Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicken Tonight

Kids Summer Chicken Meal Tips
Getting kids to eat a healthy meal without turning your kitchen into a sweltering sweat box isn’t hard. Save time by making large batches of boneless, skinless chicken and cutting up summer fruits and vegetables.

Chicken Salad with Asian Pear
Pecan-crusted chicken, Asian pear, strawberry slices and other fruits make this chicken salad a delicious summer treat, perfect for potlucks and picnics.

Sesame-Ginger Chicken Salad
Keep your cool on a hot summer day with a delicious salad made with oven-roasted chicken breast, ready-to-eat mixed-green salad, tomatoes, candied ginger, sesame vinaigrette and seasoned mayonnaise. The crisp iceberg, romaine and butter-crunch lettuce, baby spinach and Swiss chard quench thirst and cool your body while the sesame and ginger soothe your stomach.

Tahiti Sunrise Chicken Salad
Pineapple, chicken and cilantro combine in a piquant dish that will wake your taste buds. The bell peppers supply vitamin A and C while the red onion and chive flowers strengthen your immune system. With red and black pepper opening your airways to increase your oxygen flow to the brain, you are ready to tackle anything the day has in store.

Tortilla Soup
If you like nachos, you will love this hearty, southwestern soup. The crunchy tortilla strips and lime-kissed avocado provide the perfect accompaniment to fresh chicken and diced tomatoes. When you want a midwinter change of pace, this soup brings you the flavors of Old Mexico.

Fried Chicken Livers
Although many people avoid eating organ meats, chicken livers provide almost 26 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. They also provide significant amounts of iron, phosphorus, potassium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, betaine, B-12, and more than 14,000 IU of vitamin A, according to the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Their creamy inside texture and crunchy exterior make them a true indulgence, despite their high cholesterol content.

Roast Chicken with Jambalaya Stuffing
Give roast chicken a Cajun twist using jambalaya made with fresh bell peppers, onions and garlic, cayenne pepper sauce, zucchini and yellow summer squash. This chicken travels well in a casserole carrier if you want to take it to a potluck. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Orange O'Brien-Stuffed Roast Chicken
Walmart had whole chickens on sale for 69 cents a pound today, so I got one. I used a $10 Walmart gift card that I earned through MyPoints to buy it, so the chicken, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and cola I bought today were essentially free. I didn't have any stuffing mix or rice, so I decided to create something new. The result was this beautiful chicken, stuffed with orange-infused O'Brien potatoes.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Cheesy chicken broccoli rice is a potluck classic that you can take anywhere. This heart-healthy chicken dish is ready in 30 minutes. Serve with fresh spinach or kale, halved grape tomatoes and red and green pepper strips for an even more festive dish.

Creamy Chicken Rice Bake
One of the most comforting casseroles — creamy chicken rice bake — goes from counter to oven to table in under 45 minutes when you keep diced or shredded chicken on hand. Sherry and chicken broth add flavor to a basmati and wild rice mixture that will please your palate any time. Take this casserole to any picnic or potluck and watch it disappear.

Chicken and Brown Rice with Mango-ginger Salsa
Bring the Caribbean into your kitchen with this one-pot chicken and brown rice meal topped with fresh mango salsa. Raw mango provides 25 percent of your day’s vitamin A and 76 percent of your daily vitamin C per 1-cup serving, making it an effective mid-day pick-me-up. One serving of raw mango provides folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Mango salsa make a delicious base for lassi drinks. Just add it to one pint of plain or vanilla yogurt and two cups of ice in a blender.

Healthy Chicken Casserole
While chicken is a healthy meat, most chicken casserole recipes feature too much salt, add carbohydrates without any increase in vitamin and mineral content, and result in a dish that does the body more harm than good. This dish is high in vitamins C and A, manganese and potassium.
Serves 10
Serving size 3/4 cup
121 calories per serving
Glycemic index 7
Anti-inflammatory +85

In a large, high-sided casserole dish, mix sliced potatoes, chicken, apricots, black pepper, oregano and no-salt chicken stock. Substituting rosemary or cilantro for oregano changes the vitamin and mineral percentages, but does not decrease the anti-inflammatory property of the dish or increase its glycemic index per serving. Cover with foil and bake in oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Omit the oregano in the casserole if you are going to use fresh cilantro in the pineapple-pepper relish.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup crushed raw pineapple with juice, 1 small chopped red bell pepper, 1 oz. chopped scallions and 4 cloves minced raw garlic. Toss well to make a relish. Serve pineapple-pepper relish raw over chicken casserole. The raw relish retains all the essential vitamins and minerals while adding a sweet and sour kick to the dish.

2 cups homemade chicken stock, no salt
1 cup chopped or diced, roasted chicken breast
2 large red potatoes, sliced, with peels
1 cup dried apricots
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 cup raw pineapple, crushed
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 oz scallions, small, chopped
4 cloves raw, minced garlic
Optional: 1 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro

Cashew Chicken
Quick and healthy semi-homemade meals give you more time to spend enjoying life. Substitute extra-firm tofu chunks for the chicken and it becomes a vegan treat. Use fresh, local, organically-grown vegetables. This dish travels well if you want to take it to a potluck.

Yellow-Pepper Chicken Leg Quarters with Carrots and Potatoes
Lock flavor into chicken leg quarters. Diced Hungarian waxed yellow peppers, thin-sliced Vidalia onions, chopped celery, minced garlic and fresh-ground black pepper blended into a lime, orange juice, soy sauce and Louisiana hot sauce marinade soak into tender baby carrots and buttery Yukon Gold potato wedges. Top the vegetables with marinated chicken and let the juices drip down while they cook.

How (Not) to Make Beer Can Chicken
Beer can chicken is an interesting idea, but it takes a little extra preparation to make it work over an open camp fire. In theory, the beer can heats the chicken from the inside out, while the beer steams and marinates the meat, resulting in tender, moist chicken.

Delightful Desserts

Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Bonbons
Gourmet chocolates cost anywhere from $20 a pound or more, but you can make your own caramel-hazelnut cream-cheese bonbon chocolates for about three dollars a pound. These bonbons make excellent gifts for housewarmings, teacher appreciation days and last-minute holiday guests. Make a pyramid of caramel-hazelnut bonbons on a tiered tray lined with gold doilies over snow-white cake boards and use it as a centerpiece.

16 oz. cream cheese
5 C powdered sugar
1/4 C coffee crystals
1 1/2 C cocoa powder
1 lb. caramels
1 lb. whole, shelled hazelnuts
2 lbs. semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature. Gradually work five cups of powdered sugar into the cream cheese, one cup at a time. Sift the cocoa powder and coffee crystals together and work them into the cream cheese mixture until well-blended.

Soften the caramels in the microwave for 20 seconds on high power, just enough to make them pliable. Push a hazelnut into the center of each caramel. Mold a teaspoon or so of the cream cheese mixture around each caramel-covered hazelnut. Place each cream-cheese-coated, caramel-covered hazelnut in a bonbon paper on a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight.

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate morsels in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave. Pour the chocolate over each cream-cheese fondant center one tablespoon at a time until covered at least 1/8-inch thick. Allow the caramel-hazelnut chocolate bonbons to harden to room temperature. Place them in a 9-inch cookie tin or serve them on a gold scalloped cake board.

Buckeye Candy: Inside Out
If you enjoy making traditional, chocolate-coated buckeyes with peanut butter centers, try this last-minute Christmas gift idea: make them inside-out. Adults and older teens melt the chocolate and butterscotch morsels for the fudge centers and the candy coating. Younger children roll the fudge squares into balls and push skewers into each buckeye center and adults or teens can swirl the centers in a mixture of melted butterscotch and peanut butter.

