Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, for Aug 31-Sept 6, 2018

  CatChat – Misty’s purrty sure you’ll like what we have for you this week  

Tidbits– food-saving site {M: let me take care of those leftovers/ pan hack / chef Q&A   CS Marketplace Spotlight– top chef cookbooks / yay dog owners! {M: phooey}   Featured Recipe– yay for Sunday breakfast too!  Tip– burgers for a crowd {M: or all just for me!}   Barbara’s Week– the cream slipped / funny critique upgrading oatmeal

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery

♦  Tidbits  ♦ 

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Good website! We’d like to think for everybody, but for sure for folks like those in our salon who hate wasting food. NRDC’s SaveTheFood has general tips, shopping guidance, meal-planning ideas, leftovers uses, even a dinner party calculator. nrdcAnd guess what – saving food saves money, and maybe time too!

  Have you become a sheet pan fan? If so, you know the downside is cleaning the thing afterward. Unless your dish can work with lining the pan with foil or parchment, this can be a daunting task. Here’s help. I also have used a technique I saw some time ago that was just a matter of scrubbing with balled up aluminum foil – of course you want to make sure this won’t damage the surface of your pan.

  Talking with a Beard-winning chef. Some interesting stuff in the Q&A that “The Daily Beast” conducted with Philadelphia restaurant Zahav’s Michael Solomonov.

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  ♦ 

Find all the top chef cookbooks right on this site

Did you discover this yet? So handy for you or a cookin’ friend or family member.

Our Top Chef Cookbooks page gives you direct links to over a hundred chefs renowned for popular tv shows, top rated restaurants, and best selling cookbooks. You may even have seen some of them at food and wine fests.

All are linked to Amazon, so you know it’s a reliable source. Would you like to take a look?

Top Chef Cookbooks    My “Celebrity Chef Book of Links” on Kindle $2.99

Also at CS Marketplace “Especially For Book Lovers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

Dog Lovers Extra – yay, Time Magazine confirms what most pet lovers already knew in their heart of hearts. And that is, dog owners live longer, healthier lives.

♦  Featured Recipe  

Quirky can be good

Add the word cooking and it takes us directly to Alton Brown. Like him or not, his Good Eats” show according to a site called Ranker is one of the top rated on Food Network, and it did win a Peabody Award.Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

The charm of that series lies in the way Brown works science and technology into the prep with various props, offbeat demos, cartoon inserts, odd camera angles, unexpected staging, and the occasional outrageous pun.

In addition to the tv show, you can also bring this educational circus into your home with his equally unique books. Meanwhile, if you love lazy Sundays, Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls can make them even lazier – the link takes you to the recipe on Food Network, but it’s also in his “Good Eats 2.”

Recipe    Good Eats Books    Other Alton Brown books

♦  Tip  

Just in time for Labor Day

Whether you’re cooking for family or flipping for a crowd, you will probably love this method of shaping them up. In fact the “Mad Genius” in the demo shows how he created 18 uniform patties in under three minutes.

And so easy!

Easy to do. To peel off the work surface. And to stack up to take to the grill or pan without them sticking together.

♦  A Peek at My Week  

Join me in my kitchen & parlor 

  That porcupine dessert from the Aug 17 salon calls for 1/2 cup of the heavy cream but of course the smallest container you can buy holds a full cup. What to do with the leftovers? Then thinking, ohhh . . . how about? Ummm, let’s just say I ended up with the richest bowl of cereal ever!  😁  Probably don’t want to make this an everyday occurrence.

  Got a chuckle out of a quote attributed to early 1900s food writer Curnonsky: “If the potage had been as hot as the wine, the wine as old as the chicken, the chicken as plump as the mistress of the house, things would’ve been almost all right.”    My note says this was cited in “A Taste of Paris” by David Downie.

   So, an addendum to the oatmeal cookie recipe featured in the Aug 10 salon. I do have oatmeal some mornings but truth be told it’s not one of my favorite things. I got to thinking some of those very ingredients {and variations} in the cookies might be just the thing to perk up the bowl. Yep! Added chocolate chips, raisins, and cinnamon. Quite tasty.

