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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Archive for August, 2010
Posted: August 10th, 2010

OK. OK. OK, already. Nobody likes beets. Fine.

When I cook for my column, I cook and home and take the stuff to the office to have it photographed. Then my coworkers and I eat it. We critique it and then polish it off.

Sometimes, I come in with a clunker.

Roasted Beet Salad with Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette had square wheels.

Only three people even tasted it, and only one claimed to enjoy it. That person was resoundingly drowned out by complaints, wrinkled noses, strange looks and one gentle “It was fine.”

As I’ve written in this space before, I’m not beets’ biggest fan, either. But, as I’ve written, they’re in the garden. So, when I saw this recipe, I figured if you ROASTED beets, added feta CHEESE and WALNUTS and dressed the whole thing in a SPICY, tangy dressing they might just skirt the outside of EDIBLE.

And, in my opinion, the experiment worked out pretty well.  But my colleagues recoiled en masse.  I’ve discovered that if you say the word “beets,” you’ve already lost 80 percent of your intended audience.  I don’t think it would have mattered if I’d turned them into chocolate.

So, to keep it alive for a cyber second, I’ll share the recipe here instead. Maybe it will find someone else who has beets in their garden and a sense of adventure.

10 small red and/or golden beets
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon original Tabasco® brand pepper sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups baby lettuce greens, frisée or arugula
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Cut off tops of beets; place beets on large sheet of foil on baking sheet. Close foil to seal tightly. Roast beets 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven; let beets steam for 10 minutes. Open pouch; cool beets.
Combine orange juice, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, honey and salt in small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until blended.

Remove skins from beets, when cool enough to handle, and cut into wedges. Toss beets with half of vinaigrette. Let stand 10 minutes to marinate.

Toss greens with remaining vinaigrette to serve. Place on serving platter. Top with beets; sprinkle with walnuts and crumbled cheese.
Serves 6.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 9th, 2010

I planted 9 pepper plants, thinking I had 4 bell peppers, a poblano and 2 jalapenos. (I lost 2 plants, the runts of the litter.) Back in June, I gave my mom 4 plants to put in her community garden plot.

My peppers are now growing like crazy — all 6 green bell peppers and 1 poblano. My mom’s peppers are growing like crazy, too. She has four jalapeno plants. Mom doesn’t use jalapenos for anything. Apparently, I got the plants mixed up.

Well, I’ts too late now. I had to use up 8 gazillion green peppers Sunday, or I was going to lose them. I pulled a recipe for stuffed peppers from www.allrecipes.com, which I adapted and doubled. I have filling leftover, but the peppers are still coming, so it won’t wait long.

In the past, I’ve made stuffed peppers with the plain tomato sauce recipes call for, but they were terribly bland. This time I cheated with a jar of chunky garden Prego and some garlic and basil. Good reviews from husband.

By the way, we left out the cheese so our milk-allergic son could eat it. Hubby and I just used grated parmesan at the table.


  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar chunky garden Prego
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh snipped basil
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. Combine rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Cut tops off peppers, seed insides, and arrange peppers in a large baking dish. Chop usable portion of the tops.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chopped peppers and onions in oil until soft. Stir in lean ground beef. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Mix in cooked rice and half the jar of sauce. Season to taste with parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the peppers, and top each with remaining tomato sauce.
  5. Cover, and bake about 45 minutes.
    – adapted from www.allrecipes.com
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 8th, 2010

My son’s cousin (his best friend), is six weeks older than he is. Her birthday party is Sunday (8/8). He can’t have milk, and the craft of the party is having the kids decorate cupcakes. This was a disaster waiting to happen. But the Internet saved me. It took about 3 seconds to find a vegan white cake recipe, and 4 seconds to find a vegan white frosting recipe. I even found confetti candies to make them look just like the ones the other kids will be decorating.

My brother (dad of birthday girl) was planning confetti cake. He asked what he could do to accommodate my son’s allergy, but there was no need. Just whipped up the Internet recipe, added confetti pieces, beat confectioners sugar into frosting and we’re home free. The whole project took about 30 minutes. I feel like a genius.

Feel free to pass this around to interested friends. On one condition: You have to make them, visit my blog. Just kidding, sort of.

To share in my success visit here

For the icing on the cake, click here

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 5th, 2010

I didn’t grow any cucumbers. I didn’t think I had room for any vining plants. That turns out to be a big mistake, because fellow gardeners are raving about it being a great year for overgrown pickles. My mother-in-law tried to get me to make room for cukes, but I didn’t want to get in over my head in my first season. She makes a killer cucumber and onion salad, but she just kind of throws things in, and I wouldn’t have a chance at estimating the portions she knows by heart.

For those my fellow cucumber-lovers, here’s a good way to use them. The recipe was written by Jane Snow, a food newsletter writer in Akron, Ohio. If you like my stuff, you’ll love hers. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

She wrote the following recipe. Try it and watch that cucumber pile dwindle in a delicious, memorable way.

