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 October, 2012
Posted: October 31st, 2012

Buddy Valastro has put together 100 recipes for favorite Italian dishes. It's going to be hard for me to let this one go. Photo from Amazon.com

Thanks to everyone who entered the book drawing for “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes,” an Italian cookbook by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The winner is James Lehr. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not James Lehr, you are eligible for today’s drawing for “Cooking Italian With The Cake Boss: Family Favorites as Only Buddy Can Serve Them Up,” by Buddy Valastro, of TLC series “Cake Boss.”
The book has lots of personal reflection, as well as helpful tips and down-to-Earth recipes. Recipes for Garlic Bread, Pesto Chicken Panini, and Pasta Carbonara, below.

To enter the drawing, send e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK you want.

Just here for the food? Here you go:

PASTA CARBONARA
1 pound dried spaghetti
3 large very fresh eggs, preferably organic
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch dice, about 1 cup
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Put the eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat them, then stir in the cheese.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy saute3 pan over medium heat. Add the oil and warm slightly. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until it renders its fat and starts to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
4. When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Immediately transfer the spaghetti to the bowl with the egg-and-cheese mixture. Toss thoroughly to coat, cooking the egg slightly with the heat of the pasta. Add the pancetta and garlic and toss to coast. If the mixture appears dry, add a little of the pasta’s cooking liquid and toss again.
5. Season the pasta with the pepper, divide among 4 to 6 plates or large, shallow bowls and serve.
– “Cooking Italian With The Cake Boss: Family Favorites as Only Buddy Can Serve Them Up,”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 30th, 2012

Witch's Hat Calzones from Better Homes & Gardens put a festive touch on Italian favorite.

Want to look like you outdid yourself tomorrow night, when you really barely broke a sweat?
Witch’s Hat Calzones go together with sliced pepperoni and crescent roll dough for an inspired and delicious Halloween dinner.
Here’s a hint, though: If you don’t have time to make this on a weeknight Halloween, don’t chuck the recipe. Just forgo the witch’s hat shape and make them into plain old triangles any time.
Pizza is finding its way onto our family’s menu more and more often, since it’s one of the few things all three of us will eat. That and you can usually persuade someone to make it for you if you drive to their restaurant, pay them and pick it up.
We’ve also fallen pretty hard for Food Club frozen pepperoni self-rising crust.
Calzones would provide the same oozing loveliness of hot pizza with spicy sauce, soft crust, tasty pepperoni.
I don’t know if they’ll beat frozen Food Club, but I plan to find out. They look simple as pie.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 26th, 2012

There's nothing quite like a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. That said, this looks pretty darned good. Check out a slideshow for making it at www.kitchendaily.com.


There are three ways to refer to this season: “Fall,” “Autumn” and “Pumpkin Spice Latte.”
I love myself some good Starbucks any time of year, but their seasonal latte tortures me, sticking me between good sense and temptation. When I totally break down, I order mine nonfat and no whip cream, which brings its caloric content down to that of a small meal.
You can find PSLs at just about any coffee shop these days, and some are cheaper, or better, or better and cheaper than the roughly $4.50
you’ll spend on a generous serving of the original.
I live about 40 minutes from the nearest Starbucks, but since I’m in Erie every day for work, my car frequently slides off I-79 onto Interchange Road on my way by. I swear SB has the gravity of a black hole that sucks in my car and my money.
I’m thinking it might be worth trying to make Pumpkin Spice Lattes at home, though, so I can get my fix first thing on Saturday morning without changing out of my PJs.
Bottoms up.
PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons agave nectar (more to sweeten)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ cup coffee

1. Add pumpkin purée, milk, and agave nectar to a small pot over medium heat and whisk quickly for about 5 minutes. Add in spices and vanilla, and continue to whisk.
2. Once the milk is frothy and bubbling, add it to your mug. Pour in the coffee on top.
Notes: Your spices may not totally dissolve into the milk; if you prefer a smoother texture, use less of the spices, or add them at the end.
If you have less time on your hands, put your concoction in the microwave for bubbling, frothy milk in less than 2 minutes.
If you want to get really fancy, put milk into a blender to make it frothy.
Makes 1 latte
– Marcy Franklin via www.kitchendaily.com

P.S. I just found out it’s National Pumpkin Day. Drink up and celebrate.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 25th, 2012

Slow-Cooked Moroccan Chicken from Parents magazine will tide you over until holiday favorites start coming at us.

