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 the ‘Uncategorized’ category
Posted: July 29th, 2014
Can't lay off the Hidden Valley? Me neither. Gonna try this from Food52.com.

Can’t lay off the Hidden Valley? Me neither. Gonna try this from Food52.com.

I have many guilty pleasures. One of them is ranch dressing. I’m reminded of Homer Simpson, in a dream where he is a sultan attended by lovely goddesses. “Quick,” he said. “Bring me my ranch dressing hose.”
No, I’m not that bad. But I’m bad.
I used to virtuously ask for vinaigrette and enjoyed it. But lately its tartness actually hurts on my tongue. Don’t ask me what that’s about, but I’ll tell you, ranch has no such effect.
I know it’s terrible for me. Mayo and salt and goodness knows what else. The fat-free versions do nothing for me, though Hidden Valley’s Lite is perfect.
Nothing tastes better when I’m hungry than a lettuce, tomato and mozzarella salad with ranch.
I don’t glob it on or anything, but I do like to taste it. Many a healthy vegetable has made it into my system with a little help from my beloved ranch.
Therefore, Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dressing caught my eye yesterday. Good time, too, with home vegetable gardens, including mine, about to explode with fresh goodness.
Speaking of home gardens, by the way, I’m looking for home gardeners for a story — trying to find out if the weather has been good, or if the plants are behind because of the cold winter and spring.
Tell me how yours is growing in a note to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 28th, 2014

This recipe, from allrecipes.com, saved my Sunday.

This recipe, from allrecipes.com, saved my Sunday.

I hate when recipes include estimated times for prep and cooking. They’re ridiculous. Most recipes touted as fast simply lie. They call for pre-cooked chicken or rice, easily 20-minute jobs. Or they start the timer after the vegetables are chopped. Some with three ingredients are simply flavorless or have weird textures that make them unworthy of even the 10-minute time investment.
In general, there is fast and then there’s tasty. But is there fast AND tasty? I’ll admit it’s hard to find. Garlic Shrimp Pasta fills both bills.
I had about 500 loads of laundry to do yesterday, and at some point had to get to the grocery store before it closed, so we’d have something to eat this week. John was mowing the lawn and would surely come into the house hungry enough to chew his arm off.
I was sick of everything in my quick and easy repertoire. I started brainstorming. Shrimp is fast. (I got it raw, but it was already peeled and deveined.) Pasta is easy. Have garlic, wine, butter, Parmesan.
By the time the store closed, we were eating, and enjoying, this dish.
Warning: You don’t need the whole box of pasta, and the shrimp was only enough for three people. If you want to feed six, double the shrimp. If you want to feed two, halve the pasta.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 25th, 2014
This isn't a maybe make. This is a must make. From Epicurious.com.

This isn’t a maybe make. This is a must make. From Epicurious.com.

There are more reasons not to make Brown Butter Raspberry Tart than to make it: time, expense, effort, diet. But the reasons to make it are more important: It. Looks. Fabulous.
Plus, I get to learn how to make brown butter. Marnie Mead practically drooled on the paper when I showed her the recipe. She explained how — and why — to make brown butter. She said it dramatically changes the flavor of the butter, and for the good. How good? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?
Except that I am not good at waiting. Not for something like this. So it might even happen tonight. As in six hours from now, give or take a quick trip to the store.
If you’ve been wanting to get some local raspberries, do it. They’ll be done and gone again too soon. I’m probably just going to hit Frank’s Farm Market on my way out of town.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 24th, 2014

Scoop Adventures

Sorry it’s been so long since I had a book drawing. One thing after another prevented me from blogging for some time, and Thursdays were just the worst.
But I’m back in the saddle, now, and want to thank everyone who entered the drawing for “Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain.” The winner is Bruce E. Arkwright Jr. I’ll pop it in the mail today.
If you are not Bruce E. Arkwright Jr., you are eligible to enter the drawing for “Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of The 50 States,” by Lindsay Clendaniel.
If anyone read my homemade ice cream column in the Food section July 9, you’ll recognize Blueberry Mojito Ice Cream, the most complexly flavored recipe I’ve made in some time. The blueberries, lime, mint and rum all burst in my mouth, one at a time, and I had to keep trying it to see if was for real. It was.
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.
Here’s a simple one I want to try:


