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 November, 2010
Posted: November 30th, 2010

Here’s your book drawing for this week.

Send me an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com if you want to enter to win one of the books. Include your name and street address and the title of the book you want.

This week, we have
“The Pot and How to Use It,” by Roger Ebert. yes, the film critic. It’s about rice cookers.

“The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free: Cakes, Cookies, Brownies, Bundts and Bars,” by Anne Byrn.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 30th, 2010

I don’t know about the whole Crock Pot thing. I’ve been doing it now and again for years. I’ve had mixed results and I’m getting a little frustrated. Some stuff comes out really well, but other stuff, especially meat dishes come out, somehow, dry. I recently had a hard time with an otherwise tasty beef stew in which the beef itself had the texture of sawdust. I don’t know if the sauce and gravy pulls the liquid out of the machine, or what.

I was wondering if meat cooked on the bone would come out better, so I experimented yesterday with a McCormick mix for Italian Herb Chicken. It called for chicken pieces, so I got a fryer that had been cut up into legs, breasts and thighs.

The meat was a little better. The real problem was the bones and other refuse from the fryer carcass junked up the sauce and you had to be careful what was in the bite you were taking. I’m pretty sure that boneless, skinless chicken breast would be reduced to dust.

I’m going to try using a steak on the bone for the stew again and see if that comes out any better.

The reason I’m so obsessed with the bone is that one of my real successes was a BBQ’d bone-in pork shoulder worked like magic this past summer, and I’m trying to figure out what made the difference.

If you have suggestions for cooking meat in a Crock Pot, I’m all ears.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 24th, 2010

First off, I’d love for you to come try out the new Erie Times-News recipe library. You can log on and find my recipes, from here on out, as well as Rhonda Schember’s, Marnie Mead Oberle’s and recipes that appear in the monthly women’s magazine Her Times that appears once a month in our Sunday paper. You can upload your own recipes, as well as photos, for your friends and family.

To find the library, visit www.goerie.com/food and scroll down until you see the Recipe Database header. The first time you go, you’ll fill out a short registration form and assign your username and password. Then upload by following the directions on the right side of the page.

We want you to be a part of this feature that will only get better the more we all use it.

Also, just when I thought I’d read all there was to read about turkeys, a colleague of mine sends me this funny turkey story. It takes you on a quick trip through turkey history from turkeys circa 1700 and the turkeys we eat today — and how they’re bred. Read up and impress your friends and family at dinner tomorrow with all your new-found knowledge.

While you’re trying to figure out what to do with all that turkey on Friday, take a gander at this promising recipe from Recipes Du Jour:

Turkey Potpie with Biscuit Crust

1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover turkey meat
1/2 cooked sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups turkey gravy
1 17.3-ounce package refrigerated corn biscuits

Heat oven to 350F. In a 2-quart baking dish, combine the turkey, sweet
potato, zucchini, carrot, scallions, thyme, salt, and a few grinds of
pepper and toss well. Pour the gravy on top. Bake in the oven,
uncovered, for 25 minutes. Gently roll out 4 biscuits individually and
overlap them to make a crust that will cover the baking dish. Bake until
the top is golden brown, about 15 more minutes. Serves 4


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 23rd, 2010

My mom brings fruit salads to everything. In summer, she makes them with melon, in the winter she uses citrus. She uses a melon baller in the summer, making perfect, luscious orbs of green, orange and red. She throws in grapes and something seasonal, such as strawberries or blueberries and layers it with kiwi.

In the winter, she uses all edible citrus the store has to offer and, most importantly, maraschino cherries.

The more maraschino cherries I get in my serving, the happier I am. She won’t let me pick them all out of the salad bowl, so I’m skilled at catching as many as I can in one scoop.

When my husband and I started dating, I met his parents at a picnic, so I went with Mom’s fruit salad. When I got there, they asked me what I had and I said “I don’t cook, but I make a h-eck of a fruit salad.” I had barely escaped saying the real h-word, but it was blatantly obvious what had happened, and everyone laughed.

That picnic was in 1996. For our 2001 wedding, John’s aunt gave me a beautiful glass bowl with carved and painted fruit along the outside edge, and I am still bringing my “heck of a good fruit salad” to family gatherings.

