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, 2011
Posted: December 30th, 2011

Spinach-Cheese Balls practically roll themselves.

Sometimes, I know, my recipes aren’t as simple as we’d all like them to be. I like taking my time on more interesting ones, so I have something to actually say about them, especially in my column that runs in print on Wednesdays.
But I do get complaints from people who don’t get paid to cook, and I completely understand. Sometimes I wonder if I’d take the time for some of them if I weren’t going to write about them.
Well, friends, Spinach-Cheese Balls are for you. It was the highest rated appetizer recipe on Betty Crocker’s website this year, and with just six commonly available ingredients, they’ll just roll off your fingers and into the oven. Half an hour later, you’ll be drooling and dipping.
I’m going to make it, and wish every great recipe could be so easy.
The recipe suggests tomato pasta sauce for dipping. I might try this Spicy Honey Mustard Sauce

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 28th, 2011

The dish is not only in our stars, but also in ourselves.

Welcome, friends, to the weekly drawing/giveaway for cookbooks that cross my desk.
I got loads of response for “Waffles, Crepes and Pancakes with Delicious Toppings and Fillings,” by Norma Miller.
The winner is Diana Kemling , and her book is in the mail.

This week’s book is a real star, with recipes corresponding to the diner’s astrological sign.
"Lobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorns" by Sabra Ricci
The foods were picked by a tarot card-carrying astrologer, offering recipes for “superfoods,” benefiting the health of body parts that correspond to the sign.
For example, Aries (my sign), are said to benefit from “Kona Coffee Rubbed Flank Steaks with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.” I’m not sure what body part that supports, but it sounds out of this world.
If you want the book, and you are not Diana Kemling , send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com by Tuesday. Please include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, and the NAME OF THE BOOK.
If the stars align, it’ll be you.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 27th, 2011

Apple butter is not to be confused with butter and apples, thought they're both lovely, of course.

I love apple butter. I make huge batches of it every fall, jarring it up to give away — and for myself to mix with cottage cheese year round.
For those who’ve never had it, it’s basically apple sauce cooked down until it’s thick and dark brown. I like mine heavily spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg,, ginger and cloves.
I don’t much like it on toast like other people, though. Not sure why. Seems a waste of toast and apple butter to me. This recipe though, from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, strikes my fancy, not the least because it’s good for breakfast, one of my favorite meals of the day, along with lunch, dinner and snacks.
It might make a nice New Year’s Day brunch, dinner, or snacks. I’ll probably use more apple butter, though …
1 cup low-fat milk
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
8 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup apple butter
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large shallow dish, whisk together milk, eggs and egg whites, granulated sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
2. Place 4 bread slices in milk mixture and let soak 1 minute per side. Coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes, flipping once. Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining bread.
3. Spread each of 4 slices with 1 tablespoon apple butter. Top with remaining slices and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.
– Everyday Food

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 26th, 2011

I'm dreaming of an easy New Year's. These look like a shortcut to my husband's undying devotion.

John and I don’t usually do anything for New Year’s. By that time every year we are so tired of driving and family and friends and spending money that we’d rather hole up in our own living room with a table full of appetizers, a couple of games, the TV on, and bubbly in the fridge.
I like to pull together a menu of gnoshes, some old favorites and a new idea or two. This year I think Cocktail Meatballs will serve as a new addition. Not new, really, but I’ve never made them.
It’s taken me a while to figure out that my husband really just wants meat. He’ll eat vegetables, dips, a few sweets here and there. But add animal protein and it’s an instant party for him.
I’m pretty sure these will make it onto the old favorites list in New Years future.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 23rd, 2011

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of me.

The Hutchison Christmas Brunch Casserole became an annual thing in our family ever since my mother-in-law gave me the recipe in 2001. I ate it for the first time at her house Christmas morning, wrote about it the first time in 2003, made it for my parents and family a few times (even the time it got tipped in the refrigerator and half the egg spilled on the shelf. We baked it up anyway. It was interesting.). This year, it is my plan to give it center stage in John, J.R. and my emerging Christmas morning traditions. J.R. won’t eat it, I’m sure. Not this year anyway. But I’ll be he changes his mind in a year or two.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3 cups low-fat milk, divided
1 (10-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 to 8 slices slightly stale bread, cubed
1 pound cooked ham, in small dice
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Combine eggs, slightly beaten, dry mustard and 2 1/2 cups milk. Set aside.
2. Combine soup, 1/2 cup milk, salt. Set aside.
3. Cover bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with a layer of bread cubes. Sprinkle with half the ham, half the cheese and pour on half the milk mixture. Repeat with remaining ingredients, topping with soup mixture, saving 1/2 cup cheese.
4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove casserole from refrigerator. Bake, covered 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.
6. Allow to cool and set at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8
Pat Hutchison

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 22nd, 2011

Meatloaf doesn't photograph well, but it'll fill you up on a busy, cold night.

The other night I threw together a meatloaf on my own, without a recipe. I proceeded with a mixture of inspiration and caution, and the result was an assault on the senses, but in a way my husband and I both enjoyed. It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would to cook, and it disappeared pretty quickly, too.
My favorite inspiration was using Montreal Steak Seasoning in place of plain salt and pepper.
1 pound 90 percent lean hamburger
1 medium onion, grated, flesh and liquid
1 medium green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
5 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning.
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With your hands, combine thoroughly, but not too densely.
Mold into a loaf shape in an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until center loaf reaches 165 on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. If meat is still pink in the center, microwave single servings to desired doneness.
Serves 4 — or me once and my husband twice over two sittings.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 21st, 2011

This looks yummy. Meaning the food, not the book.