Serves 4
Allergy Milk, Peanuts
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable, Serve Cold
From book Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States


  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups grape or strawberry jam


Step 1
Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch, whisk and set aside. Whisk the peanut butter and salt in another medium bowl and set aside.
Step 2
Combine the remaining milk with they heavy cream and sugar in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the milk mixture to a low boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Pour into the bowl with the peanut butter and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl in the ice water bath to cool, 20 minutes, whisk occasionally. cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight
Step 3
Once chilled, pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon a small layer of jam into a freezer-safe container and lightly spoon a layer of ice cream on top. Continue to alternate layers of jam and ice cream until the container is full, gently swirling with a spoon (careful not to muddy the ice cream). Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 23rd, 2014

Betty Crocker has tickled my weeknight-dinner fancy. This stuff looks scoop-ably awesome.

Betty Crocker has tickled my weeknight-dinner fancy. This stuff looks scoop-ably awesome.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel like remembering/digging for an old recipe on a weeknight. It’s really much easier to just find a new one. They roll through my life like tires down a hill and I can’t catch most of them. When I’m vigilant, they wind up in little piles of want-to-make dishes at work, in my car and in my kitchen. Sometimes I even find them in my purse, battle-worn from a week of riding around in there.
Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake gives off a good make-this-tonight vibe. I’ve probably mentioned that my family (my husband) eats anything with a Mexican word in the title, leading to lots of combinations of onion, tomatoes, black beans, green chiles, chili powder, enchilada sauce, cheese, avocado, cilantro … you get my drift.
I enjoy them too, but I’ve never gotten used to the whole tortilla-layered casserole thing. The tortilla just doesn’t seem to have a purpose that way, and they’re hard to slice and serve neatly.
This one dispenses with the tortilla and subs in quinoa for the grain, healthier and much more casserole-friendly.
The weather is much cooler today than yesterday, (even though the heavy humidity is unwelcome) so firing up the oven won’t feel like such a sin.
This recipe will make it to the counter soon enough.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 22nd, 2014

Avocado in any form. Vegetables dressed in bread crumbs and baked. Best of two delicious worlds. From www.myrecipes.com.

Avocado in any form. Vegetables dressed in bread crumbs and baked. Best of two delicious worlds. From www.myrecipes.com.

Barring McDonald’s, I’m not a huge fan of french fries. This is probably because about 90 percent of the time, they’re terrible. They’re hard to get right, frankly, and unlike my husband and son, I don’t like them undercooked, fluffy, bitter, burned or cold. I don’t like them out of the freezer AT ALL, and I’ve never made a decent batch myself. Even when they’re pretty good, they’re not really that good. Oh, I’ll eat them if they’re in front of me. Don’t get me wrong. But I’d just as soon eat Brussels sprouts. And I hate Brussels sprouts.
For some reason, however, I love other vegetables breaded and baked (or fried). This includes zucchini, green tomatoes and eggplant. When I was a kid, we went to a greasy spoon down by the lake all the time that had the most amazing breaded and deep-fried green pepper rings. I wish I knew how to make those. Or perhaps not.
Anyway, I think deep fried food is overrated in general. Drag veggies through breadcrumbs and bake them, though, and I’ll meet you at the oven, plate in hand.
Well, fresh local baby zucchini is coming into gardens and produce sections now, and will be unstoppable for the next few weeks.
I want to try this recipe for these Baked Zucchini Fries as soon as possible.
Also, in honor of the avocado recipes coming in Loaves & Dishes tomorrow, Avocado Fries are tantalizing.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 21st, 2014
It's not easy to put a new spin on grilled chicken. This one from allrecipes.com looks promising.

It’s not easy to put a new spin on grilled chicken. This one from all recipes.com looks promising.

