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Melanie's Kitchen, Boalsburg, PA 16827
Experienced cooking consultant, instructor and recipe developer. PS: The subscriber/follower feature on this blog does not work. I've tried to work it out with typepad to no avail. Every time I get several hundred, the system turns it back to zero. I have lots of followers. Life's a beach. Follow me, Melanie Preschutti on Facebook. Have a nice day.
Interests: Teaching and inspiring people of any level of expertise to enjoy cooking great food of any cuisine.
Recent Activity
Debbie -- Look at the dimensions of the brand you are buying and choose the closest-in-size one accordingly. I can't shop for you -- if I could I would, but I can't.
Pat -- I am sorry to report you can buy it no where that I know of -- hence the blog post and recipe. Whisk it up at home -- it's easy enough to do! ~ Mel.
When my foodie friends (people who like to cook, can cook and cook often), start talking about a yummy salad made in the style of McDonald's iconic Big Mac, I listen. I listen because these are friends I listen to, and, because I have been known to indulge in an occasional Big Mac. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun is, in my opinion, the yummiest cheeseburger creation in the takeout-lane of the drive-thru fast-food circuit. September 1968 -- The Bic Mac was invented in Pittsburgh by a McDonald's Franchise Owner named... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
How you cook spare-ribs is your business. Here in Happy Valley, sometimes we smoke 'em, sometimes we grill 'em, occasionally I make them in the oven, and, recently, I've started experimenting with slow-cooking them. Past that, even if you aren't a fan of crocket science, it might interest you to know that Japanese-seven-spice blend and teriyaki sauce, when substituted for traditional Tex-Mex rubs-and-mops is a delicious alternative to typical ribs -- give 'em a try. Do not confuse spicy "Japanese-seven-spice" powder with aromatic Chinese five-spice powder. They are completely different. "Shichimi togarashi", originated in Japanese apothecaries in the 17th century... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
It's natural to assume fresh fruit is better than canned, and, if you're eating fresh pineapple, fresh not only tastes better, it is indeed better for you and your digestive system. That said, nothing is more disheartening than taking the time to prepare a marinade for your favorite protein made from fresh pineapple juice, or, folding a cup or two of diced pineapple into a favorite casserole and have the protein rendered mushy. The cause is an enzyme found in fresh-cut pineapple. No matter how you slice it, dice it, or hollow it out: Why did my marinated meat (poultry,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Thai-Malaysian pineapple-fried-rice is a classic Thai dish that's easy to get addicted to. It's divine. Grains of fragrant jasmine rice bejeweled throughout with bits of golden pineapple, cashews and raisins -- it's a taste unlike the fried rices of China and Hawaii. It's a staple item on the menu of most Thai-American eateries, the choices being pineapple-fried-rice, or, pineapple-fried-rice with chicken or prawn. It can be served in a pretty bowl as a side-dish or a main-dish, or, as they do in the tradition of Thailand, baked and served in a carved-out fresh pineapple. A hearty 4-season casserole w/all the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Mary -- Well said and thank-you for the kind comment (plus you made me chuckle). ~ Mel.
Everyone knows anything one can sandwich between two slices of bread can be tucked into a pita pocket to eat on the run. Almost everyone knows that the flat round pita (or any flatbread) is a great foil for all sorts open-face knife-and-fork sandwich meals too. What all busy moms know is: if the ingredients on the pita are amicable to being baked in the oven, and you refer to it as pizza, it's a sure-fire way to get children to venture into trying just about anything. It's called "bending the rules for the common good", and, when my kids... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
I'm Mel -- I cook all week -- on weekends too. I cook for my family, friends, and, friends-of-friends. I even cook on TV, and it's all fun, but, every once in a while, I have occasion to cook for myself. Tonight is such a night, and, I am going Greek and easy and super-good. Why cook for myself when I don't have to? Because, with little effort, calorie for calorie, my food tastes much better than over-priced, lack-luster take out or delivery -- in the case of tonight's pizza, it's faster too. When it comes to pizza just for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Penny -- so glad you found it in the Related Article links. Red beans and rice -- I love that meal. Your friend from Pennsylvania -- Mel.
Gardiner -- Crescia means "to grow", so, having a competition to see who's rises the highest is spot-on fun -- and Joe's family all bake theirs in large round pans like your family does. That said, I find the smaller loaves (which, relatively speaking rise high too), to be more manageable (user friendly). I triple wrap each small loaf in plastic, then place them in a zip lock bag. I take them out, one at a time, as I want them, and allow them to thaw at room temperature. Happy Easter to you and yours, and, try the toast!!! ~ Mel.
