Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Fennel & Peperonata, Nov 6-Nov 12, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Help end the animosity – “Make America Decent Again”

See my 7 items crafted by CA-based Zazzle, on our page Or Zazzle page

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Quick Bites – Did you buy canned pumpkin to make a pie for Thanksgiving? Wait! Indeed the pie is traditional, but just maybe you might like to take a look at these “21 Delicious Desserts That Start with a Can of Pumpkin” from MyRecipes. Cake, squares, bread, cookies, cupcakes, coffee cakes, pie variations including pumpkin mousse, and then a giant step sideways into fudge and candied nuts.    Well this tale from My Recipes starts out with dealing with lime-less guac and goes on to an interesting take on getting creative with citrus and other acidic components..     I wasn’t familiar with kirbiecravings.com, but it does show the lock icon and really has some pretty interesting stuff on the site. Among the recipes is an apple bread with no flour, butter or oil.

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Shopping Finds – In case you thought singing, dancing, acting, winning top awards and being an all-around nice person defined the limits of Dolly Parton’s talents – Nope! Williams-Sonoma adds “all-star baker” to her resume on their Dolly Parton Baking Collection page. You’ll find both baking accessories and pre-made items, all very pretty    Wear your passion. Visit my page right here on CS for t-shirts featuring coffee, chocolate, and ice cream – and the one that declares, “In this house I’M the celebrity chef.”

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Kitchen Talk – So, after featuring the chocolate ice cream bread last week, discovered I still had some slices of the previous incarnation, the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream bread {08.07.20 Salon} in the freezer that I wanted to use up. Remembering the friend who “French toasted” a waffle, yep, did the same with this bread. And what was so nice even before the butter and syrup, it had all the good flavors of the ice cream bread.    So I know I’m late to the “quinoa party,” but have been thinking about joining in ever since I saw the Mexican version {mine shown} in the Breakfast Bowls feature in our 07.31.20 Salon. Then found tri-color quinoa and that sealed the deal. Note that though the recipe site shows slices of tomato and avocado and hard cooked egg as toppers, and the directions call for dicing and mixing in, I opted for chopping & topping and a swirl of hot sauce.    Bacon jam! Order it from Amazon or make your own, and then spoon it onto a burger, baked potato, grilled cheese, or a cheese plate. I especially liked it on eggs. Some of the commenters said they gave jars of it as gifts. I actually combined a few different bacon jam recipes from those I found on google.

   On the Table  

Feature – Baked rigatoni with sausage, fennel, and peperonata – cheesy too! 

Isn’t it great when you find a tempting recipe not only on the way to something else but also in a rather unexpected place. In this case the source is Williams-Sonoma, whose site I was visiting to find more information on the Dolly Parton baking collection mentioned above in our Shopping Finds.

Of course they do sell food, it’s just that I usually think of them more in terms of cooking and serving rather than prepping. But lo and behold the emporium’s site has a whole lot of recipes.

This one is definitely going on my do list. Hard to resist a winning combo of Italian sausage, three kinds of peppers, two kinds of cheese, and a new fave, fennel.  CS friends, even if like me you really, really, don’t like its siblings licorice and anise, give fennel a try – when cooked, it takes on the most wonderful flavor and texture.

Now one thing to note – the recipe calls for “prepared tomato sauce” which my best guess is just simply canned sauce. Amidst top ratings in the comments there’s a lesser one that refers to the sauce as bland, and I think I would probably have the same reaction. So, along with so much else good going on here, surely if we want we can add some seasonings, or use flavored tomato sauce or pasta sauce.

{Photo from Williams-Sonoma recipe page}

Next week – Apple Crumb Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

Recipe    Williams-Sonoma recipe page    Williams-Sonoma cookbooks on Amazon

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

Just pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How do you make almond butter cups? Oh my, could this rival peanut butter cups? The actual recipe is titled Giant Homemade Almond Butter Cups, and AllRecipes says its prep is the “perfect combination of bitter, sweet and healthy.” And pretty darn easy too, just pouring melted chocolate into lined muffin cups, then balls of almond butter mixed with confectioners sugar, more chocolate, let sit on the counter, done!

Alexa says request: How do you make chicken parmesan roll ups? Now here’s something interesting that can happen with an Alexa request. If you follow a recipe to its source on your computer, maybe even just to print it, you could well come upon an alternative that you like even better. And I did! Now to be fair the original options were just fine, and I have absolutely nothing against the vegetables they included, but I wanted a dish truer to the classic and I sure found it in Chicken Parmesan Rollatini at Food Network Kitchen.

My request: Alexa, give me a cooking tip. She replies with “How to Cook for Just Yourself,”, something that may be exactly what’s going on right now. Among other points, it lists as a perk that you can always make meals that you, you, enjoy. It goes on to cover shopping, prepping, and storing.

And an unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – tell you what well known people have birthdays today – say Alexa, what’s the birthday roundup?

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, health tips & news, entertainment news, national news, local news, sports news & recaps, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, Amazon delivery notifications, alerts, security camera connection . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the styles here on this Amazon page

   Cocktail Hour Buzz   

Sundowner snacks, food, talk – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

   Found this on the way to something else too – Chocolate Party Pie. Cook and stir 3 3/4 oz chocolate fudge pudding mix, 2 c milk, 2 T packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa & a slightly beaten egg in a saucepan on med heat until it comes to a full boil. Remove from heat & blend in 2 T butter. Cool 5 min stirring twice. Pour into 8″ baked & cooled pie shell. Chill. Top with whipped cream. Easy pie-sy.

