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
Archive for October, 2010
Posted: October 29th, 2010

I have two cookbooks to give away: “I Love Bacon,” by Jayne Rockmill; and “Love at First Bite,” by Gina Meyers, about food in the “Twilight.” If you want to enter a drawing, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@tmesnews.com. Please include your name, your book preference, and your street address. If you want to enter for both books, please send two separate e-mails. I’ll do the drawing on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 3.

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Posted: October 29th, 2010

I made a fruit salad to bring to work today, and I tried a few twists. My mom used to make melon-based fruit salads in the summer and citrus-based fruit salads in the winter. I’ve branched out, working with different combinations, but in keeping with her philosophy of using seasonal fruits with bright, contrasting colors.

For today’s soiree, was pondering what I’d use this time. I hit on pomegranates, mandarin oranges, green grapes, pineapple and apple chunks. I bought 2 mangoes, but I didn’t choose well and they were brown and gross tasting.

The apple chunks were an experiment. I chopped them up and doused them with lemon juice to prevent browning. No one is more surprised than I am that it worked.

The pomegranates were the stars of the show. They’re beautiful, tasty and seasonal. It’s a pain to remove those seeds from the pith and rind, but it was therapeutically mind numbing.

To release the ruby-colored seeds, score the rind, and float the whole fruit it in water for five or 10 minutes. Then gently work the sections apart, coaxing the seeds out. They’ll fall to the bottom of the water and the rind will float. Scoop out the pith and rind with a slotted spoon, and drain the seeds through a strainer.

I added the seeds in two layers between the other fruit and it made a pretty presentation, visible through the sides of a glass bowl. I covered the top of the salad in a thick layer of the seeds, and scattered a few green grapes on top. Great for red and green food at Christmas.

The seeds were a little crunchy, but not so much as to take away from they’re sweetness, in my opinion.

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Posted: October 28th, 2010

I have a circle of recipe-sharing friends who love to bring stuff to parties. Some of the recipes we make to bring are shared and tweaked by all of us. We’re like a small party-food cult with an arsenal of dips including Buffalo Wing Dip, Asiago Cheese Dip (fallen out of favor of late — not sure why), guacamole, salsa made with Mrs. Wages salsa mix, and a special fall favorite I call The Pumpkin Dip.

Of course, we each have our own tweaks, more white pepper from one, more sugar from another. In my mind, no fall gathering is complete without somebody’s version. Jule Gardner, the queen of the pumpkin dip actually modified a 2005 recipe of mine into an inspired version that blows the original away. We all do it like she does now. If you’re looking for something simple and delicious and homemade and quick as a whip, try this. I’m betting it will become your fall party go-to.

You can serve The Pumpkin Dip with ginger snaps, graham crackers, even pretzels. But Jule, and now all of us, get miniature raisin bagels, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over top. Cut them into quarters (with a serrated knife or scissors) and toast them in a toaster oven or in a regular oven on 350, just until they’re lightly browned.

If you try it, let me know how you liked it.

The Pumpkin Dip

1 (8-ounce) brick of cream cheese

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

At least a cup of powdered sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then beat in the pumpkin. Stir in the sugar and the spices.

2. That’s it.

3. Yes. That’s it.

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Posted: October 26th, 2010

I made the candied apples. I also made a candied sauce pot, candied pastry brush, candied spoon, and candied spoon rest. That said, the apples look good. They’re aren’t carnival perfect, but they’re shiny. I guess the candy will come off the other stuff. Hot water seemed to help.

I didn’t eat one yet. I’m planning to take them to my son’s daycare and give them as treats. But I pried enough of the hard candy off the utensils to try, and it was yummy and cinnamon-ny.

Of course, I thought I bought plastic treat bags. Turns out I got “pretzel bags,” which are long and skinny and, well, useless. Unless I make candied pretzels, which don’t really sound that good.

Anyway, I want to push my new favorite quick bread. Ginger and Carrot bread, has a nice bite and mucho nutrition-o. The bread is bright orange-ish yellow, which makes it vaguely seasonal. It’s from Martha Stewart, but I don’t hold that against it.

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Posted: October 25th, 2010

I’m going home to make candied apples tonight (or maybe tomorrow night). I’ve never made them and I can’t remember the last time I had them. Of course, in my world, that’s all part of the appeal. I’m not sure how my interest in this came about. But now I’m committed.

