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
Posted: February 27th, 2014

veggie cureThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “World Food Cafe: Vegetarian Bible.” The winner is Tom Smith. I’ll pop it in the mail.

If you are not Tom Smith, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy, and Beauty,”.
I’m surrounded by vegetarians, and they’re closing in.
A close coworker avoids red meat. Both of my folks have suddenly gone vegetarian, and I get vegan or vegetarian cookbook in the mail at least once a week.
To top it off, some lady wrote to my boss about a recent print column. She was complaining about the photo, which contained medium-rare steak. She said it looked like whoever wrote about it was a “300-pound carnivore,” and she said it like that’s a bad thing.
I do have to admit, I’m paying attention. My folks’ cholesterol counts are way down, and I can always find at least one great-looking recipe to keep in my want-to-make file.
Stuff like this one for Cauliflower Crusted Mozzarella Pizza.

(BY THE WAY, To enter the drawing for the book, send an e-mail to jennie.geisler@timesnews.com including your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS AND NAME OF THE BOOK YOU WANT.)



  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup riced cauliflower (see note)
  • 1/2 cup skim mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup no-salt-added 1 percent cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or Italian seasoning or basil)
  • 2 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • Toppingsof choice (such as mushrooms, peppers, squash, eggplant)
  • 3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella (for topping)


To rice cauliflower: Chop a half head of cauliflower into small pieces and microwave for 6 minutes. Let the cauliflower cool 5 minutes or run it under cold water in a strainer. Rice it either by using a cheese grater or lightly blending in a food processor, keeping its texture coarse.


Step 1
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.
Step 2
Crush garlic and allow it to sit 5 minutes to promote its health-boosting benefits.
Step 3
Place riced cauliflower in a medium bowl. Add cheeses, eggs, garlic and seasoning and mix with a spatula into a coarse pizza dough. Place on the greased baking sheet. Using your hands, form a pie by pressing down until it's uniformly about 1 inch thick.
Step 4
Bake crust in oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. After you take it out, top with pizza sauce and toppings of your choice like mushrooms, green pepper, or yellow squash. Sprinkle with the additional 3 tablespoons of mozzarella and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 25th, 2014

This White Chicken Chili is simple and satisfying. Tided us over during a cold, windy Saturday night.

This White Chicken Chili is simple and satisfying. Tided us over during a cold, windy Saturday night.

Sometimes I love not having plans on a Saturday. I can laze about while folding laundry, go out for kicks to the grocery store, tinker with some urgent household repair.
Then again, maybe having plans is better after all.
This past weekend, we all got so bored and stir crazy, we went bowling. It was about 5 p.m., and practically had the place to ourselves. I assume this is because everyone else in town had plans.
It’s also possible that they’ve all become so depressed about the weather, they’ve given up leaving the house altogether. The thought has crossed my mind.
The one bright spot that night was White Chicken Chili. Easy to put together, lots of warmth, a nice break for our winter-weary tastebuds.
My little grocery store didn’t have poblanos, so I just used green bell pepper and added a smidge more chili powder. It calls for ancho, but you can just use regular. Really, at this point in this seemingly endless winter, all I wanted was to get warm from the inside out. That the soup was delicious was icing on the cake. Icing, brrrr. Perhaps “frosting.” No that’s no better. Let’s call it “gravy.” But not on a cake. That would be gross.
The chili (perhaps another wrong word) was just good, darn it.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 24th, 2014
Parade magazine caught my eye with this one on their weekly newsletter. Huge hit at home.

Parade magazine caught my eye with this one on their weekly newsletter. Huge hit at home.

The headline for this recipe for Fast Chicken Enchiladas was “Make These Chicken Enchiladas in 10 Minutes.” Yeah, well, no. Obviously, you can’t make enchiladas in 10 minutes, but I read it anyway, intrigued.
They mean the prep. Apparently the 20 minutes it has to spend in the oven don’t count.
But even knowing this, I forged ahead. We love Tex-Mex at my house, and I was emotionally committed before I knew it.
The only trouble was I was in Conneaut when I shopped, and tomatillos were nowhere to be found. It called for 7 of the fruit that has taken up residence in any supermarket. But at my diminutive market, I couldn’t even find them canned or frozen.
I could find, however, Frontera brand tomatillo salsa. Not only did that work, it was better than if I’d found them fresh, because it was all loaded up with onions and spices. Also, no chopping. Only a whirl in the blender. I didn’t even need to puree it, but not doing that felt like pushing the cheating envelope too far. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will not bother with the blender. You could also just use green enchilada sauce. Same thing, really. Just smooth and not chunky.
I added this dish to my growing list of amazing stuff you can make with a rotisserie chicken.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 21st, 2014
A newsroom treat Thursday included Smith's hot dogs. I used the recipe from ETN retiree Elaine Brady. It's both simple and powerful, not an easy combination.

A newsroom treat Thursday included Smith’s hot dogs. I used the recipe from ETN retiree Elaine Brady. It’s both simple and powerful, not an easy combination.

