Monday, August 14, 2023


Two young ladies with lemonade-flavored 
PopsiclesWhat's not to love?

In the immaculate, stainless steel kitchens of Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes, we do not pinch registered trademarks. We simply borrow them and hope we aren’t headed for the hoosegow. It behooves me to say that these are not Popsicles™or Popsicles®. They are but pale imitations (See how pale they look in the photo? That’s because they’re made from a simple can of lemon soda! So who’s gonna sue two adorable little girls - huh, huh?) 

Aha … I, too, can make brightly colored Popsicles! Also not ™or ®. Catch me if you can, Copper! Technically, these are “frozen pops” - and man, they’re crazy good! Did you know 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally invented the Popsicle in 1905? I didn’t either: I read it on the Internet. 

(If you read it on the Internet, it must be true. For a small search fee, the Internet will probably reveal Frank’s email and home addresses, telephone number, income, number of divorces, monthly alimony payments, mother’s maiden name, and social networking sites).

As the online story goes, young Frank used a stick to stir powdered soda pop with water, and forgot the solution as it froze overnight on the porch of his home in Oakland, California. As the story continues: “Frank pulled out the whole frozen mass and found that he had invented a new treat. He named it the ‘Epperson Icicle.’ ” 

“The following summer, he made his frozen treats in his family’s icebox and sold them around his neighborhood under the shortened name of ‘Epsicle.’ Frank later rechristened his discovery the ‘Popsicle’ to show that they were made from soda pop. Epperson patented [the Popsicle] in 1924, when he was 30 years old.”

Today, Frank is probably on a dating site, trolling for 40-somethings. Which is remarkable, considering Frank shucked this mortal coil when he was a mere child of 99.

So here’s a version of the “Popsicle.” Its not Frank’s recipe. Its not mine, either. Too bad. If it were, I might have patented it to become as rich and famous as Frank. And maybe I’d be trolling on dating sites for 40-somethings, too. 


One 3-oz. (85 g) package jelly powder

1-1/4 c. (310 mL) granulated sugar

2 c. (500 mL) boiling water

2 c. (500 mL) cold water

Dissolve drink crystals, jelly powder, and sugar in boiling water. Add cold water, mixing thoroughly. Pour into two-part “pop” molds, topping with covered plastic stick. Freeze several hours until firm. Store extra liquid in fridge or freezer, reheating to melt solution and refreezing as additional “Popsicles.”

Friday, July 21, 2023

Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am Blackberry Pie

Back by popular demand (my own) ... With the Barbie movie in theaters today ... And blackberries due soon ... Let’s have a little fun with Ken ... I first published this in 2011.

The July 20, 2023 issue of Time Magazine gives this update: “Ken and Barbie met in 1961 while filming their first commercial together, according to Mattel. It was love at first sight and the two, who both hail from the (fictional) town of Willows, Wisconsin, started going steady. But, in the 2000s, things got a little more complicated for the couple ...” 

After 40 years of dating, Barbie broke up with the 12-inch Ken on Valentine's Day in 2004. Let me take a moment to fibe a tissue ab bow by nobe. Ib’s so sad ...

*   *   *

YO! GUYS! Come and sit across from me, here at the kitchen table. Coffee? Splash of cream? Sugar? We need to talk. Bare your souls to me, Dollinks (Gasp! I said your souls! Nothing else). Does your back go out more than you do? Do you spend Saturday nights alone, playing tic-tac-toe with the mirror? Do you send yourself text messages and emails? Even worse - do you answer them? If so, allow me these words of advice. 

Learn to bake. Women will compete for your cupcakes! They’ll go ga-ga over your cookies! And yes, they’ll also enjoy your baking. Why spend another Saturday night waxing your chest hair and clipping your toenails when you could be the life of the party? Everyone loves a baker! 
Let me tell you the true, tragic story of a Formerly Lonely Guy named Kenneth. Kenneth isn’t his real name. I’ve changed his real name to protect his privacy. His real name has only three letters. The first starts with K, and the last ends with N. Wild horses will not drag his true identity from me! We are tight-lipped, here in the kitchen headquarters of Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes. If you could taste some of my cooking failures, you’d understand why.
But I digress. I was telling you the true, tragic story of a Formerly Lonely Guy named Ken - er, Kenneth! Our candid camera caught him on the way to yet another vacuous, empty dinner date with an obviously unsuitable blond who’s only interested in sex - not in a real relationship with the sensitive, sincere man Kenneth is inside. Men: Don’t let this happen to you!

