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.
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Posted: April 23rd, 2014

Could this possibly be as good as my sister-in-law's Easter standard?

Could this possibly be as good as my sister-in-law’s Easter standard?

In my husband’s family, potlucks are rarely without a casserole dish full of hot, rich, hearty cheesy potatoes, usually made by my sister-in-law Sarah.
She brought them to Easter dinner, but of course there were no leftovers to divvy up at the end of the day, so I have to dream about them for the long months that stretch ahead to the next party.
I tried to make them once, but something went horribly awry and I’ve never tried again. Cheesy potatoes are so guilt-inducing anyway, packed with fat and calories, that I’ve never felt right about learning to make them.
This reduced-guilt recipe, though, Heart-Healthy Cheesy Potatoes from Better Homes & Gardens might find its way into my repertoire and tide me over to Sarah’s next batch.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 22nd, 2014

Salmon Chowder with Dill from the Food Network is dragging my heart to the grocery store.

Salmon Chowder with Dill from the Food Network is dragging my heart to the grocery store.

I can’t live another day without trying Salmon Chowder with Dill from Food Network. Well, I might have to. But I won’t be happy about it.
My Loaves & Dishes column tomorrow focuses on a delicious roast salmon recipe, which seems to have only whet my appetite for the luscious pink-orange gift from the sea.
My test of a blog-worthy recipe is that it makes me want to go directly home to make it. Not as in “after work,” or “tonight.” No. It’s as in “right now.”
I swear, sometimes this whole food writer job cuts into my cooking time.
This marriage of rich salmon and broth, balanced by gentle potatoes and herbs is the stuff of day dreams.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 21st, 2014

Pillsbury offered up this lovely idea for using up leftover holiday ham. Gonna have to try it.

Pillsbury offered up this lovely idea for using up leftover holiday ham. Gonna have to try it.

This is a long story short: I have three dozen fresh eggs in my refrigerator. John wants me to hard cook some of them for his lunch.
That still leaves me with two dozen fresh eggs in the refrigerator, and leftover ham and shredded cheese, and I have to make dinner at some point this week.
So this Ham and Cheese Omelet Bake might work out well. I’m not entirely sure I’ll have time, since it has to bake for an hour, but that doesn’t change the fact that I really, really want to.
I might try and make it with some aging bread instead of the biscuits, which might mean I have to let to sit overnight. Depends on whether that bread is still edible by the time I get home tonight. Hold on, baby. Mommy’s coming.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 18th, 2014

Martha Stewart's lemon cookies have me daydreaming.

Martha Stewart’s lemon cookies have me daydreaming.

I feel a cooking binge coming on. I’ve seen a lot of recipes today and most of them look awesome. It’s a feast weekend in my family, and I’ve been tasked with fruit salad and Asian noodle salad.
But that doesn’t feel like enough. I actually want to make these cinnamon rolls. These green beans. These lemon cookies.
Plus I’d like to cook and dye some Easter eggs for the kids’ egg hunt Sunday.
The cinnamon rolls alone look like a pretty involved process, and making them would be more than a little silly considering I could just by a tube of them in the dairy section. Plus, I already have Finish nisua bread at home, which serves the same purpose of sitting sweetly next to my cup of coffee.
None of this deters me, however.
It’ll be interesting to see what I actually manage to squeeze in, considering I’ll be home alone with my son, the world’s most hopelessly obsessed baseball player, all day tomorrow.
I wish he still liked to help me in the kitchen like he did when he was 3 and 4. But these days the house walls cannot contain him. He’ll be begging to play catch by 10 a.m., and that might put an end to my kitchen-centric dreams.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 17th, 2014

meatless My mom recently went vegan for health reasons, and it’s working. Her last blood work results were stellar, and she actually seems to be enjoying it. I’m thrilled for her.
She recently celebrated her 70th birthday, or at least I did. She could have taken or left the celebration part. She didn’t even want any cake.
But I wanted to make something for her, so she didn’t have to cook her own birthday dinner. It seemed like a chili sort of day, so my recipe hunt landed on Veggie Chili with Butternut Squash from “Meatless All Day: Recipes for Inspired Vegetarian Meals,” by Dina Cheney.
Any foodie can tell you that veggie chili recipes are a dime a dozen, but for Mom I wanted one that brought a lot to the table, so to speak — more than just vegetable chunks floating in tomato juice.
So I, believe it or not, went in search of one with the longest list of ingredients, heartily populated and thoughtfully seasoned.
This one worked perfectly. We both scraped our bowls and went back for more.
I have a copy of the book to give away. If you want to enter the drawing for it, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your name, mailing address and name of the book you want. I’ll pick the winner next week.
By the way, thanks to everyone who wrote in for “The Craft Beef Cookbook.” The winner is Deb Warley. I’ll pop the book in the mail today.


Serves 8
Dietary Vegan
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Soup
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
From book Meatless All Day


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups butternut squash (peeled and diced small)
  • 1 1/2 cup red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cup green bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/4 cup carrot (finely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup scallions, white, light green and couple of inches of darker green parts (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed (finely chopped)
  • 1 can 15 ounces pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can 15 ounces kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 grinds black pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cups strained canned tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • chopped cilantro (for serving)
  • sour cream (for serving)
  • shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (for serving)
  • diced avocado (for serving)
  • tortilla chips (for serving)


Step 1
Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the squash, onions, bell peppers, carrots, scallions, garlic and jalapenos. Saute until the onions are soft an the other vegetables are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
Step 2
Stir in the pinto beans, kidney beans, tomato paste, salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano and black pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes.
Step 3
Add the stock, tomatoes and lime juice, and simmer until the squash, and carrots are completely tender, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 16th, 2014

This lovely ham, with an orange-y juicey glaze is almost enough to get me to make a ham to feed the three people in my family. www.epicurious.com.
I’ve never served a ham — unless you count deli sandwiches — but I sure do like to eat it. With just two and a half diners at my house, there’s not much point in babying big old hunk of shank for hours … OK, now having said that, I actually want to …
But not this weekend. We’ll be at John’s folks’ farm for Easter Sunday. The big buffet table will be laden with Sarah’s cheesy potatoes, MIL’s potato salad, Aunt Linda’s lime Jel-lo garnished with shredded carrots (?!), and a huge jar of neon purple pickled eggs and beats.
I’ve always brought a fancied-up fruit salad and (more recently started to bring) an Asian noodle salad that has no business at an Easter table except for the fact that everyone loves it.
Anyway, my mother-in-law will serve up a huge ham to feed at least 15, with enough leftovers to send home with each family. I don’t know what she does to it, but it’s always tasty.
(The best part, aside from the taste, is watching my husband and his father try to figure out the electric knife. One of these years, someone’s going to get hurt.)
But if disaster struck, and I had to serve a ham myself, I’d try this orange-based spicy glaze from Epicurious.com.

Posted in: Uncategorized
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

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