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 June, 2013
Posted: June 28th, 2013

Martha Stewart and company tapped into my pickle craving today.

Martha Stewart and company tapped into my pickle craving today.


Something very odd is happening to me. I used to be able to pass up salty stuff on my way to the sweet and carby stuff. Chocolate chip cookies, pie, bread, breakfast cereal were all acceptable dinner entrees when I wasn’t cooking for the family.
Lately, I want cold cuts, red meat, eggs, sausage, cheese, chicken wings, barbecue, spicy anything — and pickles of any kind. This is funny because that’s a pretty accurate description of my husband’s tastes, heretofore.
Meanwhile, he’s trying to go to vegetarian lunches. The significance of this seismic shift is hard to convey and I can’t begin to wrap my mind around it. All I know is that I couldn’t skip this recipe, which made my mouth water for an Italian sub loaded up with Sweet-and-Spicy Bread-and-Butter Pickles.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 27th, 2013

passionateThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen.” The winner is Tom Pallan. I’ll pop it in the mail today.
If you are not Tom Pallan, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “The Passionate Vegetable,” by Suzanne Landry. As locally grown fresh vegetables start showing up on farm stands, this beautiful paperback book is a great source of ideas for what to do with them.
To enter the drawing, please send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com, including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT.

Like just about everyone else, I need to eat more vegetables. I’m not getting any younger, and my body reminds me of this several times a day. Gone are the days when I could eat crap and just work it off.
As we’ve all heard 10,000 times, eating plenty of fruits and veggies is the closest we can get to a silver bullet against health problems. They’re also cheaper, easier and have more benefits than any medication you can buy.
With this in mind, I’m in a hurry to get home and make this (to serve over brown rice, couscous or quinoa):

HURRY CURRY VEGETABLES
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
3 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
1 cup cauliflower pieces, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon arrowroot or organic cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk

1. Saute onion in oil over medium heat, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, peppers, curry, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Increase heat to medium and add cauliflower, cover and cook 5 minutes until tender. Add peas and cilantro and warm through for another 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add arrowroot and 1/4 cup water and stir to dilute until it appears milky. Add coconut milk and stir again. Add vegetables and simmer an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid has thickened.
Serving suggestions: For a lower calorie dish, omit the coconut milk. You can used unsweetened almond milk instead. Use the same ratio of arrowroot and proceed as above. It will be less creamy but still intensely curry flavored.
– “The Passionate Vegetable,” by Suzanne Landry, The Fresh Food Chef

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 26th, 2013

Hide cheese beneath your vegetables, and you'll gladly finish them.

Hide cheese beneath your vegetables, and you’ll gladly finish them.


Usually, elegant recipes mean tracking down weird, expensive ingredients and spending hours trapped at the sink engaged in menial labor.
Sugar Snap Peas with Ricotta, Mint and Lemon means none of that. It just sounds like it does.
I found it on www.purewow.com, which credits it to a new book, “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark.
Its ingenius construction, cheese mixture spread on a plate as a bed for bright green snap peas isn’t just pretty. It also makes it easy to enjoy all its nuances with one swipe of the fork, without mixing everything together and winding up with a visual and flavor-muddling mish mash.
While everyone else seems to be picking peas already, my vines, which I planted weeks too late, are only 4 inches tall. I did the same thing last year, though, so I’m sure they’ll get there, and when they do, I’ll be at the store tracking down nothing more exotic than plain, old ricotta.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 25th, 2013
Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs from The Daily Meal will make a the grate at my house this season.

Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs from The Daily Meal will make a the grate at my house this season.

Last summer I made ribs and loved them until I figured out how unhealthy they are, and I spent weeks repenting.
This summer I want to make ribs once or twice and not waste the experience by serving it with a side of guilt. I’ve accepted that simply can’t go the rest of my life without them. As long as I keep it to a few times a year …
At any rate, I can blame part of my recent rib cravings on my job. I was working on a story for Sunday about stuff to see and do while driving west on Route 5. The third time I traversed the route (though I’ve done so many times before) I finally broke down and stopped at Avonia Tavern for lunch. I’d been avoiding it because I knew they’re known for wings and ribs, two of my worst dietary downfalls, but after much soul searching, I decided it was shirking my duties as a Route 5 explorer if I didn’t even know how they tasted.
So I tried them. And then it was all over.
I got this recipe for Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs on Daily Candy in my e-mail this morning, and I figured next week’s July 4 grilling mandate made a perfect excuse to write about another awesome-looking recipe for them — while I enjoyed my Avonia Tavern leftovers with lots of napkins.
Now I need a shower, but my belly is happy.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 20th, 2013

glutenThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Living Paleo For Dummies,” by Melissa Joulwan and Kellyann Petrucci. The winner is Karen Siverd. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Karen Siverd, you are eligible for “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love,” by Carlyn Berghoff, Sarah Berghoff McClure and others.

