Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole, April 17-April 23, 2020

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Dear CS Friends

Starting this week and for as long as neceessary we’re going to share with you just two areas, both of which we hope you’ll find helpful and timely.

First, a comfort style recipe – in fact, most of our recipes fit this category but we’ll be going the extra mile to make sure they are super tasty and satisfying.

Second, whatever guides we can find that relate to the food you bring into the home or that you may already have in your home and how you can make the most of them and more.

We can perhaps take this time to flex our creativity in the kitchen, our own sweet safe haven


Hotsy, Totsy

In our 02.14.20 Salon we featured the first of the casserole-a-month recipes from Southern Living. That was shrimp and grits and I can only hope it is a marker for the other preps because that was one super tasty plateful.

So, the recipe for April is asparagus quiche which looked quite good and also takes advantage of a nice spring veggie. But I actually fast-forwarded to September and it’s ever-so-comfort sounding cheeseburger casserole with a heat secret {hotsy} and a tater tot {totsy} topping.

I did, btw, go generous with the cheese on top as you may see in the ungarnished version, and feel free to boost the bacon. One thing, since you may not be serving a crowd right now, consider cooking the beef and all the add-ins, portioning into the freezer, and then going ahead with the tots and toppings as you serve the portions.

According to Tasting Panel member and Duluth native Layne, this definitely qualifies as a classic Minnesota Hot Dish, and an eminently tummy-yummy one at that. That’s two out of two, Southern Living!

Next week: Famous loaded baked potato soup

SL recipe    All their casseroles    Southern Living


Shopping, cooking, storing, using up, substituting, enjoying, health & safety

  We ran an item on safe shopping in our 03.27.20 Salon that focused on what to do once the groceries are in your home. Now ABC-TV News has taken us right into the store with “How to safely grocery shop during coronavirus.”

  TV chef and cookbook author Ina Garten shows us how to make good use of existing pantry staples. She calls them her quarantine meals but they sure do equate to comfort food. Thanks to MyRecipes for sending this along.

Eat This, Not That (Revised): The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!  Are you familiar with the Eat This, Not That! books, articles, and website? The whole realm is premised on what to put and not put on your plate in the interest of nutrition, health and wellness. A recent post by, under the Eat This, Not That! banner, talks about “30 Best Immune-Boosting Foods.” The good news is that pretty much of it is stuff you can easily find at your supermarket. That first link, btw, takes you to the books on Amazon.

  Can’t get out to your favorite coffee emporium? This might be a fix, and since it’s gone viral you may already have seen it. “Quarantine Dalgona coffee” popped up on my Echo Show. Whaaaaat?  And this was unexpected. When I searched online, atop the results was a story by . . .  “Popular Mechanics” ??? They were looking at the science behind this stuff which is basically whipped sweetened coffee, named after a Korean confection and bearing some resemblance to what you would find at Starbucks, et al. This Google page will show you that one and lots more.

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

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Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, Dec 6 – Dec 12, 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 – thaw it fast / apple crisp punch / throwback dinners  ♦  CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – handy kichen organizers    FEATURED RECIPE – a bowl of chocolaty goodness    TIP – that is the question    THE WEEK – eggy love / salad-style burrito / heating up Parm corn butter


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  I came, I thaw, I conquered. OK, the grammar gets a bit tortured and Caesar’s ashes just turned over, but may I redirect your attention to “How to Quickly and Safely Thaw Anything” – a rescue move for those moments when, OH NO, dinner that should be on the table in short order is still in the {censored} freezer. Having just come upon it, haven’t yet given it a try, but sure seems to make sense.

  This just looks so refreshing. A peek at the ingredients tells you that promise is quite likely to be fulflled. And as you can see right here, it’s pretty too! Two perfect attributes for a holiday libation. Called Apple Crisp Punch, the magic is in the sweet and sour pours and colorful garnishes.

  One link led to another and I found myself on the page, “23 Dinners That Got Us Through the Great Depression.” Since the very first one calls for a slow cooker, guessing some updates may have checked in. Even so, some good stuff here, with many that really are easy on the budget, a hot doggy one that’s sure to be a kid fave, some good looking soups and salads, and yep, meatloaf.



Are you doing 2020s yet? Or, if you’re like me, the one I’m about to pose is an ongoing aspiration.

Getting the kitchen better organized!!!

One of the previous Salons {08.09.19} talked about wrangling at least one set of items, the flat kind of stuff like baking sheets, cooling racks, cutting boards, et al, into a folder holder from the office supply store. And another {09.27.19} featured hanging bags for small items.