We’re about to get pummeled by holiday comfort food recipes, and I’ll surely be part of that parade, so I’m using this small window of time to try something a little unusual.
When I was about 11, my parents took us to Disney World and Epcot Center. It started pouring rain, and we ducked into the first restaurant we could find. It had a Moroccan-themed menu, and my mom’s food was devastatingly spicy. She actually got sick and went out to the car while we watched the laser show.
I don’t remember liking mine either, so it was a long time before I went out on this culinary tightrope again.
Thank goodness I did. This stuff can be amazing if you get the right recipe. Most of it is pretty simple to make, too:
Just a few spices, meat, often dried fruit and adjustable heat.
This recipe, for Slow-Cooked Moroccan Chicken features prunes and curry, which might sound strange, but combine to form a delightfully tasty adventure.
Keep in mind also that Moroccan cooking doesn’t require a whole lot of fat or calories. In fact, this recipe only offers 255 calories, a steal considering all its flavor.
And it’s not terribly spicy either, meaning you shouldn’t have to go sleep in your car.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 24th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Bake It In A Cupcake,” by Megan Seling. The winner is Katy Lemmer. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

This week we’ll get off the dessert cart with "Lidia's Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic sauces to Irresistible Entrees," by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali. (I’m pretty sure I spelled those right. Just don’t ask me to say them out loud.)

The book contains about half recognizable Italian classics, such as Eggplant Parmigiana, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Wedding Soup, right alongside recipes that broaden your horizons, including Tagliatelle With Wild Mushroom Sauce and Spaghetti in Tomato Apple Sauce.
If you are not Katy Lemmer, you are eligible to enter the drawing, send me an e-mail at jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Please include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and the NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT.

Here’s a simple, elegant dish from Lidia’s book:

TOMATO BREAD SOUP
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oi, plus more for the finished zuppa
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
3 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups water
5 1/2-inch slices stale Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 fresh basil leaves, washed
Freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot. Add the onion and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, crush the tomatoes with your hands or a vegetable mill.
2. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pot, add the water, and bring all to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Once the tomatoes have boiled for 10 minutes, add the bread to the pot and bring back to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves and adjust the level of heat to maintain a simmer.
4. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes.
5. If desired, remove garlic cloves and basil leaves. Season the soup to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and shreds of fresh basil leaves and sprinkled with the grated cheese.
– “Lidia’s Favorite Recipes”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 23rd, 2012

Orecchiette With Sausage, Chard and Parsnips from Everyday Food magazine makes tasty use of seasonal parsnips.

I’ve had this recipe for Orecchiette With Sausage, Chard and Parsnips in my want-to-try pile for weeks. But it just kept slipping behind seasonal produce, Halloween and the like.
It’s a testament to its intrigue that I kept it though, rather than tossing it in my weekly purge.
I love long-lasting root crops, such as carrots and parsnips, which you can leave in the ground for months, and pick them right out from under the snow.
Parsnips are an acquired taste. They’re earthy, almost bitter on their own, but add complexity to a dish with several other intense tastes, such as chard and sausage.
This recipe is a 30-minute wonder that will blow weeknight frozen pizza out of the water. And you can shed a lot of calories by subbing in Italian poultry sausage for pork.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 19th, 2012

Spiced Squash, Fennel & Pear Soup, from www.soupaddict.com, takes us off the beaten squash soup path.

OK, I was tempted to go all comfort food on you today, working through a pile of lovely recipes I’ve been squirreling away. I considered bread pudding, squash lasagna, and Chicken and Cornbread Dumplings.
If you want one of those, drop me an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com
I’m trying to gauge whether you guys like recipes that are more familiar, or like to broaden your horizons.
I don’t want my blog to turn into a feather bed in bland land, but I don’t want to get all hoity, toity either. Let me know what you think.
At any rate, Spiced Sqush, Fennel & Pear Soup takes us (or at least me) to the edge of the comfort-food zone.
It’s basically a souped up squash soup, which would definitely fall into the comfort-food category, but it looks like a reinvention of the fall staple with the addition of fennel and pear and, especially, Chinese 5-spice blend.

