Monday, January 26, 2009

"Doorknock" Stuffing Casserole

I've always prided myself on being able to come up with dinner when the cupboard is seemingly bare, so I decided to give myself a "Doorknock Dinner" challenge.
A few years ago, the Food Network aired a show call Doorknock Dinners which featured Gordon Elliot taking a guest chef (or himself) into the home of a usually busy person and cooking them a dinner by using only the ingredients they had in their home. This was the show that brought my favorite TV cook, Paula Deen, to fame.
It was a few weeks ago. I hadn't been to the grocery store. Money was a little tight that week, and I only had a few random things in the pantry. I started throwing things into a pan and before I knew it, I had a fabulous casserole! I used alot of the usual stuffing ingredients, but I added some egg noodles to it and turned it into a dish that easily stands on its own. Gordon and Paula would be so impressed!

olive oil
4 carrots
5 ribs celery
1 onion
poultry seasoning
salt and pepper
1 lb wide egg noodles
1 box seasoned croutons
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 soup can milk
shredded Velveeta cheese
french fried onion rings

Heat oven to 350F.
Roughly chop carrots, celery, and onion. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Saute the vegetables over a medium heat until almost tender. Add a good amount of poultry seasoning along with the salt and pepper and saute a minute or two more, until the spices are infused.
In a large mixing bowl, add sauteed vegetables, uncooked egg noodles, croutons, soup, and milk. Stir well. Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with shredded Velveeta cheese. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Sprinkle with French fried onion rings. Bake for 5 minutes longer.

Add anything you want to the veggies as you saute......mushrooms, sugar snap peas, broccoli, whatever you like!
Buy a rotisserie chicken, and add the shredded meat to the casserole just before you bake it. Yum!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Onion Goggles!

Here's a helpful hint that is definitely worth sharing!
A while ago, I did a video with Kristin and Daniel about How to Cut an Onion. In the video, Kristin asked me if there's anything to be done to stop the onions from making you cry. Lets first explain why this happens:
When you slice through an onion, you break open a number of onion cells. Some of these cells have enzymes inside of them, and when they are sliced open, the enzymes escape. The enzymes then decompose some of the other substances that have escaped from sliced cells. Some of these substances form sulfenic acids, which then quickly rearrange themselves into a volatile gas. The gas reaches your eyes and reacts with the water that keeps them moist. This changes the chemical's form again, producing, among other things, a mild sulfuric acid, which irritates the eyes.

Well, Kristin, here's your answer! Onion Goggles!
They're quite fashionable, aren't they? And quite functional too! The thing that makes them different from regular glasses is the seal around the eddge that blocks out the enzyme gas that irritates your eyes, much like swimming goggles keep water out. As soon as I saw these goggles, I immediately thought of Daniel sticking his head in the freezer to stop his eyes from burning. hehehehe Problem solved, Daniel Boone!
My friend, Nancy, left a comment under the onion video about wearing swimming goggles.
Well, Nancy, now you don't have to wear swimming goggles anymore. You can wear Onion Goggles which are much more streamlined and less clunky.

So, there you have it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinese Pork Chops

Here's another recipe from Cathy. I'm not sure where she got it, but she's the one who brought it to me, so she's the one who gets the credit. It's extremely easy to make and it's REALLY tasty.
Thanx again Cath!

4 3/4" thick pork chops
1 tbs oil
2/3 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2/3 cup water

Dredge chops in flour. In a large skillet, brown chops well on both sides. Drain excess fat. Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to skillet with the chops. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and let it simmer for one hour. Serve with rice.

Sometimes I find regular white vinegar to be a bit harsh, so I like to choose a milder one.
If the sauce is a bit too thin for your liking, make a slurry of a little flour and water, then whisk into sauce over medium heat until it reaches the desired thickness.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hoagie Dip

You may call it a grinder or a sub or a hero or even a poor boy, but here in the Philadelphia area, we call it a hoagie! Of course, I'm referring to that wonderful sandwich containing lots of deli meats and cheeses, tomatoes, lettuce, oregano and a little drizzle of oil.
So, what if you got all of those flavors and mixed them up into a delicious party dip? That's exactly what this recipe does. Now, I have to tell you, I took the liberty of tweaking the original recipe, just a little bit. I have a habit of doing that! It's simple and delicious and is perfect for any size gathering.
Try it!

