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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
James -- Sorry to hear that bit of news. That said, boneless, skinless breasts can still be poached. Depending on their size, you might be able to do three at one time via this method. Stay safe, be well. ~ Melanie
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Of course you would, and these couldn't be easier. All you need is two pounds of your favorite gold, red or Russet potatoes, some olive oil and one packet of the onion soup mix you forgot you had in your pantry. Yes my friends, a packet of onion soup mix is a souper seasoning for oven-roasted steak fries. After five minutes of prep time, they'll need 1 hour, 15 minutes to roast in a 350° oven, which frees of your hands for other tasks. That said, because steak fries are best served hot, right out of the oven, plan for... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Kitchen Encounters
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Grocery shopping has become a sport and pantry cooking has become an art form. Three out of seven ingredients I wanted were gone from the shelves yesterday, and, along with every protein, the price of steak has gone through the roof. For those who have a family to feed, these costs are cause to take many things off the table. It's disheartening. That said, by purchasing steak and serving it portioned and sliced atop a simple, uncomplicated, well-dressed salad (alongside a side of simple, uncomplicated, well-seasoned steak fries), it turns out to be kinda economical. Joe bought a two-pack of... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
Donna -- I don't see a reason why it can't, but, I have never tried it.
Nikki -- Interestingly, I occasionally add potatoes and tomatoes to this dish: 1-1 1/2 pounds peeled or unpeeled, 3/4"-1" cubed gold potatoes & 1 14 1/2 ounce can undrained diced tomatoes. Sauté the vegetables (the onions & bell peppers) until softening, 3-4 minutes, add the potatoes and the tomatoes and gently simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Slice the sausage into coins and add it back to the skillet, just long enough to heat through. ~ Melanie
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Coming up with copycat recipes for three flavors of made-at-home Rice-a-Roni made for a fun few days. Truth told, I love developing copycat recipes -- I'm good at it too. From sea to shining sea, as items we've come to take for granted disappear from our store shelves, many have reached out to express appreciation for these recipes. There's more. Many have reached out to request these recipes. ~ Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~ is one example. Rice-a-Roni -- The San Francisco Treat. Italian born immigrant Domenico (Charlie) DeDomenico moved to California in 1895 to open... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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Back in the 1960's my mom was the queen of Rice-a-Roni recipes. I was the princess who loved them. If I was feeling under the weather, she knew I'd rather have a bowl of chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni than a bowl of Campbell's chicken-noodle soup. She served the prince (my brother0 and I pan-seared hamburgers and gravy atop a bed of beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni, to prevent us from bugging her to buy overpriced Salisbury-steak TV dinners. To two boxes of Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni she added two pounds of peeled, raw shrimp. In our kingdom, our family of four we ate it as a sort-of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Kitchen Encounters
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I'm an eater of snacks -- a slice or two of cheddar and a few apple slices, a piece or three of deli-meat rolled up with a slather of whole-grain mustard inside, a tablespoon or two of tuna or egg salad dolloped on a couple of buttery crackers. Just a few examples of the way I like to eat. Yes, when left to my own devices, I'm happy to skip three squares and snack my way through the day. Pita bread is always on-hand in my kitchen. I purchase a package almost every week, because, everything tastes great stuffed inside... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
Gene -- If you notice in my recipe instructions, I cut the milk in half (I use 1 cup instead of a pint). I hope this helps. ~ Melanie.
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Sheet pan meals have become remarkably popular over the past two-three years. The concept of tossing an array of ingredients together, scattering them around in a single layer on one pan, then roasting them in a hot oven, appeals to both novice and experienced cooks. The prep time is reasonably short, and, once the food's in the oven, the hands are free to tend to other things. If the sheet pan has been lined with aluminum foil first, clean up -- uh, there is almost no cleanup. I was late to the sheet pan dinner party, meaning, sheet-pan meals were... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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Amongst Rice-a-Roni aficionados, chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni is the undisputed favorite. That said, I have a soft spot in my heart for beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni too, which is why it has a spot on my pantry shelves at all times. When I was a kid, my mom invented a beefy Rice-a-Roni dinner that kept my brother and I from bugging her to buy us an occasional "over-priced, over-rated TV dinner" -- which, to us kids, was nothing more than a novelty. As they say on the Rice-a-Roni website: Prepare for a stampede to the dinner table when you serve our delicious rice and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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When my mom announced she was making pork and beans for dinner, she didn't mean she was opening a can of pork and beans -- in a way, kinda sorta she was, but, there was a bit more to it. It meant she had asked Vince, the butcher at The Valley Meat Market, to slice 8, 1/2"-3/4"-thick bone-in pork loin chops, plus a pound of bacon, so she could make her recipe for pork chop and homemade baked bean casserole. She started by seasoning and browning the chops in a skillet -- that took about 15 minutes. Next, she'd mix... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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I believe I could live on Rice-a-Roni. I suppose I'd get tired of it eventually, but, it could be worth the experiment simply to see how long it would take. I love the stuff, and, it's one of the few convenience foods I indulge in. As a kid, if I was feeling under the weather, I always preferred a dish of chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni over a bowl of Campbell's chicken noodle soup. If that sounds odd, it's not, as the seasoning packet contains nothing more than dry chicken soup mix. As an adult, beef-favored and Spanish-style Rice-a-Roni have earned spots in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
Darci -- As per the back of the Pillsbury hot roll mix box: INGREDIENTS: 1 package roll mix (or my recipe for roll mix); 1 1/4 cups hot water; 6 tablespoons olive oil (divided); no-stick cooking spray; 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder; 2/3 cup pizza sauce; 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese; 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese COMBINE: Roll mix and yeast packet in bowl. Stir in hot water and 3 tablespoons oil, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead on lightly-floured surface 2-3 minutes, or until smooth, adding additional bench flour if and as needed. PLACE: Oven rack on lowest position. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat 2, 12"-round pizza pans with no-stick spray. Divide dough in half. Pat dough onto prepared pans. Pierce dough on each crust in several spots with a fork. Cover dough with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise 15 minutes. COMBINE: The 3 remaining tablespoons olive oil and garlic power. Uncover dough. Brush with oil mixture. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each crust with 1/3 cup pizza sauce, 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until crust is deep golden. YIELD: 16 slices.
