Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Three-Ingredient Salad Dressing

Three ingredients. Three. That’s all it takes to make this ... Salad Dressing! Sauce! All-Purpose Super-Duper-Can’t-Live-Without-It recipe!

Three-Ingredient Salad Dressing:

2 tbsp. (30 mL) Dijon-style mustard

2 tbsp. (30 mL) red wine vinegar

6 tbsp. (90 mL) olive oil

Whisk mustard and vinegar until well blended. Gradually whisk in olive oil. That’s all there is. Job done! No substitutions or additions, please: This is already precision perfect. Unless ... 

We Lied Note: Maybe not for everyone. If you find this salad dressing just a lee-dle too sour, add 1 tbsp. (15 mL) granulated sugar. I love this dressing tossed with cold macaroni and with any favorite main-course salad such as Beans, Bacon, and Sprouts

This will dress a salad for six, or (slightly warmed) makes a beautiful sauce for fish or steak. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Winter in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where We Live, but we’re having this, tonight! Why not? It’s deliciously similar - but not the same -  as the Black Bean and Summer Corn Salad

posted several years ago. It’s also less expensive than buying meat, fish, or chicken - important, for these difficult times. 

Black Bean and Corn Salad:

To Prepare the Salad:

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped, juice drained through a sieve at least 30 min.

2 c. (500 mL) frozen green peas, thawed, rinsed, drained

One 19 fl. oz. can (540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained (see Can Measurements Note)

One 12 fl. oz. can (341 mL) corn, drained (or fresh corn shucked from the cob and briefly cooked)

1/2 c. (125 mL) finely chopped red onion

1/4 c. (60 mL) minced fresh cilantro, sliced into 1/4-in. pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

Prepare tomatoes first, leaving them to drain at least 30 min. Thaw peas, but don’t cook them. Combine remaining ingredients as ingredient list directs. While tomatoes drain and peas thaw, find a clean lidded jar in which to make and shake the dressing.

To Prepare the Dressing:

2 tbsp. (30 mL) granulated sugar

2 tbsp. (30 mL) white vinegar

2 tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil

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

1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) salt

1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) ground cumin

1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) pepper

12 drops hot sauce 

Combine by shake-shake-shaking well. Do the same just before adding to the salad.  

Friday, November 24, 2023

Simple Barley Casserole

I first published this recipe (with plenty of photos) in June, 2014. My introductory words have changed; the recipe has not. Given the state of the world right now, this economical recipe bears repeating ... but!

Say it isn’t so! Barley has actually fallen out of favor among young cooks? With the stock market up and down like a yo-yo  and interest rates rising and the price of meat and fish so high you’d need a loan from the bank to buy it? Ridiculous!

If I can’t persuade you about the benefits of low-fat, high fiber barley, perhaps its price will: 


The cost of the barley in this recipe was only 50 cents! And that, my friends, was for dinner for two, with leftovers!

I used pearl barley in this dish: It’s quicker to cook than pot barley. Pot barley, however, is more nutritious. 

Says Google: Pot and pearl barley taste pretty much the same and can be used interchangeably in almost any recipe. The only important difference is that pot barley takes longer to cook, so make sure to adjust the cooking time when making a substitution. 

Barley’s easy to cook. Here’s an excellent “how to” guide: 

Simple Barley Casserole:

2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter or margarine

2 tsp. (10 mL) canola oil

1 10-fl. oz. (284 mL) can sliced mushrooms, drained (see Note), or 5 large fresh mushrooms

1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped onion

1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped red or yellow sweet bell pepper (“capsicum”)

1 c. (250 mL) pot or pearl barley 

1 c. (250 mL) beef stock

1-1/2 c. (375 mL) boiling water

1/4 tsp. (1.2 mL) salt

1/4 tsp. (1.2 mL) coarsely ground pepper

1/4 tsp. (1.2 mL) garlic powder

1/3 c. (80 mL) grated cheese, for topping

1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh parsley, finely minced, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. In medium skillet on medium-high heat, melt butter together with oil. Add mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown. Rinse barley in a sieve under cold, running water. Add to skillet, stirring until barley starts to brown.

Combine beef stock and boiling water. Add to barley mixture slowly, so hot barley sizzles. Season and add garlic. Transfer to spray-greased 1 qt. (1 L) casserole. 

Bake, covered, 1 hr., until barley is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork, topping with cheese and a flurry of parsley. Serves 6. 

Note: Save the drained mushroom liquid to add as part of the total liquid in this recipe. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix

It’s not often I go bonkers over the loss of a commercial product. I did last March, when I phoned and later wrote the Consumer Affairs Department of McCormick & Company, a self-described global leader in flavor, seasonings and spice products.

I make many things from scratch, but McCormick makes the best commercial spaghetti sauce I’ve ever tasted.

The problem is, this outstanding product is no longer available in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. So I kicked up a (polite) fuss. Did no good. Some smart (not-me) cookie came up with a recipe for the stuff. 

Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix:

1 tbsp. (15 mL)  garlic powder

1 tbsp. (15 mL)  onion powder

2 tbsp. (30 mL) dried oregano
3 tbsp. (45 mL) dried basil 

1 tbsp. (15 mL) dried rosemary
2 tsp. (10 mL) black pepper, freshly ground

Combine ingredients well. Store in an airtight container in a dark space (such as a spice drawer) to use another day. Add according to taste to your homemade or anned tomato sauce. This recipe’s definitely a keeper! This recipe's especially great with Sophia’s Slow-Simmered Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs.