As a transplant, I’ve found that lifelong Erie residents don’t know how good they have it.
Generations-old classic butcher shops, sausage makers, chocolatiers, bakeries and delis serve up Erie specialties such as sponge candy, Smith’s natural casing wieners, homemade sausage, pepperoni balls and ox roast. Also and especially Greek sauce.
A lot of people don’t even seem to know that there’s a whole wide world out there that’s never even heard of most of these, let alone enjoyed them. I grew up only 75 miles from here and I’d never heard of them when I got here 15 years ago.
I’ve learned to love nearly all of it (except sponge candy, which I can only take in small doses).
So, in my mind, I’ve joined Erie’s culinary community now that I have a wonderful recipe for Greek sauce.
For the uninitiated, Greek sauce is a spicy, burger-based sauce you use to dress your hot dogs, especially Smith’s. It’s a little like a cony dog, or a chili dog, but with a lot more zip.
A former Erie Times-News employee and Erie foodie Elaine Brady has supplied half the building with her recipe. I made a huge batch of it yesterday for an office “picnic” pot luck that starred hot dogs cooked on a George Foreman grill.
It wasn’t only a hit in the newsroom, which I appreciated — after all, most of these folks have had access to Greek sauce all their lives — but also at home with my husband, who’d never had it before.
You won’t, or at least I couldn’t, believe how easy it is:


Serves 8
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Condiment
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party
By author adapted from recipe by ETN retiree Elaine Brady


  • 1lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, see note (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, see note (NOT optional)
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • 15oz canned tomato sauce
  • 1 can water
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard


You can use less crushed red pepper. I used half of it.
You can skip the cayenne pepper if you don't like hot stuff. I used half of it, too.
Cumin, however, is absolutely necessary. I added 1 1/2 teaspoons.


Step 1
In a medium sauce pan, fry and drain ground beef. Set aside. Meanwhile, combine spices, basil through cumin.
Step 2
Add onions to the pot and fry 5 minutes, or until soft. Add spice blend and stir for 1 minute.
Step 3
Add the beef, tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 20th, 2014

world-food-cafe-vegetarian-bible-131154l2Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Estee Kafna’s Cooking Inspired.” The winner is Teresa Chatman.
I’ll pop it in the mail today.
If you are not Teresa Chatman, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible: Over 200 Recipes From Around the World,” by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott.
This book is amazing. I got two copies, so I went through one copy and marked a bunch of stuff for my mom, who recently went vegetarian. The recipes surely do traverse the globe, some from every continent, even islands such as French Polynesia and the Caribbean.
The book reads a lot like a National Geographic that happens to include recipes. It’s even the same kind of very heavy paper that was the NG trademark for decades. The hardback book, at 381 pages, contains gazillions of vibrant photos, and delicious-sounding dishes.
The one thing you should know is that it’s written by someone who learned English in Britain, and some ingredients sound exotic and hard to find, but they’re often just different names for items commonly available here, such as “dessertspoons” for tablespoons. “Aubergine” for eggplant. “Corriander leaves” for cilantro.
If you get stuck, visit cook’s thesaurus.com and plug in the name. It’ll give you all kinds of words that mean the same thing, or at least an acceptable substitute you can actually find.
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 do not store or share this information.
Here’s the one recipe I made for myself, from French Polynesia:


Serves 4
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan
Meal type Appetizer, Soup, Starter
Misc Serve Hot
From book "World Food Cafe: Vegetarian Bible: Over 200 Recipes from Around the World"


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1.5lb sweet potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (coarsely ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 pint vegetable stock
  • 1/2 pint coconut milk
  • 1 salt (to taste)
  • handful cilantro (chopped for garnish)


Step 1
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and garlic, and sauté until soft.
Step 2
Add the sweet potato and fry until it starts to soften. Stir in the spices and fry for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer until the sweet potato is soft.
Step 3
Add the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Blend the soup until smooth. Return it to the heat and gently heat until hot enough to serve, adding water if necessary.
Step 4
Add salt to taste and serve with the cilantro and a warm baguette.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 19th, 2014

Look at this lusciousness that I found on allrecipes.com.

Look at this lusciousness that I found on allrecipes.com.

I love egg salad. To be less precise, I love eggs, anyway I can get them. Hard-cooked ones don’t last long when I’m around — not even my mother in law’s purple pickled ones.
As for egg salad, I could eat it with a spoon. I only put it in a sandwich when other people are looking.
Eggs are pretty good for you, a lean source of protein,. It’s the mayo in egg salad that bears homicidal tendencies.
Imagine my delight at finding this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad, which calls for mashed avocados in place of mayonnaise.
Considering avocados sit on my favorites shelf right next to the eggs, this is a pretty big deal: Tasty and creamy AND nutritious.
I’ll admit that the resulting egg salad is green, and it might not win any beauty contests. Unless the judges get to taste it. Then it will win a lot of hearts and minds.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 13th, 2014

cooking inspired2Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing for “Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook,” by Dan Whalen. The winner is Stacy Angerer. I’ll pop it in the mail today. It’s a good one.