So far next week: brownie saga, pyrex warning, Italian farmhouse food, garlic sprouts a debate, foodfest

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise, for Aug 24-30, 2018

♦  CatChat – Misty previews what you’ll find in each section this week  

Tidbits  NYT online cooking classes / cook bacon in water? {M sounds OK to me} / smoking eggs?   CS Marketplace Spotlight  good foodie book / tee for readers   Featured Recipe  Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise   Tip  turning old fruit into easy new jam   Barbara’s Week  about that jam / shaping chocolate {M can’t have that} / plum duff {M – what the . . . }

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery

♦  Tidbits  ♦

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  I have not taken these lessons, but since it’s a familiar source I’m fairly comfortable passing it along. The “New York Times” is offering online cooking lessons for, as it says, $1.25 a week. That leaves a lot of details to discover which you should be able to do here.

  A new way to cook bacon? In water?? And it’s crisp??? Yes and tender too which apparently is the water’s doing. So far I’ve just watched the video. If I try it you will sure know about it – good, so so, or never mind.

  When you see a reference to smoking eggs you sort of have to take a closer look at the article. This is interesting, and employs a grill technique that surprised me. Thanks to a google search, it turns out there is more than one way to do this, so clearly other folks have already discovered it. If I ever do, again you’ll be among the first to know.

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  ♦ 

Another interesting food-centric novel

Kate Carlisle’s “Cookbook Conspiracy” is a nice, lighthearted mystery – well except for those pesky murders. Which is to say, a quick read, a likable narrator, and flashes of humor.A Cookbook Conspiracy (Bibliophile Mystery 7)

What adds interest is the fact that two other “characters” join the human cast. One is the title book that threads its way through the tale on a twisty path that leaves havoc in its wake, finally revealing its role in all that swirled through the events. And the other is the food, usually bounteous dinners, since almost all of the humans are chefs.

And thank you to those cooks who, fictional though they may be, generously share their recipes in the back of the book. Among them: the “triumphant” syllabub {might want to skip the version that calls for placing the bowl of ingredients under a cow}, and the “Crazy Delicious” apple dessert.

The book earns 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, one of a series, available in multiple formats.

“Cookbook Conspiracy”  ♦  Other Carlisle books

Also at CS Marketplace “Especially For Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

Readers Extra – proudly tell the world of your priorities with this “READING/READING/READING/everything else” t-shirt or hoodie

♦  Featured Recipe  

Julia Child – still teaching us the art of French cooking

I came across this site, and glad I did, but the “who” behind it is unclear. There is a first person message on the “About” page but no real ID.

Thanks! whoever you are! It’s because of you and Child’s cookbooksThe Way to Cook that we can make that above statement.

And it’s so timely that we feature one of the culinary legend’s dishes now because August is her birthday month. And this one, as the site notes, is particularly appropriate because it’s “probably one of the most famous salad recipes by Julia Child. It was one of Julia’s favorite dishes.” And, as well, a nice cool addition to any Labor Day get-togethers.

Btw, if you want to preserve the authenticity of this prep, follow this link for her recipe for French potato salad.

Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise

Recipe    Julia Child’s Recipes site    Julia Child cookbooks    Julia Child videos

♦  Tip  

Stop! Step away from the trash can with that pruny fruit

And “pruny” could refer to not just a plum, but a peach, cherries, berries, et al. Here’s a way to save from the trash what a story in the Extra Crispy newsletter calls even “the saddest leftover fruit” and instead turn it into small batch jam.

And let us hasten to add that “small batch” is key here, because there is no boiling, no pectin, no testing, no sealing, no looking for storage space for a bunch of jars.

Nope. This is like one jar’s worth that the story says will last for a month in the fridge, adding that probably won’t though, not because it goes bad but rather because it’s so good.

And I can give a Yep! to that. In “My Week” below you’ll find more about my experience with the prep.