It was a tough call as to whether to pimp the soup, or a simpler-looking, but just as good-looking, recipe for Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney. I hemmed and hawed, torn, until I realized that it’s a blog. I have as much space as I want. I could write forever.
You could actually make both of these for one meal if you feel particularly motivated.
Either way, in what was turning out to be a recipe photo-finish, I think we all win.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 18th, 2012

You won't find many simpler or faster ways to get hearty nutrition into your haunted house. Photo by Thayer Allyson Gowdy.

I found a great idea today for turning a regular, nutritious supper into a super-fast pre-trick-or-treat dinner. Basically you just make 3-Bean Chili from www.parents.com, and use Halloween-themed cookie cutters to make shapes out of cheddar, colby or any cheese that would hold its shape.
The chili goes together in less than 30 minutes, and then you just top with the cheese shapes. It’s even a simple job for hungry hoodlums to do on their own, while you chop and simmer.
Of course, you might get fewer shapes to put on the chili than if you’d done it yourself. Fun cheese snacks tend to disappear quickly in the presence of gobbling gobblins.
(Psst: You can also buy canned chili and put the cheese cut-outs on top of that.)
If your more immediate fear is of dinner tonight, you’ve come to the right place. Chop an onion and pepper, open some cans, stir until hot.
That’s nothing to be afraid of.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 17th, 2012

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “I Love Cinnamon Rolls!” by Judith Fertig. The winner is Marylou Loomis. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Marylou Loomis, you’re eligible for the next drawing, for “Bake It In A Cupcake: 50 Treats With A Surprise Inside,” by Megan Seling.
It’s not just about sweets, but breakfast and savory and holiday-themed handfuls too, all made in a muffin tin and something wonderful baked into the middle — for example, Chili and Cheddar-Filled Biscuits and Creme Egg Cupcakes, Oreo Cupcakes and Brie-Stuffed Apricot Cornmeal Muffins, recipe follows.

To enter the drawing, please send an email to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Please include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT.

BRIE-STUFFED APRICOT CORNMEAL MUFFINS
12 to 24 dried apricots (depending on size)
1 small wheel Brie cheese (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for garnish
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. First stuff the apricots with the Brie. Open a dried apricot at the seam (where it was cut open to remove the pit) and place a small hunk of cheese, about 1 teaspoon, in the center of the fruit. Fold the apricot back over the cheese and repeat until all the apricots are stuffed. If your apricots are smaller, you can use 2 of them for each chunk of cheese — you don’t need to completely seal the fruit closed, but you don’t want to leave too much room for the cheese to escape, either. Set the stuffed apricots aside.
2. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter or spray nonstick baking spray into one standard muffin tin. Combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. In another medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, oil, and melted butter and whisk until well combined. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, while slowly whisking at the same time. Continue to stir until just combined.
3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin so the cups are about 2/3 full. Place a piece of stuffed fruit in the center of each muffin cup and gently press it into the batter. Use a spoon or your finger to spread the batter over the fruit. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a small pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges of the muffins have started to brown and the muffins spring back when you gently press your finger into the tops of them. Allow them to cool in the tin for at least 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm, while the cheese is still a bit gooey.
– “Bake It In A Cupcake,” by Megan Seling

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 15th, 2012

Pot roast on a workday? Mmmm hmmm.
A few months ago, I got a great suggestion from reader Linda Huegel about caramelizing onions.
What is generally a long, slow process at the stove that simply cannot be rushed, is reduced to slicing and tossing into a slow cooker. About 8 to 10 hours before you need them, put the onions in a slow cooker, like overnight or all day. Just slice ‘em and weep, no extra attention needed. (She did recommend trying to do it outside the kitchen, like on a screened-in porch to avoid filling the house with onion smell.)
The best part of that would be you can make a bunch at one time, and freeze the rest to use anytime. Slow Cooker Caramelized-Onion Pot Roast does double duty, caramelizing the onions right along with the pot roast for a full fall-worthy dinner you can come home to after work.
Another good thing: It actually cooks for 8 to 10 hours, so you don’t have to worry about a 6-hour cooking time (which is frequently the case with slow cooker recipes). Those shorter cooking times just don’t fit into my life.
This one most certainly will.

Posted in: Uncategorized