3 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips, 12 oz. each
3 C smooth peanut butter
Double boiler
1/2 stick real butter
Small glass baking dish
Microwave oven
Wooden spoon
2 jars marshmallows cream, 7 oz. each
2 cans sweetened, condensed milk
9-by-12-inch glass baking dish
2 bags butterscotch chips, 12 oz. each
Package of bamboo skewers
Package of bonbon papers
Gift boxes, candy trays or fancy dishes
Squares of gold foil

This simple recipe makes nearly five pounds of butterscotch-coated, chocolate-fudge buckeyes. First, melt the bags of semi-sweet chocolate morsels over a double boiler. Melt the butter in a separate glass dish in the microwave. Drizzle the butter into the melted chocolate morsels while stirring the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until well-blended. Stir in the marshmallow cream and the sweetened, condensed milk until well-blended.

Butter a 9-by-12-inch glass baking dish. Spread the chocolate fudge mixture evenly in the dish and allow it to cool overnight, then cut the fudge into 1-inch squares. Roll each fudge square into a ball to make the inside-out buckeye centers. Refrigerate them until each center is firm.

Melt the butterscotch chips over a double boiler. Stir in three cups of smooth peanut butter. Push a bamboo skewer into each chocolate fudge buckeye center. Dip each fudge center in the melted butterscotch chips, swirling it around to ensure that all but a 3/4-inch circle around the skewer gets an even coat of candy. Place each finished inside-out buckeye candy in a bonbon paper to cool.

Plunge the double boiler, glass bowl and the glass baking dish into hot water and allow them to soak for five minutes before rinsing them clean. Remove the bamboo skewers from each buckeye, using gentle, even pressure to avoid squashing them. Place the buckeye candies in a gift box, candy tray or fancy dish. Display your inside-out buckeye candy in their bonbon wrappers or wrap each one in gold foil.

Fill a candy box with these delicious inside-out treats, along with a batch of regular buckeyes and some homemade hardtack candy. Take it a step further: wrap each inside-out buckeye in gold, red or green foil, pile them in a Christmas tree shape, and top them with a gold bow to make an edible centerpiece.

Pumpkin Yogurt Fluff
Serve a dollop of pumpkin yogurt fluff with peaches and pears for a healthy, delicious appetizer. It also makes a delicious, creamy dip for ginger snaps. Creamy, yogurt-based pumpkin fluff has all the flavor of pumpkin pie with far less cholesterol.

3 pie pumpkins
Carving knife
2 cookie sheets
Coarse sea salt
32 oz. vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp. ground mace
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. granulated ginger
3 Tbsp. apple cider
1 C powdered sugar
Coffee grinder
3 dried vanilla beans
3 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise pods
White chocolate curls
Candied ginger slices
Holiday serving platter
1 pound ginger snaps
Two cans peach halves, 30 oz. each
Two cans pear halves, 30 oz. each
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Decorative serving bowl

Remove the top of each pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and innards. Rinse the innards from the pumpkin seeds. Toss the pumpkin seeds with coarse sea salt, spread them on a cookie sheet and set them aside to bake later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the scooped-out pie pumpkins on a cookie sheet and bake until the flesh is soft, about 45 to 90 minutes. Test the softness of the pumpkin flesh with a fork after 45 minutes, and again every 20 minutes until done. Cut the pumpkin flesh into 2-inch chunks and puree it in a food processor.

Pour the pureed pumpkin, vanilla yogurt, nutmeg, granulated ginger, apple cider, and powdered sugar into the food processor. Pulse everything in the food processor until the pumpkin and the vanilla yogurt blend to a uniform color.
Break the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks into the coffee grinder. Add the star anise pods and pulse for two seconds at a time until everything grinds into fine powder. Add the spices to the pumpkin and vanilla yogurt fluff.

Drain the peaches and pears, reserving the juice for your holiday punch. Pat them dry on paper towels. Place a dollop of pumpkin yogurt fluff in each peach or pear half. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate morsels in the top half of a double boiler. Drizzle melted chocolate over the pumpkin yogurt fluff topping on each peach or pear half. Arrange the peach and pear halves on a holiday serving platter.

Scrape the remaining pumpkin yogurt fluff into a decorative serving bowl. Top it with curls of white chocolate and slices of candied ginger. Place the serving bowl full of pumpkin yogurt fluff in the center of a holiday serving platter and surround it with ginger snaps.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
The first Thanksgiving dinner would certainly have featured fresh or dried cranberries. This light, fluffy cranberry cream cheese fruit dip is the perfect accompaniment to sliced apples, whole strawberries and vanilla wafers. Cranberries supplied the colonists with potassium, vitamins A and C, lutein and zeaxanthin. The cream cheese supplies calcium, phosphorus, folate and choline.

Food processor
1 lb. whole cranberries
3 Tbsp. orange juice
2 packages cream cheese
1 C powdered sugar
2-qt. serving bowl
Lemon peel curls
Orange peel curls
1 lb. sliced Granny Smith, Jonagold or Gala apples
2-quart mixing bowl
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 pint whole fresh strawberries
1 box red and green cocktail toothpicks 1 pound vanilla wafers
Holiday serving platter

Pulse 1 pound of whole cranberries for two seconds at a time in a 2-quart food processor until coarsely chopped. Pulsing in short bursts ensures that the cranberries will not liquefy. Add the orange juice, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Pulse the mixture in 3-second bursts until the ground cranberries are marbled throughout the cream cheese. Stop while some of the cream cheese still remains white. Scrape the cranberry cream cheese mixture into a 2-quart serving bowl and top it with curls of orange peel and lemon peel.

Place the sliced Granny Smith, Jonagold or Gala apples in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Sprinkle them with the lemon juice and raw sugar. Toss the sliced apples until they are coated all over with the sweetened lemon juice. Rinse the strawberries and pat them dry on paper towels. Stick a red or green cocktail toothpick into the stem end of each strawberry.

Place the bowl of cranberry cream cheese fruit dip in the center of a divided serving platter. Fill the spaces in the divided platter with vanilla wafers, sliced apples and whole fresh strawberries.

Teach Preschool Reading: Gingerbread Letter Cookies
Preschool children learn best when they can manipulate objects. Making gingerbread letters helps your child master letter recognition while having fun in the kitchen. Make several batches, so that you have three to four of each letter. Use the letters to spell the names of family members, favorite toys and other items your child interacts with daily. Have your child dictate stories and use the letters to spell each word.

1 C vegetable shortening
1 C granulated sugar 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 C molasses
2 Tbsp. vinegar
5 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Cream the shortening, sugar and salt together until smooth and evenly mixed. Stir in the egg, molasses and vinegar. Beat well. Add the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and stir until all ingredients are completely incorporated into the mixture. Work the flour into the molasses mixture until all the flour is incorporated, resulting in stiff, sticky dough.

Roll the dough into a log and chill for two hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll your gingerbread dough to 1/8-inch thicknesses, and then into 1/2-inch wide strips. Help your child shape each strip into an alphabet letter.

Place all of the alphabet cookies 1-inch apart on a greased or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 6 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from oven. Allow your alphabet gingerbread cookies to finish cooling on wire racks. Store in a tightly covered tin. Keeps well for 3-4 weeks.

Gingerbread People
Fill your cookie jar or tea tray with these delicious, traditional gingerbread people. Blackstrap molasses provides the traditional gingerbread-cookie flavor that is missing in store-bought cookies. Dried cranberries replace raisins as buttons and eyes for a tasty twist.

1 C vegetable shortening
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 C blackstrap molasses
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
5 C all-purpose flour
1 C dried cranberries

Cream together the shortening, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Stir the egg, blackstrap molasses and vinegar into the sugar mixture and beat until well-blended. Stir the flour into the molasses mixture one cup at a time until it is all incorporated into stiff gingerbread cookie dough. Chill the dough for two hours.

Dust the counter with flour and roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a gingerbread person cutter to cut the dough to shape. Space gingerbread cookies 1-inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Press dried cranberries into the face for eyes and into the belly area for buttons, or use raisins for a more traditional gingerbread cookie.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool lightly before you transfer the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. Store your gingerbread people in a cookie tin with a tight cover. These cookies keep well for three to four weeks.