See the miserable look on Kenneth’s face? See those chest hairs? You’re right - he has none. His toenails are neatly trimmed, too. Quel fromage! (Or is it quel dommage? Whatever!) 
Kenneth used to be One Lonely Guy. How did he change his life? He began baking - slowly at first, a few donut holes here and there. Gradually, as his confidence grew, he began to understand that “Nothin’ spells lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven and Pillsbury does it best!” He learned to smash those danged Pillsbury biscuit cans against the kitchen counter, so he could watch the doughy buns unfurl as they all spilled out. Today, he’s a master chef - no more big-breasted, small-waisted blonds for this guy! Kenneth knows the secret of What Women Want!
Simply put, women want a man who will cook for them. And so I present Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Maam Blackberry Pie! Because he learned to bake, Kenneth now has a real girlfriend who loves him for himself - not just for what he can do with a rolling pin. 

Kenneth’s Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am Blackberry Pie:
For the Crust, use the usual pie crust ingredients! (See Note)

Note: Kenneth pinched his recipe from the good folks at Tenderflake, a division of Maple Leaf Foods. That’s lard, Dollinks: L-A-R-D. Kenneth doesn’t have arteriosclerosis, and nor will you, if you have treats like this in moderation. Lard makes the best pastry, though you can also use Crisco. You’ll find both recipes online, or varieties of same in many cookbooks. Be sure to make plenty, because Kenneth’s pie is rather large.
For the Filling:
1-⅓ c. (330 mL) sugar
¼ c. (60 mL) tapioca
2 tbsp. (10 mL) flour
½ tsp. (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
6 c. (1.2 L) fresh blackberries
1 tsp. (5 mL) lemon juice
Egg yolk, milk, for brushing pastry top
Preheat oven to 425 deg, F. Combine sugar, tapioca, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle blackberries with lemon juice, tossing lightly. Add dry ingredients, continuing to toss lightly until well mixed. Gently transfer to 10-inch pie dish lined with pastry. Roll out additional pastry to make top crust. Gently place over berries, trimming edges to fit. 
(Kenneth likes to flute the edges with his tiny little hands. Because his pants were falling down in both photos, he borrowed an elastic band to secure them. Ron says guys’ pants always fall down when they stand near a beautiful lady. Having just given myself a home perm, I wouldn't know. I look like Diana Ross on a bad hair day.)
Make several small slashes in top crust, allowing steam to escape. If desired, you can trim some of the leftover rolled-out pastry to form leaves and vines, laying these over the top crust (Kenneth doesn’t bother. He’s always anxious to get his pie in the oven). 
Brush or dab top crust lightly with egg yolk combined and thinned with a little milk. Bake pie 10 min. Immediately reduce oven heat to 400 deg. F., baking an additional 45 min. When pie browns around the edges, place strips of aluminum foil over the browned parts to prevent them from burning as the center of the pie becomes a pleasing golden brown. Serve chilled, so each slice cuts evenly and looks attractive on the plate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Nicole’s Crab Cakes

These luscious crab cakes use imitation crab - far less expensive than the “real thing,” yet tasty, very similar, and far easier to use - no shelling and annoying bits of shell. 

While it’s easy enough to slice artificial crab, the mini-prep version of a food processor takes literally seconds to do the job. Be sure to add the crab (or whatever you put in a mini-prep) in small batches, power-pulsing the machine (on/off ... on/off ... on/off) to slice the crab exactly right. Quicker and easier to clean than the larger appliance, mini-preps also need far less storage space.

Nicole’s Crab Cakes: 

8 oz. (227 g) artificial crab meat

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ c. (125 mL) fine bread crumbs (See Bread Crumb Note)

2 tbsp. (60 mL) mayonnaise 

1-1/2 tsp. (7.5 mL) Old Bay seasoning … or to taste (See Old Bay Seasoning Note)

1-1/2 tsp. (7.5 mL) lemon juice

3/4 tsp. (3.75 mL) onion powder 

¼ tsp. (1.25 mL) lemon pepper 

Pinch dried dill weed

Minced green onion (optional)

2-to-3 tbsp. (30-to-45 mL) canola oil

Additional lemon juice, for sprinkling over crab cakes

Tartar Sauce on the side, if desired 

To large bowl, add crab, egg, bread crumbs, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, onion powder. and pepper. Mix with hands until ingredients bind. Form into six crab cakes.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add and cook crab cakes until they are browned, about 5 min. per side. These patties are delicate: Turn over carefully, using two metal spatulas. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon and/or Tartar Sauce. This recipe makes six delicious crab cakes.

I served these Crab Cakes with cooked 

kale ... Remove centre stems, steaming

kale 5-to-7 min.

Flip these delicate cakes 

with two spatulas.

Bread Crumb Note: While excellent for other uses, don’t use Panko crumbs in this recipe. What you want are fine, dry bread crumbs to bind these ingredients. You’ll find them in the bread section of your local supermarket, though it’s easy to make your own. 

Using stale bread or bread oven-dried at low heat, lay piece-by-piece on baking sheet for about 30 min. Place dried slices in a sealed plastic bag, crush with meat mallet’s flat side or rolling pin, or in a food processor. A mini-prep is too small for this job.