How to use: Just add some of this spaghetti seasoning to your pasta sauce as it cooks, according to taste. Even better: Follow Sophia’s recipe.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Breaded Shrimp with Veggies

Food costs are high, these days … (“How high is high?” asked the customer of the cash cow. “Very high!” said the cash cow, grinning …) 

Let’s start again: With food costs high, many of us have been watching our pennies. But oh-h-h-h, I’m a sneaky one! I’ve had a dozen breaded shrimp in my freezer for weeks. Buying them on sale, I was waiting for the moment when I could showcase them as a lovely (but inexpensive) dinner.  If I remember correctly, the package was $8-to-$10.

I didn’t want to use these as an appetizer. Appys are what you stuff into your face, from the lips to the hips. But Ron ... He’ll eat anything - anything - served with a bit of flair. He didnt know these breaded shrimp were packaged appys: He thought I’d made them myself.

Which is why I excavated the contents of the fridge to dig up some carrots from 1997, a few Brussels sprouts, and a chunk of squash. A day or two before, with the shrimp on my mind, I made some Tartar Sauce and Seafood Cocktail Sauce

So … Toasting a few slivered almonds in the toaster oven, and then baking the shrimp in the same place (follow the directions on the package, dearies), I steamed the squash and slivered the sprouts, lightly salting and sautéing each in a skillet coated with olive oil on medium-high.  

Finding two rectangular serving plates, I arranged a ribbon of each sauce to the left, the shrimp at the center, and the almond-toasted veggies to the right. This produced to meals, with plenty of sauce left over. Everything looked so attractive that Ron stuffed his face, from which the calories will never migrate to his hips. This is the cross we women bear. Such is life.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Grandpa’s Secret Macaroni and Cheese

Be still, my beating heart! Himself has given up the secret recipe he has clutched to his bosom for 28 years, since he first created it for his younger daughter’s first-grade class. It was an instant hit, and has been a family favorite ever since. Friends and family have tried without success to pry this recipe from him, but I’m his wife, and I haf vays!  

Got the recipe! Promised him I wouldn’t tell a soul! Liar, liar, pants on fire, here it is! The secret ingredient is Worcestershire sauce - and plenty of it! The correct way to pronounce that lovely word is Woos-ter - but some folks disagree.

Grandpa’s Secret Macaroni and Cheese:
4 c. (1 L) dry macaroni
2 tsp. (10 mL) canola or olive oil
4 c. (1 L) milk
¼ c. (60 mL) butter or margarine
¼ c. (60 mL) all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
7 tbsp.(105 mL) Worcestershire sauce
5 tbsp. (75 mL) ballpark mustard
1 lb. (454 g) pkg. grated aged cheddar
Two pieces dry toast, crumbled 
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water and a little oil to a rolling boil. Add macaroni, stirring well to keep pasta from sticking to bottom of pot.  Cook about 12 minutes. Drain cooked macaroni, returning to pot. Melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Add flour, stirring about 30 sec. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Remove from heat, adding half the grated cheddar cheese and stirring until melted. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni, combining well. 
Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Transfer cooked, sauced macaroni to large, greased baking dish. Spread half of remaining cheddar evenly over macaroni. Top macaroni and cheese with crumbed toast. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over bread crumbs. Bake 20 min.
Assemble your ingredients - milk
and cheese, too!

Boil salted water. Add macaroni.
Cook al dente - just until tender.

Cheese sauce: Combine melted butter with flour.

Gradually add milk, whisking well.

Whisk! Whisk! Whisk! as the macaroni simmers.

Whoo hoo! Bring on the mustard for some zip!

Add Worcestershire sauce - lots!

Remove from heat: Stir in half of cheese until melted.

Pour sauce over well-drained macaroni: Mix well.

Transfer to greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with half remaining cheese.
Crumble cubed toast (or croutons).

Sprinkle crumbs over entire dish.

Top with remaining cheese. Into the oven this goes!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Potatoes au Gratin

“Au gratin” is a French term meaning “sprinkled with breadcrumbs, grated cheese, or both.” Even if you’re wildly in love with cheese, there’s plenty to be said for “both.”

The first time I made this yummy recipe, I used more cheese than called for - and learned a lesson not to do that again! Lots of cheese means lots of fat: What didn’t settle on my hips puddled at the base of the casserole dish. The lesson? Buy the Arnold Schwarzenegger of cheeses - a robust, muscular Cheddar - and you won’t need to assume “more” is “better.” 

Bread crumbs help sop up the fat, boosting the flavor of this dish, I think. It’s true, crumbs add extra calories, but with a dish already as calorific as Potatoes au Gratin, it’s not a big deal (unless you have issues with gluten). I usually keep a small container of soft bread cubes in the freezer, but dry bread crumbs serve this dish even better. So here we go!

Potatoes au Gratin:

4 Russet potatoes, rinsed, scrubbed, unpeeled, in 1/4-in. (0.6 cm) slices 
1 medium onion, sliced into quartered rings
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (for potatoes)
3 tbsp. (45 mL) butter or margarine
3 tbsp. (45 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) salt (for sauce)
1-1/2 c. (375 mL) milk 
1-1/2 c. (375 mL) aged Cheddar, grated
1/4 c. (60 mL) dry bread crumbs
Paprika, as garnish

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. Spray-grease a 9x13 in. (23x33 cm) casserole dish. Line base of dish with half potatoes. Season lightly. Cover with onions and remaining potatoes. Season lightly, again. 

In medium skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter or margarine. In small bowl, combine flour and salt before whisking into fat. The French term for this is a roux - the basis of the thickening agent for soups, sauces, gravies, and stews. 

To this roux, slowly add milk, whisking until mixture thickens. 

Turn heat under skillet off, adding cheese to hot mixture all at once. Using wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir continuously until cheese is fully melted. 

Pour cheese mixture over and around potatoes, ensuring sides and corners aren’t forgotten. Sprinkle with crumbs. Cover casserole tightly with foil. Bake 90 min. Garnish with a few shakes of paprika. Serves 6.

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.”