Favorite Sweet Potato Casserole, Nov 20-Nov 26, 2020

New Salon every Friday – c’mon in

CS friends, and help yourself to tasty resources

Hosted by Barbara J Nosek

New! Another of our very own CS designs

Coffeehounds, this one’s for you. And if you’re a dog lover, it’s even more for you. Especially if you know the answer to this – “Who’s a Good Coffeehound???”

Crafted by CA-based Zazzle, it’s offered as a classic design, two tone, morphing, stein and travel mug.

  Let’s chat   

Quick Bites – Whole lot of enhancements for the dining room table in this “30 Deliciously Easy Thanksgiving Vegetable Sides” story from MyRecipes    Have you noticed that the beef or chicken in some Asian dishes is not just tender but super soft? Yahoo Sports {?} explains it all in its story, “Velveting is the Chinese Technique That Takes Stir-Fries to the Next Level.” And yes, it is something you can try at home.    There a promise of being good and good for you tucked into this tale of “The Wellness Tea Concentrate to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season.” It actually does sound pretty tasty. Also from MyRecipes.

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Shopping Finds – Have you heard of Chef’s Gold? Quite interesting, made from prime beef tenderloin fat trimmings, formed into “bricks,” and dry aged along with the beef. This msn.com story calls it “the secret to adding serious flavor to any cut of meat,” later noting it can also transform mashed potatoes. There’s a link to the source but it’s incorrect – use this instead, Snake River Farms – the site does show the lock icon.    Hands up, who loves chocolate? You? Shout it from your shirt with our own “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate / then everything else” tee, with images of the title goodies tucked right into the letters. From Zazzle, with details on our CS food-themed tees page. You can also go all chocolate on our CS food-themed mugs page.

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Kitchen Talk – A great recipe source is most food product websites. And a nice perk is by definition the prep likely shortcuts the process with store-bought goods. I recently tapped into the Barilla site and found a nice minestrone with an unexpected ingredient – butternut squash. This Tomato & Basil Minestrone recipe starts with their pasta sauce of the same name.   So had some of the spinach puree left over from last week’s squash polenta casserole, and found a good home for it in a grilled cheese & tomato sandwich. A really good home.    NFG? Ehhhh? So heard this term on Fieri’s GGG, and don’t know if it has currency beyond this show but it stands for something worth thinking about – Non Functional Garnish. Meaning don’t plop on top something that doesn’t add to the dish, doesn’t go with the dish, or worst of all detracts from it.

   On the Table  

Feature – A surprising mix of ingredients, easy & sooooo good

This sweet potato casserole is one of my most crowd-pleasing recipes. The original is by a favorite chef, Nick Stellino, and the only major difference between my version and that one is that his is a souffle and mine isn’t, and then there are some minor variations in seasoning amounts.

My non-egg version is denser and needs to bake only until heated through. Those who favor a lighter touch will want to stay with the original.

Either way, an unexpected ingredient combo makes this a winning companion for ham, chicken, turkey – I even like it with a nice pork roast or even Mexican food. But the next time I make it, very tempted to add the topping from one of the recipes from the MyRecipes story above.

Below are links for all three . . .

Recipe Notes – if the thyme in the recipe isn’t to your taste, nutmeg is an interesting alternative.

Next week – Giant Chocolate Almond Butter Cups {and sweet variations}

My version on our Recipe Page    The one from the MyRecipes story {above} with the topping  

Nick Stellino’s original    Stellino’s cookbooks

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 enchilada rice? Well, here we are right back on the Tasty site, where the recipe gets even better because the full title is “One Pot Enchilada Rice.” A quick glance at the ingredient list shows this is a fiesta in a pan. What doesn’t show in the print but does is the demo is ways to use it other than just on a plate, which is in a taco, wrapped in a tortilla and something I was already planning on, topped with a fried egg. Btw, cheese is listed as optional, hahahahaha, more likely doubled.

Alexa says request: How do you make a Twix Lovers Cake? So, this recipe from Food Network shows a wonderful cake, both in appearance and in the rich ingredients that start with a cake mix. It does call for making chocolate mousse, but if you’ve had satisfactory results with a mix or premade, that could be a worthy shortcut. It also calls for making ganache, which is actually quite easy. This cake is likely to be quite the crowd pleaser.

My request: What’s the best way to cook quinoa on the stove ? As a newbie I relied on the package directions but something didn’t seem clear. Thanks to Alexa, I now have a method that works great. Combine 1 part of well rinsed and drained quinoa with 2 parts water {or broth}. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed and the grains have curly tails. I like this visual check, don’t even have to worry about timing.

And an unexpected thing we found that Alexa can do – play podcasts

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   

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

   Get lit – twice. Friend Norene sent along an adorable mini-book titled Tequila Mockingbird, which in turn is adapted from a full size tome, “Tequila Mockingbird, Cocktails with a Literary Twist,” an Amazon best seller that loosely ties classic reads to cocktails with such related names as Rye and Punishment, Brave New Swirled, Frangelico and Zooey. Some spinoffs too on the same page. Of course I’m not really suggesting you get drunk because we know that can be painful. As these t-shirts, also on Amazon, say “One Tequila/Two Tequila/Three Tequila/Floor.”