No-bake Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
For a quick, cold, sweet summer treat, mix up some creamy, no-bake cheesecake. Top it with strawberry jam and serve it fresh or frozen for maximum enjoyment. From start to finish, this velvet-textured cheesecake is ready to eat in as little as 15 minutes.

8 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
3-ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
2-quart mixing bowl
Pastry whisk
1 C whole milk
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
Rubber scraper
1 graham cracker crust
1/4 C strawberry jam
1 tsp. lemon juice

Optional: sliced strawberries, peaches, mango, kiwi fruit or star fruit
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1 whole lemon, lime or orange
Lemon zester

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon pudding mix in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Use a fork or a pastry whisk to mix everything together into a smooth paste. Add the milk, lemon or lime juice and the vanilla flavoring. Mix everything together until the mixture is creamy and well-blended.

Pour the cheesecake mixture into a graham cracker crust. Use a rubber scraper to get all the mixture from the bowl and to smooth the top of the cheesecake to an even depth, with a slight dip in the center.

Mix the jam and lemon juice together and pour it onto the center of the cheesecake, smoothing it evenly without making it touch the edges of the graham cracker crust. Arrange sliced strawberries on top of the jam sauce if desired, along with curls of lemon or lime zest. Whip 1/2 pint of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar together to make whipped topping if desired.

Cover the cheesecake with the plastic insert from the graham cracker crust. Refrigerate the cheesecake for 15 minutes, or place it in the freezer for 5 to 15 minutes. Place your no-bake cheesecake on a bed of ice if you take it to picnics or potlucks, to keep it from becoming runny. Substitute orange juice, orange zest and orange marmalade for the lemon juice, lemon zest and strawberry jam of desired. Nearly any type of jam makes good topping for cheesecake. Just substitute a corresponding fruit that matches its flavor profile.

Carrot Cake Topped With Caramel Apples
Sweet grated carrot, crisp chopped apples, cinnamon and ginger combine in a moist fall cake topped with caramel sauce and sliced apples. Serve each slice of carrot cake warm with a cup of mulled cider while you watch a fall sunrise, for a relaxing recharge. This cake travels well to potlucks and complements a cup of chai or a mocha latte.

3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup amaretto coffee creamer powder
1 lb. grated carrots
2 C chopped apples
4 large eggs
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 C caramel or hazelnut syrup
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C cola
4 sliced apples
9-by-9-inch glass casserole dish
1 tablespoon olive oil
Clean kitchen cloth
12 oz. caramels
1/4 C evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together until the mixture feels light and fluffy. Repeat at least three times. Fold the amaretto coffee creamer powder, grated carrots, chopped apples and sugar into the flour mixture.

Whisk the eggs together in a small mixing bowl while adding the spices. Pour the eggs into the flour mixture. Add the caramel or hazelnut syrup and the cola to the carrot cake batter. Mix the batter by hand until well-blended.

Rub olive oil all over the inside of the glass casserole dish, including up the sides. Pour the carrot cake batter into the casserole dish. Arrange the apple slices in a daisy-like pattern on top of the cake batter. Wipe any spillovers from the edges and sides of the dish with a clean cloth. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a glass baking dish for 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Melt the caramel in a double boiler. Stir in the evaporated milk until the sauce is a uniform smoothness. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake. Cut the caramel apple-topped carrot cake into 3-inch squares. Serve warm.

Victorian Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are a must-have item for your Easter basket, tea tray or cookie jar. They make an excellent housewarming or hostess gift at any time of year. By cutting and positioning disks of dough, you can make rabbits, angels, cats or other shapes as well as the traditional 2-inch diameter tea cookies.

Large mixing bowl
Waxed paper
3-inch diameter, flat-bottomed drinking glass
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour

Optional: candied violets, lemon or orange zest curls
1/2 tsp. lemon or orange juice, 1 additional cup powdered sugar

Cream together the eggs, sugars, butter, vanilla, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the flour one cup at a time until all ingredients are well-blended. Lay the sugar cookie dough on a doubled sheet of waxed paper and form it into a 2-inch diameter roll. Chill the rolled dough for two hours or until it is firm.

Slice the chilled sugar cookie dough into 1/4-inch thick disks. Cut arcs from the right and left sides of each disk to create one triangle and two wing shapes to make angels. You can also cut a small arc from the top and pull it to a 45-degree angle to resemble a bunny ear. Reshape the remainder of the disk to more of an oval to make the rabbit's body.

Roll the remaining dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Dip the bottom of a chilled drinking glass in white granulated sugar and press each ball of dough flat to make traditional sugar cookies.

Sprinkle the rabbit cookies with pink, blue or yellow sugar. Sprinkle the angels and the traditional sugar cookies with white granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Optional: Mix 1/2 tsp. lemon or orange juice with 1 cup powdered sugar to make confectioner's glaze. Brush the glaze onto candied violets and orange or lemon zest curls and place them on your cookies for added eye appeal.

Heavenly Rainbow Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Celebrate the holiday season with this colorful twist on classic ambrosia fruit salad. Bursting with fluffy, rainbow-colored marshmallows, chopped apple, cranberries and golden raisins, this trifle topped with cherry pie filling will have everyone's taste buds singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Serve this ambrosia trifle on its own or make it the crowning moment of your holiday meal of baked honey-glazed ham, green bean casserole, clouds of mashed potatoes with red-eye gravy, fluffy southern biscuits and mandarin yam casserole.

6 quart mixing bowl
3 large cans crushed drained pineapple
3 pints heavy whipping cream
2 quart mixing bowl
Electric hand mixer
3 pints plain or vanilla yogurt
3 packages instant lemon pudding mix
8 cups mini rainbow marshmallows
2 cups chopped apples
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups golden raisins
9-by-13-inch glass casserole dish
2 ounces real butter
1 pound coarsely crumbled vanilla wafer cookies
3 cans cherry pie filling
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups chopped pecans

Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a 6-quart mixing bowl. Pour the crushed pineapple into the lined colander and allow it to drain for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the juice into an ice cube tray and freeze it for later use in another recipe.

Pour all three pints of heavy whipping cream into a 2-quart mixing bowl. Whip the cream into soft peaks with an electric hand mixer. Pour the crushed pineapple from the colander into the 6-quart mixing bowl. Add the yogurt and the instant lemon pudding mix. Stir everything together until well blended.

Fold the mini rainbow marshmallows, chopped apples, semi-sweet chocolate chips, dried cranberries and golden raisins into the pudding mixture. Refrigerate the ambrosia fruit salad for 30 minutes until the pudding sets.

Butter the entire inside of a 9-by-13-inch glass casserole dish. Line it with the coarsely-crumbled vanilla wafers. Spread the ambrosia fruit salad mixture into the casserole dish and top it with cherry pie filling. Sprinkle the shredded coconut and chopped pecans over the cherry-topped ambrosia fruit salad and serve immediately.

June Bug's Orange Drop Cookies
My grandmother called my mother "June Bug," in honor of her birth month. June Bug grew up playing house with real dishes she bought at thrift shops with her allowance. She held elaborate tea parties for her friends, her brother, David, who was ten years younger, and her toddler-age niece, Deborah. Orange drop cookies slathered in orange glaze were one of mom's favorite tea cookies.

4-sided grater
3 oranges
Sharp utility knife
Orange juicer
5-qt. covered bowl
6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 sticks butter One cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Cookie sheets
4 cups confectioner's sugar
Storage containers
Waxed paper

Mom started my baking career off early, between ages two and three. She allowed me to press scraps of pie dough into little mini muffin tins from an Easy Bake oven and showed me how to make what she called "pie-dough" cookies, or as most people called them, thumbprint cookies. But it was her orange drop cookies that I loved most. Mom used a Pyrex orange juicer to squeeze three or four oranges, carefully straining out the seeds but leaving the pulp. She taught my brother and I to grate the oranges on the four-sided grater, using the side with all the tiny holes. We used a clean, dry basting brush to get every bit of that grated orange peel off the grater and into the orange drop cookie batter.

