• Shrimp and grits is a perfect one-dish meal

    I love shrimp and have become quite attached to creamy grits, so the combination of both was appealing to me. The Shrimp and Cheesy Grits recipe below takes only about 15 minutes to prepare if you have everything chopped and measured before you start cooking. It’s perfect as a one-dish meal for your family.

  • The sweet potato should not be confused with a yam

    If you are a fan of sweet potatoes, you’ve come to the right place. North Carolina sweet potatoes are available every month of the year. Loaded with beta carotene, sweet potatoes offer nutrients that may also help to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
    When selecting sweet potatoes, make sure that they are firm to the touch and show no signs of decay. For even cooking, be sure to choose sweet potatoes that are uniform in shape.

  • Not your mama’s chicken salad: some new favorites

    Everyone over the age of 50 can remember their mother’s tried-and-true recipe for chicken salad...pieces of cooked chicken, chopped walnuts, a little chopped celery, sliced white grapes and lots of mayonnaise!
    Sound familiar?
    These days, there are so many different varieties of chicken salad that I’ve lost count. Most start out with a bed of crisp green lettuce topped with cooked, grilled or marinated and then grilled chicken breasts. Then it can be topped with various cheeses, nuts, veggies and even fruits.

  • Sweet and sour can create endless dishes

    Earlier this week, we (actually, my wife) decided that we (my wife, again) should have some sweet and sour meatballs, along with some sesame noodles. Haven’t had that combination before, but who was I to argue?
    While perusing my database of recipes, I noticed that I had a lot of sweet and sour dishes, some of which I had never even made! Who would have guessed? I found I had recipes for sweet and sour chicken, pork, tilapia, onions, shrimp, cucumbers, pork ribs, and finally, sweet and sour meatballs.

  • Fresh herbs and spices are essential

    As a general rule of thumb, herbs come from grassy plants and spices from barks or seeds. Herbs tend to grow in temperate climates, while most spices come primarily from tropical regions.
    The term “spice” refers to the whole family of dried plant seasonings, including spices, herbs, blends and dehydrated vegetables.

  • Microwave ovens do more than defrost and reheat foods

    The microwave oven has revolutionized the way people cook and reheat food, but most of us probably don’t use its full range of capabilities. Many use it exclusively for reheating leftovers, making microwave popcorn and heating frozen entrees. Sound familiar?

  • Hungarian paprika adds flavor and aroma to any dish

    For those who aren’t yet aware, the Beacon has a new editor, Jackie Torok. I asked her recently what her favorite meals were, and she mentioned Hungarian goulash, chicken paprikash and stuffed cabbage rolls. So, in order to make points with our new editor, I thought I’d share my versions of these classics.
    Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew; it’s somewhere in between. It’s primarily a beef dish cooked with onions, sweet or pickled peppers and paprika. In some recipes, potatoes and/or noodles are also added.

  • Pork chops taste better with a classic Dijon mustard sauce

    Our family has always eaten a lot of pork chops. I remember my wife’s mother serving them quite often when we were first married. The chops were thinner then, and almost always bone-in. She would pan-fry them so you could just pick them up and eat them in bunches!
    These days, though, we prefer thicker chops and although we prefer bone-in, it really just depends on what’s available at the market.

  • It’s summertime again and time to think about salads

    If there’s one food that really captures the essence of summer, it’s salad. It doesn’t necessarily have to be leafy and green to be called a salad, as some of my favorite summertime salads have never been near a head of lettuce.
    Over the years, I’ve shared many salad ideas, with many of them coming from my wife, who makes great summer salads. I still like to try out new ideas out on her, and most of them I get two thumbs up. We won’t talk about the ones that don’t make the list!

  • Highly versatile, onions lend themselves to a variety of preparations

    Onions are underground bulbs that are related to the lily family. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, and the sooner you use them, the better.
    With the exception of leeks and scallions, onions should not be refrigerated, unless there is an unused portion, which should be wrapped in plastic first.