♦  Look who we invited into the Salon. Alexa! This special visit, “downstairs” so to speak, is to ask her for cocktail snacks made with cheese. Here’s what she found. Baked Ham & Cheese Party Sandwiches {shown}   Filled Parmesan Baskets  ♦  Beer Cheese Pretzel & Dip Dip {includes recipe for pretzels which also incorporate beer and cheese and could be fun, but could certainly use store-bought}   Stuffed Artichoke Hearts   Jamie’s Baked Brie    Double Tomato Bruschetta. All from AllRecipes. Demos too!

   See, replicate, voila! – beautifully upgraded presentations on your table. Chef Pete Ghione has a remarkable talent for assembling dishes in ways that take colorful all the way to eye-poppingly artistic. Probably no reason you couldn’t make many of these pretty entrees and more seen here on his Instagram page.

   “What could be healthier than the food you love” – Marie Barone {Everybody Loves Raymond}

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S’Mores & More S’Mores, for May 11-17, 2018

  In the Salon this week  

S’Mores Brownies . . . in a crockpot?    Frico is what again?    A Love of an interview    They did what to ketchup???  ♦  Coffee lovers unite  ♦  Save the cheese    In My Week: great Chicago lunch, save the sushi, have a laugh  



Newsy, schmoozy stuff for cooks 

  What the freak is a frico??? Well if you’re a cheese lover you probably want to know, and Extra Crispy can tell you. In brief, what you do is plop some cheese in a skillet, get it melty and then plaster something right on top of it – a tortilla for a taco, the inside of a bun for a hamburger, the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich, and more. Or you can cook it till it’s crispy. Which & How

  He’s the Chef of Love, and you may know him from Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen. Now we learn even more about Chef Jennard, thanks to his chat with the National Peanut Board, touching on his passion for food, social media, and sustainability . . . and peanuts. Interview

  Whaaaat? Sliced ketchup?? Really??? It’s actually a thing. Have yet to try it, but in its favor it needs no refrigeration so can go just about anywhere. It’s a slice

CS Marketplace Spotlight

Calling all coffee hounds

Proclaim it in your own kitchen or in the “klatch.”

Coffee Coffee Coffee / then everything else

And that cup in the design is just about the right capacity

Other styles, other colors, many sizes

Crafted by Michigan company SunFrog

See it all here    CS Marketplace

Featured Recipe  

Guess we all knew that classic S’Mores had tasty variations

But wow, enough to fill cookbooks! In our featured book, “The S’Mores Cookbook” by Susan Whetzel, we also learn interesting stuff about the history and ingredients, some of that in the foreword by Duff Goldman, some in the opening pages.The S'mores Cookbook: From S'mores Stuffed French Toast to a S'mores Cheesecake Recipe, Treat Yourself to S'more of Everything

crock pot browniesThis irresistible combo of flavors and textures comes together as not only alternate takes on the original {think, Black Forest} but as well in breakfast fare {oatmeal even}, cakes and cookies, pies and tarts, cheesecake and bread pudding, many other baked desserts, frozen treats, plus hot and cold beverages {oh Lord, a S’More-tini}.

Here, we’re featuring her Crockpot S’Mores Brownies. Crockpot! There are two other brownie preps too: cream cheese swirl, and a gluten-free layered version.

Crockpot S’Mores Brownie recipe    “The S’Mores Cookbook” on Amazon

Other S’Mores cookbooks on Amazon


Hey cheese-o-philes, have you discovered a really good way to store the stuff? If so, love to have you share via my email address under Let’s Chat. Meanwhile here’s what so far I’ve found works best. Leave the cheese in its original wrapper but after each use, fold the wrapper as tightly as possible against the cheese, and then refrigerate in a plastic storage bag, folding it around the wrapped cheese too.

A Peek at My Week

  Was back  in my old home town of Chicago this week and somehow there’s just never enough time to work in all the culinary bounty from fast food to fine dining. One of the places was a first visit but won’t be the last. Kendall College – offering certification in culinary, wine, and beer – conducts student-produced lunches and dinners, fixed price and a la carte, all first rate at third rate pricing.  Details

  So might your favorite sushi place be struggling to make a profit. Maybe you can pass along some advice. An offhand conversation with a food service employee at O’Hare yielded this: When the sushi vendor added hot dishes to the menu, soups etc., business more than doubled.

  Well this gave me a chuckle or two {or more} this week. Justified it because many of the cartoons center around food and drink. Thanks Reader’s Digest

  Kept “Be a Better Business Writer in Nine Easy Steps” on Nice Life Books – Thursdays

  Posted  “Just Married” tees & more on DoggieShirtz – Thursdays

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