Mom used what she called "basic cookie mix," a recipe that everyone who had ever owned the light aqua five-quart sealed bowl that Tupperware carried back then shared. The recipe called for five to six cups of flour, two eggs, two sticks of butter and one cup of sugar, plus about 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, minus 1 tablespoon. She added all but two tablespoons of the grated orange peel and stirred until the dough was creamy.

Mom used a teaspoon to drop the dough onto cookie sheets, then baked the cookies at 350 degrees until the bottoms began to turn golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. She took them out of the oven and placed each cookie on the counter to cool.

The glaze consisted of four cups of confectioner's sugar plus one teaspoon of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of grated orange peel. Mom drizzled the glaze over each cookie until it was covered. She stored her orange drop cookies in plastic peanut butter pails between sheets of waxed paper.

June Bug's Bread Pudding

My grandmother gave my Dad an old chest freezer when she closed her candy store in Brewster, Ohio. Dad drove the whole family to the Schwebel and Nickles Bakery thrift stores and load up the trunk of our family's 1968 Dodge Dart GT with loaves of day-old bread at 10 to 20 cents a loaf. For weeks afterward, we'd have toasted cheese sandwiches with homemade tomato soup, French toast and bread pudding.

Mom's bread pudding was simple: eggs, stale bread cut into strips, Carnation evaporated milk, a little sugar and a lot of cinnamon, with a hint of nutmeg and a stick of real butter. It was soft, sweet and filling, and it tasted great with a glass of cold, reconstituted nonfat dry milk.

Mom's bread pudding recipe may have come from my Aunt Ressie, a four-foot-nothing-much, feisty woman who didn't take any crap, especially from menfolk. Ressie was a Depression-era baby, oldest of 11 children, and she could make a turkey carcass feed a family for a month. Mom drew the line at the turkey carcass after the second appearance on the table, but she definitely absorbed Ressie's lessons in frugal cooking.

Mom cut the bread for her pudding into strips and filled her glass casserole dish to the top, sometimes even mounding the bread. Then she'd whip 3 or 4 large eggs into a froth, along with the milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar, pouring it over the bread. She'd cut the butter into chunks and distribute them as evenly as possible throughout the casserole dish, then shake more cinnamon and sugar over everything. She baked the bread pudding at 375 degrees until the top browned, then served it piping hot with a glass of milk.

Mom's bread pudding travels well to potlucks and picnics. Bread pudding tastes best hot, but it can also be served cold. It makes a filling snack or a fast breakfast, especially when served with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, hot apple cider or milk, covered in fresh berries or apple slices or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

All these ingredients are approximate. Feel free to adjust them after you taste your first batch of bread pudding.

2 to 3 loaves stale bread
9- by 12-inch glass casserole dish
6 large eggs
2 cans Carnation evaporated milk, 12-oz or larger
1/2 C white granulated sugar
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 stick real butter

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the bread into 1-inch wide strips and fill the casserole dish. Whip the eggs, evaporated milk, sugar and spices together until frothy and pour the mixture over the bread. Bake at 375 degrees until the top of the bread pudding is golden brown.

Keep any leftover bread pudding covered with foil for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you do not eat milk or eggs, substitute a 26-ounce jar of applesauce for the eggs and use soy, rice or almond milk to replace the evaporated milk. Replace the butter with olive oil or omit it altogether if desired.

Heritage Meals

Taste of Australia: Roasted Kangaroo Tail
Kangaroo is a traditional aboriginal favorite in Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. The meat was a prized protein source during Australia’s colonial period. With a similar flavor and texture to venison, kangaroo tail is usually roasted or steamed and the meat is often used to make soup.
8 ears unshucked sweet corn

2 zucchini squash
2 yellow squash
2 small eggplant
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. grapefruit juice
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp. red sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 whole kangaroo tail, unskinned

Soak the unshucked corn in salted water for 30 minutes. Cut 1-inch slices of squash and eggplant and lay them in a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Mix the oil, juice, sugar and spices together and pour it over the vegetable slices. Toss the vegetables to ensure that all the slices are coated in juice and oil. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

Rinse the kangaroo tail and wrap it in foil. Lay the wrapped tail and the soaked corn on the cob in the coals in the grill, once the coals have turned white. Turn the tail once after 15 to 20 minutes and allow it to roast for another 15 minutes. Remove the kangaroo tail and the corn from coals and allow them to stand while you grill the vegetables.

Shuck the corn. Unwrap the foil from the kangaroo tail and peel away the skin to expose the meat. Cut the tail into 1-inch thick pieces and serve with roasted corn and grilled vegetables.

Tip: Substitute top sirloin roast or venison tenderloin for the kangaroo tail if desired.

Brett Harris; cook; Perth, Western Australia
"The Oxford Companion to Food"; Alan Davidson; 2006; p. 429

Taste of Italy: Abruzzo
There is not just one Italian-style cuisine, there are many. Each represents one of the 21 distinct regions of Italy, with its own preferences in techniques and ingredients. Maccheroni alla chitarra is a fresh pasta dish made with boiled noodles, roasted lamb or pork and a slow-simmered red sauce. Italian cuisine uses fresh garden ingredients still warm from the sun, bursting with flavor. Seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and breads all play a part in Italian cooking.

Showcase Abruzzi cuisine by making a batch of maccheroni alla chitarra. A chitarra has one or two layers of closely spaced wires, making it look like the neck of a guitar.

Rolling pin
Large stock pot
12-inch skillet
Pastry mat or cutting board
Spray bottle of water
Pastry/basting brush
3 C flour
4 eggs
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 C olive oil
1 whole onion, sliced
1 lb. quartered Roma tomatoes
1 lb. lamb or pork chunks
1 C broda (broth) (recipe below)
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/4 lb. grated pecorino cheese

 For the broda:
6 C water
1 lb. each beef, pork, and lamb bones
1 whole onion, diced
3 carrots, finely diced
2 or 3 ribs diced celery
2 generous pinches of sea salt
1 Tbsp. white pepper

Chitarra by Jack V. Sage, June 21, 2009
Pour 3 cups of flour in a mound on your cutting board. Poke a hole in the mound; add 4 eggs and a pinch of sea salt. Work the eggs into the flour until you have sticky dough.

Sprinkle more flour on the board and roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness, the width of your chitarra. Cut the thin dough by laying it on your chitarra, using your rolling pin to force it through the wires. Allow your maccheroni to dry slightly before tossing it into boiling water to cook.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sweat the sliced onions in the olive oil until they become clear and barely start to brown. Toss the fresh quartered tomatoes in the pan and stir. Add one cup of broda, which is a broth made from beef, lamb and pork bones.

To make broda, simmer beef bones, pork bones, and lamb bones in 6 cups of water until any meat that may still be on them falls off. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and a generous double pinch of sea salt. Sprinkle in the white pepper and bring to a full, rolling boil for 10 minutes. Strain the broda through a piece of cheesecloth and store in your freezer until needed.

To make vegetarian broda, eliminate the meat bones, triple the vegetables and add 2 pounds mashed pinto bean paste or 2 pounds mashed tofu to the mixture. Use a food processor, blender or food mill to puree all the solids and don't strain the broda this time.

In a separate pan, brown the lamb or pork chunks in olive oil, then place them in a deep baking dish to roast at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn the meat chunks every ten minutes and baste them with olive oil. Spritz them with water with water before each turn, to prevent drying out the meat.

Add the roast lamb or pork chunks to your sauce after it has simmered for at least 20 minutes on low heat. If using the vegetarian version of this dish, substitute extra firm tofu cut in 1-inch chunks. Brown the tofu chunks in olive oil with a splash of soy sauce and several sprigs of rosemary.

Serve a large handful of maccheroni alla chitarra twisted into a bird's nest shape. Cover the pasta with a large dipper of sauce and roast lamb or pork chunks. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary. Sprinkle the entire dish with grated pecorino cheese. Serve hot.