1/2 lb. boiled ham
1/4 lb. bologna
1/4 lb. cooked salami
1/4 lb. provolone cheese
1/2 lb. American cheese
1 tomato, seeded
1-2 tsp grated onion
2 or 3 chopped lettuce leaves
drizzle of olive or vegetable oil

A food processor is recommended, but not necessary. Chop the meats and cheeses into very small bits. Finely chop the lettuce leaves and tomato.
Stir everything together. Add pepper and oregano to taste. Add mayo until desired consistency, not too much. Drizzle oil. Mix everything together and refrigerate. Serve with cut up rolls or broken soft pretzels.

The key to this recipe is making sure all of the flavors are balanced. None of the flavors should overpower any of the others. That's the reason for grating the onion instead of chopping it, and finely chopping the other ingredients. You don't want to bite into a huge chunk of anything. Know, what I mean?
If the flavor is a little to rich from the mayo or salty from the meats and cheeses, just add a little more chopped lettuce and tomato to balance everything.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Big Announcement! New Plan!

Many of you know that I like to be involved with theatrical productions. Usually I'm a singer or dancer or actor or choreographer and sometimes I'm even lucky enough to be the director. Recently, I began rehearsing as choreographer for a local high school's spring musical production, as I've done for the past three years. You can imagine how much work goes into such a production, but I love it and I'm thrilled to be invited back year after year.
When I started this website, I knew that it would eventually have to take a back seat to my other jobs, and it seems that that time has come. It's time the make a change. Oh stop, I'm not leaving you. I'm not going anywhere. Don't panic. This is certainly NOT the end of Not by a long shot! I'm just going to slow the pace down a little bit, that's all.
Now, I know many of you daily viewers might be a little upset with me, but I have several personal goals that I'd like to achieve and this is what I need to do in order to make them happen. You wouldn't deny me that, would you? Cooking, blogging, photographing, scheduling, and color coding six recipes a week really takes a lot of time! But now I'd like to borrow some of that time so I can devote it to my other endeavors. I can only fit so much on my creative plate! You understand, don't you?
So, here's my new plan. I'll still share recipes and stories and photos, but just not every day. I'm thinking it'll be a weekly thing instead of a daily thing. How does that sound? That's not so bad, is it? Lets decide that, starting this week, Monday will be the new recipe day and maybe I'll even throw in an extra day here and there, just for the fun of it. And if your world is coming to an end and you're going through "Joey withdrawal" and you just can't wait for next week's recipe, you can always revisit some of the old ones! I'm sure there must be at least one or two recipes in the archives that you haven't tried. Am I right? And if it's mid week and you need some culinary advice, you can still email me as always! That'll never change. And who knows? Maybe after a few months, I'll go back to the original plan! We'll see how it goes, ok? Great then!

So, here's to personal goals, theatrical endeavors, and new plans!

Big HUGE love to EVERYONE who continues to embrace my little hobby :)

And don't forget... It's better when YOU make it!



Saturday, January 10, 2009


This is an Israeli dish that Trish made for Paul and me. I had never heard of it, but became an immediate fan at the first bite. It's simply eggs cooked sunny side up on a bed of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Basic, comforting, quick, delicious. What's not to love? It kind of reminds me of Huevos Rancheros. It's slightly different, but it's just as hearty. Give it a try! I know you'll love it as much as I do!
Thanx Trish!

2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
4-6 eggs

In a large skillet, saute the onions and peppers in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Let everything simmer over a low heat until tender. Gently crack eggs over the top of the vegetables. Cover. Simmer until eggs are set. Serve with pita bread.

Shakshouka is typically eaten with a pita, like many other Middle Eastern dishes, but can also be served with white bread that is dipped in the egg yolks and sauce.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Smothered Salisbury Steaks

This is the perfect thing if you're cooking for someone who's all about beef with brown gravy. Serve it with some mashed potatoes and you've got dinner enough to satify the heartiest appetite. It absolutely screams "home cooked dinner".