   I’ve previously mentioned how much I love Tajin, salty and spicy and citrusy, so good sprinkled on steak, eggs, raw veggies, corn on the cob, tacos, etc, etc, etc. Now I’ve discovered how perfect it is as the rimmer for a bloody mary. Doesn’t hurt to stir some in too! My market carries Tajin but if yours doesn’t and you want to try it Amazon does have it. {So, in the process of finding the link for you also discovered they have Tajin-flavored snacks}.

   Ha, found it! And not surprisingly, it was YouTube that served up this demo for making ginger syrup. What was a surprise is the connection to cocktails. I did gasp a bit when he threw out the strained ginger. Yikes, it probably wouldn’t have the strength of the original, but surely could be used in any recipe calling for ginger, just use more and that would be no problem as the recipe yielded at least a 1 1/2 cups of the stuff. As noted in a previous Salon, if you prefer pre-made you can find it at Amazon.

   “Everything in moderation, including moderation” – Julia Child

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Bobby Flay’s Bacon/Tater Quesadillas w/Salsa & Eggs, Oct 23-Oct 29, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Help end the animosity – “Make America Decent Again”

See my 7 items crafted by CA-based Zazzle, on our page Or Zazzle page

 Let’s chat   

Quick Bites – Squash season! While I like mine with just a bit of butter and brown sugar, I have to say there are some good looking renditions in Food & Wines offering of Our 36 Best Squash Recipes, such as mashed winter squash with Indian spices, baked butternut squash with cheese polenta, winter squash with gruyere gratin, savory ricotta squash tart, acorn squash saltimbocca. {thanks to Jeffery Martin at Wikimedia Commons for the photo}    We like to share stories on avoiding waste whenever we see them so hoping you’ll take a look at this one on storing sweet potatoes from Extra Crispy. Love sweet potatoes!    So, Well Done sent us to MyRecipes sent us to Reddit for this hack on heating two bowls of food at once in the nuker. I have not tried this.

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Shopping Finds – I know flavored syrups have been around for a long time, but was sort of surprised to discover how many infused maple syrups are available, and so many sound so good.  The link takes you to the page I saw on Amazon.    MyRecipes, especially as a protégé of AllRecipes, I think is a pretty trusted source. So I paid attention when they posted their pick for favorite pie filling. The winner: Duncan Hines Simply Pie Fillings & Toppings, available in apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, raspberry & strawberry.    Could help avoid waste? Amazon identifies this Automatic Food Sealer with starter kit as one of its current “Hot Releases.” Four and a half stars, Prime Eligible.

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Kitchen Talk – I’m inspired by the current Better Homes & Gardens to “put down the carving knife” and instead turn the surface of pumpkins, real or craft, into pop art. The cover punkin gets its festive look from tissue paper, Better Homes And Gardens Magazine October 2020while others in the story call upon electrical tape, cording, yarn, and paint – brushed on, splattered on, or a fun trick where you blow bubbles into it {don’t inhale}.    The other pic? Popcorn balls? Nope, but first, in our 09.25.20 Salon we linked a story on foods other than muffins you can make in your muffin tin. I have another way I like to use that pan, and that’s to freeze {covered} individual portions of various items, in the case here cooked macaroni. Also good for rice, cooked shrimp, stuffing, frozen veggies, cooked veggies, e.g. Just be sure to treat the cups with non-stick spray so the food can be popped out and into a freezer bag.    Another good use for the ginger syrup {09.18.20 Salon} – in a spicy stir-fry, a tasty offset to the peppers.

   On the Table 

Feature – Bobby Flay’s Bacon & Hash Brown Quesadillas with Salsa & Eggs

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Flay – briefly – and enjoying dinner at his Mesa Grill – not so brief!. No, you want to linger over this fiesta of flavors, a showcase for his passionate take on southwest cuisine.

And so I was drawn magnet-style to this quesadilla {OK, the bacon helped}. That bacon plus homemade hash browns join onion and peppers and cheese in a tasty tortilla stack, topped with a nice fried egg, fresh tomato salsa, and chopped chives.

A perfect way to start the day. Especially a day with a late and lazy start. Bloody marys anyone?

The recipe is on the Food Network site. If the same page comes up that I saw, you should be able to also scroll down for a demo showing pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Recipe   Flay’s cookbooks, Amazon     Flay items & other celeb chef items on our CS page

Recipe Notes – The recipe makes four very generous servings, and if there will likely be leftovers, just leave the eggs and salsa off the extra stacks and and freeze them. I diced the potatoes instead of grating and cooked them together with the onions, par-fried bacon, pepper and chile powder in the oil. The salsa has the unusual addition of honey and truth be told I was kind of skeptical about it, but in fact it brings a nice touch of richness to the party. Possibilities in advance: make salsa, cook potatoes, lightly fry bacon, chop onions & chives.

Substitutions if needed – while it won’t be the same intense flavor you could probably use chile powder in place of ancho powder.

Next week – Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream Bread – sooooooo easy

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

Just pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How to make French style beef? Oh my, a winner emerged in short order, a slow cooker treatment of a beef chuck roast, rich with broth, veggies, herbs, and a sun dried tomato tapenade. It’s Beef Provençale, from Food Network Kitchen.

Alexa says request: How to make cheese waffles? Among the results was an interesting take that went one better. Ham & Cheese Waffles, with those two guest ingredients going right into the batter. Served warm with butter and maple syrup. From Epicurious.

My request: Do you have a good Bolognese sauce recipe? I’m guessing a good many of you have had this experience too. You throw together an impromptu version of a known dish and it turns out great. But then somehow you just can’t re-create it and nor do any of the recipes you find. For me, that’s a Bolognese sauce. and under the banner of hope springs eternal going to try a 5-star one Alexa found from Side Chef, a site we just recently discovered. If it’s what I’m looking for, you’ll be the first to know.

