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KitchenEncounters
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
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I love fajitas and I adore fajita-burritos. Sometimes I make chicken or steak fajitas for the sole purpose of taking the well-seasoned, sautéed bell pepper, onion and chicken or steak mixture, and wrapping it up burrito-style in a large flour tortilla that's been slathered with refried beans topped with a scattering of spiced rice and shredded cheddar. Interestingly, because fajitas are seasoned with a specific scratch-made or store-bought spice blend, and Mexican-rice recipes or Mexican-style rice mixes are not seasoned with the same seasoning, many times, the flavor of the seasoned rice can compete or clash with the fajita seasoning.... Continue reading
Posted 6 hours ago at Kitchen Encounters
Susan -- Thanks for the nice feedback!
Annie -- I've never used corn water for soups, but, when I'm making Tex-Mex fare, I often use the water to cook my rice. That's for the ideas! ~ Mel.
Dave -- That's the spirit! Make it, eat it, done!! Have fun!!!
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A fajita-burrito has its origins in Mexico and features the best of two South-of-the border worlds -- all those luscious strips of well-seasoned grilled or sautéd chicken or steak, bell peppers and onions that go into fajitas, wrapped-and-rolled, burrito-style, in a large, warm flour tortilla that's been slathered with refried beans and scattered with a layer of Spanish-style rice and shredded cheese. The outcome is indeed the best of two worlds and, there's no need for embellishments either. Hold the guacamole, sour cream and/or salsa. Pick 'em up 'cause they're ready-to-eat. No need for embellishments. Pick 'em up -- they're... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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Newsflash. A flank steak does not have to be grilled outdoors to be a great flank steak. While grilled is very, very good, truth told, my oven broiler method does a marvelous job with no stress, guess nor mess. The end result is wonderfully seasoned, perfectly-cooked medium-rare steak. The process is so foolproof, I prefer it. There's more. Once sliced, a flank steak feeds an entire family. When the flank steak gets added to an easy-to-make sautéed vegetable medley, this meal feeds a crowd. It's perfect for any indoor or outdoor gathering any time of year. When the steak is... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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What a wonderful gift the Native Americans gave to the world. Everything on the corn plant can be used: the husks for tamales, the silks for tea, the kernels for food and the stalks for fodder. Modern day horticulturists developed our two most popular varieties: white (Country Gentleman) and yellow (Golden Bantam). White corn kernels are smaller and sweeter. Yellow corn kernels are larger and fuller-flavored. The more recently developed hybrid (Butter & Sugar Corn) produces ears speckled with both yellow and white kernels -- my personal favorite. Almost nothing beats a serving of fresh, steaming corn on the cob... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Tortillas de Maize, meaning corn tortillas, originated in Mexico during pre-Columbian times -- the cultures that evolved in parts of Mexico, Central America and Western South America prior to the Spanish conquest during the 16th Century. This means the corn tortilla predates the wheat-flour tortilla, as wheat was not not grown in the the Americas prior to European colonization in the mid-1500s. In Aztec times, two or three corn tortillas would have been eaten with each meal. Maize itself has been a Mexican staple food for centuries and remains the most planted crop in the regions of Mexico, and, you... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Summer is prime time for big main-dish salads and small side-dish salads. In the case of the latter, in my kitchen, one quick-to-fix creamy sour-cream-based dressing has me eating a side of crunchy cucumber or tangy tomato salad in the time it takes the average steak to grill. Yes, of course, go ahead, do the math and double, triple or quadruple this recipe to make a bigger batch, but, in my kitchen, I don't make more than me or my family is going to eat in one sitting. Why? I don't like leftover cucumber or tomato salad -- simply stated:... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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The Cobb salad, affectionately called the California Cobb, was invented in 1937 at Hollywood's Brown Derby Restaurant by the owner, Robert Cobb. As the story goes, it's said to have been composed for some hungry late night diners. Mr. Cobb carefully chose from a variety of uniformly sliced and diced ingredients from the day's fare, arranging them in unusually neat lines atop a bed of lettuce as he plated. Another tale (of woe) says that Mr. Cobb threw the salad together to satisfy the appetite of a loyal customer to came into the restaurant complaining of a toothache, so, Cobb... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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A restaurant that serves a great chef's salad for lunch is a restaurant I will frequent. Like Seinfeld's Elaine, I like a big salad, and I don't mean a big bowl of lettuce. I mean a lot of perfectly-cooked good stuff in it, right down to more-than-a-few crunchy, buttery-rich croutons on top. The chef's salad is exactly that salad -- it's not served before the meal or after the meal, it is the meal. The chef salad is a "composed salad", meaning, it is a pretty-to-look-at, arranged-on-a-plate, high-quality, salad -- a perfectly-balanced mixture of color, flavor and texture. At the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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I might not be an outdoor kinda gal, but, I do enjoy an occasional picnic, if it's a Hallmark Card kinda day. That said, if I'm the one in charge of the food, I'm not one to traipse around the great outdoors carrying a basket full of food containers that are gonna cause me a whole lot of cleanup when I get back home. When I pack a picnic, boxed lunches are my way of enjoying the day and the return trip. There's more. It's doesn't matter what I'm making and taking, everyone gets a bit of everything portioned into... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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A fajita-burrito has its origins in Mexico and features the best of two South-of-the border worlds -- all those luscious strips of well-seasoned grilled or sautéd chicken or steak, bell peppers and onions that go into fajitas, wrapped-and-rolled, burrito-style, in a large, warm flour tortilla that's been slathered with refried beans and scattered with a layer of Spanish-style rice and shredded cheese. The outcome is indeed the best of two worlds and, there's no need for embellishments either. Hold the guacamole, sour cream and/or salsa. Pick 'em up 'cause they're ready-to-eat. No need for embellishments. Pick 'em up -- they're... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
Sandy -- Provel is a processed cheese mixture of Provolone, Swiss and White Cheddar. Trust me when I tell you, the five-pound block melts and tastes very similar to American cheese, but, it won't burn or char as fast as American cheese. Also, trust me when I tell you, because it is processed, hand-shredding these three cheeses and tossing them together does not work. Provel, tasted side-by-side American cheese, is slightly "tangier", which is mostly a result of the cheddar, but, even at that, I'm not sure that tangy describes it. Provel is a mildl cheese with a slightly tangy edge to it. No matter what, you will like the cheese. ~ Mel.
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Fajitas were originally named tacos-al-carbon and were served as portable food, ready-to-eat-with-the-hands, by wrapping strips of unpretentious skirt steak that had been cooked over a campfire or on a grill, in a warm corn or flour tortilla, meaning they were served taco-style. "Faja" is the Spanish word for "strip, band, sash or belt", and, with "ita" added to the end, it means "a little strip, band, sash or belt", meaning the ingredients for fajitas are always cut into strips. The dish dates back to cattle ranching life along the Rio Grande Valley regions of the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930's.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Spicy fajitas and cheesy nachos. Together. Carefully layered on top of each other on a sheet pan. Yes, a sheet pan. Why? Because nachos require a perfect ratio of cheese-to-toppings on each chip and the sheet pan provides the surface area needed to accomplish that. Nothing is sadder than picking up a cheesy nacho to find no goodies on top of it, or worse, picking up a nacho chip overloaded with goodies to the point they all slide off onto the plate or your lap. Research has revealed that nachos made their debut in Northern Mexico in the 1940's when... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Tacos and fajitas. Akin to Cheeseburgers and pizza, I can't much conjure up four more kid-friendly meals. That said, if you're a mom or dad attempting to get your kids to eat more vegetables, it goes without saying, fajitas are an argument-free way way to get the job done. If you're a mom or dad trying to cut some fat out of your life, chicken fajitas will accomplish that too. There's more. If you've got a big family to feed or the need to feed a crowd, simply do the math and double the quantities. In about the same amount... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Fajitas were originally named tacos-al-carbon and were served as portable food, ready-to-eat-with-the-hands, by wrapping strips of unpretentious skirt steak that had been cooked over a campfire or on a grill, in a warm corn or flour tortilla, meaning they were served taco-style. "Faja" is the Spanish word for "strip, band, sash or belt", and, with "ita" added to the end, it means "a little strip, band, sash or belt", meaning the ingredients for fajitas are always cut into strips. The dish dates back to cattle ranching life along the Rio Grande Valley regions of the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930's.