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
3/4 c. raw quick cooking oats
1/4 c. grated onion
1 egg
1/2 c. ketchup
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Caramelized Onions
1 jar brown gravy

Heat oven to 400F.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Shape meat mixture into oval shaped steaks, sort of like flattened miniature meat loaves. Place steaks in a shallow casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the steaks are slightly firm to the touch. Smother each steak with caramelized onions and serve in a pool of brown gravy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Broccoli and Cheese Beef-a-Roni

After posting the recipe for Broccoli Rice Casserole, I immediately knew that I wanted to come up with another dish using the same wonderful broccoli and cheese sauce. Pouring the sauce over some sort of pasta seemed to be the most obvious choice, so I went with it. Then I added some ground beef because I wanted it to stand on its own as a one dish meal. Add a little sprinkle of parsley and there you have it! You just might get your most finicky eater to eat his broccoli!
Try it!

1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 (10oz) box frozen chopped broccoli
2 tbs butter
8 oz Velveeta Cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)
1 small can (5oz) evaporated milk
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, boil macaroni until tender. In the meantime, in a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain excess fat. Place cooked beef in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Back to the skillet, add onion, celery, broccoli and butter. Saute until softened. Add remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir until the sauce is well combined. Pour sauce into mixing bowl over beef, along with the cooked and drained macaroni. Stir until well coated. Adjust seasoning , if needed. Sprinkle with a little extra chopped parsley and serve.

Another option would be to put everything into a 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes, just as you'd bake macaroni and cheese. Delish!

One of the key ingredients, believe it or not, is the parsley. It really gives a burst of freshness. Without it, the sauce can be a little heavy.
If the sauce is too thick, just add a little splash of regular milk.
Feel free to add any other veggies, such as carrots or peas.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

Here's an easy variation of your regular steamed or roasted carrots. The glaze enhances the carrots' natural sweetness without being too sugary. Serve them next time you make a roast beast.
They're SO good!

2-3 cups small baby carrots
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt

Heat oven to 400F.
Melt butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar, honey, nutmeg, and salt. Pour mixture over carrots and gently toss until well coated. Place in oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until carrots are tender.

If you don't have honey, you can easily substitute maple or corn syrup.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Caramelized Onions

Usually, when you read a recipe, it's all about what goes in the dish. In this case, it's not about what's in it. It's about how you prepare it. When you caramelize onions, you want to bring out the natural sugar, so it's all about cooking low and slow. It takes a little extra time, but it's SO worth it!
I usually serve these with beef because they go really well with brown gravy, but honestly, they're great with any kind of meat. Serve them with a rotisserie chicken or pork roast or pile them high on top of a hamburger or cheese steak. They always add just the right touch to a hearty home cooked meal. Yum!


After you've peeled your onions, cut off both ends and discard. Slice them in half in the same direction as the grain, straight through the root end. Now slice each half into fairly thin slices, this time slicing AGAINST the grain, and then break each slice into half rings. Add some oil to a skillet, preferably a regular skillet without the nonstick coating. Place the onions in the skillet over medium low heat. Cover skillet with a lid. Let them cook slowly and give them a little stir every now and then. They'll become soft, then eventually they'll start to brown. If they start to scorch, turn the heat lower. They're ready when they've turned a deep dark brown. Add a pat of butter and salt and pepper to taste.

I like to use the really huge yellow onions, but clearly, you can use any onion you like. I've used white onions and red onions too. I love 'em all!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chris's Irish Stew with Turkey Balls and Drop Dumplings

Here's another great stew recipe from my brother, Chris. As Chris would say "It's a great 'stick to your ribs' rainy-day kind of meal." And for the record, I have no idea what makes it "Irish", but I'll go with it.
Thanx Chris!

2 cans of cream of chicken
1 can of cream of mushroom
1 can of cream of celery
1 bag of frozen vegetables (I use California mix-broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
1 bag of frozen broccoli
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 lb. of ground turkey
1 onion (chopped coarsely)
1 egg
1/2 lb. of bacon

Combine soups, the chopped onion and all frozen vegetables in a pot and cook low and slow. Cook the bacon in a pan and when it's done, throw it in the soup pot. Save the pan with the bacon grease in it. Make meatballs out of the ground turkey, egg and bread crumbs and fry them in the pan with the bacon grease. When the turkey balls are done, throw them in the soup pot as well. To make the drop dumplings, mix the Bisquick with some water and drop spoonfuls (teaspoons) of the dough into the boiling stew. Cook until they're done.

