Thrifty/nifty hints for holiday baking and beyond

pie crust

Build up the edge of the pie crust to help keep the uncooked filling (pecan pie here) from spilling as you maneuver it into the oven. Photo by Laura Groch

We’re coming up on prime holiday cooking season, so I wanted to share a couple of thrifty-nifty hints today.

• The first one is about baking, and more specifically, pie crusts. I have made my share of pies, and while they usually turn out pretty well, getting custard-type pies, like, well, custard, or pumpkin, or pecan into the oven without spilling the filling can be a bit fraught.

It dawned on me one day that things didn’t have to be that precarious. I’m not a huge fan Continue reading

Pumpkin mac and cheese needs some pumping up

Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese

Pumpkin Macaroni And Cheese is colorful, but needs a bit more punch than fontina cheese can offer. A few frozen peas add a bit of color contrast. Photo by Laura Groch

It’s pumpkin’s season to shine, and why not? Full of nutrients, fiber and beta-carotene, it’s always a winner in the kitchen.

But sometimes it needs a little help.

I clipped a recipe recently for a Butternut Squash Macaroni And Cheese from Dr. Oz’s Continue reading

It’s bean time again, plus green

limapoppers-copy

Lima bean poppers from the San Dieguito Heritage Museum’s Lima Bean Festival 2015. Photo by Laura Groch

The San Dieguito Heritage Museum in Encinitas is holding its free annual festival  from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 8. That’s this Saturday.

I’ll be helping judge the entries (and entrees), which will have a broader reach now, since the festival has morphed from being all about the limas to a Beans and Greens theme this year. Even when it was limited to limas, that didn’t stop people from coming up with lima Continue reading

Happy birthday freebies to you!

birthdaycookie copy

Free cowboy cookie from Black Angus. (Sorry, we had blown out the candle by the time we rememberd to take a photo.) This was in addition to a free birthday dinner, available by signing up on the restaurant website. (Sorry, the dinner was already eaten, too.) Photo by Laura Groch

Who doesn’t like free stuff on your birthday? This family sure does. Let’s see — on or around my birthday recently, I got a free steak dinner from Black Angus, a free seafood meal from Rubio’s, a free chicken dinner from El Pollo Loco — are you starting to see a pattern here?

 

If you sign up for the birthday gig — sometimes it’s called “the birthday club” — at your Continue reading

App for dinner: Put antipasto into play

antipasto2

Create an appetizing antipasto-for-dinner plate using goodies from the fridge, and “special” snacks from the pantry.

Sometimes you get tired of figuring out what’s for dinner. Sometimes  it’s just too dang hot to cook (or even think about cooking). Sometimes you aren’t up to preparing a meal, but don’t want to drag yourself out to a restaurant (or even to the phone to order in).

So — what’s for dinner? Time to put out an appetizing dinner of appetizers. More Continue reading

Berry simple, summery dessert (and gluten-free)

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

Sugar-and-liqueur-soaked fruit is an easy topper to cake or companion to ice cream. Photo by Laura Groch

I recently brought this cool and easy fruit dessert to a warm-weather dinner party, where, I was happy to see, it was polished off, except for the “polite” spoonful left in the serving dish.

With berries and stone fruits in season now, this is a versatile option, especially if some of the guests, as in our group, must avoid gluten.

The dish started as a trifle — layers of liqueur-soaked pound cake, pudding, fruit — but I Continue reading

Instant karma, cooked to order

This is only a little bit food-related, but I wanted to share it. You tell me whether this is karma or not:

We recently marked a birthday weekend with lunch at a local restaurant. I thought it would be a nice tradition to share some birthday with another diner, so we decided to pick up someone’s check anonymously. We enlisted the help of our waitress and she brought us Continue reading