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 September, 2011
Posted: September 30th, 2011

My sauce is darker than this. My kitchen is not as clean as this (when I'm making applesauce). I don't use a pressure cooker. But this is a pretty picture.

I couldn’t accept the fact that my apple tree produced close to nothing this year. I wanted to say, “Oh, well. No applesauce this year. No apple butter this year. No canning. No pies. I got off easy.”
But the more I thought about it, the more depressed I got. I had all my equipment ready to go, my Christmas baskets in mind, to say nothing of being able to eat my favorite fall stuff.
Well, John and I hit a fruit market in Harpersfield, Ohio, last weekend. I looked around, trying not to think about apples, apple sauce, apple butter …
They had a huge dog, at least part Saint Bernard, on the back porch and I just had to go pet him. I leaned over something and held my hand out so the pooch could smell it, rubbed his noggin and looked down at what I was leaning over.
Angels sang.
It was a huge crate of apple seconds, the kind they sell for canning. They’re not pretty enough for retail, but there’s nothing wrong with their taste. They were crisp, juicy tart Cortlands, just like mine. Better than mine, actually.
I asked how much they wanted: $13. I don’t know how many there were, or if it was a good price. But I know I got 6 pints of applesauce, 6 pints of apple butter and an apple pie out of it.
It was so much fun, I got a half bushel of others at Mason Farms yesterday for $5. I don’t know what kind they are, but I’m glad it’s the weekend again. This time I might actually make some to give away.
I don’t follow any particular recipe for sauce anymore. I’ve never found one spicy enough. Here’s about what I do.
10-15 medium apples, peeled, cored, sliced — enough to fill a 4-quart sauce pot to within an inch of the top
1 cup water
1 to 2 cup sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry, ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Combine apples and water in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil and simmer until apples are very soft, adding more water as needed to keep the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. Add spices and puree. I use an immersion blender. A food processor would work well. I don’t know about a regular blender.
3. Stir over medium heat until it’s the right consistency.
Serve warm.
This is not a USDA-tested and vetted recipe for canning. I don’t recommend canning it without checking with an expert first. Here is some reliable information on canning apple stuff: USDA canning guide.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 29th, 2011

I like Honeycrisp apples for snacking.

For fun, colleague Pat Cuneo brought in two baskets of apples earlier this week, one full of McIntosh, the other of Honeycrisp.
He wanted to do a taste test, asking people to have a slice of each and choose their favorite. The verdict came down: Honeycrisp won, 7-4.
I was surprised it was so close, actually. The way everyone talks about McIntosh, you’d think it were made of gold.
To me, the question is more complicated. I like to bake with McIntosh apples. They have a stronger, more appl-y flavor than the milder snacking apples. But to eat out of hand, Honeycrisp is sweeter and crunchier. I can’t take all the acid in McIntosh. It literally makes my throat close up.
Quite a few of my fellow tasters had strong opinions as well.

Among those who preferred the McIntosh, comments included “The apple that bites back. In a good way;” “Big, robust taste beats subtle, trendy Honeycrisp;” “Tart and juicy, tastes like fall.”

From those who preferred McIntosh: “Crisp, sweet juicy: all good in an eating apple;” “Sweet and pleasingly crisp; lives up to its name;” “Prefer the crisp texture over the mealy McIntosh.”

Of course, there’s no accounting for taste, but I’m glad my team won. Cuneo liked the McIntosh, by the way. Perhaps the real test came in how fast the the baskets emptied: When the Honeycrips were gone, there were still 3 McIntosh left.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 28th, 2011

Before I get to the books, let me try to clear something up:
There will not be a shortage of canned pumpkin this year. The crop is good in Illinois, where 90 percent of canned pumpkin is grown. It’s the Halloween pumpkins in the Northeast that got wiped out after Hurricane Irene. That will put pressure on jack-o’-lantern market.

Send e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com for a chance to win this book.

As for the books, I got a huge response to my drawing offerings last week. The winners have been chosen and the books are on their way.
Barb Simpson won “The Cookie Jar.”
Debbie Carson won “Quick-Fix Vegan.”
Kathie Massello won “I Love Meatballs.”
Katie Smyklo won “Sugar, Sugar.”

If your name did not appear in the list above, feel free to enter to win “So Sweet: Cookies, Cupcakes, Whoppie Pies and More,” by Sur La Table. Warning: The recipes are somewhat intricate, but the finished products are surely delicious.
Send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your name, mailing address and the name of the book so I don’t get all my entries confused.
I’m going to try to do the book drawings once a week on Wednesdays, when I have something to give away, so make sure to tune in.