Tips from Chris:
I've served this stew over top of a baked potato in a pie plate, and it was incredible. I'm sure it would be great if you poured it over wide egg noodles or some kind of pasta as well.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Garlic Bread

This is an easy accompaniment to any Italian entree. It's one of those things that you might take for granted, but it adds the perfect touch and it always finishes the meal. To be honest, I have no idea where I got this recipe. Maybe Martha Stewart? I can't remember. Anyway, this is how I always do it. I know you'll love it!

1 loaf Italian bread
1 stick salted butter
1 clove garlic (or more), chopped
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350F.
Slice bread into half inch slices. Arrange slices on a baking tray. Set aside. Melt butter with the garlic in a small sauce pot. Let the garlic cook in the melted butter until it becomes soft and the butter becomes infused with the garlic flavor. Add the chopped parsley and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat. Spoon about a tablespoon or two of the garlic butter onto each slice of bread. Place tray in oven and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

I like a lot of garlic, so I usually use two big cloves instead of just one. Use as much as you like! Also, if you prefer not to bite into a big honkin' piece of garlic, just slice the clove into a few large pieces instead of finely chopping it. That makes it easier to remove the garlic after infusing the butter.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Classic Baked Stuffed Shells

Here's another classic Italian dish that's simple to do and is always sure to impress. Everyone always thinks you went to a lot of trouble. Yes, it takes a little extra time, but not as much as you might think. And it's another 'go to' dish when you're not sure what your guests might like. Serve them with a big salad and some garlic bread and you're good to go!

1 box jumbo pasta shells
4 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus a little extra
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Joey's Favorite Marinara Sauce (or your favorite jarred sauce, or your own)

Preheat the oven to 375F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, rinse under cold running water, and set aside to drain again.
In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses, eggs, and chopped parsley. Using a spoon, stuff each of the shells with the ricotta mixture. Place the shells in a shallow baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the shells and sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with more chopped parsley, if desired.

For a delicious variation, reduce the amount of ricotta cheese by half and add a box of chopped spinach to the cheese mixture, then stuff the shells as usual.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Joey's Hot Dogs and Applekraut

In the Quaile family, New Year's Day means one thing. The Mummers Parade! For those of you who may not know, this is a yearly Philadelphia tradition that can best be compared to Mardi Gras. My Father has been a Mummer since he was 13 years old, and nearly all of my siblings have been involved with the Mummers Parade at one time or another. It's a HUGE event!
When we were little, we always went to my grandparents' house in South Philly. My Mom would always bundle everyone up and off to the parade we'd go. There was always the huge pot of Mom's Vegetable Soup, and lots of hot dogs and sauerkraut. It was the best thing to warm you up and fill your belly after standing outside in the cold weather watching the parade go by.
As much as I love sauerkraut, I think that it's sometimes a little bit too sour, which can be a little harsh and overpowering. So I came up with this recipe and this is how I've made it ever since. It has a little bit of sweet to balance with the sour, and just the perfect amount of crunch. If you're on the fence about whether or not you like sauerkraut, try my applekraut. It's REALLY tasty!!

1 stick of butter
1 small onion
2 Macintosh apples
3 ribs of celery, with the leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 32oz bag (or 2 16oz cans) sauerkraut
8 hot dogs

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large pot, melt butter. Finely chop the onion, apples (no need to peel them!) and celery. Saute in melted butter over medium heat until soft, then add the brown sugar. Let it cook a minute or two longer, just until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Meanwhile, place sauerkraut in a colander and rinse under running cold water. Drain well and add it to the pot. Stir until well combined. Pour everything into a 9x13x2 baking dish. Place the hot dogs on top, making sure to push them down into the sauerkraut as much as possible. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve on hot dog buns with ketchup and/or mustard and a little sweet relish.

Be sure to rinse the sauerkraut and drain it very well. This step is key to making it a little less harsh. Also, make sure you add the celery leaves. This helps to make it more pleasing to your nose, as well as your taste buds.
This recipe also works beautifully with pork chops. Just leave it in the oven for a while longer, until the pork chops are done.