D. Morgan. Thank-you for your comment. That said, my mix recipe works, as written, without fail, and, I did not use rapid-rise yeast for these reasons: The granules of rapid-rise yeast are smaller than instant yeast granules. The yeast granules in the Pillsbury mix were not smaller. and, they weighed and measured the same as granulated yeast. Some amount of ascorbic acid must be added to yeast granules for preserving it; rapid-rise yeast does not have ascorbic acid. The side of the box reads: dry yeast (yeast containing sorbitan monostearate and ascorbic acid). MOREOVER: Pillsbury Hot Roll mix was on store shelves LONG before rapid-rise yeast was invented. Should you wish to experiment using rapid-rise yeast with my recipe, feel free to do so, and let me know how it goes. I'm guessing it will work just fine.
Steve -- I appreciate your comment, and, I'm sure others will too. I like the addition of more rosemary (it is an ingredient in Italian seasoning blend), as it complements chicken and pork so well. That said, I'm kinda partial to the "twang" of the malt vinegar. As for the sugar, it really does enhance the flavor of the acid in the vinegar (much like adding sugar to acidic spaghetti sauce does), and, it helps with caramelization too! ~ Melanie
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When I lived alone in my apartment back in 1978, I made a quiche every Sunday. I ate one slice, then took one slice to work with me every day for lunch. After a few weeks, my new boss and other co-workers started hinting, then expecting me to bring them quiche too. For a period of time, I took an entire quiche to work with me almost every Monday. Fun times, great memories. I suppose, at the time, I could have referred to myself as the Happy Valley Quiche Queen! In the latter 1970's and into the 1980's, quiche became... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
Mollie -- Thank-you for the nice comment. When I wrote this post back in 2013, I had no idea how much angst choosing loaf pans and purchasing loaf pans causes people. Happy Baking! ~ Mel.
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Bacon and eggs. It's so simple even a caveman can do it. It's rustic man food -- put the two in a skillet and fry 'em up. Men love to fry food -- I think it's the sizzle that attracts them. Bacon and eggs plus cheese and cream whisked together and gently baked in a flaky pie pastry -- it could be described as refined woman food. Generally speaking, women enjoy fussing with food and fussy foods. While I'm uncertain as to the percentage of men who would make a quiche for themselves, I can attest to the fact that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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Cheeseburger pie was not something my mom ever made -- it existed back in the 1950's and 60's, she just never made it. As I recall, the recipe moms across America were using then was made popular by Bisquick. Mom probably didn't make it because dad wouldn't eat anything "casserole-ish". A cheeseburger pie or quiche was not something I thought I would ever make -- it existed in the 1970's and 80's, I just never felt like making it. That said, when you're a mom of three boys in the 1970's and 1980's and one of them comes home after... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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Tender, juicy roast chicken served with a drizzle of mustard-laced cream sauce is one of my favorite dinners. Transitioning those mouth-watering textures and flavors into a quiche was one of the best ideas I ever had. It is exquisite, understated, elegance. I typically serve this for brunch or lunch with a side of buttery green beans almandine, a glass of white wine or champagne and "something chocolate" for dessert. Trust me, this is a restaurant-quality meal. That said, I'm a bit of a snob about this quiche. Only all-white breast meat please, meaning: roasted breasts or poached tenderloins. Don't go... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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Eat your broccoli. I love broccoli. Eat your cauliflower. I love cauliflower. I always have. When my mom would put a drizzle of cheddar cheese sauce on either, the rest of my dinner became irrelevant. All I wanted was the side-dish. Every now and then I fall prey to a craving for broccoli and/or cauliflower drizzled with cheddar cheese sauce, and, because once it's on the table dinner is still irrelevant, for that reason, I long ago decided to team them up together in a quiche and serve it as a main dish. Back in the 1970's, when I lived... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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Fried chicken is one of Americas favorite foods. Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall, in my food world, if I say "fried chicken", I don't have to call anyone to the dinner table twice. And, whether it's skillet-or deep-fryed in the traditional way, oven-fried, or, just a big ole bucket of KFC, we cooks can all agree on one thing: it's all about the herbs and spices in the dry-flour dredge baby. Recipes for it are everywhere, and every one is a bit different. Why? Because it's personal. 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder 1... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
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The best oven-fried chicken has a crispy-crunchy outer coating encasing the juicy-tender meat. It's succulent. That said, to proclaim oven-fried chicken is as good as, rivals, or is better than traditional skillet- or deep-fried chicken is not something I'm willing to do. Truth told, it's neither better nor worse. It's different. Two different cooking methods produce two different results. Both qualify for fried-chicken status and both are marvelous, but, they're two different birds. Skillet- or deep-fried chicken vs. oven-fried chicken: Two different birds indeed. Immersing traditional fried chicken in hot-oil (or shortening or lard) in a skillet or in a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2020 at Kitchen Encounters
Mona -- Thank-you for the nice comment. I like your idea to add a bit of pancetta -- very creative! ~ Melanie