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 March, 2011
Posted: March 30th, 2011

Grilled Salmon With Lime Butter Sauce from Epicurious will help you get your 8 ounces of fish.

I hate it when chefs say something is “easy.” That just makes me feel even dumber when I screw it up.
For instance, I recently had a chef describe how to cut up a mango. He used the word “simple” three or four times. I got lost somewhere around “make a diamond shape at 10 of 2 and (then do something and then) just turn the skin inside out.”
Clearly, I am not a chef, but I can honestly tell you that fish is indeed very easy. You can make it hard, if you want. But most fish is pretty happy with a touch of butter/oil and/or lemon/lime, sitting under the broiler for 8 minutes or so and — that’s it.
I bring this up because, according to the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should eat 8 ounces of fish a week. That’s about two servings — way more than I eat. Grilled Salmon with Lime Butter Sauce sounds like a promising start.
If you don’t have your grill fired up yet this year, the broiler will work just fine.
Speaking of the broiler, I’m sick of scrubbing my baking sheets and I’ve started putting everything on foil. At the end of my life, I will want back all the time I spent scraping at obsidian with my thumbnail.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 29th, 2011

This recipe comes highly rated from a highly rated source. Former Features editor and forever foodie Jeff Hileman said I should write about this. I’ve done a vodka tomato sauce recipe with Food Reader Group member Kate Edgett in 2007, but that’s absolutely no reason not to try another one. I’m of the opinion that you can’t have too many recipes for Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce.
I don’t remember Kate’s being too very much spicy, since she has six kids. Jeff, on the other hand, likes his food to stand up for itself.
I too very much want to try this very much soon. I have no idea why I’m writing like this. But it sounds funny to me, so I’m going with it. Very much.
Try this and let me know what you think.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 28th, 2011

My husband's birthday made for a few adventures in the kitchen.

For those who read Friday, the cake came out OK, but it was no, er, piece of cake. I’ve made a few layer cakes in my life, and I always wait just long enough to forget what a pain in the neck they are before I try one again.
As always, it was dicey at first. Both layers got stuck in their nonstick pans and finally fell out looking a bit worse for wear. But the frosting went on — painstakingly — and covered up most of the sins. There were a few crumbs caught in it, but the cake itself was tasty, and on the whole, it looked like a self-respecting layer cake made by an amateur. Its flaws, my husband said, lovingly, made it look “homemade.”
Of course I made it dairy free for my son, who chose not to eat it. He had an ice cream sandwich instead. His loss. And my gain.

For lunch, I made the birthday boy a simple rendition of John’s favorite foods: Cheese and cheese. The recipe can be traced back to co-worker Jade Connors. It’s pretty simple:
Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 cans Campbell’s Fiesta nacho soup (which we can only find at super Walmarts)
3 cans skim milk
1 jar salsa con queso
3 10-ounce cans chicken
Tortilla chips for serving
Like Jade, I put it in the Crock Pot about 10 a.m., before I left to get my hair cut. (Hair cuts for me are a four-hour affair, because I drive nearly an hour to my hometown to have it cut by the lady who cut it for me in high school. Then I have lunch with my parents, spend an hour in the chair and drive back.)
The birthday boy was going to have to eat before I got through with all that, and I figured the soup would be hot right about noon.
For some reason, John did not immediately like the soup. I guess it was too thin when he served it. By the time I got home, though, it was wonderfully thick and perfectly spicy. As it cooled further it became an addictive dip. It reminded me of that dip you get by melting Velveeta with a can of Rotel tomatoes. But it was better because of the chicken.
It’s not a nutritional powerhouse, I’ll admit. But perfect for a mid-day birthday indulgence. His dinner was a simple strip steak (with Montreal Steak Seasoning) and Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 25th, 2011

Strawberry Cake from allrecipes.com will, with any luck, tame my husband's craving for at least a few minutes.

My husband has a problem with strawberries. You can slap the word strawberry on anything and he’d eat it.
His birthday is tomorrow, and I bet you can guess what kind of cake he wants. Yeah. Strawberry. With strawberry ice cream. Topped with sliced strawberries. Served in a bowl made of dried strawberries.
OK, I made the last one up. But if it existed, he’d eat it.
I’ve had mixed results making cake from scratch, so I’m doing it early tomorrow morning, so if I have to I still have time to go to Plan B: Duncan Hines.
Here’s my starting point, from Allrecipes.com.
But there’s another wrinkle, and it’s not unreasonable: He wants it to be dairy free so our kid can eat it. Good sentiment. So I’ll replace the milk in the cake with soy milk, the butter with Crisco and 2 tablespoons water, and make vegan “cream cheese” frosting.

Wish me luck.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 24th, 2011

Edamame comes shelled, like this, or still in its shell, looking like sugar snap peas.

I’m looking for something to eat that I love but won’t kill me. This qualifies. Edamame is Japanese for soy beans cooked in the pod. It rocks in the nutrition category, providing lean protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals.
If you like spicy food, hit this with a few shakes of Tabasco or a squirt of Asian hot sauce Sriracha (which you can find with the other hot sauces in the grocery store).
Tahini is in the grocery store, too. It’s paste made with sesame seeds, much like peanut butter without the sugar. It’s what gives hummus its distinctive flavor.

Edamame Dip with Pita Crisps
6 (6-inch) pitas, split in half horizontally, cut into triangles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups edamame, frozen, shelled if you can find it
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup parsley leaves
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange pita halves in a single layer on baking sheet. Add olive oil, garlic and salt, and toss well. Bake 7 minutes and check to see if they’re crisp. Be careful. They’ll go from crisp to burnt in no time at all. Cool completely on wire rack.
3. If the edamame is still in its shell, take them out. Cook it according to package instructions, omitting salt. Place 1 tablespoon of the oil, as well as the salt, cumin, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times or until coarsely chopped. Add edamame, parsley, tahini, water, and lemon juice; process 1 minutes or until smooth. Spoon hummus into serving bowl and serve with chips.
– www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 23rd, 2011

Easy Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas

Easy Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas from Food Network was a top pick off my new favorite food app.