♦  A Peek at My Week  

Join  me in my kitchen &  parlor

  So, I took some liberties with this jam in the Tip. First, I did peel the fruit, and cut it quite small, about 1/4″ dice. Second, I used a bit less sugar. Third, once the fruit was super soft and the juice considerably reduced, I removed it from the heat and hit it with the immersion blender {be careful if you’re not using a deep pan, it will attack}. Last, I put the cover on tilted rather than tight while it cooled. Shown above is the one I made with two peaches.

  Some time back I ordered souvenir pens from a company that still sends me samples to this day. The one that just arrived was cushioned with the plastic piece you see here. And it was familiar because a pastry chef I once interviewed liked to use all kinds of items to create chocolate shapes and textures, including one like this to form nuggets, and many others sourced from well beyond the kitchen.

So if you’re a cook that likes to decorate your edibles, see what’s around your home that you can thoroughly clean, probably treat with non stick spray, and fill with chocolate, or press upon chocolate like a metallic doily to create a pretty design . . . or?

  Browsing through Diner’s Dictionary again. I just love this book! And not only because I can find foodie answers here faster than online, but even more because page after page has such interesting discoveries.

Just one of the entries on this journey: “Plum duff . . . one of the fortifying puddings of England is essentially the same in its beginnings as plum pudding, before it went upmarket The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drinkto become Christmas pudding – in other words, a plain boiled suet pudding enlivened with a more or less generous addition of raisins or currants {duff represents a former northern pronunciation of dough}.

“The earliest record of the term, though, is not that ancient. It comes from the mid-nineteenth century, in R.H. Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast {1840}: “This day was Christmas . . . the only change was that we had ‘plum duff’ for dinner.”The sociologist Henry Mayhew records it as being one of the foods for sale on the street in London in the 1850s, its itinerant vendor being known as a plum duffer.”

In one short blurb, a sense of time, place, taste, prep, commerce, history and as a bonus, a literary reference too.

So far next week: easy batch-making for hamburgers, good news for dog owners, cleaning sheet pans, Alton Brown news

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


for Aug 17-23, 2018

  CatChat – Misty previews what you’ll find in each section this week  

♦  Tidbits – watermelon: selecting, using up / guide to chiles / oopsies in the kitchen    CS Marketplace Spotlight –  getting creative with leftovers / food no-no’s for dogs / cat cartoons {M – ha! equal time, about time  Featured Recipe – porcupine cookies {M – wait, is that meat?}    Tip –  stew 2.0 {M – that’s meat!  Barbara’s Week – fries in a hurry / s&p your dessert? / Alexa the foodie

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery

♦  Tidbits  ♦ 

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Watermelon! The very word can make your mouth feel cooler. Two foodie newsletters have something to say about this summer treat. Well Done tells us that in addition to a  uniform shape, dull sheen, hollow sound after a thump, look for a creamy yellow spot from where it ripened on the ground. Meanwhile, Tasting Table shows us how to turn the rind into a “tasty, tangy pickle.”

  I just love cooking with chiles – you too? Then you’re going to also love this guide from “Real Simple” that gives a quick descrip of each of the major kinds, and as a bonus a demo that adds a visual component for each including exterior and interior views, size reference, some still on the vine, some stuffed.

  Think your kitchen mishaps are bad. Compare them to these. I guess some of them aren’t really funny but aiyyyy still kind of hard to stifle a laugh.

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  ♦ 

We at CooksSalon, and guessing you, our savvy friends, have a passion for not wasting food.The Thrifty Cookbook: 476 ways to eat well with leftovers You’ll regularly find items in the My Week section below that talk about using up this or that. Maybe at some point I should add a forum where we can all share our ideas.

At any rate as often happens, in the course of looking for one thing on google I came across something else of Quick & Easy Recipes Using Everyday Leftovers: Tasty Ways to Use Up Leftovers So Nothing Goes to Wasteinterest. The search target was the second watermelon item above since it had rudely disappeared from my inbox.

But what also came up was the fact that there are books on Amazon totally devoted to using up leftovers. I’m going to take a closer look at some of these selections soon, but meanwhile I want to share the link to that page and the two examples.

