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Welcome to COOKINGSKEWL!!

The name can be pronounced in two ways, and that's exactly the dual purpose of this site: Cooking IS kewl and I really hope it's gonna be a kewl community Cooking School!


So let’s get started...



That looks good!
Hadn't decided what to make for dinner tonight, and it was getting late. Something light was in order - I really wasn't that hungry if I'd waited so long, right? Well, as I was flipping through the channels a commercial for that copper pan came on - you know the one nothing sticks to it, never scratches... It's that lady who did the "dump" cookbooks? Well, when she got to that tortilla thing, I gotta admit it looked just right!


Some leftover chicken breast coarsely sliced, seasoned black beans straight from the can, a generous sprinkle of cheese... Folding it wasn't quite as easy as she made it look (maybe because I'd already started to heat the pan), but it came out fine. Topped with a splash of salsa and a dollop of plain greek yogurt?


For about five minutes effort, quite satisfying - and hey, only about 400 calories! Not worth buying the pan, but definitely worth a try


Posted by Linda :
Saturday 08 April 2017 - 17:44:43
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I did it! I DID it! THIS TIME I REALLY DID IT!!!
I wrote this article whose title was similar, but ended "no, (sigh) I really didn't" about six years ago, and yes, the topic was the same - my Grandmother's Refrigerator Rolls. Uniquely her own, never duplicated or experienced from anyone's hands but her own... I can honestly state that this is a personal mission the equivalent of my family's Holy Grail! With me as the primary bread baker in the family...

Here's the recipe as was observed on numerous attempts - Grandmother never wrote it down:

Ingredients:
1 cup Milk
1/3 cup Crisco
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup warm water
1 small yeast cake or 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 large potato
2 eggs, well beaten
4-1/4 cups flour

Method:
Scald milk – do not boil. Add Crisco, salt and sugar.
Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Cook and mash potato, add well-beaten eggs. Add mixture and yeast to warm milk mixture.
Stir in flour. Turn onto well-floured board and knead into a smooth texture.
Place into a well-greased container with tight cover. For best results, refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
Make into rolls and place in greased pan. Leave to rise until size has doubled, about 2 hours.

Bake 10-15 minutes at 350F.

Seems simple, right? Problem was, I could get delicious yeast/potato flavor, or the light as air texture - never both. I've tried dozens of times... How many kinds of flour are there? AP, bread flour, self-rising... even cake flour! I tried them all. I found numerous similar recipes, but none panned out.

This past weekend it was my neighbor's birthday, and the silly gal decided to throw her own party! She'd planned on cooking up a storm and when I asked what I could bring... you guessed it, she asked for rolls So I tried these once again. I've been enjoying the exploration of King Arthur Flour, and they had an Amish roll that was somewhat similar to my elusive goal.

Batch One: Made strictly to their recipe with the exception of using Crisco instead of butter. I'm sure butter would be good, but NOT what Grandmother used. Result was a great texture, and everyone enjoyed, but not enough of the potato flavor. Batch Two: This was actually my first attempt but served later on at the party. I'd started the same as above, but earlier that morning so it could rise in the fridge for several hours. Result: More of "the right" flavor!!

Encouraged, Batch Three was started the next day, using a full 24 hour rise in the fridge. Surprisingly, even with the slow rise in the cold environment, it grew more than either of the previous batches. It was easier to shape into rolls, though I need some more practice to make them all uniform I allowed more time for the second rise... PINCH ME NOW!!! They smelled, looked, and felt "just right"!!!

This is the batch I shared with my Mom, the only remaining local critic with factual knowledge of "the" original - and I wish I'd let my machine answer the call. "They're good, they're really good!"

In my favorite purpose, I have always split two rolls, schmeared with Hellman's Sandwich Spread, topped with a single slice of American cheese, quartered, a generous grating of black pepper. and then toasted - Absolute Heaven!!! These live up to that standard, I'm proud to say.