And this unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – flip a coin {make your choice before you ask}

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, health tips & news, entertainment news, national news, local news, sports news & recaps, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, Amazon delivery notifications, alerts, security camera connection . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the Echo styles here on this Amazon page

   Cocktail Hour Buzz  

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

  Big kids tap into their inner little kids with, say, jelly glasses of . . . peanut butter whiskey. Called, and with good reason, Skrewball, it’s just as it sounds, whiskey and peanut butter which, as the maker says, “go together so well the make pb&j jealous.”  Those folks, the husband and wife creators and their team, have lots of fun on their website with the name and while there you’ll also see their hashtag, and meanwhile will leave it to your imagination.

  Good thought, broaden your sipping horizons even further! One thing may be of interest regarding cocktails — cocktails from around the world.  Sure, most everyone knows about margaritas and mojitos, but how about the lesser known cocktails like Pimm’s Cup (UK), Aperol Spritz (Italy),  Caipirinha (Brazil), Kir Royale (France)” – Linda K-P, Orlando

  Guessing there are some folks that can defy this promise, but for the most part this is a very welcome prospect – “spill-proof wine glasses!” They’re 12 oz and “naturally aerating.” Four and a half stars and an “Amazon’s Choice.”

   Btw, just as with the rye croutons, the bacon croutons in Kitchen Talk in last week’s Salon also make a mighty fine cocktail snack. Hot, warm, or cold.

Want to join the Buzz? Enter CooksSalon in the subject line – sign the way you want to be identified

Click here to email your comments, questions, links to fave recipes, or?

Find t-shirts, mugs, dvds, gift collections, plus top chef items including cookbooks

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Looking for something in CS?

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Note

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

All pages ©2020 CooksSalon.com

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Ree’s hearty Steak Pizzaiolo, Oct 16-Oct 22, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Help end the animosity – “Make America Decent Again”

See my 7 items crafted by CA-based Zazzle, on our page Or Zazzle page

  Let’s chat   

Quick Bites – Well, how welcome is this??? 20 Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Breakfast Ideas for Easier Mornings, from MyRecipes. And not just easier, good! Which is to say, pb&j  stuffed pancakes, nuts and berries baked oatmeal, sausage/gravy/egg sandwiches, other sandwiches, mini quiches & cups, even a breakfast burrito. Slide show or scroll down on site.    I just love the Irish Central newsletter, not only for the connection to the Irish sector of my ancestry but also related current news & historical tales – and recipes! Like this one for Irish Cheesecake made with Irish cream on a shortbread crust.   Preps for the times, 50 Recipes That’ll Help Boost Your Natural Immunity.”  From MyRecipes.

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Shopping Finds – You know, lots of people order cheese boxes and baskets as gift, and btw always a nice idea, but did you ever think about ordering one for yourself. Some are relatively inexpensive and deliver a nice variety of tastes and textures. And some of the combos replace some of the cheese with, e.g., crackers, sausages and jarred items that have a longer shelf life. There’s a huge selection on Amazon and you can narrow your search to find one that’s just right.    Last week we mentioned that primo baking source Prepared Pantry. This week we learned in their newsletter that the world’s most popular dessert is Sticky Toffee Pudding, and yep, they have a mix for it.

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Kitchen Talk – Quick, easy, really good – is that a winning trio or what. Talking bacon croutons, good hot from the oven, right out of the fridge or gently reheated, and shown here adding some crunchy magic to veggie salad and potato soup. In the linked Food Network recipe the croutons actually top a smooth sweet potato parsnip soup.     I’ve long used parsley or cilantro as pretty and flavorful garnishes. But lately I’ve started mixing a whole lot more right into salads and just love the fresh green taste the seems to perk up everything else.

   On the Table  

Feature – Steak Pizzaiola, and what’s so interesting about this Italian dish

I had never made this before so had to do a little checking to discover that in fact sweet and hot peppers are actually pretty traditional in this dish. Ree Drummond achieves that nicely with roasted red peppers and sliced pepperoncini.

The sauce hits all the Italian notes with garlic, onion, tomato, seasonings, and then in go the peppers. To top it off, literally, parsley and parm.

Btw, if you can’t find steak these days, or you like your fine cuts on their own, can’t see any problem with substituting any other beef cooked to tenderness. Guessing you probably have more than one favorite prep.

Ree’s Steak Pizzaiola recipe on the Food Network site    Her books on Amazon

Recipe Notes – The suggested accompaniment is ciabatta  bread and a good idea that is. But may I also suggest that if you have both left over, a darn good sandwich is in your immediate future.

Substitutions if needed – see above about replacing steak

Next week – Bobby Flay’s bacon/hash brown quesadilla with salsa and fried egg

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

So pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How to make Italian pot pie   Even though that was a topic that popped up on the screen some time back, requesting it now didn’t bring up anything that was exactly that. But among the tempting preps it did return was one for World’s Best Lasagna and yikes from the pic it has an excellent chance of living up to its billing especially since, and OK this is a personal preference, it looks nice and saucy unlike so many other versions.

Alexa says request: how to make marshmallow cake  Well there’s lot of good stuff here including super marshmallowy cheesecake, and another that uses the mallows as building blocks for an igloo. But our choice is one that balances the sweetness of marshmallows with the tartness of lemon curd, the Lemon Marshmallow Cake from The Kitchn.  And in honor of the coming holiday we’re going to link one more, the Marshmallow Web Ghost Cake from Food Network Kitchen, includes demo.