The two cookbooks shown here are rated 4 & 5 stars. Happy re-purposing!

The Thrifty Cookbook    Quick & Easy Recipes Using Everyday Leftovers

Other “Leftovers” cookbooks    CS Marketplace

Also at CS Marketplace “Especially For Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

Dog Lovers Extra – A warning from “Reader’s Digest”  11 Summer Foods You Should Never, Ever, Share With Your Dog

Misty demanded some equal time for Cat Lovers. So, please enjoy these cartoons.

♦  Featured Recipe  

A fun, easy, no-bake dessert just in time for Labor Day 

Just the name tells you there’s some sweet whimsey going on here. Porcupine cookies!

Have you made these before? If so, you know they’re a hit and even a bit of a conversation piece.

No idea anymore the source of the recipe I have, a print-out with no person’s name or company name on it. But no matter because I’ve changed it up anyway to make it a bit less sweet, a bit more chocolatey, and a bit richer.

So now it’s my recipe. And now it can be yours too! Powdered sugar optional.

Porcupine Cookies

Makes . . . a lot

1 c shredded coconut {the “needles”}

3 c quick cooking oatmeal

1 c sugar

2/3 c cocoa powder

1/2 c butter

1/2 c heavy whipping cream

1 t vanilla

Whisk coconut and oats in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a rather large saucepan or kettle, over med heat, combine sugar, cocoa, butter, and cream. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is a uniform color.

Bring to a boil, then let boil 3-4 minutes, watching constantly so it doesn’t bubble over. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.

Pour oat mixture into hot sauce and mix until blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper on a cookie sheet and let cool.

Notes: One of the changes I made was to use heavy whipping cream instead of milk, but you could certainly use either one or something in between. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the phooey-on-the-oven dessert books we ran a few weeks back.

No-bake dessert books on Amazon

♦  Tip  

Want to kick up the ol’ family recipe {demo}

Andre Soltner has a trophy case full of accolades but is probably best known for helming the iconic Lutèce in NYC for 34 years. In this youtube video uploaded by Saveur magazine he demonstrates his favorite childhood dish, Bacheofe, which is wine-marinated and oven-simmered meat and vegetables topped with bacon.

There’s a link to the recipe too, but truly you could probably use whatever amounts you like and still end up with a beautiful stew.

♦  A Peek at My Week  

Join me in my kitchen & parlor 

  Nuts! No, actually fries. Should have noted two things in that item in the July 27 Salon about getting your fries ready in hurry. First, and guessing you already do this, follow the guidelines for your microwave oven and your paper towels for safe use. Then also limit the time in there to about a minute and a half, so the fries are less likely to stick. I’ve now added that to the July 27 original.

  Another addendum, also to the July 27 Salon, this one based on something I just read. That earlier Tip had to do with an easy no-bake dessert that was simply a matter of setting out slices of good bread and a bunch of toppings. One of the latter was unheated hot fudge {though chocolate bars would be fine too} inspired by MFK Fisher’s admonition to “never eat chocolate without bread.” At any rate the more recent reading also cheered this combo but with an unexpected addition – salt & pepper! So if you and your friends are feeling adventurous, go right ahead and add that into the mix.

  I love my Amazon Echo but am probably using about 10% of Alexa’s capabilities. But just came across another application that is great if you also have Prime. Have both? Then according to a blurb in Food & Wine magazine, you folks in more than 30 cities can use Alexa to get {in their example a missing ingredient} delivered in just hours via Prime Now.

So far next week: cooking bacon in water, cooking lessons, cookin’ novel, easy jam

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies {well named!}, for Aug 10-16, 2018

  CatChat – Misty previews what you’ll find in each section this week  

Tidbits – what is matriarchal cooking? / bacon mayo, whose idea?? {M – hold the mayo} /  Seattle food fest    CS Marketplace Spotlight – good novel, “State of the Onion” w/recipes / signed inmate-to-chef bio on ebay    Featured Recipe – Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies {M – didn’t get any}    Tip –  great lobster, twice  ♦  Barbara’s Week – tasty salad add-on {M – didn’t want any} / watermelon, party cut/ hope springs eternal

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery 

♦  Tidbits  ♦

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Oh I like this. Something I already do and you likely do too – has a name. Or at least it does for Chef Claudette who defines her new El Jardin in San Diego as a Matriarchal Restaurant – meaning it shows respect for the recipes, preps, and traditions of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other “matriarchs” in the family tree. Nice.

