All posts by mjlipsky

Grilling & Chilling – Indoors!

Grilling… So, what do you enjoy most about Grilling?
Cooking outside? Preparing certain foods you love made just on the grill?
Steak? Hamburgers? Chicken? Shrimp? Vegetables?
Cooking as you are surrounded by family and friends who brought their specialties… salads & side dishes?
Is your mouth watering yet? 😂

What do you think of the possibility of grilling indoors? Void of Season & Weather…

Introducing our great indoor grill!
The Stainless Steel Power XL 1500W Smokeless Grill Pro with Griddle Plate

Recently, we indoor grilled filet mignons, did baked potatoes in the convection oven, and added a large Caesar salad topped with shaved parmesan! The filets were deliciously juicy and tender! And the cleanup was quick and easy! The grill disassembles quickly and all components are easily accessible to remove cooking residue.

The next day, the leftover filet was thinly sliced topped with Dijonnaise. Basically, it’s a combination of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon Country Dijon)

For roughly $100 (watch for sales), this grill is a great addition to your cooking equipment, especially if you want to avoid standing out on the deck in the wind and snow or in the garage in order to satisfy that grilled steak craving.

CSA – Supporting Our Farmers – Another great year of organic treasures!

What is CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

There are several ways of supporting farmers in your area. Among these are large farmer’s markets with a variety of vendors, local grocery-style markets with produce from local farms, and small family farm stands found along the road. The CSA farming model, that we discovered over 5 years ago, is one where you purchase a seasonal share (membership) directly from the farmer before the growing season. The share is for a set number of weeks of their harvest of farm-fresh vegetables and/or fruits.

There are different versions of CSAs so you have to do some research and find one that is best for you and your family’s wants and needs. Our present CSA is a Certified Organic Farm and offers 27 weeks of their produce.

The first CSA we got involved with dropped off our weekly “share” of produce at a designated location and time near our home. While the current one we use offers this too, we actually enjoy going to their 18-acre farm, near the base of Blue Mountain, to select our weekly produce in their barn and then participate in their “U-Pick” plots which offer various vegetables, herbs & flowers for us to pick. We enjoy it and always have fun!

Over the years, we have appreciated many benefits of our membership. First and foremost we know the farmer and where our food is coming from. We know it’s organic and free of chemicals on the veggies and in the soil in which it’s grown. An organic farm was important to us as we believe it’s beneficial to our health.

We also think the freshly picked produce is more nutritious and tastes better to us. In addition to this, we’ve enjoyed adding more vegetables and fruits to our diet, learning about vegetables not in our usual routine (like garlic scapes, purple dragon tongue beans & edamame!).

All in all, we understand we are supporting local farmers and small farms in our area and we particularly enjoy providing first-hand farming experiences for our grandchildren. It has been truly enjoyable to watch the boys select tomatoes, peppers, snap peas. and sunflowers directly from the plant. (BTW – a quart container for collecting also makes a great hat on a sunny day.)

How do I find a CSA near me?

You can find a CSA near you by searching the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Marketing Service site and entering your zip code in the CSA area. It’s a great way to add to your healthy living lifestyle and some nature-loving, “farm” beauty, fresh air and sun to your day!

Some wonderful examples of produce we have received through our local CSA:

We are looking forward to another year at The Good Farm with Aimee and John Good & Heidi, of course! We appreciate all that you do…your dedication and hard work!

Another local farm we support and enjoy along the way home from our CSA is Crystal Spring Farm. A delicious place to stop and get chocolate milk to go & fresh-made ice cream in the summer! Life is Good!

Guinness Street Festival & Irish Pub’s Oysters – Love those Oysters Rockefeller

Relaxing in the afternoon, eating Oysters Rockefeller with a dash of Tabasco. Ahhhhhh, Life Is Good!

Bethlehem’s McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar / Restaurant’s Oysters & Guinness Street Festival has become an annual event for us as a family. This is the 4th year it has been held and we’ve been to 3 out of those four. 2020, did we do anything that year? Well, let’s just say… I don’t think any of us were being very “social” that year.

2021, a year of almost normalcy? We decided that we were hungry and did not want to be on a “waitlist” just to be seated on their “Patty-O.” Instead, we were graciously and immediately swept inside to a “Snuggle Booth” to enjoy our Oysters Rockefeller with Guinness. I opted for a cosmopolitan.

As we enjoyed our annual “fest,” my focus that day was…Oysters Rockefeller!


“oysters spread with a mixture of spinach, butter, seasonings, and breadcrumbs and baked on the half shell”

Dictionary.com

Some Food History: Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 at Antoine’s Restaurant (1840) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jules Alciatore, the son of the founder, Antoine, is credited with this honor.