Alexa says request: What’s the best coffeemaker  Alexa taps into Consumer Reports for this one, identifying the Cuisinart model in the “drip”category. Here’s a page of them on Amazon. But on the Amazon best sellers page, after a cold brew machine in the top spot, it’s Mr Coffee who takes the honors at #2 and #3. And then if you search coffee makers, 4 stars and up, on the site some other guys come up.

And an unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – tell you something “weird” {maybe on Oct 31 !}

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, health tips & news, entertainment news, national news, local news, sports news & recaps, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, Amazon delivery notifications, alerts, security camera connection . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the styles here on this Amazon page

   Cocktail Hour Buzz   

And as we say below – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

   Perfect Salon buzz because we kitchen folks love this kind of stuff. You’ll find a super simple soy sauce trick, pre-flavoring pasta, expanding oj’s resume, unexpected lemon boost, a sweet baking trick, and one I’ll be using which is olive juice as a flavoring agent. From the Buzzfeed site, “18 Cooking Hacks That’ll Make You Say ‘How Come Nobody Told Me This Earlier?'”  – contributed by BLV

   Not everyone may want a cocktail. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy something special, nor does it mean you have to assemble a non-alcoholic punch or spend time prepping individual beverages. Nope, instead you could put out some fun and festive “designer” sodas, and leave it to Amazon to offer quite a collection.

  On the Departures site, 10 Cocktails to Drink This Fall “to keep yourself warm.” Here you’ll find such add-ins as grapefruit-cinnamon syrup, long pepper tincture, pumpkin-infused vermouth, brown sugar syrup, spiced honey, and maple syrup.

   So, a skeleton walks into a bar and says, Gimme a glass of water and a mop

Want to join the Buzz? Enter CooksSalon in the subject line – sign the way you want to be identified

Click here to email your comments, questions, links to fave recipes, or?

Find t-shirts, mugs, dvds, gift collections, plus top chef items including cookbooks

CS Marketplace Directory

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CooksSalon is free to everybody – appreciate anytime you click through to these affiliate partners

     Zazzle                                       SunFrog

Looking for something in CS?

Scroll & check previews  OR use Search OR contact me at bjnosek@gmail.com, subject=CooksSalon

Note

All transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

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

All pages ©2020 CooksSalon.com

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Cobbler – Peach, Pecan & a Touch of Caramel, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Help end the animosity – “Make America Decent Again”

See my 7 items crafted by CA-based Zazzle, on our page Or Zazzle page

Alexa has been promoted! Now find her every week right here on the main Salon page

   Let’s Chat   

Quick Bites – Is your muffin tin phoning it in, just showing up for . . . muffins??? Let Food & Wine expand its job description with these 10 Spectacular Non-Muffin Recipes to Make in Your Muffin Tin. You can run the slide show or just scroll down on their page to find crustless quiche bites, mini black bottom cheesecakes, open face egg and ham sandwiches, maple-bacon popovers, brownie bites and the rest    Takeout is a nice indulgence, but if it’s a little more prevalent these days you might want to take a look at this nutritionist’s take on making your order a bit healthier with these 7 Simple Swaps on the Clean Plates site.     Indulgence meets healthy in this Cheeseburger Salad from MyRecipes.

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Shopping Finds – I don’t know about you but it seemed I never had enough spatulas . . . until I found this festive set. Plus a food brush! Right now the 7-pc spatula set is $8.99, Prime eligible, 5 stars, and an “Amazon’s Choice.”    Want to decorate the kitchen for Halloween? And to cite the spirit of the Salon – whether for a crew, or for two, or just for you – Amazon’s got you covered.    If you’re having trouble finding bouillon powder, as I have, you might try the jarred bases which I have found at the grocery store – have to be careful of the saltiness but quite the flavor whammy.

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Kitchen Talk – So, I finally took a look at the necktag that was on the ginger syrup {09.18.20 Salon}, and in   addition to a recipe for seasoned ginger party nuts, even more uses – ice cream, baked chicken, oatmeal {always like some help in that bowl}, yogurt parfait, chocolate cake, even cocktails . . . and roasted carrots to which I added a bit of butter, and mmm-mmm.    If you’re avoiding gluten, have I got a recipe for you. The title, Flourless Oat Banana Muffins, doesn’t do it justice given its flavor boosters of peanut butter, honey, spices and chocolate chips. Actually even better the next day.

      On the Table 

Peach cobbler – five ingredients – tons of yum

As this week’s title tells you, the peach filling has some company in the pan. Pecans for crunch, bits for extra richness.

About the bits. The recipe calls for toffee but once I spotted caramel chips, a substitution was immediately in play.

And this tasty dish couldn’t be easier. Layer, sprinkle x 2, stir briefly, sprinkle x 3. Ready to bake.

About the baking. This prep is actually designed for campfire cooking, buried in hot coals. It bakes in a parchment-lined Dutch Oven.

No problem. I used a 9 x 13 pan treated with baking spray. Then based on other cobbler recipes, baked at 350 for 50 minutes covered. Checking if it’s done all the way through can be dicey since the tester will be going through the fruit too. If you’re not sure, remove a scoop of the cobbler and use the tester on some of the cake that’s fallen to the bottom.

Recipe Notes – You could certainly still use parchment paper if you wanted. I think next time I would skip the brief stir, maybe instead just using the back of a spoon to press down a little bit of the cake mix. Sweetness is front and center here so if too much add a dollop of sour cream.

Next week – Knife & Fork Bacon Cheeseburger, savory sauce under and over

Recipe on the AllRecipes site    Cobbler cookbooks on Amazon

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

You don’t have to have an Amazon Echo Show to tap into the particular tidbits we’ve linked below, drawn from its vast culinary bounty.

So, pour a cup and let’s talk food with Alexa. We also show the actual requests for those who are Echo owners, who should also note that in many cases she guides you step by step through the recipes.

