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 April, 2013
Posted: April 30th, 2013

Lemon Chicken Orzo, from Parents.com makes my list for a fast, healthy tasty dinner.

Lemon Chicken Orzo, from Parents.com makes my list for a fast, healthy tasty dinner.

I made lemon squares the other day to fill a craving I’d never had before.
In the past, when I baked, it almost always involved chocolate. Lemon squares didn’t make it onto my radar.
For some reason, though, that’s all I wanted last weekend to go with a special rib-eye steak dinner.

I got the lemon squares recipe from “Good Housekeeping’s Great Baking 600 Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Breads, Pies & Pastries,” and it’s going to make it into a column, story or blog entry sometime in May.
I made the squares because I thought the rich, hearty broiled red meat required a fruity, springy contrast. It worked beautifully.

This is all a round-about way of saying that I’m now on a lemon kick. The squares only whet my appetite for the springy sweet-tart citrus staple.
Lemony Chicken & Orzo from Parents.com promises to fit right into a weeknight evening, beating all to heck my normal boring rotation of baked chicken and pasta with Prego, frozen pizza and turkey sausage.

It’s a one-pot recipe that goes together in 30 minutes with eight ingredients.
And it gets better: It comes in under the wire at 400 calories per serving.
Of course, that assumes I can stop with one serving …

One caveat: I see no reason to sully such a promising dish with with green beans. I’m going to use asparagus or pea pods instead.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 25th, 2013

CoverThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life,” by Tessa Kiros. It’ll be hard to give this on away. The winner is Bill Cox. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Bill Cox, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “200 Easy Mexican Recipes,” by Kelley Cleary Coffeen.
As we approach Cinco de Mayo (yes, only a week and a half away), I’m in a Tex-Mex mood. Even though the holiday isn’t really that big a deal in Mexico, it’s turned into a full-blown fiesta in the U.S., giving us an excuse (as if we need one) to celebrate all things lime, cheese, spice, beans and tortilla.
The recipes look pretty simple, and build on basic sauces and veggies introduced throughout the book, such as roasted green chiles, enchilada sauce.
It also features a Mexican food glossary and descriptions of helpful kitchen equipment.

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

One of my favorite things from the book is the recipe, below, for Margarita Chicken.
In my youth I was known to work two jobs at once. Mostly because I was making more as a waitress than as a journalist. I worked at five different restaurants over the years, including a two-year stint at an Applebee’s in Ohio.
One of my favorite dishes of theirs was Tequila Lime Chicken, which has been renamed so many times I’ve lost track of what it’s called now. I guess people balk at hearing that a chicken dish uses tequila, but that didn’t stop me.
Anyway, this one looks like it might approach that greatness.

Juice of 3 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as triple sec
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic, tequila, liqueur, honey and cilantro.
2. Add chicken. Seal bag and work marinade through chicken with your fingers. Refrigerate chicken for a least 2 hours or for up to 6 hours.
3. Preheat greased barbecue grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill chicken, turning once, until no longer pink inside, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Let stand for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately whole or slice crosswise.
– “200 Easy Mexican Recipes”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 23rd, 2013
This sandwich, from The Daily Meal, makes delicious use of in-season mango.

This sandwich, from The Daily Meal, makes delicious use of in-season mango.

Admit it. You want to try mango. You even tried it before, but it was a mess: What, for the love of God, is up with that giant pit/seed thing in the middle? How on Earth are you supposed to cut it? It’s so darned slippery, how do you not cut off a finger?
This, at least, describes my experience with the tropical nutritional powerhouse, which is in season now. I like the taste, but it always makes me feel like less of a person, because I can’t prep it.
Well, it’s one of those things you just have to do, but you can get some good pointers from The Daily Meal here.
You want long slices for the sandwich, so you don’t have to score the flesh, just peel it off. It’s up to you whether you do skin it before you slice it or after. You’re going to have fun with the slippery flesh either way.
Just be patient and aware that no one is born knowing how to peel a mango. I’m guessing even tropical primates have to practice.
Remember: Once you’ve tasted the fruit, you won’t care what it looks like. Try it in
Mango Avocado Chicken Panini.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 19th, 2013

You'll want to cross the road for the Skillet Chicken With Tomato Cream Sauce.

You’ll want to cross the road to get to Skillet Chicken With Tomato Cream Sauce.

I was just eating creamy tomato soup from Panera and was fondly remembering it when I went looking in my saved recipes for this post. I didn’t have to look farther than Skillet Chicken With Tomato Cream Sauce, which promises simplicity and a crowd-pleasing, regular-rotation-worthy dinner.
I’d bet it’s a version of a classic dish from some cuisine or another, with a fancy French or Italian name, but I’m just going to call it “That Chicken With The Creamy Tomato Sauce.” At least I’ll know what I mean.

