Doritos Chicken Casserole, Nov 1-Nov 7, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

friends, and help yourself to tasty resources!

  Here’s what you’ll find when you scroll below  

  TIDBITS – recipe pre-test / donairs / perfect carrots    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – celebrate & mangia    FEATURED RECIPE – links now, mine later    TIP – unexpected plate   THE WEEK –  Parm corn butter / soup ahoy / cheesy chat 


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Well this is helpful. Long time Food & Wine executive food editor, and cookbook editor to culinary stars, Tina Ujlaki clues us on how to avoid some disappointments in the kitchen in “How to {sort of} know if a recipe will work.” Some smart tips here.

  I love discovering new foods and sharing them with Salon folks who may also be unfamiliar with them. In this case it was a wrap that echoes such dishes in other cultures as burritos, the recently featured saltenas, and gyros, most closely resembling the latter, though with  a touch of spice, and a creamy sweet and sour sauce. Called donairs, they hail from Eastern Canada., but can now be found across the provinces, sometimes lending their flavor profile to pizza, tacos, even saw an Eggs Benedict. Google has the scoop.

  The pros at Food & Wine tell us how to make carrots in a way that just might steal the spotlight from the entree. Roasting! The simple prep slightly caramelizes the veggie to bring out its natural sweetness. In addition to the main story, “How to roast carrots to perfection,” the page also includes links for alternately pickling, glazing, and pureeing into a dip.


If you’re going to be celebrating anyway

. . . why not “celebrate like an Italian”??? You can do just that with Lidia Bastianich’s cookbook of the same name.

With a focus on fun and festivities, the TV chef promises the recipes are not only easy and delicious but as well fit any Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party: A Cookbookcelebration, from a casual pizza party to a grand buffet. And that includes Italian-style libations.

Some of the preps that caught my eye: fried mozzarella sandwich skewers, leek/walnut/gorgonzola salad, eggplant parmigiana stacks, baked rigatoni with tomato sauce/meatballs/eggs, chocolate hazelnut bread parfait.

You’ll also find theme party guidelines, entertainment advice, wine tips, decor and service suggestions. And then with all that in your tool bag you’re ready to, as Lidia says in the book’s dedication, “have many grand and delicious moments.”

“Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian” cookbook    Bastianich’s other cookbooks    Her DVDs


So, here’s what happened 

I promised in last week’s look-ahead that our recipe for this week would be Doritos Chicken Casserole. And indeed I made this very dish.

The good news – excellent flavor. The bad news, did not at all like the topping, drawn from two recipes, just dried out.

What I’m doing then, rather than share a recipe that falls short of CS standards, is posting a google link for all kinds of variations of this dish. I have considered some of these, but didn’t like the idea that the chips might be soggy or there might be a shortfall on flavor – but I sure haven’t tried all and there may be some very good ones there.

Meanwhile, I know I have a good start on my version and will make the tweaks it needs. Watch for it soon.

Dorito Chicken dishes on Google

♦  TIP  

Did you know about this?

Those take-out cartons ubiquitous in Asian restaurants have a secret. Clue: they’re like a culinary version of a transformer.

Yep, turns out the classic kind can drop its flaps and become a “plate.” Though you may have to be a little careful if the food is extra saucy.

Leftovers? No problem, just fold the carton right back up. Add a bit of masking/freezer tape if needed.


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  Cool This prep takes elote, street corn, into a tasty new realm. Actually called Parmesan Corn Butter, it blends the main ingredients into a compound butter, suggested as a topping for grilled chicken, fish or steak. I’m thinking the stuff would even be good on toast or vegetables, but the way I did use it was {shown} on grilled shrimp.

  Soup rescue. So, I made a new chicken and vegetable soup. Despite having a lot of flavor elements, it just didn’t quite hit the mark. Nuts, after all that chopping. Aha! Poured in some vegetable juice and the whole character changed, richer, mouthier and wonderfully more flavorful.