Fresh out of the oven I don't feel as if I've found that "perfection" . We obviously had far too much liquid in our note taking, and the current version omits the milk - at least one more round of tweaking is needed - but enjoy, folks.

Grandmother's Refrigerator Rolls WILL live on!





Posted by Linda :
Monday 03 April 2017 - 13:13:54
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Exceptionally Enjoyable Use of Cabbage Part II:
You might have heard - the Northeast got clobbered with a snowstorm this past week, and according to the Governor my town got hit the hardest. Just for fun, this video was taken within 10 miles of where I live...



Being snowbound and all, we do the best with what we got, right? Actually, that's pretty much all the time, but I digress... With what I had on hand, I decided to make Halupki Soup! Halupki(?) I hear you ask. Stuffed Cabbage. Rolled Cabbage. REALLY YUMMY CABBAGE!

So I browned some ground beef with onion and garlic. Tossed about a half head of chopped cabbage into the mix and simmered, covered about 20 minutes...


Now, you can do this all in a Dutch oven on the stove top, but I had some shoveling to do, so I adapted this recipe so once I prepped, it could finish all on its own in the slow cooker.

Into the crockpot (set on "HI") went some beef stock, sugar, vinegar, rice, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes - and the cabbage/beef mixture. A couple hours later...


About five hours total, this was my reward for all that snow removal!

I never added the smaller can of beef broth. I waited to see if it was needed, and you know, I didn't think it was - it was just the thickness I wanted. And I rarely use boullion cubes or granules - as always, your choice!


I can't tell you just how satisfying this was for "the duration", lol! BTW, that bread peeking in? I made that, too.

But more on that another day Stay warm and dry, folks!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 18 March 2017 - 15:52:52
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Ya gotta try this!
I recently found myself with a couple heads of cabbage - one was on purpose, but... In search for something other than coleslaw, I stumbled upon this really kewl recipe from Mr. Food - Aunt Nellie's Cabbage Fritters! If you like potato pancakes, you're gonna love this - faster, easier, and healthier. And guess what? It has bacon!!!

So for my new favorite, you start with a bunch (actually a fourth to a third of a head) of cabbage, a little onion, and a little bacon...


A little flour, a couple eggs... Season of course - I like salt, pepper, and a generous grating of nutmeg... Mix well.


Plop some into your frying pan. I used the pan I had just cooked the bacon in, drained of most of the fat with some Crisco added. My "plop" on the top is just a little small; the one on the left a little big; and the one on the right was just right


Brown...



Drain on paper towels (or my preference, cardboard) and serve.


And why not add a dollop of sour cream?

For real, not counting the sour cream, this entire batch of 9 or 10 fritters INCLUDING the oil for frying, is only 1000 calories! Lots of fiber and calcium, some protein and a whole bunch of other "good for you stuff".

Ya really do gotta try this!!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 08 March 2017 - 13:13:56
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Sooo Yummy! And made with leftovers?
I think I've mentioned before that my neighborhood is lucky enough to have a mini Farmer's Market come visit us on a regular basis. Last week, the produce truck had poblanos! Roasting on the stove is so quick and easy if you only have a couple: just wrap in foil (double layer for regular, single layer with heavy duty), and then place directly on a burner set at medium. Rotate every 4-5 minutes (total of about 20) until peppers are soft - USE TONGS and/or kitchen mitts for this!!! Let rest 15 minutes in the foil, and this is what you get.


Gently peel most of the charred skin, slit lengthwise and remove as many seeds as you can. Leave the stem and its inner core to help stabilize these now really soft peppers.

Now to make the filling. I had a leftover chicken breast, some chunky salsa, cheese... added a few spoonfuls of (cooked) brown rice to soak up any excess moisture... Very kewl way to clean out the fridge!! After tasting, I added some garlic powder, oregano, and believe it or not, a dash of cinnamon - very classic Mexican.


Scoop your filling into the peppers and shape them something like this. Lookin' purty, right


Ooops! Can't forget to top them off with more cheese


If my filling ingredients had been warm, I would have just popped this under the broiler - but since I was pulling pretty much all of my ingredients from the fridge, I baked at 350F for about 20 minutes...


