• Versatile, dry onion soup mix is more than just an onion dip

    Mixing sour cream with one of those dry onion soup mix envelopes was a staple at parties at our house for years. It was a cheap and easy way to make a pretty darn good dip. And, with a bag of nacho chips and a bottle of wine, the dip would make the occasion festive.
    Then one day, I read the label on the onion soup mix envelope. The company suggested mixing its onion soup with ground beef for an onion meatloaf. It really added some zest to it. I decided to ask some friends what they used it in.

  • Onions, carrots and celery deliver a ‘trinity’ of flavor

    The simple trinity of ordinary vegetables, commonly called mirepoix, forms the foundation of a myriad of dishes. You’ve probably made it a thousand times without even knowing it. It’s one of the essentials of classical French cooking, but equally important in all cooking.

  • Soup offers a filling, warming break from traditional meals

    There is nothing wrong with serving soup as a main dish, as it can be less time-consuming than planning a large meal.
    Delicious and filling soups can be prepared in a relatively short amount of time, left to simmer throughout the day. Many can be made in just a few hours or less.
    You may also want to offer a variety of appetizers with your soup. Use simple appetizers, including a light dip with crackers (save the bread for the soup) and fresh-cut vegetables and fruit for sweetness and crunchiness.
    Bread is your best friend

  • With warmer weather, it’s time to fire up the grill

    Gas grills are still the most popular type for grilling, but today’s units are multi-tasking appliances. In addition to the burners, many now include infrared searing “zones,” charcoal pans to convert to charcoal grilling and built-in smoker boxes with dedicated burners for smoke cooking.
    Charcoal grills are still quite popular because of the “true” charcoal flavor obtained when grilling. Today’s electric grills seem to burn hotter than their predecessors, now reaching temperatures high enough to actually sear a steak.

  • Throughout Greece, stuffed grape leaves are a culinary classic

    Stuffed grape leaves are a common Greek dish, usually served as an appetizer before a main course.
    Also called dolmathes (dol-MAH-thes), they are filled largely with minced lamb, a bit of rice and touches of crushed mint, fennel or parsley leaves, dill, garlic, pine nuts or currants.
    They are served hot, sometimes with a chicken broth and lemon-based sauce called avgolemono, or cold with just a touch of olive oil.

  • Celebrate Easter this year with a variety of traditional recipes

    Easter was originally called Pascha after the Hebrew word for Passover, a Jewish festival that happens at this time of year.
    The date for Easter is determined by the lunar calendar. For most of us, the first Easter food to come to mind is probably colored hard-boiled eggs.
    It seems the practice of hiding eggs, and the Easter Bunny, came from the Germans. Popularized by a German children’s book published in the 1600s, a bunny laid colored eggs in the garden for children to find.

  • If not from Binghamton, you probably never heard of spiedies

    I was first introduced to spiedies years ago while visiting with my wife’s brother in Binghamton, N.Y.
    Spiedies are cubes of meat, typically lamb, but they can also be beef, pork, chicken or venison cubes, or a mix of them, marinated for many hours, often overnight, in a mixture of oil and vinegar with lots of garlic and green herbs and served on a type of hoagie bun.

  • St. Patrick’s Day and cooked cabbage just seem to go together

    While many of us will be having corned beef and cabbage this weekend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, myself included, I was thinking about the first time I can remember the aroma of cabbage cooking in the kitchen.
    I must have been about 6 or 7 years old when my grandmother was cooking a pot of cabbage along with some carrots and ham bones.

  • When preparing chicken breasts, have fun and be creative

    Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food for family and guests-quick to prepare and low in fat. But if you’re like me, they can be boring. You throw them in a skillet and then wonder, “Now what?”
    A magazine once published more than 50 ways to prepare chicken breasts. I’ve since decided that figure must be closer to 5,000.

  • Relay for Life chili cook-off an evening of good cheer and tastes

    My wife and I were overwhelmed by the friendliness of everyone at the second annual chili cook-off fundraiser for the Brunswick County Relay for Life at the Sea Trail Plantation clubhouse a couple weeks ago. They made us feel right at home. And of course, the chili was great.
    The fundraiser was sponsored by the Sea Trail Strollers team, co-captained by Kate and John Goodrich. Kate had contacted me earlier and asked if I would be willing to be one of the judges for the event. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.