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine or more chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, about 2 ounces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
8 ounces angel hair pasta or linguine or spaghetti, cooked and drained

1. For sauce, saute the chopped onion in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth, wine, basil, and parsley. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, Parmesan cheese, and tomato paste. Continue cooking until the sauce is hot and cheese has melted.
2. Wash chicken and pat dry. Place between sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound until uniform in thickness. 2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; coat with the flour. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chicken in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add tomato cream sauce, cover, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes longer, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with hot cooked pasta. Serves 4.
– Rich’s Recipe du Jour

Anyone who really wanted the “Time To Cook,” by James Farmer, that I gave away last week can catch up with Farmer on Paula Deen’s “Paula’s Best Dishes” this weekend on the Food Network. It’ll premier Saturday at 9:30 a.m., and repeat Monday at 5 p.m. and April 29 at noon.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 18th, 2013

dreamsThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining: 100 Plus Recipes and 30
Party Plans.” The winner is Carolyn Totten. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Carolyn Totten, you are eligible to win the drawing for “Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life,” by Tessa Kiros.

This cookbook is special. Many good ones entwine family and cultural history and narrative with recipes, but this one brings to mind a day in your grandmother’s attic as well as her kitchen. Old framed photos, stories, old-fashioned jewelry, lace, roses, mementos, stunning food and still-life photography grace super-thick cardlike paper that I wouldn’t dare get a spot of food on. To use it, I’d make a copy of the recipe I want and put the book safely away.

I think I might actually have a little crush on this book and am sorely tempted to keep it, but I’m afraid it would languish on my shelf, like a beautiful blank journal I’m reluctant to write in lest I mess it up.

To enter the drawing, please send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com. Include your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, and NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT. I do not store or share this information.

Oh, yeah, and the recipes look fabulous, too. Here’s a simple one:

2 1/2 tablespoons sliced red onion
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 anchovie fillets, chopped coarsely
1 heaping tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
5 slices country-style bread, roughly 2 1/2 inches in diameter
About 4 tablespoons mascarpone

1. Soak the onion in cold water with the splash of vinegar for 20 minutes or so. At the same time, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water to plump them up.
2. Drain the tomatoes and chop them into quite large, long pieces. Put them in a bowl with the olive oil. Drain the onion and add to the bowl, along with the anchovies, parsley, rosemary, and a few grinds of black pepper.
3. Broil the bread. Roughly spread a couple of teaspoons of mascarpone over each crostino, then top with the anchovy mixture and serve.
Makes 5 crostinis
– “Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 17th, 2013
Fast Shrimp Bisque from Better Homes & Gardens would make a delicious light dinner or appetizer.

Fast Shrimp Bisque from Better Homes & Gardens would make a delicious light dinner or appetizer.

Creamy soups don’t have to be nutritional disasters. Even better, they don’t require much in the way of cooking. Fast Shrimp Bisque only needs a gentle heating to cook the shrimp.
Use fat-free milk and evaporated milk to keep the calories down and this would make a nice spring-y lunch or dinner appetizer. Or light dinner and amazing leftovers for lunch. Of course, that would require leftovers, which come to think of it, might not be much of an issue.
In my house, when something’s this good and it says it serves 4, my avid-runner husband will eat 2 1/2 to 3 portions and ask me what else there is to eat.
For this I recommend serving this with some soft Italian bread or a multigrain roll, a bowl of fruit, maybe a big spinach salad with bacon and maybe dessert.
Fresh iced tea might help fill in the nooks and crannies.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 12th, 2013

p4ETNanniversary041213.jpg[1] I had planned to talk about making layer cakes today, since it’s my mom’s birthday and Sunday’s my birthday.
Little did I know when I was planning this that the venerable Erie Times-News would be taking the cake with its 125th edition today.
So there’s never, ever, been a better time to talk about cake.
Of course, I wrote the fist sentence here and decided I couldn’t do it without a piece of the cake in our lunchroom, so I sit and type, I’m trying not to get chocolate cake crumbs all over the place. It’s setting the mood.
Thus fortified, I’ll share my mother’s wisdom, which she bestowed upon me after I tried valiantly and failed spectacularly to construct a 2-layer chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day. I posted a picture of my forlorn creation, which looked more like a geologic phenomenon than dessert.
“I saw that photo and knew exactly what you did,” she said — without laughing, bless her heart.


Grease and flour the pans. (I had just sprayed them with cooking spray.)