Old Bay Seasoning Note: Don’t - I repeat, don’t - omit the Old Bay seasoning. When I did, my crab cakes didn’t taste “crabby” enough. Try this, if you must: For each tsp. (5 mL) of Old Bay Seasoning, substitute a mixture of 1/4 tsp. (2.5 mL) 

For even simpler crab cakes, try Hezzah’s Crab Cakes with Stir-Fried Vegetables and Rice.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Linguine with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

It’s scorching hot in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. Who wants to cook? I sure don’t. I cobbled this meal together in about 20 min. Look at this photo! Does this meal look difficult? That’s because it’s not. 

Linguine with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce.

Here’s how: 

Step 1: Take as many commercially made, frozen meatballs as required, placing them on a parchment-covered oven-proof sheet or tray at 350 deg. F in toaster oven or full oven. Bake 20 min., turning once.  

Step 2: As meatballs cook, add required amount of linguine to a large pot of well salted, boiling water, stirring occasionally so  linguine doesn’t stick. Test after 15 min., testing until al dente - literal meaning, “to the tooth,” or slightly firm when bitten. When pasta’s cooked to your liking, drain and rinse in hot water.  

Step 3: Open, heat, and pour one of the many varieties of delicious pasta sauce available on your grocer’s shelves. 

Step 4: Shake on a little Parmesan (shredded or powdered ... equally good) et voilà! That’s all there is to it. For some color and a dash of nutrition, cook a little kale or spinach to go with this. Each is quick and easy to cook. 

A homemade salad would be nice ... Dream on! Who wants extra work on a hot day such as this?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Easy Creamed Chicken

This casserole is bland. Sometimes, a little bland is exactly what you need: A touchy (blee-ah!) tummy; a blinding, staggering hangover; a pounding headache. When you need bland, serve this chicken.

My mother made exactly this chicken when I was a child. It was my favorite dish! I was thrilled (I really was!) to find her recipe after all these years: Strike Up the Bland! 

I’ve written about my mother before: “My mother had absolutely no interest in cooking - zip! The kitchen tool she valued most was a can opener. When she wasn’t caressing the keyboard to play Chopin, she pounded a mean boogie-woogie on the piano - all day, every day.” 

My mother certainly wasn’t the world’s best cook, but she more than made up for it with her brilliant classical piano recitals and yes, her boogie-woogie. 

Easy Creamed Chicken:

One 10-oz. (284 mL) can condensed cream of mushroom soup 1-1/3 c. (329 mL) water 

3/4 c. (180 mL) long-grain white rice, uncooked 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chunked 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

Parsley, chopped fine, as garnish 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly greased a 11 x 8x 2-in. (28 x 20 x 5 cm) baking dish. Combine soup and water and rice in dish, seasoning to taste. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken over rice mixture. 

Bake 45 min. in covered baking dish or until chicken has cooked through and rice is tender. Let stand, still covered, 10 min. Gently stir rice to distribute sauce. Top with a little parsley. Serves 4 hung-over adults, with a little left over for that guy with his head in the toilet, hoping he’ll just fwo up! and feel a little better.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Salmon Tacos

Do you ever serve tacos? They’re just about the easiest meal ever ... Find some fixings and go to it! These salmon tacos are a quick meal for 2 or 3. To start, prepare this ...

Simple Salsa:

½ tsp. (2.5 mL) olive oil

½ small onion, chopped fine

1 mild red jalapeño pepper, chopped fine, seeds left in

½ c. (125 mL) mango chutney (the store-bought kind)

1 tbsp. (15 mL) lime juice

¼ c.  (60 mL) chopped fresh cilantro (see Note) 

½ tsp. (2.5 mL) dried basil (or 2 tsp./10 mL chopped fresh)

In small skillet, heat olive oil on medium-low. Stir in onion and pepper until softened, about 5 min. Lower heat. Stir in remaining ingredients, just to warm and combine. This keeps a couple of days in the fridge. I generally freeze it in small, 1/4 c. (60 mL) plastic containers, for use as needed. 

Note: Did you know that cilantro and coriander come from the same plant? To heck with botany ... Use finely sliced chives and everything will be fine.

To prepare your taco, use one small can of salmon (drained of fish juice) and combined with about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Set aside in a small bowl. 

On a plate or tray, set out a pitted, sliced avocado (if you have one; if not, don’t give it a second thought); some shredded lettuce; some shredded cheese; a couple of chopped green onions; a couple of diced tomatoes (not too juicy) and whatever else takes your fancy. 

Before you fill and roll them, microwave each tortilla for perhaps 10 seconds to make it pliable and soft. 

Place your ingredients down the center of the tortilla, with a ribbon of salsa over them. Be careful not to take these ingredients to the top of bottom of the tortilla, lest it all squirt out as you eat. Rolling a tortilla is an art:

It all starts with a single tortilla ... 

We didn’t take photos as we chowed them down because ... Well ... We were otherwise occupied eating! PS: A grapefruit knife is the easiest-ever way to remove the insides of an avocado.