These days, I try to include at least one surprise ingredient. Recently, I made one studded with ruby red pomegranate seeds. I’ve also used mint, honey, coconut, mango, apples and pears doused in lemon juice (they don’t turn brown), bing cherries (pitted), raspberries (too squishy and they dyed everything purple).

This year I’m doing navel oranges, red grapefruit, tangerines, clementines, mandarin oranges, pineapple and, of course, maraschino cherries. If you don’t like them, pick them out and give them to me.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 22nd, 2010

Hey, there. It’s time for another free book drawing. I have copies of “Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun with Food,” by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen, with Carisa Dixon.

Also, I have a sweet little tome called “Simple Comforts: 50 Heartwarming Recipes,” by Sur La Table. Love it.

To enter the drawing, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your street address and tell me which book you want.

I cooked a bunch of stuff this weekend, including Green Beans with Sage and Hazlenuts, from www.epicurious.com.

It called for fresh sage, to be blackened, but I only had dried on hand. I put a bunch of it in with the oil to infuse the flavor, but I didn’t get to try the blackening process. Oh, well. The beans were good. I used the ones I grew and froze over the summer. They were a little soggy, so I put them in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes after they thawed in the microwave.

Here’s the recipe as I made it.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rubbed dried sage
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Heat butter and oil, then cook sage until you can smell it, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add beans and salt; toss to coat. Carefully add 1 cup water. Steam until beans are fork-tender and most of the water has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle hazelnuts on top and serve.
  • Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: November 19th, 2010

    Not too long ago, I talked about using almond milk to make potato soup, so my cow’s-milk-allergic son could eat it. Of course, he refused to even try it, but John and I liked it. I’d never used almond milk before and didn’t really know anything about it.

    Turns out Roseanne Cheeseman, the Erie Times-News publisher, saw the post and recommended that I make my own almond milk, saying it was easy and tastes better than the store-bought kind.

    Well, I have all the stuff now and I’m looking forward to going home and giving it a shot. She said all I need are a cup of raw/unroasted almonds, some water and a strainer. She said the soak the almonds in the water 4-5 hours or overnight, blend with 4 cups of chilled water for a minute and strain out the almond pulp.

    She said to use the almond pulp in baking or cereal, and to sweeten the milk, blend it with a few soaked dates, but she doesn’t need to.

    I was in Wegmans last night and they had all kinds of nuts in bulk in the produce section, including hazelnuts which I needed for something else. I scooped some up and cracked them open last night. While that’s my idea of a good time, I suggest you just buy them already out of the shells. I’m going to soak the nuts tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    By the way, I’m looking for a few good cookie recipes for a story we’re running Dec. 12. Send me some and give us a little story to go with them and I’ll be forever grateful. If you send a recipe and give me your home address, I’ll send you a free etn&Friends cookbook.

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: November 18th, 2010

    I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that weeknight dinners turn into more of a chore this time of year. I feel like everything is a rush and it seems so much easier to grab takeout.

    The thing is, takeout really ISN’T any easier. By the time I order, pickup, pay and drive home, I might have just cooked some pork chops and steamed some broccoli. That would have cost half the price and half the calories without an extra trip. It’s even worse going out to eat, where I’m at the mercy of the menu, the service and my child’s attention span.

    The other night, I threw my hands up and made a frittata. I beat a dozen eggs with shredded cheddar and some chopped whatever out of the salad drawer. I think it was green and red bell peppers, onions, garlic, and something else. I poured it all into my large saute pan and cooked it about 10 to 15 minutes over low heat until it was almost cooked through, and cooked the op under the broiler. Everyone got their own toast, and I think it came out to like $2 a person.

    I lingered at the table with a Diet Coke while J.R. emptied his train box in the kitchen. I felt like a genius.

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: November 16th, 2010

    Dear readers, I’m sorry. I’ve neglected you terribly. I took some time off and got in over my head in a home improvement project. Now I’m back at work with minor cuts and bruises, but a changed woman. Sorting and storing and throwing away can be a cathartic experience. I found it impossible to avoid introspection as I vacuum-packed my summer blouses, weeded out the sweaters and made tough decisions on pictures and tchochke. I also found that painting is not my strong suit.