For those who just want a dagnabbed recipe, here you go:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce
20 sliced turkey pepperoni
24 medium wonton wrappers
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper, or foil coated with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, add sauce, seasonings and mozzarella cheese.
2. Slice the pepperoni into quarters, and add them to the sauce/cheese mixture. Stir until well combined.
3. To begin filling wonton wrappers, I find it easiest to create an ‘assembly line’. I did this by stacking my wonton wrappers, and having my filling, and a small bowl of water near by to ’seal’ the wrappers shut. Then, begin filling by placing about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. You could use a little more or less, just try not to over-fill them, or the filling will ooze out the sides when you are baking them.
4. To seal them shut, place finger in water, trace corner of wonton wrapper, and fold the wrapper in half to meet the two dry corners with the two wet corners. Press to seal the two sides together. (Note: the water acts like glue to seal the corners shut!)
5. When wonton wrappers are filled, give them a light spray with non-stick cooking spray…and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Lay pizza rolls onto prepared baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.
– www.justapinch.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 27th, 2011

Must squash craving for irresistible pumpkin, sausage, pasta dish

I probably look at a dozen of recipes a day, sometimes more, but every once in a while, something reminds me of a dish I’ve already made. Then that recipe gets in my head and I can’t rest until I make it again.
PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE is one of my favorite recipes of all time. It ran in 2002, just a few months after I started writing Loaves & Dishes. I’ve been looking at recipes for pumpkin and squash for a week now, but I just keep coming back to this one.
It’s time to get it out of my system — and into yours.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 cup chopped onion
10 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
11/4 cups white wine
11/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound penne, penne rigate, rigatoni or tortiglioni
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

1. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook until brown, about 3 minutes. While it browns, break it up into bite-sized pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn off heat and remove the sausage to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Move to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.
2. Keep 1 tablespoon of the oil left in the pan, and discard the rest. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and heat well. Add the onion, garlic and sage, and cook 10 minutes, stirring well, until the onion and garlic start to brown. Add the sausage and cook 2 minutes, stirring well. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook 8 minutes, stirring well to dislodge any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the pumpkin purée and cook 2 minutes, stirring well. Add the stock, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cinnamon if desired, and salt and pepper to taste in last 5 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water, with 1 tablespoon of salt added, to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain well in a colander and pour into the sauce and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the Parmesan, if desired, and serve.
Makes 8 2-cup servings
– adapted from Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen, www.nickstellino.com
Per 2-cup serving, including pasta : 395 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams fiber

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 23rd, 2011

I'm hoping my vegetable soup looks something like this. It’s time for an all-out chop fest. Hearty vegetable soup is in order because the vegetables keep calling for help.
We’ve been enjoying leftover stuffed peppers from John’s mom and then pizza for the kid’s birthday this week, so I’ve been pretty much off duty in the kitchen. But it’s getting to be now or never with some of this produce.
Here’s what I plan to do with my Friday night … or Saturday morning … or whenever the kid gets interested enough in his new Legos that I can have some time in the kitchen.
First, we have a couple of hot Italian turkey sausage links in there. We’ll grill or pan fry those.
Then it’ll be time for something like this:
Spicy Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 full-sized carrots
1/2 a large onion, chopped
1 small head of garlic (mine, about 1 inches in diameter. A pain in the butt to peel)
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 small green peppers, chopped, see note
1 large red pepper, chopped, see note
5 or 6 small potatoes, chopped into half-inch dice
2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 to 10 cups beef broth, to desired consistency
2 ears corn, scraped off the cob
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 links cooked sausage, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Toss a piece of onion in it after a minute or so. If it sizzles, stir in celery, carrots and onion. Stir 5 minutes, or until onion is softened. Stir in garlic and saute one minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, green beans. Add herbs and red pepper flakes and stir 1 minute. Add as much broth as it takes to cover vegetables. Heat 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
3. Add corn and peas and heat through. Stir in sausage and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.
Note: If I get really ambitious, I’ll roast the peppers on the grill with the sausage.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 22nd, 2011






My desk is getting cluttered again. If you want any of these books, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com with your name, the name of the book(s) you want, and your street address. In a couple of days, I’ll pick a name at random from each list of entrees, and send out the book to that person. Good luck and keep reading.

“Sugar, Sugar: Every recipe has a story,” by Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero Details

“I Love Meatballs,” by Rick Rodgers Details

“The Cookie Jar Cookbook,” by Good Housekeeping Details

“Quick-Fix Vegan,” Robin Robertson Details

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 21st, 2011

My son's cupcakes will not look like this. But they'll be yummy anyway.

My kid wants cupcakes for his birthday — tomorrow. I asked him what kind of cupcakes, and he said “frosting.” I said there would indeed be frosting, but what kind of cake did he want. “I don’t know.”
So I gave him a list. I tried to put chocolate last on the list, because I was pretty sure that’s what he’d pick and those make the biggest mess when you eat them. Of course he picked chocolate.
So I went on the Betty Crocker website, just to see what the ingredients are in the mix (he’s somewhat sensitive to milk products) No milk, and the site did provide some cool tips:

    In general

  • If you have only one pan and a recipe calls for more cupcakes than your pan will make, just cover and refrigerate the rest of the batter while baking the first batch. Cool the pan about 15 minutes, then bake the rest of the batter, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the bake time.
  • An easy way to fill baking cups is to use an ice cream scoop. Use one that measures out 1/3 cup batter when filling regular-size cups.

Frosting Tips

  • Carefully dip tops of cupcake into the frosting, give a slight twist and remove.
  • Finish off with a swirl of a knife if needed.
  • Dip frosted cupcakes into bowls of nuts, colored sugar, sprinkles, or other decors for easy decorating.