  OK, brace yourself. This tasty tip comes from the unlikely duo of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, with Jennifer Garner in a supporting role, and Food & Wine magazine as the producer. So, here’s how its comes together: at Snoop’s urging Stewart now crumbles bacon into mayo instead of fitting the slices onto a sandwich with the mayo separate, which was a component in the bacon-ed up lobster BLTs crafted by Stewart and Garner featured in  the magazine’s newsletter .

  If you have plans to be in Seattle in Nov, or would like to make them, you can tap into all the palate-pleasing bounty of the “Seattle EATS Cooking, Food & Wine Festival.” A production of America’s Test Kitchen, it promises to bring “dozens of the area’s best chefs and restaurants together so you can sample unlimited food, see cooking demos, meet the cast of our TV shows, and much more.” Nov 2 & 3, but tix are on sale now.

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  ♦ 

Who do you know that loves food and fiction?

This is sort of like a culinary version of Perils of Pauline. White House assistant chef Olivia seems to have perfected the art of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, much to the dismay of her secret service boyfriend.State of the Onion (A White House Chef Mystery Book 1)

Her more preferable art, boffo cooking, merits equal time in this tale that is both entertaining and enlightening thanks to author Julie Hyzy’s meticulous research about the kitchens and protocols at both the White House and Camp David.

And hallelujah, after tempting our palates with dish descriptions throughout the book, she treats us to recipes for at least some of them after the story concludes with a scene that might leave you out of breath.

The first in a series, it’s 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, available in multiple formats. Also thought it might be interesting to look at some books penned by or about actual White House chefs. Both links are below.

“State of the Onion”    White House chef books    CS Marketplace

Also at CS Marketplace “Especially For Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

Especially for book lovers – who also love chef stories/inspiration/autographed items. And this chef has quite an inspiring story, moving from drug dealer on the streets of L.A. to imprisoned felon to upscale exec chef to Food Network host – and that upward boost was propelled by a most ironic twist of fate. His 1st-year book is signed to me and after a decade+ I’ve put it {and some celeb signed items, see below} on ebay. You can also find unsigned versions on Amazon, 4 1/2 stars.

♦  Featured Recipe  

Paid off already!

So in last week’s chat I mentioned being re-inspired to check package recipes and the very next day did just that with the oatmeal, where I saw a reference to a recipe on the underside of the cover. Disappearing oatmeal cookies!

Well that title is sort of irresistible. Turns out so are the cookies, and that name tells you they aren’t going to stick around very long once the word is out.

Notes – never one to pass up a suggestion to add chocolate chips, I split them with the raisins, using 3/4 cup each. Also, made some the tablespoon size and some larger, which you see here.

 Oatmeal cookie recipe    Cookie cookbooks on Amazon, 4 stars & up

♦  Tip  

Lobster fans, enjoy and then maybe again

Oh happy day. After getting disgruntled with my source for lobster tails, I googled the best rated lobster suppliers online and the results came back with a resounding vote for Cousins Maine Lobster. Had really just not gotten around to ordering from them when, woohoo, the company opened outlets in two local Smith’s stores. This first foray resulted in hot buttered lobster rolls served with their potato tots and bisque, all excellent.

And here’s the tip: if you have leftover bisque {I know, for some of you, hahaha} it makes a quite good pasta sauce, to which you can add any leftover lobster {ditto}. I added some shrimp and thinly sliced roasted red peppers, along with a little Hawaiian salt.

And here’s a second tip, good news for all you lobster lovers – Cousins has truck and restaurant locations in a whole number of places. Find them here.

