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When I had my first baby, I remember struggling to get the stroller through a double set of doors, only to be assisted by a kind woman who seemed to understand. She remarked that fellow moms are often the ones who hold the doors.
This willingness to help so often translates to the kitchen. While chatting with a friend a while back, I discovered that she had a new, three-ingredient recipe to pass along. She mentioned that another friend relayed the recipe at their sons’ baseball game the week before. It was so easy. There was no need to write anything down.
So it goes with a much-loved recipe. Fellow parents, co-workers, friends and family members so often pass along a recipe that they enjoy. Think of it as a helping hand. It’s holding the door and inviting someone to go through in hopes of making their day a little easier. and a little more delicious.
Beyond the inherent ease of the following pulled pork dish, the recipe offers an added perk. By using the tenderloins instead of the traditional pork shoulder, the end result is leaner, yet every bit as tender. A choice of several braising liquids ensures plenty of moisture and flavor.
While there are many worthy store-bought barbecue sauces, a homemade version offers impressive flavor with surprisingly little effort. Leftover sauce will keep indefinitely; try it instead of ketchup in your favorite meatloaf recipe or create a barbecue chicken pizza.
Leftover pulled pork may be repurposed in tacos (try coleslaw as a topping) or on a Tex-Mex salad (for a tasty dressing, combine equal parts salsa and ranch dressing). Or scoop onto a roll, top with your favorite shredded cheese, a spoonful of extra barbecue sauce and grill panini-style. The pork is rather satisfying all by itself, too.
For the record, it is not only the moms who hold the doors. I remember a thoughtful grandfather who literally picked up my heavy stroller and carried it up a small flight of steps so I didn’t have to bump my way over them. Funny how the subject of food has the ability to spark all sorts of memories.
LEAN & MEAN PULLED-PORK BBQ
Place the desired number of pork tenderloins in a slow cooker along with a ½ cup of beer or stock per pound of pork. (Leftovers are delicious, so cook extra!)
This is, perhaps, the easiest marinade ever. Even better, this recipe demonstrates how three basic ingredients can be the foundation for a multitude of meals that are doable enough for daily dinners, yet entirely worthy of company.
After eating the most delicious grilled chicken at our friend Dorothy’s house years ago, I asked her what she put in her marinade that made the chicken taste so good. She replied: “It’s easy. Just remember ‘a third, a third, a third’.”
There was no need to write anything down. The recipe, which tasted like a complex combination of ingredients, was simply equal parts lemon juice, olive oil and soy sauce.
Over the years, this marinade has proved to be as versatile as it is easy. I have used it countless times for vegetables, seafood and pork, as well as the chicken that initially wowed us. Most recently, my father, who dare I say never mixed up a marinade before, started preparing this recipe.
Prior to a family dinner where we planned to serve “a third-a third-a third” salmon, my sister-in-law, Melissa, suggested a subtle sesame flavor might complement the fish. Indeed, a small addition of sesame oil enhanced the Asian flavor, and this variation has become a regular in the rotation.
In the spirit of demonstrating how to stretch a three-ingredient staple into several memorable meals, I present the basic marinade recipe, noting the sesame option. Following the recipe are a few options that I implement regularly. If you happen to create your own spinoff recipe, I would love to hear about it.
A THIRD-A THIRD-A THIRD MARINADE
One cup of marinade is a sufficient quantity for two to three pounds of seafood, meat or vegetables when marinated in a zipper-top bag. A bag allows the liquid to flow freely around the food; if using a bowl, a larger quantity of marinade may be required to evenly coat.
- cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- cup olive oil
- cup soy sauce
The start of the new school year brought much change to our house. My older son made the leap to high school, and my younger son stepped up to middle school.
Like many parents, I wonder where all the years have gone. The days of Matchbox cars and training wheels, bedtime stories and baby sitters truly seem like yesterday – or at least last month.
When my boys were in preschool, I was the class play dough maker. I made a lot of play dough. A colorful, squishy glob of this perennial favorite would keep my kids entertained long enough for me to make dinner or fold a few loads of laundry, although I often played along.
Recently, we invited my 2-year-old niece over to make play dough. She requested blue, her favorite color.
I’m not entirely sure who had the most fun.
From a practical standpoint, I appreciate the consistency and texture of the homemade version. It is less dry than store-bought, leading to fewer play dough “crumbs” to clean up. (Any parent of a play dough-loving toddler knows what I mean!)
Allow your child to choose his or her favorite color and use gel food coloring, which is sold at most larger craft stores. The food-safe shades are much more concentrated than the standard liquid drops. Think pumpkin orange and black for Halloween or fire-truck red.
HOMEMADE PLAY DOUGH
This simple recipe can be made with basic pantry ingredients. Stored in an airtight container, the dough will keep several weeks.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt (regular table salt; not kosher)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Do you remember Pudding Pops? In the 1980s, Bill Cosby was the spokesman for this popular frozen treat. The chocolate version was similar to a creamy Fudgesicle, almost like a scoop of ice cream on a stick. In our home, this flavor was always the first to vanish from the box.