  So, I tried Burger King’s new cheese tots. Not bad really, even if more tot than cheese. And, good or bad depending on your preference, not over-salted. One other thing, may not be as big as you might think, about the size of a silver dollar and maybe 1/2″ thick. Added some virtue to the equation by using them, cut up, as a salad topper. Also good the next morning cooked into scrambled eggs.

Meanwhile what is totally good there is the Twix pie. Yum. {and, no, no affiliation with BK}

So far next week: Salon-tested sweet potato casserole, Irish Whiskey pumpkin pie, NOWFE discount tix, recalls/now what, marshmallow chart, cinnamon apple bread {another version, this one using store-bought rolls}

Last week, just below: easy bottled salad dressing upgrades, pomegranate punch, Watergate salad, Cake Boss cake kits, bacon & egg brunch burritos, scary veggie platter, cookbook-loving bookstore, pizza rescue, Jose Andres’ spinach so rich 

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll & check previews OR use the search box OR email me at, also valid for questions & comments – see the Let’s Chat tab for details, also for my partnerships and more

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – book/Amazon, others/mine

Link sources – recipe eval/MyRecipes, all Bastianich/Amazon, Parm corn/Food & Wine

All pages ©2019

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



Jose Andres’ Sweet Potato Sundae, Sept 20-Sept 26, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources!

  Here’s what you’ll find when you scroll below  

  TIDBITS – Dine like Downton / Impossible-possible? / Green Goddess rules    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – Halloween party fun    FEATURED RECIPE – Andrés at his playful best    TIP – cookies {and more} as Halloween decorations    THE WEEK – tasty add-ins / tested the nuked eggs / greens trick


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Do a Downton? According to “Rach,” to dine like the Crawleys, just simply serve oysters, soup, fish, fowl, main dish with sauces & veggies, dessert, fruit & cheese, and a final savory {!} From the recent issue of “Rachel Rae Every Day Magazine” {yikes, deep, deep discount at this Amazon link, but be quick}. Or you could go into full D/A party mode with “The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook,” with not only preps and their backstories and context but as well a guide to throwing a theme party complete with etiquette tips and customs of the times.

♦  Have you tried the Impossible Whopper? It’s actually not bad and for folks avoiding or minimizing meat it can be a nice alternative – I know there’s been some buzz about the fact it’s cooked on the same surface as the beef ones, but there’s a note on their site that says you can request all vegetarian prep. Truth be told I’ll probably be sticking with the original. Meanwhile, for those interested, here are the “Impossible” stats, listing the recipe {scroll down on the page} and the nutritional values {scroll down more}.

♦  Here’s a blast from the past, today as good as ever in both its classic form and some updated versions. I went to AllRecipes for an original and as usual the site did not disappoint. Here’s the link for their authentic Green Goddess dressing {OK, it does use creme fraiche instead of the traditional sour cream which of course you could put right back in the recipe}. But it was the “Food & Wine” newsletter that brought the old favorite to mind with its roster of Green Goddess variations for salads, burgers and crudites.


More party fun, spooky style

Hard as it might be to believe, Halloween is right around the corner. The summer holidays may be in the rear view mirror but a whole party season rolls out on Oct 31.

If you’re hosting a get-together, you can find so much good stuff  to set a festive tone. For the table, plates, cups, flatware and centerpieces. For the rest of the room, decorations scary-ed up with pumpkins & skeletons, ghosts and goblins, spiders and disguises, on gift bags, banners, inflatables, so much more.

Even wearables so you can dress the part. That includes “ugly” sweaters and – too cute! – miniature ones so the cakes or cupcakes can dress up too.

As we’ve come to expect, Amazon had it all. And as always, after following the link I post below, you can click away to customize the search, find just what you want.

Halloween party stuff galore People-size ugly Halloween sweaters


Indulge in this rich dish as an entree, side, even dessert 

The vast scope of Jose Andres’ creativity, flavor mastery, passion, and even playfulness comes together in his Sweet Potato Sundae. And like so many of his dishes, it’s uncomplicated, simply enhanced in a way that the main ingredient clearly remains the star of the show.