Alexa says request: How do you make a French omelette? Of the four that immediately pop up on the screen, we’re going to link to Chef John’s prep on AllRecipes because he is more detailed on what makes it an authentic French omelette, also shunning extra ingredients because as he says, it’s “just eggs and butter, no filling . . . 10% ingredients, 90% technique.” Demo too.

Alexa says request: How do you make banana bread cake? But the option from Food Network Kitchen takes it a big step further. Called Banana Bread Lava Cake, it’s rich in spices and of course bananas, but the star of the show, the “lava,” the secret ingredient – here revealed – is ice cream bars! This one also has a demo.

My request: Alexa, how do you soften hard brown sugar? Wikihow is cited for two solutions, one that calls for imprisoning the sugar with a slice of bread or apple in a plastic bag, the other pressing the nuker into service. But if you go to the Wikihow site for this advice you’ll actually find six ways.

Would you like your own Echo Show?

Boundless information, music, movies, tv shows, videos, national & local news, sports, weather, timer, alarm, reminders, alerts, Amazon delivery notifications, most security camera connections . . .  and food, food, food, all on an interactive screen {some connect to Prime}.

You can browse all the styles here on this Amazon page

{Echo owners, if you say Alexa play oldies {others too?} the lyrics scroll on the screen – let’s sing along!}

   Cocktail Hour Buzz  

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

♦ Perfect for the food-centric chat in our Salons. “Parsley, thyme and basil are typical savory herbs used to enhance the flavor of meat. But my favorite herb is rosemary. It’s great with chicken, beef or pork, great flavor and great fragrance as the meat cooks. You’ll find it in many Spanish recipes.” – Pld, Chicago

{Photo from Amazon, source of a variety of herb seeds}

  One of perhaps the best pieces of advice from the Playboy book featured in our 09.04.20 Salon: Take care of all  the preliminaries hours before or, if possible, the day before the event – e.g., amassing ice cubes, polishing brandy snifters, shopping, cooking, marinating, table setting, disks for the stereo, setting out cocktail napkin napkins, or if that’s the plan, hiring help. And then the real nugget: during the party Relax! – “. . . enjoy yourself at your own party.”

  Well, we don’t know if Linus will see the Great Pumpkin for this first time ever this year. But what whiskey-sippin’ folks can see for the first time ever this year is Pumpking Pumpkin Whiskey, a sibling to the well-established Pumpking Imperial Ales by Southern Tier Brewing.  🍺  Cheers.  

  More foodie chat. The acronym DOP on such Italian treats as salumi, fromaggi, olive oil, balsamic vinegars, stands for “protected designation of origin” . . .  showing that it “is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be ‘authentic, or made in the original town or region with traditional ingredients'” (in other words: no mystery ingredients). This bit of instruction from Eately and thanks for making us smarter.

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Hearty Cheese Ravioli Soup, Sept 18-Sept 24, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

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Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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Let’s Chat

Quick Bites – Take a dog to lunch? Turns out quite a few restaurant chains will welcome Rover or Fifi  🐶  and maybe even sweeten the deal with water and treats. Often the pups and their moms & dads are seated outdoors which many places are now emphasizing anyway. Here are a lot of sources on google  Milk Street fans, Season 4 starts Sept 19. Now the team is going on the road, in fact around the world, where they’ll, as PBS says, “meet cooks who inspire a new style of home cooking.” In my time zone, Saturdays at noon.

♦  ♦  ♦

Shopping Finds – On a recent episode of Fieri’s GGG one of the contestants selected ginger syrup for his dish – and that was new to me so looked for at the grocery store but nope, but thank you Amazon, found it there.    I guess we had to know it would be coming – face masks with food themes! I found these on the well established Eat This Not That site but the masks they show come from various sources so you may want to do a pre-check. If you do go on those sites, maybe even more food you can “wear.”

♦  ♦  ♦

Kitchen Talk –  So far have used the ginger syrup on waffles and in tea. Much as I can’t abide ginger in baked goods, love it every other way and this joins that collection. How else might you use it? Here’s what google says.    Btw, did not waste that original caramel sauce from our 09.04.20 Salon, but instead mixed it with soba noodles, a little chicken bouillon, chicken, carrot shreds, topped with green onion & chopped peanuts. That worked.     My quest continues for a really good oven fried chicken recipe – you’ll be the first to know.

 

 On the Table

Cheese Ravioli Soup – just a big bowl of good

Such a satisfying dish, and thank you Taste of Home. Now, don’t be frightened by the long-ish ingredient list.

Step one, brown the ground beef, and then add and cook all the sauce ingredients.

Step two, cook the ravioli, combine with the sauce and heat through.

Step three, stir in parm, top with parsley. Done!

Even though I know this is a very tasty bowlful, I was curious why the recipe rated just 3 1/2 stars. Ha! we could have guessed this one – not like soup. The only other criticism was not enough ravioli for the sauce.

Commenters loved the taste and no one downgraded on this point. That’s all good in my book {bowl?}

Recipe    Taste of Home cookbooks on Amazon

Recipe Notes – I used frozen ravioli and worked fine. What else? just bring on the crusty bread.

Next week  – Peach Pecan Cobbler, a warm and satisfying fall dessert . . . or breakfast

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

Visit with Alexa on Amazon Echo right here in the Salon on our own CS page. In the chat this week . . .

Philly Cheese Steak Bread – three come up but we like the one “in a box,” crispy fried chicken, a wine joke {alert – groaner!}

Visit here with Alexa

Cocktail Hour Buzz 

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

  Jello takes its place among the very best party centerpieces. Whaaaaat? It’s true and to believe it you really have to see these jello cakes on the Food & Wine site and also recently featured in the magazine. High art worthy of a museum, and edible too. But don’t know who could bear to bite into these beauties.