Tastes of Italy: Regional Favorites
Each of the 21 distinct regions of Italy has its own preferences in cooking techniques and ingredients. Italian cuisine consists of far more than spaghetti with ground beef sauce, square ravioli filled with beef and covered with a thin, nearly flavorless red broth, and pizza made with a thick layer of canned spaghetti sauce, topped with pepperoni and grated mozzarella. None of these dishes appear on a typical Italian table.

Italian cuisine uses fresh garden ingredients still warm from the sun, bursting with flavor. Seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and breads all play a part in Italian cooking. It is easy to prepare Abruzzo, Tuscan, Lombard, Calabrian and Sardinian specialties once you master the necessary tips and techniques.

Use meat from free-roaming hogs, mountain goats, sheep and fish in your Abruzzi recipes. Abruzzo is a region in east central Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea to the east. Flavor Abruzzi dishes with wine, garlic, olive oil, saffron and rosemary. Cheeses made from sheep's milk, such as pecorino, are a mainstay of the Abruzzo table, according to Micol Negrin and Dino De Angelis at Rustico Cooking. Maccherone alla chitarra, a local specialty, is made with fresh egg pasta cut thin with a rolling pin over two layers of wires, then covered with a generous dip of red sauce and roast lamb chunks.

Marinate your steak in olive oil from the local press, and add fresh minced garlic to make the signature dish of the Tuscans. Bistecca Fiorenta is a 3-inch thick charcoal-grilled Porterhouse steak served with arugula and other grilled vegetables. Tuscany, with Italy's Tyrhennian seacoast off to the west, produces award-winning grapes and olives. It is also a source of white truffles, one of the most expensive ingredients in the world.

Other Tuscan specialty ingredients include wild asparagus, wild hare, artichokes, cauliflower and mushrooms. All are used to make fritto misto, which are mixed fried foods. Cut your vegetables, chicken and wild hare into chunks, dredge them in flour and fry everything just enough to turn golden brown.

When in Lombardy, grate fontina Val d’Aosta into a cold rice salad made with artichoke hearts, eggplant, mushrooms and fresh albacore tuna flakes. Lombardy is on Italy’s north central border, opposite Switzerland. Lombards favor risottos, made from rice, and polenta, made from cornmeal. Flavor your Lombard dishes with plenty of basil, sage, celery and onion.

Mix candied fruit and raisins into a light, buttery sweet bread to make Lombardy's holiday specialty, Panettone, a possible forebear of Christmas fruitcake. Serve your panettone sliced with a glass of sweet Moscato d’Asti wine.

Cook with chili peppers, lemon, chives and honey in Calabria, on Italy’s southwest coast, in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula. Serve littleneck clams poached in white wine and flavored with with garlic and parsley. Make focaccia, which is thick, flat yeast bread. Top it with anchovy fillets, sliced tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Dip roasted figs in melted chocolate for a rich Calabrian dessert.

Lamb, wild fennel, and pecorino sardo make frequent appearances on Sardinian dinner tables. Sardinia is in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tyrhennian coast, just west of Tuscany. Mix pecorino -- a cheese made with sheep’s milk -- with ricotta, black pepper and sausage and serve it over malloredus, which as a mini gnocchi pasta. Quarter a rabbit and cover it with fennel chunks, whole garlic cloves and black olives. Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes, crushed fennel seeds and salt. Poach everything in white wine and olive oil in a covered dish.

Anna Maria Volpi: What Is Italian Cooking?
Rustico Cooking
Tuscan Cuisine


Not-So-Evil Stepmother’s Macaroni Bake, Venison Ribs and Harvard Beets
When my father remarried, I opted to spend that day at a flea market with a friend, selling junk, rather than attend his wedding. I was angry that the wedding was announced a mere 30 days after he and Mom divorced. In my then-13-year-old mind, he had betrayed all of us. So I did what any rational teenager would do: I blamed my step-mother.

But it wasn't that simple. My stepmother, Dorothy, had a lot of skills and talents, not the least of which were doll-making, macrame and old-fashioned cooking. She used old Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks, plus word-of-mouth recipes from her own mother, Twila Houghton. 

Twila never failed to treat my siblings and I as lovingly as if we were her own grandchildren. Twila served us Diet 7-Up and homemade snickerdoodle cookies every time we visited her home in Canton, Ohio's southwest end, just a stone's throw from the Trinity Gospel Temple Food Store and Fisher's grocery, whose empty parking lot was often our playground. 

Dorothy's father -- whose first name I am ashamed to say I had trouble remembering just now -- used to make lamps from inch-thick sections of maple wood and old coffee cans, and had a collection of decorative Toby Jugs and Jim Beam bottles that he loved to show me. Hugh was a gentle, quiet man who spent most of his time in a brown tweed-covered easy chair with an old-fashioned curved post-lamp with a Tiffany shade over it for reading. Hugh showed me how to wire a clay pot to make the start of a hanging lamp. Dorothy taught me how to macrame it.

Twila had every single school paper and art project Dorothy had ever made and every piece of outgrown clothing she had ever worn packed neatly away in the attic, like time capsules. Dorothy took me to the attic and pulled out boxes full of clothes she had made and nearly-new shoes and just gave them to me outright. Something like 30 pairs of Earth Shoes and Bass, Grasshoppers, Keds and Buster Browns, with nary a mark or a torn strap among them. We dug through box after box of hook rug kits, plaster and candy molds and other craft supplies, a treasure trove that took me years to explore and even longer to fully appreciate.

But it was things like making oven-baked deer ribs, Harvard beets and baked macaroni that I have to thank Dorothy for the most. Dad insisted on using every part of the deer, even though deer ribs are incredibly fatty unless you grill them or cook them on a rack. We made a double slab that covered both oven racks. Along with them came the Harvard beets and the macaroni bake. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did back then,  and I hope that, now that Dad has passed on, Dorothy finds this article and realizes that she is not forgotten. This meal serves 10 to 15 people.

Venison Ribs:
2 full slabs of venison ribs
2 lbs. maple-cured slab-bacon slices
Broiler pan
Paper towels
Black pepper
Whole nutmeg
Nutmeg grater
1 tbsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp. coffee crystals
2 C chicken stock

Harvard Beets:
3 cans whole beets, 15-oz. each
4-qt. saucepan with lid
Small mixing bowl
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. white sugar
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Covered glass or ceramic serving bowl
Wooden spoon

Baked Macaroni:
2 lbs. cooked macaroni
8-oz. block of cream cheese
1 lb. longhorn cheese
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1 can evaporated milk
1 crushed chicken bouillon cube
Large stockpot
9- by 12-inch glass baking dish
Fresh grated Parmesan
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
30-oz. can crushed tomatoes

Venison Rib Bake
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the bottom half of the broiler pan with foil. Place the venison ribs on the top part of the rack and season them generously with black pepper.

Grate 1 tsp. of nutmeg into a small mixing bowl and add the Chinese five-spice powder and coffee crystals. Rub the resulting spice blend onto the venison rib slabs.

Cover the venison slabs with bacon slices across the short side without overlapping them. Broil the venison ribs for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Turn them over and broil again for another 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake the venison ribs for 30 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer stuck in the meat without touching any bone registers 160 degrees.

Rinse the ribs under hot running water to remove excess grease, pat them dry with paper towels and put them back in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Eat the deer ribs immediately. If you wait, the fat congeals, leaving a greasy coating in your mouth. Pour a little chicken stock over the deer ribs and reheat them as needed if you find the greasiness offensive.

Harvard Beets
Pour three 15-ounce cans of whole beets, with their liquid,  into a 4-qt. saucepan. Stir the cornstarch, white sugar and apple cider vinegar together in a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid from the beets and stir again until evenly blended.

