Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Central PA Pumpkin

A snow day is the perfect day for baking. You don't want to be outside anyway. You want to be warm and cozy. So revving up the oven ( I guess the overn doesn't rev but oh well) is the perfect activity. I should be grading papers but this is a lot more interesting. I'm not much of a baker when it comes to sweets and I tend to eat them too fast without enjoying them. I also had quite a bit of pumpkin leftover from Thanksgiving. In central PA we don't use the same pumpkin that you get in the can. It's a long neck pumpkin seen here.

The round jack-o-latern ones are cow pumpkins meaning they feed them to the cows. The longneck pumpkin makes fantastic pies and so I thought why not use this Pumpkin Dinner Roll recipe I found. They are in the oven right now. I'll post the rolls when they are done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Penne with Pesto, Bacon, and Mascarpone & Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas

I took a week off from posting because it was the end of the marking period and the week was crazy. I'm a teacher and unfortunately grading takes precedence over blogging. Last week's line-up was:

Monday- Penne with Pesto, Bacon and Mascarpone
Tuesday- BBQ Beef Cups
Wednesday- Ham and Sunny Side up Eggs
Thursday- Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas

The BBQ Cups and ham/eggs aren't really recipes. I don't even have pictures of them, but here are the other two meals.Penne with Pesto, Bacon and Mascarpone (Click to see recipe from Dishing up Delights)


Sesame Chicken (with Sugar Snap Peas) (Click to see recipe from Crepes of Wrath)

On a side note we've had a lot of excitement trying to make a lot of tough decisions this week. I think we've got a few things nailed down finally but if I don't get to post again until next weekend I wouldn't be surprised.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peas with Spinach and Shallots & Chicken and Pears with Wild Rice

So I didn't have a chance to add all the info about last week's meal so here are highlights from the rest of the week.

Peas with Spinach and Shallots


  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10 oz frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • salt
  • pepper

Cook shallots and garlic in oil and butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes.

Stir in peas and water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing, until spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute.

We served this with some steak that isn't worth showing. The next night was a Cooking Light experiment that met with groans when people saw it but I was told to save the recipe and that it was good. I love those nights the best. When someone thinks that something is going to be inedible and I get to prove them wrong, it's a great feeling. More stories on that later.

Chicken and Pears with Wild Rice (adapted from Cooking Light)


  • 1 package uncooked specialty wild rice blend (Zataran's with flavoring spices discarded)
  • 1 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries chopped
  • 1 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 skinned, boned chicken breast halves, cut into strips
  • 1 bunch sliced green onions
  • 1 small firm ripe Bosc pear cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer rice mixture for 25 minutes.

Mix pears with sugar, cinnamon, salt and a little olive oil. Set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Pour pear mixture into skillet, cook until softened, add to completed rice.

Add oil to same large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onions; sauté 8 minutes or until chicken is done.

Serve chicken on side of rice.

The Name Game

I love how all the food blogs out there have such interesting titles. I've never been very good at writing. Once I decided I wanted to try my hand at the blog business I thought about names since I knew that whatever was going to happen was going to happen content-wise. Ever since I can remember I have been pouring over cookbooks and recipes. As a result since I moved out on my own 2.5 years ago I have been slowly adding to my kitchen tools and trying as many recipes as I possibly can. So naturally I have been making notes along the way. I didn't even know that food blogs existed. I don't know why it didn't occur to me. All this time I have been scattering information through the internet on various recipe site so in this way I can put all my opinions or triumphs in one place with pictures and still be green by not printing everything out.

Now to the name...
My sister is strange and when we were little she started calling my grandmother Grambo. Soon everyone had a -bo name:
and me Melbo.

I don't go by this name often. But when I was brainstorming titles that mean something to me and fit the theme my boyfriend suggested Melbo Toast since I love to eat melba toast. So hence the name Melbo's toast.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie (Bott boi?)

I moved to central PA when I started going to college in 2002. After graduation I officially relocated to the area to teach at the local high school. Since then I have learned a lot about the culture of the area. Being from the Baltimore area there were a lot of "culture shock" moments over the years. These include attitudes of the people, religion, colloquialisms, and of course the food. My current boyfriend J is from a little farther west than here with PA dutch roots. This past November I went over to his grandparents to learn the fine art of pun'kin pie making (more on this later). For dinner that night V was going to make pot pie to show me how to do it. Apparently you can use any meat you want (though I've only tried beef, ham and chicken are also traditional). There isn't much in the way of a recipe per se. I have a recipe for the pot pie dough but it didn't work and I had to add a lot of flour to get it to not be soupy. More or less here are the instructions:

Pot Pie

In a little oil brown the outside of your meat (I never tried ham or chicken and I don't know what to do in those cases) turning for a total of approximately 20 min. Cover the meat a little more than half way in water or broth (I used beef broth but added extra water when I didn't have enough). Cook in the dutch oven on 400 degrees F about 2 hours (covered, turning half way through) for a 3.5 pound roast. While the meat is cooking make the dough.

You will need:

  • 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon, butter softened
  • 1 egg
  • enough milk to create pasta like dough (1/4-1/2 cup)
  • salt
If your dough is too wet add more flour. Roll out and cut into 1.5 inch squares (see photo). I was told by J that mine were too small. Remove meat from pot and add one small potato cubed. Cook the broth with the potato until the potato is almost completely cooked. The dough is then added to the broth until cooked. Serve meat with pot pie and optional raw diced onion.
So I made all of this. And it wasn't quite the way I remembered it. It needs a little bit of work but here it is one of my first forays into the world of PA Dutch cooking. I'll be posting some of the past triumphs of this genre of cooking.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Conchiglie con Broccoli

So it's one of those days that J didn't come over for dinner and as we are always on the mission to eat moderately healthy I decided to try this. I must say that I don't enjoy cooking as much when I don't have help with the dishes. I'm such a pasta junkie that each week I try and slip one in there even though I know it isn't the best for me. Oh well. Pot pie (or bott boi) tomorrow.

Conchiglie con Broccoli
(adapted from
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10-ounces) packages frozen chopped broccoli (do not thaw)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving
1/2 pound dried Conchiglie pasta
1 cup shredded chicken

  1. With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop.
  2. Cook garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli, water, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is very tender and almost all of liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
  4. Toss pasta with broccoli and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water. Add shredded chicken. Season with salt and thin sauce with more cooking water if desired. Serve with cheese for sprinkling.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Line-up

Being a recipe junkie I somehow stumbled on a web site which turned out to be a food blog about a week or two ago. I was thoroughly intrigued to say the least. Since then I have been investigating food blogs in general and amassing quite a few recipes to try. One of characteristics of being a recipe junkie is my habit of collecting recipes and trying to make something new every night. In the last two years I have been cooking for my boyfriend J we have rarely eaten the same thing twice. There are a few recipes which have made the cut and been requested a second time, but for the most part we are eating approximately 4 new recipes a week. Each week I choose the line-up and decide which days we are are eating what meals. I'm fairly novice in the kitchen when it comes to technique though well versed in theory (it must come from reading all the food books). This week's line-up is as follows Chicken with Roasted Pears and Wild Rice; Pear, Parmesan and Prosciutto Panini; (Pennsylvania Dutch) Pot Pie with Pot Roast; Caramelized Onion Flatbread with Gorgonzola and Spinach; conchiglie con broccoli; steak with peas with spinach and shallots.

The panini was eaten before there was sufficient time for pictures. However I will be posting the broccoli pasta dish. Ta for now!