Oh YEAH!!!! We'll be doing this again soon!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 28 February 2017 - 14:41:04
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Back to Reality...
I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day weekend <3! Incredible food, a magnificent concert... and those couldn't hold a candle to the exquisite company Thank you so much, love.

But then I drove through a snowstorm to a slushy mess and neurotic dog – so comfort food was once again on the menu. I hate repeating myself, but the ingredients were on hand and I really just felt like basking in the glow that remained...

SO – as I said – back to reality. That night 6 or 7 large white onions (softball size), sliced, went into my crockpot with a stick of butter and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Set the temp to “lo”, and let that do it's thing until morning.

The top photo is about 5 hours in - yes, I woke up enough to give them a stir...

And the bottom is the beauty found about 12 hours in! As the recipe for French Onion soup (didn't I tell you? Yeah, that's what we're making!) only needed about half that, I scooped out two bags of about a cup each and popped those in the freezer – caramelized onions at your fingertips?!?! Just THINK of the possibilities!!!!

So now you just add some stock (I've used both beef and chicken – it's really up to you), worcestershire, thyme, a bay leaf or two... and some sherry or dry white wine. Let it go another 6 hours or so...

And now you start your French Bread. Honest, it's easy. A ton of starts and stops (I'll grant you that) but with only flour, yeast, and salt, TIME is a necessary element to develop that great flavor. It's worth it!!!


I'd made this kale and apple salad for Christmas Day, and it wasn't that popular at the time. Playing with the left overs I realized I hadn't added nearly enough salt and pepper (or any?)?!? Sweet and sour poppy seed dressing over kale and tart apple... Guess I was a little hectic that morning... A little adjustment and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I used the food processor to puree the onion and whisk the dressing – and this time I TASTED!!!


Soup's done, bread's done, salad's ready... The first time I made this soup I used Gruyere and Emmental cheeses – small blocks of each – and while delightful, the cheese alone cost almost $4 per serving?!? This time I used pre-grated Swiss and Moz – just as stringy, almost as flavorful... Your choice of course.


Dinner is served!


Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 15 February 2017 - 08:20:26
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Super Duper SuperBowl Sunday!
Still not sure what to make for SuperBowl Sunday? Go gather these ingredients as well as some good bread...


You got this part, right? Don't use the entire head of lettuce - half to 3/4?


You're gonna need a bigger bowl


Now, this is the important part!! My BFF shared a recipe that he found online for one of the ultimate tastes of our youth - Jrecks! That's one heckuva lot of oregano, but oh my, it tastes SO VERY GOOD!!! Here's the link if y'all want some of this goodness


Couldn't wait until the game Every bite a little different, each better than the last!


Posted by Linda :
Sunday 05 February 2017 - 13:32:05
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Sweet AND Savory
I made this one for Christmas Day and thought it might be nice for Valentine's day, but for the life of me I can't find the link!!! After way too many searches in the last few days, I'm going to offer my apologies to whatever source it was and just tell you about it. Fortunately for all of us, I remember it well! Well, it IS kinda simple... but GOOD.


We are going to stuff filo cups with a sweet and sour sauce and top with brie and pecans – sound good? You really can't get much simpler. Filo cups are readily available in your freezer section (usually by the pie crusts and such), but since I had filo sheets in my freezer, I opted to make my own.

Filo is an incredibly thin and delicate dough, and when layered with melted butter produces an extremely flaky result. Five layers felt about right – and as you can see, I had some difficulty being gentle enough to separate full sheets intact...



No worries! Just keep overlapping and brush liberally with butter to hold it all together. I used my ravioli cutter to create 2” squares, which were eased into a (sprayed) mini muffin tin.



Bake at 375F for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Gently loosen from the tin, set aside. Of course if you used the frozen version, follow the package instructions.