I have wanted to resurrect this cherished snack from my childhood for some time, ostensibly for the enjoyment of my kids. Secretly, I viewed it as a portion-controlled dessert that would satisfy my sweet tooth – with a serving of nostalgia on the side. I began experimenting with the recipe while my kids were at sleepover camp. (What mom would do this?)
When I make a new recipe, I like to have many opinions beyond my own, ideally from both kids and adults. Since my boys were absent, I coerced the twin girls who live around the corner to come to my aid.
Because this job requires photographing the food I prepare, I noticed something else: One of the girls was sporting a colorful polka-dot shirt that I thought would be a pretty backdrop for a brownish frozen treat. I joked with their mom that these are the silly details that now occupy my mind.
So the girls gamely held the frozen treats while I snapped as quickly as I could. The day was hot and the frozen treats melted fast. Ultimately, the girls raved and it was their suggestion to include the recipe in this space. When my 70-something father gave this modern-day Pudding Pop an equally glowing endorsement, I figured Bill Cosby might even approve.
For mini pops, an ice cube tray works well. Without sticks, the frozen cubes are a deliciously creamy way to keep iced coffee cold.
½ cup Nutella
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup canned light coconut milk (see note)
¾ cup almond milk (I have also used 1-percent milk; use your milk of preference.)
teaspoon kosher salt
Strolling past Wendy Jo’s Homemade cookie stand at Central Market a couple of years ago, I spied an intriguing thing: Wendy Jo Hess was pushing frozen bananas through a juicer and turning them into something that looked a lot like soft-serve ice cream.
She offered samples along with various topping, including granola, peanut butter and chocolate sauce. As crazy as it may sound, this single-ingredient frozen treat was incredibly tasty . and tasted less like bananas and more like soft ice cream than one might imagine.
Always looking for viable ways to curb my sweet tooth (which, as friends and family will tell you, seeks out ice cream far too often!), my curiosity was definitely piqued. Thinking it would not be prudent to purchase a juicer with the single purpose of making a frozen banana dessert, I pulled out my food processor and started experimenting.
Over time, I have developed a variety of flavors from fruity to fudgy. I have one son who doesn’t care for bananas in any form, so he takes a pass. The rest of us love it, and it is a great way to use those overripe bananas sitting on your counter. Just freeze them in batches of three, and they’ll be ready when a sweet craving strikes.
Printable versions of two other flavors – strawberries and cream and honey peanut butter – may be found at fountainavenuekitchen.com. Stirring a few tablespoons of chocolate chips or chunks into any of the flavors at the end is an extra treat.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER “ICE CREAM”
Yield: 2-3 servings
Although I have used a mini processor for this frozen treat and it does work, a full-size version works best. A high-powered blender, like a Vitamix, handles the frozen bananas well, too. If using a mini processor, allow the bananas to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly, or use the milk trick described in the notes below.
3 large bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
teaspoon sea or kosher salt
Honey or sweetener to taste (I use a couple teaspoons honey, adding at the end and tasting for just the right amount.)
Today is part two of the recipes chosen for the Summer Salad Challenge — they, and the comments that came with them, were terrific.
I am a firm believer that simplicity can have big payoffs, especially when fresh, seasonal ingredients are the stars. So, a “recipe” from Beth Bitts was right up my alley and made me laugh.
Bitts described in fine detail the process of walking out her back door, picking a variety of greens and vegetables from her garden, and washing, chopping and tossing them into a bowl. She supplements her garden offerings with seasonal produce from Central Market and her favorite feta cheese from Linden Dale Farm. (I am a fan of that feta, too!)
Then Bitts prepares a simple vinaigrette, mentioning that she likes to add chives because she’s an onion-y kind of girl, and chooses a chair by the window or outside to enjoy nature’s television. Does it get any better than this?
Bitts’ unstructured salad enforces how little needs to be done when you start with fresh ingredients. For the record, the next two salads are equally delicious, received eight thumbs up in our house, and will absolutely be made again soon. Both would pair well with a bowl of Bitts’ salad served alongside!
Who doesn’t love a good hoagie? I sure do. So when I saw Landisville resident Maria DeAngelis Bowman’s recipe for a salad based on an Italian sub, I had high hopes.
Bowman explained that she and her family enjoyed a similar salad from a now-defunct market stand. Bowman set out to recreate it, and her family liked the following version better than the original. This novel salad is what Bowman is now known for, and she cannot attend a potluck, barbecue, shower or work party without a request for this dish.
MARIA’S ITALIAN HOAGIE SALAD
1 box of penne pasta (or similarly shaped pasta)
1 envelope of Good Seasons Italian salad dressing (and ingredients to make, see notes)
1 8-ounce bag of shredded Italian blend cheese
By Ann Fulton
The concept of a reader recipe challenge appealed to me for several reasons. I started reading this newspaper when I was a teenager. Linda Collingwood was the editor of what was then the Montage, and later Style, section of the Sunday News and wrote a recipe exchange column. I always loved the concept of people sharing the recipes that were favorites with their family and friends. Those were some of the first recipes I cooked.