Asian Cucumber Salad
2 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup thin-sliced onion (a halved onion sliced lengthwise)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (nam pla)
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
Coarse sea salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, to allow flavors to blend. Makes about 6 servings.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 4th, 2010

You can’t walk through the supermarket without seeing 300 gazillion products touting their whole-grain ingredients. I guess this is a good thing. It reminds me a little of the anti-fat craze in the 1980s and the anti-carb craze of the 1990s. But whatever. I buy the whole-grain stuff too. Sometimes I wondering just how they get whole grains into a saltine cracker, but I figure it can’t do any harm.

The whole-grain craze all started five years ago, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new food pyramid touted the nutritional value of whole grains.

It seems to be working. Whole-grain bread has overtaken white bread in sales dollars, according to a study by Nielsen Co., released in July.

To get in on the action, you can make whole-wheat bread at home, trouncing the higher price of store-bought bread. It’s easier to make in a bread machine, but it’s not necessary. For handmade bread advice, visit King Arthur Flour’s recipe here.

Classic 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups 100 percent whole-wheat flour.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Combine all ingredients in a bread maker in order suggested by the machine’s manufacturer. You basically want to keep the yeast away from the salt.

    – adapted from KingArthurFlour.com

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: August 3rd, 2010

    Blog readers: I’m giving away free stuff.

    Now that I have your attention: Publishers of new cookbooks and diet books frequently send me free copies of their books to review. I can’t possibly read them all, and they tend to pile up on my desk. I want them off my desk and into the hands of people who really want them, so once a week, I’m going to offer up one book. If you want it, send an e-mail to me with your name, address and phone number. I’ll draw a winner on Monday at 9 a.m., and mail the book.

    Send that e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

    On top of the stack is “The Carb Lovers Diet: Eat What You Love, Get Slim For Life,” by Ellen Kunes, editor in chief of Health magazine, and Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian.

    I have no idea if this diet will work, and I’m not in any way accountable for the accounts and descriptions you’ll find in this book. I just want someone who wants it to have it.

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: August 2nd, 2010

    This is really cool. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sent a food writer to Erie, and she wrote a long, complimentary story about the variety of dining options we have. They mention Bertrand’s Bistro, 1201 Kitchen, Brewerie, Khao Thai, Erie Brewing Co., Three B Saloon and Pulakos 926 Chocolates.

    She even included a lengthy list of other stuff to do in our fair city. I hope this makes you as proud as it does me. It’s nice to have a big-time reporter actually take some time to learn about Erie before dismissing it as another dingy notch on the Rust Belt.

    To get a full serving of the story, Read this

    Khao Thai, Erie’s first and only Thai restauran

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: August 2nd, 2010

    I’m terrible at planning my workday lunches. I give it about 5 seconds of thought, before blowing it off because I can just get a McDonald’s salad across the street from the ETN building.

    Tragically, that McDonald’s has been razed. We’ve been assured it will be reconstructed and open this fall. Until then, we’re all looking out the window, waiting to see how it’s coming. (It’s not. At least that’s what it looks like from here) leaving me flapping in the wind.

    Over the years, I’ve tried salads from billions of fast food restaurants. For now, I’ve been forced to revisit those options. As far as nutritional numbers go, some are surprisingly good. And some are surprisingly bad.

    WebMD recently listed what it considers the 10 best and 10 worst fast-food salads. Here I list three good ones and three bad ones you can find around here. Find the entire list here.


    1. Taco Bell Chicken Ranch Taco Salad (Fresco Style). This salad has 240 calories, 6 grams total fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1,110 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber, and 23 grams protein. Ingredients: beans, fiesta salsa, lettuce, rice, southwest chicken, tomato.

    2. Taco Bell Chipotle Steak Taco Salad (Fresco Style): 220 calories; 7g total fat; 2g saturated fat; 960 mg sodium; 6g fiber; 41g protein. Ingredients: beans, fiesta salsa, lettuce, rice, steak, tomato.

    3. McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (with 1/2 packet Southwest dressing): 370 calories; 12g total fat; 3.5g saturated fat; 1,130 mg sodium; 6g fiber; 30g protein. Ingredients: Mixed greens, oven-roasted tomatoes, fire-roasted corn, black beans, poblano peppers, cheddar & jack cheeses, and tortilla strips.


    1. Wendy’s Chicken BLT Salad (with Honey Dijon dressing): 790 calories; 53.5g total fat; 13.5g saturated fat; 1,665 mg sodium; 3g fiber; 38g protein. Ingredients: Salad greens, fried chicken filet, grape tomatoes, bacon, shredded cheddar, garlic croutons.

    2. Arby’s Chopped Farmhouse Chicken Salad, Crispy (with Buttermilk Ranch dressing): 670 calories; 48g total fat; 12.5g saturated fat; 1,470 mg sodium; 4g fiber; 33g protein. Ingredients: Salad greens, popcorn chicken, pepper bacon, cheddar cheese.

    3. Taco Bell Chipotle Steak Taco Salad: 900 calories, 57g fat, 11g saturated fat, 1,700 mg sodium, 8g fiber, 28g protein. Ingredients: crispy tortilla “bowl,” steak, beans, cheddar, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, tortilla strips, reduced-fat sour cream, chipotle dressing.

    Posted in: Uncategorized