Tidbits from Chef Melissa

Tidbits from Chef Melissa

A New Year!

by Chef Melissa on 01/08/11

Happy 2011!

Now that the holidays are behind me and the kids are back in school, (Hurray!!) it is time to get back to work. I will be posting regularly, so check back often.

This week I have a great hand scrub to share with you. My hands are always a mess because of the amount of time I spend washing. I have a hard time finding products to help because scents give me migraines, so a long time ago I created this hand scrub. (It makes a great gift as well) I promise it works if you do it regurlarly. What is also nice is that you can personalize it by adding essential oils. You can usually find these in craft stores near the soap making supplies. You want the oils safe for your skin.

Hand Scrub

  • In a small container (I use a 4 oz. plastic container with a lid) fill 3/4 full with sea salt then add enough olive oil to make it a thick pasty scrub, if you are using a scent add a few drops now.
  • You are now ready to scrub your hands. Wet your hands with warm water and scrub with a small amount of scrub. To get the best results, after you scrub and rinse your hands be sure to pat your hands dry and apply a thick moisturizer.


Cornerstones of a Thanksgiving Meal

by Chef Melissa on 11/24/10

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It's about tradition, sharing a great meal with friends and family, but most of all it's about reflecting on the blessings in your life. There is something comforting in the fact that for one day a year, we can stop the hectic life of work, emails and carpooling to enjoy a day with family and friends. We always eat lunch at my mother's house, then I come home and prepare a meal for my husband's family. Yes, we eat alot on Thanksgiving! Maybe that's the biggest reason why I love this holiday, it's all about the food!!! 

I had a conversation the other day with my mom about what dishes have to be apart of the Thanksgiving meal. You know the ones, the dishes that if they were missing it wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving. So, it got me thinking, and I asked around to find out what dishes people had to have on their Thanksgiving table. Unaminously everyone said turkey, but then the dishes varied. For me and my mom creamed onions, stuffing, and rutabagas are a must. I also like the cranberry sauce. My husband needs mashed potatoes, black olives, and deviled eggs. (My mother in law made the best deviled eggs) My father in law has to have pumpkin pie. I was surprised the most when I asked my daughter and she said cranberry sauce and turkey. (I thought for sure she would have said pumpkin pie!) I also heard cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, and corn pudding. It's alot of work to make all the dishes but worth every minute!

The best part for me are the leftovers. My favorite sandwich in the entire world is turkey and stuffing sandwich with lots of mayo and black pepper. I've been eating this sandwich since, well, my whole life, and I can't wait every year for that sandwich. When I first started dating my husband he thought it was the craziest sandwich he had ever heard of, until I made him one. He was hooked. Now he anticipates it as much as I do. My kids love the morning after Thanksgiving, when for one day out of the year they get Pumpkin Pie for breakfast! Yes, I let my kids have pie for breakfast. If you stop to think about it, it is has fruit, protein, and carbohydrates. Serve with a glass of milk and I figure it's better than alot of cereals out there these days.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving foods and traditions! Maybe you can start a new one and have pie for breakfast!!

In Season Now, Apples!

by Chef Melissa on 11/19/10

I love Autumn, it brings me back to my childhood. When I was trying to decide what to write about for this entry I thought of gourds, pumpkins, turkey, sage, all the things that remind me of autumn, and then it hit me... Apples!! "That's it!" I said to myself. Apples and I go way back. I have such fond memories from my childhood in New York.  We would head to the apple orchard and pick bushels of apples.  I  loved to watch the cider press, the old fashioned kind, made of wood that would spin around and produce that amber sweet cider, the essence of apples at their best. I still to this day haven't found any cider that tastes quite like that one. My mom would make loads of homemade applesauce, which was so yummy on a cold day. I never appreciated the experience until we moved far away from any apple orchards.

Tidbits about Apples...

  • Did you know that Johnny Appleseed was a real person! His real name was John Chapman, and he loved apples. He went around planting orchards all over the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley in the early 1800's.
  • Research is finding that the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has merit! They have vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium, antioxidents, and loads more.
  • One apple has 5 grams of fiber and only 80 calories.
  • Archeologists have found evidence of humans using apples as far back as 6500 BC.
  • There are over 2500 varieties of apples grown in the U.S., so there are lots to choose from.

My brother asked me which apples to use for cooking, well almost all apples are good for cooking, but it depends on whether you are making a pie or sauce. Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Cameo and Golden Delicious are good for pies. McIntosh, Jonathon Variteties, and Empire make good sauce. Gala and Red Delicious are best if eaten raw.  I think they are all good! I haven't found an apple I wouldn't eat.

I was trying to think of a recipe to include this week, I thought of all kinds of things, but I kept coming back to the memory sitting in my Grandma Peg's tiny kitchen as she would peel and slice the apples for this dish. I called my mom to ask if she still had the recipe, and luckily she did. My mom also said my grandma made this for my her when she was little, so this recipe goes way back. She called it Poor Man's Pudding.  I'm assuming it came from when some ingredients were expensive or hard to get, the original had shortening instead of butter. I changed it to butter. My daughter's love it! It makes a perfect quick warm breakfast the next morning. Store in the referigerator.  Warning!!! Very delicious, it only lasted 2 days in my house!!

Grandma Peg's Poor Man's Pudding

  • 5 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cinnamon (there was no specific amount written)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (or shortening as in the original recipe)
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • about 1/2 cup milk
  1. In a buttered 2 quart casserole dish add apples and 2 tablespoons sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon. (we like lots of cinnamon, but this should be to your taste)
  2. In a bowl add remaining sugar, butter, salt, flour, baking powder, egg, and vanilla. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and stir. Add a little milk at a time until you have a cake batter consistency. Pour over the apples.
  3. Place dish in a cold oven. Turn oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm with sauce.

For the sauce, in a sauce pot combine 1/4 flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup milk, and a dash of salt. Turn heat on low and stir constantly until thickened.





Tidbits by Chef Melissa
Seasonal Selections

Roasted Pork with Sage

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Turkey Tenderloin

Slow Cooker Chili

Here I will share recipes along with my thoughts, adventures, and stories about food.  Check back weekly to see what I've been up too! I would love to hear from you, so feel free to post your thoughts as well.  Thank you for going on this food journey with me! -- Chef Melissa