But lately I’ve been haunting the Amazon kitchen organization section for more help, and found some I think you might like: stylish towel hooks, pan and lid rack {I actually have one of these already and love it not only for the anti-clutter perk but also because it keeps the pan bottoms off other pans’ inner surfaces}, practical and whimsical drying rack {cloth over “cactus” too?}, sink caddy that lets the sponge and cloth air-dry, and could probably accommodate your kitchen brush too.



Btw, the link below goes to only the top rated items. And you know what the #1 best seller in this category is – a portable paper towel holder, finishes from $5.99-$18.99.

Kitchen organization items, 4 stars and up


Who might like a warm bowl of fudgy comfort food? 

I have to ‘fess up that I haven’t made this yet, but yikes it sounds so good, so holiday-ey, that I wanted to share it now. I certainly will make it some time in the new year and tell you all about it.

But just look at the source and the ingredients and the picture and I think we can be pretty confident that this is going to be a very good thing. The promise is in the name – Hot Fudge Pudding Cake.

It’s from Hershey’s where you’ll find tons of other great looking recipes on its site, so I have a link below to the whole shebang, where you can also search by various filters. And of course a link right to our Featured Recipe.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake recipe    Hershey’s recipe page  


To peel or not to peel?

I happen to be in the former category, which is to say I’ve always peeled fresh ginger. You too?

Well, this food editor says we’re doing it all wrong, and also tells us why. See if you agree that we should “never peel ginger.”

Btw, though she kind of disdains using a spoon tip if you do/did peel, I’ve actually found this to be quite a good method. Easy over the bumps, minimum waste.


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

♦  In a recent show, Ina Garten mentioned a combo that may not be generally top of mind but happens to one of my favorites too – poached eggs atop seasoned greens {and for mine, bacon too}. And do you know what, alone or accompanied, it’s so perfect for any time of day or night. We did talk about this, including the starting point and seasonings, in our 09.20.19 Salon. Btw, this time I topped it with a bit of hot sauce. All good.

  Just catching up with mentioning this. The jar salad featured in our 11.22.19 Salon as we noted yielded quite a sizable bowlful, almost like the jar was hiding extra stuff in a secret compartment. So, yep, there were leftovers. And where they headed afterward {minus the lettuce} was one of my favorite ways to use them up, after in this case a brief cooking step – right into tortillas to make tasty burritos. A little extra jack on top didn’t hurt.

♦  A Parm corn butter add-on. We first talked about making this elote-style spread in our 11.01.19 Salon. Now, watching one of the Thanksgiving specials on Food Network I saw a reference to an original elote prep that included cayenne. Why not??? A natural I think. Btw, in the same Salon linked above for jar salads we talked about heating up the corn butter the other way, in a pan on the stove, to cook flavor-layered scrambled eggs.

This week’s

  •  Photo credits – punch/Nolet’s Gin, kitchen org/Amazon, cake/Hersheys, egg/mine
  •  Link sources – thaw/MyRecipes, punch/Nolet’s gin, Depression dinners/Taste of Home, kitchen org/Amazon, cake recipe/Hershey’s, ginger/Yahoo 
  • Partnerships – Amazon

Click here or on the Amazon logo    to go directly to their home page

So far next week: Giada’s hearty Tuscan soup, celeb chef memoirs with recipes, fill a phyllo, ingredient measurement help, stress tip, impromptu ham hash, wreath cookies, sugar from where???

Last week, just below: chocolate frosting with a secret, chocolate Yule log recipes, pumpkin pancakes, holiday kitchen decor, bittersweet chocolate sauce with cocoa, easy garlic, all-in cookie pie crust, decorated marshmallows for cocoa, hot sugar icing 

Looking for something in CS?

Scroll & check previews OR use the search box OR contact me at, also valid for questions & comments – see the Let’s Chat tab for email details

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


Bacon-Pimiento Cheese Dip, Nov 22-Nov 28, 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 – say Hi to pie / gravy trick / food vs sleep     CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – baking book from the best    FEATURED RECIPE – all the right stuff    TIP – flour trick    THE WEEK –  another Parm corn butter app / jar salads & other easy lunches / a quote to love


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Here comes pie season! America’s Test Kitchen helps us kick it off with its article, “A Slice of Pie.” You’ll find some tips on pie baking, a link to their pie book, an offer for their pie book, and their recipes for Perfect Pecan Pie, Apple Slab Pie, and The Best Pumpkin Pie.