I’m ambivalent about the gluten-free trend. I by no means take issue with it as a lifestyle choice, of course. People are free to eat any way they like. I just wonder if people are thinking just because they’re not eating gluten, they’re somehow automatically healthier.
Obviously, if you’re diet is working for you, if you feel better and your doctor says you’re healthier, then that is awesome.
I just wonder if people are thinking that by skipping wheat flour, their extra weight is going to fall off, or a gluten-free diet will stave off disease, or that you can eat as much as you want as long as it’s gluten-free.
I do think, though, it’s great that the trend is shedding light on new foods people wouldn’t eat otherwise, such as brown rice, almond and soy flours and pastas.
It’s also great to see people more interested in cooking their own food and getting curious and adventurous in the kitchen. Whatever they’re eating at home is bound to be better for them than whatever they’d be eating out of vending machines or drive thrus.
This goes double for kids, especially teens who are laying the foundation for a life of cooking their food, rather than unwrapping it.

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

Here’s a recipe many teens will reach for, at least once.
The author offers this advice:
“There is one secret to great gluten-free pasta salad: Keep your ingredients dry. This pasta salad can be refrigerated for four days without getting mushy, the protein ingredients can be widely varied, and you can make nondairy and vegetarian versions.”

GLUTEN-FREE PASTA SALAD
1 pound short brown rice pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken or diced ham
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion

1. Spread the cooked pasta on a parchment-lined half sheet pan (18 by 13 inches) to cool and dry. Let rest 20 minutes.
2. Spread the peas, carrot and beans on a tray lined withy 3 thicknesses of paper towels to dry. Let rest 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk well to mix.
4. In a 6-quart bowl, place the pasta, meat, peas, carrot, beans, corn, celery, and onion. Add the dressing and toss gently but thoroughly with a silicone spatula. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Toss before serving.
– “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 18th, 2013

The June issue of Food Network Magazine yielded this treasure.

The June issue of Food Network Magazine yielded this treasure.

I haven’t cooked in a few days due to a heavy schedule of extra-curriculars, and I can’t face another dinner of leftovers/cold cereal/frozen pizza/restaurant.
Because I’m cooking for my column tomorrow, I was just sifting through books, magazines and e-mails for contenders.
The recipe-choosing process for my printed Loaves & Dishes column can take a while. The dishes have to be appealing, fresh and interesting, but not terribly exotic, expensive or overly time consuming. It can’t be horrible in the nutrition department, and when possible needs to incorporate timely ingredients, meaning in the growing season and/or holiday categories. It also needs to be photogenic.
Deep breath.
My criteria for blog posts, though, is much more flexible: If I want to make it, it qualifies. Sometimes I’m able to make them immediately, other times they fall into my rainy day pile.
Cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles escaped the arduous L&D process to find life here as a simple, summer weeknight dish. In fact, I want to make it tonight, so it more than qualifies.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 14th, 2013
Baked Avocado Salsa from www.melecotte.com, which we saw on www.hellawella.com, makes me want to race to the nearest produce section.

Baked Avocado Salsa from www.melecotte.com, which we saw on www.hellawella.com makes me want to race to the nearest produce section.

Sometimes foods get hot, white hot, as in rockstar hot, and they’re all you hear about in the foodie community for months, even years, as chefs jump on the wagon and churn out creative ways to use them. For example, you might have heard a little about bacon there for a while …
Now, thanks in part to recent Subway commercials, but a long time coming with the rise of southwestern and Latin American cuisine, avocados have hit marquis food-media status.
Consider this slideshow, 17 unbelievably delicious ways to stuff an avocado, from www.hellawella.com.
Every idea looks better than the one before it, many of them jumping off the twice-baked potato concept, highlighted by a BLT stuffed avocado, avocado with poached eggs (poached eggs are another white hot food), baked avocado salsa, baked avocado this, baked avocado that.
How about Cilantro-Lime Jalapeno Chicken Salad in Avocado? Mmm hmm. That’s what I’m talking about.
Incidentally, my husband went to Subway to get a sandwich with avocado and complained that they don’t give you enough. It remains to be seen how much would constitute enough avocado in my house, but armed with these ideas, I’m planning to find out.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 13th, 2013

9781118294055 cover.indd
Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “150 Best Desserts in a Jar,” by Andrea Jourdan. The winner is Wendy McKeen. I’ll pop it in the mail today.

If you are not Wendy McKeen, you are eligible for the drawing for “Living Paleo For Dummies,” by Melissa Joulwan and Kellyann Petrucci.

You’ve probably heard of the new-ish healthy living concept referred to as the “paleo” or “caveman” diet.
This might be you: “Oh, please, can fad diets get any weirder? What the heck is a caveman diet?”
Here’s me: “Yeah. What you said.”
Well, to be fair, it’s not really that weird. The idea is based on eliminating refined and processed foods, as well as grains and dairy, from the diet and eating whole foods such as meat and fresh fruits and vegetables like our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Proponents of eating this way claim all the usual benefits of any diet or lifestyle: lose weight, reduce inflammation, fight heart disease, cancer and diabetes and just overall feel better inside and out.
And there’s nothing to say its proponents aren’t absolutely right. We’ve all known for a while that eating Pringles, Twinkies and cheesy poofs weren’t going to score any points with our doctors.
But there’s a lot more to the paleo lifestyle than cutting Oreos and just the fact that there is a “Living Paleo for Dummies” is proof enough that the movement has gained significant traction, and a quick perusal offers up some doable tips and recipes that are more than just food for thought.