My recipe, from allrecipes.com, seems pretty simple. Just wondering if anyone has any advice before I proceed. Or if you just want to wish me luck.

Candied Apples

1 2/3 cups cinnamon red hot candies
2 tablespoons water
12 apples
Insert craft sticks into apples. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, pour candies and water. Occasionally brushing down sides of pan with a heat-resistant pastry brush, heat candy to 300 to 310 degrees, or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms hard, brittle threads. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Dip apples in hot liquid and place on waxed paper to harden.
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Posted: October 21st, 2010

Hey, Loaves & Dishes lovers. Two things:

First, about the free books, if you want one of the books I’m giving away, please send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com and include the book you want and your home address, so I can send it to you if you win. I know it’s easier to just hit reply to this, but I’m guessing you don’t want your home address on a blog that’s accessible to the entire world.

I’m currently accepting entries for “I Love You Like a Tomato,” a novel; and “The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book.” I’ll take entries until Friday at 5 p.m.

Second, I’d love to hear about your go-to recipe when you’re asked to bring something to a party. If it’s a classic that everyone asks for, or a simple one you get done fast, or just your personal favorite. As we go into the holiday party season, I’m looking for new ideas to write about in my newspaper column.

I’ll go first: My sister-in-law loves my cranberry chutney. It’s served over cream cheese and spread on crackers, or just passed at the table by itself. I wrote about it in Loaves & Dishes a few years ago.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup peeled, diced apple
1/4 teaspoon each allspice, ginger, cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Add rest of the ingredients, return to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Pour into a medium glass mixing bowl. Place piece of plastic wrap directly on sauce.
4. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend.
5. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 2 1/2 cups

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Posted: October 20th, 2010

John and I went without cold cereal for breakfast for years. He ate a light English muffin sandwich with egg substitute and cheese. I ate oatmeal or a Burger King sandwich that wasn’t too much in WW points.

At some point, we made it back to breakfast cereal. Frankly, though I love to eat cereal, the reason I didn’t eat it for so long (besides its cost) was that it’s a big carb hit that makes me crash and feel hungry by 10 a.m. But it’s just too hard to resist some days.

I’m trying to get back to oatmeal (old-fashioned, not that instant mush). It doesn’t really take that much more time, just three minutes in the microwave.

Besides this, I want to try Cream of Wheat again. I loved that as a kid. Also, Martha Stewart Living grabbed my attention this week with a newsletter post for English Muffin with Apple and Cheddar.

Oh, my goodness that sounds good. I’m planning to try it as soon as I’m out of Golden Grahams.

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Posted: October 19th, 2010

My son, 5, discovered my small pruner while watching me use it last weekend. I let him cut a few things down, like old flower stocks on the hastas.

Then he became obsessed, and I had to become obsessed about watching him. He used it with two hands, one on each handle. I decided to send him over to the herbs, which needed harvesting anyway. We cut all the nice looking ones down and brought them inside.

For the first time I decided I was actually going to do what I’ve been talking about for years, and that’s dry all the herbs and fill jars to give away at Christmas.

I’ve said it before, but this time I actually bought some jars. I got some super cute ones at Crate and Barrel, with the metal sealing clamp thingy. They weren’t cheap, but I didn’t have to be buy that many.

I also bought some brown lunch bags to store the herbs until they’re dried. I’ll poke some holes in the bags and tuck them into a dry place — where I’ll forget them until Easter.

Just kidding.

I’ll buy some blank, pretty labels, some ribbon, and, well, I hope it’s cool.

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Posted: October 19th, 2010

Yesterday, I sent out a call for entries into a book drawing for a book called “I Love You Like A Tomato,” by Marie Giordano.

I still have too many books, so I’m offering another one at the same time. It’s called “The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book:{ 20 Years of Food, Family and Friends,” by Lovina Eicher and Kevin Williams.

Please, when you enter, let me know whether you want the “Tomato” book or the “Amish” book. If you want to enter both, send me two e-mails. Thanks.

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Posted: October 18th, 2010

Kathie Massello won the “Easy Canning & Preserving” book this week. It’s in the mail.

I still have a stack of books left. Drop me an e-mail if you want a copy of “Love You Like a Tomato,” a novel by Marie Giordano.

If I get an e-mail from you by Friday at 5 p.m., you’re in the drawing. Mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

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