Over the weekend, I had a sumptuous nectarine, and the flavor burst in my mouth and blew through my mid-summer stupor. All of a sudden, I can’t get enough stone fruit.
It’s just about time to start looking for local plums, peaches, etc. Well, maybe give or take a couple of weeks. As you can see, I’m waiting impatiently.
But I should say even the ripe ones in the grocery store are pretty good right now, and I desperately need a new way to dress up grilled chicken, which will be on the homestead menu at some point this week.
This recipe for Grilled Chicken with Peach Sauce from allrecipes.com is making it hard for me to concentrate this afternoon.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 16th, 2014

Can't wait to try this with some snips from my overgrown herb garden.

Can’t wait to try this with some snips from my overgrown herb garden.

This is the time of year when I start to feel guilty.
Well, I should qualify that. This is the time of year when I start to feel guilty about gardening.
I am, ostensibly, an avid gardener. I have vegetables and flowers and herbs and trees and bushes filling seven plots around our one acre.
I work hard all spring, or most of spring, well, some of it, to get the weeds out and encourage the good stuff to be good.
And then I think I’m done. The weeds come back, the vegetables ripen, the herbs flower. In truth, my herb garden has become more of a habitat than a cultivated plot.
Meanwhile, the trees and bushes reach out to be fixed and trimmed, and I walk past all of it every day after work, right into the house to put my feet up/make dinner/shop/drink beer/go on Facebook, and think about how I really need to get out there … just as soon as … whatever.
The herbs are the worst. I hate buying herbs. They cost too much and I never use them all. I try to dry the extras, but I’m pretty half-hearted about that, too. But just the thought of them going to flower gives me an instant shot of negative energy.
All this said, I do love going out the back door with a pair of shears and poking through the weeds looking for my thyme, mint, oregano, chives, etc. I also keep, somewhat successfully, when I think to water it, basil on the windowsill in the kitchen. Nothing gives me more embarrassment than waking up in the morning and finding that half dead.
What I need is something to put them all in.
Martha Stewart recently had a slideshow of ways to use leftover herbs that has re-energized my resolve to
actually use the fruits of my mediocre labor. I really want to try
Garlic-Herb Yogurt … just as soon as … whatever.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 9th, 2014

This Food Network dish is right in my wheel house. I even have the basil already.

This Food Network dish is right in my wheel house. I even have the basil already.

There are recipes, and then there are sun-dried tomato recipes. I have what can only be described as a mind-jerk reaction when I see sun-dried tomato in a headline.
It’s pretty much the same with pesto.
Imagine my delight at finding Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in my inbox today.
There are few pasta recipes that can’t be improved with the addition of a handful of tangy, intensely flavored sun-dried tomatoes. I have a baked penne casserole recipe that calls for them, a hummus recipe that’s downright addictive, and now I have this.
I can’t wait to get home and try it. I’ll even heat up a side of meatballs for my husband, who doesn’t think it’s dinner unless some animal died.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 8th, 2014

Hidden Valley recipe, plus a bit of goat cheese won over this kale hater.

Hidden Valley recipe, plus a bit of goat cheese won over this kale hater.

I’m not kale’s biggest fan. The few times I’ve used it, I was annoyed by the prep, of getting rid of that big, woody stem, and how it just never seems to soften like other greens. I even tried kale chips which everyone raves about, but they did nothing for me.
Last weekend, however, I saw the light.
First, my friend Amy made Fresh Strawberry Walnut Kale Salad for our July 4 party, and it didn’t last the night. It was just plain addictive. I found myself sneaking bites out of the bowl every time I walked by. She had added a few ounces of creamy goat cheese, which sure didn’t hurt.
With that fresh in my memory, John and I found a bag of dwarf kale at a farmers market Saturday. I loved it because the stems were much smaller and I didn’t even bother cutting them out. I put it in the blender with with frozen strawberries and Greek yogurt for a super-healthy Strawberry Kale Smoothie.
That might sound disgusting, but it sure wasn’t. It made about 5 cups, enough for two large glasses of yumminess, which I served with big, fat milkshake straws I got at a dollar store, that didn’t get plugged up with little chunks. We were soon making that straw-in-an-empty-glass sound — the universal sign of beverage satisfaction.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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