Don’t leave the layers in the cake pans too long. Let them cool a little bit, Mom said, but in a few minutes, you want to get them out of there to cool properly on a wire rack. If you leave them in too long, they’ll stick, making craters in your layers that no amount of frosting can hide. (Believe me, I tried.)
To get them out, put a plate over the pan and turn the pan over. With any luck, the cake will come out in one piece.


Cool the layers thoroughly. If they’re warm at all, they’ll melt the frosting and stuff will start sliding around.


Here’s the important part: Put the bottom layer TOP DOWN on the cake plate. The squared-off bottom should face up, to keep the cake level.


Frost the top of the bottom layer, and place the second layer right-side up, with the flat base of it down on the frosted bottom layer.


Another big one, let the cake sit out UNFROSTED for a few hours to let the top dry out just a tad. This will help prevent the surface of the cake from coming off and getting all mixed into the frosting.





Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 11th, 2013

tripleThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “A Time to Cook: Dishes from my Southern Sideboard,” by James T. Farmer III.” The winner is Wendy McKeen. I’ll pop it in the mail soon.

If you are not Wendy McKeen, you can enter the drawing for “Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining: 100+ recipes & 30 Party Plans,” by Kathy Moore & Roxanne Wyss.
The book incorporates ideas for teen parties, holiday parties, game night gatherings, tailgating, grilling, etc. etc. etc. The recipes look fantastic, including this one for Spinach, Bacon and Blue Cheese Dip. You might think the bacon trend is winding down, after its incredible reign as the most ridiculously overhyped ingredient of all time, but it’s not going away. Even before we put it in ice cream, bacon was one of those basic and classic flavors few cooks can live without.

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

Here’s the dip recipe as promised
Nonstick baking spray
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces fresh spinach, about 6 cups, trimmed
10 slices bacon, crisp and crumbled
1 pound cream cheese, softened and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Spray one slow-cooker stoneware with baking spray.
2. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add spinach and cook, stirring often for 3 to 4 minutes or until wilted. Transfer to prepared stoneware. Stir in bacon, cream cheese, blue cheese and sour cream.
3. Cover and cook on high 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted and dip is hot. Turn to warm for serving. Sprinkle weith pecans just before serving.
– “Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining: 100+ recipes & 30 Party Plans,” by Kathy Moore & Roxanne Wyss

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 9th, 2013

Better Homes & Gardens recipe makes meatloaf in 20 minutes.

Better Homes & Gardens recipe makes meatloaf in 20 minutes.

For purposes of context, allow me to break down my day. Many of you might not need much description.

Drive like heck to Erie for an early doctor’s appointment. John puts kid on the bus so I can get there.
Work like heck to get a project off my desk that was due Friday.
Took a lunch for the first time in months to get gas and go to the bank.
Make list of tasks to get done before 5 when I have to leave to get my son. There are too many. I guess that’s why God made tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, I have to choose recipes to make for my column. This takes a long time. I might have to do it later tonight.
I’ll drive like heck to pick up J.R. It’s nice out, so we’ll play outside for a while, until J.R. is hungry, and I’m hungry, and John’s home and hungry.
It will be 7 o’clock. J.R. needs to be in the shower at 8.
Now, do I have time to make meatloaf?
That’s right: No
Not, at least, before I found this recipe for Mini Meat Loaves from BH&G.
Make the loaves little. They cook in 15 minutes.
Rock on, BH&G.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 5th, 2013

If your sliced potatoes turn black, you can wash them off. It's harmless oxidation, kind of like what happens to apples, but reversible.

If your sliced potatoes turn black, you can wash them off. It’s harmless oxidation, kind of like what happens to apples, but reversible.

One of my favorite food writers, Jane Snow, formerly of the Akron Beacon Journal, recently blogged about a recipe for Incredible Scalloped Potatoes. I went right home that night and made it. It didn’t seem that hard when I read it, but I learned that it’s not like falling off a log, either.
The tastes were all there, but the potatoes didn’t get soft enough, and what’s worse, they turned black around the edges.
I tried again on Easter. Same thing. They looked horrible.
I finally did some research today on what’s going on with my black potatoes. Had they gone bad? Had I don’t something wrong? Were they poisonous?
No, yes and no. Turns out, Black potatoes are oxidized, much like sliced apples, if they’re not covered up by some kind of liquid. Marnie Mead told me to soak the potato slices in the milk or cream, or whatever I’m using for the sauce while I slice them. Other writers say to soak them in water, then drain and pat dry right before building the casserole, and tuck them into the sauce so they don’t sit in the oven with their edges hanging out.
I was intrigued by one writer who said if your sliced or shredded potatoes turn black before you cook them, you can wash the color off under tap water.
Time to go right home and try again. I refuse to be defeated by a bowlful of measly old spuds.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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