like this one for Cauliflower Crusted Mozzarella Pizza.

(BY THE WAY, To enter the drawing for the book, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS AND NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT.)



  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup riced cauliflower (see note)
  • 1/2 cup skim mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup no-salt-added 1 percent cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or Italian seasoning or basil)
  • 2 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • Toppingsof choice (such as mushrooms, peppers, squash, eggplant)
  • 3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella (for topping)


To rice cauliflower: Chop a half head of cauliflower into small pieces and microwave for 6 minutes. Let the cauliflower cool 5 minutes or run it under cold water in a strainer. Rice it either by using a cheese grater or lightly blending in a food processor, keeping its texture coarse.


Step 1
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
Step 2
Crush garlic and allow it to sit 5 minutes to promote its health-boosting benefits.
Step 3
Place riced cauliflower in a medium bowl. Add cheeses, eggs, garlic and seasoning and mix with a spatula into a coarse pizza dough. Place on the greased baking sheet. Using your hands, form a pie by pressing down until it's uniformly about 1 inch thick.
Step 4
Bake crust in oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. After you take it out, top with pizza sauce and toppings of your choice like mushrooms, green pepper, or yellow squash. Sprinkle with the additional 3 tablespoons of mozzarella and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 25th, 2014

This White Chicken Chili is simple and satisfying. Tided us over during a cold, windy Saturday night.

This White Chicken Chili is simple and satisfying. Tided us over during a cold, windy Saturday night.

Sometimes I love not having plans on a Saturday. I can laze about while folding laundry, go out for kicks to the grocery store, tinker with some urgent household repair.
Then again, maybe having plans is better after all.
This past weekend, we all got so bored and stir crazy, we went bowling. It was about 5 p.m., and practically had the place to ourselves. I assume this is because everyone else in town had plans.
It’s also possible that they’ve all become so depressed about the weather, they’ve given up leaving the house altogether. The thought has crossed my mind.
The one bright spot that night was White Chicken Chili. Easy to put together, lots of warmth, a nice break for our winter-weary tastebuds.
My little grocery store didn’t have poblanos, so I just used green bell pepper and added a smidge more chili powder. It calls for ancho, but you can just use regular. Really, at this point in this seemingly endless winter, all I wanted was to get warm from the inside out. That the soup was delicious was icing on the cake. Icing, brrrr. Perhaps “frosting.” No that’s no better. Let’s call it “gravy.” But not on a cake. That would be gross.
The chili (perhaps another wrong word) was just good, darn it.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 24th, 2014
Parade magazine caught my eye with this one on their weekly newsletter. Huge hit at home.

Parade magazine caught my eye with this one on their weekly newsletter. Huge hit at home.

The headline for this recipe for Fast Chicken Enchiladas was “Make These Chicken Enchiladas in 10 Minutes.” Yeah, well, no. Obviously, you can’t make enchiladas in 10 minutes, but I read it anyway, intrigued.
They mean the prep. Apparently the 20 minutes it has to spend in the oven don’t count.
But even knowing this, I forged ahead. We love Tex-Mex at my house, and I was emotionally committed before I knew it.
The only trouble was I was in Conneaut when I shopped, and tomatillos were nowhere to be found. It called for 7 of the fruit that has taken up residence in any supermarket. But at my diminutive market, I couldn’t even find them canned or frozen.
I could find, however, Frontera brand tomatillo salsa. Not only did that work, it was better than if I’d found them fresh, because it was all loaded up with onions and spices. Also, no chopping. Only a whirl in the blender. I didn’t even need to puree it, but not doing that felt like pushing the cheating envelope too far. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will not bother with the blender. You could also just use green enchilada sauce. Same thing, really. Just smooth and not chunky.
I added this dish to my growing list of amazing stuff you can make with a rotisserie chicken.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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