Pour the cornstarch mixture into the beets in the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly blended. Bring the beets to a rolling boil for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer the beets for 20 minutes, stirring often to ensure that the sauce does not scorch. Remove from heat and pour the beets into a covered glass or ceramic serving bowl.

Macaroni Bake
Mix the block of cream cheese, the grated longhorn cheese and the cubed Velveeta cheese in a large stockpot over low heat. 

Pour the evaporated milk into the melted cheese and sprinkle a crushed chicken bouillon cube over everything. Stir gently until all ingredients become a thick cheese sauce. Add the macaroni and stir until well-blended. Pour everything into a 9- by 12-inch glass baking dish and top with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed Ritz crackers.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and the top layer of macaroni is golden-brown. Serve hot, topped with a ladle-full of crushed tomatoes.

Succulent Venison Sausage
Venison has very little fat and can be made into delicious sausage. Venison sausage, combined with jerk mix, berries, and a little additional fat, can be made into jerky strips, and will keep for up to six months. Venison sausage can be made into patties, stuffed into casings to make links, or molded into mini meat loaves. Serve venison sausage with quail eggs on a bed of fresh-picked spring greens, with honey-drizzled, home made biscuits and venison gravy.

30 lbs. venison
1 C Morton Tender Quick
½ C rubbed sage
½ C black pepper
4 C soy sauce
2 C vinegar
2 C Louisiana hot sauce
½ C garlic powder
½ C onion powder
1/8 C ground red pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
Meat grinder
Sausage casings
Stuffing machine
Large, metal mixing bowl

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the spices, vinegar and hot sauce together. Pour equal amounts of sauce into four separate large bowls.

Grind the venison. Divide the ground venison into four equal amounts. Place one fourth of the ground venison in the large mixing bowl. Add one of the small bowls of spice sauce. Mix the spiced sauce thoroughly into the venison. Continue mixing meat until all four piles of venison have been spiced.

Thread the sausage casings onto your stuffing machine. Thrust venison sausage mix into the machine using a thrusting block. Do not use your hands, especially if you are wearing rubber gloves. Stuff the casings until all the venison has been used. Every six inches, give the casing two or three tight twists. Keep them refrigerated, dry them, or smoke them.

Hang lengths of venison sausage links by wrapping them around a broomstick placed inside a smokehouse. Use hickory, mesquite or apple wood to smoke your sausages at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours. Raise the temperature to 160 degrees and smoke your sausages for another four hours. Raise the temperature to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue smoking until the internal temperature of the sausage reaches 165F. Continue smoking the sausages for another 48 hours. Wrap your sausages in waxed paper, twisted at the ends.

Venison Meat Loaf
Ground, pan-broiled venison provides 22.48 grams of protein, almost 8 mg of niacin and 83 mg of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Venison meat loaf has excellent flavor and texture. This dish travels well to potlucks. Serve slices of this delicious venison meat loaf on toasted ciabatta bread or baguettes, with a side salad of mixed spring greens, sliced strawberries and pecan halves.

8-quart mixing bowl
2 lbs. ground venison
1 egg
1 C bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. red sea salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
6-quart mixing bowl
1 lb, cooked, drained chickpeas
1 oz. olive oil
2 oz. jalapeno or banana peppers
Slow cooker
1 C sliced Bermuda onion
28 oz. can tomato puree
1 C sliced red, yellow and green bell peppers

Combine the ground venison, egg, bread crumbs, chopped onion, sea salt and red pepper flakes in an 8-quart mixing bowl. Mix together until all ingredients are incorporated. In a separate 6-quart mixing bowl, combine the chickpeas, olive oil, and the jalapeno or banana peppers. Allow this mixture to sit for an hour so the flavors mingle.

Mix the seasoned, mashed chickpeas into the ground venison until well-blended. Toss the Bermuda onion slices into the slow cooker in a single layer. Form the venison mixture into a large, round loaf in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour tomato puree over the venison meat loaf. Cook on low heat for 3 hours, then switch to high for 1 more hour. Top your venison meat loaf with red, yellow and green bell pepper slices.

Ratatouille with Squash and Zucchini
Whether you call them aubergines and courgettes or eggplants and summer squash, these vegetables form the foundation of a comforting peasant dish from Provence, France. Whether you prefer them sliced, layered and baked or cut into chunks and simmered, ratatouille recipes include tomato paste, onions, garlic, herbes de Provence and slices or chunks of colorful bell pepper. Leave out the anchovies for a vegan, low-sodium version or add chunks of chicken, pork or beef for potlucks.

A mandoline makes it easier to cut even-thickness slices for a layered, baked ratatouille. The guard prevents you from cutting your fingers when you remember to keep your fingers flat, not curled under, according to chef Eve Felder from the Culinary Institute of America. If you use the ruffled blade and rotate the vegetables a quarter-turn each time you run them across the mandolin, you get a waffle effect known as "gaufrette." This slicing method creates the familiar waffle fries seen at festivals and fairs.

If you slice the courgettes and aubergines in half lengthwise, toss them in fresh herbs and oil and grill them, it decreases the moisture content and caramelizes the surface, allowing you to omit salt. Grilled vegetables cut into cubes or chunks hold their shapes longer than raw ones, in simmered ratatouille.

The saute pan should already be hot when you add the sesame or olive oil. Peeled, smashed garlic cloves should saute until their scent permeates the room, followed by any herbs or spices in the recipe. This pulls the essence of each spice to the surface and magnifies their effects on the flavor of the dish. Once you stir a can of tomato paste into the spices, you can add the white wine and chicken stock to make a thin red sauce.

The layered casserole version of ratatouille has more eye appeal if you alternate the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper slices. The most eye-appealing ratatouille begins at the center of the casserole dish and works outward in a spiral, with the vegetables overlapped and tilted in a single layer.

As long as the casserole does not contain any meat, you do not have to cook it any longer once the sauce begins to bubble. Cook ratatouille that contains poultry to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Strips or cubes of pork or beef need to cook to 145 degrees, while ratatouille containing wild game should cook to 160 degrees.

Kitchen Daily; How to Use a Mandoline; Eve Felder, Culinary Institute of America; 2011

In the Hands of a Chef: The Professional Chef's Guide to Essential Tools

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service; Is It Done Yet?

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service; Roasting "Other" Holiday Meats

Monday, January 30, 2012

Savory Sides

Mandarin Yams Casserole
Scoop slow-roasted yams from their jackets to mingle with mandarin oranges, blackstrap molasses, and star anise. Whipped and piped into a granola-lined muffin tin, this mouthwatering finish to a roast turkey or ham dinner will have everyone singing odes to joy.

June Bug’s Mit Tahm Schmaltz Noodles

My mother has made homemade noodles for holidays and celebrations for many years. Prior to the mid-70s, mom usually made dumplings instead of noodles. Sometime around 1975, however, she started making homemade egg noodles. The noodles were thick and wide, and a handful filled your belly for hours. Boiled in chicken or turkey broth and served on a heaping platter, these noodles never lasted long enough for leftovers, no matter how large a pot she made.

Mom’s Spanish Rice

In the late 60s and early 70s, "ethnic" dishes rarely bore more than a passing resemblance to anything in the original country from which the dish supposedly came. Spanish rice is one such dish. Mom’s Spanish rice had white rice, tomato paste, and mangoes — the 1970s Midwest Ohio term for green bell peppers. Mom served her Spanish rice with meat loaf or sliced beef roast.

Freezer Kim Chee

It is nearly impossible to avoid germs when winter’s icy breath starts keeping everyone indoors. While most people respond to colds and flu by sanitizing every surface in the home, this does not help strengthen the immune system, ease the aches and pains or clear stuffy heads and chests. Kim chi, a spicy Korean dish made from cabbage, warms the body and helps clear your lungs and sinuses.

Garden Party Salad

With summer coming to a close, take any excuse to enjoy the sun and celebrate with friends. That abundant height-of-harvest-season produce was meant for sharing. Serve garden-party salads and make take away baskets of produce for family, friends, neighbors, and local charities. Set up some temporary tables and invite folks from nearby nursing homes,day labor sites or adult day programs to join you. You won’t regret it.