  Afraid the leftover gravy might run out before the leftover turkey and stuffing do? No worries, because MyRecipes is here to tell you “How to make a rich, flavorful gravy using bouillon cubes.” And in fact you could use this prep anytime a gravy craving hits and the freezer isn’t cooperating.

  Insomnia? Don’t make it worse by indulging in “7 Bedtime Snack Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Sleep.” Even better, this Cooking Light article tells you why each of the items is a zzz-killer and, even better yet, what to have instead. It’s not about deprivation but rather, smart choices.


“Classic, can’t-fail recipes for a lifetime of happy baking”

How’s that for a cookbook promise??? And do you know why we can fully believe that – because the source of these recipes is Maida Heatter, “Queen of Cake,” three-time Beard winner, Beard Hall of Fame inductee, contributor to the New York Times, and creator of numerous baking books.

Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts from the Queen of CakeShe left us just this year, at age 102. At age 100 she took the stage to receive one of those awards and then starting chucking wrapped brownies into the crowd. Thinking she probably didn’t slow down after that either.

So here’s a collection of her favorites – cakes, pies tarts, muffins, brownies, cookies – complete with tips and techniques for the entire process. Two things quickly become obvious. One, Heatter really favors chocolate And second, the recipes often seem long, but that’s good news because she pretty much talks you through all the steps.

Here are just a few of her famous confections I’d like to make:  Budapest Coffee Cake, Bull’s Eye Cheesecake {this one is like a magic trick}, and Peanut Butter Puffs. But first of all her Chocolate Intrigue, “a moist cake with a fine texture and an extremely generous amount of chocolate. It keeps well, slices beautifully, and is quick and easy to make” – wow, are those ever all the right words {and btw, has a secret ingredient}.

Maida Heatter’s “Happiness is Baking” – 4 1/2 stars on Amazon    Other Heatter books


A natural for the party table 

Yikes does this bacon-pimiento cheese dip look good. Flavorful, versatile and easy, just like we like it, right savvy CS friends?

The only cooking step could be the bacon. Or, as the prep suggests, use fully cooked bacon. After that, it’s just mix it all up, pour into a baking dish, into the oven, and then say c’mon, c’mon, c’mon until it’s done.

Serve with crackers and veggies as shown. Or other veggies, or crisped pita or tortillas, or sausage sticks. Or? And maybe a toast topper the next morning.

This tasty dip is on the Kraft/Food & Family site. Be careful, there are other tempting recipes on that page that beg to be added to your collection, like the chicken enchilada stew.

Kraft recipe  

♦  TIP  


In the process of looking for something else, I came upon my gram’s bread recipe. Oh my the memories of those heavenly loaves.

That immediately went on the do list for fall baking. And in a case of happy coincidence, Ina Garten had a bread baker on a recent show and he did one of those things that when you see it you say, well duh, of course.

When he put the dough in the bowl to rise, he sprinkled some flour on the inside of the bowl just above the loaf-to-be. So when it does rise, it won’t stick to bowl. Great idea.

It was timely for me and hopefully for you too. To paraphrase our featured author, Happy Baking!


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  I’m really liking the pureed version of the Parm corn butter {11.01.19}. And I may have discovered my favorite way yet of using it – to cook scrambled eggs. Just melt it in the pan, stir around the eggs till everything is incorporated, and enjoy. Because of the Parmesan already in there I didn’t add any salt but did hit it with a good shower of cracked pepper.

♦  Oh yeah, this is an idea for us. It’s not totally new, but it seems most often the jar trick has to do with ingredients for something to bake, and of course nothing wrong with that at all. But here, the jar holds ingredients for {usually} a salad, one of the “5 Quick and Clean Lunch Recipes That You Don’t Have to Reheat.” from Clean Plates. For mine, I went south of the border with avocado, red onion, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, cheddar cubes, black beans, lettuce and then ranch dressing, Btw, this 6″ jar yielded an Elaine-worthy “big salad.”

♦  Even though baking guru Maida Heatter is no longer among us, her 102-yr-old self was sure here long enough to pen the intro to the latest collection of her recipes, featured above. In that preamble, after recounting an incident where she was watching a tv doc talk about ways to reduce stress, and she yelled at the screen, “Bake cookies!,” she added these lines that I love: “Baking is a great escape. It’s happiness. It’s creative. It’s good for your health. It reduces stress.” Amen to that dear one.