How to Store Cupcakes

  • Cool cupcakes completely before covering to keep tops from becoming sticky (about 30 minutes).
  • Cover cupcakes that will be frosted later loosely so the tops stay dry. If covered tightly, they become sticky and difficult to frost.
  • Store cupcakes with a creamy-type frosting loosely covered with foil, plastic wrap or waxed paper or under a cake safe or inverted bowl.
  • Refrigerate cupcakes with whipped cream toppings or cream fillings.
  • Frost cupcakes with fluffy frosting on the day they are to be served.
  • You can freeze cupcakes two to three months, tightly wrapped.
  • To prevent frosting from sticking, freeze cupcakes uncovered 1 hour, then insert a toothpick in the top of the cupcake, and tightly wrap.
  • Thaw cupcakes in the refrigerator or on the countertop.
  • When thawing on the countertop, loosen or remove wrapping to prevent condensation.
  • Decorating gel, hard candies and colored sugars do not freeze well because they tend to run during thawing.

– Betty Crocker

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 20th, 2011

I will never forget the butternut squash I had last weekend. I must learn how to create it myself.

Just visited the MIL. That means my fridge is full and I don’t know what to do with it all. I kid you not. I now have: 6 ears sweet corn, four bell peppers, three acorn squash, 1 butternut squash, ground cherries, a sweet onion the size of a softball and about 2 pounds small red skinned potatoes. That doesn’t count the produce I have from my own garden.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with it all. Some of it might find its way to the Second Harvest if I can get out of the office during their open hours.
As for the butternut squash, I have specific plans:
John and I went away last weekend and stayed at Mohican Lodge near Ashland, Ohio. All the food was great, but I’ll never forget the butternut squash.
We both got it as the house side of the evening. We actually ordered a second side to eat together after our dinners were gone.
What we were able to get out of the chef was this:
Bake the squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks, until it’s tender, but still al dente: The chunks hold their shape when pierced with a fork. Then saute the chunks in butter and brown sugar in a frying pan until it just starts to caramelize on the outside of the pieces.
I absolutely must learn to recreate this dish. Stay tuned for updates.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 15th, 2011

Hungry people would love to have your extra produce. Consider donating it at Second Harvest.

Most avid vegetable gardeners are in a quandary right now. Fresh produce is coming at them from all directions, and there’s only so much they can use at once. But even that part can be rewarding, as they proudly present their bounty to grateful friends and family members.
But if they, meaning you, are surrounded by vegetable haters, you might struggle to find takers before it goes bad, which is not rewarding at all.
Consider, then, that Second Harvest Food Bank of NW PA would love to put get your surplus into the hands of hungry families. They’ll take anything from apples to zucchini.
To donate, take them to Second Harvest at 1507 Grimm Drive, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
In my crisper drawer right now, I have onions, peppers, beets, celery, carrots, green beans. On the counter and on the back deck, I have tomatoes.
Not enough to donate, but enough that a chopped salad is in order. Chopped salad, by which I mean a salad, light on the lettuce/greens and heavy on small chunks of veggies upon veggies, maybe fruit and/or cheese, tossed in a dressing and served cold. The key is to make the chunks small enough that you get all kinds of tastes in one forkful.
Here’s what I hope to do tonight:
1 medium onion, small dice
1 green pepper, small dice
2 roast beets, small dice
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, chopped and blanched
1/2 cup green beans, chopped and blanched
1 or 2 red ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
About 3 ounces leftover Munster cheese, diced small
A handful of shredded cheddar

And, most importantly, the dressing.
Here’s one that looks good, by Emeril LaGasse, found on Food Network.com:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 14th, 2011

Summer Risotto makes for a creamy, vegetab-ly dish for the peak of harvest season.

There are so many great recipes out there that fit this season I can’t keep up. They’re coming at me like a meteor shower. Some will simply have to wait. But not this one. Not only does it pack in 5 fresh vegetables, it’s rich and creamy and tastes decadent. Risotto takes some standing and stirring, I admit, but once you try the finished product, you’ll know why people do it.
1 cup water
3/4 cup green beans, fresh, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, small, coarsely chopped
1 yellow summer squash, small, coarsely chopped
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup arborio rice, short grain, uncooked
1/2 cup onions, sliced
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash seasoning
3 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon basil, fresh, chopped
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

1. Bring the water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat. Add green beans. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 6 minutes.
2. Add zucchini and yellow squash. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in medium saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Reduce heat to low to keep broth simmering. Heat oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Add rice and spring onions. Cook and stir 2 minutes.
4. Carefully stir in 1 cup hot broth and Mrs. Dash. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook and stir until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition until liquid is absorbed. Rice should be tender and creamy but still slightly firm in the center.
5. Add cooked vegetables, tomato and basil. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in cheese.
Serves 4
– Kathy Rohrbaugh, Shrewsbury, Finalist in 2006 Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious” Vegetable Recipe Contest, squash.php#summer-risotto


Posted in: Uncategorized

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