Jules Alciatore is known as a pioneer in the art of cooking oysters (as they were rarely cooked before this time).  According to legend, it is said that a customer exclaimed with delight after eating this dish, “Why, this is as rich as Rockefeller!”

whatscookingamerica.net

Jules Alciatore took over the business in 1899. There was a shortage of French snails and as well, not as much interest in the delicacy.  Jules wanted to use something local that could be acquired easily. He ended up choosing oysters. He worked with the snail recipe from his father and adapted it in order to use the more abundant gulf oysters.

Rockefeller was used for the dish’s name because of how “rich” the taste was and how the dish’s green color brought about the thought of greenbacks. Jules wanted his dish to represent something that was the “richest in the world.” (whatscookingamerica.net) John D. Rockefeller was a name that was known for being of great position and wealth at the time.

In 1980, the great-great-grandson of Jules Antoine, Roy F. Guste, Jr., Fifth Generations Proprietor, wrote in his book, Antoine’s Restaurant Cookbook… “The sauce is basically a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach.” I wonder if he shares the actual recipe in his family cookbook?

OK…to date, never being to New Orleans to savor the delicacies of that famous culinary cuisine, where do I go from here to search for a recipe that compares?

Online, I discovered the fantastic source of Jules Antoine’s great-great-great grandson, Roy F. Guste, Jr. and his cookbook from 1980 – Antoine’s Restaurant Cookbook! Sadly, no recipes were to be found without purchasing the book so…, a cookbook filled with “History and Legends of Favorite Foods – Food History,” Linda Stradley’s cookbook, What’s Cooking America shared Jules Alciatores’ Oyster Rockefeller’s recipe.

Now, to be honest, I have not had the privilege of making Oysters Rockefeller for our family as of yet… but, I’m believing in the above reputable sources of having it resulting in accolades of “This is delicious!” It will definitely be on our New Year’s Eve “Make a Wish Fest” this year! If you make some before me… please share your thoughts below! Enjoy!

Here’s a recipe from What’s Cooking America: https://whatscookingamerica.net/seafood/oystersrockefeller.htm

Enjoying Bethlehem’s Annual Oyster Fest at our local Irish Pub, McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar. Yum!

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER – Jules Alciatore created in 1899

Servings: 6 or 36 appetizers

INGREDIENTS:

36 fresh live oysters on the half shell

6 Tablespoons butter

6 Tablespoons fresh spinach leaves, finely minced

3 Tablespoons onion, finely minced

3 Tablespoons parsley, finely minced

5 Tablespoons bread crumbs, homemade

Tabasco sauce to taste

1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint or Pernod

1/2 teaspoon salt

Rock salt

Lemon wedges for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using an oyster knife, pry open the oyster shells, then remove the oysters.

Discard the top shells; scrib and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters, reserving the oyster liquor.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter; add spinach, oion parsley, bread crumbs, Tabasco Sauce, Herbsaint and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Press the spinach mixture through a sieve or food mill; let cool. Mixture may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.

Preheat oven broiler. Line an ovenproof plate or platter with a layer of rock salt about 1-inch deep(moisten th salt very slightly). Set oysters in the rock salt, making sure they are level.

Place a little of the reserved oyster liquor on each oyster. Spoon an equal amount of the prepared spinach mixture over each oyster and spread to the rim of the shell.

Broil approximately 5 minutes or until the edges of the oysters have curled and the topping is bubbling. Watch carefully.

Garnish the plates or platter with the parsley sprigs and the lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Added Recipe Notes:
It is best to use small oysters for this recipe. The oysters themselves(not the shell) should be no more than 1 to 1 1/2″ in diameter. Any variety of oysters will work; just make sure the oysters you choose are as fresh as possible, still alive, and tightly closed.

A fun “Throwback” photo — September 2018, the very first Oysters & Guinness Street Festival… Bob enjoying his raw oysters that year, on Bethlehem’s Walnut Street curb. The people to his left were also customers of the pub that year. Bob had fun chatting with them & their dog. Robin captured the moment with this photograph! It brings back smiles…

Reubeniwiches – Reubens with Chickpeas!

Years ago…in the late 1970’s, we started our whole foods, natural – nutrition journey. We presently continue on this journey – hit or miss at times, but it’s a life journey.

Something we discovered a few years ago that we support and recommend to everyone we know and meet is CSA – Community Support Agriculture! We have been members for quite a few years now at a local CSA organic farm and we love it! Check your local area and see what you discover — Do it! Its an investment in your Health!

But, I digress… back to Reubeniwiches and what are they???

In the 1980’s we enjoyed eating at a local natural foods restaurant called “So Eat Already!” We enjoyed EVERYTHING on their menu but my favorite sandwich… was the Reubeniwich! Short but the sweet details — it’s a delicious vegetarian “reuben” made with chickpeas! It is fantastic!

