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 December, 2010
Posted: December 28th, 2010

My supervisor and I were chatting yesterday and she mentioned she had a Foley Mill. It’s a food grinder you can find for about $30 at places like Amazon. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, so I’m thinking about getting a grinder attachment with a gift card I got for Christmas. Does anyone have a grinder and are willing to share some advice? What do you grind with it, and where you got yours?

I’m also eying a stock pot or a stove-top grill pan. I can’t figure out which of the three I want more.

I should probably just get some shoes. I really need them more than I do kitchen stuff. But to me shoes are much less interesting than kitchen stuff.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 27th, 2010

The Christmas Eve turkey fiasco, forcing us to gobble, gobble before 7 p.m. church, actually turned out OK. I got some extra meat and I’ll throw it into a pot of soup tonight.I always make my mom a jar of turkey soup fixings and give it to her so she can use up her Christmas turkey. I had some ingredients leftover — barley, split peas, rice, bouillon, dried onion flakes. I’ll just dump them in a pot.

My only real turkey regret was that I simply didn’t have time to boil the carcass. After a full day of cooking, I just ran out of steam. About 11 p.m., after removing the extra meat, I stared at it for a minute and then admitted defeat. There was no way I was staying up until 2 a.m. to make turkey stock. Wasn’t going to happen. I just said farewell to the carcass and moved on with my life. John and I finished our Santa duties and hit the sack, knowing we’d be awoken dark and early by a 5-year-old who wanted his new train.

(Come to think of it now, I should have just chucked the carcass in the freezer. Dag. I guess my brain was tired, too.)

This morning, I made my new favorite holiday leftover meal, layering turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing in one of those reusable plastic tubs. I did it after Thanksgiving and it was great to just pop the container into the nuker for a minute or so and dig in, like eating lasagna.

Of course, I left the container on the counter this morning instead of bringing it to work, but at least I tried. McDonald’s came through with a Southwest Salad, and there’s always tomorrow.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 24th, 2010

No, not you. I’m not calling you a turkey. I’m sarcastically greeting my turkey breast, sitting in ice cold water right now. See, the label said thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. I let it thaw 36 hours. Yeah, guess what? Still frozen. Huge chunks of ice in the cavity. So much for my slow cooker turkey. Now it has to sit in cold water and I have to change the water every 30 minutes, and I have to cook it in the oven and I am not happy about it.

Now, church starts in 45 minutes and the pies are still in the oven, because I had planned to have the turkey in the slow cooker and now I can’t put the turkey in until the pies are done, which is like 17 minutes from now.

I had a plan. It was scripted. It was doable. It was even flexible. But here I am.

It’s not the end of the world. I don’t really even know why I made a turkey. It’s just John, me and my son. We’re having a big turkey dinner tomorrow at my mom’s. But I wanted to try a breast in the slow cooker.


Well, it was an otherwise successful morning in the kitchen. I had some good luck with a couple of the dishes I’m making for my columns in January. Turkey and blue cheese meatballs: thumbs up, and the aforementioned apple pie, still in the oven. Stay tuned.

And merry Christmas. I mean it.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 22nd, 2010

I might have mentioned my family of three will be home Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year for the first time. I want to have something special for breakfast, but I don’t want a bunch of leftovers or hassle This looks like it will work. I have some precious pure maple syrup in the pantry that’s burning a hole in my pocket. I can’t wait to use it. The recipe comes highly rated from Allrecipes.com

French Toast Casserole


  • 5 cups bread cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter an 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and vanilla. pour egg mixture over bread. Dot with margarine; let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Bake in preheated oven about 45 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 21st, 2010

I’m looking for good homes for a few books. If you want one, enter the drawing by sending an e-mail to Jennie.geisler@timesnews.com and tell me your address and what book you want. Here’s what I got for ya:

“The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker,” by Roger Ebert, yes the film critic.

“Green Market Baking Book: 100 Delicious Recipes for Naturally Sweet and Savory Treats,” by Laura C. Martin

“Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants Directory”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 21st, 2010

I can’t wait for Friday. Not because of Santa, but because I’ll have an opportunity to cook with abandon.

A book came in the mail today that caught my eye. “The Crabby Cook,” by Jessica Harper is a blast, if my initial thumb-through is any indication. The first page I looked at included a funny story about a brother-in-law who wouldn’t like the recipe she shares for turkey burgers. On the next page was a funny story about a dog who ate Dad’s burrito, for which she then provides the recipe. When I turned to the third page, lights came down from heaven and angels sung: a turkey breast for a slow cooker.