And uncomplicated also means . . . easy for us home cooks. This recipe calls for just seven ingredients, only one of which needs to be cooked and nothing needs mixing, and overall minimal prep. And, oh, is it ever good, even with the peanut butter Chex I used instead of Rice Krispies.

Since I served it as a side dish, I topped it with a scoop of cream cheese instead of ice Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbookcream. Thinking you could also use sour cream even though that will not exactly look like a scoop {but then neither will the ice cream once it hits the warm tater}. Who cares, would still taste great with any of those toppers.

The recipe is from Andrés’ book, “Vegetables Unleashed,” our Spotlight last week. Page after page delivers the super chef’s innovative ways with veggies, and some fruits too, in a book that’s called “a love letter to the plant world.”

Recipe    “Vegetables Unleashed”    Other Andrés books


Easy, edible Halloween decs

Cookies offer one of the easiest ways to make dessert part of the decorations. If your store doesn’t have orange frosting, just buy white {vanilla, sour cream, e.g.} and using a drop at a time add red and yellow food coloring. As you can see here I upped the pumpkin-ness on the second set with just another drop of red.

To make it easy on yourself just use any store-bought cookie that has a flat side. Frost away and then “make a face.” If you are using raisins or chocolate chips or chunks {think chips would work better but I had chunks so chunks it was} affix them while the frosting is still soft.

If you use food color pens, first chill the cookies until the frosting is fully set, and then take a couple at a time out of the fridge. Also, it seems easier to create the grooves with either a toothpick or the pen when the frosting is chilled.

Don’t worry about the art {clearly I didn’t} just have fun and giggle as you go. Gather them onto a platter or let them grin from individual plates. Also, you can take a look at our 07.26.19 Salon for bell pepper pumpkins and our 04.05.19 Salon for a pumpkin-ized baked potato {along with its Easter and Christmas buddies}.


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

♦  Some favorite add-ins to share with you. Two are new – chopped black olives in egg salad, liquid smoke in baked beans, canned or homemade. And two longtime faves, used recently – chopped green olives in tuna salad, a touch of dark chocolate in chili.

♦  So, tried the egg in the nuker trick. Two things about the prep – first it does not specify egg size or egg temp. The second thing, and I’m sorry I didn’t see this when I posted it in the Aug 30, 2019, Salon, the recipe talks about the process cooking the yolk faster than the white and says if you want the “white” softer take it out sooner – think that should have been “yolk.” Anyway, used a room temp large egg, and cooked for the specified one minute, and the yolk {shown} was cooked hard – nuts.

  Did a second one for 50 seconds and the yolk was better, but even though covered in water there was a soft spot in the white on top – in this case no problem, flipped it over onto hot greens. Even so think I’ll stay with my multi-step process which I’ll post in full in next week’s Tip.

  About those greens mentioned just above. I found a great way to have a nice mix of colors, flavors and textures without loading the cart with countless bags or having to cook forever. It’s very likely your market has a plastic tub of what’s called Fresh Herb Salad {triple washed and ready to eat}. Perfect! For the entire 5 oz package, 6-8 slices of bacon fried crisp, drained and crumbled. In the bacon fat, or replacing some or all with butter or olive oil, a small onion diced, seasoned and cooked till golden, 2 minced garlic cloves cooked briefly, then in with the greens and fresh ground pepper and stir, stir, stir. Greens folks will know that these cook down like someone poked them and let all the air out. Sprinkle on bacon and dig in.

So far next week: FoodFests across the country, package for Fido, Doritos Chicken casserole, nice poached eggs, awesome peanut sauce, woohoo delivery discovery, peanut butter chex mix, 

Last time, just below: Emeril & Julia & recipes, lunch to go, high or low, chocolate/cheese pairings, Jose Andres’ love affair with veggies, chocolate/peanut butter cookie bars, more veggie love, good tv series, unusual pb sammies, laundry tip

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll & check previews OR use the search box OR email me at, also valid for questions & comments – see the Let’s Chat tab for details

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – decs/Amazon, all others/mine

All pages ©2019

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