    It was a relief each night to get out of my head and into the kitchen. One night I brought back a classic Loaves recipe from 2002, and it was just as good as I remember. It’s one of few dishes for me in which mushrooms actually add to the appeal. Usually, I’m picking them out and pushing them to the side of the plate. Anyway, if you’re a mushroom fan, you’ll love this and if you’re not, it might inspire some respect for the fungi.

    Spicy Sausage, Barley and Mushroom Stew

    2 teaspoons olive oil

    2 cups thinly sliced onion

    8 ounces spicy turkey Italian sausage

    1 cup chopped celery

    1 cup chopped carrot

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1 bay leaf

    5 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 1/2 pound)

    11/2 cups chopped portobello mushrooms

    1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley

    3 (15.75-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

    2 tablespoons brandy

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

    1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until slightly soft. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 8 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring to crumble. Add celery, carrot, garlic and bay leaf; cook 10 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the mushrooms; cook 10 minutes or so until mushrooms release moisture.

    2. Stir in barley, chicken broth, brandy, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until barley is tender. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

    Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 95 minutes.

    Makes 6 (1-cup) servings.

    –Per serving: 215 calories, 7.2 grams fat, (2 grams saturated fat), 13.3 grams protein, 23.4 grams carbohydrates, 4.7 grams fiber, 27 milligrams cholesterol, 527 milligrams sodium.

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: November 10th, 2010

    Has anyone tried any of the self-checkout aisles? I know they have them in Tops on West 26th Street and Lowes. I use them when I only have a couple of items. But they aren’t really any faster than regular checkout, especially when I wind up having to wait for a clerk to help me get out of a computer jam. I think the machines are going to have to get a lot better before I’ll use them regularly. Apparently more and more stores are using them, according to a Washington Post story today.

    I’ll be off for a few days, back in the office Tuesday, Nov. 16. I’ll be trying some recipes and fun stuff. I’ll try to post here and there, but I have a big project in cleaning out my bedroom, painting and putting up new curtains. Wish me luck.

    Posted in: Uncategorized
    Posted: November 9th, 2010

    Last night I went way out on a limb — and didn’t fall off.

    A WebMD recipe for Baked Potato Soup showed up in my inbox yesterday. I don’t usually try recipes on weeknights, but I had some time and I had three meals’ worth of leftovers in the fridge. If I tried this and failed, at least we’d have something to eat.

    In our last visit to my son’s allergist (he’s highly sensitive to cows’ milk), I told her I give him soy milk. She also suggested almond and rice milk.

    I always feel guilty when I make food that J.R. can’t eat. I don’t know why. He won’t eat anything I make anyway. But I was in the store for potato soup ingredients, and there was the almond milk.

    I got some as an experiment. I tried the milk by itself, and it tasted, well, like liquid almonds. Not so bad, actually. I was worried about making the soup with it, but it turned out great. It didn’t taste any different than if I’d made it with cow’s milk.

    Of course, J.R. wouldn’t eat it, but my husband and I went to town. He drank the last of the almond milk this morning.


    2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3 large), peeled

    2/3 cup all-purpose flour

    4 cups almond milk

    2 cups water

    1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

    1 cup sour cream and 1 cup cheddar cheese for stirring in
    1. Chop potatoes into large dice and microwave on high in a glass bowl 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, but not falling apart. Coarsely mash (with potato smasher, or on low with a stand mixer).
    2. Put flour into a large saucepan over medium high heat; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended to avoid lumps.
    3. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes). Add potatoes, salt, and pepper and heat through.
    4. Remove servings for dairy-free soup.
    5. Stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1 cups shredded cheddar cheese until well combined and melted, returning to heat if necessary.
    6. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese and bacon.

    Makes 8 servings

    Almonds are thought to be the most nutritious nut, a very good source of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats that fight cholesterol. They also contain fiber and are thought to help you lose weight more quickly than a diet based on complex carbs and they’re effective in helping diabetics get off medication.

    So drink up.

    Posted in: Uncategorized