If you are not Stacy Angerer, you are eligible to enter the drawing for “Cooking Inspired,” by Estee Kafra.
This gorgeous black shiny hardback is a treasure trove of kosher recipes from www.kosherscoop.com. It’s a huge collection of classic and innovative Jewish recipes an cooking tips.
The author hopes to inspire home cooks to get creative with more than 200 recipes.
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.
In the meantime, Kafra’s “My Family’s Favorite Soup” should tide us over.


Serves 6
Allergy Milk
Meal type Soup
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only (sliced)
  • 5 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (sliced, optional)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup milk (low-fat is fine)


Step 1
Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, carrots and celery, if using, and cook slowly for about 10 minutes or until very soft.
Step 2
Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook 20 minutes.
Step 3
Stir in the oats and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender and puree. Stir in milk and reheat gently before serving.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 12th, 2014

Sugar Cutout Cookies are pure deception. They seem simple. Make easy dough, cut, bake, decorate.
No, no, no, no, no.
They are actually a time-consuming serious art form that requires planning and plenty of advice from a veteran.
After reading about my most recent lousy cutout cookie experience at Christmastime, my friend Mary Birdsong offered up her mother’s recipe. She also took me under her wing last weekend to show me how it’s done.
Christmas is a big time for cutout cookies, but they really apply to any season or celebration. We used heart-shaped cutters and decorated in pink, red, pink, purple and white for, obviously, Valentine’s Day.
Armed with Mary’s knowledge, you (and I) should be able to tame the sugar cutout cookie tiger.



  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


Step 1
Mix well butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in cream and vanilla. Mary uses her food processor.
Step 2
Sift together and stir dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into wet until thoroughly incorporated. Dough may be tinted at this point if desired. Chill 4 to 5 hours to overnight. Mary does it overnight. If the dough isn't cold enough, it won't cut cleanly and will stick to any surface and rolling pin.
Step 3
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Step 4
Roll out dough one quarter at a time and keep the rest in the fridge while you work. Using quite a bit of flour, Mary rolls the cookies very thin, no higher than 1/4 inch, for slightly crisp cookies that bake quickly. (She likes the ones that get too dark, and now so do I.)
Step 5
When Mary cuts out the cookies, she presses down on the cutter, moves dough edges out of her way, and slides the cutter to the edge of her board to let the cookie fall out of the cutter into her opposite hand.
Step 6
Place the cookies on rimless, ungreased cookie sheets and bake until slightly golden. She checked her very thin cookies at 4 minutes. They overcook quickly.
Step 7
Let stand for only a minute on sheets. Any longer and the cookies will stick to the pan and break when you try to remove them. Place on a cooking rack until firm enough to decorate.
Step 8
Mary's Icing: Combine some milk, butter and smidge of vanilla in a small pot and heat until the butter melts. Stir warm mixture with powdered sugar until desired consistency. She does not know amounts. I think I saw her add a cup of milk, a couple tablespoons of butter and stirred just some of the liquid into roughly a cup of powdered sugar until she was happy with the consistency, a little like school glue, but way tastier.
Step 9
Sprinkle with colored sanding sugar, nonpareils or sprinkles and allow icing to set up before storing.
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 11th, 2014

A Valentine's Day without chocolate is just plain wrong. This old favorite is made simple by Martha Stewart's minions.

A Valentine’s Day without chocolate is just plain wrong. This old favorite is made simple by Martha Stewart’s minions.

For those intrepid home cooks hoping to make Friday’s Valentine’s Day special, Molten Chocolate Cake would make a fabulous ending to an elegant dinner. Or an ending to a dinner of frozen pizza. Or simply in place of dinner itself. (The recipe makes 6 …).
I’ve never attempted one of these, but the recipe seems pretty doable. It’s just batter, melted chocolate, 8 minutes in the oven, and a spoon.
Or a fork. I’m not certain just which piece of flatware would be most appropriate. Just don’t use your hands. It’s not a muffin. It’s a volcano of chocolate and it won’t look good dripping off your chin.
(though your valentine might think differently …)

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 10th, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Soup will warm us up during mid-week freeze.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup will warm us up during mid-week freeze.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Erie in my 15 years here, it’s that Erie residents have strong feelings about the weather. There’s always something to say about it, and there’s always one in the crowd who feels even more strongly about the people who talk about it.
“It’s Erie. It’s winter. What do you expect?”
“You think this is cold? I remember … ”
“It’s snow, people. It happens every year.”
I am of the group who likes to complain about the weather. For what it’s worth, I also exalt on beautiful days. At any rate, no matter who you are, you have to admit this winter has been brutal. If it’s not lake effect, it’s below zero. Wind chills are miserable. The roads have been treacherous for weeks and weeks. If we’re not shoveling, we’re scraping. If we’re not shoveling or scraping, we’re snow-blowing. Pipes are freezing, utility bills are soaring. This week promises more bitter cold, some snow, and a bumper crop of pot holes.
For goodness sake, get inside, shut the door and think warm thoughts. Think sweatshirts and throw blankets. Think comfort food. Wouldn’t it be nice to go home to a steamy Chicken Pot Pie?
You can, even on a Tuesday.
No need to deal with a crust. Just toss some ingredients into a slow cooker and brave the weather all day, knowing your reward is waiting: Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie Soup Recipe

Posted in: Uncategorized

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