♦  Love leftover makeovers! “My favorite way to use leftover mashed potatoes. Plop the potatoes in the middle of saran wrap. Using the wrap, roll into a 3″ log and seal. Refrigerate on a plate (it will leak). In the morning, slice into discs and fry in a sprayed pan for perfect hash browns.” – Bob & Colleen

This is probably more entertainment than research, but even so you might want to take a look at this brief video {X-rated for implied language} posted by Food & Wine. “Here’s What Bartenders Think of You Based on Your Drink Order.” I was watched it, was amused, then invoked that same implied language – OK, good, now just make my {darn} cocktail.

♦  “Never serve oysters in a month that has no paycheck in it.” – P J O’Rourke

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Kentucky Butter Poke Cake, Sept 11-Sept 17, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

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Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

Let’s Chat

Quick Bites – Walmart offers daylong suggestions in the feature “Quick Homemade Healthy Meal Ideas for Busy Weekdays.” The trick here is to sneak extra fruits and vegetables into, e.g., smoothies, breakfast tacos &burritos, lunch wraps, afternoon snacks, hearty soups, and dinner sandwiches.    Did you know, maybe under the banner of any excuse for a party, over 100 countries celebrate Sept 17 as “Halfway to St Patrick’s Day”?    Bring it to the table with “All the Irish Potato Recipes you could ever need” {see Kitchen Talk} – and maybe a bit of corned beef and a wee dram.

  ♦  ♦  ♦

Shopping Finds – Well just in time for Halloween, Cello Cheese in bringing to market a pumpkin spice rubbed version of their fontals {a fontina sibling}, described as smooth and creamy, mild and sweet, and “wonderfully buttery.” On their site you can find Where to Buy  Culinary icon Ruth Reichl {see her storied career on her site} has several books steeped in the food world, but maybe none a better window on her approach to opportunities and challenges than “Save Me the Plums” {on Amazon}, her life and times as editor of Gourmet Magazine.

On BJN’s Eclectic Mall – Tired of the vitriol now routinely flying back and forth across the aisle in our governmental bodies from DC to local? My “Make America Decent Again” items {7 in all} send the message loud & clear. You can find some details below, all details at the BJN link shown.

♦  ♦  ♦

Kitchen Talk – I made the Champ {from potato story above, shown here}, basically mashed with green onions, but there’s some fun in the technique – served in individual bowls, it’s spooned up from the outside in so the taters can be dipped in a central well of melted butter. Btw, if you do want a recipe, you can click the link underneath in the story rather than going through their alternate process.    I continue to discover the many ways grits are great. The latest – topped with chili! and a little cheese  🧀  stirred into the grits can’t hurt.   Another goodie from The Food Lab book, featured last week on Amazon – to smash or not to smash? Your burger, that is. Turns out it’s a matter of timing. FL says, to end up with nice browning without losing juices, smash within the first 30 seconds of the patty hitting the hot skillet.

 On the Table

Kentucky Butter Poke Cake – even richer than it sounds

In this confection from the Betty Crocker site, there’s cream cheese in the cake, more cream cheese in the rich frosting that is poked into the cake and spread on top as well. And then stir both butter and buttermilk into the mix. This is a really good cake.

And it’s a big cake, so you can play. I topped part of it with the sliced almonds called for in the recipe, though I didn’t mix them into the frosting as specified. Other parts of the rich, creamy surface were treated to a dusting of cinnamon, and yet others a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa. Though truth be told it’s fabulous just as is, unadorned.

Two really helpful items on the recipe page: a slide button that keeps your screen from going dark while you’re working, and a sidebar of expert tips. Thanks, Betty!

Recipe Notes – I left the frosting a little thicker so it wouldn’t soak the cake too much and accordingly poked with the blunt end of a skewer rather than a fork. Even in a pan slightly smaller than 9 x 13, my cake was done in 30 min, maybe because less wet. It also freezes very well, and in fact the texture seems even silkier when thawed.

Substitutions if needed – Other nuts, chopped, should also be fine.

Next week – Hearty Ravioli Soup, bountiful enough to be an entree

Recipe Betty Crocker cookbooks on Amazon Betty Crocker recipe page

A Cuppa with Alexa – Recipes, Tips, News & More

Visit with Alexa on Amazon Echo right here in the Salon for this week’s chat – Bobby Flay’s Cuban hamburger, vanilla wafer cake, green onion-cheddar doughnuts

Visit with Alexa

Cocktail Hour Buzz 

And as we say belowwhether for a crew, or for two, or just for you

  Food and Wine lifts the curtain – along with our spirits – on “Our Best Brunch Cocktails.” What makes them especially brunch-y? Starring roles for fresh fruits and vegetables, fruity liqueurs, colorful garnishes, even decorative ice cubes. 16 super sippers in all.

  Perfect for the month that also hosts National Cheeseburger Day, from a member of our Tasting Panel. “Do the readers know about secretburger.com? They’re staging cool events all over the country, through Sept 13, often benefiting charities, meanwhile treating diners to “secret” off-menu dishes created by chefs cutting loose from their everyday cooking. Everybody wins!” – Debbie, Las Vegas. Scroll down on the site to see about your town.

A bit of party advice from the Playboy book featured in last week’s Salon: “Meticulous planning, comfortable digs, elaborate platters may be important to your reputation as a host, but vital to it is your understanding that every prearranged drinking session calls for two kinds of alchemy: the first is mixing potables; the second, mixing people.”