Here it is. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic
1 turkey breast (4 or 5 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Pour the broth into your slow cooker. Add the celery, carrot, parsley and thyme. Lightly crush the garlic clove and add it to the slow cooker.
2. Rinse the turkey breast and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub it with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the turkey breast on top of the vegetables. Cover the cooker, turn the heat to high, and cook for 1 hour.
3. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 more hours.
4. Remove the turkey from the cooker, tent it with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Then slice and serve it with the pan juices and the vegetables.

– “The Crabby Cook,” by Jessica Harper

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 20th, 2010

I know, you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seats throughout my beef stew in the slow cooker drama. You can catch the exciting conclusion Wednesday in my Loaves & Dishes column in your Erie Times-News. Or you can just read it here.

Basically, I put the stew on for 4 hours on high instead of 8 hours on low. Came out a lot better. But there’s more. Check Wednesday for the full story.

I had some other thoughts that I didn’t have room to share in the paper. I think it would also work to cook the broth and vegetables all day and brown and cook the meat cubes in a pan on the stove just before dinner. Then stir them in. It’s worth a shot. To make the most of that flavor, you could deglaze the meat pan with some wine or broth scrape up the brown bits (fond) and add that mixture to the stew.

From what I can tell, the reason meet can get so dry in the slow cooker is that broth can actually draw liquid out of meat, as it often contains salt and vegetables that soak it up. For what it’s worth. I will continue my fight for the right to slow-cook successfully.

Meanwhile, I made those chocolate peppermint pinwheel cookies I put in the Sunday food page Sunday, Dec. 12. I don’t know if it was me or the recipe, but they were a pain in the patooty and didn’t come out all that well. They looked promising, but the cookie dough just didn’t cooperate. Maybe I over mixed it or something. If I had the energy to try them again, I would, but that’s not going to happen this week.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 17th, 2010

This past fall, I wrote a column about what I now call “the chili.” It’s a blend of 26 ingredients and simmered at least 2 hours. I wanted to make a batch over vacation, here. The only problem was that in the hours leading up to dinner, we weren’t going to be home. I needed a way to make it simmer while we were gone.

Maybe it’s common sense to you guys, but to me it was an epiphany. Make the chili hours earlier, when I had time, heat it all up in a pot on a stove. Once it was cooked I put it in the slow cooker on high. We went and did our thing and when we got back, it was fully simmered and not burned and completely safe.

Now, if I could just remember not to fill the Crock Pot too full, I wouldn’t have to spend 15 minutes cleaning chili juice off the counter, the cupboards and the floor.

Here’s the recipe for The Chili.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 14th, 2010

I refuse to give up on my Crock Pot. Many of you probably know I’m frustrated with the meat part. Like that meat turns to dust in my slow cooker.

But I’m not chucking it just yet. It’s still a great tool for using soups, and, I just found out, lasagna. Slow cooked lasagna recipes are everywhere it seems. I’ve seen them in magazines and newsletters from allrecipes.com and they have my attention. No, it’s not going to fit very well into the Weight Watchers PointsPlus system. But I’m on vacation, so I not only made it, I made garlic bread, too.

Two words of caution: It cooks in 4-6 hours on low, so it’s not something you can make before work and eat when you get home, assuming your shift is 8 hours long. But it’s good for part-timers and retirees, and weekend warriors.

The other thing is, as only I would forget, check your slow cooker’s settings. A friend of mine just gave me one she wasn’t using, and I failed to realize that it has a keep warm setting, meaning low is two clicks away from off. Details, details. It was on for four hours on keep warm before my husband noticed. We chucked it up to high for an hour and low for another hour. It came out beautifully. And the garlic bread kicked ace.

As for the recipe, it calls for mixing all the ingredients together. I did them in two sets of layers instead with the sausage on the bottom. If I make it again, I’ll put the sausage in the middle.

Here\’s the original

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 7th, 2010

For the first time in my life, I’ll not be at my Aunt Lorna’s for Christmas Eve this year. In fact, my husband, son and I will be spending a “quiet” evening at home after I get home from work that day. Entertaining a 5-year-old 12 hours before Christmas morning is going to prove a challenge.

It just dawned on me that I might want to have something special planned for dinner. Plus cookies for Santa. I think I might put a 6-pound chicken in the Crock Pot. Maybe heat up a store-bought ham, I don’t know. Any suggestions?

I don’t want to spend the night at the stove, but I don’t want to be eating frozen french fries, either.

If you have a simple holiday side-dish or entree recipe that might work, I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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