So far next week: cinnamon cake with chocolate chile frosting, chocolate Yule logs, pie-spiced pumpkin pancakes, holiday decor for the kitchen, Maida Heatter’s bittersweet chocolate sauce with cocoa, Andres’ veggie upgrade, taming the marshmallows, a new way to glaze, all-in pie crust

Last week, just below: Thanksgiving help, cheese help, Cookbook Club help, join Bobby Flay in the kitchen, tunnel of fudge cake, tv “guide,” frozen cauliflower goes good, Parm butter 2.0, Twain quote

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

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Photo credits – book/Amazon, cheese dip/Kraft, others/mine

Link sources – Heatter books/Amazon 

All pages ©2019

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



Oh Louie, what you do to shrimp & more, June 28-July 4, 2019

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

& Misty the FoodieCat

CS friends, help yourself to tasty resources!

  CatChat –  Misty previews this week’s salon  

♦  TIDBITS – baked taties in the slow cooker? / “confetti” in your party cake / stock v broth    CS MARKETPLACE SPOTLIGHT – let’s get the picnic started {M – that basket looks heavy, let me take something out of there to make it easier for you to carry  FEATURED RECIPE – shrimp louie and louie gone wild    TIP – forkless salad x 3    THE WEEK – dvds t.c. / food pen “class” t.c. / sorta foodie mystery

Misty’s History    Misty’s Gallery


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  Can this really work? “Food & Wine” is I would think a totally reliable source, but their prep for baking potatoes in the slow cooker scares me a little. I guess the benefit is not having to heat up the oven, though the toaster oven would seem to be a viable alternative. Anyway if you want to check it out click this link, though I feel more comfortable sending you to one that appeared within their story for “Baked Potato Recipes.” Some really good stuff here!

  No qualms about this one from F&W. Could this birthday cake possibly be any more festive. And what make it even more fun is that its party perfect presentation remains a surprise until it’s cut. Dessert and decoration all in one! See the recipes for both cake and frosting and the full photograph here.

  Broth vs stock. The differences come to us from a connected string of sources, starting with, picking up the story from Reader’s Digest, who in turn quotes, under the banner, “This is the real difference between stock and broth.” See what you think. {I apparently make “brock” because I always season stock – bouillon, peppercorns, fresh garlic, sometimes parsley}


Just watch out for Yogi

Not just for picnics in the park, but as well, outdoor concerts, fireworks celebrations, beach parties, or just toting goodies from your kitchen to your backyard. What? Pic-a-nic baskets!Picnic Basket Set for 4 Person | Insulated Red Picnic Hamper Set | Picnic Table Set | Picnic Plates | Picnic Supplies | Summer Picnic Kit | Picnic Utensils Cutlery Flatware

And oh just wait till you see what’s available, from simple to elaborate, from inexpensive to aiyyyy! And in addition to many variations of the classic wicker hamper, there are also backpacks, shoulder bags, Picnic Insulated Bag, Oumers 32L Large Size Insulated Picnic Basket - BBQ Meat Drinks Cooler Bag -Folding Collapsible Cooler Basket for Family Vacations Parties Outdoor Travel, Keep Food Cold Storageorganizer baskets, and cooler bags.

Variously, you’ll find places for cutlery, plates, wine bottles, wine glasses, corkscrew, blanket, plus in some, food storage containers and auxiliary insulated compartments. Soooo many amenity combinations.

Shown here just two possibilities. Many are Prime eligible and available for next day delivery.

Here’s what you can find on Amazon    These are rated 4 stars and up 

Found this on RealSimple – how to pack a cooler


Thank you Ina Garten! 

{and Tasting Panel}

How about you? I’ve always found Louie sauce to be a little too sweet. There’s a good chance that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, but it appears Ina Garten’s tastes run a lot like mine.

Her recipe {which she calls “Louis”} uses a lot of the typical ingredients, but delivers a result that’s rich and tangy. Could be the horseradish and sriracha Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks{!} Our Tasting Panel gave it a big thumbs up in a dish of cold poached shrimp {Garten used it as a dipping sauce for roasted shrimp}.

But then I discovered a bonus, actually two of them. And again, how about you? I find pasta salads one of the most difficult dishes to make flavorful, not matter what other ingredients go in there. Solved! This sauce is fabulous on a mix of mac, sweet peppers, black olives, celery, really your choice.

The other app? Spread it on a bun with the other usual suspects and you can have a creditable clone of a favorite fast food burger. Haven’t tried it yet, but thinking it would be good on a regular garden salad.

