Archive for June, 2010

Avoid these fruits in Jell-O

I was making Jell-O the other day, but ended up with a serving of humble pie: Imagine my surprise when I opened the fridge hours later and realized the thing never set. Instead of having a delicious, jiggly dessert, I was confronted with a useless bowl of liquid that never formed into a mold.

What the heck was going on, I wondered. I mean, it’s Jell-O, not rocket science. Second doubts set in quick.

“Why had I ever gone to culinary school if I couldn’t pull off making something as simple as one of America’s favorite, no-brainer desserts?”

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Bold & Brawny Barbecue Sauce

Ah, barbecue. Was there ever a word in the culinary realm that had so many meanings, not to mention cause for so passionate of debates?

While most of us throw the word around as a verb, adjective and noun – as a cooking method, type of food eaten and the apparatus with which to cook said food, respectively – to others it’s cause for fiery remarks as to what is “real” barbecue when it comes style of both recipe and cooking method.

I’m not going to step into that hornet’s nest today. Instead I’m here to share a sauce. A barbecue sauce. A sauce that, no matter what position you take on all things barbecue, I think you’ll enjoy.

Of course, even the sauce used in food that is said to have been “barbecued” – the term so often used for grilling or charbroiling – is a candidate for debate. Many of us are familiar with a tomato-based sauce that is sweet, sour and spicy. Other parts of the U.S. of A enjoy theirs with a foundation of mustard, vinegar and even mayonnaise.

In my book, they’re all tasty. What follows here, though, is a tomato-based version (ketchup, actually, which is of course based on tomatoes). It’s so easy to make that gathering ingredients might just take longer than actually cooking it.

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Easy Cheesy Enchilada Casserole will spice up your life

I’m a fan of recipes whose results have family and friends think you’ve spent hours slaving away to create the delicious dinner they are so eagerly eating, but which in reality was a snap to make.

One such example are enchiladas, a Mexican dish that you can think of as burritos smothered in spicy sauce and then baked until soft and hot – a bubbly bit of cheese heaven. Like their tortilla-clothed brethren, enchiladas can be filled with any manner of goodies, from just cheese at their simplest to lobster at the other end of the spectrum.

But even making traditional enchiladas has its downsides, namely getting the tortillas pliable enough to roll in the first place, not to mention the messiness involved when it comes to rolling the things.

Enter the enchilada casserole. You get all the delicious benefits of a regular enchilada, but in an easier-to-make, easier-to-serve format. The dish is made by simply layering tortillas with cheese, sauce and your favorite ingredients (a perfect way to use leftover meat, chicken, veggies, etc.).

In addition to being affordable, the enchilada casserole is very quick to make: You can have this done in 20 minutes or less.

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Corn Avocado Bacon Salad is a picnic all-star

Summer unofficially began this past Memorial Day weekend, and with it comes picnic season. That means loads of fried chicken, sandwiches and salads will be dished out on lawns near and far for the next few months.

Regarding the last of those picnic staples, potato salad and macaroni salad are the usual suspects, but did you know that you can bring so much better to the party than those mayonnaise-drenched excuses for side dishes so popular in supermarket delis?

One easy alternative is a corn-based salad.

While corn probably isn’t the first thing you think of when the subject is salad — after all, most of us eat corn slathered in butter on the cob or microwaved from a frozen state in a bag — this vegetable actually makes for a great salad base. It’s got crunch, it’s bright, it loves being covered in a simple dressing, and is a total team player when other ingredients want to join the fun.

Corn is also low in fat and provides a good dose of fiber. And, of course, it’s inexpensive. In fact, for the recipe below, I purchased most of the ingredients at my local 99 Cent Only store.

With my Corn Avocado Bacon Salad, the kernels will provide the foundation for other delicious and vibrant ingredients to build upon. Tomatoes, avocado, bacon bits and cilantro add some serious pizazz to this salad, which for a dressing uses a light and bright lime vinaigrette.

Still skeptical about this whole corn-as-salad thing? Try making the one here, and after one bite you’ll never go back to boring old potato salad.

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