♦  A Peek at My Week  

Join me in my kitchen & parlor

♦  OK, it took seeing “onion” in that book title above to remind me to use some of the pickled pearl onions in salad. I used it in egg salad, but would be equally good in others – green, tossed, tuna, kidney bean, potato, mac. A really tasty addition! {if you remember to do it, that is}

  Saw this trick for watermelon halves some time ago but this was the first time I tried it. Just great for a party. Easy to eat, guests’ choice of big piece or small piece. Works best with the smaller round ones.

  Have all the ingredients to try bolognese again. Hope to be able to share a boffo recipe with you soon.

Collectorsif you are interested in autographed items I also have books, letters, pix from Nicholas Pileggi, Sidney Sheldon, Stephen J Cannell, Janet Leigh, Phyllis Diller, and Bobby Hatfield on ebay – to see them all, click here {this is a one-time thing, not an ongoing CooksSalon feature}

Next week, so far – Watermelon tips, all about chiles, kitchen fails, celeb chef style stew, addendum to fast fries, salt & pepper for your dessert???

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you


Pizza fondue in the slow cooker, for Aug 3-9, 2018

  CatChat – Misty previews what you’ll find in each section this week  

Tidbits – kitchen savings, sheet pan brunches {M > “one has baaaacon”}, perfect & easy corn on the cob    CS Marketplace Spotlight – pinch bowls {M >  “really, not punch”}    Featured Recipe – easy pizza fondue & dippers {M > “wonder if my paw qualifies as a dipper”}    Tip – slow cooker hints    Barbara’s Week – recipe trove, kicking up bean soup, using up pasta sauce

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery 

♦  Tidbits  ♦ 

Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks

  The latest issue of the always content-rich AARP Bulletin, borrowed it from a friend {uh huh}, featured 99 Great Ways to Save. Here are the ones that find a place in the kitchen: SnipSnap {not checked out} for coupon storage, 1/4 t baking soda in 1/4 c water for indigestion, if you’re in this silver category get restaurant discounts at and for everyone, compare unit pricing on grocery items, host brunches instead of dinners, buy wine by the case.  AARP Bulletin

  Ready for a sheet pan brunch? In a story credited to both Food & Wine and Real Simple, Grace Elkus treats us to the toss-together prep for a garlicky potato and veggie hash topped with fried eggs. Bonus 1: her suggestions for some variations. Bonus 2: a link to her sheet pan pancakes. Bonus 3: a link to her sheet pan egg sandwiches.  Brunch is ready

  Woohoo, corn season is upon us. Here are five ways the “Today” show says you can “cook corn on the cob perfectly – the easy way.” Recipes too, including one of my favorites, Mexican Street Corn.  Corn-ucopia

That beautiful corn image {and judging by the bright green relish, sport peppers, and NO ketchup, what sure looks like Chicago dogs} is by jeffreyw

♦  CS Marketplace Spotlight  ♦ 

Pinch bowls – a typo? Nope!

That’s what I thought when I first came across the term, having no clue what adorable dishes I was about to discover. Pinch bowls! also called portion cups and the more familiar Now Designs Pinch Bowls (Set of 6), Modern Colorsramekins, even just small or little bowls.

They’re diminutive vessels for the kind of stuff where you’ll want just a “pinch” salt, pepper, herbs, spices. But of course the uses go well beyond that.

Serve your guests individual dishes of nuts, sauces, dressings, dips, mousse, or use for pre-measured recipe ingredients, a mise en place.

Btw, the Amazon pages shows somewhat larger bowls as well, but the genuine article is typically about 1.5-4 ounces. They can be stoneware, porcelain, glass, stainless steel, silicone. All quite pretty.

