The kids are finally back in the classroom, and when they come home from school or sports they are generally ravenous, right? It’s a pretty good bet that if given a choice between chicken nuggets and anything else, my guess is it’s going to be the nuggets. So, why not make them delicious and perhaps healthier than the fast food version? Plus, kids love to cook these days, and if your young ones are old enough to be safe around the cook top and oven, this might be a great meal that they can make themselves! (Studies show that when kids take the initiative to cook a meal, they enjoy not only eating the food, but are more apt to want to learn how to prepare meals more often.) I discovered that on a field trip a few years ago to a Boys & Girls Club where I was teaching a cooking class. About fifty kids huddled around as I taught a hands-on cooking demonstration. They were mesmerized. Many shared their at-home cooking experiences with Mom and Dad. I was, quite frankly, stunned at their interested in every aspect of cooking, whether chopping and dicing, sautéing and of course, sharing what they had prepared. Back to the chicken nuggets. This recipe is fairly simple and super delicious, and it’s the kind of recipe that may flesh out whether you have a budding Jacques Pepin or Julia Child just waiting to cook up something fun for the family!
If you don’t want another cookie addiction, then maybe you’ll want to bypass this week’s column. If, however, you want to jump on America’s latest cookie craze, then you’ve come to the right place! Swig cookies, with their scrumptious pink frosting and craggy edges, are somewhere between a soft sugar cookie and shortbread, and they have certainly won our hearts! (To date, there are about 41 million search results for Swig Cookies on Pinterest. I’d say we are obsessed with these sweet treats!) The Swig cookie originated in Saint George, Utah in 2010 at the Swig Drive-by Drink Shop. Known for their signature frosty drinks and sweets, Swig has now expanded to multiple locations in Utah and several other states. The minute I heard about them I employed “The Niece Factor.” That’s when I make a big batch of cookies and drive them over to my nieces and wait for their response. With these Swig Cookies I got a text about 20 minutes later (before I even got home!) that the entire batch has been devoured. That’s good enough for me! I think you’re going to like these cookies. They’re fun to make and may even be worthy of a spot on your holiday cookie exchange platter this year.
What Scottsdale resident Susan Jaramillo remembers most about her Grandma Denise Nerone was her magnificent homemade bread. In fact, Susan vividly remembers her grandma’s words:
“You’re the only little girl I know who begs for bread for dessert!”
Susan said the only time she would choose dessert over bread was when her French born grandmother made Apricot Pie. Once Susan shared her mouthwatering memories about the sweet-but-tart apricots arranged in a flakey homemade crust with a juicy apricot sauce poured on top and covered in lattice strips, I had no choice but to go into bake mode. What a fabulous, unique fruit pie! It’s delicious warm or cold, and of course, the better quality of dried apricots you use, the better the filling will turn out so look for plump, moist apricots. The original recipe called for whole apricots, but Susan and I agreed that cutting them in half is a bit easier to eat. You can cover your pie with an entire crust instead of cutting lattice strips if your choose. Either way, it’s Vive le Apricot Pie!
Homemade fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie ala mode for the 4th of July! Pretty hard to beat. When I got a letter from Sun City resident Eva Meeks, it included a recipe for an award-winning apple pie that she had clipped from a magazine a few years ago. Here’s part of Eva’s letter:
“During the 4th of July holiday I hosted a pot luck for my family and decided to bake my favorite apple pie. I’ve been making it for several years now, and it’s always a big hit. Apparently this pie won some blue ribbons at state and county fairs. All I know is it wins hearts every time I make it for friends and family. It has a surprise filling that really adds a nice flavor. I thought you’d like to try it.”
Well, Eva, you thought right! I wasted no time peeling the Granny Smith apples and mixing up the “surprise” filling. I’m so happy Eva “blind bakes” (also known as pre-baking) her bottom crust. I’ve always done that as well because the bottom shell stays somewhat crispy after filling and baking. I’m also a fan of cooking my apples just to soften before filling the pie shell. Eva softens her apples in the microwave and then adds the rest of the ingredients. If you’re an apple pie lover, dish this one up with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in for a big surprise!
Here is a One Skillet Wonder that is so delicious, so savory, so cheesy, and so satisfying that it’s become one of my favorite family meals, and I hope it becomes the same for you! Here, the Italian meatball is smothered in a classic French onion soup gravy, and the result is nothing short of delicioso and magnifique!