Meanwhile, make your “spread”. Now the original recipe (again, thank you, whoever you are) when doubled called for a cup of cherry preserves, 4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Two days before Christmas I did NOT feel like fighting the crowds just to get cherry preserves, so I did some research and ended up using (wait for it) - cherry pie filling. Yes, the stuff that comes in a can - which I could get at the corner deli, for Pete's sake! Surprisingly, pie filling is much lower in sugar than preserves, so I used 1 cup of the filling and reduced the Balsamic to 2 Tbsp (tasting, of course). A little chopping from an immersion blender and I had a somewhat chunky texture that I liked.


This shows the process – the upper left is a generous teaspoon of the cherry “sauce”. Next row shows the addition of a cube of brie (an 8oz wheel, trimmed of rind was perfect for my 2 dozen cups), and finally a sprinkling of coarsely chopped pecans. As I was transporting to my parents' home I stopped prep there and popped into their oven for maybe 5 minutes, just to melt the brie.


Now, here's the verdict - Sis-in-Law enjoyed them so much that she made a brie round that she topped with a purchased balsamic cherry spread just a week later for another get-together! Easy peasy

NOTE: it turned out that my version of the sauce was more tart than the store bought – both were good, so use your own taste buds to adjust. It's your kitchen!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 24 January 2017 - 12:03:07
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This one made me HAPPY!
For the first time in several years I was able to attend the family gathering on Christmas Eve! If you haven't read my whole story, I've worked retail for a while... This year I was fortunate enough to have the store CLOSE two weeks before Christmas!!! Yeah, ok – not exactly celebratory, but I DID get to spend time with my family?!?

I'd been wanting to try this recipe for Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, and this was a good time to do it. It was at one of these gatherings years ago when I first had Aunt Pat's Salad, and well, that's one heckuva keeper!! So I slipped my pasta salad onto the buffet table and waited.

First, let me show you the competition:




Oh – and yeah, there were desserts galore (as usual).

So I'd doubled the recipe and brought about three quarters to the party – heck, I wanted some for myself! A pound of shells and a 16oz jar of “stackables” worked quite well for this – stackables were easy to dice, and provided just the right amount of pickle “juice”, which is essential!!! I used shallots instead of onions because a couple family members have an adverse reactions to onion, but can tolerate shallots (which are in the garlic family). I measured out the ingredients for the “dressing” and whipped them all together in the food processor.


Here's the best part! My eldest younger brother (who is a “pretty good” cook in his own right ) had THREE helpings before he knew I had made it! In fact, he encouraged his son to try “the best pasta salad he's ever had”!!?!

Like I said – that makes me happy!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 12 January 2017 - 17:18:21
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Windy afternoon Warm Up
Too much to do, too cold to go out... A pot of soup and some fresh bread sounded just about perfect. Checking the fridge and pantry there was no doubt that minestrone would be the soup du jour, and why not some breadsticks a la Olive Garden? Yeah, I thought so.


I used this recipe for minestrone as a guideline, but as I had a few projects underway, altered it for the crock pot. Basically, I added the ingredients in the same order, just let them “simmer” on high for an hour or so instead of the minutes of constant stirring if I had sauteed. I wish I had taken a picture of just the onions – they were starting to caramelize beautifully! Then in go the garlic, celery, a little while later carrots, green beans... Finally tomatoes, beans (from the freezer), beef stock and pasta... BIG TIP: I boiled the pasta in the broth but only added the stock to the pot. That way I could add the pasta to each bowl without it getting mushy!

I started the breadsticks once the onions were ready - they're really quite easy. I didn't have bread flour, so I used AP – it needed about a half cup more than stated, but that's an expected difference (but use bread flour if you have it - even better final result). Blend/knead, rise. Shape, rise. Bake, brush, sprinkle. Yeah, a little TOO easy, if you know what I mean – just might make these too often!


That wind is still whipping around, but I made a nice comfy cozy dinner and still got my tasks done. Now for a good book...

Posted by Linda :
Friday 30 December 2016 - 19:38:58
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