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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As a bigger fan of fluffy American-style omelettes vs skinny French omelettes, and, as an advocate for savory breakfasts over cloyingly-sweet breakfasts, this egg-cellent caramelized onion-stuffed cheese omelette is one of my favorite ways to break the fast -- it tastes every bit as good as it looks There's more. It pairs perfectly with a bloody Mary for breakfast (no orange or grapefruit juice with this omelette please), a glass of wine for lunch, or, a pilsner of beer for dinner. Caramelized onions seem to slip through the cracks when many of us are pondering breakfast. Trust me when I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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I'm a lover of potato salad, and, when a hankering for it hits, I don't want to waste a lot of time getting from point A to point B, meaning, I want potato salad, aka as quickly as possible. For that reason, this is my "go to" recipe -- it's nothing fancy, but, it's done within the hour (and in potato salad time, that's quick). There's more. While the potatoes are in the microwave oven baking, I often chop some optional additions (celery, onion and/or hard-cooked egg), and mix them in too, but, I'm here to tell you, this quick-fix... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Caramelized onions are a marvelous condiment to have on-hand. They're an awesome topper for a hamburger, steak or cheesesteak, they're wonderful on pizza, and, oh-my-sigh, I love them in a cheese omelette for breakfast. That said, it does take a bit of time and patience (not energy) to properly caramelize onions, about 40 minutes, but, on average, that's how long it takes onions to properly caramelize on the stovetop, and, after all, one can't serve French onion anything without properly caramelized onions -- quite frankly, they're the star of any French onion show. The words I use to describe the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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As far as mayonnaise-based condiments go, this is the condiment that makes everything taste fancy schmancy in a French kinda way. It is sooooo good on sooooo many things. To name a few: French fries, steamed or grilled vegetables, an ordinary ham or turkey sandwich, and, of course, a mouth-watering cheeseburger. There's more. It's great used as a dressing for potato salad. Make a big batch or a small batch, whatever you need, it's only going to take five minutes. Make a big batch or a small batch -- whatever you need: For my French-style Dijonnaise: 6 tablespoons high-quality mayonnaise... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Easy and decadent? Yes, decadent. That's how I describe these cheeseburgers. Trust me. All the steps are truly easy -- very, very easy. That said, it will take a bit of time, not energy, to properly caramelize the onions, about 40 minutes, but, on average, that's how long it takes onions to properly caramelize on the stovetop, and, after all, one can't serve French onion anything without properly caramelized onions -- quite frankly, they're the star of the French onion show. The words I use to describe caramelizing onions on the stovetop: a super-easy babysitting job. As for the contents... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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When raindrops require moving your outdoor-cooked get-together into the dry, warm comfort of the great indoors, a toaster oven or two, in addition to your full-size oven or two, can be your best friend. When this scenario played out for me this weekend, in a properly-timed manner, I simply put four ribeye steaks under the broiler in one of my two ovens, put my marinated chicken quarters in the other one to roast, and, transitioned my baked potatoes into something fanciful: French-onion toaster-oven-roasted gold potato nuggets (affectionately named such by my kids back in the 80's). Rain or shine, Winter... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters
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Esther's been a friend of ours for over 40 years. Last Tuesday morning she stopped over for coffee -- after a year of quarantine, it was not only great to see her again, it felt great to invite a friend into the kitchen for a person-to-person visit. I made some of my super-easy Grand's cinnamon-rolls cups, which got the two of us chit-chatting about quick-and-easy sweet treats that go great with the first cup of AM caffeine. Esther mentioned a shortbread recipe she makes a lot, as in: for all occasions. I asked her for the recipe and I wrote... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2021 at Kitchen Encounters