Ina’s recipe    It’s from this book, Garten’s “Cook Like a Pro”  


Fun Salads. Forget the forks

Whether for a family meal and a friendly get-together, if all the other dishes are finger foods, who wants to drag out forks just to have salad. Good news – don’t have to!

The first way is actually a prep approved by our savvy Tasting Panel, and that is colorful diced veggies on French endive leaves that have been painted with dressing. I used ranch but whatever you like will do just fine.

The next is the skewer trick. Just go with whatever produce is poke-able and serve dressing on the side. Pickles and olives are good on there too. And some cheese cubes wouldn’t hurt either.

Our third forkless salad is served in individual cups that have dressing in the bottom. Make it pretty with a border of lettuce leaves and then some sticks – carrots, celery, bell pepper, zucchini, e.g. – then plop a radish right in the middle.


Welcome to my kitchen and living room

  Finally started viewing my culinary dvds from The Great Courses. Aiyyyy, why did I wait so long, these are fabulous. Gathering tips to share.

♦  Oh yeah, playing with the food color pens again. Especially since I now have a new set with not only more colors but as well thick and thin tips. What fun! Food by food I’m assembling a “class” to show you the ways we can even further gussy-up the holidays with these artsy tools. Some time next month we’re going to devote an entire Salon to this festive endeavor – thinking July 26 Salon.

  So, just finished reading “The Cooking School Murders,” an engaging tales, but after the interesting cooking class scene the story shifts away from the school and to the title happening – even so food does make an appearance in subsequent pages thanks to neighborly dinners, Greg’s special diet, and “Edward.”One thing in there that sent me to google was a reference to “rat cheese” – whaaaaat? So distilling what I found, it mainly defines an inexpensive cheddar. Guess cheapie stuff to put in the traps???

So far next week: Irish food, scary food {but doesn’t have to be}, coffee table cookbook, slaying the dragon, jal-what now???, ice cream in a hurry

Direct access to Amazon homepage through my personal link

Looking for something in CS? – scroll and check Misty’s previews OR enter the item in the search box OR email me at

Note, transactions are solely between the buyer and linked supplier

Photo credits – cake slice {cropped}/Food & Wine site, picnic baskets & book/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


Brownie Pudding/Giant Lava Cake recipe, for March 23-29, 2018

  In the Salon this week  ♦

  “Easier than anything” biscuits    OMG doughnut chips {and dips}    Ina interview on F&W    Ina’s books & videos   Title recipe    Easier biscuits, Part II   Resource links  


Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  In “Real Simple” Grace Elkus shares a biscuit recipe that she calls “easier than anything I’ve ever made before,” and as bonus, “the biscuits came out even more buttery and delicious than I anticipated.” Hint: it starts with Bisquick. {also see this week’s Tip}  Recipe

  Watch at your own risk. If you think the “doughnut chips” are indulgent, wait till you read about the dipping sauces. Chips and dips as you’ve never seen them before. Thanks, “Extra Crispy” . . .  I think. Video

  Ina Garten fan? You’ll be happy to know that her show, “Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro” has returned to Food Network, once again bringing us not only demos but also lots of practical kitchen tips. She talked about both and more in this recent chat with “Food & Wine” magazine. Interview

  CS Marketplace Spotlight

Speaking of Ina . . .

She has some fine cookbooks on Amazon, and yay at this writing all of the hardcovers are offered at good discounts, all rate 4 1/2 stars, and all are Prime Eligible. Available on Kindle too, also on Flexibound and a couple in paperback form. Pictured are just a few and all can be viewed at the link below. And her shows can be found at the second link, one on DVD, the others on Amazon Video.

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa CookbookThe Barefoot Contessa CookbookMake It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ina’s cookbooks    Videos of Ina’s TV shows    CS Marketplace

  Featured Recipe 

All the Valentine’s chocolate gone? 

Forget those stingy little individual chocolate lava cakes. Go big or  . . . no, just go big. And this panful is just the way to do it.

Thanks {again . . . I think} to the Food 52 newsletter for this sweet way to restock the larder in the form of a Brownie Pudding/Giant Lava cake, offering a generous eruption of melty chocolate.

Grab a spoon and tell everyone else to stand clear.

Cake recipe  ♦  Food 52 site


For the biscuit recipe in Tidbits, of course you want round rolls so they fit nicely in the skillet. But for regular rolls baked in a square or rectangular pan, I just roll the dough to fairly even thickness edge to edge and then slice it both ways to create square biscuits. Saves time but even better, no re-rolling and no waste. Do the edges end up a little irregular? Who cares?

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