  Regarding the former, “. . . their purpose is to create fun and amity.” For the latter, in smaller gatherings, “guests who’ll be as compatible as gin and tonic.” And for larger parties, “two or three abrasive acquaintances may provide just the catalytic force needed to transform a low-key soiree into an uninhibited revel – like yeast in small quantities, they often guarantee the lively but controlled fermentation on which good parties rise.”

♦  Good idea! “I get a lot of inspiration from the food I have when I go on trips” Ree Drummond on her Pioneer Woman show on Food Network

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Smoked Salmon Pizza with Cream Cheese & Dill, Aug 7-Aug 13, 2020

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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We’re going to enjoy a bit of a summer break, and when we see you right back here on Sept 4, 2020, it will be with a new look featuring a breezier format, faster reading, and a permanent emphasis on easy comfort food recipes plus a new chatty feature. 

We’ll also introduce an Alexa page with recipes, tips and more. Plus an expanded shopping experience that you can tap into without leaving home. Cooking tips will move to social media.

So you don’t miss a thing, this would be a great time to sign up for weekly email “invitations” which you can do at the right or by joining our social media family with the icons at the bottom of the post.

  COMFORT FOOD  

Could this be summer’s most perfect dish?

Credit for creating the original smoked salmon pizza most likely goes to Wolfgang Puck and most assuredly goes to this famed and acclaimed chef for its high profile and popularity from coast to coast and probably beyond. But over the years others have checked in with their own variations for the crust and add-ons of this cool treat.

Our feature here is an amalgam of flavors that I like best from the number of recipes I viewed. It doesn’t stray too far or add too much because a great deal of the culinary charm of Puck’s signature dish is its simplicity. And, no baking!

I started with a store-bought baked pizza crust. Smoothed on a nice layer of cream cheese, then smoked salmon, bits of tomato and green onion, and then a good sprinkling of dillweed {fresh dill is even better}. Avocado is sort of a natural match with the salmon.

I’ve included links below to Puck’s original and a google page of other sources. Once you lay down a good crust, a creamy layer and the smoked salmon you already have something wonderful and anything else is at the pleasure of your imagination.

Puck’s recipe on the Food & Wine site     Google page of recipes     Wolfgang Puck cookbooks 

  FOOD TIPS FOR THE TIMES  

Shopping, cooking, storing, substituting, using up, helping, amusement, health & safety

  Time on your hands? If you own a copy of Diner’s Dictionary, you can spend many pleasurable moments just paging through its entries that often bring into the mix detail on uses, history, geography, literature, people, anecdotes and more. Take that, google.

  What prompted a recent trip through its treasures was a reference to Dan Dan noodles in Food & Wine. It’s a dish I’ve seen referenced many times before, so it was time to see what this was all about, and there it was. “Street Food from the Szechwan province of west central China, consisting of noodles cooked in a spicy sauce that typically includes Szechwan pepper. Dan Dan refers literally to the carrying pole used by street vendors.” Next, searching for an awesome recipe.

  Remember the ice cream bread we featured in our 07.17.20 Salon? Made the 3-ingredient wonder again, this time with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Oh, yeah. The dough part turned into a kind of butterscotchy caramel as it baked, and then there’s the sprinkling of chips. Next time thinking chocolate ice cream bread.

  Hey, bakers! Did you know there’s a community for you hosted by Taste of Home. Called Bakeable, it offers “everything you want to know about baking, including the very best recipes, gorgeous inspiration and easy step-by-step instructions.” But wait, there’s more. “Join our active community of bakers by taking part in a monthly baking challenge.”

  Be careful. There’s apparently another threat to our health and well being in these times as cited in “Why the Pandemic Could Be Causing More Kitchen Fires.” This Food & Wine story looks at some possible reasons, at the same time acknowledging cause and effect is not totally verified. Nevertheless, the reasons serve as a cautionary tale, and just as important, the article details what to do if a kitchen fire does happen.

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Cobb Salad goes global x 3, July 31-Aug 6, 2020

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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  COMFORT FOOD  

Salad at its tasty best 

Well I had a bonus discovery here, aside from the salads, and likely many all you are already in this loop. But for those who aren’t, as I was wasn’t, there is a great food site preemptively called Food.com, which is actually in the same biz family as Food Network and Cooking Channel among other brands.

So that’s where I found the boffo Mexican Cobb shown here, recipe by PanNan. It comes together with the freshness of Mex veggies, the richness of cheese, and the heartiness of chicken and beans. And, so pretty!

Rachael Ray’s fan blog gives us the Italian version, straight out of Ray’s Express Lane Meals cookbook. In this one the side by side ingredients give the chicken some competition with salami and Italian peppers to kick it all up.

One of CS’ faves, Taste of Home, checks in with a taste of Asia, or more specifically Thai. The chicken and veggie-rich mix takes on a whole new life with the drizzle of peanut-sesame dressing.

Next week: Smoked Salmon/cream cheese pizza

Mexican Cobb Salad    Italian Cobb Salad    Thai Cobb Salad  

Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals cookbook on Amazon

♦  FOOD TIPS FOR THE TIMES  

Shopping, cooking, storing, substituting, using up, helping, amusement, health & safety

  Experts say a good breakfast can get us off to a good start with benefits that last well into the day. And with today’s extra challenges that may be even more necessary than usual. Now you may well agree with that and still think . . . borrrrring. Well, now, see if this might change your mind. “These 5 Beautiful Breakfast Bowls Will Brighten Up Your Morning” from Clean Plates- surprisingly satisfying combos.