Just a Pinch {shown}    Pinch bowls on Amazon    CS Marketplace

Also at CS Marketplace “Especially For Readers” & “Especially for Dog Lovers”

Dog {& Cat!} Lovers Extra Oh these are so cute, so grin-inducing, and thanks once more to Reader’s Digest for bringing us a lovely highlight of our day. At least one of these pix had to have been taken just before some holiday havoc and another calls to mind a classic episode of “King of Queens.”  Fun & funny cat & dog photos

♦  Featured Recipe  

Party on the weekend or perk up a weeknight

. . . with this fun dish. After finding that slow cooker recipe for the July 20 taco chili recipe, kept the book out to seeBiggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes (Better Homes & Gardens) what other goodies it might offer. And here’s one I think we all can like.

It’s not 5-ingredient like that previous one, but just about as easy. And so full of flavor! Thinking leftovers – if any! – could be poured right over cooked pasta, either leftovers if you used some as dippers or a fresh batch.

You might remember from before this book is available in paperback and spiral bound. Rates 4 stars on Amazon.

Supreme Pizza Fondue

10 servings

4 oz Italian sausage

Small onion, finely chopped

Garlic clove, minced

28-oz jar meatless spaghetti sauce

1 c slice mushrooms

2/3 c chopped pepperoni or Canadian style bacon

1 t dried basil or oregano, crushed

1/2 c sliced pitted ripe olives {optional}

1/4 c chopped sweet green pepper {optional}

Remove casings from sausage, if present. In a large skillet cook the sausage, onion and garlic {see Notes} until meat is brown. Drain off fat

In a 3 1/2-4 qt slow cooker combine spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, pepperoni or Canadian bacon, and basil or oregano. Stir in the sausage mixture.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for 3 hours. If desired stir in the olives and/or green pepper. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 15 minutes more.

Notes: For my personal taste would probably use a bit more garlic, and also I generally don’t add this ingredient until the other ingredients  – in this case sausage and onions – are pretty well cooked and then just for about a minute . . . I see no reason if you’re so inclined you couldn’t add both basil and oregano . . . suggested dippers shown in the recipe: focaccia or Italian bread cubes, mozzarella or provolone cubes, cooked tortellini or ravioli – could be interesting to dip in a small cube each of the bread and cheese on the same fondue fork. 

“Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes”

Other top rated slow cooker cookbooks

♦  Tip  

Here are some more slow cooker hints from the cookbook

“During the holidays {or any time you’re hosting a party – bjn}, oven and cooktop space fills up quickly. Use your slow cooker to make the festive desserts in this book. Slow cookers provide a handy way to bake breads and cook vegetable side dishes. Also use slow cookers for potlucks, Carry side dishes and desserts in a cooker to the party; then plug it into keep food warm.”

♦  A Peek at My Week  

  Needed a chocolate fix and lo and behold, a part bag of chocolate chips in the fridge. Hellooooo. But this also served as a reminder to me that I thought I’d pass along to you. It was inspired by seeing the recipe for cc cookies on the package, which is the one I always use. The reminder was that a lot of food packaging has recipes that we might be overlooking instead of looking over – because who knows better how to get the most out of an ingredient than the folks who made it. I’ll sure be paying closer attention.

  Two unplanned ingredients ended up kicking up some leftover bean soup. I needed a little more liquid but because there was also ham in the soup it was already salty enough, so that put broth or bouillon out of the running. Instead added a bit of cream. Enough liquid then, but had slightly diluted the flavor. Whether it was the common color or what, grabbed some cocoa powder {not mix}, stirred it in and had some mighty fine bean soup, could be in the new recipe now.

  Am I the only one that makes too much food resulting in an ongoing inventory of leftovers??? So in this case that was pasta sauce. No problem, picked up an eggplant to make some parm. Btw I never bread and fry the eggplant slices but rather brush them with olive oil and bake them. Oops, seeing them on the cookie sheet made clear it wasn’t enough for the sauce.

So . . .  sliced an onion and sprinkled that among the eggplant, along with however many garlic-stuffed olives were left in the jar and into the oven {afterward, sliced the olives}. Then layered that with the sauce and Italian mixed cheese – and what the heck, already upset the usual traditions, so included a layer of feta too – topped it off with some dried basil, olive oil, parmesan. Baked as usual and, well OK then, a fine Mediterranean-ized surprise!

Cook with passion and a party spirit, whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you