To enter the drawing, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com, including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS and NAME OF THE BOOK you want. I’ll pick one out of my “hat” next week.

In the meantime, grab your club, don your animal skin and make Club Sandwich Salad. (Sorry paleo people. I couldn’t resist) This one grabbed my eye because I’m a club sandwich fanatic. Perhaps I need to try it without the bread …

CLUB SANDWICH SALAD
4 strips high-quality, nitrate-free bacon
1 head green or red leaf lettuce, torn
2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
12 ounces cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Ranch dressing, (a paleo-friendly homemade recipe, which requires a paleo-friendly homemade mayonnaise can be found in the book)

1. Cut the bacon crosswise into 1/4-inch wide pieces and place in a large, cold skillet; turn the heat to medium-high, and fry the bacon until it’s crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a wooden spoon and drain on a paper towel.
2. Divide lettuce among four plates and line rim with cucumber slices.
3. In a large bowl, gently toss chicken, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and parsley. Divide on top of lettuce-cucumber bed.
4. Drizzle each serving with Ranch dressing, sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.
▀  Per serving: 309 calories, 13 grams fat, 8 grams fiber, 33 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrate, 972 milligrams sodium, 78 milligrams cholesterol
Values are approximate.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 12th, 2013

Can't wait to try this Strawberry Pie recipe for my hubby's Father's Day on Sunday. Thanks to www.seriouseats.com for the inspiration.

Can’t wait to try this Strawberry Pie recipe for my hubby’s Father’s Day on Sunday. Thanks to www.seriouseats.com for the inspiration.

John, my husband and father of our son, J.R., has simple tastes. All it really takes to wow him is a baked pie crust. Someday I swear I’m just going to make a plain one and serve it to him.
But not this week.
He waits patiently all year for me to bring home a fresh-picked quart of strawberries, pour in some of that ready-made Marzetti glaze-gloop, and fill up that all-important crust. But his patience ends there.
As is the problem with salsa, soup, pizza, meat, etc., he has no concept of the need to let food rest, cool, set or chill. He thinks the second I put my knife down or turn off the heat that it’s time to load up his plate. He burns his mouth at least once a week.
I think pies are best when they’re just barely warm and they really need a couple of hours to get that way, but I don’t think his year-long patience will stretch that far. But whatever, it’s his day. If he wants runny filling and a scorched tongue, so be it.
For his special day Sunday, I want to try this Strawberry Pie from www.seriouseats.com, recommended by Marnie Mead, in hopes of
elevating the experience beyond the gloop. I’m in the mood for a challenge, and want to see if I can make something even better than that one-off shortcake I touted Monday.
(I did pick up a couple tubs of the glaze gloop, just to have it on hand in case the challenge goes over my head. Maybe I’ll make another pie crust too, for his breakfast or something.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 10th, 2013

Don't get between me an a bowl of local strawberries. Just don't.

Don’t get between me an a bowl of local strawberries. Just don’t.

Hey, there. Sorry about my radio silence last week. I was at home trying to wrestle a vegetable garden into the ground. I got it in, late but better than never. With any luck, at least some of the tomatoes will be ready before the snow falls.

Between the weeding, and the weeding and the weeding, I made time for those precious local rubies gracing our presence right now. I simply cannot lay off the local strawberries.
I picked up four quarts on Saturday, and when I left for work this morning, there were about 12 berries left.
Here’s what happened:
After hitting the fruit stand, I went to the grocery store for a huge box of Cheerios, because that’s my favorite first-strawberry ritual.
Then I broke out a Marzetti’s chocolate dip and my son and I made huge messes of ourselves dipping them.

Then I made my quickest, favoritist mid-June treat:

JENNIE’S STRAWBERRY “SHORTCAKE”
1 quart of strawberries, sliced, leaves removed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups Bisquick (Yes, I use Bisquick. No, I’m not proud of it).
1/2 cup milk
1 or 2 cups fat-free half-and-half
Whipped topping of choice

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Toss the strawberries with the sugar and set aside. Note: Local berries don’t usually really need the extra sweetness, but it draws out some of the juice, which soaks into the biscuits and makes me happy.
3. Stir the Bisquick with the milk until it’s thick and sticky.
4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spoon the dough into 5 4-inch mounds on the sheet.
5. Bake 7 minutes, remove from oven and let them cool.
6. Take a biscuit, break it in half, put it at the bottom of a cereal bowl. Top with a bunch of prepared berries and pour in 1/4 half and half.
7. Top with whipped topping and serve.

P.S. I also made a pitcher of strawberry banana smoothies, and I learned that those really require drinking straws. Not really that into frothy pink mustaches.

P.P.S. I have no plans to slow down. Next up: Father’s Day Strawberry Pie. I may have to practice a few times …

Posted in: Uncategorized