Sorry about last week’s book drawing, meaning no book drawing. I wasn’t in the office and I was wrapped up in some intense Santa duties. Now that the stockings are hung, we can get back to business.
The winner of “Cooking Adventures: Santa’s Favorite Cookie,” is Linda A. Woznicki.

If you are not Linda A. Woznicki, you are eligible for this week’s drawing for "Waffles, Crepes, and Pancakes: With Delicious Toppings and Fillings" by Norma Miller.

To enter, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and TITLE OF THE BOOK. I’ll draw next Wednesday morning.

The book is full of recipes for both sweet and savory pancakes, etc., such as Herb and Yogurt Waffles and Tiramisu Pancakes. Some call for crazy ingredients such as caster sugar and rosewater. If you’re looking for something both delicious and off the beaten path, this is your book. I gives amounts in grams, ounces and cups, and has a sophisticated British flavor to it.

I thought this recipe looked good:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons muscovado sugar (You can use regular)
2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup unsweetened orange juice
2/3 cup milk
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center, add eggs and pour in the melted butter. With a whisk, gently stir the flour mixture into the eggs, gradually adding the orange juice and enough of the milk to make a smooth batter the consistency of heavy cream.
2. Preheat the waffle maker to medium heat.
3. When it’s heated, open the machine and pour a small ladle-full of batter into the compartments, taking care not to overfill.
4. Close the machine and cook 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown. Remove the waffles and immediately dust with sugar.
Serve warm
Makes 4 waffles
– adapted from “Waffles, Crepes, and Pancakes: With Delicious Toppings and Fillings”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 20th, 2011

Someone has to make these for my husband. I guess that means me.

My husband is a recent convert to the cardamom-loving world. I, on the other hand, never had a choice. It’s the main seasoning in Finnish nissua bread, and through genetic memory alone, I’ve been drawn to it. Ladies at my church make and sell the nissua a few times a year, and I get it for my (obviously Finnish) mom and grandmother.
John likes it when I get it for us, too. He always asks “What is it that’s in this that makes it so good?” For some reason, he has a hard time remembering the word “cardamom,” because he never hears it anywhere else.
It’s a slightly sweet, nutty, spicy, light-brown powdery seasoning (unless you buy it whole). Nothing else tastes quite like it. I’ve only seen a few other recipes that call for it, though I should make it a point to find more.
This one fell into my lap today, and I think I might try to throw it together for John soon.

Cardamom-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 pouch Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix (or the dry ingredients of this recipe)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
Powdered sugar and additional ground cardamom for dusting

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix, nuts, cranberries and 1 teaspoon cardamom. Stir in butter, water, vanilla and egg until soft dough forms.
2. Roll dough into tablespoonful-size balls; place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until set. Cool 2 to 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cardamom.
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 19th, 2011

Gooseberry Patch books rock. This one is my favorite.

Sorry I’ve been a stranger. I was on vacation last week and pretty much tied up with building my son a train table for Christmas. I didn’t cook very much, unless you count eggs.
Yesterday, though, I indulged in some baking time, and made some stuff for my family members’ baskets. I used a new recipe for cake you bake in a canning jar, and then seal it. It keeps for 6 months. Genius. I hope the cake just slides out of the jar like it supposed to, or people will have to scoop it out like ice cream. Which doesn’t sound so bad now that I think about it.
The recipe is from my beloved Gooseberry Patch “Gifts for Giving” that came out in 2002.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter-flavored shortening, room temperature
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

6 1-pint wide-mouth canning jars, lids and bands, sterilized
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and remove one rack leaving space to put the baking sheet with jars into the oven without knocking them over.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
3. With an electric mixer, beat together brown sugar and shortening on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, slowly add milk and vanilla. Fold in walnuts.
4. Fill each jar halfway with batter. Place jars on baking sheet and carefully place them into the oven. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
5. Remove from oven and, while the jars are still hot, place the lids and bands on each. As the cake cools, the lids should seal with a ping. After they’re completely cool, press down on each lid to see if it gives. It should feel solid. If any jar lids give when pressed, they didn’t seal, and the cake should be eaten within a week.
– adapted from “Gifts for Giving,” Gooseberry Patch 2002

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 9th, 2011

Awww. Aren't they cute together? Let's eat them.

Getting fancy with a side dish has never seemed worth it to me. It takes enough work to get the main dish on the table. A bowl of steamed green beans would just have to do.
But lately, my inspiration for the main dish has waned — toward baked chicken breasts, grilled pork, for example — and I’ve been wanting something special to look forward to. Sometimes that entails something like microwaved small chunks of potatoes with parsley and olive oil. Nothing fancy, just breaking the pattern.
These Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes might make an appearance on the table while I’m on vacation next week.
5 medium sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds
1/4 cup tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
4 ounces goat cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prick potatoes all over with a fork. Place potatoes on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Fold foil around potatoes to form a packet. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Leave the oven on.
2. When cool enough to handle, halve sweet potoatoes lengthwise. Scoop out all but 1/4 inch flesh from inside the skins. Arrange 8 skins in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Discard remaining 2 skins.
3. Place flesh in a food processor along with 2 tablespoons butter, goat cheese, salt and pepper. Process until smooth, 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives and pulse to combine. Spoon into skins.
4. In a small bowl, stir together pecans, breadcrumbs, remaining butter and season with salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over sweet potatoes and bake until topping is golden, 10 to 12 minutes.
Serves 8
Everyday Food magazine

Posted in: Uncategorized

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