Bob Butler’s Classic Kidney Bean Salad

My father loved his kidney bean salad. Like all his other favorites, no mayo ever mingled with the dark-red perfection of the triple-drained kidney beans. Only the finest chopped, sweet gherkins and the freshest celery would do. The beans were firm but creamy, and the Miracle Whip, vinegar, and pickle juice became a light-pink dressing that made the dish a summer treat.

Tahiti Sunrise Chicken Salad

Pineapple, chicken, and cilantro combine in a piquant dish that will wake your taste buds. The bell peppers supply vitamin A and C while the red onion and chive flowers strengthen your immune system. With red and black pepper opening your airways to increase your oxygen flow to the brain, you are ready to tackle anything the day has in store.

Dad’s Deviled Eggs

Dad was very particular about his deviled eggs. No mayo for him, only Kraft Miracle Whip, and only apple cider vinegar, preferably Heinz. The eggs hard-boiled in a large stockpot, never fewer than three dozen at a time. Celery seed and paprika, along with horseradish mustard in generous amounts, gave Dad’s deviled eggs their distinct flavor.

Deviled Egg Salad

Traditionalists will enjoy the bite in this twist on classic egg salad. Use silken tofu and soy mayonnaise for a vegan version with plenty of heat and flavor. The hot sauce and horseradish keep this egg salad fresh longer, making it a perfect dish for potlucks and picnics.

1 dozen large eggs or 2 blocks silken tofu
Large stockpot
3-quart mixing bowl
1/2 cup mayonnaise or soy mayo
2 tablespoons pickle relish
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 loaf Italian or pumpernickel bread
Mixed greens
Serving platter
1 pint of cherry tomatoes

Eggs that are at least 10 days old are easier to peel when hard-boiled.

Step One: Skip to Step Five if making vegan egg salad.
Step Two: Boil 1 dozen large eggs in a large stockpot for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to come back to room temperature. Drain the water.
Step Three: Cover the eggs with cold water and wait another five minutes. Peel the eggs by striking them on the table, then rolling them until the entire shell surface cracks.
Step Four: Pinch the shell at the blunt end of each egg and peel it away. Rinse each egg to ensure that all the clear membrane is removed.
Step Five: Chop the eggs or mash the silken tofu into a 3-quart mixing bowl. Add the regular or soy mayonnaise, pickle relish, celery seed, minced onion, horseradish sauce and hot sauce.
Step Six: Stir everything together until well-blended. Cut a loaf of Italian or pumpernickel bread in half lengthwise. Spoon egg salad onto the bottom half of the loaf. Put the other half of the loaf on top and slice the bread into 3-inch wide sandwiches. Insert a party toothpick in each sandwich to keep them from falling apart.
Step Seven: Cover a serving platter with a layer of mixed greens. Arrange the egg salad mini sandwiches on the tray. Scatter the cherry tomatoes between the egg salad sandwiches.
Keep the tray on a bed of ice when serving these sandwiches outdoors in warm weather.

How to Make a Lavash Sandwich

Lavash is both a soft and a cracker-crisp Armenian flatbread. It is baked in thin, oblong sheets in a tandoor oven. The soft version is used to make roll-ups, while the cracker-crisp version is usually served with dips such as hummus, made from chickpeas, and baba ganoush, made from eggplant and tahini, or sesame paste. Lavash roll-ups are sometimes served as appetizers at weddings and holiday dinners.


Quesadillas are a quick, easy-to-prepare meal with plenty of possible variations. When you cut them into four pieces each and arrange them on a serving platter, quesadillas make an excellent appetizer for potlucks, picnics or tailgate parties. Serve with sour cream and homemade salsa.

Toasted Cheddar Cheese on Pumpernickel Bread
When you want a hearty, sharp, flavorful sandwich for dipping into your favorite soup, break out your grandmother’s pumpernickel rye recipe and some sharp cheddar. Toasted cheese sandwiches travel well and the dense rye bread resists squashing.

Heart Healthy Tuna Pitas

Lowering cholesterol intake does not mean you have to eat flavorless, grassy-tasting tuna salad with no condiments. No need for eggs or mayonnaise with this tuna salad. The broccoli slaw adds vitamin C and A, while the tuna provides choline and vitamin D.

Tuna Salad with Naan and Spicy Thousand Island Dressing

Albacore tuna and na’an star with Thousand Island dressing for a South Pacific taste treat.

Ginger Leek Soup

Warm ginger soothes your throat and stomach while leeks and chicken help break up winter colds and soothe flu symptoms.

Black Bean Chipotle Soup

Make this rich, smoky soup with or without meat for a delicious, hearty meal on a fall or winter evening. It is the perfect appetizer before roast venison or beef, and will freeze well.

Fall Soups: Pumpkin and Sun-Dried Tomato

This yogurt-based, creamy soup will warm your hands and tease your taste buds. Serve with crusty loaves of home-baked pumpernickel or baguettes.

Pumpkin Soup

Serve this rich, pumpkin and squash soup piping hot in fall, with crusty French bread twists and rich, creamery butter or chill it and serve it over melon balls in cantaloupe bowls for a refreshing summer pick-me-up.

Making Beef Gelatin

Beef gelatin is reduced broth made from beef bones, vinegar and water after it congeals to room temperature or lower. Beef gelatin makes any beef dish more flavorful and adds vital minerals to your diet.

Sugar-Free Raspberry Jam

You can make your own sugar-free jams and jellies in less than an hour using fresh berries from your local farmer’s market or U-pick field.

Cucumber-Mint Raita

Raita is an Indian cucumber and yogurt sauce that is served with curries and other hot, spicy dishes. The smooth, creamy yogurt coats your tongue and throat. The curdled yogurt needs to drain for several days to make the soft, cream cheese base that will keep your raita thick.

Homemade Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa

Quesadillas and other Mexican and South American dishes taste better when you make your own salsa with fresh, roasted tomatoes and peppers. You control the heat by adding more jalapeno peppers for hotter salsa or substituting bell peppers for milder palates.

Plum-Ginger Sauce for Pork or Beef Tenderloin

Making your own plum sauce for pork or beef stir-fry allows you to control its sodium content. The plums, applesauce, and dates provide a sweet base for the tart orange juice, while ginger and red pepper provide just enough heat to please your palate.

Seafood Serenade

Taste of Australia: Paperbark-steamed Barramundi Fillets 

Barramundi’s nearly 24-inch length and 9-pound weight make it a good choice for barbecues, picnics and potlucks. One fish can easily feed 10 to 15 people when combined with grilled pineapple, fresh corn on the cob and your favorite side dishes. Soaked paperbark holds in moisture and flavor while your barramundi is on the grill. 

8 barramundi fillets
8 ears fresh corn
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
Fresh-ground red and black peppercorns
2 whole lemons
2 whole blood oranges
1 fresh pineapple, sliced
8 pieces soaked paperbark
8 tbsp. pickled ginger
8 tsp. wasabi paste

Soak the corn in water for 30 minutes while still in its shucks.

Lay barramundi fish fillets in a shallow, glass baking dish with 1/2-inch space between each piece. Sprinkle them generously with fresh-ground red and black peppercorns. Mix the lemon juice, pineapple juice and orange juice together and pour it over each barramundi fillet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place each barramundi fish fillet on a slice of soaked paperbark. Slice the lemons and oranges and alternate the slices over each fillet. Wrap the barramundi fillets in the paperbark and tuck the ends under.

Place the soaked corn in the coals to steam. Lay the wrapped barramundi fish fillets on the grill and allow them to steam for five minutes on each side.

Brush pineapple slices with olive oil and grill for 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve the barramundi fish fillets, pineapple slices and the corn unwrapped with 1 tbsp. pickled ginger and 1 tsp. wasabi paste on the side.