The restaurant has been closed for years now but fortunately a friend of ours, Jane, worked there and shared this fabulous recipe with us! We are forever grateful and have thanked her many, many times over the years as miles have come between us… she’s living in California now and we are still in Pennsylvania. Once again… Thank you Jane!!!

Ingredients

1. Marinated chickpeas (recipe below)
2. Pumpernickel bread
3. Thousand Island / Russian dressing (homemade preferred)
4. Coleslaw – purple cabbage preferred (ev olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper to taste)
5. Swiss cheese (we prefer Jarlsberg – always…)


Marinated Chickpeas Recipe

Ingredients
2-3 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans drained, (we use canned Goya brand to speed up the process)
1 cup oil
½ cup tamari soy sauce, Kikoman Brand
½ cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
parsley, chopped
basil, chopped
oregano, chopped

Mix chickpeas with the other ingredients in a large bowl.  Let marinate overnight or for at least 2 – 3 hours.  This can also be made ahead of time, be frozen and defrosted by portions when needed. 

Note:  If using dry beans…soak overnight…cook in water on top of stove until done (approximately 1 hour).  Cool before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

Recipe can be doubled or tripled… we love to eat them right out of the jar at times!

Sandwich Details:

Lightly toast the Pumpernickel bread slices
Spread some dressing on the reverse side of the bread – Thousand Island / Russian
Add some coleslaw
Then, add some drained, lightly, mashed marinated chickpeas
Next, cover the chickpeas with thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Place the assembled sandwich – open faced – in the oven to melt the cheese!

And, ENJOY! It’s truly delicious!!!

Nikki loves her Reubeniwiches a slightly different way if you would like to try it. She doesn’t care for Thousand Island/Russian dressing or swiss cheese. (What is she thinking? I’ll never know!) So, she skips the dressing all together and tops hers with American cheese. It is her favorite way of eating Reubeniwiches besides the marinated chickpeas right out of the jar.

Let us know if you try these great sandwiches… we love sharing family favorites! ❤

Picture coming soon!!
We keep eating them too fast and forgetting 🤷‍♀️

Aunt Theresa’s Crepes

Holidays and Special Foods are a tradition in our family. Pick a holiday or a celebration and I can name a food, recipe or menu we’ve shared as a family. What can I say, we have many home cooks and bakers in our family and we enjoy celebrating and sharing!

I posted about Palacinkas (Slovenian Crepes) before and how our girls and now our grandsons enjoy when they are “scrambled” to make something we’ve always called “bucca.” They top the scrambled palacinka / “bucca” with syrup, usually Log Cabin, and enjoy themselves!

In this recipe, we use the palacinkas / crepes to create a dessert by adding a delightful, sweet filling. My Aunt Theresa introduced her creation at a July 4th picnic at her son Steve’s (my cousin) one year and we loved them. I remember so vividly that she topped them with a homemade strawberry syrup and whipped cream and proudly added them to the dessert table! They were chilled perfectly for a warm July 4th afternoon.

I made them recently, for our July 4th family picnic and topped them with a blueberry syrup. Our syrup was made from blueberries that Bob and our youngest grandson picked from newly planted bushes in our backyard! The recipes for Palacinkas and Blueberry Syrup follow… Enjoy!

Palacinkas / Crepes:

1 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Palacinka Filling:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 pint heavy whipping cream, whipped

Blueberry Syrup Topping:

1 cup blueberries

1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (depending on personal preference of sweetness)

Directions for the Crepes:

Combine all the the ingredients for the crepes in a medium size bowl and mix until smooth. Let this batter rest for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Using a small nonstick pan sprayed lightly with some vegetable oil / Pam, add enough batter to coat the entire pan (approximately 1/3 cup) by swirling the batter to make a thin pancake. It is important to make them as thinly as possible. It will take a little practice, but, I assure you it will be worth it!

When you see the edges starting to brown slightly, carefully flip the pancake to lightly brown the other side. Place this crepe onto a dish and continue using the rest of the batter to make additional crepes.

When all of your crepes are finished and cooled they are ready to fill.

Directions for the Filling:

In a medium bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Then, gently fold in the whipped cream until it is all combined.

Directions for the blueberry syrup:

Put the blueberries, sugar and vanilla into a saucepan. Heat this mixture over a low – medium heat until it is all combined and the consistency pleases you. You may want larger berries remaining in your syrup or you may want a smoother, thinner consistency. You may even want to use a handheld blender to blend it at the end.

Assembling Dessert Crepes:

Place a crepe onto a marble / cutting board and add some of the cream cheese filling on one side, end to end and then, roll the crepe and place on a dish. Continue with the rest of the crepes.

When all of the crepes are filled, place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve them, top the chilled, rolled crepe with the blueberry syrup and some homemade whipped cream!

Enjoy!