Mae Ploy brand sweet chili sauce, known in Thailand as "nam chim kai", "dipping sauce for chicken", is a staple in my refrigerator. We use it as a dipping sauce for all sorts of things -- from lettuce wraps and spring rolls to deep-fried chicken wings, coconut shrimp and batter-dipped vegetables, almost everything tastes better with the sweet heat of this sauce. Here in my American kitchen, my family affectionately refers to it as "the ketchup of Thailand." Using sweet chili sauce in conjunction w/the right ratio of other Thai staples renders a vinaigrette no store brand can compete with.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Mae Ploy brand sweet chili sauce, known in Thailand as "nam chim kai", "dipping sauce for chicken", is a staple in my refrigerator. We use it as a dipping sauce for all sorts of things -- from lettuce wraps and spring rolls to deep-fried chicken wings, coconut shrimp and batter-dipped vegetables, almost everything tastes better with the sweet heat of this sauce. Here in my kitchen, we affectionately refer to it as "the ketchup of Thailand." Using it in conjunction with the right ratio of other Thai pantry staples renders a vinaigrette no store-bought brand can compete with. A salad... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
In the wide, wide world of food, almost every culture has a favorite way to serve grilled chicken. In Thailand, that would be gai yang. Those are the Thai words for grilled chicken, more specifically a very small, whole or half chicken that's been marinated in a soy-and-fish-sauce-based coconut-creamy, cilantro-greeny mixture laced with fragrant lemongrass, ginger, garlic and scallions. Throughout Thailand, the recipe for gai yang does vary from cook-to-cook, but not very much. Not to be confused w/authentic Thai gai yang... ... mine = American chicken infused w/authentic Thai flavor. In Thailand, small, lean chickens are skewered, cooked over... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
I'm going Greek today. It happens a few times a year -- my lust for lemon and garlic and oregano combined with crumbly feta cheese and/or creamy Greek yogurt takes over. Thank goodness I have a few excellent recipes go to. Sometimes I'm inclined to quash my craving by incorporating shrimp, other times I choose lamb, chicken is not off limits, but, one of my all-time favorites is flank stank. When duly-marinated and rare-cooked via broiling or grilling, it is a carnivorous Greek goddess's dream come true. I adore this hearty, main-dish salad topped plenty of crunchy herb-bread croutons, and,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Can your favorite pizza dough be turned into a loaf of bread? I have no idea -- it's your recipe. With certainty, I can tell you: my slightly-adjusted Sicilian-style pizza dough recipe can be turned into an amazing loaf of savory, slightly-firm-textured bread, and, what's more, I let the bread machine do all the work for me. Imagine the ingredients for your favorite submarine- hoagie-type sandwich piled high between two slices of herbed-pizza-bread, or, an herbed-pizza-bread grilled cheese or panini, or, crispy herbed-pizza-bread croutons tossed into your favorite chef's salad. Put all ingredients in pan & let the machine do... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Chicken wings are all-American and teriyaki is an all-Japanese method of cooking. Trust me when I tell you, if you walk into a restaurant in Japan, you aren't likely to find teriyaki chicken wings on their menu. That said, Japanese teriyaki sure does turn out a really good version of American chicken wings, however, unlike our traditionally-prepared wings, which are typically plunged into the hot oil of a deep fryer, teriyaki wings, in order to render their signature fall-off-the-bone tender interior with a slightly-crispy, sticky exterior, they require a kinder, gentler treatment. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Good Morning Irene -- Enameled-coated steel falls into the category of dark metal. ~ Melanie
Eat more fish. I've heard it too many times to count, and, I've preached it too many times to count. Joe and I love fish, especially white fish, so, for me, keeping it in our weekly meal rotation is easy. That said, serving it to people who've determined they dislike fish, or worse, trying to entice children to try fish, can be a tricky, fishy business. On such occasions, teriyaki fish fillets or fish skewers, served with a veggie stir-fry and some rice, is my go-to "just try it" fish dinner. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Mariet -- I'm so pleased I was able to help you with this little tip/trick. Happy Asian cooking to you! ~ Melanie
Breaded chicken cutlets are a big time-saver for a working parent. By keeping a bag on-hand in the freezer, after a quick thaw in the microwave, any number of kid-friendly meals can be put on the family dinner table in less than an hour. That said, the chicken cutlets found in the frozen-food section of the grocery store, are, for the most part: terrible. From way-too-much-cardboard-esque-breading to skinny, dried-out and rubberlike, I find them reprehensibly unpalatable. When I was raising three boys, after trying two (maybe three) brands of frozen, breaded chicken cutlets, and proceeding to throw all the remains... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Thanks for the nice feedback Dave, and, yes, on any given day, in any given oven, it can take an extra moment or two to get the hollow thump sound. ~ Melanie
Hear me out -- rice pudding made in the crockpot or slow cooker is never, EVER going to be competitive in a contest with the super-creamy-textured stovetop-cooked rice pudding made with Arborio-type rice simmered in a custard-esque cream and tempered-egg mixture. It won't happen and ignore those who promise it will -- but, don't let this information lower your expectations. Rice pudding made in the crockpot is simply scrumptious, and, seriously easy to make too, so: On the days when the machinations of hovering over rice pudding made on the stovetop is just too much fuss... ... simply allow the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Throughout the Caribbean, porcine reigns supreme, and, when it comes to perfectly-balanced, bright, slightly-sweet and spicy-hot curry blends, the Jamaicans have cornered the market. That said, the world is full of curries, they are all different, and, for the home cook, it's almost impossible to prepare an authentic curry outside of the region it's prepared in, within its country of origin. Why? Because outside of the United States, curry is not a store-bought dried spice blend or wet paste that produces a predictable end result. They're hand-made, mortar-and-pestle pulverized, dry or pasty concoctions of spices or herbs, the amounts of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters
Known as pork steaks, pork butt steaks or pork blade steaks, these bone-in steaks are cut from the shoulder of the pig -- the same part of the porcine used to make pulled pork. Similar in taste and texture to close-kin country-style spareribs*, they were invented in St. Louis, MO, and are a Midwest staple. As a country-style spare rib lover living in central Pennsylvania, I ask my butcher to custom-cut these inexpensive, lesser-to-unknown-here steaks for me. Perhaps this post will help them to catch on "here in the counties", and start showing up in our local markets. *Country-style ribs... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2018 at Kitchen Encounters