Cheryl’s Cuisine: April 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

I’m writing this shortly after Gov. Wolf closed Lackawanna County due to the Coronavirus. 

The first thing I did when he issued his order was to run quickly to the grocery store. (NO, not for bathroom tissue).  I was in search of potatoes, onions and garlic. As my freezers are always stocked from my travels (Stew Leonard’s in Conn., Groff’s and Gene Wenger’s in Elizabethtown, etc), I needed vegetables.  My pantry is always stocked with canned items and pasta, however, we don’t know how long this “quarantine” or “closure” is going to last and we can always get to the grocery store.

 So, this month I’m searching my pantry and freezers to come up with new ideas for “quarantine cooking”, using what you have at home rather than running out for an ingredient or two.  

One favorite item we have in our freezer is ham loaf from Wenger’s and Groff’s in Elizabethtown.  You may not have it in your freezer, but do you have any ham? Here’s how to make it:

Ham Loaf:

3 eggs
3 lbs. lean ground ham
3 cups soft, fine breadcrumbs
2 tsp. brown sugar

Slightly beat eggs in large mixing bowl.  Stir in ground ham (can be done in food processor) and mix thoroughly.  Add breadcrumbs and brown sugar. Stir to mix well. Form into loaf and spread into sprayed baking dish or pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Note: Before putting in oven you may decorate top with pineapple slices and cherry in the middle. Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before slicing.


Have any ground beef in the freezer?  You can make meatloaf, meatballs, soup or a Mexican treat.

Taco Pie:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef ( I use 80/20)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. Oil
1-15 oz. can Rotel (Mexican tomatoes with peppers) (I use Mild or Medium)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese 
1- 6 oz. box corn muffin mix 
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

Brown ground beef, bell pepper and onion and drain well.   Add salt, can of Rotel, 1 cup water, chili powder and garlic powder.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until most of liquid has evaporated.  Pour into 13x9x2″ baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine corn muffin mix, egg and milk and beat well.  Pour over cheese. Bake in 375 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes or until corn muffin mix is lightly brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


Then there’s pork chops — a must in our freezer.

Baked Pork Chops:

6 pork chops
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2-8 oz. cans Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup finely diced celery
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Pan fry pork chops in oil seasoning with salt and pepper.  Place in shallow sprayed baking dish. Combine tomato sauce, water, celery, brown sugar, mustard and lemon juice.  Pour over chops. Cover with foil or lid and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until tender.


When boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale, grab them for your freezer.

Garlic Lime Chicken:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp. pepper
Oil for sauteeing

In small bowl whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic cloves and dry mustard.  Place chicken in zip-top bag and pour marinade over breasts. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Drain chicken and season with black pepper.  Pour a few tablespoons of oil into a nonstick skillet. After heated, add chicken and cook about 6-7 minutes on each side or until a fork inserted produces clear juices and chicken is easily pierced.


Sausage is another meat I keep in our freezer, whether it be Sweet or Hot Italian or Breakfast Sausage, there’s always a new use for it.

Sausage, Corn and Bean Chowder:

1 lb. ground sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cups water or chicken broth
1-15 oz. can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1- 15 oz. can cream-style corn
1-15 oz. can whole kernel corn, undrained
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk

In medium skillet crumble sausage and brown over medium heat.  Drain fat, reserving 2 Tablespoons. In stockpot, put drippings browned sausage and onions.  Saute’ until onion is clear. Add potatoes, salt, basil, pepper, water or broth, and cannellini beans.  Simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Stir in the corns, corn liquid and evaporated milk. Cover and heat almost to boiling.  Note: Any of the above sausages will do fine in this recipe, depending upon your palate.


Check your pantry for these canned goods which make a great side dish:

Scalloped Corn and Tomatoes:

2-15 oz. cans stewed tomatoes or Mexican stewed tomatoes with juice (Rotel)
2-15 oz. cans whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, divided
1-8 oz. pkg. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cups round buttery crackers, crushed

Mix tomatoes, corn, 6 Tbsp. butter, cheese, onion, cornstarch, eggs, sugar and 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper.  Pour into buttered (or sprayed) 13x9x2″ baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. In small bowl, mix cracker crumbs and 2 Tbsp. of the butter.  Sprinkle over top of casserole and bake for 15 minutes more.

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