Buy only firm, white-fleshed barramundi with clear, shiny eyes and a backbone that springs back when pressed with a finger, advises Worldwide Gourmet food editor, Michele Serre.

Brett Harris; cook; Perth, Western Australia
Worldwide Gourmet; Barramundi; Michele Serre

Chipotle Tilapia Adobo 

I created this recipe for chipotle tilapia adobo tacos in 1989 for a friend from El Salvador. Tilapia is a freshwater fish from Africa with mild-tasting flesh, making it ideal for pairing with zesty spice blends.

I am not a chef, nor do I have anything more than prep-cook-level experience, serving groups of 10 to 50 at schools, churches and country-music-association picnics on special occasions over the course of ten years and weekly meals for a day program for people with disabilities for two years.

I have only served this chipotle tilapia to about 40 people, and they all had quite a bit of alcohol in their systems when they ate it, so I can't vouch for how it tastes to anyone but me when sober. ;) It is very spicy, which is why it should be served with sour cream and guacamole.

Ingredients and Equipment:
2 rectangular glass casserole dishes with covers
12-inch diameter saute pan
Wide spatula
2 serving platters
Paper towels
1 whole lime
Lemon zester
1/4 cup tequila
7.5-oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 lbs. tilapia fillets
1/4 cup corn oil
Fresh corn tortillas
Cookie sheet
3 tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro
8 chopped Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp. sour cream per person
2 tbsp. guacamole per person

Use the lemon zester to make curls of lime peel by pulling from one tip to the other. Set the lime curls aside.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the blender. Add 1/2 of the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the tequila. Pulse until everything liquefies.

Arrange the tilapia fillets 1/4-inch apart in a rectangular glass casserole dish and pour the chipotle-lime tequila sauce over them. Cover the casserole dish and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat a saute pan for one minute on medium-high heat before adding the corn oil. Heat for two additional minutes. Pan-fry the chipotle-coated tilapia fillets four at a time, spaced 1/2-inch apart, for five minutes on each side.

Remove each tilapia fillet from the pan as it browns and drain it on a serving plate covered with paper towels.

Heat fresh corn tortillas in the oven, in a single layer on a cookie sheet, for one minute at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap each tilapia fillet in a tortilla and place on a serving platter.

Combine 3 tbsp. chopped, fresh cilantro, 8 finely-chopped Roma tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped onions in a small mixing bowl to make salsa. Serve chipotle tilapia adobo tacos with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Cornbread-Crusted Gingered Catfish 

Ginger snaps, pickled ginger and cornmeal give catfish a spicy crunch while keeping the fish tender and flaky.

Ingredients and Equipment
    4 pounds catfish fillets
    Glass casserole dish
    1 quart buttermilk
    Pepper grinder with mixed peppercorns
    8 cornmeal muffins
    5 quart mixing bowl
    4 ounces fresh or pickled ginger root
    Chef's knife
    Polyester cutting mat
    1/4 cup sour cream
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 cup chopped red onion
    1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    8 ginger snaps
    High-sided cookie sheet
    Meat thermometer
    8 green onion tops
    4 tablespoons orange peel curls

Lay the catfish fillets in a glass casserole dish, spaced at least 1/2-inch apart. Pour the buttermilk over the fillets and give the pepper grinder 2 to 4 twists over each catfish fillet. Refrigerate the fillets for 1 hour.

Crumble the cornmeal muffins into the 5 quart mixing bowl. Cut the 4-ounce piece of ginger root in half. Mince half the ginger root with a chef's knife and add it to the crumbled cornbread.

Stir the sour cream and lemon juice into the gingered cornbread mixture. Add half of the chopped red onion and all of the red bell pepper. Mix by hand until well-blended.

Line a high-sided cookie sheet with foil. Remove the catfish fillets from the refrigerator. Pour off the buttermilk and discard it.

Lay the catfish fillets on the cookie sheet with at least 1/4-inch of space between them. Spoon a thin layer of the gingered-cornbread mixture onto each catfish fillet. Crumble one ginger snap over each fillet.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the catfish fillets for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and adjust the temperature to 400 degrees F. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cornbread crust browns.

Garnish each catfish fillet with orange curls and green onion tops. Serve ginger-cornbread-crusted catfish fillets with sweet potato fries and cole slaw.

Soaking catfish or other fin fish in buttermilk helps offset their earthy flavor, according to Linda Stradley, author of "What's Cooking America." Fin fish turns opaque and flakes apart when done, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Cook fin fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F as measured with a meat thermometer to ensure safety.

What's Cooking America; Catfish History -- Catfish Recipes; Linda Stradley

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service; Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer's Guide to Food Safety; March 2001 

Super Bowl Appetizers: Bacon-wrapped Catfish Nuggets

Savory catfish nuggets steeped in orange juice and brandy, wrapped in strips of maple-cured, hickory-smoked bacon make mouthwatering appetizers. Pile them into red and green bell-pepper boats and serve them at your next Super Bowl party, along with a generous platter of jalapeno poppers, waffle fries and onion rings. Add a bowl of orange-brandy ranch dip for a cool, creamy finish.

4 pounds catfish nuggets
8 ounces orange juice
4 ounces VSOP brandy
1 tablespoon tarragon
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
3 peeled garlic cloves
9-by-12-inch glass casserole dish
Double boiler with strainer insert
Paper towels
2 pounds sliced Virginia bacon
Sharp chef's knife
Broiler pan
Coating mix:
Shallow baking dish
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh-ground mixed peppercorns
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 cup crushed ginger snaps
Ranch dip mix:
16 ounces plain yogurt
8 ounces grated pepper Jack cheese
1 tablespoon chicken soup base crystals
2 tablespoons Tapa Ti'o or Crystal's hot sauce
1 package ranch dip mix
3 quart glass mixing bowl
4 red bell peppers
4 green bell peppers
Paring knife

Mix 8 ounces of orange juice with 4 ounces of VSOP brandy, the tarragon, parsley flakes and peeled garlic cloves in a 9-by-12-inch glass casserole dish. Toss the catfish nuggets in the spiced, brandied orange juice mixture until well-coated. Refrigerate for two to three hours to allow the juice to soak into the catfish, advises Jim Tarantino, author of "Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes."

Place a strainer insert in the double boiler and strain all the marinade into the pan. Allow the catfish nuggets to drain in the strainer for at least 10 minutes. Blot the catfish nuggets dry on paper towels and lay them on a platter lined with additional paper towels.

Bring the marinade to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Allow the marinade to boil for five full minutes before removing the pan from the heat. Allow the boiled marinade to return to room temperature over the next 15 minutes before refrigerating it until ready to use.

Place the bacon in the freezer for ten minutes to make it easier to slice. Slice the bacon strips in half, using a sharp chef's knife. 

Wash the glass casserole dish in a sink of hot water with a teaspoon of bleach and dry it with paper towels. Mix the all-purpose flour, fresh-ground mixed peppercorns, onion powder, granulated garlic and crushed ginger snaps together in the clean, dry baking dish. Dredge each catfish nugget in the coating mix.

Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each catfish nugget and secure it with a toothpick.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with aluminum foil and put the top piece in position. Arrange the bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets on broiler pan, 1/2-inch apart.

Bake the bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as recommended by the Catfish Institute. Lower heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and the catfish is flaky and white.

Mix the Neufchatel or cream cheese, grated pepper Jack cheese, chicken soup base crystals, Tapa Ti'o or Crystal's hot sauce and the ranch dip mix in a 3-quart glass mixing bowl until well-blended. Add the chilled, boiled marinade and stir again until well-blended.

Slice the tops off the red and green bell peppers. Slice each pepper in half from stem to tip and remove the seeds and as much white pith as you can, using a paring knife. Chop the tops of the peppers and add them to the dip.

Fill each pepper half with about 2 ounces of dip. Serve 1/4-pound of bacon-wrapped catfish nuggets per person with 1 half-pepper filled with dip and 1/4-pound of waffle fries or onion rings on the side.
Serves 16.