Moreover, I so enjoy the interaction I have with all who read this column, be it a friendly email mentioning a recipe cooked or a comment as our carts pass in the grocery store. Sharing recipes seemed like the perfect way to get to know each other a little bit better.
Paring the recipes down to the two that follow (and the two that will appear on June 29) was no easy task. Beyond reading all and preparing many of the recipes submitted, I savored the comments.
One of my favorite remarks was by a reader who said, “This is the kind of salad that makes you happy to be alive.” That’s my kind of recipe!
Thank you to all who took the time to submit. My only wish is that I had the space to feature more of your recipes. I will be adding the featured recipes to my blog (fountainavenuekitchen.com) and will include a few of the other entries there in the coming weeks.
Based on the success of this challenge, I am thinking of another theme for the fall or winter. Perhaps soups or slow cooker recipes? As always, I welcome your input.
The following recipes incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients and are hearty enough to be a meal on their own. Additionally, these salads have become top picks for family dinners and potlucks because, quite simply, they taste great!
STRAWBERRY PESTO PASTA SALAD
A perfect way to enjoy the last of the seasonal strawberries, this recipe came from Genevieve Munson, an English teacher at Lancaster Country Day School. Another teacher told Genevieve she simply must share this recipe, which originally came from Genevieve’s sister. Conceptually, it caught my attention right away.
Beyond offering a novel, seasonal twist on traditional pesto, this recipe is a wholesome, all-in-one meal. Boasting whole grain pasta, fruit, veggies, nuts and beans, this salad packs a nutritional punch in a uniquely flavorful way. The optional add-ins allow for further tailoring to one’s taste. I particularly enjoyed a hearty sprinkling of feta, and if you haven’t previously paired avocado with strawberries, you are in for a treat! I made a version using quinoa in place of the pasta and have described that slight variation on my blog.
For the Strawberry Pesto:
cup freshly grated Parmesan
cup toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans (I used almonds)
I’m the type of person who thinks about dinner as I am eating breakfast. So, it may not be surprising that I was pondering what to cook for this column a month ago.
I like to think ahead to seasonal ingredients and holidays while offering an assortment of recipes, from soups to salads, seafood to eggs. While I realize I won’t please everyone all the time, my hope is that a variety of recipes will at least please most of the readers most of the time.
For today’s column, I was prepared to present a creation that is a cross between a frittata and a quiche, when it occurred to me that this article would go to print on Memorial Day weekend. Where does the time go? Quite frankly, something grilled seemed more appropriate for this weekend than a baked egg dish.
In the spirit of variety, my brother-in-law once kindly mentioned that my column was a little short on red meat. So I am dedicating this juicy, Asian-inspired flank steak to him. The recipe may be prepped the night before and simply tossed on the grill when ready to eat. For a novel appetizer, follow the instructions for the skewers or, as my family calls them, steak-on-a-stick.
The steak may be marinated overnight or for as little as four hours. The end result is delicious either way, although the flavor will be slightly more pronounced with the extended soak.
The flank steak pairs well with a side of rice and steamed broccoli, but the following noodle recipe is a delicious option to round out the Asian theme and a convenient make-ahead salad when entertaining.
ASIAN BEEF SKEWERS (or WHOLE FLANK STEAK)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons sherry (see note)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
On a Mother’s Day 30-some years ago, my sister and I decided to surprise our mom with breakfast in bed. There were no nonstick pans in our house at the time, so when we failed to add a dollop of butter before scrambling the eggs, we ended up with more eggs stuck to the pan than on Mom’s plate.
But loving mother that she was (and is), she pulled herself out of bed, scrubbed the pan and prepared breakfast for all of us. Happy Mother’s Day!
Her usual dippy eggs and French toast were always well loved, although there was something downright special about her cinnamon toast. I can still picture the little melamine bowl she used to mix the topping. The topping mix was only cinnamon and sugar, but she made it just right.
As a mother, I sometimes wonder what memories my children will carry with them. In general, so many of life’s memorable moments revolve around food, whether they are celebratory dinners or simple meals around the kitchen table where a family carves out time in a busy day to really talk.
My guess is that one meal my kids will remember once they have flown the coop is my baked oatmeal. Their love of my original recipe has inspired many seasonal variations, two of which I have shared in this space. My younger son once proclaimed that he would like to eat the following recipe every day. He even suggested I bake enough for a class treat. (I gently mentioned to him that his fellow fifth-graders might not light up at the mention of oatmeal as a treat.)
As I was walking my boys home from school one day last spring, a friend of mine drove by and yelled a funny thing out her car window: “I love your maple Dijon vinaigrette and I use it on roasted vegetables! Sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are the best!”
As she rolled on by (she never actually made a complete stop), I had to smile. Not only did she enjoy the recipe, she gave me a brilliant new use for it. To be specific, she tosses the vegetables in the vinaigrette, instead of olive oil, before roasting.
The story on this salad is that I ordered something similar at a restaurant a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the combination so much that I set out to recreate it. While a salad alone is easy enough to replicate, the dressing can be a bit trickier. Yet it is the dressing that has the potential to make a simple salad truly outstanding.