If what follows is gibberish to you, rest assured I’ll return to speaking English in my next post:

For Christmas, my husband and I ditched our ridiculously outdated cellphones for super-fancy smart phones. They let us use the Internet and oodles of little programs called “apps.” You wouldn’t believe some of the apps that are out there: I have one that makes the camera flash into a flashlight. I have Connect Four, solitaire, Finger Bowling, Paper Toss and a slash and smash game called Fruit Ninja. There are others with more useful purposes, such as photo editing and sharing and finding restaurants.

I also have food-related apps. One is a recipe database from Epicurious and another “Recipe Search” from overtheoven.com. I also have an app called “Our Groceries” on which John and I can both add items to a master shopping list that I can sync before going into the store. This is a big improvement over the wrinkly, illegible paper ones that I invariably left sitting on the counter on my way out the door.

Other food websites have apps, such as Allrecipes and the Food Network, but the Allrecipes one is for iPhones only, and I have an Android phone. The Food Network one costs money and gets mediocre reviews, so I haven’t ponied up the $1.99 just yet.

The Epicurious one is fabulous. It’s free and lets you search thousands of recipes with narrowing terms, such as “pork” and “maple,” and “dinner,” etc., till you get down to a few that meet your criteria.

The overtheoven.com app offers simpler recipes and seems to have a bigger database, but it doesn’t have as good a search tool as Epicurious.

I just this second downloaded What’s for Dinner Lite, a free version of a fancier one you have to pay for. This one searches other websites, such as Epicurious, Food Network, AllRecipes and MyRecipes, and lets you enter your own recipes and create shopping lists.

Here’s a recipe I got from searching on What’s For Dinner for “chicken” and “cheese.”

It’s for Easy Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 22nd, 2011
Maple Cookies

Maple Cookies are another great use of real maple syrup.

My son, 5, loves to bake with me. And I love to bake with him. He knows how to measure flour into a cup and scrape it off. He likes to crack the eggs and turn on the mixer. He’s messy, but he’s learning stuff, so I let it go. I still drop the dough onto the baking sheets and deal with the hot cookies myself, so after the dough is made, he hops off his stool goes into the living room and proceeds to ask me if the cookies are done every 2 minutes. I plan to parlay that into teaching him to tell time — in 11-minute increments.
We made Maple Cookies this past weekend after a trip to the Maple Fest I bragged about yesterday. They’re sweet and simple, a little like snickerdoodles, and they’re too good to have around the house, so I brought a bunch of them to work in hopes my coworkers would help me out. From the looks of the paper plate behind me, that’s working.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 21st, 2011

You meant to save that Food section from two months ago and you put it someplace really safe and now you have no idea where that place

Let us be your vitual cookbook

Let us be your vitual cookbook.

is. Before you give up, check our recipe library, always available and always free, at the bottom of the Food section landing page on GoErie.

All of the recipes by Marnie, Rhonda and me for the past several months are on there. You can also post your own recipes, including photos, and never need that stained, torn piece of paper again.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 21st, 2011
Hurry Hill Farm made for a great time for Mom and J.R. Saturday

J.R. and I watched Janet Woods boil down maple sap into syrup at Hurry Hill Farm on Saturday.

We got to take a wagon ride from the maple museum back into the woods to see the sugar shack

We took a wagon ride from the maple museum back into the woods to see the sugar shack. There wasn't this much snow, though. Mostly mud. But it was pretty darned cold.

I couldn’t resist the Maple Festival over the weekend. I took my son down and we saw the sugarshack at Hurry Hill Farm and had pancakes with real syrup at the Edinboro fire hall.
Of course I couldn’t go home without a jug of liquid gold (my main motivation for going), and once I had it home, it burned a hole in my pocket.

Thusly, I made pork chops with maple glaze that was good enough to drink. I modified a recipe from Epicurious originally intended for pork tenderloins. It was supposed to serve 4, but my husband took care of that.

Pork Chops with Maple Glaze
1 tablespoon butter
4 (4-ounce) boneless pork chops
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage leaves
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and bubbling. Add pork chops and cook until brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until thermometer inserted into pork registers 150 degrees, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer pork to platter; cover to keep warm.
3. Whisk sage, 5 tablespoons maple syrup, 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard in small bowl to blend. Set aside.
4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return pork and any accumulated juices to skillet; add maple syrup mixture and turn pork in glaze just until coated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Remove chops and stir remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup into glaze. Season glaze to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon glaze over pork and serve.
– adapted from Epicurious.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 18th, 2011

Tops Markets is starting to label groceries on the shelves with nutritional scores on a scale from 1 to 100. The system, called “NuVal,” is in place in 1,000 stores in 23 states, according to Buffalo Business First.
NuVal been out there for a few years, but this is the first time it’s come to Erie. The scores for each food are on shelves and signs throughout the stores.
The NuVal blue-hexagon logo will appear on shelf tags with the food rankings.
The news story said the labels were in place at the Tops in Amherst, N.Y. Thursday. I haven’t seen them yet, but NuVal’s company spokesman said they should be up in all 134 of the chain’s stores. I plan to stop at Tops on West 26th Street on my way home to check it out.
We’re out of baby carrots. Those should get a pretty good score. Then I’ll look at the Diet Coke. (wince).

Posted in: Uncategorized