  Need a treat? Like Black Forest Cake? If yes to both you may well be ready for a Black Forest Sundae. And it’s just what it sounds like in terms of the tasty components. The news is in the sourcing. French vanilla ice cream left over from the ice cream bread, 07.17.20 Salon. Cherry filling leftover from our fruit pizza, also 07.17.20 Salon. Chocolate sauce left over from our banana split {breakfast!}, 06.26.20 Salon.

  This site is like “don’t waste food” central. Called Save the Food, it helps you do just that with prep and storage tools, recipes that give a second life to otherwise trash-bound items, a lesson in how much money you can save with these practices, even a party planner that guides you on amounts to purchase, plus stories galore in the Community. As they say on the site, become a food waste warrior.

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Ice Cream Bread, 3 ingredients, July 17-July 23, 2020

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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  COMFORT FOOD  

Is this too good to be true – No!

Whaaaaaat? The unique flavor of ice cream right in your bread?

Yes! And you make it with just three ingredients.

The recipe calls for butter pecan, which I sure do like, but I made mine with vanilla bean. It would seem you could use any flavor, and if I do try another one will let you know right here.

So, how does it taste? Good! Sweeter than bread, less sweet than cake, with a texture kind of between French bread and pound cake.

And it’s fine just plain. But like culinary icon MFK Fisher, I’ve long been a fan of bread and chocolate and this is a natural for that pairing, here using our own chocolate sauce.

Also good with preserves. Or just toasted with butter, though keep watch because of the sugar content – I actually browned it in a skillet.

Want to make your own ice cream? There’s a Ben & Jerry’s recipe book with inventive flavors made with fruit, candy and cookies and even some of their “greatest hits.”

Recipe notes: This makes a very compact loaf so you want to be sure you have a small enough baking pan. The one I used was wider and shorter than specified and so baked in about 20 min. If it tests done and the sides have pulled away but it still seems a little moist on the bottom when you remove it from the pan, just cool it on the rack upside down.

Next weekTurkish eggs, breakfast with a kick

Recipe    Ben & Jerry’s Recipe Book

♦  FOOD TIPS FOR THE TIMES  

Shopping, cooking, storing, substituting, using up, amusement, helping, health & safety

  Staying in Saturday afternoons? Something I’ve discovered at 3pm {PT} on ABC is RecipeTV. As the site says, the series takes us across America and beyond, “bringing together some of the world’s greatest culinary artists, superb restaurants, and unique recipes that satisfy the inner chef in all of us.” They have a button to check your local listings.

  Need to use up some fruit? A great way to do just that and at the same time show off your artistic skills: fruit pizzas. Just layer different colors of fruit and jam on a baked pizza crust spread with soft cream cheese and voila! a work of art. And so pretty!

  So, it’s hard to find much that’s good coming out of this pandemic, but maybe there is one thing. And that is a new view of our groceries and other household goods. Better storage so food doesn’t go bad and more vigilance so it’s used up before it goes bad, because even now we can’t always be sure replacements are available, or that the replacements we prefer are available. And the net result is less waste, more conservation of our personal resources.

  And that can extend beyond the kitchen. While that’s seriously all to the good, there can also be a lighter take. Saw this online about the bathroom and I promise it’s not gross: “I used to spin the bath tissue like a wheel of fortune and now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.”

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Chocolate filled crescents, so easy, July 3-July 9, 2020

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

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  COMFORT FOOD  

Ah darn, but then all better 

So I saw what appeared to be a crescent roll filled with chocolate and maybe something else in an ad. The bummer about this kind of thing is when the tempting item is merely a prop, no recipe will be forthcoming.

Ha! Pillsbury to the rescue.

Their basic recipe couldn’t be easier, just the rolls, mini chocolate chips and optional powdered sugar. I had a few raisins to use up so after softening them in some hot water {then drained and blotted} added those in too. I chose not to top with powdered sugar because I didn’t want to cover up that beautiful golden exterior.

Breakfast, midday, dessert, all good. And of course you can stroll all through the site’s recipe pages for countless sweet and savory ways to fill crescent rolls.

Recipe notes: I found two things help keep the chips in place while you’re “rolling in the dough.” One is to use the palm of your hand to press them down into the crescent. And second, what worked best for me was to fold the point up to the wide edge and then roll from the fold to the wide edge, turning them seam down in the baking pan – if you look at the cheesecake crescent shown beneath the recipe on the Pillsbury page, it looks like that’s how those rolled.

Next week: gooey, gussied grilled cheese sandwiches

Pillsbury recipe    Their other crescent roll recipes    Pillsbury cookbooks on Amazon  

  FOOD TIPS FOR THE TIMES  

Shopping, cooking, storing, substituting, using up, amusement, helping, health & safety

  Be the smartest person in the grocery store, or picking up groceries, or having groceries delivered. The NBC news site gives a shout-out to canned goods which, as the story says, because of their longevity cut back on waste and also mean “your pantry holds a treasure of quick meal solutions.” Here’s where it turns to gold. The report includes pointers for selecting the most nutritious canned goods, and maybe even better a roundup of the nation’s top food pros and nutritionists citing their favorite canned goods and why. Here are all the secrets.

♦  Meanwhile, here’s another take on wash produce the right way. This one from Yahoo, in turn citing the CDC.

  Well I never thought I’d be saying, I love the idea of a “garbage jar.” Let’s just say this is not only yet another way to avoid waste but as well to make maybe some of your best baked goods ever. Find the sweet scoop from MyRecipes here.

  Wait, don’t throw that out! EatingWell magazine tell us, “Instead of tossing the stems, ends and seeds of your produce, learn how to give them new life. It’s easy.” Details and a demo are here at Grow Scraps {never quite sure what threat this might pose, but please note the EW site shows “not secure” – rest assured CooksSalon is!}. This is actually quite fascinating. Will let you know if I give it a try.  

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